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Tailscale VPN Review 2022 - Keep This in Mind Before Buying
As a self-hosted VPN, Tailscale works a bit differently to others I’ve reviewed in the past. By connecting your devices it lets you create your own private network — rather than connecting you to servers owned by the service.
I was interested to see how easy it would really be to set up a personal private network. After checking out a few of its security features I was impressed by how simple the VPN is to use. However, Tailscale is missing certain features I expect from typical VPNs.
Due to the service’s lack of a worldwide server network, you can’t really use it to stream from sites or particular libraries that employ geoblocking. If you’re mainly looking for a VPN to stream and torrent with, others I’ve reviewed in the past might suit you better.
Tailscale VPN was not designed to bypass geoblocks, so you won’t be able to access streaming platforms. It allows you to connect devices so that you can access their files from any other connected device, but this is not particularly helpful for streaming.
The only way you can use the service for streaming is by using an exit node and a device in a different location. By doing this, you’d be able to route your internet connection through another device and access local streaming websites when you’re traveling. Only Linux machines can act like exit nodes now, but Tailscale promises to increase compatibility in the future.
Tailscale provides fast transfer speeds but doesn't affect your internet connection the way a regular VPN would. This is because it creates secure tunnels between devices, rather than routing your traffic through an additional server.
It’s also built on WireGuard, a high-speed security protocol built on super-fast encryption algorithms. That means it provides super-fast P2P transfers between the devices connected to it.
If you’re looking for a way to bypass ISP throttling, then you should check out one of these super-fast VPNs.
Server Network — Unavailable
Unlike a typical VPN, Tailscale VPN doesn’t have a network of worldwide servers for you to choose from. Instead you’re creating your own private network by linking your different devices.
In order to do this, you need to set up the client on each of your devices and connect to the Tailscale network. Once you have set up this network, you can easily and safely transfer files between them.
You have multiple options for connecting your machines. In the Route settings from the dashboard, you can choose to create a subnet route or an exit node. The subnet route allows you to connect devices that are not compatible with Tailscale, while the exit node lets you to route your internet connection through a different machine.
You can create subnet routes and exit nodes from your dashboard
Even though you don’t have a classic server network, Tailscale offers a different solution. It allows you to safely connect and transfer files between your devices, create gaming servers, or use a secure internet connection. The site has guides and blog posts to help you figure out how.
Security — Point-to-Point Encryption
Tailscale operates on what’s called a zero trust network. The basic idea is that even secure networks are susceptible to intrusion, so zero trust networks assume all connections can’t be trusted.
As a result, each connection is protected by P2P encryption so you’re protected even as you access one connected device from another.
Because Tailscale is built upon Wireguard’s framework, it provides impressive security with low latency whenever you connect to another device.
Privacy — Tailscale VPN Keeps Logs
Tailscale is not as privacy-friendly as other VPNs out there. Even though it allows you to create your own private network, it does require some communication with Tailscale’s coordination server.
This is especially concerning considering Tailscale is based in Canada, which is part of the 5 Eyes Alliance. Given that their location means it may have to share information with the government, I consider this a big privacy concern.
Torrenting — Uncovered
Tailscale won’t mask your IP address because it’s not designed for that. However, it does create a P2P network between your devices, so you can technically transfer files faster.
Given this, it might not help with the torrenting itself but it will help you to share your downloaded files between connected devices.
Does Tailscale Work in China? No
Tailscale can’t bypass the Great Firewall.
It’s built on Wireguard which doesn’t obfuscate the users location, and relies on a centralized coordination server. As a result, it can be blocked by the Great Firewall of China.
You may not be able to use Tailscale in China
Device Compatibility — Compatible with all Major Platforms
Tailscale is available for major platforms such as Windows, Mac, and Linux, as well as iOS and Android. It can also work with Raspberry Pi & ARM, and Synology.
Since it has extensive compatibility, you can connect all your devices and create secure transfer tunnels. This is especially useful for companies with multiple data centers around the world.
