Hundreds of servers available across the globe. Good speed test scores. Clear, informative interface. Advanced features. Allows P2P. Free trial available.
Few licenses. No ad blocking. Retains some usage data.
- Bottom Line
Golden Frog VyprVPN offers advanced features, a robust service, and a friendly interface, but it doesn't cover as many devices as the competition.
A virtual private network (or VPN) protects your identity online and safeguards your data when you browse the web on shared networks. Your antivirus may protect your computer against attack by ransomware or other malware, but a VPN offers protection where your computer touches the internet. VyprVPN has the robust offering of servers and excellent security features that we expect in a VPN service, but it offers fewer licenses than competitors in this crowded space. VyprVPN won't steer you wrong, but you simply get more (and sometimes for less) with our Editors' Choice picks KeepSolid VPN Unlimited and NordVPN.
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What Is a VPN?
A VPN is an excellent way to secure your internet connections and ensure that no one can spy on your traffic. When your connection goes through a VPN, all the packets that make up your network traffic travel through an encrypted tunnel between your computer and a server controlled by the VPN service. Sites that try to identify you by your IP address see one of the VPN service's IP addresses instead.
A VPN also hides your traffic from inspection by your Internet Service Provider. That's a good thing, since the current administration recently gave the green light for ISPs to sell anonymized user metadata to advertisers and other interested third parties.
With a VPN, you can be sure that using the public, unsecured Wi-Fi at the coffee shop, grocery store, or public library won't lead to identity theft. VPNs also help circumvent online censorship; activists and journalists operating in countries with repressive internet controls use them for secure communication. On the lighter side, a VPN can spoof your location and make region-locked streaming content available.
Features and Pricing
VyprVPN offers users a choice of two pricing plans: VyprVPN and VyprVPN Premium. Annual billing at a reduced rate is available for all account levels, though we only list the monthly rates here. VyprVPN costs $9.95 per month and Premium goes for $12.95 per month. To put that in perspective, $9.95 is almost precisely the average price of VPNs we've tested, while $12.95 roughly matches the most expensive of those, AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Elite (for iPhone).
Both tiers offer a three-day free trial. The cheaper plan allows up to three simultaneous connections and the upper tier raises that to five. That's a little unusual, as most VPN services offer five connections at the entry level, and some offer additional connections for a prorated monthly fee. For example, Editors' Choice winner KeepSolid VPN Unlimited (for iPhone) costs only $6.99 per month and allows five simultaneous connections. If you need to protect more devices, you can add them for an incremental fee.
Besides additional connections, the Premium tier also grants access to the custom Vypr Chameleon Protocol and VyprVPN Cloud. However, these benefits don't apply on an iOS device. VyprVPN's iOS edition connects using IPSec. We're happier with iOS VPNs that use the newer IKEv2 protocol, such as NordVPN and TunnelBear VPN (for iPhone), but we really prefer OpenVPN. Alas, Apple makes it hard for VPN companies to support OpenVPN, requiring significant extra vetting. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited is among the few that support OpenVPN on iOS.
You do get Vypr's Network Address Translation (NAT) Firewall under iOS. This feature blocks unrequested inbound traffic, such as bots scanning for vulnerable open ports. On other platforms, a secure DNS server prevents DNS poisoning attacks. However, the VyprDNS feature is visibly absent in iOS.
As mentioned, VyprVPN does offer a free VPN product, but it's really more of a limited trial. To sign up for a free account, simply download one of VyprVPN's desktop or mobile clients. A free account allows two simultaneous connections and access to all the protocols used by VyprVPN, as well as the NAT firewall. It's a tour of all the service's best features, but it's limited. Once you use 1GB of data, the free ride is over. You must pay to continue using VyprVPN.
The service does log some information, and explains the practice in detail. The gist is that the company notes your IP address and the IP address of the VPN server that you connect. This information is stored for 30 days. There's also a local-only connection log that you can view, clear, turn off, or send to tech support. The company is headquartered in Switzerland, which is reportedly not subject to mandatory data retention laws that affect VPNs.
Golden Frog allows all VyprVPN users to share files via P2P or BitTorrent, regardless of the server they are on. This may thrill those using it on a desktop computer, but we don't see a lot of P2P or BitTorrent use on iOS devices. In the past, some VPN companies have tried to make money by injecting ads directly into the web traffic they pass to their users. This is a reckless practice, and we're glad to see it's on the decline. A company representative confirmed that, "GoldenFrog does not inject ads or profit from our user data in any way."
Hands On With VyprVPN
VyprVPN is available for Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS. You can also install a special APK onto Android TV devices, further extending your protection. The company also provides an application for Tomato MIPS/ARM capable routers, so you can provide VPN protection to your router. TorGuard VPN (for iPhone) also makes its software available for streaming devices and routers, but it sells the hardware with the VPN software preinstalled. It's true that a VPN in the router protects every device on your network, but once your mobile device leave the home network, it loses that protection.
For testing purposes, we installed VyprVPN on an Apple iPhone 7. As with most iOS VPNs, installation was quick and easy. Once we entered our credentials it was ready to start protecting the connection.
When VyprVPN is inactive, the main window features a white background, displaying your three-letter country code in a sort of dot-matrix display at top, along with your actual IP address. When you tap the big Connect button, the background changes to dark gray. It shows your VPN-spoofed IP address, the time of the current session, and the VPN server's country, again spelled out with dots. It doesn't have the whimsical quality of TunnelBear or Hide My Ass VPN (for iPhone), but it's more approachable than the blocky interface used by IPVanish VPN (for iPhone). And the light/dark shift means you'll always know when you're connected.
