The 5 Best VPNs for Mac Users

Brad Smith

Brad Smith

In this article, I’ll share 5 best VPNs for Mac users…

There are hundreds of VPNs.

But how do you know which on is the best for YOUR Mac computer?

Let’s dive into all of the reasons why Mac users need to consider VPN use, and then focus on which VPNs will provide them the best service.

Why Use a VPN With a Mac?

News outlets have estimated that cyber crime cost the world more than $600 billion last year alone. That’s just one reason VPN use has skyrocketed in 2018. Especially on Macs.

Installing a VPN on your Mac can help to:

  • Keep your internet connection hidden from prying eyes
  • Torrent files without fear of repercussions
  • Protect your online anonymity
  • Access geo-restricted content, like Netflix
  • Protect your most sensitive data, like bank accounts and credit cards.

But here’s an even better reason.

Mac computers log all of your Apple-to-Apple text messages, as well as your iTunes information including passwords and credit card numbers. Information that makes cyber criminals salivate.

Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, are also (in)famous for poking into the business of their customers. This is such a common problem that the Electronic Frontier Foundation recommends the use of a VPN to blind the eyes of your snooping ISP.

If you’re a torrenter, a VPN is a necessity in your life. Torrenting, by its very nature, allows others on the network to access your system

Great for sharing files at blazing speeds. Not so great for security.

And without a VPN, you’re opening your Mac up to a simple attack. Hackers love to use torrenting as a means to gain access to defenceless systems.

A VPN acts like a suit of armor, knocking their attacks away and keeping your most precious information safe and secure, where it belongs.

Then, of course, there’s video streaming.

Netflix declared war on VPN users several years ago, employing one of the world’s most advanced VPN and proxy blockers known to man. So, if you were trying to access Netflix with a VPN, you’re likely to see the following black screen of doom:

5 Best VPNs for MacBook

We’ve compiled a list of the top five VPNs for Mac users, based on the following criteria:

  1. Mac Usability (+ Client existence)
  2. Tunneling Protocols
  3. Encryption Level
  4. Netflix Use
  5. Torrenting
  6. Logging Policies
  7. Jurisdiction
  8. Cost

While these are not the only factors one should look at when deciding whether or not to purchase a VPN subscription, they are some of the most important, common, and popular pain points that people have.

So, without further adieu, here are the top five VPNs for Mac users.

1. ExpressVPN

  • Speed: 83 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Cost: $6.67/mo
  • Logging Policy: No Logging
  • Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
  • Netflix: Works
  • Torrenting: Allowed
ExpressVPN for mac

ExpressVPN ranks near the top of most VPN rankings, including ours.

A lot of hype? Not in this case. It’s one of those rare instances when the product actually meets the hype. I personally use it and have it connected on a Mac as we speak.

Mac users have their own dedicated MacOS desktop app, so connecting is as easy as a single click.

It’s also one of the faster VPN products that we’ve reviewed. All VPNs will sap away speed. Some steal in excess of 90% of your performance.

Thankfully, ExpressVPN Mac users will see a negligible drop. Performance is so smooth that most won’t even notice a difference.

It uses OpenVPN as its main tunneling protocol, which is the very best in the business. This Open Source protocol is maintained by the entire global security community, so it’s constantly upgraded to ward off new threats.

Working alongside the OpenVPN protocol is AES-256 encryption, which is virtually uncrackable by modern supercomputers.

The company doesn’t log any user data whatsoever. And it’s British Virgin Islands jurisdiction places it outside any government surveillance alliances.

To top it off, ExpressVPN works with Netflix and allows torrenting with absolutely no restrictions.

Visit ExpressVPN

Read more in our full ExpressVPN Review.

2. NordVPN

  • Speed: 74 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Cost: $2.75/mo
  • Logging Policy: No Logging
  • Jurisdiction: Panama
  • Netflix: Works
  • Torrenting: Allowed
NordVPN for mac

When people talk about ExpressVPN, NordVPN is usually not far behind it.

The two commonly trade the number-one VPN title. For us, Nord comes in as a close second place for overall and for Mac users.

Here’s why.

Connection speeds vary based on distance from the server you’re connecting to as well as the benchmark speed that you receive from your ISP.

But Nord is faster than most.

They also have a stellar MacOS app that makes life far easier for visually-inclined Apple users. And like ExpressVPN, it uses OpenVPN and AES-256 protocol, the dynamic duo of anonymous browsing.

Nord also has the most servers we’ve ever seen. Signing up for one of their low-cost plans gives you instant access to thousands of servers — 3350+ to be exact — around almost every city on the planet.

And they have a strict no-logging policy, meaning that the company is not keeping any of your personal information or data use. Unlike many other VPN companies who claim the same, their Terms of Service and Privacy policy doesn’t include any sketchy fine print, either.

NordVPN is based out of Panama, which puts it outside the jurisdiction of surveillance alliances. That’s another home run in the VPN world because it means NordVPN data won’t be shared with government agencies across the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and many, many more.

Netflix worked with most of the servers that we tested, and torrenting is allowed. NordVPN actually encourages torrenting services, saying that they are the best platform for it.

NordVPN for torrenting

Visit NordVPN

If you want to find out more, check out our NordVPN Review.

3. CyberGhost

  • Speed: 51 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Cost: $2.75/mo
  • Logging Policy: No Logging
  • Jurisdiction: Romania
  • Netflix: Works
  • Torrenting: Allowed
cyberghost for mac

CyberGhost is a Romanian company, which means that it does not answer to the 5, 9, or 14-Eyes Surveillance Alliances.

Unlike the first two, it’s not one of the faster VPNs on this list. But it does maintain average speed loss based on our extensive tests. Your performance shouldn’t be impacted too much.

And like the other VPNs we’ve discussed, it has a dedicated app for MacOS, allowing for up to seven simultaneous connections at a single time. This gives users the flexibility needed to safeguard pretty much every device in their life.

cyberghost logging policy

To their credit, CyberGhost draws a hard line in the sand where it comes to logging. They don’t keep any browsing history, traffic destinations, or data content, with no monitoring, recording, or storing of search preferences. It provides the true anonymity that you need from a VPN.

Once again, we also see the winning combination of 256-bit AES encryption and OpenVPN. This may seem repetitive, but it is the most secure partnership on the planet and a Mac VPN necessity.

You’ll see that many VPNs use outdated protocols like L2TP or PPTP. These are fine in some cases. But they’re not the most secure. PPTP, for instance, can be hacked in minutes. And it’s been happening for nearly a decade!

That’s why OpenVPN is, and should be, your default option. Otherwise, run and hide.

Not only did Netflix work for us when using CyberGhost, but they have a dedicated server that adapts to counter Netflix’s attempts to block it. Every time Netflix tries to shut it down, the server changes the IP. That means even if you run into issues initially, a few more tries will almost always unlock access.

Torrenting is available with no restrictions, as is the use of the TOR network.

TOR is a private browser that can add an extra layer of anonymity to browsing sessions. Your IP address gets redirected through random relay points, so nobody can tell where (or who) you are.

The only downside is that it doesn’t really do much for security. Doubling-up with a VPN can give you that extra layer of security when browsing or downloading.

Except not every VPN is TOR-friendly. Thankfully, CyberGhost bucks this trend.

Visit CyberGhost

For more information, check out our CyberGhost review.

4. Trust.Zone

  • Speed: 69.46 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Cost: $2.99/mo
  • Logging Policy: No Logging
  • Jurisdiction: Seychelles
  • Netflix: Works
  • Torrenting: Allowed
trust.zone for mac

Trust.Zone is another fast, reliable MacOS application that protects your device from outside attacks, while also not tracking any data, either.

First off, it’s located in Seychelles, a gorgeous archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean.

But even better, this location means that the company never has to turn over a shred of information to any government body.

Jurisdiction is massively critical when choosing a VPN, and the Seychelles islands are a perfect place to provide some much-needed anonymity.

Even if Trust.Zone was required to hand over information, there’s nothing to give. The company has a very strict no-logging policy, which is backed up by their privacy policy.

trust.zone no logging policy

They provide all of this, without sacrificing the best-in-class OpenVPN and AES-256 Encryption. If you’re wondering just how secure this pairing is, this is the level of security used by government agencies like the NSA and the FBI.

If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for your iMac.

Two out of five Trust.Zone’s servers that we tested worked with Netflix. Technically, that’s less than half. But compared to the other 74 VPNs we’ve reviewed, it easily puts them in the top third.

They place absolutely no restrictions on torrenting services. That means they permit all kinds of internet traffic, including torrenting. And to top it all off, there is no network protocol banned by Trust.Zone. Free and clear usage.

Visit Trust.Zone

To learn more, check out our full-length Trust.Zone review.

5. Mullvad

  • Speed: 82.75 Mbps out of 100 Mbps
  • Cost: $5.84/mo
  • Logging Policy: No Logging
  • Jurisdiction: Sweden (14 Eyes)
  • Netflix: Works
  • Torrenting: Allowed
Mullvad review

Mullvad rounds-out our top 5 MacOS VPN list.

I know what you’re thinking right off the bat.

“It’s located in Sweden. That’s 14 Eyes Surveillance Alliance! Isn’t that bad?”

Usually, yes.

In this case? No.

That’s because Mullvad logs absolutely no information about you or your usage. They don’t even take your email address. Instead, it works a lot like a Swiss bank account. (The next best thing to Swiss chocolate.)

Mullvad-generates-account-number

They generate an account number for you, and if you pay with an anonymous payment method such as Bitcoin, there is nothing tying you to your account.

Literally. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

That means the Swiss government can yell and scream and demand all of the information they want, but there’s nothing to give.

This is unprecedented in the VPN world.

They offer OpenVPN and AES-256, but they also use a new crypto-based tunneling protocol called WireGuard which doesn’t currently work with MacOS — yet. (Sorry!)

Two of the six servers we tested unblocked Netflix. So you’ll be free to stream away.

Torrenting is also allowed and encouraged. Mullvad has a prominent place on our list of the best VPNs for torrenting.

It is a little on the pricey side. But in this case, you get what you pay for.

Visit Mullvad

For more information on Mullvad, check out our official review.

The Best VPNs for Mac Are Ready for Use

These five VPNs will provide Mac users with increased security for all web browsing needs.

They will bypass geo-blocking restrictions on all major streaming services, including Netflix, hide your activity from your ISP, and allow you to torrent freely and safely.

If you’re not using a VPN for your Mac, you’re making a potentially costly mistake.

Unfortunately, nobody’s safe from cybercriminals and aggressive governments today. VPNs are as essential for Mac owners as antivirus software for PCs (remember those?!).

Best of all, you can’t go wrong with any of the ones on this list. So happy secure browsing!

Best VPNs for Torrenting

Brad Smith

Brad Smith

Whenever you are torrenting, you are risking of getting a potential letter or even subpoena from your ISP. Hence I did a research to find out safe VPNs for torrenting.

Torrenting is a method of peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing that involves downloading small amounts data from many different web sources at one time. Torrenting itself is not illegal — in fact, it’s an important tool for many internet users who rely on open source software. In 2017 alone, an average of 27 million P2P users downloaded and shared files on peer-to-peer networks per day.

The best VPNs for torrenting safely have features like strong no log policies, kill-switches to stop your IP address accidental exposure, and warrant canaries to alert the public if the provider has received a confidential request for user data by Government or law enforcement.

7 Safe VPNs That Allow Torrenting 100%

We looked at the torrenting policies of almost 70 VPN providers. Below are our top 10 VPNs for torrenting.

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. Mullvad
  4. Perfect Privacy
  5. PrivateVPN
  6. Private Internet Access
  7. TorGuard

For more about the providers we looked out, check out our full analysis below, review the policies of each provider in our comparison chart.

1. ExpressVPN – Best for uTorrent users

ExpressVPN torrenting policy

British Virgin Islands–based provider ExpressVPN not only allows torrenting but their support page outlines exactly how to use their VPN to do it.

What’s more, a blog post from 2017 that examines the information your internet service provider can collect about you mentions torrenting — and puts particular emphasis on the fact that the IPS can see both legal and illegal torrenting, suggesting the provider knows their service is used for non-legal torrenting, and isn’t stopping it.

Torrent with ExpressVPN

Or read ExpressVPN review

2. NordVPN – 500+ servers optimized for P2P activities

nordvpn torrenting policy

Nord VPN is exceptionally torrent friendly. They not only allow torrenting, but seem to encourage it, boasting their service is optimized for P2P activities. Nord also doesn’t log any of your internet traffic and just requires an email and password to access.

The provider has double encryption for extra security and a killswitch to keep your info safe in the event of a VPN connection loss.

