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The 10 Best VPN for Gaming (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / November 2022

Why do you need a VPN? Advertisers work 24/7 to track, collect and sell your personal data. Fortunately, you can prevent this from happening by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

  • A VPN will protect your data from advertisers like Google and Facebook, ensuring you won’t become a target of their marketing.
  • Having reliable protection from identity theft is a must online. Using a VPN when surfing public Wi-Fi networks will protect your passwords and credit card information.
  • Watching a TV show shouldn’t be a privilege for residents of specific countries. Anyone with a VPN can access any streaming service via a foreign server.

Investing in the best VPN for gaming will restore your online anonymity while allowing you to game lag-free.

CyberGhost VPN - The best VPN

CyberGhost VPN

Limited Time: Save 83% 🔥

  • Security and Privacy 100% 100%
  • Speed 100% 100%

CyberGhost is the best affordable VPN of 2023. It’s ultra-fast, private, and secure. And it temporarily offers deep discounts.

✓ Stream: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and more
✓ Torrent: Optimized P2P servers
✓ Return: 45-day money-back guarantee
✓ Privacy: Maximum (no logs)
✓ Servers: 91 countries
✓ Protect: 7 devices

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 45-day return policy.

NordVPN - The most advanced VPN

NordVPN

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  • Security and Privacy 100% 100%
  • Speed 100% 100%

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN of 2023. It has the best privacy technology (RAM-Servers and Double VPN) and a beautiful design.

✓ Stream: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and more
✓ Torrent: Optimized P2P servers
✓ Return: 30-day money-back guarantee
✓ Privacy: Maximum (no logs)
✓ Servers: 59 countries
✓ Protect: 6 devices

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Ranking of the best VPN services of 2023

We have tested cybersecurity software since 2014. Below, we have selected the top 4 from 30 paid and free VPN services (Virtual Private Networks).

Click the links or scroll down for more.

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN Review

Ranked #1 out of 30 VPNs

CyberGhost VPN Review

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CyberGhost VPN Review

CyberGhost is the fastest VPN in our test. It also has the lowest price and the biggest server network. It's one of the best VPN services you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix US, Disney, Amazon, HBO Max, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on P2P servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 9,000 Servers in 91 countries
  • Connections: 7
  • 1-Year Price: € 47.64
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 45 days

Streaming

CyberGhost has dedicated streaming servers for Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, and more.

Torrenting

CyberGhost has optimized P2P servers. It is an excellent VPN for torrenting, thanks to its kill switch, IP- and DNS-leak protection, and no logs policy.

Privacy

CyberGhost has a strict no-logs policy: It does not monitor or record what you do online, and it does not store your IP address. Therefore, you are completely anonymous when using CyberGhost.

Ownership

CyberGhost is owned and operated by CyberGhost S.A. from Romania. Its parent company is Kape Technologies from the UK, which also owns ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and ZenMate.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN services:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

CyberGhost applies the most important security and privacy features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling (on Windows and Android)
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP

But it lacks RAM-only servers and Double VPN, which NordVPN does offer.

Censorship

CyberGhost does not use obfuscation technology, which hides your VPN usage. Therefore, it is not the right VPN for high-censorship countries like China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, or the UAE.

Servers

CyberGhost has a huge number of servers: 9,000 in 91 countries.

60 Countries have physical servers within their borders, while the other 31 are virtual servers. Although virtual servers are not located within the indicated country, they will give you a local IP address from that country.

It also offers specialized servers:

  • Servers optimized for P2P
  • Servers optimized for streaming
  • Servers with static IP addresses
  • Servers with dedicated IP addresses
  • Fully owned NoSpy servers

Devices

You can install CyberGhost on 7 devices at the same time. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and a range of routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Prices

CyberGhost has the lowest 1-year price in the industry.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is CyberGhost VPN the best VPN software of 2023?

CyberGhost is the fastest VPN in our test and has the most affordable 1-year contract. On top of that, it is secure, private, and has one of the largest server networks. It's excellent.

