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VPN Services

If you're looking for additional privacy from your ISP, on a public Wi-Fi network, or while torrenting files, a VPN may be the solution for you.

VPNs do not provide anonymity

Using a VPN will not keep your browsing habits anonymous, nor will it add additional security to non-secure (HTTP) traffic.

If you are looking for anonymity, you should use the Tor Browser. If you're looking for added security, you should always ensure you're connecting to websites using HTTPS. A VPN is not a replacement for good security practices.

Download Tor Tor Myths & FAQ

Detailed VPN Overview

Our recommended providers use encryption, support WireGuard & OpenVPN, and have a no logging policy. Read our full list of criteria for more information.

Provider Countries WireGuard Port Forwarding IPv6 Anonymous Payments
Proton 91+ Partial Support Cash
IVPN 37+ Outgoing Only Monero, Cash
Mullvad 41+ Monero, Cash

Proton VPN

Proton VPN logo

Proton VPN is a strong contender in the VPN space, and they have been in operation since 2016. Proton AG is based in Switzerland and offers a limited free tier, as well as a more featured premium option.

Homepage

Downloads

91 Countries

Proton VPN has servers in 91 countries or 5 if you use their free plan.(1) Picking a VPN provider with a server nearest to you will reduce latency of the network traffic you send. This is because of a shorter route (fewer hops) to the destination.

  1. Last checked: 2024-04-02

We also think it's better for the security of the VPN provider's private keys if they use dedicated servers, instead of cheaper shared solutions (with other customers) such as virtual private servers.

Independently Audited

As of January 2020, Proton VPN has undergone an independent audit by SEC Consult. SEC Consult found some medium and low risk vulnerabilities in Proton VPN's Windows, Android, and iOS applications, all of which were "properly fixed" by Proton VPN before the reports were published. None of the issues identified would have provided an attacker remote access to your device or traffic. You can view individual reports for each platform at protonvpn.com. In April 2022 Proton VPN underwent another audit and the report was produced by Securitum. A letter of attestation was provided for Proton VPN's apps on 9th November 2021 by Securitum.

Open-Source Clients

Proton VPN provides the source code for their desktop and mobile clients in their GitHub organization.

Accepts Cash

Proton VPN, in addition to accepting credit/debit cards, PayPal, and Bitcoin, also accepts cash/local currency as an anonymous form of payment.

WireGuard Support

Proton VPN mostly supports the WireGuard® protocol. WireGuard is a newer protocol that uses state-of-the-art cryptography. Additionally, WireGuard aims to be simpler and more performant.

Proton VPN recommends the use of WireGuard with their service. On Proton VPN's Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, ChromeOS, and Android TV apps, WireGuard is the default protocol; however, support for the protocol is not present in their Linux app.

No IPv6 Support

Proton VPN's servers are only compatible with IPv4. The Proton VPN applications will block all outgoing IPv6 traffic, so you don't have to worry about your IPv6 address being leaked, but you will not be able to connect to any IPv6-only sites, and you will not be able to connect to Proton VPN from an IPv6-only network.

Remote Port Forwarding

Proton VPN currently only supports ephemeral remote port forwarding via NAT-PMP, with 60 second lease times. The Windows app provides an easy to access option for it, while on other operating systems you'll need to run your own NAT-PMP client. Torrent applications often support NAT-PMP natively.

Anti-Censorship

Proton VPN has their Stealth protocol which may help in situations where VPN protocols like OpenVPN or Wireguard are blocked with various rudimentary techniques. Stealth encapsulates the VPN tunnel in TLS session in order to look like more generic internet traffic.

Unfortunately it does not work very well in countries where sophisticated filters are deployed that analyze all outgoing traffic in an attempt to discover encrypted tunnels. Stealth is also not yet available on Windows or Linux.

Mobile Clients

In addition to providing standard OpenVPN configuration files, Proton VPN has mobile clients for App Store, Google Play, and GitHub allowing for easy connections to their servers.

Additional Notes

Proton VPN clients support two factor authentication on all platforms. Proton VPN has their own servers and datacenters in Switzerland, Iceland and Sweden. They offer content blocking and known-malware blocking with their DNS service. Additionally, Proton VPN also offers "Tor" servers allowing you to easily connect to onion sites, but we still strongly recommend using the official Tor Browser for this purpose.

Killswitch feature is broken on Intel-based Macs

System crashes may occur on Intel-based Macs when using the VPN killswitch. If you require this feature, and you are using a Mac with Intel chipset, you should consider using another VPN service.

IVPN

IVPN logo

IVPN is another premium VPN provider, and they have been in operation since 2009. IVPN is based in Gibraltar and does not offer a free trial.

Homepage

Downloads

37 Countries

IVPN has servers in 37 countries.(1) Picking a VPN provider with a server nearest to you will reduce latency of the network traffic you send. This is because of a shorter route (fewer hops) to the destination.

  1. Last checked: 2024-04-02

We also think it's better for the security of the VPN provider's private keys if they use dedicated servers, instead of cheaper shared solutions (with other customers) such as virtual private servers.

