How many hours are you using the internet every day? Have you thought about if it is safe when using the internet? I mean, do you know that people can spy on you? I am not only talking about hackers, but also governments, your internet service provider, websites, and other third parties. Yes, they can do it easily, unfortunately. Unless you act now to protect yourself. In this article, I will talk about why everyone should use a VPN service, how to choose a good VPN to use in Germany and a comparison of the 5 best VPN companies.
Moving to Germany or new in Germany? Check out our Support Page for all the resources you need!
avSome highlights for the busy people
If you don’t have much time, here are the highlights of the 5 best VPNs in Germany:
NordVPN: This one is my favorite. The fastest VPN in the market.
Surfshark: This allows an unlimited number of connections. And very budget-friendly.
PureVPN: Over 10 years of experience. A lot of servers in many countries.
CyberGhost: Its 3-year plan is the cheapest. The app is easy to use.
ExpressVPN: Fast and reliable. But it is relatively expensive compared with the others.
Keep on reading for more details about VPN and scroll down for a detailed comparison table.
VPN in Germany – What is a VPN?
VPN means Virtual Private Network. If you establish a connection to a VPN server, you will be treated like you are physically inside that network. All your internet traffic will go through that network. This allows that VPN service to encrypt your device’s traffic. The encryption secures your privacy even when you are connected to a public non-encrypted Wi-Fi. You can choose an intermediary server in a different location and route your traffic through that server. By doing so, you can pretend that you are connecting to the internet from another place than where you are physically at. The website that you visit will then see the IP address of your VPN server instead of your real IP address. This helps you to use the internet anonymously.
VPN in Germany – Why should you have a VPN?
1. Protect yourself from hackers and malware
In the past, I was always excited to find free public Wi-Fi. I always tried to scan the available networks and looked for one without a password. Little did I know that I was exposing myself to risks.
When you used a public Wi-Fi hotspot, have you ever thought about if it was safe to use? It is good to know that public Wi-Fi is not as secure as your private network. You may not know who set up the Wi-Fi, and what other people are connecting to it.
Hackers love to use public Wi-Fi to find their targets because no password is needed to connect. A hacker can position himself between you and the public Wi-Fi connection. Everything you send through the Wi-Fi connection is actually sending to the hacker directly. This includes your password, emails, and even credit card information. If you allow file-sharing, hackers can also distribute malware on your devices.
Using a VPN service is the way to protect yourself. By using a VPN service, the data you send through the public Wi-Fi connection will be encrypted. Even if hackers can read your data traffic, they will not be able to encrypt it easily. So, you can finally connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot anywhere without worrying about safety.
2. Privacy protection
Do you know that your online activities are being monitored? If you are surfing the internet at home alone and thinking that nobody knows what you are doing, then you are completely wrong.
The German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) is the organization that checks the online activities in Germany. It gained even more powers to monitor the online activities of businesses and foreigners after some terror attacks in the past years in Germany.
Have you heard of the 14 Eyes? It is a group of countries that agree to share data with each other. It monitors mainly internet activities. And Germany is part of this treaty. BND cooperates with the U.S. agency in surveilling its citizens. It collects information about communications via satellite, phone, and internet networks.
Without a VPN service, your internet service provider in Germany has all the records of what you are doing online. And the German government has pushed for the enforcement of data retention laws in recent years. These laws will require your internet service providers to store your online activity data for up to ten weeks. If the government authorities request this data, it is legally required to hand over the data to the government.
Note that not only your internet service provider and the government can have your data. Do you have a feeling sometimes that Google knows you better than yourself? Were you surprised to see ads that are super customized to you? Websites and search engines also have a record of what you have done online. Using a VPN service allows you to surf the internet anonymously in Germany. This increases your online privacy and avoids any third parties to track you.
3. Issues with streaming and torrenting
Streaming and torrenting are legal in Germany. But streaming or torrenting pirated content is illegal. When I first moved to Germany, my housemate told me to never download videos via torrenting. He has got a fine for a thousand Euros!
Warning letters from law firms
Many law firms collect the IP addresses of users who download (and therefore also share) famous movies via torrenting. If you do not use a VPN service, your IP address is visible to everyone. They can easily get your IP address and request your internet service provider to give them your real address. Then, they will send you a warning letter with high fines.
If you are streaming pirated content, it is more difficult for law firms to catch you streaming. It is because the streaming video is transmitted directly from the streaming platform to your device. There are no other third parties involved.
But that does not mean that you should just stream pirated content. Without using a VPN, the streaming platform and your internet service provider in Germany can still know that you are streaming. So, there is still a risk.
In 2013, thousands of German people received warning letters from law firms. They were accused of watching copyrighted porn on the website RedTube. In the end, the court ruled in favor of the RedTube users. So, you see. There is always a risk even for streaming. The best is to respect copyright and do not stream any pirated content.
