Most VPNs are terrible at protecting your privacy. They leak your data, give you up to the authorities and copyright trolls, fail to unblock content, their customer support is atrocious, they sell your data, and they infect your computer with malware. Yet, at the same time, all of these terrible VPNs, regardless of how terrible they may actually be in reality, will boast and bluster and brag about being the very best VPN on the planet. They say they’re the fastest, the most secure, the most trusted, the most this, the most that – even though they know what they’re selling isn’t any of that. They know what they’re peddling is a load of trash, but they don’t care because all they’re interested in is lining their own pockets.
Anyway, I’m always writing about the best VPNs for expats, so I thought it would be fun – if not joyfully morbid – to switch it up a bit and dedicate a post to some of the worst VPNs for expats and emphasize the fact that the vast majority of VPNs are absolute garbage. Most of them aren’t worth your time and money.
The worst VPN services
So, without further ado, I present you with the worst of the worst. These are a few of the very worst in the industry – VPNs you wouldn’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole:
I’ve already dragged Hola through the dirt in another post, but this service certainly deserves mention here as well, simply because of how incredibly shady its operation really is. First of all, if you use its free service, Hola will turn your internet connection into an exit node for other Hola users to connect through. Basically, this means that any random idiot out there doing whatever it is they’re doing online could be using your IP address to do it. Yup, and you can be held responsible for the online activity conducted using your IP address – activity that’s certainly not always legal.
Even if you opt for a paid Hola subscription (which I hope never even crossed your mind), there’s still no guarantee that your connection won’t be used by other Hola users as an exit node, regardless of what the company says. If that’s not bad enough, Hola gives you essentially zero protection online because it leaks your IP, logs your internet activity, and will cooperate with authorities at the drop of a hat. Let’s make no mistake about it, Hola doesn’t care about you, or your privacy – it truly is one of the most unprincipled and morally bankrupt VPN providers on the planet. I wouldn’t trust anything about this provider, no matter how innocent and sweet its happy little animated flame mascot appears to be. Don’t get burned, stay far away from Hola VPN.
#2 Hoxx VPN
Oh yeah, and, with your permission, Hoxx can track the location of your device and the speed at which it is traveling. This is to “facilitate your use of certain features,” but why you would want Hoxx to know where you are or how fast you’re traveling at any given time is completely beyond me. And besides providing astonishingly weak encryption standards and lacking basic security features like a kill-switch, Hoxx’s server network is narrow and the provider is dreadful when it comes to unblocking the content you’ll likely be wanting to unblock, like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Nothing much to like here at all.
Despite what this provider’s name may lead you to believe, there’s really nothing actually super about SuperVPN. First of all, the SuperVPN website isn’t secured with HTTPS, which is quite curious considering this is supposed to be a service that protects your privacy and keeps you safe online. In any case, that should be your first red flag that something’s not exactly right with this one.
Unfortunately, it only gets worse.
SuperVPN will track your activity, store your session logs in the US and UK, and will sell you out to authorities in an instant. Customer support is basically non-existent, but if you’re lucky enough to get in touch with an agent, they will have no idea what they’re talking about. There’s no dedicated client software for any operating system, meaning you’ll need to set it up manually. The encryption is weak, there’s no kill-switch, no network block or firewall, and it’s reported to be infested with malware. The best part is, it’s ludicrously expensive!
And good luck trying to get your money back if you’re not satisfied with the service because support tends to get combative when you question the value of the product. Basically, SuperVPN is an absolutely awful product that will do nothing to protect your privacy and will not hesitate to throw you under the bus if it sees you doing something online it doesn’t approve of – but you’ll have to pay up for that privilege. Going with SuperVPN is super risky, to the point of being outright dangerous. I wouldn’t recommend SuperVPN to my worst enemy.
