TorGuard review

A highly configurable VPN client, but not the best performer

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Our Verdict

There are definite strengths here in terms of server choice and being able to configure things just how you want, but this isn't the most user-friendly or quickest VPN.

For

  • Huge choice of locations
  • Ad and malware blocking
  • 24/7 support
  • Expert-level configurability

Against

  • No free plan or trial
  • High latency

Despite the name and the privacy angle, TorGuard has nothing to do with the Tor Project. Instead it's a company which offers a range of privacy-related products, including an anonymous VPN plan for protecting your privacy while using torrents (which is where the "tor" comes from).

Product specifications are good, with a choice of 1600+ servers in 50+ countries, and five simultaneous connections allowed, OpenVPN/SSTP/L2TP/IPsec protocol support, along with ad and malware blocking, no data limits and free 24/7 support.

Prices are a little above average at $9.99 (£7.70, AU$13.45) per month, $4.99 per month paid annually ($59.99 total for a year – that's £46, AU$81). You can also purchase add-ons as you order, including extra simultaneous connections (on top of the five you have already) from a dollar each per month, and a dedicated IP from $7.99 (£6.10, AU$10.60) per month.

There's no free product or trial. The company offers a 7-day refund. This "can be denied ... in cases of excessive usage", but we'd guess this applies more to people who've been online 24/7 for 6 days than regular users.

If you do decide to sign up, there are all the usual payment options, plus Bitcoin, and many others via PaymentWall.

Privacy

TorGuard's Privacy Policy weighs in at 282 words, making it one of the shortest we've ever seen. But if you'd like it summarised anyway, the company doesn't store or log any traffic or usage from its VPN. There are the usual cookies and recording of details in forms when you order products, but these won't be resold for marketing or mailing lists.

The Terms and Conditions are longer, but it's still difficult to find any surprises. "The service might not work all the time", "don't break the law", "we reserve the right to close your account if you do" – it's all very much the typical stuff you'd expect.

Even after reading for a while, the closest we could find to a catch was this: if you purchase a dedicated IP with your order, the extra cost won't be included in any refund.

The service is also not available to the under-18s. But if that's not you, it seems like you can sign up without getting trapped by any small-print trickery.

Performance

TorGuard has clients for all the operating systems you'd expect, including Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. It also has multiple Linux versions (Ubuntu, Redhat, and more), router setup tools (DD-WRT, Tomato), OpenVPN config files and scripts, a separate download of the Android app APK file, and even more besides.

The core of the client is much like any other. There's an icon and name for your current location, you can select another from the list of countries and regions if you prefer, then you click Connect to get online, and Disconnect when you're done. Easy enough – but that's just the start.

TorGuard gives you access to protocol and cipher settings from the connection screen, unusually, and heading for the main settings dialog gives you all kinds of options. These include: WebRTC, IPv6 and DNS leak protection; both application and network interface kill switches; before connect, after connect and after disconnect scripts; proxy settings, minimise/close to tray options, and more.

There's more good news when you get online. The client doesn't just give you a 'Connected' message: there's a local IP, a remote IP, a button to display your new location on a map, Sent and Received data totals, and a figure to show how long you've been connected.

Leak protection was better than expected. We didn't see any evidence of DNS leaks, even without checking the Prevent DNS Leak box, and otherwise our identity was shielded without any trouble.

Our performance tests* showed acceptable results – latency was high at 209% of our normal figure, but upload and download rates were a more reasonable 63% and 84% of normal speeds – however, while browsing we found this varied considerably, depending on the server.

Final verdict

Overall, TorGuard certainly has some appeal, in particular with its long list of servers and extreme configurability, but there are much faster and easier-to-use VPN products around.

*Our testing included evaluating general performance (browsing, streaming video). We also used speedtest.net to measure latency, upload and download speeds, and then tested immediately again with the VPN turned off, to check for any difference (over several rounds of testing). We then compared these results to other VPN services we've reviewed. Of course, do note that VPN performance is difficult to measure as there are so many variables.