Best VPNs in Canada (2020 Reviews)


Dan Conte

Last Updated:

Tech
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Quick overview

Many of us are connected to the internet in some form or fashion throughout the day. This constant connection brings many great things — like the ability to access information with the press of our fingertips, communicate with loved ones halfway around the world, and order a last minute takeout dinner.

While the advantages of the internet are visible to all of us, what’s not always visible is the threat of a cyber attack, or the intrusion of our privacy.

A VPN, or virtual private network, mitigates these risks by encrypting your data, and hiding potentially Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as your IP address, search history as well as the type of computer, browser and plugins you’re using.

But can you trust any and all VPN providers? Which are the best in Canada? Don’t worry, we’ve done all the work for you.

Best VPNs of 2020

Our research

9

Research Sources

12

Products Evaluated

10

Reviews Considered

8

Hours of Research

Best VPN comparison

ExpressVPNHotspot Shield FreeNordVPNIPVanishVyprVPNTunnelBear
Best forOverallFreeMaximum SecurityStreamingGamingCanadian-based
Price (monthly/yearly)$17.32/$133.56FREE$15.96/$112.03$13.36/$104.18$17.36/$107.27$13.35/$79.99
JurisdictionBritish Virgin IslandsUnited StatesPanamaUnited StatesSwitzerlandCanada
Servers3,000+2,5005,2001,300+700+1,000
Server LocationsOver 160 locations in 94 countries70+ (limited)627570+20+
Simultaneous Connections5561055
ProtocolsOpenVPN, IPSec, and IKEv2Catapult HydraOpenVPN, IPSec, PPTP, and L2TPOpenVPN, SOCKS5PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2 (Manual setup and iOS only), OpenVPN, ChameleonOpenVPN, IPSec
LoggingNoneDiagnostics onlyNoneNoneDiagnostics onlyDiagnostics only
Trial/Money Back Guarantee30 days45 days (paid version)30 days7 days30 days500MB
Total professional reviews545445
Aggregate rating4.74.24.64.44.54.3

Our pick for best overall – ExpressVPN

  • Price: $17.32 monthly, or $133.56 on a one year commitment
  • Servers: 3,000+
  • Server Locations: Over 160 locations in 94 countries
  • Simultaneous Connections: 5
  • Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
  • Money back guarantee: 30 days

Pros

  • Highly diverse servers
  • Works with almost every device or platform imaginable
  • High-level encryption protection
  • Great customer support
  • Doesn’t log customers’ data

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Only 5 simultaneous connections allowed

Privacy and security

Security settings such as an instant kill switch, DNS leak protection, and a well-known protocol called OpenVPN, make this one of the most secure VPNs available to Canadians. ExpressVPN has never had a data breach, and has a strict no-log data policy.

Speed and accessibility

VPNs have a tendency to slow down your internet connection, but a robust, diverse server base can counteract that. A great diversity among servers also helps make sure you can access the content that may be blocked by certain countries. ExpressVPN is arguably the most popular VPN around, mostly due to its large amount of servers. With over 3000 servers in 94 countries, you can be sure you’ll be connected to the quickest, most accessible servers around.

Device/platform support

No matter which platform you plan to use your VPN on, they have you covered. It not only supports Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and Blackberry, but you can download the associated browser extensions for your smart TV or gaming console as well.

Customer support

With so much functionality and security, you might think using it would be a complicated procedure. This is not the case, as ExpressVPN has a plethora of resources on their website to guide you through whatever you need. If their tutorial videos and blog articles don’t help you, their live chat definitely will.

Best free VPN – Hotspot Shield VPN (free)

  • Price: Free
  • Servers: 2500
  • Server Locations: 70+ (free version is limited)
  • Simultaneous Connections: 5
  • Jurisdiction: United States
  • Money back guarantee: 45 days (paid version)

Pros

  • Very simple to get started with
  • 15GB of free data per month is much more than competing free VPNs
  • Solid level of security
  • Zero-log policy

Cons

  • Data is limited to only 500MB per day
  • Cannot choose your own server locations
  • Too many advertisements

Privacy and security

Using a standard called Hydra VPN, users can expect a high-level 256-bit AES encryption for their web browsing. However, when using the free version, Hotspot Shield doesn’t let you connect to their international servers — they only let you connect to their U.S. based servers.

Speed and accessibility

When tested against competing free VPNs, it scored quite high for speed benchmarks. It’s not as brisk as premium paid VPNs, but it won’t slow your internet connection down to the point of it being a nuisance. The limitations of the server locations negatively affects the accessibility for users.

Device/platform support

Hotspot Shield (free) can be used with Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS. If you would like to use this VPN for your linux device, or smart TV, you’ll need to buy the premium version.

