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Is the Edge browser VPN any good? In-depth analysis and review

Verified by Nick Jones

Discover whether the Edge browser VPN is good for your privacy and security needs. Our in-depth review analyses its performance, features and user experience

Online privacy is increasingly valued and, as a result, the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) has surged. VPNs have become a staple for internet users worldwide, offering a secure and private browsing experience. Recognising this trend, Microsoft has made a bold move by integrating a VPN feature, known as the Secure Network, into its Edge browser. This innovative step has piqued the interest of many who are curious about the quality and effectiveness of the Edge browser VPN. This article analyses this feature in depth, shedding light on its potential benefits and drawbacks.

Features and functionality of the Edge browser VPN

The Edge browser VPN, or Edge Secure Network as it’s officially called, comes with a host of features designed to enhance online security and privacy. At its core, the Secure Network aims to protect your information by masking your device’s Internet Protocol (IP) address, encrypting your data and routing it through a secure network. This makes it harder for malicious actors to see your true location or what you’re doing online.

One of the standout features of the Edge browser VPN is its simplicity. Unlike traditional VPNs that require you to install an additional application or browser extension, the Secure Network is built directly into the browser. This means that you can activate the VPN with just a few clicks in the “Settings and more” menu, making it highly user-friendly and accessible.

In terms of compatibility, the Secure Network is available on all platforms that support the Edge browser. However, it’s worth noting that as of now, the feature is only available in the Canary channel of Edge, which is the least stable and most experimental version of the browser. Microsoft has taken this approach to thoroughly test and improve the user experience before rolling it out on a larger scale.

The Edge browser VPN does have some limitations. For instance, users cannot choose their VPN server; the system automatically selects the nearest one. This could potentially limit the VPN’s effectiveness in bypassing geo-blocking restrictions. In addition, there’s a monthly data limit of 1GB (though some users are given up to 5GB), and the VPN feature is currently only offered to “select users in limited markets”. This data limit puts the feature in line with dedicated free VPNs, which often cap usage.

Though still in preview and not available to everyone, the Edge browser VPN offers a straightforward and integrated solution for users seeking enhanced online privacy. While it may not provide the full range of features that standalone VPN services offer, its ease of use and integration into the browser makes it a compelling option for many. As Microsoft continues to refine and expand this feature, it will be interesting to see how it evolves and whether it can truly compete with dedicated VPN services.

Performance and speed assessment

The Edge browser VPN has shown commendable performance in terms of browsing speed and overall user experience. However, like any VPN, it affects internet speed due to the encryption process and the rerouting of traffic through different servers.

In our testing, we used no VPN, ExpressVPN’s UK server and Edge browser VPN. 

Let’s look at some speed test results:

VPN Service Download Speed (Mbps) % Change in Download Speed Upload Speed (Mbps) % Change in Upload Speed Ping (ms) % Change in Ping Download Latency (ms) % Change in Download Latency Upload Latency (ms) % Change in Upload Latency
No VPN 95.57 14.42 30 68 39
ExpressVPN 71.69 25.00% 13.16 8.70% 146 386.70% 132 94.10% 71 82.10%
Edge browser VPN 61.42 35.70% 11 23.70% 45 50.00% 53 -22.10% 110 182.10%

As shown in the table, the Edge browser VPN reduced download and upload speeds compared with browsing without a VPN. However, the reduction was less significant than with ExpressVPN, a dedicated VPN solution. The ping and latency times were also relatively low, indicating a stable connection.

Best alternative to
ExpressVPN has a server network with a vast geographical spread, making it ideal for bypassing geo-restrictions, along with air-tight encryption and great speeds.
4.5
Excellent Trustpilot rating
AES-256 encryption
Great customer service
VIEW PLANS At ExpressVPN

Security and privacy considerations

When it comes to security, the Edge browser VPN employs encryption to safeguard your data, a crucial feature of any VPN. This makes it more challenging for hackers to access your browsing data on a shared public wifi network. However, it’s important to note that the specifics regarding the type or level of encryption used by the tool are currently not available. For context, AES-256 encryption is the industry standard for most dedicated VPNs, providing a high level of security. Therefore, while the Edge browser VPN does use encryption, without further details, it’s difficult to compare its security level to other VPNs that use known encryption standards.

