Best VPN Australia 2020
Reviews and Technical Comparisons
We tested the top 20 VPNs to find the fastest and most secure VPN services out there.
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As you browse the internet and read this right now, are you connected to a virtual private network (VPN)?
If not, you should be…
Today, computer hacks and cyber-attacks happen with alarming regularity. What’s more, the world is becoming more mobile, with travel and remote work quickly becoming the norm.
As more of our personal information goes into the “cloud”, we become more interconnected but also much more vulnerable.
That’s where a VPN comes in.
Put simply, a VPN allows you to connect to the internet through a private encrypted tunnel that significantly reduces the chance you’ll fall victim to cybercrime.
Furthermore, they’re easy to use and cheaper than you might think. I’ve personally tested all the best VPNs in Australia and abroad, and compiled the results of those tests in this guide.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a VPN and How Does it Work?
- What are the Benefits of Using a VPN?
- Is it Legal to Use a VPN in Australia?
- Which VPN Lets Me Stream Netflix?
- Do VPNs Track What I Do Online and Keep Log Files?
- Are VPNs Safe for Torrenting?
- Can You Set Up a VPN on a Router?
- Can You Setup a VPN on a Game Console or Smart TV?
Testing VPNs – My Step-By-Step Process
Regardless of where you go in the world, you want your VPN to be fast and secure, otherwise there’s not much point in having one. The tricky part is sifting through the hundreds of companies that offer the service to figure out which VPN is the best.
At Privacy Australia, we like the rest of the world fine but our mission is to locate and recommend services to help our fellow Aussies stay safe online. You can read more about our detailed testing process here.
To determine the best VPN overall, this testing process is critical. It’s how we uncover software vulnerabilities and security holes.
We focus in a few important critera:
- Jurisdiction – Where are they incorporated?
- 5 Eyes – Do they share your info?
- Logging Policy – If yes, it’s a big no go.
- Speed – Slow VPNs aren’t really worth using
- Blocks P2P – No more Netflix
- Number of Connections – 1 Device or 3?
Also note – all readers are welcome to leave reviews on each VPN service via the form available on each review.
|VPN||Jurisdiction||5 Eyes||Logging||Speed||# of Servers||# of Simultaneous Connections||Blocks P2P|
|Surfshark VPN||British Virgin Islands||No||No||Fast||800+ servers||Unlimited devices (But only 1 can be used at a time)||No|
|ExpressVPN||British Virgin Islands||No||No||Fast||2,000||3||No|
|Private Tunnel||USA||5 Eyes||Yes||Average||50||3 - Unlimited||Yes|
|Private Internet Access||USA||5 Eyes||Yes||Average||3,243||5||Yes|
|VPN Unlimited||USA||5 eyes||Yes||Average||400||5||Yes|
|Hotspot Shield||USA||5 eyes||Yes||Average||500||5||Yes|
|Avast Secureline VPN||Czech Republic||Cooperative||Yes||Average||52||5||Yes|
|Total VPN||UK||5 Eyes||Yes||Average||45||3||Yes|
|Avira Phantom VPN||Germany||5 Eyes||Yes||Slow||40||Unlimited||Yes|
|Opera VPN||Norway||5 Eyes||Yes||Slow||3||1||Yes|
The Best VPN Services – Our Reviews
1. NordVPN – Top Overall Choice for Australia’s #1 VPN
“Reliable, Secure, 5000+ Servers”
NordVPN is a very popular VPN service with a massive customer base. Often the most recommended VPN service on many sites, NordVPN’s reputation is backed by their service’s reliability, zero logging policy, maximum security and complete access to geo-blocked content with their proprietary SmartPlay feature.
CIA-Level Security and Complete Anonymity
If security and anonymity is top priority for you, then you’re in for a big treat. With the advent of threats too complex to even describe, you could cozy up while browsing knowing you could use their OpenVPN tunneling protocol, which is the most secure one that exists today. Unlike other VPN providers, NordVPN’s version of AES-256 encryption is equipped with the 2048-bit Diffie-Hellman key rather than the RSA key because it features Perfect Forward Secrecy.
NordVPN also boasts a double encryption feature, making NordVPN the top pick for countries with Draconian laws (North Korea, China, etc.). Even with deep packet inspection, it’s virtually impossible to crack this level of encryption.