Customer support

They do a good job at providing answers to the most commonly asked questions. If their help section doesn’t satisfy your queries, you can email them or chat live with a customer service rep.

Best for maximum security – NordVPN

  • Price: $15.96 monthly, or $112.03 on a one year commitment
  • Servers: 5,200
  • Server Locations: 62
  • Simultaneous Connections: 6
  • Jurisdiction: Panama
  • Money back guarantee: 30 days

Pros

  • Industrial-level security
  • Very high number of servers
  • 6 simultaneous connections is more than most
  • Does not collect users’ data

Cons

  • Occasional dropped connections from servers
  • Data breach from two years ago leaves behind a bad taste

Privacy and security

NordVPN’s reputation took a big hit in 2019, when they publicly revealed they had suffered a data breach with one of their servers in the previous year. A VPN service had a data breach? I can’t think of a worse thing to happen to an internet security company.

Since this incident, NordVPN has poured a significant amount of resources into auditing and overhauling their entire system. They’ve revamped their security protocols and claim they’re safer than ever now. We tend to agree, as the levels of protection are outstanding.

It encrypts your data twice by connecting to consecutive servers, has multiple DNS leak protections, two instant kill switches and thousands of servers to connect to. NordVPN is not only once again safe — it’s the safest.

Speed and accessibility

With well over 5,000 servers available to connect to, bandwidth speeds are lightning-fast. Being able to connect to servers based in 62 locations means you can access whatever service you need — even if it’s unavailable in your country.

Device/platform support

Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, ChromeOS and multiple browser extensions — you’ll be hard-pressed to find a platform that isn’t supported.

Customer support

A good way to measure the customer support of a company is by observing how they react when something major goes wrong. In the aftermath of the dreaded data breach, NordVPN terminated their involvement with the affected server and overhauled their entire system. Users who need general assistance can find it on their help page.

Best for streaming – IPVanish

  • Price: $13.36 monthly, or $104.18 on a one year commitment
  • Servers: 1,300+
  • Server Locations: 75
  • Simultaneous Connections: 10
  • Jurisdiction: United States
  • Money back guarantee: 7 days

Pros

  • 10 simultaneous connections allowed leads the industry
  • Company owns its own servers as opposed to renting like most providers
  • Lots of smaller useful features
  • Company actively works to unblock Netflix and other streaming services
  • Zero-log data policy

Cons

  • Server network is not as robust as other services
  • Not the best customer support

Privacy and security

Running rock-solid protocols such as OpenVPN and IKEv2, along with 256-bit AES encryption, IPVanish offers an above-average level of privacy and security. On top of this, they offer DNS and IPv6 leak protection, as well as a handy kill switch.

Speed and accessibility

IPVanish provides a quick connection to almost all of its servers, so if your goal is to watch Netflix, you shouldn’t experience any delays to your shows or movies. If you’re a Canadian looking to watch Netflix US, or some other international streaming service, the large diversity of servers available can help with that.

Device/platform support

If you plan to use them for a Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, or FireTV device, you are good to go. If your device was not listed here, you are also in luck — the setup guide on their website is extremely comprehensive and walks you through the setup on your platform of choice.

Customer support

If you encounter an issue, you can look at their support page. From there, you will find troubleshooting guides, email support, and live chat. The support is available, however, some of the written guides are a little wordy and confusing — meaning you might have to scour over paragraphs to fully understand the solution to your issue(s).

Best for gaming – VyprVPN

  • Price: $17.36 monthly, or $107.27 on a one year commitment
  • Servers: 700+
  • Server Locations: 70+
  • Simultaneous Connections: 5
  • Jurisdiction: Switzerland
  • Money back guarantee: 30 days

Pros

  • User-friendly interface
  • Very speedy connection
  • Owns its own servers and infrastructure
  • Won’t log your data

Cons

  • Some issues with the Windows kill switch in the past
  • Doesn’t accept cryptocurrency payments

Privacy and security

VyprVPN has reformed its privacy policies — it no longer logs any data from users connected to their servers. This one significant improvement is what helped propel it onto our list for best VPNs in Canada. With a 256-bit encryption, and a customized Chameleon protocol that helps get past VPN blockers, users can perform their web activities with ultimate security.

Speed and accessibility

Speed is definitely VyprVPN’s forte. While their advertisement as “the world’s fastest VPN” may not be completely true, users can expect a pretty fast upload and download speed from most of their servers. If you’re using it for gaming, you won’t experience any annoying lagging.

Device/platform support

They support many different platforms such as Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux, ChromeOS, FireTV, modems, routers, and much more.

Customer support

When they re-wrote their policies, they also overhauled their customer service department. They’ve added live chat support and increased their amount of web support articles. Now their customer support is solid, but not quite as good as some of the more reputable companies.

Best Canadian-based VPN – TunnelBear

  • Price: $13.35 monthly, or $79.99 on a one year commitment
  • Number of Servers: 1,000
  • Server Locations: 20+
  • Number of Simultaneous Connections: 5
  • Jurisdiction: Canada
  • Money back guarantee: 500MB

Pros

  • Extremely intuitive and easy to use
  • Ideal privacy policies (no logging data)
  • Very secure with industry-standard protocols

Cons

  • Won’t win any upload/download speed races
  • Limited geographic diversity among servers

Privacy and security

This Toronto-based VPN service uses the industry recommended protocol called OpenVPN. This protocol provides a secure 256-bit AES encryption — meaning users won’t be susceptible to data hacks as they go about their web use. It also features protection from DNS and IPv6 leaks, as well as a useful kill switch called VigilantBear.

Speed and accessibility

It is simply not as fast as some competing VPNs on this list (namely ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and VyprVPN). Depending on the location of the server you connect to, you might notice a slight lag with your web connection. A more diverse server base would help with speed and accessibility.

Device/platform support

For users who use Windows, MacOS, Android, or iOS, you won’t have any issue. It’s also compatible with Linux, although they don’t provide troubleshooting support for it.

Customer support

They lose some points for not providing a live chat support, but their ticket-based support system works well. In fact, some user reviews suggest the support personnel go above and beyond compared to every other VPN customer support service. We think this makes complete sense, as they are Canadian after all, eh.

Bottom line

ExpressVPNHotspot Shield FreeNordVPNIPVanishVyprVPNTunnelBear
Privacy and Security4.84.14.84.44.44.5
Speed4.64.24.64.64.74.1
Device/Platform Support4.84.24.64.54.54.3
Customer Support4.74.44.544.34.3
Cansumer Rating4.74.24.64.44.54.3

What to consider when looking for a VPN

Privacy and security

Making sure your VPN provides more than just a basic level of privacy and security is imperative. Afterall, that’s the entire point of a VPN — provide an anonymous and safe way to connect to the internet. Now that VPN technology has grown to an established industry standard, we can look for specific features to ensure it meets the privacy and security requirements.

VPNs use protocols to create a “tunnel” — essentially a secure gateway for data to be sent between the server and the user. The most popular and most secure protocol is called OpenVPN. OpenVPN provides 256-bit encryption, which is nearly impossible for hackers to crack into.

Another security feature that should be standard for all VPNs is a “kill switch”. If your VPN fails or suddenly drops connection, a kill switch ensures your real IP address will never get exposed by automatically disabling your link to the internet.

The other main thing to look out for with regards to privacy is the data logging policy. The best VPNs have a strict “zero log” policy, meaning under no circumstances will they log the IP address, internet usage, data, or history of the user.

Speed and accessibility

When using a VPN, your internet connection has to jump through an extra hoop (encryption) before it sends or receives data. This causes a slight delay in connection speeds compared to not using one. The delay gets even worse if you’re in Canada, for example, and you’re connected to a server based on the other side of the world. 

That’s why it’s important to look for a VPN that has lots of servers — more servers equals more bandwidth and therefore, faster data transfer. Aside from the number of servers, the geographic diversity of the servers is important for not only the speed of connection, but for the ability to access certain content that might be blocked in particular geographic regions.

Device/platform support

Which device or platform are you planning on using your VPN with? Most are compatible with the common platforms such as Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android. Some also work with less common platforms such as Linux, ChromeOS, FireTV, Blackberry, and others. It’s also possible that it can be configured to work on a router or modem.

Customer support

Having a quick and responsive support system from your VPN provider can be extremely helpful. They are very complex services, and although most providers do their best to create an intuitive user experience, additional support is needed from time to time. So if you’re having troubles setting up your VPN with a new device, or you have questions about a particular setting, or even if your VPN outright fails, it’s important to know that help is only a few clicks away. 

Almost all VPN companies provide customer support through an email or ticket-based system. The companies that take their customer support to a higher level usually provide a live web chat system, or a customer service phone hotline. Additionally, their website might contain written articles that consist of step-by-step tutorials, troubleshooting basics, and setup guides.

What is a VPN? How does it work?

To understand what a VPN is and how it works, you must first understand how an internet connection works. When you connect to the internet, or “go online”, your computer (or other internet-connected device) is constantly sending and receiving an internet signal. Included in this signal is your IP address. 

An IP address is essentially your own “internet membership number”, for lack of a better term. Using an IP address, the location of the computer being used can be determined. While this might not be vulnerable information in of itself, hackers or other cyber criminals can scan IP addresses for other vulnerabilities and try to penetrate it (send viruses, for example). Internet service providers use firewalls and other forms of protection for this sort of thing, but they don’t always work.

