- Top VPNs for SMBs comparison
- Key features of VPNs for SMBs
- How do I choose the best VPN for my small to mid-sized business?
Virtual private networks (VPN) create a secure and encrypted connection between a user’s device and the internet. These services have seen increasing popularity due to rising concerns about privacy and security threats online. One sector that would benefit from VPNs is small businesses (SMBs).
With many SMBs relying on the internet for their operations, a VPN that secures corporate resources, communications and data is a must-have — especially since the shift to remote and hybrid work.
To help you decide which VPN is best for your business, we’ve listed four of the best VPN services for SMBs.
Top small business VPN software comparison
Many vendors offer efficient VPN services for smaller and mid-sized businesses. Their VPNs are typically used to securely access resources without the danger of leaking sensitive data.
Below are some of the leading VPN service providers specifically designed for SMBs.
|Worldwide presence||Dedicated servers||Zero Trust||RAM-only servers||Pricing|
|NordLayer: Best for Security||33 countries||Yes||Yes||Yes||$8/user/month (Lite)|
|Perimeter 81: Best for specific network needs||35 locations||Yes||Yes||No||$8/user/month (Essentials)|
|ProtonVPN: Best for budget||69 countries||Yes||No||No||$5.99/user/month (VPN Plus annual)|
|Surfshark: Best for confidentiality||100 countries||Yes||No||Yes||$6.49/user/month (Surfshark One+ annual)|
Surfshark: Best for confidentiality
Surfshark has over 3,200 servers in 100 countries, providing a wide spread of servers worldwide. It’s a good choice for privacy and data protection, allowing users to delete their personal information from marketing databases when subscribing to the highest plan.
In addition, Surfshark provides a monitoring service for credit card information and email addresses with their premium-tiered plans. It hunts for database leaks and alerts users when their credit card or email address is found.
Why we chose Surfshark
Surfshark lands on this list for its focus on employee privacy. Its specialized identity protection features — such as real-time breach alerts and data removal from marketing sites — are underrated tools that will help employees be proactive in keeping SMB resources safe and secure.
Aside from this, Surfshark offers unlimited device connections that afford small business owners a cost-effective VPN solution that won’t require additional fees for multiple devices.
Surfshark offers three subscription tiers: Surfshark Starter, One and One+. In our view, Surfshark One+ makes the most sense for SMBs since it provides all of Surfshark’s security features at a reasonable price.
- Monthly (Surfshark One+): $20.65/mo
- 1 year (Surfshark One+): $6.49/mo
- 2 years (Surfshark One+): $4.11/mo
- Unlimited device connections.
- Ad blocking.
- Bypasser panel, which allows applications to bypass the VPN.
- Alerts on identity and credit card fraud.
- Information deletion from marketing databases.
- Database monitoring for leaks of users’ credit card numbers and email addresses.
- Supports diverse geographical locations, including Nepal, Laos and Sri Lanka.
- Extremely fast.
- Can protect an unlimited number of devices.
- Dedicated IP addresses can be purchased.
- Ad blocker isn’t as efficient compared to other VPNs.
- Kill switch fails in some heavy stress-testing cases.
For more information, read our full Surfshark review.
NordLayer: Best for security
NordLayer is a remote network access security solution that’s part of Nord’s move toward the secure access service edge framework. SASE combines multiple networking and security technologies into a single cloud-based platform, given the continued global trend toward cloud technology.
NordLayer offers Zero Trust functionality such as two-factor authentication, single sign-on and SASE features like auto-connection to a VPN and AES 256-bit encryption.
It also sends alerts for untrusted device connections (Device Posture Security), includes network segmentation and can enable biometric authentication.
NordLayer’s solution also keeps the interface simple and easy to use.
Why we chose NordLayer
Similarly to its popular NordVPN service, NordLayer’s focus on security-centered features makes it a top option for protecting important business data. Its application of SASE and Zero Trust features is a real advantage for small businesses that want maximum protection for company resources. NordLayer upholds the brand’s extensive prioritization of security and privacy.
- Lite: Starting at $8 per month when paid annually.
- Core: Starting at $11 per month when paid annually.
- Premium: Starting at $14 per month when paid annually.
- Custom: Contact for pricing.
- Automated blocking of domains via threat intelligence feeds.
- DPI Lite service allows administrators to block applications while connected.
- Offers two-factor and biometrics authentication.
- Alerts against untrustworthy devices.
- Dedicated IP addresses can be purchased.
- Supports multiple platforms.
- Includes extensive SASE and zero-trust security features.
- Reactive and fast customer service.
- Can request for a demo.
- Some servers can be slow, forcing the user to switch to another.
For more information, read about NordLayer VPN here.
ProtonVPN: Best for budget
Proton has mostly been known for its email service, Proton Mail. Yet the company also provides an excellent VPN solution that suits SMBs called Proton VPN. While it isn’t the fastest VPN available, it operates from Switzerland, which has some of the strongest privacy laws in the world.
Proton VPN also has a dedicated free version with unlimited data.
Why we chose Proton VPN
Proton VPN marks its place on this list for its fairly generous free version. Proton VPN’s free desktop application offers free access to 86 servers in the USA, Netherlands and Japan. While it doesn’t offer the fastest speeds, it provides small businesses with a level of protection at no cost.
