Qatar VOIP Ban: Unblock VOIP Calls and Facetime (2019)

Today’s guide will show you how to beat the Qatar VoIP ban easily using a VPN. With one of our recommended VPN providers installed onto your desktop or mobile device, you’ll be able to unblock VoIP and other sites and services banned by the Qatari government.

Government censorship is nothing new. It might seem like governments are cracking down more frequently on free and open communication channels but they’ve always done this. It’s just more noticeable in the digital age because communication is so much faster. When a communication channel breaks down, people notice it more quickly. The people in Qatar did notice when, during the past few weeks, VOIP apps like Skype and WhatsApp stopped working. It seems the government has banned these two apps though there isn’t any official confirmation and ISPs are denying any role in the Qatar VOIP ban.

Qatar Blocks VOIP Apps

This ban has been on-going since early September. According to Doha News, the problem started early in this month with no explanation behind the cause. It appears FaceTime isn’t working either though, it may not be related to this particular ban.

These are the best VPNs to unblock VOIP calls in Qatar

In countries like UAE, FaceTime is banned altogether and the iPhones sold there simply do not have the app. Perhaps Qatar is implementing something similar. Even if that were true, the disruption in Skype and Whatsapp cannot be overlooked. WhatsApp has had global service problems this past month but it was nothing like what people in Qatar are experiencing at the moment. Qatar’s Communications Regulatory Authority promised to look into the matter but has remained silent since.

While it appears that most users are experiencing trouble with Skype and WhatsApp, other messaging services like Facebook Messenger and Instagram Video Calling have also been effected.

It’s not clear why Skype has been blocked though, Whatsapp might have come under scrutiny because of its end-to-end encryption that prevents governments from intercepting messages. VOIP services are banned in religiously conservative countries like Saudi Arabia and UAE but Qatar has never had a problem with them in the past. At present, there doesn’t seem to be any reason that might motivate the government to consider a ban on these services either.

Unblock the Qatar VOIP ban with a VPN

Users in Qatar have been getting around the VOIP ban by using VPNs. VPNs are already popular in the country among users who seek to access regionally restricted content on services like HBO Go and Netflix. It seems that while VOIP services have been blocked, many VPN services in Qatar continue to work without a hitch. They are, therefore, one of the simplest ways to get around the VOIP ban.

If you’re trying to make voice or video calls, you need a VPN service that doesn’t throttle speeds and that has a reliable connection. You also need the connection speed to remain constant and not fluctuate too much or it will impact the call quality. The VPN service should work on both desktop and mobile so that you can use your VOIP service of choice on the go. Lastly, if this does turn out to be a government initiated ban, you want to use a service that can protect your privacy as well.

Best VPNs for Qatar

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is an old and reliable VPN services that is used all over the world to circumvent regional restrictions and government bans alike. It has servers in countries like USA, UK, Hong Kong, Germany, Japan, and Australia. The service is particularly known for its high speed and reliable connection. It’s the go-to service for anyone looking to stream online media which means it is more than capable of handling voice and video calls.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • Unblocks Netflix and other streaming sites
  • Reliable and fast connections
  • Govt-level AES-256 encryption
  • No logging policy well enforced
  • Live Chat Support.
Cons

  • Month-to-month plan has high cost.
BEST FOR QATAR: ExpressVPN is our top choice for when in Qatar. Get 3 months free and save 49% on the annual plan. 30-day money back guarantee included.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN has more servers than any other VPN service currently in operation, numbering 5,600+ nodes in 60 countries. That is its strong suit and when it comes to government sanctioned bans, you need just such a service to get around it. Of course, it’s also very fast and above all, it has 256-bit AES encryption backed by a strict zero-logging policy which means your browsing is kept private. It has apps for all major desktop and mobile platforms so regardless which device you want to use Skype or Whatsapp on, NordVPN has you covered.

Read our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3-year plan (75% off – link below)
  • 5,400+ servers globally
  • Allows multiple connections (6 devices)
  • Retains no metadata of your browsing
  • Great support (24/7 chat).
Cons

  • Some servers can be slow and unreliable
  • Apps can be a bit cumbersome to use.
BEST BUDGET VPN: Get a huge 70% discount for signing up for the 3-year plan, taking the monthly price down to only $3.49. Also note that all plans come with a “no hassle” 30-day money-back guarantee.

Are VPNs Legal In Qatar?

As mentioned earlier, people in Qatar have been using VPNs for a long time and for a whole host of services. They are perfectly legal in the country with just one stipulation; you cannot use them to do anything that is illegal in the country. For example, if the government rules that accessing Wikipedia is illegal, then using a VPN to access it might be construed as a crime. Since there is no official statement on the Qatar VOIP ban from the government, using a VPN to access Skype and Whatsapp is perfectly legal.

Share Your Thoughts

Have you been affected by Qatar’s VOIP ban, and if so how have you dealt with it? Did you find our VPN recommendations useful? Let us know about your situation in the comments below.

Read Qatar VOIP Ban: Unblock VOIP Calls and Facetime (2019) by Fatima Wahab on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Best Gaming VPN 2019: No more Buffering and Lag

If you’ve been searching for the best VPN for gaming, this article will provide you with everything you need to know. Whether it’s bypassing an IP ban, beating ISP throttling or defying DDoS attacks, a VPN can be used for these issues and more. We’ll narrow down the crowded VPN market to the best providers for gamers who demand the perfect mix of privacy, performance, and cost.

Privacy and anonymity are usually the top concerns when people shop for a VPN. Gamers, on the other hand, are in the market for speed. VPNs have a reputation for being slower than the average local internet service provider, making it seem counter-productive to pair them with online gaming.

The practical benefits of using a VPN for gaming far outweigh the possibility of reducing your ping. Worldwide server availability makes it easy to access geo-restricted game servers otherwise inaccessible in your country. You can also use a VPN’s variable location to snag games hours or even weeks ahead of release in your region, as well as gain a layer of protection against DDoS attacks.

Evaluating VPN Providers

When looking for a good VPN to use for games, speed is the number one priority. Nothing kills online gaming like a laggy connection. If you can’t keep the latency down, you might as well just go offline and play solo. Using a VPN can cause a 10-20% reduction in your overall connection speed, which just isn’t acceptable for online gaming. To keep that sacrifice at a minimum, we made sure the providers below kept speed as a number one priority.

