What VPN’s Accept Bitcoin

What VPN’s Accept Bitcoin

You can take your anonymity one step further by paying for your service using a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. The advantage of using Bitcoin is you don’t have to give a credit card or link a bank account to your service. Many people use Bitcoin because they think it will make them truly anonymous online.

Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency invented under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 and has taken the world by storm.

It is a new form of money which uses Peer 2 Peer money transfer to create a more secure type of currency.

It allow money to become , decentralised, anonymous and limited by a fixed amount of coin. These coins are mined and then transferred using actual money to buy currency and exchanged between wallets. People love Bitcoin because they feel it allow you to be anonymous.

bitcoin image

Is Bitcoin Anonymous?

No. This is a common misconception. Bitcoin is pseudo-anonymous. Meaning that the identity that you provide is as anonymous as the information you give to it.

Anonymity is based on 3 key ideas:

  • Your Bitcoin address cannot be traced to your real identity
  • Transactions with Bitcoin do not contain any personal information
  • Your IP address is not exposed (particularly if you are already using a VPN or Tor for your transactions)

But there are several weaknesses with Bitcoin anonymity, admittedly they require a specialist for many of them, but we provide them for you to understand that Bitcoin is not truly anonymous, as this is incredibly difficult for any type of currency transactions for the following 5 reasons:

  • Your account uses a real name authentication system to find deposit and withdrawal addresses
  • Your Bitcoin address can be tracked to your real IP address if you do not mask your IP
  • Every Bitcoin transaction is transparent and traceable by design
  • It is possible to gather some or all inputs when sending Bitcoins which means you can be tracked
  • Change of address transactions can be tracked

This sounds and is quite complicated. But Bitcoin is significantly more anonymous than paying using a Credit Card. You can also increase your anonymity by registering multiple wallets, sending from different addresses and using mixers, but that level of complexity deserves an article of its own.  There are several anonymised wallet providers built on technology pioneered by Dark Wallet who provide a high level of anonymity and security using a system of random addresses and coin mixing.

By its nature. Transactions require that the sender and receiver of a form of currency have some security that what they send and receive will not be lost. Meaning there needs to be a certain level of traceability.

5 VPN Providers That Accept Bitcoin

Here are our top 5 VPN providers, who we have thoroughly tested for quality, speed, anonymity and accept Bitcoin.

IPVanish

IPVanish Logo

IPVanish ranks as one of the fastest VPN Providers around. With a solid ‘Zero Logs’ policy meaning that you can trust that your browsing history and logs will remain anonymous.

With access to shared IP browsing on 40,000+ IP’s across on over 1,200+ servers and 60+ countries. You are going to be able to find the fastest server anywhere in the world. Whether you just want to use IPVanish to browse anonymously, torrent, watch Netflix or use Kodi. 

The more servers you can access the better, as it offers you better speed and geographic availability depending on where you are in the world. The bonus of a shared IP means it’s almost impossible to attribute a user to one IP.

Onto of this unlike many other VPN providers, IPVanish manages all its own servers and general infrastructure. Relatively unheard of, this gives IPVanish much more of a say over the data that its servers stored and therefore your privacy. Private DNS servers are crucial to persevering your IP address, and making sure there are no IP leaks.

IPVanish have long accepted Bitcoin along with a host of major credit cards and PayPal. What’s more their 7-day money back guarantee on their service extends to Bitcoin payments.

Visit IPVanish

ExpressVPN

Express VPN Logo

ExpressVPN have been accepting Bitcoin payments since 2014. This will come to no surprise for fans of the one of the best and most stable VPN providers around the world. The fact that ExpressVPN is one of the most used VPN’s in China is a testament to their stability, security and anonymity.

They even have an in-depth guide of how to use Linux’s anonymous browser Tails to use Bitcoin wallets and ExpressVPN which you can find here.

With access to 3,000+ servers over 94 countries and a zero logs policy that has been tested in a court of law and not been found wanting. Express has a built a stellar reputation as one of the most reliable VPN providers around, serving as a bastion for user privacy and anonymity.

Using Bit pay you can pay for your subscription using Bitcoin and get a 30-day money back guarantee.

Visit Express VPN

Cyberghost

CyberGhost Logo

Cyberghost use PayBilla to fulfil all their Bitcoin payments, which in term means you can convert 150 of the most used cryptocurrencies into fiat currency which can be used to pay for your subscription. Plus, you get a massive 45-day money back guarantee when buying a yearly plan.

Located in Romania, they operate outside of the jurisdiction of the 14 eyes policy and have a zero logs policy that has stood the test of an official investigation by a countries law enforcement agency. Cyberghost were not found wanting and had a solid reputation for privacy and user data safety.

With 3,000+ servers across 60+ countries they offer a massive number of servers, with over 1,000 of these specifically tailored for P2P file sharing. Meaning they are a user’s paradise for torrenting and Kodi.

With over 3,000+ servers in 30+ countries, they have a reputation for speed, ease of use and excellent security and integrity. Passing all their leak tests with flying colours.

They accept Bitcoin with a 7-day money back guarantee.

Visit CyberGhost VPN

NordVPN

NordVPN Logo

NordVPN offer a whopping 5,000+ servers in 60+ countries. Which means you get speed, selection and server choice. Whether that be P2P, browsing or just optimal location. Their range and depth mean they will always make any review sites top 5 across the board.

Nord is also one of the few companies that has publicly been tested with privacy laws and asked to hand over their logs in a criminal investigation. They handed over what they had. Nothing. NordVPN goes into detail to state it keeps no logs of your activity outside of issues required for server optimisation and user experience. Like number of users online, total data used in aggregate and any crashes in performance.

They go one step further than a lot of another VPN provider. You can use cryptocurrency to pay for your VPN using Coin Payments. Which allows you to pay in 1,300+ recognised cryptocurrency. So, you can use your Bitcoin, Ethereum or whatever you have on hand.

Their awesome double VPN connection system acts like VPN over TOR allowing you double the security (well, just making something very secure more secure actually) Routing your connection through two separate VPN servers. Along with a host of functions including ad and malware blocking.

Join of the cheapest VPN provider online using Bitcoin with a 30-day money back guarantee.

Visit NordVPN

Private Internet Access (PIA)

PIA Logo

PIA has one of the highest reputations for privacy in the VPN industry. They have gone through 2 high profile cases with the FBI where they handed over logs which basically showed nothing. PIA demonstrated that they are a true zero logs provider. They also one of the few providers who provides full transparency about the number of requests they have for information from law enforcement agencies. Along with the times they have handed over incriminating evidence. Zero.

It is always impressive to find a company who does exactly what they say, even in the face of enormous pressure from an enormous law enforcement agency like the FBI. PIA proved they will not bow to them, unlike many other companies before them.

Visit PIA

How to Avoid VAT in The EU By Paying With Bitcoin

You are subject to pay VAT in most EU countries and the US. That’s an added 20% on top of your existing fee. With multi year subscriptions this can add up. The solution?

Use a VPN provider to circumvent the country restrictions. 

A payment provider will check what your country you are in before administering VAT. So, start off by using a free trial of one of our reputed VPN providers. Or simply buy a 1-month programme and then get a refund.

Set your VPN to a non-EU country.  You can then go back and pay for your VPN service while getting out of VAT, and then finish off by paying with your Bitcoin from your anonymous wallet.

Other Way’s You Can Increase Your Privacy

Though we said Bitcoin is not anonymous, it is certainly much better than a credit card. There are several steps you can take to make yourself even more anonymous online.

  1. Burner email: Using a free service like Mailinator, you can use public randomly generated email inboxes where you can receive confirmation emails for your subscriptions. Leaving no information even if your provider keeps your email address. Or you simply give an address like [email protected] , get your email and openly check the public inbox
  2. Use an Anonymous Browser: Specifically designed operating systems like Tails in conjunction with an anonymous browser like Tor (The Onion Router) will keep your data safe behind Tor nodes, randomly rotating IP’s and a lack of data left behind. Every time your rebot tails OS it wipes all its data. Meaning you also have a fresh system when you log in, with nothing to track back to you.
  3. Create a Fake Identity: Admittedly this needs a lot more work, but if you aren’t bothered about falsifying employment and education records, it is surprisingly easy to create a fake identity. Which you can use for your Bitcoin wallets. This gives you the maximum level of anonymity, by creating an identity someone can track, but ultimately doesn’t exist. Even with existing and regularly used social media accounts.

What are the Drawbacks of Paying With Bitcoin?

The only big drawback with using Bitcoin to pay for your service, is it makes it difficult to pay for a monthly subscription. You will need to keep resending payments. Of course, this isn’t a problem if you are always forgetting pay monthly plans and like the fact you must manually pay for everything.

In some respects, automation can be our own worse enemy, as we leave ourselves open to recurring payments that we can’t even remember what we paid for.

Plus, you can just pay for a VPN like IPVanish in one lump sum if you want to buy an annual plan, make massive savings and save yourself the hassle of having to log in every month to remember the payment.

Best VPN Provider for Bitcoin?

We know that Bitcoin won’t keep you completely anonymous but it’s a damn good start. Throw in a burner email, Tails OS and a Dark Wallet and you are going to be as anonymous as you would want to be. Unless you plan on buying plutonium in which case we doubt any cryptocurrency is going to hide you.

Our top pick for the best VPN provider who accepts Bitcoin is IPVanish. With its wide array of servers across multiple locations, IP sharing and its completely managed in house servers and infrastructure. 

We feel they are the best choice for complete anonymity and safety for browsing online. You are going to get the best, service, speeds and security with IPVanish.

Biggest VPN Scandals – Hola, Hotspot Shield, Hidemyass (Lulsec)

The Biggest VPN Scandals

Every relationship is built on trust. As a consumer you trust that the product you are buying does what it says, and that everything that company writes in its marketing is true up to a point.

When you use a VPN provider trust is crucial. You are paying for a company to safeguard your privacy. 

A big part of how a VPN provider safeguards your privacy can be found in their privacy statement, user statement as well as whether they keep logs.

The following scandals should be judged not on what the people who were brought to justice did. But, on what the companies promised they would do and then didn’t deliver on.

These are companies that have broken their user’s privacy when they had made grand statements about their 100% zero logs policy.

What Is A Zero Logs Policy?

Zero Logs Policy Image

VPN’s are built and destroyed by their zero logs policy. Every time you access their service and browse you are creating a log of actions.

Companies can choose to log this or have a zero logs policy.

Zero logs basically mean that they don’t keep a record of your online activities which could include:

  • Your originating IP
  • The IP’s and servers that you use
  • Name, Email and payment details
  • Browsing history
  • Data usage

This is all information that third-party advertisers would love to get their hands on. As well as law enforcement agencies.

VPN’s do not condone criminal activities, but if they sell a service promising zero logs then they need to deliver.

Which simply means that whoever comes knocking for your data, get turned away because there are zero logs to give them.

Some of the providers outlined were shown to be lying when they said they had a zero logs policy, which landed their users in hot water.

HideMyAss

HideMyAss Logo

HideMyAss find their selves top of our list for having not one but two scandals. In fact, if you check their site you will see they don’t have a zero logs policy, because they have been caught red handed twice handing over user details to law enforcement agencies, that supposedly they weren’t meant to have.

Remember, zero logs mean there is nothing to give you. So, if I hand over a user’s logs, that means I have been logging your actions when I said to you I wouldn’t

2011, was the scene for possible the biggest VPN scandal of all, and was a water shed that showed people that their VPN provider may lie when they say you are 100% anonymous.

The LulzSec hackers were a high-profile group of international hackers who targeted several high-profile companies including Sony and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and Fox.

They became infamous for launching massive DDOS (Denial of Service attacks) using botnets. One of the reasons why DDOS attacks are so well known today. A Bot net is a series of malware infected computers which carry out thousands of requests per second against a target server. The server overloads bringing down the website.

SOCA compels HMA to hand over logs

After an attack on UK’s SOCA (Serious Organised Crime Agency) they requested logs from HideMyAss which they had tracked one of the users to. HideMyAss were not meant to have any logs but handed over the information requested which led to the arrest of one of Lulzsec’s members Ryan Cleary.

In 2016, Chris Dupuy a judge was arrested on charges of cyber stalking. However, when reporters dug into the subpoena’s and court statements, they found out how Dupuy had been caught.

Dupuy has used HideMyAss’es premium service to mask his IP. He had then placed offensive adverts with his ex-girlfriends’ numbers on the popular escort website backpage.com. The fact that he had used servers only available to premium members, meant that HideMyAss couldn’t even claim that he used one of their free proxies.

As a UK provider HideMyAss keeps extensive records and was again compelled under Federal Law to hand over records which led to Depuy’s arrest. These are just the publicised cases that we know about.

A sobering reminder that not every VPN provider is equal to another when it comes to logs and anonymity. Always make sure you read the privacy policy before signing up.

EarthVPN

EarthVPN Logo

If your checkout their home page, EarthVPN give the following statement regarding having absolutely no logs:

“EarthVPN neither logs VPN usage nor user activity. Neither us nor third parties are technically able to match an IP address to an account. Under no circumstances we will provide any personal or private information to third parties.”

Cool. Where do we sign up?

However, we pretty sure they had the same statement up in 2013 when our next scandal took place.

In Holland a bomb threat was anonymously made against a school. The Dutch police tracked the threat back to one of EarthVPN’s server and asked the company to provide any information they could about the user.

Now, because EarthVPN has no logs of the user’s VPN activity and can’t even match their IP address like the statement says above. They wouldn’t have anything to give.

Wrong.

