Are you tired of dealing with slow or unreliable Microsoft Teams connections? Look no further than our comprehensive guide to the best VPNs for Microsoft Teams. But not just any VPN will do – for Teams to function properly, split tunneling is a must.
Don’t let lag and connectivity issues hinder your productivity. Our team has done the research to bring you a curated list of top picks, along with mini reviews of each VPN and answers to all your burning questions in our FAQs.
If you’re in a rush, we’ve included a summary of our top recommendations below. You will find in-depth reviews of each provider a little further down. For now, he’s our best picks:
- NordVPN: Our top choice for Microsoft Teams. Very fast, vast network, and now supports split tunneling. Has a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark: Best budget premium VPN is very fast, privacy-oriented, and secure. Lets you split-tunnel apps or websites.
- ExpressVPN: Premium VPN with servers in 94 countries, very fast connections, and enables several split tunneling methods.
- CyberGhost: Fastest VPN includes split tunneling in Android app and some equivalents in other apps.
- Private Internet Access: Fast VPN with strong security. Supports split tunneling.
- ProtonVPN: Fast VPN with excellent privacy. Has split tunneling feature in Windows and Android apps.
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The best VPNs for Microsoft Teams
We explain more about our testing methodology later in this article. In brief, we look for the following:
- Excellent speeds and reliable connections
- Split-tunneling capability
- Lots of server locations
- Responsive customer support
- Strong security and privacy features.
Here’s our list of the best VPNs for Microsoft Teams:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is our top recommendation for MS Teams and 365. It’s the fourth fastest VPN, according to our recent testing. It has more than 5,500 servers throughout the world. It works well for users in China. Those assets and excellent security features make it the best all-around VPN for Microsoft Teams.
If you need to bypass your VPN to access Microsoft Teams, NordVPN offers two types of split tunneling. Its Windows and Android apps allow you to whitelist specific trusted programs that are allowed to directly access the internet (Microsoft Teams in this case).
This premium VPN service has all the standard security capabilities plus ad and pop-up blocking, protection against malware, tracker-blocking, obfuscated servers, private DNS, and kill switches. NordVPN maintains a strict no-logs policy.
NordVPN also excels at overcoming geographic content blocks on streaming media services. It works with Netflix in many countries, for example.
NordVPN’s prices are higher than some other VPNs, but a good value when compared with other premium VPNs. ExpressVPN, the top competitor in that tier, costs twice as much.
NordVPN earns accolades for its tech support and other customer service concerns. The VPN has an excellent rating based on more than 20,000 user reviews on the Trustpilot website.
- Works in China
- Expansive server network
- Zero-logs policy
- Task-specific optimized servers
- 24/7 support
- Compatible with most devices
- Can choose server locations but not able to chose specific servers
TOP VPN FOR MICROSOFT TEAMS:NordVPN is a superb all-around VPN. It’s very fast, has extra security features, and enables split tunneling. NordVPN will give you a 30-day, money-back guarantee.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is a budget premium VPN that proved to be the fifth-fastest VPN in our recent tests. It is cheaper than other premium VPNs if you sign up for longer terms. Surfshark is a relatively new VPN, but it already has more than 3,200 servers in 95 countries. It works in China.
Surfshark calls its split tunneling feature “Bypasser.” It is currently available on its Windows and Android apps, but Surfshark says it is developing the feature for additional apps. Surfshark lets you whitelist or blacklist specific apps and websites.
Surfshark has a wealth of security and privacy features. It blocks ads and trackers and includes a browser plug-in that blocks cookie-notice pop-ups. Surfshark’s extra features include obfuscated servers, private DNS, and kill switches. The company maintains a strict no-logs policy.
Surfshark falls short of NordVPN in customer relations. Although it has earned an excellent rating in more than 15,000 user reviews on Trustpilot, 11 percent of users rate their experience as poor or bad.
Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections. That’s great if you and your family have a lot of connected devices, but many simultaneous connections will strain your bandwidth while you’re using Microsoft Teams.
- Steady speeds and unlimited bandwidth
- Plenty of advanced security features
- Solid unblocking capabilities
- Amazing value for money
- 24/7 support
- Some servers get a little congested requiring you to switch
- No longer independent
BUDGET PICK:Surfshark gives you a tremendous amount of features and benefits for a low price. It offers everything you need to use with Microsoft Teams with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Surfshark review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN is the third fastest VPN, according to our recent tests. It is a premium VPN service with a premium price. ExpressVPN has servers in almost 100 countries, which makes it ideal for Microsoft Teams video conferences among people in multiple countries. ExpressVPN is very good at unblocking and can be used in VPN-blocking countries like China.
