There are a handful of VPN protocols used by VPNs, the most popular of which are OpenVPN and WireGuard. However, another commonly used protocol is IPsec, or Internet Protocol Security. It’s typically used in conjunction with L2TP or IKEv2, two tunneling protocols that create a secure connection between your device and the VPN server. However, L2TP and IKEV2 don’t provide encryption, which is where IPsec comes in because it authenticates and encrypts the data packets.
Unsure what a VPN does? A VPN takes your internet traffic and routes it through a secure tunnel to a VPN server (in this case, an L2TP or IKEv2 tunnel). IPsec is used to encrypt the data, shielding it from threats, be it hackers or snoopers. Connecting to a VPN server means you’re assigned a new, temporary IP address. Not only is this good for anonymity (it’s not tied to your physical location), it means you can bypass restrictions on content.
Don’t have time to read all of the reviews just yet? Below is a quick summary of the best IPsec VPNs.
Best IPsec VPNs:
- NordVPN: The best IPsec VPN. Supports IKEv2/IPsec. Fast with over 5,000 servers. Strong unblocker of content. No-logs policy, P2P servers, and 24/7 live chat support.
- Surfshark: Best value VPN. IKEv2/IPsec available. High-speed servers and works with over 30 Netflix libraries. Offers MultiHop servers and unlimited simultaneous connections.
- ExpressVPN: Provides L2TP/IPsec. Fast with unlimited bandwidth. Servers in 94 countries. Excellent apps secured with military-grade encryption. No identifying logs.
- PrivateVPN: Option of IPsec with L2TP or IKEv2. Fast for lag-free streaming and works with most streaming services. User-friendly apps and a strict no-logs policy.
- AtlasVPN: Still offers IPsec/IKEv2. Strong unblocking ability and unlimited simultaneous connections. Security includes an ad blocker and MultiHop servers.
- Hotspot Shield: Multiple protocols including IKEv2/IPsec. Servers in 80 countries. Works with Amazon Prime Video. Password manager and wifi protection included.
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While an increasing number of VPNs are implementing newer protocols such as WireGuard and removing the option of L2TP/IPsec and IKEv2/IPsec, there are still plenty of options available. To find the best IPsec VPNs, we looked for those that meet the following criteria (more on these later):
- Multiple protocols including IPsec
- Servers in countries worldwide
- Fast, unthrottled connections
- Plenty of security features (such as a kill switch)
- No identifying logs of users
- Risk free with a money-back guarantee
Best IPsec VPNs in 2022
Here’s our list of the best IPsec VPNs:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is an established VPN provider that allows you to connect to its servers with IKEv2/IPsec. Indeed, it has more than 5,000 servers in all, making it easy to access a wide range of geo-blocked websites and services. For example, streaming platforms such as Netflix. Thanks to NordVPN’s fast speeds, you can use it to stream lag-free. This VPN even comes with specialty servers such as those that are optimized for P2P file-sharing.
In terms of security, NordVPN ticks every box with its use of military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, and protection from DNS and IPv6 leaks. It operates a strict no-logs policy and even offers Double VPN and Onion Over VPN servers for an extra layer of encryption. With NordVPN, you also have the option of securing as many as six devices at once and, should you need it, live chat support is available 24 hours a day.
You can connect to IKEv2/IPsec via NordVPN’s apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. However, there are also apps for Android TV and Amazon Fire TV and browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Use with routers requires manual configuration.
- Connect to servers with IKEv2/IPsec
- Network of over 5,000 servers in total
- Very fast speeds for streaming as well as torrenting
- Specialty Double VPN and Onion Over VPN servers
- Live chat and email support 24 hours a day
- No-logs policy ensures the protection of your privacy
- Suffered a data breach in 2018
BEST IPSEC VPN:NordVPN is our top pick. It supports multiple protocols including IKEv2/IPsec. Provides fast, unthrottled connections and strong unblocking. No-logs VPN with P2P and Double VPN servers. 24/7 support. With its 30-day money-back guarantee, you’ll be able to try NordVPN risk-free.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark lets you set up your preferred VPN protocol, be it IKEv2/IPsec or WireGuard. Whatever you choose, you can expect beginner-friendly apps as well as excellent 24/7 support. This is a particularly fast VPN for streaming and torrenting and worked with over 30 Netflix libraries in testing. Better still, Surfshark has a very generous connection allowance—you can use it on as many devices as you like at the same time.
Should you need an extra layer of security, know that Surfshark does offer the option of MultiHop (Double VPN) servers. There are plenty of other security features too, be it 256-bit AES encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, or a kill switch. More recently, Surfshark has introduced Surfshark One, an optional add-on for Windows and Android that includes an antivirus. Needless to say, this provides comprehensive protection from all manner of threats.
You’ll find Surfshark apps for the following: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. Aside from Chrome and Firefox browser extensions, you can even manually set this VPN up with your wi-fi router (if compatible).
