10 Best VPN Services – Tested And Measured in 2022
Updated: October 09,2022
We tested more than 50 VPN services.
To give you the top VPN solutions on the market.
But there’s more!
- Unlike other VPN reviews on the Web, we’ll explain the main components of a good service.
- On top of that, I’ve created a practical buyer’s guide on how to choose the right one.
- But most importantly, we wrote detailed, data-driven, and unbiased reviews for each solution.
That way, you can easily pick the right one for you.
The Best VPN Services for 2022
- •PIA – Best overall
- •Surfshark – For streaming Netflix
- •ExpressVPN – For speed
- •NordVPN – For browsing and streaming
- •Perfect Privacy – For unlimited number of simultaneous connections
- •CyberGhost – For streaming and torrenting
- •TorGuard – For advanced VPN users
- •Windscribe – Best free VPN
- •TunnelBear VPN – For increased security and privacy
- •IPVanish – Best for home
1. Private Internet Access
Strict no-logs policy
Compatible with all popular desktop and mobile operating systems, Private Internet Access is among the fastest competitors, offering the ultimate web browsing experience by creating several layers of privacy and security.
Despite being headquartered in the US (therefore a member of the Five Eyes Alliance), PIA is a safe provider, because of its zero-logs policy. Their service is backed by multiple gateways and 3303 servers in 48+ countries, and more than 70 regions. You will stay safe online with PIA.
In terms of privacy and security features, Private Internet Access is a top-notch service. The company uses a highly secure OpenVPN protocol on mobile devices and desktops. They further provide you with the option to set the encryption type to AES-128 or 256, and CBC or GCM. In addition to this, its MACE feature blocks access to domains that are used by trackers, malware, and ads providing an added layer of protection.
Streaming and Torrenting
Private Internet Access VPN comparison with its competitors shows that it is no less, and it is evident from its streaming and torrenting support. PIA allows torrenting on all servers in the network with full P2P support.
Moreover, its strict no-logs policy makes it an excellent VPN for torrenting. It also provides an automatic kill switch, which helps keep your activity secure even if the VPN connection drops unexpectedly.
Although speed is excellent in some locations, we feel it should be consistent across the board for all users. The speed is not stable in other places, and it is significantly slower in Hong Kong and Australia. We saw significant speed inconsistencies from 58.5 to 8.55mbps.
Since it is one of the top VPN service providers, you can expect it to offer some great features. Here are some of the outstanding features that you can enjoy with Private Internet Access:
- Premium VPN bandwidth Block ads and malware
- Encrypted Wi-Fi
- Hide IP address
- Ability to support ten devices simultaneously
Even though it has some speed issues, overall, PIA is among the most recommended VPN service on the market. This trustworthy provider ensures superior user privacy by providing unmatched security, ad-blocking service, P2P full support streaming, and anonymous torrenting. At a great price at that!
Great for Netflix
Easy to use and to set up, you can create a VPN connection with Surfshark with a single click! Surfshark has a vast network with 1700 plus servers in 63 countries. It offers a private DNS on each server, a kill switch, and a no-log policy.
It also offers ad-blocking and URL, P2P support, split tunnelling, VPN chaining, and 24/7 customer support.
Surfshark gives you private DNS on every server and leak protection on IPv4 protocol. It uses AES-256-GCM encryption and also includes IKEv2/IPsec and OpenVPN protocols for added protection.
Streaming and Torrenting
Surfshark is a reliable and secure option for torrenting as all of its servers offer P2P sharing. Most of them are optimized for faster torrenting.
Surfshark offers competitive speed in most of its servers. The average speed loss was about 27%, so it made it in the top positing during VPN performance comparison.
Here’s what so great about Surfshark:
- It offers an emergency failsafe in which a kill switch instantly disconnects the connection if the VPN connection drops.
- It includes a whitelist option.
- It doesn’t slow down the device.
- Bypass geo-restrictions.
- 30 days money-back guarantee.
- Camouflage mode protects you even from the internet provider.
- IKEv2/IPsec and OpenVPN protocols.
- Private DNS & leak protection.
Surfshark offers a wide range of features and unlimited devices on every account, making it one of the top VPN service providers! It might be slow on certain servers and the network is small as compared to other vendors, but it is still a highly affordable and outstanding option. You can get the 24-month plan for as low as $2.49 per month!
Great for torrenting and streaming
If you are looking for a top VPN with great speeds – ExpressVPN is one of the top choices on the market. It can easily bypass geo-restrictions for streaming services, and its servers are optimized for fast and safe torrenting. ExpressVPN will also keep you safe, thanks to AES-256 encryption, and several VPN protocols. Last, but not least, the company operates in the British Virgin Islands, where there aren’t any mandatory data retention laws.
- Servers – When it comes to the number of VPN servers, ExpressVPN ranks among the top 5 in our comparison chart. The software offers more than 3,000 servers, distributed across 96 countries.
- Devices – ExpressVPN offers up to five simultaneous connections on multiple devices.
ExpressVPN uses AES-256 for encryption and offers several VPN protocols to choose from:
- OpenVPN (both TCP and UTP)
Additionally, ExpressVPN uses OpenSSL to create a TLS secure tunnel. And to ensure your security, the app uses an RSA certificate using the SHA-512 hashing algorithm. If you want to know more about hashing algorithms, you can check out this article.
In a nutshell, ExpressVPN offers excellent security features, which makes it one of our top VPNs in terms of safety.
However, one of the app’s downsides is that it doesn’t support IPv6 addresses.
When we compare VPNs, one of the most important criteria is their no-logging policy.
ExpressVPN does collect some data about app usage. However, none of it includes IP addresses, browsing history, and other information that can link back to a specific user.
The company operates under the British Virgin Islands’ laws, which is a good thing, considering that the country has no mandatory data retention laws.
ExpressVPN ease of use
If you’ve read other VPN service reviews, you’ve probably noticed that ExpressVPN’s app is extremely easy to use. Well, I can confirm that. The app is intuitive, looks nice, and is very easy to use.
- One of the features that distinguish ExpressVPN is called split-tunneling.
- You can choose which apps access the Web via a safe and encrypted connection and which ones don’t.
- Although ExpessVPN is a great solution to protect your internet connection, you can’t use it for Intranets, LANs, and WANs.
- Also, it doesn’t work with some firewalls, but the reps will be happy to assist you if that’s the case.
ExpressVPN performed admirably in our VPN speed comparison test. The speed drop is a negligible 10% or less, which is excellent for such a service.
You should be able to use the top VPN service on all devices, and ExpressVPN is no exception. The software offers native apps for all major OS.
But it gets better!
You can take advantage of it on a mind-blowing number of devices:
- Smart TVs
- Kindle Fire and Fire TV stick
- Gaming consoles
As a bonus, there are extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
Streaming services and torrenting
With ExpressVPN, you can easily bypass geo-blocks, meaning it’s an excellent VPN for streaming sports and shows.
- Streaming – you can access Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and other services from anywhere. Also, it’s a great VPN for Kodi and other apps.
- Torrenting – ExpressVPN’s servers are optimized and safe for file transfers with any BitTorrent client. The same applies to P2P clients.
