The following is my test report for TorGuard VPN, which is done independently. Tested on Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS and others. If you have any questions, you can contact me and I will answer your questions.
What Is a VPN?
A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your computer and a VPN server. Your web traffic travels through that tunnel, meaning that anyone snooping around, even on the same network as you, won’t see a thing. A VPN can also help protect your privacy, now that ISPs can sell your data. ISPs have enormous insight into your online activities—but not when you use a VPN.
Because it can secure an insecure network, a VPN is an essential tool when traveling or using that shifty, unsecured public Wi-Fi network at the local coffee shop. A VPN also makes it harder to identify you online by hiding your true IP address, which can be used to determine your geographic location.
Activists and journalists frequently use VPN services to get around government censors so they can communicate with the outside world. Many VPNs hang their reputation on being able to unblock blocked websites for such customers. You can also use a VPN to spoof your location, in order to watch region-locked MLB or BBC content, for example. Note that Netflix is working to block VPN trickery.
There’s a good chance that you may have never laid hands on a VPN before. If that’s the case, don’t worry! We’ve got a whole feature on how to set up and use a VPN.
Pricing and Features
Despite its name, TorGuard is not related to the Tor Project, the digital labyrinth of proxies designed to help people stay anonymous online. Instead, the “Tor” in the name actually refers to BitTorrent, and the service aims to help users maintain their privacy while torrenting. It should be no surprise that P2P and torrenting are allowed on TorGuard. For a long time, this was a rarity among VPN services, but no longer. All of the top-rated VPNs I have reviewed allow file sharing, though some limit its use to specific servers. Among heavy competition, TorGuard remains one of the best VPNs for BitTorrent.
If you’re keen to enjoy the extra anonymity provided by Tor (at the cost of speed), I recommend the Tor Browser. This specially modified version of Firefox makes getting online with Tor trivial. NordVPN notably includes an option to route your VPN traffic through Tor as well, for even more protection.
Like most VPN companies, TorGuard offers several different pricing tiers: $9.99 a month, $19.99 every three months, $29.99 every six months, or $59.99 per year. A subscription allows you to connect five devices to TorGuard, and you can add more devices for $1.00 per device per month. Five connections is average for VPN companies, but TorGuard has the best process for adding more device connections. If those plans sound too restrictive, consider that KeepSolid VPN Unlimited$8.99 at KeepSolid offers plans as short as one week.
The current average price of a top-rated VPN service is about $10.50, meaning that TorGuard is a good deal right out of the box. NordVPN$2.99 at NordVPN – Limited Deal costs $11.99, but it packs excellent features into a slick, friendly client, making it more than worth the extra cost. Private Internet Access, on the other hand, doesn’t have a great app but is an otherwise excellent product at the astonishingly low price of $6.95 per month.
Money is a huge differentiator with VPN services, but it shouldn’t be an obstacle to protecting yourself online. If price is your biggest issue, consider trying one of the worthy free VPN services available. TunnelBear offers a free, limited version of its service, as does ProtonVPN.
There are a few other add-ons available for purchase with TorGuard that will appeal to frequent BitTorrent users. These include a static, dedicated IP address for $7.99, and DDoS protected IP addresses in Romania for $11.99 per month. Residential IP addresses within the US are becoming available, as well. You can also purchase access to the company’s 10Gbit network for an additional $19.99 per month. Few other companies offer these kind of options.
The first time I bought a plan with TorGuard, I found all these add-ons and pricing options overwhelming. Thankfully, TorGuard has since greatly simplified the process. I particularly like the slider that lets you select how many simultaneous connections you’ll need.
TorGuard offers apps for Android, iPhone, Linux, macOS, and Windows. You can also purchase a router preconfigured with TorGuard software, which will provide VPN protection for every device on your network. That includes smart devices, like fridges, that can’t run VPN software on their own. A router also uses only one of your simultaneous connections, but the traffic of everything that connects through it is protected when the VPN is running.
