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The 10 Best VPN for Routers (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / November 2022

Why do you need a VPN? When you browse the web unprotected, you’re are a target for advertisers and hackers. Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the best way to protect your sensitive data.

  • Identity theft is common. Browsing the internet while connected to a public Wi-Fi network allows hackers to access your data.
  • Be wary of advertisers. Surveillance and tracking are modern business practices. Corporations like Google and Facebook watch over your web activity to show targeted ads.
  • Stream TV shows wherever you are. Some streaming services block movies in particular countries. However, you can unblock them with a foreign VPN server.

Choosing the best VPN service for routers protects your data from advertisers and hackers.

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 routers

We tested 30 paid and free VPN services running across diverse operating systems, including Windows 10, 11, iOS, macOS, and Android. Here’s a look at the tests we ran for each service.

> Test 1: Logging policy

What is a logging policy?

A VPN keeps your online presence private. But are your online activities anonymous or still under scrutiny by a VPN provider?

VPN providers have similar rights as your Internet Service Provider (ISP). The privacy policies differ depending on the provider itself, but they are allowed to access your data. When you surf the internet using a VPN server, you route all your data through it. As a result, they can easily track your activities and the content you engage with. Your IP address locates your device, and anyone who has it can find out where you live.

A VPN’s logging policy must tell you if the service tracks your activities. The service provides a private network, so this shouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, this is a common problem with free VPN providers. As marketers say, “if the product is free, you are the product.” Free VPNs such as Hola VPN are known to track what you engage with online. That way, they earn money selling the acquired information to third parties.

According to our research, a sad fact is that almost 30% of VPN providers keep your IP address, and roughly 5% watch over your browsing habits. Providers often write logging policies in indistinct language so users can’t figure out if the provider tracks them or not.

What do we test for?

We analyze a VPN’s service privacy and logging policies to determine the data type they track. Data such as aggregated bandwidth usage or server load information isn’t problematic, as it doesn’t reveal your private data.

On the other hand, we can determine if the logging policy shows that the VPN provider monitors some things they shouldn’t. Tracking your browsing habits and an originating IP address is wrong, as the provider should delete this data at the end of your session.

> Test 2: Ownership

What do we mean by ownership?

VPN services belong to a corporate holding structure, meaning they’re a company owned by another company. Both can hypothetically have insight into your data, and you may want to ensure you can trust the parent company.

Many parent companies of VPN services are registered in countries with Data Retention Laws that differ from the service’s original location. A VPN provider may reside in the Netherlands but belong to a parent company registered in the U.S. Varying data policies can affect your use of the service.

According to our research, different VPNs belong to the same parent companies. Hence, you may want to learn more about them before deciding which VPN to use.

  • Kape Technologies (United Kingdom). ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, Private Internet Access, and ZenMate belong under its wing.
  • Ziff Davis (United States). Owns several big VPN providers, including IPVanish, Buffered VPN, StrongVPN, SaferVPN, Encrypt.me, Perimeter 81, and more.
  • Aura (or Pango) (United States). Hotspot Shield, JustVPN, and TouchVPN fall under its cluster. They also provide VPN technology for big-time commercial VPN services such as Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Panda, and many more.
  • CyberSpace (Netherlands). It owns several popular VPN providers, including NordVPN, Surfshark, and Atlas VPN.
  • Gaditek (Pakistan). Owns PureVPN, Ivacy VPN, and Unblock VPN.

What do we test for?

We take a detailed look at the VPN owners’ whereabouts and history. We compare and analyze the data retention laws of the jurisdiction where they’re registered. Additionally, we investigate the possible scandals in the company’s past.

During our research, we discovered some intriguing information. For instance, until 2018, the name of Kape Technologies used to be Crossrider. The company was well-known for developing browser extensions. The name change resulted from an ad injection and malware scandal. Additionally, IPVanish was involved in a logging policy scandal in 2016, as they handed over the data to Homeland Security. The latter wasn’t eligible to have it.

> Test 3: Independent audit

What is an independent audit?

VPN services need to market themselves, and often their way to advertise is to make big claims and promises. Of course, many of those assertions turn out to be empty promises. The providers constantly regurgitate buzz words like “Zero-Log Policy” and “Military Grade Encryption.” Granted, this makes the services sound more potent than they are to a less tech-savvy ear.

VPN companies often hire an independent audit when they want to investigate the server infrastructure or the privacy policy. An auditor can analyze any specific element of the company infrastructure and verify if it’s legitimate.

