Sometimes school network administrators can block too much content and students are unable to engage with the online world in a healthy manner. To get around internet restrictions without sacrificing privacy and anonymity, students and teachers alike can use virtual private networks (VPNs), software that encrypts data while in transit and changes the IP address of the user’s device. VPN services are needed at schools and university campuses to unblock content, access resources and eliminate internet throttling. The main usage of VPNs for school is to gain anonymity and bypass mechanisms used to block content online. Users can enjoy other benefits as well, such as faster internet, access to more content and better privacy. VPNs are very safe to use in general, but some countries and institutions prohibit the use of such services. Failure to comply with rules and regulations may carry penalties, depending on the local laws of the country or the institution.
VPNs for schools have become important as more and more educational institutions have implemented censorship programs to restrict or block content and websites. And with cyberattacks on the rise, VPNs are also crucial for maintaining privacy online. The best VPNs for school are the ones offering advanced security (so that users can remain undetected while at school), deep discounts and fast speeds. This article will cover the best VPNs for school usage, offering additional information on the mechanisms of how VPNs unblock content, whether VPNs can make an internet connection faster at school, and the legality and safety of using VPNs at school.
The best VPNs for school are given below.
- Surfshark VPN
- Private Internet Access
1. NordVPN for School WiFi
NordVPN is one of the best VPNs for any purpose and not just for schools. The main usage of NordVPN is for users to gain protection and privacy online.
NordVPN’s advantages include a huge network of 5,000-plus servers spanning 60 countries, powerful security tools and speedy performance. However, the disadvantages of NordVPN are the expensive one-month plan and the slightly clunky Windows client.
As covered in the complete NordVPN review, the unique features of this VPN include VPN over Tor, malware protection, Double VPN and an ad blocker. The strong sides of NordVPN include extra privacy, extra security and a verified zero-logs policy.
The price of NordVPN is $11.99 per month on the one-month package, $4.99 per month on the one-year package and $3.29 per month on the two-year package. NordVPN is owned by Tefincom SA.
Like any other secure VPN, NordVPN uses encryption to protect user data, passes the data through a secure tunnel to a server operated by the VPN service and then sends the data to the final destination. This way, the user gains anonymity and privacy on the internet.
Users looking to use NordVPN in school should sign up for a package on the company’s website, download the relevant VPN app (most likely mobile), launch the app, input the login credentials and connect to a server.
NordVPN is considered the best VPN for schools because the service offers the most comprehensive set of security tools in the business (antivirus protection, an ad blocker, encryption and double encryption), attractive discounts climbing up to 80% and fast servers numbering in the thousands.
2. CyberGhost for School
CyberGhost is another popular VPN service people can use to get anonymity and privacy online. CyberGhost’s main advantages include a zero-logs policy, support for torrenting, seven simultaneous connections and the facility to unblock streaming services like Netflix. However, CyberGhost has a few disadvantages, including connections to companies not known to uphold privacy, an underdeveloped Linux client and a few dropped connections.
CyberGhost’s unique features include optimized servers for specific activities, detailed server information and the biggest of server networks with over 7,800 servers. The strong sides of CyberGhost include the free browser add-on, lengthy money-back guarantee and cryptocurrency payment methods. CyberGhost’s security is strong with a kill switch, split tunneling and VPN protocols such as WireGuard, AES 256-bit encryption and SHA 256-bit encryption for authentication. For more on how this VPN’s security features work, refer to Security Gladiators’ full CyberGhost review.
CyberGhost costs $12.99 per month on the one-month package, $4.29 per month on the one-year package, $3.25 per month on the two-year package and $2.29 per month on the three-year package. CyberGhost is owned by Kape Technologies, which may be a problem for more privacy-oriented VPN users because the firm has a questionable history on privacy issues.
CyberGhost works by encrypting user data, sending the data to the company server via a secure tunnel and getting the response back from the final destination. To use CyberGhost in school, users have to purchase a subscription to CyberGhost, download the VPN app from the company’s website, install the app, input login details and connect to a server before accessing online content. Be sure to download the app before entering the school building/campus since CyberGhost’s website may be blocked.
