Best Alternatives to TorGuard VPN in 2019

Scandalized by TorGuard and want a VPN that actually protects your privacy online? Today, we bring you the best alternatives to TorGuard, plus fill you in on the controversy if you weren’t already aware.

TorGuard is a VPN provider that has gained mixed reviews for itself over the past few years. On the surface it’s actually a pretty good VPN, albeit a little confusing on first look due its multiple options and pricing packages. It also offers proxy services, anonymous email and business VPN packages too. TorGuard uses 256-Bit AES encryption software which is top level and trusted to protect some of the most sensitive government documents out there. They also have a solid zero-logging policy, DNS leak protection, offer unlimited bandwidth, fast speeds and a large server network that spans 50+ countries around the world.

So if TorGuard is offering such impressive VPN features why would we suggest alternatives? Come with us as we take a peek under the hood of TorGuard and reveal why you might consider a different option to entrust your online activities with.

Best alternatives to TorGuard

If you’ve been burned by TorGuard, we’ve got you covered. We’ve scoured the market for the best replacements, and have come up with the following 4 best alternative VPNs to TorGuard:

1. ExpressVPN

If you didn’t like the fact that TorGuard charges more money for access to streaming services like Netflix, the high speed connections from ExpressVPN could solve your problems. Well known in the VPN industry for incredible connection and download speeds, ExpressVPN can bypass Netflix, Amazon Video and more, and is sure to provide you with a buffer-free streaming experience.

Security is top-notch, too, as you will be protected by 256-bit AES encryption and your privacy is protected by a kill switch option, DNS leak test feature and a logging policy that promises not to log traffic, DNS requests, IP addresses or browsing history.Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN is exempt from the fourteen eyes surveillance agreement as it sits outside of UK jurisdiction.Nevertheless, if you want complete anonymity you can even purchase your account using cryptocurrency via BitPay.

ExpressVPN’s software is user-friendly and available across a whole host of operating systems and devices. Use one account to connect up to three of your devices, so no matter where you are you can surf the web easily and securely via one of ExpressVPN’s 3000+ servers in 94 countries worldwide.

Read our full review of ExpressVPN here.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3 months free (49% off – link below)
  • Fast serves with minimal speed loss
  • No DNS/IP leaks found
  • No logging policy well enforced
  • 24/7 Live Chat.
Cons

  • Month-to-month plan has high cost.

2. NordVPN

The highlight of NordVPN is their incredible server network, consisting of over 5,400 nodes 60 countries. Beyond sheer numbers, there are a number of specialty servers dedicated to functionalities like anti-DDoS, multi-hop VPN, P2P, onion over VPN, obfuscation, and even dedicated IP addresses. 256-bit AES encryption is available over a variety of protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, and SSTP for smashing through tough censorship like China’s Great Firewall.

Backing it all up is a solid no-logging policy which has been independently audited and verified. What’s more, NordVPN is based in Panama, making the company exempt from the Five, Nine, and Fourteen Eyes surveillance agreements which can force VPNs to spy on their users. Available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and even routers and Raspberry Pi, you can have some of the industry’s toughest VPN protection no matter what your preferred device is. No matter how you choose to connect, NordVPN wraps its myriad features up nicely together in a straightforward user interface anyone can use.

Read our full NordVPN review here.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3-year plan (75% off – link below)
  • 5,400+ servers globally
  • No IP/DNS leaks found
  • Retains no metadata of your browsing
  • Great customer service via chat.
Cons

  • Some servers can be slow and unreliable
  • Apps can be a bit cumbersome to use.

3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost offers a simple user interface that presents you with six easy configuration profiles when you log in: “Surf Anonymously”, “Unblock Streaming”, “Protect Network”, “Torrent Anonymously”, “Unblock Basic Websites” and “Choose My Server”. Just click on one, and let your VPN software handle the advanced configuration. If you want to take a little more manual control, there are toggles within each profile which allow you to enable blocking of malicious websites, ads, online tracking, plus data compression, automated HTTPS redirect, and even an extra speed boost.

But don’t worry, ease of use doesn’t equate to a weak service. It’s quite the opposite, with unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption locking down each packet of data that leaves your device, plus kill switch to ensure you never transmit anything unencrypted–even if your VPN temporarily loses connection for whatever reason. There’s a massive server network on offer too, with 3,700+ nodes in 60 countries worldwide. Rounding out the privacy package is one of the industry’s best no-logging policies: they don’t even keep the email address you used to sign up with.

Fast connection speeds, unlimited bandwidth, and native app availability across all major platforms makes CyberGhost the ideal companion for heavy streaming and daily usage alike.

Check out our full CyberGhost review for more.

Pros

  • Unblocking Netflix USA, iPlayer, Amazon Prime, YouTube
  • 3,600+ servers in 55+ countries
  • 2,048-bit RSA keys and SHA256 authentication
  • Strict no-logging policy
  • 24h support.
Cons

  • Can’t unblock some other streaming sites.

4. PureVPN

PureVPN is like a digital Swiss Army knife, with robust functionality that extends beyond what most VPN providers can offer. First and foremost, all the standard-issue features a top-tier VPN should have are there, including uncrackable 256-bit AES encryption, a solid no-logging policy, and an incredible network of 2,000+ servers in over 140 countries. Yes, you read that right–140 countries means you have access to some truly rare and obscure IP addresses that you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere, perfect for unblocking content the world over.

In addition to this rock-solid VPN foundation, PureVPN’s software suite includes app filtering, DDoS protection, getting a dedicated IP address, NAT firewalls, anti-spam filtering, and even antivirus software. Need a turnkey solution for general online protection? Try PureVPN’s proprietary Ozone server, which automatically enables URL and content filtering, anti-malware protection, IDS/IPS, and app blocking each time you connect.

PureVPN’s been around a while, and has extended its service to all major operating systems. Your subscription covers simultaneous use on up to 5 devices–perfect for households and home offices.

The problems with TorGuard

TorGuard isn’t a bad VPN provider per se (it won’t, for example, make your computer a part of a botnet). However, over there years there have been issues that have caused many privacy-focused users to express concern.

The scandal

First up is the accusation made against the company in 2015 by VPN.ac who claimed that TorGuard had copied its design and some of their coding. Taken directly from the VPN.ac blog:

“…it’s not only the design that’s similar, but they also use the same geo-location API server address … this is our own geo-IP API server that we’re using internally.”

There were also claims that although some of VPN.ac’s code was copied, it was not all used, which left glaring security holes and made TorGuard users vulnerable to spyware and hackers. You can read the full accusation on the VPN.ac blog, found here. The company has now put these claims behind them, securing the issues that were highlighted and removing the VPN.ac geo API servers from the app.

The accusation that TorGuard potentially stole from another provider, however, has given it a bit of a dodgy reputation that might understandably put some people off.