- Multiple VPN protocols including IKEv2/IPsec
- Works with more than 30 Netflix libraries in total
- Connect all of your devices at the same time
- MultiHop servers for an extra layer of encryption
- Customer support via live chat and email, 24/7
- Switching servers is sometimes slow
BEST VALUE VPN:Surfshark supports IKEv2/IPsec and has a growing network of 3,000+ servers. Very fast servers and lets you secure all of your devices at once. Wide range of security features including an antivirus. Comes with 24/7 support. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Surfshark review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN is a user-friendly VPN that provides manual setup instructions for configuring it to L2TP/IPsec. One of the main advantages of this provider is its extensive network of servers, covering 94 countries. This is one of the main reasons why it’s an excellent choice for traveling, as it’s able to bypass most geographic restrictions. With ExpressVPN, you can expect high-speed connections because there’s absolutely no bandwidth throttling.
Once signed up with ExpressVPN, you can connect up to five of your devices at the same time. You’ll also have 24-hour access to its excellent live chat and email support who can provide further assistance if you have any trouble setting up L2TP/IPsec. All connections are secured with 256-bit AES encryption, while there’s also a kill switch and protection from DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. ExpressVPN doesn’t keep any logs by which you can be identified.
With ExpressVPN, you can use L2TP/IPsec on its Windows and Android apps. However, it also offers apps for Mac, iOS, Linux, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV. Browser extensions can be downloaded for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. Last but not least, ExpressVPN even provides custom firmware for use with routers.
- Manual setup instructions for use with L2TP/IPsec
- Server network covers 94 countries worldwide
- No bandwidth throttling makes it ideal for streaming
- Doesn’t keep any identifying logs of users
- Excellent support 24 hours a day
- Slightly more expensive than rival VPNs
BEGINNER-FRIENDLY:ExpressVPN includes L2TP/IPsec support and has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. High-speed connections with unlimited bandwidth. Strong security thanks to encryption. Excellent 24/7 live chat support. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN supports multiple VPN protocols including L2TP/IPsec and IKEv2/IPsec. One of the faster VPNs tested, it allows for lag-free streaming even in 4K. Unlike many VPNs, it doesn’t seem to struggle with many streaming services and even works with the likes of Netflix and BBC iPlayer. While PrivateVPN has a relatively small server network, its servers do cover over 60 countries, including the US.
If it’s your first time using a VPN, you’ll appreciate the accessibility of PrivateVPN’s apps. Your subscription includes access to live chat and email support, the latter of which is particularly fast compared to most VPNs (they typically reply to emails within just a few hours). You’re kept safe online with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. A strict no-logs policy and the option to pay in Bitcoin helps you maintain anonymity.
PrivateVPN’s apps are available to download for desktop (Windows and Mac) and mobile (Android and iOS). Amazon Fire TV and Android TV apps are also available. With manual configuration, you can even use PrivateVPN with Linux and select wireless routers.
- Choose between L2TP/IPsec and IKEv2/IPsec
- Strong unblocking ability — works with many streaming services
- Fast server speeds combined with unlimited bandwidth
- No-logs policy and the option to pay in Bitcoin
- Small network of just over 200 servers
- No browser extensions available
STRESS-FREE STREAMING:PrivateVPN is fast and works with many streaming services, Netflix included. User-friendly desktop and mobile apps and live chat and email support. Strict no-logs policy intended to protect your privacy. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full PrivateVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Atlas VPN supports IPsec/IKEv2 as well as the newer WireGuard protocol. Indeed, it makes it easy to connect to either option, making it a good choice if you’re looking to avoid lengthy setup. With servers in dozens of countries and very fast connections, you can use Atlas VPN to stream Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ and more. Another benefit is that you’ll be able to connect an unlimited number of devices at once via a single account.
With this VPN, you have access to some interesting features such as the option to have your IP address regularly shuffled without having to change servers. Of course, there’s also 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. As Atlas VPN doesn’t keep identifying logs of users, your identity is very much kept under wraps. You’re further protected by an ad and tracker blocker and the option of MultiHop servers.
The Atlas VPN apps of Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS give you the option of IPsec/IKEv2. It’s also compatible with Android TV and Amazon Fire TV although use with routers requires following manual setup instructions.
- Supports IPsec/IKEv2 as well as WireGuard
- Particularly fast speeds for streaming without lag
- Secure all of your devices simultaneously
- Includes an ad and tracker blocker
- Not the largest server network (around 700)
UNLIMITED CONNECTIONS:Atlas VPN makes it easy to connect to IPsec/IKEv2. Very fast speeds for streaming Netflix lag and buffer-free. Connect as many devices as you like simultaneously. Plenty of security features. Has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Atlas VPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
Editor’s Note: Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company.
Hotspot Shield has its own proprietary protocol called Hydra. However, there’s still the option of IPsec (IKEv2) if you prefer. With this VPN service, you’ll have access to servers across 80 countries and be able to stream the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Netflix US from anywhere. Server speeds are consistent thanks to unlimited bandwidth and, with your account, you’ll be able to secure five devices at the same time.
Once you connect to a Hotspot Shield server, your internet traffic is secured with 256-bit AES encryption. Note that there’s also DNS leak protection and a kill switch feature. Notably, Hotspot Shield doesn’t keep identifying logs of users and offers a number of impressive extras that make it particularly good value. These include auto wi-fi protection and access to a password manager and even a spam call blocker.
