Top 10 VPN Logging Policies & Verified No-Log VPNs

top VPNs logging policies explained

Most VPNs with a half decent landing page advertise themselves as being log-free or having no logs. But is it really the case?

People subscribe to a VPN for a number of reasons, and in many cases, it’s all about unlocking geo-restricted content (particularly Netflix), etc.

But let’s face it: the reason you subscribe to a VPN is because you want to be hidden and safe. It’s obvious. A VPN must be able to hide all your activities and your identity away from prying eyes so you can do whatever you want away from anyone’s reach – even the government. It should be, after all, your right.

Of course, even if you use a VPN (and no matter which VPN you use), there are digital footsteps. These take the form of logs in your VPN’s server which might be kept or deleted depending on the logging policies of your VPN provider. Which begs the question…

What Exactly Are Logs?

Logs, in general, are bits of information you leave while being connected to the Internet. The data is available to your VPN provider – the websites you visit, when you visit the sites, what you do on those sites, the personal information share, usernames, passwords, other identification details; this might help service providers to track information back to a specific user.

This information stored is referred to as a “log”.

There are different types of logs for different use cases. Your VPN provider may retain some information (that they will eventually wipe off from their servers) or they may choose to record and keep (and sell) everything. This all depends on the nature of the information and the VPN services themselves… so what are the kinds of VPN logs?

Kinds of VPN Logs

In order to further understand no-log policies, you need to have a brief knowledge of the kinds of logs that your VPNs keep.

There are 2 major types of logs – activity and connection logs.

Activity logs, or sometimes called usage logs, are those which contain all your activities on the Internet. These logs pose a great threat to your safety and anonymity.

These include:

  • All the websites and IPs you’ve visited.
  • The applications you have used.
  • Connection times.
  • Metadata.

Fortunately, some of the best premium VPNs do not retain this type of data. Some examples of them are NordVPN, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, VyprVPN, and Private Internet Access.

But free VPNs retain all of this for the sole purpose of selling your data to the highest bidder. This can be advertisers who want to push personalized ads or even governments seeking to track every click. Not cool!

Another kind of logs is connection logs. Connection logs are often called “harmless” logs.

These are already given since the moment you visit a website, your connection is timestamped and traced back to your ISP so you can be identified. It’s a slight snoop in your activity, but it’s not as intrusive as activity logs. However, this can pose as a security risk depending on the extent of the log and the length of time such logs are kept for. In some extreme cases, these logs are never deleted.

Connection logs are often used by VPN providers to make sure their service isn’t being abused by free trial accounts, hackers, and extreme pirates.

Now that you know what kind of logs are being kept, it’s time to fully know what kind of processes your premium VPN providers go through do to ensure your anonymity.

What exactly are they tracking, to what extent, and how do they keep things leak-proof?

Top 10 VPN Logging Policies

Logging policies can also vary on different points.

VPN providers claim that they have no logs yet rent third-party servers. Not only do the third-party services have access to your log, but they also do not have the same level of security as your VPN provider which will definitely leave you vulnerable.

Consequently, you need to choose a VPN that will guard not only your activities on the Internet but your personal information and activity on multiple levels. It’s not easy to discern which VPN is actually protecting you over a “bad” VPN, so we’ve taken the time to review the no log policies of the VPNs we always recommend.

Take the time to learn if these VPNs below are keeping you safe! We’ve marked what each VPN is logging and for what purpose (in parenthesis).

1. NordVPN

“We don’t track, collect, or share your private data. It’s none of our business.”

NordVPN wouldn’t be our top-rated VPN for no reason. It’s natural to think that when you’re looking for a premium VPN and one ranks 1st on the list, you know there would be no privacy issues.

True enough, NordVPN has a strict no-log policy. Consumers are ensured that none of their data, traffic logs, and browsed content is being spied on by third parties or even the government.

NordVPN collects:

  • Email address (Marketing)
  • Cookies (Marketing)
  • Payment data (Payment Fraud Protection / Refunds)
  • Timestamp of last session status (Service Improvements)
  • Customer service information (Service Improvements)

They collect the minimum information with justifications; the data is being used to improve services and prevent account abuse.

The data will all be encrypted and cannot identify you. It’s all for the sake of user convenience so NordVPN’s logging policy is all clear.

Furthermore, NordVPN operates in Panama so it’s away from the prying eyes of any surveillance alliances. There has been no breaches or leaks, or any news around them cooperating with government investigations so far.

Want to know how NordVPN made it to the top of our list? Read more about NordVPN here.

2. ExpressVPN

“Your DNS traffic is your business. Protect it.”

With ExpressVPN being one of the most prominent VPN providers in the market, it’s a no-brainer that it also values the privacy of its customers.

On the website, they state that they do not and will never log IP addresses, browsing history, traffic destination, and DNS queries. While you may feel somewhat secure about this, it doesn’t erase the fact that they collect some information…

ExpressVPN collects:

  • ExpressVPN apps and app versions successfully activated (Service Improvements / Refunds)
  • Dates (not times) when connected to the VPN service (Service Improvements / Refunds)
  • Choice of VPN server location (Service Improvements / Optimization)
  • Total amount (in MB) of data transferred per day (Service Improvements / Tracking Abuse)

We do remind you that these particular data are not sufficient to determine the individuality of a particular user, so you can rest your head on this one – you will remain anonymous despite these.

Apart from their no logging policy, they also operate their own DNS on every server, meaning there are no third party DNS. Identifiable data is never stored on any server.

What’s more favorable is that ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands. This means that they are far from intrusion by government entities around the world. Talk about independence.

Curious about ExpressVPN? Read more about it here.

3. VyprVPN

“We don’t log VPN user activity. We’re audited to prove it to you.”

Not too long ago, VyperVPN had some issues with its claim of absolute no-log policy.

They stated on their website that they required some logging of VPN service data in the past for the convenience of their customers. It helped them to filter the unnecessary content and optimize the experience of their users.

And with their commitment to being fully transparent, they enumerated the information they formerly logged and retained for 30 days which included:

  • Customer’s source IP address
  • VyprVPN’s IP address assigned to the user
  • Connection start and end times
  • Total number of bytes used

In November 2018, the company made the decision to hire an independent auditor – security firm Leviathan – to strengthen its commitment to being a No-Log Policy VPN.

Subsequently, in March 2019, it changed its policies to further confirm that truly, they keep no activity logs of its users whatsoever.

VyprVPN collects:

  • Personal Data from registration (Service Improvements / Refunds)
  • Customer support inquiries (Service Improvements / Refunds)
  • Third-party party payment processors (Refunds / Fraud Detection)
  • Third-party party analytics software and cookies (Marketing)

Way to go, VyperVPN!

Do you want to know more about VyperVPN? Read about it here.

4. CyberGhostVPN

“The only way to secure your data is not to store it.”

But is it really the case, CyberGhostVPN?

The VPN company claims that it fully implements a no-log policy for the activity of its users.

CyberGhostVPN collects the personal and non-personal data of its users from account registrations and support inquiries. The former includes data such as registration information for the proper administration of the accounts of its users. The latter, on the other hand, consists of data which is exchanged between the user’s browser and the company’s affiliates or their server.

CyberGhost collects:

  1. Personal data during registration (Service Improvements / Refunds)
  2. IP address during payment – not connected to VPN (Fraud Detection)
  3. Third-party party analytics software and cookies (Marketing)
  4. Connection attempt, country of origin, CyberGhost VPN version, “etc” (Service Improvements)

This poses no threat if the company could just invite a security firm to run an audit and publish the results.