EarthVPN coughed up the user’s connecting IP and the terrorist was swiftly apprehended. Again, this isn’t about the crime. It’s the principle. You are clearly logging something.

We should also talk a bit about that their shady past. EarthVPN’s website looks like it’s stuck in 1998. Plus, the Revolution Slider error on their WordPress based website.

As well as being based in North Cyprus. A place that technically doesn’t exist, as it is under contention for decade between Greece and Turkey.

Also, they haven’t made an update on Facebook since 2015.Or been seen on Twitter since October 2013. Plus, there have been multiple reports from users that the customer service is pretty much non-existent.

Avoid at all costs. Not only will you get no logs, but you’ll get no service to boot.

HolaVPN

Hola Image

What could be better than a great VPN provider. A free one!

HolaVPN have made a massive name for themselves as a free and premium VPN provider. They boast an enormous 186 million users. 

But behind their sunny little mascot lies a nefarious scheme, that touches on the biggest fears of every person who is scared about what can be done with their data online if left in the wrong hands.

Hola’s free VPN works by using a peer-to-peer VPN service. That basically means that if you are in the UK and want to access content in Japan, you can use a Tokyo user’s proxy and access that content. Great idea, right?

No. Not a great idea. Using proxies and having you on computer used as a proxy puts you at the mercy of random users who may carry out malicious attacks on your computer.

Essentially this a giant free proxy network. Proxies are notorious with hackers and offer an unsecured solution to accessing content which is geographically blocked. But don’t worry. Hola VPN have secured your connection. What could go wrong?

Luminati.io Sells your Data

Well, turns out your free VPN service is selling your proxy and data to the highest bidder. Meet www.luminati.io . The first thing you will notice is the striking resemblance that their logo bears to Hola VPN. It’s the same but blue.

As a company you can buy 35 million + residential proxies. The same proxies you are using, the same proxy other people use when you sign up to their free service. 

What the actual… This is trusted VPN provider which is selling your data in plain sight. Oh, but if I pay for a premium service then perhaps, they won’t sell my proxy.

Wrong. If you scrutinise Hola VPN’s privacy policy, you will see that they reserve the right to sell your data and browsing habits to third parties. Basically, giving your data to advertisers. Completely defeating the point of having a VPN in the first place.

Hola VPN is probably the biggest scandal of all. This is a company that purports to keep its users safe and protected, and basically uses their service like a giant data mining operation. This is everything we hate about providers who take advantage of unsuspecting users, and then take money from them as well as pocketing money from their data on the side.

The website www.adios-hola.org makes for great reading. Showing how Hola’s engineer have publicly lied about plugging vulnerabilities and fixing their system, when on testing no such fixes were made. Even actively publishing updates that prevents security specialist from revealing how your data is being leaked. HolaVPN showing they are a botnet with no regard to individual privacy.

PureVPN

PureVPN Image

PureVPN is based out of Hong Kong with a reported 3 million+ users.

If you read through their privacy policy, you will see this:

“We do NOT keep any logs that can identify or help in monitoring a user’s activity.”

In 2017 that was proved not to be true.

The FBI arrested a man who was charged with cyber stalking his ex-girlfriend along with her friends and family. By not only sending malicious messages but also posting sexually explicit images of her online. A dirt bag for sure.

But, of interest was how the FBI were able to find Ryan Lin, the man accused in the first place. Lin had used Tor as well as a VPN service to carry out a persistent cyber stalking campaign on his poor ex-girlfriend.

The FBI tracked his IP address to a work computer which was unsecured and found out that he had used PureVPN. They requested all records relating to Ryan Lin.

Information that PureVPN handed over led to Lin’s arrest. So much for not logging anything. Being based in Hong Kong the company were not compelled to comply and wouldn’t have been able if they hadn’t been lying about not keeping any logs.

Since then the company has worked hard to work on its security and reputation, but when a VPN provider is found wanting over such a key statement in their privacy policy, you must wonder whether they would just do the same thing all over again.

OnavoVPN – Facebook

OnavoVPN Logo

Facebook are the biggest threat to privacy, shortly followed by Google. They record absolutely everything you do. In fact, without you knowing the technology giant will track you on almost any site you go to. Just check your cookies and see that Facebook tracker.

Anybody with an ounce of common sense wouldn’t have touched OnavoVPN. Bought by Facebook in 2013. The application was pulled by Apple from it’s App Store in 2018 as mounting protests built up over Facebook’s flagrant abuse of the VPN.

Facebook essentially used Onavo as a data mining tool. They re-routed the traffic from Onavo through their own servers and recorded everything that a user was doing while they were using Onavo.

Funnily enough if you search Onavo VPN on Google, it has mysteriously “disappeared”. You can’t find anything relating to it, until you add the word scandal and then see the litany of articles damning Facebook.

In the end Facebook had reverted to paying users to use the service in return for signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement and allowing them to hoover up all your data.

Just another of Facebook’s bad data practices which finally got revealed in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when a company was revealed to have bought the data of millions of Facebook users without their consent.

Safe to say, avoid Facebook like the plague and any products it’s associated with. They had promised to protect user’s data, and then buried in their terms and conditions used a small piece of text to use your data to improve Facebook.

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield Logo

HotSpot Shield runs a similar business model to HolaVPN. With a free and premium service side by side. This alone should give you some cause for concern.

But this scandal was quite different from HolaVPN’s flagrant abuse of your computer and proxy.

In 2017 the Centre for Democracy and Technology lodged an official complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. In the 14-page document they outlined that their extensive testing had revealed that Hot Spot Shield was redirecting consumer’s traffic to preferred advertisers who had paid for their service.

So, this VPN is even altering your traffic to lead you straight to websites you hadn’t for. Anchor Free who owns Hot Spot Shield answered the complaint is an incredibly vague way, making no explicit mention of redirecting traffic until a second later statement.

There own CEO David Gorodyansky at the time said that “we never log or store user data”

Yet during many tests by the CDT, they found that Hot Spot Shield was extensively logging connections, browsing habits and even the websites that were being visited by their users. They then inject persistent cookies into your browser to steer adverts from chosen third party advertisers.

Instead of protecting you from malicious third parties, they are injecting cookies into your data.

Utterly outrageous.

Carnegie Mellon helped to carry out a more detailed investigation which found cookies being injected from MoPub, Quantcast and of course the King of data breaches. Facebook.

Avoid Hot Spot Shield like the plague itself.

NordVPN

NordVPN Logo

NordVPN are one of the largest and most trusted VPN providers in the industry. Their name is synonymous with security, privacy and reliability.

But recently the major VPN provider has been embroiled in several scandals.

As recently as last month, NordVPN was being sued by TorGuard another major VPN provider. More information here.

The lawsuit alleges that NordVPN, approached Torguard asking for favourable reviews from technology experts that had good relationships with Torguard. When they refused. NordVPN with a Canadian web hosting company called C7 carried out a sustained and successful DDOS attack on its servers. They told Torguard that if they didn’t co-operate then NordVPN would make this security flaw public.

NordVPN replied in kind publicly here stating they simply had tried to point out a flaw in one of their unprotected servers. The case was later dismissed by a US District Court for a lack of evidence on TorGuard’s part.

On its own we would take that to just piece be a friendly bit of back of forth legal sparring between business rivals, but it follows not long after a sustained scandal involving one of our favourite VPN providers. HolaVPN.

Tesonet Scandal

In 2018, NordVPN released a public blog here stating that the allegations being laid against them were false.

These allegations related to sustained rumour’s that NordVPN was acting like a botnet like HolaVPN, a company they had just ended a 3-year business relationship with that year. The nature of that relationship was never revealed. Allegations were that NordVPN was operating a giant data mining operation like HolaVPN.

A copyright law infringement suit followed between Tesonet and Luminati Networks. The parent’s companies behind NordVPN and HolaVPN. Within the legal documents was purported conversation from between the Hola CEO and Tesonet co-founder. That Tesonet were considering entering the residential proxy business. 

But where would they get the proxies from? If not from their own users.

Tesonet has also been linked to suspect business practise with another rival VPN provider. ProtonVPN. Thought ProtonVPN claimed they had nothing to do with TesoNet. One of their Directors is the CEO of Tesonet, their Android APK certificate is signed by Tesonet. Oh, and they use IP blocks assigned to Tesonet.

Originally these claims were made by a business rival, PIA (Private Internet Access) but the evidence uncovered does point to ProtonVPN being a part of Tesonet.

Now, we are not saying that NordVPN can’t be trusted. Or that it’s no logs policy is in doubt. But three scandals following each other, must be more than a coincidence, right?

This may be more a Tesonet problem than a NordVPN problem, but there is enough reasonable doubt floating around to make us a tad edgy.

Can You Trust Your VPN Provider?

So, after all the doom of gloom of those scandals. Companies lying. Stealing your data. Injecting cookies, and possibly just being one big bot net. Can we trust anybody?

Yes. 

The one test of a company’s zero logs policy is whether they can hold their nerve when being investigate by law enforcement. After all, if you truly have no logs, then there is nothing for you to give the authorities.

So, let’s end on a brighter note

ExpressVPN

Express VPN Logo

A Russian ambassador was assassinated in Turkey in 2016. The case attracted international media attention. Turkish authorities following a lead seized a number of Express VPN’s servers. The servers were returned intact a few weeks later. The Turkish authorities had gained nothing from the servers.

Why?

Because the company didn’t keep any logs. Zip. Zero. Nada.

ExpressVPN came out squeaky clean. This high publicised case is the reason why many rate ExpressVPN as the best and most trusted VPN provider in the world.

Perfect Privacy

Perfect Privacy Logo

In the same year, Perfect Privacy had one of its servers seized in the Netherlands for no given reason. Only to be returned intact and breach free.  Perfect Privacy stores all data on encrypted RAM discs. Your logs cannot be accessed on their hard drives.

Private Internet Access

PIA Logo

PIA proved their no logs claim, not once, but twice.

In two cases in 2016 and 2018, PIA had logs requested from them as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Their response?

A coy smile and a shrug of the shoulders. They simply stated that they had no logs to provide the investigation with any information. PIA stated they could only confirm the IP was from the US East Coast in the 2016 case.

So, there you have it. The sad truth is that the scandals far outweigh the success stories for VPN providers. But there are companies out there you can trust. We hope this piece ends on a bright note. Don’t lose faith in VPN companies. Like any industry there are going to be bad apples who don’t do what they say. But there are a lot of companies out there who you can trust to take your anonymity and privacy seriously.

 

What Are the Alternatives to VPN’s

Best Alternatives To A VPN

We use VPN’s to safeguard out data and our privacy and obscure or hide as much personal information about ourselves and what we do online as possible.

But you don’t have to use a VPN to do this. 

There are alternatives to using a VPN. None of them are easy, and all of them have their drawbacks, but here we explore what you can do if you want VPN-like services without paying for a VPN

SmartDNS

A DNS is a Domain Name Server. Your DNS allows you to connect to the internet and send and receive the appropriate IP address. Internet Protocols is a unique string of numbers which are specifically designated to one website. Most people will use the DNS supplied by their ISP (Internet Service Provider

An IP address gives a fixed location to your connection. So, a website receiving a request from your DNS will see that you are connecting from Tokyo, Japan. If you wanted to access Netflix, their DNS would then automatically refer your request to the Japanese version.

Major media providers alter the content that can be seen based upon the country that your IP is located in.

A SmartDNS works by replacing your ISP designated DNS, but its own DNS. Making it look like your request could be coming from another country.

So, using a SmartDNS is a great way to work around Geographical IP locking. You can happily watch Netflix USA in Japan using a SmartDNS.

Prices range but can expect to pay about $5 a month for a SmartDNS.

How Is It Different To A VPN?

If you just want to watch media in another country, a SmartDNS is a good choice. But that’s about it.

A SmartDNS won’t provide you with any security or encryption, it simply re-routes your IP’s server requests through its own server and changes your location. It won’t hold up under an IP Leak test. A SmartDNS does not hide your original IP, nor will it allow you to bypass any firewalls.

Also, a SmartDNS is pretty much doing what any VPN provider would do. Most VPN providers like IPVanish will host their own DNS servers across the world, which allow you to mask or change your IP address.

Also, unlike a VPN, you are likely to get throttled (your speed slowed) by your ISP. As your connection to your SmartDNS is not encrypted, your ISP will see an uptick in data flow and may actively narrow the bandwidth that you can use. With a VPN your data will pass undetected as an encrypted package.

Basically, a SmartDNS will offer a very small part of the service a VPN can give you for the same price or even be more expensive.

Seedboxes

Seedboxes Image

Unless you love to torrent, you have probably never heard of a seed box.

A seed box gives you access to a remote server which is placed in a high-speed data centre. Seedboxes are fast. Really fast. You will get faster speeds than a VPN. Their bandwidths go as high as 10GBps. Yeah. We said Gigabytes. Though you are more likely to see speeds of 100MBps and up.

What this means is that if you are spending a lot of your time downloading and uploading big files which may be many gigabytes a seed box is perfect. Because you can download the torrent much faster than just using your current broadband or even a VPN.

Seedboxes are popular with people who love P2P file sharing and the BitTorrent Communities.

They maintain your privacy and allow you to evade copyright law as all the actions happen on their third-party servers. When your computers access the file, which lives in the Seedbox it is done using HTTP and FTP, and therefore undetectable from normal internet traffic.

How Is It Different to a VPN?

Just like a SmartDNS, a Seedbox is a highly specialised tool for a singular task. So, if you only want to download and upload torrent, then get a seed box. But you won’t get any other additional functionality.

