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The 10 Best VPN for iPad (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / November 2022

Why do you need a VPN? Your digital privacy is at risk. Governments and advertisers make it difficult to keep your actions anonymous. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can protect your data and give you back your privacy.

  • Prevent identity theft. Browsing on public Wi-Fi networks leaves you vulnerable to hackers. They can steal passwords, credit card information, and other confidential data.
  • Hide from advertisers. Big companies, like your ISP and Google, track your online habits. They know what you search for, download, and watch.
  • Watch blocked movies. Many streaming platforms lock their TV shows in specific countries. Using a foreign VPN server allows you to watch those blocked movies.

Buying the best VPN for iPad is the quickest way to improve your online safety.

CyberGhost VPN - The best VPN

CyberGhost VPN

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  • 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 iPad

We tested free and paid VPN services for the following operating systems: Windows 10, 11, macOS, iOS, and Android. Each of the 30 tested VPNs went through these tests.

> Test 1: Logging policy

What is a logging policy?

Many people assume their privacy is guaranteed when using a VPN connection. Unfortunately, that’s not always true. The amount of privacy you get depends on the VPN provider’s policies. Remember that all data that gets routed through VPN servers can still be tracked unless deemed otherwise by the VPN provider.

Here are examples of what VPN providers can track:

  • Online activities like the websites you visit and what you download
  • Your real-time location through your public IP address

Our testing and research showed that about 30% of VPN service providers store user IP addresses and track 5% of their browsing habits.

The practice is more common among free VPN service providers like Hola VPN. This provider actively tracks user activities and sells their online habits and trends to advertisers and data brokers. It reinforces the saying: “if the product is free, you’re the product.”

VPN service providers must tell users what they do with the data in the logging policy. The confusing and vague language makes it difficult for users to understand the VPN provider’s true practices.

What do we test for?

The first step was to read every logging policy and privacy policy of the 30 VPN services we tested. We looked at what type of data each provider collected. For example, aggregated bandwidth usage or server load data doesn’t reveal information about the user.

But other collected information can be valuable to advertisers and data brokers:

  • Browsing activity – We always look to see if VPN providers actively track what users do online. Even tracking and deleting the data at the end of the session isn’t good enough. Our opinion is that data shouldn’t be monitored at all or stored, even if it’s temporary.
  • IP Address – VPN providers can track the originating IP address of all users routing connections through their servers. That data is enough to approximate the user’s location, address, and ISP. We believe this data shouldn’t be stored.

> Test 2: Ownership

What do we mean by ownership?

Many VPN services are owned by companies that are owned by other companies in a typical corporate holding structure. Based on the ownership structure, any number of companies can access user data.

But that’s not the biggest concern. Each country has its own data retention laws, and some are very intrusive. We need to know who owns specific VPN services and where the parent company is registered.

Interestingly, our investigation into ownership revealed that many subsidiaries offering VPN services belong to the same companies:

  • Kape Technologies – This company based in the United Kingdom owns CyberGhost VPN, ExpressVPN, ZenMate, and Private Internet Access.
  • Aura/Pango – This United States-based company owns TouchVPN, JustVPN, and Hotspot Shield. It also offers its VPN technology to other companies like Kaspersky, Bitdefender, PandaVPN, and others.
  • CyberSpace – This company that owns Surfshark, Atlas VPN, and NordVPN, is registered in the Netherlands.
  • Ziff Davis – This United States-based brand owns SaferVPN, StrongVPN, IPVanish, Buffered VPN, Perimeter 81, Encrypt.me, and many more.
  • Gaditek – Our research shows that Pakistani company Gaditek is the owner of Unblock VPN, Ivacy VPN, and PureVPN.

What do we test for?

When looking at owners of VPN services, we want to know specific facts like jurisdiction, data retention laws in that jurisdiction, and any scandals throughout the company’s history.

For instance, here’s what we found in our testing of Kape Technologies and Ziff Davis-owned IPVanish:

  • Kape Technologies operated under the name Crossrider prior to 2018. Crossrider created and operated a development platform used to create browser extensions. However, the platform was mostly associated with malware creators and various ad injectors. That’s a black spot on the company’s track record.
  • IPVanish is linked to a data handover to Homeland Security back in 2016. Even worse, our research shows that the company’s privacy and logging policies stated it shouldn’t have had any data to give at the time. IPVanish has gone through two different owners since the Homeland Security incident.

> Test 3: Independent audit

What is an independent audit?

The world of VPN marketing is riddled with filler material and buzzwords. You hear things like “Military Grade Encryption” and “Zero-Log Policy” all the time. But providers can often claim benefits that aren’t true.