The geoblocked content

people purchase VPNs to hide their IP address and trick web services into thinking they’re in a different location to where they actually are. A popular reason for doing this is to be able to watch TV shows and movies online via web streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO GO etc.

The problem with TorGuard is that their basic package isn’t too good at getting around geoblocked content, so if binge watching your favourite US Netflix shows outside of America is a priority you might want to look elsewhere.

TorGuard do offer a way around this by allowing users to purchase dedicated IP addresses but these must be purchased on a per country basis. For example if you want to watch US Netflix, you would need to buy a dedicated American IP address, then if you also want to watch a movie from a UK Amazon Video account, you need to buy a British dedicated IP address. At $54.99 per dedicated IP address this can get pricey very quickly.

There are other VPN providers out there who can access this kind of content with a simple, basic account; no additional or outrageously expensive purchases necessary.

The money-back guarantee

TorGuard offers a 7 day money-back guarantee, no questions asked. If you’re not happy with the product within your first 7 days you can get a 100% refund which sounds like an excellent, no risk option to try them out. But there’s a catch – if you’ve ordered a fresh, dedicated IP address to access those web streaming services we’ve mentioned, you’re still going to have to pay for that.

Better money back guarantees can be found with other providers who offer completely transparent, no risk options, and some even allow a 30 day trial period.

The location

If complete privacy is important to you the fact that TorGuard are a US owned company might cause you some worry. TorGuard falls under US jurisdiction, and is thus within the reach of the fourteen eyes surveillance agreement–this means it could, one day, be forced to provide user information to government agencies without telling its subscribers.

This is the same for any country within the 14 eyes so looking for a VPN provider that is based outside of this surveillance agreement might be useful depending on your online activities.

What makes a trustworthy VPN

It is definitely worth doing thorough research before choosing your VPN provider; they all offer similar features, but when you look a little deeper you can reveal some big differences.

The first point to mention is that you should never opt for a free VPN service because they often conduct unethical practices such as collecting and selling your online data to third parties. Free VPNs can actually make you less safe than surfing over your regular, unencrypted connection.

When looking for a paid VPN, you can be sure you’re getting your money’s worth if:

  • They offer robust server networks, granting access to a large number of IP addresses all over the world. Many will also include speciality servers which pack extra features for specific usages.
  • They use the Advanced Encryption Standard over a variety of protocols. 256-bit AES makes it impossible to “guess” or “crack” your encryption, with more combinations than stars in the observable universe.
  • They don’t record your activity. Any connection to the Internet requires data packets to be sent and received between a user and a server, each generating metadata that facilitates the transfer. Good VPNs with no-logging policies vow never to keep track of this metadata, which could be used to identify you.

Conclusion

There are many decent VPN providers out there all offering different levels of security, privacy, speed, and server locations. What really matters is how comfortable you are with your provider, how safe you feel, and whether they hit the mark that you need as an individual user. We firmly believe that the four TorGuard alternatives we have recommended in this article will give you peace of mind, keep you safe, and won’t break the bank.

What about you? Have you used TorGuard or any of our suggested providers? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Read Best Alternatives to TorGuard VPN in 2019 by Diego Villena on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Best VPN for Eritrea in 2019 to Fight Censorship and Speak Freely

Between sparse Internet infrastructure, heavy censorship, and extreme corruption, it’s critical to know what the best VPN for Eritrea is if you live or travel there. In today’s guide, we’ll address all of these concerns and more, plus present the top VPN providers for securing your privacy online within the country’s borders.

Eritrea has been called the “world’s most censored country”, topping even North Korea and China in censorship. While Internet access is so miniscule as to limit the need for active online censoring, it still exists in multiple forms. And with Internet growth on the horizon, a crackdown is likely.

So if you’re one of the growing number of people who need to access the Internet – do you need to get around firewalls censoring content or geo-blocks preventing you from streaming your favorite shows? Or, maybe you need to voice your opinion about the government online without fear of reprisal?

In any case, being able to do all of that may seem impossible, but with a VPN you can. In this article, we’re going to show you how we selected a list of the best VPNs for Eritrea, how and why we chose them, and some advantages to using a VPN in the country.

Recommended VPN providers for Eritrea

If you’re traveling to Eritrea with your own device, it is essential that you prepare before arrival. Internet access is provided entirely by one entity: the state-run EriTel. Given their history of oppression and censorship, this monopoly over connectivity makes it trivially easy for the Eritrean government to spy on you.

However, using a VPN will allow you to retain your privacy online. Here are the best 4 VPNs for boosting your cybersecurity in Eritrea:

1. ExpressVPN

Among all the VPNs we’ve tested (and retested) over the years, ExpressVPN consistently comes in first for speed, as its name might imply. This is especially crucial in bandwidth-poor nations like Eritrea, where any extra slowdown is painful. Of course, speed alone is worth nothing if security isn’t in place, so how does ExpressVPN stack up? With 256-bit AES encryption over a variety of protocols with OpenVPN as default, you’ll enjoy the same level of Internet security trusted by the military, banks, governments, and other institutions dealing with sensitive information.

Underpinning it all is a robust server network, numbering 3,000+ nodes in 94 countries worldwide, giving you a wealth of options to tailor your VPN connection to your needs. If you’re not happy with the performance of your current server, fire up the onboard speed test to help hone in on the optimal connection. Just want to encrypt the traffic for a specific app on your device, allowing the rest of your activity to run at full speed? Toggle on the handy split tunneling feature, which does just that. Rest easier with an automatic kill switch (desktop versions only) and DNS leak protection, which ensures that if your VPN connection isn’t 100% secure for even a moment, none of your data slips out unencrypted.

Available for Windows, Mac OS, IOS, Chrome OS, Android, and even Windows phones, ExpressVPN’s minimalist user interface is easy yet functional enough to appeal to both newbies and power users of VPNs. No matter which device you use, ExpressVPN guarantees never to record the metadata of your connection or activity within its comprehensive no-logging policy–a must-have assurance for anyone who takes their privacy seriously.

Learn more in our ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • Unblocking Netflix USA, iPlayer, Amazon Prime
  • Super fast, reliable connection
  • AES-256 encryption
  • No personal information logs kept
  • Great support (24/7 chat).
Cons

  • Power-users configuration options.
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2. NordVPN

For VPN enthusiasts, NordVPN is a household name. That’s because they’ve made their mark on the industry several times over with a range of incredible features. Chief among these is their expansive server network, which includes 5,400+ servers in 60 countries worldwide. A healthy portion of these servers are specially tuned to specific uses as well, ranging from anti-DDoS and obfuscation to multi-hop VPN, P2P, onion over VPN, and even static IP addresses. It almost goes without saying that this powerful network allows for fast and stable connections, since there’s almost always another solid alternative if you’re not happy with your current server–a necessity for Eritreans looking to gain reliable access to the free and open Internet.

