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

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

Best VPNs for Torrenting… According to Reddit


Reddit, the so-called “front page of the internet,” is a U.S.-based social aggregation site that features content covering almost everything from serious breaking news to entire boards (‘subreddits‘) dedicated to specific countries, cities, and even cute cat videos.

Known for their honest, unbiased, and transparent opinions on almost every topic, Reddit users are often a brilliant source of information. Simply Googling a query and attaching “reddit” at the end will almost certainly pull up a discussion thread on the website.

VPNs are no exception. Reddit has a dedicated subreddit for VPNs, where users post about their experiences with various VPN providers. Since Reddit is a site powered by end-user content, all the information you will find there is usually entirely impartial and not funded through an affiliates scheme.

Of course, you will see a VPN service’s representative posting every so often, but this is usually easy to spot.

If the Information is Already There, Why Should I Read This?

While Reddit is a truly magnificent site, there is one problem that users can face—information overload. There are pages upon pages upon pages of VPN-related content on the internet; our own top recommendations for the best VPNs for torrenting isn’t an exception. Because of this, researching a VPN through Reddit can be a time-consuming process.

Despite the fact that the best posts and comments are upvoted on the site so they’re easier to spot, duplicate threads surrounding the same topic often surface over time. This is particularly true when you search for the ‘best’ of anything.

This is why we’ve done all the hard work for you and scoured the various posts and subreddits to find out which VPNs real Reddit users recommend for peer-to-peer activities and torrenting.

What Makes a VPN the Best for Torrenting?

There are a few key factors that we can sum up briefly—

  • A strong server network with some servers optimized specifically for P2P. These servers are fast and don’t slow down your download speeds – you’re able to download the best quality with the speeds you should be getting;
  • No logging of information and, preferably, headquartered outside 14 Eyes – you’re able to torrent safely and undetected by anyone;
  • Confirmed approval of torrenting and P2P activities by the VPN provider – you’re not breaking the rules and are safe from the VPN providers closing your account.

Keeping these criteria in mind, let’s move on to the meat.

The 4 Best VPNs for Torrenting in 2019 According to Real Reddit Users

So, here we go—these are the 4 best VPNs for torrenting in 2019 according to Reddit, and we agree entirely with their thoughts and opinions.

1. NordVPN

One of our favorite VPNs, NordVPN, seems to be very popular on Reddit especially when it comes to torrenting, being the go to VPN for most.

Redditors say that they love NordVPN because they are able to participate in torrenting on every single server and, so far, nobody has received a letter or email from their ISPs telling them off for torrenting.

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Some VPNs report torrenting to ISPs to get rightsholders off their backs and this can be troublesome for some users.

Also, lots of Reddit users say that NordVPN has a better app for desktops and smartphones, with the smartphone app on both Android and iOS including all the same features as the desktop app.

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What we love about NordVPN—

  • Torrenting allowed on any server, many of them even unblock streaming services
  • An anti-logging policy so none of your data is ever saved
  • Thousands of servers located across around 60 countries
  • Fast servers that don’t inhibit download speeds
  • Can be used on up to 6 different devices
  • Native apps for a range of devices including routers
  • AES 256-bit encryption alongside OpenVPN for ultimate security

Read our full NordVPN review.

NordVPN Pricing: 7-day free trial + 30-day money-back guarantee; $2.99 per month for a 3-year subscription

Try NordVPN

2. ExpressVPN

Of course, ExpressVPN had to come second if not first. There’s a reason why we love it, and it is a firm favorite among Redditors, too.

As we’ve said, the debate between ExpressVPN and NordVPN comes down to personal preferences since they’re both the best in the market and you can’t go wrong with either one.

But Redditors noted ExpressVPN’s vast server network (over 90 countries) as a plus that beats out NordVPN’s offerings. All these servers are super quick and support torrenting thanks to their P2P-optimized server network.

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Where ExpressVPN failed to impress Reddit users is that they do not include a kill switch on their Android app. We can’t figure out why. Still, this probably isn’t going to be a deal breaker for many, because an Android phone or tablet isn’t the first device of choice for torrenting anyway.

This Redditor sums up the differences between NordVPN and ExpressVPN nicely:

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What we love about ExpressVPN—

  • Torrenting available across the entire server network
  • Good record when it comes to unblocking streaming services such as Netflix
  • Strong encryption and industry-standard tunneling protocols to protect your data
  • Servers spanning over 90 different countries
  • Fantastic customer support with live chat

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

ExpressVPN Pricing: 30-day money-back guarantee (no questions asked); $8.32 per month on a 1-year subscription

Try ExpressVPN

3. Private Internet Access (PIA)

U.S.-based company Private Access Internet has mixed reviews on Reddit. However, most of them are positive.

