Finding the best VPN service for Canada – What qualities to look for

So what would I recommend? If I were to search for the best VPN for Canada, I would look for the following qualifications.

Substantial number of Canadian servers

First, I would look for a VPN service with a substantial number of Canadian servers. Generally speaking, the more Canadian servers, the better. I’m not saying the service with the most number of servers is already the best VPN for Canada. I’d still be looking at other qualities as well.

But if you’re abroad and want to access content in Canada, you’ll want to obtain a Canadian IP address. This will allow you to unblock Canadian Netflix and other Canadian streaming sites. A VPN provider with plenty of servers in Canada will give you a better chance of doing that.

Also, more Canadian VPN servers mean faster VPN speeds for certain users. That’s because the servers won’t get overloaded easily. In particular, It will mean faster speeds for users connecting to VPN Canada servers.

Extensive server network

Do you fancy using various international streaming services? For example, are you excited at the thought of streaming other countries’ Netflix libraries? If you’re not, you probably will be once Bill C-11 and Bill C-18 take effect. If Google, Meta, and other streaming companies pull out of Canada, you can only view their content in other countries. And if you’re based in Canada, you’ll need to obtain the IP addresses of other countries to do that.

If that’s what you like, you’ll want a VPN provider with a wide network coverage. You’ll want a provider with server locations around the globe. A wide network coverage will allow you to unblock more geo-restricted streaming services. You can, for example, unblock streaming services in Europe, Asia, Africa, and so on.

Graphic showing VPN server locations around the globe

VPN services with a lengthy country list can also benefit Canadians traveling abroad. That’s because they will always have access to a VPN server nearby. The closer a server is, the faster your VPN speeds will be.

Free VPNs lack the extensive network coverage that premium VPNs have. That’s why I rarely recommend them.

Relevant country selection

Yes, the quantity of a VPN’s country list is important. However, it’s also important to take into account the quality of that list. Does the list include countries whose content and streaming services you want to access?

Go to a VPN provider’s website and look for its list of server locations. If a country is in that list, it means you can obtain an IP address from that country. As a result, you can unblock geo-restricted content in that country. So, countries that are most relevant to you must be there.

Absence of data retention laws where VPN provider operates

If privacy is your primary motive for using a VPN, you need to know where VPN providers are based. Not only that, you need to know where their servers are located. This is important because some countries have strict data retention laws. These laws require VPN providers to store server log data for a certain period of time. Laws like these go against privacy principles.

They allow governments to retrieve customer data and track your online activities. So it’s really important to know where providers operate. Choose providers that avoid retention laws. Here’s one example. ExpressVPN removed their servers as soon as India started imposing data retention mandates. That’s always a good sign. It means the provider takes privacy very seriously.

Strict no logs policy

Some providers take extreme measures to protect customer privacy. What do they do? They don’t store log data. So even if a hacker or a government representative searches the VPN servers, they won’t find anything.

Graphic illustrating the importance of a no-log vpn. There is no customer data to inspect.Graphic illustrating the importance of a no-log vpn. There is no customer data to inspect.

Of course, a VPN server located in a country with data retention laws will be forced to store logs. That’s why I recommend VPN providers that don’t operate in countries with data retention mandates. They’re the only providers that can effectively implement no logs policies.

Consistent in unblocking geo-restricted streaming services

Most VPN services claim to be capable of unblocking streaming platforms like Netlix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. But once you try them out, you’ll be in for a big surprise. Many of them fail to block consistently.

In Netflix, you’ll sometimes encounter proxy error messages like:

  • “you seem to be using an unblocker or proxy”,
  • “looks like you’re connecting through a VPN” 
  • or something to that effect. 

This happens because Netflix keeps tabs of known VPN IP addresses.

So if you see these errors while connecting to Canadian Netflix, it doesn’t mean you failed to get a Canada IP address. It means the IP address has already been blacklisted. To avoid these errors, choose Canada VPNs that constantly update their server network.

Strong emphasis on privacy and security

All VPNs will encrypt your internet connection. But the best VPNs don’t end there. Premium VPNs add more layers of security. That way, you’ll be more protected when you’re browsing online. Some of the more common security features offered by VPN service providers include the following:

  • Kill switch – This automatically disconnects your internet connection if your VPN connection is suddenly cut off. This prevents data leaks.
  • DNS leak protection – This prevents your DNS queries from leaking out. DNS queries convert domain names to IP addresses. 
  • AES-256 encryption – Also known as military-grade encryption. This kind of encryption is much harder to crack. 
  • Double VPN – This routes your VPN connection through more than one server. These connections are much harder to track. It also encrypts your connection twice. 
Secure and fast VPN protocols

VPN protocols play a big role in the security and performance of your VPN connections. Old protocols, for instance, can’t support strong encryption. If a VPN still uses old protocols, then it wouldn’t be very effective in protecting your internet traffic.

Some VPN providers develop their own VPN protocols. For example, ExpressVPN has Lightway and NordVPN has NordLynx. These protocols are optimized for their VPN provider’s network. Generally speaking, they can give you better VPN speeds.

For example, I ran some tests using different protocols on ExpressVPN. Lightway gave me the best video quality on streaming sites.

Consistently reliable VPN connection

Some VPN companies boast of having many server locations. Some even emphasize that they have multiple servers in one location. But when you attempt to connect to these locations, the app just keeps retrying. To make things work, you sometimes have to fiddle with VPN protocol settings.

A graphic illustrating a VPN that just keeps on retrying.A graphic illustrating a VPN that just keeps on retrying.

That’s why it’s very important to test a VPN service before committing to a long-term subscription. If you can, test every country that you think you’ll be connecting to in the future. There are ways to test a premium VPN without paying. I’m not talking about free VPN services. I’ll elaborate on this in a short while.

Ridiculously easy to use

Most of the people who have asked my recommendation for the best VPN in Canada aren’t exactly techies. While VPNs are generally easy to use, they can sometimes be intimidating for non-tech users. Ideally, when you launch the VPN app, you should instantly figure out what to do. 

Offers a trial version or a 30-day money back guarantee

Like I said earlier, it’s very important to try VPN services before committing for the long haul. Don’t trust what websites say. If a VPN doesn’t have a free version, look for a 30-day money back guarantee

This entails getting a one month subscription. You can then test the VPN for 30 days. If you don’t like it, you can cancel and ask for a refund. It’s like you had a free VPN for 30 days. Only by testing VPNs yourself can you find the best VPN for Canada. 

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