Torrent with NordVPN

Or read NordVPN review

3. Mullvad – Best for qBittorrent users

Mullvad torrenting policy

Mullvad allows torrenting, and provides a guide to how to securely use the torrenting program “qbittorrent.”

Although they don’t provide guides for other torrenting programs, they don’t advise against them either. According to their website’s FAQ, they “keep no activity logs, do not ask for personal information, and even encourage anonymous payments via cash or … cryptocurrencies.”

Torrent with Mullvad

Or read Mullvad review

4. Perfect Privacy – Up to 1000 Mbps bandwidth

Perfect Privacy torrenting policy

Perfect privacy takes a strong pro-torrenting stance. They say their servers are “ideal for torrent and file sharing.” Their servers allow for connections up to 1000 MPBs.

They do not record user activity and they trust open source software.

Torrent with Perfect Privacy

Or read Perfect Privacy review

5. PrivateVPN – All servers supporting P2P

PrivateVPN torrenting policy

PrivateVPN allows torrenting on all servers, but recommends the ones in Sweden. PrivateVPN also take a blind approach to their users’ data.

Because PrivateVPN is based in Sweden, a country with friendly privacy laws, they refrain from tracking or logging any personal info. They also boast a killswitch feature as well as port-forwarding.

Torrent with PrivateVPN

Or read PrivateVPN review

6. Private Internet Access – Support torrenting traffic

PIA torrenting policy
PIA torrenting policy

PIA, or Private Internet Access, supports peer-to-peer activities (torrenting) and has a solid no log policy.

They don’t mention the use of a warrant canary or feature a killswitch, but PIA boasts an impressive 3041 servers in 28 countries, which is on the high side of the spectrum when it comes to server numbers.

Torrent with PIA

Or read Private Internet Access review

7. TorGuard – Best for BitTorrent users

TorGuard torrenting policy

Torguard is friendly to torrenting and is focused on secure torrenting.

They have a section of their website explaining how to use their service to anonymously torrent. TorGuard has a strict no logging policy and has servers meant solely for torrenting at higher speeds.

Torrent with TorGuard

Or read TorGuard review

 

9 VPNs That Don’t Allow or Block Torrenting

These providers are strongly focused on the security the VPNs provide and are not as interested in providing torrenting services. They focus on keeping you anonymous as you use the internet for activities other than torrenting.

1. DotVPN

DotVPN torrenting policy

Hong Kong based DotVPN is not against torrenting, but has not made the feature available with their product yet. On their website, they do claim they will make it available in the future.

2. Encrypt.me

Encrypt.me torrenting policy

Encrypt.me takes a strong anti-torrent stance. The state that their product “is not and has never been an appropriate service for downloading copyrighted material” and thus has blocked P2P file sharing on all of its servers.

3. Hola VPN

Hola VPN is free for non-commercial use, but no longer allows torrenting on their servers, even though they use peer-to-peer node and not proxy servers to keep you anonymous. Hola is upfront and honest about logging your data, noting that they use “various technologies to collect and store information such as cookies, pixel tags, web beacons and log files.”

Hola VPN torrenting policy

4. Hoxx VPN

Hoxx VPN torrenting policy

Hoxx VPN does not allow any torrenting and refers to torrenting sites and software as “illegal networks,” stating their “community needs to stay clean to save your rights.”

5. Kaspersky Secure Connection

Kaspersky Secure Connection torrenting policy

Kaspersky Secure Connection provides different levels of service depending on account type, however, no levels of service allow for torrenting.

6. Norton Wi-Fi Privacy VPN

Norton Wi-Fi Privacy VPN torrenting policy

Well-known internet security brand Norton doesn’t support torrenting of any kind and will shut off the Norton VPN connection as soon as they detect a torrent, noting they believe active torrenting leaves your computer vulnerable to threats.

7. PersonalVPN

Personal VPN torrenting policy

Personal VPN blocks any torrenting site that has been linked to abuse or potentially has copyrighted material on it, severely limiting any ability to torrent.

8. Touch VPN

TouchVPN torrenting policy

Touch VPN does not encrypt any torrenting data. If you torrent while using Touch VPN, your data will not remain secure and your real IP address will be revealed. In their official terms of use section, they state that you may not “upload, post, or transmit” any content that violates laws and maintain that you must follow all copyright laws.

9. Zenmate

Zenmate torrenting policy

German VPN provider Zenmate does not allow their product to be used for torrenting, stating it is against their terms of service to violate intellectual property law.

Comparing VPN Torrenting Policies

Finding the right VPN for your torrenting needs can be difficult, but there are a few key things to remember when deciding on an option. When torrenting, you want a VPN that allows you to torrent with as few restrictions as possible.

Additionally, it’s imperative to use a VPN provider that doesn’t log any of your personal information, in case user data is requested by government or law enforcement.

You can compare the torrenting and logging policies of all the VPN providers we reviewed in our comparison chart, below.

VPN ProviderTorrenting PolicyLogging Policy
AirVPNAllowedStrict no logging
Anonymous VPNAllowedStrict no logging
AstrillAllowedSome logging
AzireVPNAllowedNo important logging
BTGuard VPNAllowedGrey area
Buffered VPNAllowedSome logging
ExpressVPNAllowedStrict no logging
FastestVPNAllowedStrict no logging
FrootVPNAllowedStrict no logging
Hide ALL IPAllowedNo important logging
Hide My IPAllowedSome logging
Hotspot ShieldAllowedSome logging
LiquidVPNAllowedSome logging
MullvadAllowedNo important logging
NordVPNAllowedStrict no logging
OneVPNAllowedNo important logging
Perfect PrivacyAllowedStrict no logging
PIAAllowedStrict no logging
PrivateVPNAllowedStrict no logging
ProXPNAllowedStrict no logging
SecureVPNAllowedNo important logging
SlickVPNAllowedNo important logging
StrongVPNAllowedStrict no logging
SurfEasyAllowedSome logging
TorGuardAllowedStrict no logging
Trust.zoneAllowedStrict no logging
TunnelBearAllowedStrict no logging
VPN.htAllowedNo important logging
VPNTunnelAllowedGrey area
ZoogVPNAllowedSome logging
Ace VPNAllowed on limited serversSome logging
Avast SecureLineAllowed on limited serversStrict no logging
BlackVPNAllowed on limited serversNo important log files
CactusVPAllowed on limited serversNo important log files
Celo VPNAllowed on limited serversNo important log files
GooseVPNAllowed on limited serversNo important log files
Hide.MeAllowed on limited serversStrict no logging
IvacyAllowed on limited serversStrict no logging
iVPNAllowed on limited serversStrict no logging
ProtonVPNAllowed on limited serversStrict no logging
PureVPNAllowed on limited serversSome logging
RA4W VPNAllowed on limited serversNo important log files
SaferVPNAllowed on limited serversStrict no logging
SpeedifyAllowed on limited serversStrict no logging
TigerVPNAllowed on limited serversSome logging
VPN.acAllowed on limited serversNo important log files
VPNAreaAllowed on limited serversStrict no logging
VPNSecure.meAllowed on limited serversStrict no logging
WindscribeAllowed on limited serversStrict no logging
AnonymizerCopyrighted material forbiddenFull logging
BetternetCopyrighted material forbiddenSome logging
BolehVPNCopyrighted material forbiddenFull logging
CyberGhostCopyrighted material forbiddenStrict no logging
F-Secure FreedomeCopyrighted material forbiddenSome logging
HideMyAss VPNCopyrighted material forbiddenSome logging
ibVPNCopyrighted material forbiddenNo important log files
IPVanishCopyrighted material forbiddenStrict no logging
Private TunnelCopyrighted material forbiddenGrey area
VPN UnlimitedCopyrighted material forbiddenSome loggnig
VyprVPNCopyrighted material forbiddenSome logging
DotVPNNot allowedGrey area
Encrypt.meNot allowedSome logging
Hola VPNNot allowedFull logging
Hoxx VPNNot allowedSome logging
Kaspersky Secure ConnectionNot allowedSome logging
Norton Wi-Fi Privacy VPNNot allowedSome logging
PersonalVPNNot allowedStrict no logging
TouchVPNNot allowedSome logging
ZenmateNot allowedStrict no logging

A VPN doesn’t solve every internet security or privacy issue, and you still need to use common sense to protect yourself and your data when uploading, downloading or even just surfing the web. Learn more about how to safely torrent with our beginner’s guide to safe torrenting infographic.

Many VPNs Leak Your DNS Through Chrome Extension

John Mason

John Mason

We tested 17 VPNs and 8 of them were causing DNS leaks through their Chrome browser extension. 

Update: Please note that this not a WebRTC leak. This involves DNS prefetching which is activated by default on all Chrome browsers. We’ve already informed some of the VPN providers about this issue and they’re in the middle of fixing this.

If your VPN provider is on the list or it leaks your DNS through browser extensions (take test here), please be sure to inform us or them so they could patch this.

 

VPN browser extenstions that leak DNS data

 

Affected VPNs: Last test on 12th of July

  1. Opera VPN
  2. Setup VPN
  3. Hola VPN – Vulnerable users: 8.7 million
  4. Betternet – Vulnerable users: ~1.4 million
  5. Ivacy VPN – Vulnerable users: ~4,000
  6. HoxxVPN – Vulnerable users:  ~391,000
  7. TouchVPN – Vulnerable users: ~2 million
ivacy leak
Example of Ivacy DNS leak

VPNs That Don’t Leak

  1. NordVPN
  2. WindScribe
  3. CyberGhost
  4. Private Internet Access
  5. Avira Phantom VPN
  6. HotSpot Shield (Fixed)
  7. TunnelBear (Fixed)
  8. PureVPN (Fixed)
  9. VPN Unlimited (Fixed)
  10. ZenmateVPN – (Fixed)
  11. DotVPN – (Fixed)
VPN Unlimited fixed
No leak example (VPN Unlimited)

Intro

Google Chrome has a feature called DNS Prefetching (https://www.chromium.org/developers/design-documents/dns-prefetching) which is an attempt to resolve domain names before a user tries to follow a link.

It’s a solution to reduce latency delays of DNS resolution time by predicting what websites a user will most likely visit next by pre-resolving the domains of those websites.

The Problem

When using a VPN browser extensions, Chrome provides two modes to configure the proxy connections, fixed_servers and pac_script.

In fixed_servers mode, an extension specifies the host of a HTTPS/SOCKS proxy server and later all connections will then go through the proxy server.

In pac_script mode on the other hand, an extension provides a PAC script which allows dynamically changing the HTTPS/SOCKS proxy server’s host by various conditions. For example, a VPN extension can use a PAC script that determines if a user is visiting Netflix by having a rule that compares the URL and assigns a proxy server that is optimized for streaming. The highly dynamic nature of PAC scripts means the majority of VPN extensions use the mode pac_script over fixed_servers.

Now, the issue is that DNS Prefetching continues to function when pac_script mode is used. Since HTTPS proxy does not support proxying DNS requests and Chrome does not support DNS over SOCKS protocol, all prefetched DNS requests will go through the system DNS. This essentially introduces DNS leak.

There are 3 scenarios that trigger DNS Prefetching:

  • Manual Prefetch
  • DNS Prefetch Control
  • Omnibox

The first two allow a malicious adversary to use a specifically crafted web page to force visitors to leak DNS requests. The last one means when a user is typing something in the URL address bar (i.e. the Omnibox), the suggested URLs made by Chrome will be DNS prefetched. This allows ISPs to use a technology called “Transparent DNS proxy” to collect websites the user frequently visits even when using browser VPN extension.

Test Your VPN For DNS Leaks

To test if your VPN is vulnerable, do the following test:

  1. Activate the Chrome plugin of your VPN
  2. Go to chrome://net-internals/#dns
  3. Click on “clear host cache”
  4. Go to any website to confirm this vulnerability


If you find a VPN that is not listed, but leaks – please send us a screenshot ([email protected]) and we’ll update the list.

Solution/Fix

Users who want to protect themselves should follow the remediation:

  • 1. Navigate to chrome://settings/ in the address bar
  • 2. Type “predict” in “Search settings”
  • 3. Disable the option “Use a prediction service to help complete searches and URLs typed in the address bar” and “Use a prediction service to load pages more quickly”
DNS leak fix in Google chrome

This research was put together with the help of File Descriptor – ethical hacker from Cure53.

P.S. Note that online DNS leak test services like dnsleaktest.com are unable to detect this kind of DNS leak because the DNS requests are only issued under specific circumstances.

74 VPNs Tested for IP, DNS & WebRTC Leaks (15 Leaking)

John Mason

John Mason

We tested 74 VPN (free and paid) services against IP, DNS, WebRTC, and Chrome extension leaks. Below are the results…

There are multiple reasons why VPNs leak.

But a leaking VPN is useless.

