In the past couple of years, Australia has introduced data retention legislation that allows ISPs to store communications metadata. So it’s hardly surprising that Australian citizens (or visitors to the country) may well choose to use a VPN in the name of simply maintaining online security and privacy.
However, these core features of a VPN service are not the only reasons to adopt one. The ability to bypass geo-restricted content and unblock streaming services are also common uses for the humble VPN.
How to choose the best VPN service for Australia
Ideally, the VPN’s native clients should be user-friendly, and cover all the main platforms (desktop and mobile). Pay attention to the number of simultaneous connections allowed, as you’ll likely want to use your mobile devices or multiple PCs without running into restrictions. With all that in mind, here are our five picks of the best VPNs for Australia.
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IPVanish is a quality VPN offering which has done well in our other roundups, and it’s an excellent choice for Australia, too. There are 47 Australian servers, which bodes well for finding a fast connection – and in our tests, we found download speeds considerably improved using this VPN (compared to our normal rates).
The client software is equally impressive and intuitive, offering a wide range of settings. There are clients for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, along with instructions for setup on other platforms. IPVanish allows anonymous torrenting and unlimited P2P traffic.
The company upholds a firm ‘no logs’ policy when it comes to your internet activities. On the security front, OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP/IPsec protocols are supported, and there are some neat extra features like the ability to automatically change your IP at set intervals (for example, every hour).
The main bugbear here is that the price tag might be a little high for some. IPVanish doesn’t offer a free trial either, but the three available plans include a 7-day money-back guarantee. The 1-year subscription is the most affordable option. The packages available are:
- [US$5.19 a month] 1-year – US$62.31 or £50.67 (UK)
- [US$7.19 a month] 3-months – US$21.57 or £17.54 (UK)
- [US$7.99 a month] 1-month – US$7.99 or £6.49 (UK)
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VyprVPN is a tier-1 network, owning and operating all of its servers, and it boasts some highly impressive performance levels as a result. Indeed, in testing, we experienced download speeds which were over twice as fast as our normal rates (i.e. with the VPN turned off). The service also provides clients for almost every platform with the native Windows client being really simple to use.
A freshly revamped pricing strategy now features only two plans which can be billed monthly or yearly. Monthly plans are expensive and your best bet is the affordable annual billing of the Premium plan, which has the full range of goodies and features. Curiously, VyprVPN doesn’t allow refunds but you have plenty of time to test the service with the 3-day free trial. The packages available are:
- Basic: US$9.95 per month, or US$3.75 per month billed annually
- Premium: US$12.95 per month, or US$5 per month billed annually
With its enormous number of servers, Private Internet Access guarantees a good and reliable connection. The US-based provider covers Australia equally well, although it doesn’t boast great performance levels – our download speeds dropped by around 15% in testing (compared to normal rates), but remained perfectly usable.
There is no free trial to test the service, but Private Internet Access does offer a 7-day money-back guarantee. The three available plans have identical features and are reasonably priced. The yearly plan is the clear winner if you want to keep overall costs to a minimum. The packages available are:
- [US$6.95 a month] 1-month
- [US$5.99 a month] 6-months – US$35.95
- [US$3.33 a month] 12-months – US$39.95
- Download Private Internet Access here
If you need the strongest levels of security, NordVPN is the service to go for. In Australia, this VPN has 33 servers, and although it isn’t quite as fast as some of its rivals, performance is nippy enough. In tests, we found our download speeds only dropped by around 5% compared to our normal non-VPN rates.
NordVPN’s client features a well-designed user interface which makes everything relatively straightforward, and it’s worth noting that the service is P2P-friendly (there are 11 P2P servers for Australia). The KEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP protocols are supported, and encrypted traffic can be routed over the Tor network. Furthermore, the firm has a strict ‘no logs’ policy.
There is a notable flaw here, namely that you can only have one device on the same server using the same protocol – in other words, you can only have four devices hooked up to one server (and they must all use different protocols).
The provider offers a free 3-day trial which you have to request via an email. The monthly plan is rather expensive so go for the 1-year plan as it offers the best value for money. The packages available are:
- [US$11.95 a month] 1-month
- [US$7.00 a month] 6-months – US$42
- [US$5.75 a month] 12-months – US$69
- [US$3.29 a month] 2-years – US$79
SlickVPN has servers located in both Melbourne and Sydney, and it delivers acceptable download and upload speeds on the performance front. If there’s a weak point here, it’s client support – there are no mobile apps, with only Windows and Mac software. We also found the setup process a little troublesome using the Windows client.
Anyhow, back to the good news: this VPN supports torrenting, and indeed unlimited P2P traffic, and does well when it comes to unblocking streaming services. Apart from all the usual security protocols, SlickVPN offers a technology called Hydra, which in basic terms routes traffic through multiple gateways for additional security. The provider clearly states it doesn’t log any customer activity whatsoever.
SlickVPN is strong when it comes to value. You have four pricing plans at your disposal with the yearly plan coming in nice and cheap. There is no free trial but the service does offer a 30-day refund policy. The packages available are:
- [US$10.00 a month] 1-month
- [US$6.67 a month] 3-months – US$20
- [US$5.00 a month] 6-months – US$30
- [US$4.00 a month] 12-months – US$48
- Download SlickVPN here