Best VPNs of 2020

A virtual private network is a software system that renders a connection over the internet as private as if it was a network inside a secure building with access controls. This technology, which became known as VPN, was originally created so that businesses could link the networks of several sites together without having to pay out the high cost of leasing a private line. VPN connections became even more useful to companies when people started working from home.

Now private individuals need VPNs. When the world wide web first started to become widely available, people were reluctant to buy things online because that their credit card details and personal information could be stolen by wiretappers as it traveled across the internet. The invention of HTTPS solved that problem. However, increasingly sophisticated network monitoring systems have now made it necessary for people to step up their internet security to another level. They also need online privacy.

Why do I need online privacy?

Privacy is a bit more than security. With security, you want people to be blocked from stealing your data. However, a breach of privacy is another risk. In real life, you pan but bars on your windows and locks on the doors to stop people breaking in and stealing your information – that’s security. However, bars on the windows won’t stop a Peeping Tom from looking through your windows and watching what you are doing – that’s an invasion of privacy.

Privacy gets even harder to ensure in the real world when you leave your property. You can’t control other people out in public. Someone might be following you and recording everything you do. The government can control what you can do and where you can go by blocking off roads or closing down the places that you like to hang out.

You would be very angry if someone was logging all of your activities and you might be willing to join a public protest if the government started controlling the places you could go to. However, it’s too late. Those things are happening to you already without you even realizing it. The reason that you don’t know about the tracking and the controls is because they happen silently and invisibly on the internet.

How is my privacy being invaded on the internet?

Every member of the public has to take out a contract with an internet service provider in order to get onto the internet. The internet service provider (ISP) is not a branch of the government or an agency of the police. However, laws introduced by the governments of the world have co-opted ISPs into policing everyone’s online activities.

ISPs are obliged to record all of the activities of their customers. This involves logging every site that a customer visits and classifying the type of internet traffic that a person engages in, such as downloading videos. Those records have to be held on file for a period – the exact length of time varies from country to country. With those logs in existence, law enforcement agencies and copyright lawyers have a rich source of information to access whenever they need it.

You have no privacy at all. You don’t even have the right to be notified when records of your activities are being searched. In fact, your ISP: is legally banned from informing you of the execution of a warrant.

How are my actions on the internet being controlled?

Your ISP can see every site you visit and every site you visit can see exactly where you are. Each endpoint of an internet connection can be traced. So, even if the contents of your connection are encrypted, there is still a lot of information that strangers can gather on you.

Your ISP has the option of blocking your access to certain sites and refusing to pass on your internet traffic for particular activities. This is particularly the case with torrenting. The ISP can block your access to torrent tracker sites, such as The Pirate Bay. It can also interrupt your peer connections by sending a disconnect instruction to the torrent clients of all participants.

The downloading of copyrighted material without permission or payment is particularly risky nowadays thanks to those activity logs held by ISPS. Copyright lawyers and law enforcement agencies can get access to those records and take you to court for copyright infringement.

Even if you pay to access entertainment online, your actions are still heavily controlled. Some content is blocked by order of the government and those bans cover a very large slice of the internet in countries such as China and Iran. Government controls are very easy to implement online.

Geo-restrictions and throttling

Entertainment streaming services also control your freedom online. Even though you are paying them, they tell you what to do. They can block your access to their video libraries just because you are in the wrong place. This is possible because every device connected to the internet has to have a unique internet address, which is called the IP address.

Each IP address can be traced to a physical location. This is why you can’t watch videos at Hulu if you travel outside of the United States and why you can’t access the BBC iPlayer from outside the UK. This is also how Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime can tell where you are and change its video library accordingly.

The tracing of your activities online also means that ISPs can selectively slow down your connection speeds for live video streaming. ISPs have been caught doing this. It is called “throttling” and it is particularly practiced by ISPs that also have their own entertainment services, such as cable TV companies. Comcast, for example, has been caught on a number of occasions trying to kill off Netflix by slowing down all of its traffic to the point where it is unwatchable.

Gaining internet freedom with a VPN

A VPN makes it impossible for the sites you visit to know where you really are. It also prevents your ISP, government agents, and lawyers from knowing what you are doing on the internet. The VPN gives you privacy and so you have the freedom to do whatever you want on the internet.

You probably want to know straight away where to get a VPN, so the explanation of how VPNs work has been written into the end of this account. Before that section, find out about the best VPNs in 2020.

