Your guide to choosing a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

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Do you want to protect the data you transmit online? Compare VPN providers from as little as $4 a month.

Security – that’s the short of it. People use VPNs to secure their data from unwanted viewers when browsing the Internet. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows computers or networks to connect to each other securely over the Internet. Traditionally, companies used VPNs to create secure, remote connections to an existing network, but many consumer users now utilise the technology to shield their personal data while exploring the Internet. While certain media providers may downplay it, there are many sensible other reasons why someone would want to use a VPN.

Compare VPN services now

VPN ServiceMin. Monthly PriceAnnual PaymentServer locationsSign Up
EarthVPN$3.99$39.99 ($3.33/month)6 Continents, 54 Countries, 190 Physical LocationsSign up
Getflix$4.95$39.90 ($3.33/month)20+ regions. Every location has multiple servers running for redundancy and speed.Sign up
Hide.MeFree – $9.99$119.95 for Premium35 locations worldwideStart now
IBVPN$4.95$58.06130+ servers in 47 countriesSign up
PureVPN$10.95$131.40141 countries, 180 locations worldwideSign up
TunnelBear$4.99Grizzly: $59.88 ($4.99/month)20+ countries Sign up
Unblock-Us$4.99$49.90 ($8.32/month)Not specifiedSign up
Iron Socket$6.99$49.95 ($4.16/month)Over 50 servers (High concentration in US and UK)Sign up
NordVPN$11.95$69.00 ($4.00/month)1082 Servers in 61 CountriesSign up
TorGuard$5.95 – $11.54Not available3000+ serversSign up
VPN Unlimited$8.99$39.991000+ high-speed servers across 70+ locations all over the worldSign up
Speedify VPN$0 to $8.99$49.9936 locations worldwideSign up
Ivacy VPN$9.95$49.00200+ ServersSign up
BlocklessFree for Basic and $7.50 per month for Premium$90.00N/A
Hide My Ass$9.99$59.88 ($4.99/month)280+ servers worldwideSign up
Overplay$4.95$99.95 ($8.32/month)70+ locations in 50+ countries
Safer VPN$8.99$71.90400+ premium VPN servers in over 30+ countriesSign up
IP Vanish$10.00$77.99 ($6.49/month)40,000+ IPs on 850+ servers in 60+ countries
VyprVPNN/A$155.40Server clusters in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania (700+ servers)
Express VPN$12.95$99.95($8.32/month)145+ VPN locations
PIA$6.95$39.95($3.32/month)3272+ Servers in 25 Countries
Strong VPN$10$69.9645 cities in 24 countries
VPN ServiceEncryptionMobile Support?
EarthVPNPPTP, L2TP, OpenVPN, SSTP, SSHYes
GetflixPTTP, L2TP, SSTP and OpenVPN UDPYes
Hide.MePPTP, L2TP, IPsec (IKEv1 and IKEv2), OpenVPN, SoftEther and SSTPYes
IBVPNOpen VPN, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP supportedYes
PureVPNOpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2Yes
TunnelBearstrong AES 256-bit encryption by defaultYes
Unblock-UsSmart DNSYes
Iron SocketOpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, HTTP, Socks5 and DNS ProxyYes
NordVPNIPSec, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, PPTP and SSLiOS, Android and Windows Mobile
TorGuardSOCKS5, SSH, HTTP, SSL, OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP, IPsecYes
VPN UnlimitedAES-128 and AES-256 encryptionsYes
Speedify VPNBy default, it uses ChaCha20-Poly1305 for data encryption and ECDHE-ECDSA for handshake encryption, utilizing 256-bit elliptic curve keys. (TLS_ECDHE_ECDSA_WITH_CHACHA20_POLY1305_SHA256)Yes
Ivacy VPNPPTP, SSTP, L2TP, OpenVPN and IKEv2Yes
BlocklessPTTP, SmartDNSYes
Hide My AssOpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPSecYes
OverplayPPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN protocolsYes
Safer VPNOpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec and PPTPYes
IP VanishOpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPsec VPN protocolsYes
VyprVPNOpenVPN™, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP and Chameleon™Yes
Express VPNOpenVPN (TCP, UDP), L2TP-IPsec, SSTP, and PPTP protocolsYes
PIAOpenVPN, IPSec/L2TP, PPTP and SOCKS5Yes
Strong VPNPPTP, L2TP, SSTP, OpenVPN and IPSec ProtocolsYes
VPN ServiceProsCons
EarthVPNStrict no-log policy, offers multiple devicesUnreliable speeds and server connections
GetflixSupports over 200 channels, free signup with our 14 day trial, no credit card required…website is a little overwhelming
Hide.meAbsolutely no log files.Limited countries and servers.
IBVPNMilitary Grade Encryption and Advanced Features for Online Privacy and SecurityOnly works for one device at a time, unless you purchase the Ultimate plan.
PureVPNEnjoy 5 Multi-Logins And 24/7 Support With A Single AccountShort period for money back guarantee: It’s great that there’s a money-back guarantee at all, but three days isn’t enough to make up your mind.
TunnelBearBlocks all unsecured traffic until it’s safely reconnectedNot any advanced features. Other than that, there’s not much to complain about TunnelBear is one of the most impressive VPNs we’ve seen.