You can try CyberGhost risk-free, thanks to its 45-day return policy.

NordVPN

NordVPN Review

Ranked #2 out of 30 VPNs

NordVPN Review

NordVPN Review

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN service you can buy. It uses the latest privacy technology, like RAM servers and double VPN, and works in China. It's one of the best VPN providers you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on 80% of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 5,600 Servers in 59 countries
  • Connections: 6
  • 1-Year Price: € 52.68
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

NordVPN unblocks Netflix in 10 countries, including the United States. It also works with Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

Torrenting

NordVPN allows torrenting on most of its servers. On top of that, it has optimized P2P servers for extra high download speeds.

Thanks to its no-logs policy, kill switch, DNS- and IP-leak blocking, it is a safe choice for torrenting.

Privacy

NordVPN has a strict no-log policy. So it does not record your IP address or online activities. It was the first VPN company to subject its privacy policy to an independent audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Ownership

NordVPN is owned and operated by NordVPN S.A. from Panama. Its parent company, Nord Security, merged with the parent company of SurfShark to form Cyberspace BV in the Netherlands.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN providers:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN in our comparison. It includes both the mainstream security features and the highly advanced ones:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers
  • Meshnet (on Windows and Linux)

NordVPN is also available in a bundle, including NordLocker (encrypted cloud storage) and NordPass (password manager and data breach scanner).

Censorship

NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that work in highly censored countries like China, the UAE, Iran, Russia, and Turkey. This is thanks to its obfuscation technology that hides your VPN traffic.

Servers

NordVPN has an extensive VPN server network, with 5,600 servers in 59 countries. They are all physical servers, meaning every server is located within the country's borders.

It also offers specialty servers:

  • P2P servers
  • Streaming servers
  • Static IP address servers
  • Double VPN servers
  • Onion over VPN servers
  • Obfuscated servers

Devices

You can install NordVPN on 6 devices at the same time. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Prices

Considering that NordVPN is the most advanced VPN, it is a bargain.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is NordVPN the best VPN service of 2023?

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN software you can buy, thanks to its RAM servers, double VPN, Onion over VPN, and obfuscated servers.

You can try NordVPN risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

SurfShark VPN

Surfshark VPN Review

Ranked #3 out of 30 VPNs

SurfShark VPN Review

Surfshark VPN Review

Surfshark offers the best value for money. It is fast, secure, and affordable. And it allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices. It's one of the best VPN programs you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on all of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 3,200 Servers in 95 countries
  • Connections: Unlimited
  • 1-Year Price: € 47.88
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

Surfshark can stream Netflix in 10 countries, including the United States. It also works with Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu.

Torrenting

Surfshark allows P2P file-sharing on all of its servers and offers optimized P2P servers for higher download speeds. Due to its kill-switch, no-logs policy, and leak-blocking, Surfshark is a safe choice for torrenting.

Privacy

Surfshark has a clear no-logs policy. It does not track what you do online and does not store your IP address. In 2021, Surfshark underwent an independent server audit by Cure53, a German cybersecurity firm.

Ownership

Surfshark BV from the Netherlands owns Surfshark. In 2022, its parent company merged with Nord Security, creating the holding company Cyberspace BV, also located in the Netherlands.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN programs:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

After NordVPN, Surfshark is the most advanced VPN in our comparison. It covers all mainstream and advanced features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers
  • Rotating IP
  • Override GPS Location on Android

Next to its VPN service, Surfshark also offers antivirus software, personal data breach alert, and a private search engine. These features are sold separately or together with the VPN in SurfShark One.

Censorship

Thanks to its Camouflage and NoBorders Mode, Surfshark works well in censored countries like Russia, the UAE, Turkey, and Iran. However, it does not consistently work in China.

Servers

Surfshark has an extensive network, with 3,200 servers in 95 countries. However, some of these servers are virtual. That means that although you get a local IP address from the country of your choice, the physical server is located in a different country.