Some of the exemplary audits include:

  • ExpressVPN’s audit by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) in 2019 investigated if ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology deleted data completely every time the server was rebooted.
  • Deloitte conducted an audit on Private Internet Access (PIA) in 2022, investigating the server environment issues concerning PIA’s privacy policy.
  • PwC’s audit of NordVPN problematized server infrastructure configuration and technical log problems. The audit included NordVPN’s employees.
  • Cure53’s audit inspected Surfshark’s server infrastructure issues.

What do we test for?

We investigate whether the VPN provider conducted an independent audit. By doing so, we aim to ensure that the audit uncovered flaws in the way the VPN companies function. Additionally, checking this can verify if the claims made by a VPN provider are valid.

> Test 4: Available VPN protocols

What is a VPN protocol?

Connecting to a VPN server requires a VPN app. The VPN protocol determines the way they correspond. It regulates how the two recognize each other, data transfer, encryption protocols, etc. Changing VPN protocols can impact the overall VPN experience and significantly affect the connecting and download speed. Most importantly, it affects your security on the server.

Some of the most popular protocols are the following:

  • OpenVPN is popular among most VPN services, being also the most versatile open-source VPN protocol. It is fast, secure, and customizable while supporting most operating software.
  • WireGuard is the next-generation open-source VPN protocol. It provides high download speeds and improves OpenVPN and IPsec.
  • L2TP/IPSec is an old-school VPN protocol. It’s considerably slower but more straightforward than the previous iterations.
  • IKEv2 is a safe choice, designed by Cisco and Microsoft. Even though it’s meant to be fast, it’s noticeably slower than both OpenVPN and WireGuard.
  • PPTP is the oldest VPN protocol on the list and has certain vulnerabilities.

There are occasions when VPN providers design their protocols. Companies that have done so include:

  • NordVPN (NordLynx protocol, based on WireGuard)
  • Hotspot Shield (Catapult Hydra protocol, original)
  • ExpressVP (Lightway, original) is the only one with an open-source code

Statistically, most VPN providers offer OpenVPN protocol as the default solution. The alternatives they offer are WireGuard or IKEv2. In conclusion, there isn’t a best overall option.

What do we test for?

We check the companies for the protocols they use. We also inspect if the protocols VPN providers offer are eligible for all operating systems or limited to specific systems.

> Test 5: Supported encryption standard

What is an encryption standard?

An encryption standard is the algorithm key used for encrypting data. It’s the primary safeguard from hackers and other unwanted intrusions. The encryption standard defines the criteria for encrypting and decrypting and applies it to all digital data that flows through the server.

The first Data Encryption Standard (DES) was released in 1977. In 2002, however, the United States government released the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to replace the DES. AES modifies the Rijndael block cipher using the 128bit block size. The critical size varies from 128, 192, to 256 bits.

Most VPN providers include AES-128 or AES-256 in two formats, CBC or GCM. The GCM version is considerably faster than CBC because it can be written in parallel rather than in a series, which increases its throughput. It is also more secure because each block can be encrypted independently. In terms of which is better, our choice is GCM for being more secure. It allows independent encryption of each block. Plus, you can write it in parallel instead of in series.

What do we test for?

We inspect which encryption standard the VP provider uses as default. The preferred version is AES-128 (GCM), with AES-256 as an alternative solution.

> Test 6: Basic security features

What are basic security features?

The primary security features every VPN service should include are the following:

  • ES-256 encryption is almost unhackable, hence it’s the most secure encryption standard.
  • Kill switch automatically blocks the internet connection if the VPN tunnel’s encryption fails.
  • OpenVPN and WireGuard are VPN protocol essentials, the first being the gold standard and the latter being the modern option.
  • Split tunneling is a feature that lets particular programs sneak by the VPN tunnel and freely log on to the internet.

What do we test for?

We see if the VPN service provides each of these features and if they function as well as the provider claims. Note that the testing is mainly conducted for the kill switch and split tunneling feature.

> Test 7: Advanced security features

What are advanced security features?

