Recommended Virtual Private Network (VPN) Providers

A virtual private network (VPN) establishes a secure connection between your computer and the VPN server in the internet. This means that no one besides the VPN provider can see your traffic, so you can browse the internet without other people on an unprotected Wifi network or your internet service provider seeing what you do. Ithaca College’s GlobalProtect VPN does not provide all of these features, so this article contains recommendations for 3rd party VPN providers.


Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android



How is this different from the GlobalProtect VPN provided by IC?

The GlobalProtect VPN (link to guide) is a split tunnel VPN. That means it sends your internet traffic to different places depending on its destination. Connecting to on-campus resources like Mentor takes place over the VPN, but traffic to the internet goes directly from your computer to that website.

A split tunnel VPN, showing traffic going to Mentor via the VPN tunnel and other traffic going to the internet

In contrast, the VPN providers listed here encrypt all of your internet traffic between your computer and their servers.


Paid vs. Free VPNs

We do not recommend using any free VPN services (with the exception of free trials for paid services). Companies offering a free VPN are incurring costs to do so, so they get revenue by selling your personal data. Make sure to always read the privacy policy before signing up for a service, and consider that if it’s free, you might be the product.


What to Look for in a VPN Provider

  • How many devices can you connect? Being able to use your computer, smart phone, and other devices on the VPN adds convenience and improves security.
  • What kind of logs does the service keep? If you are concerned about privacy, read the privacy policy of the service and see whether they keep logs of connection data.
  • Performance: Will your connection speeds suffer when using the VPN?
  • Advertising: Avoid providers that inject ads into your browsing. You might want to also look for providers that offer ad-blocking if you don’t already block ads in your browser.




At $60/year,  TunnelBear is an inexpensive option to secure your browsing. It has VPN endpoints in roughly 20 countries, allows you to connect up to 5 devices, and does not retain logs. Client software is available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices, and the user interface is easy to understand. Speed and latency issues when using the VPN are relatively minor.


Private Internet Access

 Private Internet Access offers a wide feature set and a low price of $40/year, but has a more complicated user interface. They offer clients for Mac, Linux, Windows, Android, and iOS, and you can also connect directly using your account credentials through your device’s built-in VPN settings or on your router. PIA also provides a private DNS server, over 3000 exit servers in many countries, and allows up to 5 devices at once. True to its name, no logs are kept. You may notice small decreases in speed and increases in latency when using PIA.



 PureVPN specializes in speed, making it a good choice if you want to play games or stream content over a VPN. At $72 for two years, the price is reasonable as well. Users can connect up to five devices, and clients are offered for Linux, Android, Mac, Windows, and iOS. The settings menu is intuitive, and allows users to customize on what they want to optimize the service for: streaming, file sharing, privacy, etc. VPN endpoints are offered across 141 countries, and no logs are kept by PureVPN.



While $69/year is a steep price,  NordVPN offers a high-quality product on Mac, Linux, Windows, Android, and iOS. You can connect up to six devices to servers in 56 countries, and no logs are retained. The user interface is intuitive, but also has advanced features like a private DNS server and control over the type of VPN. NordVPN’s speed and latency impacts are very low.


Further Reading

Print Article


Article ID: 110
Tue 8/15/17 11:25 AM
Fri 10/30/20 11:28 AM