TorGuard also has streaming devices preconfigured to work with its VPN service. These include many well-known models, such as the Editors’ Choice-winning Netgear Nighthawk AC1900$159.99 at Best Buy. You still need to purchase a subscription to support your VPN router, but the advantage is that every device connected to your Wi-Fi network is protected by TorGuard. I am glad to see that many VPN services—Private Internet Access and NordVPN also come to mind—are beginning to take this approach.
At least you can ask for a full refund on TorGuard within the first seven days, no questions asked. Most VPN companies are far less generous.
You should have no trouble finding a way to pay for your subscription to TorGuard, as the website boasts numerous payment options. These include the expected major credit cards, cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, PayPal, Paymentwall, and prepaid gift cards for various well-known brands. This last one is a bit obscure, but it basically means you can use a prepaid gift card, like a Starbucks card, to purchase your VPN subscription. Using cryptocurrency or a giftcard for which you paid cash has the advantages of being totally anonymous, as if you’d used cash for the transaction.
TorGuard also block ads at the network level. That’s a useful perk, and one that has thankfully become more common among VPN services.
There’s more than one way to create an encrypted tunnel via VPN. My preferred method uses the OpenVPN protocol, which is known for being fast and reliable. It’s also open-source, so you can rest assured that its code has been picked over for potential vulnerabilities.
TorGuard clearly believes in giving people options, and it supports numerous VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, and IPSec. TorGuard also includes Stealth VPN protocols, which use SSL VPN in order to prevent an entity from blocking the VPN traffic. These include OpenVPN Stealth, ShadowSocks, Stunnel, and AnyConnect (also known as OpenConnect).
Other companies provide tools to prevent VPN blocking similar to Stealth VPN, albeit with different names. TunnelBear and Golden Frog VyprVPN offer this feature, to name two. A TorGuard representative told me that customers can double up their Stealth protection by connecting via OpenVPN Stealth or OpenConnect and then use ShadowSocks or Stunnel to defeat deep packet inspection that could be used to block VPN use. Most people probably won’t take advantage of this, but it’s great that TorGuard makes such efforts to ensure its users can protect themselves and their data.
Servers and Server Locations
When I review VPNs, I look at the total number of servers the company has available for use. The more servers there are available, the more likely you are to find one that isn’t extremely crowded, giving you a bigger slice of bandwidth.
TorGuard has greatly expanded its server offering, and it now boasts more than 3,000 servers. That puts it up there with NordVPN and Private Internet Access$2.91 at Private Internet Access as one of the most robust VPN services I have yet reviewed.
I also look at where those servers are located. The more geographic options available, the more choice you have if you want to spoof your location. A robust geographic distribution also means that you’re more likely to find a nearby server when traveling, and a nearby server means lower latency and better performance.
TorGuard currently offers VPN servers in 55 countries. These are well distributed across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. I was happy to see that TorGuard has servers in India, and several servers across Africa and the Middle East, as these areas are often ignored by other VPN services. Notably, TorGuard also has servers in China, Russia, and Turkey, which are known for their repressive internet policies. Hide My Ass dominates among VPN services, however, with its unbeatable roster of 286 VPN server locations across some 220 countries. CyberGhost$3.50 at CyberGhosthas fewer server locations, but it does offer physical servers in underserved areas such as Africa and South America.
Some consumers worry about VPN companies using virtual servers. These are software-defined servers, meaning that a single hardware server can run several virtual servers on it. These virtual servers can be configured to appear to be in different locations than where they are truly located. That’s a problem if you’re concerned about where your data is headed, and if you want to avoid specific geographic regions. A TorGuard representative told me that the company does not use virtual servers, so you’ll have no such trouble here.
Your Privacy With TorGuard
More important, the content of the policy is good for consumers. This section says it all: “TorGuard.net does not store or log any traffic or usage from its Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Proxy.” The company acknowledges that it does gather personally identifiable information for billing purposes, but keep in mind that it also allows the use of anonymous payment methods.