Proton VPN has three tiers: Proton VPN Free, VPN Plus, and Unlimited. For businesses planning to purchase a Proton VPN plan, we recommend going for the Plus tier as it gets you most of the essential VPN features from Proton. Proton Unlimited, on the other hand, bundles its other security products, such as ProtonMail and Proton Calendar, with the VPN.
- Monthly (VPN Plus): $9.99/mo
- 1 year (VPN Plus): $5.99/mo
- 2 years (VPN Plus): $4.99/mo
- Has a free version.
- Ads, trackers and malicious scripts blocking.
- Split tunneling that routes selected apps or IP addresses through the VPN while excluding others.
- Built-in kill switch and DNS leak protection.
- Multi-platform support (Linux GUI available).
- Operates under strict Swiss privacy laws.
- Implements a strict no-logs policy.
- Provides more than 3,000 servers in 69 countries.
- Open source and independently audited.
- Free version has no data limit.
- Supports up to 10 simultaneous connections.
- Priced relatively high.
- Live chat support is only available for paid users.
For more information, read our full ProtonVPN review.
Perimeter81: Best for specific network needs
Perimeter 81 is a new entity in the VPN business. However, it has quickly gained traction in the Zero Trust Network Access and SASE spaces. It’s a cloud-based solution, meaning it doesn’t rely on any hardware for business deployment.
In addition to the usual VPN services one might expect from a VPN, Perimeter 81 integrates seamlessly with Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Heroku, SalesForce and Splunk — making it a standout VPN for SMBs.
Why we chose Perimeter 81
We chose Perimeter 81 for its strong security solutions tailored toward any type of remote or hybrid workforce. Its standout integration capabilities, quick deployment, cloud architecture and lack of hardware configuration allow it to be easily set up for any business size or networking need. Its focus on bringing Zero Trust features is also a plus.
Perimeter 81 provides three plans, with additional features as you go up in price. Perimeter81’s Essentials and Premium plans will be best for small businesses as both plans provide a good balance between features and costs.
Premium Plus, on the other hand, offers more security at a higher price — making it more suited for larger organizations. Here’s a quick breakdown of Perimeter 81’s pricing:
- Essentials: Starts at $8 per user per month, with a minimum of 10 users.
- Premium: Starts at $12 per user per month, with a minimum of 10 users.
- Premium Plus: Starts at $16 per user per month, with a minimum of 20 users.
- Malware protection.
- Web filtering functionality.
- Includes multi-factor authentication.
- Supports multiple platforms.
- Offers custom DNS.
- Has cloud firewall.
- SASE and zero-trust network access.
- Cloud-only, no hardware deployment needed.
- Enables more network configurations for companies compared to competitors.
- Can be quickly set up.
- Malware protection and TLS/SSL inspection.
- Easy to learn and use.
- Kill switch fails in extreme conditions.
- Relatively small country selection.
For more information, read our full Perimeter 81 review.
Key features of small business VPNs
There are some essential features SMBs should look for in a VPN:
One of the most important roles of a VPN for small businesses is securing and protecting communications. As employees access corporate resources and engage in business communications via a VPN, it’s essential for VPNs to include strong encryption to protect user data and prevent leaks.
Features such as a kill switch and DNS leak protection are also must-haves to make sure that no corporate communications are acquired by malicious hackers or bad actors.
VPN solutions provide more than a protected connection. It’s best to look for VPNs that offer all-around security features such as malware detection, network filtering to detect fraudulent websites, and firewalls with customizable rules.
All VPN solutions described in this article also provide two-factor authentication, be it by SMS or through applications such as Google Authenticator — adding an additional layer of security to your business.
A company might have different user profiles — from the average user to administrators and members of IT — and they might not use the same type of computer and operating system. Therefore, the decision to subscribe to a particular VPN depends on its ability to provide easy access via different systems and platforms.
VPNs for SMBs should provide access on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux. The possibility to manually configure open software such as OpenVPN with the VPN parameters is also a convenient feature.
Customized access policies
A quality VPN solution should be able to provide customizable access policies to accommodate different users within an organization or business. To ensure only authorized personnel have access to specific resources, different access policies are needed.
Lastly, a VPN should have an easy-to-use centralized management system. This allows managers to set different profiles, network configurations and remote access configurations depending on the needs of the company or employee.
Not all VPN providers provide the same type of centralized management console, so it may take time for business owners to find the right system that works for them.
How do I choose the best VPN for my small business?
When choosing the best VPN solution for an SMB, prospective buyers should consider both the presence of useful security features and the management-focused functionality.
VPNs should have consistently stable performance as any downtime or disruption may cause delays or business losses.
Finally, a quality VPN should provide a good balance between features and cost. Ideally, a VPN should yield a good return on investment for the business relative to what they paid for it.
This list involved a detailed assessment of four popular VPNs for SMBs. In particular, each VPN was analyzed for its key security characteristics, pricing, pros and cons.
All four VPNs have been analyzed and reviewed individually and were subsequently organized on this list according to their respective standout features.
This article was originally written by Cedric Pernet and extensively updated by Luis Millares.
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