For some, the words ‘VPN’ can sound scary and confusing, and simply searching for them online gives you thousands of options to choose from, all claiming that they can give you the latest and greatest in terms of security and privacy. But with so many to choose from, which one should you pick, and are there actually any differences between providers? Canstar Blue investigates the best VPN providers available here in Australia and what features they have on offer.
What is a VPN?
A VPN, which stands for virtual private network, is exactly how it sounds. It provides you with a private and secure network connection, which protects your personal information and data. Your original IP address (i.e. your location) also becomes undetectable, allowing you to access region-restricted websites and content (aka ‘geo-blocking’ – a website blocking you due to your geographical location), and can also help you connect to your work files in the office from the comfort of your home.
What VPN providers are available in Australia?
Here are some of the top (best-known) VPN providers available in Australia:
- Private Internet Access
Read on to find out more about each individual VPN provider.
One of the most popular VPN providers in Australia, NordVPN features a staggering 5,000 servers across 59 different countries, making it also one of the largest VPNs available. The service claims advanced functionality, with minimal buffering and a high-speed performance, as well as claiming a ‘zero-logging’ policy, meaning that they don’t log any activity from your web history. Compatible with all brands of smartphones and PCs, NordVPN also allows you to operate with six simultaneous logins, ideal for a larger team or household. Monthly, 12-month and 24-month subscriptions are available, with a 30-day money-back guarantee on all purchases.
Operating with over 1,700 servers across over 60 countries, Surfshark includes a number of security and privacy features to help you during your time on the net, including a no-log policy and Kill Switch safety net feature. Surfshark also features ‘Multihop’, which allows users to connect to multiple countries at once, as well as ‘Camouflage Mode’ for the ultimate browsing privacy. Like many providers, Surfshark promises a 30-day money-back guarantee, with a monthly, 6-month or 24-month subscription available.
CyberGhost’s selling points include over 7,000 servers on offer, a 45-day money-back guarantee instead of the usual 30, and the ability for one subscription to cover and protect up to seven devices simultaneously, giving users plenty to consider. The provider also offers all the usual features you’ve come to expect, such as a no-log policy, a strong encryption to hide your IP address and the chance to easily stream from many content platforms across the world. CyberGhost offers a monthly, 6-month and 18-month subscription.
Providing access to over 1,500 servers and boasting high speed connections, IPVanish claims to provide unrestricted internet access from every corner of the globe for Australians to enjoy. Featuring a no-log policy, multi-step security with 250GB of ‘SugarSync’ storage and backup, IPVanish additionally provides protection across as many devices as you want, suitable for households or work teams. Its subscriptions are available as a monthly, 3-month or 12-month contract.
Private Internet Access
One of the cheapest options available for those looking for a yearly subscription, Private Internet Access offers plenty of features with its plans, including multi-layered security, unlimited bandwidth, and a no-log policy. Private Internet Access provides protection and privacy for up to 10 devices simultaneously, with the option to also purchase a router if you’re looking to connect more devices. It also features over 3,000 servers over 30 countries, with a 30-day money-back guarantee for its monthly, 6-month or 12-month subscriptions.
VPNs available in Australia costs compared
While the features and scope of a provider’s servers and locations may be the deciding factor in your decision, others might be swayed by the costs involved. To help, here is a breakdown of the subscription costs from the above providers.
|VPN Provider||Price Per Month (US dollars)|
|1 Month||6 Months||12 Months||24 Months|
|Private Internet Access||$10.04||$3.35||$2.71||–|
Prices taken from provider websites, October 2020. Prices in US dollars.
Frequently asked questions about VPNs
If you’re still unsure about whether you actually need a VPN in the first place, or you’re just not sure about which one fits the bill, you wouldn’t be the only one. To help, here is some more information to help with your questions and decisions regarding VPN providers available in Australia.
Why should I use a VPN?
There are plenty of benefits to using a VPN, including:
- Preventing online identify theft by hiding your location and protecting your private information from hackers and data thieves.
- Avoiding targeted ads by avoiding IPS tracking from advertisers.
- Outmanoeuvring geo-blocking restrictions, which opens up international content that would otherwise be blocked based on your geographical location.
Are VPNs free?
There are some VPNs out there that are completely free, with many VPN brands also offering a free subscription for users to trial, although these generally come with limitations, including a time limit on how long you can run it through your IP address, speed restrictions as well as a limited amount of data. However, if you haven’t used a VPN before, or you want to check out a few options, using the free version may help you make your decision, although it’s best to read the fine print of any VPN provider, free or otherwise, to ensure that you’re getting what you need out of it.
Are VPNs legal?
In Australia, it’s perfectly legal to use a VPN, with many universities, workplaces and government agencies using VPNs for a range of different uses. Though you do need to be careful with what sites you try to access because using a VPN may put you in breach of a website or service’s user agreement. To help avoid any nasty surprises or lock-outs, it’s best to read the fine print of any service you’re thinking of signing up to.
Which VPN should I use?
It can be tough choosing a VPN provider to help you stay secure online – all those wacky names and websites can make you think you’ve taken a wrong turn onto the ‘dark web’. But rest assured, there are many credible VPN providers out there providing perfectly legal services at reasonable prices. And if you’ve listened to any podcast lately, you’ve probably heard their advertising!
With most boasting a wide variety of servers, features and security features, it will ultimately come down to what you need your VPN for, how fast you want your connection to be, and how much money you’re willing to spend. The best advice is to read the fine print to understand how long a contract you’re signing up to, plus any other conditions, and don’t be afraid to shop around with different providers to find one that suits your needs. Plus, if you quit after a few weeks, there’s a good chance the provider will offer you a discount to stay!
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