We may earn a commission when you make a purchase via links on this site.

The 10 Best VPN for Linux (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / November 2022

Why do you need a VPN? Going online without protection is dangerous. Hackers and advertisers track everything you do. VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, protect your privacy when browsing the internet.

  • Stop identity theft. Hackers can steal your passwords, banking details, and other data on public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Hide from advertisers. Advertisers are after your browsing history to send you highly targeted ads.
  • Watch blocked movies. Streaming servers have IP restrictions on foreign TV shows. 

The best VPN for Linux improves your privacy and security online, and it allows you to unblock all TV shows on your favorite streaming services.

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

Exclusive: Save 68% 🔥

  • 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

CyberGhost: Temporarily save up to 83%  🔥

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 Linux

We tested multiple free and paid VPN apps from different providers on various operating systems, including Windows 10, 11, Android, iOS, and macOS, using the following methods.

> Test 1: Logging policy

What is a logging policy?

VPN service providers promise privacy from ISPs, advertisers, and more. But they don’t always keep their promises. While it’s true that using a VPN prevents certain entities from tracking your activities, it doesn’t stop VPN providers from tracking and logging your online movements.

Your privacy is tied to the privacy and logging policies of the VPN provider. If they wanted to, VPN providers could see:

  • Your approximate real-world location using your public IP address
  • The websites you visit, apps you use, or files you download

Through our testing, we discovered that roughly 30% of VPN service providers at the very least store IP addresses. Only 5% of VPN providers monitor and log other browsing habits. Naturally, this practice is more common among free VPN service providers.

For instance, Hola VPN saves their clients’ data and sells it to data brokers and advertisers, essentially making their clients the product.

VPN service providers should tell you what they do with your data and whether they store it. Most of them are transparent but make significant strides to use confusing legal jargon in their logging and privacy policies. This only makes it harder for VPN clients to understand the practices.

What do we test for?

We look at all logging policies and pay close attention to the language. We determine what data VPN providers collect and whether it harms the user. Things like server load information and aggregated bandwidth data won’t affect the user and are collected by providers to improve their services.

Other data can be valuable to third-party buyers:

  • IP Address – We look at whether VPN service providers track and store their users’ originating or public IP addresses. This information is used to approximate a user’s actual location and determine their ISP. It’s not the data we like to see stored.
  • Browsing activity – We test whether VPN apps track user activities. We also look at how the data is stored and deleted. Some VPN providers promise to delete the data at the end of the session, but that isn’t trustworthy behavior.

> Test 2: Ownership

What do we mean by ownership?

The majority of VPN services are owned by companies that are subsidiaries of other companies. Most people are surprised to learn how few corporations control all VPN software and policies using this corporate ownership structure.

Ownership information is highly relevant because some countries have stringent data retention laws, some bordering on intrusive. Our testing allows us to uncover which company owns a specific VPN service and where the primary owner is registered.

Here are some examples of top owners in the industry:

  • Kape Technologies – It is a company based in the United Kingdom and the parent company owner of ZenMate, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost VPN, and the popular ExpressVPN.
  • CyberSpace – CyberSpace is a company that owns NordVPN, Surfshark, and Atlas VPN. It’s a Netherlands-based operation.
  • Ziff Davis – The company based in the U.S. owns IPVanish, StrongVPN, SaferVPN, Perimeter 81, Encrypt.me, and other VPN services.
  • Aura (Pango) – Another U.S.-based company, it owns JustVPN, Hotspot Shield, and Touch VPN. Other security companies use its VPN technology, including industry giants like Bitdefender and Kaspersky.
  • Gaditek – This company based in Pakistan owns PureVPN, Ivacy VPN, and Unblock VPN.

What do we test for?

When testing VPN service provider ownership, we are interested in the jurisdiction, data retention laws, and scandals.

For instance, here’s what we found on two of the tested VPNs:

  • IPVanish handed user data to Homeland Security in 2016. What’s more disturbing is that the company wasn’t supposed to hold onto user data.
  • Kape Technologies used to go by the name Crossrider. The company rebranded in 2018 to escape its past Crossrider dealings. Crossrider used to be a development platform for browser extensions associated with malware creators, ad injectors, etc.

> Test 3: Independent audit

What is an independent audit?

VPN service providers can be audited like any other company. These audits are designed to expose non-tax-related issues. Independent audits investigate VPN providers’ claims about their “Military Grade Encryption” and “Zero-Log Policies,” among other things.

