What Is The Best VPN for Australia in 2018?
NordVPN is the best Virtual Private Network available to aid Australian citizens and visitors in their quest to keep their online activities and personal data down under and away from the prying eyes of the Aussie government, Internet Service Providers and hackers.
This provider offers fast kill switch-protected connections, top-notch privacy protections and industry-standard customer support.
Internet Freedom in Australia
The internet in Australia is available to 88.2% of Australia’s population. Internet access continues to expand via the rollout of the National Broadband Network.
The following internet-related events occurred in recent years:
Freedom House awarded Australia an overall internet freedom rating of “Free” in 2017, with an overall Internet Freedom Score of 21/100 (0 = Most Free, 100 = Least Free), making it the 5th most free country when it comes to internet freedoms around the globe.
Top 5 Best VPNs for Use in Australia
Why Do You Need a VPN in Australia?
While internet freedom in Australia remains relatively intact, government monitoring continues to grow. In this section, I’ll cover the most critical reasons why you would want to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your online travels in Australia.
Australia isn’t as restrictive as some other countries when it comes to internet censorship, but a government agency called the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) does have the power to enforce content restrictions, maintaining a blacklist of websites for use in filtering software.
Internet restrictions down under focus mainly on websites and services that offer content such as various forms of pornography, as well as other illegal activities. While I know none of my readers are interested in such content, such blacklists can inadvertently block innocent websites when put into practice.
Voice Over IP
Using Voice over IP (VoIP) is legal in Australia.
However, be aware that the service is vulnerable to the same security concerns as any internet-based service, and governments or other third parties could monitor your conversations with folks outside of the country.
Social media networks are freely available in Australia, with all popular networks - including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others - readily available and unblocked.
The Australian government blocks websites that infringe on the Australian Copyright Act when copyright holders - such as Disney, Paramount, Columbia and others - complain.
Sites that the orders have blocked include The Pirate Bay, TorrentHound, IsoHunt and others.
Australia is a member of the Five Eyes Alliance, which also counts the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand as members.
Alliance members have made an agreement to share information about their citizens, much of which is gathered by the countries’ intelligence agencies. This information can include data about a citizen’s online activities.
In 2015, the Australian Parliament passed a mandatory data retention law that requires telecommunication companies and ISPs to store logs related to their customers’ online activities for a minimum of 2 years.
The logs contain data that includes the user’s name and address, the date, time and duration of the online session, sites and services accessed, and the location of the equipment they used for the communications.
An Australian version of Netflix is readily available.
Movie lovers should be advised that the Australian Netflix library is limited to 445 television series and 1,599 films. Contrast that with the 1,326 TV shows and 4,339 movies found in the American Netflix library!
If you’re a Hulu or BBC iPlayer viewer who is traveling outside of the United States or the United Kingdom, respectively, you’re SOL (Simply Out of Luck), as the services restrict viewing to the inhabitants of their home countries.
Legality of VPNs
The use of VPNs is legal in Australia.
Even though the Australian government has the legal power to block any websites or services they wish to, they haven’t as yet abused this power to prevent the use of VPNs from within Aussie borders.
Online gambling in Australia is illegal.
However, players who make wagers in virtual casinos located outside of Australia don’t face penalties, and there is currently no active blocking of offshore gambling sites.
How a VPN Protects Your Internet Usage in Australia
Australian ISPs typically restrict their customers’ data usage to a relatively small amount of data each month and can throttle bandwidth for certain websites and services, such as streaming sites.
While a VPN can’t help you with the data cap, it can help you avoid bottlenecks and throttling when using certain websites and services. When using a VPN, your ISP can’t tell which websites or services you are accessing, so they won’t know when to throttle your connection speed.
By using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), internet users can also protect their online antics from the prying eyes of the Australian government, their Internet Service Provider (ISP) and hackers.
A VPN protects its customers’ online travels by encasing their connection in a layer of encryption, which effectively blocks observers from detecting which websites and other content a user accesses during a VPN session.
A VPN can also protect a user’s personal and business data from hackers when they’re using a coffee shop’s open Wi-Fi hotspot and enjoying a Flat White or Long Black coffee.
