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Best VPN Providers in Canada for 2018 – VPN Reviews and Buyer’s Guide
Over the past couple of years, we have seen the evolution of VPNs from often hard to use pieces of software that required technical expertise to ones that anyone can use. That said there are still many people in Canada who have probably never heard of a VPN and then there are those who don’t think it is essential.
However, regardless of if you are on the fence or are in the market for a reliable VPN, it is essential to understand that the industry is ever evolving. The software is improving, and many companies like NordVPN tend to add more features, improve the interface and even make it accessible across multiple devices. That means numerous devices can use the same VPN service simultaneously without having to pay extra or compete for bandwidth.
Even though you may have decided to start using a VPN finding one that’s good is difficult. You need to wade through lots of technical jargon, read paid reviews and still not fully understand what’s going on. That said when choosing a VPN, you should have two primary concerns the first being security and the second being your privacy.
Security is important because you don’t want hackers to identifying your real IP address (internet protocol address which is unique to each computer connected to the internet) and hack into your computer. The same goes for online services like Gmail and Facebook amongst millions of others that mine things like your IP address for advertising or worse to sell it to third parties. A VPN can help save you from a lot of the shady and dangerous stuff on the internet but only if you choose the right one.
When you want to choose a VPN service make sure that it ticks all the boxes below:
- The VPN should be fast.
- It shouldn’t be incorporated or based in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada, and the US.
- The VPN service should have a no-logging policy which means that they don’t keep identifying information on who is using the service or their online activity or even their real IP address.
- DNS leak protection.
- Allow people to use P2P filesharing programs.
- It should also allow for streaming BBC, Netflix, Hulu, etc.
- Should use the best and latest encryption standards.
The VPNs we review, list and finally recommend are all passed through the above checklist of tests. That said many VPNs fail these tests and which is something we discuss in detail below.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look for When Buying VPN Services?
When searching for best VPN Canada, we make sure that all VPNs have to past a set of standards which we assume is the bare minimum. After all, what’s the point of having a VPN if you can’t accomplish the bare minimum even if that VPN is free. That said the more features a service offers, the better it is since your online activity isn’t limited in any way.
Now from experience, we can tell you that finding a good VPN provider is not easy. The only way you can tell that one provider is better than the other is to try both. Trying all VPN services is both financially costly and time-consuming. However, since that’s our job we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you in each and every one of our reviews.
We have made sure that issues like anonymity, security and privacy are addressed by the services we review and recommend. Plus, encryption and other essential technologies coupled with ease of use is considered when recommending a VPN service to our readers.
Additionally, it is always a good idea to consider a VPN service that accepts anonymous modes of payment like Bitcoin. The reason behind this is simple, i.e. with fiat currency, there is a paper trail which can lead back to you. Obviously, that’s something most people will want to avoid. When you use cryptocurrency, there is no paper trail since it is decentralized which means added privacy.
Why use a VPN in Canada?
In Canada, VPN is an essential piece of software that does not cost a lot but will save you from a great deal of trouble with the law. While Canada is without a doubt one of the best places to live the fact is that each and every citizen using the internet is under surveillance or can be at any time. It is no longer a secret ever since Edward Snowden revealed the US’s PRISM program and numerous other covert operations making it clear that not only is America but so is Canada and other countries involved in mass surveillance. Even though the US has received the majority of the blame and shame in this regard, other countries like Canada continue to invest heavily in surveillance programs unabated.
Canada isn’t just your proverbial nanny state, but like all good nannies, it watches over you. Every step taken in cyberspace is carefully logged, tracked and stored in huge data centers. We know some people reading this may ask for proof. Well, you need not to look further than the 2015 Anti-Terrorism Act. The act allows for intelligence agencies to share, gather and store information similar to what the NSA in the US does. So, in other words, your online activities aren’t just saved they are sent to other intelligence agencies.
Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada, and the US are members of the so-called Five Eyes which is an intelligence alliance. So, if your online activity is being monitored in Canada, well then that information is probably also making its way to Australia, the US, and the UK.
Now you may not have anything to hide, but then again, the fundamental problem with surveillance programs is that they are gathering information on people regardless of if they are criminals. Also, the programs disproportionately affects certain people like reports, immigrants, activists, etc.
Any Canadian who wants to ensure that their privacy isn’t infringed upon should start using a VPN right away. A Virtual Private Network is an encrypted connection through which all traffic flows. The traffic is re-routed through an intermediary server in a different location which makes finding out who is accessing the internet and from where impossible. Not only does it prevent the government of Canada from snooping but also hackers from collecting private information.
Using a VPN also helps to protect your mobile device when accessing the internet via a public Wi-Fi connection. Unsecured hotspots allow hackers to read your data stream and can also carry out numerous attacks. Using a VPN prevents instances of hacking and eavesdropping on public internet connections.
Are VPNs legal in Canada?
Top VPN Canada did a bit of digging to find out if using VPNs were legal in Canada and the answer is ‘yes’ it is! Using VPNs is 100% legal in Canada as it is in the US and other first world countries. There are no laws that stop you or anyone else from using VPNs.
