5 Best Android VPN Apps
The Android operating system continues to dominate the mobile market, with the average user spending about three hours per day on their Android device. To maximize your ability to stay private and secure, while also getting full access to all websites and streams, you will need to use a reliable VPN for Android.
Unfortunately, there are many dangerous and malicious Android VPN apps that have been flagged by researchers. Even popular Android VPNs, such as Betternet, have been called out for privacy-abusing practices. With this being the case, how do you find the best VPN for Android to keep your data safe from prying eyes?
To answer that question, we tested the most popular VPNs for Android and ranked the top performers. This 6,000+ word guide takes a deep dive into the world of Android VPNs to answer all your questions. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- The 5 best VPNs for Android that met our criteria below
- How to use a VPN on Android
- When should you use a VPN on Android?
- How to setup an Android VPN
- Tips for using a VPN with Android
- Why free Android VPN apps are dangerous
- Android VPN comparison table
What is the best VPN for Android?
The top-performing Android VPN in our tests was NordVPN. It offers secure and fully-featured Android VPN apps with a variety of VPN protocols and servers to choose from. It is one of the best values on the market with this 68% off discount coupon.
The second runner-up is ExpressVPN. It also performed flawlessly in testing with user-friendly Android apps that offer the best speeds and performance. It can also be tested with this three months free coupon.
We’ll examine each of the best VPNs for Android in more detail below. But to be recommended in this guide, the VPN needed to meet these criteria:
- Passed all tests with no data leaks found (no IP address leaks or DNS leaks)
- Good performance throughout the server network (speed and reliability)
- High-quality Android VPN apps with all features working correctly
- Supports the OpenVPN protocol and strong encryption standards
- Offers a money-back guarantee
- Trustworthy and well-established VPN provider with a good track record
- Located in a safe privacy jurisdiction (outside of Five Eyes countries, such as the US and UK) to keep your data safe
Now let’s examine the best Android VPN services:
1. NordVPN – Value, performance, and security make this the best Android VPN for 2021
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
It is easy to see why NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN services in the world. It is at or near the top of the pack in every category, delivering excellent privacy and security to every popular device type through its network of 5,800+ servers. The service includes powerful features like double-hop VPN and Tor-Over-VPN servers, along with the CyberSec feature that blocks ads, trackers, and malware domains.
Based on the latest test results, NordVPN continues to deliver on speed and is one of the fastest VPNs available. This makes it a great VPN for torrenting, streaming, or anything else that requires bandwidth. Speaking of fast, NordVPN has made the high-speed WireGuard protocol practical with NordLynx. NordLynx combines the WireGuard VPN protocol with enhanced privacy magic (a double NAT system) to get all the performance benefits of WireGuard while ensuring that using it doesn’t compromise your privacy.
NordLynx is fully integrated into all NordVPN apps, including the NordVPN Android app. This eliminates the need to worry about generating encryption keys, and VPN protocols, or use third-party apps to make the connection. Simply select NordLynx in the app settings, connect to a server, and enjoy blazing-fast speeds. We’ve been using NordLynx on a test system for a while now, and frankly don’t want to give it up.
The NordVPN Android app handled our testing with ease. No leaks, no bugs, no connection issues, whether we were using the “old” NordVPN network or forcing the app to run on NordLynx. And have we mentioned the price? The two-year price plans for NordVPN are incredible. Right now, a two-year subscription costs $89.00, or about $3.71 per month. That’s hard to beat.
Here are some more features that helped NordVPN earn the title ‘Best VPN for Android’ in 2021:
- Dedicated servers: The company does not use any virtual server locations. All their servers run on dedicated hardware. The company is currently upgrading the entire network to use only RAM-disk memory (no hard drives!), which will further enhance privacy and security.
- WireGuard support: As you saw a moment ago, NordLynx is now built into the NordVPN Android app. If you want to get started with this interesting new VPN protocol, NordVPN is the way to go.
- Obfuscated servers: If you want to conceal your VPN traffic or use a VPN where they may be blocked (China) you need to use an obfuscated server. The NordVPN Android app works with NordVPN’s full lineup of obfuscated servers to keep you safe.
- Verified No logs: NordVPN is a verified no logs VPN provider, having passed a third-party audit of their logging policies performed by PWC AG in Zurich, Switzerland.
