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The 5 Best VPNs for Steam that work in 2017: Are VPNs Allowed on Steam?

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a casual gamer, if you play PC games, chances are you’ve heard of Steam. Steam was originally built by Valve as a gaming platform for cutting edge online multiplayer games. These days, though, it does so much more. Steam has become a virtual hub for PC gamers offering many titles such as Fallout 4. It allows them to browse forums, chat, download and purchase new games, organize teams, and manage game files across different systems. You’re probably already familiar with famous Valve games such as Portal, Counter Strike, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, Half-Life and many, many others.

Unfortunately, Steam suffers from the same annoying problems as other multiplayer platforms, such as Xbox Live. The platform was created by a large business that exists to make money. As such, there are some strict account and download restrictions. These exist out of legal necessity, to help the business avoid liability issues. To that end, it’s pretty common for modern gaming platforms to restrict content to certain geographic regions.

Thankfully, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) tunnel can help alleviate some of the irritation these restrictions create.

The Best VPNs for Steam: Summary

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN LogoExpressVPN
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

VyprVPN LogoVyprVPN
Read Review9.4/10
$6.67 / monthVisit Site

3

IPVanish LogoIPVanish
Read Review8.6/10
$5.19 / monthVisit Site
EXCLUSIVE: 50% OFF! Ends Today! Enter Voucher Code: WAR4WEB

4

VPNArea LogoVPNArea
Read Review7.6/10
$4.92 / monthVisit Site

5

Buffered LogoBuffered
Read Review7.4/10
$8.25 / monthVisit Site

*All prices shown in US dollars

* Advertiser Disclosure
Editor's Choice Award

Winner

ExpressVPN

5/5

The Best VPNs for Steam

  • ProsPROS
  • Consistently high speed and reliability (99.9% uptime guarantee)

  • Servers in 94 countries

  • Three simultaneous connections per account

  • Based in the British Virgin Islands

  • ConsCONS
  • Rather expensive

  • No free version

  • No dedicated IP addresses

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Steam. It has many admirable qualities, including consistently fast speeds and high reliability (99.9% uptime guarantee). You might imagine that every VPN service would provide a 99.9% uptime guarantee. However, there are a fair few providers that lack this feature.

Speed and reliability are of the most important factors for most applications. This is especially true if you intend to run any real-time multiplayer games through the VPN tunnel. We all know how irritating lag spikes, dropped connections, and latency are. Apart from high speed and reliability, ExpressVPN also offers a large network of servers. Right now, it hosts servers in 94 countries. Each account can have up to three simultaneous connections, regardless of device type.

Unfortunately, there are two qualities of this service that I find unattractive. Firstly, there isn’t a free version of the VPN tunnel (though there is a 30-day money-back guarantee). Secondly, ExpressVPN is a little pricier than most other services. As such, I’d recommend getting the annual subscription plan for to enjoy the largest savings.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free with a 30-day money back guarantee!

Visit ExpressVPN »


2nd place

VyprVPN

4.7/5

VyprVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • Parent company based in Switzerland

  • Includes a feature to prevent deep packet inspection (DPI)

  • NAT firewall protection and kill switch included

  • Over 200,000 IP addresses, 700 servers, and 70 countries

  • ConsCONS
  • The basic plan is pretty stripped down

  • No dedicated IP addresses

VyprVPN is owned by a parent company called Golden Frog, which is based in Switzerland. This VPN provider has a lot of extra security features not commonly found with average VPNs. That’s why it’s the second best VPN for Steam. When reviewing VyprVPN we were pleased to find that, like ExpressVPN, they provide highly competitive speeds. These help provide a smoother Steam experience.

It’s also a little better equipped to circumvent firewall restrictions and inspections than most other services. VyprVPN has an anti-DPI function that helps to hide metadata, traffic types, and similar information from firewalls and security appliances. There’s even a NAT firewall feature and kill switch for added protection. You won’t lack for global connection options. Currently, VyprVPN hosts servers in 70 countries.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows with this provider, though. There are two things I dislike. The basic plan is so stripped down it doesn’t offer a good value. For instance, the anti-DPI feature isn’t included in the standard version. Also, there isn’t currently a dedicated IP address option, though VyprVPN may offer that in the future.

Visit VyprVPN »


3rd place

IPVanish

4.3/5

IPVanish

  • ProsPROS
  • Bundles free proxy service with VPN

  • IPv6 leak protection, DNS leak protection

  • Kill switch

  • 850+ servers in 60+ countries

  • Five simultaneous connections per account

  • ConsCONS
  • Based in the US

I dislike the fact that IPVanish is based in the US. However, it is undoubtedly a high quality service and one of the best VPNs for Steam. Not only does it offer the strongest encryption algorithms (256-bit encryption), it also bundles in a free proxy service with VPN subscriptions. That gives users plenty of flexibility when deciding how they want to unblock geographically restricted content.

