Madison, Wisconsin is a medium-sized city and the state capital. It has an estimated population of 255k and the metro area is home to just over 600k. There are several factors that bring people to the city for tourism. That includes but is not limited to the University of Wisconsin Badgers football team. If you will be one of the droves of people visiting the city, make sure you use a VPN before using public WiFi. We’ll provide you with reasons in a moment. First though, have a look at our list for the best VPNs for Madison.
In 1829, former federal judge James Duane Doty purchased over 1000 acres of swamp and forest land with the intention of building a city in the Four Lakes region. When the territorial legislature convened in 1836, Doty aggressively campaigned to have the city made the state capital. That was despite the fact that the city only existed on paper at that time. He offered Buffalo robes and lots at discount prices to freezing legislators to persuade them. The city is named after James Madison, the 4th president of the US that passed away in June of that year. Interestingly, they did not incorporate the village of Madison until 1846. The University of Wisconsin was formed in 1849, a year after Wisconsin became a state.
While the University of Wisconsin is still one of the two largest employers in the city, the economy is moving towards a consumer services economy with a high tech base in health, biomedical technology, chemistry, advertising, and more. The area draws potential employers because of its’ high level of education. Despite hard seasons, Madison is consistently near the top as far as best places to live. Of course, Badger football is huge there. The college football world knows the University of Wisconsin as a force to be reckoned with.
Whether you are in Madison to watch a football game or for a variety of other reasons, you will find plenty of establishments that offer free WiFi to their patrons. Though that is often a good thing for users, it is also a good thing for cybercrooks. You will find that there are many of them waiting for the right time to get their hands on unsecured data. When you use a VPN, you create a secure and encrypted connection. That will make it much tougher for cybercriminals to get their hands on your private information. No matter who wants to see your private data, using a VPN will help you out.
The next reason to use a VPN has to do with geo-blocks. If you have ever been at a business, organization, or even country that restricts what you can and can’t see, that is a form of geo-blocking. That also applies to blackouts for sports. When you use a VPN, you can fool the software into thinking you are somewhere else. Instead of blocking sites, the software sees it only as encrypted traffic. That will help you view your favorite content.
Those are the two biggest reasons to use a VPN. Whether you want to protect yourself from crooks or get around geo-restrictions and blackouts, VPNs have you covered. Now then, let’s talk about what you should look for when selecting one.
To begin with, VPNs use encryption protocols to protect their members. The OpenVPN protocol is the best option to choose, and you will want to do so whenever possible. Almost every single provider will offer you that option. If the providers offer you a TCP and a UDP version, both will do their job as intended. In this case, the difference is that UDP is the fastest, which is important if you are trying to stream any higher-end content. If you have connection issues, TCP would be a better option for you.
1. Best VPN for Madison: IPVanish
Though IPVanish has servers in Milwaukee, you will likely get better response times by connecting to a server in Chicago. Feel free to verify that result for yourself. The VPN service has more server locations in the United States than the other companies on our list. That makes them a great choice for a VPN to use while in Madison.
|Countries||Locations||USA Server Locations|
|63||89||Ashburn, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Phoenix, San Jose. Seattle, Washington DC|
Along with a large footprint in the USA, IPVanish hosts servers in every continent other than Antarctica. The network has consistently been the fastest VPN in North America and Europe in our speed tests. You will find multiple server locations in countries like the US and UK. You can select a location or an individual server.
IPVanish hosts 3 servers in Madison and 64 servers in Chicago. We suggest selecting one that starts with “a” in the server name. For example, chi-a01.ipvanish.com. In most cases, you will find the “a” servers to be the fastest. Keep in mind that the servers in Madison do not start with that prefix. When we tested an IPVanish server in Chicago and found the speed to be 64.52 Mbps on our cable Internet connection that maxes out around the same speed.
When it comes to value, IPVanish is hard to beat. They offer unlimited access to their VPN network and custom software for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Amazon Firestick and more for $7.50 a month or $58.49 a year. That works out to just $4.87 a month on the annual plan. A 7-day money back guarantee covers all new members.
2. Best VPN for Madison: ExpressVPN
By bringing together fast VPN access and MediaStreamer, the service acts as a Smart DNS option. That will help you unblock access to restricted content. The service will help encrypt your connection and unblock live sporting events. There is even a list of the latest live entertainment and sporting events on their website.
|Countries||Locations||USA Server Locations|
|94||160||Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Jersey, New York, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Monica, Seattle, Tampa, Virginia, Washington, DC|
As you can see in the table above, ExpressVPN manages a very large VPN network. Beyond the USA, the ExpressVPN network boasts hundreds of servers in key locations to help protect their user’s privacy. You can use their network to protect your privacy, unblock censorship, and watch your favorite teams from anywhere.
The ExpressVPN app allows you to select a server location down to the city but you can not choose a specific server. Instead, the client will select a server in your chosen location. You also need to know that some cities are not shown on the recommended tab inside the client. This is true for Madison. You will want to select the “All” tab, open Americas, and then open United States. At this point, you can select the USA – Chicago server location. Its’ proximity to Madison makes it a great choice. As you can see we tested a server there and achieved a result of 57.44 Mbps.