ExpressVPN lets you whitelist applications that are allowed to bypass the VPN or blacklist applications that can’t use it. ExpressVPN has more split tunneling capabilities than most VPNs, as it can be used in Windows, Mac, and Android operating systems, as well as with routers. Notably, however, ExpressVPN’s feature does not yet work on the latest MacOS (Big Sur) at time of writing.
ExpressVPN blocks trackers and uses its own encrypted DNS on every server. It does not keep activity or connection logs. Overall security capabilities are outstanding.
ExpressVPN has an “excellent” rating from Trustpilot with more than 11,000 user reviews. It was very responsive to support queries in our tests.
- Easy to use apps for all major platforms
- No limits on data and bandwidth use, great for HD streaming
- Unblocks all major streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video and iPlayer
- Reliable high-speed connections
- Has a slightly higher price than some of its rivals
- Parent company has checkered past
BEST FOR INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCING:ExpressVPN excels in speed, security, features, and customer service. It has servers near most of the world’s population.
Read our full ExpressVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost earns a high spot on this list because it is the fastest VPN we’ve tested. CyberGhost has almost 9,000 servers in about 90 countries. Those factors arguably make it the best VPN to use with Microsoft Teams. However, CyberGhost’s split tunneling capabilities are limited, which makes it a poor choice for bypassing Microsoft Teams. Also, service in China is limited.
CyberGhost only enables split tunneling in its Android app. It lets you whitelist applications to bypass the VPN.
CyberGhost’s privacy and security capabilities are solid. Because of its speed and unblocking ability, CyberGhost works very well with media-streaming services.
CyberGhost’s user reviews on Trustpilot are extremely favorable with an average weighted rating of 4.7/5. Only three percent of users say CyberGhost has bad service. CyberGhost’s apps are very simple to use. Any concerns you have about its parent company are justified, but recent user reviews indicate that CyberGhost is as good as ever.
- Apps are easy to use and great for new users
- Accepts Bitcoin via BitPay and 30-day money back guarantee still applies
- Very good and unblocking geo-restricted sites and content
- DNS leak protection and strong security features
- Not as fast as our other recommendations
- Fewer advanced features
BEGINNER-FRIENDLY:CyberGhost’s exceptional speed makes its service ideal for video meetings through Microsoft Teams, if you are connecting directly. Customer satisfaction is very high.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Private Internet Access is among the 10 fastest VPNs, but considerably slower than the fastest ones. It has more split tunneling capabilities than any of its competitors. Split tunneling is available on its apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and Linux. You can choose which applications or websites bypass the VPN tunnel. The tools are easy to use. PIA lets you simultaneously connect 10 devices.
PIA lists servers in about 80 countries, but many are virtual servers, which means you may not have one as close to you as the list suggests. It does have more than 29,000 servers.
The American VPN uses open-source software in its apps. Security features are impressive, including ad and malware blocking, kill switches, cloaking technology, and private DNS. Privacy features include no usage logs and anonymous payments.
Unblocking is not one of PIA’s strengths. PIA doesn’t work consistently in China and it is less successful at overcoming blocks from streaming media sites than the best of its competitors.
Although PIA has an “excellent” rating in user reviews on Trustpilot, 13 percent of users rate their experience as poor or bad. Difficulty canceling service seems to be a common complaint.
- Supports WireGuard
- Adjustable encryption setting
- Secures your connection and blocks ads automatically
- Apps available on desktop and mobile
- Fails to unblock some streaming services
- Based in a Five Eyes country
BEST FOR LINUX USERS:Private Internet Access is the only highly rated VPN to enable split tunneling in its Linux app, and its Mac support is also unusual. If you own a variety of devices with different operating systems, PIA is a great choice to use with Microsoft Teams.
Read our full Private Internet Access review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
Editor’s Note: Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company.
Hotspot Shield calls its split tunneling feature “Smart VPN.” The feature is available in its Windows and Android apps. Hotspot Shield lets you whitelist specific apps (but you want to blacklist Microsoft Teams).
Hotspot Shield has more than 3,200 servers in more than 70 countries. Its VPN product is unique in that it includes 1Password, a highly regarded password manager; and a spam-call blocker. Hotspot Shield’s prices are ordinary, but if you do or will use the bundled services, it’s a very good deal.
