I always use a VPN to make sure that all of my online activities, including browsing, streaming, and torrenting, are untraceable — thanks to a VPN’s bank-grade encryption, network administrators and internet service providers (ISPs) are unable to see the websites I visit or the files that I download. However, network administrators and ISPs are still able to detect that I’m using a VPN. But luckily, there are several different ways to make a VPN connection undetectable.
There’s a lot of information about making your VPN undetectable online, but much of it is incorrect. So I spent a few weeks researching this topic. I read dozens of articles, guides, and VPN support articles, talked to many VPN customer support representatives, relied on my own expertise and experience, and conducted multiple tests — and I put together this guide, which contains useful tips that can actually help you make your VPN connection undetectable (to a certain extent). In addition, I also recommend the best VPNs for bypassing VPN detection and VPN blocks.
Why Should You Make Your VPN Undetectable?
- Bypass VPN blocks — Restrictive countries like China, Iran, and Indonesia often employ state-of-the-art methods to detect and block VPN connections. Also, learning institutions and workplaces might use firewalls to block VPNs.
- Access streaming sites — Most streaming sites aggressively detect and block VPN connections due to licensing agreements. Making your VPN connection undetectable would allow you to consistently access your favorite titles from anywhere with a VPN.
- Get more privacy — When you connect to a VPN, your ISP is aware of the connection (but the VPN’s encryption prevents your ISP from seeing your internet behavior). Also, websites can detect VPN IP addresses. Some people simply don’t want their ISPs or the sites they access to know they’re using a VPN.
Best Ways to Make Your VPN Undetectable in 2023
1. Choose a Quality VPN
The easiest way to avoid VPN detectors and VPN blocks is to just use a VPN proven to be undetectable. For that, you need a VPN that refreshes its IP addresses very often, hides VPN traffic, and provides overall excellent security and privacy features.
After running dozens of tests, I found that ExpressVPN is the best option for surfing the web undetected — here’s why:
- It constantly refreshes its server IP addresses. I ran 10+ leak tests while connected to its New York server, and I always had a different IP address. More proof that ExpressVPN refreshes its IP addresses is that it’s able to access top streaming sites and works in restrictive countries.
- It supports Tor over VPN connections, which makes even your VPN’s IP address harder to detect.
- It secures your data and privacy with an audited no-logs policy and advanced security features like full leak protection.
2. Change the VPN’s IP Address
If a streaming site or network admin blocked the VPN’s IP address, you need to refresh the VPN server’s IP address to bypass that issue. The simplest way to do that is to reconnect to the VPN server or connect to a different VPN server.
Some VPNs even provide built-in features that allow you to quickly change a server’s IP address. And other VPNs provide more convenience by regularly refreshing the IP address in the background — for example, VyprVPN does this via its Chameleon protocol, which is its obfuscation tool that regularly changes your IP address while you’re connected to a VPN server (without dropping your VPN connection).
3. Change the VPN Protocol
Restrictive countries and network admins can stop you from using certain VPN protocols if they block the ports used by those protocols. They can also use DPI to detect and block certain VPN protocols. The easiest way to overcome those restrictions is to change the VPN protocol.
If you’re dealing with port blocking, I recommend using OpenVPN or WireGuard. If their default ports are blocked, you can manually switch to a different port — WireGuard supports thousands of ports and OpenVPN supports tons of ports. Some top VPNs (like ExpressVPN and PrivateVPN) even configure these protocols to automatically work with ports that are hard to block, so you don’t need to manually pick a port (which is very convenient if you’re a beginner).
4. Use Obfuscation Features
Obfuscation is a VPN feature that encapsulates VPN traffic in an extra layer of encryption to make it look like regular internet traffic. Obfuscation is the best way to bypass DPI detection and blocks.
Most VPNs provide access to VPN protocols that provide obfuscation. However, some VPNs come with a built-in obfuscation option that’s separate from the VPN protocols they use. TunnelBear’s GhostBear feature and PrivateVPN’s StealthVPN feature are good examples — once you enable these features, they automatically make all VPN data look like normal internet traffic.
5. Use TCP Port 443
If most VPN-related ports are blocked, I suggest switching to TCP port 443, the same port used by HTTPS traffic, which accounts for almost all internet traffic. So, it’s extremely unlikely that an ISP or network admin would block this port, as it would mean blocking access to any website that uses HTTPS (like Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube, etc.).