A lot of Seedboxes have the option to use the open source OpenVPN protocol. Which means that your connection with the high-speed server is secure. The encryption tends to be the same to VPN’s. Unbreakable 256-bit AES.

But, that’s it. 

You can’t access multiple servers, you won’t be able to browse anonymously, nor will your connecting IP be obscured. Also, it wouldn’t be able to circumvent Geo-IP locked content.

A Seedbox helps you download and upload content well. But you won’t get any added functionality.

Also, they are expensive. Those high-speed servers cost money. You can expect a basic monthly plan to start at $20 per month and go up steeply depending on your data usage. We are talking about a service where you plan on uploading and storing terabytes of data.

Proxys

Proxys Image

In the early days of internet anonymity, proxies were all the rage. Suddenly you could re-route your traffic to thousands of free proxies all around the world. Meaning you were able to change your IP and remain anonymous in theory. As the proxy hides your public IP address assigned by your ISP.

A proxy is simply a middle connection between two computers. Proxies can be used to relay data, censor what someone see, filter data or act as a means of bypassing some form of content lock or censorship.

The next question is who is running the proxy. There have been many stories of people being hacked, having their information hijacked and even getting malware from using unknown proxies. Always used a trusted company that provides proxies. Avoid free proxy lists online. They are a hot bed for hackers and malicious third parties who want to at best steal your data.

A VPN is not a proxy, as a proxy only works for the browser and the actions within that browser. Whereas a VPN secures all your traffic. Even when your devices aren’t being actively used, they are transmitting and receiving data. Also, a VPN will connect automatically and may even have an inbuilt kill switch which stops you connecting to the internet if the VPN isn’t active. Without knowing how to code you will need to manually connect to the proxy each time.

Free proxies are also commonly used by VPN providers who give you a free service alongside its premium product.

People use proxies because they are free, and generally they are misinformed about the dangers you face using a proxy.

How Is It different to a VPN?

Proxies can be great for carrying out the same function as a SmartDNS, allowing you to unblock content based in other countries. But that’s about it.

Your connection is not secure or encrypted, and if you risk using a free proxy, the person running the server can monitor your traffic and see what you are doing. You don’t get any form of security using a proxy.

Plus, unlike a paid VPN like IPVanish you don’t get an automatic connection through an easy to use application. Nor will you get stable servers that you can connect to every time. Free proxies are notorious for appearing and disappearing as well as needing to be constantly monitored to see if they have been compromised.

A VPN will give you security, safety, anonymity and a host of added functionality at a small cost as opposed to a free proxy that may be used by hackers to access your computer and data.

Set Up Your Own VPN

A VPN is essentially an encrypted tunnel. From your computer you set up encryption which can then be received by a DNS host and then receive a response which is encrypted back to your computer.

So why not just set up your own VPN?

Well you can. You can use an open source set of scripts from OpenVPN or Algo VPN. Set up a digital server. Use an SSH Proxy on a Raspberry Pi and hey presto! You have a VPN.

Sounds simple right?

No. Not really. The truth is the internet is littered with guides on setting up your own VPN server, but it just pushes the problem down the line. For example, does your virtual server keep logs of your traffic? 

Running your own VPN, even if you get it set up, doesn’t make you more secure, as your data must come out at a server somewhere. Third parties have no loyalty to you and your little pet project. Plus, your broadband provider will still be able to see all your traffic and still choose to throttle your bandwidth. A self-made VPN does not help you to switch around countries either. Unless you want to sign up for multiple servers.

Setting up your VPN is good fun, but it’s not going to give you anywhere near the functionality you would get from a paid provider. 

After all you are paying them to do the hard work for you.

Why Pay For A VPN?

You can get a decent VPN provider like IPVanish for less than 7 dollars a month. Is it worth all that time setting up your own VPN which is only going to encrypt your traffic and obscure your IP if you have multiple instances set up?

The bottom line is that when we look at setting up a SmartDNS and subscribing for a Seedbox, they are great products. But they are tailored to a highly specific use. All of which you can using a VPN provider. With IPVanish you can torrent, just not at 1GBps. But do you really need to torrent a movie in 2 minutes? 

IPVanish will allow you to unlock all major media providers, like Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer, it will allow you to access geographically restricted content anywhere in the world. All at the click of a button.

You can access 1,400+ servers around the world. I mean sure, you can trawl through thousands of free proxies every time you want to anonymise your IP. But do you know who is running that proxy? How can you be certain that your connection is secure, and that someone isn’t using that proxy to carry out a man in the middle attack on your computer, or piggy backing on your data to hack someone else.

Free proxies were great in 2005, but the world has moved on and got significantly more sophisticated. IPVanish will give you military grade 256-bit AES encryption on up to 5 devices. I mean do you really want to try setting up proxies on your phone every day.

Why not just set up your own VPN server?

I mean who can trust these big providers anyway. I’m better off doing it myself. For the same reason that I don’t build my own car. Sounds like a nice idea but I’ve got a busy life.

Also, how long would it take me to build a car like a Tesla? Longer than I must give, if ever at all.

Let alone the fact that I am going to need to set up a server, or use a third party, who may be recording all my data to sell onto a third-party advertiser.

Using a provider like IPVanish is the simple solution to all my problems. For less than $7 a month I can simple sign up, download the mobile application and have all my devices secured in less than 5 minutes.

Better than spending the next 3 hours setting up your own VPN server, only to discover that you won’t be able to change your IP easily and access that film on Netflix you wanted to watch in the first place.

The short story is that it just makes more sense to pay for one VPN provider like IPVanish which is going to provide a one stop solution for all your problems. Access content all around the world, do it safely, anonymise your IP and hop around hundreds of servers around the world. Safe in the knowledge that IPvanishes no log policy will keep you safe whatever you do.

Best VPN for Gaming

Why Use a VPN When Gaming?

When you think VPN and privacy you may not think gaming. After all, doesn’t a VPN slow down your broadband speeds? Also, who wants to be anonymous when you are fragging your mortal enemies online?

But we can think of 5 good reasons why you should consider using a VPN for gaming

  • Reduce Lag and Ping Time

There is nothing worse than lining up a head shot, hitting lag and getting blown up. Once you finished scooping up the Xbox controller you just threw into the wall, consider using a VPN. Your broadband provider probably throttles your IP (Internet protocol) meaning to get the best speeds, reduce lag and pin time you can use a VPN to mask your IP. Fuel your gaming with the fastest speeds using a VPN. Any slowdown is negligible with our Top 5 VPN providers for gaming and may well increase your speeds when you circumvent throttling and get better latency during game play.

  • Connect Anywhere in the World

Ever tried to connect with your friends online on holiday? Internet speeds vary massively across the world, and the best holiday destinations may have the worst cabled internet. Instead of relying on your hotel’s throttled Wi-Fi or worse trying to log to a server halfway across the world. You can join a VPN provider with a server in your country. Boost your speed and never be disconnected from your clan.

  • Protect Yourself from Attack

E-Sports and MMORPG are just two types of battlegrounds for hackers. Your connection if unsecured could make you the victim of a DDOS attack or even have someone hack your system and steal everything you have spent months working for. Keep yourself your avatar safe online using VPN’s military grade encryption and security protocols

  • Be the First to Play

Do you want to be the first to play, but you don’t live in South Korea, Japan or the US? Before you pack your bags, take a seat and use a VPN to connect to a server in the country your favourite has been released in. Now you can register with ease and circumvent any geographic IP blocks. With a VPN you can always be the first to play.

  • Connect Multiple Devices

Many VPN provider like IPVanish will let you connect to 5 devices at the same time, with a negligible dip in speed. Get the gang round for an evening of Fortnite or DOTA and enjoy blazing fast speeds while all playing at the same time

Why You Need More Speed

Modern games like DOTA, League of Legends and Fortnite need fast connection speeds and low latency.

This is all measured using ping times. A ping is the time it takes your computer to respond to a request from the game’s server.

Ping speeds of 20ms and below are great. Anything over 150ms is dismal. Plus, this only gets worse as the game progresses. The lower the ping the quicker the game will react to your commands.

You can’t even connect to Fortnite if your ISP’s (Internet Service Provider’s) speed is too slow. You can buy a new router, update your computer and even use a Cat7 ethernet cable, but if your ISP is throttling your broadband then you will not be able to reduce your ping time as much as possible.

A VPN encrypts all your data through your ISP’s cable. This action is undistinguishable to your provider, so they allow the packet to pass at the fastest speed. Which is why using a VPN, is safer and sometimes even faster than your normal connection.

Do I Have to Use a VPN to Increase Speed?

No. The internet is full of products specifically designed for increasing ping speed. They are commonly known as GPN’s (Game Private Networks)

Service like WTFast, Kill Ping and No Ping Tunnel work by optimising how you connect to the internet when you game. They use algorithms to calculate the fastest path to the game’s server and reduce ping time and latency.

So, what’s the catch? Well they are pricy. WTFast starts at $9.99 per month. Plus, you don’t get any protection, encryption, IP Masking or all the additional functionality you could get with a VPN.

Plus, you wouldn’t be protected against a malicious attack, be able to access games around the world, or change your location.

GPN are a great specialised solution, they will reduce ping time, even out ping spikes and provide a smoother gaming experience. But they will only do that. They also provide a similar service by essentially detouring your traffic to the fastest route to your game’s server.

So, let’s look at the pick of the best 5 providers to give you that speed you need.

Top 5 VPN Providers for Gaming

IP Vanish

IPVanish Logo

With 40,000+ shared IP’s across 1,300+ servers in 75+ locations you will never be far away from a blazing fast connection with IPVanish. As a rule of thumb, the more servers a VPN provider has, the faster speeds, as you get a bigger distribution for all their user’s traffic.

You can enjoy a whopping 10 simultaneous connections with unlimited bandwidth. They even offer unlimited P2P traffic which means that your connection will never be slowed down wherever you are.

You can switch between their servers to find the fastest speed. IPVanish consistently rate as one of the fastest VPN providers around. Also, you can remove any geographic IP blocks on the latest games and play anonymously at high speeds almost anywhere in the world.

Oh, and it’s secure. Really secure. Protect yourself when login onto a public Wi-Fi with military grade 256-bit AES encryption. The most secure cryptography in the world used by the US Military.

Plus in between games you can watch Netflix anywhere, always browse anonymously and maintain your privacy with prices starting as low as $6.50 per month

Visit IPVanish

NordVPN

NordVPN Logo

One of the most established providers in the VPN industry. You can access 5,500+ servers in 60+ countries. Plus, their servers are tailored to your needs. 

You could opt for their Double VPN feature, which bounces your signal through 2 layers of encryption and keeps you extra safe. Works well in countries with high levels of censorship like China. But you will see a drop-in speed.

Or you can connect to servers which are specifically tailored to speed like their P2P servers, and they have a lot of them. 

NordVPN are a perfect blend of speed and security. They have top notch encryption and security features to keep you safe and protected from DDOS attacks, or malicious hackers who want to attack your unprotected IP at point of entry.

Plus, they consistently rank as one of the fastest VPN providers around. Alongside their wide range of servers, you will never be far away from a good connection when you travel.

Their client is easy and intuitive to use and supports up to 5 simultaneous devices with prices starting as low as $2.29 per month. You can’t go wrong with NordVPN.

Visit NordVPN

ExpressVPN

Express VPN Logo

ExpressVPN is commonly thought to be the fastest VPN provider around. They consistently deliver blazing fast speeds with almost negligible slow down on broadband speeds. Some VPN providers can slow down your connection by up to 30%, but amazingly with ExpressVPN you may see less than 5% drop in your speed.

Which is more than compensated by encrypting your data and circumventing your ISP’s broadband throttling. A common practise used on high data users like gamers.

With 3,000 + servers in 90+ countries, ExpressVPN also has one of the widest coverages of any providers in terms of the sheer number of countries they cover. Plus, the speeds even in Asia and South America outrank their competitors. They have chosen a route of less servers with a higher quality and speed.

1,000+ of these servers are specially tailored to P2P, meaning they are designed for the fastest download and upload speeds. Ideal for decreasing your ping times and latency.

You also get the choice to split tunnel your data. Meaning that some activities like normal browsing can be sent through a white label tunnel and your gaming can be secured at the same time. Their security protocols are top notch, along with the same 256-bit AES encryption.

ExpressVPN is not the cheapest, with an annual plan starting at $6.67 per month. But that’s because you are paying for quality, and you can connect to 5 devices simultaneously.

Visit ExpressVPN

CyberGhost

CyberGhost Logo

Cyberghost really delivers when it comes to ease of use. Their great applications have specific setting for different uses. So, you can choose their Gaming setting to connect you with the fastest server, and slightly decrease the security and encryption being used.

This doesn’t mean you are more vulnerable to attack. As the protocols and encryption used is still unbreakable. But it sacrifices maximum security to give you the best gaming experience.

They offer 3,700+ servers in 60+ countries. Giving you similar depth and breadth to the other companies in our list. More servers mean more choice wherever you are in the world. Also, you are likely to get faster speeds as these servers share the load.

You may not quite get the same speed as our Top 3, but they certainly weren’t far off. Also, they were a noticeable downtick in speeds in countries like Indonesia as well as South America.

Cyberghost is widely used due to the tonne of extra features you get. From malware and adblocker, to HTTPS always service which always look for the most secure connection before connecting. You also get top of the line security and encryption to boot. You can even get Wi-Fi protection for your mobile as well.

A great pick for the gamer who wants speed and lots of additional functionality. You can also connect to 7 devices at the same time with prices starting as low as $2.10 a month. Some of the lowest in the industry. An absolute bargain.