Need more? How about 256-bit AES encryption (over OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, or SSTP), which is virtually uncrackable by any known means? There’s also a sterling no-logging policy covering traffic, IP address, timestamps, bandwidth, browsing history–a guarantee which has been independently verified by a Big 4 auditing firm.

Available on all major operating systems (and even some niche ones), NordVPN combines its wealth of features into an attractive and intuitive software interface. The Windows, Mac, and Android versions go a step further, with optional security toggles collectively labeled “CyberSec”, which can be activated to block ads and malware. No matter which device you use, you’ll also enjoy kill switch and DNS leak protection to round out your VPN package.

Check out our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • Optimized servers for unblocking Netflix
  • Extensive server park of over 5,400 different servers
  • 256-bit AES encryption with perfect forward secrecy
  • Extra-secure Double VPN for data encryption
  • Live Chat Support.
Cons

  • Refund processing can take up to 30 days.

3. CyberGhost

Another large provider, CyberGhost offers more than 3,700 servers in 60 countries. This allows for fast speeds, stable connections, and a wealth of options in choosing your IP address for purposes of bypassing geoblocks common in Eritrea.

Arguably their greatest selling point, however, is their user-friendliness. With a simple interface, you need zero technical know-how to use it, making it a fantastic choice for beginners. CyberGhost has a list of functions to pick from that include settings specifically geared toward surfing anonymously, unblocking basic websites, and choosing your VPN server. There are even more pre-set functions, allowing you to “pickup and go” with a single click.

Alongside ease-of-use, CyberGhost has great security in industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption, plus an automatic kill switch and DNS leak protection. CyberGhost also offers one of the very best no-logging policies you’ll find anywhere; none of your metadata is ever recorded, and they even discard your email address after you’re done signing up. For total anonymity, there’s even the option to make cryptocurrency payments via BitPay. CyberGhost truly lives up to its name, allowing you to basically disappear from the Internet when you don’t want your activity monitored or censored.

Check out our CyberGhost review for more information.

Pros

  • LOW PRICE: 6 EXTRA free months (79% off – link below)
  • 3,600+ servers, 55+ countries
  • Robust encryption standards
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Money-back guarantee.
Cons

  • IPv6 WebRTC leak in macOS
  • Sometimes experiencing average speeds.
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4. PrivateVPN

As its name suggests, PrivateVPN enables you to take complete control over your privacy online. By default, you’ll connect to their network (numbering 70+ nodes in 60 countries) through a tunnel of 256-bit AES encryption–unbreakable even if you were to pool all the world’s current computing power for a brute force attack. You have the option to step this down to 128 bits when you want a boost in speed, which might well be the case in bandwidth-poor countries like Eritrea. On the other hand, if you’re facing harsh censorship measures, activate “stealth mode” to make your encrypted VPN traffic look like regular, unencrypted traffic. This is especially useful for breaking through VPN-blocking systems like the Great Firewall of China.

Whatever you use it for, you’ll always enjoy a snappy connection thanks to its well-maintained network and lightweight software. Dedicated apps are available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Learn more in our PrivateVPN review.

Benefits of Using a VPN in Eritrea

Protect your privacy

Everything you do online can be tracked, traced back to your IP address, and logged. This is common practice among ISPs. That information can be looked up at any time by the ISP, law enforcement, and government officials. By using a VPN, you use an IP address that is located elsewhere, hiding your identity in the process. Furthermore, any information that goes through this VPN is encrypted, securing it from prying eyes – and protecting your identity and location.

Beat geo-blocking and censorship

If you’re trying to access content online that’s unavailable in your country (“geo-blocking”), using a VPN can help you get around that. All you have to do is open your VPN app, select a VPN located in a country that isn’t geo-blocked for what you want to view, and you’re good to go.

For example, if you wanted to access Netflix, you would select a VPN located in the United States. Your IP address would now show that you’re “located” in the U.S., removing the block and allowing you to stream problem-free. Of course, bandwidth restrictions in Eritrea make streaming difficult, but the point stands: even basic news outlets and social media are filtered out by Eritrean censorship methods. By connecting to the Internet through a VPN located outside of the organization’s jurisdiction, you can view these sites freely (so long as the security guard breathing down your neck in an Internet cafe doesn’t notice).

Access P2P networks

Using a VPN for P2P sharing can be especially useful in Eritrea. P2P networks allow you to send and receive files directly from another computer, without needing to route through a central server, leading to greater efficiency. While on its own, P2P servers can leave you vulnerable to hackers and other attacks, using a VPN alongside it can help you stay safe. That way, you can share potentially sensitive files directly to others without risk of leakage.

Prevent Internet throttling

There are many reasons for your Internet to be slower than normal. Let’s explore a few of them:

  • Your ISP is experiencing lots of traffic – much like roadways, Internet connections can encounter slowdowns and traffic jams. If a lot of people in the same region are using the Internet at the same time, they can max out the bandwidth, causing Internet speeds to go down. Given that most traffic within Eritrea is concentrated to a few major cities, and all of that traffic is handled by EriTel, you can count on this being the norm.
  • Jammed equipment – More commonly, your modem or router received more information than it could handle, making it slow down or freeze.
  • Your ISP is intentionally slowing things down – One reason is that some Internet subscriptions have a clause thrown in that allows your ISP to throttle your speed once you reach a certain data limit. Another reason is intentional – if you’re viewing something that takes a lot of bandwidth, your ISP could throttle your speed so they can divert it elsewhere. What’s more, EriTel regularly filters emails and other communications, further slowing down your connection.

By encrypting your traffic with a VPN, you prevent your ISP from seeing what you’re doing – and that means they can’t throttle your Internet.

Internet infrastructure in Eritrea

Eritrea has the least-developed telecommunications system in Africa. As of 2019, just 11% of the population has access to mobile Internet, while wired connections are virtually nonexistent throughout the country. Personal computers are almost equally rare, with the sole exception being the nation’s capital, Asmara.

These dismal numbers are actually a marked improvement from previous years, as the national telecom EriTel pushed a major 3G rollout in 2014. Still, state-run monopolies are notoriously poor at allowing the competition necessary to expedite development and lowering of prices, and for now the Internet remains a luxury out of reach to most of Eritrea’s population. Even where there is mobile coverage, the network is patchy at best, while daily power outages further cripple tech access.

Medieval censorship – a reality in Eritrea

Although community centers, digital libraries, and computers classes are entering communities, online access for most Eritreans is generally restricted to Internet cafes. Here, they can reserve blocks of time, usually anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours. However, speeds are incredibly slow at best and unusable at worst–even basic emails can take full minutes to send.

Here, security agents are posted, watching over computer-users’ shoulders, leading to citizens self-censoring themselves from the websites they visit. If they don’t, with security breathing down their necks, they may face consequences: being followed out of the café, interrogated, and hauled down to the police station. There have been harsher reprisals, including vanishing journalists.

