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5 Best VPNs for the Netherlands (Holland)

Stephen Cooper

Stephen Cooper

October 12, 2017

The Netherlands has very liberal laws that aim to enforce net neutrality. The principled stand of the Dutch parliament has paid dividends for the country’s IT sector. Now, the Netherlands is a top destination for multinationals looking to site their European data centers. Strong privacy laws mean that a wide range of internet and cloud services have their servers in the Netherlands. Just about every Virtual Private Network (VPN) in the world has a major server cluster in the country. Thus, if you live in the Netherlands, you have plenty of bandwidth available to you, as well as plenty of internet provider options.

You may think that you don’t need the extra protection that VPNs provide. Compared to the restrictions that citizens in other countries need to circumvent, you would largely be correct in that assumption.

However, there are a few areas of internet access where a VPN can help a great deal in the Netherlands. These include WiFi hotspot access, cross-border video streaming, and torrent downloading.

You can read more about these three areas of vulnerability below. Firstly, let’s look at our shortlist of the five best VPNs for the Netherlands.

Best VPNs for the Netherlands: Summary

BestVPN Editor's Choice Award
AirVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Three-day trial for €1
  • No logs
  • IP leak protection
  • Strong security
  • WiFi protection
CONS:
  • Only three simultaneous connections allowed
  • Small server network

AirVPN was created by net freedom campaigners and activists. Those with technical skills who wanted anonymity and freedom on the net created the service for themselves. Consequently, the interface isn't that easy to use. The app has plenty of security features, which you might not understand immediately. However, if you take time to learn what each security measure can do for you, this VPN will provide you with rock-solid protection.

If you want to get into an overseas streaming service, you need to select a VPN server in the country of that service. The server network of AirVPN has a presence in 18 countries. However, if your country is on the list, that's all you need. AirVPN has proven itself as one of the sneakiest privacy services on the planet. When faced with the firepower of the Chinese government, which aims to block VPNs, AirVPN rose to the challenge and worked out how to avoid detection. This ability shows that AirVPN can avoid detection anywhere.

Try the best VPN for the Netherlands now!

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2. Best VPNs for the Netherlands: NordVPN

NordVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in 61 countries
  • No logs
  • Up to six simultaneous connections allowed
  • Gets into Netflix
CONS:
  • Customer support can be slow

NordVPN has servers in 61 countries. As such, you stand a better chance of finding your home country in the server list of this VPN than with AirVPN. The NordVPN interface is really easy to use. It's based on a map with a marker in each server location. All you have to do is click on a marker to connect. An alternative screen allows you to select your server from a list. This view offers more options. These include double-hop connections that route through two servers and apply two layers of encryption.

The NordVPN website has a library of guides that show you how to install the VPN on your router. This is the easiest way to cover all of the devices in your home, including smart TVs and games consoles. The NordVPN app is available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android devices. You can also install the system on Linux machines. Automatic WiFi protection and the ability to get into Netflix from anywhere are other reasons to subscribe to this VPN.

For more information on this particular provider, visit our full NordVPN review.

3. Best VPNs for the Netherlands: Mullvad

Mullvad Homepage
PROS:
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Three-hour free trial
  • Caters to torrenters
  • Versions for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS
  • No logs
CONS:
  • Small server network
  • Some technical problems

Mullvad creates total anonymity with its account setup system. When you install the app you get an account number with which to activate the service. You don't need to give any personal details at all in order to get that number. Once the account is working, you have three hours to try it out. If you like it, you need to go to a different company to load up your account with credit - a little like a pay-as-you-go phone. This means Mullvad never has any information about you. It couldn't identify your activities even if it kept logs, which it doesn't.

The server network is small, but with a presence in 25 countries. The system has strong security features to protect you from spooks, snoopers, and scammers.