VyprVPN has 73 server locations across Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. It's a great selection of locations. The total number of servers, over 700, is on the low end among services we've reviewed, but acceptable. Many VPN services ignore the Middle East and Africa, and we're especially glad to see these regions included here. Note that VyprVPN has servers in locations with notably repressive internet laws, including China, Russia, and Turkey.
We consider server locations and the number of servers to be very important. With more servers, you're less likely to connect to an overcrowded server, which can reduce performance. With more server locations, you'll have an easier time finding a nearby server when traveling; generally speaking, the closer the VPN server the better performance you'll see. A multitude of server locations also gives you more options for spoofing your location.
If you just tap the big Connect button, VyprVPN chooses the fastest available server. This is fine for those who want network traffic protected and nothing more. If your aim is to spoof a different geographic location, you can tap for a list of all the countries where VyprVPN has servers, along with a color-coded latency figure for the best server in that country.
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Golden Frog VyprVPN on Windows includes some advanced features that just aren't feasible under iOS, notably a Kill Switch. This feature protects your data by cutting off internet access if the VPN connection drops. But even under iOS VyprVPN includes some uncommon features. You can set it to connect automatically when it's on an untrusted network, and setting the current network to trusted is a snap, unlike with IPVanish, which makes you type in the SSID. VyprVPN defaults to automatic reconnect if the connection fails.
As noted, Netflix doesn't appreciate customers misusing a VPN to stream content that's only available in certain regions. The company has worked hard to block such activity. However, we had no trouble streaming Netflix content on the iPhone with VyprVPN active. But this situation may not last.
VPN Speed Test Success
Using a VPN usually degrades your web-browsing performance, simply because your internet connection is taking a more circuitous path. To get a sense for the impact a particular VPN has on web browsing, we use the Ookla speed test tool. (Note that Ookla is owned by PCMag's publisher, Ziff Davis.)
To avoid letting the unpredictable cellular connection affect results, we put the phone in airplane mode and then re-enable Wi-Fi. We run multiple tests with the VPN turned off, and then average the results. Immediately thereafter, we turn on the VPN, let it connect to the server it deems best, and run the test again, averaging those results. Comparing the before and after results allows us to calculate how much effect the VPN had on connection speeds.
Networks are notoriously finicky. Speed and performance can change quickly. For our testing, we aim for more of a snapshot in time, controlling as many variables as we can. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
Latency is the time it takes for your device to ping a server and get a response. In general, the more distant the server, the bigger latency. It's only logical! With VyprVPN turned on, latency rose by 54.2 percent. Given that we measure latency in milliseconds, that's probably not something you'd notice. Hide My Ass did slightly better, with a 50.7 percent increase. But the real winners in this test were VPN Unlimited and NordVPN (for iPhone), with 31.1 percent and 22.5 percent respectively.
Latency makes the most difference when you're playing a fast-paced online game; a response lag could leave you fragged. If that's your bag, TunnelBear could be a poor choice. In our testing, it increased latency by 601.4 percent. Hotspot Shield has the next-highest impact, 483.3 percent.
For many users, download speed is the most important factor. VyprVPN didn't slow downloading at all in testing—in fact, download speed with the VPN active came in 1.6 percent better. That's third-best among current programs. With PureVPN (for iPhone), downloads went 6.8 percent faster, and with Hide My Ass, 10.1 percent faster.
VyprVPN also took third-best score in the upload speed tests. All recent products put some degree of drag on uploads, but none were too bad. The biggest slowdown, by Private Internet Access VPN (for iPhone), was 13 percent. VyprVPN slowed uploads by 5.4 percent, while TunnelBear and IPVanish had an even smaller impact.
Overall, VyprVPN fared quite well. It didn't earn the best score in any of the three tests, but it came close in all three.
A Worthy Choice
Golden Frog VyprVPN is a worthy choice. It brings a strong collection of security tools to the table, with easy installation, numerous and globally diverse servers, advanced security tools, and fine-grained controls. Its data-capped free version is more of a trial, but you'd want a trial before signing up anyhow, because VyprVPN is fairly expensive. And it only allows three simultaneous connections at the entry-level tier, which is stingy. On the other hand, its performance in our speed tests was consistently near (but not at) the top. For excellent security at a better value, we recommend Editors' Choice winners KeepSolid VPN Unlimited and NordVPN.
Neil Rubenking served as vice president and president of the San Francisco PC User Group for three years when the IBM PC was brand new. He was present at the formation of the Association of Shareware Professionals, and served on its board of directors. In 1986, PC Magazine brought Neil on board to handle the torrent of Turbo Pascal tips submitted by readers. By 1990, he had become PC Magazine's technical editor, and a coast-to-coast telecommuter. His "User to User" column supplied readers with tips… More »
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Max Eddy is a Software Analyst, taking a critical eye to Android apps and security services. He's also PCMag's foremost authority on weather stations and digital scrapbooking software. When not polishing his tinfoil hat or plumbing the depths of the Dark Web, he can be found working to discern the 100 Best Android Apps. Prior to PCMag, Max wrote for the International Digital Times, The International Science Times, and The Mary Sue. He has also been known to write for Geek.com. You can follow him on… More »
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