VPN Finder™ – Your Guide to Choosing the Best VPN

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A beginner’s guide to VPNs. Find out how to protect your data from prying eyes from as little as $4 a month.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) allows computers or networks to connect to each other securely over the Internet. Traditionally, businesses and universities used VPNs to create secure, remote connections to an existing network, but many everyday consumers now utilise this same technology to shield their personal data while exploring the Internet. Despite the best efforts of some media companies to discredit VPNs as an illicit tool for circumventing geo-blocks, there are plenty of sensible reasons why someone would want to use a VPN.

Here, we discuss the various uses of VPNs and some companies that provide VPN services to Australians.

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Compare VPN services available in Australia

Note: All VPN services are charged in USD

VPN ServicePrice (p/m)Annual PaymentServer locationsSign Up
VPN provider logos (7)$11.95 $69.00 ($5.75/month)698 servers worldwideSign up More info
VPN provider logos (15)$6.95$39.95 ($3.33/month)3034+ servers in 15 countriesSign up More info
N/ASingle: $59.99
3 devices: $59.99
5 devices: $79.99
13 countriesSign up
VPN provider logos (14)$12.95$99.95 ($8.32/month)97+ VPN locations in 78 countriesSign up More info
VPN provider logos (6)$6.99 $49.95 ($4.16/month)Over 50 servers (High concentration in US and UK)Sign upMore info
VPN provider logos (11)$10.00 $77.99 ($6.49/month)500+ servers in over 60 countriesSign up More info
VPN provider logos (10)$9.99 $59.991000+ servers in over 42 countriesSign up More info
VPN provider logos (4)$9.99 $59.88 ($4.99/month)848 servers worldwideSign up More info
Untitled design (3)$9.99 Grizzly: $59.88 ($4.99/month)Servers in 13 countries Sign upMore info
VPN provider logos (3)$4.95 $39.90 ($3.33/month)20+ regionsSign up More info
Untitled design (2)$10.95 $70.80 biennially ($2.95/month)450+ servers across 6 continentsSign upMore info
VPN provider logos (8)Free - $9.99Not available30+ servers located across the globeSign up More info
VPN provider logos (1)$3.99 $39.99 ($3.33/month)31 locations worldwideSign up More info
VPN provider logos (13)Basic: $9.95
Premium: $12.95
Basic: $5.00
Premium: $6.67
700+ servers in over 3 continentsSign upMore info
VPN provider logos (17)Standard: $2.47
Torrent: $4.95
SmartDNS + Proxy: $4.95
Ultimate: $58.06
Standard: $18.47 ($1.53/month)
Torrent: $36.95 ($3.08/month)
SmartDNS + Proxy: $36.95 ($3.08/month)
~100 servers in 39 countriesSign up More info
AVSSmart DNS: $4.95
Smart DNS + VPN: $9.95
Smart DNS: $49.95
Smart DNS + VPN: $99.95
48 servers worldwideSign up More info
VPN provider logos (12)1 month: $8.991 year: $71.90 ($5.99/month)
2 years: $83.77 ($3.49/month)
400+ dedicated servers in over 30 locationsSign up More info
VPN-In-Touch-Logo$12.99/month
$29.99/6 months
$47.9925 servers in 8 countriesSign upMore info
VPN provider logos$9.95 $89.95 ($7.50/month)18 across the globeMore info
VPN provider logos (9)$4.99$49.90 ($8.32/month)Not specifiedSign up More info
VPN provider logos (16)$10$69.99 ($5.83/month)24 countriesSign up More info
Hotspot$11.95$29.95 ($2.50/month)6 countriesSign up
buffered-logo-3_copy$12.99$99.00 ($8.25/month)36 countriesMore info
VPN ServiceEncryptionMobile Support?
Untitled design (2)PPTP, L2TP, SSTP and OpenVPNYes
Untitled design (3)OpenVPN, IPSecYes
VPN provider logosPTTP, SmartDNSYes
VPN provider logos (1)VPN PTTP, SSTP, L2TP and Open VPNYes
VPN provider logos (3)PTTP, L2TP, SSTP and OpenVPN UDPYes
VPN provider logos (4)OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPSecYes
AVSL2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, PPTP, SmartDNS, SSL and SSTPYes
VPN provider logos (6)OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, HTTP, Socks5 and DNS ProxyYes
VPN provider logos (7)IPSec, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, PPTP and SSLiOS, Android and Windows Mobile
VPN provider logos (8)Supports PTTP, L2TP, IPSec (IKEv1 and IKEv2), OpenVPN, SOCKS and IKEv2.Yes
VPN provider logos (12)Safer VPN supports state-of-the-art protocols like OpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, and proprietary protocols.Yes
VPN provider logos (11)IP Vanish offers PPTP, L2TP and OpenVPN.Yes
VPN provider logos (9)Smart DNS.Yes
VPN provider logos (10)OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP as well as SOCKS5 torrent proxy services.Yes
VPN provider logos (13)Supports PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN and Chameleon.Yes
VPN provider logos (14)Express VPN apps are configured with OpenVPN UDP by default. Otherwise they provide OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP and PPTP.Yes
VPN provider logos (15)PIA provides OpenVPN, IPSec/L3TP and SOCKS5 Proxy.Yes
VPN provider logos (17)Open VPN, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP are all supported by IB VPN.Yes
VPN provider logos (16)PPTP, L2TP and SSTP, but all are priced differently.Yes
HotspotOpenVPN with 256-bit AES encryption.Yes
