TorGuard is a VPN service that has been around for years, gaining a reputation for being the service of choice for the more hardcore VPN user. I took it for a spin to see where this reputation comes from and to what extent it deserves it.
Overall, I like TorGuard, and I feel it deserves a spot among the best VPNs, though probably not in the upper echelon. It’s fast, can get through to Netflix, and has an easy-to-use app. However, there are some issues for torrenters, and the way you select a pricing plan is confusing. Let’s go over all these issues below.
Overall, TorGuard is easy to use. Like many other VPNs—Mullvad being a good example—it’s a small, mobile-style app featuring a big button in the middle that turns it on and off. Below that is a smaller button where you select the server you want. It works pretty well.
Server selection is also straightforward. TorGuard offers you a massive list of servers to choose from. Each entry is marked well, but I don’t like how each server has its own entry. Countries like the United States and the United Kingdom can take up the whole screen because there are so many servers there. It’s a minor gripe, though.
A slightly less minor grip is that TorGuard doesn’t allow server switching (connecting from one server to another while it’s on). You need to disengage your current connection, select the new server, and then connect to it. It’s a little annoying and hearkens back to the day when VPNs couldn’t switch on the fly; they can now, so it’s odd TorGuard won’t do it.
Another small issue is that when you connect to a server, a few messages pop up that tell you what’s going on. Normally I like this sort of thing, but in this case, they pop up so suddenly and right in the middle of the screen, too, so they look more like error messages than anything else. Again, this is a minor issue, but TorGuard would be better if it were fixed.
Again, though, these are all nitpicks. TorGuard’s app is solid, and I really like it. There’s no sensory overload like with Proton VPN, nor the superfluous map offered by NordVPN. Nice and simple, as I feel a VPN should be.
However, this is just on the surface. Once you go into TorGuard’s settings, you’re met with some of the most thorough options you’ll ever come across. This is probably where TorGuard gets its reputation for being geek-friendly; if the setting exists, TorGuard lets you tweak it.
I like this, and I have a feeling people who know their way around a network will, too, but if you’re not sure what you’re doing, you’re best to stay away from these menus. The defaults are fine for most users, though you may want to engage the kill switch since that’s off by default.
TorGuard has apps for Windows, macOS, and Linux. Members of Team Penguin will like TorGuard as it’s one of the very few VPNs that has different packages for different distros, which is pretty neat. I tested the Ubuntu/Mint version, but the downloads page goes over all your options, including Redhat and Arch Linux.
For mobile, TorGuard has apps for iPhone/iPad and Android (there’s an APK, too), while there are also browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Microsoft Edge. If you want to install TorGuard on a VPN router, there are links that guide you to the software you need in the members’ area once you’ve signed up.
TorGuard and Netflix
TorGuard does a good job of getting through to Netflix. I checked several servers in the U.K., U.S., and across Europe, and they all got through without any real issue. There were some slowdowns, but nothing too serious.
However, it’s a little unclear how this experience translates across plans. As you’ll see in the next section, there are more than a few to choose from, and the way they’re described is highly confusing. In an email from TorGuard, I was told regular plans would get through to Netflix, it’s just that there are specialized add-ons available that make it more likely you’ll succeed.
TorGuard’s pricing is a byzantine mess. Trying to figure out what costs what, what plans are available, and for what duration is hard work. The main page offers four plans: Anonymous VPN Standard, Anonymous VPN Pro, Business VPN, and Anonymous Email (which we won’t go into here). Business VPN seems to be a bundle of VPN and anonymous email, so I’ll skip that, too.
The big difference between Standard and Pro plans is that Pro offers more simultaneous connections than Standard—12 instead of 8—and also advertises the streaming package. However, it’s not so straightforward. Once you click “more pricing options and details,” you get a new page where a third option shows up, offering even more connections, but the mention of streaming just disappears.
Thing is, though, that these aren’t the real prices, either. If you click the slider at the top of the screen, you can choose between monthly and annual billing.