- IP and DNS leak protection: NordVPN apps offer excellent protection against IPv4, IPv6, and DNS leaks. The Android VPN app has a built-in kill switch, which performed flawlessly in our tests.
- Strong encryption: NordVPN uses an AES-256-GCM cipher with an HMAC SHA256 hash authentication, and DHE-4096 key exchange for Perfect Forward Secrecy.
- Responsive support: 24/7 live chat support directly through the website, as well as many support manuals.
Here are the pros and cons of NordVPN:
- Strong privacy and security features
- Simultaneous connections for up to six devices
- Split tunneling feature
- Fast and consistent speeds
- Secure apps with no leaks
- Large server network (with no virtual locations)
- Great customer support
- Verified no logs VPN provider (audited)
- Based in Panama, a good privacy jurisdiction
- Security upgrades for 2021 and beyond
- Works great with Netflix and other streaming services
- Excellent prices and refund policy
- If you download from Google Play, the Android app’s CyberSec doesn’t block ads (download the app on their website here to fix that problem)
- Big discounts only available for longer subscriptions
See our NordVPN review for more test results and info.
2. ExpressVPN – A strong contender for best all-around VPN for Android
|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
While NordVPN is our pick as the #1 app for Android devices, the ExpressVPN Android app runs a strong second. Based in the British Virgin Islands (a great locale for internet privacy), their network is also among the fastest VPNs we’ve tested. ExpressVPN runs one of the largest server networks in the world and gives you access to servers in all the most desirable locations on the planet.
The ExpressVPN Android app did great in our testing. We saw no leaks, bugs, or connection issues of any kind. Like NordVPN, ExpressVPN is also a verified no-logs VPN service, having passed an independent audit by PWC. It also gets high marks in terms of security:
- Strong encryption: ExpressVPN uses the strongest encryption standards with an AES 256-bit cipher, a 4096-bit RSA key and SHA-512 HMAC authentication.
- VPN Protocols: The ExpressVPN Android gives you the choice of OpenVPN UDP or TCP protocols, as well as IPSec/IKEv2. They are currently developing a new protocol called Lightway that promises faster speeds and upgraded security.
- Audited: In 2019, ExpressVPN passed a third-party security audit performed by Cure53, a cybersecurity firm in Berlin.
- Split Tunneling: ExpressVPN has added Split tunneling to the Android app. This allows you to select which apps will use the VPN tunnel and which will go directly to the regular (unencrypted) internet.
- Secure servers: ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer feature runs all the VPN’s servers in RAM-only mode, with no physical hard drives. This protects your data against physical seizure of the servers. This actually happened to ExpressVPN a few years ago, when authorities in Turkey physically seized servers looking for information about a user.
- Network protection: ExpressVPN Android apps can temporarily block internet access when you are unable to connect or reconnect to the VPN. This block prevents internet traffic from leaking out when it is not protected. Visit this page for more details on how this network protection feature works.
You can enable “Network protection” in the settings of the Android VPN app as you see below:
Aside from privacy and security, ExpressVPN also does well with streaming. It is our top-rated VPN for Netflix with access to all major Netflix regions around the world. ExpressVPN also is a great VPN for Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more. You can use ExpressVPN with all major streaming devices, including Smart TVs, tablets, computers, and Android TV boxes. ExpressVPN even offers a dedicated Amazon app and is the best VPN for Firestick and Fire TV.
Below is the ExpressVPN Android app in action. It is clean, minimal, and was very reliable in our testing.
Unlike with NordVPN, ExpressVPN offers server selection with a list, rather than a world map. There are pros and cons to each layout. For a more detailed discussion of differences, see the NordVPN vs ExpressVPN comparison guide.
Here are the pros and cons of ExpressVPN:
- User-friendly and very secure apps
- Large, secure server network with all servers running in RAM-disk mode
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- Simultaneous connections for up to five devices
- Split tunneling feature
- Works with Netflix and many other streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Passed independent third-party audits for security and no-logs
- Slightly more expensive (but more affordable with the coupon below)
Check out the ExpressVPN review for more test results and analysis.
3. Surfshark VPN – A fully-featured Android VPN at a great price
|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
Launched in 2018 in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Surfshark VPN has a very polished feel. It has a load of privacy and security features built-in, giving you lots of flexibility. Surfshark VPN did well in a third-party audit conducted by Cure53, a top penetration testing company that has audited several leading VPN services.