Surfshark also offers specialized servers, including:

  • P2P servers
  • Static IP address servers
  • Double VPN servers (Multihop servers)

Devices

Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Prices

Surfshark's price is excellent. Especially considering that you can install it on an unlimited number of devices.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is Surfshark the best VPN service of 2023?

Surfshark offers the best value for money in the VPN industry. It is advanced, affordable, and allows you to protect an unlimited number of devices. It is one of the best VPN deals out there.

You can try Surfshark risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

IPVanish VPN

IPVanish Review

Ranked #4 out of 30 VPNs

IPVanish VPN Review

IPVanish: Temporarily get 61% OFF  🔥

IPVanish VPN Review

IPVanish is an excellent VPN. It's fast, secure, and affordable. And it allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices. However, it's not as advanced as the others in this list and has a smaller server network.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix USA, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu
  • Torrenting: Allowed on all of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 2,000 Servers in 50 countries
  • Connections: Unlimited
  • 1-Year Price: $ 47.89
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

IPVanish is not the best VPN service for streaming. Although it works with Netflix in the United States, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, it has problems with streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max.

Torrenting

IPVanish allows torrenting on all its servers. And thanks to its no-log policy, kill switch, and no DNS leaks, it is a safe option to do so. The kill switch is necessary because it will block the internet traffic if the VPN connection drops.

Privacy

IPVanish has a clear no-logs policy. However, in 2018, it handed user data to the US government. Data it wasn't supposed to have, according to its log policy. Since then, it has changed owners twice, but the reputation remains.

Speed

We test every VPN service on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN connection set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the fastest VPN connections:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

IPVanish is the only VPN in our comparison that owns all of its servers and doesn't rely on third-party server parks, which is excellent. That said, it is not the most advanced VPN in our test.

It includes the following mainstream features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling

But it misses many of the advanced features:

  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers

Censorship

IPVanish does not work in censored countries like China, the UAE, Iran, Turkey, or Russia.

Servers

IPVanish has 2,000 VPN servers in 50 countries. All servers are physically located within the country and entirely owned by IPVanish. Because it doesn't rely on third-party server providers, it has complete control over the hardware and software, which theoretically should increase its security.

Devices

IPVanish allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. But it has no browser extensions.

Prices

IPVanish has a very attractive price, especially as you can install it on an unlimited number of devices.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is IPVanish the best VPN provider of 2023?

IPVanish is fast, secure, and affordable. It owns its entire server network and allows you to install the software on unlimited devices. But it's not the most advanced VPN in our test and not the best option for streaming.

You can try IPVanish risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Comparison table of the best VPN services 

CyberGhost
NordVPN
Surfshark
IPVanish
Icon
CyberGhost VPN Icon
NordVPN Icon
Surfshark VPN Icon
IPVanish VPN Icon
Ranking
#1 / 30
#2 / 30
#3 / 30
#4 / 30
Logging Policy
No Logs
No Logs
No Logs
No Logs
Operating Company
CyberGhost S.A. (Romania)
NordVPN S.A. (Panama)
Surfshark BV (Netherlands)
Ziff Davis, Inc (USA)
Holding Company
Kape Technologies PLC (UK)
Cyberspace BV (Netherlands)
Cyberspace BV (Netherlands)
Ziff Davis, Inc (USA)
VPN Protocols
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, NordLynx (WireGuard)
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
Encryption
AES-256
AES-256
AES-256
AES-256
US Netflix