Data concerning the performance of their services are shared with a third-party called MixPanel. It may not be that alarming because it’s a tool for improving the product with user experience data. It acts as sort of a gauge to determine satisfactory performance but for some users who don’t like third party analytics, they also happen to use VWO, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Bing, Instabug, BugSplat, OpenX, etc.

The two most worrying parts are: they track when and how often you are connecting to their VPN servers which they use to optimize their services by identifying peak hours and such…

…And the usage of “etc” in their list of data collected during connection attempt. Etc? Really? This is a broad statement.

They claim that they don’t track its users’ internet traffic performed using the VPN and identifying information. They don’t quite clearly state what they do track under “etc”…

Need some convincing? Check out our review of CyberGhostVPN here.

5. Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN

Private Internet Access. As secure as the name may sound, can PIA really attest to this fact?

It may come as a red flag for some because of the fact that it’s based in the US, but don’t worry, you’re safe and secure because PIA has proven no intrusion of the government and its no-log policies in court.

Yes, you heard that right. PIA has proven its no-log policies and has protected the privacy of its users in court. And not just once, but twice!

PIA deserves all the praise it receives from the privacy community. After all, it values its customers’ anonymity and security – and has “definitive” proof. They don’t bother spelling it out in their Terms of Service because of this.

If you’re not convinced, check out our review of PIA here.

6. Ivacy VPN

“No data logging to worry about.”

Who would have thought? Ivacy VPN advertises itself as one of the most extremely affordable VPNs in the market.

Some users might think that with cheap subscriptions come faulty security. Well, we hate to break it to you but it’s a misnomer for Ivacy VPN.

It certainly values the privacy of its customers because they seem to collect the bare necessities.

Ivacy collects:

  • Billing information (Refunds / Fraud Detection)
  • Ivacy VPN software and app-related data such as events, failed connection attempts, application, aggregated bandwidth (Service Improvements / Abuse)
  • Support-related emails and chat log (Service Improvements)

Data pertaining to inactive customers is purged after 12 months.

Ivacy also uses a handful of product tools such as MixPanel, Firebase, Crashlytics, Google Analytics, and iTunes. That said, they still promise to protect you from ISP tracking and third party spying.

Need some more convincing? Check out our review of Ivacy VPN here.

7. Trust.Zone

Trust is a very big word, especially for VPN providers.

Trust.Zone is another VPN that claims zero logging. They claim that all their VPN servers do not store log files to keep the privacy of their users secure and safe.

Trust.Zone collects:

  • Billing information (Refunds / Fraud Detection)
  • Support-related emails and chat log (Service Improvements)
  • Third-party payment processors (Refunds / Fraud Detection)
  • Third-party analytics software and cookies (Marketing)

Collecting personal information from the account registration process is the norm. E-mail addresses are used for marketing newsletters and product updates so you can just use a new email account.

We cannot say the same for the third parties who process the payments made on their site. Hence, it’s advisable to use cryptocurrency for payments to keep your information safe.

One thing to note is they mention something about usage data being anonymous. So are they collecting anonymized usage data and how secure is this?

Read our review about Trust.Zone here to see if it’s for you.

8. Windscribe VPN

“Take your browsing history to your grave.”

Some VPN privacy policies lay out all the details necessary for a secure and safe experience – but Windscribe is one of the most transparent when it comes to explaining their log policy.

Their policy breaks down what they collect in various steps:

  • When you visit their website, they use 3rd party tracking and analytics (Marketing)
  • When you sign up, they log your email (Marketing)
  • When you pay, a 3rd party payment processor takes your billing information (Billing / Fraud Detection)

Windscribe collects:

  • Total amount of data transferred within a 30-day window (Free Trial Abuse)
  • Timestamp of your last activity (Free Trial Abuse)
  • Number of connections (Free Trial / Device Limitation Abuse)

And they’re quite honest about what’s being stored in the servers’ memory which is immediately wiped when you disconnect:

  • OpenVPN/IKEv2 username
  • Time of connection
  • Amount of data transferred

As stated in their privacy policy, they keep logs of the bandwidth you consume on their network and a record of your last connection to their servers. A little scary, but they are honest about it.

The deal breaker for some might be the fact that they operated in Canada. In case you didn’t know, Canada is one of the founding members of the Five Eyes Alliance.

All in all, we’re quite happy to see such a transparent no-log policy. But if you are perceptive about total privacy, then you should think twice before subscribing to this one due to their jurisdiction.

If you need more facts, check out our review of Windscribe VPN here.

9. ibVPN

“Will you really be invisible with ibVPN?”

Perhaps, you will. They start off their privacy policy with “We collect personally identifiable information about you…” but goes on to say they don’t collect or log any traffic or use of their VPN service.

ibVPN is based in Romania so you know they aren’t legally obliged to keep logs of the activities of their users.

If you’re looking for further proof, take it from one of the founders himself, Dan Gurghian.

ibVPN collects:

  • Billing information (Refunds / Fraud Detection)
  • Support-related emails and chat log (Service Improvements)
  • Third-party payment processors (Refunds / Fraud Detection)
  • Third-party analytics software and cookies (Marketing)

They store limited data but it’s for the sake of monitoring users who abuse the free trial they provide. It also allows them to stop spamming and to prevent other users from doing things which are not allowed in some of their servers. They also go on to say that they “cannot relate any specific activity with any specific user” in case they do have to comply with the law and share what little information they have.

If you want to know more about ibVPN, you can check out our review here.

10. hide.me VPN

hide.me is a less popular VPN in the market but with its clear no-log policy, it does not disappoint.

They want to stray away from possible legal liability both ways, so they strictly do not log the data of its users.

hide.me collects:

  • Personal data you share during signup (Billing / Marketing)
  • Non-persistent log of connection data which includes customers’ randomly generated usernames and assigned IP addresses (Service Improvements)
  • Third-party marketing and product tools (Marketing / Service)

Do note that they only keep the connection data for troubleshooting purposes and this is wiped clean once the issue is resolved.

Furthermore, they represent that all the possible data they receive on their servers always remain anonymous, so your identity is protected.

One fact worth noticing is that hide.me VPN is based in Malaysia which supports no data retention. It’s a long stretch away from being investigated by any government entities.

If you want to know more about hide.me VPN, check out our review here.

5 Verified No-Log VPNs

Premium VPNs sometimes go to the extent of proving their stance on privacy issues such as logging policies through other methods apart from just the common marketing copy on their website. It’s needed. After all, it’s one of the primary reasons why a customer should subscribe in the first place.

Users, on the other hand, need additional confirmation. For a very meticulous one, just an assertion of not keeping logs will not suffice. There has to be some definitive proof that indeed, a VPN can brand itself as “safe”.

Only a few VPNs have attained a verified status in the Internet community, and each of these can fully attest to the safety of its customers on its platform. Take a look!

1. NordVPN

If you need to verify further whether or not you can trust NordVPN with your browsing activities, then check this out.

In order to strengthen their commitment to being a log-free VPN, they hired an independent audit company just recently. In case you were wondering, the audit was done by none other than PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, one of the big 4 auditing firms in the world.

The audit report wasn’t available at first given the confidentiality of the details, but in January 2019, the company cited that the report is now available to be viewed by NordVPN subscribers and free trial users.

So there you have it, folks. NordVPN is tried and tested to be log-free.

2. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a top-tier VPN for a reason. Its vast number of subscribers and considerable recommendation on the Internet are proof that it also values privacy and security above anything else.

But it’s hard to prove a no-log policy claim unless backed up by some sort of documented evidence – that’s why ExpressVPN has also expressed its willingness to undergo an audit.