Every VPN provider should yield more specific security features that protect your privacy and keep you secure. Here are the most common and important features:

  • Ad tracker and malicious website blocker: Keeps you safe from malicious URLs that could cause phishing attacks and malware infections. These features automatically block ads and track cookies.
  • Dedicated IP address: Generates a one-of-a-kind IP address for you, which is vital for accessing restricted servers without authorizing your IP address. It’s also a practical feature when you want to avoid captchas, blacklists, and problems with online banking.
  • Double VPN: Conducts VPN server chaining, meaning your internet traffic routes through two VPN servers. This feature contributes to doubling your encryption, giving you complete privacy and additional IP protection.
  • Obfuscated servers: Hide that you’re using a VPN by altering your data. This feature is helpful in VPN-censored countries, such as China or the UAE.
  • RAM-only servers: A particular type of VPN server that doesn’t use classic hard drives. It works by completely erasing all RAM data on the server every time it’s reset. This feature doesn’t allow access to data in case of the server’s confiscation.
  • Override GPS Location: A feature that doesn’t let GPS-based apps such as Google Maps or Facebook know you are. It does GPS spoofing, which switches your GPS location to the location of the VPN server. 

What do we test for?

We inspect the server to see if it offers these features and if they function as promised.

> Test 8: IP leak

What is an IP leak?

An IP address is integral to every device that connects to the internet. Your public IP is used for accessing public networks and communicating with the internet. Alternatively, your private IP corresponds with devices on the same network. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigns you a public IP address, usually an Ipv4. That said, it can also come as an alternative IPv6. All your devices share this address.

Your IP address security issues can be caused by revealing your location via your zip code or neighborhood. The other way your IP can be compromised is by letting third parties access your browsing history.

As already established, the purpose of a VPN is to protect you from these privacy threats. It encrypts your internet connection and alters your primary IP address to the IP of the VPN network. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Not allowing your ISP to have insight into your browsing habits. They know you’re using a VPN but don’t know which websites you’re viewing.
  • The only thing apps and websites know about you is your VPN’s IP address, not your own.

The issue some VPN servers have is when they reveal your originating VPN address. This problem is known as an IP leak.

What do we test for?

We test to see if the VPN server shows our originating IP address instead of the server’s IP by running an IP address lookup.

> Test 9: DNS leak

What is a DNS leak?

DNS is the internet’s phonebook, and the DNS servers are the phone operators. A Domain Name System (DNS) converts domain names into IP addresses. For example, suppose you search for SoftwareLab.org. In that case, the DNS will automatically turn the text into 165.227.148.211 and take you directly to the website.

Your Internet Service providers (ISP) control your DNS servers. Subsequently, they have access to your browsing habits and history. It’s logical – every time you visit a website, a DNS server takes you there.

Good VPN servers have developed their original DNS servers. But DNS leaks may occur if the VPN server routes your activity on the internet through the ISP’s server. This happens if you use a VPN that doesn’t have its own DNS or if you made a mistake while configuring the VPN settings.

What do we test for?

We run a DNS check on a VPN server. If the VPN service doesn’t have its DNS servers, we conclude that a DNS leak has occurred.

> Test 10: WebRTC leak

What is a WebRTC leak?

Web Real-Time-Communication, known as WebRTC, allows web browsers to create real-time communication between users and websites. It works with modern browsers, including Chrome and Firefox. You don’t need extra software to perform live streaming audio and video content if this feature is enabled.

The browser communicates data with the website, including your local and public IP, while this exchange is happening. WebRTC requires this by default, and there’s no way to disable this feature altogether.

However, using the best VPN service may help solve this issue. Using a VPN’s IP instead of your own allows you to authorize WebRTC connections securely.

What do we test for?

We run a WebRTC check on a connected VPN service. If the inspection shows our original IP address instead of the VPN’s, it’s an evidence of a WebRTC leak.

> Test 11: Download speed via OpenVPN

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is our protocol of choice as it’s the most secure open-source VPN protocol. Many VPN providers use it as it provides reliable internet speed on different operating systems. The protocol has continuously progressed since it was introduced in 2001. Anyone using it can address and alternate its source code, allowing you to personalize your VPN settings.

OpenVPN has two versions:

  • OpenVPN UDP, also known as User Datagram Protocol, is often the default option due to providing the best download speed.
  • OpenVPN TCPalso known as Transmission Control Protocol: This is a slower version of the latter, compensating by allowing more control over data exchange.

OpenVPN was considered the gold standard, as most superior VPN services use it. Some VPNs opt for the WireGuard VPN protocol to provide higher download speeds.

What do we test for?

We set the Windows app to OpenVPN and pushed the service to the limit by testing the download speed of each provider. Usually, we set the internet connection speed to 1Gbps (1000 Mbps) to make the most out of the protocol.

