Why is OS Compatibility Important for VPN Services

In today’s hyper-connected world, people use multiple devices for multiple reasons. Therefore, app developers need to create apps compatible across various user interfaces. To put things into perspective, let’s look at the user base of some of the most popular Operating Systems:

  • Microsoft Windows: More than 1 billion active users
  • Android: 2.5 billion active users
  • iOS: 1.5 billion active users, 900 million of which are iPhone users
  • macOS: More than 100 million active users

According to the Global Web Index, there are 3 connected devices per person. By 2030, that’s forecasted to increase to 15. Let’s discuss what this indicates.

Why is Device Compatibility Important for VPN Services?

Most people have a laptop for work, a handy smartphone, and maybe another desktop computer at home. Plus, we’ve all become accustomed to Smart TVs and other smart devices. This puts into perspective how diverse our digital ecosystem has become and why we need VPNs with maximum compatibility across different platforms.

A VPN becomes even more crucial when you’re working with sensitive data. You’d be surprised to know that 17% of users do their banking via an unsecured Wi-Fi, while a whopping 87% of people use public Wi-Fi to check emails. This is where VPNs come in. They hide your IPs allowing you to securely connect to the internet without revealing your identity. And a VPN that is compatible across all your devices makes sure that your real IP address and sensitive data is never exposed online.

The Big Players of the VPN Industry

Next up in our list is Surfshark Surfshark claims to be an all-rounder ideal for gaming, streaming, anonymous browsing, and secure networking. The primary focus of Surfshark is accessibility at an affordable price. To achieve its goal, this VPN has more than 3200+ servers located in 65 countries.

Our first pick is ExpressVPN – one of the leading players in the industry. It currently operates 3,000+ VPN servers in 94 countries. A stellar feature of ExpressVPN is its robust framework. ExpressVPN provides a high-speed connection and low network latency, even in censorship-heavy countries like the UAE or Russia.

Our third pick is NordVPN, one of the leading and most prominent brands. NordVPN’s excellence comes from its closely-knit framework. Users barely experience any dip in performance thanks to more than 5,200+ NordVPN servers in 59+ countries. It is one of the best VPN providers for Nvidia Shield, iOS, Xbox one, Android, etc.

Our last pick is CyberGhost, a VPN that prides itself on providing the most robust framework for its users. Their claims are apparent through their infrastructure which consists of more than 7700+ servers in 90+ countries. Astonishingly, CyberGhost excels in providing stable internet protection at competitive rates.

VPN Services Offering iOS and Android Compatibility

When it comes to VPN apps device compatibility for mobile phones, there are two major players: Android and iPhone. So, let’s look at VPN compatibility over apps on mobile devices.

Surfshark

OS Availability Support page  
iOS Yes iOS Setup
Android Yes Android setup

Surfshark, an affordable VPN, has provided step-by-step installation instructions and setup guides for both platforms. Also, the setup page provides links to Surfshark APK in case the user wants to manually download the program.

Unfortunately, Surfshark’s software suite for iOS isn’t as inclusive as some of the other programs in this list. But it’s positive Play Store rating and advanced security features made it to the top of our recommended VPNs for Android.

Admittedly, Surfshark apps on App Store and Play Store have a few unsatisfied customers. But Surfshark reps respond individually to each user’s problem and follow up on their issues. This kind of excellent response is rare to see on both mobile platforms.

ExpressVPN

OS Availability Support page  
iOS Yes iOS Setup
Android Yes Android setup

Support for older versions of android through APKs and the latest versions through the App Store ensures that users can use the VPN without experiencing stability issues. Also, the option for manual setup gives users even more flexibility.

Over the years, ExpressVPN’s stability has improved over mobile platforms including iOS and Android. Reviewers have mentioned improved connection speeds and less frequent disconnections. This made us list ExpressVPN as the #1 VPN for iOS with enhanced features and top of the line encryption.

On the other hand, users have complained that the ExpressVPN Play Store app does not work in China.

NordVPN

OS Availability Support page  
iOS Yes iOS Setup
Android Yes Android setup

NordVPN has perhaps one of the most intuitive and detailed installation support pages. The android support page features an in-depth video tutorial as well as a text-based web page available in English, French, German, and Dutch. Also, both the iOS and Android installation instructions are provided with step-by-step screenshots for convenience.