  • Upload and download speeds: Speed tests with VPNs will produce a wide variety of results depending on your location and the location of the server you’re testing. Raw upload and download numbers still matter, of course, so we sifted through the data to find VPN providers with the best overall speeds on the market.
  • Bandwidth and traffic caps: A fast connection won’t do you any good if you’ve reached your bandwidth allocation for the month. Even though the practice is losing popularity, some VPNs insist on throttling connections after a certain threshold has been met. The providers below all feature unlimited bandwidth with no caps or limiters in place, period.
  • Server availability: The farther your data has to travel, the greater your lag. Although it can be nice routing everything through servers on the other side of the world, this will have a noticeable impact on your connection speed. We picked VPN providers with a wide network of servers available in a number of locations, ensuring you won’t be short of choices when looking for a closer, faster connection.
  • Simultaneous connections: An often overlooked limitation of VPN providers is the number of devices that can be connected at once. If your PC, phone, tablet, laptop, and gaming console all share a connection, you might not be able to go online with them at the same time. This usually doesn’t cause problems for gamers themselves, mostly just other people who share the household internet. The providers we selected allow between three and six simultaneous connections, and several have options to increase that number through software upgrades or plan boosters.
  • Blocked file types: Some VPNs will block certain types of traffic, including P2P and torrents. While this won’t directly affect most of your online gaming, it can severely impact related activities as well as the time spent downloading the games themselves.
  • Logging policy: Speed is number one, but there’s no sense in giving up your right to privacy in the process. Local internet service providers have the ability to collect and even sell unencrypted data to third parties, all without your consent. VPNs employ deep encryption to keep that information scrambled. An important side feature of that encryption is a strict zero-logging policy. If a VPN doesn’t keep data on file, they can’t give it to third parties, end of story. You should never use a VPN that doesn’t detail a no-logging policy right up front.

Top 5 Best VPNs for Safer, Faster Gaming

With the above factors in consideration, we tested out all the major VPN providers on the market. Our research was conclusive, showing the following recommendations to be the very best VPNs for gaming:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is serious about speed, and they’re not afraid to show it. The biggest standout feature for this provider is the ability to run a speed test directly from their software. If you’re running the Windows, Mac, or Android versions of the ExpressVPN app, all you have to do is connect to a server, then choose “speed test” from the main menu. You’ll get a quick set of numbers that shows exactly how fast your connection is, complete with stats for latency, download speed, and overall index. It’s absolutely perfect for gaming and could be the main feature that makes ExpressVPN a little better than the rest.

Outside of its built-in speed tests, ExpressVPN pushes the envelope by providing over 3,000 servers located in 94 different countries, a large number even among the main VPN providers. Unlimited speed, unlimited bandwidth, and no file type restrictions are also part of the package, as is a no-exceptions zero-logging policy.

A potential downside to ExpressVPN as a gaming VPN is the device limitation. The standard is just three simultaneous connections at a time, meaning a PC, a gaming console, a phone, and that’s it. Additional device licenses are available to expand that number if you need it, so at the end of the day it’s not much of a deal breaker.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3 months free (49% off – link below)
  • 3,000+ super fast servers
  • Torrenting allowed
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • 24/7 Customer Service.
Cons

  • Slightly pricier than competition.
BEST FOR GAMING: ExpressVPN is by far the fastest and most secure VPN for gaming online. Get 3 months free and save 49% on the annual plan. 30-day money back guarantee included.

2. NordVPN

Overall, NordVPN isn’t the fastest VPN on the list, but it makes up for it with high speed spikes and a number of features users will appreciate, especially gamers. The standard quality marks of unlimited bandwidth, no traffic caps, and no file type restrictions are all here, along with NordVPN’s signature double encryption for the best in online security. Zero-logging and an automatic kill switch round out its privacy features, making it one of the sturdiest general use VPNs around.

Winning features of NordVPN include the company’s ever-growing list of servers: 5,600+ nodes covering 60 countries across every continent except Antarctica. All of these are available to users with unlimited switching. Furthermore, NordVPN configures its servers to optimize them for different tasks. Downloading something via BitTorrent? There’s a server for that, and the speed difference is noticeable.

Read our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3-year plan (75% off – link below)
  • Most VPN servers with different IP addresses
  • Up to 6 simultaneous connections
  • Based in Panama
  • Great customer service via chat.
Cons

  • Some servers can have average d/l speeds
  • They can take 30 days to process refunds.
BEST BUDGET VPN: Get a huge 70% discount for signing up for the 3-year plan, taking the monthly price down to only $3.49. Also note that all plans come with a “no hassle” 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. PureVPN

PureVPN aims for speed with a strong lean towards privacy. The service targets online gamers with some extremely attractive features, things like unlimited server switching, unlimited data, ISP throttling workarounds, and simultaneous connections for up to five devices. These options are spread out across 2,000 servers in 141 countries, huge numbers any VPN provider would be proud of.

PureVPN manages to deliver all this speed without sacrificing security. Encryption is a solid 256-bit AES, no exceptions, and it comes with a smart kill switch, IP leakage protection, and a great zero-logging policy. PureVPN is also one of the few VPN providers to offer software specifically made for gaming consoles.

Although speeds for the PureVPN network are high overall, they can vary greatly between servers. Users in the UK, Germany, France, and Canada enjoy some of the fastest download and upload speeds, while US users in cities like Atlanta and Chicago get the best of the group. These numbers change throughout the day and may not be the best for your country or location. The company’s other features make it well worth trying out, however.

Read our full PureVPN review.

READER SPECIAL: Save a massive 74% here on the 2-year plan, just $2.88/mo with a 31-day money back guarantee.

4. IPVanish

Dodging censorship and providing fast connection speeds are two of IPVanish‘s top priorities. The company has over 1,300 servers in 60 countries, all with 256-bit AES encryption, easy to use apps and software, and of course, a hefty zero-logging policy.

Apart from its speed, IPVanish offers several features gamers will definitely appreciate. Unlimited bandwidth, P2P traffic, and torrenting are at the top of that list, as is unlimited server switching. Up to five simultaneous devices can connect to your IPVanish network at a time, which should be plenty for your gaming console, PC, phones, and other hardware.

IPVanish’s speed tests produce some impressive numbers. Users in Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, and Los Angeles routinely get a sturdy 60 Mbps download rate, while other major cities clock in at roughly half that. Overall the speeds are higher than your average VPN, with a greater difference between the highest and lowest cities on the list

Read our full IPVanish review.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL: AddictiveTips readers can save a massive 60% here on the IPVanish annual plan, taking the monthly price down to only $4.87/mo.

5. VyprVPN

VyprVPN is something of a favorite among gamers. The company owns and operates its entire server network, over 700 in all with 70+ locations represented. This means the encrypted data that passes through their servers is never seen by an outside company, which is perfect for privacy conscious users out there. Sweetening the deal for gamers is unlimited bandwidth, no traffic or file type blocks, no logging, and ISP throttling workarounds using the company’s own Chameleon technology.

VyprVPN consistently ranks in the top five fastest VPN services in the world, delivering connections well above the 50 Mbps benchmark to a number of cities. Part of the reason they achieve this is due to owning and operating their own server network. All hardware and all code has been designed from the ground-up with speed in mind.

Gamer specific bonuses of VyprVPN over other providers includes its NAT Firewall protection, a clever measure put into place to stop DDoS attacks before they kill your connection. The service also smartly handles network congestion to bypass slow networks, keeping your lag at an absolute minimum.

Read our full VyprVPN review.

READER SPECIAL: All plans include a 30-day money back guarantee at only $5/month.

Are VPNs Really That Slow?

VPNs are rapidly becoming indespensible tools for the modern internet user, but that added privacy, location variability, and anonymity comes at a cost: speed. Depending on your current connection and the quality of the VPN provider’s servers, your internet speed may drop between 10-20% when using a VPN. Even assuming variables such as port throttling and traffic congestion are equal, a speed deficit will still be present, no matter what.

