How to Test your VPN is Working Correctly

VPN working correctly

Why do you use a VPN? For most people, the answer to this question is to ensure your online security and privacy.

Even if you use your VPN to unblock streaming services or accessed censored content, the security of your internet connection is still crucial.

But how can you actually be sure that your virtual private network is providing you with the level of security and privacy they claim? How can you know that your VPN is doing exactly what it says on the tin?

Some VPNs will point you towards independent assessments of their service carried out by online security experts or reputable organisations like PriceWaterhouseCooper.

But many others will just expect you to take their word for many of the security and privacy claims they make. If security and privacy are of paramount importance to you, this probably isn’t good enough.

In this guide, we will explain the various methods and tools you can use to check that your VPN is working correctly and providing the level of security and privacy you expect.

There is a lot to cover, so we would advise you to use this guide as a reference tool to refer back to intermittently. But it does contain everything available you need to know to make sure your VPN is up to scratch.

VPN leaks

VPN Leaks

Before you start thinking we have reverted to writing about plumbing rather than VPNs, leaks are a severe online security issue.

A leak is when information that you don’t want to be put in the public domain escapes, and therefore open to falling into the wrong hands.

A decent VPN shouldn’t leak any of your personal information but there are three common types of leaks that can be found in some services or how you set up a VPN.

In this section, we will look in more detail at all three types, explain what they are, and show you how to test for them and prevent them:

#1 – DNS Leaks

DNS Leaks

What is a DNS leak?

DNS is an acronym which stands for Domain Name System (DNS).

DNS is the system that is used to convert website URLs, such as vpncompare.co.uk into the numerical IP (Internet Protocol) Address that your computer uses to identify different sites and connections.

If you use the internet without a VPN connection, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) does this job for you automatically, unless you've manually changed it to use a third-party service like 1.1.1.1 or Google.

Many internet company DNS services generate a log of every website you visit which a lot of ISPs retain.

In the UK, all ISPs are legally required to retain this data for at least 12 months. Other countries will keep the data for longer and in the USA, ISPs are now permitted to sell your online activity to advertisers and other interested parties.

For many people, this is unacceptable and an infringement of their right to privacy when using the internet.

When you are using a VPN, this data is encrypted and should, therefore, be inaccessible to your ISP. This is one of the ways that a VPN protects your online privacy.

But, if your VPN suffers from a DNS leak, details of your IP Address and location are exposed and your ISP or anyone analysing your internet traffic can see it and details of the websites you are visiting and online services you are using.

It could even result in DNS hijacking.

This is a type of cyberattack where a hacker redirects you to an incorrect website. Hackers will often build exact replicas of websites and use this type of attack to steal personal data and even financial details.

In other words, a DNS leak compromises your online privacy.

How to check for a DNS leak

It is impossible to know whether your VPN is leaking DNS data unless you deliberately test for it.

The easiest way to check for a DNS leak is to use a dedicated DNS Leak test site. These sites test to see if your ISP's IP Address is visible which would confirm if your website visiting history is exposed.

It is important to use a reliable DNS test site to check your VPN. These are the three that we recommend:

What to do if your DNS is leaking

If your DNS test returns a positive result and you discover that your VPN is leaking DNS information, we would advise you to stop using it immediately.

You can try raising the matter with their customer support team since it might be a one-off issue they can quickly resolve. Or it may need you to enable a specific setting on their app.

But the best way to ensure that your DNS information isn’t leaking is to switch to a VPN that has independently verified security procedures and which uses its own secure and encrypted DNS resolvers.

If you keep reading, we will be recommending our top 5 VPNs for precisely this purpose further down the article.

#2 – IP address leaks (IPv4 and IPv6)

IP Leaks

What is an IP leak?

A key feature of any VPN is that it hides your own IP Address from other internet users and the websites you visit. It does this by redirecting all of your online data through a server which tags that data with its own IP Address in place of yours.

But there is no shortage of VPNs that fail in this basic service. Free VPNs are particularly culpable but it is not unknown for even some paid-for VPNs to leak this information.

Statistics

According to research carried out in 2016 by CSIRO, an enormous 84% of Android free VPN apps leaked the user's IP Address. In other words, these free VPNs offer no online privacy protection whatsoever.