While these buzzwords quickly grab the user’s attention, they’re often false advertising strategies. That’s why VPN providers turn to independent auditors to investigate their operations and infrastructure.

For instance, here’s what we found on some top VPN providers:

  • Cure52 audited Surfshark in 2021 to find flaws in the server infrastructure.
  • ExpressVPN went through an audit in 2019 conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). PwC’s goal was to figure out if the TrustedServer technology responsible for wiping data worked as intended.
  • NordVPN also had a PwC audit in 2020 that targeted its server infrastructure, logs, and configuration.
  • In the past, Deloitte audited private Internet Access to determine how the server environment interacted with the provider’s privacy and logging policy.

What do we test for?

We research and test to see what independent audits have uncovered about top VPN service providers. We’re also interested in finding which VPN providers haven’t gone through independent audits, as it may indicate they have something to hide.

> Test 4: Available VPN protocols

What is a VPN protocol?

You can think of a VPN protocol as a set of rules that dictates how VPN software and VPN servers communicate. It dictates how they should identify one another, how the app connects to the server, how data is transmitted, etc.

Each protocol can excel in certain areas and offer fewer perks in other areas. That’s why some VPN protocols are better than others for specific tasks. The protocol choice affects security, connection speed, connection uptime, user experience, and more.

Here are the most-used VPN protocols:

  • OpenVPN – It is a very versatile open-source VPN protocol supported by most VPN apps. It offers security, speed, and many customization options.
  • WireGuard – Eventually, WireGuard might become the successor to OpenVPN. It’s a newer, smoother, next-gen open-source VPN protocol using simplified code and higher speeds.
  • IKEv2 – The brainchild of Microsoft and Cisco, it is a VPN protocol designed for superior security. Our testing shows it has a significantly slower speed.
  • L2TP/IPsec – A basic protocol with limited functionality and slow speed based on today’s standards.
  • PPTP – Easily one of the oldest VPN protocols, suffering from numerous vulnerabilities.

Not all VPN providers use open-source protocols that are easy to audit. For example, NordVPN, Hotspot Shield, and ExpressVPN have designed proprietary VPN protocols. Of the three, only the expensive ExpressVPN delivered an open-source protocol.

  • NordVPN has NordLynx, which is based on WireGuard
  • ExpressVPN built the Lightway protocol from scratch
  • Hotspot Shield has the popular Catapult Hydra protocol

OpenVPN is often the default setting in most VPN apps. But users may choose other options, like WireGuard for better speed, or IKEv2 for superior security. Either way, it’s hard to name one VPN protocol that does everything perfectly, since many of them are specialized.

What do we test for?

Our tests involve taking each VPN software and going through the supported protocols. We test to see how they work on different devices and operating systems.

> Test 5: Supported encryption standard

What is an encryption standard?

Encryption standards dictate how VPN apps encrypt data packets. The internet’s first encryption standard was DES, short for Data Encryption Standard, released in 1977. It has a symmetric key algorithm in which the data is encrypted and decrypted using the same encryption key.

DES was replaced in 2002 by the U.S government with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). This type of standard algorithm uses a Rijndael block cipher version and 12-bit block sizes to encrypt data. AES keys come in 128-, 192-, and 256-bit sizes, with the latter being the most powerful.

Many VPN protocols use AES-256 or AES-128 encryption protocols in both GCM (Galois/Counter Mode) and CBC (Cipher Block Chaining) versions which are regarded as secure and meet high security standards. But the GCM method is preferred as it’s faster due to its ability to write in parallel than CBC in a series. Likewise, GCM blocks can be individually encrypted and harder to crack.

What do we test for?

Our testing looks at the default encryption protocols of VPN apps and alternative encryption standards. We prefer to see AES-256 encryption or, at the very least, AES-128 encryption standards on GCM.

> Test 6: Basic security features

What are basic security features?

VPN apps should offer at least some basic security features, like:

  • OpenVPN and WireGuard – These two VPN protocols are open source, easy to audit, and considered top contenders for the number one spot.
  • AES-256 encryption – It is the best encryption standard that can be applied to VPN protocols to protect the user’s data and privacy. It’s resistant to brute-force attacks.
  • Split tunneling – This enables users to customize their VPN connections by securing some traffic and allowing other traffic to reach the internet directly via the ISP.
  • Kill switch – One of the most important VPN features. It can stop an internet connection to prevent data leaks when certain parameters are met. For example, it kills the connection if the VPN tunnel encryption goes down.

What do we test for?