Privacy considerations are slightly more complex. The Edge browser VPN is run by a third-party company called Cloudflare, which means your data is handled by two entities: Microsoft and Cloudflare. While this doesn’t necessarily mean your data is at risk, it does add an extra layer of complexity to the privacy policy.

To use Edge Secure Network, you must be logged in with a Microsoft account. This allows Microsoft to keep track of the amount of data you’ve used, but it also means your use of the VPN is tied to your Microsoft account, which could potentially reduce your anonymity.

While the Edge browser VPN offers a decent level of performance and security, it does have some limitations in terms of privacy and data-logging practices. As always, it’s important for users to thoroughly understand these aspects before deciding to use any VPN service.

User experience and interface

The user experience and interface of a VPN service play a crucial role in its overall appeal, and the Edge browser VPN is no exception. Microsoft has made a commendable effort to ensure the Secure Network feature is as user-friendly as possible.

One of the standout aspects of Edge Secure Network is its seamless integration into the Edge browser itself. Unlike traditional VPN services that require the installation of a separate application or browser extension, you can access the Secure Network directly from the “Settings and more” menu in the browser. This integration simplifies the setup process and makes the VPN feature more accessible to users who aren’t as tech-savvy.

Once activated, you can easily configure the Secure Network through a button with a shield icon in the toolbar. This straightforward approach to VPN management makes it easy to toggle the VPN on and off as needed, providing a level of convenience not always found in standalone services.

However, the Edge browser VPN does have limitations. For instance, you cannot choose your VPN server; the system automatically selects the nearest one. This could limit the VPN’s effectiveness in bypassing geo-blocking restrictions. In addition, the Secure Network feature is currently only available in the Canary channel of Edge, which is the least stable and most experimental version of the browser. This means you may encounter some instability or performance issues while Microsoft is refining the feature.

In terms of privacy, you must be logged in with a Microsoft account to use Edge Secure Network. While this allows Microsoft to keep track of data usage, it also means the use of the VPN is tied to your Microsoft account, which could impact anonymity.

While the Edge browser VPN offers a simple and integrated solution for users seeking enhanced online privacy, it does come with some limitations. As Microsoft continues to refine this feature, it will be interesting to see how it addresses these challenges and how the user experience evolves.

Comparison with dedicated VPN providers

When comparing the Edge browser VPN with popular dedicated VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN, there are several key factors to consider. These include features, performance, security and overall user experience.

Feature Edge Secure Network ExpressVPN
No-log policy Logged but deleted after 25 hours Yes
Free Yes (with data limit) No (paid service)
Kill switch No Yes
Encrypted Yes Yes
Geo-unblocking No Yes
Access to streaming services in a different country No Yes

As seen in the table, both the Edge browser VPN and ExpressVPN offer encryption, ensuring your browsing data is secure. Secure Network’s privacy policy says the service logs some usage data, but this data is reportedly deleted after 25 hours and is only used to monitor usage. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, has an audited no-logs policy. However, ExpressVPN offers additional features, such as a kill switch, which automatically disconnects your device from the internet if the VPN connection drops, and more robust geo-unblocking capabilities that allow you to access content that is restricted in your location.

In terms of performance, according to our speed tests, ExpressVPN offers faster download and upload speeds compared with the Edge browser VPN. However, the Secure Network is free to use (with a data limit), while ExpressVPN is a paid service.

Best alternative to
ExpressVPN has a server network with a vast geographical spread, making it ideal for bypassing geo-restrictions, along with air-tight encryption and great speeds.
4.5
Excellent Trustpilot rating
AES-256 encryption
Great customer service
VIEW PLANS At ExpressVPN

Summary

The Edge browser VPN, or Edge Secure Network, offers a simple and integrated solution for users seeking enhanced online privacy. Its main strengths lie in its ease of use, integration into the Edge browser and the fact that it’s free to use. However, it does have limitations, including a monthly data cap, the inability to choose a VPN server and no geo-unblocking capabilities.