Recently, ExpressVPN invited Cure53, a cybersecurity firm to conduct a review of their privacy policies. The inspection ranged from testing the extension in browsers to other issues that possibly needed fixing.

Cure53’s report on its findings is viewable on its website, but you can also find a summary of it on ExpressVPN’s website. The report affirms ExpressVPN’s no-log policy, so you can rest assured knowing that your information won’t be stored or kept.

3. VyperVPN

VyprVPN has had its own fair share of doubts in the past, presumably because of its minimal logging policies which included IP addresses, bandwidth consumption, and others.

When the company sought to prove how it can compete with other VPNs which upheld no-log policies in good light, so they decided to hire the services of Leviathan Security to perform an independent audit.

Fast forward to the present, VyprVPN now boasts itself as the first VPN provider who has been publicly audited – which further reinforced their claim of being log-free.

In case you want to read it, VyperVPN’s audit documents are available here for viewing.

4. CyberGhostVPN

While CyberGhostVPN may not have an independent audit to back its claim of no logs, it’s still a VPN provider that keeps true to its word.

In March 2012, the VPN provider successfully passed an audit conducted by QSCert for the Information Safety Management System (ISMS). The mark signified that the internal processes laid out by the company for its users have passed the industry’s standards.  Additionally, the certification is renewed yearly so you’re certain that it keeps up with current standards.

That being said, it looks like CyberGhost VPN is living up to its reputation of being a no-log VPN by conducting a yearly transparency report.

5. Private Internet Access

If most VPNs had their activities audited for the sake of proving their no-logs policy, Private Internet Access did it in the most convincing way possible.

The VPN provider has proven its no-log policies in court.

If you can’t comprehend what’s amazing about this claim, do take note that PIA operates in the US. For your knowledge, the country is known as being part of the Five Eyes Alliance, an organization which focuses on surveillance and intelligence.

This means that Private Internet Access fully favors the privacy of their users over what the government is demanding.

So it’s no wonder that PIA’s victory is celebrated by its loyal users and the community alike. It’s actually one of the most trusted VPNs in the industry when it comes to privacy, so you can rest assured that PIA is one of the safer choices you can make.

Protect Your Privacy Through a VPN With Proven No-Log Policy

High speeds, geo-unlocks, and smooth UX are a must-haves for VPNs, but privacy and security should be the most important.

Your information being readily available for snooping by third parties is a scary thought. To be safe, always make sure that your VPN doesn’t keep notes about what you’re doing.

And with all these facts we’ve given, you’re ready to make the most educated decision you can make. It’s a matter of preference on your part, but it’s truly up to you to choose which VPN do you want to put your trust on.

Choose a VPN which does not compromise your privacy and security.

Us? We choose NordVPN.

Does NordVPN Work in China? (Do This First and Don’t Get Caught)

China is an authoritarian state that heavily censors internet usage in a bid to prevent certain ideas opinions on the Chinese policies and culture. This move prevents interfering with the government and influencing Chinese citizens.

For a long time, many Chinese citizens managed to circumvent this censorship by using a VPN. The state, however, has started to wise up to this and has begun blocking VPNs in China.

With this country-wide blocking, it is getting harder to find a reliable VPN. Luckily, though, NordVPN has obfuscated servers that can be used to get around this block. It’s not as simple as downloading NordVPN and getting to it, though—there are some steps that need to be taken first.

Making NordVPN Work in China

Looking through NordVPN’s list of servers and locations, you may notice that China isn’t there. This doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work in China, though. This is simply a method being used by NordVPN to remain off the Chinese government’s radar and avoid being spotted and blocked.

You may be thinking “But Hong Kong is there, that’s in China” and while this is correct, there is very little internet censorship in Hong Kong. This is because Hong Kong is a Chinese “special administrative region” and not strictly part of China itself. It was, for many years, under British rule and has been heavily influenced by the West.

How to Use NordVPN in China

One crucial advice you need to follow: if you want to use NordVPN in China it is important that you download, install, and configure it before you get there.

NordVPN’s website is blocked in the country and downloading it can be very difficult while you are there. Also, by doing this you reduce the chance of being caught by the Chinese authorities trying to download a VPN. Remember, the internet in China is not only heavily censored, but heavily, heavily monitored.

Alternatively, you can load the NordVPN installation files onto a USB stick, external drive, or your device itself before getting there.

Once you have downloaded NordVPN (before arriving in the country, if possible) it is very easy to configure NordVPN so that it can be used seamlessly in China and bypass censorship.

All you need to do is set up NordVPN so that it uses their obfuscated servers that are optimized for usage in China. These only work on Windows, Android, and macOS devices, though. If you are an iOS user, you will need to manually configure OpenVPN and be aware that NordVPN has said that there can be authentication issues for macOS users.

Some users have reported this method doesn’t work – but they have found that NordVPN support has another way of configuring the services for China. Make sure you contact NordVPN before going to China. Take a look at our comments section for more context. Regardless, contact NordVPN support before going so they can deliver on their promises!

Setting Up NordVPN’s Obfuscated Servers

It is very easy to do this—user friendliness is one of the many things that makes NordVPN such a great service.

1. Open up NordVPN and head to Settings in the top-left

You will be met by this impressively long list of configuration options.

2. Scroll down to “show advanced settings” and click on it

NordVPN might ask if you are sure you want to continue, just click on “Proceed”.

3. Find “Obfuscated Servers” and toggle it from Off to On

4. Exit out of settings by clicking “Servers” and then press “Obfuscated Servers” on the left

5. You can then either let NordVPN choose a server for you, or select from the drop-downs

Some users have trouble connecting to NordVPN’s obfuscated servers. Personally, we had no trouble on multiple devices…

Before you run into problems, we recommend contacting NordVPN’s customer support team. There are lots of different support channels available and responses are quick and informative!

All NordVPN’s obfuscated servers work in other sketchy countries such as Russia and the UAE, however, it is worth keeping in mind that they are designed and optimized for use in China.

Try Out NordVPN for Yourself


Heading to China soon or just want a VPN on your side that works and is trustworthy?

You can try out NordVPN for yourself completely free.

NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee (no questions asked), giving you an entire month to try out NordVPN and decide whether it’s right for you without losing any money.

Visit NordVPN

ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN

You’ve made it. From reading all the VPN reviews, you’ve narrowed the choice down to the two most popular and promising VPNs in the industry.

In case you haven’t read the reviews, you can read our reviews of NordVPN here and ExpressVPN here.

The final decision must be made…

ExpressVPN and NordVPN Comparison

You’re probably unsure of your current choice.

Maybe there’s something you missed out on. Maybe it’s a detail that will you annoy you months after making your purchase. Maybe they’re price gouging you! Or worse, will they expose your activities to snooping eyes?

All these questions will be answered in this comparison that focuses on exactly what you’re looking for. There are probably definitely things you haven’t considered as well.

Servers and Locations

Both VPN services offer a crazy amount of servers – NordVPN with over 5000 servers and ExpressVPN with over 3000. Both VPN services offer them in various regions throughout the world – NordVPN is available in 61 countries while ExpressVPN is available in 94 countries.

NordVPN offers sheer server count number which can be inflated by virtual instances rather than a physical server, but ExpressVPN offers their services in 33 additional countries.

Server locations matter because maybe you want localized content relevant to you. If you’re in English-speaking countries, this shouldn’t be an issue since both services offer servers in the US, CAN, UK, AUS, NZ, etc.

However, if you’re not from the most populous region and need localized content, ExpressVPN might have your country on the list.

NordVPN offers more feature-rich servers, though. From obfuscated servers enabling VPN usage in censor-heavy countries like China, Turkey, and Russia, to having double VPN for double the encryption.