Combined with the excellent speed, ExpressVPN is a great choice for both streaming and torrenting.
ExpressVPN comes with a stellar support team. You can reach out to the reps via live chat or email. They’re available 24/7 and you’ll find the reps especially helpful, fast, and friendly.
All in all, the company offers stellar support.
Most premium VPN services force you to sign up for a long-term plan to get the most cost-effective deal. ExpressVPN’s pricing is pretty clear:
- 1 month – $12.95
- 6 months – $9.99 per month
- 12 months – $8.32 per month
And in case you aren’t happy with the service, the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked.
From everything you’ve read so far, you probably think that ExpressVPN is a fully featured VPN tool. And you’ll be only partly right.
As far as VPN services go, everything looks good. With this app you’ll get:
- An IP masker
- Compatibility with Tor
- Kill switch
- Private and encrypted DNS
That’s more or less the bare minimum you’d want from such a service. However, since we are making a top-tier VPN comparison, you’ll find some of the extra features missing.
ExpressVPN doesn’t offer:
- Double VPN and cascading
- Port forwarding
- Additional security features
All in all, ExpressVPN is among the top VPNs on the market. It offers a mind-blowing number of servers, excellent speeds, native apps for numerous devices, and much more. When you combine all these with stellar customer support, you get a truly astonishing tool.
However, it’s not a cheap VPN app, and one would expect more features for this price tag. If ExpressVPN was a cheaper solution, it would be higher on our list.
With that said, the value-for-money factor places ExpressVPN at its current spot.
Impressive server network
Six simultaneous connections
Excellent for streaming services
If you can’t access your favorite streaming services, NordVPN has your back. This safe Panama-based VPN provider offers easy access to Netflix, BBC, Amazon Prime, and much more. Moreover, NordVPN offers military-grade security thanks to the AES-256 encryption. To top it all, this top VPN app provides additional security via its CyberSec feature.
- It’s important to consider the number of locations when choosing a VPN. NordVPN offers over 5535 VPN servers distributed across 59 countries.
- Number of Devices – You can use your account to connect up to six devices simultaneously.
As far as encryption goes, everything on NordVPN looks good.
- NordVPN offers 256-bit AES encryption, combined with SHA2-384 protocol, to ensure your connection’s integrity.
- Additionally, the service comes with TLS 1.2 and 4096-bit DH key for better encryption.
- There is a downside, however – NordVPN lacks IPv6 support.
NordVPN offers a zero-log VPN service. The company doesn’t log anything about your online behavior. Moreover, it operates under Panama’s jurisdiction.
Why does it matter?
Panama is outside the 14 eyes surveillance alliance. It also doesn’t have any mandatory data retention laws.
In addition, all your traffic is covered by the VPN tunnel, so even your ISP can’t track your data.
By the way, NordVPN’s servers have certificates from its own Certificate Authority. Since the company doesn’t want its customers to use CAs with possible access from the NSA, it created its own. The company is also planning to give its users access to its own set of digital certificates and keys.
With that said, NordVPN is an excellent VPN for privacy.
NordVPN ease of use
NordVPN offers a decent app, which is extremely easy to use. All you have to do is to choose your location and configure the settings.
NordVPN is mostly a service for personal use. Although it’s a top-rated VPN, the app doesn’t work with Intranets, LANs, and WANs.
- If you need split tunneling, you’ll find it only for Android mobile devices.
- To top it all, NordVPN isn’t compatible with every firewall. You’ll have to disable it if you want to use the service.
All in all, NordVPN isn’t the ideal VPN for businesses.
NordVPN isn’t the fastest VPN service out there. The average speed drop is about 25%. The more distant the server, the more your VPN speed drops. One would expect better performance for this price tag.
NordVPN device support
NordVPN is available for multiple devices. The company offers apps for:
Also, you can use NordVPN on your smart TV, if it runs on Android. Moreover, you can use it on your router.
As mentioned, you can have one account for up to six simultaneous connections on multiple devices, which makes NordVPN one of the top VPNs in this category.
Streaming services and torrenting
- Gaining access to streaming services is a no-brainer with NordVPN. It’s an excellent VPN for streaming. Accessing Netflix, BBC, and Amazon Prime is extremely easy. It also works perfectly with Kodi.
- It is good for torrenting, too. It even has dedicated P2P servers and keeps your anonymity. Users have complained in multiple VPN reviews that the speed drops while downloading though.
The company offers 24/7 support, accessible via email or live chat. The reps are friendly, fast, and most importantly – helpful.
It offers four types of subscription:
- One-month plan – $11.95
- One-year plan – $6.99 per month
- Two-year plan – $4.99 per month
- Three-year plan – $3.49 per month
Naturally, the three-year one is the cheapest.
You’ll save 80%, and you’ll get a free password manager (otherwise it’s $194.61) in addition to the VPN. It’s not the best password manager in the universe, but it gets the job done.
In case you decide that NordVPN isn’t the one for you, the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. That way, you can test the software (there is no free trial) and get your money back if you aren’t satisfied.
You can purchase this top VPN service via a credit card, Amazon Pay, cryptocurrencies, AliPay, and UnionPay.
Bypassing online censorship
Many countries regulate the internet. Bypassing these restrictions is why people decide to find a VPN provider.
NordVPN offers the so-called “obfuscated servers.” They can bypass internet restrictions. So, technically, it’s possible to gain access to the Web even through the Great Firewall of China.
NordVPN’s servers are the reason it’s one of the top ten VPN services on our list. There are six types:
- Standard – a regular VPN server that hides your IP and encrypts your data.
- Double VPN – this connection sends your traffic through two servers. That way, it adds another layer of encryption on top of the standard server.
- Onion over VPN – in case you want to access the Onion network through your VPN.
- Dedicated IP servers – if you want, you can purchase a dedicated IP address. This comes in handy since most services block known VPN addresses.
- P2P servers – a good VPN tool should allow P2P file sharing, and these servers’ purpose is exactly that.
- Obfuscated servers – the best paid VPN solutions can bypass any internet restrictions, imposed by the government or your ISP.
As you can see, NordVPN offers several options for you to enjoy the purest internet.
It also comes with some handy extra features, packed in the software’s CyberSec technology. It blocks malicious websites and protects you from phishing attacks. Additionally, this feature protects your device from participating in a DDoS attack. And the best part – this top VPN software blocks the annoying ads.
It gets better!
- Like many other VPN providers, NordVPN has a built-in automatic kill switch. It protects your data in case something goes wrong.
- There’s also a built-in DNS leak protection, that ensures your DNS stays private.
- To top this impressive security feature set, NordVPN offers a proxy extension for Chrome and Firefox.
- The extension will keep you safe when browsing websites that don’t offer HTTPS protection. It encrypts all with TLS v1.2.
NordVPN proudly receives the sixth spot in our comparison chart. It offers almost everything you’d search for in the best virtual private network software.
It’s an excellent solution if you are looking for a VPN for Netflix or browsing. It also has decent P2P capabilities and military-grade encryption.
However, it’s not the best choice for businesses. Its price tag makes it somewhat expensive compared to other top VPN tools for 2021.
