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What does it mean when the 'DRM error' shows up on Netflix?

Updated on May 17, 2012

It happened today just as it happened three weeks ago.

What do you mean I can't watch this show on Netflix's Instant Watch? It worked fine yesterday! I don't know what I did wrong! This appeared on my screen:

"We're sorry, but there is a problem playing protected (DRM) content on your system."

This is Error Code n8156-6013. It means your computer no longer recognizes the DRM (Digital Rights Management) codes that were temporarily on your computer. And once Netflix's computer brain realizes this, it rejects any attempt you make to get it work. The ONLY way you can make this work again, is by getting your computer's DMR back.

Sounds easy right? Well, after a week of uninstalling, installing, updating, and deleting Microsoft Silverlight, Shockwave Flash, Firefox, Google Chrome and Windows Media Player it still didn't work. After searching forum after forum and finding people with similar issues, I couldn't find a definite fix. I decided to research why this may be happening. You know, in hopes of magically finding the answer to this issue myself. Plus, I didn't have the patience to sit on the phone and have someone in Netflix's tech support tell me everything I already knew.

Firstly, let me give you a little background on why this is error shows up.

If you didn't know already, DRM deals with the rights that protect content such as music and movies from being illegally downloaded and shared with millions of people worldwide. That's great and all, but what does that have to do with my Netflix not working? Well, if you're computer doesn't have any DRM protection, then no Netflix for you! As I said before, these DRM files are stored temporarily on your computer. The downside of these files being temporary is that when they get deleted, your computer won't know that it needs to get them back. It's not a necessity if you just use Hulu or YouTube to watch videos, shows, and movies.

Now I bet you're trying to figure out how these DRM files were deleted. If you did what I like to do once in a while, which is clean my computer of cookies, caches, and temporary crap in order increase my computer RAM and memory, then that just may have been when yours were deleted as well.

But how did DRM get on your computer in the first place? It's all thanks to Windows Media Player. Initially, it installs these DRM files on your computer whenever you download the player or it automatically comes with your PC. They are all for having those music files protected from anyone pirating too. Now here's the big problem I ran into: In hopes of just getting my WMP to get these rights back, I found that any newer version of WMP (11 and up) are unable to download these files again if you accidentally delete them. Great, now what?

This is where my ultimate fix comes in.

Let me explain this to you in a sort of analogy. Say your head hurts. You have the option of either taking a painkiller (lying to your body to make this pain go away faster) or trying to figure out the source of the pain and fixing it accordingly(eventually it'll go away). You can't do anything else until that pain stops and you have a 20-page paper to write. What happens if you combine both the painkiller and drink some water (you might be dehydrated!)? Stay with me here, I promise I have a point.

It's time for you to help your computer to fix itself by lying to it and fixing it's confusion, which is a pain for you since you can't watch movies on Instant watch. With a combination of the advice from Windows Vista forums (thanks to the pros) and computer forums, I fixed my problem in about 5 minutes. Here's how you PC owners can fix this little problem and get right back to watching Breaking Bad on Netflix's Instant Watch (yeah, I know you were):

  1. Go to My Computer/Computer.
  2. Go to Tools and click Folder Options.
  3. Choose 'Show Hidden Files' under Hidden Files and Folders (A lot of the forums forgot to mention this one. Important!).
  4. Un-check 'Protected operating system files(Recommended)'. This will make your computer a little mad and asks you if you're sure. Click it anyway!
  5. Go to C: Drivevia My Computer/Computer. Now all the "hidden" folders will have appeared and look faded.
  6. Go to Program Data. Click the folder open.
  7. Open Microsoft.
  8. Open 'PlayReady'. This is the folder in charge of running the Netflix/DRM files.
  9. See the file mspr.hsd ? Well, click Rename and add .old making it say mspr.hsd.old (that's the lie).
  10. Refresh the page or close/reopen your browser. It should work now!

What this does is make your computer update/look for/whatever it's supposed to do in order to get those DRM files via the old version of that file. See, all your computer needed was some mspr.hsd.old aspirin and a hug...because you are so happy it's working again, you just had to hug it.

If you have any problems still, right before Step 8, delete whatever is in your DRM folder (it looks faded and it's in the Microsoft folder also). Whenever you accidentally delete the DRM again, do the same thing and make sure to delete the mspr.hsd.old file and add the .old to the mspr.hsd file that's there.

