Choosing a VPN

A VPN, aka Virtual Private Network, is a tool that allows users to securely access the internet and protect their personal information. It creates a secure, encrypted “tunnel” between the user’s device and the Internet through which all Internet traffic flows.

VPNs are necessary for everyone’s privacy because they help protect us from a number of both possible and impossible online threats. For example, a VPN can protect users from hackers who may try to steal personal information such as login credentials or financial data. They can also protect users from government monitoring, which is increasingly common in many countries. In addition, VPNs can help users access content that may be blocked in their country, such as streaming services like Netflix or social media sites like Facebook.

Where to find privacy

In order for a VPN to be purposeful and protect its users from online threats, it should first and foremost provide a good level of privacy. But what all should we consider when it comes to VPNs if we want to be truly private?

Of course, there are a myriad of complex parameters we need to take into account when considering privacy. And yet, even after taking them all into account, we still come to the conclusion that the “best” VPN is the one that suits you. However, let’s think logically and unbiasedly about what all we should take into account when choosing our VPN. Let’s also take a look at how all the VPNs on the market meet our privacy parameters (and to what extent).

Well, we probably don’t need to tell you that there are a lot of VPNs on the market. However, if I were to personally choose the one and only right and private one, I would remember to take the following steps into consideration:

Since there are so many VPNs, it would be logical if I didn’t jump on the first one recommended by some shitty youtuber or shitty government employee.

A VPN is something that all my internet traffic, and therefore my online privacy, will depend on. So you need to be particularly careful about its quality and reputation.

By the same logic, saving money at all costs is not the best idea either. Using an economical VPN may save you money in the short term, but it can put your personal data at risk. Many low-cost VPNs may not have the same security and privacy standards as more expensive alternatives, and could potentially sell your data to third parties or expose you to cyberattacks.

In addition, a low-cost VPN may not have the same level of technical support and troubleshooting capabilities as a higher-quality VPN. It’s therefore particularly important to consider the long-term benefits of investing in a high-standard VPN, rather than just the initial cost of buying one.

Huge numbers of VPNs are based on OpenVPN or WireGuard protocols, which means you’re able to use these particular protocols with more or less any decent VPN. However, open protocol isn’t enough for privacy.

VPNs may use nice and lovely open protocol, but they don’t have to be open by themselves, and they can run a lot of trackers and all sorts of crazy stuff.

The specific approach to this step is a bit more dependent on each of our personal preferences, but I will try to be objective about it. Privacy is a very deep rabbit hole and we can find a huge number of pitfalls and confusions in it. And that goes even beyond the field of protocols, transparency, and visible trackers. Privacy also extends to the physical world, which includes governments, their policies and their agreements.

We certainly won’t do anything wrong if we check the privacy level of our preferred VPN multiple times, taking into account all the potential threats that may be lurking.

So let’s take a look at our list of open-source and trusted VPNs and eliminate what doesn’t serve our purposes.

4.) Functionality

I probably don’t need to write anything more about this criterion 🙂

!This article primarily serves as a great comparison of VPNs. We each have our own risk management and you may have different criteria than I do when considering the right VPN. That’s why every service mentioned won’t meet my privacy criteria and you need to be careful about that. Equally; technology is changing rapidly and it’s also important to remember that the information in this article can become out of date very quickly!


PIA is something that I would eliminate first of all open-source VPNs.

Private Internet Access (PIA) has some serious drawbacks. PIA is based in the US, which can make it difficult to use from privacy reasons. PIA has a zero-logging policy, but it is not immune to US government requests for data.

Why is it a problem? The US government can impose a gag order on PIA since it is located on US territory. This means that the US government can force PIA to start collecting data on its users without ever telling them (that’s why it’s called a gag order). After all, the United States is part of the Five Eyes association.

Among other things, the PIA has also released its own blog post about not using “warrant canary” (a way for a service to discreetly send a signal that it has received a warrant in order to get information about its users), which would sort of solve this Schroedinger’s courtroom charade problem. PIA argues that warrant canary solves a “Wrong Problem” because for PIA to use warrant canary, it would first have to collect any logs at all 🙂


NordVPN is a popular VPN service that is based in Panama, which automatically gives it a leg up on most of its competitors. Panama is known for its very strict privacy laws, it is not under the jurisdiction of the US or the EU, and moreover, it is not a member of the “14 Eyes” alliance.

The only data stored is supposed to be your very last timestamp, which is immediately overwritten the next time you connect. However, NordVPN faced issues related to its logging policy; Nord is also not (fully) open-source, which puts it in a no-go zone from my perspective.

One of the most interesting and unique features that NordVPN offers is the so-called Double VPN. Basically, this means that when you connect to one of NordVPN’s Double VPN servers, your connection is first routed through two of NordVPN’s most secure servers. This makes it virtually impossible for anyone to track your online activities.

NordVPN also offers a built-in kill switch to protect your IP address in case your connection drops. There’s no option for the VPN to automatically turn on when you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, but you can set NordVPN to automatically connect when you turn on your computer.

NordVPN has just over 5,000 servers spread across 60 countries. So you have good coverage all over the world and these servers are available on all platforms. Nord also offers a Tor over VPN service.


Orbot is a free and open-source software for Android devices that enhances privacy and security by using the Tor network to encrypt internet traffic and hide IP addresses. It allows safe, anonymous, and uncensored internet access, especially beneficial in countries with strict censorship.

Orbot can be used with applications supporting the SOCKS proxy protocol for added security. While not a VPN, it offers a “VPN slot” for routing traffic through Tor, increasing encryption and anonymity. However, due to Tor, Orbot’s speed is slow, limited to Android devices, making it more suitable as a backup than a primary VPN


RiseupVPN is a unique VPN based on the secure OpenVPN protocol, offering free and registration-free access through F-Droid.

Managed by activists, it prioritizes user privacy and free speech rights, catering to individuals facing surveillance or censorship risks. RiseupVPN does not log user activity and operates transparently through the Leap project. However, it lacks clients for all devices and is notably slow, impacting its usability.

Proton VPN

Proton VPN is a pretty good and popular VPN service that offers a variety of features to protect your privacy and security. It has a kill switch that quickly cuts your connection in case of a network failure to ensure your online information stays protected.

Proton VPN also has a large number of servers available around the world, with more than 1,800 servers in 64 countries. Users can choose to let Proton VPN automatically connect them to the first available server or manually select one. Proton VPN allows users to use their VPN on 10 devices at the same time, and all users, regardless of which subscription plan they choose, get unlimited bandwidth.

Proton VPN is also able to access geo-blocked streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and others, although this is only available in the paid version.

However, the downside of Proton VPN is its speed, which is not as fast as other VPNs on the market. Proton VPN’s prices are higher for the full-featured Plus plan, which is the one to go for. Proton VPN is based in Switzerland, which gives it a leg up on most of its competitors. It has a comprehensive non-logging statement, and the only data stored is your last timestamp, which is immediately overwritten the next time you connect.

Proton VPN also offers a built-in kill switch to protect your IP address in case your connection drops, and it has a Secure Core feature that routes your connection through one of Proton VPN’s most secure servers (rom underground bunkers in Switzerland and Sweden to an old military base in Iceland, these servers are extremely secure and virtually immune to surveillance).

Proton VPN also offers a Tor over VPN service that integrates your connection with the anonymous Tor network, and it has passed an independent audit by SEC Consult, with only 11 issues found across all running applications, none of which were high-risk. Overall, Proton VPN is a secure and reliable VPN service that offers a variety of features to protect your privacy and security

Sign up for Proton VPN if:

  • You want the best online privacy and security
  • You need to access streaming sites abroad
  • Want to make sure no one is watching you
  • You want to block ads
  • You have a lot of devices that you use online

Avoid Proton:

  • If you need a fast connection
  • You need to save money


VPN, a Gibraltar-based VPN, offers top privacy and security features, making it one of the best VPNs on the market. It supports torrenting in 45 locations across 32 countries and maintains custom DNS servers globally for added security. The service excels in privacy protection, with a clear no-logging policy and transparent practices, ensuring minimal data collection.

IVPN conducts annual audits to enhance security, with the latest audit by Cure53 in April 2022 addressing vulnerabilities effectively (which you can view at this link). IVPN’s features extend beyond security, including support for up to 7 devices simultaneously and impressive speeds due to the WireGuard protocol

However, a drawback is its limited streaming capabilities, lacking support for unblocking popular services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. Despite this limitation, IVPN stands out for its commitment to privacy, annual audits, and robust security measures, making it a compelling choice for users prioritizing privacy and security on the internet.

Sign up for IVPN if:

  • You want to have top privacy and security on the Internet
  • You need lots of features
  • You want to pay anonymously using cryptocurrencies
  • You want a fast connection

Avoid IVPN if:

  • You want to connect a lot of devices at a low price
  • You need to access streaming sites abroad


Mullvad means “mole” in Swedish.

Mullvad is a VPN service that prioritizes privacy and anonymity. It stands out for its high-performance encryption, complete anonymity without registration, and the ability to pay with Bitcoin or Monero. Mullvad’s privacy policy is transparent, backed by infrastructure and DNS server audits, ensuring users’ peace of mind

The VPN offers fast network speeds across multiple protocols and uses 256-bit AES encryption, ensuring user data security. Mullvad also includes a kill-switch feature to block internet access if the VPN connection drops, maintaining privacy at all times.

In June 2020, Mullvad published the results of its independent audit. It appears to have been generally satisfactory and the minor issues identified by Cure53 have been resolved.

However, Mullvad may not be suitable for streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, or Amazon Prime due to restrictions in unblocking these platforms. Despite having fewer servers compared to some competitors, Mullvad’s network speed remains impressive.

The service is affordable, user-friendly, and offers advanced features like port forwarding and split tunneling. Notably, Mullvad does not offer live chat support but provides assistance through its Help Center or email. In summary, Mullvad is an excellent choice for individuals prioritizing privacy and anonymity in their VPN service. It offers robust encryption, clear privacy policies, high-speed connections, and effective malware-blocking software to enhance user security and privacy

In May 2022, the company’s DNS servers underwent an independent audit by Assured AB’s security consultants (here’s the report). Assured AB found no critical issues and no logs, but made several recommendations that were implemented shortly thereafter.

Sign up to Mullvad if:

  • You want one of the most secure private VPNs on the market
  • You want to pay anonymously using cryptocurrencies
  • You want a fast connection
  • You want an affordable VPN with a transparent pricing structure

Avoid Mullvad if:

  • You want to unblock streaming services like Netflix
  • You want round-the-clock chat support
  • You want a VPN that automatically re-bills you when your plan ends


There are many VPNs. New ones are being created, old ones are evolving, and policies and legislation are changing as well. This article is not meant to be a guide to choosing the “right” VPN. It was only meant to guide you on what parameters to consider if you want to achieve real and unhindered online privacy.

If you have your own recommendations for a VPN that is open and you find it secure, private and trustworthy enough, feel free to contact me. I plan to update this article regularly with new findings.

However, the choice of VPN service is up to you and I wish you the best of luck with your privacy.