WHAT’S IN THIS REVIEW?
There’s no doubt that TorGuard is a premium service. Prices match up with some of the biggest names on the market, and speeds are fantastic while connecting to a range of different locations. However, many features are hidden behind additional paywalls, and the price isn’t the only thing that stops their VPN from achieving a higher score.
Read on to get the lowdown on this service, as we cover all of the bases in our extensive TorGuard VPN review.
If you’re on the lookout for a VPN that offers a range of premium features, TorGuard is a great choice. However, it can end up costing three times as much as the likes of ExpressVPN and NordVPN, which are two of the highest-rated providers on the market.
What, if anything, does TorGuard offer that they don’t? Not much, in all honesty.
It’s still capable in its own right, if not a little overpriced when factoring in for the additional sales tax they neglect to mention until you’re about to hand over the cash. As always, the lack of a third-party audit is a blotch on their record, especially considering the price tag if you begin to rack up extras.
With no relation to the Tor project, TorGuard is supposedly named due to its ability to access torrents. TorGuard is based in Orlando, Florida, and was founded by Benjamin Van Pelt in 2007.
Van Pelt is currently the CEO of VPNetworks, which has a static one-page website with no additional information available at the current time of writing. VPNetworks LLC is a company ‘specializing in online privacy protection services including anonymous virtual private networks, anonymous proxy, business virtual private networks, email encryption, and routers.’
As well as TorGuard, they’re also behind the lesser-known Ghost VPN. I’m always a bit wary when it comes to companies that have multiple VPN providers under their wing, especially if it’s difficult to make the connection without prior research.
Another bone of contention is the location of the business. The US is known for scooping up as much data as possible, whether it be through the unconstitutional PRIZM surveillance program or the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.
We’d recommend being wary of TorGuard for this reason, especially if privacy is your main concern. If so, look for a provider based in a country with better data laws, or one that has been independently audited in the recent past.
The TorGuard website links to PrivateRouter, which is another business directly linked to Van Pelt and VPNetworks. (It’s probably why TorGuard also offers wireless routers with some of their plans.)
Pros & Cons
We encountered a variety of pros and cons while testing out TorGuard VPN, scrutinizing everything from speeds and streaming capabilities to privacy features and overall usability.
Before selecting a VPN service, it’s always good to have your no-budge list of things you can’t live without. Below are a few TorGuard pros we think may make that list:
- 8-12 simultaneous devices
- Lots of additional features available (for a price)
- Stealth VPN
- Anonymous payment options
- Great speeds
- Offers routers with some plans
- WireGuard support
Here are a few cons that aren’t that easy to overlook when you have other, cheaper options, available on the market:
- No independent audit of the software available
- Expensive, and that’s without the premium features on top
- Refund policy is only good for seven days, and they aren’t possible if you forgot about a recurring subscription
- Confusing pricing
- Have to hand over personal info at sign up, such as postal address and surname
- Couldn’t unblock major streaming websites without paying more for a Streaming Package
Additional features abound with TorGuard, although you will have to pay more for the majority of notable extras. In fact, some features you’d normally take for granted (such as accessing streaming websites), are locked behind a further paywall, as they aim to extract as much money from the user as possible.
You can kill specific apps when the VPN disconnects, or enable a Kill Switch just in case. There’s also an IPv6 Leak prevention feature, which routes the traffic through the TorGuard VPN, instead of disabling it entirely.
Their Stealth VPN is an interesting addition. As they explain;
‘Stealth VPN traffic is hidden to look like normal web HTTPS traffic which means that it’s impossible to block even in strictly censored countries like China, Russia, UAE, or even behind strict corporate wifi networks.’
This could be useful if you need to bypass online censorship.
Dedicated IP/Residential IP
A dedicated IP is a unique address that is available in the form of an optional add-on.
They note that users never share dedicated IPs with each other, which is an advantage if you need to do online banking, or frequently need to sign in to secure services.
A ‘residential IP’ is an IP address bought directly from big ISP’s found in the US and UK.
Anonymous VPN plans
- Monthly: $9.99/mo.
- Quarterly: $6.67/mo. (billed $19.99 upfront)
- Annually: $4.99/mo. (billed $59.99 upfront)
TorGuard has a labyrinth of payment options, making it difficult to discern the true value of their service. They also added VAT onto the final bill, making it appear cheaper than it actually is before I signed up.
Their Anonymous VPN is a basic plan that comes with everything a typical user is likely to need. The Anonymous VPN Pro is up next, adding a regular dedicated IP address, and a 10 GB add-on. Lastly, you can get the Anonymous VPN with a free GLi Mini Router, making it easier to be protected on every device.