The critical thing to keep in mind is that what you do when connected to a VPN is entirely your responsibility. But then that’s the case with just about anything else in life. However, if you engage in harmful and illegal acts online, ones that run contrary to the established laws in Canada there is a good chance you will be put behind bars.
VPNs that Canadians should avoid
The first thing all Canadiens should keep in mind is never using a Canadian VPN. That means if the company is based and operates out of Canada, then don’t use it. They will not be able to protect your privacy or security since by law the company will be liable for sharing information with the authorities. That, in other words, means your data will be collected and stored just in case it is needed.
Over the years we have probably tested and used hundreds of VPNs. Some of them were good, others better and then they were many Canadian VPNs which we hated. The VPNs listed below are ones that not just us but thousands of people despise. Consider them the worst of the worst and for many reasons as we’ll examine below. Though by no means is the list below exhaustive because they are many other VPNs just like the ones below. That’s why it is essential only to use services we recommend.
Now the thing about Hola is that they want everyone to believe that it is a VPN service when in fact it is a P2P or Peer to Peer extension for your web browser. It offers access to just a few servers. Being P2P means that your traffic instead of passing through a secure server will pass through other people’s computers. Having your traffic move through nodes or other people’s networks is never a good idea. Plus, most of the traffic is encrypted using an outdated encryption algorithm which is known to be flawed.
Interestingly just a couple of years ago Hola VPN hijacked their users’ computers without even asking them for permission. The purpose was to create a mega botnet army. That army was used to carry denial of service or DDOS attacks as well as distribute pirated media. If anything it is the worst breach of not just privacy but ethics. So, we wouldn’t recommend that anyone use this P2P browser extension as it will end up doing more harm to your computer than good.
A big reason why we are against Hotspot Shield is because it is based in the US. Now if you remember what we talked about above, then you know what red flags a VPN should raise by being based stateside. But that’s the tip of the proverbial ice burgh.
A few years back privacy advocates filed a complaint with none other than the FTC. In that complain they highlight that the company (Hotspot Shield) was hijacking HTTP requests. So, when users would visit certain online stores when connected to Hotspot Shield, the VPN would instead take them to an affiliate site where they were paid a commission for each sale.
It was also found that Hotspot Shield would inject tracking cookies into the browsers of users. Those cookies would sit there and collect information which was sent back to the company. The company, i.e. Hotspot Shield would sell that information to advertisers or anyone else who was willing to pay for it.
If anything from the above paragraphs you can tell that Hotspot Shield has some of the worst track records of upholding people’s privacy. They also have non-existent customer service or support. As a matter of fact they can’t be trusted as a company either despite being based in the US, where the laws are considerably strict when it comes to handling user data. So, we’d avoid it even if it were free!
If you want a free VPN service, then it does not get any better than Tunnel Bear, but there is a price to be paid which they don’t tell you. The first thing is that Tunnel Bear is incorporated in Canada, which is one reason to avoid it. Even though the law isn’t clear about Canadian VPN service providers qualifying as internet service providers, it is best to steer clear of it. So, don’t let the so-called ‘free’ statement fool you here.
Being based in Canada means that the company would be compelled to hand over user information at any time. As a matter of fact, we are pretty sure that they have handed information over to the authorities on more than one occasion. Plus, since torrenting is pretty much banned in Canada, you can use it while connected to Tunnel Bear’s VPN either. All of these reasons effectively make Tunnel Bear a waste of time and not worth considering for anyone serious about their privacy.
A massive problem with Tunnel Bear and which has been reported by many users for some time now is that it leaks information. A leaking VPN is similar to a leaking faucet, in the sense that the VPN server can be compromised and your data stream leaked. Take for instance if your computer goes into sleep mode but does not re-establish the VPN connection when it is woken up, or you switch from one Wi-fi to the next or to an Ethernet connection.
Many people including ourselves have leaked tested Tunnel Bear and found it to be insecure. We found that many times the traffic isn’t routed through the VPN connection which goes against the whole idea of having a VPN in the first place.
You can test your own VPN by using a DNS Leak Test, TorGuard DNS Leak Test or something similar. Use it once without a VPN and once with it.
SurfEasy & Opera VPN
SurfEasy and Opera VPN suffer from the same problems as most of the services mentioned above. Canadians are advised to avoid using either of these services.
SurfEasy happens to be based in Canada, i.e. a Canadian VPN which is why there is a possibility that it is subject to any and all government requests to divulge private information. Plus, the service provides you with lower privacy and old encryption for a no so bargain price. When compared to other services it happens to be on the expensive side of the spectrum making it another reason to avoid using.
Opera VPN comes packed in the Opera browser which can be tempting for many people who use the Opera browser. The problem though is that despite many people using it and are admittedly happy, the service is not secure. Let’s be clear after all the VPN in the Opera browser was created by the guys at SurfEasy. Also, because neither one of these services is transparent, we can’t recommend them. Plus, they failed most of the leak tests performed by reviewers which means that they can easily be compromised.
Avoid all Free VPNs
As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to avoid all free VPN services. We know its tempting when you see dozens of so-called free VPNs dotted across the App store but most if not all of them have issues. Least of all they are insecure. The majority of them if you read their Terms of Service outline how your data is collected, stored and if required sold. Then you’ve got to deal with slow servers, disconnections and data leaks. All of this costs you more than you may save given the fact that the average VPN monthly subscription costs as much as a Starbucks coffee!
That’s why so many people who have used free VPN services often end up seeing unsolicited advertising and some even end up with compromised smartphones. That’s why we ask that people stay away from such services because there is no such thing as a free lunch.
Downloading Torrents in Canada
It is essential to understand that running a torrent in Canada is not illegal. You can download and distribute files from halfway across the world and not even have to use a VPN and will never be sent a legal notice. The reason being that downloading stuff off the internet isn’t illegal in any developed country. However, there is a condition that what you download shouldn’t be copyrighted or content which is considered illegal like child porn.
Most people think that torrenting in Canada is illegal because they have heard of people being sent notices after they downloaded a movie. Those people were sent notices because the film was copyrighted and by downloading it from an unauthorized source, they were, in fact, infringing upon that copyright. The fact that they broke the law merits that they are sent a notice.
Copyright infringement via file sharing systems like torrents is widely regarded as being the most common form of piracy across the world. The problem has been of major concern in Canada which led the government introducing the 2015 torrent laws.
The new law gives copyright holders, i.e. movie companies, record labels, etc., the right to send a notice to illegal downloaders and even take them to court. If anything the law in Canada ends up curbing a massive chunk of illegal downloads.
The Copyright Modernization Action is something that has over the years caused many problems for repeated offenders, i.e. those who disregarded the legal notices sent to them. So, if you do not hold the copyright to a movie, game, or mp3 music sharing or downloading it via the p2p network or any other kind of system is illegal.
Back in 2013, the personal details of users who were repeat offenders were demanded by the Rights Enforcement Agency from ISPs. The process led to many having to pay lots of money in the way of fines for downloading copyrighted content illegally. Damages have a $5000 limit, and that’s a lot of money regardless of how you cut it.
While using a good VPN like Nord VPN in effect helps to circumvent the ISP from being able to log your activities, it does not completely protect you. We cannot endorse copyright infringement via the use of VPNs. Which is why even though a VPN makes it hard for the government to track you down and send a legal notice it is not an activity you should engage in or endorse.
After reading everything we have to say about the various VPN service providers, probably the question you have now is which one is worth buying? Which one can you trust to deliver the best balance of price, quality, functionality, and ease of use? In our experience and those of almost everyone else we have worked with NordVPN is the best choice. While it is not perfect, it still stands head over heels compared to all the other VPNs we’ve tested over the years.
NordVPN is perhaps the only VPN service provider that solves 90% of the problems that users face when using a VPN. It has a considerably long list of features that address both everyday users and those who have a technical background.
When it comes to privacy and security, NordVPN famously uses obfuscated servers. Obfuscated servers are unlike regular VPN servers and are designed to help bypass even the strictest internet censorship in countries like China, Iran, and North Korea, etc. The servers are impossible to trace and block by any country’s ISP. Also, the connection is 10x times more secure than regular VPN servers, so it is impossible for anyone to find your real IP address and then trace it back to you. Plus, it does not raise suspicion with the ISP that you’re using a VPN. So, you can never be accused of hiding your online activity by the government.
NordVPN also satisfies the demand from streamers who want to watch Hulu TV, and Netflix shows from halfway across the world. The company’s SmartPlay feature gives users access to more than 150 streaming services. So, Canadians can watch US TV shows, news, and documentaries as soon as they are out. However, unlike other services NordVPN does not slow your connection down when streaming content. The lag owing to a VPN in the middle is made less apparent by smart optimization which translates to fewer loading screens and improved audio quality.
To further improve connection times and speeds NordVPN continues to add new servers in various parts of the world. Currently, there are well over 5118 servers in 62 countries. If anything this is one of the most extensive lists of servers of any commercial program we’ve reviewed in years. Having so many servers means that you can quickly jump from one IP address and location to the next. Plus, there is always a server available.
- Excellent Encryption
Another area where NordVPN is way ahead of the competition is in the way of its privacy and security features. It uses encrypted proxy extensions. It is one of the first services to use this system of encryption with extensions available for Firefox and Chrome. The extensions work by encrypting all information before it is sent further making it near impossible for the government and hackers to decrypt the traffic. That said the limitation is this system only encrypts web browser traffic moving through the proxy server but in a way that’s a good thing since everything else uses the regular unencrypted internet which lowers suspension of VPN usage.
Another way that NordVPN protects users is via its Adblocking feature. The adblocking isn’t perfect, but it does work in most cases. Plus, it helps protect you from malicious pop-ups intended to try and reach for some personal information. It goes without saying that many malicious pop-ups and websites are designed to mine your data even if you’re using a VPN, so the adblocking feature is indeed welcome.
- Loads of Other reasons