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The 10 Best VPN for South Africa (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / November 2022

Why do you need a VPN? A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a VPN server. This makes it difficult for advertisers to track your activity and for hackers to steal your data.

  • Enhance your security when using public Wi-Fi: Public Wi-Fi hotspots are convenient but very unsafe. When you use a VPN, your data is encrypted and much less vulnerable to hackers.
  • Get access to all TV shows: Streaming services like Hulu and Netflix do not stream every show in your country. By using a VPN server in a foreign country, you can unlock all movies in your country.
  • Bypass censorship and access blocked websites: In several countries, internet access is censored, and certain websites are blocked. With a VPN, you can bypass these restrictions and browse the web freely.

The best VPN for South Africa will protect your privacy online and help you enjoy the full benefits of the internet.

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 South Africa

We gathered 30 of the best VPN services for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android and then ran a range of tests to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth:

> Test 1: Logging policy

What is a logging policy?

Ideally, a VPN should encrypt your data and route it through a VPN server, making it difficult for anyone to track your online activity. However, it’s important to remember that not all VPN providers play by the rules.

Some VPN providers, like Hola VPN, actually track the websites you visit and sell that information to advertisers and data brokers. That’s how they’re able to offer their service for free.

Our research shows that only about 70% of all VPN services store your data in a way that ensures your privacy is protected. That means there’s a 30% chance that your VPN provider could be selling your information right now.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) provider should always list in their logging policy whether or not they track their users. Sadly, these statements are often purposefully written in complicated and vague terms. This makes it difficult for the average person to understand what is being said. To help you make sense of these logging policies, we’ve broken down what they usually mean.

If a VPN provider says that they “do not track user activity,” this means that they do not keep logs of what websites you visit or what files you download. However, they may still keep records of when you connect to their service for a certain period.

On the other hand, if a VPN provider says that they “track some user activity,” they keep logs of at least some of your internet usage. This could include records of websites you visit or files you download.

In either case, it is important to read a VPN provider’s logging policy before signing up for their service.

What do we test for?

We read through every provider’s logging policy to find out whether they track any information about users. There’s no problem with tracking information meant to help the provider improve their services, such as aggregated bandwidth usage and server load data. However, tracking the original IP address or websites visited is unacceptable.

> Test 2: Ownership

What do we mean by ownership?

Some VPN services are part of a complex ownership structure where the provider operates under another company, which in turn may be owned by yet another entity. While such ownership structures are legal in business law, they do create some problems.

First, the parent company might demand certain “favors” from the VPN provider. For example, the parent company can ask for a breakdown of VPN service demand by region, probably with an eye on expansion or targeted marketing. Such requests may force the provider to violate their logging policies.

Second, complex ownership structures can lead to a VPN provider being forced to comply with divergent data protection laws. This can happen when the provider and the parent company are based in different countries.

Our analysis has revealed that only a few companies own the vast majority of VPN services on the market today:

  • Kape Technologies from the U.K. owns CyberGhost VPN, ExpressVPN, ZenMate, and Private Internet Access (PIA).
  • Ziff Davis, from the U.S., owns StrongVPN, Buffered VPN, IPVanish, SaferVPN, Perimeter 81, and others.
  • Aura (Pango), from the U.S., owns JustVPN, TouchVPN, and Hotspot Shield. In addition, Aura is a technology partner for major antivirus program manufacturers, including Panda, Bitdefender, and Kaspersky.

What do we test for?

We analyze every VPN service’s ownership structure and check the jurisdiction in which they are registered. We also dive into the archives to check whether the provider was caught up in scandals in their history. For example:

  • In 2011, Kape Technologies (going by the name Crossrider at the time) created a development platform for the development of browser extensions. Unfortunately, this platform was infiltrated by malware creators and ad injectors, dealing a serious blow to the company’s reputation.
  • In 2016, IPVanish provided information to Homeland Security as part of a criminal investigation. It wasn’t supposed to have this information, under its logging and privacy policies. Even though IPVanish has undergone two ownership changes since the event, the privacy industry remains apprehensive.

> Test 3: Independent audit

What is an independent audit?

An independent audit is an assessment of a VPN service’s security measures and practices by an external, independent third party. This assessment can assure customers that the VPN service is taking appropriate steps to protect their data.