You purchase VPN service for one very simple reason: Hide your IP and protect your data while browsing the Internet or using public Wi-Fi.

Leaks completely undermine this vital service, exposing your true location and activities right before the prying eyes of your ISP, government agencies, and cybercriminals.

It’s like buying a vacuum cleaner and having it blow dirt out all over your house.

We don’t take leaks lightly.

Every VPN that we review goes through an extensive leak-detection process. We establish a connection with their servers and then use six different third-party tools to reveal our IP address.

If they don’t match the VPN’s stated server location, it means they are leaking…

Different VPN Leaks + How We Tested

Three most common leaks are:

We used the following sites (in addition to our own Chrome extensions test):

  • https://ipleak.net/
  • https://www.perfect-privacy.com/check-ip
  • https://ipx.ac/run
  • https://browserleaks.com/webrtc
  • https://www.perfect-privacy.com/dns-leaktest/
  • https://dnsleak.com

Unfortunately, this problem isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.

We found leaks in as many as 15 of the 74 VPNs we’ve reviewed. That’s a whopping 21.62% of the ‘best’ VPNs in the marketplace.

Those 15 leakers also occupy bottom 15 ranking spots in our best VPN list. That’s no coincidence.

So which ones are they? Find out in this list of VPNs that threaten your internet security with different leaks.

 

15 VPNs That Leak

  1. Hoxx VPN (free & paid version)
  2. Hola (free version)
  3. VPN.ht (paid version)
  4. SecureVPN (paid version)
  5. DotVPN (free version)
  6. Speedify (free version)
  7. Betternet (free version)
  8. Ivacy (free version)
  9. Touch VPN (paid version)
  10. Zenmate (free version)
  11. Ace VPN (paid version)
  12. AzireVPN (paid version)
  13. BTGuard (paid version)
  14. Ra4w VPN (paid version)
  15. VPN Gate (free version)

Below is a list of both free and paid VPNs where we found DNS, WebRTC, IP, or Chrome extensions leaks:

1. Hoxx VPN – DNS, WebRTC, and Chrome extension leaks found

Server used for testing: Canada

This was a VPN that failed just about every test that we put it through, including half of our leaks tests. WebRTC leaks were just one of the multitude of issues we faced with this problematic system.

They log your information and expose your IP, through both standard WebRTC leaks and Chrome extension leaks. Coupled with its outdated VPN protocols and encryption standards, you’re better off just not using a VPN like this one.

WebRTC Leak (exposing our true IP):

Hoxx DNS leak

DNS Leak:

Hoxx VPN DNS Leak

Chrome extension leak:

Read more in our Hoxx VPN review.

2. Hola VPN – DNS and WebRTC leak

Server used for testing: United States

Hola is one of our lowest ranked VPNs. This free VPN logs your information and uses a sketchy peer to peer connection in lieu of traditional VPN servers.

It might be one of the least secure VPNs we’ve ever seen. It’s another ‘double trouble’ VPN that managed to fail both our browserleak.net and WebRTC tests.

Hola WebRTC leak:

Hola WebRTC leak

Hola DNS leak:

Hola DNS leak

Read more in our Hola VPN review.

3. VPN.ht – IP and DNS leaks detected

Server used for testing: Netherlands

VPN.ht uses a series of adorable aliens to let you know that with their service, you can be completely anonymous.

But apparently, they don’t run leak tests on whatever planet these little guys are from. Aside from the leaks, it was a pretty good VPN. They don’t log any information and they exist outside of the established surveillance alliances. This winning combination always eases my security fears a bit.

I just couldn’t get past the leaks…

We found IP leaks, but Spoiler Alert: this isn’t the last time you’ll be seeing this product on the list.

VPN.ht IP leak:

IP leak on VPN.ht

VPN.ht DNS leak:

vpn ht DNS leak

Read our full VPN.ht review

4. SecureVPN – IP and DNS leak detected

Server used for testing: Netherlands

This VPN claims to hold “the key to online privacy” on their official website. But we found IP leaks that completely undermine this claim.

It’s a shame too because there was really a lot to love about this VPN. Fast speeds coupled with Netflix functionality and torrenting capabilities made it a strong streaming product. But those leaks were just too much to overlook.

SecureVPN IP leak found:

securevpn IP leak

SecureVPN DNS leak found:

DNS Leak

Read our full SecureVPN Review.

5. DotVPN – WebRTC leak detected

Server used for testing: United States

This company claims that they are “a better way to VPN.”

What they ARE is a slow (but affordable) VPN based out of Hong Kong. That means they’re free of the overbearing 5, 9, and 14 Eyes Surveillance alliances that pool government espionage information together. Yet still under China’s “government approval.”

They’re also ripe with WebRTC leaks. This VPN failed our usual WebRTC test.

DotVPN WebRTC leak found:

DotVPN WebRTC Leak

Read more in our DotVPN Review.

6. Speedify – 1 DNS leak detected

Server used for testing: Finland

We found DNS leaks on this VPN, but the presence of a kill switch feature helps somewhat. A kill switch will automatically disconnect you from the VPN service if the signal becomes compromised.

No logging and five simultaneous connections are some of the positives, but they don’t outweigh the danger posed by these leaks.

DNS leak:

speedify DNS leak

Read more in our Speedify VPN Review.

7. Betternet – 1 IP leak through Chrome extension

Server used for testing: United States

Betternet is a 100% free VPN…

… and proof of the old adage that you get what you pay for.

For starters, it’s the slowest app we’ve ever reviewed. If that’s not bad enough, the company sells ads based on your own activity. Security is a huge concern thanks to the company’s policy of data logging.

But all of that pales in comparison to the leaks we found when investigating this service. Betternet’s Chrome browser extension was the main culprit this time.

Not shocking, since 70% of Chrome extensions leak your IP.

Leak through Chrome extension:

IP Leak Through Chrome

Read more in our Betternet Review.

8. Ivacy – 1 IP leak through Chrome extension

Server used for testing: United States

Leaks, limited torrenting, and no Netflix derail what looked on paper to be a decent VPN. This is another one that passed our WebRTC test but failed when we examined their Chrome extension. The presence of a kill switch helps, but not enough.

9. TouchVPN – 1 IP leak through Chrome extension

Server used for testing: United States

TouchVPN is free. But its porous browser extension means it’s still overpriced.

Free was the only positive thing we found to say about this VPN. It’s slow, logs your information, doesn’t work with torrenting or Netflix. Plus, they’re located within the 5 Eyes alliance jurisdiction. Steer clear.

Touch-capturing-events

Read more in our TouchVPN Review.

10. Zenmate – 1 IP leak through Chrome extension

Server used for testing: United States

This app left our IP address completely exposed. It has a decent server park and the built-in kill switch helps security somewhat.

But the presence of leaks plus a problematic logging policy forces us to question whether or not we can trust Zenmate.

Response from Zenmate:

The problem is that WebRTC, as a protocol, leaks IP Addresses under certain circumstances. The change we made that prevents leakage may prevent WebRTC from working, so the user has the ability to switch this off, and use WebRTC. Once switched off, we remind the user to switch is back on as much as we can, but it is up to the user to do so.

Also, our smart locations feature may cause leakage. This feature switches the user’s selected server based upon the website they are visiting so that it is more likely to work that otherwise. This feature, again, may leak IP Addresses under certain circumstances. This feature is valuable to a lot of users as it improves their geo-unblocking where they are not 100% concerned about total security. This feature is turned off by default, but the user has the option to turn it on.

All in all, we are as good as or better than all other VPNs on the market as far as preventing leakage, however not all of our users want this as it may prevent them accessing certain features and function. So, we made is user configurable and warn the user when they may be compromising their configuration. If the test still shows that they are detecting leakage, then it is most likely they need to upgrade their version of the client.

Read more in our Zenmate review.

11. AceVPN – 1 DNS leak detected

Server used for testing: Belgium

AceVPN started off OK. However, results quickly went downhill when we started putting them through our series of tests.

This is a slow-moving system that logs your data and only allows for two simultaneous connections. That being said, it worked with Netflix and features a kill switch.

But the DNS leaks were the last straw.

Ace-currently-used-DNS-server

Read more in our Ace VPN Review.

12. AzireVPN – 1 DNS leak detected

Server used for testing: Sweden

It’s hard to be “privacy-minded” when you’re suffering from DNS leaks. Another one, unfortunately, bites the dust.

On paper, it looked pretty good. No logging and there was Netflix/torrenting support. And with five simultaneous connections, it seemed like a decent VPN that the whole family could enjoy.

A lack of a kill switch coupled with the aforementioned leaks were some of the only dents in this program’s otherwise impressive armor.

Azire-currently-used-DNS-server

13. BTGuard – 1 DNS leak detected

Server used for testing: Netherlands

BTGuard is extremely torrent friendly. Too bad it also suffers from DNS leaks. The point of VPN use while torrenting is to protect your system from malicious hacking attempts made by other users who are connecting to your system.

That protection is meaningless if your IP is exposed. While BTGuard focuses on torrenting services, it tends to ignore most other important features of a modern VPN. They log information, it’s a slow program, they don’t have a kill switch, and they only allow for one connection.

Leaks were just the cherry on top.

BTGuard-used-servers

Read more in our BTGuard Review.

14. Ra4W – 1 Chrome Extension leak detected

Server used for testing: United States

This VPN has secure encryption and an awesome customer service team, but it was undermined by both DNS leaks and some potentially malicious programs that we found in its install file. A kill switch could have gone a long way toward re-instilling some of my faith, but they don’t have one.

Read more in our Ra4W VPN Review.

15. VPN Gate – 1 DNS leak detected

Server used for testing: Belgium

VPN Gate is a free VPN service from Japan. Unfortunately, that gate has a few holes in it in the form of DNS leaks. There’s not a lot to love here aside from the price point and the fact that it worked with Netflix.

Due to the leaks we found, it’s not recommended to use this VPN for anything other than light streaming. Nothing that requires anonymity.

VPNGate-leak-test

Why Do VPNs Leak?

VPNs leak for a variety of reasons. DNS server issues and WebRTC API conflicts can cause your true location to shine through. The problem is that these often strike when you least expect it.

Your VPN connection looks legit. There’s no notifications or other errors. But your ISP, government agencies, or cybercriminals will see absolutely everything.

You can have strict no logging policies, exist outside of every major surveillance alliance, and have lightning speeds, but if a VPN is leaking your IP, you’re toast.

That’s why when you find a VPN that is airtight, with no leaks whatsoever, you should stick to it like glue. Here are some of our favorite.

Top 5 Leak-Free VPNs

  1. ExpressVPN
  • No logging and some advanced encryption make this a security powerhouse.
  • You can torrent away and stream Netflix on some servers, so it’s great for browsing
  • With over 1,500 servers in 93 countries, you can use this VPN for years and never use the same server twice.
  1. NordVPN
  • Six connections and over 3,000 servers make this a truly versatile service.
  • Four out of the six servers we tested worked with Netflix.
  • Super fast speeds and a kill switch ensure that your sessions will be quick and protected.
  1. Perfect Privacy
  • Unlimited connections allow you to connect to multiple devices without ever having to sign out.
  • A strict no logging policy ensures that you remain completely anonymous.
  • Torrent to your heart’s content.

4. CyberGhost

  • 1300 servers in 65 countries with five connections. This is a service that gives you options.
  • Not a part of any major surveillance alliance, so your information is secure.
  • The company won’t log your information, so browse confidently.
  1. Trust.Zone
  • A lightning fast VPN that lets you torrent and watch Netflix.
  • A no logging policy helps but the “trust” in Trust.Zone.
  • Built-in kill switch ensures that even if there were leaks, you would be protected.

For a more in-depth analysis, check out our list of the top ranking VPNs.

What Does Google Know About You: A Complete Guide

John Mason

John Mason

How much does Google really know about you? We did a deep-dive into the data the company collects to find out…

Google might just know you better than anyone.

Thanks to the data the tech giant collects in order to sell ads, Google has a wealth of information on you — from what you look like to where you live and where you’ve traveled. The corporation may even be able to guess your favorite food.

Just how does Google know all of this? Jump to our infographic for a quick overview of everything Google knows about you, or check out our full guide by clicking on the icons below.

How does Google track you?

Although “Google it” has officially entered the cultural lexicon, the mega-corporation is much more than a search engine. It’s through its apps, internet-related services, acquired companies and more that the technology company collects data on you. Below, we’ve broken down the most common app, product or service Google uses to track data, as well as an overview of the specific data collected.