On top of that, the speed drop is noticeable, especially if you are using the VPN for torrenting. Additionally, it doesn’t support IPv6.
In a nutshell – it’s an excellent (although a bit pricеy) solution for browsing and streaming.
5. Perfect Privacy
Unlimited simultaneous connections
Outstanding security capabilities
Cascading up to four servers
If security is what you value the most, you are bound to love Perfect Privacy. This top-tier VPN app offers various features that can ensure your online privacy. One of the few VPN services that support IPv6 comes with an impressive ad and track blocker, AI-based routing, and powerful Stealth VPN technology. Perfect Privacy is one of the few options out there that can offer you four encrypted VPN tunnels on top of each other! Even alien technology can’t track you if you are using this top VPN provider.
Perfect Privacy infrastructure
- Servers – Perfect Privacy isn’t one of those VPN providers that will blow your mind the sheer number of servers. It offers 58 servers, distributed in 26 countries.
However, you’ll be pleasantly surprised that all servers are operating within RAM-Disks, meaning there’s no way for any information to be logged on a hard drive. Moreover, the infrastructure consists only of dedicated servers, which allow up to 1000 Mbps bandwidth.
- Devices – Perfect Privacy offers an unlimited number of simultaneous connections, and it’s on par with Windscribe.
Perfect Privacy VPN security
If you are on the lookout for a safe VPN, Perfect Privacy is your best bet.
- This top VPN provider offers IPv6 support. It comes with a dual-stack VPN tunnel that allows you to have an IPv6 address, even if your provider doesn’t offer it.
- On top of that, Perfect Privacy offers IPv6 leak protection, so you’ll be protected no matter your address.
In terms of encryption, everything looks excellent.
Perfect Privacy VPN comes with strong encryption, backed up by several protocols:
- AES-256 bit
- SSH2 tunnel
You can also use HTTP and SOCKS5 web proxy, which don’t offer any encryption but deliver better speeds.
Additionally, you can use PPTP, although it’s not the best protocol for encryption in 2021.
However, each protocol comes with its pros and cons, and you can easily choose the best one, depending on what you’re doing online.
To top it all, this VPN encrypts your DNS via the DNS-over-TLS technology. That way, you’ll be safe from man-in-the-middle attacks.
Perfect Privacy is a no-log VPN, and the provider doesn’t retain any information about your online behavior. As mentioned earlier, the company runs its dedicated servers with RAM disks, so even if someone requests any data, it’s technically impossible to acquire it.
The company operates under Switzerland’s jurisdiction, which is both good and bad.
If you’ve read any other VPN reviews, more than likely, you’ve seen that Switzerland has no mandatory data retention laws.
Unfortunately, that’s wrong. In fact, Switzerland has draconic data retention laws, and they are among the harshest in Europe.
However, Perfect Privacy doesn’t keep any logs whatsoever. Moreover, the company is committed to keeping your privacy.
In a nutshell, your privacy is safe.
PerfectPrivacy VPN ease of use
It might be the most secure VPN, but it surely doesn’t shine when it comes down to its interface.
The app’s UI looks outdated and gives you a Windows 98 vibe. However, it is well organized and intuitive, so you won’t face any issues while configuring the app and choosing servers.
- One of Perfect Privacy’s few drawbacks is that it doesn’t offer split-tunneling. That means all your apps go through the VPN tunnel whenever you are using the service.
- In terms of firewalls, Perfect Privacy supports only Windows Firewall. That means you may face some challenges if you are using another one. However, you can use the website’s forum, or send a ticket to get help.
By the way, this is one of the few VPN providers that support a forum with an active community.
Perfect Privacy VPN speed
Although Perfect Privacy is one of the leading VPN services, it lags behind its competitors in terms of speed.
Our tests show between a 40% and 60% speed drop, which is below average.
With that said, if speed is your most important criteria, Perfect Privacy isn’t the VPN application for you.
Perfect Privacy offers native apps for Windows PCs and Macs, as well as an Android app.
You can also use it on Linux and iOS devices, Smart TVs, gaming consoles, and routers. However, you’ll have to configure the settings manually for each of those devices, and although it’s relatively easy to do so, it’s still too much hassle for a paid VPN.
Streaming services and torrenting
Perfect Privacy supports both streaming and torrenting, but they are both limited.
- Streaming services work only on a few servers, and torrenting is available only on premium dedicated servers.
- For P2P file sharing, Perfect Privacy offers customizable port forwarding, which is a feature that you won’t see even in some of the best commercial VPNs.
You can reach out to Perfect Privacy’s support reps by submitting a ticket. There is no live chat available. However, the reps can help you via email or use TeamViewer to resolve your issues.
Overall, the company’s reps are helpful, and response times are acceptable. But if you need support on the weekends, you may have to wait until Monday to get help.
Perfect Privacy VPN pricing
When I compare VPN services, pricing plays a major role in my ratings. Unfortunately, Perfect Privacy is among the pricier solutions. It offers three plans:
- 1 month – $12.99
- 1 year – $9.99 per month
- 2 years – $8.95 per month
The company also offers a 7-day money-back guarantee, which isn’t that much. However, a week is more than enough to evaluate this safe VPN.
Perfect Privacy VPN features
One of the leading VPNs for 2021 comes with an impressive set of features to help you keep your personal data safe online.
- IP leak protection
- DNS leak protection
- WebRTC leak protection
- MSLeak protection
- Automatic Kill Switch
- NeuroRouting – This is Perfect Privacy’s AI-powered routing algorithm.
- Cascaded connections (Multi-Hop) – Unlike other top VPN services, Perfect Privacy allows you to “hop” to four different servers, for increased security.
- TrackStop – Perfect Privacy’s ad-blocker comes with malware protection, phishing filter, and child protection filter.
- Stealth VPN – The technology that lets you bypass firewalls. It’s excellent for using the VPN service in restricted networks.
Perfect Privacy is the number one VPN in terms of security out there.
Sure, it’s not the one if you are looking for high speeds, and is somewhat limited when it comes to streaming and torrenting. Also, it’s quite expensive, even if you subscribe for two years.
However, if you want to stay safe online, and you need a VPN for anonymity, this app has you covered. It offers excellent security, encryption, and a great ad-blocker, packed with numerous security features.
7 simultaneous connections
Dedicated servers for streaming and torrenting
CyberGhost offers will keep you safe and anonymous online. It has an impressive number of servers, including dedicated ones for streaming and torrenting. Moreover, it also offers excellent mobile apps, additional security features, split tunneling, and stellar support. To top this impressive feature set, you also get seven simultaneous connections, data compression, and strict no-logging policy.
- Servers – CyberGhost has the most impressive network on our top ten VPN list – 6500+ servers, distributed across 90 countries.
- Devices – You can use CyberGhost on seven devices simultaneously. That’s excellent news, considering most VPN solutions offer between three and five simultaneous connections.
When searching for a safe VPN, you’d want one that offers AES-256 encryption.
- CyberGhost and all the other top VPN solutions on this list use this cipher to provide you with military-grade security.
- In terms of protocols, CyberGhost uses WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 which is more or less the standard for the best services in 2021.
- By using the OpenVPN protocol, you connect to CyberGhost via an encrypted TLS connection, which is always a good thing when using such a service.