If you are using a free VPN, our strong advice would be to disconnect and delete it immediately and sign up for one of the VPNs we recommend later in this article.

How to check for IP leaks

Like DNS leaks, it is a relatively simple process to test your VPN to see if it is leaking your IP Address.

There is no shortage of online tools that can help you do this, but you want to make sure they are a reliable test, we recommend you use one of the following:

Another simple way to test for an IP leak is to go to an IP checking site like whatismyipaddress.com.

Visit without connecting to your VPN and make a note of the IP Address and location. Then connect to your VPN and refresh the page.

If the IP Address and location are the same, your VPN is leaking your IP Address and location information.

What to do if your IP is leaking

If your VPN is leaking your IP Address, this is a major security and privacy issue. Frankly, any VPN that reveals this information is not fit for purpose and we would strongly advise you to disconnect and delete the app.

You may wish to discuss it with their customer support staff if you want as there could be a connection issue that is unrelated to the service.

#3 – WebRTC leaks

WebRTC Leaks

What is a WebRTC leak?

A WebRTC leak is a vulnerability in your browser that can result in your IP Address being leaked when connected to a VPN service.

It is caused by an API definition that allows you to do things like P2P filesharing (torrenting), voice chats, and video chats within your browser without needing to download external plugins.

This definition is used in browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. If there is a WebRTC leak, this means your IP Address leaks out as a result of this definition and can be found by anyone if they are looking for it.

Some VPNs provide specific protection against WebRTC leaks but not all do.

How to check for WebRTC leaks

If you want to be sure that a WebRTC leak isn’t exposing your IP Address, there are a number of testing tools you can use to find out.

Our recommended WebRTC testing tools include:

What to do if your WebRTC is leaking

If you do identify a WebRTC leak that is exposing your IP Address, there are two main options available to you.

Some browsers will let you disable WebRTC in their settings or install an external plugin.

This will close the loophole and prevent your IP Address from leaking although it will prevent you from running P2P filesharing (torrenting), voice chats, and video chats within your browser which is what it is designed for.

You will still be able to do all of this, you will just need to download some external plugins first.

The other main option is to switch to a VPN that protects against WebRTC leaks by default. Our recommended VPNs are listed further down this guide.

VPN test websites

VPN test websites

In the previous section, we have touched on the three main types of VPN leaks that you can face and discussed how to tackle each one.

However, there are a number of VPN test sites that you can use to test for all of these leaks in one go, and in many cases other potential VPN security issues too.

There are two different types of VPN tests that you can run; basic and advanced.

Basic tests are sufficient for the majority of people. These are generally online services and can be run automatically via a website without having to download anything.

Advanced tests are rather more technical and manual and not suitable for regular users. We will touch on these further down this guide.

Our pick of the best VPN testing sites:

There are a lot of VPN test sites around but you want to be sure you are using a reputable one that is going to generate results you can trust.

In this section, we are going to list our preferred VPN test sites and tell you a little bit more about them:

ipleak.net – As you may have already gathered, we are big fans of ipleak.net. This VPN tester will check for DNS leaks, IP leaks, and WebRTC leaks.

It runs automatically when you visit the webpage and shows all its results clearly onscreen.

While there is some technical information included, the results are still simple to understand and even a beginner will know if there is a leak they need to resolve or not.

ExpressVPN Leak Tests – ExpressVPN is one of the most secure VPNs on the market at the moment and, without giving too much away, it features prominently on our list of top recommended VPNs further down this guide.

As an established provider, ExpressVPN offers its own leak-testing tools on its websites. These are available for subscribers and non-subscribers alike. This is part of the ExpressVPN Privacy Research Lab.

You can download tools, but there are online ones available too. Just click on the button and you can run instant online tests that will give you clear and definite results in just a few seconds.

Perfect Privacy – This website has some neat online leak tests that cover DNS leaks, WebRTC leaks, IP leaks, and also MS leaks (a Windows issue that can expose your login details).

Just click on your preferred test and a page will open with clear and easy-to-interpret details about your connection and any leaks that are detected.

IPX.ac – This tool has been developed by the people behind the impressive VPN.ac.

This link will automatically list what information about your internet connection is publicly available including your IP Address and details of your connection.

