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VPN FOR SCHOOL: The best solutions in 2020 (5 paid & 5 free)

Last updated: June 29 2020 By Dean Chester

Computer networks in schools, colleges, and libraries in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia have configured firewalls that block many sites and track user network activity. In this article, I will talk about how to safely access any site and hide the addresses you visit.

 
The best VPN services available in schools:
  1. ExpressVPN: The best choice if you value premium quality. All platforms support, quick setup, locations in 94 countries, the highest speed. Chromebook support.
  2. NordVPN: Ideal for schools where VPNs are blocked, as it has protection against detection and support for working on a non-standard port. It has more than 5800 servers in 60 countries. Quick connect with WireGuard. Chromebook support.
  3. Surfshark: Best choice if you have a limited budget. Prices for this VPN start at $ 1.99 per month, while it supports obfuscation, double VPN and other useful features. Chromebook support.
  4. CyberGhost VPN: More than 6200 servers in 90 countries. Suitable in cases where the IP addresses of VPN servers are blocked on the school network and the port change doesn’t help. Slow connection on Windows.
  5. PIA: A good choice for those who need a large number of connections and security features. Port forwarding support.
 
Free VPNs for school *:
  1. ProtonVPN: A strong player in the VPN market with a free plan. There is unlimited traffic, but the speed is significantly limited. No obfuscation.
  2. Hide.me: 10GB per month limit and limited speed. 3 available countries. Connection failures.
  3. Windscribe: An advanced VPN, but for free it’s possible to use only part of the features. 10GB per month, limited speed.
  4. Turbo VPN: Only suitable for mobile devices. No signup needed, but a lot of ads.
  5. TunnelBear: A free plan is comparable to a paid one, but the limit is only 1500MB per month.

 * All the presented free services don’t provide adequate security if a packet analyzer is installed on the school network to detect VPN traffic.School VPN logo

It is no secret that most modern schools and universities have convenient Internet access for students and their teachers. As a rule, popular resources related to communication and development are available, but there are many restrictions.  

For example, many schools and libraries in the United States are subject to the CIPA, which imposes strict restrictions on materials harmful to students.

Also, at the discretion of the management of educational institutions, access to resources distracting from the educational process may be limited.

Similar rules apply in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and some other countries.

Important: Using a VPN in most schools isn’t recommended. Moreover, there are methods used that limit the possibility of implementing this technology. Most of the services I know don’t pay enough attention to technologies to bypass even primitive blockers and don’t provide additional masking if you use a VPN connection.

How to deal with it?

 There are good VPN services with the necessary capabilities.

Read on and you will learn a few simple rules for the efficient and safe use of VPNs at school and a brief introduction to the most suitable VPNs.


Best VPN for school by user reviews

In addition to my own testing, for the most reliable result, I turned to the reviews of real users with Reddit.

And the results only confirmed my opinion.  

I’ll give an example of messages regarding the use of VPN in school networks:

Redditors reviews on VPN services for the school

In order not to clutter up the article, I won’t cite a large number of examples of user reviews. I’ll just summarize: the services I presented are among the leaders for use at educational institutions of various levels.

Comparison of the main characteristics of VPN services that work with school networks

Service Ranking
(out of 10)
Stealth level
(out of 10)
Speed, Mbps Country selection Number of
servers
Price (monthly)
ExpressVPN 10 9 >100 94 3000+ $6.67-12.95
NordVPN 10 10 >60 59 5700+ $3.49-11.95
Surfshark 10 10 >50 63 1700+ $1.99-11.95
CyberGhost 9 9 40-70 90 6000+ $2.75-12.99
PIA 9 10 >50 45 3300+ $2.85-9.95

Keep reading to learn about the features of each of the five best VPN services for Smart TV.


ExpressVPN

Main advantages:

  • Premium level
  • High speed of over 100 Mbps
  • All devices and platforms support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Overview

ExpressVPN is primarily interesting for its clarity and stable high-speed connection.

In combination with the incredible coverage of geolocations (more than 140 cities in 90 countries) and streaming support, the service is suitable for almost any purpose. For more than 3 years I have regularly tested applications for all OSs from this provider and consider that its services are the standard in the VPN market.

The only drawback of ExpressVPN is the lack of obfuscation to mask the use of VPNs from network filters.  

Price

The table lists the ExpressVPN tariff plans:

  1 month 6 months 1 year
Monthly cost $12.95 $9.99 $6.67
Money-back guarantee, in days 30 30 30

You can subscribe to the service and download software for any platform from the ExpressVPN official website.

Conclusion:

  • ExpressVPN is a universal effective VPN for any purpose, including circumvention of restrictions in school networks.
  • Convenient, clearly working apps for desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.
  • Has a large number of positive reviews.
  • Suitable for streaming and torrenting.
  • Up to 5 devices per subscription.
  • Doesn’t keep logs, for which it uses diskless servers.
 
