For heavy-duty Kodi users, the best VPNs for Kodi are those that offer the most bang for your buck. And while it’s easy to just go for the cheapest VPN on the block, it’s probably not the wisest choice. We’ve taken the time to do in-depth analysis on some of the most highly regarded VPNs on the web, in order to figure out what the best Kodi VPN for 2016 is. Our results are as follows below.
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- 1 5 Best VPNs for Kodi
- 2 A Note on Free VPNs.
- 3 A Closer Look at the Top VPNs
- 4 For Most Purposes, IPVanish and NordVPN Were Clear Winners
- 5 Best VPNs for Different Purposes
- 6 Our Best Advice: Try Before You Buy
- 7 Installing a VPN on Kodi
5 Best VPNs for Kodi
#1 – IPVanish
- Excellent server speeds
- Large number of servers and server locations
- Quick and helpful customer service
- Generous discount for 1-year plan
- Significant security features
- More expensive than some competitors
- No live chat for customer service
- Actual download speeds slower than in speed tests
IPVanish has come in with a brand new version of its well-received VPN software. Running off of OpenVPN protocol, IPVanish has a load of features in its application, and for Windows users, can be set up as the primary VPN in the system. IPVanish utilizes a strict no log policy, comes with a kill switch and includes IPv6 and DNS leak protection.
It also boasts some of the fastest server speeds from out tests. While the actual download speeds are slower than what the speed tests might suggest, the speeds are still significant, and in almost every case more than what one will need for fast downloading. IPVanish recently included its own SOCKS5 proxy servers for those who want faster speeds than what’s available through a VPN, a great option for those looking to torrent.
#2 – NordVPN
- Fair price
- Live chat — fast customer service
- High-level encryption standards and security
- Large number of servers and server locations
- Servers tend to be slow
If not for their slow server speeds, NordVPN would likely be the best service we’ve tested and reviewed. NordVPN has an exceptionally good business model, with a lot to offer anyone looking for a good, functional VPN service. NordVPN has a large number of servers and server locations, excellent security and privacy features, the best-in-class customer service from the VPNs we tested, and a very fair price for what you’re getting.
Unfortunately, the slow server speeds hit NordVPN’s rating pretty hard. The service posted some of the worst speeds we tested out of the VPNs in our reviews, which was sadly disappointing. Considering NordVPN has a lot to offer on every other end, this is likely a great service for those looking to browse the web privately, but perhaps not for those who do a lot of streaming or torrenting.
- Least expensive paid service we tested
- Extremely large number of servers
- Excellent security features
- Slow server speeds
- Limited server locations
- Slow support services
Private Internet Access (PIA) offers up a really good service, especially for the price. Every one of their price plans offers a value, but more notably, the 1-year plan. For as little as $3.33 a year, PIA gives users an exceptional service. They suffer from slow server speeds and a limited number of server locations but do provide excellent security features to compensate.
Private Internet Access has a lot of growth potential for a VPN service. It’s also one of the few paid services out there offering up a SOCKS5 service as well. So, in case you don’t like the slow internet speeds and you’re ok with a lot less security in exchange for speed, PIA provides a good alternative to the slower VPN servers. For the price, that’s a deal that’s hard to turn down.
#4 – ExpressVPN
- Large number of servers and server locations
- Extremely easy to setup and use
- High-level security features
- Slow server speeds
- Far more expensive than most competitors
- Slow customer service
ExpressVPN offers a mixed bag of value. This service has an extremely large number of servers and server locations, although not the most we’ve seen among the VPN services we’ve tested. The real benefit to this service is just how easy it is to install and use. We ran into no issues or roadblocks on that end, finding that the service was up and running within 5 minutes of signing up, and with no real issues utilizing it as well.
The largest downsides to this service include a price that is almost unthinkably high in comparison to competitors and server speeds that are almost unforgivably slow. While it would be easy to give them a pass, as some of these issues are due to high volume, all of the servers we tested were on the slow side in comparison to competing services.
#5 – Buffered
- Among the fastest server speeds we’ve seen
- Above-average number of servers locations
- Far too pricey for the service
- Extremely slow customer service
- Low number of servers
- Fewer security features than competitors
- Fewer additional options and features overall
We weren’t too kind on Buffered service. The price is a bit high for the overall lack of features, less security, and privacy and a limited number of servers. The service was certainly not the worst, and far better than a few VPN. However, given that BufferedVPN seems to just offer less than many competitors for a higher price, the service overall is a bit questionable.
The negatives aside, however, Buffered is winning when it comes to server speeds. The service had among the best server speeds we tested, adding some weight behind the price. If server speeds are really all you care about or at least are among the most important things for you, Buffered might be a good service. That is if you can stomach the price.
A Note on Free VPNs.
Look, everyone likes to save money. We get that. We Kodi users, in particular, are, let’s say, a frugal bunch. Most cord cutters are. But free VPNs? For that, we’ll adopt an anti-Nike slogan: “Just DON’T do it.” Here’s why.
Advertising is a serious security risk.