Independently Audited

IVPN has undergone a no-logging audit from Cure53 which concluded in agreement with IVPN's no-logging claim. IVPN has also completed a comprehensive pentest report Cure53 in January 2020. IVPN has also said they plan to have annual reports in the future. A further review was conducted in April 2022 and was produced by Cure53 on their website.

Open-Source Clients

As of February 2020 IVPN applications are now open source. Source code can be obtained from their GitHub organization.

Accepts Cash and Monero

In addition to accepting credit/debit cards and PayPal, IVPN accepts Bitcoin, Monero and cash/local currency (on annual plans) as anonymous forms of payment. Prepaid cards with redeem codes are also available.

WireGuard Support

IVPN supports the WireGuard® protocol. WireGuard is a newer protocol that uses state-of-the-art cryptography. Additionally, WireGuard aims to be simpler and more performant.

IVPN recommends the use of WireGuard with their service and, as such, the protocol is the default on all of IVPN's apps. IVPN also offers a WireGuard configuration generator for use with the official WireGuard apps.

IPv6 Support

IVPN allows you to connect to services using IPv6 but doesn't allow you to connect from a device using an IPv6 address.

Remote Port Forwarding

IVPN previously supported port forwarding, but removed the option in June 2023. Missing this feature could negatively impact certain applications, especially peer-to-peer applications like torrent clients.

Anti-Censorship

IVPN has obfuscation modes using the v2ray project which helps in situations where VPN protocols like OpenVPN or Wireguard are blocked. Currently this feature is only available on Desktop and iOS. It has two modes where it can use VMess over QUIC or TCP connections. QUIC is a modern protocol with better congestion control and therefore may be faster with reduced latency. The TCP mode makes your data appear as regular HTTP traffic.

Mobile Clients

In addition to providing standard OpenVPN configuration files, IVPN has mobile clients for App Store, Google Play, and GitHub allowing for easy connections to their servers.

Additional Notes

IVPN clients support two factor authentication. IVPN also provides "AntiTracker" functionality, which blocks advertising networks and trackers from the network level.

Mullvad

Mullvad logo

Mullvad is a fast and inexpensive VPN with a serious focus on transparency and security. They have been in operation since 2009. Mullvad is based in Sweden and does not offer a free trial.

Homepage

Downloads

41 Countries

Mullvad has servers in 41 countries.(1) Picking a VPN provider with a server nearest to you will reduce latency of the network traffic you send. This is because of a shorter route (fewer hops) to the destination.

  1. Last checked: 2024-04-02

We also think it's better for the security of the VPN provider's private keys if they use dedicated servers, instead of cheaper shared solutions (with other customers) such as virtual private servers.

Independently Audited

Mullvad's VPN clients have been audited by Cure53 and Assured AB in a pentest report published at cure53.de. The security researchers concluded:

Cure53 and Assured AB are happy with the results of the audit and the software leaves an overall positive impression. With security dedication of the in-house team at the Mullvad VPN compound, the testers have no doubts about the project being on the right track from a security standpoint.

In 2020 a second audit was announced and the final audit report was made available on Cure53's website:

The results of this May-June 2020 project targeting the Mullvad complex are quite positive. [...] The overall application ecosystem used by Mullvad leaves a sound and structured impression. The overall structure of the application makes it easy to roll out patches and fixes in a structured manner. More than anything, the findings spotted by Cure53 showcase the importance of constantly auditing and re-assessing the current leak vectors, in order to always ensure privacy of the end-users. With that being said, Mullvad does a great job protecting the end-user from common PII leaks and privacy related risks.

In 2021 an infrastructure audit was announced and the final audit report was made available on Cure53's website. Another report was commissioned in June 2022 and is available on Assured's website.

Open-Source Clients

Mullvad provides the source code for their desktop and mobile clients in their GitHub organization.

Accepts Cash and Monero

Mullvad, in addition to accepting credit/debit cards and PayPal, accepts Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Monero and cash/local currency as anonymous forms of payment. Prepaid cards with redeem codes are also available. Mullvad also accepts Swish and bank wire transfers.

WireGuard Support

Mullvad supports the WireGuard® protocol. WireGuard is a newer protocol that uses state-of-the-art cryptography. Additionally, WireGuard aims to be simpler and more performant.

Mullvad recommends the use of WireGuard with their service. It is the default or only protocol on Mullvad's Android, iOS, macOS, and Linux apps, but on Windows you have to manually enable WireGuard. Mullvad also offers a WireGuard configuration generator for use with the official WireGuard apps.

IPv6 Support

Mullvad allows you to access services hosted on IPv6 and connect from a device using an IPv6 address.

Remote Port Forwarding

Mullvad previously supported port forwarding, but removed the option in May 2023. Missing this feature could negatively impact certain applications, especially peer-to-peer applications like torrent clients.

Anti-Censorship

Mullvad has obfuscation an mode using Shadowsocks with v2ray which may be useful in situations where VPN protocols like OpenVPN or Wireguard are blocked.