Torrenting




VPN Kill Switch




Split Tunneling




Ad & Tracker Blocker



No
Smart DNS



No
First-Party DNS


No

Dedicated IP


No
No
Double VPN
No


No
RAM Servers
No


No
Works in China
No


No
Countries
91
59
95
50
Servers
9,000+
5,600+
3,200+
2,000+
Speed on WireGuard or proprietary protocol
825-850 Mbps
725-800 Mbps
700-800 Mbps
700-725 Mbps
Comptatible Devices
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Number of Connections
7
6
Unlimited
Unlimited
1-Month Price
€ 12.65
€ 10.49
€ 12.95
$ 10.99
1-Year Price
€ 47.64
€ 52.68
€ 47.88
$ 47.89
2-Year Price
€ 74.88
€ 69.36
€ 59.76
-
3-Year Price
€ 82.29
-
-
-
Customer Support
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
Free Trial
1 Day
7 Days
7 Days
No
Money Back Guarantee
45 Days
30 Days
30 Days
30 Days

How we test the best VPN for gaming

Our team put to the test 30 VPN services that run on the following operating systems: Windows 10, Windows 11, macOS, iOS, and Android. We included both free and paid services and conducted 16 tests in total. They are as follows:

> Test 1: Logging policy

What is a logging policy?

Many users think their privacy is safe when they browse the web using VPNs. But that’s not always true. VPN providers have different policies about what they do with your data.

All the information that comes from your computer passes through VPN servers. For this reason, any VPN provider can track your online activity much like your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

A VPN provider can see everything you do online. The software can see which websites you visit, what files you download, and more. They can also find your approximate location using the public IP address.

Hola VPN is an example of a free VPN that can track your online activity. They send the information to data brokers and advertisers so they can afford to remain free of charge. This situation is the ideal example of that “If the product is free, you are the product” saying.

Almost 30% of VPN providers (free and paid included) will keep the local IP address of the user. Around 5% of them keep a record of the user’s browsing history.

You can find the regulations about data tracking in the VPN’s logging policy. The tricky part is that VPN service providers often use vague phrases and language to keep you from focusing on them.

What do we test for?

Our team went over VPN logging and privacy policies. We studied the data their software tracks. There were instances of data logging examples like server load data or aggregated bandwidth usage that weren’t relevant for this type of test.

However, we also tested whether the providers keep track of information that is considered private, like browsing activity and IP address. A good VPN company should never collect these two types of data.

  • Browsing activity: If the service saves your local IP address, browsing activity puts your security at risk. Your actual location based on the IP address and the identity of your Internet Service Provider (ISP) might also be revealed.
  • IP address: Even if they delete the data after a session, a VPN provider shouldn’t track what you do online.

> Test 2: Ownership

What do we mean by ownership?

VPN software is most often part of a corporate holding structure. This means that there’s a hierarchy of owners behind it. These owners can come from different companies. Technically, anyone with authorization from any owner companies can access the data you input while using the VPN.

Some companies in the U.S. and the Netherlands have specific Data Retention Laws. These laws may let them collect more information about you than you’d like. For this reason, it’s essential to know who owns the VPN service and where the company’s headquarters are.

You may think that there are hundreds of different VPN services available on the market. But you’ll be surprised to learn that many of them are part of the same company:

  • Ziff Davis, which is from the United States, owns BufferedVPN, IPVanish, Suffern, StrongVPN, Perimeter 81, Encrypt.me, and others.
  • Kape Technologies, headquarters based in the United Kingdom, owns CyberGhost VPN, ExpressVPN, ZenMate, and Private Internet Access.
  • CyberSpace, from the Netherlands, owns Surfshark, NordVPN, and AtlasVPN.
  • Aura, a U.S.-based company, holds JustVPN, Hotspot Shield, Touch VPN, and other VPN services.
  • Gaditek, a product-based tech company in Pakistan, owns Ivacy VPN, PureVPN, and Unblock VPN.

What do we test for?

Our team analyzes every VPN service provider in detail. We look for the owner, jurisdiction of registration, and local data retention laws. Additionally, we investigate the company’s history and look for scandal reports.

For example, Crossrider (today known as Kape Technologies) had a browser extension developer platform. Malware creators and ad injectors used that space to perform their operations. As a result, the company’s reputation was compromised.

> Test 3: Independent audit

What is an independent audit?