What do all of the “free” services for pretty much anything you know of have in common? That’s right: they’re all ad-supported. Nothing in this world is really free (except maybe air and a random stranger’s “sage” advice). Free VPN services are pretty much a dime a dozen, and they’re pretty good money for the developers as well. While not all of them are ad-supported, a large majority of them are. The problem with that is the advertisements themselves are an easy gateway for hackers and anyone trying to snoop in on your web activity.
Not only do advertisements serve as an avenue for malvertising (when hackers insert malware into advertisements), they also reveal your IP address. While the IP address is less an issue if you’re already going through a VPN that assigns you a new, anonymous IP, unless that free VPN utilizes ad-blocking software, you could just be exposing yourself to viruses.
Get used to data caps.
Many people turn to VPNs for high-volume torrenting. Kodi users might turn to a VPN for torrent streaming as well, particularly through addons that use Ace Stream. Yet free services typically have less bandwidth and fewer servers, they often include data caps. You might be able to uncap those limits — if you sign on to their paying service, of course, which completely negates one of the main reasons for using a free VPN in the first place.
Lack of stability and customer support.
Free VPN services mean smaller staff on hand to handle issues. Whether that’s a server going down, a bandwidth crunch or just general issues you can’t figure out on your end, free VPNs typically lack the customer support to fix those issues right away. Although a paid VPN service may take some time to solve serious issues, you at least know they have the staff to work on it.
Overall lack of security on many ends.
Because Kodi works similarly to a web browser in many ways, it’s just as susceptible to snooping as any web browser. Many free VPNs use some encryption methods, but not all and often not the best ones. A fair number also maintain practices that you should avoid, such as activity logging. This comes back to a lack of resources. Free VPNs simply do not have the money to put into the best security or features, and if they do, what you’ll suffer with are data caps, slow speeds, and very limited server options.
A Closer Look at the Top VPNs
We did a deep dive into some of the top VPN programs on the block. While our research is far from complete (there are still a lot of VPNs to look into, after all), we find it important to help Kodi users find the right VPN for the job. This means that there are several questions to raise, depending on what you’re looking for. For example:
- Do you mainly use Kodi to stream movies and television shows or live shows?
- Do you use P2P or torrent addons like Castaway, Quasar or Pulsar?
- Do you use Kodi to access geographically blocked content?
- Do you use Kodi from a country where content is heavily restricted or monitored?
- How many devices do use to run Kodi?
- Beyond Kodi, do you spend a lot of time surfing the web?
We ran an analysis of five different VPN services: Private Internet Access, Buffered, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and IPVanish. In looking at each, we sought to identify the services’ main features, the number of servers available and what type of servers they used, each service’s security features, server bandwidth and limitations, pricing plans, ease of use, and customer service.
We gave each of these services a fair and honest shake. In fact, we held off on scoring them individually until we had tested each one. That way, the scoring was more honestly delivered based on what we had experienced as a whole, instead of more subjectively based on each service own its own. Above all things, these services are all competing for your patronage. On that end, they’re beholden to their customers to provide adequate service.
In general, we found that each VPN provider has, at the most basic level, the type of adequate service we should find with a paid VPN. However, when pitted against each other, some VPNs rose in certain areas while others faltered in the most important aspects. Before we dig into helping you understand which VPN is better for certain types of Kodi users, here’s the more summarized ranking of each service:
Best All-Around VPN:
All others we tested:
Private Internet Access: 4.1
While the scores on these VPNs do vary by a somewhat wide margin, the story over which one is better is a bit more complicated than just a numbers game.
For Most Purposes, IPVanish and NordVPN Were Clear Winners
We’ll start with the two services that had their act together the best: IPVanish and NordVPN. Both of these services really are on the upper end for on all of the categories we tested. Between these two services, we see what happens when competition spurs innovation. Although both services are very, very different, they each deliver on the most important functions of a VPN: security.
Should you choose to go with either service, you’ll find a lot of commonalities when it comes to security. Both services have a dedicated kill switch, use high-level encryption standards, have very clear no-log policies, utilize both DNS and IPv6 leak protection and utilize OpenVPN protocols. Both services also have a lot of choice in what you’re getting, providing paid subscribers with the option to use PPTP, L2TP or IPsec protocols. Because both use very similar technologies for their security features, on that end there is little difference between the two services.
There is, however, a notable difference in two key areas. First, and most important, is how they go about providing their servers. IPVanish takes a very standard approach with their servers. When users connect to the client, they can choose which protocol they want to use (OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, IPSec), and can pick which between servers hosted in different countries:
IPVanish has over 500 servers in 60 countries. This easily places them among the top VPN services in the world for the total number of servers and server locations, although they are far from #1 on that end. However, what we did find is that IPVanish excels when it comes to providing excellent, unlimited bandwidth through their services. Most importantly, however, we noticed very little speed drop-off when connecting to different servers across the globe. For a taste of what we mean, here’s some visualized data we discovered when testing their service:
As you can see from our tests, there was very little drop in speed through different server locations. The only notable drop occurred when we connected to the UK server. That nearly 62% drop in speed might be shocking — until you realize that this is the case with almost every VPN’s UK servers we tested. The real story here is that the UK servers in IPVanish posted less of a speed loss than almost all other services we tested. Here are the numbers for the other services UK servers:
NordVPN: 61.26 Mbps, down to 4.44 Mbps. That’s a 92.75% decrease.