For more about which streaming platforms are safe to use, and what to do when you receive these warning letters, check out this post: Streaming in Germany – 11 Ways To Do It Legally
Avoid being incorrectly targeted by the law firms
We do not support downloading pirated content either through streaming or torrenting. However, the fair use policy in Germany is not so clear. This normally allows the use of copyrighted material without permission in certain cases, e.g. for educational purposes.
I have heard that some unethical law firms send out many warning letters without much verification. They will not distinguish between pirates and people who download copyrighted material for reasonable fair use. There is almost no downside for them to send these letters out. Many people choose to pay the fines anyway as they are afraid to be sued. Using a VPN can help you to avoid being incorrectly targeted by these firms and any potential legal issues in Germany.
Note that using VPN to download and share pirated content is still illegal in Germany. Even you may not be caught with the current technology, there is always a risk. The best is to respect copyright and don’t do anything illegal.
Sometimes, you may not be able to download even legal content through torrenting. Your internet service provider may slow down or block your download using a technique called BitTorrent Throttling. It does so because BitTorrent uses a big amount of bandwidth on its network. Using a VPN service can help you to get around with this and download torrents safely in Germany.
4. Geo-restrictions on some streaming content
When I first came to Germany, I was wondering why I could not watch some Youtube videos. I got a message saying something like “This video is not available in your country”. Later on, I learned that it was because of the famous GEMA.
GEMA (Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte) is a performance rights organization to protect authors’ rights. There were a lot of disputes between YouTube and GEMA in the past. They fought about how much YouTube should pay GEMA for each streamed video that contained copyrighted music (even only background music). This was the reason why many of these videos were not available in Germany.
My American colleague here always complained about Netflix in Germany. He told me that there were much more shows when he watched Netflix in the USA. The Netflix content offered in Germany is quite limited. I didn’t realize it since I haven’t watched Netflix outside Germany.
The fact is that studios have different agreements with Netflix by country. Netflix has different licenses for different shows. It means that one show can be available in the U.S. only, while another show can be available in every country.
When you use a VPN service in Germany, you can bypass these restrictions. For example, you can choose to use a U.S. server even when you are physically in Germany. So, you can have access to YouTube and Netflix’s content, just like when you are in the U.S. A VPN service can also help you to defeat censorship. You can see websites that are blocked in your country.
Besides, if you have a subscription from a German streaming platform, you may not be able to use it to stream when you are abroad. With a VPN, you can choose to access the streaming platform with a server in Germany. So, you can still stream the German content without restrictions.
Note: Whether it is legal to use a VPN service to view geo-blocked content in Germany depends on your streaming provider. If you are not sure, check the terms and conditions of your streaming provider to avoid any potential issues.
5. Avoid price discrimination
Do you know that some websites charge you differently depending on the location you are at? For example, some online businesses will show you a higher price if they see that you are in a wealthier country. Don’t let them overcharge you. Use a VPN in Germany and pick a server location of your choice.
Read more: Moving to Germany – Complete Expat Guide
VPN in Germany – How to choose the best VPN service?
To protect your privacy online, you should look for a VPN service that does not store records of your online activities.
Unlock geo-blocked content
Look for a VPN that can unlock geo-blocked content. This is useful if you use streaming services like Amazon Prime Video or Netflix.
Number of servers and their locations
It is good to choose a VPN service with many servers and in different countries. If you want to watch German TV when you are abroad, you will need a VPN server in Germany.
And if you want to access certain websites back home, you should make sure your VPN has a server as well in your home country.
Location of the VPN company
Since Germany is part of the 14 Eyes, it is also good to find a VPN company that does not operate in these 14 countries. Otherwise, your VPN company can be requested by the government agencies to share your data.
Fast speed and high stability
Fast and stable internet is important for streaming, torrenting, and gaming. I would definitely look for a VPN service that does not compromise my internet speed.
Easy set-up and maintenance
The website and app should be easy to use and maintain so that non-technical people won’t have issues installing and using the VPN.
Additional VPN features
Some features like the Kill switch is important in a VPN. Kill switch can prevent your device from connecting to the internet in case your VPN connection drops off. This feature can protect your data at all times and you don’t have to worry when your VPN connection stops.
Another nice feature is auto-connect. With auto-connect, you don’t have to worry that you forget to connect to VPN. Your device will use VPN to connect to the internet automatically.
Besides, VPN split tunneling is also a nice feature. You can set up which software should go through your VPN connection and which not. For example, you can set that you always use a VPN connection when using apps from your home country, but not when using a local app in Germany.
