Some countries don't have the same protections for freedom of press, speech, and expression that most democratic countries have. In fact, some regimes resort to oppressive measures to monitor and take action against those they see as threats to the government. People who dare to stand up have to take extra precautions to protect their communications. Journalists and researchers also send messages containing data that some people may want to try very hard to intercept.
A Mobile VPN is a worthwhile tool to have since it increases privacy, user satisfaction and productivity, while also reducing unforeseen support issues caused by wireless connectivity problems. The increasing usage of mobile devices and wireless connectivity make it more important to ensure that your data is being transferred through a secure network. It will allow you to access the internet, while staying safe behind a firewall that protects your privileged information.
A 2016 review in PC Magazine gave the HMA! Android app 3 out of 5 stars. It praised HMA! for its server selection and user interface, but criticized it for price, speed, and the lack of advanced features. In 2018, PC Magazine gave similar feedback on the HMA! VPN service. PC World’s 2017 review also praised HMA!'s simple user interface, but criticized the lack of advanced features, saying the software was ideal for casual users that do not need advanced configuration options.
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.
Like most well-known VPN companies, IVPN supports a variety of privacy groups and causes. Pestell told us he worked with the Center for Democracy & Technology to improve trust in VPNs with a handful of transparency initiatives before they were announced. Neena Kapur of The New York Times (parent company of Wirecutter) information security team noted that IVPN’s leadership transparency and its relationship with CDT were significant pluses that contributed to its trustworthiness. Pestell was also the only representative we spoke with to offer to arrange for one of our experts to audit the company’s server and no-logging policies.1 We cover trust issues with VPNs at length elsewhere in this guide, but we believe that IVPN takes an active role in protecting its customers’ privacy and is not a dude wearing a dolphin onesie.
The second ‘Location Mode’ offers a bit more flexibility, enabling you to choose the location – right down to the city! - of the server you’d like to access the web through, thus allowing you to access content that’s otherwise blocked in your region – a good example are pesky YouTube videos that the uploaders have made unavailable in your region – thought you wouldn’t be able to see those guys jump into a cactus didn’t you? Well, you totally can (and totally should!).
Even with extra protection, unique features about your browser may be enough for other parties to collate data about you. For example, browser fingerprints—based on screen size, browser plugins, fonts, time zones, and more—can identify a single user even without cookies or IP addresses. (Check out the EFF’s Panopticlick test tool to see if your browser’s fingerprint is unique and thus trackable. It probably is.)
That's not to say a VPN makes you invisible to spies or law enforcement. Your traffic could still be intercepted in any number of ways. A VPN does make it harder to correlate online activities to you, and adds a layer of encryption during parts of your online traffic's journey. A determined, well-funded adversary that has singled you out for surveillance will likely find a way. But VPNs and widespread adoption of HTTPS make it much harder for mass surveillance to work as it has in the past.
Using a VPN goes a long way to improving your personal security, but it's not a bulletproof, magical solution. When it comes to security, we often say that it's better to think of tools like VPNs as raising the effort required to successfully attack you. If someone is willing to invest the time and money in targeting you specifically, they will eventually get what they're after. A VPN needs to be part of a layered approach to security and can't take the place of critical tools, such as good antivirus software.
A virtual private network, or VPN, is an encrypted connection over the Internet from a device to a network. The encrypted connection helps ensure that sensitive data is safely transmitted. It prevents unauthorized people from eavesdropping on the traffic and allows the user to conduct work remotely. VPN technology is widely used in corporate environments.
Many sites will tell you that the chances of facing legal action as a result of pirating copyrighted material are slim. That’s bad advice. While it’s true that copyright holders have bigger fish to fry than the guy that just wants to watch Age of Ultron a few weeks before it comes out on Blu-Ray, you’d be surprised how many people face at least the threat of legal action.
CyberGhost adheres to a no-logs policy, uses 256-bit AES encryption with perfect forward secrecy, and has a kill switch on its desktop clients. An app-specific kill switch is buried in the settings, dubbed “app protection,” which will only cut off internet to specified programs, e.g. a torrent client. CyberGhost Pro scored well in our speed tests and can even unblock US Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
It might be possible that this information could be used to correlate a user's identity to specific activity online, but it would likely be very difficult. Even with this information, an observer would have to know which VPN server to watch and then compare that activity against Hide My Ass's logs, and be able to parse out the target's traffic from everyone else using the same server.