> Test 12: Supported speed via WireGuard

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard is a next-generation open-source VPN protocol, also a faster and leaner counterpart to OpenVPN and IPsec. WireGuard only has 4,000 code lines, compared to the 500,000 lines of the latter, which makes debugging way faster. Security audits are also easier to conduct with this protocol. Regarding supported speed, our testing has shown that WireGuard is approximately 60% faster than Open VPN.

WireGuard is now capable of running on Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS. Although it was designed only for Linux at first, it’s currently available for most other major systems.

What do we test for?

We set the Windows app to the WireGuard protocol to test the speed of the top VPN providers. We conduct testing by setting the rate to 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps) to push the internet connection to its maximum.

> Test 13: (Virtual) VPN servers and locations

What are (virtual) VPN servers?

A Virtual VPN server is a means to access the internet via a VPN by creating a faux IP address for the server. Your VPN provider will give you a local IP address, although the actual server is set to a different location. For example, your originating VPN server may reside in Spain. Regardless, you’ll receive an IP that places you in neighboring Andorra.

A regular VPN server’s purpose is to host VPN software to make an encrypted VPN tunnel. Some VPN servers are purposefully hosted on specialized hardware – for instance, the RAM.

Most of the time, VPN servers are physically located in the countries indicated in the app. Whenever you access the web, therefore, your traffic routes through the existent server which belongs to that country. Hence, you’ll receive a local IP address. However, small countries usually don’t have local server parks. That being the case, a VPN can offer the server in a small country by creating a virtual server.

Many prominent VPN providers grant access to servers in approximately 60 countries over the world. In case they offer their services in more countries, those are virtual servers.

What do we test for?

We investigate how many servers the VPN provider offers and where they are located. Additionally, we look at whether servers are either physical or virtual and if you can choose them in a country or a city.

> Test 14: Streaming compatibility

What is compatibility with a streaming service?

Popular streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu don’t allow streaming content on their platforms everywhere. Certain TV shows and movies are limited exclusively to some countries, and introducing a VPN is a way to get around the restrictions.

Fortunately, you can unlock the shows that aren’t available in your country. Once you access the streaming service via a VPN server in the United States, you’ll get a local IP address. That way, you have a faux IP that will trick the streaming service into thinking you’re watching shows from a local setting.

That said, some streaming services know if you’re trying to access the platform via a VPN. As a result, it will restrict access until you switch the VPN off. For example, as is the case with Netflix, it will block you from logging in if it determines you are using a fake IP. Only a few VPNs can allow you to access restricted content with the top streaming platforms.

What do we test for?

We check if your chosen VPN provider can successfully unlock the locally-restricted shows and films. Our testing range includes Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime.

In addition, as Netflix is specific, we also inspect if the VPN provider covers the version of the service in some non-U.S. countries. These include Australian, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, UK, and Japanese-based versions of the platform.

> Test 15: Torrenting compatibility

What is compatibility with a torrent network?

Torrents are peer-to-peer-based services that allow users to download files from each other. Torrents don’t require server-based communication but work by accessing torrenting clients, such as BitTorrent and μTorrent. Torrent clients of the new generation, such as Popcorn Time or Stremio, offer streaming features.

Torrenting is based on sharing. Therefore, it’s not illegal by default, but the issue arises when torrent files contain copyrighted content. Those may be video games or recently released movies, and torrenting it may be considered piracy.

What do we test for?

We check if the VPN provider allows torrent clients or any other P2P network on their servers. We do so by attempting to download files while logged on to the VPN server.

> Test 16: Annual price and price per device

What is the annual price and price per device?

When choosing a VPN provider, we recommend you opt for the services that charge a monthly subscription fee. If you go for a free VPN, you might be at risk of some of the previously mentioned issues. We also suggest you go for a long-term subscription, reducing your monthly payment.

A single-month subscription is probably the most expensive choice, so we suggest you invest in a one-year contract. We inspect the annual price of the VPN service and the cost per device. Many VPNs have a similar price range, except for ExpressVPN, which is the most expensive. Surfshark and IPVanish, for example, will let you use the app on unlimited devices, making them a good investment.

What do we test for?

Each VPN provider usually offers a one-year contract, and we calculate and compare the annual prices. Our testing also includes checking how many synchronous connections they allow, and we divide the service’s price by that number.

What VPNs for routers 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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