4. Best VPNs for the Netherlands: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Special Deal: Save 49% Today!
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Gets into video streaming services, including Netflix
  • Automatic WiFi protection
  • Servers in 94 countries
  • Strong encryption
CONS:
  • Quite expensive

ExpressVPN has a large server network. In addition, its app is very easy to use, it offers top-level security and high speeds, and it can get into just about every streaming site. It may seem like the very best VPN that you could choose for the Netherlands. However, it's not in the number one slot as it's expensive, and you might not want to pay so much for all of these top-of-the-range qualities.

With servers in 94 countries, ExpressVPN is more likely to have a server in your country than the other VPNs on this list. Features include automatic WiFi protection and very strong encryption. This VPN can get into Netflix, which operates the toughest VPN detection systems in the online entertainment industry.

For more information on the proivder, see our full ExpressVPN review.

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5. Best VPNs for the Netherlands: PrivateInternetAccess

PrivateInternetAccess Homepage
PROS:
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Automatic WiFi protection
  • No logs
  • P2P allowed
  • Allowance of five simultaneous connections
CONS:
  • Based in the US

Private Internet Access has servers in 25 countries. While this provider is a lot smaller than ExpressVPN, it's also much cheaper. PIA is fine with its customers using the network for protection while downloading copyrighted entertainment and it keeps no logs. You get an allowance that enables you to connect five devices at once, so this might be a good choice for a family.

PIA uses strong encryption and its security features include automatic WiFi protection. You get decent speeds with this system and the VPN is adept at getting around access restrictions at streaming sites. The company is based in the US, so may be vulnerable to pressure from US copyright lawyers and the NSA.

Using a VPN in the Netherlands or Holland: Considerations

File Sharing in the Netherlands

You may have heard that it’s legal to download copyrighted material without paying in the Netherlands. That’s not strictly true. A court ruled in 2012 that individuals hadn’t caused copyright holders damage by downloading their property. However, file sharing is a legal gray area. While you’re downloading a file, you’re also making it available for others to download it from you. Engaging in a P2P network can be seen as distributing those files, which is illegal.

The entertainment industry’s trade association in the Netherlands is called Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland (BREIN). This organization took the Dutch government to court for not effectively enforcing intellectual property rights. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) found in 2014 that the loophole that allowed citizens to download copyrighted material for personal use represented a dereliction of duty on the part of the Dutch government.

BREIN won a different court case in 2012. That ruling forced two Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the Netherlands to block access to The Pirate Bay. This order was later extended to the other ISPs in the country. It remained in force until 2014, when it was overturned. BREIN is still pursuing this case through the Netherlands’ high court, so the issue is still not settled.

The EU Data Retention Directive

Another law that torrenters need to pay attention to is the EU Data Retention Directive, published in 2006. The Netherlands incorporated this directive into its law. The directive requires that telecoms providers keep logs of user activities. The Netherlands implemented this order with a mandatory retention period of six months. The extent of application of the directive is open to interpretation. It has been the subject of many cases fought through national courts all over Europe, as well as in the ECJ. The Netherlands applied the data retention requirement only to ISPs, not to VPNs or other online services.

The existence of connection logs greatly aided copyright lawyers. They could not trace individual downloaders without the cooperation of ISPs. This is because residential internet users don’t have permanent IP addresses. Instead, the address belongs to the ISP, which allocates each customer an address for the duration of the connection.

The fact that VPNs evaded the requirement to store activity records greatly enhanced their commercial viability. It meant that the VPN industry could offer identity cloaking services to the general public.

The ECJ Steps In

The Dutch implementation of the data retention directive was annulled in 2014 by a ruling handed down by the European Court of Justice. The situation over the directive, however, was fluid for many years. The European Commission demanded that individual governments reintroduce the law. Meanwhile, ongoing appeals through the ECJ suspended the scope of the directive. Clarity was only achieved at the end of 2016, when the appeals process over the ECJ ruling was finally exhausted. At that stage, the Data Retention Directive could be declared dead and buried.