Annual is a quarter of the price, so it’s a much better deal.
Now, after choosing a plan, you’re transported to another screen, which offers these options, plus new ones—in case you thought I used the word “byzantine” on a whim earlier.
If you change nothing, you can waltz straight through to account creation and payment information, but the mention of streaming has disappeared from the Pro plan’s details. Instead, you’ll see a streaming bundle mentioned with the regular plans, which costs a total of $20 per month.
In an email, TorGuard clarified that the Standard and Pro plans have streaming capabilities but that the streaming package offers better reliability for people that want to stream.
Besides this change, it also turns out that the cheap plans from the main page have gone. Instead, you get more payment options, but now suddenly, the math makes a lot more sense. This is what the Standard plan really costs, for example:
The end result is that, as a customer, you have to work hard to figure out what you’re buying. It doesn’t help that every time you check a new plan, it’s automatically added to the cart, so you need to remove things, which then prompts a page refresh, which then has you looking for your plan again. It’s a really awful way to interact with any site.
Eventually, I settled on the Anonymous Pro plan, which ended up working fine with Netflix. However, there was a nasty surprise: Instead of paying $13 for the Pro plan, I paid nearly $16 as Cyprus, where I live, charges 19% VAT. Most VPNs include this charge, TorGuard adds it on top, and I wish it didn’t.
Is TorGuard Worth It?
The Standard plan costs $60 per year, which is in line with the rest of the market. You get a decent VPN that will get through to Netflix and has a decent UI, to boot. For example, Windscribe is $70 per year and offers similar features, though slightly more reliable streaming servers.
The Pro plan isn’t as good value. At $120 per year, it’s even more expensive than ExpressVPN—which is $100 per year—and that already costs a lot more than most other VPNs. It doesn’t seem to me that you actually get double your money’s worth in this case.
Privacy and Security
One thing I can point to, though, is that TorGuard requires more information from you than most VPNs do when signing up. Though I understand using a credit card makes anonymous signup impossible, I entered more information than absolutely necessary. There’s some work that can be done in this regard.
As for security, it seems solid. Though I’m not too thrilled you need to engage the kill switch yourself, a far too common issue in the industry, TorGuard does everything else right. Users can choose between two of the best VPN protocols, WireGuard and OpenVPN, so you’re definitely safe when using the service.
TorGuard and Torrents
However, torrenters need to exercise some caution. After it was sued, TorGuard blocked all BitTorrent traffic on its U.S.-based servers. Now, servers anywhere else are still working fine if you want to torrent, but it makes me a little nervous that TorGuard is on copyright watchdogs’ radar. It may be an entirely unfounded fear, but I’d avoid TorGuard for torrenting.
TorGuard offers good speeds. They’re not quite up to the level of Mozilla VPN, say, but still pretty decent. As with all VPN reviews, I tested TorGuard’s speeds by first testing my unprotected speeds (a healthy 100Mbps), then connecting to four different locations across the globe from my home in Cyprus. The results are in the table below.
New York City
For some reason, almost all VPNs have terrible results in Israel, so we won’t hold that one reading against TorGuard. Other than that, though, these results are very good. Losing only 10% of the connection’s speeds when connecting to Japan is a solid result, and we like how overall ping doesn’t take too much of a hit, either—TorGuard should be a great VPN for gaming.
Should You Sign Up for TorGuard VPN?
I really like TorGuard; it’s easy to use, fast, and gets through to Netflix. Prices are also reasonable, though actually picking a plan is a huge chore and a big strike against the service. I’m also not sure about torrenting with TorGuard, though with its excellent ping it’s great for people that want to game online.
The picture that emerges is a solid VPN that offers a lot. Though I’m not sure if I’ll ever like it as much as I do Mullvad or ExpressVPN, it’s a solid contender I suggest you check out. It offers a seven-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out for a week at no real risk to yourself.
- Extremely flexible
- Nice UI
- Can access Netflix
- Plan selection is confusing
- Some issues with torrenting
- Settings may be overwhelming