The top factor in VPN connection speed is location. Your home and the server you’re connecting to may be on opposite sides of the globe, forcing data to travel a greater distance to accomplish the same task. Switching servers usually mitigates this problem, and you can often use VPN servers located in your own city for maximum benefits. But to get the most out of a VPN you’ll be switching countries on occasion, and that inevitably slows things down.

Encryption is the second factor of slow VPN speeds. Encrypting information eats up processing power and adds data, increasing the size of the packets your computer sends by 20-50% even for basic tasks such as browsing the web. The stronger the encryption the larger the packet size, and more data traveling those greater distances adds up to some serious lag.

It’s also worth noting that, for the most part, a VPN can only be as fast as your own internet connection. If your local service provider doesn’t deliver good speeds there’s very little a VPN can do to remedy that. Before blaming the VPN provider, run speed tests on your connection without the VPN software active, then compare the numbers.

How to Speed up a Slow VPN Connection

Even with the fastest VPN providers on the market, you’re bound to encounter a slow connection from time to time. Fortunately there are a number of easy workaround that can boost your speed or eliminate the lag entirely.

Switch Servers

Server location is the number one cause of slow VPN speed. Data has to travel back and forth between your computer or gaming console and the VPN’s server, and if that server is on the other side of the globe, lag is inevitable. Switching servers can provide an immediate speed boost. Even if your gaming requires servers in a certain country, most VPNs have redundant locations in the same IP range, so you won’t have to give up your virtual location to snag a bit of speed.

Use a Wired Connection

Wi-Fi isn’t the most reliable way to connect to the internet. Crowded channels or physical obstacles can make a connection slow or spotty, both of which can be subverted by simply plugging your computer or console directly into a router.

Wait an Hour

It’s not the answer anyone wants to hear, but waiting it out is often the best way to fix a slow connection. Server congestion can happen when a high number of people try to connect at once. Even if it’s the middle of the night at your home, the server you’re using might be experiencing a swarm of users on their lunch break. Wait a few minutes, then try again.

Disable Your Security Software

If you’re gaming on a PC, you might have a firewall and antivirus software running in the background. These programs scan incoming packets for signs of suspicious activity, which can create lag. Disable them while you’re gaming to see if that provides a boost in speed.

Change Ports

VPNs use specific ports to connect to the internet. Some ISPs throttle these ports without your knowledge, restricting your speed each time you activate the VPN. To fix this, check your VPN software’s options and look for a place to change ports.

VPNs and DDoS Attacks

Distributed Denial of Service attacks are unfortunately common in the online gaming world, especially in competitive matches for high profile games such as Dota 2, Hearthstone, or League of Legends. A DDoS attack can be targeted at players or at game servers, but a VPN can help protect you from the former.

With a VPN in place while you game online, DDoS attacks are barely a concern. VPN networks make it more difficult to pinpoint your actual IP address, cutting DDoS attacks off before they even begin. VPNs also tend to be hardier than local service providers, and many of them have specific measures put into place to stop the swarm of inbound requests that make up a DDoS attack.

Gaming Around the World

Region restrictions are a source of endless frustration for gamers, especially those who play MOBAs or MMORPGs with large groups of randomly distributed users. Some servers are locked to a certain range of IPs, restricting who can connect and play at any given time. Others censor or cut out content based on the IP address of the person connecting.

With a VPN, both of those restrictions can be neatly averted. If a server only allows clients from certain countries to play, all you have to do is set your VPN location to match that country. It really is as simple as that. Experiment with foreign servers to find the fastest connection, then continue your online gaming as normal.

Get New Games Early with a Virtual IP

A hidden benefit of using a VPN is the ability to download games before they’re released in your country. Publishers often stagger releases in different regions, switching downloads on in North America days or even weeks before Europe or Australia, for example. This is a major point of frustration with gamers, especially the ones who are always the last to get the newest titles. With a VPN, those frustrations are no more.

To snag a game before its release in your country, all you have to do is change your VPN virtual location to a server where the game is already out. If a new title is weeks from release at home but already live in the US, just log into your VPN, set it to a North American server, then start the download.

This early release trick also works across time zones. If a game releases worldwide at midnight on a certain day, you can start downloading hours early simply by switching VPN locations. You support game developers by purchasing titles upon release, and you don’t have to be a victim of region restrictions.

FULL GUIDE: Save money on Steam games by changing your location with a VPN

Bypass IP Bans with a VPN

Most gamers at least know someone who has been banned on a temporary or permanent basis. In most cases, well-meaning moderators and admins levy bans to discourage poor or abusive behavior and to enforce the rules, but sometimes innocent players can be unjustly targeted by overzealous individuals or faulty algorithms.

All bans are not created equal, but in a large number of cases they target individual IP addresses (Fortnite is a high-profile example). In such cases, it can be useful to swap out your IP address for a different one using a VPN. By masking your IP with a false one, you can effectively let yourself back into the game unhindered. Just be sure to observe the rules and terms of service once you’re there!

Conclusion

Gamers have enough to worry about without getting bogged down in inferior connections. Whether your ISP is throttling your gaming binges, you’re the target of a DDoS attack, or you live in a place with unfair e-store prices for your favorite titles, a VPN can help. Today we covered the basics of speeding up your connection while locking down your privacy, plus recommended a few of our favorite VPN providers for gaming.

What are you currently playing online? Do you use a VPN? What are your ideal settings? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Read Best Gaming VPN 2019: No more Buffering and Lag by Geoffrey Walters on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

No Logs VPN 2019: Best VPNs That Keep No Logs

The search for the best no-logs VPNs isn’t easy, especially since VPNs with “zero-logging” policies often do entail some recording of your personal data. Today, we’ll show you the difference between the different types of logs, plus review the top VPN providers with iron-clad logging policies you can trust to guard your anonymity.

Best No-Logs VPNs For 2017

When it comes to online privacy, the less visible you are the better. Services like virtual private networks encrypt your internet activity to make it unreadable to prying eyes, then strip it of local IP addresses for added anonymity. The end result is a packet of information that only you and your VPN can decipher, leaving hackers and invasive ISPs completely in the dark.

There’s a catch to the whole VPN setup, however: you have to trust them with your data. It’s a huge pill to swallow, especially since VPN users tend to be more privacy conscious than your average internet citizen. Most paid VPN services go to great lengths to prove their reliability, including disclosing all logging policies right up front.

Because logs are one of the most fundamental aspects of online privacy, you’ll want to make sure your VPN has a strict zero-logging policy across the board. Read on for more info about logs, how they work, and learn about some no-log VPNs you can trust with your data.

Why Are VPN Logs a Bad Thing?

There’s nothing wrong with logs themselves. They help collect data and can be used by VPN services to improve their network and run things more efficiently. Problems arise when those logs are kept long term, opening up a world of possibilities for data theft, seizure, or even buying and selling user information (free VPNs like Hola are especially guilty of abusing their users).

The dangers in VPN logging all come down to one thing: accountability. Let’s say you log into your VPN and browse a couple of websites. No big deal, right? Later, it turns out that website was illegal in your country and everyone who visited it will be subject to fines. If you didn’t use a VPN, all the government has to do is contact your internet service provider, look at their DNS request and traffic logs to see which IP addresses visited that site, compare those addresses to account holders, then come knocking on your door.