CyberGhost is considered one of the best VPNs for schools because of strong security tools such as encryption, a kill switch and split tunneling, attractive discounts (up to 82%) and fast speeds (nearly 8,000 servers across 91 countries).
3. IPVanish for School Computer and Internet Connection
IPVanish is a veteran of the VPN industry, granting users privacy and security at high speeds. The advantages of IPVanish include good discounts, diversity in server locations, customizable applications and automatic features. However, the disadvantages of IPVanish include a somewhat complicated pricing structure and poor performance in certain countries like China on specific platforms.
IPVanish offers several unique features, including the SugarSync cloud service, unlimited simultaneous connections, good encryption implementation and a free SOCKS5 proxy. The strong sides of IPVanish are the product’s unblocking capabilities, provision of servers in the U.S. and support for all major platforms. Security-wise, IPVanish competes with the best in the business, providing AES 256-bit encryption, an auto-connect button, a kill switch, split tunneling and a zero-logs policy.
IPVanish costs $10.99 per month on the one-month package, $5.32 per month on the three-month package and $3.99 per month on the one-year package. J2 Global is the company that owns IPVanish.
As explained in the full IPVanish review, this VPN encrypts users’ network traffic along with any personal information to make sure all digital rights are protected. To use IPVanish in school, as always, users need to subscribe to a package from the company’s website, download the VPN app (most likely via the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, depending on the mobile device), install the VPN app, input the username/password combination and connect to a VPN server network. Again, users must download IPVanish before going to school for work or study.
IPVanish is considered a good VPN for schools because the service offers fantastic security features (encryption, a kill switch and a zero-logs policy), good discounts (close to 63%) and fast speeds (over 2,000 high-performing servers available).
4. Surfshark VPN that Works on School WiFi
Surfshark is a popular entry in the list of the best VPNs for schools. The main usage of Surfshark is to secure one’s digital life. Surfshark’s advantages include fast customer support, fast servers and the ability to unblock almost all streaming services. However, the disadvantages of Surfshark include missing features on the iOS platform and reports of dropped connections when used via the official browser extension.
Based on a comprehensive Surfshark review, the unique features of this VPN are unlimited simultaneous connections and audit reports from independent cybersecurity firms verifying security measures. The strong sides of Surfshark VPN include powerful security tools, extra security options and user-friendly apps. From a security perspective, Surfshark VPN offers everything a VPN user could need, including a kill switch, multi-hop connections, split tunneling, RAM-only servers, AES 256-bit encryption, geo-spoofing, Chacha20 Poly1305, SHA 512-bit, WireGuard protocol, virus scanning and an ad-blocker.
The price of Surfshark is $12.95 per month on the one-month package, $3.99 per month on the 12-month package and $2.49 per month on the 24-month package. Surfshark is owned by Surfshark Ltd., which is based in the British Virgin Islands—a great country for privacy and operations control.
Surfshark works by encrypting the user’s internet activity and thus protecting the user from tracking and other data collection techniques. The service also increases privacy and protection against tracking by changing the IP address of the user’s internet-enabled machine. To use Surfshark in school, users have to subscribe to a package from Surfshark’s website, download/install the app (preferably before going to school as the school administration may have blocked access to VPN sites), launch the app, input the password/username combination and connect to a server to unlock everything the internet has to offer.
Surfshark is considered one of the best VPNs for school because the service has top-notch security tools (strong encryption, a kill switch and some antivirus components), offers great discounts (up to 81%) and fast speeds (more than 3,200 servers in over 65 countries with both 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps ports available for maximum speed).
5. Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access (PIA) is another elite VPN service whose main aim is to make digital privacy a reality for users worldwide. The advantages of Private Internet Access include support for torrenting, cryptocurrency payment options, a good Linux app and 24/7 customer support. However, there are a few drawbacks, such as the lack of an independent audit report, the inability to work with some non-U.S. streaming services and a home base in a country not known for upholding privacy.
