Criteria for Choosing Brave Browser VPNs
And that’s it for our list of tried and tested VPNs for the Brave browser, but before we end this review, we’ll touch on our selection process. You see, we believe that there is no one-size-fits-all VPN. While NordVPN, Surfshark, and Private Internet Access impressed us the most, they might not be the best Brave browser VPNs for everybody. So if you want to research and test VPNs yourself, consider this a condensed guide to choosing the best Brave browser VPN. If you want a more detailed walk-through, check out our complete VPN guide here.
Security Is the Number One Priority
Despite the fact that all VPNs do the same things at their core — they encrypt your traffic and hide your IP address by creating a VPN tunnel — not all VPNs are created equal. There are a number of key factors to look at when choosing the most secure VPNs. These include:
- Encryption: A VPN must provide a high level of encryption in order to protect your data, so only go with a VPN that has at least AES-128 encryption. In our book, though, AES-256 is the gold standard.
- VPN protocol: We know it can be hard to understand the technical terms that VPNs use when describing their VPN protocols, so here’s a cheat sheet, if you will. OpenVPN and WireGuard are regarded to be the most secure VPN protocols, as well as most proprietary protocols built around them. On the other hand, IPSec, either L2TP or IKEv2, provides lower security, but good speeds and reliability.
- Leak protection: There are several ways through which your IP address can be leaked even if you’re using a VPN, including WebRTC and DNS leaks. Before committing to a VPN brand, put it through a WebRTC and DNS leak test first. There are lots of online tools that detect these kinds of leaks for free. Be sure to use Brave when performing these tests, so you can see how the VPN does with the specific browser you’re using.
Privacy Is Just as Important
Although security comes first, privacy should be a high priority as well. Here’s why: When you use a VPN, your traffic becomes encrypted, preventing ISPs, the government, or anyone spying on your network from seeing what you do online. However, the VPN has the key to that encryption. If you choose a VPN with no regards to your privacy, your data might end up being sold to advertisers. We assume you wouldn’t like that since you use Brave. Here are the things you should consider when choosing a privacy-friendly VPN.
- Legal obligations: Some VPNs have legal obligations to submit customer data to the government or a court when subpoenaed. These are the VPNs based in Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes countries, which include the U.S. If a VPN is under the jurisdiction of any of these international alliances, you’ll have to make sure that they only collect the bare minimum amount of data. The less they know about you, the less they could be forced to share.
The security and privacy a VPN provides won’t mean a thing if the VPN causes your internet activities to halt. You’ll just end up not using it, which is worse than having a low-security VPN. It’s crucial, then, to find the perfect balance between speed and security.
Almost all VPNs we tested affected our speeds somehow, but some caused less slowdowns than others. Our process for choosing fast VPNs involves testing our current internet speed (without the VPN, that is), immediately followed by testing our speed with the VPN. We then measure the percentage by which the speed dropped. We repeat the process several times and average out the result to minimize external factors such as network congestion, server traffic, etc.
FYI: A number of factors can affect internet and VPN speeds, such as the time of day, amount of traffic from other users, distance to the VPN server, etc. We try to eliminate these factors when we test VPNs, but still, your mileage may vary.
We consider a VPN fast if the average percentage of the speed drop is below 40 percent, both for the upload and the download speed. For reference, a 40-percent drop on a 50 Mbps connection is equal to 30 Mbps (still good for 4K Netflix streaming).3
The App Glues Everything Together
Lastly, don’t discount the importance of the VPN app. When you’re using a VPN for Brave, you interact with the app the most. It’s where you turn the VPN on and off, select a server location, manage your network settings, and more. So before locking in your VPN subscription, be sure to get a feel for the user experience its apps provide. Here are a few factors to consider.
- Supported platforms: Take an inventory of the platforms or operating systems that you might need a VPN for, and check if the VPN supports all those platforms. While most have apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, you might have a harder time looking for VPNs that work with Apple TVs (or any other smart TV for that matter), gaming consoles, or even Linux.
- Features: You should also take the app’s features into consideration. For instance, for this review, we tested how each VPN app handles split tunneling on Brave. Some let us set up split tunneling directly on the Brave extension, but others didn’t offer the feature at all. Other features to look out for are kill switches and multi-hop.
- Overall ease of use: Remember, you’ll likely use a VPN app several times a day, whether at home, in the office, or on the go, so it must be easy enough to use so that it doesn’t disrupt your everyday life. We like apps that load quickly, have few or no bugs, and are aesthetically pleasing.
- User reviews: We don’t rely much on user reviews when testing VPN apps because they can be subjective. For instance, Surfshark’s Brave extension got a low 3-star rating on the Brave extension repository despite it being the best extension we’ve tested. However, it’s still a good idea to browse through user reviews to spot potential issues that other real-life users have encountered.
Testing VPNs can be a long and winding process. We know, we’ve been doing it for years. But with this tried and tested guide, you’re most likely to succeed in finding the right Brave browser VPN that’s just right for you.