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While it loses out to NordVPN or ExpressVPN, it still has a lot to offer in terms of P2P activities and torrenting. Although PIA is based in the U.S., it operates an anti-logging policy that has been upheld in court not once, but twice.

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PIA offers a decent server network that offers respectable speeds and they all support P2P activities. There’s also additional support for port forwarding, something that can be useful for people who want to improve torrent performance.

Some more tips from Reddit about improving torrent speeds:
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It’s worth noting that PIA is best used on desktop devices—their mobile apps are quite low in terms of features and have been the subject of criticism in the past.

What we love about PIA—

  • Ultra-secure with the latest encryption and tunneling
  • Over 3,000 different servers across 30+ different countries
  • Desktop app blocks ads, malware, adware, and other nasty things
  • 24-hour support online and over the phone
  • One of the cheapest VPNs on the market
  • Can be used on 5 simultaneous devices

Read our full Private Internet Access review.

PIA Pricing: 7-day money-back guarantee; $2.91 per month on a 2-year subscription

Try PIA

4. Windscribe

Although Windscribe may be a lesser-known VPN compared to the ones we’ve already covered, that doesn’t mean it’s no good—it’s actually a great service with a lot to offer.

Redditors note that it’s great for torrenting among a whole host of other activities, including streaming, unblocking censored content, and staying private online.

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One user has a great analogy for Windscribe’s guide on how to set up uTorrent:

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Windscribe is also quite active on Reddit, answering questions and even offering advice on how to torrent better with their VPN:

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Although Windscribe does not have a kill switch, they operate a strong firewall that prevents leaks from falling outside their encrypted VPN tunnel. This means that users don’t need to worry about their information being compromised or forgetting to toggle a kill switch when connecting to a server.

What we love about Windscribe—

  • Actively supports torrenting and even provide guides for it using Windscribe
  • Operates an anti-logging policy
  • Uses AES 256-bit encryption alongside a strong tunneling protocol
  • Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer seamlessly and consistently
  • Uses AES 256-bit encryption alongside a strong tunneling protocol
  • Can connect to an unlimited number of devices simultaneously
  • One of the few VPNs that work very well in China and other censor-heavy countries

Read our full Windscribe review.

Windscribe Pricing: Free plan for 10GB a month (3-day refund policy); $4 per month for a 1-year subscription

Try Windscribe

What VPN Do We Recommend for Torrenting?

Just like many Redditors, we agree NordVPN is the best service for it. Of course, this is our own opinion—there’s a lot of personal preference at play here.

We like NordVPN because their servers are specifically optimized for torrenting and P2P activities. All the servers we’ve used so far have delivered consistently reliable, fast, and high-performing service that’s perfect for heavy-duty activities like streaming and downloading torrents.

Try NordVPN

Top 5 Free (or Freemium) VPNs That Actually Work

You know you need a VPN to access your favorite Netflix content, hide your browsing habits from ISPs and governments, or protect your data from third party advertisers. But how does it actually work?

How VPNs Work

To put it simply, VPNs (which stands for Virtual Private Network, in case you’re wondering) work by connecting you to a secure network of servers. When you’re connected to this network, your traffic (Google searches, for example) is routed through the network to a server that acts as an intermediary. This server then sends your traffic request to the site you’re trying to access.

All while encrypting your data.

By doing this, both your computer (your network and anybody watching, such as your ISP) and the site you’re visiting can only see the VPN server. This detaches your internet activity from your IP address and keeps you hidden and secure.

Some VPNs do a better job of this than others. That’s why it’s always a good idea to check if you’re using a good, trusted, and secure VPN, especially when it’s free.

Why use a free VPN? What’s the difference between free and paid?

Glad you asked.

With our extensive testing of various VPN services, we’ve learned that there’s a distinct difference between free and paid VPNs. The bottom line is that you’ll always be better off with a paid VPN. In most cases, you get what you pay for.

Some VPNs start as low as $5-10 per month. If you’re serious about your privacy, this is a worthwhile expense.

But if paying is not an option, read on.

Generally speaking, free VPNs are the same as regular VPNs, but with restrictions such as:

  • Limited bandwidth
  • Limited access to servers and locations
  • Slower performance
  • Limited protocols and encryptions
  • No access to Netflix or torrent-friendly servers

Found a free VPN with high data allowance? It’s probably very slow and useless for streaming. Got a free VPN with good speeds? You’ll probably only have enough data allowance for one episode of your favorite Netflix show. Two if you’re lucky.

Since these VPN services need to earn money somehow, they’re also more likely to mine your data so that it can be sold on to third-parties like marketing agencies.

Not all free VPNs are like this and you’ll be pleased to know that there are some fantastic ones out there. We’ve tested these so that you don’t have to—just download them and go!

