What Is a VPN?
Connecting to a public or unsecured Wi-Fi network is not safe, since evil people monitoring the network can peer in on your unprotected traffic. Those with sufficient network skills can even trick your devices into connecting to fraudulent networks. Internet Service Providers (ISP) are also legally allowed to sell anonymized data from its users.
To protect yourself from all these threats, you need to use a VPN. A VPN is no longer just the tool of security wonks and the privacy-obsessed; it is a necessary protection for all Internet users against privacy vulnerabilities and increasingly data-hungry services and sites.
Thankfully, you don’t need a degree in network engineering to set up and use a VPN. Most services make it easy to set up a VPN, without requiring you to know the low-level details of how these connections work. It’s always good to understand the advantages and limitations of this technology.
Of course, no piece of software is foolproof or free of vulnerabilities. We recommend that everyone visit our guide on how to tell if your VPN is leaking your real IP address. If your IP address does not change after you connect to a VPN, your chosen service likely is not doing anything.
Note that a VPN is not a perfect solution for maintaining privacy online. The Tor browser and other privacy-focused tools, such as Privacy Badger, are good supplements to a VPN. Know that no security solution is perfect, though, and that threats to your privacy and security are always evolving. Common sense goes a long way as well; don’t volunteer information to questionable sources, and don’t neglect to actually use the tools at your disposal.
Pricing and Platforms
VyprVPN’s base plan costs $9.95 per month or $60 billed annually, and it lets you connect on up to three devices simultaneously. VyprVPN Premium is $12.95 per month or $80 per year. This tier raises the limit to five connections, adds the VyprVPN cloud feature, and unlocks VyprVPN’s proprietary Chameleon protocol. I discuss that last feature in more detail later on.
Golden Frog no longer offers a free version of its VPN. TunnelBear and AnchorFree Hotspot Shield both offer free versions, though their plans include data caps. ProtonVPN’s free version does not limit how much data you can use, instead restricting you to a limited number of servers and a single connection. Take a look at our roundup of free VPNs for more options.
VyprVPN is priced competitively with other VPN services and comes in below the current average price of the top VPNs we’ve tested. Some services are much cheaper; Private Internet Access in particular costs just $6.95 per month. Others cost more; NordVPN, for example, goes for $11.95 per month.
IPVanish currently leads the way in terms of simultaneous connections allowed, with 10, though CyberGhost’s allotment of seven devices is not too far behind. VyprVPN’s basic plan offering of 3 is well below the average of around five simultaneous connections and even the premium version’s 5 isn’t much, considering its high price.
Servers and Server Locations
The number of servers and server locations a VPN service offers has a direct effect on the performance you can expect. If a server is overcrowded with users, your connection will be slow. Similarly, if the closest server to you geographically isn’t really close at all, your speeds will suffer.
At the time of publishing, VyprVPN maintains approximately 700 servers. That’s not the lowest number of servers we’ve encountered, but it’s far from the best. For reference, NordVPN (5,000), Private Internet Access (3,100) and TorGuard (3,000) all maintain significantly more servers. However, VyprVPN does do better than others. ProtonVPN, for example, has just over 300 servers.
VyprVPN maintains servers in approximately 70 geographically diverse locations. The service covers several regions that most others neglect, including Africa, Central and South America, and the Middle East. VyprVPN does neglect a few countries whose citizens would surely benefit, including Cuba, Iran, South Africa and Syria; but it does notably cover Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. We recognize the severe consequences for the end user of a VPN failing in any one of those countries, which is why we don’t choose a best VPN for China.
For comparison, KeepSolid VPN also offers servers in around 70 locations. Hide My Ass VPN and PureVPN trounce VyprVPN though with offerings in 286 and 180 locations respectively. One thing to keep in mind when it comes to server counts and server locations is whether a VPN service uses virtual servers. Virtual servers are software-defined servers that can be configured to appear as if from a completely different geographic location than their physical one. As such, the use of virtual servers can heavily inflate the number of servers or server locations a company can claim to offer. This setup also may pose a problem for users who are worried about their metadata passing through countries that don’t have user-friendly data retention laws. VyprVPN does use virtual servers in some situations, such as to avoid potential tampering in restrictive countries or for testing.
In terms of the VPN service itself, VyprVPN states that it is a zero log service. It states that it does not log a user’s source IP address, VPN-assigned IP address, connection start or stop time, user traffic or communications. VyprVPN also notes that it does not discriminate against devices, protocols, or application, nor does it not connection speeds. These policies give us confidence in VyprVPN’s protections for the end user.
Golden Frog GmbH, the parent company of VyprVPN, is incorporated in Switzerland according to the website. We aren’t confident enough in our knowledge of data retention laws to make a definitive judgment based on a VPN’s headquarters, but Switzerland notably is not part of the 14 Eyes alliance. In any case, Golden Frog says it never releases personal data “unless we are ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction to do so.” Golden Frog says it has never sold any personal data, usage information or any other information.
Notably, VyprVPN recently underwent a third-party security audit by Leviathan Security Group (you can download the PDF of the results). VyprVPN joins TunnelBear and AnchorFree in this regard. We appreciate a company’s efforts to go through this process, since it means that the underlying security can be picked over by impartial experts.
VyprVPN’s Android App
For testing, we installed VyprVPN on a Google Pixel running Android 9.0. We had no issues signing into the test account. The app has an attractive design, looks modern, and didn’t crash during my testing period. App reliability is important since your VPN is an important line of defense against network intrusions.
VyprVPN’s main interface is simple to understand. At the top, the app displays your public IP address and the three-letter abbreviation of the associated geographic location. If you swipe to the right, you can view a Protection Report with analytics on preventative measures the VPN has taken, a graph showing upload and download speeds, and a connection log which you can disable in the settings.
Directly below, you can toggle several options (these are the options included in the Protection Report): Connect on Untrusted Wi-Fi, Kill Switch, and Block Malicious sites. For the first option, you add Wi-Fi networks that you trust to a list in the app; VyprVPN automatically connects whenever you join a network not on this list. The Kill Switch option prevents you from accessing the internet without a connection via VyprVPN. The Block Malicious sites option prevents you from accessing sites that are known to be associated with malware. If you are certain you know better than the app, you can still proceed to the site.
A bright blue Connect button sits below those options. You can tap on the location icon to the right of the button to select between the available servers. From this list, you can view the latency (measured in ms) or favorite any of them for easy access. You can also just tap Fastest Server if you don’t want to dive into these options. Unfortunately, there’s no way to filter this list, and it takes a while for the initial latency measurements to appear. Once you hit the connect button, the app will ask for permission to modify your network settings. Be sure that the request comes from a legitimate source, as VPN technology in the hands of the wrong people can be dangerous. Once the connection is secure, the app background inverts to a dark color and the IP information updates up top.
In the top right section of the main page, you can tap the overflow menu to submit a feature request, visit the forums, or access the Help section. The gear icon leads to the Settings menu, which breaks down into several sections: VPN Settings, Connection, General, Golden Frog, and Account.
In the VPN settings, you can select between several protocols, such as VyprVPN’s proprietary Chameleon or OpenVPN with either 256- or 160-bit encryption. We prefer the OpenVPN protocol, since it is completely open source and can be vetted by the wider security community. However, according to VyprVPN’s description, Chameleon “uses the unmodified OpenVPN 256-bit protocol and scrambles the metadata to prevent DPI, VPN blocking, and throttling.” In this section, you can also switch from VyprVPN’s default VyprDNS configuration to a third-party one. We recommend you leave the default settings.
VyprVPN and Netflix
Many video streaming services, including Netflix, block you from using their services via a VPN connection. However, Netflix streaming worked fine with most of the Android VPN apps we tested. We tried out streaming on a Nexus 5X running Android 8.1, since we ran into issues while trying to stream Netflix content from our Google Pixel with Android 9. In our tests, VyprVPN did not cause issues for streaming via the Netflix app.
Check out our roundup of the best VPNs to use with Netflix, if you frequently stream videos on your phone. Note that while the services in this roundup worked when we tested them, they might not be compatible when you do. Thwarting Netflix’s proxy and VPN check is a constant battle for VPN services, so even if you do find one that works, don’t assume it will work forever.
VPN Speed Test
Any VPN you choose is bound to slow down your internet connection by some factor, but some services will perform better than others, depending on the number of servers they offer and your geographic location. If performance is your primary criteria for choosing a VPN, check out our roundup of the fastest VPNs according to our tests. Consider, however, that while speed is important, it should not come at the expense of trustworthiness.
To test the speed of Android VPNs, we run Ookla’s internet speed test app several times to establish a baseline network performance with the VPN turned off. (Ookla’s Speedtest.net is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s publisher.) Next we run the same test with the VPN enabled. Each time we run the tests, we collect the following measurements: ping (ms), download speed (Mbps), and upload speed (Mbps). We take the median of the results for each scenario and then calculate a percent change between the baseline tests and the ones while connected to the VPN.
VyprVPN turned in poor results in our testing. To start, it increased latency 400 percent. VyprVPN also decreased download and upload speeds by 79.7 percent and 88.8 percent respectively. All of these results are below the median across the Android VPN services we’ve tested. Only Norton Wi-Fi performed worse in all three categories. TunnelBear took last place in the latency and download speed tests.
The top performers in our latency tests, NordVPN, TurboVPN, and Private Internet Access only increased latency by an average of 20 percent. Speedify took the top spot in our download test, only decreasing speeds by 3.4 percent. In our upload tests, NordVPN placed first, only decreasing speeds by 22.6 percent.