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

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 error message below would appear. Solutions for Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP and Mac are all shown below.

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!

155 thoughts on “How to fix Netflix DRM Error N8156 (it is a Silverlight problem)”

  1. I got it to work finally!
    I had the same problem and nothing seemed to work in my Chrome Browser. I tried installing the Install Silverlight 4.0.60531.0 version (currently running) and everything.
    * I deleted the Silverlight Dir under Appdata…./Microsoft/
    * I deleted the file in …/Playready/
    * I emptied my Chrome Cache and allowed movies.netflix.com under Content Settings/Cookies…

    Still didn’t work until I ran IE9 which was just updated and had never been run. After I clicked yes to the popup to allow automatic updating of IE9 or something (can’t remember), I was able to play Netflix in IE9.

    I went back to Chrome and was able to play Netflix!
    Kept Chrome as My Default Browser the whole time, fyi. I do not have Firefox installed, either.

  2. it is worth noting that “Program data” is a hidden file in windows 7, so you will have to change your options so that you can view hidden files. It won’t let you search for it either.

  3. It works, I have been trying for about two months now trying to figure this out. Going from one computer to the other making sure that all the programs matched in very form. Really wish I would have taken the time to read this whole page including the replys. Thank you all.

  4. Wow, first hit on Google for this problem. Very impressive! This is an old article, but I just hit this problem today. I googled ‘netflix drm error windows 7’ and saw a familiar face on the first link! haha! You even beat out the official silverlight forum’s link! MSDoors for the WIN!

  5. The silverlite fix worked first time like a charm. I found that the best way was to copy and paste your path to find the file. as soon as it was renamed, the netflix problem was solved. Thank you. anyone who has a problem locating the file – just copy and paste the path in the search box at bottom of the programs menu. I find that is the easiest way to find anything.

    thanks !!

  6. Hi Mike,
    I recently ran into this problem (and I’ve run into it several times before) and I followed these steps and they didn’t work. I also uninstalled and reinstalled Silverlight to no avail.
    Just when I was about to give up hope of ever fixing the situation, I recalled the solution that had fixed it before when these steps failed on me before: right clicking on my browser and selecting ‘Run as Administrator.’ (I should add that I’m running Windows 7 Ultimate x64, though I’m not sure anything past Windows 7 should matter)
    I hope that this clue may help someone else who finds themselves as frustrated as I have in the past.
    -Ashlee

  7. ashlee, you’re a savior!

    did everything to no avail until i saw this last comment about running programs as an administrator.

    right clicked on my windows media center, run as administrator, then behold: i got my netflix back! boo-yah!

    thanks!

  8. I’ve tried this fix without results. Every time I delete or rename the mspr.hds file, a new one just pops up when I try to run it again. There seems to be no way for me to stream. Any tips?

    I’m running Windows 7 Enterprise.

    1. Yes, it is supposed to regenerate the mspr.hds file after you delete it, and that will usually fix the problem. For some reason it does not work for a few people, though. I would suggest what other other people in these comments have suggested, take a look through them to see what they have found that works. First thing that comes to my mind is to trying running the program as an Administrator (right-click on the icon and select “Run as Administrator”).

  9. Ty, so Much, that workd. i wish I looked for this before , after I had porblems before and I reformatted , didnt work in Explorer or Firefox, now Chrome i never had a problem. until today.. Ty again

  10. Thanks a lot for the help! The Netflix website was useless, but your tip solved the problem! For some reason the old file was out of date by 3 weeks, so Windows created a new one and I’m happily watching my show!

  11. yup this worked. if using windows 7 to get the C:ProgramDataMicrosoftPlayReady part just copy and paste “C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\PlayReady” in the my computer part this will get you to the mspr.hds part. right click and go to rename. then rename it with the old at the end of it. it will work just fine.

  12. If deleting the mspr.hds file is not enough, you may have a permissions problem like I did, especially if you do not always run as administrator. The following worked for me (Windows 7, 64-bit — you’ll need to do this while logged in with administrator privileges):

    1. Go to the %programdata%\Microsoft folder.
    2. Right-click on the PlayReady folder and select “rename”. Change the name to PlayReady.old (or you can just delete it — it will still be in your recycle bin)
    3. Right-click anywhere and select “New Folder”. Rename the new folder to PlayReady.
    4. Right-click on the new PlayReady folder and select “Properties”. Click on the “Security” tab of the properties dialog box. Click on the “Edit…” button in the middle of the dialog box.
    5. Select “Users” from the list in the top part of the box. Then turn on the check box in the “Allow” column for “Full Control”.
    6. Click “OK”, then “OK” to get out of the dialogs.
    7. Try again. If it works, throw away the PlayReady.old folder.

    I don’t know why this happened to me on one computer but not another. Good luck.

  13. (windows7) ,
    hey i got this problem and found your fix i typed in C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\PlayReady\ in the search bar this file comes up mspr.hds but i cant open or rename or move or anything just thought id come ask u if you could help me out

  14. Awsome thanks, the windows 7 solution ALSO applies to windows 8 computers
    upgraded from Windows 7.. :p

    Running Win8pro and had the issue, but renaming the file solved it.. 😀

    thanks

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