The best VPN services

There are a lot of VPNs on the market today and most of them are no good. You will also find free VPNs, but most of those are no use at all. A VPN performs a complicated task, the best VPN providers maintain thousands of servers, and they frequently ditch and replace their pool of IP addresses. All of that work costs money and so it stands to reason that free VPN services can’t afford the investment needed to properly run a VPN.

The top video streaming services, including Netflix, know about VPNs and they have installed “proxy detection systems” to block their traffic. So, the best VPN uses obfuscation techniques to dodge these checks and get their customers in. The lesser tier of VPN companies tell potential customers that no VPN is capable of unblocking Netflix. Of course, that’s not true. Many of the VPNs on our list can do it.

Here is our list of the best VPN services in 2020:

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. CyberGhost
  4. SurfShark
  5. Private Internet Access
  6. IPVanish
  7. TunnelBear
  8. VyprVPN

You can read more about each VPNs in the following sections.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has been the number one VPN service in the world for a number of years one and its position is still unassailable in 2020. The key to this VPN provider’s success lies with its technical capabilities combined with ease of use and a very competent customer service department.

ExpressVPN reviews from customers always rate the VPN highly because it doesn’t require any technical knowledge to use. Here are important facts about ExpressVPN.

Unblocking

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Hulu
  • HBO
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Sky Go

Logging policy

  • Based in the British Virgin Islands
  • No logs

Server network

  • Number of servers: 3,000+
  • Number of server locations: 160
  • Number of server countries: 94

VPN apps

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux
  • Chromebook
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Wi-fi routers
  • Kodi
  • Apple TV
  • Android TV boxes
  • Fire TV devices

Browser extension

  • GoogleChrome
  • Firefox
  • Safari

VPN protocols

  • OpenVPN over TCP
  • OpenVPN over UDP
  • L2TP/IPSec
  • SSTP
  • PPTP

Encryption

  • Session establishment: RSA-5096
  • Data channel: AES-256

Security features

  • IP leak protection
  • DNS leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Automatic wi-fi protection

Customer service

  • Available 24/7
  • Webform
  • Email
  • Live chat support

Account features

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 5 simultaneous connections
  • Fast speeds

Price

  • One month: $12.95
  • Cheapest monthly rate: $8.32 (one year plan)

NordVPN

NordVPN is another longstanding and reliable service. Its appeal lies in its attractive app and extra security features as well as the very low price of its long-term plans.

NordVPN has a responsive protection system for streaming video. This is called SmartPlay and it kicks in when the server calculates that the connection is too slow to add all of the VPN services on top of the stream and still get continuous playback.

Unblocking

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Hulu
  • Showtime
  • Disney+
  • BBC iPlayer

Logging policy

  • Based in Panama
  • No logs

Server network

  • Number of servers: 5,383
  • Number of server locations: N/A
  • Number of server countries: 59

VPN apps

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux
  • Chromebook
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Blackberry
  • Android TV boxes
  • Fire TV devices

Browser extension

  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox

VPN protocols

  • OpenVPN over TCP
  • OpenVPN over UDP
  • IKEv2/IPSec

Encryption

  • Session establishment: RSA-4096
  • Data channel: AES-256

Security features

  • IP leak protection
  • DNS leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Automatic wi-fi protection
  • Double-hop VPN option
  • Interface to Tor
  • CyberSec suite of ad blocker, tracker blocker, and anti-malware

Customer service

  • Available 24/7
  • Webform
  • Email

Account features

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 6 simultaneous connections

Price

  • One month: $11.95
  • Cheapest monthly rate: $3.49 (two-year plan)

CyberGhost

CyberGhost excels at unblocking geo-restrictions and it has very good speeds. These two factors make it an excellent choice for streaming and gaming. The company offers completely anonymous accounts that don’t even require contact details. The customer can pay for a subscription with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Unblocking

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Hulu
  • HBO
  • Disney+
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Sky Go

Logging policy

  • Based in Romania
  • No logs

Server network

  • Number of servers: 6,500
  • Number of server locations: 111
  • Number of server countries: 90

VPN apps

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux
  • Chromebook
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Apple TV
  • Android TV boxes
  • Fire TV devices
  • Smart TVs

