Best VPNs for home users

South African residents concerned about their privacy online or who need their web traffic to look like it originates from another country can subscribe to one of numerous virtual private network (VPN) providers.

A VPN acts as an intermediary between a user and the Internet by diverting traffic through servers with a different Internet protocol (IP) address than the user’s own.

That could add an extra layer of protection against cyberattacks and shield users from snooping.

In addition to enhanced security and privacy, some VPN providers offer features like bypassing geographic restrictions.

Although this is often advertised as a way to access geoblocked content on streaming services like Netflix, this form of “piracy“, as content owners have termed it, is not the only use for such a feature.

Bypassing geoblocks lets users purchase items from merchants that restrict who can buy from their online store, provided they also have a parcel forwarding service in a country that can receive the products.

This was one way to import just-launched Google Pixel devices to South Africa.

While there are many advanced features VPNs offer the tech-savvy in addition to geo-unblocking, among the most important to the general user should be the following:

  • No-logs policies — Does the VPN service provider commit itself to not storing the Internet usage data of its customers? If a VPN falls prey to a cyberattack, hackers could gain access and exploit this information.
  • Server locations — How many server locations does the VPN provider offer, and in which countries are they located? Does it offer servers in the countries relevant to you?
  • Headquarters location — A VPN provider might be obligated to share certain personal information with authorities based on the laws of the country from which they operate.
  • Number of devices — How many devices can simultaneously connect via a single account? A VPN with no device limits might be optimal if you are a large household.
  • Supported platforms — What devices support connecting to the VPN? This is important if you want to use the service on smartphones or smart TVs.

Below is a list of established VPN providers available to South Africans that offer much in the way of these features.

If government-driven surveillance is your primary concern, then it would perhaps be best to avoid those services headquartered in one of the countries that are part of the so-called Five Eyes alliance.

These countries are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Since the Cold War, they have had intelligence-sharing agreements aimed at protecting their national security.

However, privacy and security experts have warned about the potential abuse of these agreements to target government whistleblowers.

On top of the countries listed above, there are also those that form part of the Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes alliances, which are as follows:

  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Sweden
  • Spain

Other countries seen to be close allies of the Fourteen Eyes alliance include Israel, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and British Overseas Territories.

These two alliances are considered less invasive when it comes to sharing their citizens’ personal data for law enforcement purposes.

If you are hell-bent on keeping your Internet traffic as secure as possible, we found IVPN to be one of the most sensible options on the market.

The provider prides itself on not requiring any personal information from the user during the sign-up process.

Even if IVPN was forced to provide its data to the government or suffered a cyberattack, it assured any information would be incredibly difficult to link to a user.

For the most geographically diverse, Surfshark appears to be a good option.

It has servers in 100 countries, providing the best coverage among the prominent VPN providers.

However, it has fewer servers overall than Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and NordVPN, which might prove to offer better performance than Surfshark as a result.

If you want to try out a VPN service before committing, you can initially subscribe on a month-to-month basis.

Alternatively, opting for a longer-term deal will usually qualify you for a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are unsatisfied with the service.

On a long-term commitment of 36 months, Atlas VPN is the cheapest, with an effective monthly cost of $1.99 per month, around R38 based on the exchange rate at the time of writing.

On a month-to-month basis, Mullvad VPN was the most affordable, with a €5 (R103) price across the board.

The table below summarises the features and prices of major VPN services available to home users.

Some of the services listed below also come in a variety of tiers that add features such as password managers and cloud storage.

Top VPN services for home users
VPN service Country of headquarters
Servers and countries Maximum devices Supported platforms Price
Atlas VPN United States 1,000 servers
42 countries
Unlimited Android
ChromeOS
FireTV
iOS
Linux
MacOS
Windows
$71.52 / R1,314 (36 months)
$49.01 / R900 (12 months)
$11.99 / R220 (month-to-month)
CyberGhost Romania 8,900 servers
91 countries
7 Android
Android TV
Chrome
Firefox
FireTV
iOS
Linux
MacOS
$56.94 / R1,046 (24 months)
$41.94 / R770 (6 months)
$12.99 / R239 (month-to-month)
ExpressVPN British Virgin Islands 3,000 servers
94 countries
5 Android
ChromeOS
Linux
MacOS
Kindle Fire
Windows
Select Asus, Linksys, and Netgear routers
$59.94 / R1,101  (6 months)
$80.04 / R1,470 (12 + 3 months)
$12.95 / R238  (month-to-month)
IVPN Gibraltar 140 servers
35 countries
7 Android
iOS
Linux
MacOS
Windows
$220 / R4,040 (36 months)
$160 / R2,938 (24 months)
$100 / R1,836 (12 months)
$10 / R184 (month-to-month)
$4 / R73 (weekly)
NordVPN Panama 5,000 servers
60 countries
6 Android
Android TV
Chrome
Chromecast
ChromeOS
Firefox
Edge
FireTV
Kindle Fire
MacOS
Nintendo Switch
Oculus
PlayStation
Raspberry Pi
Xbox
Windows
$88.83 / R1,632 (24 + 3 months)
$68.85 / R1,264 (12 + 3 months)
$12.99 / R239 (month-to-month)
Mullvad VPN Sweden 663 servers
41 countries
5 Linux
MacOS
Windows
€5 / R102 per month on all plans
Private Internet Access United States 35,000
84 countries
Unlimited Amazon Luna
Android
Apple TV
Chrome
Chromecast
Firefox
FireTV
iOS
IP TV
MacOS
Nintendo Switch VPN
Opera
PlayStation
Tizen
Shield TV
webOS
Windows
Xbox
$79 / R1,452 (36 months)
$39.95 / R734 (12 months)
$11.95 / R220 (month-to-month)
ProtonVPN Switzerland 1,900 servers
65 countries
10 Android
iOS
Linux
MacOS
Windows
€119.76 / R2,411 (24 months)
€71.88 / R1,448 (12 months)
€9.99 / R201 (month-to-month)
Surfshark Netherlands 3,200 servers
100 countries
Unlimited Android
Chrome
Edge
Firefox
FireTV
iOS
Linux
MacOS
PlayStation
Windows
Xbox
$59.76 / R1,098  (24 + 1 months)
$59.76 / R1,098 (12 months)
$12.95 / R238 (month-to-month)
TunnelBear Canada 3,000 servers
48 countries
Unlimited Android
Chrome
iOS
MacOS
Windows
$120 / R2,204 (36 months)
$59.88 / R1,100 (12 months)
$9.99 / R183 (month-to-month)
Green — not part of any “Eyes” alliance
Orange — part of Nine or Fourteen Eyes alliances
Red — part of Five Eyes alliance

Now read: Proton launches password manager

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Best VPNs for home users