Independent audits serve to analyze specific parts of the VPN company’s operation. The audits are primarily about the company’s privacy policy and server infrastructure.

It’s not uncommon for companies to use buzzwords for marketing their software. You may hear phrases like “military-grade encryption” or “zero-log policy,” which may not always be accurate.

Here are examples of some independent audits in notable VPN companies:

  • PwC also audited NordVPN in 2020. They went over the server configuration, infrastructure, and technical logs. The PwC also did interviews with some of the employees.
  • PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) analyzed ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology in 2019. They checked whether the system indeed removes all information after the server reboots.
  • Surfshark underwent an audit in 2021 by Cure53. The audit checked the infrastructure of the server and looked for issues.

What do we test for?

When evaluating each VPN provider, we look for its participation in a third-party audit. Furthermore, we analyze the result of the independent audit and see if there are problems in the process.

> Test 4: Available VPN protocols

What is a VPN protocol?

VPN protocols enable communication between a VPN software and a VPN server. The protocols set rules and determine how each element identifies the other. They also determine data transfer rules, encryption, app logs, and many other aspects.

Different VPN protocols differently affect the VPN server connection time. One protocol can enable fast download speeds, while another can make internet browsing super slow.

Here’s an overview of the most popular VPN protocols:

  • OpenVPN
  • WireGuard
  • IKEv2
  • L2TP/IPSec
  • PPTP

WireGuard is one of the fastest protocols, while IKEv2 is one of the slowest, according to our test results. Most companies use OpenVPN as the default protocol. IKEv2 and WireGuard are often given as alternatives.

Major VPN services like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Hotspot Shield have their VPN protocols. Some of them, like ExpressVPN, let users inspect the code. This is called open-source code.

What do we test for?

We test each VPN service to check which VPN protocols they offer. We also verify the availability of each of the protocols across devices and operating systems.

> Test 5: Supported encryption standard

What is an encryption standard?

Encryption standard sets the rules for data encryption. The Data Encryption Standard from 1977 was the first symmetric key algorithm that allowed the same encryption key to be used for the encryption and decryption of data.

The U.S. government upgraded this standard to Advanced Encryption Standard (also known as Rijndael) in 2002. In the AES version, 128-bit blocks are used with keys of the following sizes:

  • Ten rounds for 128-bit keys
  • 12 rounds for 192-bit keys
  • 14 rounds for 256-bit keys 256 bits

Most modern-day protocols use the AES-128 or AES-256 protocol.

According to the National Security Agency (NSA), AES is secure enough for the U.S. Government’s non-classified and classified information.

What do we test for?

We go over each VPN service’s default encryption standard. We also check the alternatives they offer. We expect the AES-128 to be the default and be in the GCM version, which is faster than CBC. If this is not the case, we prefer AES-256 encryption.

> Test 6: Basic security features

What are basic security features?

Every reliable VPN provider should include basic security features like:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard or OpenVPN protocol
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling

The AES-256 is one of the safest and almost impossible-to-crack encryption types. It would take hundreds of years of guessing games to figure out the code for AES-256 encryption.

WireGuard and OpenVPN are two of the safest and fastest protocols today. Any reliable VPN service should have one of the two protocols as default.

The split tunneling functionality allows a program to bypass the VPN tunnel. This allows for a direct internet connection.

On the other hand, a kill switch can turn off the internet connection in case the VPN stops working.

What do we test for?

We test whether the VPN service providers have these basic features and how they use them. For split tunneling and kill switch, we check whether the features work as marketed.

> Test 7: Advanced security features

What are advanced security features?