DNS Leak Protection and automatic kill switch features are built-in to any of NordVPN’s packages, further ensuring that your activity is always protected.
NordVPN also has one of the easiest to use and most secure password managers to pair with their VPN services called NordPass.
Servers and Geo-blocked Content
Their proprietary SmartPlay technology allows you to access hundreds of streaming sites anywhere you are in the world. SmartPlay is a secured proxy service solution that makes most, if not all their servers a viable access point for streaming services like Netflix, Kodl, Hulu and others.
NordVPN suits avid travelers very well with access to 5,200 servers, spread across 62 countries in 6 continents. You can Netflix and chill anywhere you want to. 😎
2. Surfshark – Best “Budget” VPN
“Secure, Inexpensive, 800+ Servers”
Surfshark is the definition of the new kid on the block. These guys are the newest VPN we’ve reviewed and we like what we see so far. They even have the potential to be number one in the future.
We talk about location a lot here due to jurisdiction and governmental interference. Surfshark has taken up residence in the British Virgin Islands, which is probably the best place for a VPN to be and has also taken residence in our number 2 spot on this list.
The pricing for a long-term contract basically feels like they’re giving it to you for free at $1.99 per month and the subscription gives you fantastic value. It seems like Surfshark is adding a new server every day and is always looking to provide more for its users. The VPN company currently has over 800 servers in more than 50 countries.
Security and Privacy
Surfshark does things right in terms of security and privacy and actually gives you options in terms of encryption protocol. First, they never log. Second, the company has support for several protocols, including 256-bit AES/OpenVPN, IPSec and IKEv2 (but not IPv6). By using these protocols, they can provide a nearly-unlimited number of IP addresses to their customers.
The old IPv4 protocol used by many VPNs has a limited number of unique IPs to assign. This can severely hamper your streaming abilities. Surfshark’s support for a variety of VPN protocols means that it can be installed on a range of routers and devices.
Surfshark VPN protocols use the best available 256-bit AES encryption. The company also uses a 2048-bit DHE-RSA key exchange and an SHA512 authentication hash. Since most people don’t know what that means, just know it’s literally the best encryption you can have. Surfshark also has DNS and WebRTC leak protection throughout their network.
Price and the Rest
When it comes to pricing, Surfshark is the best choice in terms of the value it provides. This wasn’t the case even a few years ago because Surfshark was just a twinkle in its shark father’s eye. When it comes to short-term plans, the cost is reasonable. If you’re looking at a two-year plan, you can pay $1.99 per month which beats out every other great VPN.
The great thing about Surfshark VPN is that you can just scrounge up the spare change from your couch each month to pay for the service.
3. ExpressVPN – Best Choice for Speed
“Fast, Secure, 700+ Locations”
This British Virgin Islands (location is important) company has been in the business since 2009 and wins our love as the 2nd best all-around VPN for Australians. There are several reasons we make that claim.
For the price of a single subscription, customers gain access to any of the 2000+ speedy ExpressVPN servers located in 94 countries. In case you’re wondering, this is quite broad coverage, and that’s a good thing.
Security and Privacy
The backbone of a VPN lies in the encryption standard it deploys. AES-256 is ExpressVPN’s choice. You don’t have to be a technology nerd to understand that it would take dozens of supercomputers checking billions of keys per second billions of years to crack this kind of encryption by brute force. Read more about how encryption works here.
You don’t want anything to do with a VPN that has a WebRTC leak, malware infected installation files, or a weak logging policy. From our testing, ExpressVPN is clean as a whistle and boasts a no-logging policy that is as strict as you’ll find.
For newbies to VPN lingo, no-logging means that they don’t keep records of your use of their service. Believe it or not, some companies do. Those companies are not on our list.
Looking for a service that allows hassle-free torrenting and access to Kodi and Netflix from anywhere? This is one of the main reasons some people use a VPN service and ExpressVPN checks out well.
Price and the Rest
The best part is you get all these exemplary features and STILL can enjoy one of the fastest VPN experiences to be found. The only nit we’d pick at is ExpressVPN comes in slightly to the high side of price, ranging from $6.67 to $12.95 per month, depending on the length of contract and specials they might be running.
Customer support is important. We made up some questions to put the good reputation of ExpressVPN’s staff to the test.
