The demand for digital entertainment at home was never higher than today. But, of course, that changed the VPN market as IP address spoofing became a critical use case for VPN services to serve users in repressive regions. Thus, numerous VPNs realized the need to offer obfuscated servers.
Let’s not forget the original point of VPNs: providing internet users safety, privacy, and anonymity. That increased digital safety comes from the two primary tasks that any VPN must perform, so it deserves the name: traffic encryption and IP address masking. Any network that fails to provide either thing is not a VPN; it’s as simple as that.
However, the best VPNs in the business always perform encryption and IP spoofing with the highest degree of reliability, besides offering you many additional features. For instance, some VPNs will let your traffic go through more than one server, adding more layers of encryption. Some others provide ad blockers.
The list of additional features you can find in the best VPNs is long, but we want to bring your attention to one only: traffic obfuscation. It is probably the most powerful and versatile additional feature any VPN can give you. Have you heard about those great VPNs that can beat the Great Firewall of China? Well, it’s traffic obfuscation and not encryption or IP masking that does the trick – of course, encryption remains necessary; keep in mind we’re talking about additional, not central features.
So if you adopt a VPN service to protect your digital lifestyle from third parties, why not go all the way and choose one that can obfuscate your traffic? After reading this article, we hope to persuade you that there is no good reason to do otherwise — the benefits of obfuscation are too good to miss.
This guide will tell you precisely what obfuscation is and who are the providers offering the best obfuscation services. So keep reading because you’re about to learn about one of the most empowering features of VPNs.
Top VPNs with obfuscation feature in 2023 – Quick list
If you’re already familiar with VPNs and just need to know the names of the best obfuscators, this section is for you. Here we list the three VPNs we found the best at traffic obfuscation. But, if you would like to learn more about each network, read on to see our detailed list.
- NordVPN. Our favorite VPN for any task is also the best one with traffic obfuscation. The largest server network in VPN-land has plenty of obfuscated servers for you to use.
- Surfshark. It’s remarkable how a young vendor manages to offer a rather specialized server with such high quality.
- ExpressVPN. The best-established name in the VPN business is a service that lacks nothing, including obfuscated servers.
What is an obfuscated server?
An obfuscated server is a server within a VPN network that provides traffic obfuscation for its users. And what is traffic obfuscation, I hear you ask? It’s a technique that disguises your traffic to make it look like standard HTTPS traffic. Its purpose is to prevent any third-party observers from figuring out that you’re using a VPN.
Here’s how it works: if your ISP or any other snooper notices that your traffic is all encrypted and going through internet protocols other than HTTPS, it’s all happening with a single server on the internet, and they will know that you’re on a VPN.
Of course, having your ISP, your government, or a hacker realize that you’re using a VPN service sounds like a pretty tame fact. After all, that will only tell them they can’t surveil you, right? Wrong. There are those jurisdictions on Earth where VPNs are illegal — precisely because they empower your privacy against the powers that be. If you are in the wrong country, having your VPN detected on you can land you in jail or at least get you a heavy fine.
So it’s a great idea to use a VPN at all times, as far as we’re concerned. Using it in obfuscation mode so that nobody knows you’re doing it is an even better idea. In a free country, it enhances your privacy. In other places, it can save you from criminal charges. And it’s not a coincidence that VPNs are most useful in those countries that have banned them.
Obfuscation is not a default task every VPN performs, like encryption. So you can’t count on your VPN providing you with it just because it’s a VPN. Instead, you have to choose a service that offers obfuscation as an additional feature (we will tell you the best three ones in a bit).
So, to answer the question of what an obfuscated server is that it’s a specialized type of server within a VPN. It’s devoted to making all the traffic look like HTTPS, thus hiding the fact that you’re on a VPN server (because you could have HTTPS exchanges with millions of servers on the internet).
Once we’ve established that obfuscating your traffic with a VPN is advantageous (maybe even essential), let’s see who the VPN vendors will do the best job for you.
Reasons why you should use obfuscated VPN servers
One would think that a standard VPN service should be everything you need to guarantee your privacy, security, and anonymity online. And in most average scenarios, a VPN is not only good enough but positively overkill. But not every case is moderate, and there are still such corners of the internet where only a VPN with obfuscated traffic will work. China is the most notorious example, but there are more. And those places would be a reason to have obfuscated traffic in your VPN, but there are more. Here are some of them:
- Bypass internet restrictions. Countries like China, Iran, the UAE, and a few others spend a lot of resources restricting and monitoring their domestic internet users. In some of them, VPNs are illegal, and the VPN servers they know are blocked. But even if you don’t live in countries as repressive as those, you could find yourself in a university or a company whose grip on their internal internet is as tight as North Korea‘s. VPNs with obfuscated servers are the only way to keep your digital freedom intact in these extreme digital environments.
- Avoid Throttling. Some ISPs keep a closer eye on you than Big Brother. That’s their business. If they notice that you’re using a lot of bandwidth for a specific activity (torrenting, video streaming, gaming), they will restrict your speeds for that particular task. In other words: they find your favorite hobby online and then endeavor to ruin it for you. This practice is known as “bandwidth throttling” and is one of the nastiest things your ISP can do to you. However, if you’re using an obfuscated VPN, your ISP remains blind about everything you do. Whether torrenting, streaming videos, playing games, or doing whatever suits you, everything looks like HTTP traffic to your ISP. It can’t even tell that you’re using a VPN.
- Unlock video streaming websites. Legal video streaming platforms must please geo-location restrictions on the content they offer. They are not allowed to stream all their videos to every country globally, so they ensure you get access to this and show only if you are connecting from a country for which they’ve paid the rights. Therefore, this is an essential ingredient in their business model, so they spend a lot of resources and efforts to thwart VPNs from connecting to their servers. That is because the VPN can spoof your physical location and make the video streamer give you the content meant for other countries only.
- Enhance privacy and anonymity. Obfuscation brings your VPN’s capability to protect your privacy to new levels.