If you’re shopping for a VPN, you may have been taken aback by the fact that these handy security tools cost money—and the good ones can cost a lot. To defray costs, you may have wondered whether you can share a VPN. Here’s what you need to know.
Sharing a VPN Subscription
You’ll be happy to know that, yes, you can share a VPN subscription, and you can do so without repercussions. In fact, VPN providers even encourage you to do so—up to a certain point. All VPN providers allow a certain number of what are called simultaneous connections, meaning that you can have the VPN active on multiple devices at the same time and connected to different destinations.
Note that “active” in this case means “connected.” Almost all VPNs will let you install their software on as many devices as you want; you just can only have them switched on a specific number of times. For example, NordVPN lets you have six simultaneous connections, so you can have it working on three phones and three laptops, say.
However, you could install it on a dozen machines without any problems, you’ll just hit a wall when you connect a seventh time. Note, though, that if you plan to install a VPN on lots of machines, you may want to double-check if it’s allowed. CyberGhost, for one, limits the number of devices it can be installed on.
Why Share a VPN?
Sharing a VPN subscription is great for families or companies that want to make sure that everybody stays protected while online without having to sign up for multiple subscriptions. It also opens the door for some cost-saving shenanigans, which may be interesting for people that want a VPN but don’t want to spend too much on it.
For example, ExpressVPN allows up to five simultaneous connections. If you just have a laptop and a smartphone and your friend has the same, you could split the rather steep $100 per year price tag with them and get a top-of-the-line VPN for just $50 per year. If you have a second friend, you could still share the account and bring that number down to $33 for each person, but it would get tricky who switches on when.
If you have more devices or just want to share your VPN with a bigger group of people, you have plenty of other options to choose from in our selection of the best VPNs that allow more simultaneous connections than ExpressVPN. Private Internet Access, for example, lets you connect up to 10 devices at the same time, as does Hide.me. Some VPNs even let you have unlimited simultaneous connections, like Surfshark and Windscribe.
Downsides to Sharing a VPN
All the above sounds great, but usually when things are this good there’s a catch. In this case there’s one, too, but it’s just a small one: if you connect a lot of devices, you may experience some slowdowns if you’re connected to the same server on all of them—server load is one of the most important things that can affect VPN speed.
However, the chances of this happening are quite remote, you’d have to connect a lot of devices for this to happen. In these cases, there’s a chance that your VPN provider may step in (Surfshark reserves that right, for example), but we doubt most people could take it that far.
However, if you do want to connect a truly massive network over a VPN, using a VPN router may be a much better option. Using one of these can protect an entire network at once and only counts as one simultaneous connection.
Whichever option you choose, sharing a VPN is a perfectly acceptable way to bring down your costs while remaining safe while browsing. Expect no hassle whatsoever for doing so, nor any technical issues.