Only a few VPN protocols work with TCP port 443:
- OpenVPN — This is a very popular (and secure) protocol. Some VPN providers (like Private Internet Access) allow you to pick TCP port 443 when you select OpenVPN, but other services (like ExpressVPN) make things easier and configure OpenVPN to automatically use TCP port 443.
- SSTP — This protocol uses TCP port 443 by default, but only a few VPN providers (like IPVanish) provide access to it.
- SoftEther — Very few VPN services use this protocol because it’s difficult to integrate it into the VPN client.
6. Use a Dedicated IP Address
All VPNs use shared IP addresses by default, which means you share the VPN’s IP address with other VPN users. A dedicated IP address is only assigned to you, so you don’t share it with anyone. I recommend getting a dedicated IP address if you want to make it harder for streaming sites to detect your VPN connection. Instead of seeing 100+ people logging into their accounts using the same IP address (which is the case for shared IPs), websites will only see 1 person logging in using the VPN’s IP address, so they’ll be less likely to flag and block it.
If you’d like to get a dedicated IP address, I recommend Private Internet Access and CyberGhost VPN, as they both provide dedicated IPs for a small additional cost. If you’re on a tight budget, I’d go with PrivateVPN because it provides free access to dedicated IP addresses.
Also, some VPNs (like TorGuard) have dedicated residential IP addresses, which are even more difficult to detect. That’s because these IP addresses belong to residential ISPs instead of data centers, so anyone who looks up these IPs will just think you’re a regular internet user. However, TorGuard has very expensive VPN pricing plans.
7. Use Tor over VPN
Tor is a privacy network that lets you access the dark web. Tor also routes your traffic through multiple servers, changing your IP address and encrypting your traffic several times. Tor is free to use — you only need to download and install the Tor browser to access the Tor Network.
You can tunnel a Tor connection over a VPN connection to prevent internet and dark web sites from detecting your VPN IP address and hide your VPN connection behind several layers of Tor encryption. Basically, your connection will look like this:
You → VPN → Tor Server #1 → Tor Server #2 → Tor Server #3 → Dark Web
Pretty much all top VPNs support Tor over VPN connections, but I like ExpressVPN the most because it has really fast speeds (Tor over VPN connections are usually pretty slow). I also think Proton VPN is a good pick because it conveniently has servers in 7 countries that automatically send your traffic through the Tor network — you can access dark web sites using regular browsers like Chrome and Firefox (you don’t need to use the Tor browser).
8. Use Mobile Data
Businesses and learning institutions often implement strict anti-VPN policies on the company/school’s network. If you’re caught using one, you could get in trouble.
In this case, the best way to make your VPN usage undetectable is to use your mobile data. That way, you use your telecom provider’s network instead of your company/school’s network.
9. Use Shadowsocks
Shadowsocks is an open-source encrypted proxy, which you can use to connect to VPN servers. If you do that, Shadowsocks will encrypt your connection to the VPN server, making it much harder for someone to detect and block it.
Shadowsocks requires a manual setup, but it’s pretty simple to use. However, you need to use it with a VPN that supports Shadowsocks connections to its servers. The VPN also has to support manual port selection, since you need to pick a server port while setting up Shadowsocks.
Best VPNs for Avoiding VPN Blockers in 2023
Quick summary of the best VPNs for avoiding VPN blockers in 2023:
- 🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for avoiding VPN blockers in 2023.
- 🥈2. Private Internet Access — Best for getting high-end privacy features.
- 🥉3. PrivateVPN — Best if you need a dedicated IP address.
- 4. NordVPN — Excellent for using obfuscation to avoid VPN blockers.
- 5. VyprVPN — Great VPN for multi-device connections.
🥇1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Avoiding VPN Blockers in 2023
ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN for circumventing VPN detectors and blockers in 2023 — it consistently avoids IP blocks and provides industry-first security features that make your connection very hard to detect. It refreshes its IP addresses very often — the provider doesn’t say how often, but I ran dozens of leak tests on one of its servers, and each result displayed a different IP address.
ExpressVPN can also access popular streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer without any issues, and it consistently works in restrictive countries like China, which is more proof that the VPN changes its IP addresses extremely often.
ExpressVPN also comes with excellent security features that bypass VPN detection and VPN blocks:
- Obfuscation — ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol automatically hides your VPN traffic. You can also get traffic obfuscation if you pick the Automatic protocol option. Obfuscation normally causes noticeable slowdowns (due to the extra layer of encryption that obfuscates VPN traffic), but ExpressVPN maintained lightning-fast speeds on both normal and obfuscated connections in my tests.