Advanced security features can additionally boost user privacy. Here are some of the most important ones for VPN software:

  • Blockers. A VPN should be able to block ads, tracking cookies, and malicious websites the moment they are opened.
  • Separate IP address. A good VPN should also dedicate a unique IP address to the user. Some servers only allow access to users with authorized IP addresses. This feature can be beneficial for getting past captchas and blacklists or confusing banks with new IP addresses.
  • Override GPS location. This advanced feature lets the users override their GPS location and use the GPS location of the server. GPS spoofing is helpful if you want to prevent Facebook or Google Maps from locating you.
  • Obfuscated servers. An increasing number of countries are trying to block VPN services. Examples include China and the UAE. You can use an advanced VPN service that changes your data and hides the fact that you’re connected to a VPN.
  • RAM-only servers. A high-level VPN service doesn’t run on classic hard drives. The information is stored on the Random Access Memory (RAM) on a server and is removed every time the server restarts. In the case of server confiscation, no data will remain.

What do we test for?

We check whether the VPN providers offer advanced features. In case they do, we check to see if they work as expected.

> Test 8: IP leak

What is an IP leak?

IP leaks refer to the leaking of the actual IP address of a VPN user while they use the VPN service. This situation can occur if your computer unknowingly accesses default servers instead of VPN ones.

Every device shares a private and a public IP address. For inter-device communication, they use a private IP address. For internet communication, they use the public one. The public IP address is usually an IPv4 or IPv6, and it’s assigned by the internet service provider.

An IP address can be a privacy threat because it reveals the user’s approximate location. Anyone who gets your IP address can determine your ZIP code or neighborhood. Also, it can serve as an identification tool when combined with browsing history.

VPNs can prevent these threats from becoming a reality. The primary purpose of VPNs is to replace the public IP with an IP from the VPN server and encrypt the internet network. Notably, this approach has two main benefits:

  • ISPs can’t track online behavior
  • Websites and apps don’t have access to your actual IP address

What did we test for?

We tested the VPN services against IP address lookups. We looked for leaks that indicate the public address instead of the VPN server IP address.

> Test 9: DNS leak

What is a DNS leak?

Domain Name System (DNS) is the connection between the IP address of a website and the domain name. It serves as a translator of domain names into addresses. Let’s paint this with a short example.

By typing “SoftwareLab.org” into your browser, you’ll get redirected to 165.227.148.211, thanks to the DNS. You can consider the DNS the phonebook, while its servers are phone operators. Their job is to translate the domain’s name to the IP address.

Most often, it’s the ISP that runs the DNS servers. Therefore, the ISP has access to your browsing history. In case of a DNS leak, the DNS queries are made using the ISP’s servers instead of the VPN’s servers. This can often be the case when using VPNs that don’t have their own DNS servers. It’s also possible for this issue to happen if you make a mistake when adjusting the VPN settings manually.

What do we test for?

In our test, we start a VPN session and look up the DNS server. We know there are DNS leaks if the service provider doesn’t have its own DNS servers.

> Test 10: WebRTC leak

What is a WebRTC leak?

WebRTC is short for Web Real-Time Communication. This tool allows browsers to develop communication channels with websites as you visit them. Doing so allows for live video streaming and audio feeds. No software is required to run this type of content.

Websites and browsers exchange data during communication. The local and public IP address is some of the information that’s transferred. There are no options to hide or omit this data transfer, given that the exchange is a routine functionality of WebRTC. If you try to disable or block WebRTC, you’ll find the task quite tricky.

When a WebRTC leak happens, your IP address is visible. The leak can occur when you establish an audio or video communication with another user on a WebRTC-backed browser.

Using a VPN provides a fast solution to the problem. The WebRTC can keep communicating with websites you visit without giving away your IP address.

What do we test for?

In our tests, we run a VPN and the WebRTC lookup. If we get our original IP address to pop up instead of the VPN’s address, there is a WebRTC leak.

> Test 11: Download speed via OpenVPN

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is one of the most popular VPN protocols. It’s open-source, so anyone can inspect its source code. Thanks to this approach, the protocol has seen massive improvements since its launch in 2001. That’s why today, many consider it to be among the most secure VPN protocols.