Then there’s a Streaming Bundle, which gives access to the USA, UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Japan, as well as two streaming IP addresses.
Each is priced differently depending on the length of time you’re willing to commit to, and it’s reasonably expensive when all things are considered. Then there are the multiple add-ons, which begin to rack up in price rapidly:
Payment options are plentiful, as they accept:
‘All forms of credit card, debit card, Visa, Amex, Mastercard, Discover, Bitcoin, and other Cryptocurrency (via CoinPayments), BTC and LTC via BTCPay Node, Paypal through Paddle and Gift Cards and other payment options via PaymentWall and PayGarden.’
That’s reasonably comprehensive and includes anonymous methods. However, their cancellation policy leaves a lot to be desired, as any ‘requests made later than the 7-day purchase date window will be denied.’ That’s significantly less than the standard 30 days.
Furthermore, to do so:
“You must also follow the correct cancelation procedure by logging into your TG account and canceling via My Services >> View Details >> Management Actions >> Request Cancelation. Any recurring payments made through subscriptions that you fail to cancel are also non-refundable.”
That’s extremely anti-consumer, and won’t be apparent for the average user. If you do plan to try TorGuard, they also won’t refund the following:
- Dedicated IPs of any kind, Streaming, Residential or Regular are excluded from refunds, Geo location, blocks, and Info from third-party sites do not merit a refund.
- Refunds will be withheld in the event of terms of service violation, period.
- Gift Card payments are not eligible for refunds.
- Crypto Payments are not eligible for refunds.
- Refunds for users who purchase an offer that includes a free device will be denied if their item has currently left our warehouse.
They say that “TorGuard does not collect or log any data from its Virtual Private Network (VPN) or Proxy services.”
“TorGuard.net users have the option to register with personal information. The personal information provided is collected solely for private use by TorGuard.net as it relates to standard business operations. Upon registration for services at TorGuard.net the account owner’s name, email address, and date/time is stored. This information is recorded to prevent fraud and abuse of TorGuard.net services. No data is ever provided to a third party unless required to do so by law.”
“TorGuard.net users can modify or remove the personal information stored at any time. Upon request, TorGuard.net will provide user information on what account-related data is stored. Registered users may request removal of all personal information at any time by contacting the support department or the official TorGuard.net data controller.”
When I signed up, I was forced to hand over postal info and my name, as well as my email address. There was no option to sign up anonymously, while we’ve already discussed why the US isn’t a great location to base a VPN service.
Given the asking price, I expected nothing less than the best from TorGuard’s servers. They note that: ‘All of our servers feature either 1 Gbps or 10 Gbps port speeds, so DL rates can vary from 5MB’s – 100MB’s depending on your connection speed.”
I decided to test it out for myself, and I was slightly worried that my baseline download speeds of 260-300 Mbps would be capped. As it turns out, TorGuard is pretty nippy, but it’s not as powerful as they like to suggest.
I’m based just outside of London, so their UK server location was the first I connected to. Speeds were great, although they were roughly 50 Mbps slower than usual.
US servers were up next, as I connected to a server in Dallas. Speeds went down to 167 Mbps, while ping increased massively. All in all, it’s a decent result, although I was expecting a little more power. I then tested LA, and saw similar results in terms of download speeds.
I decided to check Japan’s servers, as there tends to be an emphasis on the US and Europe from most VPN providers. The ping was insanely high, but download speeds did stay above the 100 Mbps mark, if only just.
You’re likely to see great speeds if you select a server location nearby, even if their network isn’t the largest overall.
Server Locations & Network
TorGuard has a decently sized network of server locations on offer, encompassing a variety of regions across the globe. The majority are found in the US and Europe, while Africa, South America, and the Middle East are given minimal coverage.
The full list of countries is as follows:
North America: Canada, Mexico, USA
South America: Brazil, Chile
Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Moldova, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, UK
Asia/Pacific: Australia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand
Africa/Middle East: Israel, South Africa, UAE
It may not be the most comprehensive list of countries, but they do offer great connection speeds for the most part. All of TorGuard’s servers offer WireGuard support, and the majority are physical, rather than virtual. You can find the server list here.
Streaming & Torrenting
As TorGuard offers a Streaming Bundle, the majority of platforms were blocked when I was testing the basic Anonymous VPN. They say:
“Streaming IPs are similar to dedicated IPs in that they are not shared among users, but our streaming IPs are hand-picked to be compatible with major streaming services. Not only that, but you can access content and content platforms based in the UK or other countries by purchasing a streaming IP in those regions.”