While ExpressVPN is sold at a higher price point than the other services in our list, the value is high given the size of their network and service features. You can connect a computer, handheld device, router, and game console (SmartDNS) with a single VPN account for just $6.67 a month with an annual subscription.
3. Best VPN for Madison: HMA
HideMyAss was brought to life in 2005 when Jack Cator, a 16-year-old student in England, decided that he wanted to create a service to help people avoid censorship. Specifically, Jack was unable to access social media sites and online games because they were blocked on the school network. HMA added hundreds of thousands of users the first month and has since grown into one of the largest VPN services in the world with over 350 server locations. Privax, the parent company of HMA Pro VPN, joined the AVG team in 2015.
|HMA Pro VPN Network - USA Server Locations|
|Anchorage, Ashburn, Asheville, Atlanta, Baltimore, Bath, Bedford, Billings, Boston, Cheyenne, Chicago, Columbia, Columbus, Dallas, Des Moines, Grand Forks, Honolulu, Idaho Falls, Jacksonville, Lansing, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Louisville, Madison, Magnolia, Miami, Montgomery, Nashville, New Orleans, New York City, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Philippi, Phoenix, Portland, Providence, Rutland, Saint Paul, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Scranton, Seattle, Souix Falls, South Bend, St Louis, Trimbull, Washington DC, Wichita, Wilmington|
If your goal is to find the VPN provider with the most server locations, then HideMyAss is your best choice. Just keep in mind that HMA logs user activity which is a concern for some VPN users. HMA hosts 175 VPN servers in the United States including several in the Madison area. To connect to a server there, you will want to go into the “Location Mode” and select “Change Location” to get started. Then click on the “Cities” tab and search for Madison. From there you can select the USA, Wisconsin, Milwaukee server location. We connected to a server in Milwaukee to test and found the speed to be 61.70 Mbps.
In 2016 HMA and a few other leading VPN providers led the way in simplifying their custom client software. The result is a full set of custom apps that make it easy for any user to connect to the HMA network and encrypt your connection. They have software available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. You can also connect to HMA through your router. HMA offers unlimited VPN access from just $6.99 a month and offers all new users a 30-day risk-free money back guarantee.
4. Best VPN for Madison: NordVPN
NordVPN is based in Panama which some users prefer to using a VPN company that’s actually headquartered in the United States. You will find that NordVPN has a strong presence in the US with servers located throughout the country. Members have full access to their network in the USA and beyond for a very good price.
|Countries||Locations||USA Server Locations|
|61||80||Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis, Washington DC|
You will find that NordVPN has perhaps the best mix of services for the price if you subscribe to a longer term account. All users have full access to their network and custom software. You can connect using the VPN client for Windows or Mac. They also have an easy-to-use mobile app for both Android and iOS (iPhone, iPad) devices.
While some companies have servers near Milwaukee, NordVPN hosts several servers in Chicago. Unfortunately, the NordVPN client does not show the city of the server. However, they have kindly provided us with the server numbers for Chicago. You will want to connect to one of the following servers: 80, 82, 108-111, 137-140, 166-169, 195-198, 224-227, 253-256, 282-285, 311-314, 365-368, 645-656, 718-721, 734-745, 754-757, 777-780, 781-784, 789-792. The easiest way to select a specific server number is to select the “Servers” tab in the app and then sort the results in alphabetical order. You can then scroll down and select any of the server numbers we have listed above. You can see the load time percentage and the distance to each server. We tested the United States server in Chicago and found the performance to be 64.30 Mbps.
Want to access streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world? If so NordVPN is a great choice. They are one of the only VPN services that can still unblock Netflix. You can sign up for unlimited VPN and SmartDNS service from just $3.99 a month with a 2-year membership.
5. Best VPN for Madison: PIA
Private Internet Access (PIA) gives users a few different options. Unlike in the past, you no longer have to set up a profile for each VPN server. Now, you can connect to any of their server locations in 25 countries. As you can see below, the PIA team has organized their servers by region, country, and city. The server locations are listed in alphabetical order by country. Once you select a location, you can connect easily to locations in Chicago (because it is the fastest server group in the area).
There are a lot of torrent users who love Private Internet Access. The service includes a feature that will stop your system from communicating if the connection to their service drops. Meaning if your encrypted VPN access is dropped for any reason, it will keep you safe.
PIA’s Windows client is easy to set up and use. However, you should not think it doesn’t have good features. PIA offers different levels of privacy protection depending on you are looking for. Since you can control encryption levels, you can find the right balance between privacy and speed. As you can see our speed test showed that PIA was running at 63.22 Mbps while connected to a server in Chicago.
When it comes to their Windows client the PIA team has included an Internet kill switch. The kill switch will kill your Internet connection anytime the VPN fails. That can really come in handy for those wanting to ensure anonymity in Madison. Private Internet Access offers VPN from just $2.50 a month.
If you would like to see other options, please feel free to have a look at our top 10 VPN services list. We do not think you will need to, though. The options we chose are based on speed. price, reliability, and security. We also looked for providers with servers near the Madison region. By doing so, you should have access to the best speeds. As you might guess, they all have good networks. Speed is crucial if you plan on downloading or streaming any type of content. The providers we mentioned give you the best ways of doing that, no matter which popular options you want to use. Hopefully, our guide will help you make an informed decision.