Incorporating a virtual private network into your daily internet activities is easier than ever. There are hundreds of quality providers on the market, most of which offer custom software built for every modern operating system and device. Whether you’ve got a Windows PC, a Chromebook, an iPhone, or a Blackberry, VPNs make it easy to secure your connection and restore privacy to your online experience.
There are some slight limitations to the VPN experience, however. Providers usually impose a cap on how many devices you can connect to the network at once, a measure that helps prevent account sharing and cuts down on unnecessary server load. Simultaneous device connections are normally set at around three, which is plenty for anyone with a computer, tablet, or smartphone. If you want to connect your entire family to a VPN, however, you’ll quickly find that three just isn’t enough.
There are several VPN services on the market that feature a higher than average connection cap. Not only will you be able to log in with five or six devices simultaneously, you’ll also be able to protect your hardware without installing additional apps. Read on for the best VPNs that support multiple devices.
How Do VPNs Work?
A VPN is a multi-purpose digital tool that works to encrypt, anonymize, and location shift your internet connection. Think of it like a private tunnel to the web. Instead of sending raw, open data from your computer to your local ISP and into the world, a VPN encrypts everything to make it unreadable to third parties. That encrypted data gets passed from your PC through the VPN’s servers where it’s assigned an IP address in the country of your choosing. The entire process happens under the cloak of encryption, which keeps your data safe and surprisingly anonymous.
Both encryption and non-local IP addresses deliver a host of extra benefits. Below are just a few of the features you’ll enjoy with an active VPN subscription:
- Stop surveillance and tracking – The online privacy community has grown increasingly concerned with digital surveillance in recent years. Governments have been known to track their citizens, even businesses will monitor and report the activity of their employees. These actions are invasions of privacy, and both can be stopped by using a VPN with strong encryption.
- Hide your IP address – Every piece of data you send from your computer is tagged with an IP address associated with your device. Those numbers can be used to tie activity back to your home and even your personal identity. With a VPN active, your data is assigned an anonymous IP that has no connection to your location. You’ll get unrestricted access to the internet without sharing your identity with the entire world.
- Watch Netflix from other countries – Popular video streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Go restrict which shows and movies are available in different countries. A VPN allows you to change your virtual location with just a few clicks. If you can’t watch a particular video because of your country, simply switch to another one, reload, and start streaming.
- Access blocked content – VPNs are powerful tools to bypass blocked websites and censored content. If you can’t reach Facebook, Google, or Wikipedia because of your location, all you have to do is use a VPN. This is also helpful if you travel to countries with strong online censorship rules such as China or Turkey.
- Protect mobile devices while traveling – Our smartphones carry a lot of private information, everything from e-mail passwords to banking details and contact numbers. Accessing public Wi-Fi carries a number of security risks and can expose that information to third parties. With a VPN’s encryption, however, you can travel and connect to nearly any open hotspot with complete security.
Choosing the Best VPNs for Multiple Devices
Looking for the right virtual private network can be a difficult task. There are dozens of features to consider, everything from logging policies to encryption strength, hardware compatibility, and server distribution. You’ll want to make sure your VPN supports the devices you most frequently carry, and that their software is easy to use. It’s easy to get caught in analysis paralysis, which is why we’ve made the process easy for you.
Below are some of the most important factors you’ll want to consider when looking for a VPN that works well with multiple devices. These are the same criteria we used to select our recommendations, and they’ll help you narrow down your list so you don’t get stuck in the selection phase.
- Simultaneous connections – Every VPN has a limit on the number of connections you can take advantage of at once. Most set this at three, which would allow a computer, smartphone, and TV box to use the VPN simultaneously, for example. If you have a family or need more device access, a bigger number is a better thing.
- Compatibility – Most VPNs support a wide variety of devices, but that support can be extremely limited. You’ll need to make sure there’s software available for everything you own, including mobile phones and tablets. Some VPNs even offer software for smart TVs and set top boxes, which is a nice bonus.
- Logging – Logging is the most important factor in how private a VPN’s service will be. Logs can range from detailed records of traffic to simple time stamps. All of these can theoretically be used to trace activity back to your account, which is especially troublesome if a government agency forces the VPN to share the logs. The best defense against this loss of privacy is to simply not keep logs of any kind.
- Blocked file types – One of the more hidden and potentially frustrating features of some VPNs is blocking certain types of traffic. P2P networks and torrent files are commonly restricted, especially among free VPN providers. Always double check to make sure your VPN allows all types of traffic, otherwise you’ll find your internet connection crippled.
- Speed – On average, VPNs are a bit slower than most local connections. This is partly due to encryption overhead, but the extra distance data has to travel also plays a critical role. Good VPNs can take measures to offset this loss in speed.
NordVPN: any 6 devices
NordVPN is one of the largest and most feature rich VPNs on the market. Privacy has always been the company’s main focus, and it delivers this through a number of methods. First, double encryption. Important data sent through select NordVPN servers is scrambled by incredibly strong 2048-bit SSL encryption, making it so secure that not even a supercomputer could decrypt it. Alongside that, NordVPN has an amazing zero-logging policy that covers, traffic, bandwidth, IP addresses, and even time stamps, meaning nothing you do is ever stored, plain and simple.
The rest of NordVPN’s features are equally as impressive. The service comes with unlimited bandwidth, no restrictions on P2P or torrent traffic, kill switches and DNS leak protection for desktop operating systems, and incredible speed scores for most of its main cities. All of that is backed by a constantly growing network of 1,039 servers in 59 different countries, which is arguably the largest in the market.
NordVPN is also fantastic for using with multiple devices:
- Supports up to six simultaneous connections.
- Custom software for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android.
- Available on gaming consoles, smart TVs, and routers.
- Easy to install on DD-WRT and Tomato routers.
NordVPN delivers all of the above features with one of the lowest price points around. Our readers can save 72% here on NordVPN’s 2 year deal, costing you just $3.29/month. However, NordVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee if you find that you do not like the service.
IPVanish: any 5 devices
IPVanish wants the internet to be open, accessible, and safe. The company helps achieve this by delivering strong encryption across a huge network of servers, over 850 in 60 different countries. You’ll always be able to find a fast connection with a network that big. It’s also useful if you need to bypass censorship blocks or access streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube from other countries. IPVanish’s 40,000 IP addresses means the service is more readily available in countries like China and Turkey. It’s also more difficult for Netflix to block them, which means you’ll have better access on a regular basis.
The base features for IPVanish are quite strong. The service offers unlimited bandwidth, no restrictions on torrent or P2P traffic, has kill switch and DNS leak features on several versions of its software, and has a good no-logging policy that helps keep your activity out of third party hands.
To top it all off, IPVanish has some of the best multiple device support on the market:
- Connect up to five devices simultaneously.
- Install custom software on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS.
- Convenient support for Chromebook and Windows Phones.
- Easy install guide for DD-WRT and Tomato powered routers.
IPVanish offers discounts for longer subscriptions on each of its plans. There’s also a convenient VPN coupons section that offers even lower prices on a regular basis!
Addictive Tips readers can save a massive 60% here on the IPVanish annual plan, taking the monthly price down to only $4.87/mo. Test it out! See the difference or get your money back in 7 days.
PureVPN: any 5 devices
PureVPN is a self-managed VPN network with over 750 servers in 141 different countries. No third parties get involved with any of the company’s activities, which allows them to offer a reliable zero-logging policy, 256-bit encryption, ISP packet inspection workarounds, and a number of extra privacy features designed to keep you safe online.
PureVPN’s base features ensure a smooth online experience. All the must-haves are there, including unlimited bandwidth, DNS leak protection, kill switch features on many versions of its software, and no data or traffic caps. P2P and torrent connections are somewhat limited with PureVPN, as you’re required to connect to a certain list of servers in order to use them. Apart from that, it’s an extremely open and affordable VPN that’s great for personal, family, or business use.
PureVPN has amazing multiple device support, as well:
- Connect up to five devices simultaneously.
- Custom apps for Windows, iOS, Android, Mac, and Linux.
- Easy to use VPN extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
- Support for DD-WRT and other router firmwares.
DEAL: PureVPN provides all of the above features with every plan. You’ll find regular discounts on longer subscriptions, too, getting as much as 73% off for a two year sign-up, $2,95/month, and 7-days money back guarantee.
Install a VPN on Your Router for Even Better Device Support
Some VPNs offer expanded caps on the number of simultaneous connections. Others offer plan upgrades as a way to let your whole family use the VPN at once. If you have a little time on your hands and don’t mind getting technical, you can install a VPN straight to your router and bypass device limitations in one move. Everything that connects to your home network will automatically gain the benefits of VPN encryption and location variability, all while registering with your VPN as a single connected device.
The upside of router-based VPN service is you don’t have to install apps on every device you want to protect. You’ll also be able to keep non-standard hardware like e-readers and internet connected home appliances safe by encrypting your entire network. The downside is that router installations are more technical than simply running a piece of software. You’ll also have to make sure your router uses a specific type of firmware and has the required hardware specs to handle encryption, which is another obstacle entirely.
How to Install a VPN on Your Router
Before you get started with your router-based VPN installation, there are a few things you’ll need to make note of. First, every VPN has a different set of requirements for their router setup. Some will support common brands like Linksys, Netgear, and D-Link, while others only allow installations on specific open source firmware. Almost all VPNs support Tomato and DD-WRT routers, so if your device is compatible with either of those, you’re in good company.
Second, the process of installing a VPN to your router varies greatly between providers. Some will have a quick browser-based set-up, others will generate config files to download, and a few will link you to a page of information you’ll enter manually. Because of this it’s impossible to provide a succinct list of steps required to get things up and running. The guide below will help you prepare for the installation, but you’ll need to get the details from your VPN’s support pages.
Step 1: Check Compatibility
- Find your router model name and number. This is usually printed on a sticker on the bottom of the device.
- Compare the model to the list of compatible routers on your VPN’s support page.
- If it doesn’t match but your VPN supports Tomato or DD-WRT firmware, use the links below to see if your router supports either one:
- Follow the instructions on the Tomato or DD-WRT pages to install the firmware to your router.
Step 2: Install the VPN
- Make sure you know the address to your router’s admin page along with the username and password.
- Visit your VPN’s support pages and search for “router setup”. The links below take you to the featured VPN provider’s router installation pages:
- Download any required config files provided by your VPN. Note that not all VPNs will have a config file.
- Open your router’s admin page.
- Follow the instructions on your VPN provider’s support page.
A Note about Free VPNs
No-cost VPN services are extremely common. You’ll find them in mobile marketplaces, browser extension pages, and advertised on banners across the web. While these may seem like an easy solution to the digital security problem, the reality is many free VPNs can harm your online privacy more than they protect it. In fact, some of the most popular services have been shown to actively log and share user data with third parties.
Another serious drawback to free VPNs is a lack of device support. You may be able to connect several of the major operating systems, including smartphones and tablets, but you’re often limited to a single device at a time. You won’t be able to install them on your router, either, which means multiple connections just isn’t possible. Then there are things like bandwidth caps torrent and P2P blocks to take into account. Between traffic limitations and privacy concerns, no-cost VPNs just aren’t worth it. Paid VPNs are a small investment that’s well-worth your time and money.