Exacerbating the problem is the fact that foreigners can’t buy SIM cards, while Eritreans must pay an expensive application fee to secure one. That means, if you bring a mobile device into the country, don’t expect to be able to connect to mobile Internet with a local SIM. Instead, you’ll either pay exorbitant roaming fees with your carrier, or run the risks involved in accessing the sparse public Wi-Fi.

In the latter case, it is essential that you take steps to secure your privacy by using a VPN. While a VPN won’t stop security guards from looking over your shoulder, it will help you beat artificial throttling from EriTel, while blocking out all attempts by the government or hackers to snoop in on your activity. In the digital “wild west” that is Eritrea, any online protection you can get is a massive advantage.

Conclusion

Ultimately, Eritrea is not a great place for Internet goers. Between aggressive censorship, widespread corruption, poor Internet infrastructure, and a state-owned monopoly on all telecommunications, it’ll be very difficult to even send an email without someone snooping into your business. Depending on the contents of your data requests, you could land into serious trouble with the law, as well.

While a VPN isn’t a silver bullet in a country with as many connectivity issues as Eritrea, it is still the single best measure you can take to regain some control over your privacy. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: if you plan to travel to Eritrea with your own device, make sure to sign up for your VPN and install its software BEFORE embarking on your journey.

Do you live in Eritrea, or have you traveled there? What was your experience connecting to the Internet, with or without a VPN? Let us know your story in the comments below.

Read Best VPN for Eritrea in 2019 to Fight Censorship and Speak Freely by Diego Villena on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Best VPN for Iraq in 2019 to Bypass Internet Censorship

Are you living in or planning to travel to Iraq? As the conflict with the Islamic State continues to shape governmental policy regarding privacy, it’s never been more important to protect yourself. Today, we’ll show you the best VPN for Iraq to help you do just that.

As of 2019, Iraq is rated “not free” by freedomhouse.org. While this has more to do with political corruption than overt censorship of the Internet, there are still restrictions on free speech, especially that in support of the now-banned Baathist party.

In a country where rule of law is often enforced by tribal bodies rather than the dysfunctional judiciary, you want to ensure that you retain your online privacy. Otherwise, you open yourself up to hearsay and false claims of your activity. A VPN can help, and this guide will show you the best providers to shore up your cybersecurity in war-torn Iraq, or anywhere else in the world.

What makes a good VPN?

There is an overwhelming selection of VPN providers on the market, each claiming to be the best. How do you choose? We’ve made it simple by narrowing it down to a quick list of what we think are the best, based on the following criteria:

  • Servers – Lots of servers located in many countries throughout the world yields faster, more stable connections. It also gives you more choices when bypassing geoblocks to view restricted content.
  • Encryption – Military-grade 256-bit AES encryption is the industry standard for good reason: it can’t be broken by any known means of brute force attack. Settle for nothing less.
  • Logging – A VPN should never keep records of what you do on their network, otherwise these can be hacked or requisitioned by government authorities to identify you.

What makes a bad VPN?

When your security is on the line in troubled countries like Iraq, stay far away from so-called “free” VPNs. These offer free access to their networks in exchange for free access to your personal data, which they happily sell off to the highest bidder, making you less safe than before. Some even hijack your device in secret to be used as part of a botnet. Your peace of mind and safety is worth the investment of a few dollars a month.

Best VPNs for Iraq

Now that you know a bit more about how a good provider can protect you and how a bad one can harm you, let’s take a look at the very best VPNs for use in Iraq:

1. Express VPN

ExpressVPN consistently ranks at the top of most VPN-best lists, and it isn’t hard to see why. This provider has all but set the standard for VPN benchmarks, offering some of the most consistently fast connection speeds you’ll find anywhere. ExpressVPN’s incredible performance is due in large part to their extensive server network, numbering 3,000+ nodes in 94 countries worldwide, which gives you plenty of options to find the very best connection given your location. To help you dial things in, ExpressVPN even offers a built-in speed test.

But what good is speed in a country like Iraq without security? ExpressVPN is uncompromising, offering 256-bit AES encryption over OpenVPN, as well as options to use L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and SSTP for busting through extra-tough censorship. Backing this up is an automatic kill switch (desktop software only), DNS leak protection, and a solid no-logging policy covering your connection and usage metadata.

Rounding out the package is extreme ease of use. When you’re looking for a privacy solution fast, ExpressVPN offers a one-click interface absolutely anyone can use. Coupled with wide software availability for virtually any operating system on the market, and you’ve got one of the most complete overall VPN offerings money can buy.

Read our full ExpressVPN review to learn more.

Pros

  • Unblocks US Netflix
  • Super fast servers (minimal speed loss)
  • Torrenting/P2P allowed
  • Strict no-logs policy for personal information
  • Live chat support available.
Cons

  • Expensive month-to-month plan.
BEST FOR IRAQ: ExpressVPN offers the perfect balance of speed, security, and usability. Get a year of service 49% off, plus 3 extra months free with our link.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN may not have the single biggest server network in the industry, but it’s not far off. Currently numbering over 5,400 servers in 60 countries worldwide, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to tailoring your VPN connection to your needs. Sheer numbers not enough? Dig down into the advanced settings to access special servers preconfigured for various uses, like obfuscation, multi-hop VPN, anti-DDoS, and even onion over VPN when anonymity is of the utmost importance.

NordVPN locks hackers, ISPs, and snooping governments out of your data stream with 256-bit AES encryption, and covers your tracks online with one of the most comprehensive no-logging policies you’ll find anywhere. You’ll never have to worry about artificial caps on your precious Iraqi bandwidth or speed, either, as NordVPN explicitly guarantees against the practice of throttling.

You can use one account with NordVPN to protect up to six devices, with dedicated software available for all the major device platforms, including Mac OS, Android, iOS, Windows, and many more besides. If you encounter any issues NordVPN has an exceptional customer service department that offers 24/7 support along with a large array of knowledge documentation in their online help centre.

Read our full review of NordVPN.

Pros

  • Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer without breaking a sweat
  • Different IP addresses aervers
  • Torrenting/P2P explicitly allowed
  • Strict zero logs policy on both traffic and metadata
  • Customer Service (24/7 Chat).
Cons

  • Not much
  • Can’t specify City or Province in App.
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3. CyberGhost

If ease of use and reliability are important to you, CyberGhost fits the bill perfectly. This provider offers incredible Internet protection without overcomplicating the user experience. The interface is colourful, minimalistic, and presents you with six simple choices upfront to tailor the VPN settings to your current needs online (this can include unblocking censored websites, staying extra-safe on public Wi-Fi connections, and more). With a single click, you’ll be off and running in full confidence!