On the downside:
- CyberGhost uses OpenVPN’s digital certificates. The service doesn’t have its own, unlike other top VPN solutions.
- Unfortunately, the app doesn’t support IPv6 anymore, and there’s no telling when the company will renew it.
- Firstly, the company’s headquarters are in Romania. Count Dracula’s homeland has no data retention laws and isn’t a member of the 14 eyes surveillance alliance.
However, the company does collect some data when you are using their website (not the service itself). This information includes your IP address (which is kept safe), your country of origin, and transaction details. If you’ve read/watched other VPN reviews about this app, you’ll see this listed as a con in most of them.
Still, many websites collect this data, and that’s one of the reasons you need a VPN app, right?
What’s important is that CyberGhost doesn’t log anything while you are using the service. That way, you’ll stay anonymous and safe online.
Ease of use
When I compare VPN services, I don’t count the interface as a big deal.
After all, the outer look doesn’t matter that much if the software does what it’s supposed to. However, I have to admit that CyberGhost has one of the best apps on the market.
Not only does its UI look great, but it’s intuitive and easy to use.
It’s great for beginners and experienced VPN users alike.
It offers a minimalistic interface (on the right) that can expand, showing all the servers and settings.
What I like most about the app is that it shows the load balance of each VPN server and that it has separate tabs for torrenting and streaming servers.
This is one of the few VPN providers that offer data compression. By enabling this feature, the app will compress images and other web elements to decrease your data usage.
One of the features I look for when I compare VPNs is split tunneling.
- CyberGhost does offer this feature, although it doesn’t call it that way. You can use the Smart Rules tab to set up which apps use the public or private network.
- CyberGhost is compatible with most firewalls, and in case you face any challenges, you can always reach out to support.
CyberGhost VPN speed
CyberGhost isn’t the fastest VPN service but certainly ranks among the best. I experienced about a 10% speed drop, which is admirable.
In the settings tab, you can choose whether you want to use the TCP port or the UDP port, which will affect your speed in exchange for reliability. However, my connections were stable on both, so no problems there.
CyberGhost can enhance your privacy no matter the device. The company has dedicated apps for:
- Android TVs
- Amazon Fire Stick
On top of that, the website offers numerous guides on how to set up the VPN on your router and numerous other devices.
Streaming services and torrenting
Naturally, as one of the best tools, it performs admirably in both departments.
- CyberGhost has dedicated servers for streaming services. The app bypasses geo-restrictions with ease and works with most streaming services.
- One of CyberGhost’s other advantages is that it offers dedicated servers for fast and safe torrenting.
In addition to the good speeds, the app will encrypt your connection and keep you anonymous.
In terms of support, CyberGhost outshines all the top VPN services out there.
The website itself is full of information, guides, how-tos, etc.
However, if you want to talk to the company’s reps, you have two options available – via email or live chat.
The reps are very fast, helpful, and polite. Overall, you’ll have a great experience, in case you need some help.
What impressed me the most is that the company replies to all user-written VPN reviews on Trustpilot. And that’s only one of the reasons the software has a 4.8 out of 5 stars rating there.
In terms of pricing, CyberGhost isn’t the cheapest VPN out there. However, if you decide to purchase it for a longer period, the price is more than affordable. There are four subscription options available:
- One month – $12.99
- One year – $3.99 a month
- Two years – $3.49 a month
- Three years – $2.25 a month (plus you get 3 months for free)
The latter will cost you $99 for three years, which is an excellent price for a top-tier VPN service.
If you want to purchase a dedicated IP, it will cost you an extra $5 a month.
The company also offers a generous 45-day money-back, no-questions-asked guarantee.
For the one-month plan, you have 14 days to request a refund.
In addition to the standard payment options (credit card and PayPal), you can pay with Bitcoin, which is great if you want to stay anonymous.
CyberGhost VPN features
Naturally, it has almost all the features we look for in such a service.
- IP masking
- Automated kill switch
- Private DNS servers
- DNS leak protection
- Auto HTTPS redirection
- Public WiFi protection
However, there are some features that you’ll find in other VPN providers, but not in CyberGhost:
- Double VPN
- Port Forwarding
Finally, there are two more cons to point out.
- The ad-blocker does a poor job of blocking ads on HTTPS websites.
- CyberGhost isn’t the best option if you want to bypass government-enforced restrictions. Especially if you are in China – you can’t use the app there.
If you want a top VPN solution that can bypass these restrictions, I’d recommend VyperVPN.
If you are looking for an all-round service, CyberGhost is the top VPN software out there.
It offers a mind-blowing number of shared servers, certificate-based key encryption, and has many other handy security features.
CyberGhost also offers one of the best mobile VPN apps and stellar support. When you combine all these factors with excellent streaming and torrenting capabilities, you’ll see why CyberGhost is among the greatest VPN service for 2021.
Still, it is not all roses.
The app lacks a few features, and the monthly price is quite expensive. Also, it’s not the number one option for countries with regulated internet access.
However, you won’t find a perfect VPN tool, but CyberGhost comes pretty damn close.
Unlimited speed and bandwidth
8 simultaneous connections
Vast server infrastructure
TorGuard offers more than 3000 servers in 68 locations and across 55 countries. The goal is simple – to protect your privacy with an anonymous VPN. It encrypts users’ internet access and hides IP so that you can browse the Web safely and securely. It works with macOS, Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, and Wi-FI routers.
TorGuard employs cutting-edge technology to keep user data safe. It supports a wide variety of VPN protocols such as OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, and iKEV2. Moreover, for an added layer of security, it provides DNS and IPv6 leak protection. TorGuard is also a no-log VPN, which means it doesn’t any information when you use the internet.
Streaming and Torrenting
You can take advantage of its dedicated IP address to access Netflix and stream your favorite shows. It’s also suitable for Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer users. It’s also a great VPN for torrenting, as it covers your IP address, guaranteeing full anonymity.
In terms of speed, it is a decent VPN service. We tested it and we observed about a 20% speed drop on average. The servers in Europe gave great speeds (less than 10% drop), but we weren’t so lucky with the ones in Asia and specifically Hong Kong (about 60% drop).
Some features worth mentioning include:
- Torrenting allowed
- Anonymous IP
- Connects 8 devices simultaneously
- Built-in DNS and IPv6 leak protection
All in all, we think TorGuard is a great option for users looking for high speed and superior web browsing experience with advanced security. It’s easy to use and it works with most devices and operating systems. All in all, one of the top VPN services.
Unlimited simultaneous connections
Dedicated servers for streaming
Windscribe is a top VPN service that offers safety, torrenting, streaming, and access to restricted content. Also, it comes with an affordable price tag and a free plan as well. The app is packed with useful features like malicious website protection, ad-blocker, and one of the best browser extensions on the market. To top it all, you’ll have a lot of fun, while enjoying a high-speed VPN service.
- Servers – This secure and high-speed VPN offers 157 servers, distributed across 62 countries. You can even see the load balance of each VPN server in real-time on the company’s website.
- Devices – Windscribe outshines the majority of tools in our VPN comparison reviews. The software offers unlimited simultaneous connections on multiple devices.