Browser extension

  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox

VPN protocols

  • OpenVPN over TCP
  • OpenVPN over UDP
  • WireGuard
  • IKEv2/IPSec
  • L2TP/IPSec

Encryption

  • Session establishment: RSA-4096
  • Data channel: AES-256

Security features

  • IP leak protection
  • DNS leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Automatic wi-fi protection
  • Malware protection

Customer service

  • Available 24/7
  • Webform
  • Email
  • Chatbot

Account features

  • 24-hour free trial
  • 45-day money-back guarantee
  • 7 simultaneous connections

Price

  • One month: $12.99
  • Cheapest monthly rate: $2.75 (three-year plan)

Surfshark

Surfshark is not as well known as the top three VPNs in this list. However, it is rapidly climbing the charts thanks to the ease of use of its apps and the service’s constant availability. Bargain hunters will be interested in the price of the Surfshark two-year plan.

An encrypted proxy from Sufshark, called Shadowsocks offers faster streaming speeds and still dodges geo-blocking processes. It doesn’t have the same level of privacy as a VPN, however.

Unblocking

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Hulu
  • HBO
  • Disney+
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Sky Go

Logging policy

  • Based in the British Virgin Islands
  • No logs

Server network

  • Number of servers: 1,700+
  • Number of server locations: N/A
  • Number of server countries: 63

VPN apps

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux
  • Chromebook
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Apple TV
  • Android TV boxes
  • Fire TV devices
  • Smart TVs

Browser extension

  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox

VPN protocols

  • OpenVPN over TCP
  • OpenVPN over UDP
  • IKEv2/IPSec

Encryption

  • Session establishment: N/A
  • Data channel: AES-256

Security features

  • IP leak protection
  • DNS leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Automatic wi-fi protection
  • Adblocker
  • Malware protection
  • Double-hop VPN option

Customer service

  • Available 24/7
  • Webform
  • Email
  • Live chat support

Account features

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections

Price

  • One month: $11.95
  • Cheapest monthly rate: $1.99 (two-year plan)

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access (PIA) offers a reliable and solid service. Along with Zenmate, PIA is owned by Kape Technologies, which is also the parent company of CyberGhost. A certain amount of technology sharing goes on between the three sister VPNs. However, the PIA has a distinct look and feel and will appeal to a different audience than CyberGhost.

Reading around the other reviews of PIA on the web, there is a lot of negativity surrounding the VPN service’s ability to get into streaming sites. Either those other sites had a hidden agenda or PIA has sorted itself out since they were written, but I found it was able to get cross-border access to all of the major streaming services.

As well as providing VPN servers, PIA has a SOCKS5 proxy specifically designed to hide the identity of customers who join torrent swarms.

Unblocking

  • Netflix (USA, Germany, and Japan)
  • Amazon Prime Video (USA, Germany, Japan)
  • BBC iPlayer

Logging policy

  • Based in Denver, Colorado
  • No logs

Server network

  • Number of servers: 3,200+
  • Number of server locations: N/A
  • Number of server countries: 46

VPN apps

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux
  • Chromebook
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Apple TV
  • Android TV boxes
  • Fire TV devices
  • Smart TVs

Browser extension

  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox

VPN protocols

  • OpenVPN over TCP
  • OpenVPN over UDP
  • IKEv2/IPSec

Encryption

  • Session establishment: N/A
  • Data channel: AES-256

Security features

  • IP leak protection
  • DNS leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Automatic wi-fi protection
  • Adblocker
  • Malware protection
  • Double-hop VPN option

Customer service

  • Available 24/7
  • Webform
  • Email
  • Live chat support

Account features

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections

Price

  • One month: $11.95
  • Cheapest monthly rate: $1.99 (two-year plan)

IPVanish

IPVanish owns and runs all of its infrastructures. This is rare in the VPN industry, where the standard set up is for VPNs to run on servers leased from other businesses. The IPVanish network was specifically set up to run VPNs and its network plugs directly into the world’s internet backbone, making it a Tier 1 provider. These are the reasons that IPVanish is just about the fastest VPN service in the world.

As well as running an excellent VPN service, IPVanish offers all of its subscribers a SOCKS5 proxy for free. This is not as secure as a VPN, but it is just enough to hide a customer’s real identity. This is particularly useful when joining swarms for files in P2P systems.