Behind the scenes, CyberGhost packs some impressive features, including 256-bit AES encryption and a massive server network offering 3,700+ connections in 60 countries worldwide. If you want to take a more hands-on approach in configuring your software, you can toggle on settings to block out adds, compress your data stream, or even step down some security provisions in order to boost speed (especially useful in bandwidth-starved Iraqi networks). All of this is backed by one of the industry’s best no-logging policies–they don’t even store the email you use to sign up.

CyberGhost’s lightweight software is available on every major operating system, and your subscription grants powerful VPN protection to as many as five devices simultaneously.

Read our full review of CyberGhost.

Pros

  • LOW PRICE: 6 EXTRA free months (79% off – link below)
  • Affordable plans
  • Located in Romania (out of 14 eyes)
  • Private: Strong no logs policy
  • Live chat support (24/7).
Cons

  • Sometimes experiencing average speeds.
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4. PureVPN

PureVPN does things a little differently: rather than settling for anonymizing your IP address and encrypting your traffic, this provider goes a step further with a whole suite of cybersecurity provisions. This includes malware shields, app blocking, DNS level website filtering, and even dedicated anti-virus protection.

Bells and whistles aside, PureVPN makes it onto our list thanks to its outstanding core VPN functionality. Your subscription nets you 256-bit AES encryption, a kill-switch add-on, SecureDNS leak protection, and a strict no-logging policy. PureVPN also offers connections to over 2000 servers, located in a whopping 140 countries worldwide. This means Iraqi users can truly access the breadth of the free and open Internet in just a few easy clicks.

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How to activate your VPN for protection in Iraq

Once you’ve settled on a VPN provider, the hard part is over. While the process may vary slightly depending on your provider and device, you can generally get up and running with full-blown VPN protection in a matter of minutes using these instructions:

  1. Navigate to your VPN’s product page, and choose a subscription that fits your needs and budget. Create an account, and complete payment.
  2. You’ll likely receive email confirmation of the purchase, along with a link to download the right software for your device. (If this isn’t the case, return to the VPN website, log in, and search for the downloads page in the menu). Once you’ve clicked through, follow the installation instructions, and wait for the process to complete.
  3. Now that the software is on your device, sign in using your account credentials. This will trigger the app to automatically launch, and connect to the nearest VPN server.
  4. Depending on your goals, you may be fine with the default settings. If you want to unblock content from a specific country, simply navigate to your VPN software’s server list to change countries, and search for the appropriate location. With a single click, your data will be routed through that node, and relabeled with an IP address matching that location.
  5. The last step is option, but recommended for top security. In your browser, navigate to ipleak.net to test your connection. The site will automatically detect your IP address, and display the corresponding country. If it’s the country you connected to, congratulations! You are fully protected by your VPN. (For example, if you connect to Canadian VPN server, ipleak.net will display your IP location as being in Canada. If it displays Iraq, contact your VPN’s customer support to troubleshoot the problem).

Three reasons to use a VPN in Iraq

Anonymity

Capacity for online surveillance worldwide has increased, and civilians everywhere criticize the lack of transparency on how these measures are used. VPNs disguise your IP address, thus preventing anyone from tracing your activity back to you personally. This is especially important in places like Iraq where rule of law is arbitrated not by a fair and impartial government, but instead largely by local sects with competing motivations and prejudices. You may be doing something online you consider innocent enough, which is punishable by whoever happens to be monitoring your connection. The privacy provisions afforded by a VPN make this a non-issue.

Data protection

Kurdistan controls Iraq’s Internet access, and thus has free rein to monitor traffic as it sees fit. VPNs can help to protect you from snoopers by encrypting your online data and hiding your IP address. So, if someone does manage to get a lock on your data stream, they won’t know where it came from, where it’s going, or what its contents are. Instead, they’ll simply see an indecipherable string of nonsense, courtesy of powerful VPN cryptography.

Beat geoblocking

The Internet is mankind’s most important invention since the printing press, and is responsible for an unprecedented sharing and free flow of ideas and communications. Why should you have to suffer with limited access based on your geographic location? Unfortunately, this is a reality for people all over the world, and the problem is worse for countries like Iraq. By using your VPN to connect to a foreign server, you borrow another country’s IP address and thus gain a digital passport to enjoy the free and open Internet.

Avoid throttling

ISPs are known to practice throttling, which means they intentionally slow down your internet speeds. This happens for many reasons, but Kurdish control over the bulk of Iraqi Internet has prompted the Iraq government to nationalize what little infrastructure they have left, hiking prices as high as $399 per month for 1 mbps access. With bandwidth at a premium, it’s crucial to ensure you get your money’s worth by evading targeted throttling at all costs; your VPN “tunnel” hides the nature of whatever you do online, preserving your connection speeds.

Conclusion

Iraq isn’t exactly a hub of Internet activity, with only a small portion of the population even able to go online. Those few users have to deal with politically motivated outages, sky-high costs, and questionable judicial oversight should they be accused of viewing restricted content or posting support for banned political factions. Whether you live in Iraq, or are simply traveling there, it pays to be prepared to defend your privacy online. The very best way to do that is with a VPN, and today we showed you four of the best providers for this purpose.

What are your experiences with the Internet in Iraq? Has a VPN helped you overcome limitations endemic to the region? Let us know your thoughts below.

Read Best VPN for Iraq in 2019 to Bypass Internet Censorship by Diego Villena on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

The Best VPN for Tunisia in 2019

Looking for the best VPNs for Tunisia? In today’s guide, we’ll recommend the best providers, why you need a VPN, and take an in-depth look at the state of Internet freedom in Tunisia.

If you were to ask a cross section of Tunisians what the current state of internet freedom is in their country, you’d likely get a perplexing mix of opinions. On the surface, things are vastly improved following the Tunisian Revolution, which culminated in the ouster of then-President Ben Ali in 2011. Indeed, the current Nidaa Tounes government touts free and open information and expression as central tenets of post-revolutionary Tunisia.

However, many privacy hawks are concerned by the disparity between what the government says, and what it actually does with respect to internet privacy and individual liberty. Today, we’ll be taking a critical look at the sometimes paradoxical reality of Tunisia’s political landscape, then show you how to stay safe using a virtual private network. Whether you’re a Tunisian citizen or simply there for a short-term stay, you’ll want to pay close attention to our recommendations for the best VPNs for Tunisia.

Best VPNs for online privacy in Tunisia

Obviously, no one wants to be hauled off to prison simply for speaking their mind on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites. However, when all domestic traffic is seemingly subject to governmental scrutiny, there is little for the common individual to do to fight back. That is, except, for using a VPN.

Here are the top 5 VPNs for Tunisia:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN for almost any occasion or location. No other provider balances speed, security, usability so well, and we’re happy to recommend it to Tunisian users. First off, Internet speeds in Tunisia aren’t the fastest, so you don’t want your VPN slowing you down more than absolutely necessary. This is where ExpressVPN earns its namesake, offering a robust network of servers located throughout the world (3,000+ nodes in 94 countries), zero caps on speed or bandwidth, and even a built-in speed test to help you dial in your connection.

