When we test VPNs, we use the Ookla speed test tool. (Note that Ookla is owned by PCMag's publisher, Ziff Davis.) This test provides metrics for latency, download speeds, and upload speeds. Any one of these can be an important measurement depending on your needs, but we tend to view the download speed as the most important. After all, we live in an age of digital consumption.
VPN services are entirely legal and legitimate in most countries. It's completely legal to mask your IP address and encrypt your internet traffic. There is nothing about using a VPN that's illegal and VPN services themselves do not and cannot do anything illegal. The only thing that's illegal is if you were to break the law while using a VPN - for instance if you were to infringe on someone's copyright. But that's the action of infringement that's illegal, not the use of the VPN.
One of today’s leading VPN providers and another worthy mention on our list of top 20 VPN services, PureVPN is known for its service quality and customer support. The service has 450 servers in 101 countries, allowing users to surf the Internet and use any online solution without having to reveal their IP address. This is very useful to those who want to bypass Internet censorship.

For local VPN issues, you have a couple of options. First, consider installing VPN software on your router and not using a VPN on your local machines. Alternatively, many VPN services offer browser plug-ins that only encrypt your browser traffic. That's not ideal from a security perspective, but it's useful when all you need to secure is your browser information.


CyberGhost gives Mullvad some stiff competition in the speed department, especially for locations in North America and Europe. It does a good job protecting user anonymity, too—requiring no identifying information and using a third-party service for payment processing—albeit not to the same degree as Mullvad. Add to that CyberGhost’s unique, easy-to-use interface, good price, and streaming unblocking (although not for Netflix), and this VPN is a solid choice. (See our full review of CyberGhost.)
When you download torrent, your IP address has been shared with all the other users who are downloading and seeding the torrent file. The same happened when you are uploading the torrent file. This IP address information can be used by hackers. This is also very common in case of P2P file sharing network because it is your IP address which has been used by torrent clients like uTorrent to provides you the torrent file.
That level of trust is easier to achieve depending on where the company is headquartered. If the VPN service is located in the U.S., you should be more cautious over any no-log claim. That’s because the U.S. has intelligence agreements with 14 other countries. The core group, known as the Five Eyes alliance, is an intelligence-sharing agreement between the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Other countries have joined this alliance with varying levels of membership. The full alliance, known as 14 Eyes, includes the five countries and Germany, France, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Spain, and Sweden. If a VPN is headquartered in one of these 14 countries, they may be sharing personal data. 
Today everyday citizens are at odds with their own governments about how the internet should be run and the effect that changes to the status quo have on our freedoms. Privacy is not a privilege, it’s a right, and yet internet users are forced to give up that right each time they log on. Thankfully millions of internet users around the world have discovered the power of VPN’s (virtual private networks) over the past decade.
OpenVPN. This takes what’s best in the above protocols and does away with most of the flaws. It’s based on SSL/TLS and it’s an open source project, which means that it’s constantly being improved by hundreds of developers. It secures the connection by using keys that are known only by the two participating parties on either end of the transmission. Overall, it’s the most versatile and secure protocol out there.
Various countries around the world restrict access to one type of online content or another. Social networks, games, chat apps – even Google itself is not beyond the reach of censorship. In addition, many academic institutions and workplaces enable firewalls to limit access to websites for various reasons. These range from seeking to increase productivity to restricting inappropriate content.
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DNS servers are a bit like the phone books of the Internet: You can type in “thewirecutter.com,” for instance, and one of the many DNS servers behind the scenes can point you to the IP address of a server hosting the site. Most of the time, your DNS requests automatically route through your ISP, giving the ISP an easy way to monitor your traffic. Some VPN services rely on third-party DNS servers, but the best ones keep DNS servers in-house to prevent your browsing history, or your IP address, from getting out.
However, we run comparative tests on each service from a London-based connection that typically sees speeds of over 10MB/s (80Mbit/s). We tested multiple servers from each provider in three locations: the UK, the Netherlands and the USA. Our table shows the best results we were able to obtain during a large file download via FTP, but these figures are a snapshot of performance at a single point in time, rather than being fully representative.
Cost: To pay for NordVPN on a monthly basis will cost you $11.95/month. However, you can get it cheaper at $6.99/month if you buy 12 months at once for $83.88 or for $3.99/month when you purchase a 2 year plan for $95.75. Nord is also running a special that allows you to purchase 3 years of service for $2.99/month when you pay the full $107.55 upfront every three years. There's a 30-day money back guarantee and a free 7-day trial option.  
Almost all VPN services now offer a dedicated macOS client. These are sometimes not quite as fully featured as their Windows siblings, but are often all but identical. In general, what makes a great VPN for your Macbook or Mac Mini is exactly the same as what makes a good VPN for any other system. Please check out our Best VPNs for Mac for our top macOS recommendations.