We didn’t find any problems with the Surfshark Android app. It didn’t leak, crash, or glitch during our test period. With over 1,700 servers in 63 countries, the server network is large enough to give you a local server in all the most interesting places.
After testing out Surfshark VPN on Android, here are some of our favorite aspects of this service:
- Strong security: The service has solid security and leak protection, including multi-hop VPN and a Kill Switch.
- Privacy-focused service: With a no logs policy, and features like Override GPS location and Invisible to devices, Surfshark goes above and beyond to protect your privacy on Android and beyond.
- CleanWeb: The CleanWeb feature blocks ads, trackers, malware, and phishing domains.
- WhiteLister: This is a split tunneling feature that less you route selected apps or websites around the VPN connection.
- Great for streaming: Surfshark officially supports 10 different Netflix regions (including US, UK, and Canada). It also supports BitTorrent and other streaming services, including BBC iPlayer, Hulu. (One of the best VPNs for streaming.)
- Large server network: Surfshark has over 1,700 servers around the world, with a presence in over 60 countries.
- Great support: Surfshark offers 24/7 live chat support that was responsive and helpful when we did our previous testing.
- Safe jurisdiction: Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands. This is one of the best privacy jurisdictions and it’s not a member of the 5/9/14 eyes alliances.
Here is the Surfshark VPN Android client:
Great value: Next to NordVPN, Surfshark is also a great value. At only $2.49 per month with the two-year plan, it is arguably one of the best cheap VPNs I’ve come across.
- Unlimited number of connections
- Based in a safe offshore jurisdiction (BVI) with a good no-logs policy
- Good leak protection features (kill switch) with strong encryption
- Multi-hop VPN servers (13 to choose from)
- CleanWeb feature to block ads, trackers, malware, and phishing domains
- Whitelister split tunneling
- Warrant canary to warn against government gag orders
- Works well with BitTorrent, Netflix and other streaming channels
- 24/7 live chat support and a 30 day money-back guarantee
- Excellent price for 2-year subscription
- One-month plans are very expensive
- Variable with some servers we tested
See our Surfshark review for more test results and analysis.
4. VPN.ac – A secure and basic VPN from Romania
VPN.ac is a competitively-priced, security-focused VPN. Based in Romania, it uses state-of-the-art encryption algorithms for speed and security. Their network consists entirely of dedicated bare-metal servers with self-hosted DNS and gigabit bandwidth channels, resulting in great performance.
The VPN.ac Android app itself is both good-looking and full of useful features and information. Protocol and port selection are easily accessible under the app settings. Their Android app also includes a split tunneling feature, obfuscated server selection, and other useful preferences and security features.
With options like I am in China/other censored country you can bypass VPN blocks and restrictions. There is also easy access to Android’s Always-on VPN page, as well as live charts of your data usage.
The VPN.ac Android client handled our testing with no leaks and no problems of any sort. Here are the key points we discovered about VPN.ac and its Android client:
- Security: The VPN.ac Android client connects to their secure server infrastructure, and works with a range of VPN protocols and ports. The network also includes 22 double-hop servers.
- Obfuscation: Great obfuscation features to hide VPN traffic and get around VPN blocking (a good VPN for China)
- Safe jurisdiction: VPN.ac is based in Romania, a good privacy jurisdiction that’s not a member of the 5/9/14 eyes alliances.
- Competitive prices: $3.75 per month with the two-year plan. You can also get a discounted one-week trial (see the FAQ page).
Similar to NordVPN, VPN.ac also supports the WireGuard VPN protocol. Unlike NordVPN, however, VPN.ac has not integrated WireGuard support into their VPN clients. Instead, you must use third-party clients, as we’ll discuss later in this guide.
- Dedicated bare-metal servers with self-hosted encrypted DNS
- Excellent speeds with plenty of available bandwidth
- Multi-hop (double VPN) server configurations
- Great obfuscation features
- Numerous encryption options and protocol selection
- Minimal connection logs (no activity, erased daily)
- WireGuard use requires a third-party app
See our VPN.ac review for more test results and analysis.
5. ProtonVPN – Secure, privacy-focused Swiss VPN service
ProtonVPN was launched in 2017 by the team the brought the world ProtonMail. Based in Switzerland, this is a no-logs VPN service takes a bit of a different approach. You can select from a variety of VPN tiers, which vary depending on features, connections, and access to servers. You can also combine ProtonMail and ProtonVPN under one “visionary” subscription, but it’s expensive.