VPN ServiceProsCons
Untitled design (2)24/7 live chat. Fantastic support from a helpful Technical Support Executive around the clock.Short period for money back guarantee.It's great that there's a money-back guarantee at all, but three days isn't enough to make up your mind.
Untitled design (3)Outstanding website.TunnelBear's website is not only endlessly entertaining but also incredibly helpful and user-friendly.Not any advanced features. Other than that, there's not much to complain about TunnelBear is one of the most impressive VPNs we've seen.
VPN provider logosGreat value and handy support servicesBlurry position on data logging
VPN provider logos (1)Strict no-log policy, offers multiple devicesUnreliable speeds and server connections
VPN provider logos (3)Internet TV focused, informative website...website is a little overwhelming
VPN provider logos (4)30-day money back guarantee, no limitations on bandwidth, AVG integration and amazing customer serviceNo IPv6, Only 128 bit encryption
AVSServers in 48 countries, Simultaneous use on multiple devicesUS-based, more expensive than other SmartDNS providers
VPN provider logos (6)Strict no-log policyLimited server distribution
VPN provider logos (7)Wide range of compatibility for devices and operating systems...though only allows for 2 simultaneous streams
VPN provider logos (8)Absolutely no log files.Limited countries and servers.
VPN provider logos (12)Custom Windows client.Lacking in features that others within the same price range offer.
VPN provider logos (11)Widespread servers and Windows Phone support.No 24/7 support.
VPN provider logos (9)Helpful set up guides for most devices...…except Linux.
VPN provider logos (10)Unlimited data transfer and great connection speeds.Personal information being stored for promotional reasons is a bit of a concern.
VPN provider logos (13)Online storage and NAT firewall add-on are both neat additions.Vypr will only allow for one device to be connected on the basic plan.
VPN provider logos (14)Comes with 30-day no-risk money back guarantee and good discounts for annual memberships......but the base fee is a little pricey.
VPN provider logos (15)Easy-to-use and boasts great extra features at a reasonable price. Comes with a seven day no risk money back guarantee.Many users report very poor tech-support from the company.
VPN provider logos (17)Free trial and low prices.Not many server locations, and again, reports of poor customer care. Also, connection logs are kept for up to 10 days.
VPN provider logos (16)One of the best available for use within China.Many report being banned for torrent downloads with no option for a credit refund.
Hotspot1 month, 12-month and 24-month payment options, each reasonably priced.Hotspot Shield's client lacks the sheen that other providers offer.
VPN ServiceDoes it log usage data?Payment methods Recommended EncryptionKillswitch?
Untitled design (2)NoData not yet availableData not yet availableData N/A
Untitled design (3)No Visa, Mastercard, American Express, PayPal, Bitcoin and Jars of HoneyOpenVPN and AES 256 in CBC mode on Windows, Android and OS X and IPSec with 256-bit AES encryption for iOS.No
VPN provider logosYesMastercard, Visa and PayPal through a third-party payment system.Smart DNS service and Mobile VPN, with a fully fledged VPN on the way.No.
VPN provider logos (1)NoData not yet availableData not yet availableData N/A
VPN provider logos (4)NoData not yet availableData not yet availableData N/A
AVSNoData not yet availableData not yet availableData N/A
VPN provider logos (6)YesCash, major credit cards via PayPal, Bitcoins and gift cards via PayGarden.The OpenVPN-based Ironsocket VPN network with AES-256 encryption, SHA256 Message Authentication and a 4096-bit key.No
VPN provider logos (7)NoMajor credit cards, Paypal, Bitcoin, Banklink and Webmoney.Double VPN with two layers of AES-256-CBC encryption.Yes
VPN provider logos (8)NoOver 200 payments options including credit card, Paypal, Bitcoin, bank transfer and UKash.Recommended connections are IKEv2, OpenVPN with AES-256 encryption/Yes
VPN provider logos (12)NoData not yet availableData not yet availableData N/A
VPN provider logos (11)No. Major credit cards, Paypal and Bitcoin.An OpenVPN connection with 256 bit AES encryption.Yes
VPN provider logos (9)No. Data not yet availableData not yet availableData N/A
VPN provider logos (10)No. Over 200 different payment options, including PayPal, credit card, Bitcoin, Cash U, Gift Cards.An OpenVPN connection with AES256 with 2048bit RSA encryption.Yes.
VPN provider logos (13)Yes. Data not yet availableData not yet availableData N/A
VPN provider logos (14)No. Major credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin and alternative web payments and international credit cards An OpenVPN connection with DNS leak protection.No.
VPN provider logos (15)No.Paypal, Amazon, Google, Bitcoin, Stripe, Stellar, CashU, Ripple, PIA Gift Card.PIA recommends a combination of AES-256, RSA 4096 and SHA1 (or 256-bit)Yes.
VPN provider logos (17)Yes. Data not yet availableData not yet availableData N/A
VPN provider logos (16)No. Data not yet availableData not yet availableData N/A

