Many streaming video services block the use of VPNs because you can use them to spoof your location and access content licensed for specific regions. BBC's free streaming iPlayer, for instance, is intended only for UK citizens. But if you hop onto a VPN server in London, you may as well be a local resident. In particular, Netflix blocks VPNs very aggressively, as mentioned above.
What that means in practice is that VPNs are fine for bypassing geo-blocks, for protecting your online banking and for keeping business communications free from interception. However, if you’re using the internet to fight repressive regimes or to do anything else that could attract the attention of the authorities where you live, a VPN is not a magic wand that’ll make you invisible.
Right now, their cheapest plan is an annual subscription that comes out to around $8/month. This puts it firmly on the high end of VPN prices. In exchange, the user gets custom clients for different operating systems and great configuration guides for mobile devices. This places Buffered as more of a niche product for customers who want to get a lot of mileage out of deeper VPN features, but would like to do so with the aid of tutorial videos and documentation.
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.
Moreover, by selecting your specific location or country it’s possible to continue watching subscription services that you have already paid for, including any other local content you may be interested in. Likewise, those who don’t stay in America can essentially choose to be in the country virtually, so as to access blocked websites from outside the nation.
Let’s focus on the former here. In overall, many of the quality VPNs come with the ability to configure them right on your smart TV. For example, VyprVPN — which is one of our recommended VPNs — comes with an app for Android TV, and also with detailed instructions for Kodi/OpenELEC and Apple TV. Other VPNs in the market provide you with similar options.
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Like Avast, Avira got into the VPN business to complement its antivirus offerings. Phantom VPN is easy to use and gives you up to 1GB of data per month for free, making this service ideal for vacation travelers who just need to check email. Its unlimited paid plans are reasonably priced, but it had slow downloads and dropped connections in our 2017 tests.
It’s also fast with impressive 830+ server locations, which makes it an excellent choice for P2P file-sharing, online gaming, and HD streaming. There are no annoying bandwidth caps here, and you can connect to Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, or France’s Canal+ if you wish – there’s a server for every need. The double encryption will understandably slow things down.
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