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a system that connects your computer, smartphone, tablet, or other device to another computer (known as a server). Once connected to this server, you can go about your internet activities as you normally would — the main difference being that you’d be using the server’s IP address instead of your own. For example, you could be browsing the internet in Vancouver, Canada, yet your IP address would show you to be in Zurich, Switzerland.

A VPN connection not only “spoofs” your IP address, but it provides an encrypted “tunnel” for your data — making it nearly impenetrable from hackers or other web threats.

Should I get a VPN?

Not long ago, VPNs were used almost exclusively by large corporations as a way to further encrypt their data. In recent years, smaller businesses and individuals became more aware of the risks associated with web activity, and the benefits of using a VPN for security. 

With VPNs becoming more affordable and user-friendly than ever before, it’s a good time to ask yourself if you should get one. We’ve put together a list of reasons why Canadians might want to consider using one for their internet activities:

You’re afraid of being hacked when using public WiFi

If you connect to public WiFi networks, you could be susceptible to hackers who want to snoop your data. Even if there’s a password protecting the WiFi network, hackers can find vulnerabilities.

You want to protect sensitive information 

Whether you run a business and want to protect your customers’ information, or you just want to make sure that your own data and info is secure, a VPN can give you the peace of mind you’re looking for.

You want to access content that’s blocked in your country 

If your country of residence blocks certain websites or web services, you can use a VPN to bypass those blockades. This comes in handy if you’re travelling internationally and can’t access the web in the way you need to (for example, China blocks Chinese IP addresses from using Facebook). For services like Netflix, who show different content for different countries, it’s possible to use a VPN to access the content that wouldn’t otherwise be available to you.

You need to access your company’s services remotely 

If you work remotely, you may already use one to connect to your company’s server to access internal systems and resources.

You just want to feel private and secure

The internet is vast and ever-changing. A VPN is a great tool to use to prevent security issues, and provide a safety blanket for your web activities.

Is using a VPN legal in Canada?

Legally speaking, you cannot get in trouble in Canada for using a VPN. They are perfectly legal, however, any illegal activities that are performed under the cloak of a VPN are still illegal! Moreover, law enforcement can request the data logs of a user from a company (although most companies use a zero-log policy!).

Aside from the legality of it, using a VPN could breach the terms of service with a company if it’s used to bypass a geo-block. Again, this wouldn’t be illegal, but it could cause the closure of your account associated with that service.

Will using a VPN make my internet slower?

The short answer is yes. When you connect to a server that’s a far distance from your computer, it takes an extra moment for the signal to be sent and received. Connecting to a server that’s closer to you can mitigate this delay. Using a VPN provider who has many servers in many different locations around the world is the best idea for a quick and secure connection.

What’s the difference between a VPN and a proxy service?

VPNs often get mistaken for proxies — after all, they both spoof your IP address. The difference is a proxy only spoofs your IP address, whereas a VPN also encrypts all of your web data by using a secure tunnel network. VPNs are also much more reliable than proxies as proxies tend to fail quite a bit.

Internet surveillance in Canada

Since the inception of the internet, many governments across the world have implemented surveillance measures designed to monitor residents’ internet activity. Canada is no different, with a covert agency known as the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) responsible for gathering electronic intelligence in the name of national security.

The CSE works closely with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and while their main objective is to collect foreign signals intelligence, they’re allowed to surveil Canadian residents under certain circumstances.

The CSE is also part of a larger international intelligence alliance called Five Eyes. The alliance is made up of five countries (hence the name) including Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Five Eyes was established shortly after World War 2, as a means to strengthen signals intelligence among allies. Following the events of 9/11, the alliance shifted its focus to combating the war on terror by increasing their surveillance of the world wide web.

In 2013, an American man named Edward Snowden, a former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA), revealed the countries within the Five Eyes alliance circumvented domestic laws by spying on each other’s citizens and then sharing the information with each other. In other words, the Canadian government wasn’t legally allowed to freely spy on its own citizens, so other countries within the alliance did so for them.

In 2019, Bill C-59 was passed, loosening the laws that prevented Canadian citizens from being spied on by the government of Canada.

Torrenting

Canadians who use torrenting websites or programs to illegally download music, movies, TV shows, or games are also at risk. Canada’s Copyright Act allows rights holders to record the IP address of any illegal download. From there, the rights holder can contact internet service providers who then serve warning notices to those accused of illegally uploading or downloading their content from these torrent sharing services. In worst case scenarios, a hefty fine can be levied against the accused.

What to read next

Over to you

We’re interested to know – what is your favorite feature of a VPN? Which VPN are you considering and why? We’d like to hear about it in the comments below.

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