IPVanish is known for competitive speeds and high reliability. The software also comes with plenty of great extra security features. In addition to the kill switch feature, IPVanish also includes Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) leak protection and Domain Name System (DNS) leak protection to make sure none of your personal information or DNS queries fail to be encrypted by the tunnel. It has a moderately large network of servers, too. Right now, IPVanish operates over 850 servers in 60+ countries.

Furthermore, subscribers are allowed to connect up to five devices simultaneously. Lastly, though it isn’t the cheapest service, it’s certainly not one of the most expensive. You can get this service for as little as $6.49 a month with an annual subscription.

Visit IPVanish »


4th place

VPNArea

3.8/5

VPNArea

  • ProsPROS
  • Servers in 69 countries

  • Six simultaneous connections per account

  • Offers dedicated IP addresses

  • BitTorrent friendly

  • Seven-day money-back guarantee

  • Prevents IPv6, WebRTC, and DNS leaks

  • ConsCONS
  • Logs some metadata, but not online activities

Our VPNArea review puts it fourth in the best VPN for Steam list. I would particularly recommend it for users who need extremely strong encryption and security. VPNArea offers security features not often found with its competitors’ services. These include ad-blocking, private DNS servers, and features to prevent IPv6, Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), and DNS leaks.

This service allows up to six simultaneous connections. That should be more than enough to accommodate most of your devices. You could even share the account with other Steam users with such a generous connection allocation. VPNArea offers dedicated IP addresses too, though this is charged as an add-on feature.

VPNArea runs servers in 69 countries, which gives you plenty of connection options. I do wish that this service had a free version, though it does get by with a seven-day money-back guarantee. Lastly, VPNArea is a great option for BitTorrent users, since it permits peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic through its servers.

Visit VPNArea »


5th place

Buffered

3.7/5

Buffered

  • ProsPROS
  • Servers in 37 countries

  • 30-day money-back guarantee

  • Five simultaneous connections per account

  • Based in Gibraltar, which is outside UK jurisdiction

  • ConsCONS
  • No free version

  • Does not accept anonymous payments

  • No kill switch

The fifth best Steam VPN is Buffered. This VPN is comparable in price and quality to the previous providers. It’s priced a little above average, but can be purchased for slightly less than the monthly cost of ExpressVPN, which costs $8.32 per month. Buffered only costs $7.75 per month with an annual subscription. There isn’t a free version, but there is a generously long, 30-day money-back guarantee to give you time to test it out with Steam.

The size of it’s network is only slightly above that of the average provider’s. Right now, it hosts servers in 37 countries. For the purposes of Steam, you’ll have plenty of connection options, including the United States. Buffered also offers five simultaneous connections per account (which is becoming more common than it used to be). However, there are a couple of drawbacks. Not only does it not accept anonymous payments like Bitcoins, it also lacks a kill switch.

Visit Buffered »


How a Russia VPN for Steam Unblocks Content

VPN tunnels help unblock foreign content through a feature called IP address masking. The masking feature allows your computer or device to “borrow” an IP address from a foreign VPN server. The VPN server, which hosts your borrowed address, obtains data on your behalf and then forwards that data to your device. In the reverse direction, the VPN server sends data from your device to the destination server (Steam’s servers, in this case) from its own IP address. The destination servers can’t see your real IP address. Thus it appears to the Steam servers that they’re only interacting with the VPN server.

Since IP addresses are distributed by geographical region, it’s possible to circumvent content censorship and account restrictions. Proxy servers work in much the same way. However, VPN tunnels are superior because they encrypt data, making it unreadable to third parties. A proxy server does not. For that reason, I’d recommend sticking with VPN tunnels if you want to access Steam. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I must first offer a warning regarding Steam VPNs.

For more information, check out our What is a proxy server guide, where we take a look at proxy servers and how they differ to VPNs.

Will Steam Ban Me For Using a VPN?

Like most other online gaming platforms, Steam is subject to strict regulations and licensing restrictions. These force it to limit liability and dissuade users from using proxy connections and VPN tunnels. Again, this isn’t uncommon among gaming platforms. Thankfully, PC gamers aren’t as encumbered as console gamers. For instance, on an Xbox 360, Microsoft wrote the operating system to purposefully omit VPN functionality. That way, users can’t connect the console to a VPN tunnel directly (though there are other ways to use VPNs with consoles).