A good VPN uses strong encryption like AES 256-bit to ensure your safety online. Nobody should be able to see what you are doing online, not even your internet service provider or other people who are connected to the public Wi-Fi hotspot.
Number of devices allowed per account
If you use many devices, or if you want to share the VPN service with your family members, you should find a VPN service that allows you to use many devices per account.
Many VPN providers now offer 24/7 customer support. It is important to get support anytime when you have an issue.
Devices and operating systems supported
It is also important to check which systems the VPN provider supports to see if it meets your needs. Many VPN providers support operating systems like Android, iOS, Mac, etc.
It is also good to find a VPN provider with Firefox and Chrome browser extensions.
If you plan to download torrents via your VPN, make sure your VPN provider supports peer-to-peer activities.
VPN in Germany – The 5 best VPNs
There are many different VPN companies in the market. I recommend using the below five VPN companies. All of them operate outside the jurisdiction of the 14-Eyes alliances. So, they will not give your data to these governments. They also support a wide range of devices including different browsers, smart TV systems, and game consoles. Besides, all of them have the following important features:
- Strict no-logs policy
- Military-grade encryption (AES 256-bit)
- High speed with no bandwidth limits
- Unblock most geo-locked streaming content
- Fast VPN servers for P2P sharing
- Easy to use
- Features like kill switch, split tunneling support, and auto-connect
- Customer support 24/7
In the below table, you can see a comparison of them.
Note: The table can be moved sideways depending on your screen.
|Headquarter||Panama||British Virgin Islands||Hong Kong||Romania||British Virgin Islands|
|Founded in year||2012||2018||2007||2011||2009|
|Servers||5500+ servers in 59 countries||3200+ servers in 65 countries||6500+ servers in more than 100 countries||6000+ servers in 88 countries||3000+ servers in 94 countries|
|No. of device supported||6||Unlimited||10||7||5|
|Blocking malware and ad||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days||31 days||45 days||30 days|
|Monthly price||3.15 Euros for a 2-year plan||2.06 Euros for a 2-year plan||2.96 Euros for a 2-year plan||2 Euros for a 3-year plan, or 3.19 Euros for a 2-year plan||6.67 USD for a 15-month plan|
|Get NordVPN||Get Surfshark||Get PureVPN||Get CyberGhost||Get ExpressVPN|
Which VPN company should you choose?
All the five companies are good and they offer similar features. If you want to get a VPN connection for your whole family, or if you have a lot of devices at home, Surfshark is a good choice. It allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices.
ExpressVPN is a relatively expensive option, comparing with the others in the table. And it also does not have an ad/ malware blocker. CyberGhost is the cheapest if you choose their 3-year plan. But 3 years is a long time. Surfshark also has a good price with its 2-year plan.
According to the VPN comparative test done by an independent IT security institute AV-TEST in 2020, NordVPN is the fastest VPN in the market. It also offers double encryption. Double encryption means that two or more independent layers of encryption are used. This is to give you extra protection. If you want this feature, you should choose NordVPN or Surfshark.
In the end, it depends on your need. What do you want from a VPN service? For me, I do not care about streaming or torrenting. And I do not have many devices at home. The main reason for me to have a VPN is for safety and privacy. That’s why I want a VPN with double encryption and malware/ad blocker. I personally choose to use NordVPN for these reasons. You will have to decide for yourself. All 5 companies have a money-back guarantee of at least one month. So, it is basically risk-free to try.
Why should you not use a free VPN in Germany?
There are many free VPNs in the market. But we recommend not to use those. Why? Have you heard that free stuff is the most expensive thing? If a service is free, you are the product. The business somehow needs to make money, right? And how? They sell YOU to make money!
Typically, free VPNs are slower and not as reliable as a paid VPN provider. Using a VPN will make your device a bit slower. It is because your connection needs to be first rerouted to the VPN server. But a good paid VPN service should not affect your speed so much and you may not even realize any speed difference.
Free VPNs also tend to be not as safe as you think. Many actually sell your data to other companies to earn money. Besides, they can show you ads and may not have many important VPN features we talked about before.
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The price and other information of the recommended VPN services in this article are subject to change. We will try to keep the information in this article updated regularly. Our blog accepts no liability in any case. If you need any more details or the latest information, please refer to the VPN companies’ websites directly.
Please note that the main purpose of a VPN is for privacy and protection from hackers. Downloading pirated content is illegal in Germany, even if you use a VPN service. We do not condone any violation of copyright law or restrictions. The aim of this article is to provide you a brief overview of VPN usage. Please use this information ethically and responsibly. We do not condone any illegal use of this information.
Do you use a VPN service? Do you have any tips or tricks for other VPN users? Leave a comment below and share your experience!
Moving to Germany or new in Germany? Check out our Support Page for all the resources you need!