- TCP port 443 — When you use the OpenVPN TCP protocol option, it always connects to the internet using TCP port 443, which is nearly impossible to block.
- Tor over VPN support — ExpressVPN supports Tor traffic across all of its servers, so you can use Tor over VPN connections to mask your VPN IP address on the dark web and the internet.
In addition, ExpressVPN provides other high-end security features that protect your data. Its strict no-logs policy has been independently audited and proven true, and the provider has advanced security features like RAM-only servers (every server reset wipes all data), full protection against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks, and perfect forward secrecy (changes the encryption key for each VPN session to prevent hackers from compromising past or future encryption keys).
ExpressVPN offers several plans that start at $6.67 / month. It allows 5 simultaneous connections and accepts multiple forms of payment including cryptocurrency (for added anonymity). While this is one of the more expensive VPNs out there, I think it’s worth it because it provides excellent value. Plus, ExpressVPN backs all purchases with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥈2. Private Internet Access — Best for People Interested in High-End Privacy
Private Internet Access (PIA) is really good at avoiding detection, and it also provides top-notch privacy features. It refreshes its server IP addresses very often and it provides access to OpenVPN and WireGuard, which are both excellent at bypassing port blocking. It’s great that PIA lets you use TCP port 443 with OpenVPN, but I think ExpressVPN is more user-friendly because it uses TCP port 443 by default with OpenVPN TCP (you don’t need to change any settings).
I’m really happy that PIA uses a token-based system to provide access to dedicated IP addresses in 5 countries (the US, the UK, Germany, Australia, and Canada) for a small price — you generate the token in your account dashboard and copy-paste it in the VPN app to activate the dedicated IP address. This provides better privacy because PIA can’t associate the dedicated IP address with your VPN account. In addition, I also like how PIA comes with Tor over VPN support and traffic obfuscation via Shadowsocks.
PIA’s strict no-logs policy has been independently audited like ExpressVPN, and it has also been proven true in court many times. Also, all of PIA’s apps are open-source, which provides excellent transparency since anyone can inspect the code for security vulnerabilities.
Private Internet Access has affordable monthly and yearly plans that start at $2.19 / month. It allows 10 simultaneous connections, accepts cryptocurrencies, and backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥉3. PrivateVPN — Best for Getting a Free Dedicated IP Address
PrivateVPN provides access to dedicated IP addresses on servers in 9 countries — best of all, you get access to the dedicated IP addresses for free (most VPNs with dedicated IP addresses charge for them).
While PrivateVPN doesn’t come with WireGuard, it provides access to OpenVPN, which is configured to automatically use TCP port 443 if you select the OpenVPN TCP option. I also like how PrivateVPN supports Tor traffic on all of its servers, and that it provides traffic obfuscation via the StealthVPN feature (PrivateVPN recommends using this feature if you live in or travel through a restrictive country).
PrivateVPN’s prices start at $2.00 / month. It accepts cryptocurrencies and backs all of its plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
4. NordVPN — Great for Using Obfuscated Servers
NordVPN provides 150+ obfuscated servers that help you avoid VPN blocks. They successfully make your VPN traffic look like regular traffic, and they’re good for bypassing government firewalls. While you need to manually connect to the obfuscated servers, they’re easy to find and use.
I like that NordVPN offers a lot of other ways to make your VPN undetectable. It offers dedicated IP addresses for a small cost (unlike PrivateVPN, which has free ones), and you can use TCP port 443 through the OpenVPN protocol. NordVPN also supports Tor over VPN and has SOCKS5 proxy servers.
NordVPN is really good for streaming, as it works with all of the popular streaming services. I had zero issues with accessing Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and HBO Max connected to NordVPN’s servers.
The VPN also works in restricted countries, but it’s not as consistent as ExpressVPN. The live chat reps confirmed that is doesn’t always work in China, but NordVPN works pretty well in all other countries like Iran and Indonesia.
NordVPN offers monthly and yearly plans that start at $2.99 / month. It offers 6 simultaneous connections and backs all plans with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
5. VyprVPN — Good for Multiple Devices and Large Families
VyprVPN’s Chameleon protocol provides obfuscation and regularly refreshes your IP address throughout the VPN session without disconnecting you from the VPN server. In addition, VyprVPN uses dynamic server switching, which automatically connects you to different servers if the VPN detects that you’re using an overcrowded server (this also refreshes your IP address).
