How to fix Netflix DRM Error N8156 (it is a Silverlight problem)

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We recently had a problem with Netflix streaming. The problem occurred whether trying to use Windows Media Center or in a web browser (like Internet Explorer or Firefox). We could view our queue and everything, but when trying to play a streaming movie, the following error would appear (Windows 7 instructions shown immediately below, Windows XP / Vista instructions shown a little further down the page, and Mac instructions at the very bottom of the post):

Netflix DRM Error N8156-6013

Digital Rights Management (DRM) Error
Error Code: N8156-6013

We’re sorry, but there is a problem playing protected (DRM) content.

The date on your computer is set to 4/6/2011, which may be incorrect. Please correct the date on your computer and try again.

If the problem persists, please call Netflix at 1-866-579-7113.

The problem, it turns out, has nothing to do with the date on your computer. The problem is with Microsoft Silverlight, the software that is used for the actual video streaming within Netflix. Scroll down or click the links below to go the instructions specific for your operating system.
Windows 8 instructions
Windows 7 instructions
Windows XP / Vista instructions instructions
Mac instructions


Windows 8
Here are the steps to take to fix the problem:

  1. Exit out of Netflix (from both your web browser and from Windows Media Center).
  2. Browse on your computer to “C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\PlayReady\”.
  3. Change the name of “mspr.hds” to “mspr.hds.old”. (In other words, you want to get rid of the mspr.hds file, and you are renaming it just so that you have a backup copy of it.)
  4. Restart your computer.
  5. Open Internet Explorer and go to the Netflix website, log in, and start playing a streaming movie from their website (it should successfully work here now).
  6. Now you can go into Windows Media Center / standalone app to stream you movies again!
  7. If you have more than one computer with the Netflix problem, then repeat this procedure for each of the afflicted computers.

Apparently the problem occurs when Silverlight is updated to a new version (e.g., from version 3 to 4) and some of the old version’s things are left behind in the file you renamed, which breaks the new version. When you rename the “mspr.hds” file, it lets Silverlight re-create the file from scratch.

If the steps above do not fix the problem for you, then try this: close all of your internet browsers and the software that you use to watch Netflix, and then uninstall and reinstall Microsoft Silverlight and/or the Netflix app.


Windows 7
Here are the steps to take to fix the problem:

  1. Exit out of Netflix (from both your web browser and from Windows Media Center).
  2. Browse on your computer to “C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\PlayReady\”.
  3. Change the name of “mspr.hds” to “mspr.hds.old”. (In other words, you want to get rid of the mspr.hds file, and you are renaming it just so that you have a backup copy of it.)
  4. Open Internet Explorer and go to the Netflix website, log in, and start playing a streaming movie from their website (it should successfully work here now).
  5. Now you can go into Windows Media Center to stream you movies again!
  6. If you have more than one computer with the Netflix problem, then repeat this procedure for each of the afflicted computers.

Apparently the problem occurs when Silverlight is updated to a new version (e.g., from version 3 to 4) and some of the old version’s things are left behind in the file you renamed, which breaks the new version. When you rename the “mspr.hds” file, it lets Silverlight re-create the file from scratch.

If the steps above do not fix the problem for you, then try this: close all of your internet browsers and the software that you use to watch Netflix, and then uninstall and reinstall Microsoft Silverlight (thanks for the tip, Josh).



UPDATE:

Windows XP (and apparently for Windows Vista, too – thanks for your comment greengeekgirl)

Larry (see comments below) asked how to do this for Windows XP. The same file exists in Windows XP, but it is in a different location and it may not show up if “system files” are hidden. Here is the location in Windows XP:
C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\PlayReady\mspr.hds

If you are using Windows XP, but cannot see this file, then you can try two things. First thing to try: open “My Computer” and try to copy/paste the path above into the address bar and press <Enter>. If the file still doesn’t show up, then you may need to try the second step, which is enabling the visibility of system files by doing the following:

  • Click the “Tools” menu item and select “Folder Options”.
  • On the window that pops up click on the “View” tab.
  • In the “Advanced settings” area, scroll down and deselect “Hide protected operating system files” (it will ask you if you really want to do this, so respond with “yes”).
  • Now go to the path “C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\PlayReady\mspr.hds” and you will find the file. (Then follow steps 3 – 5 in the “Windows 7″ section above.)

If it still doesn’t work for you with Windows XP, then (thanks to adarba’s comment) you can try also looking for the file here:
C:/Documents and Settings/All Users/DRM

If this still does not fix the problem for you, then try this: close all of your internet browsers and the software that you use to watch Netflix, and then uninstall and reinstall Microsoft Silverlight (thanks for the tip, Josh).



UPDATE (again):

Mac

If you are having the same problem on a Mac, then follow the instructions at this website: http://www.docstechnotes.com/2011/04/fix-netflix-error-code-8156-6013-on-mac.html. You basically do the same thing as I’ve described above, except that on a Mac the location to delete the “mspr.hds” file is at:
/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/PlayReady/mspr.hds

And likewise, if you don’t see the file or the folder, then it is because it is “hidden” and you need to make it visible first or browse to it from a terminal (per the Doc’s Tech Notes website instructions).

If you are using a Mac and these steps didn’t work for you or you still have questions, go check out the comments section under Doc’s post, where there are several other useful tips.

If steps above do not fix the problem for you, then try this: close all of your internet browsers and the software that you use to watch Netflix, and then uninstall and reinstall Microsoft Silverlight (thanks for the tip, Josh).

I hope that helps!