- Windscribe uses AES-256 cipher with SHA512 and a 4096-bit RSA key, which is the industry’s standard for the leading VPN software on the market.
- Additionally, the browser extensions use TLS 1.2, P-256 key exchange, and AES_128_GCM cipher.
In plain English – Windscribe offers top-notch security.
However, it doesn’t support IPv6 addresses.
- Windscribe is a Canadian company, meaning it operates within the Five eyes surveillance alliance. Typically, all recommended VPN solutions are outside of this network.
- However, Windscribe doesn’t log any information about your online behavior, except the bandwidth usage and the timestamp of your last activity on the network.
This isn’t like the strict no-logging policies we see among the top VPN options. Still, the company doesn’t log your IP or your browsing activities.
Ease of use
The majority of VPN providers on this list offer easy-to-use apps, and Windscribe is no exception. The company offers a great-looking app that allows for easy configuration.
Also, you can easily see the dedicated servers for streaming. That way, you won’t waste time searching which servers work with Netflix.
- Split-tunneling is one of the features we look for in the leading VPNs. Windscribe does offer it, but only on its Android app. The feature is “coming soon” for Windows, Mac, and Linux. However, on Android, it works like a charm.
- Firewall compatibility – Windscribe is compatible with most firewalls. However, if you face any challenges, you can reach out to support.
- Also, you can use Windscribe for LANs. However, it does consume bandwidth.
All in all, not the best possible performance, as you can see in our other VPN reviews here.
Windscribe easily ranks among the best high-speed VPN services. The speed drop is an average of 10%-20%. Still, the more distant destinations can cost you up to 75% in terms of speed.
Windscribe has apps for nearly all devices:
- Linux (beta)
On the company’s website you’ll also find guides for setting up Windscribe for:
- Amazon FireTV
- Nvidia Shield
And if that’s not enough, there’s a VPN extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
Streaming services and torrenting
- With Windscribe, you can easily bypass the streaming services’ geographic level blocking.
- The service offers several dedicated servers for streaming, and you’ll be able to watch all your favorite shows without any issues.
- All of Windscribe’s servers support torrenting and P2P clients. Except for the dedicated servers for streaming and the ones in India and Japan.
With that said, if you want to stream or download anything, you can do so while being secure and anonymous.
This is one of the reasons why Windscribe isn’t the greatest VPN provider out there.
The website offers live chat with a chatbot named Garry. There are two things you should know about him:
- He’s funny.
- He’s also useless.
You’re way better off just reading the FAQ section.
If you want to talk to a real human being, you can submit a ticket and wait for a reply. And by “wait,” I mean at least 24 hours. The questions to my answers came three days later!
I did a VPN review for Windscribe one year ago, and unfortunately, nothing has changed since then.
I received the same one-liner answers with links to the company’s website.
All in all, although the app itself is among the top 10 VPNs, its support isn’t the best in the industry.
There aren’t many good free VPNs out there, but Windscribe certainly fits the description. The company offers a generous free plan, which includes 10 locations and 10 Gb of monthly bandwidth.
More than likely that wouldn’t be enough for most users, so let’s talk about the paid version.
Windscribe is among the best free VPNs (if not the best free VPN), and its PRO version won’t cost you a kidney either. In fact, their pricing is quite reasonable. You have three options at your disposal:
- Monthly plan – $9.00
- Yearly plan – $4.08 per month
- Build your own plan.
Now, the last option isn’t something you see every day, and it’s one of the things that make Windscribe such a great service.
So here’s the deal.
- You choose a location, and you get 20 GB of monthly bandwidth for $1. Each additional location gives you an additional 10 GB for a $1 extra.
- If you want unlimited data and R.O.B.E.R.T., it will cost you $1 extra. That way, you can have one of the greatest VPN apps without committing to a long-term plan.
And since you can use this VPN service for free, the money-back guarantee isn’t as generous if we compare it with other VPN solutions. Windscribe’s refund policy is three days or 10 GB of usage.
No matter if you need a VPN for gaming, browsing, streaming, or torrenting – Windscribe’s got your back. The software offers all the necessary features and then some.
- Ip masker
- Firewall/Kill switch
- Port forwarding
- R.O.B.E.R.T. – Windscribe’s security tool can protect you from malicious websites. It’s also useful for blocking ads and trackers.
- Double VPN (in combination with the browser extension)
The browser extension also comes with many handy features, like an ad-blocker, cookie eraser, and much more.
To summarize, Windscribe takes one of the top spots in our VPN rankings, because it’s an excellent tool that comes with a lot of features.
It offers everything you’d ever need:
- Top-notch security
- Unblocking restricted content
All in all, it’s almost the top service for 2021, and it comes with an affordable price tag.
And even though Windscribe isn’t perfect, it’s almost there.
There are a few features that need some improvement, and the customer service could be much, much better.
However, although the installation, emails, and Garry are all fun, the company is serious as cancer when it comes to security. That’s just one of the reasons why Windscribe is among the coolest VPN software out there.
No detected leaks
Yearly independent audits
This Canadian-based VPN company is owned by McAfee and is targeted at non-technical users. It won’t overwhelm you with technical jargon, with mentions of encryptions and protocols. The website is rather basic and simple. When you compare it to other VPN services, TunnelBear might not be enough for experienced users.
It has a strict no-logging policy, solid encryption, and a user-friendly interface. TunnelBear has a rather small network with only 23 global locations, including:
- Hong Kong
- North America.
TunnelBear uses OpenVPN protocol for Windows, Mac, and Android to secure your connection, which is secure and faster. It uses IKEv2 protocol for the iPhone app, and it is also available for Mac and Windows users. It provides 256-bit AES protection.
Streaming and Torrenting
Tunnelbear is not very effective when it comes to streaming. It couldn’t unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu. It did unblock HBO GO. If you are looking for a VPN for streaming purposes, then this isn’t the ideal choice.
TunnelBear allows torrenting, and it supports P2P connections.
TunnelBear is not very fast. It showed consistently low speeds in various servers in different operating systems. It is not suitable for users looking for a fast VPN for downloading and streaming HD videos.
Here are some of the many features offered by TunnelBear:
- Engineered for speed
- Safe Wi-Fi Protection
- Kill Switch
- Anonymous IP
- Strong Encryption
- No Logging
TunnelBear might not have the biggest network or advanced features, but it is still a simple and effective VPN service for the majority of users. It has an outstanding no-logging policy and offers great privacy. It gets its systems and software independently audited, which is a huge plus. If you’re looking for affordable VPN services – TunnelBear is the one for you.
Good geographic coverage
IPVanish first launched in 2012 and has evolved to become one of the most trusted and stable VPN providers on the market. Its trust pilot score sits at a respectable 4.6/5. Moreover, every user is keen to point out in their VPN review its wide range of servers and good server locations. If you want VPN software that’s consistent, IPVanish hits the mark.
Its monthly plan sits at $10.99, while you can save up to 65% by going for a year upfront. That’s $44.99, the equivalent of $3.75/mo, before jumping up to $89.99 thereafter.
Let’s take a closer look at its performance.
IPVanish can certainly be described as secure VPN software and security is the backbone of these services. Unlike other providers, it gives you many options to choose from.
