Best VPNs for Australia
Australians can sometimes feel a bit isolated from the rest of the world. Even on the internet, Australia is often the last priority among English-speaking nations when it comes to popular products and services.
That means fewer options and in some cases no options at all when Australians want to stream a TV show, play a video game, or listen to music. The lack of choice can lead to increased piracy of copyrighted material. In December 2016, a federal court in Australia ordered internet service providers to block BitTorrent tracker sites including ThePirateBay, Torrentz, TorrentHound, IsoHunt and SolarMovie.
This unfortunate reality is compounded by the country’s less-than-stellar data retention laws. Australian telecom companies are required to monitor and record customers metadata, including information about their phone calls, texts, emails, and location.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Australia is a market ripe for VPN providers. A VPN, or virtual private network, encrypts a device’s internet traffic and routes it through an intermediary server in a location of the user’s choosing. This can allow Australians to access content that’s genlocked in their own country. It can also provide a private tunnel through which to use P2P filesharing applications.
NordVPN operates servers in over 50 countries with 12 in Asia Pacific. Torrenting is allowed on all servers. It’s on par with ExpressVPN when it comes to unblocking streaming services. It can bypass the Netflix proxy firewall in the US and Australia alike. It keeps zero logs of any kind and is based in Panama, where it is not subject to any data retention laws. NordVPN also offers special servers optimized for privacy and high-speed downloads, such as ultra-fast streaming, double hop VPN, Tor over VPN, and anti-DDoS.
CyberGhost operates an ample network of more than 1,200 servers, including 20 in Australia and more than 200 in the US. It has a strong focus on unblocking streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. It’s also popular with torrenters and has a dedicated “Torrent Anonymously” option within its apps. Plus, speeds are excellent, making it a great all-rounder. CyberGhost doesn’t log user activity or record IP addresses. Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
IPVanish operates hundreds of servers in 60 countries, including 12 in APAC. It owns all of its own physical servers resulting in some of the fastest download speeds available from any VPN. Those speeds cannot be put toward streaming Netflix, however, as IPVanish is currently not able to unblock Netflix. It’s a good option for P2P file sharers. Torrenting traffic is allowed on all servers. The company is based in the US but has a strict no-log policy.
ExpressVPN operates servers in 78 countries, 20 of them in APAC alone. Torrenting is allowed on all servers. It’s consistently performed well in our unblocking tests and our speed tests so is a good option for streaming. It can unblock both the US and Australian Netflix catalogs in a browser as well as in the Netflix app. It keeps no traffic logs and is based in the British Virgin Islands, where it is not subject to any data retention laws. ExpressVPN makes apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux (command line) and some wifi routers.
This awesome VPN from Sweden is loved by consumers. It has servers in 52 countries and is adding more all the time. This makes it perfect for Australians who want to unblock geo-restricted services from around the world. It is also perfect for accessing censored websites. This VPN works with iPlayer and US Netflix!!
PrivateVPN stays true to its name, it keeps zero logs and provides powerful military-grade encryption. The software is fully featured and is available for all popular platforms. It is very easy to use and works like a dream. A yearly plan works out very cheap considering what you get. Well worth a test run using the 30-day money back guarantee or 7-day free trial.
6. Hotspot Shield
AnchorFree's Hotspot Shield Premium manages to provide all the necessary VPN service features at an attractive price with the option of getting a lifetime license. It supports private browsing, allows "access all content", and supports up to five devices.
Performance results in our tests were excellent, with latency showing only a marginal increase, and both upload and download speeds were a little faster once connected.
We'd like more configurability and a wider range of locations, but Hotspot Shield Premium's high speeds and low prices have a lot of appeals, and the 7-day trial makes it easy to test the service for yourself.
TunnelBear is a Canadian-based VPN service which is notable for a number of reasons, perhaps the foremost of which is its emphasis on ease-of-use. You get a wide range of clients, covering both desktop and mobile devices thoroughly, and the software is highly user-friendly.
Even the website steers clear of using jargon and talks about how a VPN works in simple layman’s terms. As you might guess, though, expert users might find the lack of details rather off-putting – and more importantly, there aren’t many low-level options to tweak your connection either. So, this is really designed with beginners in mind.
In terms of coverage, TunnelBear offers servers in 20+ different countries across the globe and gives you up to five simultaneous connections. This provider is strong on the privacy front, as well, clearly and concisely explaining its policies, and again not drowning you in jargon (of the legal variety in this case, rather than the technical kind).
Performance is also impressive over shorter hops and solid to the US, although really long-distance connections such as Singapore can see speeds drop considerably (that’s not unusual for VPNs, though).
Windscribe is a quality VPN service which has native Windows, Mac and iOS clients – an Android client was recently launched but labeled as being potentially unstable, so use it at your own risk for now. What you do also get is a range of browser add-ons, which come highly rated (and also block ads).
One of the main attractions here is the fact that Windscribe’s commercial plan allows for unlimited connections, so no matter how many family members or devices you’ve got, you’ll be covered.
There’s a free plan available and it gives you a generous 10GB of monthly data, although you can only use one device with it, and there are limits on the amount of data you can download.
9. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited
KeepSolid boasts some impressive performance levels, with our testing showing that the VPN barely affected download speeds (compared to the rates we got with the VPN turned off).
This provider offers a wide range of clients, with coverage for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux and Windows 10 Mobile, and setup instructions are provided for further devices.
Do note, however, that this VPN service doesn’t support torrents across the majority of its servers, so it isn’t a good choice for file sharers. (Only five servers support torrents: Canada, France, Luxembourg, Romania, and a single location in the US).
There are also some flies in the ointment on the privacy front, with some session logging taking place (although that isn’t unusual), and we also found evidence of DNS leaks.
ZenMate is another of the VPN services which try to pitch to novices, with the website avoiding any technical jargon and explaining everything in clear and simple terms.
And naturally that carries through to the software. ZenMate’s Windows client is supremely easy-to-use, and it’s highly streamlined – just click a couple of buttons and you’re off. It’s also dead easy to set up, which never hurts.
But as ever, where software is designed to be as simple as possible, expert users will likely be frustrated at the lack of controls available. For example, you can’t choose your own security protocol (the service uses L2TP only), or indeed specify a particular city for a server location; you can only pick by country.
Still, if you can accept the limitations here – and that won’t be a problem if you aren’t very tech-savvy and are new to the world of VPNs – ZenMate offers a solid option, even if performance levels aren’t the best compared to rival providers.
It’s also worth noting there’s a 14-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the service, and ZenMate has a free offering although that only operates via browser add-ons (and it restricts speeds and choice of servers).
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