Independent audits investigate these claims. VPN providers can hire external auditors to review particular elements of their infrastructure or operation. For instance, auditors can analyze server infrastructure, privacy and logging policies, encryption protocols, etc.

Here are some industry examples:

  • NordVPN was audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in 2020. The auditor reviewed the server configuration, infrastructure, and logs and interviewed employees.
  • ExpressVPN was audited by PwC in 2019 to determine if its TrustedServer technology actually wiped data after a server reboot.
  • Private Internet Access’s audit by Deloitte analyzed the relationship between the server environment and the VPN provider’s privacy policy.
  • Cure52 audited Surfshark in 2021 to investigate potential flaws in the server infrastructure.

What do we test for?

Our analysis looks at past independent audits or lack thereof. We want to find out what the auditor analyzed, and any flaws uncovered during the process.

> Test 4: Available VPN protocols

What is a VPN protocol?

VPN protocols govern communication guidelines and rules between a VPN software and a VPN server. It tells both how to identify each other, sets authentication and login rules, dictates how data is sent, says how the encryption works, etc.

No two VPN protocols are the same. That’s why the choice of protocol significantly impacts the user experience, security, VPN connection times, download speeds, and more.

Here are the most common VPN protocols:

  • OpenVPN – This is by far the most versatile VPN protocol and an open-source solution. It sets itself apart by balancing security, speed, and flexibility. Almost all VPN service providers have apps that support the OpenVPN protocol.
  • WireGuard – It was designed to improve IPsec and OpenVPN open-source protocols. Considered a next-gen protocol, WireGuard has simplified code, enabling it to register higher download speeds.
  • IKEv2 – Cisco and Microsoft created IKEv2 as a superior VPN protocol for security-minded users. Our testing showed that security comes at the expense of download speed.
  • L2TP/IPsec – It’s one of the oldest and most simplistic protocols, with slow speeds.
  • PPTP – Another early VPN protocol with significant vulnerabilities.

Although many VPN providers use open-source and well-established protocols, some design proprietary protocols. NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Hotspot Shield are great examples of this. But only ExpressVPN has a proprietary VPN protocol that’s open source.

  • ExpressVPN created the Lightway protocol
  • NordVPN based its NordLynx protocol on WireGuard
  • Hotspot Shield built its Catapult Hydra VPN protocol from scratch

Many users and VPN apps go with OpenVPN by default because of its reliability. Others may prefer IKEv2 or WireGuard. But VPN protocols can be situational, making it hard to rank one as the best overall.

What do we test for?

We take each VPN provider and their software and look at the supported VPN protocols. Then, we analyze whether the protocols are available on all devices or offered only on certain operating systems.

> Test 5: Supported encryption standard

What is an encryption standard?

An encryption standard details how VPN software encrypts digital data. The first Data Encryption Standard (DES) was released in 1977 as a symmetric key algorithm. That meant encrypting and deciphering data was done using the same encryption key.

The U.S. government replaced DES with AES, or Advanced Encryption Standard. AES is a variation of the Rijndael block cipher and uses 128-bit block sizes with key sizes of 128, 192, and 256 bits.

VPN protocols often use AES-128 and AES-256 encryption protocols in GCM and CBC versions. GCM is preferred because it allows writing in parallel, making it faster. Each block supports isolated encryption, thereby making GCM more secure.

What do we test for?

We look at the default encryption standard of every VPN software we test. We also look for alternative encryption standards. For instance, AES-128 isn’t bad if it’s run on GCM. Otherwise, we want to see AES-256 to feel more comfortable.

> Test 6: Basic security features

What are basic security features?

Every VPN app should offer several standard security features:

  • OpenVPN and WireGuard – While OpenVPN remains the gold standard among open-source protocols, WireGuard is an excellent alternative and potential title contender.
  • AES-256 encryption – There’s no current encryption standard used in VPNs that’s more secure. Even modern computing technology can’t hack it with brute-force tactics.
  • Split tunneling – It allows programs to connect to the internet through the ISP, bypassing the VPN tunnel, and vice versa.
  • Kill switch – It automatically kills the internet connection and prevents data leaks when the VPN tunnel’s encryption drops, even if for a fraction of a second.

What do we test for?

We test VPN providers to see which of these features they offer. Ideally, we want to see all of them. Then we test whether the split tunneling and kill switches function as advertised.

> Test 7: Advanced security features

What are advanced security features?