Hotspot Shield is one of the faster VPNs, but just missed our top ten. It does not work reliably in China.
Hotspot Shield will give you a 45-day money-back guarantee to try its services, which reflects a high level of confidence that you will be satisfied. Hotspot Shield’s 4.8/5 ranking on Trustpilot confirms a very high satisfaction level.
Security and privacy capabilities are solid. Other than protection against malware, it doesn’t offer as many extra security features as its top competitors. You can connect up to 10 devices at once.
In our tests, Hotspot Shield proved to be very good at unblocking location-limited streaming media. It allowed flawless streaming of high-resolution video, which means Microsoft Teams would not pose a challenge.
- Works in China
- Strong speeds and unblocking ability
- Strong focus on security
- Provides a high level of privacy
- Had past digital privacy issues
- Few configuration options
EXTRA FEATURES:If you’re already paying $3/month for 1Password or an unsatisfactory password manager, Hotspot Shield is practically free.
Read our full Hotspot Shield review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ProtonVPN is one of the 10 fastest VPNs, but the fastest ones are much faster. It is fast enough to use with Microsoft Teams, and it performed well in our streaming tests. However, it doesn’t work in China.
It is highly respected for its privacy and security. Proton Unlimited includes ProtonVPN, the commercial version of Proton Mail, Calendar, and Drive; which is 500 GB of online storage.
ProtonVPN enables split tunneling on its Windows and Android apps. ProtonVPN lets you whitelist or blacklist specific apps and websites.
ProtonVPN has more than 1,700 servers in more than 60 countries. That’s adequate, but smaller than its top rivals.
As you would expect, privacy and security are ProtonVPN’s best assets. A feature called NetShield blocks ads, malware, and trackers. It has kill switches in its desktop apps, private DNS, and cloaking technology. ProtonVPN keeps no logs.
ProtonVPN’s customer service is very disappointing. It has no live chat, and email and ticket responses can take days. The 2.4/5 rating (“poor”) on Trustpilot reflects that and a variety of other issues.
- Good speeds – even to distant servers
- Great customer support
- Powerful security tools and a no-logs policy
- No longer works in China
- Relatively small number of servers
EXTENSIVE MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE:ProtonVPN is satisfactorily safe and secure VPN for Microsoft Teams.
Read our full ProtonVPN review.
Our VPN testing methodology
We have a range of criteria for finding our top-pick VPNs. Some of the areas we research are listed below:
- The fastest possible speeds. Live video conferencing is demanding, so VPN speed is essential.
- Split tunneling capability in the VPN’s apps. The feature is most important for the VPN’s Windows app, as that is the most common way to use Microsoft Teams. The feature would ideally also be available in MacOS, Android, and iOS apps; although Apple’s operating systems make implementing it extremely difficult.
- Split tunneling for applications (e.g. Microsoft Teams). Some VPNs only enable split tunneling for websites or IP addresses.
- Reliable connections. Some VPNs cannot be counted on to maintain connection for a two-hour meeting.
- A wide selection of server locations. A nearby server is helpful for speed and reliability.
- Fast, responsive customer support.
- Accessibility from China. Citizens and visitors in China must use a VPN to access Microsoft Teams.
Security and privacy features are always important, because you will use your VPN for other purposes as well as for Microsoft Teams. However, Microsoft Teams has great security features, including encryption of all traffic. That is why your security is not jeopardized if you bypass your VPN to use it.
The full details of our testing and analysis are explained on our VPN testing methodology page.
Why Microsoft doesn’t want you to use a VPN to access Teams
Microsoft cites two reasons:
- The security provided by a VPN is redundant.
Microsoft explains, “We recommend that you provide an alternate path for Teams traffic that bypasses the virtual private network (VPN), commonly known as split tunnel VPN. Split tunneling means that traffic for Microsoft 365 or Office 365 doesn’t go through the VPN but instead goes directly to Microsoft 365 or Office 365. Bypassing your VPN will have a positive impact on Teams quality, and it reduces load from the VPN devices and the organization’s network.”
The performance argument is valid as a generalization, but we are recommending VPNs that are fast enough to have minimal effect on performance. A free VPN or other slow VPN could make Teams impossible or unbearable to use.
Also, Microsoft is concerned about the load on corporate VPNs. We are discussing personal-use VPNs with thousands of servers.