Long story short, they did really well.
While we don’t suggest you raid the kids’ college fund to get this VPN service, it wouldn’t necessarily make you a bad person.
4. VyPrVPN – Fourth Choice but Still Pretty Good
“Fast, Great Price, Fewer Locations”
FEWER IPS TO CONNECT TO
Truth be told, we wouldn’t make a big deal of it if you chose VyprVPN instead of our #1 recommendation. It’s that good, but someone has to be second and most of the things we have to say about this company are of the positive variety.
While a tad below the #3’s standard of servers in 94 countries, VyPrVPN can boast 70 countries, which isn’t shabby.
Unlimited Means Unlimited
But what we really like is the unlimited streaming aspect of this service, which means you can literally stay online 24/7 the rest of your life if you like will never run into a bandwidth or performance restriction. Not all VPN services can make that claim.
Security is important in the VPN game. Without that, there’s no point in buying the service at all. VyPrVPN owns and maintains all their servers in-house. This means fewer opportunities for your personal data to see the light of day through mishandling.
Torrents, Kodi, and Netflix
VyPrVPN technically works with torrenting, Kodi, and Netflix, though not always without a bit of swearing and throwing things about. Torrents are allowed but not encouraged and your torrenting activities might be logged.
Kodi works fine, though needs to be set up manually. And thanks to Netflix’s war on VPNs, it’s getting harder to find a server that works with this service reliably.
No Risk Trial
Like NordVPN, VyprVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee. If you’re new to all this, that means a lot because it’s your escape plan in the event you suddenly freak and decide to never use the internet again.
New VyprVPN customers get a 50% price reduction as a thank you from the company for trying their service. Though plenty fast, perhaps the most outstanding feature is their total devotion to guarding your personal data.
5. Pure VPN
“Solid Choice but a Slight Step Down”
To our way of thinking, you really shouldn’t go online without a VPN but the reality is that pennies can be tight and even the relatively modest cost of NordVPN and ExpressVPN might result in skipped meals.
For those on a strict budget, we offer PureVPN for your consideration.
When Cost is a Big Deal
The bottom line is that you get most of the features of the top dogs, like a money back guarantee, totally adequate support, and all the anonymity and privacy you expect from a top shelf VPN – but at a lesser price.
Now we’re not going to sit here and claim that PureVPN quality is every bit that of the two previous choices, because it’s not, but the service is absolutely fine if you need to control expenses.
The first thing you’ll likely notice when you land on the PureVPN website is that it seems like they have a heck of a lot of features. You’re right. They do.
A Plethora of Features
We’re talking about anti-malware and virus software, ad-blocking, intrusion detection and prevention, app filtering, and the list goes on. You won’t find this level of security sophistication with other similarly priced services.
Add to this a solid “no-session logging” policy and what might be the easiest user interface in the industry and you have a damn fine choice for Australians who know they need a VPN but also need to save a buck or two.
If torrenting is your goal with a VPN, nothing to see here. PureVPN blocks all torrents from what we can tell. Like most other VPN services, expect to have trouble reliably accessing US Netflix from most of their servers. If you’re into Kodi, though, PureVPN offers an official add-on which makes it a breeze to use.
6. Private Internet Access
“Cheap, Fast, and Slow”
Private Internet Access (PIA) lands right smack dab in the middle of the pack when it comes to quality VPN services for Australians. What this means is that there’s a little bit of good, a little bit of not-so-good, and you get it all at a pretty decent price.
One interesting aspect to this VPN service is that you can willingly decide to downgrade the encryption level of your connection in return for faster browsing speed. On the surface, it might seem like this choice would apply only to those who ingested too many paint chips as a kid.
But hold on!
You Want LESS Encryption?
Let’s say you know you’re on a relatively safe network and realize that downgrading to 128-bit encryption (from 256-bit encryption) still leaves you with a solid layer of cryptographic protection.
The speed you gain might be well worth it.
While PIA has is chock full of servers, they only encompass 28 countries. Underwhelming. The bottom line – if you’re not in one of those countries, expect tortoise-like connection speeds even if you stripped encryption away completely (obviously, we don’t suggest that).
Here’s the exciting part if you like cheapness. Depending on the length of contract and other options you choose, your monthly rate for this VPN will likely fall in the $3 to $7 a month range.