Google app, product or serviceData colllected
Google ChromeBrowser history, websites visited
Google SearchQueries searched
GmailContacts, emails sent, emails received, email content/conversations
AdsAds clicked on, topics interested in
Google PhotosPeople and places tagged
Google FitFitness level and goals
Google MapsLocations visited, places searched, methods of transportation, dates of tavel
Google CalendarUpcoming plans and appointments
Google HangoutsContacts, conversations
YouTubeVideos watched, liked and uploaded
Google NewsNews sites visited, stories clicked on
Google BooksBooks read and searched
Google ShoppingProducts searched and clicked on
WazeDirections and places searched, locations visited

From what you’ve searched online and the websites you’ve visited to who your contacts are and what you talk about, Google knows a lot about you. The company is then able to take this information and make informed decisions regarding what you might be interested in, which they show you in the form of ads.

what does google know about you

Google’s apps give the company a wealth of information on you, from the personal details that make up who you are to your interests, your past travels and your future goals.

Who You Are

From facial recognition to audio recordings and intuitive search, Google is able to create a comprehensive — and unnervingly correct — profile about what makes you, you.

Your appearance
Thanks to facial recognition in Google Photos, the search engine probably has a pretty good idea of what you look like. In fact, you can create a “label” within Google Photos that’s essentially a tag for each person in your images, and Google is able to separate out that person from every photo you upload — even if the photo only includes a partial picture or is obscured.

Your voice
If you’ve ever used voice commands with Google Home, an Android device, or any other Google product or device, the site has a log of it. In fact, not only can you view your past voice commands in the “Voice and Audio” section of Google’s My Activity section, you can hear them as well. The site keeps a full history of your audio commands, including voice recordings.

Your religious/political beliefs
Have you searched Google for how to donate to a political campaign? Visited a candidate’s website? Watched a sermon on YouTube? Google uses all of this information to build a comprehensive profile that covers everything from whether you’re more religious or spiritual to who you’re probably voting for in the next election.

Your health status
If you use Google Fit, the company probably has a pretty good overview of your health, from how active you are to the calories you burn a day to your fitness goals. But even if you don’t use this Google app, the site probably has a pretty good understanding of the state of your immune system — or at least how you view it — from your Google searches. In fact, compiling search engine data and cross-referencing it against patterns may even allow Google to tell if you’re getting sick or dealing with a medical issue.

Your personal details
Searched Google for the best lactose-free milk? For what to expect when you’re expecting? For how to learn Spanish fast? Everything you search is tracked by Google, which can be used to better understand personal details about your life, from whether you have dietary restrictions to what languages you speak.

Everywhere You’ve Ever Been

Location tracking is one of the areas Google excels in — thanks to advanced location recognition technology, the company knows everything from where you went on vacation two summers ago to what restaurant you eat at most often.

Your home and office
Android phones, which run off of Google’s services, and Pixel, Google’s own phone, track and record your location through several means, including Wi-Fi, GPS and cellular networks. This means that the phone knows everywhere you are, every day, and how long you’re there for.

Google is able to interpret that data and draw conclusions from it — for example, where you live is probably where your phone is for the majority of nights and weekends. In fact, it may only take Google Now three days to determine where you live. For those on Apple devices or other operating systems, Google Maps works in a similar way.

Places you visit
In addition to collecting information about where you live and work, Google is able to track the other places you visit most often. Do you have a favorite coffee shop? A running route? A daycare center you use every weekday? Google probably knows about it.

Places you’ve traveled
Google doesn’t just know the ins and outs of your everyday life. The tech company knows where you’ve traveled too, be it a weekend getaway or a month-long trip to a different country.

Not only can Google track the places you’ve traveled to, it can see what you did while you were there. If you visited a museum in Paris or went line-dancing in Texas, Google knows — down to the exact time you arrived, how long you stayed, and how long it took you to get from one destination to another. The location tracking can even tell the method of transportation you used, like if you walked or took a train.

Additionally, Google’s acquisition of Waze means the site can collect data on where you’ve been even if you’re not connected to Maps or on a Google device.

Who Your Friends Are

Between your contacts and conversations in Gmail and Hangouts and the appointments you make in Google Calendar, the company knows everything from who you’re talking with to when and where you’re seeing them.

Who you talk to
If you use Gmail for your personal or work email, Google has a list of all your contacts, including who you talk to the most: navigate to Google’s “Frequently contacted” section to see which of your Gmail contacts you spend the most time conversing with (and to check if Google’s assessment of who you like the most aligns with your own). Android and Pixel users also give Google access to their phone contacts and text messages.

Where you meet
Meeting a friend for coffee later? If it’s on your Google Calendar, the company knows about it — and, thanks to location tracking, can map your trip from your house to the coffee shop and back. If you take a picture with your friend at the shop and upload it to Google Photos, Google can use facial recognition to add them to their own specific photo album. You can also tag the location the photo was taken as well.

If, years later, you’re trying to remember who you grabbed coffee with that day, Google can help you remember.

What you talk about
Does Google keep track of what you talk about over Gmail? It’s an issue up for debate — the company announced in 2017 that they would stop reading emails for the purposes of creating targeted advertisements. Whether they’ve actually stopped reading them altogether is another matter.

What You Like and Dislike

Google is in the business of knowing what you’re into — it’s how the search engine creates and sells such a personalized advertising experience. From your favorite movie genre to your favorite type of food, Google knows your preferences.

Food, books and movies
Google can use search engine data, like recipes you’ve researched or book titles you’ve searched for, to form an idea of what you like and dislike. Certain apps like Google Books, which keeps tracks of the books you’ve searched and read, deepen this knowledge. Additionally, Google owns YouTube, which means they know which movie trailers you’ve been seeking out.

Google uses this information, as well as the websites you’ve visited and the ads you’ve clicked on, to create a profile of the subjects they think you’re interested in. You can see a full list of who they think you are — down to what shows you watch and what hobbies you pursue in your free time — in their ads dashboard.

Where you shop and what you buy
If you’ve ever used Google Shopping to compare the prices of online vendors, Google knows about it. They also know what products you’ve searched and clicked on through Google Search and can track your website visits and what products you’ve viewed on retailer websites through Google Chrome.

Your Future Plans

Google’s knowledge isn’t limited to what you’ve done in the past or are doing in the present. The company can also use data from their applications and search engine to make predictions about what you’ll be doing in the future.

What you’re interested in buying, seeing or eating
Interested in seeing a new movie? Checking out a new restaurant or taking a weekend trip to a new city? If you’ve used Google Search to look up the movie times, make an online reservation or scout out the best tourist activity, Google knows.

Upcoming trips and reservations
Have you searched restaurants to eat at and shows to go to in the city you’re visiting? Have you created an itinerary in Google Calendar? Google can collect that data in order to assess your upcoming trips. Google also scans your emails to see what flights you have coming up and can automatically add restaurant reservations to your schedule based on confirmations that have been sent to Gmail.

Future life plans
Have you been searching about homeownership? About when the best age to have children is? About tips for travelling to China? Google uses this information to understand more about you and what you want in the future, to better tailor online advertisements to your needs.

Your Online Life

At its most basic, Google is a search engine and internet services company. So, it’s no surprise that in addition to knowing a wealth of your personal details, the site also knows everything there is to know about what you do online.

Websites you’ve visited
Google keeps a comprehensive list of every site you’ve visited on Chrome, from any device. The site also keeps a running tab of every search you’ve run, every ad you’ve clicked on and every YouTube video you’ve watched.

Your browsing habits
From how many sites you have bookmarked to how many passwords Chrome auto-fills, Google has a comprehensive understanding of your browser habits, including:

  • Your apps from the Chrome Web Store and the Google Play Store
  • Your extensions from the Chrome Web Store
  • The browser settings you’ve changed in Chrome
  • Email addresses, addresses and phone numbers you’ve set to autofill in Chrome
  • All the website addresses you’ve ever entered in the address bar
  • The pages you have bookmarked in Chrome
  • All the passwords you’ve asked Chrome to save for you
  • A list of sites you’ve told Chrome not to save passwords for
  • All the Chrome tabs that are open across your devices
  • The number of Gmail conversations you’ve had
  • How many Google searches you’ve made this month
how can you stop Google from tracking you

If you’re unnerved by the amount of information Google has on you, there are several steps you can take to get around the company’s relentless tracking.

  1. Use a VPN
  2. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a secure option to keep Google from tracking you while you’re online. Although virtual private networks can’t completely keep the company from accessing your data, they do hide your IP address, encrypt your internet traffic and make your browsing history private, keeping your online actions much more secure.

  3. Use private browsing
  4. Use Google’s Incognito Mode to ensure that the pages you access won’t show up in your browsing history or search history. Be aware, however, that other websites can still collect and share information about you, even when you’re using private browsing.

  5. Adjust your privacy settings
  6. Check out Google’s Activity Controls to change what data is stored about you and visit your Activity Page to delete stored history and activity.

  7. Turn off location reporting
  8. In Google Maps — as well as in your Android and Pixel device settings, if you use those products — disable location reporting to keep Google from tracking where you are and where you go. If you use Google Maps or Waze for directions, though, the company can still collect location data on you when you’re using those apps.

  9. Use a different browser and search engine
  10. To stop Google from tracking your searches and website visits, you can use another browser and search engine, like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Bing. However, this will only stop Google from tracking you — Microsoft (or whatever company owns the browser you switch to) will get your data instead.

  11. Delete your Google accounts
  12. To truly stop the tech giant from tracking you, you’ll need to take drastic measures — namely, disavowing the use of any of the company’s products. That means deleting any apps linked to the company, including Gmail, Google Drive and any Android devices, and moving to a different browser and search engine.

Google has made life a lot simpler in many ways. Google Search has made answers just a click away. Google Maps has made directions easy to find and understand. Google Drive has made working across multiple platforms seamless.

This convenience comes with a price: privacy. If you’re concerned about how Google is tracking you — and what they’re doing with the data — follow the steps above to keep yourself safe, and visit Google’s Privacy Site for a more comprehensive overview of what data Google is tracking and how they use it.

what does google know about you infographic
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Best VPN for Netflix

To find a VPN for Netflix, we tested 67 VPN services (paid and free) using 4 random locations from their server network, including US, Canada and UK.

 

8 Netflix VPNs That 100% Unblock Netflix

Last tested: July 2018

Whether you need them to unblock VPN or just bypass geo-restrictions, you can’t go wrong with the following.

Below are VPNs that still unblock Netflix through their streaming servers:

1. ExpressVPN – Six Servers Unblocking Netflix

ExpressVPN homepage
ExpressVPN servers unblocking Netflix:

  • Toronto, Canada
  • United Kingdom (2 servers)
  • United States (2 servers)
  • Netherlands

ExpressVPN has a Netflix page on their site detailing why using a VPN is the best choice for accessing Netflix (over a DNS or a proxy) — and it’s time-stamped 2018.

It’s clear that ExpressVPN still counts themselves among the VPN providers able to circumvent Netflix’s 2016 ban. They’re not wrong.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

 

2. NordVPN – Six Servers Unblocking Netflix

NordVPN homepage
NordVPN servers unblocking Netflix:

  • United States (3)
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands

Panama-based NordVPN was launched in 2008 and quickly became one of the most highly rated, often-featured VPNs in rating sites. Located in an independent country with nearly 4,000 servers spread across 62 countries, NordVPN has a lot to offer — including Netflix.

The company’s website features an article that keeps a running tab of which of their servers are working for Netflix. Currently, the countries with working Netflix servers are the United States, France, the UK, and the Netherlands.

All three of the United States servers worked in our testing, although the connections were somewhat slow — possibly because NordVPN is one of the more reliable VPN providers for unblocking Netflix, and so has a lot of users.

The U.K. server also worked, but we found it to be slow as well. Our best recommendation is the Netherlands server, which was quick and unblocked the streaming site.

Read our full NordVPN review.

 

3. GooseVPN – 4 Servers Unblocking Netflix

GooseVPN homepage
GooseVPN servers unblocking Netflix:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands

Netherlands-based GooseVPN doesn’t mention anything on their homepage about streaming access, but a closer look at their blog reveals a post titled Binge Watch Anywhere in The World, which specifically mentions Netflix and is dated April 2018.

In our testing, we were able to access the site from all four of the servers tested, although we were connected to a special streaming server for all except Canada.

Read our full GooseVPN review.

 

4. LiquidVPN – 5 Servers Unblocking Netflix

LiquidVPN homepage
LiquidVPN servers unblocking Netflix:

  • United States: New York
  • United States: Chicago
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands

Wyoming-based LiquidVPN makes its stance on Netflix clear; its very first feature in the homepage reads “Unblock Facebook, Twitter, Google, Netflix, and websites that are only available in specific regions from wherever you are in the world.”

The website also includes an article on how to unblock Netflix using the VPN, and, unlike other providers who shy away from admitting that they’re attempting to circumvent the Netflix block, old support tickets demonstrate that the VPN provider is actively trying to bypass the ban. We were able to access the site on every server we tried.