Prices last checked August 2017

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What is a VPN?

When we use a VPN, the data we transmit is pushed through an encrypted “tunnel”. This data cannot be read by anybody without access to the private network due to several security features, such as a firewall between the client and the host server. The data is also specifically encrypted so that only the computer receiving it can recognise it.

Once connected, you’re technically no longer accessing the Internet, but rather your VPN. This is especially handy when using public Wi-Fi hotspots at restaurants, cafes and libraries, as they do not provide a secure and private connection to the Internet.

How do VPNs work?

VPNs encrypt your Internet connection by sending it through private servers. After you download a VPN client to your computer or other device, you select a server that is owned by the VPN to connect to. When you hit “connect,” your computer is connected to the server selected, and your IP address is changed to reflect the location of that server.

Even your own ISP can only see that you’re connected to a VPN, not what your IP address is or what data you are accessing. You are passing on a considerable degree of trust when connecting to a VPN, so ensure ahead of time that the VPN you are using is a reputable one.

What can a VPN be used for?

VPN use is first and foremost about security. What this actually means for you, the user, can differ dramatically depending on your needs.

  • Universities and companies may provide a free VPN service that allows students and staff to access the establishment’s resources when they are away from the campus/office. VPNs would be especially useful for these people when transferring confidential files over a public Wi-Fi network.
  • Online shoppers may use a VPN to purchase geographically-restricted content or to avoid taxes imposed by their country of origin. For example, if you happen to be an Australian and a big App Store shopper, you could access the service via a VPN to avoid the GST that is tacked onto game and app purchases.
  • Privacy concerns surrounding the Internet have multiplied in recent years. And it’s a reasonable fear when we are increasingly putting more and more of our personal details online through payments and services like PayPal. Using a VPN restricts prying eyes from being able to intercept files you may consider personally valuable or incriminating. This does not necessarily mean legally incriminating; it could be something as simple as an embarrassing photo or a private email.
  • Geo-blocked content restricts users outside of a set region from viewing it. Imagine, you’re travelling abroad and you want to check up on your favourite team’s latest match. You access the website and attempt to watch the highlights only to be met with a message that says: “This video is not available in your country”. As most VPNs have servers in countries all over the globe, accessing the website through a trusted VPN would enable you to view the previously blocked video.

What can’t a VPN do?