Advanced security features are extra functions VPN apps can perform to improve user privacy. Here are some of the advanced security features we look for:

  • Dedicated IP address – It’s the ability to use a unique IP address given by the VPN provider. This helps users access restricted servers that deny access to unauthorized IP addresses. It can bypass blacklists and avoid captcha. It can even prevent going through multiple verification processes when accessing online banking apps with constantly rolling IP addresses.
  • Malware, tracker, and ad blocker – It’s the ability to block ads, cookies, and access to unsafe URLs associated with malware and phishing attacks.
  • Double VPN – The ability to bounce between two VPN servers. Routing internet traffic using VPN server chaining adds extra IP and privacy protection and doubles the encryption.
  • Obfuscation features – An obfuscated server is a unique type of VPN server that alters digital data. It makes it seem as if it’s not routed through a VPN server. It’s one of the best ways to bypass VPN filters in UAE, China, and other highly censored regions.
  • RAM servers – This is another niche VPN server that doesn’t use traditional hard drives. Using RAM instead, the VPN server can easily wipe data after every reboot. It’s an excellent security measure against confiscated or stolen servers. This data is not recoverable.
  • GPS override – The feature enables users to use the VPN server’s GPS location as their own. Also called GPS spoofing, this function can prevent even Facebook trackers and Google Maps from pinpointing your real location.

What do we test for?

We test which of these features are offered by VPN service providers and if they work as intended.

> Test 8: IP leak

What is an IP leak?

Mobile and desktop devices come with public and private IP addresses. They use their private IP addresses when communicating on the same network. However, communicating over the internet requires using public IP addresses.

Public IP addresses are assigned by an Internet Service Provider (ISP). It can be an IPv6 address, though IPv4 addresses are still the main industry standard. Nevertheless, your public IP address is shared among all devices using your Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection.

Here’s why IP addresses pose a threat to your online privacy:

  • IP addresses show an approximate location down to the zip code or neighborhood
  • IP addresses combined with browsing history data can help identify users and compile detailed surfing habits

VPN software can prevent this by encrypting the internet connection and swapping the public IP address with the VPN server’s IP address.

Here’s what this accomplishes:

  • Your ISP won’t know what websites you visit or what you download, despite knowing that you use a VPN service. Therefore, it’s unable to monitor and log your surfing habits.
  • Websites and apps you use can’t see your IP address. Instead, they see the VPN server’s IP address and can’t find out where you are or who you are.

But this is where IP leaks can be dangerous. Leaks mean that your original public IP address becomes visible instead of the VPN server’s address. Even if for a moment, it offers an opportunity to log relevant data about you.

What do we test for?

We run an IP address lookup while connecting through a VPN app. If our IP address shows up, we know that the VPN service is prone to IP leaks.

> Test 9: DNS leak

What is a DNS leak?

The DNS, or Domain Name System, is responsible for removing the real IP address of websites from their written domain names. For example, accessing SoftwareLab.org takes you to 165.227.148.211 due to the DNS.

Think of it in terms of a phonebook for the internet where DNS servers behave as phone operators. They can associate the domain name with its real IP address. Internet Service Providers often operate DNS servers.

Because of this, ISPs get a detailed overview of users’ browsing histories. It’s expected, given that you need to go through DNS servers to reach your desired websites. But quality VPN service providers should offer their own DNS servers.

DNS leaks happen when the queries go through an ISP’s DNS server instead of the VPN tunnel and the VPN DNS server. These leaks can occur due to human error and making improper configurations to the VPN app’s settings. Or it can happen when VPN providers don’t have dedicated DNS servers.

What do we test for?

Similar to an IP leak test, we run DNS server lookups on VPN services. If the VPN service can’t show its own DNS servers, the danger of a DNS leak is loud and clear.

> Test 10: WebRTC leak

What is a WebRTC leak?

Web Real-Time Communication, or WebRTC, allows web browsers to establish communication channels with various websites in real time. It’s what enables live video and audio streaming without extra software.

When the browser and website communicate and exchange data, they share your local and public IP address. This standard WebRTC functionality doesn’t make it easy to fix or prevent IP sharing.

Using a VPN service allows you to do what most modern web browsers struggle with. VPN apps can allow WebRTC connections to go through as long as they have proper authorization. Simultaneously, the VPN app sends the VPN server’s IP address instead of yours to maintain your privacy.

What do we test for?

We run a WebRTC lookup on every VPN service we test. If we notice our IP address displayed, we know the VPN app has WebRTC leaks.

> Test 11: Download speed via OpenVPN

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is the leading open-source VPN protocol used by most VPN service providers. It’s an important distinction because it enables everyone to inspect, analyze, critique, and better the code. That’s the main reason the protocol has continued to improve since its release in 2001.

These days, OpenVPN is dubbed one of the most secure protocols. It’s also known for its reliable connection and dependable speeds on various operating systems.