Private Internet Access: 56.7 Mbps, down to 1.98 Mbps. That’s a 96.51% decrease.
ExpressVPN: 60.93 Mbps, down to 7.23 Mbps. That’s an 88.14% decrease.
Buffered: 46.10 Mbps, down to 8.66 Mbps. That’s an 81.21% decrease.
We gave very little weight to the UK VPN speed drops, as this was a problem shared by all of the VPNs. But as you can see from our testing, IPVanish somehow manages to mitigate the speed drop issue common with VPNs much better than other VPN services. In fact, while the speed decrease common to VPNs may cause many Kodi users to use a less-secure SOCKS5 proxy server instead of a VPN, IPVanish’s speeds from the majority of the servers we tested we so good that their normal VPN servers can take the place of SOCKS5. Nevertheless, IPVanish, along with NordVPN and Private Internet Access, offers SOCKS5 servers as well.
The other difference between these two services is server options. NordVPN interestingly provides different types of servers for different purposes. In fact, they were the only service we tested that had such a wide variety of server types. The service includes six types: Standard VPN, Double VPN, Ultrafast TV, Anti DDoS, Tor over VPN and Dedicated IP. While we only tested the speeds of the first three, unfortunately, we found the speeds to be NordVPN’s real weakness. Aside from posting the largest UK server speed drop, Nord’s server speeds were mostly inadequate. Nevertheless, Nord excels in every other area, which is why the service came in a close second to IPVanish.
Best VPNs for Different Purposes
Perhaps IPVanish is a bit more service than you need. Or maybe you’re looking for a service that provides something very specific. Each service we tested had slightly different features, so you may find something you’re looking for in each.
Lowest priced service: Private Internet Access
PIA is, by a large margin, the cheapest service we tested. With a 4.1 out of 5, it’s also not half bad either. It does not offer a lot of what you can find with IPVanish or NordVPN as far as service features or customer service. And its speeds are noticeably worse, as you can see from our speed test results:
Despite those speeds, Private Internet Access is an extremely good deal for what you’re getting. If you’re not into torrenting through your VPN, i.e., you’re mainly into streaming, you might find a lot of value out of this service. Even at its most expensive price, it’s still far cheaper than every other service we tested.
Most server locations and device compatibility: ExpressVPN
Although ExpressVPN did not get a high rating from us, the service is not half bad. As you can see from our speed test results below, ExpressVPN does not have the best speeds, but neither does it have the worst either:
Where ExpressVPN really excels is in server locations. This service has servers in 87 countries to date, and 136 server locations split among those countries. This means that you’re more likely to find a server located near you than with any other service, increasing your chances of finding better server speeds with lower ping.
Additionally, ExpressVPN’s software works on more devices and operating systems than its competitors. Although it may not offer the fastest servers, the fact that it can work for more people is a plus in its direction, and for any Kodi users running the program on older devices.
Our Best Advice: Try Before You Buy
Most paid services recognize that they’re up against two fronts: free VPNs and other, high-quality paid services. That’s why all of them have a trial period built in. Every one of the best VPNs for Kodi we reviewed allows for either an official free trial or has a money-back guarantee built into their policy. Either way, you can take advantage of each service before you commit to one of them.
Installing a VPN on Kodi
As Kodi is a fairly open media program, it also includes the ability to install OpenVPN directly onto the platform. Installation is actually fairly simple. As long as you have a VPN that uses OpenVPN, you can utilize this method.
First, download OpenELEC version 6.0.3. Choose the version that best suits your computer from here: OpenELEC Stable Releases.
Next, install MetalKettles Addon Repository.
Next, follow these steps:
- Go to your Kodi home page
- Go to System > Settings
- Go to Add-ons
- Click on Install from repository
- Go to MetalKettles Addon Repository
- Click on Add-on repository
- Click on and install Unofficial OpenELEC Mediacenter OS Add-ons
- Return to MetalKettles repository list and click on Program add-ons
- Click on and install VPN for OpenELEC
- Return to your home screen and go to Programs. Then, click on VPN for OpenELEC
- Click on Setup VPN Provider
- Select your VPN service
- Enter your username and password
- Return to the main screen and select Configure VPN Provider
Additionally, you may need to or want to use OpenVPN on Kodi. You can find it by going to MetalKettles Addon Repository Program add-ons section, and then clicking on and installing OpenVPN.
IPVanish includes instructions for how to set up OpenVPN on Kodi for their service. For their guide, skip down to Part 2.
Private Internet Access works directly with OpenELEC, as you can see from our example images.
You may also want to install the VPN Manager. This makes operating OpenVPN on Kodi much easier. To do install this, do the following:
- Install the VPN Manager zip file
- From your Kodi home screen, go to System > Settings > Install from zip
- Find and install service.vpn.manager-x.x.x.zip
- You can find the addon under Programs
- Click on VPN Manager
- Click on Add-on Settings
- Choose your VPN from the menu, then enter your username and password