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Also read:

ExpressVPN for school


NordVPN

Main advantages:

  • Technology of the “invisible” use
  • 5800+ servers with access to each of them
  • Obfuscation of OpenVPN
  • Users’ trust

Overview

NordVPN makes it easy to change your IP address, bypass the restrictions of the school Internet, and hide the addresses of visited sites. Moreover, it allows you to do this even in situations where standard OpenVPN and IPSec (IKEv2) protocol ports are blocked and a packet analyzer is activated. 

For maximum security, enable obfuscation in the application settings for Windows and Mac. When used with Android and iOS, select obfuscated servers from the corresponding list.

NordVPN holds the connection very stably. If desired, you can use the double VPN feature.

Prices

The table lists the NordVPN tariff plans:

  1 month 1 year 2 years 3 years
Monthly cost $11.95 $6.99 $4.99 $3.49
Money-back guarantee, in days 30 30 30 30

You can subscribe to the service and download software for any platform from the official NordVPN website.

Conclusion:

  • NordVPN has showed excellent test results
  • It has many positive reviews and is often recommended by experts
  • Has strong functionality
  • Up to 6 devices per subscription
  • The most advanced WireGuard protocol (NordLynx) support
 
NordVPN Preview
Flexible pricing + free trial for Android and iOS
 

Also read:

NordVPN for school


Surfshark

Main advantages:

  • The best combination of price and quality
  • All platforms support
  • Obfuscation
  • User-friendly apps

Overview

Since we are talking about a VPN service for students, it will not be out of place to offer the best of cheap VPNs for school. I believe this is Surfshark. It is practically not inferior to its competitors in technical capabilities, but it costs significantly less. However, only if you purchase it for 1 or 2 years.

For $1.99 per month, we get access to a developed network of servers that support obfuscation, MutliHop technology (an analog of double VPN), support for video streaming services, gaming platforms, and much more.

You can install Surfshark on any device that supports virtual private network technology.

Price

The table lists the Surfshark VPN plans:

  1 month 1 year 2 years
Monthly cost $11.95 $5.99 $1.99
Money-back guarantee, in days 30 30 30

You can sign up and choose a tariff plan on the official Surfshark website.

Conclusion:

  • Surfshark is the cheapest premium service
  • Effective in circumventing almost any type of lock
  • Totally safe
  • All platforms support
  • Allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices for one subscription
  • Doesn’t keep logs, has a secure jurisdiction
 
Surfshark Preview
Save with a professional VPN service
 

Also read:

Surfshark for school


CyberGhost

Main advantages:

  • More than 6200 servers in 90 countries
  • Special location lists for torrenting and streaming
  • Effective when IP addresses are blocked
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

Overview

CyberGhost allows you to access a huge number of servers. This is very convenient when the IP addresses of the servers of popular VPN providers are blocked on the school network. It seems to me almost impossible to block more than 6k addresses!

I also want to highlight the convenient option of choosing servers for secure torrenting and for viewing Netflix, YouTube and other resources.

Of the disadvantages I can point out that it can significantly load the processor, which leads to a premature discharge of the battery.

Price

The table lists the CyberGhost VPN plans.

  1 month 1 year 2 years 3 years
Monthly cost $12.99 $5.99 $3.69 $2.75
Money-back guarantee, in days - 45 45 45

With CyberGhost, you can go a step further and rent your own dedicated IP address (extra $5 per month).

Conclusion:

  • Large selection of IPs
  • All devices support
  • Lack of energy efficiency
  • Up to 7 devices per subscription

 Also read:

CyberGhost for school


Private Internet Access

Main advantages:

  • Technically advanced service
  • A large number of features
  • Affordable price
  • Narrower country coverage than competitors

Overview

The American-Anglo-Israeli VPN service Private Internet Access closes the top five. It features an incredible number of different options for personalizing your VPN connection. It allows you to change settings such as the encryption standard, DNS servers, DHCP, inbound and outbound ports and much more.

In my opinion, most of these options will not be helpful in real use. But what can be useful is port forwarding. Thanks to this feature, the customer can use programs and applications that are sensitive to the presence of NAT.

Price

The table lists the plans for Private Internet Access.

  1 month 6 months 1 year
Monthly cost $9.95 $5.99 $2.85
Money-back guarantee, in days 30 30 30

It is important that students can get a substantial discount.

Conclusion:

  • The highest technical level of apps
  • 45 available countries
  • Port forwarding
  • Up to 10 devices per subscription
  • Doesn’t keep logs
  • Directly related to CyberGhost (shared owner)

 Also read:

PIA for school


What to do if the VPN service site is not available

Having studied the problems that students and teachers face in schools, libraries and colleges, I found a problem that many cannot solve and, as a result, abandon attempts to circumvent restrictions.