Mobile Clients

Mullvad has published App Store and Google Play clients, both supporting an easy-to-use interface as opposed to requiring you to manually configure your WireGuard connection. The Android client is also available on GitHub.

Additional Notes

Mullvad is very transparent about which nodes they own or rent. They use ShadowSocks in their ShadowSocks + OpenVPN configuration, making them more resistant against firewalls with Deep Packet Inspection trying to block VPNs. Supposedly, China has to use a different method to block ShadowSocks servers.

Criteria

Danger

It is important to note that using a VPN provider will not make you anonymous, but it will give you better privacy in certain situations. A VPN is not a tool for illegal activities. Don't rely on a "no log" policy.

Please note we are not affiliated with any of the providers we recommend. This allows us to provide completely objective recommendations. In addition to our standard criteria, we have developed a clear set of requirements for any VPN provider wishing to be recommended, including strong encryption, independent security audits, modern technology, and more. We suggest you familiarize yourself with this list before choosing a VPN provider, and conduct your own research to ensure the VPN provider you choose is as trustworthy as possible.

Technology

We require all our recommended VPN providers to provide OpenVPN configuration files to be used in any client. If a VPN provides their own custom client, we require a killswitch to block network data leaks when disconnected.

Minimum to Qualify:

  • Support for strong protocols such as WireGuard & OpenVPN.
  • Killswitch built in to clients.
  • Multihop support. Multihopping is important to keep data private in case of a single node compromise.
  • If VPN clients are provided, they should be open source, like the VPN software they generally have built into them. We believe that source code availability provides greater transparency about what your device is actually doing.

Best Case:

  • Killswitch with highly configurable options (enable/disable on certain networks, on boot, etc.)
  • Easy-to-use VPN clients
  • Supports IPv6. We expect that servers will allow incoming connections via IPv6 and allow you to access services hosted on IPv6 addresses.
  • Capability of remote port forwarding assists in creating connections when using P2P (Peer-to-Peer) file sharing software or hosting a server (e.g., Mumble).
  • Obfuscation technology which pads data packets with random data to circumvent internet censorship.

Privacy

We prefer our recommended providers to collect as little data as possible. Not collecting personal information on registration, and accepting anonymous forms of payment are required.

Minimum to Qualify:

  • Anonymous cryptocurrency or cash payment option.
  • No personal information required to register: Only username, password, and email at most.

Best Case:

  • Accepts multiple anonymous payment options.
  • No personal information accepted (autogenerated username, no email required, etc.).

Security

A VPN is pointless if it can't even provide adequate security. We require all our recommended providers to abide by current security standards for their OpenVPN connections. Ideally, they would use more future-proof encryption schemes by default. We also require an independent third-party to audit the provider's security, ideally in a very comprehensive manner and on a repeated (yearly) basis.

Minimum to Qualify:

  • Strong Encryption Schemes: OpenVPN with SHA-256 authentication; RSA-2048 or better handshake; AES-256-GCM or AES-256-CBC data encryption.
  • Forward Secrecy.
  • Published security audits from a reputable third-party firm.

Best Case:

  • Strongest Encryption: RSA-4096.
  • Forward Secrecy.
  • Comprehensive published security audits from a reputable third-party firm.
  • Bug-bounty programs and/or a coordinated vulnerability-disclosure process.

Trust

You wouldn't trust your finances to someone with a fake identity, so why trust them with your internet data? We require our recommended providers to be public about their ownership or leadership. We also would like to see frequent transparency reports, especially in regard to how government requests are handled.

Minimum to Qualify:

  • Public-facing leadership or ownership.

Best Case:

  • Public-facing leadership.
  • Frequent transparency reports.

Marketing

With the VPN providers we recommend we like to see responsible marketing.

Minimum to Qualify:

  • Must self-host analytics (i.e., no Google Analytics). The provider's site must also comply with DNT (Do Not Track) for people who want to opt-out.

Must not have any marketing which is irresponsible:

  • Making guarantees of protecting anonymity 100%. When someone makes a claim that something is 100% it means there is no certainty for failure. We know people can quite easily deanonymize themselves in a number of ways, e.g.:
    • Reusing personal information (e.g., email accounts, unique pseudonyms, etc.) that they accessed without anonymity software (Tor, VPN, etc.)
    • Browser fingerprinting
  • Claim that a single circuit VPN is "more anonymous" than Tor, which is a circuit of three or more hops that regularly changes.
  • Use responsible language: i.e., it is okay to say that a VPN is "disconnected" or "not connected", however claiming that someone is "exposed", "vulnerable" or "compromised" is needless use of alarming language that may be incorrect. For example, that person might simply be on another VPN provider's service or using Tor.

Best Case:

Responsible marketing that is both educational and useful to the consumer could include:

  • An accurate comparison to when Tor should be used instead.
  • Availability of the VPN provider's website over a .onion service

Additional Functionality

While not strictly requirements, there are some factors we looked into when determining which providers to recommend. These include content blocking functionality, warrant canaries, multihop connections, excellent customer support, the number of allowed simultaneous connections, etc.


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