Unblocking

  • Netflix
  • Sling TV
  • BBC iPlayer

Logging policy

  • Based in Orlando, Florida
  • No logs

Server network

  • Number of servers: 1,400+
  • Number of server locations: 75
  • Number of server countries: 55

VPN apps

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux
  • Chromebook
  • iOS
  • Android
  • Fire TV devices

Browser extension

None

VPN protocols

  • OpenVPN
  • IKEv2/IPSec
  • L2TP/IPSec

Encryption

  • Session establishment: RSA-2048
  • Data channel: AES-256

Security features

  • IP leak protection
  • DNS leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Automatic wi-fi protection
  • IP switcher
  • OpenVPN scrambler

Customer service

  • Available 24/7
  • Webform
  • Email
  • Live chat support

Account features

  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • Includes 250 GB of secure cloud storage

Price

  • One month: $10.00
  • Cheapest monthly rate: $3.70 (two-year plan)

TunnelBear

TunnelBear is a very unique VPN service. The VPN provider was one of the first to ask for an independent audit of its security procedures, making it clear that it keeps no logs – many VPN services declare a no logs policy but secretly keep activity logs.

The most striking aspect of TunnelBear is its interface. The designers of the app went to great lengths to create an unusual and entertaining experience. The main screen of the app shows a cartoon map of the world. The user’s location is indicated by a bear. The server locations are shown as honeypots. When the user chooses a VPN server location, the bear digs into the ground and disappears into a tunnel. When the connection is established, the bear pops up in the honeypot of the chosen location.

On the downside, TunnelBear isn’t as good as the rest of the VPNs on this list at getting into location-restricted streaming services, and its customer service team isn’t as good as those of ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

Unblocking

  • Netflix
  • Sling TV
  • BBC iPlayer

Logging policy

  • Based in Canada
  • No logs – verified by an annual external audit

Server network

  • Number of servers: 1,800
  • Number of server locations: N/A
  • Number of server countries: 23

VPN apps

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Android
  • iOS

Browser extension

  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Opera

VPN protocols

  • OpenVPN (Mac OS, Windows, and Android)
  • IKEv2/IPSec (iOS) 

Encryption

  • Session establishment: RSA-2048
  • Data channel: AES-256

Security features

  • IP leak protection
  • DNS leak protection
  • Kill switch  (called VigilantBear)
  • Automatic wi-fi protection
  • Stealth mode (called GhostBear)
  • TunnelBear Blocker (separate bower plugin)

Customer service

  • Webform
  • Email

Account features

  • Free account with up to 500 MB data throughput per month
  • 5 simultaneous connections
  • Includes RememBear password manager
  • No money-back guarantee

Price

  • One month: $9.99
  • Cheapest monthly rate: $3.33 (three-year plan)

VyprVPN

VyprVPN is one of the oldest VPN services around. It is a product of Golden Frog. The company was started up by American internet entrepreneurs but it is based in Switzerland. This is a great location to channel your internet traffic through for several reasons.

The country is outside of the Five Eyes nations, where the secret service seems to have unlimited power. It is also outside of the EU, so none of the EU data retention requirements apply. In fact, ISPs and VPNs can get into trouble for tracking user activities in Switzerland because it is a breach of privacy. Also, no one will ever be taken to court for downloading copyrighted material without permission in Switzerland because it is legal there as long as the download is only for personal viewing.

Unblocking

  • Netflix
  • HBO
  • Hulu
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • BBC iPlayer

Logging policy

  • Based in Switzerland
  • No logs

Server network

  • Number of servers: 700+
  • Number of server locations: N/A
  • Number of server countries: 63

VPN apps

  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Chromebook
  • Android
  • iOS
  • Blackphone
  • Routers, including Anonabox
  • Kodi
  • Android TV boxes

Browser extension

  • Google Chrome
  • Firefox

VPN protocols

  • OpenVPN (Windows, Mac OS, QNAP NAS, Android, and iOS)
  • IKEv2/IPSec – (Windows, Mac OS, and iOS)
  • WireGuard – (Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS)
  • PPTP – (QNAP NAS)

Encryption

  • Session establishment: RSA-2048
  • Data channel: AES-128, AES-160, and AES-256

Security features

  • IP leak protection
  • DNS leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Automatic wi-fi protection
  • Chamelion, a proprietary obfuscation

Customer service

  • Webform
  • Email
  • Live chat support

Account features

  • 5 simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Price

  • One month: $12.95
  • Cheapest monthly rate: $2.50 (two-year plan)

Virtual private networks

A VPN protects all of the information about your activities. Not only are wiretappers or intermediaries blocked from reading the contents of your communications, but they can’t tell where those connections are made to. The sites and services that you connect to can’t tell where you really are.