VPNs are not without limit. They have their own set of constraints, some of which are glazed over by the advertising copy written on their websites. These limitations include:

  • Making your connection to the Internet completely anonymous. VPNs can hide your location as well as what data you are accessing, but they cannot make your Internet connection 100% private. Tracking data such as cookies will automatically download to your computer when you are browsing. Remember that by linking your VPN service to your email or PayPal account, you’re also leaving a trail that leads right back to you.
  • Reduce the bandwidth you use. Some VPN providers will say this is theoretically possible because of their built-in compression algorithms, but it largely untested and most users will tell you the reality is the exact opposite.
  • Avoid active government surveillance. If you’re using a VPN to watch sports programming that isn’t available in your country, you’ll probably be able to figure out a VPN that does the trick. But if you’re trying to access a Chinese website with a VPN, you’re likely to run into issues.

Is using a VPN to access geo-blocked content legal?

There’s not much evidence to suggest that using a VPN to access geo-blocked content is illegal, but it’s important to check with your VPN provider, as this may be breaching the terms and conditions you agreed to when signing up. Getting caught out could lead to your VPN service being cancelled, and you could lose credits and access to your downloads. Using a VPN to stream paid services not available in Australia, such as Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, could also land you in hot water, including potential legal action from the copyright owner. And, just because you’re paying a membership fee, doesn’t mean that the service has the right to sell this content to you since it wouldn’t be licensed in your region. It could also be considered fraudulent if you have provided a fake postcode or address when signing up.

Similarly, your rights when using overseas-based companies to purchase goods may not be protected by Australian law. Some companies refuse to recognise products and warranties purchased internationally under domestic consumer law.

So, what’s the verdict? Paying to stream TV services not available in your country through a VPN is not recommended, as neither your VPN nor the service provider is obliged to support you if your activity is discovered. But, then again, services like Netflix are now available in Australia, so there’s no longer as much of a need for Australians to look for alternative viewing options.

VPNs and the Australian government’s data retention scheme

In April 2017, the Government’s mandatory data retention scheme came into effect. Telcos and Internet service providers will now be required to store your non-content data for a two-year period to help law enforcement agencies in criminal investigations. Many consider the bill a huge threat to privacy.

The metadata that will be retained includes your billing information, traffic data (numbers called and texted etc.), location of communications and quantity of uploads and downloads. So, if you’re a stickler for privacy and security, these laws should definitely concern you. It should be noted that many services provide offshore VPNs that allow us to browse the Internet anonymously by circumventing our ISPs in order to gain access to the Internet.

Using a VPN is standard practice for many Internet users and a great way to mask your online presence. Due to these new laws, however, it’s worth considering VPN providers located outside of Australia and other countries with similar laws.

I just want something cheap – which VPN should I use?

Going the cheap or free route when searching for a VPN to use can have dangerous consequences. Because of the inherent costs of running a VPN, companies that offer these services at a discounted rate or for free are often getting their profits from a third party – such as one generating adware that will track the sites you visit – or by selling your data online.

On which devices can I use a VPN?

Generally speaking, VPNs can be used on any device that can browse the Internet. These include:

  • Computers (laptops/desktops). With operating systems of Windows, Mac, Linux or Chromebook.
  • Mobile devices (smartphones/tablets). Including Android, iOS, Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble Nook HD.
  • Wireless routers. Asus, DD-WRT, D-Link, Linksys.
  • Streaming media consoles with DNS. Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Boxee Box.

Will using a VPN hide my identity while torrenting?

Yes. but not all VPNs allow traffic from peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing from services like BitTorrent. These VPNs will likely throttle your download speeds if you're found to be torrenting. The rules aren't always black-and-white and some VPN providers will only block file-sharing services from particular regions. Below are three different VPN providers with three very different views of torrenting through their services:

  • VPN Unlimited does not encourage torrenting through its service and has reported a few cases where it has had to decrease a user's connection speed when they were found to be torrenting.
  • Iron Socket allows torrenting on select servers optimised for file sharing. Iron Socket does not allow torrenting on all its servers due to the legal pressure from countries such as the US and UK.
  • Private Internet Access (PIA) claims it does not monitor any user activity whatsoever (thanks to its strict no logging policy). Therefore, it has no way of knowing if a user is torrenting, and cannot block it.

Though most P2P file sharing services have been painted with the same brush thanks to illegal copyright infringement, there are still legitimate uses for torrenting and file-sharing. So if you're concerned about a VPN blocking your BitTorrent or Vuze service, it’s definitely worth checking with the provider before signing up.