Security-wise, ExpressVPN offers military-grade 256-bit AES encryption over OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and SSTP. What’s more, there’s a sterling no-logging policy that destroys any record of your connection or usage metadata–in other words, your VPN can’t ever rat you out, even if they wanted to. Desktop versions of the software offer an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, and VPN split tunneling. Plus, with dedicated apps available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, game consoles, routers, and more, you’ll never have to go without protection on your favorite device. Each ExpressVPN subscription allows up to 3 simultaneous connections–perfect for families.

If that weren’t enough, ExpressVPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands–an ideal jurisdiction that is exempt from all the cyber surveillance agreements between world powers. With a couple of quick clicks in their attractive user interface, you’ll have access to the fastest and most powerful VPN protection on the market.

Read more in our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • Unblocks US Netflix
  • Fastest servers we have tested
  • Secure encryption & VPN protocols
  • No logging policy well enforced
  • 24/7 Customer Service.
Cons

  • Month-to-month plan has high cost.
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2. NordVPN

NordVPN may not have the single biggest sever network on the planet, but it’s close. Subscribers enjoy unlimited access to 5,400+ servers in 60 countries, with thousands of IPs located throughout nearby Europe or anywhere else a Tunisian user might desire. But sheer size isn’t the sole reason to give NordVPN your consideration–there’s a well-developed array of specialty servers tailored to functionalities like double VPN, onion over VPN, obfuscation, anti-DDoS, P2P, and dedicated IP address. That means, no matter what you want to do online, you can do it safer and faster with NordVPN.

Speaking of security, NordVPN stands tall with 256-bit AES encryption over OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, and SSTP–a standard so tough, it has more key combinations than stars in the known universe. Extra privacy protections include a kill switch, DNS leak protection, plus toggles for ad and malware blockers. Even better, NordVPN is located in Panama (a perfect location due to the country’s staunch privacy laws), and upholds a strict no-logging policy which has been independently verified.

Connections are fast and stable, and completely unencumbered by speed or bandwidth caps. NordVPN admittedly has a lot of features to pack into one software suite, but they do a good job of making the interface intuitive enough for anyone to use. Dedicated apps are available on all major platforms, and your subscription protects up to 6 devices at once.

Learn more in our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • Very affordable plans
  • Extensive server park of over 5,400 different servers
  • Torrenting is explicitly permitted
  • Extra-secure Double VPN for data encryption
  • 30-day money back guarantee.
Cons

  • Refund processing can take up to 30 days.
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3. CyberGhost

If you’re looking for a turnkey solution for greater privacy online, CyberGhost is well worth a look. In fact, among our recommended providers, CyberGhost is perhaps the most user-friendly of them all. Upon launching the app, you’ll be greeted by 6 plain-language options to automatically configure your VPN settings based on what you want to do. (These include: Surf Anonymously, Unblock Streaming, Protect Network, Torrent Anonymously, Unblock Basic Websites and Choose My Server.) This is ideal for people who might be daunted by the technical nature of a VPN; who just want the best protection they can get without the hassle.

Of course, power users will find a lot to love with CyberGhost as well. There’s 256-bit AES encryption, one of the industry’s best no-logging policies, wide app availability across major platforms, and a massive network of 3,700+ servers in 60 countries worldwide–spoiling you for choice when choosing a freer country to connect through nearby to Tunisia.

Get more info in our full CyberGhost review.

Pros

  • LOW PRICE: 6 EXTRA free months (79% off – link below)
  • Great user experience and easy installation
  • Versatile and user-friendly
  • No log files
  • 45-days ‘No-hassle’ money back guarante.
Cons

  • Sometimes experiencing average speeds.
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4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN’s server network looks small on paper (currently around 85 nodes in 60 unique locations worldwide), but PrivateVPN has purchased its capacity directly from the IP transit provider, rather than the overburdened hosting companies used by other providers. Users benefit directly from improved uptime, faster speeds, and more stable connection–all of which are relevant concerns to Tunisians.

Where PrivateVPN truly shines, however, is its ability to unblock streaming sites, even ones like Netflix that employ sophisticated VPN blocking methods. There are servers specifically labeled for this task, which are updated regularly to stay ahead in the game of cat-and-mouse. If that doesn’t work, try PrivateVPN’s “stealth mode”, which obfuscates your encrypted traffic to look like regular, unencrypted traffic.

Rounding out the package are 256-bit AES encryption, plus a solid no-logging policy. Apps available on Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android.

Check out our full PrivateVPN review for more.

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How did we make our recommendations?

There’s no lack of VPNs on the market with advertising campaigns loudly exclaiming their superiority over the competition. So, how did we separate the wheat from the chaff for purposes of this article?

We’ve done extensive testing of all the best (and some of the not-so-best) VPNs on the market, and have come up with these recommendations for Tunisian internet-goers. Our choices are based on the following criteria, where VPNs:

  • Must have a great reputation – Signing onto a VPN subscription is an act of trust that the provider won’t sell your privacy off to the highest bidder or engage in other shady practices. We’ve only recommend services with proven track records.
  • Must offer industry-standard security features – There are certain mission-critical factors that must be in place in order for a VPN to be worth your money and trust. You’ll want to ensure your data is protected behind adequate encryption, and that you have access to a wide variety of proxy servers to connect to. Extra features like a kill switch or DNS leak protection never hurt, either.
  • Must not keep logs – The promise of anonymity is rendered meaningless when your VPN keeps a tab on your activities. Even if they say they’ll never snitch on you to third parties, changing legislature can force them to. The best choice is to make sure they keep no logs at all.
  • Must offer wide software availability – Fancy features and powerful protections are worth little to you if your device can’t actually run the VPN software. Our recommendations are available on all the major platforms, and then some.

Steer clear of free VPNs

It might be tempting to spring for a free VPN–after all, what is there to lose when there’s no monthly subscription fee? Turns out, quite a lot. It’s been proven that some free VPNs can make you less safe than using no VPN at all, with others going so far as to hijack your device for use in a botnet.

And really, it makes sense when you think about it: free VPNs still have bills to pay, and must collect money somehow. Often times, they’ll collect your user data and sell it off to advertisers–nothing new here. But, there’s nothing stopping them from passing that same data off to less trustworthy entities either. Even if they don’t do this, free VPNs may bombard you with ads of their own, severely limit your connection speeds or bandwidth, or just simply employ sub-par encryption or logging policies.

At any rate, it pays to invest in your privacy online. In countries like Tunisia, it can cost you dearly to cheap out.

What is a VPN? – A quick newbie’s guide

A VPN, or virtual private network, is an essential SaaS (software as a service) product designed to maintain your privacy online. It works by signing onto a subscription with a reputable VPN provider, which then nets you access to their software. Once downloaded and installed, this software wraps every packet of data that leaves your computer, phone or other internet connected device in a layer of encryption before routing it through a remote proxy server. The server then decodes this encrypted data and passes it onto its intended destination labeled with a fake IP address.