Read our full LiquidVPN review.

 

5. PrivateVPN – 5 Servers Unblocking Netflix

PrivateVPN
PrivateVPN servers unblocking Netflix:

  • United States: New York
  • United States: Los Angeles
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands

Stockholm-based PrivateVPN has a custom-built VPN specific for Netflix. According to the provider, the VPN is built specifically to allow access to the entire U.S. catalogue of titles.

In addition to the special Netflix server, PrivateVPN has a guide on how to unlock Netflix from your native account, which includes a list of servers which might allow you to access the streaming service — suggesting that while they keep the list update, it’s possible that it could change from any time. We were able to access Netflix from several of the servers on the list, including two in the U.S.

Read our full PrivateVPN review.

 

6. StrongVPN – 5 Servers Working

StrongVPN
StrongVPN servers unblocking Netflix:

  • United States: New York
  • United States: Chicago
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • Netherlands

Originally a PC selling company from South Lake Tahoe, California, today StrongVPN operates one of the most comprehensive VPN provider networks in the industry, with over 660 global servers and customers in 24 countries. Two of the U.S. servers we tried — New York and Chicago — had no trouble accessing Netflix. We were also able to bypass the proxy error in servers in the U.K., Canada and the Netherlands.

Read our full StrongVPN review.

 

7. VPN.ht – 5 Servers Unblocking Netflix

VPN.ht
VPN.ht servers connecting to Netflix:

  • United States: New York
  • United States: California
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands

VPN.ht, a Hong-Kong based provider, is largely focused on protecting privacy and allowing access to blocked content. It’s no surprise, then, that the company calls out the ability to access Netflix specifically on their homepage. And it worked — in our testing, VPN.ht was able to access Netflix from six servers in five countries.

Read our full VPN.ht review.

20 VPNs that didn’t Work with Netflix

  1. TunnelBear (4/4 servers blocked)
  2. VPN.ac (4/4 servers blocked)
  3. Private Tunnel (5/5 servers blocked)
  4. Kaspersky Secure Connection (4/4 servers blocked)
  5. Avast Secureline VPN (5/5 servers blocked)
  6. F-Secure Freedome (5/5 servers blocked)
  7. Hoxx VPN (3/3 servers blocked)
  8. Anonymous VPN (4/4 servers blocked)
  9. CactusVPN (5/5 servers blocked)
  10. Celo VPN (5/5 servers blocked)
  11. Hide My IP (5/5 servers blocked)
  12. Hide.me (5/5 servers blocked)
  13. Ivacy (4/4 servers blocked)
  14. iVPN (5/5 servers blocked)
  15. OneVPN (5/5 servers blocked)
  16. PersonalVPN (5/5 servers blocked)
  17. ProXPN (5/5 servers blocked)
  18. PureVPN (4/4 servers blocked)
  19. Ra4w VPN (4/4 servers blocked)
  20. SecureVPN (4/4 servers blocked)
Netflix Streaming Error

1. TunnelBear

TunnelBear servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands

TunnelBear, a VPN provider located in Ontario with the stated goal of bringing “the benefits of privacy to everyone,” wasn’t able to provide a connection to Netflix from their U.S., Canada, U.K. or Netherlands servers.

Read our full TunnelBear review.

 

2. VPN.ac

VPN.ac servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States
  • Canada (2)

Unlike many providers, Romanian-based VPN.ac makes no mention of content unblocking or content access on their features page.

In a blog post published after Netflix’s 2016 announcement, the company said they had “seen [the block] coming” following Netflix’s global expansion, and that they found the lack of Netflix transparency around their regional content offerings to amount to “false-advertising.”

A further statement notes that the reason Netflix blocked VPNs in the first place — and the behest of the content owners — was an “archaic entertainment distribution model.”

 

3. Private Tunnel

Private Tunnel servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States: New York
  • United States: Chicago
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom: London
  • Netherlands

Private Tunnel, a California-based VPN provider, wasn’t able to connect to any of the Netflix servers we tested — a limitation the company knows about and isn’t attempting to fix.

Read our full Private Tunnel review.

 

4. Kaspersky Secure Connection

Kaspersky servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States: New York
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom: London
  • Netherlands

Kaspersky Secure Connection VPN is powerhouse antivirus company Kaspersky’s first foray into the VPN space. Users of the VPN service have put in support tickets related to Netflix last year, suggesting that the service may have once worked to unblock streaming; it currently doesn’t.

Read our full Kaspersky review.

 

5. Avast SecureLine

Avast SecureLine servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States: Washington
  • United States: New York
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands

Founded in 1988 and headquartered in the Czech Republic, Avast is a multinational cybersecurity software company that manufactures everything from VPNs to antivirus protection.

Their VPN, Avast SecureLine, boasts the ability to unblock content — specifically, their website notes that, with SecureLine, you can “Enjoy your favorite TV shows as you choose.” However, we found that Netflix was blocked on all the servers we tried.

Read our full Avast SecureLine review.

 

6. F-Secure Freedome

F-Secure Freedome servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States: East Coast
  • United States: West Coast
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands

The tagline for F-Secure, noted directly on their homepage, is “Protect your privacy. Access blocked content.” which makes it somewhat surprising that all the servers we tried — five in total — were blocked.

Digging deeper, we found that the site issued a statement from 2016, following the ban, which they still reference in support forums today, noting that they have limited ways to prevent third party blocking, and expect customers to respect third-party terms.

Read our full F-Secure Freedome review.

 

7. Hoxx VPN

Hoxx VPN servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States: New York
  • United Kingdom: London
  • Netherlands

Germany-based Hoxx VPN mentioned the ability to bypass blocked websites, and makes reference to “geo-based content,” but doesn’t mention streaming specifically, and we were unable to access Netflix using it.

Read our full Hoxx VPN review.

 

8. Anonymous VPN

Anonymous VPN servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States: New York
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom: London
  • Netherlands

Seychelles-based Anonymous VPN is relatively new to the space; the lesser-known service was founded in 2015. Although it has certain features its more well-known counterparts lack, like a kill switch and jurisdiction outside the fourteen eyes countries, it currently doesn’t work with Netflix.

Read our full Anonymous review.

 

9. CactusVPN

CactusVPN servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States: Chicago
  • United States: California
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom: London
  • Netherlands

Moldova-based CactusVPN, which has been around since 2011, is a smaller VPN provider founded by just three people less than a decade ago, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that the company doesn’t have the resources to unblock Netflix. None of the servers we tested worked, but then again, we didn’t expect them to after reading the statement on their website.

Read our full CactusVPN review.

 

10. Celo VPN

Celo VPN servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States (2)
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands

We found Netflix blocked on all the servers we tried for Celo, a small tech company based out of New South Wales, Australia. However, it’s something the company is working on: an announcement from March 31, 2018 notes that the company has “a working US and UK Netflix/TV streaming solution in place” and encourages the user to log a support ticket to learn more.

Read our full Celo VPN review.

 

11. Hide My IP

Hide My IP servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States: New York
  • United States: Chicago
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom: London
  • Netherlands

U.S.-based Hide My IP pitches itself as a VPN dedicated to anonymous browsing, with a nod toward its ability to let users access blocked websites (although not Netflix specifically). Although the company wrote about its compatibility with Netflix before the block, such posts stopped after its implementation in 2016.

 

12. Hide.me

Hide.me servers blocked by Netflix:

  • United States: East Coast
  • United States: West Coast
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Netherlands

Hide.me, which touts itself as “the world’s fastest VPN,” doesn’t have a statement on their website regarding the VPN’s ability to connect to Netflix specifically, but does note that the service enables the user to “access any website, app or channel safely.”

The site also features a blog post noting the ability of VPNs to unblock Netflix, but it’s time stamped 2015 — a full year before the Netflix crackdown. We were unable to access Netflix on the following Hide.me servers.

Read our full Hide.me review.

Click to see 11 more VPNs That Do Not Work With Netflix

Conclusion

The war between Netflix and VPN providers following the ban hasn’t been pretty, with VPN users declaring that they’re cancelling their Netflix subscriptions as a result of the ban to VPN providers desperately trying to find workarounds only to be blocked again.

But, until the licensing model changes — or until Netflix can find a way to make all of their content globally available, the goal they mentioned in their 2016 statement announcing the ban — it’s a war that will continue to rage.Netflix VPN crackdown

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What Are The Fastest VPNs in 2018?

Brad Smith

Brad Smith

In this case-study, we tested 70+ VPNs and their download/upload speeds across the United States and Europe. Results? All VPNs slow down your connection a bit…

VPNs boost security, but slow speeds.

And there’s no way to solve one without the other.

The extra VPN funnel to secure your entire connection adds layers of encrypted security, which inevitably dings server speeds.

The good news is that the best VPNs in existence only see a negligible drop in performance. The bad news is that many of the bad ones siphon off so many resources that it makes web browsing a drag and streaming HD video content nearly impossible.

It could be the greatest anonymous system known to man, with no logging, unlimited torrenting, Netflix functionality, and a killer price tag.

But if it’s killing 95% of your speed, it’s not worth it.

There are four main reasons why a VPN will slow your internet speed to a crawl:

  1. Encryption: When a VPN sends information across the web, it encases it in advanced encryption to keep prying eyes from seeing our activity and data. High-quality encryption pulls a lot of CPU power, so the better the encryption is, the more speed it’s going to pull away. That’s why we say that decreased speed is the cost of security.
  2. Physical Distance from VPN Server: Signal deteriorates over distance, so where you are as it pertains to your VPN’s server will dictate speed loss.
  3. User Overload: The more people pulling at a server the more bandwidth is eaten up. Low bandwidth means low performance which also means low speed. This is usually not an issue for higher quality VPN systems, because they’re built to handle the load.
  4. Your ISP Speed: It stands to reason that the slower the speed you start out with is, the slower your VPN speed will be. Speed loss is more noticeable on systems that weren’t getting great speeds to begin with.

We tested 70+ VPN speed using speedtest.net. We used 100 Mbps up and 55 Mbps down Internet connection (cable). Read more about our review process here.

The 7 Fastest VPNs

We’ve reviewed 74 VPNs to date. Some were awesome. Most were ‘meh.’ And a few were downright shocking.

What’s interesting to note is that only one of these VPNs are in our top ten. And only one other is in the top 20.

How can that be? Let’s find out!

1. PersonalVPN

PersonalVPN speed test
  • Overall Rank: 20/74
  • EU Download Speed: 73.78 Mbps
  • US Download Speed: 125.58 Mbps
  • Logging Policy: Logs Some Information
  • Leaks: IP Leaks Detected
  • Torrenting: Not Allowed
  • Netflix: Did Not Work

This is the fastest VPN we’ve seen. By far.

Check out these results:

US Server:

PersonalVPN US server results
  • Ping: 118ms
  • Download: 125.53 Mbps (45% faster)
  • Upload: 29.38 Mbps (13% slower)

EU Server:

PersonalVPN EU server results
  • Ping: 118ms
  • Download: 73.78 Mbps (15% slower)
  • Upload: 40.69 Mbps (21% faster)

The US server speeds were actually faster than our benchmark download speeds!

To put it mildly:

That’s amazing.

There’s a lot to love besides speed, too.

Witopia also offers four different VPN tunneling protocols (OpenVPN, L2TP, IPSec, and PPTP), plus bulletproof AES-256 encryption. This VPN doesn’t play around when it comes to safety.

Unfortunately, there were a few drawbacks.

For starters, they log your information. Like….a lot of it. There were tons of IP leaks, exposing our true location and shattering the anonymity of the product.

And while those speeds were awesome, the fact that you can’t watch Netflix or torrent means you can’t really get the full effect.

This is the fastest VPN we’ve ever seen. But in our official review, we did not recommend it.

2. Hide My IP

Hide My IP review
  • Overall Rank: 43/74
  • EU Download Speed: 81.66 Mbps
  • US Download Speed: 81.61 Mbps
  • Logging Policy: Some Logging
  • Leaks: No Leaks
  • Torrenting: Allows Torrenting
  • Netflix: Does Not Work With Netflix

Our Hide My IP EU and US speed tests were nearly identical in terms of download speeds. That’s a good thing, showing that they’re able to consistently post strong server speeds.

EU Speed Test:

HideMyIP EU speed test results
  • Ping: 44 ms
  • Download: 81.61 Mbps (16% slower)
  • Upload: 20.36 Mbps (61% slower)

US Speed Test:

HideMyIP USA speed test results
  • Ping: 113 ms
  • Download: 81.66 Mbps (16% slower)
  • Upload: 19.99 Mbps (62% slower)

Our benchmark means that your speeds might only decline a few percentage points with Hide My IP. You probably won’t even notice it, to be honest.

We also found no leaks at all. So it’s a strong system.