Even though VPNs encrypt traffic and make everything unreadable, if they keep detailed logs it’s still possible to trace activity back to a single IP address, then figure out which individual person accessed the content in question. The nature and structure of a VPN’s business makes it more difficult than an ISP, even with logs in place, but the more data that’s stored the easier it is for third parties to track your activity. If there aren’t any logs, it’s extremely difficult (if not impossible) to locate evidence and track a single user down.

Critical Features of a Good VPN

Hundreds of VPN services flood the marketplace, each promising incredible privacy, strong encryption, fast speeds, and the best custom software. Choosing the right one is largely a matter of personal preference, but there are some features that can make some stand out more than others. We used the criteria below to find the best no-log VPNs to keep you safe online.

  • Logging policy – The cornerstone of online privacy. All of our recommended VPNs have a sturdy no-log policy that keeps your most sensitive information out of third party hands.
  • Jurisdiction – Closely tied to the logging policy issue, if a VPN is registered in a country with strict data retention logs, they might be forced to store information and share it with authorities. Privacy friendly countries do exist, so make sure your VPN operates under their jurisdiction.
  • SpeedEncryption overhead can make a VPN sluggish. Lag can also be introduced if you’re connected to a server across the world. Top quality VPNs work around these issues to provide excellent speeds without sacrificing encryption strength or privacy.
  • DNS leak protection and kill switches – An often overlooked feature of custom VPN software. DNS leak protection locks down your internet connection to make sure your real IP address is never shared. Automatic kill switches perform a similar function and immediately stop traffic if you lose your connection to the VPN. Both are necessary for complete online privacy. All it takes is a few moments to announce your location to the world.

Best VPN Providers with Zero Log Policies

No VPN’s privacy policy is perfect, but we’ve found a few providers which come close. Here are 6 top VPNs with excellent no-logging policies you can trust:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN’s number one feature is its incredible speeds. The service operates 3,000 servers in 94 different countries, most of which have consistently high scores on speed tests to cities and users around the world. You can even check the latency and download speeds yourself using built-in speed tests in several versions of its software. ExpressVPN sweetens the deal with unlimited bandwidth, unlimited server switching, no restrictions on torrent or P2P network traffic, and custom apps for every modern operating system and mobile device.

ExpressVPN specifically states it does not keep traffic logs, DNS request logs, or IP address logs. This gives users an incredible amount of privacy to surf the web, download files, and stream movies at their leisure. Other crucial privacy provisions include strong 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and automatic kill switch features, making ExpressVPN a robust package indeed.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3 months free (49% off – link below)
  • Super fast, reliable connection
  • AES-256 encryption
  • Strict no-logging policy
  • Live chat support available.
Cons

  • Limited configuration options
  • Priced slightly higher.
BEST PRIVACY VPN: ExpressVPN offers the perfect blend of encryption, speed, and anonymity with its excellent no-logging policy. Get 3 months free and save 49% on the annual plan. 30-day money back guarantee included.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN has an incredible reputation for strong privacy practices and all-around excellent service. The company has been in business for years, providing lightning fast connection speeds through an enormous network of over 5,600 servers in 60 different countries, quite possibly the largest in the VPN marketplace. Unlimited bandwidth and no restrictions on torrent or P2P traffic make it an even smoother experience, and features like DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch protect you even if something goes wrong.

NordVPN has always been forthcoming about its logging practices, simply because it has none. No traffic logs, time stamp logs, bandwidth logs, or IP address logs, end of story. This is one of the more all-encompassing logging policies in the VPN world, which makes NordVPN a great choice for a privacy conscious individuals.

More of NordVPN’s best features include specialized servers that deliver double encryption, onion routing, and anti-DDoS; reliable, open, and private access to the internet even in countries like China; company jurisdiction in the privacy-friendly country of Panama. It is also one of the few VPNs that maintains reliable access to Netflix.

Read our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3-year plan (75% off – link below)
  • Different IP addresses aervers
  • Tor over VPN, double VPN
  • “Double” data protection
  • Great customer service via chat.
Cons

  • Not much
  • Sometimes slow in procesing refunds (but always do).
BEST BUDGET VPN: Get a huge 70% discount for signing up for the 3-year plan, taking the monthly price down to only $3.49. Also note that all plans come with a “no hassle” 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. IPVanish

If you want to stay hidden on the internet, IPVanish is the way to go. The service is ideal for privacy conscious users who want a fast and anonymous connection to the internet. IPVanish runs a network of 1,300 servers in 60 different countries, one of the largest in the VPN marketplace. This gives you plenty of options for new IP addresses and lag-free connections no matter where you live. IPVanish backs this up with unlimited bandwidth, absolutely no speed caps, and unmonitored access to P2P and torrent traffic. It’s your internet, and IPVanish helps you take full advantage of it!

IPVanish states up front that it doesn’t store traffic logs of any type. This keeps your most sensitive information safe and prevents leaks via major data breaches.

IPVanish also includes the following features:

  • DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch to help keep your connection private.
  • Easy to use custom software and apps for all major operating systems and devices.
  • Fast and secure servers allow for incredible video streams through Kodi.
  • Download torrents with full privacy and anonymity.

Read our full IPVanish review.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL: AddictiveTips readers can save a massive 60% here on the IPVanish annual plan, taking the monthly price down to only $4.87/mo.

4. PureVPN

PureVPN hits all the right points for a fast, friendly, privacy aware VPN service everyone can enjoy. The company runs a network of over 2,000 servers in 141 countries, casting a wide net around the world to help ensure everyone can find a lag-free connection no matter where they live or travel. Strong 256-bit encryption helps keep prying eyes out of your personal information, and you’ll even be able to use VoIP and instant messengers with complete privacy.

PureVPN states right up front that they don’t keep any kind of activity logs on their users, plain and simple. This ensures your traffic can never fall into the wrong hands.

PureVPN’s features at a glance:

  • Excellent compatibility with custom apps for all modern operating systems, smartphones, and more.
  • Advanced features include anti-virus protection, ad-blocking, and anti-phishing measures.
  • Self-owned network of servers for enhanced privacy and security.

Read our full PureVPN review.

READER SPECIAL: Save a massive 74% here on the 2-year plan, just $2.88/mo with a 31-day money back guarantee.

5. VyprVPN

VyprVPN has some of the most unique privacy features in the entire VPN ecosystem. The company owns and operates its entire network of servers, over 700 in 70 different countries. This allows them to perform all maintenance and upgrade tasks themselves, keeping third parties out of the picture entirely. VyprVPN’s unique Chameleon technology gives it the ability to defeat throttling and VPN blocking efforts in the most extreme of situations, including within the borders of censorship heavy countries like China.

When it comes to logging practices, VyprVPN is surprisingly straightforward. The company has a strict ban against both traffic and DNS logs, the two pieces of data most often used to track users.

VyprVPN also includes the following features:

  • Support for a wide variety of operating systems, including desktops, Android, and iOS smartphones.
  • Incredible privacy features for the best VPN access in China and the Middle East.
  • Unlimited bandwidth and no restriction on P2P traffic or torrent downloads.

Read our full VyprVPN review.

READER SPECIAL: All plans include a 30-day money back guarantee at only $5/month.

6. StrongVPN

StrongVPN is aptly named. The service keeps a relatively small network of several hundred servers in 45 different cities, allowing them to focus on unbeatable privacy features that lock down and secure your online presence like no other VPN. The standout feature is up to 2048 bit encryption, which is exponentially higher than similar services. You’ll also have access to a variety of security protocols (L2TP, PPTP, OpenVPN) as well as router software for faster, easier to use VPN service for all of your devices.

StrongVPN clearly states it does not keep any kind of user activity logs. Records of your traffic will never be stored, which keeps them safe from third parties.

More StrongVPN features:

  • Free lightweight software for multiple devices, including desktop operating systems and smartphones.
  • Easily mask your IP address and prevent online surveillance.
  • No bandwidth limitations, speed caps, or throttling.
SPECIAL OFFER: Sign up for a yearly plan with our 42% discount, just $5.83/mo. Get an extra 20% off with coupon code TAKEOFF20, plus enjoy a 30-day money back guarantee.

What Are the Different Types of Logs?

Logging or “zero logs” is often used as a catch-all term when it comes to VPNs. In reality, there are several different types of data a VPN can archive, some of which are more likely to harm your privacy than others. Below is a quick overview of the main types of logs and how they might affect your online privacy.

  • Traffic logs – The most frightening type of log is also the most frequently banned in the VPN marketplace. Traffic logs keep track of things like the type of downloads you engage in, such as torrents or P2P networks, and even specific websites that you visit.
  • DNS request logs – Every time you type a URL into your browser, a DNS service looks up the name, compares it to a list of numbered domains, then redirects you accordingly. VPNs run their own DNS servers and it’s possible they can keep tabs on which site names you access.
  • Time stamp logs – Commonly kept by many VPNs, time stamp logs simply show which users logged in, when they logged out, and at what time of day each event occurred.
  • Bandwidth logs – How much traffic is each user consuming? Bandwidth logs answer that question and help VPNs scale their network accordingly. They’re another commonly kept type of log.
  • IP address logs – A simple log that contains users’ physical IP addresses at the moment of VPN connection.

Free VPN Providers Usually Keep Logs

No-cost VPN services can be found all across the internet in app stores, browser extension marketplaces, and more. They make the same claims as standard VPN providers, only they promise to deliver without charging anyone. This seems like a fast and simple solution to the problem of online privacy, but in reality it often makes the situation much worse.

The vast majority of no-cost VPN services freely admit they keep logs of user activity, everything from traffic to DNS requests and IP addresses. Some have been discovered selling that information to third parties. Even if the service doesn’t admit to storing logs it’s highly likely they do, as free VPNs need to bring in some sort of income to keep their network online. If that income doesn’t come from paying customers, it has to come from somewhere.

Part of the appeal of paid VPN services is these companies are in the business of protecting their users. VPNs have every incentive to keep your data safe and private, even if government agencies demand access. After all, if they fail they won’t stay in business very long. It’s always better to invest in a reliable, low-cost VPN provider instead of using a free service. Your privacy just isn’t worth the risk.

What Are the Benefits of Using a VPN

In addition to added online privacy, running a VPN on your connected devices offers a number of extra features. Think of them as a useful byproduct of securing your data. After a few days or weeks of using a VPN, you’ll wonder how you ever got by without it.

Watch Videos from Other Regions

Services like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and YouTube often restrict which videos are available to stream in different countries. If you like in the UK you’ll have one set of TV shows available, but if you travel to the U.S., you won’t be able to watch them anymore. Most streaming services use simple IP address grids to determine a user’s location. With a VPN you can quickly and easily change your IP address to fool them into thinking you’ve moved across the world. All you have to do is click, connect, and start streaming.

Secure Voice and Text Communications

If you use Skype, Discord, MSN Messenger, or any other VoIP program, chances are your data is being recorded and logged by an ISP. Conversations you have with friends and family are sitting on a server somewhere, ready to be sold to a third party. By activating a VPN you’ll encrypt this data and keep it invisible from prying eyes.

Protect Cloud Storage Services

Services like Dropbox and Google Drive are useful for saving videos, files, and other pieces of sensitive data. Using cloud storage sends unsecured data across an open connection, however, which puts your information at risk. Always use a VPN to ensure nothing leaves your computer without first being encrypted.

Access Censored Websites

Government level censorship is a growing problem in the world, especially if you live in or visit countries like Syria, China, Iran, UAE, and Russia. To keep your access to the internet open and free, simply run a virtual private network on all of your devices. You’ll be able to access blocked content as if the censorship filter didn’t even exist.

Stay Safe While Traveling

Traveling carries its own set of risks, especially if you access public Wi-Fi or rely on hotel internet connections. These networks are frequently monitored by hackers and surveillance teams, and the ISP you’re utilizing most likely stores every piece of data you send. Staying safe while traveling means using a good VPN on your laptop, tablet, and smartphone at all times. Encrypted data keeps your information safe no matter which network you connect to. To up your security even further, be sure to encrypt your iPhone and encrypt your Android devices to ensure privacy even when you’re not online.

FULL GUIDE: Essential Travel Security Measures

Conclusion

By now, you should have a more thorough understanding of what VPN user logs are, and why it’s important to pick a provider that minimizes the data they keep on you to an absolute minimum. Each of our recommended VPN services has a solid reputation in the industry, and has proactively taken measures to ensure your privacy on all fronts.

Does your current VPN keep logs? What concerns you most about the practice of logging? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Read No Logs VPN 2019: Best VPNs That Keep No Logs by Geoffrey Walters on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Best VPN YouTube – Unblock YouTube Anywhere, Stop Buffering

The search for a reliable way to unblock YouTube is over. Our complete guide will show you the best VPN for YouTube unblocking, plus how to get started using it in mere minutes. With our recommended VPN providers, you’ll be able to smash through geoblocks, and stream your favorite YouTube content no matter where you go.

YouTube is the biggest online video sharing platform in the world, but not everyone can access it. Even among those who can, they may often be bogged down by ISP buffering or region-locked videos due to copyright.

If you want to access all of YouTube, unfettered by blocking or buffering, you want a VPN.

What Do I Need Out of YouTube VPN ?

Your first and foremost consideration when streaming is speed. Your VPN should be capable of streaming media at acceptable resolutions, with little-to-no buffering required. While you shouldn’t expect 1080p streams on a 1mbps connection (the actual limits of your Internet connection still matters here), any connection 5mbps and up should be capable of streaming 1080p YouTube video. If it can’t, ISP buffering may be to blame- and a VPN can fix that issue.

Secondly, the ability to geo-spoof. A VPN can connect to secure servers around the world. For instance, if a video is blocked in the US but not the UK, you can use a VPN and connect through a server in the UK to be able to watch that video. If your VPN doesn’t allow you to choose what country you connect through, or have a selection wide enough for what you want to watch, then it’s probably not the right one for you.

Third, the ability to avoid ISP-side buffering. In order to do this, your VPN will need to be using the latest VPN protocols and encryption standards: otherwise, your ISP may be able to detect your activity and throttle your VPN traffic, which may result in a stream just as buffered (if not worse) than on your regular connection.

And finally, you need reliability. You need a strong network of servers that will keep a consistent speed and won’t drop connection, allowing you to watch all of your favorite YouTube videos, completely uninterrupted.

Top 4 Best VPNs for YouTube

With the above factors in mind, we can say with confidence that the following VPN providers are the best for unblocking fast YouTube streams anywhere in the world:

1. ExpressVPN

  • Bypass Censorship: Yes
  • YouTube In Other Countries: Yes
  • Streaming-Capable: Yes

Our winner is ExpressVPN, for a multitude of reasons. First and foremost, it’s the fastest of all the options on this list, meaning that you should be able to watch YouTube videos in resolutions as high as 4K, if your unaltered Internet connection has the bandwidth to handle it.

It’s not just the fastest, either; ExpressVPN also does everything else that you need or want a VPN service to do. Need a VPN because your ISP throttles YouTube-specific traffic? ExpressVPN has got you covered. Living in China, or another country that restricts access to YouTube and other websites? ExpressVPN with its flexible but powerful encryption (256-bit AES over OpenVPN by default) and massive server network (3,000+ nodes in 94 countries) has got you covered.

It’s also great for watching Netflix (including from other countries.) and other content that’s geographically-locked and attempts to prevent people from watching it.

While ExpressVPN does have all these upsides, it does have one notable downside: its pricing. ExpressVPN is the most expensive provider that we recommended, and while it is the best overall in terms of speed and features, that price point may be too much for some to handle. Because of that, there’s also other, cheaper options on this list.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services
  • 94 countries, 3,000+ servers
  • OpenVPN, IPSec & IKEv2 Encryption
  • Strict no-logging policy
  • Great customer service via chat.
Cons

  • Priced slightly higher.
BEST FOR YOUTUBE: ExpressVPN is our top choice unblock YouTube without lag or buffering. Get 3 months free and save 49% on the annual plan. 30-day money back guarantee included.

2. NordVPN

  • Bypass Censorship: Yes
  • YouTube In Other Countries: Yes
  • Streaming-Capable: Yes

NordVPN is another interesting option. As you can probably gather from the above bullet points, it hits all the points that we want out of a VPN for this purpose: the ability to get past China’s censorship, the ability to watch other country’s YouTube, and the speed to be streaming-capable.

So, what’s the downside? Well, speed. It’s slower than ExpressVPN across the board, and trades blows with IPVanish on occasion but is generally a bit slower. It’s also a bit more expensive than IPVanish, despite being slower, but does so in trade for full censorship-dodging capabilities.
So, is NordVPN right for you?

If you need to use a VPN to dodge censorship, NordVPN is hard to beat. This is largely due to its COLOSSAL server network, numbering well over 5,600 nodes in 60 countries at the time of writing, plus industry gold standard 256-bit AES encryption. Otherwise, you’ll probably care more about speed, which is executed much better by ExpressVPN (for more money) and by IPVanish (for less money).

If you are based in a country with heavy Internet censorship and can’t afford ExpressVPN, however, NordVPN is a great option.

Read our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer without breaking a sweat
  • Mind-boggling number of servers
  • No IP/DNS leaks found
  • No logs and encrypted connections for total privacy
  • Customer Service (24/7 Chat).
Cons

  • Apps can sometime be slow to connect.
BEST BUDGET VPN: Get a huge 70% discount for signing up for the 3-year plan, taking the monthly price down to only $3.49. Also note that all plans come with a “no hassle” 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. IPVanish

  • Bypass Censorship: No
  • YouTube In Other Countries: Yes
  • Streaming-Capable: Yes

IPVanish is a VPN with great speeds, but poorer circumvention capabilities. IPVanish cannot bypass China’s censorship, nor can it fool stricter services like Netflix into allowing you to watch your favorite content on them. However, it’s still capable of bypassing YouTube’s country-locked YouTube videos with a robust network over 1,300 servers strong in 60 countries, and offers streaming speeds that are only second to ExpressVPN thanks to its use of the refined OpenVPN protocol with 256-bit AES encryption.

IPVanish’s great streaming speed actually makes it our top pick for Kodi streaming. If you use Kodi to stream your favorite movies and TV shows, IPVanish is our top recommendation. It being great for YouTube as well is just the cherry on top.

Versus ExpressVPN, IPVanish trades off censorship circumvention for a lower price and similar speeds. Versus the other, cheaper options on this list, it trades off the censorship circumvention for much higher speeds.

Read our full IPVanish review.

EXCLUSIVE DEAL: AddictiveTips readers can save a massive 60% here on the IPVanish annual plan, taking the monthly price down to only $4.87/mo.

4. VyprVPN

  • Bypass Censorship: Yes
  • YouTube In Other Countries: Yes
  • Streaming-Capable: Yes

VyprVPN is one of the cheapest VPNs on this list, but does what’s needed. It has speeds sufficient for HD streaming, it can watch YouTube videos locked to other countries, and it’s capable of bypassing heavy-duty, state-sponsored censorship thanks to its unique Chameleon protocol. Otherwise, it packs military grade 256-bit encryption, and a respectable network of 700 servers in 70 countries worldwide.

Like NordVPN, however, it trades these features for slower speeds. It’s the slowest VPN service on this list, and the slowest we’re willing to recommend for this particular usage scenario, but is still more than sufficient for HD streaming. Because of that, it still deserves a place on this list. The fact that it’s so much cheaper than the other options on this list may actually make it one of the best options.

Read our full VyprVPN review.

READER SPECIAL: All plans include a 30-day money back guarantee at only $5/month.

Which One is Right for Me?

For the ultimate budget solution to YouTube VPNs, VyprVPN is a great option. It offers all the basic features you need, and while not as fast as the other options, should be fast enough for basic HD streaming.

If you’re willing to shell out a bit more cash and don’t need to bypass state-sponsored censorship, IPVanish is another great option. Its speed is almost good enough to rival ExpressVPN’s, and that’s great for HD streaming and maybe even higher resolutions, if your connection can handle it.

Our overall winner, is ExpressVPN. For purposes of streaming, it doest everything right, with exceptional speeds that don’t sacrifice on security. The only sacrifice is the higher price.

CHECK OUT: How to get ExpressVPN for FREE

Finally, if you need to get past censorship and want to find a middle-ground between ExpressVPN and VyprVPN, there’s NordVPN. NordVPN isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN and trades with IPVanish, but still manages to bypass state-sponsored censorship and do everything you need a streaming VPN to do.

Why Shouldn’t I Use a Free VPN?

To answer this question, it’s important to understand what goes into a VPN service. There’s hosting the servers worldwide, implementing VPN and encryption protocols, making client-side applications for various operating systems, and finally there’s the cost of maintaining and updating all of these sides of the business.

Basically, VPNs cost actual money to run, and a VPN claiming to be free is making its money elsewhere. If something is “free”, then you are the product. Most free websites, YouTube included, pay for themselves with on-page advertising. Advertisers pay content providers to get their ads out there, so how can a free VPN service make money off of you?

By selling your data. This can be something as innocuous as basic system specs, or as malicious as your financial credentials. It kind of ruins the point of getting a VPN if everything you do on it is being tracked and sold to the highest bidder, doesn’t it?

Additionally, there’s the fact that many of these services are just bad. Some simply redirect your traffic through proxy servers, rather than anonymizing it through encryption. Others may implement VPN protocols, but only obsolete ones like PPTP, which was cracked a long time ago and won’t help you avoid censorship, ISP buffering or much of anything else.

Basically, a free VPN cannot guarantee safety or speed – in fact a free VPN can make you less safe. So don’t bother. Instead, read on and take a look at our recommended VPNs for YouTube.

Conclusion

Ultimately, which of these you go with depends on what you want and need. We believe there’s a valid reason for choosing any one of these, though, so comment below and tell us- which is the right one for you?

Read Best VPN YouTube – Unblock YouTube Anywhere, Stop Buffering by Chris Harper on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

What Are Network Throughput and Bandwidth? Performance-affecting Factors

Network throughput and bandwidth are two of the most important metrics of networks, yet they are often misunderstood and confused. Our objective today is to try to shed some light on the matter and give you a better understanding of what they are—and what they are not, what factors are affecting these important metrics and what tools can be used to actually measure them. We’ll try to keep our discussion as non-technical as possible while providing as much useful information as possible.

What Are Network Throughput and Bandwidth

We’ll begin by trying to define what bandwidth and throughput are and, more importantly, how they differ as there seems to be quite a bit of confusion between the two terms. Next, we’ll explore the various factors that can affect throughput and network performance in general. We’ll have a look at delay and latency, jitter, and packet loss as they are the most common performance-affecting factors. And once we’re done with the theory, we’ll review some of the best tools one can use to monitor or measure network throughput.

About Bandwidth and Throughput

Bandwidth and throughput are somewhat different concepts despite a lot of confusion between them. Let’s try to sort it out, starting with bandwidth. Network bandwidth refers to the maximum amount of data that can be transferred per second on a network. It is, in other words, the data-carrying capacity of the network and although circuits can be upgraded, this is a complex endeavour and as such, bandwidth is not considered to be something we can easily control “on the fly”.

As for throughput, it refers to the actual amount of data carried on a network. Throughput often differs from bandwidth for several reasons. For instance, there might not be enough data to carry to use up all the available bandwidth. There could also be various factors slowing down the traffic as we’ll see shortly.

Another concept that seems to do nothing but add some confusion the all of this is speed. Speed often refers to how much data can be downloaded or uploaded through a specific connection such as a DSL or cable modem Internet service. In a nutshell, it is a non-technical, marketing term used by service providers to advertise their services. It is, however, roughly equivalent to bandwidth.

Factors Affecting Throughput

So, if throughput is the maximum carrying capacity of a circuit, it shouldn’t vary, right? Well, it actually does… a lot, actually. In fact, it is important to distinguish between maximum throughput and actual throughput. Let’s explain. Let’s consider, for example, the throughput of a data path between a server in one data center and another server in another data center. It would seem to be a reasonable assumption that the path’s throughput will be that of the segment with the lowest throughput. But while it is true that it will never be higher than that, it could, however, be lower. Let’s have a look at some of the main factors which could be affecting throughput.

Delay and Latency

Delay and latency are two of the main factors affecting perceived network performance. And much like bandwidth and throughput, there is often a lot of confusion between them, to the point that the two concepts are often used interchangeably. This is understandable as both have to do with the time it takes for data to travel from its source to its destination. Latency is often described as the time elapsed from the source sending a packet to the destination receiving it. It can also refer to the round-trip delay time which comprised the one-way latency from source to destination plus the one-way latency from the destination back to the source. In fact, round-trip latency is used more often, mainly because it can be measured from a single point.

Latency is a physical characteristic of networks. It is a factor of the distance between the source and the destination and the speed of light which, incidentally, it also the speed at which data travels over any type of media. Like bandwidth, latency is a fixed parameter. The only way to reduce it is to move the source closer to the destination and reducing the distance by 100 km (60 miles) will remove about 1 millisecond of latency.

Several factors can add delay to network transmissions. For instance, queuing delay occurs when a gateway receives multiple packets from different sources heading towards the same destination. Since only one packet can typically be transmitted at a time, some of them must be queued for transmission, incurring an additional delay. Likewise, processing delays are incurred while a gateway determines what to do with a newly received packet. Buffering can also cause increased delays of an order of magnitude or more. The combination of propagation, queuing, and processing delays often result in a complex and variable network latency profile.

Jitter

Jitter is one of the biggest enemies of network transmissions. Despite being easy to explain, understanding how and why it can have such an adverse effect on data transmissions is somewhat more complicated. In its simplest expression, jitter is a variation in delay. There are several factors that can cause jitter. In fact, many of the same delay-causing factors we just discussed can also cause jitter. For example, queuing delays are directly related to queue length. And since a typical queue constantly varies in length, so does delay, hence jitter.

But jitter does not affect all network traffic in the same way. The risk that is posed by jitter is that, if delays vary considerably between the multiple packets that compose a message, they could arrive at their destination out of sequence. Let’s take, for example, a transmission comprised of four packets that are transmitted at 10 ms intervals. The first one encounters 20 ms of latency, the second one 60 ms, the third one 40 ms and the last one 20 ms. I’ll spare you the boring math but in such a situation the first packet will arrive first, followed by the fourth, then the third and finally the second. In many situations, this isn’t a problem. For example, if we’re dealing with a file transfer, the packets are sequentially numbered and can easily be reassembled in the proper order at the receiving end. On the other hand, if what we have is real-time traffic such as a VoIP conversation, we’re in trouble as packets cannot be correctly reassembled in real-time, resulting in garbled audio. From a user’s standpoint, we’re having a performance issue.

Packet Loss

Packet loss is another major factor affecting perceived network performance. Networks are not perfect and, from time to time, data packets don’t make it to their destination for various reasons. When this happens to TCP traffic, it is not much of an issue as the receiving end can request a retransmission of the missing data. It will, however, cause some delay and increase the data volume. With UDP traffic, things are not so good. A lost packet will be lost forever. In a VoIP conversation, that would result in audio dropouts which, if too severe, can render speech unintelligible. In both cases, it is very clear that packet loss will have an impact on perceived performance.

The Best Tools To Measure Throughput

Among all the tools that are available to monitor and measure network performance, some are better than others at measuring throughput. Those are the tools we’re about to review. The tools below use different methods to measure throughput. Some will use network management and analysis protocols such as SNMP or NetFlow while others will perform various types of stress tests.

1. SolarWinds Network Bandwidth Analyzer Pack (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds has carved itself a solid reputation for making some of the best network monitoring tools. And as is that wasn’t enough, the company is also famous for its many free tools that address specific needs of network administrators such as Kiwi Syslog Server or the Advanced Subnet Calculator.