What does this mean in plain English? Essentially, a VPN builds a secure tunnel between your device and the rest of the internet. This tunnel makes it impossible for third parties to read the contents of your data stream. What’s more, the proxy server makes it appear as though you’re physically located somewhere other than where you actually are by “spoofing” your IP address. In the fight against cyber-surveillance and online oppression, there is no more powerful tool than a VPN.

Internet freedoms in Tunisia – Then and now

As is the case with almost any country, no conversation about internet freedom can be had without first taking a higher-level view of politics as a whole. The 20th century has seen Tunisia march steadily towards secularism, but the road there has not been without its bumps. Former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali rose to power promising democratic reforms for the country, but nevertheless steadily consolidated power through authoritarian policies designed to undermine any form of opposition.

Ben Ali’s oppression

With the advent of the internet came new ways for people to skirt government censorship of the press and media. Ben Ali was not content to allow his critics to gain a voice, and enacted numerous concerted attacks on internet freedom. Internet filtering was a powerful method of suppression dissension, with Ben Ali’s government even coercing Internet cafés into doing their dirty work.

Internet users would have to provide photo ID to access public internet, where then their activities would be closely monitored. What’s more, all downloads and emails were run through a central server, which filtered out any content deemed subversive. This is just one of many ways Ben Ali kept his would-be opponents in check.

Post-revolutionary Tunisia

Fast forward to 2011, Ben Ali has resigned the presidency following the political abandonment of the military and key legislative members from his side. A rejection of the strong-arm tactics employed by the now-denounced leader, the provisional government soon thereafter declared all information and expression to be free and open, in accordance with the new and progressive philosophy of governance.

The Minister of Communication Technologies even went so far as to declare the 404 Error message (404 Ammar) dead in the water. This movement has been hailed far and wide as a major victory for internet liberties in the Arab world. Tunisia has gone on to join the Freedom Online Coalition, a group of 30 nations “committed to protecting and promoting online freedoms domestically and abroad.”

Tunisia today

So, has Tunisia become a utopia of online freedoms? Well, not exactly. While progressive reforms continue to pass through parliament, such as the 2017 whistleblower protection law, there remain many obstacles and even setbacks still to overcome. Walid Zarrouk, for example, has been sentenced to a full year in prison for simply making a Facebook post criticizing members of a governmental counterterrorism agency.

Events like this stem from as of yet unreformed legislation within Tunisia’s existing penal code, which give the government the power to punish any speech deemed as defamation posted by its citizens online. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only countermeasure against free speech either, as in 2011 a group of lawyers secured a court order forcing the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) to block pornographic websites. The ATI has since begun an appeals process that has yet to be ratified.

Clearly, there is a substantial shortcoming of political will to push back against the encroachment of authoritarian internet policies. You’ll have to take matters into your own hands by using a VPN.

Conclusion

Tunisia is a country undergoing significant technological and political changes. It therefore behooves you to be prepared for whatever comes your way, be it crackdowns on social media and journalists, or outright censorship of entire swathes of the Internet. We’ve given you the lowdown on the best VPNs for Tunisia, so invest confidently in your privacy with our recommendations.

Do you live in or frequently travel to Tunisia? How will you use your VPN? Let us know in the comments below!

Read The Best VPN for Tunisia in 2019 by Diego Villena on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

The Best VPN for WeChat Working in 2019

In this post, we’ll go over the best VPNs for WeChat you can use to protect your privacy and ensure a smooth experience with the service, no matter where you are in the world (even China).

While WeChat is owned by a private company, it is heavily affiliated with the Chinese government. This can be problematic, given the app’s poor track record of maintaining users’ privacy. In one instance, the holding company – Tencent – admitted to handing messages that users deleted on their phones over to the police.

Knowing that every message you’ve ever sent on the app can possibly be retrieved and used against you can be worrisome. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a digital nomad traveling through China, or a permanent resident. Using VPNs that come with built-in encryption is one way to feel more secure when using the app inside mainland China. With the VPNs below, you’ll be able to enjoy WeChat safely and securely from anywhere. At the same time, we give you the information you need to make the best choice for yourself – and avoid VPNs that can expose you to various risks, like DNS leaks and data logging.

Why use a VPN to access WeChat outside China?

Many countries have blocked the WeChat app for various reasons. In one case, Russia blocked the app because it had (reportedly) failed to properly register with the country’s authorities. WeChat was reinstated and unblocked just months later, but users had to go without coverage for that period. At least two other countries have either asked or outright told people not to use WeChat. The Australian and US militaries have both instructed their staff members, administrative and otherwise, to avoid the app due to security concerns.

But even if WeChat isn’t blocked where you are, there are several reasons to use a VPN to access it. First, using a local IP can give you a more native experience, with Chinese-language ads and messages. Second, using a Chinese IP means you can view content that is exclusively available in Mainland China, but blocked outside of it. For these reasons, as well as personal preferences and tastes, you may prefer to get a VPN to access WeChat outside China.

Top recommended VPNs to unblock WeChat

There are many VPN providers on the market, but only a few of them have the ability to punch through the Great Firewall of China while delivering good performance. Below, you’ll find the top 4 VPNs to unblock WeChat from anywhere:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN consistently ranks as the #1 VPN for a variety of use cases – and WeChat is no exception. For starters, ExpressVPN has a massive server network, delivering ready access to 3,000+ proxy servers in 94. countries. This ensures users inside and outside China can enjoy low latencies and high download speeds wherever they are. The service uses 256-bit encryption that’s virtually unbreakable, which means that any third party – including the Chinese government – is extremely unlikely to succeed hacking into your data. ExpressVPN also has one of the best zero-logging policies out there, with no logs on traffic, DNS requests, IP addresses, or browsing history.

Despite being on the cutting edge of VPN technology, ExpressVPN is easy to install and set up. With a dead-simple one-click interface giving you ready access to its suite of features, as well as dedicated software apps for virtually every platform, you’ll get top-tier protection no matter how you choose to connect to the internet. Bandwidth is unlimited, there are no speed caps, and ExpressVPN never discriminates against certain types of traffic–perfect for streaming, downloading, and browsing to your heart’s content without buffering or slowdown.

Check out our full ExpressVPN review for a deeper look into its unique features.

Pros

  • Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services
  • Super fast servers (minimal speed loss)
  • Torrenting/P2P allowed
  • Strict no-logs policy for personal information
  • 24/7 Live Chat.
Cons

  • Expensive month-to-month plan.