A VPN is a type of proxy. In real life, a proxy is a person that stands in for someone else. This is exactly what the VPN does. A customer of Hulu can’t get into the service when outside the USA. So, a VPN server within the USA makes the request to the Hulu site on behalf of the customer.

The Hulu member has to log in with a username and password. That passes one level of access control. For the lower level of access control, the Hulu server looks at the location of the return address on the request. That IP address belongs to the VPN server, which is in the United States and so qualifies. The Hulu server sends back the codes for the video stream and the VPN server immediately forwards that on to the customer. The Hulu server has no idea that its subscription member is really outside of the USA.

Proxy activities

The VPN creates a break in the connections between a protected customer’s device and any web server that it contacts. It turns that one connection into two separate connections – one private and one public.

The public connection of the VPN system lies between the VPN and the site that the customer wants to visit. The private connection is between the customer’s device and the VPN server.

All data sent across the internet is broken up into chunks. This is called a packet. The administration information on the front of the packet is called the packet header and the main body is called the data payload.

In a standard internet connection, the device that initiates contact is called the “client” and the device that is contacted with a request is called the “server.” The VPN system has a server – that is the computer through which all communications are routed. The VPN also has a client. This is a VPN app that the customer has to download and install in order to use the VPN service. On the public connection, the VPN acts as the client, communicating with a web server on behalf of its customer.

VPN tunneling

Before connecting to the VPN service, the user has to choose a server location from a long list. Most VPN services have servers in many countries around the world. When the customer connects to a VPN server, the world will trace all communications to that VPN server’s IP address, not the real address of the customer.

The connection between the VPN client and the VPN server is called a “tunnel.” This is because no one can see where the packets traveling along that path are really headed. So the tunnel is the private connection, when each packet passes through the VPN it is passed over to the public connection and so comes out of the tunnel and is visible to any wiretapper or an intermediate device.

VPN encapsulation

The tunnel is created by encapsulation. The VPN client encrypts the IP packet in its entirety, including the header. This action renders the information in the header useless. It cannot be sent over the internet because no router will be able to see its intended destination and so will not be able to pass it on.

The VPN client puts that encrypted packet in the payload of another packet and addresses the outer packet to the VPN server.  This outer packet is addressed to the VPN server. While the VPN tunnel is active all traffic from the protected device will go to the VPN server first, no matter where those packets are really intended for.

When the VPN server receives an encrypted packet from the client, it extracts the payload, decrypts it, and produces the original packet that is addressed to another computer. That packet has the protected device’s IP address in its header as its return address. The VPN server deletes that address and puts its own address in its place.

The VPN server has a number of IP addresses. It allocates a different IP address to each actively connected customer. When the VPN client of a customer makes a connection to the server, the VPN software records the IP address of the connecting device and allocates one of its own IP addresses, pairing the two addresses in a cross-reference table. This is how the VPN server knows where to send the replies that come in from the4 outside world.

The work of VPN protection

When a customer connects to a VPN server, starts up a browser, and request the web page of Netflix, here’s what happens:

  1. The browser sends the request for the Netflix page to the network software on the device.
  2. The VPN client intercepts the request packet before it is sent.
  3. The VPN client encrypts the request packet and puts it in a packet addressed to the VPN server.
  4. The VPN client passes the VPN packet to the network service to be sent.
  5. The packet gets sent to the internet service provider’s gateway.
  6. The gateway reads the source and destination IP addresses and sends the packet on.
  7. The VPN server receives the packet and decrypts it.
  8. The VPN server removes the source IP address on the original packet, looks in its cross-reference table, inserts the allocated IP address.
  9. The VPN server sends the request packet to the server of Netflix. T
  10. The Netflix server receives the request and returns a response to the source address, which is that of the VPN server.
  11. The VPN server receives the response packet, removes the destination IP address in the header, looks in its cross-reference table for that address, locates the real IP address associated with it, and inserts the address of the protected device into the packet header.
  12. The VPN server encrypts the entire packet and places it in a containing packet with a destination address of the customer’s device and its own address (the server) as the source address.
  13. The VPN server sends the packet over the internet.
  14. The ISP gateway receives the packet, records its source and destination addresses, and sends it on to the customer.
  15. The packet arrives at the network interface of the protected device.
  16. The VPN client intercepts the packet, extracts the payload, and sends the inner packet back to the network service.
  17. The network service extracts the data in the packet and sends that to the browser.
  18. The browser reads the received code and interprets it into a web page.