Let’s not forget about TOR integration – both premium services allow you to freely access .onion sites without worrying about who’s watching you.

For the server and locations category, it’s a tie – if you need localized content for your specific country, ExpressVPN may have it. If you need extra security, NordVPN has it.

VPN Speed and Performance

If you’ve read our reviews, you know we have a pretty elaborate speed test method. We test from the US and EU to US, EU, and Asia using a 100 Mbps connection.

Both premium VPNs offered fast speeds, though they were not the fastest we’ve tested.

Both saw a reduction in speed, somewhere around 10-25% but NordVPN had faster speeds by a small margin.

But connecting to a server on the VPN clients is another issue – ExpressVPN connects to a server in a few seconds whereas NordVPN client seems to take longer to optimize your routing. It won’t take more than 20 seconds and the difference is negligible.

We saw no disconnections or interruptions during testing.

Both VPNs offer fast enough speeds for 4k streaming and more. It’s a tie if we don’t get petty over 1 Mbps.

Netflix Test

One of the most important things to modern day VPNs is having Netflix access, or rather, unblocking region-locked content.

It’s safe to say, both services offer US Netflix unblocking so you can watch all US content without problems. (It’s no wonder they’re both topping our best VPNs for Netflix list).

Netflix simply can’t keep up with these two premium services. Both companies have live chat agents telling you which server to connect to, in case the public list doesn’t work.

We saw Netflix access for 5 countries for NordVPN vs. 3 countries for ExpressVPN.

US, Canada, and UK are covered by both while NordVPN offers additional access to Japan and the Netherlands.

In this NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN Netflix battle, NordVPN wins with additional region access.

Torrenting Policy

The official stance is quite simple.

Both companies do not condone illegal activities like piracy or distribution of copyrighted materials (and neither do we). Both companies have lengthy Terms of Service pages for this.

At the same time, both publicly advertise themselves as torrent-friendly VPNs!

So what’s the actual policy?

It’s safe to say, they have these policies in writing for legal reasons. They simply want to protect themselves from copyright trolls and other potential risks.

Torrenting is fast and secure on both VPNs, but NordVPN has specific servers optimized for this purpose.

Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN clients and apps will work for torrenting.

As far as not receiving DMCA notices and protecting yourself, keep reading… (Hint: both VPNs made it to our best torrent-friendly VPN list).

Pricing & Plans

This is where the great divide happens. We know you can do basic math in your head.

NordVPN is only $2.99 per month on average. ExpressVPN is $8.32 per month on average. ExpressVPN is almost 3x more expensive!

With NordVPN you pay slightly more upfront – $107.55 for 3 years whereas ExpressVPN costs $99.95 for 1 year.

You can also opt-in for the most expensive payment plan which is the month-to-month subscription which costs $11.95 for NordVPN and $12.95 for ExpressVPN.

Pricing wise, NordVPN is the clear winner. It doesn’t take a genius to see which is cheaper.

But what about value? You’re probably wondering, how can two premium VPN services with drastically different prices both be on top?

Read on to find out.

Refund Policy

Let’s assume you’re the 0.1% of the user base who are left unsatisfied with the purchase or the service.

In this case, you can rest easy.

Both VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee – no ifs and buts, and no secret clauses that will haunt your decision. As long as you sign up from their website and not a reseller.

If you are not satisfied with either service, simply contact support for all your money back. We’ve tested the refund system of both companies and received our money back within the week.

It was a pain-free process for both.

Payment Methods

ExpressVPN has a small edge here against NordVPN for “normal” payments.

ExpressVPN has way more payment options from credit card companies to other payment methods like Alipay, Klarna, Webmoney, etc.

Both companies accept more anonymous payment methods like BTC. NordVPN also accepts a wider variety of cryptocurrencies ETH and XRP.

All transactions are done through third-party payment processors. Your identity is at a greater risk if you don’t use cryptocurrencies as a payment method.

Ideally, they would also accept cash or gift cards. We hope to see this in the future.

For now, let’s stick to using cryptocurrencies to stay anonymous.

Device Compatibility

In terms of device compatibility and product availability, ExpressVPN wins in this comparison.

ExpressVPN simply has native apps for more devices. They even have DNS guides to set up gaming consoles. For those who simply don’t want to go through with configuring their network settings, ExpressVPN may be the better option.

In terms of device usage, NordVPN wins by offering more simultaneous device connections. NordVPN allows up to 6 connections while ExpressVPN only offers 3.

The good news is, both VPNs can be configured on the router-level so your entire network can be covered (ie – unlimited device connections).

You can also buy pre-configured routers that are optimized for both services if you don’t want to go through the trouble yourself.

Sign Up Process

It’s quite easy to sign up and get things going. Both companies have a basic signup form and both offer anonymous payment methods.

ExpressVPN is still using product codes, however. It seems they can’t let go of the past.

Remember when you had to buy some program and it came with CD keys or activation codes?

Product Interface

UI and UX are somewhat subjective but we’ll try to be as objective as possible.

Both VPNs across all devices are rather simple to use. Large one-click-connect button, server list, settings for further configurations, etc.

NordVPN simply looks better. Again, this is entirely subjective; the overall aesthetics of NordVPN is cleaner and modern.

Remember ExpressVPN is still using activation codes like it’s 1999.

However, as we mentioned before, NordVPN takes a bit longer connecting to a server.

UX is quite similar between the two. A tie here.

Customer Support

Both products work as advertised and are quite easy to use straight out of the box. But that doesn’t mean troubles never come up.

Both companies offer very helpful 24/7 live chat, ticket forms and email support in addition to product documentation and guides.

One nice use case for the 24/7 live chat is asking about Netflix availability.

When we tested both services for this, the live chat agents were more than helpful and resolved the issues by offering alternate servers or routes.

Product Documentation

There is a clear winner here. It’s ExpressVPN.

If you wondered why ExpressVPN is nearly three times more expensive, we have one guess: they’re spending a lot on marketing and product documentation. There’s a guide for virtually everything.

If you think you will have some trouble configuring everything and are still learning the ropes, ExpressVPN’s documentation is slightly more expansive.

Both companies blog about privacy and security issues. Neat.

Logging Policy

Privacy advocates and paranoid pirates can come out for the time being and pay close attention.

Both companies have a zero-log policy.

On the surface, this is enough for most people. But not you. You want to know the specifics, you want to know exactly what they have on you.

The unfortunate news is, you can never 100% trust any VPN service. Rather, it’s about risk management – which service carries a lower risk of exposing you?

Both companies have what we call a “zero activity log”, or what some other sites call “harmless logging.”

Your activity is not recorded or logged, meaning they do not record or store information on who is connecting to what website; no timestamps, session information, bandwidth or IP address that can connect your VPN usage to you.

NordVPN claims that an algorithm keeps username and timestamp of the last session which is wiped 15 minutes after the session is terminated to maintain their 6 device connection policy.

ExpressVPN claims that they collect app versions you’ve activated and whether you have successfully connected on a specific day (but not the exact time), to VPN location and from what country and ISP. All these are for technical support and fixing network issues.

Both companies do use marketing tools like Google Analytics where the user ID remains anonymous.

Both companies clearly had a team of legal experts structure their Terms of Service and Privacy Policy according to their needs. Whether a VPN service is keeping logs or not – you’ll never know for sure.

We can rest a little knowing that no one has been caught by the government with these two VPNs, though. And it’s within their interest to keep it this way – if even a single case was attributed to any logging, these VPN services will be finished.

IP and DNS Leak Test

Another reason why you can rest easy with these two.