An independent auditor will typically review the following aspects of a VPN service:

  • Security policies and procedures
  • Data encryption and authentication methods
  • Physical security measures (e.g., secure facilities, firewalls, etc.)
  • Staff training and awareness programs
  • Incident response plans

There have been several independent high-profile audits in the recent past:

  • In 2019, PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) was commissioned to analyze whether ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology wiped all data each time the server was rebooted.
  • In 2010, PwC audited NordVPN with a focus on server infrastructure, configuration, and technical logs.
  • In 2022, Deloitte was invited to look into PIA’s privacy policy and the server environment.

What do we test for?

We check whether the VPN provider has undergone an extensive independent audit. We also analyze the audit’s findings and check whether the provider has taken steps to correct any undesirable issues unearthed.

> Test 4: Available VPN protocols

What is a VPN protocol?

A VPN protocol is a set of rules that govern how data is transmitted over a VPN connection.

There are several different protocols to choose from, including OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2. Each protocol has its own benefits and drawbacks, so choosing the right one for your specific needs is important.

  • OpenVPN is one of the most popular protocols because it’s reliable and secure. However, it can be slower than other protocols because it uses more processing power
  • WireGuard is a newer protocol that promises high speeds and security. It’s not as widely compatible as OpenVPN, but it’s growing in popularity.
  • IKEv2 is another option that strikes a balance between speed and security. It’s supported by most major VPN providers and is a good choice for mobile users.

Ultimately, the best VPN protocol for you depends on your needs and preferences.

What do we test for?

We run different VPN providers to check the protocols offered. We also check whether these protocols are supported on all devices or limited to specific operating systems. 

> Test 5: Supported encryption standard

What is an encryption standard?

An encryption standard is a set of rules that dictate how data should be encrypted and decrypted. A VPN, or virtual private network, uses encryption to create a secure connection between two or more devices.

When data is sent over a VPN connection, it is encrypted using a predetermined algorithm. The receiving device then decrypts the data using the same algorithm. The strength of the encryption relies on the strength of the algorithm used.

The most common encryption algorithms used in VPNs are AES and Blowfish. Both of these algorithms are powerful and effective, but they work in different ways.

AES uses a symmetric key, meaning that the same key is used for encryption and decryption. This can make things simpler, but it also means that your data is at risk if the key is compromised.

Blowfish, on the other hand, uses an asymmetric key, which means that there are two keys – one for encryption and one for decryption. This makes it more secure, but it also makes it more complex. AES is generally faster and more efficient, while Blowfish is more secure.

What do we test for?

We run each VPN service to determine the encryption standards deployed and whether the user is presented with any alternatives.

> Test 6: Basic security features

What are basic security features?

Here are four features that every VPN should offer:

  • AES-256 encryption: This is the industry-standard encryption algorithm and is incredibly difficult to crack.
  • OpenVPN & WireGuard: These are the two most popular protocols for VPN connections. OpenVPN is slightly more secure, but WireGuard is faster and uses less processing power.
  • Split tunneling: This allows you to route some of your traffic through the VPN while other traffic goes directly to the internet. This can be useful if you need to access local resources while still protected by the VPN.
  • Kill switch: This feature terminates your internet connection if the VPN connection drops, preventing your traffic from being exposed.

What do we test for?

We run each VPN service to determine the basic features offered and whether they work without problems.

> Test 7: Advanced security features

What are advanced security features?

VPNs are a great way to keep your online activity private and secure. However, not all VPNs are created equal. Some offer more advanced security features than others. Here are some of the most popular advanced security features offered by VPNs:

 

  • Ad blockers help to block unwanted ads and pop-ups. This can help to prevent malware and other malicious software from infecting your device.
  • A dedicated IP address is assigned to only one user. This can help to prevent your activity from being tracked or monitored.
  • Double VPN encrypts your traffic twice for extra protection. This can help to prevent your data from being intercepted or hacked.
  • RAM-only servers do not store any data on disk. This helps to prevent your data from being compromised if the server is hacked.
  • GPS location override helps to prevent your location from being tracked. This can be especially useful if you are traveling to a country with strict internet censorship laws.

What do we test for?

We check the advanced security features offered by every VPN service and whether each feature works as intended.

> Test 8: IP leak

What is an IP leak?

When you use a VPN, your internet traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel to a server controlled by the VPN provider. This makes it much harder for anyone on the outside to snoop on your web activity or steal your personal information.

However, data can leak out of the VPN tunnel in some cases. This is typically referred to as an “IP leak.” Essentially, it means that your real IP address is being exposed instead of the one that is masked by the VPN.

There are several potential causes of an IP leak. In some cases, it may be due to a problem with the VPN software. In other cases, it could be caused by a conflict between the VPN and another piece of software on your computer. It is also possible for IP leaks to occur when connecting to certain types of websites or online services.

If you suspect that you are experiencing an IP leak, there are steps you can take to troubleshoot the issue. First, try restarting your computer and reconnecting to the VPN. If that doesn’t work, try disconnecting from any other devices or services that might be using your internet connection. You can also contact the customer support team for your VPN provider and ask for help troubleshooting the issue.

However, the most reliable strategy is to choose a strong VPN provider. A good VPN will have strict protocols in place to prevent IP leaks

What do we test for?

We connect at least one of our devices to a VPN service and then investigate whether our original IP address is visible. Without a leak, we only expect to see the address generated by the VPN server.

> Test 9: DNS leak

What is a DNS leak?

A Domain Name System (DNS) is like the internet’s phonebook. It translates human-readable domain names into IP addresses that computers can understand. For example, when you type “SoftwareLab.org” into your web browser, DNS servers automatically translate that into the website’s IP address, which is 165.227.148.211.

Most DNS queries go through your Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) DNS server, which means your ISP can see your browsing profile. That’s why it’s important to use a high-quality VPN service with its own DNS servers. That way, your ISP can’t track your online activity.

DNS leaks are when your ISP’s DNS settings override the DNS settings of your VPN. This usually happens because the VPN software didn’t properly configure your device’s DNS settings. As a result, your ISP can see what websites you’re visiting, even if you’re using a VPN.

To prevent DNS leaks, be sure to use a reputable VPN service and double-check that your device’s DNS settings are configured correctly.

What do we test for?

We run each service to ensure that our original IP address changes when we connect to the VPN. If it isn’t changing, then we likely have a DNS leak.

> Test 10: WebRTC leak

What is a WebRTC leak?

WebRTC is a technology that allows voice and video communications to be transmitted directly between browsers. It’s often used for applications like chat, online meetings, and voice calling. While WebRTC can be a convenient way to communicate, it also has the potential to leak your real IP address.

A WebRTC leak occurs when your VPN fails to mask your real IP address properly. This can happen if the VPN doesn’t have proper support for WebRTC or if there are leaks in the network connection. As a result, websites can see your real IP address and potentially track your activity.

To avoid a WebRTC leak, you need to ensure that your VPN has proper support for WebRTC and that all of your devices are properly connected to the VPN. You may also need to disable WebRTC in your browser settings. You might also want to consider using a browser extension that can block WebRTC requests.

However, the best way to solve the problem is by using a VPN service. VPNs will allow authorized WebRTC connections to continue, but they will ensure that the VPN server’s IP address is sent instead of your own. This way, your privacy is protected, and you can continue to use all the features of WebRTC.

What do we test for?

We set up a connection to a given VPN provider and check whether our original IP address is being masked and replaced with a server-generated version. If we can see the original IP address, there’s a WebRTC leak.

> Test 11: Download speed via OpenVPN

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is a free, open-source software application that implements virtual private network (VPN) techniques to create secure point-to-point or site-to-site connections in routed or bridged configurations.

It uses a custom security protocol that utilizes SSL/TLS for key exchange. It is capable of traversing network address translators (NATs) and firewalls. OpenVPN was created in 2002 by James Yonan and is published under the GNU General Public License (GPL).

OpenVPN allows peers to authenticate each other using public key infrastructure (PKI) systems such as X.509 certificates or usernames and passwords. When used in a multi-client server configuration, it allows the server to release an authentication certificate for every client, using signature algorithms such as SHA512.

It can also use static encryption keys, which are generally considered more secure than PKI. OpenVPN offers two types of interfaces for managing connections: a graphical interface called “OpenVPN Connect” for managing client connections, and an integrated TUN/TAP driver that works with networking infrastructure provided by the operating system kernel. The TUN/TAP driver provides network layer connectivity on top of which any transport protocol can be implemented, such as IPsec or SSL/TLS.

OpenVPN supports dynamic IP addresses and static IP addresses, enabling it to work with both broadband dialup networks and cable modems. It can also connect multiple clients in a bridge mode to allow data routing between them.