HotSpot Shield and IPVanish did not work with my Godaddy/Outlook SMTP email. I ended up with PureVPN which I like a lot. Hundreds of servers around the world, no logging, and Hong Kong based--all good reasons to choose. Their tech support is also excellent and respond quickly and stay with you to work out any issues. Latest, they do not support newer Netgear router firmware, so they guided me through installing DD-WRT in my new router. Also, my speedtest results are faster using Pure then when not using it...

We summarize the protocols above, and look at them in detail in VPN Encryption: The Complete Guide. Although L2TP/IPsec is fine for most purposes, we only really recommend OpenVPN and IKEv2. OpenVPN is very secure if properly configured. Indeed, Edward Snowden’s documents showed that even the NSA can’t crack well-implemented OpenVPN. It is also supported by almost every provider.  But it is relatively slow. The newer IKEv2 is much faster and is considered secure, but has not been battle-tested in the way that OpenVPN has. It is not as well supported at present, although it is increasingly popular with providers thanks to its speed advantages over OpenVPN.


In this day and age internet users are being threatened from every angle. Cyber thieves are always on the hunt, trying to steal easily accessible unsecured data, and e-commerce companies will do their very best to bombard you with invasive and annoying ads. Many of these ads are based on your browsing history and directed straight at you, by simply using a VPN and encrypting your data, you can reduce the amount of spam mail and targeted ads you receive.
Another thing to consider when choosing a VPN is data leaks. An encrypted tunnel is not foolproof and your activity may be exposed. This is known as a domain name system (DNS) leak. If a website you visit requests your IP address and what’s returned is your original IP address, you have a DNS leak. A quick Google search can point you to a resource listing leaky VPNs.
I USE SPOT FLUX ON MY IMAC OS 10.10.3 AND IT PROVIDES SERVICE TO THE WHOLE MACHINE NOT JUST THE BROWSER. I USE 3 BROWSERS AND THEY ARE ALL PROTECTED BY THIS VPN. IT IS CURRENTLY FREE FOR IMACS AND THEY ALSO HAVE THE PAID VERSION. THE LAPTOPS ARE FORCED TO BUY THE SERVICE ACCORDING TO MY LIMITED INFO. IT IS BASED TO A SERVER STATESIDE WHICH MIGHT INDICATE THE ISP MAY BE MO
We’re so used to sharing our private information online, and entering passwords and credit cards information. But do we ever stop and think, “who else can see this?” or, “can someone hack this network?” The truth is, a regular internet network isn’t particularly safe, and public Wi-Fi networks are even worse. If you demand total online anonymity, then your best bet is a VPN.
Jump up ^ Cisco Systems, Inc. (2004). Internetworking Technologies Handbook. Networking Technology Series (4 ed.). Cisco Press. p. 233. ISBN 9781587051197. Retrieved 2013-02-15. [...] VPNs using dedicated circuits, such as Frame Relay [...] are sometimes called trusted VPNs, because customers trust that the network facilities operated by the service providers will not be compromised.
There are also those countries where strict laws mean that people can be arrested for simply sharing their political views, speaking out against the government, or for posting things anti-Islam (such as many Middle Eastern countries including Turkey and the UAE). A VPN encryption solves all these issues, and allows citizens more freedom of speech, without having to fear arrest.
Our top picks for torrenting have the very best performance in our latest speed tests in terms of upload as well as download speed across their server network. We also only considered VPN providers with strong, user-focused privacy policies and terms of use. Our picks are all zero or near-zero logs, making it near-impossible to trace activity back to individual users. We also looked for VPN apps with a killswitch that are easy to use and install and offer a good level of customer support.
We summarize the protocols above, and look at them in detail in VPN Encryption: The Complete Guide. Although L2TP/IPsec is fine for most purposes, we only really recommend OpenVPN and IKEv2. OpenVPN is very secure if properly configured. Indeed, Edward Snowden’s documents showed that even the NSA can’t crack well-implemented OpenVPN. It is also supported by almost every provider.  But it is relatively slow. The newer IKEv2 is much faster and is considered secure, but has not been battle-tested in the way that OpenVPN has. It is not as well supported at present, although it is increasingly popular with providers thanks to its speed advantages over OpenVPN.
“Unlimited P2P traffic” is IPVanish's stance on torrenting. The network of 1,000+ VPN servers in 60+ countries offers impressive bandwidth and anonymity via 256-bit AES encryption. One year for US$6.49 a month is on the expensive side of things, but there's no arguing with being able to use your subscription on 10 devices (typically the standard offered by competing VPNs is 5-6).