There are currently two versions of the OpenVPN protocol. They are the OpenVPN User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and the OpenVPN Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). The former is the fastest and is often the default, while the latter offers more data transmission control.

Most companies used OpenVPN before WireGuard appeared. Still, most VPN service providers continue to use OpenVPN even though WireGuard is faster for downloading files.

Overall benefits of OpenVPN include:

  • Relatively fast speed
  • Customizable
  • Great for getting around firewalls
  • Free of charge
  • Gets regular updates
  • Great support from the open-source community

What do we test for?

We put every VPN’s download speed to the test. We set our Windows app to the OpenVPN protocol. We test the download speed on a 1 Gbps or 1,000 Mbps connection to test the VPN’s limits.

> Test 12: Supported speed via WireGuard

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard is the most popular and fastest VPN protocol. It initially started as a Linux kernel, but it’s now available for macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android. It’s simple, fast, and lean, especially compared to OpenVPN and IPsec.

WireGuard features no more than 4,000 lines of code. If you compare that to more than 500,000 lines of code featured by other protocols, you can see the apparent difference in structure.

When it comes to debugs and security audits, it’s much easier to do them on WireGuard.

Thanks to its light design, WireGuard is unprecedented in terms of speed. The test results showed that WireGuard is faster than OpenVPN by 60%.

WireGuard is also very secure due to the advanced cryptographic tools available. Users generally have to choose between speed and security when opting for a VPN protocol. But with WireGuard, both are on the table.

What did we test for?

Our primary focus was the download speed in every VPN service. The Windows app was set to the WireGuard protocol. We tested the download rate on a 1 Gbps internet connection.

> Test 13: (Virtual) VPN servers and locations

What are (virtual) VPN servers?

The VPN software has to be stored somewhere. That storage space is called a VPN server. The software can develop encrypted VPN tunnels with VPN clients thanks to VPN servers. Sometimes, VPN software has its own VPN hardware. Surfshark and NordVPN have RAM-only servers for hosting.

VPN companies use physical servers most of the time. A server is placed in the country shown in the app. For example, when you connect to a VPN network in Spain, the app will route your internet traffic via a physical server in that country.

Many countries have their own local server infrastructure. But this isn’t the case for small and less developed countries. A notable example is Andorra, a small European country. There are no physical servers there, but some VPN providers can still connect you to a VPN from Andorra. But how is this possible?

It’s thanks to the virtual VPN server functionality. Most often, you get a local IP address as if you were in Andorra, but the physical server is located in nearby France or Spain.

If you run into a VPN provider with servers in more than 60 countries, some of them are most likely virtual servers.

What do we test for?

We go over the total location and server amount each VPN service provides. We also check if the users can pick a server on a city or country level and whether they use physical or virtual servers.

> Test 14: Streaming compatibility

What is compatibility with a streaming service?

Netflix is an excellent example of a streaming service that restricts its content to geographical regions. If you live in the U.S., you won’t be able to watch the legendary Friends on this platform. But if you were in Israel, you could enjoy it all you want.

Thanks to VPN services, you can unlock the shows you like that are unavailable in your country. But things aren’t always so simple. Popular platforms like Netflix or HBO are aware of this bypassing ability. They have dedicated systems that recognize VPN connections and automatically block access to the website.

It’s becoming more challenging to keep up with how streaming services update their VPN IP address recognition systems. Only a few VPN services seem to be in the lead at the time of testing.

What do we test for?

We test VPN services for their ability to unblock the following services:

  • Netflix
  • Disney Plus
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • HBO Max
  • Hulu
  • BBC iPlayer

We check the examples above for the United States. For Netflix, we also investigate other countries, including Germany, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, the U.K., and Australia.

> Test 15: Torrenting compatibility

What is compatibility with a torrent network?

Torrenting is a service that allows one user to download files stored on another user’s computer. This service isn’t centralized, and the download is strictly peer-to-peer.

The two most popular torrent clients are BitTorrent and μTorrent.