By now, you must have decided which VPN providers you want to go with, therefore I think it is about time we discuss VPN protocols as well. However, if you are new to VPNs and protocols, think of them as the fuel that drives the engine. In short, protocols are responsible for all the data transmission that takes place between you and the VPN server.
This costs $11.99 per month if you pay monthly, which isn’t exactly a bargain. Even the $83.88 12-month plan is a good $15 to $20 more than what some VPNs are charging. If having an easy-to-use VPN is the most important thing, it may yet be worth spending that little bit more for HMA! Pro, rather than saving but being stuck with a more technical service.
Not all mobile VPN apps are created equal. In fact, most VPN providers offer different services (and sometimes, different servers) for their mobile offerings than they do for their desktop counterparts. We're pleased to see that NordVPN and Private Internet Access provide the same excellent selection of servers regardless of platform. These apps received an Editors' Choice nod both for desktop VPN apps and Android VPN apps.
If you’re seriously concerned about government surveillance—we explain above why that should be most people’s last consideration when choosing a VPN—some expert sites like privacytools.io recommend avoiding services with a corporate presence in the US or UK. Such experts warn about the “14 eyes,” a creepy name for a group of countries that share intelligence info, particularly with the US. IVPN is based in Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory. We don’t think that makes you any worse off than a company based in Switzerland, Sweden, or anywhere else—government surveillance efforts around the world are so complicated and clandestine that few people have the commitment, skills, or technology to avoid it completely. But because Gibraltar’s status has been a topic of debate in other deep dives on VPNs, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention it.
Known for its speed, ease of use and native clients, HideIPVPN supports Windows, Mac, iOS and Android platforms. Its Smart DNS service is known to be able to unblock some sites. The service supports a variety of protocols, which include SSTP, OpenVPN, SoftEther, PPTP and L2TP/IPSec. With the service, torrenting is allowed although only on German and Dutch servers, this is due to the fact that it only has seven server locations in North America and Europe.
We also like how easy it is to connect, and how clear and accessible the settings are, on all platforms when using the IVPN app. (ChromeOS has an option to use a less-secure VPN protocol with most providers, including IVPN. But TorGuard, our budget pick, supports the more secure OpenVPN on Chromebooks and tablets.) If you do want to tweak some settings, IVPN has easy-to-understand checkboxes for most options. For example, the kill switch (labeled “firewall”) has an easy on/off toggle. Anytime it’s on and the app is open, all traffic in and out of your computer will cut off if you forget to connect to the service or the secure connection drops for some reason.
A VPN with broad range of servers dotted across various regions offer better overall torrenting experience. As a torrent site that may be available in one country may be restricted in other. In addition to that, torrenters often face server congestion issue that results in sluggish downloading. To get rid of such issues, you can connect to a server that is near your region. It will ensure seamless torrent downloads with zero ping spikes or speed issues.
Torrenting media files creates several demands on the VPN being used. Due to large file sizes, maintaining speed is very important. At the same time, however, the nature of file sharing means that there are more security concerns than with casual Internet use, as well. It can be tough to balance these needs with other factors such as price, customer support, and access to deeper features. These 7 VPNs are all great products that will give you a great torrenting experience – the challenge is finding the one that suits your specific needs.
NordVPN is a great all-rounder. With fast servers in 62 countries, a strong focus on privacy and a willingness to keep innovating, NordVPN easily snaps up the top spot in our Top for Torrents table! NordVPN offers an industry-leading six simultaneous connections which means that everyone in the family can use the VPN without interrupting your downloads. With clients available for all major platforms, the software looks great and works well. A three-day free trial is a nice bonus if you are looking to take it for a test drive, plus a 30-day money-back guarantee gives you plenty of time if you change your mind. As well as permitting torrenting, NordVPN works with all major streaming services; Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon instant video.
Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) was initially developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) for IPv6, which was required in all standards-compliant implementations of IPv6 before RFC 6434 made it only a recommendation. This standards-based security protocol is also widely used with IPv4 and the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol. Its design meets most security goals: authentication, integrity, and confidentiality. IPsec uses encryption, encapsulating an IP packet inside an IPsec packet. De-encapsulation happens at the end of the tunnel, where the original IP packet is decrypted and forwarded to its intended destination.