OpenVPN protocols come in two versions:

  • User Datagram Protocol (UDP) – Often used as the default option, UDP enables faster download speeds.
  • Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) – It enables users to have more control over data transmissions if they’re comfortable with sacrificing download speed.

Since WireGuard was introduced, some VPN apps seem to prefer it over OpenVPN. It’s arguable that WireGuard permits superior download speeds to OpenVPN or at least has the potential to do so consistently in the future.

What do we test for?

We put all of the best VPN services against each other in download speed tests using the most-used OpenVPN protocol. Our tests are conducted at a speed of 1 Gbps or 1,000 Mbps to get as much as we can from each VPN app.

> Test 12: Supported speed via WireGuard

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard is purported to be the successor to OpenVPN. It’s an open-source VPN protocol created to work faster, smoother, and easier than IPsec and OpenVPN. For instance, WireGuard uses only 4,000 lines of code compared to the nearly 500,000 lines of code found in OpenVPN and IPsec. It can provide significant advantages to debuggers and auditors.

Despite being designed for Linux-based systems, WireGuard is available on Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS, covering all important devices and platforms.

On average, WireGuard outpaces OpenVPN in download speeds by up to 60%. That’s according to data gathered from multiple VPN services and servers.

What do we test for?

We test all top VPN services on Windows systems using the WireGuard protocol. We use an internet connection of 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) to get the most out of our testing and avoid throttling the VPN protocol.

> Test 13: (Virtual) VPN servers and locations

What are (virtual) VPN servers?

VPN servers are unique servers that host dedicated VPN software. The software enables servers to establish encrypted VPN tunnels with their VPN clients. Sometimes, VPN servers use specialized hardware too. For example, Surfshark and NordVPN use RAM servers specifically for their VPN services.

Most VPN providers use physical VPN servers. Each server could be installed in a different state or country, as indicated in the app. That means that connecting to a VPN server routes your traffic through a physical server at the specified location. And you gain the IP address of the server while browsing.

Not all countries have the best infrastructure to host physical VPN servers. For instance, less developed or emerging countries tend to lack server parks. Andorra is a great example of this. The country doesn’t have physical VPN servers, but you can still find VPN servers in Andorra.

Such servers are called virtual VPN servers. They can give users a local IP address from a specific location even when the server is in a different location. In this example, Andorra servers could be hosted in France, Spain, or other regions.

This is important to know because many VPN providers list too many locations. Most providers with large networks spread their servers between 60 or so countries. Additional server locations are offered through virtual servers.

What do we test for?

We start by examining the number of servers a VPN service provider offers and their locations. After that, we test whether the servers are available on a city or country level to determine whether they’re physical or virtual.

> Test 14: Streaming compatibility

What is compatibility with a streaming service?

Not all streaming services let users access the same content from all over the world. Netflix has many shows that are only available to U.S. users but not abroad. The same applies to Disney+, PrimeVideo, and others. Then you have streaming services that aren’t available outside the U.S. or Canada, like Hulu.

VPN services offer the tools to bypass these geo-restrictions and filters. By logging in with a designated VPN IP address from the United States, users may access Hulu or restricted Netflix libraries from halfway across the world.

This is great, in theory. However, that’s not always the case. Some streaming services like Netflix check for VPN use. If the platform notices users connecting via VPN, they lock them out. Sometimes users may get temporary bans, but sometimes turning the VPN service off will solve the problem.

In the beginning, VPN service providers were winning the cat-and-mouse game. But these days, streaming services are better equipped to handle these situations. That means very few VPN providers can stay ahead of streaming platforms.

What do we test for?

Our tests involve streaming platforms Netflix, PrimeVideo, HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer in the U.S. For Netflix, we test additional libraries in the U.K, Australia, Germany, etc.

> Test 15: Torrenting compatibility

What is compatibility with a torrent network?

Torrenting is a preferred type of peer-to-peer (P2P) downloading. It doesn’t rely on a centralized service. Instead, it enables users to download files from each other using popular torrent clients like BitTorrent or μTorrent or direct from streaming sites like Popcorn Time and Kodi.

While not illegal, many torrent files are copyrighted material like movies, video games, software, and music.

What do we test for?

We test VPN services to see if they allow P2P downloads and which servers work best for it.

> Test 16: Annual price and price per device

What is the annual price and price per device?

VPN service providers often offer monthly and yearly subscriptions. Some VPN providers allow installing their software on unlimited devices. In contrast, other VPN service providers impose a limit on how many devices you can use.

What do we test for?

We compare annual subscription prices for all top VPN providers. After that, we calculate the price per connection by dividing the one-year plan by the number of parallel connections allowed.

What VPNs for iPad 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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