Netflix, Torrents, and Kodi
The question many of you are asking is whether PIA works with these types of services. You can scratch Netflix off the list because no VPN works reliably with this service in 2019. You might get lucky and find a cooperating server now and that’s it. On the plus side, this VPN service is quite supportive of torrenting and works well with Kodi.
Some Serious Cons
PIA is located in the US, which is a serious drawback from a privacy standpoint (read about the 5 Eyes). Another drawback worth mentioning is that there is no live chat feature.
Sooo…not a bad service but not one we can generate much enthusiasm over.
Sometimes size doesn’t matter but sometimes it does.
Trust.Zone’s VPN service has a lot going for it. One thing that it doesn’t is number and location of servers. We’re talking about a paltry 135 in 31 countries. The bottom line is that, no matter how fast connection speeds are, the company doesn’t compare favorably to the footprint left by companies towards the top of our list.
Sneaky fast speed
If you happen to live in a country near one of their servers, you’ll likely have great connection speed. Overall, Trust.Zone was second fastest of the ones tested. That’s no small accomplishment.
Top notch security
Another mark in their favor is a dedication to security. Located in the exotic tropical wonderland of the Seychelles, PIA tends to descend into giggle fits when asked to turn over user data to the governments that like to ask for that sort of thing. We’re talking about the usual suspects: US, UK, Australia…you get the idea.
If you’re in a mood to torrent, this VPN service has no restrictions. Ready to Netflix and chill in the land down under? Meh, it might work for you and it might not. We were able to get around the geo-restrictions on only three of the seven servers we tried, so we gave up.
This one is also one of your best bets if you like to use Kodi.
Stout encryption standards and a low-end range in price makes PIA an excellent choice – if you happen to be one of the fortunate few near a server.
8. Hide My Ass
“Funny Name, Rotten Service”
We wish that Hide My Ass was one big joke. Sorry. It’s not. The service actually exists and charges people to participate in their own special brand of incompetence and skullduggery.
If there was a category for least recommended VPN service in Australia, Hide My Ass (HMA) would make a clean sweep of the gold, silver, and bronze medals.
Let’s say this as plainly as possible. HMA is a terrible service on every level that means anything. We would recommend you swear off the internet and all related technology forever, move to the Outback, and join an Aboriginal tribe before signing up with this VPN.
Seriously. It’s that bad.
Though our HMA test came to an abrupt end, it wasn’t soon enough. We spent an entire week trying to connect to both Netflix and torrenting – no luck. This in addition to being booted randomly and frequently from our connection.
When we tried to call support, no answer to email, chat session, phone call, or smoke signal.
Finally, they just deactivated the account with no warning. Add to this parade of ineptitude the fact connections speeds are slow to nonexistent, they are known to save log sessions and cooperate with law enforcement, and you’ve got the makings of a really bad service.
Do we recommend HMA? You figure it out.
VPNs We Tested and How We Did It
There are hundreds of VPN products available but, in our opinion, only about two dozen are even worth testing. We made the initial decision on which ones made the initial cut based on online sentiment and our own industry-expertise.
Next came a thorough testing process that went something like this:
We actually went online and purchased the product at full price from a vender, installed it on our stock laptop, and tested it for a week.
Chose seven different random geographic locations. Tested each VPN candidate from these locations.
Check for Leaks
There are several sources of leaks (WebRTC, etc) that can rip away your privacy and anonymity in an instant and are the hallmark of a bad VPN service.
The ability to torrent and work around Netflix/Kodi geographic restrictions are one reason VPNs are popular. We assessed these features.
Ease of Use
Checked how friendly the user interface was and customer service responsiveness.
Cost vs Value
ecause we don’t all have gold nuggets and Bitcoin falling out of our pockets.
Privacy / Security Features
A VPN’s raison d’être.
Though testing continues, for the 2019 rankings we evaluated 20 of the top services. The testing environment in regard to computer and operating system were the same, so as to get an honest result.
Just in case we haven’t made it clear enough, we don’t take inducements – financial or otherwise – in arriving at the recommendations on this page. These are our own opinions, arrived at through the sweat of our brow, and plenty of time spent applying fingers to keyboard.
“So, you guys bought and paid for 20 VPN subscriptions?!”