Scroll down and details of any DNS, WebRTC, and IP leak are also listed. The results are very easy to understand and the tool itself couldn’t be simpler to use.

IPleak.org – This is a different tool to IPleak.net but it does broadly the same thing.

Open the website and details of your connection and any DNS leak, WebRTC leak, and IP leak is listed. Be aware that this tool is linked to a VPN called VPNArea.

We are not familiar with them and do not recommend you sign up with them. But their VPN testing tool is a good one.

Advanced VPN tests

If you want to delve a little deeper and are confident you have the technical ability to do so, there are a number of options open to you.

A popular option is to build your own testing suite designed for your operating system and device. This can analyse your internet traffic for leaked packets, DNS leaks, IP leaks, WebRTC leaks, and a whole lot more.

Advanced users may fancy building this from scratch themselves but if you want to make things simpler and faster, you might want to turn to ExpressVPN once again.

They have released their own VPN leak testing tool as an open-source leak testing suite. You can download this and use it as is or otherwise modify and adapt it as you see fit to suit your needs.

The ExpressVPN Open-Source leak testing suite can be downloaded from GitHub here.

How to use a VPN test site

Using a VPN test site is remarkably easy. There are only two real steps you have to follow:

  1. Connect to your VPN – if you have a favourite server that you use most regularly, then it is worth choosing this one but in reality, any server will suffice.
  2. Open one of the test websites – A lot of these sites will run automatically when you visit them. Some might require you to click one or two buttons first but these are usually pretty self-explanatory.

The VPN test site will then run its test and reveal the results online.

The test sites that we have recommended all display their results clearly on the screen so you should have no trouble understanding whether you have a leak or not.

If your test reveals that you do have a leak, you can either refer to the previous section of this guide for advice on what to do if you have one of the three main leaks we have discussed.

Alternatively, just switch VPN to one of the secure VPN providers we have recommended at the bottom of this guide.

VPN speed tests

VPN speed tests

So far, the focus of this guide has been on testing your VPN's security and privacy protections and making sure that it is not leaking any of your personal information.

That is vitally important of course, but it is not the only VPN function that many users depend on. Another is the speed of connection your VPN can offer.

VPNs have a reputation in some circles for having a hugely adverse effect on connection speeds.

There was a time when this accusation would have been a fair one. But VPN technology has improved, new protocols have been developed, and connection speeds have improved a lot.

The best VPNs on the market these days are able to offer connection speeds that are almost indistinguishable from your actual internet connection. But this is not the case for all of them and this is a problem for a lot of VPN users.

If you look at the website of any VPN, you will find that it inevitably promises you super-fast connection. Some will deliver on this promise and others won’t.

The question is, how do you know if your VPN is delivering the connection speeds it promises?

There are a lot of different variables that can affect the speeds of a VPN.

Some of these are within the control of the VPN provider, while others aren’t. So, before you start getting the hump about slow speeds, these are some of the things you need to consider.

Server distance

A VPN redirects your internet traffic via another server.

Much like taking a detour on a long journey, this inevitably has some impact on how long it takes your data to travel to your intended destination. If the VPN server is close by, this impact should be minimal.

But if you are rerouting things via a server in a country on the other side of the world, this will inevitably take longer and slow down your speeds.

It is always good advice to use a server as close to your actual location to maximise speeds. A lot of VPNs offer a ‘Quick Connect' button that will automatically do this for you.

If you need to be connected to an overseas server, make sure it is as close as possible.

For example, if you are in the UK and need to connect to a US server, choose one in New York or another East Coast location rather than LA or another location on the West Coast.

Number of users on the server

If your VPN has a small number of servers and a large number of customers, this means there are likely to be a lot of users connecting via the same server.

One of the impacts of this, along with more frequent dropped connections, is that connection speeds will be slower.

This is a big issue with so-called free VPNs which often have thousands of users but only a handful of servers. It is a good idea to make sure your chosen VPN has as many servers in the places you want them as possible.

Protocol and Encryption level

It used to be the case that the stronger the encryption level used by your VPN, the slower your VPN connection will be.

That doesn’t hold true anymore because the best VPN protocols such as OpenVPN have found a balance between security and speed.

It also helps that the devices we're using VPNs on are a lot more powerful than they previously were.

Newer protocols like WireGuard and ExpressVPN’s new protocol Lightway have streamlined things still further and promise to deliver the strongest possible encryption and super-fast speeds.

But if you are sticking to the tried and tested protocols, weaker encryption will often correlate with faster speeds.

Your ISP’s speeds

Your speed capacity will always be limited by how fast your ISP will let your connection be. Some ISPs in some countries will offer faster speeds to higher-paying customers and slow down other connections.

They might also slow down (throttle) your speeds if they see you doing something they don’t like online. This could be things like torrenting, which some ISPs prohibit.

In the USA, the rolling back of net neutrality laws means that ISPs can slow connections when you visit specific sites or use rival online services.

Using a VPN can help prevent this by stopping ISPs seeing what you are doing online. It won't make your internet faster but it will stop them reducing your speeds when using services they curtail.

Regional bandwidth

If you are connecting in a country with poor bandwidth infrastructure, this is likely to affect everyone regardless of whether you are using a VPN or not.

A lot of developing countries fall into this category but so too do other countries such as Australia and Germany.

Bandwidth can also be affected in peak times when more people are going online and this will have a knock-on effect on VPN speeds too.

Your devices processing power

The device you are using to connect to the internet also affects your speeds.

When you are online with a VPN connection, your device is working in the background to encrypt and decrypt data as well as run your browser, VPN client, and any other programmes that are operating.

This all uses up processing capacity and if your device has limited processing capacity, this can slow things down.

If you want to check your VPN’s connection speeds, you can do this quite easily using an online speed test. There is no shortage of these available but the four that we would recommend are:

  • Speedof.me – A fast and reliable online speed tester that doesn’t sell any user data to third parties.
  • Testmy.net – Another simple to use and dependable online speed testing site.
  • Speedtest.net – This is the default online connection speed tester for many people. It is run by Ookla and is very reliable although it does hoover up some of your personal data including your IP Address, so you have to be careful using it.
  • Fast.com – An uber-simple and straightforward speed testing site which is actually run by Netflix.

How to run a VPN speed test

Running a VPN speed test is not at all difficult, but you do need to run a test on your standard internet connection first to give you a figure for comparison.

It’s effortless to get these two tests done:

  1. Disconnect from your VPN.
  2. Visit one of the speed testing sites listed above. Most will run automatically but if it doesn’t just click the Run Test button.
  3. Make a note of the download and upload speeds your regular internet connection can achieve.
  4. Now connect to your VPN again. Choose the server you use most frequently or the one you want to test the speeds of.
  5. Run the speed test again.
  6. Make a note of the speeds and then compare these to your first readings.

Your second reading will almost certainly be lower than your first. If the difference is minimal then you don’t have too much to worry about.

If your VPN is losing more than around 20% of your standard connection speed, you might want to consider upgrading to a faster VPN, such as the ones we recommend below. That is, of course, unless you have a super-fast internet connection.

VPN malware tests

VPN malware tests

VPNs are an important online security and privacy tool but some VPNs can offer more of a threat than protection.

Before you panic, we can reassure you that as long as you are using a premium VPN, such as the ones we recommend further down in this guide, this section will not apply to you.

But if you are using a free VPN or a mobile VPN that you have downloaded from an app store, there is a genuine risk that it could have malware, spyware, or other malicious software embedded in it.

We have written before about the risk posed by malware in free VPNs before.

Statistics

Indeed, a recent study by CSIRO we referenced earlier in this guide found that 38% of free Android VPN apps contained malware.

That means that if you have downloaded a VPN app from Android, there is a 4 in 10 chance it had malware embedded with it.

The best advice to ensure your VPN is not coming with added malware is to avoid free VPNs at all costs. Stick to premium VPNs which only cost a few pounds a month and offer a level of security and privacy that free VPN users can only dream of.

If you have already downloaded a free VPN and are worried that your device might already be infected with malware as a result, you will need to scan your system to see whether or not this is the case.

How to test for VPN malware

Your device should already have an anti-virus and anti-malware tool installed. If it hasn’t, you should download and install one immediately.

The myth that iOS and macOS devices don’t need such tools has long been dismissed and it is now generally accepted that all devices need this protection.