Note that if you wish to create exit nodes to connect to other countries, for example, only Linux devices are currently capable of this.
Simultaneous Device Connections — From 20 to Unlimited
Device connections depend on your plan. The basic personal plan allows you to connect up to 20 devices, and if you upgrade to the personal pro plan this increases to 100 devices.
However, it should be noted that the basic plan only allows one user despite the generous amount of device connections.
The higher tier plans allow you to add as many users as you need for a set amount extra per month and give you more devices per user. If you need even more you can contact Tailscale about its Enterprise account. This gives you unlimited devices, unlimited subnet routers, unlimited admin users, and more.
Installation & Apps
Set-Up & Installation — Quick and Easy
Considering Tailscale involves you creating your own virtual private network, it’s incredibly easy to set up and install. When I installed it on my Windows device I was shocked by how quick the setup was.
Because you use your SSO to authenticate your devices, all you need to do is connect your Google, Microsoft, Okta, (or other SSO if you contact Tailscale) to your account. You can then simply sign into any device you connect to your Tailscale private network using your selected SSO.
To add another device to your network, you first need to install the app and login using your Tailscale credentials. After that, you’ll see the connected machines in the dashboard. When the VPN is on, you’ll be able to transfer any files through its system.
Tailscale allows you to quick transfer any files between your connected devices
There are many other things you can do with Tailscale VPN. It allows you to set up private gaming servers, add multi-factor authentication to legal servers, or simply connect to your work computer from home.
There are a wide variety of customizable plans so the prices vary quite a bit. You can use the basic personal plan for free, or upgrade it to a pro plan for $48 annually.
The team plan allows you 2 admin users by default with 5 devices per user. It also increases your number of subnet routers from 1 for the basic personal plan up to 5. This plan is $5 per user per month.
The business plan costs $15 per user per month but gives you unlimited admin users, 10 subnet routers, and 10 devices per user.
If you want even more access you can contact Tailscale in order to set up an Enterprise account. This comes with unlimited devices, subnet routers, admin users, and named ACL users. As well as the other features, you get priority support in case of any issues. Because this account is highly customizable, the price is too.
Tailscale lets you try the team or business plans for free for days, and the basic version is free anyway. You can pay by either credit or debit card.
Reliability & Support
I found Tailscale’s customer support prompt but not always helpful.
There are a huge amount of guides on the VPN’s website, as well as a frequently updated blog. The guides cover everything from initial set-up to creating your own Minecraft server.
You can also contact the team via email or their Twitter account. I emailed to ask a few questions and got a response within a few hours, though I was just pointed back to the website’s guides.
Tailscale’s support team wasn’t very helpful
Users who sign up for the Enterprise account can also take advantage of Tailscale’s priority support.
Tailscale is a decent choice if you want to set up your own virtual private network. It will let you transfer files and information safely between devices thanks to its P2P encryption set-up.
If you’re looking for a VPN that will allow you to torrent or stream though, Tailscale won’t suit your needs. It gave me fast transfer speeds but its lack of a server network means you can’t easily bypass geoblocks as you would with a traditional VPN.
The location might be cause for concern too, as the VPN is based in Canada — a member of the Five Eyes Alliance. Tailscale also logs certain data in order to make sure the app is working correctly and to improve user experience. There’s no guarantee this data won’t be shared with authorities, and therefore other Alliance countries.
This is a very niche service so it might be perfect for you, but more likely you’ll find its abilities somewhat limited. Unless you are specifically hoping to create your own private network, there are other VPN services that can do more in a more straightforward manner.
Easy to set up personal network
Free to use
20+ simultaneous devices
FAQs on Tailscale
Is Tailscale safe?
Tailscale’s privacy policies are a concern. The network is built by the user on devices that you select. Tailscale operates on a zero trust network, meaning it encrypts all connections, even between these devices (that should be trustworthy).