While (unlike some of the others in this list) there’s nothing outright sinister about Faceless.me, it’s just a poor product all around that doesn’t really work well, lacks basic features, allows only one connection at a time, and only has servers in a handful of countries. It’s also quite slow and you can only use OpenVPN through the third-party OpenVPN client. And, considering all that, its pricing is a bit presumptuous. You’re much better off looking elsewhere for a superior VPN product with a full suite of features at a far more reasonable price point.
#5 Expat Surfer
Now, this looks like something you’d want, no? I mean, the name of the service even has the word “expat” in it, so it must be good for expats, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, Expat Surfer is not good for expats. In fact, it’s not good for anyone.
This is a service geared towards UK expats looking to unblock UK TV from outside the country, so it only has servers in the UK. If you’re not scared off by its horrendous website, and, for whatever ungodly reason you decide to pony up the preposterous asking price for an Expat Surfer subscription, know that your privacy won’t be protected via its outdated and woefully unsecure PPTP encryption.
Naturally, there’s no dedicated client software, which means you’ll have to set the service up on your machine manually. But if you need help with the setup, a representative will be able to remotely connect to your computer to try and help with the setup. “Oh, that’s a nice little service they provide their paying customers,” you may be thinking. Yeah, but you’ll need to drop £35 for about a half-hour of the representative’s time.
If the representative fails to complete the setup successfully within the 30-minute timeframe, they will simply give up – and if you think you’re getting your £35 back, you’re sorely mistaken.
Actually, the company offers no refunds whatsoever on any subscription or services they provide, “due to misuse of credit cards,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. In the ToS, however, the company does purport to offer refunds in “exceptional circumstances” at its sole discretion, but you’ll still be on the hook for an “admin fee of up to 50%” if the exalted Expat Surfer gods are gracious enough to bestow upon you a refund for the wretched VPN service you purchased.
And, of course, Expat Surfer will monitor your web activity and sell you out to the authorities if asked to do so – because why wouldn’t it.
So, which VPNs are actually good for expats?
Whew, well that was…exasperating. I’m an optimist and I don’t normally like to harp on the negative. But, by the same token, I’m a realist as well, and if I notice a company totally hosing its customers, I’m going to call it out for what it is. But, man, can that make my blood boil.
I feel that it’s important, though, to highlight the worst of the worst in order to warn others of the traps that are out there.
Anyway, let’s turn our attention to the best of the best – the VPNs that are actually good for expats.
Not all VPNs are a big ol’ pile of digital garbage, believe it or not (even if most of them are). Thankfully, there are VPNs out there that offer all the tools you need to stay safe online and unblock all the content you want. There are VPNs that actually care about your privacy, provide the proper encryption, offer the proper security features, have dedicated apps, supply sufficient speeds, are easy to use, work to unblock the content you want to unblock, and have customer support agents who are responsive, helpful, and actually on your side. There are VPNs out there that won’t try to trick you into buying an awful service. They can be difficult to find, though, when you have to wade through all the trash.
Personally, my VPN of choice – the one I use daily and would enthusiastically recommend to any expat – is ExpressVPN. Let’s just say ExpressVPN is the exact opposite of those abominations listed above. ExpressVPN is a provider that genuinely does everything right, and it’s constantly improving. You’ll get amazing speeds, military-grade encryption, world-class security features, a massive global network of servers, 24/7 live chat support, and the ability to bypass firewalls and beat censorship. To top it off, ExpressVPN will unblock any streaming service you throw at it. Sure, it’s a tad on the expensive side, but for what you’re getting, it’s completely worth every penny.
If you’re looking for something a little lighter on your wallet, I can personally vouch for NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost VPN. Each one is super easy to set up and use and provides all the security and features you’d expect from a first-rate VPN, just a bit cheaper.
Why would you risk your hard-earned cash and your digital privacy on a fourth-rate VPN that doesn’t work as advertised, won’t do anything to keep you safe online, and can be downright dangerous to use? When you can get an excellent VPN for the same price or even cheaper, there’s absolutely no reason to entertain the idea of trying any of the terrible VPNs I outlined above.