NordVPN is one of the most popular VPN apps. But this comes with its drawbacks. A VPN so big may experience crashes and may require you to keep reconnecting to stay secure. This can quickly get frustrating if you are streaming movies on your device.

While NordVPN does not have any serious complaints, both iPhone and Android users have to go through an unnecessarily lengthy Q&A when they contact customer support.

CyberGhost

OS Availability Support page  
iOS Yes iOS Setup
Android Yes Android setup

CyberGhost has provided one of the most organized installation guides on their website. The Android and iOS guides provide detailed installation instructions (with screenshots) and answer some common queries.

On the other hand, the app lags behind in providing compatibility on Android 10 for some phones, while it keeps disconnecting on the iPhone. These are compatibility-related issues that some CyberGhost users face. However, the CyberGhost app works just fine on pc. Moreover, some CyberGhost users on Android have noticed excessive battery drainage. You can check out our detailed analysis of CyberGhost VPN.

VPN Services offering Windows, Mac and Linux Compatibility

Complete Windows and Mac systems provide more versatility compared to mobile devices and allow users to access sensitive/private work data, stream, access their contacts, sync data, game, while multitasking.

Therefore, a good VPN service provider must include stable support for these systems. Let’s take a look at our options:

Surfshark

OS Availability Support page  
Windows Yes Windows Setup
macOS Yes macOS Setup
Linux Yes Linux Setup

Surfshark’s installation guides are all-inclusive and contain instructions for power users aware of the various Linux interfaces such as Debian, Ubuntu. The same goes for instructions on Windows and Mac systems.

Surfshark provides packages a bit on the less expensive side. Accordingly, it offers consistent services that most users are satisfied with. Users have reported around a 20% drop in their speed when connected to the nearest VPN servers, which is quite impressive for a value-based VPN.

ExpressVPN

OS Availability Support page  
Windows Yes Windows Setup
macOS Yes macOS Setup
Linux Yes Linux Setup

ExpressVPN has a plethora of installation guides available for both Windows and Mac users. This service has been constantly recommended as the best VPN for Mac by top publications like PcMag, Techradar, and others. In addition, ExpressVPN has detailed guides on OpenVPN GUI, Surface RT, Windows with MediaStreamer, OpenVPN with Tunnelblick, and Mac with Mediastreamer.

ExpressVPN users for windows are often power users. Many users have commended ExpressVPN for consistently providing stable connections. But with the latest windows updates, some consumers have faced problems with lower speeds. For instance, users with a 150mb/15mb connection frequently get 12mb down and 10mb up speed. But that is something acceptable since a VPN routes the internet traffic to other servers.

NordVPN

OS Availability Support page  
Windows Yes Windows Setup
macOS Yes macOS Setup
Linux Yes Linux Setup

Just like their android guides, NordVPN has user-friendly installation instructions for mac and windows too. Moreover, it has categorized its application guides into IKEv2 application and OpenVPN application tutorials.

NordVPN not only excels at unblocking streaming services, but most of its long-term users choose NordVPN for privacy reasons as well. This makes NordVPN one of the best applications for use on desktops and laptops.

CyberGhost

OS Availability Support page  
Windows Yes Windows Setup
macOS Yes macOS Setup
Linux Yes Linux Setup

CyberGhost’s support page is well organized and answers most queries on the same page. This makes navigating easier and troubleshooting less of a hassle for users.

CyberGhost provides stable services and good value for money. Moreover, it also offers long-term packages spanning 12 months or 18 months. Unfortunately, a few consumers have had trouble with their payment methods.

VPN Services offering Apple TV, Samsung Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick compatibility

Watching TV for news and entertainment is part of our daily routine. But there has been a rapid change in the adoption of streaming content over cable tv in recent years. According to recent surveys, 88% of streaming users have rated their experience as good or excellent, while only 59% of cable-TV subscribers can say the same.

Moreover, out of all the Netflix users, 70% use their TVs for streaming. It’s clear as day why VPN compatibility for TVs is important for VPN streamers. So, let’s look at how our major contenders perform in the Smart TV department.

Surfshark

OS Availability Support page  
Apple TV Yes Apple TV Setup
Samsung Smart TV Yes Samsung TV Setup
Amazon Fire TV stick Yes Fire Stick Setup

Like all other VPNs, Surfshark also provides full support for streaming services on TV. But the tutorials available on their website aren’t as organized as the ones for mobiles or computers. You can access your desired setup using the links on this page though.