Visit Cyberghost VPN

VyprVPN

VyprVPN Logo

VyprVPN makes the list not because it is the biggest of our VPN providers, or even the most secure. But because it is the most loved by gamers and rated by many as the best and fastest VPN for gaming.

Both IGN and PCGamer rated VyprVPN as the fastest overall VPN for gaming, so it’s not just all marketing. They offer a mind boggling 200,000+ IP addresses across 700+ servers in 70+ locations.

Though on the face of it they offer significantly fewer servers, their networks are optimised for speed. They defeat their competitors not in download speeds, but in latency. Their ping speeds are some of the lowest around.

Their application also is massively configurable, allowing you to tweak connection, security protocols and even your DNS. This allows you to really play around and ping test like a crazy person to optimise your gaming speed.

Speed tests showed that VyprVPN optimisation means it runs 3 times faster than most other VPN providers while gaming as well as even shaving time off your pings. You can also expect a really easy to use application, great connectivity and maximum uptime.

All of this from as little as $5 a month for basic and $6.67 a month for premium with 5 simultaneous connections. Just be aware that unlike most other providers they don’t offer a money back guarantee.

Visit VyprVPN

Best in Class

If you are looking for the best all round VPN provider, then our money is with IPVanish. With its excellent performance, security, server selection and features IPVanish blows away the competition.

But if you are looking for the best VPN solely for gaming, speed and ping time then we must agree with IG and PCGamer, as the speed tests are simply out of this world. VyprVPN wins when it comes to a VPN provider that has been specifically tailored around gamers and getting the faster speeds.

So, don’t miss another headshot or tactical decision ever again because of lag. Get a VPN provider today.

 

VPN Glossary – Technical VPN Terms Explained

Do you know your IKEv2 from your SSTP? How about your metadata from your botnet? The world of VPN’s is full of technical terms. We’ve put this glossary together to explain all those pesky technical terms and turn you into a VPN expert.

Security Protocols

A VPN secures your connection by encrypting your traffic between your VPN client (mobile/web application or browser extension) and your VPN’s server. To do this, they use a security protocol to encrypt and decrypt your data. Imagine your data being put in a box that is locked and unlocked using a unique key.

Let’s cover the most popular types of security protocols

PPTP

PPTP Logo

Point to Point Tunnelling Protocol. This protocol creates a tunnel between two points for your data. The oldest and fastest security protocol. Also, the least secure and commonly paired with another protocol to increase security.

IKEv2

IKEv2 Logo

Internet Key Exchange version 2. The newest security protocol originally released in 2005. Specifically designed for information exchange between mobile devices. Supports multiple ciphers and has a high security standard as well as fast speeds. Widely seen as one of the most secure security protocols.

OpenVPN

OpenVPN Logo

The industry standard. This is an open source commercial software that is used by almost all VPN providers. The software works by creating a secure point to point connection using OpenSSL to encrypt data and keys and then be authenticated by the server. Has a custom security protocol using SSL/TLS.

L2TP

L2TP Logo

Layer Two Tunnelling Protocol. The new and improved PPTP. It is a specific tunnelling protocol and does not provide encryption. Often used with other security protocols like IPsec which encrypts the data that L2TP transmits. This protocol is solely used to transmit and receive data, but not encrypt it.

SSTP (Windows Only)

SSTP Logo

Secure Socket Tunnelling Protocol is used only on Windows Computers and is known to be significantly more secure than PPTP. Acting very much like Open VPN, the protocol transmits and encrypts data using SSL/TLS and gives you the ability to access remote servers which also use the SSTP protocol.

VPN

VPN Logo

Virtual Private Network. A service that provides privacy and anonymity by encrypting your data online and protects your identity by masking or changing your IP Address which reveals your true physical location.

Kill Switch

Kill Switch Image

Built into a VPN client. If for any reason your VPN stops working, this switch will ‘kill’ your internet connection until your VPN restarts. This is to prevent your true IP being seen.

Simultaneous connections

Simultaneous connections Image

The number of devices which can connect to your VPN at the same time. Using the same or different IP addresses.

Tor

Tor Logo

The Onion Router. A system of decentralised nodes based in people’s computers. Known for anonymity as it masks your connection by bouncing your data through different encrypted connections. Making your browsing practically untraceable.

VPN Protocol

VPN Protocol Image

The rules that determine the connection between your VPN client and server. Which could include connection protocols, encryption and decryption as well as which server to connect to.

VPN Server

VPN Server Image

A programme which grants access to your providers network. Allowing you to appear in different physical locations and change your IP. This is where your data is decrypted going out and encrypted coming in as you browse online.

VPS

VPS Image

Virtual Private Server. A virtual machine where your data is hosted. Rented from an internet hosting service, it can be based anywhere in the world. As opposed to a physical server based at your property or close by.

Warrant canary

Warrant canary Image

A method VPN provider use to inform their users if they have been served a subpoena or legal summons by a law agency. If the canary if updated or present on the site, then that means the company is NOT under investigation. When the canary disappears or stops being updated, then it signals the company is part of a criminal investigation. This is to circumvent laws around informing users that they are under investigation, by clearly stating when they aren’t under investigation instead.

WEP

WEP Image

Wired Equivalent Privacy. The security protocol used for Wi-Fi connections. Giving the same level of security as a wired LAN internet connection.

WPA2

WPA2 Image

Wi-Fi Protected Access 2. The encryption and certification protocol for most Wi-Fi connections.

TLS

TLS Image

Transport Layer Security. The encryption protocol for any form of communication over a computer network. Preceded by the now deprecated SSL (Secure Socket’s Layer) This protocol is used to secure many everyday habits like email, text messages and internet browsing.

SmartDNS

SmartDNS Image

An alternative to a VPN. With a few key differences. DNS stands for Domain Name System. They assign names and IP addresses to websites. When a website like Netflix receive a request from you, it uses your DNS to identify your location and attributes. A SmartDNS shows you as connecting from a different country but doesn’t change your IP unlike a VPN. Also, it does not encrypt your data or allow you to unblocked censorship content. Only useful for accessing geo-secured sites.

AES

AES Image

Advanced Encryption Standard. Originally known as the Rijndael cipher. A global encryption standard to secure data. Used by the US government and military and now as industry standard for VPN’s. The cipher comes in 128,192 or 256 bits. Commonly you will see that your data is secured using a 256-bit AES encryption. This level has never publicly been broken or ‘brute force’ decrypted.

Proxy

Proxy Image

A proxy server acts as a bridge between two parties. Your traffic passes through a proxy before connecting to your target website. The proxy server can alter your data by encrypting it, or modifying the data based upon your request and the function of the proxy.

Ping Time

Ping Time Image

Used as a measure of internet speed. This is the time it takes for your connection to get a response once it sends a request. This is determined by the speed of your cable connection and the speed of the website’s server.

Packet

Packet Image

A packet is a unit of data. Everything you do using a computer and any form of data involves data packets. This is how you send requests and receive information and requests online.

OpenSSH

OpenSSH Image

Secure Shell Protocol. OpenSSH is used to secure a channel over an unsecured network. This is the open source alternative to SSH. Used generally to secure communication between a client and server.

Meta Data

Meta Data Image

Data about data. The metadata in a packet tells the computer what type of data it is receiving. The metadata of an email for example would tell you there is text, headers, formatting and a sender and receiver address.

Man in the middle attack

Man in the middle attack Image

When data is sent and received between two points, it goes through a man in the middle. This could be a proxy server for example. A man in the middle attack happens, when an attacker intercept data between two points pretending to be a server. Think about someone listening in to your phone call. These attacks can be avoided using an encryption system that requires endpoint verification. So, someone cannot pretend to send and receive data without the appropriate encryption key.

Wardriving

Wardriving Image

An attacker will be in a moving vehicle. Using a phone or laptop they will search out and map Wi-Fi networks. This map of networks can then be used as a GPS system where a person is tracked based upon the relative strength of internet networks at their location.

Botnet

Botnet Image

A bot net is a series of computers or internet connected devices which are linked in a network and used to run a bot. Used for hacking practices like a DDOS attack (distributed denial or service attack) Here a botnet is used to flood a website with thousand of requests per second overloading the websites servers and causing it to crash.

Brute Force

Brute Force Image

A brute force attack is commonly associated with breaking passwords and encryptions. A powerful computer is used to go through every single combination to find the right one. For example, a 4-digit pin number has 10,000 possible combinations. Banks stop someone being able to brute force a pin number by limiting you to 3 possible attempts before blocking the card. Modern 256-bit AES encryption has been found to be impervious to brute force attacks, purely due to the amount of combinations that need to be attempted. You would need to try 2 to the factor of 256 attempt minus 1 bit. Even the best supercomputers today would take trillions of years to brute force a 256-bit AES key.

NAT

NAT Image

Network Address Translation. A method used to mask a computer’s true IP address. This method of remapping an IP, changes the IP metadata in your data packets to show it coming from a different IP address

Log

Log Image

Commonly seen in a VPN provider ‘no log policy’, a log is a record of your usage of a service. This could include your original registration details like name, address and credit card or payment. When using the service, a provider can log your original IP address, servers used, browsing history and time, data uploaded and downloaded as well as anything else you do while connected to their service.

IPv4

IPv4 Image

The fourth revision of the Internet Protocol. An IP is used to identify the device and location you are browsing from. Essentially an internet address book. New IPv4 addresses are no longer being assigned as they ran out. Originally the protocol only allowed for 4 billion addresses as it only used a 32-bit address protocol. New addresses use IPv6.

IPv6

IPv6 Image

The sixth revision of the Internet Protocol. IPv6 was introduced as we basically ran out of IP addresses. These addresses are also considerably more complex, easy to use and faster than IPv4 addresses to adjust for technological and network advancements.

IP lead

IP lead Image

IP leads is a form of tracking used by companies for their marketing. As well as malicious parties who want to trace back people’s IP addresses. An IP address can be used to trace where you are from and aggregate it alongside other data used to show what your browsing habits are, as well as your preferences.

IP Address

IP Address Image

An IP address is a unique address which is specific to your internet connection. It allows a fixed point for your data to travel to and from. Like a map. You go from one IP to another and your server needs to know where to send and receive data. IP’s can be static (the same constantly) or Dynamic (changing) as well as Public or Private.

Great Firewall

Great Firewall Image

China’s internet censorship project and system of technology used to monitor traffic within it’s borders as well as censor content it deems to be unacceptable. Acts principally to ‘protect’ the China public from foreign companies and information and nurture domestic companies as well as propagate nationalistic propaganda which is pro-government.

GeoIP / Geo-spoofing

Geo-spoofing Image

Your IP address will reveal the country that you are connecting to the site from. Based on your location a website’s server could block or alter content. Commonly used by media sites like Netflix as well as e-commerce and comparison sites who may change prices based upon your location. Geo-spoofing is used by VPN providers to change the location of the IP you use a to visit a site. Essentially showing you are browsing from a country which allows you to access the site.

5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, 14 Eyes

5 eyes, 9 eyes, 14 eyes vpn jurisdictions Image

A series of countries who have an international agreement to share intelligence and information.

Started with the 1941 Atlantic Charter where the UK and USA agreed to intelligence share during World War 2, extended to the 5 eyes with New Zealand, Australia and Canada.

The 9 eyes consist of the above 5 countries and Norway, The Netherlands, France and Denmark.

The 14 eyes consist of the above 9 countries and Sweden, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Germany.

The different groups are also thought to reflect the level of information shared between the countries. With the 14 eyes perhaps sharing less than the 9 eyes and 5 eyes. As each country also has active operations to spy on each other.

Firmware

Firmware Image

Permanently installed software in your electronic device. Recently concerns have been raised that a company may use firmware to also snoop on a person’s habits and even their location.

Malware (Added)

Malware Image

Software designed to intentionally damage your computer or server. Which can be also used to control, monitor or disrupt usage on that device.

Firewall

Firewall Image

Firewalls control the flow of data through a network. Provides security by updating itself to monitor new types of malware and viruses.

Encryption Key

Encryption Key Image

An encryption key is a unique code to unscramble your data. A VPN encrypts your data in a client, and then decrypts it in their DNS.  This means that only a device that has the corresponding key can see your data.

DNS Poisoning

DNS Poisoning Image

Also known as DNS spoofing. A healthy DNS routs your traffic to the correct website. A hacker can spoof a DNS and redirect your traffic to a malicious website.

Best VPN for Torrents

Best VPN for Torrents

One of the main reasons people use VPN’s is for Torrents. Torrent files contains information’s about files, that can be accessed through the file. Either containing the metadata file or the files downloaded. They act like an index to allow your computer to find the position of the file you are looking for, contained on a global distribution of computers.

Torrenting lets you access the latest films, tv shows, sports event and any other form of media you can think of. Some use an aggregating media software like Kodi, which provides an easy to use GUI (Graphical User Interface) and 100’s of application extensions for specific use cases, like say Basketball on ESPN. But besides Kodi there are thousands of torrenting sites.

Before we go through our Top 5 list of VPN providers, let’s break down what makes a VPN good for Torrents

Zero Logs Policy

Zero Logs Policy Image

Torrenting is not illegal but it is frowned upon. People can use torrenting to upload and download copyrighted material. In order to protect yourself, you want to choose a VPN provider that has a strict zero logs policy. This means that they are not going to keep or record important information that could identify you.

This information could include your original IP, name, address, credit card details, browsing history and data usage. All of which would be highly incriminating. The best providers will have no information to give even if law enforcement comes knocking.

Torrent Friendly

Torrent Friendly Image

Not all VPN providers welcome Torrenting. In face some providers will clearly state that Torrents are not welcome. Or they may go one step less and simply not speak about Torrents on their site.