Since its launch, ProtonVPN has been evolving, gradually adding more servers and more features. The Android VPN app takes advantage of this evolution and supports features like multi-hop VPN servers, a kill switch, and Tor connectivity. As you would expect from something built by a bunch of scientists at CERN, the Android app had no glitches and passed all our leak tests with flying colors.
It is important to take care when evaluating a ProtonVPN account. But not because there is anything wrong with the service! It is because the feature set grows as you move to the more expensive plans. For example, the Basic plan allows for only two simultaneous connections, and doesn’t support streaming, while the higher-priced plans support more simultaneous connections and streaming, and so on.
Here are some additional findings that show why ProtonVPN for Android makes it onto this list:
- Secure servers: ProtonVPN runs only dedicated bare-metal servers.
- Secure Core: Secure Core puts VPN servers in specially-selected secure locations. When you activate Secure Core, your internet traffic enters the VPN network by passing through one of these high-security dedicated servers in safe physical locations before reaching your normal VPN server. This double-hop approach protects you even if a hostile entity seizes control of your normal VPN server.
- Strong encryption: ProtonVPN encrypts traffic using an AES-256 cipher with 4096-bit key exchange and HMAC with SHA384 for message authentication. Users can select from OpenVPN and IPSec/IKEv2 protocols.
- Works with Netflix: ProtonVPN currently works with the following Netflix regions: US, UK, and Germany.
- Can be combined with secure email: If you sign up for ProtonVPN’s most expensive plan, the Visionary subscription, you can combine both secure email (ProtonMail) and VPN together under one plan.
ProtonVPN is definitely a quality service, and the ProtonVPN Android app is a pleasure to use. But the exact features you need will determine which plan you select. Here is the ProtonVPN Android app in action:
- Useful privacy features (no leaks)
- Secure network running on dedicated bare-metal servers
- Secure Core feature for double-VPN servers
- Good privacy jurisdiction (Switzerland) and data protection policies
- Works well with Netflix
- Variable speeds with some servers
- Prices are above average (for access to all servers and features)
See my ProtonVPN review for more test results and info.
Android VPN Overview
If you are new to using a VPN on a mobile device, or new to VPNs altogether, you are probably wondering how to use a VPN on Android mobile devices. Let’s quickly cover VPN basics, then talk specifically about using a VPN on an Android-powered device. We’ll focus on installing and using a VPN on an Android smartphone, since this is by far the most likely use case.
VPN Basics in 100 words or less
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a system that securely and privately connects two devices across the Internet. It does so by creating an encrypted connection (called a tunnel) that provides security by preventing outsiders from reading your messages as they pass between the devices. A VPN also protects your privacy by hiding your IP address and location. Since IP addresses are the way that devices are identified on the internet, hiding yours means the message recipient doesn’t know who you are, unless you tell them.
For more details, see our guide explaining what is a VPN.
How to use a VPN on Android
So how do you use a VPN on an Android smartphone? There are a few steps:
- Choose a good VPN service – The VPN service provides the hardware and software you need to connect your Android to the physical servers that comprise the VPN network.
- Get some VPN software running on your phone – The VPN software handles your side of the connection. This includes interacting with the VPN service’s servers, encrypting outgoing messages before they leave your device and decrypting incoming messages once they arrive.
- Connect your device to the VPN service – Given the correct login credentials, the VPN software will establish a connection to a VPN server. The server will create the encrypted tunnel that will carry messages between your device and the other one (providing security). It will also strip your IP address from all the messages you send (providing privacy) and decrypt any messages incoming over the VPN network.
When should you use an Android VPN?
- Whenever you are doing something private or personal online – Logging into your bank account, reviewing your medical records, or planning to visit a controversial website? Using the VPN will greatly increase your privacy and security.
- Whenever you are using a public WiFi connection – Public WiFi is a wondrous thing… if you are a hacker or spy. Most free public networks are extremely vulnerable to being hacked. When hostile forces do hack into a public WiFi connection, the bad guys can wreak all sorts of havoc, including capturing your personal information.
- Whenever you don’t want someone to track your location – Your device’s IP address can be used to figure out approximately where you are in the physical world. A VPN replaces your real IP address with its own address when sending your messages to the internet. Anyone trying to track your location using your IP address will be foiled.