It’s worth noting that these are freemium VPNs. This means they have free plans in addition to their paid, premium options. This is because VPNs that are 100% free tend to be really bad because they have no way to make money, which means they have limited resources to develop their service.

Best Freemium VPNs

Without further ado, here are the 5 best freemium VPNs we’ve tested. For in-depth reviews on each one, check out our full list of VPN reviews.

1. Windscribe

Windscribe is our favorite freemium VPN service. It’s very popular with their users, too. A Canadian-based company, Windscribe operates servers all over the world and was founded in 2015 by Yegor Sak (who is quite active in talking to the community!).

Freemium Plan Details
Windscribe’s free version is pretty good as far as free VPN plans go. With the free plan, you get 10GB/month with access to servers across 10 different countries. You also get the same speeds as their premium users, and none of your information is monitored, mined, stored, logged, or sold on to third parties. Plus, there’s a built-in firewall and ad blocker.

Freemium Plan Limits
Limitations with Windscribe do begin to show up when you start to look at what’s on offer to premium members. For premium members, Windscribe offers over 50 different locations and there are no data caps.

Read our verdict of Windscribe here
Get Windscribe Free

2. Hide.me

Another relatively good freemium VPN service is Hide.me. The company’s based in Malaysia and calls itself the “world’s fastest VPN” that lets you “take back your freedom.” Bold statements, right?

Freemium Plan Details
When using Hide.me’s free service, you still get the good stuff like IP leak protection, a kill switch, one-click connect, and split tunneling. Malaysia is not part of any intergovernmental agreements (e.g. 5 Eyes) either, so your information is safe. Also, the connection speeds are respectable, and you won’t be bombarded with ads.

Freemium Plan Limits

On their free plan, you can only connect to certain countries and none of these include Europe or the United States. This might be a dealbreaker for some of you. In addition to this, your data transfer is capped at 500MB that only renews every two weeks.

Read our verdict of Hide.me here
Get Hide.me Free

3. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is a well-known VPN provider and you have probably come across them in one form or another before. They have apps for virtually everything, including browser extensions and mobile devices. While they don’t exactly get the best press online, it’s far from being a ‘bad’ freemium service, particularly when you compare it to what’s available!

Freemium Plan Details

When using the free version of Hotspot Shield, you will still manage to pull impressive download speeds and your traffic is protected and encrypted to the same extent as their premium plan.

Freemium Plan Limits

You’ll only be able to use one of their servers based in the United States, and this can only be accessed from a single device. When accessing content from certain sources, (e.g. the BBC or Hulu) you’ll see a premium payment wall. As for Netflix, it doesn’t work at all. They’ve also opted to include banner ads as part of the freemium plan, and you’re limited to 500MB per day. Still, this is far better than Hide.me’s 500MB every two weeks.

Read our verdict of Hotspot Shield here
Get Hotspot Shield Free

4. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN hasn’t been around for all that long, but they’ve certainly made an impression on us. It’s a private and secure service that’s available across several devices, including Linux and iOS. Their founders are scientists who met each other at CERN and started the secure ProtonMail project, so they don’t mess around with their technology.

Freemium Plan Details

Built with security in mind, ProtonVPN has an ultra-secure core architecture that is backed up with AES-256 encryption, supplemented with 2048-bit RSA, HMAC, and SHA256. It uses the OpenVPN protocol, too, which is the industry standard for security. All this is available for both free and premium users. Unlike the other freemium plans we’ve looked at, ProtonVPN doesn’t have any data caps or limitations.

Freemium Plan Limits

Although there are no data limits, you can only use ProtonVPN’s free version on one device and, at the time of writing, there are only three countries that include free servers. It also doesn’t work with Netflix. Speeds are OK, but they’re not the best.

Read our verdict of ProtonVPN here
Get ProtonVPN Free

5. TunnelBear

One of the most newbie-friendly VPN services in existence, TunnelBear is known for all the right reasons. The best thing about TunnelBear by far is how easy it is to use; it’s a plug-in-and-play VPN that works without you needing to configure settings or manually install additional components. It’s worth noting that TunnelBear is now owned by McAfee, A US-based company, which brings with it some potential concerns.

Freemium Plan Details

Aside from how easy it is to use, TunnelBear’s free users benefit from not having any of their data or information logged and disseminated. Unlike Hotspot Shield, there are no ads, and the speeds are respectable.

Freemium Plan Limits

Data transfer is capped at 500MB per month on the freemium plan. Tweeting about the company gets you an extra 1GB (clever, right?). Like the other freemium VPNs we’ve reviewed, you can only access a small handful of locations and servers, and it doesn’t work with Netflix.

