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VPN Providers marketed for Internet access are services that tunnel a user's internet traffic somewhere else securely, typically used for censorship circumvention, anonymization, and bypassing geo-blocking. These services differ from the traditional use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology by not creating a true "private network" with anything meaningful on the local network. Typically there is no way for a user's devices connected to the same "VPN" to see each other or other devices on the network. These VPNs can be based on typical VPN protocols (OpenVPN) or more camouflaged VPN implementations like SoftEther VPN, but proxy protocols like Shadowsocks are used as well.

Note, however, that VPNs are not designed to provide anonymity. Users should choose Tor or other similar anonymous networks, if their primary goal is anonymity.

Definitions

The following definitions clarify the meaning of the column headers in the comparison tables below.

Audited

Whether a provider has had its clients and/or server software stack audited for security vulnerabilities by an independent cybersecurity firm (such as Cure53).

Clients

Whether a provider has custom clients for all major desktop and mobile operating systems (Windows, macOS, iOS, Android).

Client Killswitch

Whether a provider's client application (if offered) supports a VPN killswitch functionality (i.e. disconnecting your computer from the network entirely when your VPN connection is severed).

Jurisdiction

The country a provider is incorporated in, and the set of laws it needs to follow. Operating outside of the Five Eyes countries is not a guarantee of privacy necessarily, and there are other factors to consider. However, we believe that avoiding these countries is important if you wish to avoid mass government dragnet surveillance, especially from the United States.

PrivacyTools

Any notes found by the PrivacyTools team that made the provider ineligible for recommendation, or any relevant GitHub issues at https://github.com/privacytoolsIO/privacytools.io/issues.

Public Ownership

Whether a provider discloses its ownership (parent companies, majority shareholders), as well as the team behind its day-to-day operations.

PrivacyTools recommended providers

PrivacyTools currently recommends IVPN, Mullvad, and ProtonVPN as examples of excellent providers in the VPN space. All of the recommended providers are based outside of the United States, use strong encryption, accept Bitcoin, support OpenVPN, and have a no logging policy.

Privacy comparison

Other providers

This is a table of other VPN providers that may or may not be considered safe to use. Please feel free to add any VPN provider to the list, but cite all sources when doing so. Do not link to the provider's website outside of references. This is not a space for advertisements, and any attempts to use it as such will have consequences.

Service Jurisdiction Technology Privacy Trust & Security PrivacyTools
Based in Five Eyes Wireguard Support Clients Client Killswitch Open Source Apps Accepts Bitcoin Anonymous Registration Audited Public Ownership Misleading Marketing
AirVPN Italy Third Party No Yes Yes Email required
AzireVPN Sweden Third Party Yes Yes Email is optional
BlackVPN Hong Kong No Yes Yes Email required
Cryptostorm Iceland No No router support Yes Email required
ExpressVPN British Virgin Islands No No Yes Yes No Yes Email required No No #559
FrootVPN Sweden Third Party No Yes Email required
hide.me Malaysia No Yes Only on premium No Yes Email required No No
Njalla Nevis No Yes No Yes Email or XMPP required No Yes No
NordVPN Panama[1] No Beta[2] Yes Yes No Yes Email required Yes[3] No #1162
OVPN.com Sweden Third Party Yes[4][5] Yes Yes No Yes Email is optional Yes[6][7]
Perfect Privacy Switzerland No
Private Internet Access United States Yes No Yes Yes[8] Yes[9] Yes Email required No[10] Yes
Proxy.sh Seychelles No No No router support Yes[11] Email required No
RiseUp USA No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No No No
Trust.Zone Seychelles No No Yes No Yes Email required and log in with social media is possible No No
VPN.ht Hong Kong No
VPNArea Bulgaria No
VPNTunnel Seychelles No

References