- When your Internet Service Provider is spying on you – If you are not using a VPN, you have virtually no privacy online. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and all sorts of hostile entities (spies, hackers, and various three-letter-agencies) can see everywhere you go and everything you do online. They may use that information themselves, or sell it to third-parties who will use it for their own purposes. If you use a VPN, your ISP won’t be able to see what you are doing.
In short, for the maximum in security and privacy you should always use a safe and reliable VPN on your Android device.
How to setup an Android VPN
There are three major approaches to setting up an Android VPN. They are:
- Use a VPN service’s Android app
- Use third-party VPN clients for Android
- Use Android’s built-in VPN features
In the following sections we will take a look at each of these options in more detail. There are of course pros and cons to each.
Use a VPN service’s Android app
As you saw at the beginning of this guide, most of the best VPN services for Android provide their own Android client. This client will be compatible with the features and benefits of the VPN service, making it the easiest way to make the connection. A good example of this is the NordVPN Android client. Among its many talents, this client knows how to work with NordLynx, NordVPN’s custom protocol for WireGuard. In our testing, NordLynx has proven to be extremely fast and works great. But it is a safe bet that no third-party VPN clients and none of Android’s native VPN software knows how to connect to NordLynx.
Any time the VPN service you decide to use has specialized features, choosing the service’s own Android app is going to be not only the easiest way to go, but the only way to take full advantage of the features your service offers.
Use third-party VPN clients for Android
While using a VPN service’s own Android app is normally the best way to go, sometimes those apps are more trouble than they are worth. If you find yourself using a VPN service with a crummy Android app, you might want to try a third-party VPN app instead. Let’s take a quick look at some free Android VPN apps that might work for you in such a situation.
OpenVPN Connect for Android
For a few years now, OpenVPN has been recognized as the best overall VPN protocol. It is secure, capable of using 256-bit encryption keys and top encryption algorithms. It does a good job of bypassing firewalls, supports Perfect Forward Secrecy, has passed third-party audits, and is available for all popular operating systems.
OpenVPN is used by all the top VPN services, and has been for quite a few years (the first OpenVPN code was released in 2001). It is also open source code, which greatly decreases the odds that there is anything shady happening to your data inside the code.
On the downside, OpenVPN isn’t particularly fast, and the codebase that comprises OpenVPN is huge. This creates what is known as a large attack surface. The larger the attack surface, the greater the odds that hostile forces will be able to find a way to hack the code. While it isn’t perfect, OpenVPN is the reigning champion among the different VPN protocols.
OpenVPN Connect is the official VPN application for Android developed by OpenVPN, Inc. If you want to replace the default app for a VPN service, it is a good bet you can replace it with OpenVPN Connect.
How to use the OpenVPN Connect Android app
Here’s how to use the OpenVPN Connect Android app:
- Search your VPN service’s website for their OpenVPN VPN profile file. Make note of the location of this file, or download it to your Android device.
- Download and install the OpenVPN Connect app from the Google Play store.
- Open the app, and click your way through the legalese.
- Navigate to the Profiles page and load the profile into OpenVPN Connect.
- Open the Settings app, and tap Connections.
- If you don’t see the VPN option here, tap More connection settings.
- Tap the VPN option to go to the Profiles page. You should see OpenVPN Connect listed.
- Tap OpenVPN Connect to launch the app.
- On the Profiles page, Select the OpenVPN Connect profile and enter the password.
- OpenVPN Connect connects your device to the VPN. If all is working smoothly, you should see something like the following:
There are other third-party OpenVPN apps for Android to consider, but this is one of our favorites.
WireGuard on Android – Fast, modern, and secure
Right now, WireGuard is the VPN protocol getting lots of attention. Small (about 4,000 lines of code vs OpenVPN’s 600,000+ lines) yet sophisticated (built with state-of-the-art cryptography), WireGuard is meant to replace all those other VPNs out there, including OpenVPN. But like everything, it comes with pros and cons.
In our limited testing to date, WireGuard appears to be faster than OpenVPN. Thanks to its much smaller codebase, it should be easier to audit, and it offers a smaller attack surface for hackers to exploit.
Current drawbacks to using WireGuard include its lack of support for TCP tunneling, concerns about whether or not it can function in a “no-logs” environment, and several other issues. For a current list of issues, check out the Known Limitations page at the WireGuard website.
WireGuard is still under development, but that hasn’t kept people from wanting to use it now. Several VPN services have responded to the demand by enabling WireGuard access to their networks, or incorporating WireGuard into their own custom protocols (see NordVPN’s NordLynx).
If you want to test out WireGuard on Android, you may want to do so with the official WireGuard Android app. This app won’t support any of the custom protocols out there, but it could be ideal for seeing what the basic WireGuard protocol can do on your Android device.
Use the official WireGuard for Android app
At the time of this guide, VPN.ac supported WireGuard using the official Android app instead of their own app. Here’s are the steps we followed to get an Android phone connected to VPN.ac using WireGuard:
- Generate a VPN Protocol. Use the wgmanager tool in the client area of VPN.ac to generate encryption keys that WireGuard will use. Select either a specific WireGuard-compatible server on their network, or for all of them.
- Download this VPN Protocol to the Android device.
- Download and install the official WireGuard app from the Google Play store.
- Open the WireGuard app and import the VPN Profile by tapping on the + sign.
- Select Create from file or archive and navigate to the VPN Profile to import it. The profile will appear in the WireGuard app something like this:
- Tap the toggle button to connect to the VPN network.
Aside from the fast access to the Internet that WireGuard provides, the only indication that the phone was running on WireGuard was this Android System Message:
VPN Client Pro – Connect with OpenVPN, WireGuard, and more
Beyond the big two Android VPN clients (OpenVPN Connect for Android, and the official WireGuard for Android), there are some other free VPN clients that you could use to connect to VPN service of your choice. VPN Client Pro is one of the more popular ones.
This Android client is capable of connecting to a range of VPN services. The ability to connect to any OpenVPN network is included in the app free of charge. To connect to VPN services that use other protocols (SSTP, WireGuard, OpenConnect) or to Cisco AnyConnect SSL gateways, you need to purchase a subscription.
Now let’s see how to use a VPN on Android without any app whatsoever.
How to setup a VPN natively on Android
Android comes with native support for several VPN protocols. This might sound like the ideal way to go, but there are a couple of drawbacks that make using up the native Android VPN protocols a last resort.
First, the protocols supported by Android are relatively old and insecure. Based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, there is a good chance that some may have been compromised by the NSA. And given that stolen copies of many of the NSA’s powerful hacking tools have been available on the Dark Web for years, I wouldn’t want to depend on the security of these protocols.
Second, even if Android’s native VPN software works for your threat model, you still need to use that software to connect to a VPN service or private network. Most quality VPN services and private networks have their own Android clients designed specifically to work with their network. You will likely get a better connection with less work if you simply use the network’s own Android client software.
Despite all that, there are still circumstances where you might want to, or need to, use the Android-native VPN software. If so, here are instructions for doing so. I generated these instructions using a Samsung Galaxy S9+ running Android 10. The exact steps you need to follow may differ.
- Open the Settings app, and tap Connections.
- If you don’t see the VPN option here, tap More connection settings.
- Tap VPN, then tap the “three vertical dots” (a.k.a. kebab) icon in the top right corner of the VPN page.
- The Edit VPN Network dialog appears. Set the Show advanced options checkbox to give yourself the ability to select DNS servers and other advanced options.
- Enter the specific data for the VPN service or private network you want to connect to, tap Save and you should be able to connect.
Tips for using a VPN with Android
Here are a few tips that could be helpful when using a VPN on Android devices.
Enable Always-on VPN & Block connections without VPN
Starting with Android 8 (Oreo), we’ve had access to two new VPN settings. They are:
- Always-on VPN – Exactly what the name implies. Your device will try to connect to the installed VPN and stay connected. This is a great way to avoid forgetting to turn on the VPN after rebooting your phone or after the VPN gets disconnected for some reason.
- Block connections without VPN – Again, the name implies the function. If your device is not connected to the VPN, you will not have access to the Internet. This is a way to ensure that your real IP address and other personal data don’t accidentally “leak” onto the Internet.
To change these settings, follow these steps:
- Open the Settings app, and tap Connections.
- If you don’t see the VPN option here, tap More connection settings.
- Tap VPN, then tap the Gear icon next to your VPN’s name. You should now see these options. For the utmost in privacy, turn both of these options On.