Better still, TorGuard says that it will not sell or transfer the information it has gathered to third parties. The only exception to this is if the company feels it is obliged to comply with legal action.
That last point is something echoed by many VPN companies, which is why it’s important to know where these companies are located and under what legal jurisdiction they operate. Some countries have more privacy-friendly laws than others, after all. The company behind TorGuard is VPNetworks LLC, which is located in the US. That company is, in turn, owned by parent company VPNetworks LTD, LLC, located on the Caribbean island of Nevis. I cannot speak to the legal framework of Nevis, but for its part the US has no specific laws requiring the retention of data.
In the past, some VPN companies used to inject ads into users’ web traffic in order to monetize their users. A representative from TorGuard confirms that the company does not use this tactic, saying, “It’s not something we would even consider.”
Hands On With TorGuard
In my testing, I installed TorGuard’s software on a Lenovo ThinkPad T460slaptop running Windows 10.
The TorGuard client installed quickly and easily, though it’s not exactly a thrill to behold. The app is minimal, looking a bit more like a mobile app than something I’d expect on a desktop computer. There are none of the cute bears featured in TunnelBear, or the cheeky donkeys from Hide My Ass. It doesn’t even have a map interface, which is a staple of many VPN apps. Rather, it looks a lot more like the bare-bones Private Internet Access.
Instead of showing a map or recommending servers for particular activities, TorGuard just has a list of servers. That’s fine, but again, it isn’t very friendly to new users. Neither are the arcane options on the app’s primary window. The average user is probably not going to mess with these, but networking pros will no doubt appreciate having these options front and center. A link at the bottom of the app opens a window filled with even more byzantine options. This app doesn’t just look like Private Internet Access, it seems to target the same kind of confident power user.
While I am willing to make a lot of allowances for design, one aspect of TorGuard’s Windows app (and, in reality, all of its other apps, too) bothers me. Every other VPN service I have tested will detect which VPN server is closest or has the lowest latency. TorGuard doesn’t do this. It’s a small thing, but one I’d like to see changed.
TorGuard offers a Kill Switch list, much like NordVPN does. TorGuard will automatically quit any applications on this list, should the VPN connection be interrupted. It’s a safety measure ensuring that none of your information is transmitted through an unencrypted connection. TorGuard’s Kill Switch is limited, though. I found that you can only add applications that are already running to the list. It also uses the weird names you see in the Task Manager, which affords you more control at the cost of usability. NordVPN lets you specify applications that aren’t running to add to the protected list, which is very handy.
Other VPN services include specialized servers. NordVPN and ProtonVPN are just two that offer servers specifically for streaming Netflix content. TorGuard has a few: stealth servers intended to be nearly impossible to be blocked by firewalls.
TorGuard and Netflix
Many streaming services take a dim view of VPNs. That’s because you can use a VPN to spoof your location and access content that’s not intended for your particular geographic region. Even if you live in the US but are vacationing in the UK, streaming video services might block your attempts to VPN back into your home country.
While connected to a nearby New York VPN server, I had no trouble connecting to Netflix and streaming some classic Star Trek. It’s one of the best VPNs for watching Netflix.
Note that section 6c of the Netflix terms of service mentions that it uses certain technologies to verify your location, and that you’re only entitled to content in the region where you created your account. It doesn’t expressly forbid the use of a VPN for accessing content, but don’t say we didn’t warn you if your account gets locked.
TorGuard offers a series of services devoted to anonymity and privacy online. In addition to its basic VPN service, TorGuard also sells Anonymous Torrent Proxy for $5.95 per month; Anonymous Email for $6.95 per month; and the Privacy Bundle, which includes both Proxy and VPN support, for $11.95 a month.
If you are tempted to get the Anonymous Proxy service instead of the VPN service because it is cheaper, know that the proxy is designed to filter only BitTorrent traffic, while the VPN service protects everything you do online. If you are seeding torrents or grabbing a torrent, the proxy makes sure no one sees your actual IP address. But your web browsing and other online activity is not included. It’s a case of online anonymity sometimes versus all the time.
Speed and Performance
When I look at VPN services, I’m mainly concerned with features, pricing, and, of course, the impact on network performance. Routing your traffic through a VPN always degrades the quality of your experience, but some services are better than others.
To get a sense for the impact of a given VPN service, I average the results from the Ookla speed test tool without a VPN enabled. I then compare those results to the average of tests taken with a VPN enabled to find a percent change. My first round of tests uses a nearby VPN server, which puts an emphasis on speed and reliability. To stress-test the service, I connect to an Ookla test server in Anchorage, Alaska, and a VPN server in Australia, and repeat my tests. This is meant to simulate how the VPN service would perform when trying to spoof your location to a far-flung locale.
In the domestic latency tests, TorGuard beat the bunch by actually reducinglatency by 6.7 percent. That’s remarkable, though it probably means that TorGuard simply has a server that’s closer to the 10Beasts labs than the Ookla test server. In the international latency tests, I found TorGuard increased ping time by 299.4 percent. TunnelBear had the best results in these tests, increasing latency by 270.3 percent.
I regard the download tests as the most important of the bunch. Again, TorGuard impressed me. It had the smallest impact on domestic downloads, reducing speeds by only 3.7 percent. It performed less admirably in the international tests, lowering download speeds by 81.7 percent. AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Elite had the best scores in these tests, slowing speeds by only 39.9 percent.
TorGuard continued that strong performance in the domestic upload tests. Here, it dropped speeds by 5.2 percent. IPVanish$3.74 at IPVanish VPN – 2 Yr Plan had the best score in these tests, reducing speeds by just 2.9 percent. The results of the international upload tests were less conclusive, with all the results clustered closely together. TorGuard slowed international upload speeds by 97.6 percent, compared to the best score from Private Internet Access, which reduced speeds by 97.3 percent.
In general, I don’t recommend choosing a VPN service solely on speed test performance. For one thing, my tests are just a snapshot and networks are very finicky things. For another, I think it’s more important to consider value, experience, and security. But most people worry about speed with VPNs. That’s not an issue with TorGuard. It’s the fastest VPN I have yet tested.
TorGuard for Android
My experience using the TorGuard Android app was much the same as it was when I used the service on Windows. The design is extremely stripped-down, with none of TunnelBear’s friendliness nor any of NordVPN’s style. That said, it’s not like you spend all day staring at a VPN app, so it’s a forgivable sin.
TorGuard also racked up solid speed test scores, making it one of the best Android VPN apps. TorGuard brings all the numerous add-ons and technical features you’d expect to find with this app. It also uses OpenVPN, my preferred VPN protocol.
TorGuard for iPhone
Surprisingly, the TorGuard iPhone app has a striking, slick appearance. It’s not going to win any design awards, but it’s far, far better than either the Windows or Android apps. That said, we think the iPhone app is actually so simple as to be a bit confusing to use.
When we last reviewed TorGuard, we noted that it did not include our preferred OpenVPN protocol. Instead, the app uses IKEv2. We’re also happy to see that its iPhone VPN performed well in our speed tests on this platform, too.
TorGuard for Mac
Sadly, the macOS TorGuard app doesn’t have the modicum of panache that found its way into the iPhone app. It’s not bad; it’s just fine. It’s a grey window to get your VPN started.
TorGuard didn’t impress me at the time with its speed test scores on macOS. I look forward to taking another crack at the app in the near future. That said, I am pleased to see that it includes OpenVPN. It’s one of the best macOS VPNs.
Feeling the Change of the Guard
This VPN service does a lot right, and it gets a high score for doing so. However, it is neck-and-neck with Private Internet Access, not only in terms of what it offers but how it offers it. Both are privacy-focused, both have many arcane options, and neither has a terrific UI. TorGuard, for its part, has the speed but Private Internet Access beats it on usability, which is why it takes an Editors’ Choice award along with NordVPN and TunnelBear. Still, TorGuard is an impressive service that’s well worth considering, especially if speed is everything to you.