Obviously, the answer to that question is yes. You should also note the similarity between our testing period and the free trial period offered by most services. Come on, you didn’t think…?
We’re working stiffs around here and our calling was higher than being just another bunch of Aussies with too many VPN subscriptions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a VPN and How Does it Work?
An Encrypted Connection Between Your Computer and the Internet.
Separate from your ISP, a VPN routes the data generated by your online activity through a different server, thus hiding your actual location by assigning a different IP address. Additionally, the data is encrypted to keep it from being seen by hackers.
A VPN provides a much higher level of privacy and anonymity than available through your ISP. Most VPN services build off of open source protocols like Open VPN.
How it works
Though your head might implode if you had to build a working VPN connection from scratch, the process of using one is not complicated.
- Download VPN software and install it on your device.
- Start a browsing session by opening the software.
- Your data is encrypted before it leaves your computer.
- After being encrypted, your data goes to the VPN server.
- After passing through the VPN server, your data (still encrypted) is routed to your online destination – like a bank website or your favorite social media page.
- From the online destination point of view, it appears the data originated with the VPN server.
The big deal with all this is that, thanks to the encryption protocol, data in transit (such as credit card or Social Security numbers) are unreadable to anyone who manages to hack the system and take a look.
Think of a VPN connection as a safe tunnel through which all the information associated with an online session can travel, hidden safely from the outside world.
What are the Benefits of Using a VPN?
Reach a Whole New Level of Online Security and Privacy.
Thanks to encryption, using a VPN greatly lowers the chances your data will be stolen and sold on the Dark Web or to advertisers without your consent. Additionally, your IP address looks like you’re accessing the internet from the physical location of the VPN server, creating a level of anonymity unmatched with a traditional ISP.
Is it Legal to Use a VPN in Australia?
Legal for Now but Recent Legislation Could be a Slippery Slope.
Most western countries, including Australia, allow the unfettered use of VPN services. But a 2015 law made it permissible for those who hold copyrights that are being violated could get a federal court order to have it blocked within the country.
So far, no further legislative moves have been made against VPNs. Many Australians use these types of services to get around government efforts to regulate content.
Which VPN Lets Me Stream Netflix?
Choose Your Service Carefully if You Want American Netflix.
It’s no secret that the rest of the world lusts after the American version of Netflix. There are three reason for this: choices, choices, choices. The streaming giant offers different selections in different parts of the world and if you happen to be in the wrong place by birthright, you’re out of luck unless…
You guessed it. By choosing a VPN located in the exalted land of the free and home of the brave, you can fool Big Brother Netflix into thinking you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Yankee and make choices from the FULL catalog. Keep in mind Netflix is on a crusade to block all VPNs from unlocking their service.
Do VPNs Track What I Do Online and Keep Log Files?
Depending On Which Service You Use, the Answer to Both is – Quite Possibly.
While tracking your online activities and saving log files that document the same seems to run counter to the whole reason for using a VPN, make no mistake that plenty of services engage in these practices.
Though some logging is necessary for troubleshooting issues and administering accounts properly, many of the most popular services stray near the concept of privacy invasion.
Are VPNs Safe for Torrenting?
Good VPNs – Sure. Bad VPNs – Not So Much.
Torrenting, otherwise known as peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, is the Wild West of the internet. Nowhere online are you more liable to pick up a virus or malware or stumble across a law enforcement officer posing as Johnny Copyright Violator.
If it seems that it might be a good idea to make use of a VPN before heading out to one of these sights, we’re here to say that’s a wise decision.
Whether you’re looking to get around various government censorship attempts or download a pirated file of your favorite movie (Come on, it’s 2020, no sense pretending it doesn’t.), choosing a quality VPN should be mandatory. How do you know which?
Can You Set Up a VPN on a Router?
Make Your Entire Wi-Fi Connection Private.
Using a VPN service on your primary internet device is good, but it can get even better when you set it up to run through a router and privatize your entire wi-fi network. There is a Santa Claus and yes, you can do that.
There are a few benefits to a router-based VPN service that go beyond the enhanced security and privacy already afforded by the more traditional setup.
- Maintain an active VPN connection all the time
- Connect multiple devices to one account
- Cast a wider, more secure net over your household
Choosing and setting up a VPN router goes beyond the scope of this article, but tutorials are plentiful on Google.