2. NordVPN

In terms of sheer utility, NordVPN is hard to beat. With over 5,420 proxy servers in 60 countries, the network is extremely fast, offering unprecedented choice of IP addresses worldwide while guaranteeing high download speeds and low latencies. Handy for WeChat is the fact that NordVPN comes with a range of specialty servers, including obfuscated servers that hide the fact you’re using a VPN, and multi-hop servers which wrap your data in two layers of encryption. And speaking of encryption, rest easy knowing you’re guarded by 256-bit AES cryptography over OpenVPN, with the option to switch to the SSTP protocol for piercing the Great Firewall. If you’re at all worried about the Chinese government finding out about your VPN use, this is definitely a great service to go with.

NordVPN’s zero-logging policy is one of the most complete in the industry, and it includes traffic, IP addresses, timestamps, bandwidth and browsing history. The holding company is based in Panama, making it exempt from the Five, Nine and Fourteen Eyes surveillance agreements between major world governments. Last but not least, NordVPN’s software is available for all common desktop and mobile operating systems, including Windows, MacOS, iOS, Linux and Android – and you can connect up to 6 devices at once.

Learn more about this outstanding provider in our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • Optimized servers for unblocking Netflix
  • Fast and stable connections
  • Connect up to 6 devices at once
  • No logs and encrypted connections for total privacy
  • Live Chat Support.
Cons

  • Some servers can be unreliable
  • Apps can sometime be slow to connect.
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3. PrivateVPN

On paper, PrivateVPN doesn’t look like much, with its relatively small network spanning around 90 servers in 60 countries. However, this provider punches way above its weight, with a variety of features that put it on par or even above some of the toughest competition in the VPN industry. Notably for WeChat users is “stealth mode”, which sneaks past China’s Great Firewall by making encrypted L2TP traffic look like harmless, unencrypted traffic in a process known as obfuscation. In our testing, PrivateVPN not only enabled consistent access through, but offered impressively fast speeds for just about any task. It’s even great at unblocking streaming services like Netflix, with specially labeled servers enabling you to do so.

Worried about privacy? Don’t be, PrivateVPN isn’t just a clever name. With 256-bit AES encryption locking down your data stream, plus a no-logging guarantee that destroys any record of your connection or usage metadata, you won’t ever have to worry about your VPN failing you against tough censorship. Concerned about compatibility with your favorite WeChat device? PrivateVPN has you covered there too, with dedicated apps available for all major platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and many more.

Read more in our comprehensive PrivateVPN review.

4. PureVPN

PureVPN is a veteran of the VPN industry, and has more than a few tricks up its sleeve to deal with just about anything you throw at it. First, we’ll look at the server network, which covers an already-impressive 2,000+ nodes in an outright mind-boggling 141+ countries. Many of these servers are located in places few other VPNs have access to, including 6 locations in China (Guangdong and Shanghai). This enables you to pierce the world’s most powerful censorship method with just a couple of clicks. WeChat users will be glad to know they don’t have to sacrifice on performance either, with zero caps on speed, bandwidth, or server switches.

Powerful 256-bit AES encryption secures your activity and identity against virtually any hacking effort, while a solid no-logging policy underpins your privacy. Not enough, you say? How about an entire suite of cybersecurity extras including app filtering, DDoS protection, getting a dedicated IP address, NAT firewalls, anti-spam filtering, and even antivirus software. With PureVPN, you can really do it all, anywhere in the world.

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How we made our VPN recommendations

The VPN market is a booming one, which can be a blessing and a curse for the average consumer. While there are some outstanding VPNs out there, how are you supposed to find them, with so many companies constantly striving to outdo one another with their feature claims?

There are two key considerations to keep in mind: privacy and performance. Chinese authorities have no qualms about peering into your activity online, so your VPN will need strong security provisions to withstand sophisticated governmental penetration efforts. We recommend you settle for nothing less than industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption to lock down each packet of data leaving your device; plus a complete no-logging policy, in which your provider guarantees never to keep any data which might be used to identify you–no matter who comes asking for those (nonexistent) records.

Secondly, consider that speed and stability are requirements for a good quality of life when surfing, downloading, or chatting online. You want to make sure your chosen provider maintains a robust network of well-maintained proxy servers in order to minimize latency. What’s more, you should always avoid VPNs which place artificial caps on bandwidth, speed, or how many times you can switch servers.

We picked each of our recommendations according to the above criteria, and happily laud these providers as the best VPNs on the market for WeChat, or any other application.

What else can you use your VPN for?

Now you know everything you need to know in order to pick the perfect VPN for your WeChat use. But as you may have already figured out, the services above aren’t just handy for accessing the world’s most popular messenger. For example, you can use them to access streaming services like Hulu from Europe, the US and elsewhere. You can also use them to access services like Facebook while traveling inside China. Perhaps most importantly, you can use your VPN to browse the internet securely in virtually every scenario you can think of. (To learn how you can use your VPN without your internet service provider (ISP) finding out, click here.)

Forget about using free VPNs or proxies

Unfortunately, the best things in life are rarely free, and that is certainly the case with VPNs. You just can’t rely on free providers to protect you from China’s powerful censorship and surveillance methods, since they lack powerful encryption, servers in the country, or other sophisticated methods of obfuscating their connection. What’s worse, many of these services actually make you less safe by collecting your sensitive user data and selling it off to the highest bidder.

What about proxies? These services by definition lack encryption, and only reroute your data through remote nodes. Even if you found a proxy that has servers in China, you wouldn’t have a single degree of privacy. What’s worse, most paid proxies cost the same or more than our recommended VPN providers, so why pay more for less?

About WeChat

WeChat, also known as Weixin in its native China, is the world’s biggest instant messenger. As of 2018, it has well over a billion users; its holding firm, Tencent, is China’s second-most valuable company with a market cap of over $348 billion. When you first look at WeChat, it seems very similar to similar apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. But the fact is, WeChat does a whole lot more. You can use it to order cabs, get someone flowers, pay for products and deliveries, and even meet singles in your area. The more you learn about WeChat, the more you realize that it’s more of a multifunctional entertainment and utility app than a just another plain-jane messenger.

At the same time, WeChat isn’t without its fair share of controversy. First, it was built to run behind the Great Firewall of China – and certain governments and agencies have tried to block it off in the past, sometimes successfully. Second, WeChat is supported by the Chinese government – and is perhaps unsurprisingly happy to censor and monitor users. In fact, WeChat is known to provide authorities with its collection of user logs, when it’s asked to do so. For these reasons, users inside and outside China often want to use a VPN to either access the app, or get a degree of anonymity via encryption.

In closing

WeChat users, whether in China or outside the country, can benefit from using a VPN. Whether it’s for bypassing censorship to access the free and open Internet, or simply blocking hackers and governments from snooping in on your conversations, a VPN is an indispensable cybersecurity tool. Today, we’ve gone over a few of our favorite providers proven to pierce through the Great Firewall of China to enable freer, more private use of the world’s largest instant messenger service.

How will you use your VPN? Do you have any provider suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comments below!

Read The Best VPN for WeChat Working in 2019 by Diego Villena on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter