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Allow Netflix to bypass VPN

Update 04/26/2021: I have not re-visited this guide in some time. This method no longer appears to be fully working. I no longer have Netflix to test this guide. Please follow the x3mRouting thread for information/help with this tool: https://www.snbforums.com/threads/x3mrouting-selective-routing-for-asuswrt-merlin-firmware.57793/

Update 07/17/2020: It seems that Netflix has made some changes recently. I’ve updated this post to reflect the latest working setup.

Update 06/30/2020: This guide has been updated to reflect the changes introduced in x3mRouting v 2.0.


I currently have a few of the devices on my network on an always-on VPN connection – see https://blog.nicktamm.com/mullvand-vpn-on-asuswrt-merlin-for-specific-devices/

This has worked great except for one issue I ran into – Netflix would not play over the VPN on these devices. After some research, I found a solution that allows all Netflix traffic to bypass the VPN so that it works on all devices using x3mRouting. This quick post will explain how.

 

Note that this does not let you watch Netflix in another region. This will only allow you to access Netflix in your local region on your VPN connected devices.

 

Things you will need:

  • An ASUS router that has USB ports, flashed with Asuswrt-Merlin version 384.15 or higher. This version includes amtm (Asuswrt-Merlin Terminal Menu) built into the firmware.
  • SSH enabled on your router. This can be found in Administration >System.
  • Enable JFFS custom scripts and configs must be enabled. This can be found in Administration >System.
  • A USB thumb drive, 8GB or higher should be fine
  1. Insert your USB thumb drive into your ASUS router and wait for the device to be recognized by the router.
  2. Next, establish an SSH connection to your router and enter in amtm to launch the amtm menu.
    • Note that if the menu does not launch, you are using a version or Asuswrt-Merlin that is below 384.15. Please update to the latest version or follow the setup guide on the amtm page for older firmware versions.
  1. Follow the on-screen instructions to go through the first-time setup of amtm.
  2. Once it is installed, type in fd to format your USb thumb drive as ext4. Note that you will need to reboot the router after this step.
  3. After the USB thumb drive has been formatted, type in i then press enter to see a list of available packages.
  4. At the list of options, select ep to install Entware packages. Follow the on screen instructions to install the software to the USB thumb drive – this should be straight-forward.
  5. Once Entware is installed, go back to the list of options and type in 6 to install x3mRouting.
  6. Durring the x3MRouting setup, select the third option – Install OpenVPN Event & x3mRouting.sh Script.
  7. After x3MRouting has been installed, exit the x3mMenu option, then exit the amtm menu as well. You should now be back at the prompt.
  8. Next you will launch a set of commands that will download the list of Netflix IP’s (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_system_(Internet)) and will route this traffic over an interface on your router. Each interface is designated by a number on your router as follows:

Since we want to route all Netflix traffic to the WAN, we will be selecting 0.

  1. Now you will need to enter the following commands in your SSH window:

  1. Once the commands have been executed, launch Netflix on your VPN connected device. You should be able to watch anything just as if there was no VPN.

These changes will persist when the router has been rebooted, so you should not need to enter them again.  

If this is still not working for you, try also adding a routing rule for Amazon Global region, as Netflix is hosted on Amazon servers.

 

Posted in ASUS, Asuswrt-Merlin, VPN

9 Comments

  1. Garret Cohen

    Can you please explain how to “establish an SSH connection to your router”? At first I thought this was somewhere in the Router GUI, but after looking at the setup guide I realized you need to use Notepad++ or another “favorite terminal”

    I am having trouble figuring out how to establish a SSH conection using Notepad++ as I don’t have any Merlin experience and just started learning note pad for my job writing SQL queries. I know I am so close. I am sure it’s stupid simple, but just don’t know how to get that connection established so I can open the terminal.

    • Nick

      I’ve run into some issues with this myself lately and have been meaning to re-visit this method. For the time being, I have simply been disabling the VPN connection on the particular device I am using to watch Netflix on. I’ll post an update when I’ve got some further details.

      You may also want to check out the SNB Forums thread on this software: https://www.snbforums.com/threads/x3mrouting-selective-routing-for-asuswrt-merlin-firmware.57793

      • Fabio

        Hi Nick,
        Do you have soma update on your method. Is it still valid? What are the main issue that you faced?
        Sorry for the questions, but I’d like to purchase the Asus router and follow your procedure.
        Thanks a lot.

        • Nick

          Hi Fabio,

          I no longer have Netflix, so I can’t say for sure if this method still works or not.

          What I experienced was that while Netflix was bypassing the VPN, certain titles would not be playable.

          For example, if I tried to watch Friends or Brooklyn Nine-Nine on with the VPN bypass it would not play. Other titles would play however.
          I’m sure other shows have this issue as well. These are the only ones I found/tested the issues with.

          So the VPN bypass WAS working, but only on certain titles. As soon as I disable the VPN then everything worked. I have not been able to get this fully working since the last update I made to this post on 07/17/2020. Netflix may have been changing things on their end which makes this guide invalid.

          The alternative solution I found was to install OpenVPN on the TV (they are Android-based) which allows you to bypass per-application. If you have an Android device this should work for you.

          You may want to checkout the thread for x3mRouting for some more information on this: https://www.snbforums.com/threads/x3mrouting-selective-routing-for-asuswrt-merlin-firmware.57793/

  2. John

    Thanks for this Nick! I followed your instructions, and so far Netflix is working well. Great template too for adding Hulu and some others too. Much appreciated!

  3. Shawn

    Hi Nick!

    This guide is probably the one and only guide that makes any kind of sense for people (like me) that just want things to work and not end up researching for months on end. I consider myself lucky to have stumbled upon it, instead of looking like a complete fool on snbforums. Those guys speak jibberish to me, honest it gives me headaches researching every other sentence/word.

    I would like to personally thank you for the step by step.

    However, that being said, your link you post: https://www.snbforums.com/threads/x3mrouting-selective-routing-for-asuswrt-merlin-firmware.57793/ is from 2020 – the last reply Oct 30,2020 – older than your updates

    I am experiencing what you were describing, certain titles will not play. Is there anything I can do to get you to continue? You seem to have a grasp on what’s going on, it just take people like me some serious time to research. All I keep seeing is to use scripts, autoscan, getdomainnames, download ASN script.. would help to know how to use them specifically for netflix.. Either way, I spent an hour on it, got either absolutely nothing (getdomainnames) or absolutely way too much (ASN script)

    • Nick

      Hi Shawn,

      Thanks for the nice comment!

      To be honest, I no longer have an ASUS router or Netflix anymore but I have access to them. The workaround I did for this was to install OpenVPN on the device then used it to bypass Netflix only. Is your device an Android device because it can work for you too.

      That being said, I can re-visit this and see if this and see what’s changed since the last update to this post but no promises. It’s hit and miss with Netflix and VPN’s.

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