Torrenting, in essence, isn’t illegal. However, users often use it to share copyrighted material like music, TV shows, movies, concerts, etc. Copyright protectors often complain about users illegally downloading material they aren’t allowed to. If you download a copyright-protected file to your computer, you can be traced by the authorities.

It’s wise to use a VPN when torrenting because the VPN encrypts your internet traffic before it leaves the computer. This way, the internet service provider can’t monitor what you do, and there’s no way for them to link the torrent downloading to you.

Of course, we don’t recommend using VPN services to commit illegal online activities. Engaging in such an activity is punishable by law.

What do we test for?

We check whether VPN providers let users download files using torrenting networks on their servers.

> Test 16: Annual price and price per device

What is the annual price and price per device?

The price of a VPN subscription varies greatly depending on the type of VPN service and the length of the subscription plan. Single-month subscriptions are always the most expensive ones. The price of the contract goes down the longer the subscription period is. So you can expect to pay much less per month when you sign up for an annual contract than you would on a month-to-month payment basis.

Also, different VPN providers have different policies when it comes to using their services on multiple devices. Some companies limit using the services to no more than three devices. Others, like IPVanish and Surfshark, have an unlimited device offer. The two VPN providers are great for users who plan to share their subscriptions with friends or family members.

What do we test for?

We examine what the cost is for one-year contracts for every VPN provider. We also compare the prices against the devices available. To do so, we divide the price of the connection by the total number of simultaneous connections the user can make.

What VPNs for gaming have we tested?

We have tested 30 paid and free VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). Proton VPN is the best free VPN service. But if you have the money, we recommend getting a paid VPN service.

In the best case, the free version allows you to protect only one device and doesn’t offer you unlimited bandwidth / unlimited data. And in the worst case, the free VPN providers show you ads or secretly sell your browsing history to advertisers and your internet service provider.

And should you be strapped for cash, don’t opt for an expensive VPN like ExpressVPN. Instead, get a cheap VPN, like Surfshark, that allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices and share the cost with a friend.

  • Astrill VPN
  • Atlas VPN
  • Avast SecureLine VPN
  • Betternet VPN
  • Bitdefender VPN
  • CactusVPN
  • CyberGhost VPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • HideME VPN
  • HMA VPN (HideMyAss VPN)
  • Hola VPN
  • Hotspot Shield VPN
  • IPVanish VPN
  • Ivacy VPN
  • IVPN
  • Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection
  • McAfee Safe Connect VPN
  • Mozilla VPN
  • MullVad VPN
  • NordVPN
  • Norton Secure VPN
  • Private Internet Access VPN
  • PrivateVPN
  • Proton VPN
  • PureVPN
  • StrongVPN
  • Surfshark VPN
  • Tunnelbear VPN
  • VyprVPN
  • Windscribe VPN

The best are: CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark.

Frequently asked questions

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) protects your online privacy. It creates an encrypted VPN tunnel between your device and a VPN server. This tunnel hides your IP address, restores your anonymity online and makes you safe on public Wi-Fi networks.

Why do you need a VPN?

You need a VPN to restore your online privacy and security. Without a VPN, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and advertisers can track everything you read, watch and download online. On top of that, if you don’t use a VPN, hackers will be able to steal your data on public Wi-Fi networks, which can lead to identity theft.

How does a VPN work?

A VPN creates an encrypted connection, called a VPN tunnel, between your devices and a VPN server. This hides your IP address and what you do online. As a result, your ISP won’t be able to see what websites you visit, and advertisers won’t be able to know what your IP address is.

What is the best VPN?

CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark are the best VPN services of 2022. NordVPN is the most advanced VPN service. CyberGhost has the highest download speeds and the lowest one-year price. And Surfshark allows you to install the software on unlimited devices.

What is the fastest VPN?

CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark are the fastest VPN services of 2022. Although CyberGhost is slightly faster than the other two, the difference is not noticeable for most users.

About the author

Tibor Moes

Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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