The European Commission has now come up with the Digital Single Market Directive. This includes orders to ISPs to retain activity logs. This issue isn’t going away. Downloaders also have to contend with the Dutch implementation of the EU Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive. This has been the main weapon of attack used by BREIN since 2012.

The situation over the legality of torrenting is very fluid. It can change from one day to the next, depending on the quality of legal representation that BREIN, or its victims, can muster. If you intend to download copyrighted material, it’s better to err on the safe side and use a VPN to protect your identity.

WiFi Weaknesses

WiFi hotspots are everywhere in the Netherlands. You have to pay to access some of them, but many bars, cafes, restaurants, and hotels provide them for free. Free internet access provides a great opportunity to check your email or the news whenever you want.

You have to be careful when you connect to WiFi hotspots, however. Not all of them are genuine. Scammers can easily set up fake hotspots. Many people connect to these without questioning their validity. These fake hotspots have feasible names that sound like the establishment they’re in. Unfortunately, in these cases, you’re actually connecting directly to someone else’s computer. The hacker forwards all traffic through to the real WiFi router in the location, so you probably won’t notice any lack of service.

Encryption protects WiFi connections. However, with fake hotspots, the hacker provides the encryption key. As such, he/she can read all of your outgoing messages. The hacker’s software can also replace incoming webpages with false versions. Even though you think you’re using a secure connection, you are, in fact, entering your bank account details and login credentials into a copy of the real page. All of that information goes straight into the hacker’s database.

When you use a VPN, the client software on your computer won’t accept incoming messages that its own VPN server hasn’t sent. All of the communications between the VPN client and server are encrypted. That means any snoopers who intercept the messages can’t read them. Thus VPNs protect you from fake WiFi hotspots with an extra layer of encryption that the hacker can’t control.

International Video Streaming

If you move to the Netherlands from another country, you’ll probably want to continue watching TV from back home. All of the major TV stations have their own websites that enable you to watch catch-up TV. You can even connect to the channel live over the internet. However, those TV channels are only allowed to show programs within their own country. They are bound by contracts with copyright holders to limit access to programming to certain territories. Therefore, TV websites block people from accessing videos from overseas.

The internet has made possible the creation of video streaming sites that aren’t directly linked to TV stations. However, the standard agreements of the entertainment industry also apply to those sites. Thus they have to sign separate contracts for each territory in which they want to show video. That’s why even Netflix and Amazon Prime impose blocks on international access to their shows.

A VPN creates a tunnel so that internet messages that go in and out of your computer seem to be invisible. Those messages reappear out of the tunnel at the VPN server’s location. Then, they carry on over the internet. The VPN directs incoming responses to requests from your computer to its own server. This then sends them back down the tunnel to you.

This method makes you appear to be in the location of the VPN server. Thus, if you select a VPN server in the same country as the video site that you want to access, you should get in.

Cloaking Technology

Unfortunately, video streaming sites know about tunneling and try to block VPN traffic. This has created a challenge that has separated out the VPN industry. Some providers have decided that it’s not worth the cost of investing in new methods to get into streaming sites. They simply tell customers that the task is impossible. Other companies, however, have managed to create cloaking methods that evade detection by video servers.

The VPNs in our list are some of the best in the world. They can all get you into overseas video streaming services from the Netherlands.

Best Dutch VPNs: Conclusion

The government of the Netherlands has a strong commitment to internet freedom. It has an important IT sector to defend, and knows that freedom attracts investment from overseas. However, there are other organizations that the Dutch government doesn’t control, which want to narrow your online freedoms. These bodies include the EU Commission and copyright holders.

You can get around most perils and obstacles on the internet with a VPN. The services on our list of the five best VPNs for the Netherlands all have trial offers or money-back periods. Take advantage of these to try them out at your leisure. Enjoy the internet freedom of the Netherlands and use a VPN to make sure that no-one can take it away.

Best VPNs to use in Holland and Netherlands: Side-by-Side Summary

Image Credit: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

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