Does using a VPN guarantee my anonymity?

One of the most important things to know about VPNs is that they cannot guarantee complete anonymity – your VPN provider, for one, has easy access to who you are and what you’re doing online. There are, however, a number of VPN features to look out for to up the ante on your security:

No logs policy

Many VPN providers claim they do not keep logs, although reading the fine print will often reveal that logs are kept for things such as the time and date the VPN connection was made, the duration of the connection and the bandwidth used. The more secure VPNs will guarantee that they do not keep log files on items such as web traffic data, files downloaded, videos watched or websites visited.

DNS leak protection

If you're using a VPN to mask your identity, you need to be sure that all traffic from your computer is being re-routed through the VPN network. Occasionally, your computer's operating system will default back to the DNS designated by your ISP, rather than the DNS provided by your VPN service, essentially leaking your IP address. If there is a leak and your computer's IP address is exposed, then your usage data will be left vulnerable to eavesdroppers.

Kill switch

Essentially, a kill switch is a form of DNS leak protection – a safeguard should your VPN disconnect and your IP address becomes exposed. A VPN kill switch is a particularly valuable tool for regular torrent downloaders. It works by severing your computer's connection to the Internet if ever the VPN's connection fails. Without it, your computer automatically defaults to your ISP-designated DNS and your identity and location become vulnerable.

Top VPNs with kill switch technology

PIATorGuardHide My Ass
PIATorguardhma

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7 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    lesJune 7, 2017

    Does this service operate in Tasmania, Australia?

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJune 7, 2017

      Hi Les!

      Thanks for the comment.

      VPN is generally available in urban locations, especially for main cities like Hobart. However, some factors such as geography, regulation restrictions, business agreements with different telecommunication companies may affect their availability.

      You can contact your local telecommunications company to check availability in your area or you can also check this list for your options.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  2. Default Gravatar
    TaniaApril 14, 2016

    Great comparison! About the torrenting feature, I was going through Whirlpool, and I found this VPN called Ivacy mentioned there a number of times. Any reason why you haven’t considered this one because I was about to buy it, and I just stumbled upon this article of yours.

  3. Default Gravatar
    VVJune 23, 2015

    How do you think the new Copyright Amendments on Online Infringement will affect vpns?

    • Staff
      BrodieJuly 1, 2015Staff

      Hi V,

      It’s a valid concern that the Copyright Amendments will affect VPN use. Under the new bill, copyright holders can apply to have a website blocked if its primary purpose is to “facilitate” copyright infringement. The wording here is pretty broad. Though there are many legitimate uses for a VPN, there’s nothing to stop a copyright holder from arguing that a VPN’s primary purpose is to facilitate piracy.

      Some SmartDNS providers, like Turboflix, market their services with the sole purpose of circumventing geododging to access US Netflix and other blocked services. Turboflix, in particular, have had their fair share of legal troubles in the past, but it’s hard to imagine them surviving in Australia once the amendments are in full swing.

      As for other legitimate VPNs, Malcolm Turnbull has said “it is not the intention of the amendments to apply to VPNs and it is difficult to see how VPNS, which are extensively used for wide range of purposes, could be said to have a primary purpose of copyright infringement”. So, in other words, it’s difficult to argue that a VPN could be used to facilitate copyright infringement, but not impossible. Supposedly, it will all come down to the strength of the copyright holder’s argument (and they now have years of experience arguing the case) should they decide to pursue VPN.

      Thanks,

      Brodie

  4. Default Gravatar
    OnepoppaMay 8, 2015

    I have my own domain, hosted locally in Australia. If I subscribe to a VPN :

    1. Does my email still go through my hosted mail server?
    2. Does my email address remain the same? – does it appear the same to recipients of my emails, and do they reply to my usual email address?
    3. Does my email address remain the same for my online newspaper and magazine subscriptions?

    • Staff
      BrodieMay 11, 2015Staff

      Hi Onepoppa,

      If you are still using your previous email address (Hotmail, Gmail etc.) then, yes, it will still go through their server. Your email address remains the same and nothing changes with prior subscriptions. What some VPNs do offer, however, is a complimentary anonymous email address that runs through their servers.

      Hope this helps,

      Brodie

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