OpenVPN tops the list. It makes for some of the safest VPNs because the protocol is open-source and heavily tested by the community for vulnerabilities.
Next on its dropdown list is IKEv2, another good option for VPN security.
Advanced users can also make use of L2TP, SSTP, and PPTP. These are older protocols and not necessarily recommended VPN solutions. They do have their uses, however. So, the fact that they’re an option shows IPVanish has taken the time to build a comprehensive VPN solution.
IPVanish uses AES 256-bit encryption – the same standard used by the US military. In other words, nobody is hacking your connection!
Streaming and Torrenting
IPVanish at least makes the top 10 in the greatest VPN service for streaming category. It produces the speeds necessary to prevent buffering and image quality problems. Moreover, we were able to easily access geo-restricted content. By choosing US servers in the UK, we were able to access the US version of Netflix without issues.
IPVanish is also a good VPN for torrenting. There’s no setup required as P2P activity is built-in from the start. Just turn on the easy VPN software and open your torrent client. It will then connect as normal, providing solid download and upload connections.
When it comes to VPN ranking, it easily makes the top five for torrenting, thanks to its ability to deliver results without any extra hassle.
The VPN provider has an excellent geographic reach, with servers in over 75 locations worldwide. That means you are likely to find a close local option for top speeds but also choose one that is ideal for bypassing geo-blocks.
Pro tip – if you seem further away, the less likely you can be traced.
While there are no inherent speed, bandwidth, or connection limits, just how fast can it be?
With a little testing using the OpenVPN protocol, we saw speed drops of around 60% for download and 50% for upload. It’s certainly not the fastest VPN software, but it still falls within the average range. So, unless you are streaming and gaming across multiple devices at the same time, it’s still a quality VPN with lots of features.
IPVanish stands out with most of the expected VPN features and several extras:
- Multiple Devices – Whether you’re looking for a suitable VPN for Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android, IPVanish has good VPN apps across the board. There are even apps for Linux, Amazon Fire TV. It also features a Chrome extension if you only want to use it while browsing the web.
- Quick Connect or Choose Location – Let the software pick the best server for you or choose a location based on your own preferences.
- Zero File Logs – The company vows not to log or pass on your data.
- Kill Switch – Turn this on to temporarily block internet requests if the VPN drops.
- Stealth Protocol – Helps you bypass firewalls.
- Kodi Support – Protect your Kodi entertainment hub by using IPVanish on your Fire Stick.
- Cloud Backup – Take out an additional plan that includes secure cloud data backup via SugarSync.
- Anti-Virus – Another additional plan that includes full protection from malware threats, making it, arguably, the safest VPN package.
- 24/7 Live Chat – Reach support in minutes with a 24/7 live chat system or phone them directly.
To conclude, IPVanish is our pick as the top VPN for home use. Its multi-platform support makes it ideal for different needs. It also has unlimited bandwidth and connections. So, everyone can do their own thing without being interrupted.
While it lacks in overall speed, it makes up for it in beginner-friendly apps and extra services, like backup and anti-virus tools. Above all, torrent and streaming support take it from a good premium VPN to a great home VPN solution.
There Isn’t an All-In-One Solution
Only the most reputable VPN providers made it to our list, but each has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to specific features, operating systems, and devices. Whether you’re looking for the most fitting VPN for Android and PC, or you’re a Mac and iOS user, there’s something for everyone.
Here are our recommendations:
For Windows 10 – NordVPN
NordVPN is our pick of the top VPNs for Windows 10. The software essentially runs by itself with all the key features good to go. Set it to auto-connect or simply connect to the fastest server for you from its icon in the Windows system tray.
There are over 5,500 servers. Therefore, load from other users is never an issue, even when it’s one of the most used VPN networks. Furthermore, these cover 59 countries. So, it is efficient when you need a fast local server and practical when you need to appear like you’re in another country.
Free Alternative Windows 10 – TunnelBear
TunnelBear stands out thanks to its ‘Free forever’ starter plan that works great on Windows 10. This free reliable VPN offers 500mb each month. This is quite low in the grand scheme of things. It’s, however, perfect for specific low-bandwidth tasks or simply to test the service before committing to one of its competitive premium plans.
You activate the free Windows 10 VPN by a simple slider that will stay connected by hopping between servers automatically if one becomes weak. A kill-switch temporarily freezes your internet requests till it reconnects.
For Mac – PrivateInternetAccess (PIA)
VPNs cater to Macs just as much as Windows. PIA easily makes our top VPN clients list thanks to its Mac program and all-round performance. Furthermore, it supports streaming and torrenting, has additional ad blocking and malware protection, and above-average speeds. Its servers total 3,303, spread across more than 48 countries, so you’ll have no trouble finding an appropriate VPN connection.
It also happens to be one of the cheapest VPN monthly solutions, if you pay for three years in advance.
Free Alternative – Windscribe
Windscribe tops our list when it comes to free plans. While it’s not the best free unlimited VPN for Mac, it’s about as close as you can get. It offers a very generous 10GB of monthly data; much more than Windows favorite TunnelBear, plus 10 locations to choose from. This amount of bandwidth is much more capable of handling a single user’s usage if they aren’t regularly streaming video or gaming.
Furthermore, Mac users can easily configure lots of other useful features including split-tunneling and firewall compatibility.
For Android – ExpressVPN
More and more people are using their smartphones over their computers, so it makes sense that VPNs pivot their services to mobile devices. Perhaps the top VPN for PC and Android in particular, is ExpressVPN. The Android app is available directly on Google Play, where it has an excellent 4.4 out of 5 user rating.
The seven-day free trial gives you full access to its features, including:
- its custom Lightway VPN protocol
- split tunneling
- automatic bypassing of geo-restricted content.
Free Alternative – ProtonVPN
Right now, the best free secure VPN for Android is ProtonVPN. You can find it on the official Google Play store with a great 4.2/5 rating from over 26,000 users. You get strong encryption from an impenetrable Swiss HQ. Moreover, it supports multiple protocols at once and adds DNS leak protection.
Most importantly, it’s one of the few free VPNs with unlimited data. It’s just not quite as fast or as server-rich as other premium options.
For iOS – Mullvad VPN
Mobile iOS users also get lots of choices when it comes to reliable VPNs. Currently leading the pack is Mullvad VPN which has a flat pricing model of €5 ($6ish), regardless of whether you commit to a month, year, or longer. That’s about as inexpensive VPN providers get.
On the Apple Store, it has a brilliant 4.2/5 rating. Like other users, we loved how easy it was to simply turn on and let it work its magic, with a full list of locations and servers to choose from. It also uses the modern WireGuard protocol.
Free Alternative – TunnelBear
We turn our attention back to TunnelBear for the best free VPN for iOS, because its consistency and premium features cannot be ignored. While you still get the same 500MB a month plan, its colorful yet simple design and ease of use stand above the rest.
Users get one-tap connect, servers across 22 countries, and a very robust no-logs policy. This includes third-party auditing to verify its security.
Ironically, it’s also one of the cheapest VPNs if you choose a premium plan.
