Five Best VPN Service Providers

Five Best VPN Service Providers

A VPN (virtual private network) is a great tool to protect your privacy and security while you use the internet, as well as a nifty means of working around geo-blocking. Whether you're at home or using public Wi-Fi while travelling, the best combine great pricing with security features and privacy guarantees that make them worth your trust. This week, we're looking at five of the best VPN providers, based on your nominations.

Photo by Maksim Kabakou

The best VPN services don't keep logs, protect your anonymity, don't discriminate against traffic or protocol types, offer exit servers to help you get around location-restricted content blocks, and deliver the best bang for your buck. It takes a lot to make a VPN service worth your trust, but there are some good choices out there. Here are some of the optionsyou thought were the best, in no specific order:


Private Internet Access

Five Best VPN Service Providers

Private Internet Access is one of our favourite VPN service providers. As well as protecting your privacy and security by encrypting all of the traffic between your home computer and the service, but also anonymizes it and helps you get around regional content restrictions by giving you a choice of exit servers (close to 1000, in 10 different countries.) PIA doesn't log data about your session or connection details, it doesn't discriminate against protocols or IP addresses, and it doesn't host any data about its users activities at all.

It supports a number of different authentication and encryption methods, and is available virtually every mobile and desktop operating system. The pricing isn't bad either ($US7/month or $US40/year for up to five devices connected simultaneously.) PIA has made the list every time Torrentfreak has looked into privacy protecting VPN providers, and picked up an Editors Choice award from PCMag.


TorGuard

Five Best VPN Service Providers

TorGuard's claim to fame is that it offers specific types of servers for different activities. That gives you the ability to connect to torrent-friendly services if you need to download something, or encryption and anonymity-friendly servers if you just need a little privacy and security. It's also one of the few VPN service providers to take DNS leaking seriously, and it even offers a test to make sure that your VPN isn't leaking DNS data.

Depending on your usage habits and patterns, TorGuard has different pricing plans. Its full VPN service will set you back $US10/month or $US60/year, while there are less expensive plans if you just want an anonymous proxy or a torrent proxy. Their full VPN service features over 200 exit servers in 18 countries, no logging or data retention of any kind, and the network is set up in a way that they actually have no information to collect on their user activities — TorGuard doesn't know what you're doing or when you're connected. The service delivered a really great response to Torrentfreak's questions that's well worth a read for more info. It handles multiple connectivity protocols, supports most desktop and mobile OSes, and even offers encrypted, offshore email service if you want to take advantage of it.


IPVanish VPN

Five Best VPN Service Providers

IPVanish takes an interesting approach to privacy and security. It uses shared IP addresses, so your activity can't be singled out from others using the service. They claim over 14,0000 IPs to share on over 100 exit servers in 47 different countries. You can choose where you'd prefer to connect, which again is perfect for getting around location restrictions, and encryption makes sure your traffic is safe from prying eyes. The service supports Windows, Mac and Ubuntu (although it wouldn't be too hard to stretch that to other distributions), along with iOS and Android, and offers configuration utilities so you can set your home router to connect to them as well. IPVanish doesn't discriminate against traffic types or port usage, and doesn't log anything. Accounts with IPVanish are $US10/month or $US78/year, and you can connect two devices at once (as long as they're using different protocols.)


CyberGhost VPN

Five Best VPN Service Providers

CyberGhost has been around for a long time, offering to encrypt all of the data that passes through your connection and anonymise your location. It offers free and paid subscription plans, so if you just need a little security on the go, you may be able to get away with a free account. The service went through a massive overhaul about a year ago, removing traffic and bandwidth restrictions for free accounts, and improving security. CyberGhost doesn't log any traffic or user data. It offers choice of exit servers in 23 different countries (free users can pick from one of 14), and you can see server status at any time. The clients are easy to use, support virtually every mobile and desktop platform, and don't discriminate against traffic types, protocols or IP addresses (in fact, CyberGhost just donated 10,000 licences to users in Turkey to get around recent location blocks in that country.)

The only major difference between free and pro CyberGhost accounts is that free accounts disconnect after 3 hours, and are limited to the official client, while pro accounts can use other connection protocols and have far more servers in more countries to choose from. You'll pay $US7/month or $US40/year for a premium account, but if you need more than one device connected at any given time, you'll need to step up to Premium Plus, at $US11/month and $US70/year.


Do-It-Yourself

Five Best VPN Service Providers

Naturally, the DIY approach is popular at Lifehacker. If you don't need exit servers in different countries, and your primary requirement is to encrypt and secure your data when you're away from home, you can roll yout own VPN with OpenVPN or a number of other free, open-source tools. Many of the best routers on the market support OpenVPN. Alternatively, DD-WRT or Tomato firmware both offer VPN, so if you can install either of those on your router, you'll be set. The beauty of a home-rolled VPN is that you get to set the level of encryption, and you have complete control over who connects, who has access to what parts of your home network, and where your data goes from there.

This setup is particularly appealing for people travelling who want to encrypt their data while they're on the road, but if you work with a couple of friends, it's easy to set up a mesh network that would get you around content restrictions and port blocks. Similarly, advanced users can fire up a VPN on their preferred host or VPS provider and keep their VPN running there while they connect to it when necessary. You won't receive quite as much as a professional VPN service provides, but you might get everything that you need at no cost.


We have quite a few honourable mentions this week, including one of my personal favourites, Hideman VPN, which offers a cross-platform, mobile-friendly, no-logging VPN service, complete with free VPN options. Also noteworthy are the great team over at Tunnelbear, who are constantly working to improve and update their service to help you get around regional restrictions and blocks.

We'll also give the nod to AirVPN, a popular pick around Lifehacker HQ. You can forward remote ports, pick and choose exit services in multiple countries, and even generate an OpenVPN config through its wizard to connect your home network to their service all the time.

VyprVPN was a popular nomination, in part because it works hand-in-hand with Giganews, the Usenet service provider. Ultimately, we left it out because the company has a history of logging user data, and doesn't seem overly willing to discuss how long it retains its logs for.

A final note on a point we mentioned when we talked about how to tell if your VPN provider is trustworthy. Don't fall into the "geography trap" of assuming that an overseas VPN or one outside your country is somehow safer or more committed to privacy than ones based in your own or subject to your own laws. A local VPN that doesn't keep logs and has none to turn over is more trustworthy than an overseas VPN that logs everything and is happy to turn your data over to anyone who asks — and there are definitely VPN providers that fall in both categories.

As always, the Hive Five list is based on nominations from the Lifehacker US site. If there are particular services you've found work better (or worse) in Australia, we'd love to hear about them in the comments.


Comments

    Interesting that "Private Internet Access" states in the Torrentfreak article We operate out of the US which is one of the few, if only, countries without a mandatory data retention law Is that actually true, and if so for how long...? Given the hullabaloo about internet privacy over there, I would have thought not...? I may actually switch to them, since VPN.S states that they keep logs for 24hrs, even though they are Australian, I'd prefer they didn't do that...!
    Ok... just checked... no Australian server... that's a bit disappointing...
    Does anyone know if any of these companies support autostart and connect and have an Ozzy server too..?

    Last edited 24/03/14 9:37 am

      @Timmahh https://vpnarea.com has 15 australian servers in Brisbane, Adelaide,Sydney and Melbourne. They have autostart, killswitch and others. Been with them for a while and they're quite recommended on whirpool forums too

        I use PureVPN. They have servers in Melbourne/Sydney/Perth and everywhere in the world. I never notice a drop in speed while downloading and their apps are very easy to use. https://www.purevpn.com/australia-vpn-service.php

        Last edited 09/03/16 4:29 pm

          I use pureVPN too, but in order to watch US Netflix, you have to do manual setup. :(

          Don't get me wrong it works but for non techy person, it's going to be hard.

          + Private Internet Access is cheaper, I am moving there after the contract finishes with PureVPN

            I am trying express vpn http://bit.ly/express-vpn for a month. 8.3 dollars for a month. Everything seems good so far, normal speed for everything as well. Watching BBC iPlayer stuff online was good too (specially Doctor Who stuff). Anyway, good times so far.

            Last edited 21/06/16 1:25 am

        Yeah saw that too but I'm not pretty sure about that. Cyberghost will be the best option if you guys looking for service in Free. but its has few cons:
        Slow connectivity
        You can not choose server locations
        disconnect after each 3 hours
        Limited bandwidth and speed
        overall its great to use! it

        Instead of that you can give a try to ExpressVPN its super to use in any circumstances!
        HERE ARE THE DETAILED REVIEW OF EXPRESSVPN http://bit.ly/1X9mLy7

        Last edited 02/08/16 8:31 pm

      Guys,

      I have seen people are using Ivacy VPN and also recommending others they believe it is the most fastest & Incredible VPN software in 2016. I have recently buy vpn service from Ivacy and they have many servers in Australia to access Geo restricted content also running an offer for just 1.83/month. You can easily get more information from here. https://www.ivacy.com/buy-vpn/

      I also recommend other they should buy Ivacy VPN.

      Last edited 07/04/16 5:15 pm

    So none of these guys log data? i.e. how long you were connected to their proxy, if you were connected, what IP's you were using etc?

    So they meet all the torrentfreak requirements?

      I have been a customer of both torguard and private internet access for several years (i just couldn't decide which was best, so kept renewing them).

      I have seeded publicly available torrents for several months at a time on each service, and never heard a peep from either company about DMCA. From that point of view, i'm 100% confident that neither company keeps logs.

      Both services work very well in Australia, and for both of them your best bet is to Canada or Romania. On some ISPs, Hong Kong is also good, but on others it can provide a latency that is 100ms or more higher than Canada, so do check.

      Note that currently, the TorGuard Hong Kong servers only work on Windows and OSX as HK is also a anti-DPI or "stealth" server by default.
      The iOS/Android clients haven't been updated to support this yet.

      PIA doesn't use stealth or obfuscation technology at all yet.
      On the other hand, PIA includes services for free that torguard charges extra for, like a torrent proxy service. Torguard's android client doesn't have a kill switch and allows other traffic to bypass the VPN while it is connecting/reconnecting, but PIA's app doesn't allow other traffic to pass through while it's reconnecting.
      On windows & OSX, the PIA app gives you no indication of your ping to each server (like it does on mobile), and neither does torguard but at least the torguard app gives you a log of what's happening while it's connecting. You can actually get the IPs of most of torguard's servers in your account panel, but PIA made a business decision not to allow this.
      So there are positives and negatives of both.

      (yes i realize I'm replying to an article that is more than a week old)

      Last edited 01/04/14 2:10 pm

    Have used HideMyArse in the past but found the connection speeds pretty poor so glad it's not on the list. The client software is pretty good though and while I was in China it did allow me to get out onto the "real web". Something that Travellers might want to think about especially with countries limiting access to things like twitter.

    Have also used the VPN function on OSX, when it works which is 80% of the time (due to my iMac) its pretty awesome, fast on Fibre and really easy to setup.

      I just canceled my subscription after a week of using Hide My Ass and requested a refund because of very poor connection speeds. They had a lot of servers worldwide you could connect to, but browsing the web was unbearable because it was so slow. Luckily they offered a 30 day money back guarantee. Won't be using them again.

    IPVannish's login program is woeful. It gets the location of the servers completely wrong, and they blame everyone but themselves, gonna try somewhere else...! :)

    I would recommend a VPN service provided by a company called OverPlay. I've been using them for over 4 years now: http://overplay.net/?a_aid=OVRPLY

    I had tried several VPN providers before, and found their server speeds to be slow, and I also experienced frequent disconnections, which can be pretty annoying. Since I've been using OverPlay, I've always been happy with their high speed servers and I never ever get disconnected, even if I keep my VPN connection open for hours non-stop.

    Also, OverPlay provides a neat little software to dial into a VPN connection, it's super easy to use, and you can even choose between 2 connection types, a faster speed but less encryption, or a normal speed with full encryption. The software gives you access to several servers in 48 different countries, so that's many different locations to choose from.

    What I also like is that OverPlay does not keep records of websites I visit and most IP addresses offered through this VPN service pass advanced proxy tests, which means that your connection will never be detected as a proxy server.

    And if you want to watch online streaming content like Netflix or BBC iPlayer, ITV, etc, a connection type called SmartDNS is included in your VPN subscription. It replicates many of the traditional VPN features, but without any loss of speed, because it uses DNS tunneling, so it's the best solution for fast streaming of content from virtually every streaming service you can imagine.

    Last edited 13/03/15 11:55 am

      You should declare that you are employed/paid by them.

    Been using IPVanish for a few months now, and have found my Internet to be just as fast as when I wasn't using a VPN. No problems with Log-in, and overall very easy to use.

      How are IPVanish going now, do you still use them? im seeing them pop up a lot in 'top 5 VPN' lists in 1st or 2nd spot.

    I do have to say that PIA is certainly a service to consider!!! From what everyone who uses this service is very pleased, as I am one who is very happy with all that PIA offers. I used HMA for a short while and had an issue with their file sharing agreements, due to the logs they kept. Although, it was a lesson learned and now with PIA and NO LOGS being kept, I haven't had an issue with anyone who may pose as a threat!!! Thank you PIA!!!

    Do any of these services listed eliminate the potential issue caused by today's court ruling in relation the the ISP being forced to release customer's details to rights holders..?

      These VPN services would eliminate the risk posed to the ISP customer of "getting caught" while downloading illegally.

      If the ISP customer was connected to a VPN while he/she was partaking in downloading activities, the ISP provider can only see that the customer is connected to the internet, but would not be able to see what exactly the customer is doing, therefore would not actually be aware of the illegal downloading, because all the data is encrypted between the customer and his VPN provider.

      In any case, even if people are not downloading illegally, the new data retention laws are breaching customers' privacy. So running a VPN connection on all your devices is definitely a good idea.

      Personally, I've been using IPVanish (http://bit.ly/ipvanishvpn) for about a year now. They don't keep any logs of my online activities, and have top notch encryption and speeds.

      Last edited 08/04/15 2:31 am

    Any info on Purevpn there seems to be an offer of 1 yr free if you buy a 1 yr membership.

    Just wondering if they are slow or anyone knows of any issues.
    Thanks in advance

      I had tried PureVPN out, they have a 3-day refund policy. I found their servers a bit slow to my liking, so I got a refund. I then tried out IPVanish (they have a 7-day refund policy), and all the hype out there regarding their servers being the fastest are actually true :) I've been using them since, and also streaming US Netflix and HBO Now without any probs.

      I read their blog posts often because they keep emailing me updates about them adding new servers and other features, and I noticed that at the bottom of their blog posts you can get special promotional links to their "sign-up" page with the promotion already deducted from the subscription price. So for example, here's one with 25% off: https://signup.ipvanish.com/?aff=hbonow&a_aid=OVRPLY

      Last edited 20/05/15 9:31 am

        I have an Apple TV and have recently signed up for Netflix. Can I setup the Apple TV to use the VPN directly or do I need to stream using a different device (iPad) and AirPlay the stream to the Apple TV?

          You will need to setup a VPN at the router level. But why would you need it if you signed up for Netflix, unless you signed up to the US version?

            if you use VPN and connect to US server, doesn't matter if you have US account or AU account, Netflix will connects you directly to US version :D

            tonnes of movies :D

    Well, one of the main advertising points for Private Internet Access is that they do not do any logging at all. While technically any information that is kept on file must be turned over to the authorities in the event of a legitimate investigation, Private Internet Access does not keep any metadata from browsing sessions or logs for their customers.

    Another good thing is Customers like me get a high level of performance and a variety of security options which they can use to browse, torrent or use P2P setups as they desire.

    i'm surprised there is no mention of PureVPN here. It offers the best combination of pricing, features and overall usability and effectiveness. Keeping in mind that PureVPN is offering 2 years of VPN service for less than $50, I don't think there is a better provider out there!

    Reading the mind-boggling number of different reviews and comments online, I've decided to sign up to several VPN providers simultaneously, and then just cancel them out one by one.

    So, I've signed up to AirVPN, PIA, IPVanish, and PureVPN. I've run speed tests on all of them.

    Here are my results, after a few days of testing and connecting to many different servers for each provider:
    For AirVPN, PIA and PureVPN, I'm getting 2Mbps to 3Mbps at the highest, no matter what server I'm connecting to.
    For IPVanish, I'm getting 9Mbps when connecting to US servers and 20Mbps when connecting to Sydney servers.

    So obviously, the only one I haven't cancelled is IPVanish. I'm sticking around as long as the speeds are too :D

    P.S. I had signed up with 25% off through here: https://signup.ipvanish.com/?aff=hbonow&a_aid=OVRPLY

    Last edited 01/07/15 9:27 am

    I'm surprised to see that NordVPN is not in your list.. This vpn provider is the biggest competitor of PIA and it is very reliable and cheap!

    I'm personnally using it and I have nothing bad to say.. fast.. cheap.. nice technical support.. it should be in the top5 of course!

    I've been using IPVanish for 3 months. First month internet speed was halved, downloading speed halved...ok.

    One month later, torrents don't work, internet so slow. I would not recommend them, absolute rip off! IPVanish PATHETIC!!

      Hmm, sounds strange. I'm using them and as I have posted above my speed tests, I can't complain. Did you contact customer support?

    For some reason I got the impression that PIA kept logs - they sound like they do in one of their 'about' sections where they say that they do need to know but they'd never give it out (or something like that) :/ I ended up going with Liquid VPN. It's pretty good (Download Speed 7MB/s, Upload Speed 2MB/s). I realise that's not as good as IPVanish but I barely notice any lag when I'm using my computer. Even more importantly Liquid VPN has these really, really user friendly guides that show you the ropes for setting up secondary firewalls or automatic kill switches in case a VPN connection drops out - they are a bit pricey but I got mine for around $120 for two years which is around $5 a month ( price per month goes up if you only select 6 months or a lower time period).

    Can someone else with IPVanish test it against Liquid VPN and let me know how they compare?

    Wow lots of misinformation on here PIA and TorGuard both were caught last month giving information to the dia (defense intelligence agency) and fbi in Florida. It is the real reason for the disappearance of abraxas on tor. I warn any and all from using their services. The only VPN right now in the states and in australia that has refused even under court order to turn over their logs is IPVanish. PureVPN Tor and PIA all have given in. Stop reading the bs and buying into that garbage. NordVPN and IP Vanish are the best entry level VPNs available. But noone serious about security uses just one, Tunnel both over Tor and pick the lowest latency for your location. If you cant get under 43ms through two VPNs your doing something wrong or your router is archaic.

      very useful heads up. however, since PIA and TorGuard both claim to "log nothing" of the user, what kind of info can possibly be turned over? (this is a serious question - I'm a VPN newbie!)

    I use torrent guard vpn. It is Focused on making bittorrent anonymous but also protect your privacy elsewhere on the web.
    Quick connection methods.
    Unlimited, unmetered traffic.
    Our servers are on 100Mbps or better.
    Full and strong anonymity.
    Will never hand over our Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) private keys so you know you are protected. Will will fall on our sword rather than hand over our SSL keys (read about Lavabit).
    You can try https://www.torrentguard.com/

    lol you realise that hidemyass has been proven to not respect user's privacy?

    Either you're a shill or an idiot who doesn't read into things before they buy them

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