Where does it go wrong then?

Unfortunately, Hide My IP thinks it’s ok to log your information. They don’t track your activity, but they are keeping some of your personal data.

It allows torrenting with no restrictions, but none of the servers that we tested worked with Netflix. So, that’s a bummer.

Also, they’re located smack in the middle of the 5 Eyes Surveillance Alliance, which is an agreement between the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to share espionage information.

So if Hide My IP ponies up the information they’re logging, it’s going to be shared with four other governments. Read more about Hide My IP VPN in our review.

3. Private Tunnel

Private tunnel review
  • Overall Rank: 32/74
  • EU Download Speed: 90.59 Mbps
  • US Download Speed: 69.29 Mbps
  • Logging Policy: Some Logging
  • Leaks: No Leaks
  • Torrenting: No Torrenting
  • Netflix: Does Not Work With Netflix

Private Tunnel’s combined speed placed them as the third fastest VPN on our list.

EU Speed Test:

Private Tunnel EU speed test results
  • Ping: 35ms
  • Download: 90.59 Mbps (6.6% slower)
  • Upload: 46.37 Mbps (12.6% slower)

US Speed Test:

Private Tunnel USA speed test results
  • Ping: 121ms
  • Download: 69.29 Mbps (28.6% slower)
  • Upload: 24.62 Mbps (53.6% slower)

The EU test was much better than the US, but still, it was a strong outing across the board.

Not only is this VPN fast, but this company created the OpenVPN protocol (the industry-standard protocol today).

So they’re like celebrities in the cybersecurity space.

There are a few issues, though.

Their local US jurisdiction is a problem for those who don’t want their data shared across half the globe.

And for a VPN with such amazing speed, they offer no official torrenting support and Netflix was blocked on all five servers that we checked.

It might be the third fastest VPN we’ve seen, but we did not recommend using it in our official review.

4. Private Internet Access

PIA speed test
  • Overall Rank: 9/74
  • EU Download Speed: 81.46 Mbps
  • US Download Speed: 77.56 Mbps
  • Logging Policy: No Logging
  • Leaks: No Leaks
  • Torrenting: Torrenting Allowed
  • Netflix: Does Not Work With Netflix

Private Internet Access is the highest ranked overall VPN on this list.

We ranked this product as the ninth VPN we’ve reviewed. And with good reason.

Speeds were awesome, as should come as no shock.

We tested a number of servers and were very impressed. Take a look:

EU Speed Test:

PIA USA speed test
  • Ping: 41ms
  • Download: 81.46 Mbps (15% slower)
  • Upload: 40.30 Mbps (29% slower)

US Speed Test:

PIA speed test US
  • Ping: 118ms
  • Download: 77.56 Mbps (19% slower)
  • Upload: 36.75 Mbps (34% slower)

Those speeds, coupled with a strict no-logging policy, full torrenting allowance, and no leaks made this a fantastic option.

Of course, they weren’t perfect.

None of the servers we tested worked with Netflix, for starters, and their US jurisdiction does create some surveillance issues.

For more information, check out our official review.

5. BolehVPN

BolehVPN speed test
  • Overall Rank: 34/74
  • EU Download Speed: 88.41 Mbps
  • US Download Speed: 62.85 Mbps
  • Logging Policy: Logs Traffic
  • Leaks: No Leaks
  • Torrenting: Torrenting Allowed
  • Netflix: 1/5 Worked With Netflix

BolehVPN produced slightly mixed results.

The upload speeds were consistent across both servers. But the EU download speeds were significantly faster than the US one.

Take a look.

EU Speed Test:

BolehVPN EU speed test results
  • Ping: 47ms
  • Download: 88.41 Mbps (9% slower)
  • Upload: 36.63 Mbps (31% slower)

US Speed Test:

BolehVPN USA speed test results
  • Ping: 117 ms
  • Download: 62.85 Mbps (35% slower)
  • Upload: 35.38 Mbps (38% slower)

Plus, they allow torrenting and one of the servers worked with Netflix. So you can get full use of those strong speeds.

Why didn’t we recommend this VPN in our review, then?

It logs some information, has a limited number of servers, and we had an overall clunky experience working with the app.

6. VPN.ac

VPN.ac speed test
  • Overall Rank: 46/74
  • EU Download Speed: 90.22 Mbps
  • US Download Speed: 58.53 Mbps
  • Logging Policy: Logs Some Info
  • Leaks: No Leaks
  • Torrenting: Torrenting Limited
  • Netflix: Does Not Work With Netflix

VPN.ac produced blazing-fast EU speeds and pretty good US ones.

EU Speed Test:

VPN.ac speed test results in EU
  • Ping: 33 ms
  • Download: 90.22 Mbps (7% slower)
  • Upload: 48.76 Mbps (8% slower)

US Speed Test:

VPN.ac speed test results in US
  • Ping: 115 ms
  • Download: 58.53 Mbps (40% slower)
  • Upload: 25.60 Mbps (51% slower)

There were no IP leaks found in this VPN, and they don’t log any major information. (Just your email address which isn’t enough to identify you.)

That being said, they limit their torrenting services to a few servers. And none of the servers we tested worked with Netflix. That’s a shame with such impressive speed.

Overall, they were only able to come in at number 46 out of 74. Read more about their service in our review.

7. Astrill

AstrillVPN speed test
  • Overall Rank: 25/74
  • EU Download Speed: 69.08 Mbps
  • US Download Speed: 78.65 Mbps
  • Logging Policy: Logs Some Info
  • Leaks: No Leaks
  • Torrenting: Torrenting Allowed
  • Netflix: 3/5 Worked With Netflix

Rounding out our list of the seven fastest VPNs is Astrill, a strong middle-of-the-road option that doesn’t drop the server speed ball.

EU Speed Test:

Astrill speed test results in EU
  • Ping: 44 ms
  • Download: 69.08 Mbps (29% slower)
  • Upload: 53.30 Mbps (0.6% faster)

US Speed Test:

Astrill Speed test US
  • Ping: 182 ms
  • Download: 78.65 Mbps (19% slower)
  • Upload: 18.99 Mbps (64% slower)

Astrill VPN works well with torrenting. And this was also the best option for streaming services (3 out of 5 Netflix servers worked) on this list.

Unfortunately, some shady logging policies in their privacy policy undermine the good results we saw. We discuss it at length in our official review.

The 3 Slowest VPNs

You’ve seen the best.

Now here are the rest. Or worst, when it comes to speed.

These last three VPNs sap away speed at an alarming rate. But they’re not all bad. In fact, one of them even ranks higher than some of the earlier VPN services above.

Here’s how they shake out.

1. Avira Phantom

Avira speed test
  • Overall Rank: 33/74
  • EU Download Speed: 6.98 Mbps
  • US Download Speed: 4.34 Mbps
  • Logging Policy: Unclear Logging Policy
  • Leaks: No Leaks
  • Torrenting: Torrenting Allowed
  • Netflix: 1/5 Worked With Netflix

There’s no doubt about it.

Avira Phantom is a slow program. They do have some positive features, but the speeds are downright abysmal.

EU Speed Test:

Avira EU speed test
  • Ping: 40ms
  • Download: 6.98 Mbps (93% slower)
  • Upload: 9.02 Mbps (83% slower)

US Speed Test:

Avira US speed test
  • Ping: 194 ms
  • Download: 4.34 Mbps (96% slower)
  • Upload: 2.23 Mbps (96% slower)

That’s ridiculously slow.

That being said, torrenting is allowed and one out of five tested servers worked with Netflix.

But, as you can see in our official review, the speed loss coupled with a shady logging policy made us pass on this one.

2. Hide All IP

Hide ALL IP speed test
  • Overall Rank: 49/74
  • EU Download Speed: 5.31 Mbps
  • US Download Speed: 2.58 Mbps
  • Logging Policy: No Logging
  • Leaks: No Leaks
  • Torrenting: Torrenting Allowed
  • Netflix: 3/5 Worked With Netflix

Hide All IP doesn’t just hurt your speed. It guts it with a rusty kitchen knife.

This Hong Kong-based VPN slows you down by upwards of 94%.

EU Speed Test:

Hide ALL IP EU speed test
  • Ping: 74 ms
  • Download: 5.1 Mbps (94.5% slower)
  • Upload: 3.16 Mbps (94% slower)

US Speed Test:

Hide ALL IP US speed test
  • Ping: 149 ms
  • Download: 2.58 Mbps (97% slower)
  • Upload: 1.07 (98% slower)

This was an all-around bad VPN, with questionable logging policies, Chinese jurisdiction, and only one connection per account. On their poorly translated website, they tout their ability to provide geo-blocked streaming services.

And we found that Netflix worked on one (out of five) servers. Plus, they allow unlimited torrenting.

But both will be affected by such slow speeds.

Read more about why we don’t recommend Hide All IP in our official review.

3. Betternet

Betternet speed test

 

  • Overall Rank: 69/74
  • EU Download Speed: 3.18 Mbps
  • US Download Speed: 2.53 Mbps
  • Logging Policy: Some Logging
  • Leaks: IP Leaks Detected
  • Torrenting: Torrenting Allowed
  • Netflix: Did Not Work With Netflix

Betternet is a free VPN. And you get what you pay for in this case.

EU Speed Test:

Betternet EU speed test
  • Ping: 64 ms
  • Download: 3.18 Mbps (97% slower)
  • Upload: 12.41 Mbps (76% slower)

That is one slow system.

Our tests revealed that Netflix doesn’t work. Torrenting is allowed but with download speeds around two and three Mbps, you’re not going to download anything.

Betternet is the slowest VPN we’ve reviewed.

But incredibly, they’re not the lowest overall VPN on our list. Their 69th position means that there are still a few others with the distinction of somehow being ranked below the slowest VPN in the marketplace.

There are many factors that make a VPN great (or not). But speed is often the Achilles Heel.

For more on what makes a VPN truly impressive, check out our list of the 10 best VPNs.

Best VPN Protocols: OpenVPN vs PPTP vs L2TP vs Others

Brad Smith

Brad Smith

I wrote this article to help you understand the difference between VPN tunneling protocols, such as OpenVPN, IKEv2, PPTP, and others.

Best VPN ProtocolsA VPN will help to protect your privacy and secure your data whenever you’re using the internet. But, beyond choosing the best VPN, you’ll also need to choose the best VPN protocol for your needs.

The VPN protocol is how your VPN will secure the transferring of data. There’s a multitude of different protocols that are based on the operating system, platform, performance, and lot more.

Below we explore the most popular VPN protocols, so you can decide which one is best for you.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the seven biggest VPN protocols today:

OpenVPNPPTPL2TP/IPsecSoftEtherWireGuardSSTPIKEv2/IPSec
Encryption160-bit, 256-bit128-bit256-bit256-bitChaCha20256-bit256-bit
SecurityVery highWeakHigh security (might be weakened by NSA)HighHighHighHigh
SpeedFastSpeedy, due to low encryptionMedium, due to double encapsulationVery fastFastFastVery fast
StabilityVery stableVery stableStableVery stableNot yet stableVery stableVery stable
CompatibilityStrong desktop support, but mobile could be improved. Requires third-party software.Strong Windows desktop support.Multiple device and platform support.Multiple desktop and mobile OS support. No native operating system support.Linux, being built for other platforms and operating systems.Windows-platform, but works on other Linux distributions.Limited platform support beyond Windows and Blackberry
Final WordMost recommended choice. Fast and secure.Native on Windows. Weak security. Useful for geo-restricted content.Versatile and secure. A decent alternative to OpenVPN.Up and coming. Flexible, fast, and secure. A great alternative to OpenVPN.Has promise to be fast and efficient. Still in development.Faster and more secure alternative to PPTP and L2TP.Secure, stable, and mobile-oriented.

1. OpenVPN – Recommended, Most Popular

OpenVPN is the VPN protocol you’ll want to be using. It’s the most recommended choice by leading VPN providers today. Kind of a no-brainer. It’s one of the newer VPN protocols, but it’s flexibility and security have made it one of the most commonly used.

It relies upon open source technologies like the OpenSSL encryption library and SSL V3/TLS V1 protocols. The open source nature of OpenVPN means the technology is maintained, updated, and inspected by a community of supporters.

When traffic passes through an OpenVPN connection it’s hard to differentiate between an HTTPS over SSL connection. The ability to hide in plain sight makes it less vulnerable to hacking, and more difficult to block.

Plus, it can run on any port, using both UDP and TCP protocols, so getting around firewalls won’t be a problem. However, if you’re looking for speed, then using the UDP port will be the most efficient.

In terms of security, it has a variety of methods and protocols like OpenSLL and HMAC authentication and shared keys. To take the security standards even further it’s commonly coupled with AES encryption. Other VPN protocols have been subject to NSA and other hacking, but so far, OpenVPN has managed to stay in the clear.