The best providers will be specifically designed around torrenting. Which means they may provide in depth guides on their site to Torrent and use popular sites like Kodi. Or they may even have super-fast servers which are specifically configured for P2P file sharing. Known as Peer to Peer, this is where users share files and Torrents.

Within this you want a VPN provider that uses 256-bit AES encryption, alongside good security protocols. As well as this they should pass all IP leak tests. Like IPv6, DNS and WebROTC. Remember your anonymity depends on someone not being able to see your original IP.

Download and Upload Speed

Download and Upload Speed Image

Media files tend to be big. High definition movies can be up to 5GB in size. So, you need a connection that is going to mean you can quickly download these file sizes. Or alternatively upload these files to be torrented.

VPN’s will always depend on your Internet Service Provider, as your connection is running through their cable. But they may circumvent data throttling, where your ISP limits your data usage. So, you may see little difference in speed.

Ideally you want a VPN that is going to deliver download speeds of 40-60 MBps, certainly no less than 15-20. As well as upload speeds of 7-10 MBps.

Traditionally the more servers a VPN provider has the faster the speed, as the more distributed their user’s traffic is. But some provider like IPVanish rely on less server that are configured specifically for high traffic.

Ease of Use and Applications

Applications Image

Having a nice looking and easy to use web or mobile application is great, but what we are really looking for is our ability to find the fastest server, optimum connection based on country, and even the best server specifically for P2P file sharing.

VPN’s that just connect you to a random server aren’t helpful for torrenting as you are playing server roulette for speed.

Kill Switch

Kill Switch Image

The best VPN providers have an in-built kill switch for your internet. That means if your VPN application freezes or stops working your internet connection is terminate. The switch then automatically reconnects your internet when the VPN is working.

That means you don’t continue to browse, and torrent unprotected.

Unlimited Data

Unlimited Data Image

Torrents need data. Lots of data. You want a VPN provider that gives unlimited data usage without charging you by the gigabyte. Most big VPN providers will have this as standard.

So, with all that in mind, let’s jump into the 5 best VPN providers for Torrents.

  • IPVanish

IPVanish Logo

 

IPVanish have built an industry reputation as one of the best VPN’s for torrents. Choose from 40,000+ IP’s across 1,300+ servers and 75+ countries. Get an added layer of security with IP sharing, where multiple users use the same IP. This won’t affect your speed but means that any usage on that IP cannot be attributed to any one user.

With an impressive 9.7/10 from over 2,700+ reviews on Trust Pilot they are a firm favourite with their users.  They offer great customer service and a rock solid zero logs policy.

Their speeds are blistering quick, and you will little or no downtick from your regular speed internet. They also offer a SOCKS5 proxy, which means you can inbuild the VPN straight from your computer without having to go through their application. Further speeding up your connection.

You can connect a whopping 10 devices at the same time, and IPVanish passed all the leak tests with flying colours. Alongside IPVanish’s top notch military grade encryption and security protocols.

Visit IPVanish

  • ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Logo

ExpressVPN is more expensive than most VPN provider, but you certainly get what you pay for. They have a clear zero logs policy and go one step further but not actually logging your general browsing activity and IP’s used and data usage in the first place.

In speed tests they ranked as one of the fastest VPN services, and in fact are a top choice for people wanting to use VPN’s in high censorship areas like China, precisely because of their speed.

They have a tremendous range of servers which is only rivalled by NordVPN and PIA. With over 3,000+ servers in 94+ countries, you can rely on the fact that there will always be a fast connection near to where you want to torrent. On top of this you can find and log into servers specifically configured for P2P, which means they are optimised for speed.

ExpressVPN’s application rival the best user interface of other companies like IPVanish. Their application was voted the best UI in the industry for their Linux app, and they are compatible with almost all devices, operating systems and mobile phones.

They also have a kill switch in built to all their applications, military grade 256-bit AES encryption. As well as being based in the British Virgin Islands, where law does not compel them to keep logs even if they did. Plus, ExpressVPN passed all the leak tests with flying colours.

The only draw from their great service is that unlike IPVanish, you can only connect to 3 devices simultaneously.

Visit ExpressVPN

  • NordVPN

NordVPN Logo

NordVPN is not only one of the cheapest big VPN providers, with multi-year passes at less than $4 a month, but also arguably one of the fastest. With access to over 5,000+ servers in 60+ countries. You are going to get a damn quick connection anywhere in the world.

Though not all servers are configured for P2P, you can use their application to find the fastest server for your needs. As well as taking advantage of several security features which are unique to them.

These include their Double VPN service, which will reduce your speed, but will give you the added layer of security. Your traffic will be bounced through 2 different servers. Generally, 2 countries next door to each other. You can also open for Tor over VPN, but of course Tor isn’t recommended for torrenting or using Kodi because of its slow speed. In addition, you can choose an obfuscated service where your traffic will be masked as SSL traffic. Very handy in high censorship countries like China.

They have a great zero logs policy which is backed up by their jurisdiction. Being based in Panama they are under no legal obligation to provide their logs. Though just because a company is based in the US like IPVanish, is no reason why they would be compelled to give up their logs.

You get a kill switch, as well the highest-level encryption. NordVPN unsurprisingly passed all the leak test. Plus, you get to sift through all the servers and choose them manually or let their application choose automatically. You also get 6 simultaneous connections.

Visit NordVPN

  • Cyberghost

CyberGhost Logo

With over 2,7000 servers based in 60 countries and 1,000 of these servers optimised for torrenting or using Kodi around the world. Cyberghost is a torrenters dream. This Romanian based company has a solid zero logs policy, as actually keeps almost no proprietary user data apart from what is needed for customer experience.

 

One thing we absolutely love about Cyberghost is their mobile and web application. The User Interface is beautiful. One the opening screen you can choose what service you are going to use your VPN for. One of the choices is to torrent anonymously. Cyberghost are Torrent friendly and will then find you an optimal server based on your location.

You can also manually choose your own server based on country and arrange all the servers based on existing speed and server latency. Also, just like IPVanish you use shared IP’s which mean that your traffic is being routed with other people’s through a single IP. Further anonymising your torrents and make hard to track individuals.

With over 6,000+ review on Trustpilot they are a firm community favourite, and with prices for multiyear plan as allow as $3 a month with a 45-day money back guarantee. You get great value for your money.

Cyberghost;s servers registered exceptional speeds. Making them an ideal VPN for torrenting. Giving you both great upload and download speeds. With up to 7 simultaneous connections.

Visit CyberghostVPN

  • PIA

PIA Logo

 

Private Internet Access (PIA) offers 3,300+ servers in 32 countries. Which is the second most on our list. They have built a solid reputation of being one of the most stable VPN providers in the market.  PIA is a great provider with prices as low as $4 a month.

Firstly, their size is impressive and one of the largest footprints in the industry. They offer less countries than companies like IPVanish and NordVPN. But with over 3,000 servers you can be sure that you are going to get speed. They rank amongst the best of all VPN providers for speed tests across the board and the globe.

They also offer a host of interesting security features. From the basic ad blocking and malware protection. To the more sophisticated user who want to use 128-bit AES encryption which though slightly less secure, is faster than 256-bit. Or port forwarding and SOCKS5 proxy for extra speed, again at the compromise of some encryption safety. No one has ever broken a 128-bit AES encryption.

You should always adjust encryption at your own risk, and unless you know your stuff leave it to set itself automatically.

They have a lovely user interface, and their web extensions allows you to block ads, web referrers and cookies giving you a faster and cleaner browsing experience. All with an inbuilt kill switch.

PIA is also one of the few VPN providers that has made its source software open source. Meaning a resourceful community can quickly spot bugs and suggest fixes. One the whole communities allow providers to create better software.

PIA has a great no logs policy, and 20 years of operating history without incident which proves their status as one of the most stable VPN providers around.

Visit PIA VPN

Conclusion

All our top 5 tick all the boxes when it comes to speed, privacy, ease of use and encryption.

Alas there can be only one winner and that goes to IPVanish. Almost always featured in any sites top 5 list for fastest VPN’s. We just feel on balance of ease of use, price, security and features that IPVanish really does give the best torrenting or Kodi experience.

One of their drawbacks is their old school design and sometimes glitchy kill switch and chat support.

Best VPN Jurisdictions – Understanding 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes

Best VPN Jurisdictions – Understanding 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes

As you become more familiar with VPN’s and what they mean, we start to get into the finer details. One of these is jurisdiction. This means where is the company who runs your VPN based and what laws are applicable to them.

Online, you will find many competing opinions. Some say that you should never use a VPN in a jurisdiction of one of the 14 eyes countries.  Reasoning your logs could be given over by law. While others claim it makes no difference.

Truthfully, it comes down to the company and the country. We look at cases where companies have withstood law enforcement agencies and held up their zero logs policies. While others have lied, and handed over logs they promised they didn’t even keep.

So, let’s go through and break this down step by step. Demystifying the jargon as we go and finding it whether there really is an ideal country for your VPN to be based.

Why Does Jurisdiction Matters?

Every country around the world have their own data privacy laws. Some countries care more about the privacy of their citizens than others. For example, the introduction of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in the European Union in 2018 was ground-breaking. This series of laws bolstered consumer’s control over their data in the EU’s 28 member states. Also forcing companies who wish to operate online in those countries a greater need for transparency.

Privacy International produced a privacy ranking for the best and worst countries for the safeguarding and protection of consumer data. As well as reduced intrusion by the state to monitor its citizens.

The Top 5 were in order: Greece, Canada, Romania, Hungary and Argentina.

The Worst 5: England, Singapore, Russia, Malaysia and China

If live in one of the worst 5 countries. There is no constitutional protection of your data, and you are under active surveillance by your government. Also, privacy enforcement is weak.

Jurisdiction matters because some countries compel VPN providers to keep comprehensive logs of their user’s data. While others do not.

What Does Zero Logs and Logging Policy Mean?

Zero Logs and Logging Image

Every time you connect with your VPN provider this creates a log, or a record of your activity. Namely the IP you are using, the websites you browse, any download or uploads and the data that you use, as well as time on each site or activity.

On top of this for most providers you need to provide a name, email address and credit card unless you pay with Bitcoin.

So, your VPN provider as a guardian of your anonymity can choose to record and keep a lot of what you do. Essentially, they are almost like your browser history.

Countries like the USA and UK can compel VPN companies to turn over these logs if a law is broken.

But, companies like PIA and IPVanish which are based in the US have figured out a good way to get around the law. They don’t even keep logs.

Why zero logs matters

Companies cannot be compelled by law to produce something that they don’t even have. So, a lot of top VPN companies have what is called a “zero logs” policy. What this means is that all your browsing information isn’t even saved onto their hard drives. So, if asked all they can is shrug their shoulders and at best confirm you have an account with them. But with no records they can’t say what you did or provide any corroborating evidence to show that a crime is broken.

VPN companies live or die by their reputation to maintain the integrity of their zero logs policy, as you can see from this new report here. PIA even when compelled by the FBI to produce logs, could only give them an email address registered with them.

Be careful not to conclude that just because your VPN company is based in a 5,9 or 14 eyes country, that your data is not just as secure as if they are based in Romania, the British Virgin Islands or elsewhere.

What are the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes?

5 Eyes, 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Image

Sounds like some sort of night-time horror story.

The 5,9 and 14 eyes all relate to the short name for intelligence sharing agreements between countries.

5 Eyes

The 5 eyes date back to the 1940’s and the World War 2. The UK and the USA signed the UKUSA agreement signed an intelligence sharing agreement, which would allow them to share intelligence freely and beat the Nazis. This was later extended to include New Zealand, Australia and Canada to become the 5 eyes.

9 and 14 Eyes

To counter increasing threats from Russia, China and terrorism in the wake of 9/11. This intelligence sharing community was extended to the 9 and then the 14 eyes, to include: Norway, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain, Germany, Italy and Belgium.

These 14 countries form a global alliance and essentially do also run a large-scale surveillance operation on its citizens and countries outside of the 14 eyes. Many have turned to VPN’s like IPVanish to protect their data and help them to feel safe.

But it’s worth mentioning these countries co-operate to fight back against terrorism and organised crime. They are not that interested in you torrenting the latest Marvel movie. Or the pot you are trying to buy on Tor.

Be careful not to be drawn into conspiracy theory, tin hat territory when it comes to companies that are based in the 14 eyes. We live in democracies; not totalitarian states and a countries legal system can only get what a VPN provider is able to give.

Is Jurisdiction or No Logs More Important?

No logs, times a million. Remember a company cannot be compelled to give something that it never had in the first place. It could be based in the least privacy friendly country in the world, but if the piece of paper with your name on it is blank then nothing is going to come back to haunt you.

Does the company have a clear and transparent no logs policy? One thing you want to make sure of is to read the terms and conditions, as well as the privacy policy.

What’s hiding in your VPN’s Privacy Policy?

Often companies will hide terms within their privacy policy, which allows them to retain some or all your information for a set period. Also, some VPN companies, have a strict No Torrent policy like Tunnel Bear, which means they are actively tracking your data usage and potentially your browsing habits as well.

Also, there may be clauses where you could be blacklisted or even reported for uploading unsuitable content. Though no one would argue that child pornography should be reported, how about certain copyrighted content?

Be on your guard for companies that try to twist and turn their way through the no logs policy, with a series of ifs and buts.

The best VPN companies will have a clear and simple no logs policy. They just don’t keep any apart from what is needed to improve the performance of its servers and its user experience. For extra bonus points they may even display how many times they have been asked to produce evidence by a law enforcement agency, and even have their system audited by a 3rd party auditor.