What do we test for?

We set up the OpenVPN protocol on Windows and then test the download speed of each of the top VPN providers. We test the speed on a 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) internet connection to test the VPN’s performance under pressure.

> Test 12: Supported speed via WireGuard

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard is a new VPN protocol designed to be simpler, faster, and more secure than existing VPN protocols. It is open-source, so it can be independently audited for security vulnerabilities.

WireGuard is also much leaner than other VPN protocols, with only 4,000 lines of code compared to OpenVPN’s 500,000. This makes it much easier to debug and audit WireGuard for security vulnerabilities.

WireGuard is compatible with all major operating systems, and in our tests, it was found to be up to 60% faster than OpenVPN.

What do we test for?

We test the download speed of each of the top VPN services while connecting Windows to the WireGuard protocol. We test the speed on a 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) internet connection to simulate the VPN’s performance under pressure.

> Test 13: (Virtual) VPN servers and locations

What are (virtual) VPN servers?

When you connect to a VPN, your internet traffic is routed through a VPN server. This server hosts specialized VPN software that creates an encrypted tunnel between the server and your VPN client. In some cases, the VPN server will also have specialized VPN hardware.

Most VPN servers are physical servers located in the country indicated in the VPN app. So, when you connect to one of these servers, your internet traffic is routed via the physical server in that country, which gives you a local IP address.

However, not all countries have local server infrastructure. Smaller or less developed countries usually don’t have server parks. For instance, the tiny mountainous country of Andorra does not have any.

In these cases, virtual servers are used. A virtual server is a software simulation of a physical server. It doesn’t have any hardware of its own but uses the resources of the underlying physical server, such as RAM and CPU power. This means that a single physical server can host multiple virtual servers. For Andorra, the servers are in France or Spain, depending on the VPN.

NordVPN and Surfshark use this method to provide VPN coverage in countries where they don’t have their own physical infrastructure.

What do we test for?

We check the number of servers and locations each VPN provider uses. We also examine whether users have the option to narrow down their server choices to country or city level, and whether these servers are physical or virtual.

> Test 14: Streaming compatibility

What is compatibility with a streaming service?

Compatibility with a streaming service refers to a user’s ability to access all of the series and movies offered by that service. For example, some shows on Netflix are only available in certain countries. However, a VPN service can be used to unlock these restricted shows.

When a user logs into a VPN server in the United States, they are assigned a local IP address. This theoretically allows them to see all local shows. In practice, however, streaming services like Netflix often block access when they detect that a user is connecting via a VPN server.

As a result, there is a constant battle between streaming services and VPN providers as each tries to outsmart the other. Only some VPN providers consistently provide users full access to streaming services.

What do we test for?

We test whether a VPN provider can unblock major U.S. streaming services, including Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, and BBC iPlayer. In the case of Netflix, we go a notch higher by testing its accessibility in Brazil, Germany, Japan, Australia, Mexico, and the U.K.

> Test 15: Torrenting compatibility

What is compatibility with a torrent network?

To torrent, users must download a torrent client like μTorrent or BitTorrent. Once the client is installed, users can search for and download files that are available from other users. Since there is no centralized server, torrenting relies on users sharing files with each other.

Because of this, torrenting is often associated with piracy, as many of the files that are shared are copyrighted material. However, torrenting itself is not illegal. It is simply the sharing of files between users.

Popcorn Time is an example of a service that uses torrenting technology to stream movies and TV shows. As long as the user has a torrent client installed, they should be able to use Popcorn Time without any issues.

What do we test for?

We test whether each VPN provider allows downloading files via peer-to-peer networks on at least a few servers.

> Test 16: Annual price and price per device

What is the annual price and price per device? VPN services usually advertise their price per month, with longer contracts seeming more expensive. However, if you’re interested in finding the best deal, it’s important to compare the annual price for a one-year contract. This will give you a better idea of which service is most affordable in the long run.

Additionally, it’s worth considering the price per device when choosing a VPN provider. Some companies charge a flat rate regardless of how many devices you use, while others have a tiered pricing structure.

If you plan on using the VPN on multiple devices, it may be cheaper to choose a provider that offers unlimited installations.

What do we test for?

For each provider, we work out the monthly price of a one-year contract. We also calculate the price per connection by dividing the annual price by the maximum number of simultaneous installations allowed.

 

What VPNs for South Africa 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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