On a PC or a Mac, however, it simply isn’t feasible (or even possible) to disallow the use of VPN tunnels. As such, Steam users have a much easier time of unblocking content that’s been geo-restricted. Nevertheless, I need to warn you: if you get caught downloading games (and other materials) on a VPN connection, you run the risk Steam banning your account. It’s all spelled out in great detail in the Steam Subscriber Agreement. More specifically, pay attention to section 3-A: Payment Authorization.

The SSA clearly states the following:

You agree that you will not use IP proxying or other methods to disguise the place of your residence, whether to circumvent geographical restrictions on game content, to purchase at pricing not applicable to your geography, or for any other purpose. If you do this, Valve may terminate your access to your Account.

If you still want to use a VPN tunnel, proceed with caution. It seems that there is some tolerance for the use of VPN tunnels, depending on the reason you’re using them, what you do, and whether or not you get caught. However, there are also some definite reasons that will result in a banned account when using a VPN tunnel. When connecting to Steam, make sure you don’t use a VPN tunnel or proxy for any of the following purposes without understanding the risk of a ban:

  • To circumvent geographical restrictions on game content

  • To purchase games and media at prices not applicable in your region

  • For any purpose that can harm other Valve users

The term “game content” is rather gray and vague. When I first heard that term, I instantly thought of game purchases, downloadable content and other similar uses. However, there have been plenty of accounts banned because users connected to regions where a video game had an earlier release date. Even though the game was technically legal in their region (eventually), the users were still punished.

As such, if you don’t want to run the risk of getting your account banned, it’s best to abstain from using a VPN tunnel with your Steam account, especially when trying to access games that aren’t available in your area. Too many users tried to use a Russia VPN for Steam to illegally access content before it was released in Russia, and their accounts were banned as a result.

Shared Servers and Shared IP Addresses

Your average VPN subscription, regardless of which provider you choose, typically uses a shared IP address. This means that many other users can access the internet with the same IP address hosted on the VPN server. This helps protect users’ anonymity. If the long arm of the law tried to trace users’ online activities, it would be virtually impossible to trace the connection back to the real user for two reasons.

Firstly, most VPN providers don’t keep log files of user activity. Thus there wouldn’t be a paper trail to follow. Secondly, since multiple users share the same address, it would make it that much more difficult to zero in on which user actually accessed a particular web resource from the shared IP address. However, when trying to access internet resources that try to limit, restrict or completely block the use of VPN tunnels, shared addresses aren’t typically your best option.

Shared IP addresses are frequently “blacklisted” by the service provider, and are usually well-known addresses. This is due to the “bad neighbor” effect, whereby someone sharing your VPN-hosted IP address (or a previous user) abused the IP address for spam emails, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks or other misuses. In turn, this can cause that IP address to be flagged as a dangerous or illegitimate address, and frequently cause Captcha verification applets to appear before you can access a website. As such, even though shared IP addresses offer greater anonymity, they are more often blacklisted.

There are two ways to circumvent this problem. The first solution is to use a VPN provider that offers a dedicated IP address, meaning that no other users will use the IP address that you subscribe to. This is better than a shared address if you don’t want a service – such as Steam – to ban your account. The best option, though, in terms of the lowest risk of an account ban, is to use your own private server. If you’re a hardcore Steam user and really want a private server, you could do one of the following:

  • Set up a home-brewed Linux VPN server to access game content when you’re away from home

  • Lease a dedicated/private server in the cloud

These options aren’t as simple as subscribing to a VPN service, but they are highly effective alternatives.

The Best Steam VPNs: Conclusion

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN LogoExpressVPN
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

VyprVPN LogoVyprVPN
Read Review9.4/10
$6.67 / monthVisit Site

3

IPVanish LogoIPVanish
Read Review8.6/10
$5.19 / monthVisit Site
EXCLUSIVE: 50% OFF! Ends Today! Enter Voucher Code: WAR4WEB

4

VPNArea LogoVPNArea
Read Review7.6/10
$4.92 / monthVisit Site

5

Buffered LogoBuffered
Read Review7.4/10
$8.25 / monthVisit Site

*All prices shown in US dollars

* Advertiser Disclosure

VPN tunnels remain the best way to securely unblock content. They are vastly superior to proxy connections thanks to their encryption. That’s why many gamers still turn to VPN services to unblock foreign game content, and connect to foreign multiplayer servers. However, use caution: if you use a VPN tunnel with Steam to unblock game content or download games unavailable in your region, your account could be banned.


Joel Tope Joel Tope is a technology writer with a smattering of active certifications, such as the CCNP, and experience as a network engineer. Though passionate about security, he has an eclectic understanding of information technology. In his free time, he loves to run marathons, travel, and dig into the latest thriller novel.

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