For two years running, Private Internet Access has performed the best in our network tests and remained the cheapest full-fledged VPN service we've tried. It has more than 3,000 servers worldwide, supports platforms ranging from Windows and Mac to open-source routers, and lets you customize your tunneling and encryption protocols. You can pay in bitcoin, and you don't have to provide your real name.
Beyond those two factors, it’s difficult to make blanket statements about what makes a trustworthy VPN. At the bare minimum, a good VPN provider should not collect and keep any logs of its customers’ browsing history. If it does, that puts your privacy at risk should someone access (or even release) those logs without authorization. But deciding when to a trust a logging policy isn’t easy. As the EFF points out, “Some VPNs with exemplary privacy policies could be run by devious people.” You don’t need to have done anything illegal to prefer that law enforcement and criminals alike not have access to a browsing history that may include your bank, medical websites, or that one thing you looked at around 2 a.m. that one time.
If you need a more affordable VPN than our top pick and don’t have an Apple device—or if you need ChromeOS support—we recommend TorGuard. Its apps aren’t as simple or user-friendly, but TorGuard is a good option for more tech-savvy people or those willing to spend a little more time fiddling with an app. TorGuard’s CEO has built trust by talking with media outlets (including us) and detailing the company’s commitment to a service built around a lack of activity logs. Though the apps aren’t as easy to use as our top pick, the connections were the fastest of any we tested and the company has more than twice as many server locations.
Everything you do on the Internet has to pass through your own ISP before reaching the destination. So, when you request Google, for example, the information is sent, unencrypted, to your ISP and then passes through some other channels before reaching the server that holds Google’s website. Basically, VPN services privatize information that can be read by ISPs or any other agency that inspects your traffic.
The other concern with huge troves of data being collected and locked away is how often they tend to be unlocked. Data breaches at huge companies are so common now that the headlines aren’t even shocking anymore. If a database of Internet histories, held by an ISP or sold to a marketing partner, were to be publicly released, there’s a good chance even anonymized data could be tied back to real people. If you were to use a VPN, those logs would show only a single, steady connection from your home to a VPN server, and nothing else.
Opera VPN works only through the Opera web browser, and it shouldn't be used for sensitive communications. Once very fast, Opera's VPN connections were painfully slow in our most recent tests. The Opera VPN mobile apps, which were full-fledged VPN services that performed decently in our 2017 tests, unfortunately closed up shop at the end of April 2018. There's one good feature, though: Opera VPN streamed Netflix successfully from all of its server locations (there are only three of them), which is more than many paid VPN services can do.
Local download speeds typically topped a 178Mbps (peaking at an incredible 334Mbps in Paris) with local uploads almost as fast. While not as fast as our top picks, this is perfectly adequate for torrenting. A strict zero logs policy and first-party DNS servers mean no data even exists to identify you, while privacy features like the kill switch are ideal for torrenting.
Hi Paula, thanks for the question. File sharing is indeed under fire in countries like the US, UK, Canada and Australia. But you can engage in P2P/File-sharing activity from these countries by connecting to the VPN servers of the countries where File Shharing is legal. As long as you don’t engage in any copyright infringements, you have nothing to worry about. However, anti-file-sharing measures are usually very limited and are usually always preceeded by rather harmless warning notices by the ISP so you have a bit of a margin in case you ever get flagged during a P2P session in the event of a worst case scenario.
With all that being said, be careful if you’re tempted by any of the free VPN apps for either Android or iOS. There’s research by a team of specialists (from CSIRO’s Data61, the University of New South Wales, the International Computer Science Institute and the University of California Berkeley), going through more than 280 free Android apps that use Android VPN permissions. The research reveals that 38% of those apps include malware, 84% leak users’ traffic and 75% use tracking libraries. So there’s that.
Though PIA doesn’t list its leadership on its website, that information isn’t hard to find. The founder, Andrew Lee, has been interviewed by Ars Technica; the CEO, Ted Kim, is also on the record; and privacy activist and Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge is listed as Head of Privacy on the company’s blog. PIA can also point to court records showing that when approached by law enforcement for detailed records, the company had nothing to provide. PIA boasts a huge network of servers and locations around the world, and though the PIA app isn’t as polished as those of some competitors, it is easy to use. Like our top pick, IVPN, its iOS app also added OpenVPN support in mid-2018. But in our speed tests, PIA was just okay, not great. When we averaged and ranked all of our speed tests, PIA came in fifth, behind our top picks as well as OVPN and ExpressVPN.
Put simply, a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a group of computers (or discrete networks) networked together over a public network—namely, the internet. Businesses use VPNs to connect remote datacenters, and individuals can use VPNs to get access to network resources when they’re not physically on the same LAN (local area network), or as a method for securing and encrypting their communications when they’re using an untrusted public network. Photo by Pavel Ignatov (Shutterstock).
ExpressVPN earns a spot on our list thanks to its feature-filled service that is easy to use for both technical and non-technical users. ExpressVPN consistently ranks as one of the fastest VPN providers in our official BestVPN Speed Test. This makes it a fantastic option for streaming HD content. Robust encryption keeps hackers at bay and no usage logs means the company can’t share your personal browsing data. With servers in plenty of countries around the world, “stealth” servers to help users in China bypass the firewall, and Smart Domain Name System (DNS) service that keeps streaming sites like Netflix running smoothly, you can see why ExpressVPN continues to impress our experts and remains one of our most popular VPN providers. Try ExpressVPN today with a 30-day, no-quibble, money-back guarantee.
Our table and reviews detail both where each service is based and whether it retains any connection logs. However, logging isn’t the be-all and end-all of VPN security. We’ve restricted ourselves to testing services from reputable companies with a proven track record, but it’s impossible to truly know how much faith can be put in any organisation’s claims about their logging policy.
If you’ve played with torrents before you’ll know it’s a hobby that requires a degree of patience. Large files can take hours, days or even weeks to download. If your VPN connection drops for even a moment during the download, your IP address could be exposed, revealing your true identity. If you’re serious about protecting yourself when torrenting, the most important feature to look out for is a ‘kill switch’. A kill switch is part of your VPN's software that, when enabled, will make sure your IP address isn't exposed by instantly killing your connection if your VPN connection fails.
In Switzerland as opposed to the US, anyone seeking information will have to go to the courts with probable cause for a proper court order, not just present secret threats from the FBI. Don't trust any VPN headquartered in the US or one of the five eyes nations. I suggest visiting the torrent freak web site and search for anonymous and VPN and read the article that comes up.
IPVanish wasn't the top performer in our 2017 round of testing, falling in about the middle of the pack. But it was one of the most reliable VPN services, connecting smoothly and staying connected every time we used it. IPVanish has excellent client software, although you can connect to the company's servers manually, and a decent array of about 850 connection points in 50 countries. However, its subscription price is kind of high, and its U.S. base may be a negative for some potential customers.
VPN.ac is another great VPN for torrenting. It was created by a team of network security professionals with a focus on security and quality. Their server network is composed entirely of dedicated bare-metal servers offering excellent bandwidth and security. (Check out their real-time bandwidth stats by selecting VPN Nodes Status at the top of the site.)
However, the law states that fines cannot be artificially high, so damages that copyright holders can exact are capped. Early in 2018, Netherlands’ privacy watchdog, Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP), gave permission to Dutch Filmworks to collect IP addresses of anyone illegally downloading content. The company can hand out fines to users and have decided on a fee of 150 Euros per film.
Perhaps you'll decide that all this effort isn't worth it just to secure your BitTorrent downloads. But even so, you should keep in mind that a VPN is still the best way to keep your internet traffic private and secure. Whether you decide to spring for a paid account, or dip your toe in with a free VPN, it's about time you started living the encrypted lifestyle.
The number and distribution of those servers is also important. The more places a VPN has to offer, the more options you have to spoof your location! More importantly, having numerous servers in diverse locales means that no matter where you go on Earth you'll be able to find a nearby VPN server. The closer the VPN server, the better the speed and reliability of the connection it can offer you. Remember, you don't need to connect to a far-flung VPN server in order to gain security benefits. For most purposes, a server down the street is as safe as one across the globe.
NordVPN operates out of Panama, which means it has no legal obligation to record any of the activities of its users. You're free to connect to any of the 5,000+ VPN servers in 62 countries, and you can use NordVPN on up to six different devices at once. I awarded NordVPN a near-perfect score in my review, focusing on the large set of extra features, like double VPN, P2P-dedicated servers, a DNS leak resolver, and a dedicated single IP address. Grab a year subscription for about $7 a month, go short term with a $12 monthly plan, or choose one-year or six-month plans to best suit your needs.