Unblock-UsSoftware can be configured on Apple TV, PS4, Xbox One, Amazon Fire TV, and many more, all within minutes…except Linux.
Iron SocketEnhanced Privacy – No Activity LogsLimited server distribution
NordVPNAvailable on up to 6 multiple devices linked to one account…though only allows for 2 simultaneous streams
TorGuardUnlimited data transfer and great connection speeds.Personal information being stored for promotional reasons is a bit of a concern.
VPN UnlimitedUnlimited access and subscription of more than 5 devices
Speedify VPNDoes not log IP addresses, data and websites
Ivacy VPNUnlimited bandwidth & Server Switching
BlocklessUltra fast speeds, up to 5 connected devicesBlurry position on data logging
Hide My Ass30-day money back guarantee, AVG integration and amazing customer serviceNo IPv6, Only 128 bit encryption
OverplayUnlimited region and server switchingUS-based, more expensive than other SmartDNS providers
Safer VPNFREE unlimited Chrome ExtensionLacking in features that others within the same price range offer.
IP VanishUser-friendly apps for all of your devicesNo 24/7 support.
VyperVPNOnline storage and NAT firewall add-on are both neat additions.Vypr will only allow for one device to be connected on the basic plan.
Express VPNComes with 30-day no-risk money back guarantee…but the base fee is a little pricey.
PIAConnect Through VPN Tunnel in SecondsMany users report very poor tech-support from the company.
Strong VPNAutomatic setup application for Windows, Mac, iOS, AndroidMany report being banned for torrent downloads with no option for a credit refund.
VPN ServiceDoes it log usage data?Payment methods Recommended EncryptionKillswitch?
EarthVPNNoVISA, Mastercard, American Express, Discover via PayPal, PayPal, BitCoins, AliPay, UnionPay, WebMoney, CashU, Ukash, PaysafecardData not yet availableN/A
GetflixNoData not yet availableFor security and encryption, we suggest you to select the closest server location to youN/A
Hide.MeNoVisa, American Express, Mastercard, Paypal, Sofort, Giro Play, CashU, BitcoinsRecommended connections are IKEv2, OpenVPN with AES-256 encryption/Yes
IBVPNNoCredit/Debit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, JCB, Maestro and more), eWallets (WebMoney) and many other (AliPay, Perfect Money, BitCoin, Yandex, Bank Wire Transfer and more)The 256 Bit Encryption AlgorithmsYes
PureVPNNoPaypal, Alipay, Payment Wall, Coin Payments, CashU, Gift Cards256-bit AES encryptionYes
TunnelBearNo Visa, Mastercard, American Express, PayPal, Bitcoin and Jars of HoneyOpenVPN and AES 256 in CBC mode on Windows, Android and OS X and IPSec with 256-bit AES encryption for iOS.No
Unblock-UsNoVisa, MastercardData not yet availableN/A
Iron SocketYesPaypal, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover Network, Bitcoin and GiftcardsThe OpenVPN-based Ironsocket VPN network with AES-256 encryption, SHA256 Message Authentication and a 4096-bit key.No
NordVPNNoVisa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Network, Paypal, Bitcoin, Alipay,
Wechat
Double VPN with two layers of AES-256-CBC encryption.Yes
TorGuardNo Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, American EXpress, Payment Wall, BitcoinAn OpenVPN connection with AES256 with 2048bit RSA encryption.Yes
VPN UnlimitedNo Over 200 different payment options, including PayPal, credit card, Bitcoin, Cash U, Gift Cards.An OpenVPN connection with AES256 with 2048bit RSA encryption.Yes
Speedify VPNNo Over 200 different payment options, including PayPal, credit card, Bitcoin, Cash U, Gift Cards.An OpenVPN connection with AES256 with 2048bit RSA encryption.Yes.
Ivacy VPNNo Paypal, Visa, Bitpay, Coin Payments, Perfect Money, PaymentwallAn OpenVPN connection with AES256 with 2048bit RSA encryption.Yes
BlocklessN/ACredit card or PayPalSmartDNSN/A
Hide My AssNoCredit card or PayPalData not yet availableN/A
OverplayNoVisa, Mastercard, Discover, PaypalData not yet availableN/A
Safer VPNNoVisa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB, Paypal, Bitcoin, Cherry, Money Online,
Alipay, Mobiamo, Mint
256 Bit bank-level encryptionYes
IP VanishNo Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, JCB, Delta, Paypal, ideal, giropay, boleto, BitcoinAn OpenVPN connection with 256 bit AES encryption.Yes
VyprVPNYes Visa, Mastercard, JCB, American Express, Discover, Alipay, PaypalData not yet availableN/A
Express VPNNo Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Visa Electron, Delta, Diners Club, Paypal, Bitcoin, Web Money, Union Pay, iDeal, Sofort, Giropaybest-in-class encryption based on a 4096-bit CAYes
PIANoPaypal, Amazon, Google, Bitcoin, Stripe, Stellar, CashU, Ripple, PIA Gift Card,
Ok Pay
PIA recommends a combination of AES-256, RSA 4096 and SHA1 (or 256-bit)Yes
Strong VPNNo. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Paypal, Bitcoin, Alipay2048 Bit EncryptionN/A