We look at VPN apps to see if they offer all of these basic security features. We then test to see how the features perform in real-world conditions, especially split tunneling and kill switches.

> Test 7: Advanced security features

What are advanced security features?

Advanced security features are complementary features offered by some VPN apps to enhance the user experience and improve privacy protection.

Here are examples of what we like to see:

  • Unique IP address – The ability to use a public IP address provided by the VPN server instead of the IP address from your ISP. It can help you go around restrictions and IP bans to access restricted or locked servers.
  • Ad, tracker, and malware blocker – A built-in feature that stops cookies and ads with the benefit of preventing access to unsafe URLs used for malware and phishing attacks.
  • Obfuscated servers – A unique VPN server that can change digital data, making it seem as though your connection isn’t routed through physical or virtual VPN servers. This is almost mandatory to bypass Netflix VPN filters and Chinese or UAE censorship firewalls.
  • RAM-only servers – A server that stores data on temporary RAM. Once the server reboots, the RAM resets and all data is lost. It’s ideal for avoiding handing over data when government agencies confiscate VPN servers.
  • Server chaining – The ability to route the internet connection through two separate VPN servers. It doubles the encryption and enhances privacy protection.
  • GPS override – This feature enables you to configure the VPN server’s location as your default GPS position. The practice, often referred to as GPS spoofing, can prevent location-aware software like Facebook or Google Maps from detecting your whereabouts.

What do we test for?

We test to determine which features are available and how well they work.

> Test 8: IP leak

What is an IP leak?

Every device you use has two IP addresses, one public and one private. The private IP address is used by devices talking to each other over a shared network. The public IP address is necessary when communicating over the internet.

Public IP addresses are given by the ISP in an IPv4 or IPv6 standard. But these addresses leave users vulnerable when browsing the internet.

  • Public IP addresses contain approximate information about your ISP and location
  • Public IP addresses paired with other browsing data can help create advanced user profiles and determine their location and identity

VPN apps prevent this by encrypting the connection and switching the public IP address for the one assigned to the VPN server.

  • ISPs can still see that you’re using the internet but won’t know what websites you visit, files you download, movies you watch, etc. Hence, they can’t track and log browsing habits.
  • Other trackers and entities can’t get your real IP address. The only information gained is about the VPN server’s location.

This is why VPN software must be free of IP leaks. If the connection drops, you can still remain connected to a website, but your public IP address will appear instead. Even a fraction of a second is enough to collect location data.

What do we test for?

Our tests involve running IP address lookups on multiple VPN apps. We test to see if our IP address appears instead of the VPN server’s IP address which means there is an IP leak.

> Test 9: DNS leak

What is a DNS leak?

The Domain Name System (DNS) translates written, user-friendly domain names of websites into their respective IP addresses. Say you wanted to access SoftwareLab.org. Thanks to the Domain Name System, the browser will send you to the website’s IP address which is 165.227.148.211.

Multiple DNS servers are responsible for making these connections, much like how phone operators work. The problem is that many DNS servers are operated by ISPs. Therefore, ISPs can get a clear look at your browsing history when attempting to reach a particular website.

The best VPN service providers have their own DNS servers to handle the domain name translation. When connections go through VPN DNS servers, leaks are next to impossible. That’s not to say that configuring a VPN app poorly can result in unfortunate situations.

What do we test for?

We run DNS server lookups on multiple VPN apps to see if we can find VPN DNS servers or ISP-owned DNS servers.

> Test 10: WebRTC leak

What is a WebRTC leak?

WebRTC stands for Web Real-Time Communication. It’s a fancy way of referring to how browsers establish multiple communication channels with different websites in real time. This technology is responsible for livestreaming without additional software.

Preventing WebRTC leaks is vital because browsers and websites share data, including users’ local and public IP addresses. It’s a standard functionality that is very difficult to override in a browser.

VPN services are used to enable only authorized WebRTC connections. That means that VPN software can send a VPN server’s IP address to the website and not yours.

What do we test for?

We test to see which IP address is shared with the website, ours or the VPN’s address. We do this by running WebRTC lookups on all the top VPN services. There is a WebRTC leak if the IP address displayed is ours.

> Test 11: Download speed via OpenVPN

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is the most popular open-source protocol that most service providers support. Part of what makes it appealing, apart from its stability, is its transparency. Open-source code is easy to analyze, audit, and contribute to for continual improvement.

The VPN protocol has good security and speed on multiple operating systems. But it has two versions, so we have to test its performance.