VyprVPN comes with WireGuard and OpenVPN, but OpenVPN only works over UDP, so you can’t use TCP port 443 (unlike ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and PrivateVPN). VyprVPN also has an audited no-logs policy and perfect forward secrecy.
VyprVPN’s paid plans start at $5.00 / month. This is the only VPN on my list that doesn’t accept cryptocurrency payments. On the other hand, it supports up to 30 simultaneous connections, and all of its plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Comparison of the Best VPNs for Avoiding VPN Blockers in 2023
|VPN||Starting price||Has obfuscation||Uses TCP Port 443||Has Tor over VPN support||Number of devices|
|🥇1. ExpressVPN||$6.67 / month||✅||✅||✅||5|
|🥈2. Private Internet Access||$2.19 / month||✅||✅||✅||10|
|🥉3. PrivateVPN||$2.00 / month||✅||✅||✅||10|
||$2.99 / month||✅||✅||✅||6|
|5. VyprVPN||$5.00 / month||✅||❌||✅||30|
How to Choose the Best VPN for Avoiding VPN Blockers
- Refreshes IP addresses. The VPN needs to refresh its server IP addresses very often to avoid IP blocks. ExpressVPN, my top pick, refreshes its IP addresses extremely fast, so it can consistently access top streaming sites and work in restrictive countries.
- Obfuscation. DPI can detect and block or slow down VPN connections. Traffic obfuscation makes VPN data look like normal internet data to circumvent DPI detection. All the VPNs I recommend provide access to traffic obfuscation.
- Protocols. Network admins and restrictive countries can use port blocking to stop you from using certain VPN protocols. So, the VPN should provide access to OpenVPN or WireGuard, as both protocols support tons of ports to bypass this restriction.
- Tor over VPN support. Tor over VPN connections prevent internet and dark web sites from seeing your VPN’s IP address and also hide your VPN connection behind several layers of encryption. All the VPNs on my list provide Tor over VPN support.
- Strong security. I only recommend VPNs that have industry-standard VPN security features like a no-logs policy (to prevent the VPN from logging your data), a kill switch (disables web access if the VPN disconnects to prevent traffic leaks), and 256-bit AES encryption.
- Good value. All my top picks allow multiple simultaneous connections, have affordable plans, accept cryptocurrency (it provides extra anonymity), and come with a money-back guarantee.
What Are VPN Blockers & Why Are They Used?
VPN blockers are services or tools that detect and block VPN connections. Governments, ISPs, network admins, and websites use VPN blockers — and here’s why:
Enforce Government Censorship
Restrictive countries often block access to popular sites, including social media sites, news sites, and platforms like Google and YouTube. These countries know that their citizens can use a VPN to circumvent government firewalls and access a free and open internet, so they use sophisticated technology to detect and block VPN connections.
Enforce a School/Workplace Policy
Many schools, universities, and businesses use firewalls to stop students/employees from accessing certain sites. Since students/employees can use a VPN to bypass the firewall, school and workplace network admins block VPN connections.
Honor Copyright and Licensing Agreements
Streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime display different titles depending on which country you’re in — this is all due to the licensing agreements they signed with copyright holders. Basically, if a site doesn’t have the licensing rights to show a specific title in a certain country, it can’t legally broadcast it there.
Streaming sites constantly detect and block VPNs because they allow people to bypass geo-restrictions (a type of content protection). If the sites were to ignore VPN connections, it could be a breach of the licensing agreements they signed.
Avoid Legal Issues
Some ISPs worry that their customers might use VPNs to illegally torrent copyrighted content. To avoid facing any potential legal repercussions, they throttle or block VPN connections on their networks.
And certain websites might also block VPNs to avoid legal issues — for example, gambling sites block VPNs to prevent people from countries where gambling is illegal from using their platforms. Also, payment processing sites might block VPN connections as a fraud prevention method (they worry criminals use VPNs to launder money).
Different Types of VPN Blockers
Here are the main VPN blocking methods:
When you connect to a VPN server, you use its IP address to access the internet. So, all the sites you access will only see the VPN’s IP address. If a website blocks that IP address, you can’t use the VPN to access the platform anymore.
Most streaming sites rely on IP blocks to prevent VPN users from connecting to their platforms. They normally use online services (like IP2Location) that provide access to databases that contain VPN and proxy IP addresses. The websites then use automated scripts to detect and block VPN IP addresses that try to connect to their platforms. In addition, network admins, ISPs, and restrictive governments use firewalls to block VPN IP addresses so you can’t connect to them.