Hotspot Shield provides apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. A Chrome browser extension is also available while Hotspot Shield can also be manually configured to work with select compatible routers.
- Choose from IPsec (IKEv2) and Hydra
- Servers can be found in as many as 80 countries
- Works with Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and more
- Security includes a password manager
- Doesn’t provide any anonymous payment options
- Headquartered in the US, a Five Eyes member
LOTS OF EXTRAS:Hotspot Shield supports IKEv2/IPsec and has servers in 80 countries. Consistent speeds and works with Amazon Prime. Extras include automatic wi-fi protection and a password manager. 24/7 support included. Comes with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Hotspot Shield review.
How to use an IPsec VPN
The good news is that the best IPsec VPNs make it quick and easy to get started. All you have to do is follow the simple step-by-step instructions below:
Here’s how to use an IPsec VPN:
- Sign up with one of the above VPN services. We particularly recommend NordVPN.
- Download one of the VPN’s apps (desktop or mobile) that supports the L2TP/IPsec or IKEv2/IPsec protocol.
- Follow the manual setup instructions provided by the VPN. Remember, you can always contact your VPN’s customer support if you need any help.
- Once all set up and connected to a server, your internet traffic is secured and you can spoof your location to unblock geo-restricted content.
How we found the best IPsec VPNs: our methodology
Not every VPN offers the option of IPsec, while even fewer provide good speeds and sufficient security. Below, we list some of the key criteria we looked for in each VPN in order for it to be included on this list.
- Multiple protocols: Of course, the first thing we looked for is that each VPN offers IPsec with either L2TP or IKEv2 (or both). The best VPNs provide plenty of options when it comes to VPN protocols and most now offer the newer WireGuard protocol.
- Servers worldwide: The best VPNs provide access to servers across dozens of countries. This makes it easy to find a fast server close to your physical location. It also lets you access even more region-locked content while traveling abroad.
- Speed: Only the fastest VPNs can be trusted for streaming and torrenting which is why we carried out speed tests on each. One common feature of each VPN chosen is unlimited bandwidth which means there’s no restriction on what you can do online.
- Unblocking: Unfortunately, some VPNs really struggle to bypass restrictions, particularly those of popular streaming services. To find out if a VPN is reliable in this respect, we see how it performs against a wide range of websites and services.
- Security: We look for each VPN we recommend to offer 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. However, most of the best IPsec VPNs offer even more than this, be it auto wifi protection or Double VPN servers.
- Privacy: It’s also important that the VPN you use operates a no-logs policy so your privacy is protected. To save you some time, we’ve analyzed 140 VPN logging policies. That way, you can avoid those that may log and sell your browsing data.
- Ease of use: All of the VPNs listed above provide beginner-friendly apps. They also provide setup instructions, making it easier for you to use IPsec. Should you have any trouble, live chat and email support is provided in all cases.
- Value for money: An IPsec VPN shouldn’t break the bank. You’ll often find that the best VPNs have special offers while you can save more by using our VPN discount coupons. Each VPN also comes with a risk-free money-back guarantee.
Many VPNs claim to offer fast speeds or a certain level of security. Instead of just looking for the above, we actively test each VPN in order to find out just how true these claims are. Indeed, our VPN testing methodology is what helps us provide the most accurate and up-to-date VPN reviews available.
IPsec VPNs: FAQs
Can I use a free IPsec VPN?
While there are some free IPsec VPNs, they’re best avoided for various reasons. To start with, free VPNs tend to offer fewer servers and IP addresses. With so many users on each server, speeds are slow and you’re likely to suffer from bandwidth throttling. A small network of servers also means it can be a struggle to access geo-blocked content. For example, free VPNs almost always fail to work with the likes of Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
It should also be pointed out that many free IPsec VPNs lack fundamental security features. Some may fail to encrypt your data while others may leak compromising information. For example, a 2020 study found that nearly 40 percent of free VPNs tested leaked some type of identifiable information, be it an IP address or email address. We test each VPN for leaks and look for it to operate a no-logs policy so you can browse anonymously.
Why should I use IPsec?
IPsec provides you with a layer of security through encryption and authentication. When combined with L2TP or IKEv2, your data can be routed through a secure tunnel. Few VPNs offer L2TP/IPsec due to its lack of security and slower speeds (this is due to double encapsulation) although it’s a protocol that is quite easy to set up and is widely supported by most platforms.
IPsec/IKEv2 remains common. In particular, it provides fast speeds, consistent connections, and a high level of security. It’s particularly useful for mobile users because its support for the Mobility and Multihoming (MOBIKE) protocol means it's resilient to network changes. This means you can seamlessly switch between wifi and mobile networks without losing connection.
What are the alternatives to IPsec?
All of the VPNs we’ve covered offer multiple encryption protocol options. Here are the most common you’ll find:
Each of these VPN protocols has its own pros and cons. If you’re looking for speed, WireGuard is arguably your best bet while OpenVPN is a popular choice for those that place an emphasis on security. In contrast, some protocols have declined in popularity due to lacking security (PPTP) or offering slower speeds (SSTP).