Most public Wi-Fi networks are not as safe as you think, which is why you should use a virtual private network, or VPN, even on your Android phone. With TorGuard VPN for Android, you can rest assured that all of your mobile web traffic—whether over cellular or Wi-Fi—is secured against prying eyes on your network. TorGuard hosts a lot of servers across a varied geographic range, but its bare-bones Android interface might intimidate some first-time users.
What Is a VPN?
Public Wi-Fi networks at the coffee shop or airport are not secure or private. Unless you take precautions, anyone on such networks can snoop on your online activity. More devious attacks involve special devices that mimic Wi-Fi networks your phone trusts, thus allowing an attacker to sit between you and the internet and intercept incoming and outgoing data. You need to use a VPN to protect your privacy on such networks to add an extra layer of protection.
Once activated, a VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your Android device and a remote VPN server. Your data passes through that tunnel, meaning that anyone on the same network will only see junk data instead of your precious private information. From the VPN server, your data exits onto the open internet. Neither your Internet Service Provider (ISP) nor aggressive advertisers looking to gather your personal information can see much about you when you use a VPN, though. With a VPN, your public IP address also appears as that of the VPN server, which is not identifiable to you. You can also choose a VPN server somewhere far away from your actual location to obscure your origins even further.
Activists and journalists living and working in countries with repressive control of internet access use VPN services to bypass government censorship of the internet. Similarly, you can use a VPN to access region-locked content from video streaming services. For example, you can’t stream BBC TV shows for free outside the UK, but a VPN can make it look as though you’re logging on from London instead of across the Atlantic.
It’s important to understand that VPNs don’t provide foolproof protection, though. When you use any VPN, you need to test if it is leaking your real IP address. Consider using a VPN in conjunction with other privacy tools such as Tor or Privacy Badger as well. Privacy threats are constantly changing, so you need to stay informed about and use the tools that will protect you.
A VPN can also secure your cellular data. Most of the time, you can assume that cellular data is more secure than Wi-Fi. But there are some attacks that involve portable cell towers and jamming the LTE and 3G bands to force phones to connect via the less-secure 2G. This man-in-the-middle attack is rare, but possible.
Pricing and Features
TorGuard costs $9.99 per month, which is just a bit below the average ($10.16) of the top VPN services we’ve tested. Note that you can save money by springing for a longer subscription plan—as you can with most VPN services. A quarterly plan costs $19.99, a six-month subscription is $29.99, and an annual subscription runs $59.99. Finally, a two-year plan tops out at $99.99. TorGuard allows you to pay with several cryptocurrencies.
If you are wary of paying for a VPN subscription every month, know that there are some free VPN options, though they tend to include limitations. TorGuard offers a free unlimited trial of TorGuard for customers who switch from competitors, but this does not give you access to add-ons. ProtonVPN’s free version does not limit the amount of data you can use either, though it does restrict you to a few select servers.
By default, TorGuard lets you connect with up to five devices simultaneously, but you can specify if you want more. The monthly cost increases by a dollar for each additional connection you add. TorGuard’s standard number of VPN connections is about average. CyberGhost and IPVanish respectively offer seven and 10 simultaneous connections.
In addition to Android, TorGuard VPN offers apps for Windows, MacOS, and iOS devices. TorGuard offers other services aside from its VPN product, including a proxy and secure email service. In that respect, it is reminiscent of ProtonVPN’s related service, ProtonMail.
While TorGuard’s name might make you think of the Tor anonymization service, the company actually takes its name from BitTorrent. As such, the service does allow P2P downloading and BitTorrent on many, but not all, of its servers. Another important point is that TorGuard blocks ads and malware, both features which we discuss in more details later on. TorGuard supports a wide range of protocols on all platforms, including OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2, SSTP, Socks5, and AnyConnect/OpenConnect, among others. A representative stated it will be adding WireGuard support in the future. Optional add-ons include 10Gbit network access, static IP addresses, and DDOS-protected IPs.
A representative from TorGuard said that it does not generate revenue from outside sources and that all revenue comes from subscription payments. TorGuard is physically located in Orlando, FL, and operates under US jurisdiction. TorGuard is owned and operated by VPNetworks LLC, which is based in Nevis.
When TorGuard receives a legal request for a user’s data, a representative said that the company first assesses the validity of it. If it passes muster, TorGuard says that its “legal representation would be forced to further explain the nature of our shared IP network configuration and the fact that we do not hold any identifying logs or time stamps.”
Take note that the United States is part of the 14 Eyes alliance. We aren’t confident enough in our knowledge of international treaties to make a judgment solely on the geographic location of a company’s headquarters, but this is still good information to know.
Servers and Locations
One of the metrics we use to evaluate a VPN service is the number of servers and server locations it offers. In theory, VPN services with more servers and locations will yield better performance as your connection speeds will be less affected by factors such as overloaded servers or significant geographic distances.
At the time of publishing, TorGuard maintains over 4,000 servers, which compares favorably to most other services we reviewed. NordVPN (5,130) offer more servers, but TorGuard outclasses many others, including Private Internet Access (3,160) and CyberGhost (3,072). Others, such as ProtonVPN (330) and TunnelBear (1,200), offer far fewer.
As for geographic diversity, TorGuard maintains servers in 53 countries. That’s the not the best coverage we’ve seen, but it’s still good. For comparison, NordVPN offers servers in 62 countries and IPVanish covers 60. Some services have a presence in fewer countries. For example, Private Internet Access and Proton VPN only offer servers in 33 and 30 countries respectively.
TorGuard does a decent job covering the globe, with servers in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Middle East. Many services completely ignore Africa and the Middle East, as well as Central and South America, so we are glad to see them here. That said, it does neglect to provide servers in Cuba, Ethiopia, Iran, Pakistan, and Syria—some of the most restrictive countries in the world when it comes to internet access.
One thing to keep in mind when it comes to a VPN company’s server count is whether it uses virtual servers. A virtual server is a software-defined server that can be configured to appear in a different geographic location than its actual one. This practice could be problematic, since your metadata may pass through and be stored in countries with more invasive privacy practices. Also, your connection speed depends on the physical location of a server, so a virtual one that says it is in your country, may not actually yield appropriate speeds. A TorGuard representative told us, “TorGuard does not use any virtual server locations. Every TorGuard VPN and proxy server is physically located in the stated country.”
Hands On With TorGuard
When we launched TorGuard VPN’s Android app for the first time, it informed us that the app was designed for an older version of Android and that we should check for updates. As we had just downloaded the app from the Google Play Store, we did, in fact, have the latest version. In any case, this message does not inspire confidence. It wasn’t very clear to us where to log in either; you do so after you initiate a connection.
In terms of its app design, TorGuard leaves much to be desired. The interface doesn’t convey a clear flow and TorGuard chooses to highlight options average users will never use. It’s a far cry from the user-friendly designs of TunnelBear and NordVPN. We don’t mind a relatively bare interface, but services such as Private Internet Access’ and CyberGhost’s apps do a better job of combining simplicity and function.
Once you do get logged in, the main page shows your connection status and chosen location. Below, you can select your protocol (UDP or TCP), Port, and Cipher. If you don’t understand what these options mean, it’s best to leave these settings at their default. Once you configure all these settings, simply hit the Connect button to enable the VPN.
In the upper right section of the screen, you can tap the gear icon to access some more advanced options and capabilities. For example, you can configure TorGuard to automatically connect on boot and to log in automatically. You can also configure a custom proxy, server, and nameserver. Most people, however, will use the Restricted Apps option, which is TorGuard’s name for split tunneling. Here, you can specify which apps should not use the VPN. This is potentially useful for services that do not work properly over a VPN connection.
The connection screen displays server information, additional technical details such as the protocol, encryption, and IP address. The app also shows a running metric of sent and received data. Like the vast majority of VPN Android apps, TorGuard displays a persistent notification of your connection status in the notification drawer.
Speed Test Results
Any VPN you use will likely impact your network speeds. Generally, you can expect to see an increase in latency and a reduction in upload and download speeds. Your results depend on a variety of factors including the server you choose, your physical location, the time of day, and your device. As such, consider our tests as more of a snapshot of VPN performance than a definitive statement. Check out our roundup of the fastest VPNs in our tests, if speed is your most important concern.
To test the performance of a VPN, we run Ookla’s internet speed test app several times to establish a baseline network performance with the VPN turned off. (Note that Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s publisher.) Next, we let the VPN automatically choose the closest server (or switch it to the closest US-based one), and rerun the tests. For each test, we use the download (Mbps), upload (Mbps), and latency (ms) results to evaluate the performance. We take the median of the results in each category and compare the percent change between the two scenarios.
In our tests, TorGuard increased latency by 60 percent, decreased download speeds by 64.5 percent, and reduced download speeds by 40.7 percent. These results are above the category average across all VPNs we tested, but are still a tier below the top performers. By comparison, NordVPN, Private Internet Access, and Turbo VPN produced the best latency results, increasing ping by 20 percent. Speedify took the top spot in our download test and only decreased speeds by 3.4 percent. NordVPN was the fastest for uploads, slowing speeds by 22.6 percent.
VPN speed performance is important, but it shouldn’t be the main aspect you look at when choosing one. Security and data privacy should come first. Besides, most of our readers have fast enough networks that even the most drastic decreases in performance won’t be very noticeable. That said, our roundup of the best VPNs for gaming may appeal to those users who require low-latency connections.
Does TorGuard Work With Netflix?
That said, many of the Android VPNs we tested did not cause any issues with the Netflix app. For testing this behavior, we installed the latest version of Netflix and the various VPNs on a Nexus 5X running Android 8.1; we encountered streaming issues when trying to stream on a Google Pixel running Android 9, even without the VPN enabled. We had no trouble streaming an episode of Disenchantment with TorGuard enabled. If the regular TorGuard servers don’t work, you can always select one of its Stealth servers, which should be more difficult for Netflix to detect and block.
Know that even if your VPN works with your VPN today, it may not in the future. Video streaming services continue to find new ways to detect and block VPN and proxy traffic. You can check our roundup of the best VPNs for Netflix, but be aware that we base these recommendations on our experience at the time of testing.
On Guard With TorGuard
TorGuard offers impressive technical capabilities and rare options such as the ability to pay for additional device licenses. It also maintains an impressive number of servers across a good range of countries. However, TorGuard’s Android app is nowhere near as intuitive or well designed as those of competitors. We recommend Editors’ Choice winners NordVPN for its top-notch features, Private Internet Access for its value, and TunnelBear for its user-friendly design on Android devices instead.