The additional cryptic algorithms it supports are:

  • 3DES
  • AES
  • Camellia
  • Blowfish
  • CAST-128

It’s recommended to use AES encryption if security is your main concern. This is essentially the “gold standard”, and currently has no known weaknesses. It’s 128-bit block size also gives it solid capabilities to handle larger files, without a reduction in performance.

Still, OpenVPN isn’t perfect:

You’ll still need to install a third-party application to use this type of connection. It still isn’t supported by any platforms, but most third party software providers, like Android and iOS, are supported.

Setting up OpenVPN on your own can be a bit tricky. Especially, when compared to PPTP or L2TP. However, most VPN clients are able to offer a customized setup, which gets you around any configuration difficulties.

If you do want to set up OpenVPN yourself, the high level of configuration can be disadvantageous as you’ll be less secure if it’s set up the wrong way.

Plus, you can even use OpenVPN to connect over the mobile Apple iOS. Say hello to an encrypted and private mobile connection.

The Pros of OpenVPN:

  • The protocol can bypass most firewalls
  • It’s open source and vetted by third-parties
  • It has a very high level of security
  • It works with multiple methods of encryption
  • It can be configured and customized to your liking
  • It can bypass firewalls
  • It supports a variety of cryptic algorithms

The Cons of OpenVPN:

  • The setup process can be technical
  • It relies upon third-party software to operate
  • Desktop support and functionality are strong, but mobile is lacking

2. PPTP

Think about the security standards of the web back in 1995. Did those even exist? Well, that’s when PPTP became a VPN protocol. It was developed by a consortium founded by Microsoft and was the standard for VPN connections back in the dial-up days.

PPTP, also known as point-to-point tunneling protocol, is over 20 years old by now. Even being that old, it’s still the standard for internal business VPNs. It’s a popular choice since it’s already installed on most devices and platforms, is easy to setup, it’s efficient, and no additional software is needed. To establish a secure connection all you need is a username, password, and server address.

For example, office buildings with older infrastructure, who need to internally secure data could use this connection. Or users who are running an older Windows operating system. If it’s all you have, it’s better than nothing.

When it was first released with Windows 95 there were a number of security weaknesses that were exploited. Today it’s upgraded it’s encryption protocols to 128-bit key encryption, which isn’t awful, but if security is a concern you could do better. Even Microsoft recommends that users looking for higher security standards should use SSTP or L2TP.

Still, this low level of encryption does help to make it one of the fastest VPN protocols.

It’s also been known to be easily decrypted and hacked by the NSA and other intelligence agencies. This decryption also took place at the time when security experts considered PPTP secure.

PPTP is usually only used today due to its high performance and stability. Think accessing geo-restricted content, or getting access to Netflix. Overall, it’s an old and outdated VPN protocol, but still serves a small purpose for users who aren’t concerned with security.

The Pros of PPTP:

  • It’s very fast
  • It’s already built into most platforms
  • It’s easy to configure and setup

The Cons of PPTP:

  • It has security holes (one of the least secure VPN protocols)
  • It’s been compromised by the NSA
  • It can be blocked by firewalls

3. L2TP/IPsec

L2TP is a VPN protocol that doesn’t offer any encryption or protection from the traffic that passes through the connection. For this reason, it’s usually paired with IPSec, which is an encryption protocol.

It’s an extension of the PPTP protocol and utilizes a process called double encapsulation (which led to its initial rise in popularity). The first encapsulation establishes a PPP connection, while the second contains IPSec encryption.

It does have support for AES-256 encryption algorithms, which are some of the most secure. But, the stronger encryption protocols you use the slower your performance will be.

This protocol is built into most desktop and mobile operating systems, which makes it easier to implement. But, it can only use UDP port 500 for a connection, which makes it pretty easy to block by NAT firewalls. So, additional configuration is needed if this is going to be used behind a firewall.

It does have an advantage in that this style of connection prevents the data from being accessed between the sender and receiver. So, this can help to prevent any middle-man hacking attempts.

IPSec encryption is secure. Yet, both Edward Snowden and John Gilmore, a founding member of the EFF, suggest that the protocol has been deliberately weakened by the NSA.

It’s a slower connection because traffic must first be converted into the L2TP form, and you have an additional layer of encryption on top of that. It’s not as an efficient solution as OpenVPN, but it is easy to set up.

The Pros of L2TP/IPsec:

  • It’s available on nearly all devices and operating systems
  • The setup process is easy
  • It has high (yet weakened) levels of security
  • It does support multithreading for improved performance

The Cons of L2TP/IPsec:

  • It can be blocked by firewalls
  • The NSA might have weakened the protocol, making it less secure
  • It doesn’t have the fastest speeds, due to double encapsulation

4. SoftEther

SoftEther is an open-source multi-protocol VPN software. What began as an academic project at the University of Tsukuba has grown into a VPN technology that’s used by millions of people worldwide.

The biggest reason for its widespread growth is that it’s free, and it works across the Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, FreeBSD, and Solaris operating systems. Not only that it supports multiple different protocols, like OpenVPN, EtherIP, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, and a lot more.

Basically, you can set it up to run on your operating system of choice and use whichever VPN protocol you desire. This unparalleled flexibility and support across multiple platforms have led to its insane growth.

It utilizes 256-bit AES encryption, which is one of the most secure forms of encryption available.

With SoftEther you get a flexible and fast VPN, that utilizes the latest encryption protocols. It’s newer, so it doesn’t have the same legacy as OpenVPN, but it’s an up and coming alternative. It offers you a nice blend of performance and security.

The Pros of SoftEther:

  • It supports a multitude of desktop and mobile operating systems
  • It’s entirely open source
  • It can bypass most firewalls
  • It’s fast but doesn’t compromise on security

The Cons of SoftEther:

  • It’s relatively new
  • It doesn’t have native operating system support
  • A lot of existing VPNs don’t offer it, yet

5. WireGuard

WireGuard is an innovative and cutting-edge VPN protocol that’s been developed to optimize performance. The implementation is small, making it a much more lightweight project in terms of the code base. By having a simpler codebase it’s easier for developers to integrate.

The goal of the project is to create an alternative to IPSec, that’s lighter, faster, and leaner. It was originally released on the Linux platform, but it’s on its way towards cross-platform compatibility and can be deployed across a variety of different distributions.

WireGuard shines in its simplicity.

It only supports a single cryptographic suite, which keeps the design simple and leads to fewer security holes. The algorithm choice is also incredibly simple, which helps to reduce any security bugs, now and in the future.

However, keep in mind that WireGuard is not yet complete. It’s still a work in progress and the team is working towards a stable release.

Early signs point towards it being a widely used, fast and efficient VPN protocol in the future. If you want to deploy it keep in mind there may be some security vulnerabilities, and it won’t be as secure as other stable VPN protocols highlighted in this list.

The Pros of WireGuard:

  • It’s simple and lightweight
  • It’s fast and secure
  • It takes a minimalist approach to a VPN protocol
  • It has potential to become the VPN of the future

The Cons of WireGuard:

  • It doesn’t have a stable release
  • Only technical Linux users can effectively implement
  • It’s not as flexible as other VPN protocols

6. SSTP

SSTP was developed by Microsoft and introduced with the Windows Vista release. It is still considered Windows-only even though there is support for other operating systems. Since it’s integrated into Windows it is a very stable VPN protocol.

There is support for other systems, like Linux, SEIL, and RouterOS, but the adoption isn’t as widespread.

It’s typically configured with AES encryption, so it’s incredibly secure and a much better option than the PPTP protocol. It also uses the SSL v3 connection (similar to OpenVPN), which will help to prevent any NAT firewall issues and blocking.

The SSTP protocol uses a similar authentication method to an SSL/TLS connection. In order for any data or traffic to be transmitted both ends of the connection must be authenticated with a secret key. This helps to create an incredibly secure connection.

However, SSTP is still owned and maintained entirely by Microsoft. Although no security holes have been reported, they do have a history of cooperating with the NSA. So, it hasn’t been proven, but there is speculation that there may be backdoors built in.

Overall, it offers a similar connection as OpenVPN but is more oriented towards Windows. It has better security than the L2TP connection and is all around better than PPTP.

The Pros of SSTP:

  • It can bypass most firewalls
  • It has a high level of security
  • Integrated into the Windows platform with Microsoft support
  • It supports a wide range of cryptic algorithms
  • It’s easy to use

The Cons of SSTP:

  • It’s entirely owned and maintained by the Microsoft Corporation
  • It only works well on Windows platforms
  • It hasn’t been audited by an independent third-party

7. IKEv2/IPSec

IKEv2 is based upon IPSec and was created as a joint project between Microsoft and Cisco. Although it’s not technically a VPN protocol, it behaves like one and helps to control IPSec key exchange.

It currently comes installed on any generation of Windows, starting with Windows 7. Plus, there is an existing implementation for Linux, Blackberry devices, and other platforms. If you’re a Blackberry user, it’s one of the few supported VPNs.

If you want a consistent VPN connection, even while switching networks, then this protocol can be very useful.

It’ll make sure you keep a VPN connection, even if your internet or connection drops. Plus, it’s stable, secure, and has high performance.

The core focus is for mobile users who demand a secure and private connection. Since it offers support for MOBIKE, it’s very resistant to any network changes. So, as you switch from a wifi connection to a data connection the VPN connection will remain throughout.

It’s not widely supported but does offer better security levels than L2TP, as well as improved speeds and stability.

The Pros of IKEv2/IPSec:

  • It’s very secure and supports a wide range of encryption protocols
  • It’s very stable, even when the network connection is lost
  • It’s easy to setup
  • One of the fastest VPN protocols

The Cons of IKEv2/IPSec:

  • Its support for platforms is limited
  • It has the same drawbacks as IPSec
  • It can be blocked by firewalls

How Do The Different VPN Protocols Stack Up?

how do different vpon protocols stack up

All the VPN protocols above have various strengths and weaknesses. Some are more widely used, while others serve more specific niches and problems.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how each VPN protocol stands out:

OpenVPN is the most often recommended, and widely used VPN protocol. It’s fast, secure, and open source, so it can be vetted and improved by third-parties. The only real downside is the difficulty in setup and configuration. Failing to set it up the right way could lead to security holes and lackluster performance.

PPTP is already installed on most older Windows operating systems, making it an attractive option. But, it’s generally very insecure and should be avoided, if privacy is a concern. It stands out with its compatibility, ease of setup, and speed. It can work for accessing geo-restricted content, but if you’re doing anything else, you should at the very least opt for L2TP/IPSec.

L2TP/IPSec is a solid VPN choice if you’re not exchanging sensitive data. It’s basically an improved version of PPTP. Some older devices and platforms won’t support OpenVPN, so this could be an attractive option. The only real downside is it’s security standards, which have been weakened and compromised by the NSA.

SoftEther is a newer VPN protocol, but don’t let its youth fool you. It offers similar features to OpenVPN but offers even greater levels of flexibility. With the ability to integrate across multiple different platforms and operating systems it’ll be hard to find a setup where this protocol can’t be used. Plus, it’s fast and secure. It doesn’t have the legacy and stability of OpenVPN but is a contender in its own right.

WireGuard is an up and coming VPN protocol. The current release is best suited for technical Linux users, but support for other platforms and operating systems is in the works. It shines in its lean nature, speed, and security. By having less moving parts and selection it’s easier to maintain and catch any security issues. It’s currently working towards a stable release, so it’s not recommended for non-technical users, but the future of this VPN protocol is bright.

SSTP is a solid choice for Windows users. It offers you similar security and speed as OpenVPN, but there is one big downside. Since it’s created by Microsoft there is no vetting by any outside third-parties. This means there could be backdoors built into the code, which compromises the overall security. Other platforms and operating systems can implement SSTP, but it’s poorly supported.

IKEv2/IPSec is a solid fast and secure VPN protocol. It stands out in its ability to maintain a secure VPN connection, even while the connection is lost, or you’re switching networks. Its primary use is for mobile networks. Also, if you’re a Blackberry user then this VPN protocol will be your protocol of choice.

Which VPN Protocol to Use?

which vpn protocol to use

By now your head is probably spinning trying to decide which VPN protocol to use.

Overall, it depends on your needs, and why you’re using a VPN. But, to keep things simple—you can’t go wrong when using OpenVPN.

Still not sure?