Unfortunately, users often face issues with Surfshark on TVs. The most common complaint is that the Smart DNS is not working. The problem seems to occur randomly but can be bypassed by accessing different servers.

Alternatively, users have been successful with troubleshooting by contacting Surfshark customer support.

ExpressVPN

OS Availability Support page  
Apple TV Yes Apple TV Setup
Samsung Smart TV Yes Samsung TV Setup
Amazon Fire TV stick Yes Fire Stick Setup

Setting up ExpressVPN via a media streamer on your TV is a bit tricky. But they have you covered with superior VPN apps device compatibility. Their support page has detailed tutorials (video and screenshots) that teach you how to set up and troubleshoot VPN streaming setup on your TV.

Streaming companies such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix are wary of VPNs. Therefore, users are bound to face occasional hiccups when using any VPN app. But ExpressVPN has a swift network of troubleshooters who work tirelessly to find a workaround for the frequent issues their users face.

NordVPN

OS Availability Support page  
Apple TV Yes Apple TV Setup
Samsung Smart TV Yes Samsung TV Setup
Amazon Fire TV stick Yes Fire Stick Setup

While NordVPN is not supported by Smart TVs, Fire TV, and other devices such as consoles, you can access VPN on these devices by connecting your router to a VPN. NordVPN provides detailed guides on how to do just that.

Users have to set up a workaround for streaming their TVs. Most either set up a VPN on their DD-WRT router or use SmartDNS. Others, however, have found it way easier to simply connect their laptops to their TVs via either an HDMI or a Displayport 1.2 connection for 4K UHD streaming.

CyberGhost

OS Availability Support page  
Apple TV Yes Apple TV Setup
Samsung Smart TV Yes Samsung TV Setup
Amazon Fire TV stick Yes Fire Stick Setup

CyberGhost provides extensive support for various Smart TVs as well as consoles. Their websites also provide in-depth guides for users who want to bypass the TV’s limitations for streaming.

CyberGhost provides some of the most easily accessible guides for most user queries. For example, it has explained how to use Netflix US and Netflix UK via Smart DNS. These features have made CyberGhost an easy choice among users.

On the flip side, a small minority of users have had bad luck in getting the CyberGhost app to run on their Samsung Smart TVs no matter what they tried.

VPN Services offering Extensions for Chrome and Firefox

Chrome and Firefox browser extensions provide convenience for online browser users. Therefore, most reputable VPNs provide extensions for compatibility with browsers. Now, let’s take a look at the browser extension compatibility of VPNs.

Surfshark

OS Availability Support page  
Chrome Yes Chrome Setup
Firefox Yes Firefox setup

Like other quality VPNs, Surfshark is easy to install. It does not require an in-depth tutorial. On the other hand, it has been reported to work like a charm.

While Surfshark is a relatively lesser-known VPN when compared to the top players, it still delivers impressive performance. Users have reported that they can connect to their desired server in no time and enjoy a pretty stable connection.

ExpressVPN

OS Availability Support page  
Chrome Yes Chrome Setup
Firefox Yes Firefox setup

Like all other applications, the ExpressVPN browser extension is stable and works with most computers.

While the extension is stable, some users may face issues with streaming, especially Netflix. That is because ExpressVPN does not have enough hidden servers to provide a reliable connection.

NordVPN

OS Availability Support page  
Chrome Yes Chrome Setup
Firefox Yes Firefox setup

NordVPN has one of the most intuitive VPN browser extension web pages which is why they are easy to access and install.

Using the browser extension won’t allow for double tunneling, though. All your https: traffic will just be rerouted to another server. But using a browser extension prevents browsers from leaking your IP address, as these extensions can block WebRTC.

CyberGhost

OS Availability Support page  
Chrome Yes Chrome Setup
Firefox Yes Firefox setup

CyberGhost also provides a straightforward installation guide for their browser extensions. But on the flip side, the support for browser extension isn’t as thorough as other platforms. Users have had issues connecting to the VPN. Some users cite an “Internal Error” when they tried to connect with the CyberGhost chrome extension.

About Sebastian Riley

Sebastian Riley is a cyberlibertarian activist and an internet freedom fighter who strongly believes in an unsegregated and uncensored internet. With a cybersecurity degree, Sebastian is a professional bug hunter and a freelance opensource penetration tester.