Solution: Use a VPN that refreshes its IP addresses very often (like ExpressVPN). If the issue persists, reconnect to the server, connect to a different server, or enable in-app features that refresh the VPN’s IP address.
Ports are numbers assigned to network protocols that are used for online communication. Each VPN protocol uses different ports to access the web — for example, OpenVPN uses UDP port 1194 by default. Network admins and ISPs can block certain ports to prevent you from using a specific VPN protocol.
Solution: Use a VPN protocol that uses tons of ports, like OpenVPN or WireGuard. If you can manually select the port, pick TCP port 443 since it’s almost impossible to block it because almost all non-VPN internet traffic uses it.
Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
DPI is a traffic analysis method that inspects web traffic for patterns and signatures that are indicative of a VPN protocol. If a VPN connection is detected, DPI is used to block it or slow it down until it’s not usable (this method is called Quality of Service filtering). Restrictive countries like China generally use DPI as one of the ways to detect and block OpenVPN connections.
Solution: Use traffic obfuscation to make your VPN connection look like a normal internet connection. That way, DPI won’t be able to detect unique VPN protocol signatures. Many of the top VPNs provide obfuscation — for example, ExpressVPN’s Lightway protocol obfuscates VPN traffic across all servers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use a free VPN to circumvent detection?
I doubt it — free VPNs rarely refresh their IP addresses, so it’s easy for sites and network admins to block their servers. What’s more, most free VPNs don’t provide access to obfuscation or protocols that can use multiple ports (like OpenVPN and WireGuard). Also, many free VPNs lack essential VPN security features like a kill switch or a no-logs policy.
I strongly advise getting a paid premium VPN like ExpressVPN instead — it consistently gets around IP blocks on streaming sites and in restrictive countries, comes with obfuscation and Tor over VPN support, and provides access to high-end security features.
Is it legal to bypass VPN blocks?
It depends what kind of VPN block you’re dealing with. If you’re trying to get around IP blocks on a streaming site, it’s not illegal but may violate the site’s terms of service. However, it may be illegal to bypass VPN blocks in a restrictive country (and could result in severe legal repercussions).
My team and I don’t condone using a VPN for illegal activities, and I strongly encourage you to check your local laws to make sure it’s safe to use a VPN and make it undetectable.
Does VPN over Tor make your VPN undetectable?
Not really. VPN over Tor means you tunnel your VPN connection over the Tor network (a privacy network that hides your IP address and encrypts your traffic multiple times by sending it through at least 3 servers). Basically, your connection will look like this:
You → Tor Server #1 → Tor Server #2 → Tor Server #3 → VPN → Internet
A VPN over Tor connection will prevent ISPs and network admins from seeing that you’re connecting to a VPN’s IP address — but they’ll still know you’re connecting to a Tor IP address and they’ll be able to easily block it (Tor doesn’t refresh its IP addresses very often). And VPN over Tor connections aren’t safe since Tor can sometimes leak your IP address and malicious actors can operate their own Tor servers.
I recommend Tor over VPN connections instead because they hide your VPN’s IP address from normal internet sites and dark web sites, and are also much safer — if Tor suffers a leak, only the VPN’s IP address is exposed and your IP address remains hidden. Most top VPNs (like ExpressVPN) support Tor over VPN on their servers.
Will a double VPN connection make a VPN undetectable?
Not really. A double VPN connection sends your traffic through 2 VPN servers instead of 1 server — while that hides the IP address of the 1st VPN server, it’s still possible to detect the IP address of the 2nd VPN server. Plus, a double VPN connection won’t prevent network admins or ISPs from detecting VPN traffic.
I only recommend using a double VPN connection when you need an extra layer of encryption to secure your data. Proton VPN has an excellent double VPN feature — its Secure Core servers send your traffic through 2 servers, and one of the servers is located in a privacy-friendly country.
Does obfuscation stop streaming sites from detecting VPNs?
No, obfuscation can only help you get around Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), which detects and blocks VPN traffic. Obfuscation should generally be used in restrictive countries or if you want to prevent network admins or ISPs from tracking your VPN traffic.
Obfuscation can’t help you access streaming sites because these platforms don’t use DPI to detect VPN traffic. For streaming sites to be able to do that, you’d have to use their networks to access the internet (you use your ISP’s network to go online).
Instead of detecting VPN traffic, streaming sites detect and block VPN IP addresses. To get around that, you need to use a VPN that refreshes its IP addresses very often — I recommend ExpressVPN because it consistently works with 65+ streaming services, including top sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime.