Virtual private networks offer a bevy of benefits. A VPN encrypts your web traffic so applications and websites don’t view your IP address, which shows your location, as matching your physical address. Instead, it looks like you’re connecting from a different area — even a foreign country or continent. While VPNs may bolster security (but don’t always), they’re also great for streaming geographically protected content and can prevent throttling while gaming. Although you can usually install a VPN on as many devices as you like, some companies restrict your concurrent connections. For example, you can download your provider’s VPN app on 20 or more devices but only have it actively running on a limited number, like eight at a time.
If you’re like us and have too many electronics, you’ll want a VPN that works with your entire arsenal of phones, tablets, PCs, game consoles and streaming devices. At CNET, we comprehensively test dozens of VPNs, analyzing everything from DNS leaks and speed loss to content unblocking. For this list, we primarily considered operating system support and simultaneous connection allowances to bring you the top VPNs for use with several devices. Additionally, we factored in security, speed loss, server networks, geo-unblocking and app features. Let’s dive into the best multidevice VPNs for protecting your gaggle of gadgets.
What is the best multidevice VPN?
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*Smart television sets running Google TV/Android TV or Fire TV can download VPN apps directly, while LG’s webOS, Samsung’s Tizen OS and Roku TVs require a router VPN.
**For Chrome, Firefox, Brave, Microsoft Edge, Opera and Vivaldi
The best VPNs for multiple devices
Other VPNs we tested
NordVPN is one of the premier VPN providers on the market, with excellent speeds, solid privacy features and intuitive apps for all platforms. However, its limit of six simultaneous connections is a bit behind the times, especially considering that other providers allow for 10 or even up to an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. If you live in a large household or have a lot of devices, six simultaneous connections may simply not cut it in this day and age.
But if you don’t need to connect more than six devices at once, NordVPN is an excellent (albeit pricey) choice. You’ll get standard privacy features like a kill switch and DNS leak protection, along with a few extras like double-hop connections, obfuscation, Tor over VPN and dark web monitoring. NordVPN’s monthly plan costs $13 per month, its annual plan is priced at $67 for the first year (then $100 per year afterward) and its two-year plan is $102 for the first two years combined (then $100 annually).
How we test VPNs
We evaluated the best VPNs for multiple devices based on each provider’s platform compatibility as well as its simultaneous connection allowance. We also evaluated how each VPN performs on different devices and operating systems along with its overall consistency and functionality across platforms. In addition, we looked at core VPN considerations like features, privacy protections, speeds and network coverage when coming up with our list.
Factors to consider in a multidevice VPN
Based on our years of experience using, testing and researching VPNs, these are the most pertinent factors to consider when choosing a VPN for multiple devices:
Number of simultaneous connections allowed
If you have a lot of devices that you want to protect with a VPN, you’ll want a VPN that allows for enough simultaneous connections to cover all of your devices. Most VPNs offer at least five simultaneous connections, but some offer up to an unlimited number. Before purchasing a subscription, check with the VPN provider to see if it offers enough simultaneous connections for all of the devices on which you want to use the VPN.
Your VPN should be compatible with all of the devices you want to use it on. Many VPNs have apps that are compatible with the most popular platforms like Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. However, Linux users may have issues finding a VPN that offers a useful, native app for Linux. And even if the VPN has a native GUI for Linux, it may not offer the full functionality that its MacOS and Windows counterparts. If you want to protect all of your connected devices, independent of their individual compatibility with the VPN, you can connect using a VPN-compatible router. It’s a more cost-intensive and technically demanding way to go, but it effectively eliminates compatibility issues.
Whether you’re streaming, gaming or simply browsing the internet, you’ll want a VPN that can deliver fast connection speeds. A VPN will naturally slow down your connection speeds, often by 50% or more. With a fast VPN, your speeds shouldn’t decrease by more than 20% and the speed drop shouldn’t be noticeable for most online activities.
The breadth of a VPN’s network of servers is an important consideration for various reasons. For one, if you’re traveling, there’s a better chance that you’ll have a server located close by, meaning that your VPN connection should be faster and more stable wherever you are. Additionally, more server locations mean access to a potentially wider selection of geographically restricted content from other regions. Before purchasing a subscription, check the VPN’s server page to ensure its network covers the locations that you need.
Paying more for a VPN doesn’t necessarily translate into greater platform compatibility or a more generous simultaneous connection count. In fact, some of the more budget-friendly VPNs allow for far more simultaneous connections than many of the more expensive options. Depending on the VPN you choose, you could pay from about $40 to $100 per year, so there are options for every budget.
Most VPNs are generally pretty simple to set up and use on most compatible devices. As with any product or service you purchase, however, it’s good to have competent support staff on hand to answer questions and easy-to-follow setup and troubleshooting guides to reference for help with any issues you may run into. The top VPNs in the market today typically offer live chat customer support and have extensive knowledge bases filled with guides for setting up and using their services on all sorts of platforms.