Choosing the Best VPN for Use in Australia
When shopping for the best VPN protection while visiting or residing in Australia, keep in mind that any provider you consider should offer certain features that will make your internet usage safer and more efficient.
Look for providers that offer total privacy protection, speedy connections and top-notch customer support.
In this section, I’ll explain the categories that bear close scrutiny, explain why the category is important and include a list of my top 10 VPN providers, ranked according to how well they perform in that specific category.
Privacy is always near the top of the list when considering a VPN for any online activity. However, it’s especially important when using a VPN in Australia, where ISPs are required to keep customer activity logs for at least two years.
A VPN with comprehensive privacy protection will keep no logs related to your internet travels, protecting your activities from the prying eyes of the Australian government.
When researching a VPN service’s privacy protections, learn which country the provider is based in, what that country’s data retention laws are like, and what information, if any, that the VPN logs in relation to your VPN sessions. Also look for private payment options, such as Bitcoin or merchant gift card balances.
The VPN providers listed below are sorted in order of the privacy protection they offer, best to worst.
Once you have the content-unblocking power of a VPN at your disposal, you want to make sure you’ll have sufficient bandwidth to enjoy that content without a long wait or mid-viewing session buffering issues. For that matter, no matter what your online activity, a faster connection is a better connection.
Below, you’ll see a list of my top 10 VPN providers, ranked according to their speed, fastest to slowest.
The rankings were calculated by measuring my ISP-only connection speeds, connecting to each individual VPN provider and then measuring my connection speed again. I then calculated the speed percentages used for the rankings by comparing the two speed measurements.
Testing was performed using the connection speed test found at the Speedtest website.
Any provider worth considering will offer a “kill switch” for your VPN connection. A kill switch will immediately disconnect your internet connection if you lose the connection to your VPN provider. This prevents your online activities from being laid open to monitoring if you lose your VPN-protected connection.
“Kill switch” is a binary, “yes/no” feature, which led to my listing the providers alphabetically, noting whether they provide kill switch protection.
Other Factors to Consider
I would never wish a VPN connection or billing issue on any of my readers, but there’s a good chance that, sometime in the future, you’ll need to contact your VPN provider’s customer support agents with a question about your connection or your account. When that happens, you’ll want to be secure in the knowledge that you’ll receive a quick and informed answer.
Customer support offered by a VPN provider should include most (preferably all) of the following support options: live support chat, a trouble ticket tracking system and a support library.
I ranked VPN support departments by the types of support they offer, as well as how quickly they responded and how accurate their answers were. The VPN providers below are listed in order of best support to worst.
Unless you’re independently wealthy or have a dynamite expense account allowance, the price of a VPN subscription will be an important consideration. While considering pricing, don’t mistakenly believe the lowest price is the best bargain, or that the highest-priced provider is going to offer the highest level of service.
When researching VPN provider pricing, look for a reasonably priced subscription that offers a good level of service. Make sure a “bargain” price isn’t at the expense of a lower level of service being offered in important categories like customer support, connection speed or global server coverage.
Be sure to visit the website of each provider you’re considering in order to confirm their current pricing. Subscription rates can change with only a moment’s notice. Luckily, many rate changes are due to the promotions regularly offered by many of the VPN providers, which can greatly reduce the price you’ll pay if you’re willing to commit to a longer subscription period - usually two years or longer. (There are even “lifetime” deals available from a few of the providers.)
Users on a tight budget can opt for a month-to-month subscription period, which allows you to pay a much lower amount upfront. However, opting for this type of subscription will most likely see you paying much more for your subscription over time.
*The prices in the table reflect the monthly cost when paying for an annual subscription. (Annual Subscription Price / 12 Months.)
Global Server Coverage
Comprehensive global server coverage will ensure that your VPN provider of choice will be able to open up access to video, music or gaming content that might normally be blocked to your part of the world due to blockades put up by your government, ISP or the content provider itself.
Check a VPN provider’s server count around the globe. The number of countries where servers are stationed is just as, if not more, important than the raw number of servers a provider has to offer.