Subscription VPN Providers usually take your privacy a bit more seriously, since you’re paying for the service. It’s unusual for them to show ads, although whether they do logging or store data about your usage varies from company to company. They usually offer free trials so you can give the service a shot first, but remember: just because you’re paying for a service doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework.


Through years of reporting and the Snowden leaks, we now know that the NSA's surveillance apparatus is enormous in scope. At one point, the agency had the ability to intercept and analyze just about every transmission being sent over the web. There are jaw-dropping stories about secret rooms inside data infrastructure hubs, from which the agency had direct access to the beating heart of the internet. With a VPN, you can rest assured that your data is encrypted and less directly traceable back to you. Given the mass surveillance efforts by the NSA and others, having more ways to encrypt your data is a good thing.

CyberGhost is one of the better VPNs out there by virtue of having a number of helpful features, such as a killswitch, which will halt all traffic if the VPN tunnel is suspended for whatever reason, ad blockers and tracker blockers, and built-in shortcuts to sites and services which are either geo-locked or the likes of Twitter and Wikipedia, which are frequently censored by authoritarian goverments.


We contacted each of our finalists with simple questions about its service and troubleshooting. Most VPN companies provide technical support through online ticketing systems, meaning you’ll need to wait for a response. This means that self-help support sites are even more important, since waiting for a reply while your connection is down can be frustrating. Response times to our support inquiries ranged from 20 minutes to a day.

