Best VPNs for The Netherlands

Netherlands FlagFor many years, the Netherlands has been known as one of the most open and free Internet nations in Europe.  The Netherlands, along with Bulgaria, Luxemburg, Romania, Switzerland and Sweden is one of the countries that has decided that the Data Retention Directive (DRD) does not apply to VPNs.  Also, Dutch law allows for the download of copyright material for individual use, as long as the material is not uploaded with the intent to redistribute and share with others.  These facts have long made it a haven for international VPN providers, thus it is one of the more popular places for them to locate servers.   Many providers have set up P2P friendly servers in the Netherlands specifically to avoid anti-piracy pressures from elsewhere in the world.  Below you will find our list of the best VPNs for the Netherlands to protect your Internet transactions.

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The State of Legal Piracy in the Netherlands

In recent years, The Netherlands lax nature regarding the piracy of copyrighted materials has resulted in heat from many organizations which led to the banning of the Pirate Bay website.  Although this ban was later overturned by the High Court of the Hague.  It has brought to light to the people of Holland that they do need a personal VPN service to protect their right to have their private data secured from other parties.  Additionally, the Netherlands has one of the most robust economies in the world, with high average incomes.  Over 90% of Holland’s population have access to the Internet with the majority having access to high speed broadband connections.  It is estimated that about 30% of the Dutch populace avail themselves of their right to download copyrighted material for private use.  Entertainment industry copyright holders are compensated for alleged losses due to piracy through a ‘piracy tax’ on blank media such as CDRs, DVDRs, external hard drives, AV players, HDD recorders, smartphones, and PCs/Laptops.  Consequently, Dutch Netizens are acutely aware of the threat to their Internet privacy and many take advantage of a personal VPN to avoid ISPs collecting and storing their Internet browsing habits for six months as the DRD requires them to do.

On 8, April 2014 The Court of Justice of the European Union declared the DRD invalid because it was deemed too broad and offering too few privacy safeguards.  On 15, March 2015 Judge GP van Ham, a judge of the High Court of the Hague scrapped the Netherlands DRD law on the same grounds.  The Security and Justice Ministry is currently considering an appeal of that ruling.  On 10, April 2014, the European Court of Justice then declared that the Netherlands must declare downloads of pirated content illegal and that the piracy tax was not valid because it unfairly taxed those who did not pirate material.  Despite all of these recent rulings by both high courts, it is not yet clear what will become of the data already retained or the so-called piracy tax.  This state of limbo concerning Dutch citizens private information and their legal right to download P2P files makes it even more imperative that they use a VPN service when accessing the Internet.

What is a VPN?

Now that we have looked at some of the best VPNs in the industry and some of the issues currently facing Internet users in the Netherlands, let us look at what a VPN is and what it can do for you.  VPNs have been around the business world since the early 1980s.  A VPN is a group of computers networked together in such a way that secure information can be passed between computers on the network across another less secure network.  This is usually accomplished by establishing an SSL secured connection between the two devices and encrypting the traffic sent between them, thus hiding it from others on the less secure network.  VPNs allow employees to remotely connect and use private company resources across the public Internet.   Without the use of VPNs, they would not be able to work outside of the company office.  Indeed, VPNs make the global international businesses that are common today possible by allowing all the corporate offices to be connected together and securely share all of their private resources.

A personal VPN works the same as a private business one, except that it provides private secure access to the public Internet rather than a private internal network.   First, the service creates an encrypted SSL connection between your computer or other device and a VPN server of your choice through the public Internet.  This keeps your ISP or other third parties from being able to see what you are doing because it hides your internet traffic from deep packet inspection.  Next, it then masks your public IP address and replaces it with one at the location of it’s server.  Finally the server acts as an intermediary between you and the public Internet.  This means that all requests from you are sent from the server address and thus this is where others on the Internet will perceive your location.  This allows you to virtually change your location by connecting to different VPN servers across the globe.

Their are two primary technical benefits of having a personal VPN service.  The first as we previously said, is that a VPN provider masks your original public IP address and assigns you one from its server location.  This will allow you to appear to be from almost anywhere in the world.   The second is that it allows you to shield your Internet activities from third parties, be they governments, eavesdroppers, or more nefarious criminal elements.  Some of the more premium VPNs also offer extra benefits like a Network Address Translation (NAT) firewall which will protect you against malicious software, a kill switch to help protect your anonymity, auto startup on OS, auto-start on Internet connection, port forwarding, stealth mode to overcome censorship, and others.