Adding to the information outlined in Security Gladiators’ full Private Internet Access review, the unique features of this VPN include dedicated IP and VPN router availability, open-source apps and the biggest server network in the VPN industry. The strong sides of Private Internet Access include zero logs, great app design, many server locations and good customization options.
The security of Private Internet Access is top-notch, with support for the best VPN protocols such as WireGuard, along with a kill switch, split tunneling, AES 128-bit encryption, AES 256-and bit encryption.
To sign up for a subscription package, users have to shell out $11.99 per month on the one-month package, $7.50 per month on the six-month package and $2.19 per month on the two-year package. Private Internet Access is owned by Kape Technologies, which may not suit more privacy-conscious VPN users since this company has a history of privacy issues.
Considering the mode of operation, PIA is similar to any good VPN service as PIA establishes an encrypted tunnel between the company’s server and the user’s device. Such an arrangement helps enhance user privacy and data security.
To use Private Internet Access, as always, users first have to download the VPN app from the service’s website, sign up for a package, input login credentials after launching the PIA app, and then connect to a server to unblock content and get around school internet restrictions.
PIA is considered one of the best VPNs for schools because the service offers fantastic security options (strong protocols, an open-source app, multiple encryption options and advanced security tools), deep discounts (up to 82%) and a huge server network (over 30,000 servers).
6. Ivacy VPN for School
Ivacy VPN is a virtual private network that is used to guard against security vulnerabilities on the internet, including data harvesting, hacking attempts and malicious websites. Ivacy’s advantages include cryptocurrency support as a payment method, P2P compatibility, live chat support, decent speeds and security tools. However, this VPN’s disadvantages are the lack of a kill switch for iOS devices, limited support for Linux users, an outdated user interface and problematic jurisdiction.
Ivacy’s unique features include a free version (that does have some restrictions), a free password manager and 10 simultaneous connections. The strong points of this VPN service are extra features, fast connections on certain protocols and the ability to unblock content from all major streaming websites except Amazon Prime Video. The security of Ivacy is above-average, with 256-bit AES encryption, split tunneling, OpenVPN protocol and a kill switch feature.
The price of Ivacy VPN is $9.95 per month on the one-month package, $29.99 for the one-year package and $42 for the two-year package. PMG Pte. Ltd is the company that owns Ivacy VPN. This VPN is based in Singapore, which may concern more privacy-conscious users since the nation is known as a partner/affiliate in the “Fourteen Eyes” surveillance-sharing agreement.
Like any other VPN service, Ivacy works by establishing an encrypted tunnel between the user’s machine and a company-owned user-selected VPN server through which the user’s data is transferred. This grants the user privacy and security that would have been impossible otherwise. Readers can learn more about how this VPN works in the complete Ivacy VPN review.
To use Ivacy at school, users have to get a subscription first, then download/install the VPN app on the device that will be used for accessing the content in school. Then, users can connect to a server for protection and unrestricted content.
Ivacy VPN is considered one of the best VPNs for schools because the service offers decent discounts, over 3,455 servers (which means good performance) and AES encryption (a standard for any good VPN in the industry).
7. VyprVPN for School WiFi
VyprVPN is a virtual private network whose primary aim is to make online security effortless for users in the online world. VyprVPN’s advantages include 24/7 fast customer support, comprehensive security features and five simultaneous connections. However, there are a few disadvantages, such as average performance, slightly higher prices than competitors and inconsistent results in unblocking U.S. Netflix.
VyprVPN has a few unique features, including the Chameleon VPN protocol, proprietary DNS servers, ownership of the server network and a business offering. The strong sides of VyprVPN include very secure VPN apps, good protocol support, a user-friendly experience and a lack of third-party servers or hardware.
The security of VyprVPN is top-notch as the company owns all of the network infrastructure, and there is no third party involved at any stage of the entire process. VyprVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption, SHA 256-bit algorithm for authentication, strong protocols such as WireGuard and IKEv2, a kill switch, split tunneling, an auto-connect button and WiFi protection.