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150 Responses to How to fix Netflix DRM Error N8156 (it is a Silverlight problem)

  1. Todd says:

    Thank you so much! I was fighting with this for a bit and couldn’t figure out what to do :)

    Only solution on the interwebs so far…

  2. J.Bell says:

    Awesome! This worked great, I been having this issue for over a month now and just gave up until I got to this off pure luck. Hope more people see this fix, I will share this link where possible. Thanks again!

    • admin says:

      Thanks for the comment – it had been driving me nuts for several weeks and it was nearly impossible to find a solution for this. After I posted this fix it has been getting a lot of hits, so it appears to be a very common problem.

  3. Hello Mike:

    I have tried to implement your solution, however, I am running XP and do not have a C:ProgramDataMicrosoftPlayReady file on my machine.

    I looked in side the Microsoft folder located inside the Program files folder, I didn’t see anything with mspr.hds.

    I also searched the entire hard drive for \*.hds\

    Do you any other ideas? By the way, the problem you describe is EXACTLY what I am experiencing.

    Thanks and best regards

    Larry Galey

    • admin says:

      Hi Larry – YES, I do know where the file is located in Win XP. I updated my original post to include the instructions, but I’ll summarize them here also:

      • Click the “Tools” menu item and select “Folder Options”.
      • On the window that pops up click on the “View” tab.
      • In the “Advanced settings” area, scroll down and deselect “Hide protected operating system files” (it will ask you if you really want to do this, so respond with “yes”).
      • Now go to the path “C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Microsoft\PlayReady\” and you will find the file “mspr.hds”.
  4. !!!! This is fantastic!!! I have been searching the internet over for a solution to this problem, and THIS finally works. (For those using Vista–the XP solution works just fine for Vista, as well.)

    Bless you, sir. Bless you.

  5. Zoey says:

    Thanks so much for this. It worked like a charm

  6. k says:

    I’ve found the mspr.hds but can’t delete or rename it because no matter how many programs I close it says the file is in use in another program. I’ve called Netflix 3 times already but they don’t know what to do. It’s just on this pc (Dell laptop). Any ideas? thank you

  7. David says:

    Thanks, that was the most accurate and simple fix. Worked great!

  8. matthew says:

    im running windows xp media center edition. thanks dont know what caused my error but it was simple fix. you saved me on this one.

  9. Winooski says:

    Thanks Mike! Your information saved me much frustration.

  10. anthony says:

    yea im running win 7 ulti and cant find the file any where? if u coould help me out it would be great

    • Try to either enter the path directly into the address field of a “My Computer” window, or make sure you have “hidden” files set to be visible. In other words, try the following:

      • Open “My Computer”, type “C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\PlayReady” into the address field, and press <Enter>
      • - OR -

      • Open “My Computer”, press and release the “Alt” key, click the “Tools” menu and select “Folder Options…”, select the “View” tab, select the “Show hidden files, folders, and drives” option, click OK, then browse to the path specified in my post above.
  11. gitch says:

    Does not work for me, still get the same old crap..

    • I’m sorry to hear that. I agree that this fix doesn’t appear to work for everyone, but it does work for the majority of people.

    • Cyphadius says:

      None of the other fixes worked for me, hopefully this might help a few people.

      Find Internet Explorer in the start menu, right-click and choose the Run as Administrator option and left click to start IE9 as an Admin.

      Go to the Netflix website and attempt to run a movie. It will give you the same error as before but that’s ok, stay on that screen.

      For Internet Explorer 9 users there is a gear shaped icon in the top right of the IE9 window.
      Click that and then scroll down to internet options, and left click.
      Under the “Security” tab, click on the “Trusted Sites” Icon.
      Click the “Sites” button.
      It should auto-fill the add site text box with the site that you are on, however if it doesn’t; type http://movies.netflix.com into the box and hit the add button.
      Before you leave this page, uncheck the box that says “Require server verification for all sites in this zone”.
      You may now hit the close button followed by the “Apply” button on the internet options screen.

      Now try running a Netflix movie after restarting whatever browser you choose to use for Netflix.

      If you are still running into issues there are 2 more things you can do.
      Repeat the earlier steps but add https://www.netflix.com and http://www.netflix.com into the trusted sites area.
      and
      search for Microsoft Mr. Fix It on the web and use that to Reset your Internet Explorer Settings before repeating this process again.

      Hope that this helps a few people for whom none of the other fixes have worked.

  12. Dale Ann says:

    Thankyou so very much I have been trying to fix this for days

  13. Joe says:

    Worked, thanks!!

  14. Shanna says:

    I work on a mac, do you know how to work it out through a mac book? Please help! :(

  15. Calvin says:

    Simple, easy, fixed the problem. Gave up trying, then found this simple instructions. I wonder why Silverlight has this issue in the first place.

  16. Colby says:

    it didn’t work..I still have the error…

  17. Misa says:

    I have Windows 7 and your fix worked perfectly. Thank you very much!!!

  18. DTorch says:

    This worked. Just run a search for *.hds and you’ll find the file. Rename it .hd.old and Netflix will work.
    Thanks!

  19. Mike,

    This fix saved Friday nights for our family! Our Netflix has had the “DRM error” for awhile now……I tried rolling it back to Version 3.xxxx but it only worked for a few days until it wanted to update again. I have looked for this fix ever since and finally found a good soul such as yourself! My family and I thank you!

    Michael Dry

  20. Raj says:

    You sir, are a god among men. That was the only trick that worked on Windows 7.

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