What is a VPN?

When you use a Virtual Private Network, also known as a VPN, you’re essentially relying on a network technology to establish a secure connection to the Internet. A VPN comes with the functionality and security of a private wide area network (WAN), but at a noticeably lower cost, which is why it finds favor with businesses, organizations, and individuals alike.

To achieve this level of security, encryption protocols are used. Below are some protocols that VPN providers commonly use.

  • IP security (IPSec). This protocol relies on transport mode or tunneling to provide secure communication. Many in the industry refer to it as ‘security overlay’ because it commonly provides an additional layer of security for other protocols.
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS). Both these protocols make use of a ‘handshake’ authentication method. The client end and server end store certificates and cryptographic keys.
  • Point-To-Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP). This protocol’s easy configuration and low maintenance have made it a popular choice with As a remote client, you can use this protocol to connect to a private server via the Internet.
  • Layer 2 Tunnelling Protocol (L2TP). You might end up using this protocol if you wish to tunnel communications data between two sites over the Internet. The use of L2TP along with IPSec is common, in which case you can expect the involvement of shared keys or certificates.

Explaining VPN software

The online world comes with its share of hackers, viruses, and eavesdroppers so protecting transmission of online data is of utmost importance, especially if you’re dealing with any kind of sensitive information. Common online activities that require you to handle personal and sensitive information include shopping, banking, social networking, and running your business. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) offers high levels of security while performing these kinds of activiities. Just what you should look for in a VPN provider, though, depends on your specific needs.

Is using a VPN to access geoblocked content legal or illegal in the US?

In a Northern District of California Court case (Craigslist Inc. v. 3Taps Inc.), the court held that using a VPN to get past an IP blocking mechanism is in violation of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFFA), but keep in mind that this does not constitute copyright legislation. Besides, when you sign up with a VPN provider there is a possibility that the terms and conditions of the contract would absolve the provider of all responsibility if you end up accessing geoblocked content.

If you wish to access American websites when outside the country, laws of the country you’re in would apply. When it comes to accessing US Netflix outside the country, while it is possible using a VPN, Netflix’s official line is that doing so is in violation of its policies.

Will a VPN mask my identity while torrenting?

The simple answer to this is yes, a VPN does mask your IP address when you use torrents, but there’s more to it than that. For instance, some VPN service providers give their customers access to torrents in various countries, but not in the US or UK. Not all VPNs offer peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing capabilities and some service providers would reduce your speed if they detect you uploading or downloading a torrent.

The main reason behind the crackdown on torrent websites surrounds the legality of content, where while much of the content is perfectly legal to download and upload, there is much that falls under the purview of copyright infringement.

Frequently asked questions

It’s a possibility but most likely you won’t notice a difference. Not to mention, if your ISP is throttling certain kinds of traffic, a VPN can actually increase your connection speed.

The speed test allows you to see how fast your VPN server connections are working. Ideally, you would want a server that has the highest speed index, the lowest latency, the highest download speed.

VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a means of securely connecting individual users at home or while traveling. VNC, or Virtual Network Computing, allows you to connect and control a different computer from a remote connection.

You should being using the VPN with the departmental login group and delete the entry for the departmental VPN in your software.

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