Here’s a breakdown that’ll help you choose the best VPN protocol:

  • OpenVPN is fast, flexible, and secure. No matter your operating system or platform, you’re covered.
  • PPTP should almost never be used. It’s easy to setup and fast, but it’s incredibly insecure.
  • L2TP/IPSec is a step up from PPTP, but it’s also one of the slowest connections, and its security is questionable.
  • SSTP is pretty good for Windows users. It’s fast and easy to setup, but once again you don’t know how secure and private your connection is.
  • IKEv2/IPSec is a pretty good choice for mobile users and a must-have for Blackberry users. But, beyond that go with OpenVPN.
  • SoftEther is good OpenVPN contender. If you’re willing to use a newer VPN protocol, instead of the legacy of OpenVPN, then this a great second choice.
  • WireGuard should really only be used by technical Linux users. Once the release is stable it may gain more traction, but general VPN users should wait it out.

Hopefully, you have more clarity on choosing the right VPN protocol for your needs. Currently, OpenVPN still reigns supreme as the best VPN protocol. But, with up and coming protocols like SoftEther, it’s hard to say how long it’ll be number one.

Still, have questions about which VPN protocol is right for you? Please share your comments, concerns, and questions in the comments below.

How to Save Money with a VPN: The Ultimate Guide

John Mason

John Mason

We tested VPN servers in 19 countries against five types of online purchases to see how much money you can save by changing your location.

Using a VPN is a must for those looking to protect their privacy and browse anonymously online. However, the benefits of using a virtual private network extend far beyond privacy and security. For example, did you know that using a VPN could save you between hundreds and thousands of dollars on online purchases?

Several online purchase sites change their rates depending on the country you’re located in or based off your previous online activity. Using a VPN allows you to circumvent location monitoring and web tracking and see the prices available in other countries.

How Much is Your Location Costing You

To see how you can save by changing your location, we tested ExpressVPN, NordVPN and CyberGhost on popular online purchases. In total, we were able to save between $50 and $1,000, depending on the purchase.

Jump to our infographic to see how we did it, or check out our full findings on each purchase by clicking on the icons below.

how to save money on airfare

The price of airline tickets commonly fluctuates by location. Airfare sites use your browsing history (collected by tracking cookies) to determine if you’ve viewed a certain flight on their site before. If you have, they raise prices. Using a VPN allows you to circumvent this by hiding your browsing history, so airfare sites can’t raise prices based on return visits.

Additionally, the location you’re buying the ticket from can make a big difference. In fact, research has shown that retailers often use dynamic pricing to decide how much they’ll charge you.

Dynamic pricing allows online retailers to charge different prices based on how much they think a user will spend, taking factors like device type and zip code into consideration. For example, users located in zip codes or countries with higher income averages may see more expensive prices from online retailers.

To see how location affected our airfare prices, we used a VPN to compare the prices of booking a round-trip United flight from Mayalsia’s Kuala Lumpur International Airport to California’s Los Angeles International Airport from 20 different countries. Our maximum amount saved (between the lowest price found through a server in Poland and the highest price in the United States), was $1,121.29.

Booking a flight from KUL to LAX

how to save money on rental cars

Rental cars are another popular expense that varies in price depending on the location you’re in. The fluctuation in prices for rental cars is largely caused by location surcharges, local taxes, and insurance costs that vary depending you what country you’re in.

To demonstrate this, we looked at the price of renting a Mitsubishi Mirage from Enterprise Rent-a-Car for a week in Philadelphia from a server in the United States and a server in Spain. The cost per week for the United States was $265.76 without tax; it came to $400.74 with tax.

However, when we looked at the price of the car from a server in Spain, the price was €206,29 (or $238.17) — for the whole week. This is because the tax and fee details are included in the weekly price with renting from Europe, but not when renting from the United States.

Cost when IP address is set to the United States:

Rental car cost with US server Rental car taxes with US server

Cost when IP address is set to Spain:

Rental car cost in Spain Rental car taxes in Spain

Since not every country has an Enterprise Rent-a-Car website, we took to Kayak to get a better representation of how the price of renting a car varies across countries.

When we were connected to a server in the United States, we saw the set prize as $492.00. However, this price changed dramatically as we changed our location to other countries.

Cost when IP address is set to the United States:

Rental car cost in US

Cost when IP address is set to Azerbaijan ($290.47 USD):

Rental car cost Azerbaijan

Cost when IP address is set to China ($301.65 USD):

Rental car cost in China

Cost when IP address is set to Japan ($342.71 USD):

Rental car cost in Japan

We looked at the cost of renting a Chrysler 200 in Philadelphia, which is the most expensive rental car market in the United States. In total, we found that the priciest place to rent the car from was the United States, at $492 per day, while the cheapest location, at $221.72 per day, was India.

Renting a Car in Philadelphia

how to save money on hotel rooms

Hotel booking sites operate in a similar way to airfare and other travel sites — they use dynamic pricing and track cookies to decide what to charge you.

To demonstrate, we looked at the cost of staying at the Sofitel in New York City. When searching from the United States, a room at the Sofitel will cost $482.00/night. We saw this number lessen slightly when we searched from Canada — the least expensive tested location — which came in at $474.90/night.

We found that the cost tended to increase, not decrease, as we switched servers. The most expensive pricing came in at over $100 more than our lowest cost: $584.22/night from a server in Brazil.

Staying at the Sofitel in New York

how to save money on subscription services

The pricing for subscription services, like music streaming or software subscriptions, often varies by region, often in order to offset exchange rates and currency differences. We took a look at two popular subscription services — Apple Music and Microsoft Office — to see how changing your location could get you a better deal.

Saving Money on Apple Music

We logged first logged into the U.S. server of NordVPN and took a look at the cost for an individual streaming subscription. In the United States, it costs $9.99/month for an individual subscription to Apple Music.

Cost when IP address is set to the United States:

Apple music cost in US

We then logged into several other servers to see how the price would vary location. Overall, we found that subscribers in Europe pay the most per month for an Apple subscription — the highest cost was from the United Kingdom, at £9.99/month or approximately $13.33/month. Other countries in that region, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Spain, followed closely behind.

Cost when IP address is set to the United Kingdom:

Apple music cost in United Kingdom

We found India to be the cheapest location to subscribe; the monthly cost when we set our location to Nord’s India server was ₹120/month, or about $1.75/month.

Cost when IP address is set to the India:

Apple music cost in India

 

In total, the maximum savings between the most expensive location (the United Kingdom) and the least expensive location (India) was $11.58/month, or almost $140/year.

Monthly Apple Subscription Service

Saving Money on Microsoft Office

Like with Apple Music, the cost for a yearly subscription to Microsoft Office products vary by region. We chose to compare the pricing of the popular Office 365 Home, which, when logged into a U.S. server, costs $99.99 for a yearly subscription.

Cost when IP address set in the United States:

Microsoft Office cost in US

As with Apple’s subscription streaming service, we saw prices hike for Microsoft Office’s yearly product when we set our location to countries within Europe. Poland had the highest cost, at 299,99 zł/year or about $116/year. Nearby countries Germany and the Netherlands saw similar hikes.

Cost when IP address set in Poland:

Microsoft Office cost in Poland

Countries near or in Asia saw lower prices; Russia came in at the lowest cost, at 2 699,00₽/year or about $55.28/year. In total, the maximum savings between Russia and Poland was more than $50/year.

Cost when IP address set in Russia:

Microsoft Office cost in Russia

Yearly Microsoft Office Subscription

A VPN is a smart investment, both from a security standpoint and from a financial one. If you’re planning to book a trip, rent a car or even simply stream music, one of our top VPNs for 2018 could save you hundreds — or even thousands of — dollars.

how to save money with a vpn infographic

Share Infographic Code

Our 13-Step Review Process

Unlike many other VPN review sites, we take things seriously.

When we review the VPN product, we actually buy and use it for a period of 1 week. We do a lot of speed test, leak tests as well as penetrate their customer support.

Here’s how we evaluate and stress-test every element of a VPN Service to keep things honest.

1. Used Same Computer & Network for Each VPN

What’s in the box?

Our testing PC

Meet our battle-tested Lenovo IdeaPad 120S-141AP, or “Lenny” for short!

vpn testing laptop

We run every single VPN we test on Lenny to keep the tech consistent. In fact, we bought Lenny just for that purpose!

It wouldn’t make any sense to test these VPNs on a bunch of different networks, so we use a wired cable connection on the same network in our HQ in Estonia. We speed tested our network multiple times across multiple weeks to measure out our average: 98 Mbps Upload, 53 Mbps Download:

vpn speed test benchmark

 

2. Bought and Installed 74 VPN Apps

Here’s a look at Lenny’s desktop as of a few weeks ago for perspective:

Lenovo Desktop

This is the part where we pause and use bold type to make sure this is unmissable:

 We do not accept any money, bribes, favors, in-kind donations, exotic pets, crypto currencies, homecooked meals, or ANY compensation in exchange for writing or editing a review. EVER.

In fact, we pay for every VPN service we try out of our own pockets to allow for complete honesty as an actual consumer.

payment for vpn

All of our data is collected first-hand: unlike other reviewers, we don’t rip off numbers from other sites or just make it up. (Which is sadly too common.)

 

3. Read Through Countless Logging Policies

Have you EVER read a logging or privacy policy in detail? We have. Over 40 times. Until our eyes watered and our heads hurt.

sketchy logging policies

This is the least fun part of our reviews, but the most important: shady companies use tricky language to disguise the fact that they’re tracking and sharing your activity.

We read the fine print to make sure you’re not being taken advantage of.

 

4. Checked VPN History, Jurisdiction, and Company Name

Background and company name: Who runs the company? Where are they from? Do they have a history of violating user privacy, or leaks? We collect as much info as possible and bring it to you.

Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction a VPN is based in may play a major role in whether or not a VPN could be compelled to hand over your data to authorities if pushed. More on that here.

Jurisdiction

 

5. Run Multiple Speed Tests

It doesn’t matter how secure your VPN is if it takes three hours to download an episode of “Stranger Things.” We use speedtest.net to test Upload and Download speeds multiple times to account for fluctuations in service.

We also revisit these speed tests about once a year to see if anything has changed.

Unfortunately, some VPNs were VERY slow…

slow VPN

 

6. Tested Netflix Streaming Across 4 to 5 Servers

Netflix n’ chill? Only if it works. That’s why we don’t do a one-and-done test: we find out which servers (if any) actually work with Netflix and let you know, saving you time and headaches.

Netflix VPN streaming error
Netflix VPN streaming error

 

7. Read Through Their Torrenting/P2P Policy

Some VPNs crack down on P2P and torrenting. Some advocate for it directly. Others are sneaky about it. We get to the truth of the matter to make sure you can do what you like with the VPN you choose.

torrenting policies

 

8. Tested For DNS, IPv4, IPv6, and WebRTC Leaks

TL; DR: IP leaks happen when your VPN fails to hide your actual IP as you browse. For example: if you went to load a geo-restricted show on Netflix, and the content was still blocked, your real IP might just have leaked.

We strategically test common points of failure to see how the VPN stands up.

PersonalVPN leaks your DNS

 

9. We Graded Their Usability and User-Friendliness

The most secure VPN in the world won’t be much help if it takes a degree in Computer Sciences to use properly. We look for things like setup time, user-friendly interfaces, and ease of configuration to get a sense for how accessible the VPN will be to the average user.

 

10. Evaluated Each Software Security and Privacy Features

Different VPN services are more ideal for different use cases (e.g. business vs. personal), while some “premium” features really ought to be standard on every VPN. We evaluate…

  • Security protocols available
  • Encryption type
  • Kill-switch (instant disconnect if security is lost)
  • # of max connections (How many devices at once)
  • Browser extensions
  • Number and locations of servers

And any unique features the VPN Service brings to the table, highlighting the good, the bad, and the ugly.

protocols and encryption

 

11. Gave Their Customer Support a (real!) Test Run

NEVER trust a company who promises “best in class” customer service. We submit support tickets, make phone calls, get on chat and more to test response speed and the competence of the support team on the other end when dealing with common VPN issues.

Celo VPN Customer Support

 

12. Tested Compatibility With Routers, TVs, TOR, and Consoles

If your VPN Service isn’t compatible with your gadgets, what’s the point? We test multiple different setups for compatibility to help you avoid buying a solution that won’t work on your devices.

We also test whether or not TOR can be used in conjunction with the VPN Service for an added layer of security – important to several power users and those in contentious environments/locations.

available VPN devices

 

13. We Compared The Cost vs Value

Yep, pricing is important. So why evaluate it last? Because there’s no sense in a free product that compromises your privacy, or an expensive product that offers nothing superior to a cheaper one.

vpn ac pricing

 

You Can Take It From Here…

Quite the process, right? Between reviewing those 13 points for 70+ VPN providers and revisiting past reviews to keep them current, it’s easy to see why we take a little while to put out new reviews!

We hope you appreciate the depth and transparency that goes into the work we do here – and that the information will be helpful to your decision.

Want to help us? Leave your own review here.

Or go back reading TOP 10 VPN list