For router – ExpressVPN
A way to ensure your VPN remains intact on your home network is to set it up at the router level. ExpressVPN takes the top spot for top VPN service for router users. Setting up, however, is a bit more complex and requires custom firmware knowledge or the purchase of a pre-installed router. You protect any device that connects to the network (even without a dedicated app) once set up.
Furthermore, all the other features are here, such as the kill-switch, split-tunneling, and dedicated gaming support.
Free Alternative – Hotspot Shield
Public VPN service Hotspot Shield ranks high in many categories, but it is one of the few that offers its popular VPN service free via your router. Once again, you’ll need a compatible device and some technical skills to install the custom firmware, but you can also easily buy one preinstalled.
Since the free plan gives you 500mb a day, for lighter users it may be worth the investment. This is a free VPN with no subscription.
Home VPN – IPVanish
IPVanish tops out as the leading VPN for home users. It supports unlimited bandwidth and connections at the same time, to suit the whole family. Moreover, it has dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and even Amazon Fire TV. If you just want to use it on your browser, the Chrome extension is all you need. In short, whoever and whatever device they’re using, IPVanish will keep things private at home.
Free Alternative – Avira Phantom VPN
This is one of the best free home VPN solutions, if you don’t have the budget to pay for VPN services. While you only get 500mb a month in data, it covers Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. This gives everyone in the home some browsing time to get to grips with the software and decide whether to upgrade.
Regardless, you get unlimited devices, automatic P2P support, and DNS leak prevention. Furthermore, you can unlock international versions of services like Netflix.
For International Travel – Surfshark
What do you do when you travel internationally, and this affects your access to services at home? Or worse, you visit a country with heavy internet restrictions? VPNs can solve all this, and we think Surfshark is the best international VPN for travel. This is thanks to its No Borders feature that automatically detects entry into a restrictive region and does all the necessary backend tweaks to ensure your internet usage remains hidden and active.
It even suggests booking your travel via a VPN to make savings due to country-to-country price differences.
Free Alternative – Hide.me
The top VPN for overseas travel that won’t cost you a penny is Hide.me. The main catch is this is a personal VPN, not for those who want full-blown entertainment for the whole family. It supports just a single connection, has 10GB a month data, and no streaming video support.
Still, that amount of data with a kill-switch, multiple secure protocols, and leak prevention, makes it the top choice for travel that’s free.
Our comparison VPN table breaks down the important facts quickly, so you can find the top VPN client for you.
|VPN Name||Ad blocker||Number of supported devices per account||Keeps logs?||Double VPN||Obfuscated servers||Server distribution (countries)||P2P traffic||Can unblock Streaming services?||VPN Price Comparison|
|PIA||Yes||10||No||No||Yes||48+||Dedicated servers||Yes||$2.19/month (3 years)|
|Surfshark||Yes||Unlimited||No||Yes||Yes||63||Yes||Yes||$2.49/month (2 year)|
|ExpressVPN||No||5||No||No||Yes||96||Yes||Yes||$8.32/month (1 year)|
|NordVPN||Yes||6||No||Yes||Yes||60||Dedicated servers||Yes||$3.49/month (3 years)|
|Perfect Privacy||Yes||Unlimited||No||Yes||Yes||25||Yes||Yes||$8.95/month (2 years)|
|CyberGhost||Yes||7||No||No||No||90||Dedicated servers||Yes||$2.25/month (3 years)|
|Windscribe||Yes||Unlimited||No||Yes||Yes||62||Dedicated servers||Dedicated servers||$4.08/month (1 year)|
|Tunnel Bear||Yes||Unlimited||Yes||Yes||Yes||153||Yes||Yes||$3.33/month (1 year)|
|IPVanish||No||Unlimited||No||No||Yes||75||Yes||Yes||$3.75/month (1 year)|
|ProtonVPN||Yes||10||No||Yes||No||55||Yes||Yes||$4/month (1 year)|
|Mullvad VPN||Yes||5||No||Yes||No||37||Yes||Yes||€5/month or approx $6|
|Hotspot Shield||No||5||No||No||No||80+||Yes||Yes||$7.99/month (1 year)|
|Avira Phantom VPN||No||Unlimited||No||Yes||No||37||Yes||Yes||$6.50/month (1 year)|
|Hide.me||No||10||No||Yes||Yes||75+||Yes||Yes||$4.99/month (1 year)|
What Is VPN?
VPN is an acronym for virtual private network. It allows you to connect to your home or, in most cases, a public network, privately. To outsiders there is no way of knowing the true origin of the network, thus your internet connection is private and more secure.
Paid VPNs give you the privilege of at least choosing a location from which to mask your connection. For example, you could be in the UK, but web trackers, geo-specific websites (Netflix), and would-be hackers will think you’re in the US if you choose such a server.
The most popular VPN solutions pack in additional features.
How Do VPNs Work?
A VPN for all devices works by encrypting all the data you receive and send and by hiding the origin of your connection. It is a kind of middleman, whereby instead of connecting directly to your ISP, you’re first routed through your chosen VPN server.
All data you send and receive goes both ways. Therefore, we call it a private tunnel because of this. Different VPNs use different encryption methods and protocols, but all provide a level of privacy you’d never receive without one.
Hiding your IP address, usually assigned by your internet provider, is one of the most important factors. If it rarely changes, this address reveals your location and can be tracked around the web.
When connected to a good VPN, no one will be able to locate your real IP address.
Here are just a few of the ways secure VPNs can work to your benefit:
Privacy is the most obvious benefit when choosing a VPN. Your entire internet activity will encrypt and hide behind one or more locations. These cannot be used to identify where you are or who you are. As a result, it goes much further than a simple Incognito mode or proxy.
In addition to using the internet more privately, VPN tools also have their security benefits. The less a snooper or hacker can work with, the less that can be pulled from your session. For all the trustworthy VPNs in our list, encryption is military grade. Your IP address, location, password, and data are safe from ad companies, social media sites, and potential hackers. Even your own internet service provider cannot determine exactly what your traffic is from.
Because our recommended VPNs have a good selection of servers all across the world, you can access sites you’d ordinarily be blocked from. This includes content your ISP, school, or workplace has blocked because their system cannot see the site you’re visiting.
It also means you can access international versions of sites that may block you based on location or serve different versions of the site to overseas users. For example, a VPN that actually works will let you watch a foreign version of Netflix as if you’re in that country. You can buy products at special discount prices from sites that muddle prices around by location. Moreover, you can open the internet up to its full potential in a heavily restricted country like China.
ISPs are notorious for trying to save themselves money by throttling their customers’ internet speeds based on their usage habits. For instance, using a lot of P2P traffic or constantly streaming. Consequently, good VPNs disguise your usage habits, so an ISP cannot slow down your speeds based on this type of approach.
Anonymous File Sharing
File sharing is not inherently illegal, though it is a form of copyright infringement if you’re torrenting movies, for example. While enforcement is low, it’s not unheard of to receive warnings from ISPs or legal threats from movie studios that are snooping on P2P users. If you’re using a trustworthy VPN, they can’t do that because traffic is encrypted. Furthermore, any IP they manage to find is not going to lead back to you anyway.
Are VPNs Legal?