The more transparent a VPN company is, the more assurance you should of your privacy and that of your data.

If My VPN is in The USA or Another 14 Eyes Country Should I Be Worried?

No, some of the best and most relied upon VPN providers like IPVanish and PIA are based in the US. They have had multiple DMCA Notices (Digital Marketing Copyright Act) served when users are using VPN’s to upload and download copyrighted content. As well as warrants and subpoenas for their user’s data. All of which have been refused.

The 14 eyes countries are morally and legally obliged to have safeguards and laws in place for the privacy and safety.

If we compare the US to say China. The Chinese government has long been a proponent for state sponsored censorship on a massive scale. The “Great Firewall of China” exists ostensibly to protect Chinese citizens, but, in the 21st Century it protects the interests of Chinese government and business and keeps out external foreign influences. With over 2 million people estimated to monitor Chinese internet traffic.

14 Eyes countries have strict Data and Privacy laws

The 14 eyes have rules that it needs to abide by as well as it’s citizens. A VPN company that operates within these countries ostensibly is protected by these laws and can’t just have their servers blatantly hacked. However, with other countries with a lower value placed on personal expression and freedom there is a question over whether your data is ever truly safe.

Ultimately, we know that major established VPN companies would not last long if they were seriously compromising users and their data. The internet would soon speak quickly and highlight cases and users who were compromised. Customers would vote with their feet and leave those providers in their drove.

You are better off looking at news and practices relating to the company itself rather than the country that it is based in.

How Have Companies in The 14 Eyes Dealt With Being Compelled to Provide Logs?

There have been several cases where countries have tried to compel VPN providers without success.

  1. ExpressVPN: In 2017, The Turkish authorities tried to compel ExpressVPN to turn over data which they believe related to a political assassination. The company refused. Their servers in Turkey were then physically seized. But the police were unable to yield any worthwhile information. ExpressVPN genuinely did not keep any logs on their servers. They also asserted that as they are based in the British Virgin Islands, there is no obligation to keep them.
  2. Private Internet Access: PIA operates in the US. In two court cases in 2016 and 2018 was officially subpoenaed by the FBI to provide their logs. They produced what they had. Namely the cluster of IP addresses that may have been used. Again, they had no information to give because they did not log it.
  3. VyprVPN: Vypr took a step which several big VPN providers are following. Namely having their security and no logs policy tested by reputable cyber security agency. Testing to see if there are any leaks or compromises in their policy. This provides maximum reassurance to people who are doubtful about the provider zero logs policy. In this report  from Leviathan, they had their No Logs Policy fully tested. They revealed several minor issues with VyprVPN’s policy which have since been resolved. 
  4. Perfect Privacy: In 2016, Dutch authorities seized two of Perfect Privacy’s servers as part of an ongoing criminal investigation. The servers were returned without incident, as the Swiss based company did not write logs on hard drives. Basically, there was nothing to see on the servers, they are run with encrypted RAM disks which makes it impossible to store logs on a hard drive.

Are Their Companies Which Have Handed Over Logs While Claiming To Be No Logs Providers?

Yes. Depending on the severity of the claim. There are people who use VPN’s to carry out heinous criminal acts, like serious hacking, cyber stalking, child pornography and even human trafficking. The following providers have had widely publicised cases where they did hand over logs.

  1. PureVPN: In 2017 PureVPN were mentioned in an affidavit in the US. They were explicitly mentioned as providing logs and details of one of its users which led to the conviction of a US resident for stalking and harassing people using ExpressVPN. The controversy came from PureVPN’s no logs policy which claimed that you were invisible and that they kept no records whatsoever
  2. Earth VPN: In 2014, it was reported that EarthVPN had assisted the Dutch Police by providing logs to a user who sent a bomb threat to a local school. Again, their zero logs policy proved to not be wholly accurate
  3. HideMyAss: In 2011, the LulzSec hacker group, caused an international stir when they hacked several high-profile sites includes Sony and PBS. One of their London members was caught using the help of HMA. They provided logs and details of the users originating address so he could be tracked down

The controversy arose from the fact that the providers had given information to the users which proved not to be true.

This article does not condone any crime committed under the veil of a VPN provider. We are here point out that many companies will be quick to tell you that they won’t give out any logs of your activity. However, if the situation is serious enough they will push you under the bus.

Find a reputable no logs provider whose policies have been tested by authorities and have come through with flying colours.

So Where Is The Best Country For VPN’s?

We hope that this in-depth article really goes to show that there is no best country for VPN’s.

There are good and bad providers all around the world. Just because your company is based within the 14 eyes does not mean they are compelled to give authorities anything.

A law agency has significant leverage on their side to freeze your entire business and operations.  This all depends on the seriousness of the crime.

But we keep returning to the same point.

A company that does not keep logs cannot give logs. They are not irresponsible; they are simply doing exactly what they said they would do.

Conclusion

Find a VPN provider that had a history, that is paid and that has a solid zero logs policy. Companies like IPVanish and PIA have a reputation that they have kept and upheld even under the most difficult circumstances.
Remember that countries based outside the 14 eyes may have much more lax ideas when it comes to the data that they can compel or even snoop from VPN providers based within their country.

Pay for a quality provider that has a clear and transparent no logs policy, privacy policy and terms and conditions. Using a VPN provider is one of the few times when we strongly suggest that you read all their documentation.

After all dishonest companies love to sneak clauses in their terms and condition when they think you aren’t looking.

 

Best Free VPN’s

Best Free VPN’s

Censorship and privacy are increasing concerns in our digital age. Plus, the increasing desire for users to access content that may be restricted based on where they live. Media software like Kodi can put all your entertainment in one place. But you’ll find much of the applications are blocked because of your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or you may want to watch Netflix in the US but like in the UK.

We must start by saying that free VPN’s are not ideal. They are kind of secure. As with any product that is free, the payment becomes your data. With premium VPN’s like IPVanish starting from a few dollars a month, if you are serious about security and anonymity you should consider that paying a little goes along way.

Here, we pick out our top 4 choices based on the thousand of free VPN providers available online. When choosing a VPN provider, you want to make sure first and foremost that your data is safe, your IP is hidden, and the speed is adequate.

Opera

Opera Logo

Opera is a web browser, which is currently used by roughly 2.5% of all internet users through computers and laptops. They are one of the oldest browsers still used. Originally started in 1994. They introduced a free VPN service in 2016.

Firstly, the positive, their VPN is easy to use. Simply flick a switch in browser. There are also no limits to the data that you use. Also, it survived the VPN acid test of Netflix. You could access Netflix USA from out of the country, which is something that some paid VPN providers struggle with. Also, their logging policy, though not zero log is relatively harmless. They don’t keep your data on file, and the logs they keep mostly relate to system and performance issues. These are automated reports sent back to their servers when your browser stalls or crashes.

The fact that Opera VPN is free, and data usage is unlimited puts it heads and shoulders above the competition. You can switch between servers, but only in terms of the area you want to browse from. You can log into servers based in The America, Europe or Asia. But like most free VPN’s there are a host of issues that would cause anyone serious about privacy concern.

Cons for Opera VPN

So now for the drawbacks. Of which there are many.

Opera VPN is not really a VPN. It’s just a proxy. So, what’s the difference? Well a proxy hides your IP and that’s it. No encryption, no secure data. Just obscures the IP from which the request is coming from. A VPN provider will create an encrypted tunnel from your data. So, anything going between the application and the server is secure. Not so with Opera.

Basically, your IP hidden, but your data is insecure. Your data is encrypted to the same standard as HTTPS and SSL, but this is a far cry from the level of security we would expect for a secure tunnelling protocol. Your connection is not secure, just your use on the Opera browser.

Opera discontinued a lot of its VPN related service in 2018. So now you can only use the service through the browser. Meaning it won’t work for mobiles or smart devices. Namely its only good for browsing. You won’t get a lot of joy with Kodi.

Though Opera’s VPN passed IPv6 and DNS leak tests, they did have WebRTC leaks. This is where your IP is leaked through devices on your laptop, like microphone and camera. This could also be a DNS leak, it’s impossible to say. Simply put, you don’t get true anonymity.

If you want to use Opera for Kodi, think again. The speeds are slow. Really slow. Like 7MBps download speed slow. Plus, torrenting through software like Kodi isn’t allowed through Opera, which considering the lack of security is probably a good thing.

So, in short, Opera’s free VPN is good enough for a bit of casual browsing or a cheeky watch of Netflix but not much else.

Visit Opera VPN

Hot Spot Shield

Hotspot Shield Logo

Hot Spot Shield is unique in our list, because is one of two providers on our list that offers a free service as well as a highly rated paid service. We want to concentrate on what you get if you pay nothing.

They boast a whopping 650M downloads which is head and shoulders over any other competitors on the market. Of course, the vast majority of these are for the free service.

The free service is highly restricted understandably. You get to use 500MB of data per day, which adds up to 15GB per month. Still generous if you think about your mobile phone data plan. But obviously if you plan on using this for Netflix then either be frugal with your screen time or pay the money.

As a free customer you get military grade encryption for your VPN tunnel, which means a 256-bit AES encryption with their custom Hydra protocol. Built upon OpenSSL technology, which is used by HTTPS, they promise super-fast speeds using servers which are specifically tweaked for speed.

Why its better to go premium

Of course, as a free user your traffic goes at the bottom of the pile. So, no access or choosing from their 3,200+ server across 70+ countries, and you can only connect 1 device at a time. Hot Spot Shield claw back the money from the bandwidth by displaying ads as you browse.

As free services go, hot spot shield is held together by a great team, with a good reputation. The fact that they have a freemium and paid model means that you know the service is going to be well funded and therefore secure. A big plus for us is our trust in the encryption and security of our data.

Plus, if you decide to take the plunge and spend some money, their 3-year plan starts from as low as £2.99. Though their monthly plan is pricy at £12.99 per month. We would recommend IPVanish if you want to take the plunge with a premium provider.

One major draw back of Hot Spot Shield is the recent hot water they were landed in when the Centre for Democracy and Technology lodged a complaint about the US based company, who originally received funding from Goldman Sachs and several large marketing and advertising companies. The complaint relates to code that tracks user’s activity with the intent to sell their browsing habits to advertisers.

Visit Hotspot Shield VPN

Tunnel Bear

Tunnel Bear VPN Logo

Tunnel Bear is another Freemium model very similar to Hot Spot Shield, though admittedly with not as many users. You can use up to 500MB a day of data, which is 15GB over time.

They also offer a paid service which starts at $9.99 a month and goes down to $5.00 per month for a yearly plan. For this you get unlimited data and can connect to 5 devices simultaneously.

So, what do we love about Tunnel Bear? Firstly, it’s secure. Like secure. That must be our number 1 concern with freer VPN’s. If they are just a proxy without encryption, then it’s not even worth downloading.

Tunnel bear uses 256-bit AES encryption with a selection of the best protocols on the market. From OpenVPN, IPsec and IKEv2. This means you won’t be getting any IP leaks like we saw with Opera. Your connection is secure, and you can browse freely.

The company has a strict zero logs policy but being based in Canada they are compelled to hand over certain information that is required by Canadian law including your name, amount of data used, email address, OS and the last 4 digits of your credit card number. But if you plan to do something naughty online using a free VPN provider then you deserve to get caught.

Tunnel Bear Cons

Unfortunately, Tunnel Bear has drawbacks like any freemium model. The download speed is slow. Some say it’s the protocols, but honestly, we suspect it’s because your traffic goes at the back of the bus. They don’t use ads to claw back their revenue, so essentially you are throttled at a low speed to save on costs. Also, Tunnel Bear is one of several providers that are banned by Netflix. A lot of providers don’t use rotating IP addresses. Therefore, these providers have been identified and their IP’s blocked access to Netflix.

However, you get a great application, in built kill switch and can access 5 devices simultaneously (though not for long with 500MB of data). For us Tunnel Bear is a solid free service, when though you get what you pay for. It’s a great product for a bit of anonymous browsing.

Visit Tunnel Bear VPN

Hola

Hola Logo

Hola is a horror story to be avoided at all costs and is a perfect example of you being the product when the service you use is free.

On the face of it, Hola looks innocent enough. Used by 193 million people worldwide. Using what is called peer to peer VPN. A similar idea to Tor where you home proxy is used to re-route another people’s traffic. i.e. when you your computer is idle someone could be using your proxy and IP.

So how does HolaVPN make money. They don’t use ads and there is no limit on the data usage.

Hola VPN sells your data

Simple. They sell the same peer to peer network to businesses at https://luminati.io/.

If you check out the website, you will see it’s basically the same logo using a different name. That’s 35 million people’s residential IP’s that are up for grabs. So essentially people are routing who knows what traffic through your IP and router.

Could be shopping on Amazon. Could be child pornography. Hola to us is the exact reason why using free VPN’s is so risky. You could literally have your computer used by a service provider to route another people’s traffic.

If you are brave enough to read on, Hola is pretty good for speed. They have great upload and download speeds. Primarily because they are not really a VPN service. Just a proxy service with out encryption. So, you get speed but no security.

But the list of cons just gets longer. Hola won’t work for any GeoIP location service like Netflix or Kodi. They log most of your data. Like everything down to what pages, you visit and how long you are on them. It’s an advertiser’s paradise. They also openly share this information with third parties and affiliates. Oh, they also retain your original IP and location. So much for privacy.

They fail for DNS and WebROTC leaks, and they don’t support torrenting.

Use Hola at your own risk. You truly are the product with Hola. They exist to take advantage of people who don’t know better bout privacy.

 

Go Premium

Though there are some reasonable options out there like Tunnel Bear and Hot Spot Shield. You are never going to get everything you want out of a free VPN. Either you get your data sold by Hola or must contend with only 500MB of data per day through a slow server with Tunnel Bear. For as little as $5 a month you can buy a premium service that will give you everything you need for the price of lunch.

We recommend you go premium with IPVanish. You can get unlimited data, access to Netflix, easy to use with Kodi and a solid zero logs policy.

On top of that you get great speeds from their 1,300+ servers based across 75+ countries, top of the line AES 256-bit encryption, a wide range of security protocols and to top it all off you get to connect a massive 10 devices all at the same time.

If you are serious about your data and privacy online, you should strongly consider investing a little bit of money to safeguard yourself and your family. Privacy is a serious business and always remember that if a product is free then you and your data becomes the product.

 

20 Ways to Stay Anonymous Online

20 Ways to Stay Anonymous Online

In 2013 Yahoo revealed the biggest data breach in the internet’s history. Over 3 billion accounts were compromised, the details recovered by hackers included real names, dates of birth, email addresses, telephone numbers and even their actual password, security questions and the answers.

Staying anonymous online is no longer about being a conspiracy theorist or a privacy nut. Every year large corporations reveal staggering data breaches. These are companies who invest millions of dollars into cyber security.

Staying anonymous online thankfully has never been easier, with the advent of new and easier to use technology like affordable VPN providers, and the growing number of anonymous browsers like DuckDuckGo which have responded to people’s concerns about what might happen to their data.

As ultimately identity theft is a real and present threat to people’s peace of mind and wellbeing. Hackers can literally assume your identity to commit all forms of cyber crime or just take out a bunch of credit cards in your name and run up thousands of dollars’ worth of debt which could take years for you to find and remove from your file.

Here are 20 simple steps for you to take to stay anonymous online, and protect your data, identity and sanity.

Use a Trusted VPN

IPVanish Logo

VPN stands for Virtual Private Networks. These give you a secure method to connect to the internet. They allow you to hide or change your IP (Internet Protocol) address, which can reveal your exact physical address.

Also, by encrypting your data and browsing history they secure your information against hackers and malevolent agents wanting to steal your personal information.

Trusted providers today use 256 Bit AES encryption technology and sophisticated security protocols. That’s the same technology used by the US Military to keep their data and communications secure. What’s more prices have dropped so much, that you can now get a VPN from less than $5 a month.

Make sure to find a trusted and highly rated VPN provider. Many sites promise anonymity and privacy and can’t deliver.

Adjust Your Browser Privacy Settings

Do Not Track Image

Your internet browser tracks all your information. From the websites that you visit to downloads and cookies which help advertisers show you adverts based upon your browsing habits. As well as keeping your credit card, passwords and form information if you let it.

Depending on your Browser you can change your settings, to give a “do not track request” for your browser traffic. Which means sites ,in theory, can’t track as you go from website to the next.

But bear in mind, the most common browser Google Chrome is run by a multibillion-dollar technology company, that needs your data for its Google AdSense department to then sell to advertisers.

Some browsers ensure a greater level of privacy like Chromium, Firefox and Brave a new browser made by the inventor of JavaScript.

But if you want a higher level of anonymity then read on to Step 3.

Use an Anonymous Browser

Brave Logo

Hands down the best browser for anonymity is Tor which we talk about in Step 7.

The idea of an anonymous browser is simply that it does not track or collect anything about your browsing habits. From what search for, to the sites you visit, and even the parts of a website you click on or read.

A browser like Epic will have a built VPN service, will not generate error reports, does not track the URL’s you visit and therefore will be a clean slate every time you browse.

There are many more anonymous browsers built on either the open source code for Firefox or Chromium (The open source code for Google Chrome) including Brave, SRWare Iron Browser and Comodo Ice Dragon Browser.

Importantly these are all browsers which are being updated, with an active open source development community behind them. Browsers need to be updated regularly for functionality and for security patches which deal with new online threats.

Keep Your Email Private

Keep Your Email Private Image

Your private email is like your home address. You wouldn’t advertise it for the whole world could hear, and let anyone in.

Firstly, there are the practicalities of not having an inbox full of spam and sales emails.

Secondly, every unknown email you answer runs the risk of infecting your computer with malware which could contain a virus, tracking software or even a keyboard logger.

With email phishers and cyber criminals always becoming increasingly sophisticated with the types of emails they send. Don’t think that just because it’s not from a Nigerian prince you aren’t receiving an email filled virus.

Always be careful of opening files and clicking on the links from senders you do not know. If in doubt google the senders address first i.e. [email protected] . Though the email looks legitimate you will quickly find out the website is not and realise the email is fake.

But by using different email accounts to register online, you keep your personal email address safe for important and trusted correspondence only. As once one spammer has your address it is quickly sold and transmitted across the web.

Live in a Country That Values Privacy

Country That Values Privacy Image

Some countries value the privacy and online safety of their citizens more than others. The US is a good example of an online culture where data is freely bought and sold.

A good example of solid pushback is the EU’s GDPR (European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation) act which meant users are now better protected from retaining their privacy.

For example, frequently when signing up to a site you were automatically put on their mailing list and bombarded, whereas now if you browse in Europe, companies must allow you to tick and choose the way you wish to be contacted. Thankfully you can now choose to now be contacted at all.

If you don’t have the luxury of moving, then you can vigorously pursue the rest of these steps and be an agent of change to promote an individual’s right to privacy.

Get an Anonymous Operating System

Anonymous Operating System Image

Your Operating System runs your computer and gives it a GUI (Graphical User Interface) like icons. For example, Windows, iOS or Linux. But they frequently send user data to Microsoft, Apple or Linus to let them know what’s going wrong with their system and in turn collecting valuable data to fine tune their service.

So, if you want an anonymous browser, you are going to have to get used to Linux. Tails OS is the front runner.

You can download it and use it in “Live” mode from a USB stick. Which means you wouldn’t use it as your permanent operating system, but only when you browse online and interact with the web.

The system is fast, clean and efficient and can get you up and online within 1-2 minutes.

Use Tor

TOR Logo

Tor stands for The Onion Router. Made famous by the Silk Road drug scandal where people were buying and selling drugs online supposedly anonymously.

Originally developed by the US Navy, the Tor works like VPN, but instead of using a company’s servers, you instead use other computers in the network as nodes. Your traffic is bounced through several nodes to obscure your traffic, while your data is encrypted.

The great thing about Tor is that there are no adverts, trackers, or websites which can store and track your data. The Tor is also home to hidden services and is host to many criminally minded cyber criminals so proceed with caution if you browse these hidden sites.

Avoid Plug-Ins

Plugins To Avoid Image

Plugins are services which can be used as extensions to your browser. For example, translation services, games and cloud services.

They also collect user data to improve their services which means they will track some of your browsing history which relates to the plug-ins.

So, as much as you can just avoid them. It may cost you a bit of extra time to use Google Translate as opposed to a translation app, but if you are browsing anonymously or using a VPN your data can’t be stored or tracked.

Apart from inbuilt ad blockers, you shouldn’t need plugins for everyday browsing, so don’t choose convenience and stick to maintaining your privacy.

One plug-in we do recommend you get is Privacy Badger. Created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation which champions internet privacy. This plugin works by showing you what scripts, cookies and trackers are being used by each sight. All arranged in a colour coded order from green which is safe, to red which is possibly malicious. You will need to use Privacy Badger for Firefox or Opera. Google Chrome has banned its use (as it hurts their AdSense trackers)

Only Use HTTPS

HTTPS Logo

HTTPS stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, as opposed to HTTP which isn’t secure.

The ‘S’ makes all the difference as it means that site uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which basically means that the web protocol which is being used by that websites to receive your data (like payment information and credit card details) is secure and encrypted, meaning that hackers cannot intercept your information.

You will see the HTTP/HTTPS, just before the “//www.” Prefix for any website that you visit. Previously people only worried about this for payments. But remember that any information you give on a HTTP site, including your location and IP can be intercepted.

Reputable sites will have a HTTPS prefix, others with HTTP should be avoided or at best treated with suspicion.

Since it isn’t feasible to only browse HTTPS websites, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Tor collaborated to make a plugin called HTTPS Everywhere. This plugin works with Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Firefox in Android. Given the quality of the collaborating sources, this is a plugin that everyone should look into using.

Avoid Unnecessary Applications

Unnecessary Applications Image

Just like Plugins on your internet browser. We use various applications which as part of their function need to connect to the information to communicate with their company’s server.

Even popular applications like Microsoft Office send regular usage reports to Microsoft which contain information and data that you may not want to share. These are generally explained away as “user experience data”

You can often swap popular products for Open Source software which will not transmit user data, or at least will give you greater control over the information that you provide.

Turn Off Your Location and Microphone

Turn off Your Location and Microphone Image

If you use Google, the chances are that they track your location. Often location services are automatically turned on so that you can easily find local services to you.

Though seemingly harmless, this also means that malicious agents can accurately track your movements at a location at any given time.

Make sure that location services are turned off both on your Operating System and your browser, and that your applications must ask for your location first before revealing it.

Also, you should turn off your microphone to be set off automatically. Otherwise, a reasonably gifted hacker who accesses your system can listen in to you at your computer.

Clear Your Cookies and History Regularly

Clear Cookies and History Image

Have you ever wondered why you look at a holiday to Spain and then the next day, there seem to be adverts for Spain wherever you go?

That’s cookies! They are essentially trackers which can map your journey online from one site to another. Down to your search preferences, browsing habits and the time you have spent on each site, and even on a section or button you hovered over.

When you browse, next to the URL bar, will be a small padlock bar on the left-hand side of the web address you are on. If you right click on it, you can see how many cookies are in use.

If you aren’t using an anonymous browser, regularly clear out your cookies and history, at least once a week. Apart from privacy, the number of images and websites that you cache (store to load quicker next time you visit) quickly piles up and can slow down your browsing speed.

Block JavaScript

Block JavaScript Image

JavaScript is used to control elements of a website. When you load your browser with a new site, a DOM (Document Object Model) is loaded, showing you all the elements of your site.

This is mainly related to anything animated or requiring a submission. Like a form, or a menu. So, it is not critical to loading the entire site that it built primarily in HTML and CSS.

JavaScript also allows the site’s designers to track your behaviours, actions on the site and potentially to maliciously inject a script into your browser allowing them to track you.

Though malicious scripts are rare, the fact remains that this script can be used to track you and track your data without your permission.

If all mainstream browser there are advanced security and scripting setting which allow you to turn off JavaScript. Though it can make general browsing a bit fiddlier as it is so engrained in modern websites.

Share Files Anonymously

Share files Anonymously Image

You may use a Cloud-based storage system like Dropbox or Google Drive. The fact that you receive some storage for free, and the rest for a very low price, gives you some indication that you and your data is the product.

As part of their security protocol, these companies will scan and catalogue your downloads. They explicitly state that all your files are scanned to customise your experience.

There are 3 options. You can either continue to use Dropbox for example and use VeraCrypt to encrypt your files prior to upload. You can invest in an external hard drive.

Or you can use an anonymous file-sharing site like Firefox Send or Zippy Share. There are tonnes of sites that allow you to anonymously upload and share files with a link, without even registering. Some also expire the link after 24 hours to give additional security.

Avoid Credit Cards

Avoid Credit Cards Image

Credit Cards contain all your personal information. Not only does putting your credit cards anywhere online mean that you run the risk of your details being stolen.

But they also contain your address, and possibly even your date of birth and spending history.

If you want complete anonymity online then use a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.

Test for DNS Leaks

 DNS Leaks Image

Hopefully, if you are using a stable and reputable VPN provider like NordVPN or ExpressVPN this won’t even be a problem. You would be fine using the Tor browser as well.

But your location and data can be leaked through more than just your IP. DNS stands for Domain Name System. Your internet provider will contact a DNS to get the connecting IP to send you to when you write a URL and click enter.

Though everything maybe secures your end, if your VPN isn’t up to scratch, the DNS can still leak your IP.

You can check this by searching for “DNS leak test” as well as other leaks like IPv6 and ROTC.

Create Expendable Email Addresses

Expendable Email Addresses Image

In Step 4 we spoke about how crucial it is to keep your personal email private. But, when you browse you will find a cool site you want to explore more, and they ,in turn, will want you to register to access their services and read their content.

So, you need an email address you can access and verify your details.

Now you can do that without ever giving away your personal email again. Simply by using a service like Mailinator. Which gives you access to a public email inbox, where you can receive verification emails which are then destroyed.

Avoid Social Media

Social Media Image

Probably the leakiest ship of all for people concerned with their privacy is social media. Facebook probably being the main perpetrator.

Though it’s a double-edged sword, maybe like me you use Facebook to stay in touch with friends in far-flung places and don’t want to give up access to your free window into their lives.

If you can’t avoid social media altogether, then make sure all your details are set to private, and anything you share does not divulge data which could breach your privacy. Remember as well that everything you do on Facebook and other social media sites feeds their algorithms and goes to third parties.

Don’t Give Away Your Mobile Number

Mobile Number Image

Your mobile phone number can be traced directly back to you. Plus, let’s face it who really needs your step unless you need to secure an account with 2 step verification.

If possible, don’t give away your mobile number, or for those who may need to provide a number for business purposes, have a spare phone on hand with a pay as you go SIM which you can use to selectively screen calls.

Create a Fake Online Identity

Fake Online Identity Image

If you really want to go hardcore. You can go to great lengths and create a whole new fake online identity. With a website, social media accounts and email address someone can connect the dots that you want them to.