One way to resolve the issue of trust is to be your own VPN provider, but that’s not a feasible option for most people, and it still requires trust in any company providing the hardware that your VPN would run on, such as Amazon’s cloud services. Multiple projects can help you cheaply turn any old server into a VPN, including Algo, Streisand, and Outline. By encrypting all the traffic from your home or mobile device to a server you manage, you deprive your ISP and a potentially villainous VPN of all your juicy traffic logs. But most people lack the skills, patience, or energy—or some combination of the three—to do this. If you don’t manage servers or work in IT, it may be harder to manage perfect operation and performance better than trustworthy professionals. Lastly, though you remove one threat from the equation by cutting out a VPN service provider, you also lose the extra layer of privacy that comes from your traffic mixing in with that of hundreds or thousands of other customers.
Many VPN services also provide their own DNS resolution system. Think of DNS as a phone book that turns a text-based URL like "pcmag.com" into a numeric IP address that computers can understand. Savvy snoops can monitor DNS requests and track your movements online. Greedy attackers can also use DNS poisoning to direct you to bogus phishing pages designed to steal your data. When you use a VPN's DNS system, it's another layer of protection.
Hide.me VPN for Windows offers many options for customers, with multiple price points that allow differing numbers of connections and differing data caps. Clients exist for most operating systems, with instructions for setting up hide.me on systems without a client. Customers can also make use of 24/7 customer support chat if they need any additional support. One of the most important parts of the hide.me service is the customer agreement, which strictly limits the data the company can collect. If you're worried about advertisers or other companies getting their hands on your information, Hide.me VPN for Windows protects you from that risk.
Security is second to none with NordVPN. Its kills switch feature always monitors traffic between devices and the VPN servers. If for some reason, the data stream breaks, the kill switch will automatically terminate the connection, ensuring that your traffic is protected from prying eyes. Also, a DNS leak feature changes your DNS to point to the VPN server, ensuring that hackers cannot steal data from your default DNS.
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...
ExpressVPN is another excellent option for torrenting and P2P downloads. This British Virgin Islands-based service has a great lineup of custom applications and it also performed very well in testing for the ExpressVPN review. ExpressVPN offers strong protections for customer data with a solid no logs policy, very secure applications, and offshore jurisdiction.
The best VPNs offer a solid balance of features, server location, connectivity protocols, and price. Some are great for occasional use, others are geared towards getting around the location restrictions companies put on their apps and services, and others are targeted at people who do heavy downloading and want a little privacy while they do it. Here’s what you should look for.
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.
Private Internet Access, or PIA, is one of the most visible, privacy-focused VPNs available. Because of its reputation and advocacy concerning online privacy and security, it has also been a Wirecutter staff pick. But whether you prioritize speed and performance or trust and transparency, our top pick is a better bet. If you find PIA attractive because of its low price, note that spending just a little more on TorGuard will buy you much better performance.
ButterflyVPN Router is suitable for anyone who seeks a safe and secure way to access the internet and any region-blocked content. Coming in the form of a mini-size USB portable wireless VPN router, this solution is quick and easy to start up as it simply requires users to plug the device in any internet-powered area. Its portability makes ButterflyVPN Router ideal for employees out on business trips, travelers, bloggers, or anyone who is looking to access the internet on the go. It supports all types of internet-capable platform, from mobile devices and laptops to gaming consoles such as Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox.
In this scenario, it is harder to identify a specific user, but by combining multiple pieces of metadata it may still be possible (especially if the users' session lasts a long time). For example, if the IP address in question was reported to have downloaded a 4GB file, and only one account matching that IP address had transferred more than 1GB of data, it would be obvious which account was to blame. This assumes of course that the offender downloaded the entire 4GB file and not just part of it (which isn't always a valid assumption).
Another security layer is a killswitch. This feature is handy if you’re using public WiFi and you suddenly become disconnected. If that happens, your data and personal information will no longer be protected, but theoretically still accessible to others on the local network. That's why it may be important to you to have a VPN that automatically shuts down all connectivity if your connection drops.