This is blocking of VPN service sites.

There are two ways to access a blocked site for registering and downloading the app:

  1. Connection to cellular Internet (simple connection or its subsequent distribution via WiFi or wire).
  2. Free proxy for the web browser.

 With the first method, everything is clear, and the second requires explanation. Yes, someone will now say that this is a strange decision. Public proxies are unstable and it is extremely difficult to find a working IP address. But do not rush to conclusions! I do not urge you to use these proxies all the time. This is necessary only once to access the service site.  

So, first, find a proxy.  

This can be done on many sites by the request of “free proxy list”.

The search engine will provide dozens of sites that have lists of free proxies.

You will need an IP address and port:

Example of proxy selection

 After that, go to the system settings (or your browser) and enter this data as shown in the following screenshot (Windows 10):

Example of proxy settings on Windows 10

Save the settings and try to connect to any site that opened without a proxy. If the connection does not occur, then change the proxy. This operation sometimes has to be repeated several times.  

Ultimately, you will find a working proxy and will be able to go to the site of the VPN provider.

IMPORTANT! Do not use free proxies to access the resources for which you are looking for a VPN. This can lead to the loss of control over your accounts and cybercriminals’ access to your computer. After you connect to the VPN, turn off the proxy, go to your account and change the password.


Free VPNs for school and the risks associated with them

I'm sure most of you are looking for a free VPN for school. In some cases, this is justified, but I consider it my duty to warn you of the dangers and disadvantages associated with the use of such VPN software.

  • Free VPNs for the most part are not free. The vast majority of applications that are actively promoted on the Google Play Market and the Apple App Store are free trial VPNs. After a short trial period, they will require payment, which is most often higher than that of well-paid providers.
     
  • A free VPN most often does not have the function of choosing a connection port, changing a protocol, and even more so obfuscation. This at best will not allow you to connect to the server, and at worst it will give out your attempts to circumvent restrictions.
     
  • Free VPNs have low speed and / or traffic restrictions, a very limited list of available servers and countries.
     
  • Many free mobile gadget apps are full of ads that often block connection management.

I have selected the 5 least problematic free VPNs for school networks. The first 3 of them are also suitable for switching to a paid subscription.

ProtonVPN

Repeated testing showed that ProtonVPN has the best balance between speed, reliability, security and affordable features.

But the cons are that torrenting is prohibited and streaming sites are not available. These restrictions are removed only on a paid subscription.

Hide.me

The next service you can try to use at school is hide.me. It, unlike ProtonVPN, limits the user in the amount of traffic (10GB per month). But in contrast, it has no registration. That is, you do not need to create an account to install the hide.me application.

The free version has several drawbacks, including frequent connection failures and situations where sites ask for confirmation that you are a person.

Windscribe

Windscribe is similar to hide.me, but requires registration for a 10GB limit. Only 2GB are available without signup. But conditionally the service is more technically developed.

I will explain. Testing of the free version revealed a critically low speed on all “interesting protocols”. In reality, the usual features similar to the hide.me features are available.

Turbo VPN

If you want to unblock sites only for a smartphone or tablet, then pay attention to the app from Turbo VPN.

The service is replete with advertising, which pops up during any interaction with the app, but does not have a traffic limit.

The main disadvantage is that there is no way to change the port, which makes Turbo VPN useless with even the minimal protection against VPN.

Free TunnelBear

TunnelBear stands apart from all free VPNs. Even on the free plan, it has good indicators of speed and reliability. But the traffic limit spoils everything. The available 1500MB run out too fast.


FAQ

❓ Which school VPNs support Chromebook?

Chrome OS is focused on education and access to information in cloud storage. It differs from the usual systems, and many VPN services do not support this platform.

But there is a solution. All of the top five VPN services work successfully on a Chromebook. Read more about the features of working virtual private network with Chrome OS in my special review.

🔑 How to unlock the school WiFi without a VPN?

The easiest way is to use proxy add-ons for browsers. They successfully bypass locks, but are only available for laptops.

By the way, each of the listed services is armed with such an add-on. Their advantage is the ease and stability of the connection without the need to manually enter the IP address and port.

🚫 Why is my VPN not working on the school network?

As a rule, school networks are configured in such a way that the ports to which standard VPN protocols are connected are blocked. This is solved by changing the port in the settings of the VPN application. As a rule, it is enough to choose port 443, on which the standard https protocol web browsers work.

In some cases, there is a more complex system that detects and blocks traffic packets containing certain footprints. In this case, you need to use obfuscation or rare protocols. For example, NordVPN has WireGuard.

VPN-Review - Chief Editor
Dean Chester
Cybersecurity and online privacy expert and researcher. He's been published on OpenVPN, EC-Council Blog, DevSecOps, AT-T Business, SAP Community, etc. Dean has been testing VPNs for 8 years.

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