Read our verdict of TunnelBear here
Get TunnelBear Free

VPNs With Amazing Free Trials

Most VPN providers will offer some form of free trial for their premium VPN service. In almost all cases, a free trial will give you complete access to the VPN product for a certain amount of time. That means anywhere between 1 and 30 days. After the trial period, you’ll have to subscribe to a premium plan to keep using the service.

These VPNs offer the full premium product during their free trial period:

1. Trust.Zone

Trust.Zone’s free trial lets you use their VPN service for 3 days. You’ll be able to access 141 locations—not quite as many as the 164 offered to their subscribers—and unlimited bandwidth.

Also included is 1GB of data transfer and one simultaneous connection at any given time. (Premium subscribers get unlimited data transfer and can have three simultaneous connections.)

Although the Trust.Zone trial is only for 3 days, it still provides you with an opportunity to try out their VPN and test out over 140 different locations.

Read our verdict of Trust.Zone here
Get Trust.Zone Free

2. HideMyAss

HideMyAss is owned and operated by McAfee, the California-based security technology company. There’s a 7-day free trial on offer for all new customers. After the 7 days, you will be automatically billed for a 12-month subscription, so make sure to stop this by canceling before the trial period ends.

During the trial period, customers can access the full HideMyAss VPN product. This includes total privacy and protection, strong encryption, OpenVPN protocol, and consistent server speeds in locations all around the world.

Read our verdict of HideMyAss here
Get HideMyAss Free

3. VyprVPN

VyprVPN offers a 3-day trial for either one of their paid plans. So you can choose between the regular plan for up to 3 devices, or the premium plan which gives you a 5-device limit, access to the cloud server, and the Chameleon protocol which blocks VPN blockers.

Its slick desktop app is easy to use and VyprVPN delivers on speed, features, and a variety of locations. Full access to the VyprVPN product includes all the great security features paid-up members get, such as the choice of encryption or protocols used.

Read our verdict of VyprVPN here
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VPNs With Perfect Money-Back Guarantees

Instead of a free trial, some VPNs offer money-back guarantees. This may be a better option since the “trial period” tends to be longer. As long as you’re willing to pay upfront and get the money back later, this is essentially a type of free trial you can take advantage of.

Typically, the money-back guarantee is valid between 7 to 30 days. If you purchase a VPN subscription and aren’t satisfied, you can get your money back simply by asking for a refund within the given time period.
By doing this repeatedly, you can use premium VPN services for months without spending any money.

Here are three great VPNs that have awesome money-back guarantees:

1. ExpressVPN

Often called the best VPN money can buy, ExpressVPN offers their first-time customers with a 30-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. Their guarantee lasts for exactly 30 days: if you place an order on the 1st of the month, you can contact customer support for a refund at any point before the 30th.

Money-back guarantees are often much better because you get to access the full product rather than a watered-down version, and this is the case with ExpressVPN. You’ll be able to access awesome features such as:

  • Foreign Netflix content
  • Super-fast speeds on ultra-secure servers
  • Worldwide locations
  • 24-hour live chat support

Read our verdict of ExpressVPN here
Visit ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN

Just like ExpressVPN, NordVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee that lets you explore the full NordVPN service without any restrictions (they also have a free trial, but this is only for 7 days). Their customer support team is available 24/7 and you can get your money back without any questions asked.

NordVPN is another fantastic VPN service that is virtually identical to ExpressVPN in all but name. It regularly features highly on VPN review sites because of its:

  • Secure, strong encryption and protocols
  • Compatibility with Netflix
  • No logging and torrent-friendly policy
  • Double data protection

One downside is that NordVPN is more expensive if you want to pay month-to-month as opposed to annually. So that’s something to consider if think you might subscribe to their service long-term.

Read our verdict of NordVPN here
Visit NordVPN

3. Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is a well-known VPN provider that offers new customers a 7-day money-back guarantee. Although this timeframe pales in comparison to Express or Nord, it’s still enough time to get familiar with the service and decide whether it’s for you.

All refund requests must be made in writing and submitted via email to helpdesk@privateinternetaccess.com.

Private Internet Access offers fast speeds, a variety of locations, and a budget-friendly price. They don’t log or keep any information. You can also make Bitcoin payments.

Read our verdict of PIA here
Visit PIA

VPNs Don’t Need to Cost Money

If you look around and do your research, it’s easy to get all the benefits of a VPN without paying any money. While we do recommend investing in a good VPN if you plan to use one in the long-run, for occasional or temporary use there are many options available.

Free VPNs, free trials, and money-back guarantees all let you access a VPN at no cost. Obviously, the quality of the service, as well as the service limitations, will vary greatly depending on which plan you go with (hint: premium VPNs are always better). We hope we’ve helped you go over some of these differences in this post.

For those of you that simply want the best with no hassle, check our list of the best VPN reviews.

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