SolarWinds NPM Enterprise Dashboard

But when it comes to network bandwidth and throughput, the SolarWinds Network Bandwidth Analyzer Pack is what you need. The platform provides comprehensive bandwidth analysis and performance monitoring using SNMP monitoring and the flow monitoring that is built into most routers. With this product, you can detect, diagnose, and resolve network performance issues. You can also monitor and analyze bandwidth performance and traffic patterns. And finally, you can test network throughput from a single, customizable console.

The SolarWinds Network Bandwidth Monitor Pack includes two different tools. First, there’s the SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor. This is SolarWinds’ flagship product for monitoring network usage. The tool’s primary purpose is SNMP bandwidth monitoring but it can do much more. At its core, it offers comprehensive fault monitoring and performance management. The tool primarily uses SNMP for data collection and is thereby compatible with networking equipment from most vendors. Furthermore, its NetPath feature lets you view the critical network path between any two monitored points on your network and the tool can also auto-generate intelligent network maps.

 

Advanced alerting is another of the product’s strong suits and so is its PerfStack performance analysis dashboard. Another exclusive feature is the Network Insights functionality which allows for complex device monitoring. Talking about more complex use cases, the tool can monitor Software Defined Networks (SDN) and it has built-in Cisco ACI support as well the ability to monitor wireless networks and to generate network performance baselines.

The other component of this pack is the SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer. This powerful tool uses the NetFlow protocol to collect detailed information on what the observed traffic is. It can, for instance, report on what type of traffic is more frequent or what user or device is using the most bandwidth. Different views are available on the tool’s dashboard such as top applications, top protocols or top talkers, for instance. The tool will support most NetFlow variants from different manufacturers.

SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer Dashboard

Here are some of the SolarWinds NetFlow Traffic Analyzer’s best features:

  • It can be used to can monitor network usage by application, protocol, and IP address group.
  • It will monitor Cisco NetFlow, Juniper J-Flow, sFlow, Huawei NetStream, and IPFIX flow data to identify which applications and protocols are the top bandwidth consumers.
  • It will collect traffic data, correlate it into a usable format, and present it on its web-based user interface
  • It can help you identify which applications and categories consume the most bandwidth for better network traffic visibility and it has support for Cisco NBAR2.

The SolarWinds Network Bandwidth Analyzer Pack is licensed based on the number of nodes, interfaces, or volumes you have to monitor. Pricing is not readily available and you’ll need contact SolarWinds to get a quote adapted to your exact needs. If you’d prefer to try the product before purchasing it, a 30-day fully functional free trial is available for download.

2. Iperf3

The iperf series of tools can be used to determine the maximum throughput of IP networks. It features various tunable parameters related to timing, protocols, and buffers, allowing you to customize the job to your exact needs. For each test, iperf3 reports the measured throughput, loss, and other parameters.

Iperf3 offers many improvements over previous versions and it now incorporates a number of features found in other tools such as nuttcp and netperf. These useful features were missing from the previous iperf. For example, this version has a zero-copy mode and an optional JSON output. Note that iperf3 is not backward compatible with the original iperf.

Iperf3 Screenshot

Iperf3 is mainly developed by ESnet / Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. It is released under a three-clause BSD license. Primarily developed on CentOS Linux, FreeBSD, and OS X, these are the only officially supported platforms. There have been, however, some reports of success with OpenBSD, Android, and other Linux distributions.

Note that the previous version of iperf, iperf2, is still actively developed by another organization. If you want the best functionality, though, you should use iperf3 which can be downloaded from its GitHub home.

3. LAN Speed Test

Despite its name, LAN Speed Test from Totusoft won’t only test Local Area Networks. It was designed from the ground up to be a simple but powerful tool for measuring file transfer, hard drive, USB Drive, and LAN speeds. The tool works by calculating the time requires to move a known amount of data. If you select a local hard drive or USB storage devices as its destination, it will measure that device’s throughput. On the other hand, if you select a remote storage location, it will measure the network throughput.

LAN Speed Test Screenshot

LAN Speed Test builds the test file in memory then transfers it both ways (without the adverse effects of Windows/Mac file caching) while keeping track of the time required to complete the transfer. It then does all the calculations for you.

There is also an option to transfer the file to a remote computer running the LAN Speed Test Server. This can be useful as it ascertains that what you are measuring is really the LAN throughput and that any latency in the remote host storage subsystem is ignored. Just like the LAN Speed Test tool, the LAN Speed Test Server will store the received data in memory rather than to disk.

LAN Speed Test is available in a feature-reduced free version or in a paid version starting at $10 for a single license with volume discounts for multiple copies.

4. NetStress

NetStress is a tool that specializes in measuring throughput on wireless networks. It is a two-component tool with a client and a server and it will effectively measure throughput between the two. So, it can be used for wired networks as well.

NetStress Screenshot

The recommended usage for this tool is to first use it to establish a benchmark of a network’s performance. Then, when issues are reported and you suspect that performance has degraded, you run it again and compare the results to the benchmark. This will tell you if there’s actually an issue with throughput and indicate the steps required to fix it. This actually where the tool’s wireless specialization comes in.

NetStress is loaded with features. First, there’s only one tool that can be either the server or the client. It will also support both TCP and UDP data transfers with variable segment size and it will support multiple data streams. It also has several advanced parameters that can be adjusted to your liking. For instance, you can choose the display units to be in bits or bytes per second.

5. TamoSoft Throughput Test

The TamoSoft Throughput Test is the only tool on our list that is advertised as a throughput test tool. It is a freeware tool. This means that while it is available for free it is not open source. The tool works by continuously sending TCP and UDP data streams across your network and computing important metrics. It will, for instance, calculate upstream and downstream throughput values, packet loss, and round-trip time. The software displays the results in both numeric and chart formats.

TamoSoft Throughput Test Screenshot

The TamoSoft Throughput Test supports both IPv4 and IPv6 connections and allows the user to evaluate network performance depending on the Quality of Service (QoS) settings. Like a few other tools on our list, this is a two components tool with a server and a client.

Here’s how the tools work: The client part connects to the server part which is listening for connections. Once the connection is made, the client and server exchange data in both directions and the client part of the application then computes and displays the network metrics. This is rather simple but it does an excellent job of measuring actual throughput.

The TamoSoft Throughput Test is freeware and TamoSoft also offers a full-fledged solution for WLAN performance analysis that is called TamoGraph Site Survey.

6. IxChariot

Last on our list is IxChariot from Ixia, the software branch of Keysight, maker of some of the world’s most renown electronics test equipment. IxChariot is actually way more than just a throughput measurement tool, it is a complete network analysis solution with countless advanced features. It will measure throughput—it wouldn’t be on this list otherwise—but it will do much more.

Ixia IxChariot Throughput Screenshot

This product will let you instantly assess network performance, including wireless performance and geo-location. Its performance Endpoints will run on mobile devices, PCs, Macs or in any hypervisor or cloud service and allow for central management of any platform. The software delivers full application emulation and key performance metrics, including throughput, packet loss, jitter, delay, MOS, and OTT videos like Netflix or YouTube.

This is a top-level product that carries a top-level price which can only be obtained by requesting a formal quote. And while a free trial version is not available, a free online demo is.

Read What Are Network Throughput and Bandwidth? Performance-affecting Factors by Renaud Larue-Langlois on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter