Today we’re doing a TorGuard Review. TorGuard are one of the more well known names in the VPN circle and fall under the jurisdiction of Nevis in the West Indies. This makes them more of an off-shore VPN provider compared to others in the industry. We tested their service for a 10 day period to see how they matched up to other providers we’ve reviewed in the past and to see if they deserve their reputation. Keep reading to see what we found out…
The Website & Packages:
The TorGuard website itself looks rather different to many other VPN providers but the general working and thought behind it is the same. While it may not be the most pleasing to the eye the working and layout of the site are rather good and allow simple access to the areas that you’re likely to be interested in without too much searching around. One aspect of the website which stood out was the variety of services that they offer. Not only do they offer the standard VPN package but also a Torrent Proxy, Smart DNS, the VPN package area itself plus an area dedicated to the sale of VPN routers directly which are set up for use with TorGuard.
While most providers concentrate solely on VPN services with some offering DNS type packages also it appears that TorGuard have gone that one step further by offering a full range of services to suit the needs of many different customers.
For the basis of the review we concentrated on the VPN services offered which in line with most VPN providers is sold based on length of service. There are no range of packages available which is the standard offering from most providers. One of the more pleasing aspects of the package length varieties is they offer a good range of service lengths which include Monthly, Quarterly, Semi-Annual and Yearly. Many other providers only offer three service length types so it is an added bonus to have this extra choice and a bonus from TorGuard. As with all good providers the longer service length you sign up to in advance the cheaper it works out overall. A Monthly package costs US$9.99, Quarterly $19.99, Semi-Annual $29.99 and a Yearly service is $59.99. As you can deduce from this taking a yearly service is rather cost effective making the monthly price a surprisingly low $4.99 which makes the service roughly the same price as the majority of other providers on the market. Carefully planning how long you’re likely to need the service can save you rather a lot of money in the long run.
A decent range of payment options are available which opens up the service to a larger portion of customers. Payment types include Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Paypal, Google Wallet, OK Pay and Bitcoin.
TorGuard offer a range of services as discussed earlier which include torrent proxies, smart DNS and others but for the purpose of the review we concentrated on testing their VPN package. If you’re after a particular use or service then looking at their full range of options may be more beneficial for your needs. Those who are definitely after a VPN package and considering signing up will be pleased to know that across all service lengths the full range of VPN protocols are available which includes PPTP, L2TP/IPsec and the best option OpenVPN. One of the most surprising features of the service available is the amount of simultaneous connections allowed which in comparison to other providers is on the higher end of the scale. TorGuard allows you to have 5 connections at any one time which is certainly a bonus for those who have many devices or wish to sign up to allow the whole family to enjoy the benefits of the service. Some providers limit the amount of simultaneous connections which for those with many devices or a large household could cause you to sign up for two packages, with the amount allowable with TorGuard this situation is unlikely to arise.
Unlike other providers one of the better features of TorGuard is not only their ability to make server configurations available in an easy to access manner for access with OpenVPN etc. but they also have two desktop software clients available for Windows systems. The first is a “lite” version which is custom software based around the OpenVPN protocol. This is basically a Windows desktop client that has access to all the basic features such as server switching and a connection button. With it being the “lite” version it is obviously rather barren on features which is to be expected, this is software to make connection at its most simplistic and is actually rather good. Often for new users software can be over complicated and confusing with a wealth of options that the beginner can not understand and distracts from the basics of just making connection. From a new user point of view this software will be ideal although from a more technically minded user they may find it doesn’t offer enough options to be suitable for their needs.
Luckily TorGuard offer an alternative Windows software which comes in the guise of the premium Viscosity software. This software itself is loved by many, although on a personal level I am not a massive fan there are a large number of users who swear by this software and the features in which it provides. If you wanted to use this software yourself with any other provider or group of providers then you would need to purchase it, by having a TorGuard account you get access to this premium software as part of your package price for as long as you keep the service with them. This is an added bonus and not one that many other providers offer, so if you’re a big fan of Viscosity from SparkLabs then this in itself may be a deal sealer for you.
For those who don’t have Windows you will be pleased to know that there is also custom software available for OS X and Linux. Having an option for Mac is pleasing but even more exciting is the availability of Linux software which although I have seen at one or two providers in the past is usually more of a rarity so definitely a thumbs up from me for such a wide range of software options.
I was rather pleased with the ease of use of the “Lite” custom software but although a “Lite” version it would of been nice to have had the ability to select different ports and also the option to choose between UDP/TCP. There have been occasions in the past where certain ports have caused problems with our brand of router and although this wasn’t the case when using TorGuard if it had of been then we would of been at a loss due to being unable to select a different port. While I understand that this is indeed the “Lite” version of their software it wouldn’t deteriorate from the light aspect if it also included these one or two features.
A smart feature of the custom software is the fact that it updates the server configurations on each run, this keeps everything in check and when situations like the heartbleed bug arose it would of allowed for a quick resolution when or if updated server configurations were deemed necessary.
For those Android loving users amongst us, which in all honesty is quite an awful lot of people considering how much of the market Android now covers in terms of both phones and tablets you will be interested to know that custom software is available from the Google Play store. It makes automatic connection via the OpenVPN protocol and is very easy to use. Upon loading you have a selection of servers available with both UDP and TCP options. Once the server is selected it is a simple case of entering your username and password, which can be saved for future use and the software itself continues to make connection automatically. Connection is a fast process and once running can just be left in the background, no technical knowledge is required and it makes the process easy for all abilities.
In terms of country locations TorGuard are on the higher end of the medium scale with over 30 countries available to connect to. Although there are some providers who offer slightly more this is an extremely good number of locations and covers the majority of areas around the world. Should you be a frequent traveller or just require a multitude of locations from Europe to America and Asia then this is more than likely to cover your needs.
There are a few added options available when it comes to connection, most servers are using the standard OpenVPN connection protocol BF-CBC although the extra features include a 256bit AES server and a handful of locations which are dubbed “Stealth” servers, basically these use the same port as HTTPS with the theory being that in countries that tend to block VPN access such as China, Iran and the like by using the standard HTTPS protocol it would be more difficult if not unlikely that this could be blocked as any attempt would also disable the use of secure HTTPS websites, it is a nice addition although allowing it over the full range of servers would be more advantageous.
IP types are shared/static. Each time you connect to a country location you are randomly assigned to a server and IP address, this IP address is static to the server but can be in use with other users. By offering IP addresses that are shared between more than one user at a time it increases the anonymity of your internet actions. This is seen to be a plus by many users because it enables their use to be intertwined with others use making it more difficult to differentiate between what you do via the connection and what others are doing at the same time.
As per our usual test procedures I tested TorGuard for a variety of reasons from the everyday web browsing to accessing online TV services such as Hulu and BBC iPlayer. The overall finding was the service was fast and reliable. At no point did I suffer any difficulty accessing websites nor did I notice any major slow down when doing daily internet tasks, it really was a seamless affair. TorGuard are a rather well known provider and no doubt have a massive customer base, in fact they’re probably one of the bigger players in the market so like with other large providers I was initially rather sceptical about how well their speed would match up, luckily my fears were squashed and I suffered no slow down or lag when making use of the internet on a daily basis.
One good test for any provider to make sure they are up to scratch is to make use of TV streaming services. Upon testing Hulu I was pleased to see that no slowdown occurred which is a good indication of speed and reliability of the servers. This meant I was able to watch full programs in top quality without any buffering or delays. Although I am located in the UK the same was found for BBC iPlayer so I expect this to be the case regardless of where you are located.
A standard test procedure of all of our reviews is to take a handful of servers from the available list which include ones closest to our location, the United Kingdom plus some further at distance to see how they perform. The test involves downloading a 1GB test file from a popular UK website via each server with the use of a download manager to open concurrent connections. The speeds possible for yourself will depend on your location and the route or distance to the server you’re connecting, below is a good indication of what we achieved but you should remember this may vary for yourself.
There servers tested in order are Hong Kong, Iceland, Sweden, Switzerland, UK & Chicago, USA.
The Encryption & Policies:
The majority of servers use the standard OpenVPN encryption of BF-CBC with a 128 bit key. While this is totally acceptable and secure we would like to see this upgraded in the near future to match the movement of other providers. While many providers are still making use of the same level of encryption it is always nice to have higher encryption where possible. Although the majority of servers make use of the default encryption there is an option of a server using AES-256-CBC with a 256 bit key. This is a nice addition although it is only currently available as a Canadian connection which may not be suitable for all users depending on your location.
It is a nice move to have the additional server with increased encryption but would be better to see all servers moved up to this standard in the near future. The encryption employed currently is definitely adequate for the general user to give security and peace of mind.
Torguard make use of 2048 bit RSA keys which is excellent to see. Far too many providers are resting on 1024 bit. While there are some who are offering even greater key sizes it is for the time being certainly more than enough and secure enough for today’s demands.
Support is offered by both Live Support and a Ticket Based system. I contacted TorGuard on various occasions to enquire not only about technical aspects of the service but also to query other areas. I found Ticket Support to be extremely fast with responses being received within minutes. On the odd instance when a response was received after a longer period of time I never found myself waiting any longer than around 20 minutes to receive a reply.
This is actually rather lightening fast and some of the fastest ticket support I have seen from any provider, their claim of 24x7x365 online support no doubt rings true. Top marks in terms of support for TorGuard.
The Verdict aka tl;dr:
TorGuard is a well known name in the VPN industry which always pushes me to wonder if their service can cope with the no doubt masses of users that are signed up. After using the service for a period of time I can gladly say this has alleviated any fears as I found the service to be stable and most important, fast. There are a range of custom software solutions for a variety of platforms and although there is currently no solution for iOS devices the rest of the common range are more than catered for.
One nice feature is the availability of two different types of custom software for Windows, a “lite” version and a more in depth expert version. This allows a wide range of customer types to be covered and makes the service available to a large ranges of consumers. On price the service is comparable to many other providers, no cheaper or more expensive. The type of service you get for your money is definitely worth while and from this point of view should make them a consideration for you should the other aspects of their service be suitable to your needs.
A wide range of server connections are available worldwide which makes the service suitable to a large customer base. If you’re in North America, Europe and even Asia there a good number of connection points especially in the US and Europe that cover the majority of what could be considered “standard” countries to be expected to be found at any good provider.
Support and Speed are two areas where TorGuard definitely excel. One of the most redeeming qualities of any provider is how they handle situations when things go wrong or when you have a query that is stopping you from making use of the service. If this happens then you need to be aware that the provider will be able to assist within a timely fashion which is certainly the case here. I found when contacting via ticket support the response came fast and in a manner which resolved any queries I had, definitely a plus for those who need assistance.
Although encryption was at the lower end of the acceptable scale and I would like to see this being increased in the near future it did make for a very smooth and fast service. I did not experience any slow down or lag at any point and was able to go about daily web tasks and make use of geo restricted streaming services without any issues. This is the most important factor for any good VPN provider and I am happy to report that TorGuard will be suitable for your every day use.
Overall I found TorGuard to be a very reliable provider who live up to the expectations of any well known company in the VPN industry. Increasing encryption standards would be one area where I would like to see improved in the future although as it stands it is more than acceptable and in line with other providers. Definitely a provider worth considering if their services meet your requirements.
|Price:|| (4.0 / 5)|
|Reliability:|| (3.5 / 5)|
|Speed:|| (4.0 / 5)|
|Servers:|| (4.0 / 5)|
|Policy:|| (4.0 / 5)|
|Support:|| (4.5 / 5)|
|Average:|| (4.0 / 5)|
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