L2TP/IPsec (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol with Internet Protocol Security): L2TP is not secure itself, so it's generally paired with the IPsec secure-networking standard. The combination of the two was once thought to be very secure when properly implemented, but some VPN services suggest that you use OpenVPN instead. L2TP/IPsec has native support in Windows, OS X/macOS, Android, Chrome OS and iOS. Most VPN services support it.
In an overcrowded VPN market, ExpressVPN continues to stand out from the rest and remains the top recommendation at Restore Privacy. It is based in the British Virgin Islands and offers secure, user-friendly apps for all devices. Extensive testing for the ExpressVPN review found it to be very secure, with exceptional speeds and reliability throughout the server network.
Download torrent is legal as long as you are downloading the legal content. The problem occurred when you download illegal content through uTorrent or any other torrent client. Because uTorrent is not safe to download content without the permission of content owner. uTorrent store users logs which can be used in future for legal purposes if required by company. But VPN torrent solve this issue because VPN hides IP address.
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.
One basic test for a VPN service is to check how long a VPN client takes to connect to a VPN server and get online. For our 2018 reviews, we installed each vendor's VPN client software on an HP EliteBook x360 1020 G2 laptop running Windows 10, an iPad mini and a Samsung Galaxy S8 Android phone. (In 2017, we used a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga notebook, an Apple MacBook Air, a Samsung Galaxy S6 phone and the iPad mini.) We used each device with each VPN service we tested.
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.
That was just a bump in the road for Hide My Ass, which performed well in the upload speed tests. It dropped upload domestic upload speeds by 5.25 percent. IPVanish had the best results here, reducing uploads by 2.9 percent. The international upload tests saw a cluster of similar scores, with Hide My Ass in among the rest. In these tests, it slowed upload speeds by 98.3 percent, while Private Internet Access took the best score, reducing speeds by 97.3 percent.
Unlike other VPN providers, IPVanish is a tier-1 VPN service, meaning they own and run their own network. This gives them a speed advantage over the competition. Moreover, because there are not any third-parties involved and all your data go through their servers is totally encrypted, you will be completely anonymous online and even your ISP can’t monitor your activities. More importantly, IPvanish is a torrent-friendly provider as they do allow torrent traffic on their servers and keep no logs of your activities.

“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).
Chromecast and other streaming protocols send data over your local network, but that's a problem when you're using a VPN. Those devices are looking for streaming data from phones and computers on the same network, not from a distant VPN server. Likewise, smart home devices may be gathering lots of data about you and your home that you'd rather not have intercepted. Unfortunately, these devices simply cannot run VPNs. The solution for both problems is to move the security up a level by installing a VPN on your router. This encrypts data as it leaves your safe home network for the wild web. Information sent within your network will be available, and any smart devices connected to your network will enjoy a secured connection.
Avast SecureLine and Avira Phantom VPN are run by antivirus companies as complements to their primary businesses. These services are also limited to Windows, Mac, iOS and Android and don't work without client software. But they offer few features, have a couple of dozen servers at most and don't let you pay anonymously. However, the companies are known quantities, and the services are handy for occasional travelers.
Censorship: Similar to a web proxy, customers use HMA’s VPN service to bypass internet censorship. VPN’s are far more flexible compared to a web proxy as they tunnel the entire internet connection and not just your web browser traffic. As a result, there are never any rendering issues because there is no parsing of HMTL/JS, and all content will function as it should do (e.g. Flash). Speed will also be faster because of a larger network of servers in 190+ countries, and the ability to setup VPN connections on your actual router means third-party devices are able to bypass censorship without any additional configuration required.
But even if you know who’s behind your VPN, you shouldn’t trust a free one. A free service makes you and your data the product, so you should assume that any information it gathers on you—whether that’s an actual browsing history or demographics like age or political affiliation—is being sold to or shared with someone. For example, Facebook’s Onavo provides an encrypted connection to Onavo’s servers like any VPN, shielding you from the prying eyes of your ISP or fellow network users. But instead of promising not to examine, log, or share any of your traffic, Onavo’s privacy policy promises the opposite. Covering the service, Gizmodo sums it up well: “Facebook is not a privacy company; it’s Big Brother on PCP.” Facebook collects information about your device, other applications you use, and even “information and other data from your device, such as webpage addresses and data fields.” And the company “may combine the information, including personally identifying information, that you provide through your use of the Services with information about you we receive from our Affiliates or third parties for business, analytic, advertising, and other purposes.” That means Facebook can collect anything it wants, and sell it to anyone it wants.
If you’re going to use torrents, however, life is easier if you use a VPN—especially if the network you’re on blocks torrenting. There are many VPNs among our top picks that could be used for downloading torrents, but our preferred choice is Private Internet Access. This no-frills VPN has an absolute ton of servers, good speeds, and a nice amount of country locations to remain relatively anonymous. (Read our full review.) The price is right at less than $40 a year, and its privacy policies have been tested in court. Plus, advanced users can adjust their level of encryption for data encryption, data authentication, and handshake.
It usually relies on either Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to secure the connection. However, SSL VPNs can also be used to supply secure access to a single application, rather than an entire internal network. Some VPNs also provide Layer 2 access to the target network; these will require a tunneling protocol like PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) or L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) running across the base IPsec connection.
We considered native apps for Windows, Mac, and Android to be mandatory because they’re easier to use than open-source or third-party VPN apps like Tunnelblick; that in turn makes it easier to stay secure. For more-advanced users, adding VPN connections to Wi-Fi routers can help secure all connections on a home network without having to manage devices individually.
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.

To choose the best VPN for you, don’t just look at the price, not least because many services offer massive discounts if you take out a longer term subscription. Start with the basics: how many simultaneous connections can you have? Are there particular security protocols you want to use? Does the provider have servers in the places you’ll want to use it from and the places you want to connect to? How much data will they log about you, and how long do they keep it for?


As part of our research, we also make sure to find out where the company is based and under what legal framework it operates. Some countries don't have data-retention laws, making it easier to keep a promise of "We don't keep any logs." It's also useful to know under what circumstances a VPN company will hand over information to law enforcement and what information it would have to provide if that should happen.
HideMyAss is a pretty impressive VPN service provider. It packs a lot of features for an affordable price. The only downside is that they have a limited numbers of allowed devices connected simultaneosly, which will probably hinder your flexibility in connecting to your VPN service. Also they keep logfiles which makes them unusable for real anonymity.
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.
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.
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