Security is the main reason why corporations have used VPNs for years. There are increasingly simple methods to intercept data traveling to a network. WiFi spoofing and Firesheep are two easy ways to hack information. A useful analogy is that a firewall protects your data while on the computer and a VPN protects your data on the web. VPNs use advanced encryption protocols and secure tunneling techniques to encapsulate all online data transfers. Most savvy computer users wouldn't dream of connecting to the Internet without a firewall and up-to-date antivirus. Evolving security threats and ever increasing reliance on the Internet make a Virtual Private Network an essential part of well-rounded security. Integrity checks ensure that no data is lost and that the connection has not been hijacked. Since all traffic is protected, VPNs are preferred over proxies.
In conjunction with information security experts at The New York Times (parent company of Wirecutter), we reached out to our finalists with questions about their internal security practices. We asked how they handled internal security access, how they communicated securely with customers, in what ways they collected reports on security bugs, and of course whether their statements on logging policies matched their marketing and privacy policies. We also considered which companies had public-facing leadership or ownership, and which ones openly supported projects and organizations that promoted Internet security and privacy. (For a full breakdown of trust and VPNs, check out the section above.)
Bandwidth throttling can be a nightmare for torrenters. Have you ever experienced a sudden drop in download speed, after downloading files up to a certain data limit? Generally, VPN providers throttle bandwidth to avoid overloaded servers. This results in a degraded downloading and streaming experience. Having said that, a premium torrent VPN service generally does not use cheap tactics like bandwidth throttling.
Things can get tricky when it comes to trusting a VPN. Recently, PureVPN handed over log information the company had to federal investigators building a case against a cyberstalker and general dirtbag. Some were surprised that the company had any information to hand over, or that it did cooperated with investigators at all. It seems to us that PureVPN stayed within the bounds of its stated privacy policy. But it's also true that other companies, such as Private Internet Access, aren't able to connect any of your personal information to your account information.
When you connect your computer (or another device, such as a smartphone or tablet) to a VPN, the computer acts as if it’s on the same local network as the VPN. All your network traffic is sent over a secure connection to the VPN. Because your computer behaves as if it’s on the network, this allows you to securely access local network resources even when you’re on the other side of the world. You’ll also be able to use the Internet as if you were present at the VPN’s location, which has some benefits if you’re using pubic Wi-Fi or want to access geo-blocked websites.
TorGuard offers applications for every major platform, including Windows, macOS, and Android. And unlike our top pick, it also supports OpenVPN on ChromeOS. (Though TorGuard does offer an iOS app, it doesn’t natively support the OpenVPN protocol that allows for the easiest and most reliable secure connections.) Using these apps, you can manually select a server, click Connect, and not worry about the rest. But otherwise, the applications aren’t as refined or easy to use as IVPN’s. New users are likely to find themselves out of their depth when modifying anything but the most basic functions, such as auto-connecting at launch or minimizing the app.
In the most recent round of testing, we've also looked at how many virtual servers a given VPN company uses. A virtual server is just what it sounds like—a software-defined server running on server hardware that might have several virtual servers onboard. The thing about virtual servers is that they can be configured to appear as if they are in one country when they are actually being hosted somewhere else. That's an issue if you're especially concerned about where you web traffic is traveling. It's a bit worrisome to choose one location and discover you're actually connected somewhere else entirely.
With the increasing use of VPNs, many have started deploying VPN connectivity on routers for additional security and encryption of data transmission by using various cryptographic techniques.[34] Home users usually deploy VPNs on their routers to protect devices, such as smart TVs or gaming consoles, which are not supported by native VPN clients. Supported devices are not restricted to those capable of running a VPN client.[35]
Through years of reporting and the Snowden leaks, we now know that the NSA's surveillance apparatus is enormous in scope. At one point, the agency had the ability to intercept and analyze just about every transmission being sent over the web. There are jaw-dropping stories about secret rooms inside data infrastructure hubs, from which the agency had direct access to the beating heart of the internet. With a VPN, you can rest assured that your data is encrypted and less directly traceable back to you. Given the mass surveillance efforts by the NSA and others, having more ways to encrypt your data is a good thing.
I definitely agree with your list, tried few of your picks and really liked them. Though, I myself got the best results with Surfshark so I have a subscription with them now. I guess it’s because their servers are not crowded at all yet so speed is really surprising and stable. I’m just hoping they add a server in Canada soon though I’m all set and ok using New York servers until then.
Depending on how ISPs respond to a newly deregulated environment, a VPN could tunnel traffic past any choke points or blockades thrown up by ISPs. That said, an obvious response would be to block or throttle all VPN traffic. Or perhaps ISPs will come up with an entirely novel way to monetize the letitude given them by the current lack of net neutrality legislation.
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