Sorry Mac people. I don't know how to help you. But if you find similar files, try giving it this method out!


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    • profile image

      csbjornstad 2 years ago

      Thank You...step 3 was the key to solving this issue. I could not see the file because it was hidden.

    • profile image

      Loi 2 years ago

      Hi! Would this work on a Windows 10 computer?

      We got a new computer yesterday and Netflix doesn't work. I already called and got the run around.


    • profile image

      JP 3 years ago

      Found your site after much trawling through other pages who suggested re-installing Silverlight, Chrome etc. which made no difference. Your solution worked perfectly. Thanks!

    • profile image

      msps 3 years ago

      There's a much easier and user friendly fix. Just cancel your netflix account and download it off bittorrent.

    • profile image

      different 4 years ago

      I get Netflix through my TV not through my PC so how am I getting that error? & how do I fix it?

    • profile image

      CJ 4 years ago

      Every time I reopen Chrome and go to Netflix after adding the .old it just creates a new file and still won't work.

    • mitowrite profile image

      mitowrite 4 years ago from Austin, Texas,USA

      Close Google Chrome and any other browsers you may be using, then try again.

    • profile image

      Tenine 4 years ago

      When I try to add the ".old" to the file name it says "The action can't be completed because the file is open in Google Chrome. Close the file and try again." I have know idea how to continue from that point.

    • profile image

      Awesome 4 years ago

      This worked perfectly Windows 7 ultimate 64bit IE 9. Renamed the file to OLD and it worked immediately. I wonder what caused it to happen in the first place.

    • profile image

      Nayry 4 years ago

      it`s working!!! thaaanks!

    • profile image

      Jawana 5 years ago

      wow...thanks its really worked

    • profile image

      emily 5 years ago

      I can't find the "playready" folder in the microsoft folder

    • mitowrite profile image

      mitowrite 5 years ago from Austin, Texas,USA

      Pablo, try steps 2-3 again and see if that helps.

    • profile image

      pablo 5 years ago

      i can't seem to find a folder just named "Microsoft" there is other add ons to the folder name i.e; Microsoft Silverlight, Microsoft Visual Studio and so on. HELp!

    • profile image

      MaryL 5 years ago

      Worked for me as well. Back to enjoying free movies.

      Thanks !

    • profile image

      The Le 5 years ago

      The only thing that worked for me was uninstalling / reinstalling Silverlight.

    • profile image

      fred 5 years ago

      thanks works great

    • profile image

      Caleb 5 years ago

      Nice Fix!

    • profile image

      Zap 5 years ago

      Thank you! I just swapped harddrives from my broken laptop to a laptop given to me and for some reason I had this problem. I assumed I was missing drivers or some sort of update.

    • profile image

      AL 5 years ago

      awesome easy fix, you rock... thanks.

    • profile image

      denden 5 years ago

      not working for me, i still get the drm error after doing this.

    • profile image

      danny a 5 years ago

      just for info,i did call (2 minutes) so wasn't bad and its freephone anyway,for vista users,quicker way is click on start button (bottom left hand corner) type run (enter) then in the little box that comes up type

      %programdata% press enter then the box of files that's comes up,select microsoft,will then show you 1 file,delete that file,all done netflix will now work.

    • profile image

      Thank you 5 years ago

      Step 3 was missing from all these other posts, it was no wonder I couldn't find anything.

    • profile image

      cristopher 5 years ago

      it dident work for me

    • mitowrite profile image

      mitowrite 5 years ago from Austin, Texas,USA

      Did any of your hidden files appear when you did the previous steps? The hidden files look faded compared to the other files.

    • profile image

      tori 5 years ago

      hi, would you happen to know what to do if there is no play ready folder? i got up to that step and now im stuck.

    • profile image

      Vadym 5 years ago

      Thank you, it worked!

    • profile image

      mrjackal119 5 years ago

      Worked! It happened for me when I updated to Windows 8 consumer preview.

    • profile image

      SenseiAitken 5 years ago

      Great fix, thanks for the awesomeness and clear answer to what could easily have been a major pain in the butt. Cleaning up has turned into a pain. Regards, Sensei

    • gluten-free-page profile image

      gluten-free-page 5 years ago from U.S

      Funny you write about that I just had a similar problem with my ipad, I tought it was cause I had Ipad first generation.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 6 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      No such message yet, but I'm following you. So, if it happens to me, I'll know where to go (here) for help. Thanks in advance.