Zero leaks of any kind! Both your IP and DNS are safe while using NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

We’ve done some extensive tests across various sites. Most top-tier VPNs have this feature on lock-down.

Remember: if your IP or DNS is exposed, your activities and your identity is at risk of exposure. For instance, when you are torrenting, your activities along with your IP are visible to the public. With a VPN, your activities remain hidden.

Encryption and Protocols

You may have some preferences over how you want to encrypt your connection and what protocol to use.

NordVPN uses AES with 256-bit keys which is the standard “military-grade” encryption used. They also offer IKEv2/IPsec and OpenVPN as protocol options.

ExpressVPN also uses AES with 256-bit keys. They also offer L2TP/IPsec, and UDP and TCP with OpenVPN. If you want to go old school, there’s also PPTP.

With encryption and protocols, it’s a tie. Both VPN services offer great protection.

You will have various choices and can switch things around depending on your needs.

Kill Switch

Random, anonymous people on the Internet may report that they’ve received a DMCA notice or noticed a leak.

This simply shouldn’t happen with NordVPN or ExpressVPN, provided all the proper protocols are set up and the kill switch is on.

So yes, a kill switch is available for both premium VPNs. And it works.

Business Acumen

When it comes to a business comparison between ExpressVPN and NordVPN, it’s difficult to measure things up.

Both businesses are quite secretive in their practices in a lot of ways, and both make great transparency efforts to connect with the community.

ExpressVPN was launched in 2009 under ExpressVPN International Ltd in the British Virgin Islands – it’s a decade old! They’ve since built up a brand that sits at the top of the hill.

NordVPN was launched in 2012 under Tefinkom & Co., S.A. in Panama. It’s a very close second, and well-positioned to overtake ExpressVPN.

It’s quite common for VPN businesses to stay private. You’ve probably done some background checks on these businesses and noticed you can’t find the people behind them. No information on the Board of Directors, no CEOs, no tax reports or anything.

The reason why things remain hidden is to deter governments (especially from the Five Eyes Alliance) from using legal measures to disclose customer information. So it works both ways – it can protect you, but at the same time, you never really know who is behind the services.

Jurisdiction

Both companies remain outside of any Alliance grounds.

The British Virgin Islands, while technically being a British territory, has its own government, does not report to the UK and does not have any data retention laws.

It is entirely possible that a foreign government mandate BVI High Court to release your information, although this scenario is highly unlikely.

Panama, another fantastic place in the Caribbean, is a completely independent country. It is known for being a tax-haven along with having a notorious reputation for not cooperating with international transparency policies.

The likelihood of Panama releasing your information is nearly zero. The country thrives on that reputation alone and they simply won’t throw that away. Unless you’re a special snowflake.

There is a winner between ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN for the jurisdiction category.

It’s NordVPN. Panama is simply the better jurisdiction for the reasons listed above.

In the one-in-a-billion off-chance that either the BVI or Panama’s courts force these companies to disclose your data, remember these companies are keeping no logs. All the data they hand over probably cannot connect you with your activities alone.

Security and Policy Audits

The reason why the security and “no log” policies remain believable is due to security audits and transparency reports.

Both VPN providers are making efforts to make sure all their architecture and infrastructure is secure and sound.

ExpressVPN has been audited by Cure53, a widely-respected penetration testing firm from Germany. Issues were found and resolved, and ExpressVPN even made some additional marketing efforts and made their Chrome browser extension open-source.

NordVPN has been audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG, a world-renowned company with global revenue of $41.3 billion. PwC is one of the Big Four auditors – four of the biggest companies in the world that offer financial and legal audit services.

It’s great seeing two of the biggest VPN services make strides for better transparency. Another tie between the two.

Winner: NordVPN

The short version?

NordVPN offers nearly everything ExpressVPN does, with a more stylish and modern product and a significantly cheaper price point. It’s a no-brainer.

So congratulations on making this far. You’ve made great choices and eliminated the lesser VPNs.

Now it should be pretty clear who is the winner between NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

Get NordVPN


The Full Breakdown

Both services have:

  • Great speeds – a reduction of 20-25% speeds and supports 4k streaming.
  • Torrenting is a go – everything works out of the box and they’ll also look the other way for your personal use.
  • Fantastic security – zero leaks, high level of encryption and widely accepted protocols along with a kill switch.
  • Safe jurisdiction – no data retention laws and outside of Five Eyes.
  • Amazing customer support – whether it’s the responsive 24/7 live chat or documentation, both companies have it right.
  • Anonymous payments – for those lookings to be extra anonymous, you can pay with Bitcoin.
  • No logs – while the term is simplified, both VPN services state that you are safe.
  • Zero risk – 30-day money back guarantee for both. There’s no risk!

The main differentiators are listed on the sidebar.

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Editor’s note: NordVPN loses out in locations – if you fall under one of those countries outside of NordVPN’s service range and require localized content (while ignoring the main differentiators), then it makes sense to get ExpressVPN.

What is a VPN Kill Switch and Why It’s a Must-Have

Just because you’re connected to a VPN doesn’t mean you’re completely secure. Say you’re browsing the internet and, suddenly, you lose connection to the VPN itself. What happens then? Are you still protected? Will your IP and information be exposed?

This all depends on whether the VPN you are using has a kill switch.

A VPN kill switch is an essential element that forms a core part of any VPN product. It is so important, in fact, that you absolutely and categorically should not use a VPN that doesn’t include one.

It doesn’t matter how fancy their site is, how slick their VPN is to use, or how good their encryption and logging policies are. If a VPN does not have a kill switch you should walk away.

Why?

VPNs themselves are not 100% reliable, so it’s the kill switch that backs you up and keeps you secure should a VPN service fail. This happens even to the best VPNs.

Best VPNs That Have a Kill Switch

How A VPN Protects You

When you are connected to a VPN service, your traffic is encrypted and then routed through a secure tunnel. It is then decrypted when it reaches its final destination. Because your data is encrypted, it cannot be intercepted or seen by any third parties such as your ISP, hackers, or the security services.

A VPN is something that everybody who regularly accesses the internet should use, especially if you ever use public networks.

Image courtesy of iplocation.net

After all, the internet is a jungle full of hackers, surveillance, and chancers who want to get hold of your data. And just because you are using a private network does not mean you are 100% safe.

With a variety of encryption and tunneling protocols along with the ability to spoof your connection and physical location, VPNs provide a level of defense from anything and everything. That is if you use a good one.

There are plenty of terrible VPNs out there. You can learn more about this by reading our general VPN reviews and guides.

What Happens If or When a VPN Fails?

VPNs can and do fail, even the best ones. Aside from inherent security vulnerabilities that can be avoided by using the best VPNs available, there is the risk of a dropped connection that you need to account for.

This can happen at any time and with any VPN; there is no way for dropped connections to be avoided or prevented, they just happen.

When your connection to a VPN service drops, your traffic and IP address are in danger of being exposed. This means that whatever you’re doing, from simply watching films or downloading files through a torrent, can be found out. In this example, the danger is that your ISP can see you are torrenting and issue you a copyright notice or terminate your connection.

Now enter the kill switch. When you use a reputable VPN that has a working kill switch, it’s impossible for your IP, information, or traffic to be exposed even when your connection drops.

Why Do VPNs Fail?

Infrequent connection drops do happen and cannot be avoided. This is why any VPN worth its name will include a kill switch, to safeguard your data against this scenario.

Both your device and your VPN software send data packets to one another every so often–usually every 5-10 seconds–to see whether the connection is still active. When these data packets are not being received by your device for a specific period of time–usually 1 to 2 minutes–the VPN assumes you are no longer using the service and disconnects you.

