After the U.S. House of Representatives’ decision to allow broadband internet providers to sell your browsing data without your consent, web searches for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) spiked virtually overnight. There are many reasons to consider a VPN service for your iPhone or iPad — if you use public Wi-Fi, for example, you’re an easy target for cybercriminals, so you need to protect yourself. VPNs can also help you gain access to region-specific streaming catalogs — like those belonging to Netflix, for instance — even if you’re technically located outside the coverage area — and they can also help stop your internet service provider (ISP) from throttling your connection without your consent.
A VPN, most importantly, enables you to protect your data from snoopers and mask your true location. It hides your online forays in a secure tunnel that outsiders can’t penetrate, but you must choose wisely since you’re trusting your VPN provider with all your online activities. If the service is free, you have to wonder how it’s staying afloat. Do some research to make sure the company behind the VPN isn’t selling your data or bandwidth to third parties.
Keep in mind that you may need to install the OpenVPN Connect client and follow a guide in order to take advantage of the OpenVPN protocol on iOS. All the apps will work with IPSec or another protocol by default. You’ll find guides on most of the service provider’s websites to do this.
NordVPN is one of the most popular VPNs for Windows and MacOS, and it’s also available for iOS. NordVPN uses the IKEv2 security protocol, which is 30-percent faster than the last generation. The app allows you to browse servers using a map, or a curated list of countries. There are currently more than 5,000 available servers spread across 60 countries.
You can connect up to six devices with a single account, and bypass blocked websites and regional restrictions with zero lag. NordVPN does not store any user information either, so your privacy is protected at all times. The app also supports a host of security protocols — including OpenVPN, IKEV2, and L2TP — and your real IP address will show as the NordVPN server IP address, thus securing your browsing experience on the go. Subscriptions vary from $12 a month to $84 annually, but Nord frequently runs promotions, for example, a three-year plan for $108, which works out to $3 per month.
NordVPN even offers a unique double encryption system that applies military-grade AES-256-CBC encryption to inbound and outbound data twice. A hit with reviewers and users alike, NordVPN should make anyone’s shortlist when looking for a robust VPN solution.
CyberGhost is a solid VPN service that offers decent speeds. You can select from more than 2,500 servers in more than 60 countries, and you can connect up to seven devices simultaneously. It’s also available for Android, Windows, and MacOS.
CyberGhost VPN has a premium subscription plan that costs $15 per month or $50 per year, but it’s worth watching out for deals, as there are frequent limited-time offers that can bring the monthly cost way down.
The Private Internet Access (PIA) anonymous VPN service remains a popular option on iOS. It offers a decent selection of locations across the world — 33 in all — including some regional options for popular destinations. Speeds are generally fast, and the service supports 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN, though it recommends 128-bit encryption for speed. It’s also based in the United States and promises not to log traffic and VPN usage.
While the desktop clients offer all sorts of configuration options, the iOS app is very straightforward. You log in, pick a destination from a list, and away you go. Speed information is an obvious omission, and it does sometimes disconnect you. There’s no free trial for PIA, but the service does offer a seven-day, money-back guarantee. You can pay $7 a month or $40 for the year, but there are sometimes cheaper deals if you’re willing to sign up for longer. Subscriptions include support for five simultaneous connections, which makes it a good value for the money.
With ExpressVPN, you can connect to servers in 94 countries worldwide. You’ll also find support for 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN. There’s no logging policy, so you can rest assured the service won’t track your online activities. It’s generally fast and reliable, with good customer support should you need it.
The iOS app shows locations in a list or on a map, and you can tap to connect. There are more than 140 regions to choose from, with the option to set your favorite for later. Express VPN also offers Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux, and router apps. It supports devices running Apple TV, Fire TV, and Android TV, too.
You can try ExpressVPN for free for one day. After that, subscriptions run $13 a month, $60 for six months, or $100 for the year. There is also a 45-day, money-back guarantee. However, you can only connect with three different devices simultaneously.
With more than 700 servers in more than 60 countries, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting connected with IPVanish. It promises zero logging, while still managing to offer support for OpenVPN and 256-bit encryption. It also allows P2P traffic, which some services block.
You’ll find the iOS app pretty easy to use. You can browse using location and popular countries. Regions such as the United States list servers by individual cities. There’s little else to it.
It has a wide range of subscription plans — $10 a month, $27 for three months, or $75 annually. It provides unlimited bandwidth, and you can have up to 10 simultaneous connections on multiple devices.
Do you have any more questions about VPNs? Here’s everything you wanted to know about VPNs but were afraid to ask.