Choose the right VPN server to maximize speed on your Android device
You can sometimes get better performance from an Android VPN (or any VPN for that matter) by manually choosing the right VPN server. The “right” server to connect to depends on what you are going to do with your device while connected. The following are a few rules of thumb for deciding which VPN server to connect to:
- Connect to the geographically-closest VPN server – This will generally give the best performance. Think of a VPN connection as having multiple legs. One leg is the connection between you and the VPN server you are using. The other leg is the connection between the VPN server and the location you are connecting to. Remember that it does take time for signals to travel across the Internet, and the further away a server is, the greater the amount of time it will take. Connecting to a VPN server near you minimizes the length of one leg of the connection, and often makes a noticeable difference in performance.
- Switch servers if the one you are using seems slow – Sometimes individual VPN servers get overloaded with too many users, or have other problems that cause the server itself to slow down. If the server is the problem, switching to another server nearby will let you bypass the problem.
- Try split tunneling to reduce the load – If your computer is old, or your Internet connection is slow, having all your Internet traffic pass through your VPN connection could be too much. If your VPN service supports split tunneling, you can enable that, and have all your non-critical data pass outside the VPN. You will have to figure out which apps need the protection of the VPN and which don’t, but limiting the VPN connection to only those uses that really require privacy and security (online banking for example), could speed things up nicely.
Try a different VPN app
As we discussed earlier in the post, there are some third-party Android VPN apps that you might want to try if you are unhappy with the performance or usability of your VPN’s app on Android. OpenVPN Connect and VPN client pro both have a lot of potential in this case, since the vast majority of VPN services do support OpenVPN.
Use your VPN to save money on airfares
This tip isn’t restricted to Android VPNs. It can work for any device where you have a VPN connection. There is a vast amount of computation that goes into setting the price for an airline ticket. All sorts of factors are including in setting a price, like how soon the flight is, how full the flight is, and where the person buying the ticket is located. The price of the same ticket on the same airplane can vary dramatically depending on the location of the buyer. The next time you want to book a flight, try logging into the airline or online travel service from different countries by changing the VPN server you connect with. Using a VPN server physically located in France, for example, may get you a different price than using one located in Egypt or the United States.
Why free Android VPN apps are dangerous
Over the years, free Android VPN apps have cultivated a toxic reputation. One major study examined over 200 different free Android VPN apps and found some alarming issues. Here are the biggest problems with free Android VPN services:
- 38% contained malware
- Many popular free Android VPN apps contained tracking libraries
- 84% of the tested apps leaked user data (IP addresses or DNS requests)
- Some services used browser hijacking to redirect customers to shady commerce sites
- Many free VPN services give third parties access to your data (see for example with Betternet)
If it costs money to run a VPN service, then why are there so many free VPN apps in the Google Play Store?
Answer: They are making money off of their users. This is most likely done by collecting data and selling it to third parties.
Note: Do not confuse a completely free VPN service and app you see in the Google Play Store with a third-party VPN client. The third-party VPN client (such as OpenVPN Connect) does not offer the VPN service itself, but rather just the app through which you will connect to your (paid) VPN service.
We generally do not recommend any free VPN services. However, there are some free trial VPN services you could consider. Additionally, ProtonVPN offers a limited free version here with a handful of servers.
Android VPN conclusion
There are hundreds of VPNs for Android devices to choose from. And the majority of them either don’t work well, spy on you, or both at once. Finding those few excellent Android VPNs is a huge amount of work. Instead of leaving you to figure this out yourself, we decided to do the research for you.
The table below highlights the top-rated Android VPNs that met all of our criteria. These services passed all tests with no data leaks, offer good speeds, their Android apps are reliable, and they use strong encryption. Additionally, they are located in safe privacy jurisdictions and have an established track record and good reputation.
Enjoy staying safe and secure on your Android device with a good VPN!
Final Disclaimer and Instructions from NetTodays
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A VPN is a service that both encrypts your data and hides your IP address by bouncing your network activity through a secure chain to another server miles away. This obscures your online identity, even on public Wi-Fi networks, so you can browse the internet safely, securely, and anonymously.
NetTodays gives you answers to all questions which are in your mind about VPN.
NetTodays also suggest continually utilizing Best VPN when you are using a newer Wi-Fi Network. Here is a decent dependable guideline: If you’re away from the workplace or home, and you’re utilizing another person’s Wi-Fi (even that of a relative or a companion, since you can’t be sure whether they’ve been compromised), utilize a VPN. It’s especially significant in case you’re getting to help that has specifically distinguishing data. Keep in mind, a great deal goes on in the background, and you never truly know whether at least one of your applications is verifying behind the scenes and putting your data in danger.