If you have a good anti-virus tool, it should warn you if a download you have made contains malware it recognises. It should also have a scan facility that lets you check your device for malware.

If you are worried that your VPN app might have come with added malware, you should make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and then run this scan.

Another simple way to test your VPN is to upload the software file to Virus Total.

This online tool uses a database of more than 60 different anti-virus tests to scan every file. If your VPN files contain malware, Virus Total has as good a chance of finding it as anything.

What to do if your VPN contains malware

If you find that your VPN has imported malware onto your device, you will need to remove both the VPN and the malware as fast as possible.

Deleting the VPN should be fairly straightforward. Just uninstall the file and make sure all traces of it are removed from your system for good.

The malware might be harder to shift. With luck, your anti-virus software will be able to quarantine and delete it for you.

If it can’t, you will need to do some online research to see how to get rid of it. In the worst-case scenario, you might even have to call in an expert or wipe your device and reset it to factory settings.

Troubleshooting your VPN

Troubleshoot VPN

If you have checked your VPN for malware, tested to ensure that the speeds are up to scratch, and checked that it isn’t leaking your internet activity or IP Address, you are hopefully satisfied that your VPN is doing the job that you paid for.

But what should you do if you still have a problem with your VPN not working correctly?

VPNs are software and can develop problems like any other computer programme. There are lots of things that can go wrong and trying to compile an exhaustive list of possible flaws is impossible.

In this section, we are going to touch on a few of the most common VPN problems that people have contacted us about and how to resolve them.

If your problem isn’t covered here, you are welcome to drop us a line outlining your issue and we will offer what advice we can.

Your best bet is to contact your VPNs customer support team. They should be able to resolve your problem quickly.

If they can’t, it might be time to switch provider to one with an effective customer support service. All of the VPNs we recommend in the following section fall into this category.

Common VPN problems and how to resolve them:

#1 VPN not working where you are

Some countries around the world, such as Communist China, Iran, and Russia, seek to block VPNs and have made their use illegal or frowned upon. A lot of VPNs are therefore unable to work in these countries.

If you are based in such a country and your VPN isn't working, this is likely to be the issue.

However, there are some VPNs that will work in all countries, regardless of state effort to block them. Our best advice is to switch to one of those providers and that VPN should work.

#2 VPN connection dropped out

There are various reasons why your VPN connection might drop out, including things like overloaded servers or issues with your connection to your ISP.

If you have a kill switch enabled, then not only will your VPN connection drop out, but all apps that are connected to the internet will cut out as well.

Usually, this can be resolved quickly enough by reconnecting your VPN and then just carrying on. If it is a server issue, switch to a different server and this should fix the problem.

If your VPN connection starts dropping out on a regular basis, you might want to raise the issue with your provider’s customer support team to see if there is a bigger underlying problem that you need to address.

If things still don’t improve, it might be time to switch to a new VPN provider.

#3 Download speed drops

There are various issues that could cause your download speeds to drop.

Your ISP might be throttling your internet connection for one reason or another. The VPN server you are connected to might be overloaded or have an issue, or you might be connected to a server that is a long way away that means your data is taking longer to reach its intended destination.

If this is a problem you have encountered, take a look at our earlier section on VPN speed tests. This explains how you can test your VPN speeds and if they are consistently slow, it also offers some advice on how to resolve the problem.

If it is an underlying problem with your VPN provider, the best option for you is likely to be switching to a better VPN provider.

#4 Adverts

If you are getting an unusually large number of adverts popping up in your browser or even in your VPN client, this could be because your VPN app has adware injected into it. This is fairly common in free VPNs and a real issue for a lot of their users.

If you find you have lots of ads appearing on your device and you are using a free VPN, this is likely to be the cause. The best advice is to delete the VPN you are using and make sure all traces of the app are removed from your device.

Then you will need to get a quality VPN that doesn’t include any adware. The ones we recommend below are all guaranteed to be adware free.

#5 Malware

Adware is just one type of malware that could end up on your device if you download and use a free VPN. Others include things like ransomware and spyware.

If you detect that you have any malicious software like this on your system, your free VPN is likely to be the source. Take a look at our previous section on how to test for malware.

Once again, our strong advice would be to remove your free VPN app from your device and ensure that all traces of it have been permanently removed.

Then sign up for a premium VPN that will only set you back a few dollars/pounds a month but will offer you all the security and privacy you need without any of the risks that come with a free VPN.

Learn More

Check out these top tips to increase your VPN security.

It's worth noting that premium VPN services can be targeted too. Minor VPN service, Windscribe was recently the victim of a scam which loaded a fake installer with malware.

Windscribe themselves didn't distribute this but nefarious users will often try to play off reputable names. Ensure you always download installers from the official VPN website or official app store.

#6 You’ve been hacked

If you have been hacked, some people will worry that their VPN could be the source of the hack. If you are using a premium VPN, this is highly unlikely.

It is far more likely that you have fallen victim to a phishing attack, been compromised when using a public Wi-Fi network, or been hacked in some other way.

If you use a free VPN, it is possible that this could be the source of the hacking, but even then this is a fairly rare occurrence because the people behind free VPNs know that once they are identified, they will be quickly removed from app stores.

VPNs are also not tools to prevent hacking, although their encryption of your online data makes life harder for hackers.

So, if you have been hacked, you will need to get professional advice on how to clean up your device and get any compromised files back.

Best performing VPNs

Best performing VPN

Throughout this guide, we have made reference to our list of recommended VPNs. Well, this is it.

So far, we have offered tips on how to make sure your VPN is secure and private, not compromised with malware, up to speed, and working properly.

For users of some VPNs, this advice will be vital to ensure that their VPN is doing the job you intended of it.

But there are some VPNs that, once signed up, you shouldn’t have to worry about most of the advice in this guide. These VPNs offer security and privacy guarantees you can depend on.

They make it their business not to leak user data, offer consistently fast speeds and are guaranteed not to have malware or adware bundled in with them.

These are not free VPNs – no free VPN ticks all these boxes.

But they do only cost a few dollars/pounds a month. And in our opinion paying the price of a beer or a magazine for a month of guaranteed online privacy and security is a very good deal.

Top 5 Secure and Private VPNs

ExpressVPN apps on multiple types of devices

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has a well-deserved reputation for being the most secure and privacy-friendly VPNs on the market. Even more impressively, they combine this with fantastic speeds, a vast server network, and a whole host of other features.

They are headquartered in the British Virgin Islands which means it has a no user logs guarantee you can absolutely trust.

Furthermore, this has been independently verified by PriceWaterhouseCoopers who have conducted not one but two comprehensive independent privacy audits.

It also offers robust 256-bit AES encryption alongside a whole host of additional security features bundled in too.

Speeds are a big plus point too and ExpressVPN is not only up there with the very fastest but also unerringly consistent. Importantly, this is true no matter which of their 3,000+ servers you connect to.

Users get a choice of dedicated apps for Android, Apple iOS, Windows, Mac OS, Amazon Fire TV / Stick, Linux and even some select routers.

There are also web-browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. All of these are apps are clean, secure, well-designed and user-friendly.

ExpressVPN is not the cheapest VPN on the market, but it does offer superb value for money and there is also a huge 30-day money back guarantee offered which lets you try their service risk-free.

If you sign up now, you can even save 49% off exclusively for readers of VPNCompare.

Read our full review of ExpressVPN to find out more.

2. CyberGhost VPN

Cyberghost Website

CyberGhost VPN is a VPN that has massively upped its game over the past couple of years and is now one the most mature and secure VPNs on the market.

They use 256-bit AES encryption as standard and you can use different app setups to make your connection as secure as possible or suitable for fast streaming, downloads, or whatever else you are doing online.

These apps are clean and secure and among the most user-friendly we have tested.

They are available for a wide range of devices too including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Routers and the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

CyberGhost VPN has made some considerable improvements in its privacy provisions in recent years too and it is now performing right up there with the very best.

Other advantages offered by CyberGhost VPN is that it allows up to 7 simultaneous connection with each account, is priced very competitively, and there is also an unbeatable 45-day money back guarantee available too.

Read our full review of CyberGhost VPN to find out more.

3. NordVPN

NordVPN website

NordVPN has morphed in recent years into a high-profile provider with a big marketing budget and ties ins with football teams and YouTube stars.

But don’t let this distract you from the fact that it is also an extremely good VPN with excellent security and privacy provisions.

NordVPN has superb privacy protections and a no user logs claim. PriceWaterhouseCooper has independently verified that as 100% reliable.

It offers robust 256-bit AES encryption as standard across all its apps and for all users.

There are plenty of additional security features and while they did have a minor security blip with one of their servers in 2019, their constructive response and affirmative action showed that they took any security issues extremely seriously.

The service offers an extensive range of great-looking, clean, and secure user-friendly apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and more.

NordVPN has also recently adopted the new, faster, and more secure WireGuard protocol which shows they are at the cutting edge of VPN technology and committed to offering the best possible VPN service.

To cap it all, NordVPN has some of the most affordable prices of any VPN on this list alongside a 30-day money back guarantee which gives you plenty of time to try their service before you commit any money.

Read our full review of NordVPN to find out more.

4. IPVanish

IPVanish website

Not so long ago, IPVanish was top of everyone’s recommended VPN list.

It has been in a bit of a rut in recent times, not least thanks to a historical law-enforcement case in 2018 which raised big concerns over its no logs policy.

But IPVanish really upped its game throughout 2019 in an attempt to restore its reputation, with considerable success.

Its privacy policies and no user logs promise are now fully reaffirmed and IPVanish states clearly that it does not store any details about your usage or connection information.

Alongside this, it still offers robust 256-bit AES encryption as standard and some tremendous additional security features.

To compete with the new upstarts in the market, IPVanish has increased the number of simultaneously connected devices permitted with each subscription to an unlimited number which makes them among the most generous in the industry.

It has long been known for its fast speeds and impressive service and this remains the case.

There is also still a huge range of apps on offer including for Windows, Mac OS, Android, and Apple iOS as well as the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Linux, and various other devices.

They have also recently upgraded to a 30-day money back guarantee and with competitive prices, IPVanish is another excellent secure and private VPN choice.

Read our full review of IPVanish to find out more.

5. Surfshark

Surfshark Website screengrab

Surfshark VPN is a new provider that has made serious waves in the VPN sector since it arrived in 2018. But this is a VPN that has made it onto this exclusive list on merit alone and it is already one of the most comprehensive and dependable VPN packages around.

Surfshark offers robust 256-bit AES encryption to all its users along with plenty of security features. There is also a comprehensive no user logs guarantee.

Alongside this is a large number of excellent, user-friendly apps available for almost every device that you can think of. Prices are low and there is a 30-day money back guarantee available as well as some great rates if you sign up for a longer period.

Surfshark ticks all the boxes we are looking for in a secure, private, and high-quality VPN and the scarcity of complaints we have seen about their service is testament to the excellent job they are doing.

Read our full review of Surfshark to find out more.

Conclusion

Conclusion

People can encounter problems with their VPN in much the same way as any other bit of online software.

In this guide, we have addressed some of the most common concerns so you can ensure that your VPN is secure, private, and doing what it is intended to do.

We have analysed the different types of leaks that can happen from a VPN and shown you how to test for them and resolve them. We have also looked at what you can do if your VPN has come with adware and malware or is not delivering the speeds you would expect.

Our troubleshooting section includes tips on how to deal with other common VPN problems, and we have concluded by recommending the top 5 most reliable, secure, and private VPNs on the market right now that ensure secure connections.

If you have encountered any problems we haven’t touched on in this guide, feel free to tell us about it in the comments section below and we will offer any help we can.

If you have any tips or advice that we haven’t mentioned in this guide, you are more than welcome to share that with us too.

David Spencer

Author: David Spencer

Cyber-security & Technology Reporter, David, monitors everything going on in the privacy world. Fighting for a less restricted internet as a member of the VPNCompare team for over 3 years.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading and politics. He is currently learning Mandarin too... slowly.

Comments

  1. Avatar Alan Browne

    David, on my PC all ok with Nord for years. However Halifax and Santander apps won’t work and refuse to connect. Good article. Started with IPvanish then went to Nord

    • Christopher Seward Christopher Seward

      Thanks Alan. Good to hear you’re happy with their service.

      It’s possible the banking apps dislike VPN services, but more likely there’s a conflict elsewhere. Do they work when not connected via VPN?

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