Every now and then, it will simply be the case that your device hasn’t been receiving packets for this time period, making your connection drop.

There are many reasons why your device may not be receiving packets. However, when it comes to infrequent VPN connection failure, it is simply the case that they’re lost or temporarily blocked–there’s nothing you can do about this.

Frequent VPN connection drops, however, can indicate an underlying problem such as–

  • An issue with the VPN server you are connected to,
  • The port or protocol you are using is blocking packets,
  • Your device rejecting the packets, or
  • An unreliable internet connection.

If you use a VPN and notice frequent drops in your connection, we recommend reaching out to your VPN service’s support team.

What a Kill Switch is and How it Works

A VPN kill switch blocks all incoming and outgoing traffic should your connection to the VPN and the internet drop.

As a system, it continuously monitors your VPN connection status and immediately steps in if your connection fails. If this happens, all current internet sessions such as streaming, downloading, and browsing will be killed, hence the name “kill switch.”

This means that your real IP address and any data being sent back and forth will never be compromised or exposed to prying eyes because whatever you’re doing will be “killed” before anyone can see it.

The primary purpose of a kill switch is to protect your IP address, traffic, and online activity from being suddenly and unknowingly exposed in the case of a dropped connection. Without one there, your internet traffic would continue flowing and you may not notice your unprotected status for minutes or even hours after.

This would leave a digital trail of everything you intended to keep private! 😱

As a result, it is an extremely vital feature that needs to be included in any VPN product. The problem is that not all VPNs do include a kill switch, even some of those that claim to have one.

This is why due diligence and research is also very important when it comes to choosing a VPN. But we’ll show you how to do that in a second.

How Can I Tell if a VPN Has a Kill Switch?

This can be quite tricky.

Not all VPN providers state on their website whether they have a kill switch or not. Some do, some don’t.

While leading providers such as ExpressVPN and NordVPN openly discuss their kill switch, there are others that don’t. Additionally, not every VPN service calls their kill switch a kill switch–some refer to them as VPN firewalls for instance.

To add to the confusion, not all kill switches will work automatically–some require manual configuration. When using a VPN, always check that:

  1. There is a kill switch.
  2. Check that it’s enabled or find out how to enable it using their help guides.
NordVPN has a kill switch

Often, you can find out whether a particular VPN service has a kill switch by reading their FAQs or knowledgebase.

Alternatively, take a look at our comprehensive VPN reviews—we have reviewed over 100 different VPN services and each review details whether or not a kill switch is available.

You can even test it out yourself!

3 Great VPNs that Have a Kill Switch

If you don’t want to go searching through our reviews, we can suggest 3 VPN services right here that include a kill switch.

We have comprehensively tested all these VPNs and covered everything from speed and performance to safety and security, so you can rest easy knowing that your information will never be compromised.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is by far the best VPN service available right now. It is fast, safe, and works with everything you could ever need it for. Netflix? Check. Torrenting? Check. Bypassing censorship? Check.

ExpressVPN includes a kill switch as standard with the service known as Network Lock. When Network Lock is enabled—note: it needs to be manually enabled from within the app—you will only be able to access the internet when you are connected to the ExpressVPN service.

Network Lock works by blocking your internet access when you are not connected to ExpressVPN so that your IP, data, and traffic can never be exposed. It is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

It’s worth noting that, at the moment, ExpressVPN does not include a kill switch on their non-desktop services such as Android, iOS, or FireTV.

You can try out ExpressVPN risk-free thanks to their 30-day money-back guarantee. Pricing starts at $12.95 monthly or $8.32 when purchased for a year.

Try ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN

NordVPN usually comes second in our VPN review lists. It is slightly cheaper than ExpressVPN if you’re on the 3-year plan. For those who are under a budget, this might be the better option in the long run.

In terms of safety, security, and performance, both services are comparable. Unlike ExpressVPN, you do not need to manually enable the NordVPN kill switch for the desktop version. However, you can configure it and choose which applications you want it to work for (e.g. your internet browser.)

This means that if your connection drops, only the services you specify will be killed. This prevents you from losing connection to everything when you only need protection in one or two places. In contrast, their Linux, iOS, and Android app kill switches will disable system-wide internet access.

Try NordVPN with their 30-day money-back guarantee. Pricing starts at $11.95 per month and can drop to $2.99 per month when purchased for 3 years.

Try NordVPN

3. Private Internet Access (PIA)

PIA is one of our favorite VPN services. First of all, they’re based in the U.S.–which usually sounds off alarms in our head–but despite this fact, their anti-logging policy has stood up in court. Secondly, their servers are fast, plentiful, and secure. Thirdly, it has a kill switch.

You’ll need to enable it manually, though. You can do this by starting up PIA Manager and simply toggling it from ‘off’ to ‘on’ and restarting the VPN. After this, it will step in if your connection drops.

PIA’s pricing starts at $6.95 monthly and drops to $2.91 when paid upfront for 2 years–amazing value for such a great product!

Try Private Internet Access

What if My VPN Doesn’t Have a Kill Switch?

Stop using it. That’s the short answer.

However, if you want to continue using a service that doesn’t have a kill switch natively, you can use a third-party solution.

Third-party kill switches like these monitor your internet connection and step in should your connection drop but…

These do require configuring, though, and are more suited to advanced users. If you want a simple solution, use one of the 3 VPNs listed above or any from our top 10 list.

Best VPN for Routers

When you install a VPN on your router, you ensure that all devices connected to your home’s network remain protected with minimal effort and fuss. Instead of downloading a native app for all devices, you can simply configure your router to protect all your devices.

However, not all VPNs are router-friendly, and not all routers support VPNs. That means you need to do two things:

  1. Check to see if the VPN offers router support.
  2. Get a VPN-friendly router.

If you need help on finding a router that can handle a VPN, read our guide on the best VPN routers of 2019. Otherwise, proceed below for the best VPN for various routers.

5 Best VPNs for Routers

How We Chose the Best VPNs for Routers

There are several factors that go into deciding which VPN to use with a router. These include:

  • Router Support: Either the VPN lets you buy pre-flashed routersmeaning a router with the VPN already installed, or you can install the VPN on the router yourself using either native or third-party firmware like DD-WRT or Tomato (more on that below).
  • VPN Speed: Since installing a VPN on your router likely means you’ll be using the VPN on a variety of devices, fast speeds are essential. All the VPNs we’ve picked have fast speeds so you won’t experience slow internet speeds on all your devices–a nightmare!
  • Encryption: If you’re going to rely on a single VPN service to secure all your devices via the router, you better make sure the VPN offers the best encryption. That means the VPN should offer the OpenVPN protocol (the most secure) and AES-256 encryption (military-grade).

We also consider the usual (price, features, business history, etc) as it is part of our review process.

Key VPN Router Terminology: DD-WRT vs Tomato

Two terms you will come across when researching VPN routers are DD-WRT and Tomato—these are both open-source third-party firmware that are available for free online. Simply put, they enable your router to function as a VPN client when it is installed (“flashed”) on one.

DD-WRT and Tomato both improve your security, let you use different VPN protocols, disable router manufacturers’ security loopholes, extend your Wi-Fi range, and regulate bandwidth. They do differ in some areas, though. Here’s how they stack up—

DD-WRT Tomato
Available on more devices. Run two VPN servers at once.
Adjust Wi-Fi signal strength. Better bandwidth monitoring.
Prioritize certain types of traffic. Works better with more VPN services.
Access home network remotely. Supported by fewer routers.

5 Best VPNs for Router Installation—Our Picks

These are, in our opinion, the 5 best VPN services available on the market for use with a router. We have tested each of these services extensively, alongside 100+ others, and tested all their features to arrive at our conclusion.

All these VPNs can easily be installed and used on a router. If you get stuck during the installation phase, each service offers comprehensive guides on their website to walk you through the process. If you still need help, their customer support teams will be on-hand, usually 24/7 through live chat, to provide immediate assistance.

1. ExpressVPN – Our Top Pick!

ExpressVPN is the best all-around VPN service that does just about everything you want it to, and then some.

First of all, for those of you who want the simplest and most seamless installation process, ExpressVPN has their own powerful pre-configured router that you can use out of the box. This is a better choice if you don’t want to do any work at all and want a newbie-friendly VPN router–it costs around $50 more than it would if you bought a regular router and an ExpressVPN subscription.

If you don’t mind doing a little bit of work for yourself though, you can follow their detailed installation tutorial that provides instructions for DD-WRT router installation. With ExpressVPN’s own firmware, installing the VPN on your router and protecting all your home’s devices becomes a painless task.

In addition to this, supplementary features put you in complete control—you can pick and choose which devices’ traffic to tunnel through ExpressVPN and which can remain unprotected. There is also MediaStreamer that you can use to unblock Netflix and other services from devices that don’t natively support ExpressVPN.

In the unlikely event that you run into problems, ExpressVPN’s knowledgebase and support team will be on hand to help in minutes. You can also take a look at some of their guides. ExpressVPN has taken the time to create a comprehensive selection of guides that are tailored to each of their router offerings.

As you can see on the right-hand side, they cover just about every supported router and firmware. You can find this guide and more here in their knowledge base.

An example of ExpressVPN FlashRouter UI courtesy of flashrouters.com

With thousands of lightning-fast servers spread across 90+ countries, ExpressVPN provides everything you could ever need from a VPN at a budget-friendly price point.

ExpressVPN Pricing:

  • From $8.32/month for a 1-year subscription
  • Pre-flashed routers from $174.99 via flashrouters.com

Try ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN – Best Value

Second in our list is NordVPN. Again, it is easy to install NordVPN on a router by following their tutorials.

These explain how you can connect your DD-WRT router to NordVPN by using the OpenVPN protocol. Support is also available for L2TP and PPTP; however, we recommend using OpenVPN for most internet users.

Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN offers their own pre-configured routers. There are several different versions for you to choose from depending on what level of protection you need or how many devices you want to connect.

(If you do go ahead and purchase a NordVPN router, make sure you use the code NORDVPNROUTER for 20% off at flashrouters.com!)

Everything can be managed from NordVPN’s FlashRouter Privacy App. Using this, you can easily connect to and switch between servers and enable/disable the kill switch for seamless and intuitive use. This is much more preferable to having to navigate confusing router control panels each time you want to connect, disconnect, change a server, or modify other settings.

In terms of performance, NordVPN delivers good speeds across a consistently reliable server network. While there are more servers with NordVPN than ExpressVPN, NordVPN has slightly fewer locations as ExpressVPN. (At the time of writing, NordVPN’s servers are available in 62 countries whereas ExpressVPN’s are in 94.)

NordVPN Pricing:

  • From $2.99/month for a 3-year subscription
  • Pre-flashed routers from $249.99 via flashrouters.com

Try NordVPN

3. Private Internet Access (PIA) – Best for Privacy

PIA is one of our favorite VPNs because they came out on top after two court cases where the authorities were trying to obtain a court order to force PIA to disclose information related to its users. On both occasions, PIA could not produce anything of use to the government.

This shows that their promise to never disclose information holds up in court even though PIA is U.S.-based. PIA doesn’t log anything at all, so even if they were told to hand over information, there would be nothing valuable to give.

In terms of router support, you can either buy a pre-flashed PIA router (the more expensive option) or instead follow their DD-WRT OpenVPN setup guide on their website.

It should be acknowledged that PIA’s setup process is a little more involved than that of Express and NordVPN’s–it requires more manual work and time, making it a less optimal choice for first-time users. There’s no native app for routers either, something both ExpressVPN and NordVPN have.

PIA as a service has been around for a long time now and they have an impressive server network to prove it. They offer what is by far one of the best and most reliable services at one of the lowest price points.

Private Internet Access Pricing:

  • From $2.91/month for a 2-year subscription
  • Pre-flashed routers from $249.99 via flashrouters.com

Try PIA

4. Windscribe

An often-overlooked service, Windscribe may not be as good as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, but it’s still worth considering. The main talking point here is that Windscribe lets you connect an unlimited number of devices to the network.

Judging by Windscribe’s website, we can see that they have put a lot of thought and effort into their router support.

The VPN can be installed on a router or you can get a pre-configured model. However, you won’t have much of a choice if you want a pre-flashed router. We only found one available at the time of this writing.

For users who want to install the VPN client on their own, Windscribe provides three comprehensive guides to walk you through the process: DD-WRT, Tomato, and Asus.

When we tested out Windscribe, we found that the service’s performance varied quite a bit. This isn’t going to be ideal if you need a consistently reliable service that is always fast and on point. In terms of security, Windscribe uses AES 256-bit encryption alongside OpenVPN and we found no leaks.

It is worth noting that Windscribe offers a free version with a monthly 10GB data transfer limited. However, it can only be used with routers when you subscribe to their Pro version as this is the only version that offers OpenVPN.

Windscribe Pricing:

  • From $4.08/month for a 1-year subscription
  • Pre-flashed routers from $349.99

Try Windscribe

5. CyberGhost

CyberGhost has managed to grow its users to almost 20 million in just under a decade and when you look at the service, it is easy to see why.

If you want to install CyberGhost on your router, their website offers lots of useful guidance and tutorials to help you do just that. Their knowledgebase covers every single type of router installation possible and if you get stuck, their support team are on-hand to help 24/7.

For example, this is a part of their knowledge base that teaches users how to configure OpenVPN on one of their pre-flashed routers (CyberGhost doesn’t use OpenVPN by default.)

This guide is very extensive and walks you through the process step-by-step with up-to-date information and screenshots highlighting exactly what you need to do.

With a constantly growing network of servers offering a fast and reliable global reach and router setup that is 100% painless, CyberGhost had to feature somewhere on our list. Again, it’s not as good as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, but their service will probably match your expectations.

CyberGhost Pricing:

  • From $2.50/month for a 3-year subscription
  • Pre-flashed routers from $249.99 via flashrouters.com

Try CyberGhost

Types of VPN Routers

For those of you still deciding on which VPN router to get, here’s a short guide on the three different types of VPN routers.

The general rule of thumb is that most ISP-provided routers are heavily restricted and cannot be flashed with VPN firmware. If your router is the same one that your ISP provided, you will need to swap it out for a different one.

The three options are—

1. Manual configuration

Manual configuration (or manual flashing) is where you configure your own router for VPN installation. This can usually be done with routers made by reputable manufacturers such as Asus and Linksys but not always. It is worth double-checking with the manufacturer whether your router supports VPN installation.

2. VPN-compatible routers

VPN-compatible routers come ready to be set up with a VPN out of the box. They have an easy-to-use interface, support OpenVPN, and can easily have firmware such as DD-WRT or Tomato installed on them, meaning you can start the setup process with your chosen VPN client right away.

3. Pre-configured routers

Most of the time, pre-configured routers will come with a VPN already installed on them. This means they can be set up and used with minimal effort. However, they can be more expensive. A good example is ExpressVPN’s own DD-WRT router.

These routers are sold through a third-party vendor known as FlashRouters, a company that takes the very best routers available on the market and loads them with VPN software ready for out-of-the-box use.


To sum up, you can go about it in various ways but it usually breaks down into two things:
1. Are you tech-savvy enough to configure your own router? Then just follow our step-by-step guide on how to install a VPN on a router.
2. You don’t want to go through all the trouble of setting up your router? Then you have plenty of choice, just get ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

Torrenting Without a VPN (A Must-Read!)

Let’s get it out there right now, torrenting in most situations is an illegal activity. While we do not condone it, we simply have to recognize that this is one of the main reasons people use VPNs.

If you are the average person who may regularly illegally pirate a movie or album then you really need a VPN; even if you occasionally participate in torrenting this is a must.

In fact, not protecting your IP and covering your tracks online as a regular torrenter would be grossly irresponsible.

First, What is Torrenting?

Torrenting (BitTorrent) is a widely popular file sharing protocol that has its basis in peer-to-peer technology. It allows a large network of users to connect and share content, typically pirated movies and other stolen content, without having to rely on a single source for downloads.

Torrenting exists because companies who hold rights to these works are quick to shut down sites that host their files for downloading. When a network of thousands or even millions of people across the globe are all chipping into one user’s download, it is impossible for these companies and rightsholders to stop it from happening.

Whether you are in the mood for downloading movies, an entire TV series, or the latest video game, torrenting makes this possible. Although it is easy to do, it is also very easy to get caught, particularly if you are a prolific participant in torrenting and are not careful.

It has many inherent risks and if you want to do it, you need a VPN—this is not an option.

What Happens If I Torrent Without a VPN?

First, you share file (download AND upload)

As we mentioned earlier, torrenting’s backbone is peer-to-peer networking—for torrenting to work, multiple PCs and devices are connected and share resources with one another without having to go through a separate server or network, e.g. a download site’s servers.

Second, you reveal yourself to the public

While peer-to-peer networking is pretty nifty, it is also incredibly dangerous when you don’t take the right precautions. When participating in torrenting, your information, including your IP address, can very easily be found out by anybody else who is part of the peer-to-peer “swarm” who is sharing the same torrent as you.

This may not sound too sinister. However, there is a lot more to it than that and it is not necessarily hackers you need to worry about.

Third, everyone is tracking you now

Government agencies, your ISP, and snoops—bots whose purpose is to simply harvest IP addresses—can find out your IP and, if you are unprotected, you can easily be traced back to.

Your entire torrenting history is available to the public.

Don’t see how this is a problem? If you have participated in any form of torrenting recently without a VPN, head on over to iknowwhatyoudownload.com and see for yourself. If you have a static IP address–you most likely do–you will see a list of activities that have been logged.

Everything you’ve downloaded on your server is ripe for public viewing.

3 Potential Consequences of (Unsafe) Torrenting

Still not convinced that you need to be using a VPN? Here are some of the potential risks and consequences of torrenting without one—

1. Legal issues

One of the biggest dangers of unprotected torrenting isn’t an immediate threat and is likely something that will come to haunt you many months down the line after being caught.

Today, lots of popular torrents of copyrighted content are regularly monitored. By not hiding your identity, you are basically inviting your ISP to send you threatening letters or for the copyright holders to bring proceedings against you.

Even a single trace of downloading torrent files that are protected by copyright laws can lead to anything from the termination of your internet service to cease and desist letters to fines – including jail time.

When using a VPN, your ISP and other parties cannot see what you are doing. While they can see the data transfer, they cannot see where it is going to or coming from. This prevents them from being able to identify the copyrighted material and thus you cannot get into trouble for it.

2. Vulnerability to hacks and leaks

Although torrenting itself does not pose an immediate danger, it does expose you to the risk of hacking attempts if you don’t have protection from a VPN.

As we have already mentioned, torrenting unprotected exposes your IP address and, in many cases, other pieces of data. This is especially true if you connect to an unsecure public WiFi network.

When you are behind a good VPN that does not leak information, nobody can see your IP address, who you are, or get access to any of your data.

3. Compromised data

Over time, your information will be collected and pieced together. Everything will be used to the advantage of a hacker.

Your name, date of birth, address history, email addresses, and online banking information can all be exposed without your knowledge. Once people have access to this data, there is no telling how much damage can be caused.

Torrenting Safely: How a VPN Helps to Protect You

By far the best way you can protect yourself while torrenting is to use a VPN.

A VPN works by encrypting all your traffic before it leaves your network and sending it to its destination through an encrypted tunnel. That’s not all. Your traffic is also re-routed through one of the VPN service’s servers–one you have chosen–that changes your IP address to the same one being used by hundreds if not thousands of other people.

This adds an extra layer of anonymity by covering your IP address and also prevents your data being compromised by encrypting it.

When you are connected to a VPN service that is fast, secure, uses the latest standards in encryption and tunneling, and does not leak any information, you are protected. Nobody can see what you are doing or who you are, and not even your ISP can eavesdrop on your connection.

4 VPNs That Are Critical For Torrenting

After testing 100+ VPNs in the market, we can say that these are the 4 VPNs that we know are best for fast torrenting safely and securely.

1. NordVPN

With a network that spans over 62 different countries and over 5,000 servers, NordVPN is naturally the best VPN service when it comes to torrenting. All their servers are fast, so your files will download quickly should you also have a fast internet connection.

Torrenting is allowed on all NordVPN’s servers and they also have servers that are specifically optimized for torrenting.

With AES 256-bit encryption used alongside OpenVPN, there is no chance of your data or information being revealed when you are connected to the network.

Should your connection to NordVPN stop, the kill switch will step in and terminate your connection to a peer-to-peer network. During our comprehensive review, we also found that it did not leak any IP or DNS information.

You can try NordVPN free for 7 days and there’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try NordVPN

2. ExpressVPN

Although ExpressVPN usually tops the list of any VPN review, it comes in second here for two reasons—first, NordVPN has a larger network of servers and second, NordVPN is cheaper. Again, all these servers are fast and can be used for torrenting.

One place where ExpressVPN comes out on top of NordVPN is location choice—ExpressVPN offers servers in over 90 countries whereas NordVPN offers them in just over 60. More servers mean that there is more choice for users located in different parts of the world.

All traffic is encrypted using AES 256-bit encryption alongside the OpenVPN tunneling protocol and no leaks were found during our testing.

Although they offer no free trial, you can try ExpressVPN out risk-free with their 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try ExpressVPN

3. Private Internet Access (PIA)

PIA is another great option for torrenting that comes in at almost half the price of NordVPN and ExpressVPN.

For $6.95 on a month-to-month subscription or $2.91 per month when purchased for two years, PIA will provide you with a strong, torrent-friendly server network that spans all across the world.

Although they are located in the U.S., two court cases have proven that PIA’s privacy policy holds up and their anti-logging policy means there would be nothing interesting to disclose anyway.

Try PIA

4. Windscribe

A great all-around VPN that is still relatively unknown is Windscribe. Like the other VPNs on this list, Windscribe supports torrenting and its large and fast server networks allow you to download files quickly, safely, and securely without any hassle.

If you are a fan of aesthetics and user interfaces, you will be a big fan of Windscribe—a lot of thought has gone into both their website and app, both of which are a breeze and joy to use.

When we tested out Windscribe, we did not detect any IP or DNS leaks and we were very impressed by how well their servers performed overall. Their strong firewall will also prevent anything from falling outside the network even if a leak did occur.

With a free trial on offer for new users, there is no reason why you shouldn’t consider Windscribe. It is, however, a newer brand than the three mentioned above.

Try Windscribe

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