Can You Setup a VPN on a Game Console or Smart TV?
If You VPN-ize Your Router First.
There are actually a few different ways to skin this cat. The first would be to download and install a VPN app directly onto your smart TV, though not all have this capability. Another way to go about it would be to run a VPN connection through your home router (see previous question).
Since your gaming console or smart tv take their internet signal from the home network, they would be protected by the VPN-ized router you create.
What is the Best Free VPN for Australia?
Paid VPN Service is Always Better but There Are Free Options.
Maybe you’ve heard the old saying: “If the product is free, YOU are the product.”
The bottom line is that few companies form out of the goodness of the CEO’s heart and vow to provide a world-class service/product at no cost ever. You should understand that if a VPN service touts itself as free, it simply means they make their money through non-traditional means like:
- Provide a minimal service at no cost, but hit you with upsells to remove speed or bandwidth restrictions that choke off usefulness.
- Collecting/selling your data to advertisers or on the Dark Web.
- Sell ads that fill up every corner of the screen.
While you might think you’re getting something for free, you’re not. The manner by which you will ultimately pay might not be readily apparent but it will play its hand eventually.
Still determined to find a free quality VPN service?
What is the Fastest VPN Out There?
Encryption slows a VPN down.
Maybe you haven’t thought about it, but the process of encrypting every bit of data that travels across your internet connection slows everything down. This is a problem every VPN service runs up against and fights constantly to overcome.
If the encryption is super-strong, the speed is slow. If the speed is great, the encryption is weak.
But a few services have managed to overcome this problem and maintain consistently fast connection speeds and airtight security.
No matter who does the ranking, NordVPN tends to come in at or near the top of a recommendations when it comes to speed.
How Much do VPNs Cost?
More than a stick of gum, less than a Ferrari.
Let’s end the suspense. They’re not all that expensive in the larger scheme of things. Most legitimate VPN services will run you between $2 and $10 per month. Keep in mind this is a service you use along with – not instead of – your ISP.
Between the two you should be out no more than $20 a month.
Seems like a pretty good deal to maintain online privacy and prevent your personal data from being kidnapped and sold to the highest bidder.
Are There Any Dangers With Using a VPN?
They don’t bite, if that’s what you’re asking.
The only real risk associated with using a VPN is if you choose a scummy service that installs malware on your computer or harvests your personal data or financial information to sell. That is a very real danger that most often comes from free services.
This is why you REALLY should do your research (like reading this page – good job) beforehand in order to weed out the bad actors.
Just a little bit of due diligence on your part can keep you from signing up with one of these jokers. The ones who do bad things have plenty of unhappy former customers who are not afraid to go online and tell all about their bad experience.
Can a VPN Make My Internet Faster?
Not Unless the Laws of Physics are Repealed.
As mentioned earlier, the process of encryption that allows a VPN to make your browsing experience safer does nothing to increase internet connection speed. In fact, except for a very few service providers, adding a VPN to the mix tends to have a slowing effect.
For a faster internet connection, you should explore solutions with your ISP.
Can a VPN Be Blocked?
Does the sun rise in the east? Yes.
Unfortunately, your VPN service can be blocked either at the ISP level or by using a DNS router. Blocking VPNs is normally associated with large organizations paranoid about computer security or governments involved in internet censorship.
This can be accomplished in a few different ways.
- Blocking IP addresses that are associated with popular VPN services. Some government choose to block all IP addresses that originate outside the country.
- Blocking ports that support common VPN tunneling protocols.
The good news is that there is no perfect way to block ALL VPN services permanently. It’s a fluid game in which the rules constantly change. If you find your VPN connection is constantly under attack, there are other methods of hiding your IP address.
Can You Be Tracked if You Use a VPN?
Nothing is foolproof.
While a properly functioning VPN service makes it harder to be tracked, rest assured that there is no technology available guaranteed to make you invisible. Here are just a few of the possibilities:
- Your VPN leaks your real IP
- Your VPN server gets hacked
- Your VPN service installs malware on your computer
- Clever hackers can find you via other ways than IP address
- There are many, MANY others…
The bottom line is that a VPN provides more anonymity and safer data but there is no man, woman, or child on this earth can promise with certainty that you will never be tracked when using a VPN.