On the other hand, ExpressVPN, a dedicated VPN provider, offers more robust features, including a kill switch and better geo-unblocking capabilities. It also provides faster download and upload speeds. However, it is a paid service.

The Edge browser VPN could be a good choice for users seeking a simple, free and integrated VPN solution for casual browsing. However, a dedicated VPN provider may be a more suitable choice for users requiring more advanced features, better performance and more comprehensive geo-unblocking capabilities.

Frequently asked questions about Edge Secure Network

Yes, the Edge browser VPN, also known as Edge Secure Network, is free to use. However, it does come with a monthly data limit of 1GB, with some users given up to 5GB.

The Edge browser VPN offers a simple, integrated VPN solution that encrypts your browsing data. However, it lacks some of the advanced features found in dedicated VPN providers, such as a kill switch and robust geo-unblocking capabilities. In terms of performance, dedicated VPN providers, such as ExpressVPN, tend to offer faster download and upload speeds.

No, the Edge browser VPN automatically selects the nearest server. This could limit its effectiveness in bypassing geo-blocking restrictions.

Yes, the Edge browser VPN uses encryption to protect your data, making it harder for hackers to access your browsing data on a shared public wifi network. However, it’s worth noting that the VPN is run by a third-party company, Cloudflare, which means there are two entities handling your data. Without specific details on the type or level of encryption used, it’s challenging to fully assess the security level compared with other VPNs.

The Edge browser VPN has limited geo-unblocking capabilities, which may restrict its ability to access geographically restricted content.

Yes, to use Edge Secure Network, you must be logged in with a Microsoft account. This allows Microsoft to keep track of the amount of data you’ve used, but it also means your use of the VPN is tied to your Microsoft account, which may be a privacy concern for some users.

Edge Secure Network is available on all platforms that support the Edge browser. However, it’s currently only available in the Canary channel of Edge, which is the least stable and most experimental version of the browser, or the insider preview.

Round up of today’s best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.49 /Month
£2.49 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.92 /Month
£6.92 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.78 /Month
£1.78 /Month
Proton 2 year £3.88 /Month
£3.88 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.48 /Month
£1.48 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £1.96 /Month
£1.96 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.33 /Month
£3.33 /Month

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

Mark Oldham

Writer

Mark is the IT Manager and a governor at Sir John Thursby College, in Burnley, having joined the college as an IT Technician more than 10 years ago. He also writes about IT, education, and cyber security topics, and has written a book, a guide to Windows 11.

For the Independent Advisor, Mark writes about the benefits of VPNs as well as cyber security and helping people stay safe online.

Nick Jones

Editor in Chief

Nick Jones is a highly experienced consumer journalist and editor, who has been writing and producing content for print and online media for over 25 years.

He has worked at some of the UK’s leading publishers including Future Publishing, Highbury Entertainment, and Imagine Publishing, with publications as diverse as Homebuilding & Renovating, TechRadar, and Creative Bloq, writing and editing content for audiences whose interests include history, computing, gaming, films, and science. He’s also produced a number of podcasts in the technology, science, gaming, and true crime genres.

Nick has also enjoyed a highly successful career in content marketing, working in a variety of topics such as health, technology, and finance, with market-leading global companies including Cisco, Pfizer, Santander, and Virgin Media.

Now the Editor-in-Chief of the Independent Advisor, Nick is involved in all aspects of the site’s content, where his expertise in finance, technology, and home products informs every article that’s published on-site. He takes a hands-on approach with our VPN content, penning a number of the articles himself, and verifying that everything we publish in this topic is accurate.

Whatever the area of interest he’s worked in, Nick has always been a consumer champion, helping people find the best deals and give them the information they need to make an informed buying decision.