Benefits You Get by Using a Netherlands VPN

Two groups of people will be looking to get a VPN for the Netherlands. Those who live outside the Netherlands who are looking for a way to unblock geo-restricted content in the Netherlands, overcome government censorship in their country, or take advantage of the friendly stance that the Dutch have toward P2P downloads for personal use.  The second group are citizens of the Netherlands who are looking to be more anonymous and protect their privacy while they are browsing the Internet.  They also want to secure their Internet traffic from prying eyes like their Internet Service Providers.  Dutch users also want to view or listen to geo-blocked content from other countries like Netflix and Hulu in the US.

Benefits of a Netherlands VPN to Dutch Netizens

The status of the DRD is in limbo while the Security and Justice Ministry considers whether or not to appeal The Hague decision regarding its termination.  Despite this, Netizens of the Netherlands need a personal VPN to help to anonymize their Internet activity even more as the ISP could still be collecting data until the matter is settled.  Additionally the ruling by the European Court of Justice that downloading even for personal use should be illegal in the Netherlands is even more worrisome to the Dutch citizenry.  Although it appears that paying the blank media (piracy tax) and downloads for personal use are still tolerated by the government of the Netherlands, this could change in the future as the government reviews and integrates the EC court ruling into their local laws.

Dutch who are on holiday will also be able to access their local geo-restricted programming from other countries so they can keep up with local events while traveling.  They will be able to access geo-blocked streaming media services like Hulu in the US and BBC iPlayer in the UK in the privacy of their own homes by connecting to servers in those countries and changing their virtual location.  Thus, they can increase the amount of movies, TV shows, music, and other entertainment content like live events that they have access to.  Having a personal VPN will help those in Holland to secure their private information when accessing free local Wi-Fi hotspots in restaurants or other unsecure networks like those found in hotels.  Finally, having a VPN service will allow them to overcome local university firewalls and access some websites that might be blocked on school grounds.  Similarly if they are living or working in censored regions like China or the Middle East, it can help them overcome government censorship and have access to an unbiased Internet.

Netherlands VPN Benefits to Those Outside

If you live in a country where the government censors access to websites containing differing ideological beliefs, those that promote social diversity, or those that espouse contrary political philosophies, a VPN in the Netherlands can be used to gain access to these websites.  The Netherlands has almost no censorship of the Internet so you can access sites from there that you might not be able to access in your own country.  This is true even of countries like the US and UK who do practice some censorship of the Internet as well as monitor your activity while using it.  A VPN with Dutch servers can not only let you access these censored sites but also mask your traffic from monitoring.  For those who are in countries that are not P2P file sharing or torrent friendly, having access to a VPN in the Netherlands will let you conduct your P2P activity in a more friendly environment while keeping you anonymous and protecting you from third party surveillance.   Also if you are an expat or just would like to be able to access geo-blocked media from Holland from outside the country, having a VPN with servers in the Netherlands will let you watch the local Dutch shows from wherever you are in the world.

Netherlands VPN Criteria to Consider

When choosing a VPN for the Netherlands, there are a few things that you need to consider to help you select the best one for your purpose.