The price of VyprVPN is $15 per month on the one-month package and $8.33 per month on the 12-month package. Golden Frog is the company that owns VyprVPN.
VyprVPN works by encrypting the user’s internet connection to keep all data safe, including the user’s communication channels, location and other private information. VyprVPN also changes the user’s IP address via a VPN server owned by the company to grant even more privacy and anonymity.
To use VyprVPN, users first need to sign up for a package from the service’s website and then download/install the compatible app for the device(s). Then, users need to connect to a server and start browsing the internet at school without any restrictions.
VyprVPN is considered one of the best VPNs for schools because the service has great security tools (AES encryption, a kill switch and auto-connect) and decent discounts (up to 44%).
The complete VyprVPN review goes into more detail about the security and privacy features of the service that may help users in school.
How to Use a VPN at School
The steps to use a VPN at school are given below.
- Decide on a good VPN service by reading reviews and online comments on various forums.
- Go to the official website of the chosen VPN service and subscribe to a suitable package.
- Download the app compatible with the device that will be used to access restricted content at school. Windows users should download an .exe file, while Android and iOS users should go to Google Play Store or Apple App Store to search for the VPN app. This is where users need to make sure to at least download the app before entering school premises. Many schools and other institutions block access to security tools such as VPNs.
- Download/install the VPN app.
- Launch the app.
- On the main screen, input the account login credentials. In addition to the username and password combination, some VPNs require a code to be input on the login screen. This code is usually sent to the email address the user supplied during the registration process.
- Once logged in, connect to a server to bypass school restrictions.
- Consume unlimited content using VPN services for school.
What can You Reach with a VPN at School?
VPN users can reach pretty much any content with a VPN at school. There are many benefits of VPNs for school, including anonymous web browsing and protection from malicious actors, hackers and other cybercriminals.
Most school networks are crammed with users, and there is no way to tell if someone isn’t planning on infecting other devices on the network. VPN users can hide IP addresses and internet activity and thus make things impossibly hard for bad actors to successfully launch cyberattacks.
Good VPNs, such as the ones mentioned above, help users reach any and all websites, including U.S. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. However, in some countries such as China and Iran, VPNs may not regularly unblock content.
Another benefit of using a VPN at school is safe torrenting. Most school networks do not allow torrenting. A VPN helps hide user internet activity, meaning no one can ever know what the user is doing online. With that said, users should always take into account the local laws of the country and the institution’s rules and regulations. Some entities can take strict action against VPN users.
Can a VPN Make the School Internet Connection Faster?
Yes, VPNs can make school internet connections faster—but not always. Mostly, if the network administrator has throttled the internet connection and VPNs are able to detect and overcome throttling mechanisms, the internet connection can be made faster. Otherwise, the final internet connection speed users will experience will be of the internet package subscribed to by the school.
VPN and internet speed are two terms that are usually associated negatively. More simply, VPNs almost always reduce internet speed. But in the right circumstances, VPNs may increase internet speed or at least make the user’s online experience faster and smoother. These circumstances are more likely to be present in a school setting where network administrators almost always throttle the internet connection either via local settings or with help from the internet service provider (ISP). Because of internet throttling, certain types of traffic is slowed to discourage users from certain activities. ISPs and school network administrators usually throttle connections to streaming websites like Netflix. VPNs for schools can circumvent such throttling setups. Since VPNs encrypt the user’s connection to the internet, the ISP or school network can’t know what type of activity the user is engaging in. Hence, no throttling.
Note:VPNs for schools also improve connection stability since the user would no longer come across blocked websites on a regular basis. Generally, though, VPNs have no effect on the stability of an internet connection.
Can You be More Safe if You Use a VPN for School Wi-Fi?
Yes, for the vast majority of users, using a VPN for school Wi-Fi will improve safety. With help from technologies such as encryption and a remote server, VPNs can keep personal data safe over any network. There is a high chance that the WiFi router at school will not have a VPN installed. That leaves users open to both local and global cyberattacks. VPNs hide the user’s real IP address, making the user invisible to the outside online world.