Depending on the VPN software, you may be able to disable the NAT firewall somewhere in the settings. If not, you will need to use port forwarding. This is usually a manual procedure where the VPN provider designates a specific port to be used for P2P traffic. Users must configure their bittorrent client to use this port. If the port is not listed on the VPN provider’s website, the user will need to contact customer support and ask for it.
ExpressVPN attempts to build trust in other ways, even without a public face. Court records from 2017 demonstrate that when Turkish authorities seized ExpressVPN servers in the country looking for information, they found nothing of value, as promised by ExpressVPN’s no-logging policy. ExpressVPN also highlights initiatives such as open-source leak-testing tools, developer content about how the company implements different technologies, and support for the efforts of OpenMedia and the EFF. The ExpressVPN representative even offered to arrange a confidential call between our writer and the owners of the company. However, without being able to discuss their identities or learn about other senior leadership, we believed that wouldn’t have been enough to change our recommendation, so we declined. In the end, trust is such a crucial part of deciding which VPN to use that we had to pass on ExpressVPN.
Media companies are increasingly monitoring torrent traffic and collecting IP addresses from torrent swarms. Depending on where you live, you may receive copyright violation notices from your internet provider, or perhaps from a law firm that is demanding immediate payment for damages – oftentimes thousands of dollars – on behalf of the copyright holder.
Private Internet Access' client interfaces aren't as flashy or cutesy as some other services' software, but they're clear and simple enough for newbies to start right away. A toggle switch reveals all the settings a VPN expert would ever want to play with. You can also skip Private Internet Access' software and connect directly to the servers, or use a third-party OpenVPN client.
These VPNs offer solutions that will mask your online presence to keep you safe. But remember, VPNs might not be as private as you think 5 Ways Your VPN Is Not as Private as You Think It Is 5 Ways Your VPN Is Not as Private as You Think It Is Your VPN is not as secure or private as you think it is. We explain why you and your browsing history might not be anonymous after all. Read More .
Mullvad is not that easy to use, with a bare-bones desktop interface and, unlike every other VPN service we've reviewed, no mobile client apps. (You do get instructions on how to manually set up OpenVPN apps.) This service's network speeds were far from great in our tests, and it's fairly expensive, with no discount for paying yearly instead of monthly.
Panama-based NordVPN keeps neither connection nor traffic logs. 256-bit AES encryption with perfect forward secrecy is the default, along with optional double-hop encryption and Tor over VPN features. Speeds are great, but can be a bit volatile. DNS leak protection and a kill switch can both be toggled on in the settings. The traditional all-or-nothing kill switch is one option, or you can specify which programs get cut off from the internet if the VPN connection drops, such as a BitTorrent client.
Since we first recommended IVPN in the spring of 2018, the company has added automatic server selection to its desktop applications, bringing it in line with other top-performing VPN apps. Alternatively, when you click on the location at the bottom of the app, you’ll see a list of all of the global IVPN server locations, color coded by speed. At the top of the list is an option to connect to the fastest one, and once selected, the app remembers your preference through future disconnects and reboots. You can also use IVPN’s multihop servers to route your traffic through two VPN servers—a feature unique to IVPN among the services we tested—though we don’t think this step is necessary for most people, given the slower speeds you’ll likely experience.
Torrent is like a bucket full of gold. I remember the time when I downloaded Transformers, Wolf of Wall Street and Ironman from the torrent, until I received this copyright infringement notice. I searched the internet to continue using the torrents as I can’t afford spending hundreds of dollar on movies. So, I came up with VPN, VPN has enabled me to download unlimited movies on monthly basis. Thanks for sharing such a good post!
If you’re not looking to take advantage of its Channel Bonding functionality, users still benefit from a few tools designed to ensure users have a stable connection at all times. This includes its error correction algorithm that reduces packet loss and its automated, seamless network switching that acts as a failsafe should users step out of WiFi range or their primary connection fails.
VPNs are necessary for improving individual privacy, but there are also people for whom a VPN is essential for personal and professional safety. Some journalists and political activists rely on VPN services to circumvent government censorship and safely communicate with the outside world. Check the local laws before using a VPN in China, Russia, Turkey, or any country with with repressive internet policies.