  • OpenVPN UDP – UDP stands for User Datagram Protocol and is the preferred choice for maximum download speed.
  • OpenVPN TCP – TCP stands for Transmission Control Protocol, and although it grants users more flexibility, it sacrifices a lot of speed.

Some VPN providers and users have shifted over to WireGuard due to its higher download speeds. But each one still has best-case scenario uses.

What do we test for?

When we test the OpenVPN protocol, we look at download speeds between different apps using the same version of OpenVPN. We check the speed test for download with an internet connection of 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps).

> Test 12: Supported speed via WireGuard

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard may eventually surpass OpenVPN in all areas, but it’s not there yet. This open-source VPN protocol contains 4,000 lines of code, over 100 times less than OpenVPN and IPsec. It’s designed for smooth operation, quick connections, and easier debugging.

Our testing has shown that it can take OpenVPN in speed by up to 60%, depending on the software and other factors. WireGuard is also available on all operating systems like Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, and Linux-based systems.

What do we test for?

We test to see how WireGuard performs on different VPN services using Windows as a base platform. With a 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) internet connection, we check the download speed test to its limit.

> Test 13: (Virtual) VPN servers and locations

What are (virtual) VPN servers?

VPN servers are specialized servers designed to host VPN software. This software allows servers to create encrypted VPN tunnels for their VPN clients.

Many servers use specific hardware, like RAM, for data storage and faster operations.

These servers are physical servers located in various countries around the world. You can usually see their location indicated in the app’s server list. This offers the benefit of connecting with local IP addresses to various websites.

Some countries pop up in server lists even though they don’t have a physical server infrastructure. When that happens, the VPN providers actually offer a virtual VPN server. For instance, Andorra doesn’t have physical VPN servers. But users can connect to the internet with an Andorra IP address using a virtual VPN server hosted in France, Spain, etc.

What do we test for?

We test to determine how many servers are physical and virtual. We do this by examining the total number of servers and their locations. Then we test to see if those servers are available only country-wide or city-level. This helps us determine how many servers are virtual.

> Test 14: Streaming compatibility

What is compatibility with a streaming service?

Many streaming services lock their content behind country-specific libraries. For instance, the Netflix U.S. library is much larger than anything users in Europe, Australia, or South America can access. Other streaming platforms have the same practices. Some do it because they lack the infrastructure, while others do it for financial reasons.

VPN software can bypass these filters. It allows users to log into the streaming platform of choice with a local IP that unlocks a specific library. Streaming platforms don’t like this and actively fight to block VPN access.

Netflix goes to the extent of blocking all VPN access, even if someone from the U.S. is trying to access the U.S. library. Luckily for these users, split tunneling exists. But the issue is that streaming platforms are becoming better equipped to detect and block VPN usage.

Not many VPN providers can deliver unrestricted access to streaming websites as well as advertised.

What do we test for?

We test a VPN app’s ability to connect to American, Australian, German, and other libraries on several streaming websites. The platforms we check are Netflix, PrimeVideo, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Hulu.

> Test 15: Torrenting compatibility

What is compatibility with a torrent network?

Torrenting is the preferred form of P2P downloading for people who want to get various things without paying. It’s a decentralized P2P transfer system where users download files from each other using BitTorrent and other similar torrent clients.

The material downloaded often includes video games, movies, music, etc. But despite its ongoing association with digital piracy, torrenting isn’t illegal.

What do we test for?

We test the top VPN services for two things. First, we want to see if they allow P2P downloads and don’t block torrenting clients. Secondly, we want to know which servers can be used for P2P downloads and which locations allow the best speeds.

> Test 16: Annual price and price per device

What is the annual price and price per device?

Most VPN service providers first promote their monthly subscription prices, which happen to be the most expensive. But determining the actual value included in the price requires a more thorough approach.

We compare VPN software based on the yearly subscription price and the ultimate price per device. In doing so, we realized that many VPN service providers exercise the same costs. The biggest exception is ExpressVPN, which has always been very expensive.

But here’s why the price per device is relevant. Not all VPN service providers give you unlimited licenses when you buy a subscription. For instance, Surfshark and IPVanish are among the few that offer unlimited licenses on a single subscription. Therefore, they have some of the lowest prices per device and are great services to share with friends.

What do we test for?

We calculate the yearly price of contracts for top VPN service providers. Then we analyze the price per connection by dividing the annual contract cost by the provider’s number of simultaneous connections. That gives us a more accurate cost analysis for each VPN service.

What VPNs for Linux 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.

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]