Though this method can be very time consuming if you haven’t scrubbed old accounts for years.

This means you want to engage with the online community on your terms. Only for those highly committed to keeping their identity private.

Conclusion

But what if you just want one single step. One solution that fits most of the criteria and keep you safe today.

To save time and money we recommend finding a great VPN provider. Leave them to secure your data and your privacy today.

With a VPN you can go anonymous online. Malicious hackers or keen advertisers will never again be able to easily track and target you.

Once you know just how easy it is to find your personal data online. Your view towards browsing online will never be quite the same.

Cheapest VPN’s – Top Recommendations & Who to Avoid

The 8 Cheapest VPN Provider For Less Than $7 a Month

People are taking back control of their privacy online and their data, using VPN’s (Virtual Private Networks) , these providers allow you to browse online anonymously, protect your identity and keep your historical data safe, rather than to be used maliciously or simple to feed the internet advertising machine.

Looking for a cheap VPN provider is harder than it looks. There are literally thousands of sites that will promise you the best service for the cheapest price or even free.

An awesome VPN provider doesn’t have to be expensive, but you certainly won’t find one for free. Having said that the increased popularity of VPN’s means prices are coming down all the time which is great for us.

We’ve picked out the top 8 providers, which have contracts equating to safe and anonymous browsing for less than 7 dollars a month.

Before we picked these providers, they have all been thoroughly tested for privacy concerns, connectivity, speed, ease of use and backed by a great recognised company. There is no point getting a cheap service if they leak your DNS, or end up dropping your connection every 5 minutes, or worst of all if the speed means you can’t stream your favourite show on Kodi or make use of your access to Netflix.

So, though you are paying less, you are still going to get a quality service packed with value.

IPVanish

IPVanish Logo

1 year plan – $6.49 per month

IPVanish is a heavy weight. With over 40,000 IPs, 1,300+ servers and serving over 75 locations. Connectivity is never going to be an issue. Plus, they are the highest rated VPN provider on our list with an impressive Trustpilot rating of 9.7/10 from over 2,700 reviews. The company is also unique being the only VPN provider that fully manages and owns its servers rather than using third parties.

Their yearly plan is cheaper than most other providers, who do come cheaper but want to tie you in for at least 2 years, and comes with a 7 day money back guarantee.

Their security is top notch, boasting the industry standard AES 256 encryption with OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols. You also have a greater level of control with OpenVPN, allowing you to choose ports and also obfuscate traffic, which is useful for countries like China where you need an added layer of privacy to prevent being blocked.

You can support 10 simultaneous applications, and it is refreshingly different to other VPN providers in that its customer service extends to a phone number. Though they are a bit short on how-to guides you can reach service agents 24/7 by phone or through online messenger.

Visist IPVanish

 

NordVPN

NordVPN Logo

2-year plan – $3.99 per month

3 years plan – $2.99 per month

NordVPN is one of the biggest names in the VPN industry. With 5200+ servers in 67 countries it also has the largest numbers of servers and countries served of any provider. More server means better speed for your connection.

Also, you can take advantage of their unique double VPN service, which means your connection is routed through not one, but two different IP’s making your connection and privacy airtight.

NordVPN has a no logs policy, meaning you are safe from scrutiny, and being based in Panama they are under no legal obligation to provide information if asked.

You can connect to 6 devices at a time, and their yearly packages come with a 30-day money back guarantee’s use military grade encryption with IKEv2 or OpenVPN protocols to choose from.

The provider checks out for accessing Netflix, YouTube, Kodi and any GeoIP locked services you can think of. Browser speeds register as some of the best in industry, and you get to take advantage of more servers on offer meaning lower latency and better streaming or torrent upload and download speeds.

Their web-based client works on all major OS’es and they also have a slick and well-designed mobile application to secure you when you access public Wi-Fi with your phone.

Pros

  • Award winning company and encryption
  • Double VPN for added piece of mind
  • 5000+ servers
  • Solid performance across the board
  • Panama based for a solid no logs policy
  • 6 simultaneous connections
  • Good customer support through live chat

Visit Nord VPN

Surf shark

SurfShark Logo

2-year plan – $1.99 per month

Surf shark is a top rated and award-winning newcomer to the VPN industry. With a 9.3/10 rating on Trustpilot they are giving out a service that keeps their rapidly growing user base happy. They offer 800+ servers across 50+ countries. So not quite the range of depth of NordVPN but we are sure they will keep adding locations and servers as they grow.

Their 2-year plan is seriously competitive on price, with their 1-year plan coming in just over our threshold at $5.99 per month. They also offer a limited 7-day trial on their mobile application.

Surf shark offer a similar service to NordVPN’s double VPN service with their MultiHop feature which allows you to connect via 2 servers to increase security.

What we love about Surf shark is just how darned easy it is to use. Their mobile application is an absolute dream and allows you to whitelist certain websites, as well as using their proprietary Clean Web function.

Clean Web is awesome. Allowing you to surf the web with no trackers, malware or phishing attempts. But most importantly it optimises your speed because it blocks a lot of outside ads on websites.

You can connect to unlimited devices. They have a strict no logs policy and being based in the British Virgin Islands this is enforceable as they are under no obligation to keep logs and don’t.

Surf shark is great for streaming, through their web server you can automatically connect to the fastest server, a virtual location or even the best server for P2P. The provider connects to all major streaming sites including Netflix, Amazon and Hulu and works well with Kodi. As well as having similar security to NordVPN, in other words top notch military grade encryption

Pros

  • VPN from $2 a month
  • Multihop feature for double connect ion
  • Clean Web to block ads and trackers
  • Various modes of connection including fastest, closest, virtual and P2P
  • Easy to use applications

Visit SurfShark

Cyberghost

CyberGhost Logo

2-year plan – $3.69 per month

3-year plan – $2.75 per month

Cyberghost is another established player in the VPN market and boasts an impressive team of 70 based in Romania. With 3500+ servers in 50+ countries, as well as 30 million users they provide a truly impressive and wide-reaching service to people around the world.

Their prices are directly comparable with NordVPN their main competitor, but they offer an extended 45-day money back guarantee and with over 6700+ ratings on Trustpilot and 82% of their customers giving them a 5-star rating, you are in safe hands.

Cyberghost prides itself on having some of the fastest networks in the industry, and their zero logs policy is enforceable through Romania having no laws compelling companies to provide logs for their customers.

They offer the highest encryption available using 256 Bit AES military grade with IKEv2 or OpenVPN security protocols.

Like Surf Shark they also provide software which can block ads, malicious content and malware while browsing which makes for faster caching and quicker browsing speeds.

You can connect to 7 devices and they provide a truly impressive number of guides and helpful articles for you to understand how to connect to Netflix USA, YouTube and get the best out of Kodi. They also have reliable and fast online chat support for any problems you might have. As well as giving you unlimited bandwidth and traffic.

Pros

  • Fast Speeds
  • 45-day money back guarantee
  • Highly rated
  • Ad and Tracker Blocker
  • Lots of servers
  • Helpful support and guides

Visit CyberGhost

Ivacy VPN

Ivacy VPN Logo

1-year plan – $3.33 per month

2-year plan – $2.25 per month

5-year plan – £1.33 per month

Ivacy VPN are not the most well-known name but having been going since 2010 and are based out of Singapore. They offer 450+ servers at over 100 locations, so not as many as some of the bigger players in the VPN industry.

However, their pricing is some of the cheapest you will see, though you may not want to commit to a 5-year plan, which is the longest offered by any VPN provider we have seen and unique to Ivacy.

Ivacy VPN have a transparent no logs policy. They don’t log anything at all, to the point where they cannot tell what you are doing or looking at. The only information they keep is server, crash and maintenance reports.

In terms of accessing Netflix and Amazon, Ivacy is unique as it goes one step further than other applications. It has direct links to major media streaming sites in built into its web application. Meaning you can access with a single click.

Their speeds have received prizes in 2019, but from tests online and our own research they register at about average, but more than enough for streaming or torrents, as lets face it anything over 10-15 MBps will work just fine unless you plan on uploading enormous files on a regular basis.

Their security and encryption are top of the line military grade, and they give you the option of multiple security protocols from IKEv2 to TCP, UDP and L2TP. Importantly like other major provider, Ivacy also encrypts their DNS servers to prevent any leaks. They support 5 devices simultaneously which is the industry standard.

Pros

  • Cheapest price on the market for the 5-year plan
  • Good speeds
  • Solid performance
  • Great applications giving direct access to media streaming sites
  • Solid no logs policy

Private Internet Access

PIA Logo

2-year plan – $3.49 per month

PIA is often overlooked as a secure and reliable VPN provider purely for the fact that is based in the US, and therefore subject to US law. However, it is worth reminding you, that they have never complied or released logs even under sub-poena.

With 3300+ servers in 30+ countries, they offer a range that is comparable to some of the biggest VPN providers on the market, and their 2-year plan is attractively priced, but you only get a 7 day money back guarantee.

There are some questions around connectivity and its ability to circumvent GeoIP to connect to Netflix. It failed to connect to Netflix USA in 1 of 4 servers. Also due to it being based in the US it is careful not to explicitly mention that it can be used for Torrenting, Kodi or P2P file sharing.

What makes PIA VPN a firm favourite for many hardcore VPN users are its server speeds. It is comparable to the fastest in the industry ExpressVPN who doesn’t make the list due to being more expensive than their competition. Their servers register some of the fastest speeds in the industry which makes them ideal for torrenting and streaming.

Private Internet Access has top of the line 256 bit AES encryption, and is rare in that it offers SOCKS5 proxy as well as HTTP, alongside OpenVPN, IPSEC, L2TP and PPTP security protocols. Plus you can support up to 10 devices simultaneously

Though a final drawback is their poor customer service. There is no chat bot, and you are resigned to emailing a support ticket and waiting for a response which may take some time.

Pros

  • Very fast speeds
  • Large number of servers
  • Competitive pricing
  • SOCKS5 Proxy
  • 10 devices

VisiT Private Internet Access

Private VPN

Private VPN Logo

13-month plan (1 year + 1 month free) – $3.82 per month

A relatively new company started in 2012 and based out of Sweden, Private VPN boasts 450+ servers in 60+ countries which is the lowest of all our choices. Less servers can mean less choice and slower speeds, though it depends on the servers being used. In all speed tests Private VPN performed admirably registering average to good speeds in the US, Europe and Asia.

They have a clear no logs policy. As a Swedish company there are no laws which mean they need to keep logs of their users’ activity, so they clearly state that they don’t log anything at all outside of maintenance, crashes and servers.

PrivateVPN performed well accessing Netflix, Amazon and YouTube as well as a host of other popular media sites, and has a page dedicated to using it with Kodi. There were no connection issues and PrivateVPN explicitly states that it has secured 15,000 TB of data with 99.8% uptime for its servers.

We love Private VPN’s clean and easy to use interface, as well as its mobile and web applications. Their security is top notch and registered no leaks whatsoever. Your data is encrypted with top of the line military 256 AES 256-bit encryption, as well as their DNS servers.

For us Private VPN is a solid provider, which seems to fly under the radar or most reviews. The service is strong and stable with little downside, apart from the limitation in servers. They offer great guides and good customer support through live chat. They also offer 6 simultaneous connection and are the one of the few providers we have come across that offers SOCKS5 as well as HTTP proxy.

Pros

  • Solid performance
  • Good speed
  • No logs policy
  • Easy to use and intuitive applications
  • 6 simultaneous connections
  • SOCKS5 proxy

Visit PrivateVPN

Safer VPN

Safer VPN Logo

2-year plan – $3.29 per month

3-year plan – $2.50 per month

SaferVPN is the youngest company in our list. Started in 2013 and based out of Israel. With 700+ servers in 30+ countries, they have quickly become a contender in this highly competitive market. Don’t let their age fool you, they come highly recommended with over 2,000 review on Trustpilot and an average rating of 9.4/10, that is one of the best track records in the industry.

SaferVPN ha a clear no logs policy, though on close inspection of their terms of use we see a few clauses which would cause us to pause. For example, specific terms around ‘unlawful activity’ as well as uploading types of materials, means the company may give your details over to the authorities. Though we understand this may include child pornography for example, their policy has enough loopholes to make us wonder just how secure their no logs policy is.

The company has relatively few servers compared to some of its larger competitors but made short work of getting connected to Netflix USA and BBC iPlayer, two of the most notoriously difficult sites to circumnavigate using VPNs.

As far as speed goes SaferVPN is not the fastest, their speeds registered about average in the 40-60MBps range across servers in the US and Europe with a noticeable drop in Asia, so potentially not the best VPN if you are in China.

Their security is top notch, and one thing we like about there is their cofounder holds several internet security related patents. They use military grade 256-bit encryption and offer a wide range of security protocols from OpenVPN to IKEv2, L2TP, IPsec and PPTP.

Pros

  • Great Customer Service
  • Good price
  • Strong performance
  • Highly rated

Visit SaferVPN

Our Top Pick

We have covered some great VPN providers, and on merit any could win, but there can be only one!

For our money Surf Shark absolutely storms it, when it comes to getting a cheap as chips provider at as little as $1.99 a month for an absolute fantastic service.

Their highly intuitive application as well as their Clean Web technology, Multihop function and even server selection from automatically linking to your fastest server, to accessing a server which is fastest for P2P is head and shoulders above the competition.

Using Surf Shark, we can understand why they are the fastest growing VPN provider of 2019 and we don’t see that stopping any time soon.

Plus, their solid zero logs policy, jurisdiction, security and speed make this an all-round great performer for the discerning user who needs speed, privacy and ease of use.