In some cases, safety can also mean privacy. Most school networks monitor user activity. VPNs can help users hide internet activity of all sorts via encryption and hence stop many kinds of spying.
Is Using a VPN at School Illegal?
First off, purchasing, downloading, installing and using a VPN service is legal in most countries. However, private institutions are free to form custom rules and regulations governing the use of any software, including VPNs.
Depending on the institution, a penalty for using a VPN may range from nothing to severe fines and possible expulsion from the institution. The easiest way to ensure compliance is to discuss VPN usage with either a teacher or a network administrator working at the school.
An important point to note here is that if the laws of the country in which the school is located forbid the use of VPNs, there is nothing the school administration can do about it.
Can Schools Detect VPNs?
Depending on the resources available, a school network administrator may have mechanisms installed to detect VPN usage. VPNs make use of encryption, which enables users to be anonymous on the internet. Hence, if a user has subscribed to a VPN service with verified security mechanisms, schools can’t detect what the user is doing.
The school administration may be able to detect VPN usage if the user is on a school-owned computer. Schools normally have monitoring software installed on school-owned systems. Still, bringing one’s own device and then protecting the device with a VPN reduces the chances of the school detecting VPN usage.
Schools with even more budget resources to spend on network administration and security mechanisms may have installed mouse trackers and keyloggers to see what the user is up to on the internet. Again, this only holds if the user is on a school-owned computer system.
Schools may also be able to detect VPN usage if the VPN service is leaking IP data. This can be solved by signing up for premium/paid VPN services that have security mechanisms guarding against IP leaks.
Other ways schools can detect VPN usage is by monitoring and noticing that the user’s device stays connected to a particular IP address for long periods of time. If the school administration can scan or analyze the port or the protocol respectively, then a VPN service can be identified. With that said, using such a method may alert the school administration to VPN usage but may not disclose the websites accessed by the VPN user.
Another factor to consider is the VPN protocol; VPN services that only offer IPSec, PPTP or L2TP protocols can be traced and detected without much effort as such VPNs use known ports for packet transfers. VPN services that are able to leverage newer technologies like HTTPS do a much better job of staying undetected. But even such VPNs can’t protect against the school network administrator noticing a large volume of data going to a single IP address.
Can You Use Free VPNs for School WiFi?
Yes, free VPNs can be used for school WiFi. Free VPNs are just like paid VPNs, except free VPNs come with a host of restrictions and trust issues. Like regular paid VPNs, free VPNs claim to use encryption and change IP addresses to enhance user data security and privacy. But many free VPNs do not follow up on this claim. Instead, such free VPNs work as proxies with no encryption abilities.
Regardless, the usage of free VPNs is almost the same as that of paid VPNs: Free VPNs can be used to access blocked content, hide one’s internet activity and change one’s location.
Free VPNs come with even more risks than regular VPNs. Some of the risks involved with using free VPNs are the inability to unblock many in-demand and popular websites, lack of protection and privacy, ads, data restrictions, bandwidth caps, very few servers, tracking, content injection, data leaks and even malware.
With that said, some free VPNs come with minimal restrictions and offer sufficient protection and privacy. Two of the best free VPNs are ProtonVPN and Windscribe. Apart from that, users can always take advantage of the money-back guarantee offers from paid VPNs. Premium VPNs encourage users to try out the service for the entirety of the money-back guarantee period. After the period ends, the users are free to claim a refund and, in effect, use a paid VPN for free short-term. Very few premium VPNs have free tiers. The only mention-worthy example is CyberGhost.
This is important:Users should keep in mind that the free trial gained by claiming a refund within the money-back guarantee period can only be utilized once. Premium VPNs that do allow the refund guarantee to be used as a free trial require payment information. While premium VPNs grant refunds upon the user’s request, the fact that users have to submit payment information means the money-back guarantee can’t be availed twice as the offer is only for first-time users.
In such cases, users can either try another premium VPN’s money-back guarantee period as a free trial or get another credit/debit card to use as new payment information.