With a month priced at $21.98, it costs more than the average streaming service! Sure, it’s a great feature, but it’s overpriced, and others will unblock content consistently at no extra charge.
This also led to a number of difficulties with the normal plan, as U.S. Netflix didn’t work, while the same was true for BBC iPlayer:
Disney + did work, but it’s a poor result considering the speeds their servers can access.
“You can use TorGuard VPN with any BitTorrent app that uses the BitTorrent protocol. TorGuard is compatible with some of the most popular torrent apps out there like uTorrent, Vuze, qBittorrent, and more. TorGuard helps your IP stay hidden in every torrent application.”
TorGuard posts frequently about censorship on their blog, although it’s more of a method to convince users to sign up with the service, rather than being done as a gesture of goodwill.
For example, when discussing an extension of The Patriot Act, which wanted to further monitor citizens’ online activity without any checks or balances, they conclude:
“Using a VPN like TorGuard will keep your internet activity safe from prying eyes – including three-letter agencies who may have been granted permission to stalk you without a warrant.”
However, they fail to mention that they too are based in the US, where every one of the ‘three-letter agencies’ has jurisdictional freedom.
Their ‘Stealth VPN’ could be helpful in terms of censorship, as it works to disguise VPN traffic as regular traffic, even when subjected to deep packet inspection by a network administrator or firewall.
Platforms & Devices
TorGuard is available on the following platforms and devices;
- Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Routers, Safari, Chrome
They’ve covered the basics, along with a couple of browser versions. The app itself was packed with info and settings to play with, although it lagged badly every time I disconnected (MacOS).
It could be a little overwhelming for a new user when you first boot it up, but it’s great to have a functional VPN with a Settings menu that actually means something. For a beginner, it’s easy to click and connect, and it’ll do the work for you as long as you select a server location.
Maybe it could do with a bit of work aesthetically, but that’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. The app is usable, and it gives you lots of information. They deserve top marks, and there’s a native app for every major platform.
Encryption & Security
The TorGuard VPN app defaults to AES-256 which is suggested for the highest levels of security. They note that this encryption option offers the best data privacy, although it may cause a slight loss of speed for some users. They also have AES-128, which should be used ‘if download speed and data privacy is a top priority.’
Security options are plentiful, although they have faced a number of difficulties in the past. In 2019, it was alleged that they were compromised via a server, which TorGuard later confirmed through their blog.
“The single TorGuard server that was compromised was removed from our network in early 2018 and we have since terminated all business with the related hosting reseller because of repeated suspicious activity.”
They do go on to clarify that;
“Due to the ongoing lawsuit, we cannot provide exact details about this specific hosting reseller or how the attacker gained unauthorized access. However, we would like the public to know this server was not compromised externally and there was never a threat to other TorGuard servers or users.”
TorGuard offers the following protocols:
- OpenVPN, SSTP, IPSec, WireGuard
WireGuard is supported on all of their servers and is a great, forward-thinking addition. It has been designed with ‘ease-of-implementation and simplicity in mind. It is meant to be easily implemented in very few lines of code, and easily auditable for security vulnerabilities.’
The security options are numerous, and you can use the settings to modify and create your own safety net. TorGuard deserves decent marks, although it would be great to see an audit in the near future.
Summing up our TorGuard review, this VPN service has a lot going for it, especially if additional features are what you’re hoping for. However, it all adds up to become a costly package, especially if you wanted to stream content with a dedicated IP address. It’s difficult to justify the price tag, especially when compared to the best providers on the market.
Privacy and security features abound, but there’s no sign of an audit, and they’re located in the US. It’s hard to trust a VPN without proof, no matter how good the software appears to be on the surface.
It’ll be a bit intimidating at first, but there are lots of features, and it’s extremely usable. Meanwhile, speeds were pretty good, even if they didn’t have as many servers as I would have hoped for.
With an audit, TorGuard would be a decent, albeit expensive, VPN. Most quality providers will unblock streaming sites for no extra charge, while the advertised price fails to mention the addition of sales tax/VAT. They aim to siphon money from the user at every opportunity, and it isn’t really justifiable.
Their refund policy is embarrassing, having decided that recurring payments made through subscriptions that you fail to cancel are non-refundable. They don’t care as long as they get your money. They also offered me a discount code when I canceled my sub, but I can’t say that I was tempted.
As TorGuard has split the service into piecemeal chunks, it’s hard to recommend compared to other big-name VPNs. They’re too concerned about selling routers on the side or monetizing aspects that should arguably be included in the basic package.
You’d be better served looking elsewhere, although you could still get a lot of good use out of a VPN like TorGuard. The best way to know if it’s right for you is by testing it yourself.