  • First is do you trust the VPN provider?
    • How much of your personal information do they collect and how do they use it?  Less is always better
    • Is their privacy policy transparent about how they use any collected personal information?
    • How long have they been in the VPN industry?  Do they have a good reputation for service and support if your have any issues?
    • Do they allow P2P traffic?  Do they monitor your use?
    • Where are they incorporated at?
  • Second is how big is their network of VPN servers?
    • Where are its servers located at?  Do they have multiple VPN servers in the Netherlands?  This will ensure greater speed and reliability when accessing content.
    • Do they have a worldwide presence including the US, UK, other parts of Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world?
  • Third, what is their logging policy regarding VPN usage?
    • A no-log policy is an absolute necessity to many.
    • Shared IP Addresses are also desirable.
  • Fourth, how does the VPN perform for your purpose?
    • How fast is the VPN service from your local location?  The Netherlands has one of the fastest Internet speeds in Europe.
    • Can it help you scale your school and even government firewall if that is necessary for your purpose?
    • Can you access and configure it from your current location?
  • Fifth, how reliable is the network?
    • You want to choose a VPN which is stable and has maximum up-time.
    • Having multiple VPN servers will help avoid over crowding.
    • Can they help protect your privacy if the VPN does drop (Kill Switch)?
    • Do they offer DNS leak protection to keep your public IP private?
  • Sixth, is the bandwidth.
    • The best VPNs offer unlimited data download.
  • Seventh, does the VPN support a variety of different devices like computers, smartphones, and browsers.
    • Does it support Windows? Mac OS? Linux? iOS? Android? Others?
    • Two or more simultaneous connections is best.
    • Remember to thoroughly test the VPN with all of your devices to make sure that you are happy with its performance.
  • Eighth, is it secure and private to protect your traffic from prying eyes: be they local ISP, the NSA, GCHQ, Netherlands Ministry of Security and Justice, or cyber criminals?
    • What kind of protocols does the VPN use?  Protocols are data transmission rules.
      • A VPN service that supports all three protocols: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec and PPTP is best.
        • OpenVPN (UDP/TCP) (Best mix of security and speed)
          • It is highly configurable, fast, and secure.
          • Port forwarding helps increase its utility and helps it scale firewalls.
        • L2TP/IPsec – Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol / Internet Protocol Security is the encryption protocol for traffic.
          • It provides excellent security but has slower speed
          • It is easy to implement on most devices due to built-in support.
          • It has greater utility when used with port forwarding.
        • PPTP – Point to Point Tunneling Protocol
          • It is considered the least secure and probably better suited for devices that can not use other protocols or where speed, not security is the main concern.
          • Like L2TP, easy to setup because of built-in support.
    • Encryption is usually AES or Blowfish based.  Multiple choices of encryption strength is best.
      • It should use at least 128 bit which is not as secure but provides faster speed.
      • 256 bit is better for security but provides slower performance.
    • Other protocols include proprietary stealth ones to scale the Great Firewall of China, SSTP for Windows, and IKEv2 which provides good security, as well as, automatic reconnection which is good for mobile devices.
  • Ninth, how easy is the VPN service to actually use?
    • Does the VPN have easy to use and install software?
    • Does it have well written manual installation guides?
    • Is it easy to connect to or change VPN servers?
  • Tenth, how much does the VPN service cost?
    • As always, you should spend what your budget can afford.  Trust, security and performance should be weighed against cost before choosing a VPN to make sure you will be happy with it.
    • Does it support more anonymous ways to pay for the service, like Bitcoin?
    • Remember to use the money-back guarantee to thoroughly test the service to ensure it suits your intended purpose.

Each of the VPNs in our list meet most if not all of the criteria that we have listed.   Each of the VPNs that we recommend are neutral to P2P file download or torrent usage and do not log VPN traffic.  Additionally, we took into consideration purposes that you might have for a Netherlands VPN as a Dutch citizen, as well as, someone from outside of the Netherlands.  In addition to having multiple servers in the Netherlands to avoid problems with over-crowding, consideration was also given to VPNs that had servers in other countries in the world you might want access to like the US, UK and other European countries.   Our chosen VPNs satisfy most of these criteria for both groups of users.  You should also look at your own purpose to see which VPN in our list best suits your individual needs.

Final Thoughts

As always, you should select the VPN from our list that most closely matches your individual needs.  Many users of VPN servers in the Netherlands are looking to take advantage of the friendly P2P file sharing atmosphere.  Namely that the government is tolerant of P2P downloads of copyrighted material for private use.   If this is your goal, you should place more emphasis on the reliability, speed, privacy, and the security that your VPN service gives you to ensure that you will be happy with its P2P performance.  Others may be looking to access websites that may be blocked within their own country.  They should place more emphasis on firewall scaling, anonymity, and security if this is the case.  Still others may just want to access geo-blocked streaming media content.  If this is your purpose then security may not be as great of a concern for you.  Finally, cost should always be one of your considerations but not at the expense of your security or privacy.  The VPNs in our list will provide you the reliability and speed that you want at a great price.  Remember to select the one that has features that suit your individual usage needs.  All have guarantees that will let you test their services with your favorite P2P software.  Select the one that you like the best and see what you think for yourself.