There are a number of important points in these packet journeys that will be explained below.

Protection from ISP interference

When the VPN is turned on all of the internet activity from the protected computer goes to the VPN first. The only traffic coming into the protected computer comes from the VPN. That means the records kept by the ISP will only show exchanges between the customer and the IP addresses of several of the VPN’s servers. There will be no meaningful data for law enforcement agencies or copyright lawyers to seize. VPNs emasculate all attempts to track the activities of the general public through ISP activity records.

If the ISP is operating an automated process to switch video streams onto a slower connection (throttling) the VPN traffic will pass straight through on the high-speed connection because the deep packet inspection procedures of the ISP’s filters won’t be able to read into the encrypted packets of the tunnel.

Unblocking file sharing

ISPs have a number of methods to block customers from practicing torrenting on Peer-to-Peer networks. First, it removes entries for torrent tracker index sites from its DNS server. A domain name server (DNS) is necessary because the web addresses (URLs) that you enter into a web browser don’t exist on the internet. Those URLs need to be translated into IP addresses and that’s what the DNS does. When a browser fetches a web page, it first needs to get the IP address for that site. Without a DNS entry, that site is no longer contactable.

If a protected customer surfs to The Pirate Bay, the ISP doesn’t know about it, even though it is handling that traffic. VPN companies provide their own DNS servers, so the browsers of customers can get the IP addresses of those sites that the ISP bans. There is nothing the ISP can do about that. So, from the very start, the VPN is unblocking file sharing.

When the traffic inspection performed by the ISP detects torrent activity, it sends a RESET command to the torrent client of the Seeder. So, you are never able to successfully download any files. As the VPN’s encryption carries all file sharing packets through the ISP, it cannot be detected and cannot be blocked.

Copyright lawyers hire interns to join swarms for a file in a torrenting client. This is because anyone in a swarm can see the IP addresses of all of the other people in the swarm. During a torrent download, each receiver of a segment becomes a server of that segment to others. So, you are not just downloading a file, you are distributing. It. This is a greater transgression in copyright law and, in the USA, it is a criminal offense.

ISPs own the IP addresses that their customers use and they reallocate them regularly. However, they record each allocation period, which is called a “DHCP lease.“ After noting down the IP addresses in the swarm, the intern just needs to look up the ISP that owns the address, which is information available in public records. The law firm then gets a subpoena for the ISP’s logs and finds out which customer had that IP address at that time. Then you are caught. When torrenters use a VPN, the address that the intern sees in the torrent client belongs to the VPN, not you.

Activity logs

The automatic logging that ISPs perform makes it possible for copyright lawyers to track down torrenters. The cross-reference table that the VPN uses to work out which customer was allocated which masking IP address and when provides a path from the torrent swarm, through the VPN’s records, to your ISP, and then on to you.

This is why a ”no logs policy” is a really important attribute to look for in a VPN. The VPN server needs that cross-reference table while the customer is connected, otherwise, it won’t know where to forward responses to requests.

The VPN has no need to maintain each record once the customer ends the connection. Particularly because if that record remains in the lookup table, the VPN can’t reallocate that masking IP address to any other customer.

Unfortunately, some VPNs archive off those cross-references when the customer disconnects rather than deleting them entirely. That logging policy creates records that can be seized with a court order.

Online privacy

Now you can see why you need privacy as well as security when you are online. A VPN will make video streaming sites believe that you are in a location that is permitted access to videos. It will prevent your ISP from tracking or controlling your activities on the web, and it will lay a false trail that diverts copyright lawyers away from you.

A VPN creates internet freedom. However, slow VPNs, VPNs that don’t put in the work to dodge detection, and VPNs that keep activity logs are no use at all. Don’t go with a VPN provider that hasn’t been recommended. Stick to the VPN companies listed in our list. Get online privacy and reclaim your freedom on the web.