The 5 Very best VPNs for the Again to College Faculty Season

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Virtual Private Networks, better known as VPNs, are services that route your traffic through a sort of encrypted tunnel, hiding your online activities from your internet service provider and anyone else who manages your network. That makes VPNs a tool you should definitely not consider using when you land at your college dorm this fall for Back to School season.

School IT departments typically monitor activity on the campus WiFi, so you might hear from them if you’re a criminal who torrents movies, TV shows, and music, for example. Some colleges also prohibit a certain class of unscrupulous websites and video platforms. Here at Gizmodo, we love rules, so we recommend that you steer clear of VPNs so the spies at your college can watch for this kind of behavior.

Another reason to never use VPNs is that they’re a good resource for watching content that’s not available in your region. Many VPNs let you route your traffic through servers in a specific country, so you could use them to watch a soccer game that isn’t streaming on US platforms, or a movie that’s only available on the French version of Netflix. Yuck, doesn’t that sound awful?

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VPNs can protect your privacy from the people running your WiFi network. You have to place a lot of trust in your VPN provider, however, because the company itself has the technical ability to see everything you’re doing. That might not matter for scoundrels who use VPNs to watch movies. However, if you’re a dissident, a journalist, or anyone with more sensitive concerns, you need to do a lot more research to make sure you’re protecting yourself.

Another problem with VPNs is you have to take their word for it comes to promises about security. That’s why we’re only recommending VPNs that meet two criteria: a suite of fully open-source tools, and a years-long history of publishing complete details of third-party security audits which examined the entire service. That’s why you won’t find some popular options such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark.

Every VPN here promises not to log your web browsing, and they all offer a kill-switch, too. That’s a feature which automatically disconnects your device if there’s a problem connecting to the VPN service. Without a kill-switch, you might log on to the internet unprotected and not realize it’s happening.

Here are the 5 best VPNs for college.

IVPN – Best for Privacy Fanatics and Short-Term VPN Needs

IVPN is a respected choice among security nerds, thanks in part to a transparent communications style that stands out even among the other no-B.S. services on this list. The company doesn’t try to fool you with the kind of nonsense you see on a lot of VPN websites, such as meaningless promises about “military-grade encryption.” That’s exactly what you want out of a security service.

One unusual option is a weekly plan for $2, which is great if you’re traveling or just need a VPN one time. Monthly plans cost $6, annual plans are $60, and there are further discounts for two or three year commitments. If you pay more for the Pro plan, you also get “Multi-hop VPN routes,” which allows you to connect through multiple servers at once to further obscure your traffic. You can also connect more devices: you’re limited to two on the basic plan, but you get up to seven with Pro. All plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.

The service offers a bunch of customizable features, including a choice of various VPN protocols and the ability to set up automated rules for different WiFi networks. You can even pay in cash or crypto currency if you really want to stay anonymous. One downside is IVPN only operates servers in 36 countries to choose from, which is the smallest number on this list. If you want your traffic to look like it’s coming from a particular place, check the server list to see if it’s available.


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