We’ve all experienced frustrations with Microsoft Teams and Zoom. People forgetting to unmute themselves isn’t the only one. Video can be choppy or drop out. Audio can be garbled. Many technical factors can contribute to these problems. Sometimes people are too far away from their webcams or microphones.
However, the biggest causes of problems with video conferencing are webcam quality and internet speed. Webcams with low frame-rates, like the crummy ones built into most laptops, are not very good for this purpose. Live video streaming is a bandwidth hog. Slow internet connections are challenged by streaming. Connections may be slow because of congestion, ISP bandwidth throttling, an overtaxed server, or because a user is only paying for a slow connection.
Those factors are beyond Microsoft’s control. Microsoft is trying to protect the image of its product. You can try using Microsoft Teams with and without a good VPN and form your own opinion. The amusing irony is that Microsoft uses a mixture of split-tunneling and VPN connections for its own employees. You can find a more technical explanation on Microsoft’s blog.
Microsoft Teams and split tunneling FAQs
Does split-tunneling compromise my security?
It depends on the programs that are allowed to access the internet without the VPN engaged. If the program is Microsoft Teams, your security is not compromised. If the program is Google Chrome or qBitorrent, then split tunneling could create a backdoor that compromises security. An attacker who manages to break into your device through the direct connection could then access data and networks intended for the VPN.
Can I use a free VPN for Microsoft Teams?
No, nor would that have any benefit. Free VPNs are too slow because they have bandwidth limits and their servers have too many users. Many have data caps as well.
Free VPNs have no incentive to spend money to implement security features. In fact, some track you and sell that information. Some do not even encrypt data.
If you are already using a free VPN, you should manually disconnect from it before attending a Microsoft Teams meeting. The free VPN won’t enhance your security or privacy for this purpose, but it may make Teams unusable.
What do whitelisting and blacklisting mean?
A whitelist, or allowlist, is a list of programs, websites, or IP addresses that are trusted, whereas a blacklist is a list of such things that are not trusted. For example, some email spam blocking programs use whitelists to allow mail from specific email addresses or blacklists to block mail from specific email addresses.
When it comes to VPNs, whitelisting can mean a few different things. A business might whitelist the IP addresses of employee’s home routers so only authorized personnel can connect to the VPN and access the corporate network.
The split tunneling features in the VPNs recommended above give users the power to decide which apps or websites use the VPN’s encrypted connection and which use your default, unencrypted internet connection. Generally, whitelisted programs must go through the VPN and blacklisted programs are allowed to bypass it. If you need to bypass Microsoft Teams so that it doesn’t use the VPN, you would blacklist it. A VPN that only allowed whitelisting would be more cumbersome.
Some VPNs call whitelisting inverse split tunneling.
Does split-tunneling have other benefits?
Yes. You may want or need to bypass your VPN for a variety of reasons. For example, you might bypass it to connect to a network printer or to visit certain websites, such as financial institutions and healthcare providers. That’s why some VPNs let you blacklist specific websites or IP addresses. Some people like to bypass their VPN for online gaming, because the connection will be faster.
If I connect to Microsoft Teams by using split-tunneling, can I use the VPN tunnel at the same time?
Yes. If you are multitasking or someone else on your network wants to get online through the VPN, you can do that.
Why doesn’t everyone just use Zoom?
Zoom seems to be more popular, especially for non-business video events. That’s because it is easier to use and doesn’t require registration. Microsoft Teams is more secure. Zoom has better streaming quality. Teams is integrated with other Microsoft 365 programs. Event hosts will choose one or the other based on price and which of those factors is most important to them.
Microsoft Teams is included in Microsoft 365. Businesses and other organizations that are already paying for Microsoft 365 may not want to also pay for Zoom.
Are Microsoft Teams and Zoom the only options for video conferencing?
No. Some competitors have offered products for a long time, but during the pandemic Microsoft Teams and Zoom seem to have become a duopoly. At this point, so many people have mastered the basics of those two programs. That gives them a competitive advantage. If you are interested in alternatives, see our article, “Best video conferencing software for small businesses.”
Is Microsoft Teams secure?
Cloud-based software always presents some risks, and Microsoft 365 is designed to be collaboration software with data stored in the cloud. While the risk is minimal, only the person or organization hosting a meeting or conference bears any real risk. Individuals using their own computers or other devices to participate in the event should not be concerned. If you use split-tunneling to bypass your VPN to attend a Microsoft Teams event, Teams encrypts the traffic and uses other security measures to give you peace of mind. Security experts believe Teams is sufficiently secure.