Yes, VPNs are legal in most parts of the world. There isn’t a particular law that prevents you from using one and there is nothing inherently suspicious about wanting more online privacy. Especially when invasive adverts, social media algorithms, hackings, and even government snooping are at an all-time high.
The catch is that although VPNs help hide your internet activity, any activity that is illegal is still illegal. Likewise, ISPs and corporate entities like streaming services rarely enforce policies against using VPNs, but these are not legal matters, to begin with. Because the highest-rated VPN providers do such a good job, most entities won’t even recognize that you’re using one.
Nonetheless, Belarus, Iraq, North Korea, and Turkmenistan strictly prohibit VPNs. Also, there are restrictions in countries like China and Russia. The competency of the VPN you use plays a role in any of this being enforceable.
Are VPNs Safe To Use?
Yes, every provider on our VPN list is safe to use. Their intended goal is to create a more secure internet environment, not put your data at risk. That’s why a trustworthy VPN will also have a zero logs policy.
This means they do not log or store any of your traffic while connected to one of its servers. Therefore, in such a case where another entity might request or try to pay for such data, it doesn’t even exist.
While some providers are a little more robust and transparent in their policies, it’s difficult to find a popular VPN that would just hand over any personal data about you.
How Will a VPN Affect My Internet Speed?
The main downside of using VPNs is that it will lower the speed of your internet due to having to go through extra connection steps. And, relying on servers, often in different regions of the world to transfer data back and forth. Fortunately, if your internet speed is fast, to begin with, the reduction will not be significant.
The closer your chosen location is to your real one, the faster the speed tends to be. Therefore, it may be necessary to choose a US server if you intend to play an intensive online game from the US to prevent lag. The leading VPN programs can handle most types of traffic regardless of location and often display the full list of servers and their load.
What’s the Difference Between a VPN and a Proxy Server?
A VPN and proxy server have similar elements, but a full-blown premium VPN is much more than just a slow and glitchy proxy. Most importantly, while a proxy only hides your IP address, a VPN encrypts your data.
Your internet activity remains open to tracking when you only use a proxy, even if you don’t reveal the precise location. When you use a VPN, all data goes through a military-grade encryption tunnel that is virtually impossible to trace.
A proxy may be a quick solution to access a geo-restricted webpage or to get around other types of blocked sites. However, a paid VPN is a long-term solution capable of fast speeds, streaming, torrenting, gaming, etc. Additionally, it has more security and privacy measures, keeping you anonymous.
Can You Trust a Free VPN Service?
Free VPN options can be more tricky than premium ones because they need to make money somehow. This may result in heavily limited bandwidth, ads, fewer features, and slower speeds. In some cases, it could also mean less clear privacy policies.
Your best choice for a free VPN service is one that’s part of a trial or beginner plan for a larger professional VPN service. There are also a handful of free good VPNs that many people trust.
Zero-Log Policy – Is it Really That Important?
When choosing a VPN it is important to understand what a zero-log policy is. Your typical broadband or fiber internet service logs the pages you visit or, at least, the type of traffic you are using.
Internal policies on what content you can access and the speeds you receive (throttling) can therefore be enforced. It’s not uncommon for torrent users to have their speeds slowed right down because this is against an ISP’s terms. Furthermore, ISPs will hand over your data on law enforcement’s request in places like the UK and US.
Meanwhile, without a stable VPN, the websites, and internet services you use can also gather data about you. This is often under the guise of delivering you a better browsing experience. In reality, however, it has more to do with serving targeted adverts, blocking certain regions from content, and even selling your information to others.
A no-logs policy reassures VPN users that as well as protecting their traffic in the ways we’ve described, they themselves do not log any of it for their own financial or other gains. If there are no logs, there also isn’t anything significant to hand over to anybody else anyway.
What Are the Limitations of a VPN Service?
Even the safest VPNs aren’t always perfect, and there are some limitations to both privacy and performance worth considering. When logging into a social media account a link still exists, even when you hide behind an international server. Likewise, some existing cookies you have on your system might still identify you by your computer, not your current session.
We’ve mentioned the inherent speed slowdowns, but VPNs also increase data consumption because of the extra stages the data must travel through. When using a VPN for iOS or Android, mobile data plans can be drained quicker.
VPNs on their own also do not have additional safe browsing features, while those that do can cost more. So, just because you’re browsing privately doesn’t mean a site you visit can’t give you a virus.
What VPN Protocols Are There?
A VPN protocol is a method by which a device connects to a VPN server. An encrypted tunnel accepts data back and forth to mask its origin. Popular VPN clients get the job done safely and securely, so the precise protocol is not relevant to most users.
On the other hand, some protocols do have their differences and more advanced users may prefer one over the other for certain reasons. An individual VPN may let you choose and configure different protocols to your preferences. Here’s what you’ll typically come across:
- OpenVPN – This is an open-source protocol and one of the most common for secure VPNs. It’s fast, suitable for getting past blocked content, and is highly customizable. Many proprietary protocols are, in fact, just tweaked versions of OpenVPN.
- WireGuard – The new kid on the block, WireGuard is the fastest protocol and, arguably, more secure than OpenVPN. It’s lean and efficient and quickly becoming the norm.
- PPTP – This stands for point-to-point tunneling and is the oldest VPN solution, making it compatible on lots of devices and older computers. It’s not as secure these days, as sophisticated hackers can intercept data.
- IPSec – This protocol is particularly secure. However, it’s also more complex. Therefore, only skilled users tend to use it when it’s available.
- L2TP – You can think of L2TP as an extension of PPTP and IPSec. Therefore, it seems secure on the face of it. It was the NSA, however, who developed this combination, so some users are naturally skeptical.
- SSTP – SSTP or Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol is an improvement over both L2TP and PPTP, more like OpenVPN. However, since Microsoft are the developers it is still not the most trusted VPN protocol.
- IKEv2 – This protocol is a newer option and more effective on mobile devices, where it allows you to switch between data and WiFi without noticing the VPN drop. It’s not very configurable, though, and doesn’t work on Linux without a lot of extra hassle.
- Shadowsocks – This is an additional layer of camouflage that helps bypass more thorough firewalls in countries like China that restrict VPN software.
- Lightway –ExpressVPN custom-made this protocol and it’s one of the best mobile VPN options. Above all, it scales back unnecessary features and keeps things clean and simple.
- Hydra – Carapult Hydra is Hotspot Shield’s own protocol that it claims has higher security, thanks to RSA certificates and 2048-bit keys.
- KeepSolid Wise – Wise is KeepSolid’s proprietary solution to get around government internet firewalls like those in China. It’s an offshoot of OpenVPN.
- NordLynx – NordVPN has taken WireGuard a step further with its NordLynx protocol. Automated random IP assignment is the key difference.
How We Test VPN Services
We’ve reviewed each of the virtual private network providers against several important factors. If you ever come across a provider that you’re not sure about, here’s what you should be looking for when buying a VPN:
In the VPN space, price tends to be competitive. But if a provider wants to charge more than its features and performance are worth, you can tell from our VPN comparisons.
How much do VPNs cost? That depends on whether you want a no-commitment monthly plan or an upfront commitment.
There’s nothing worse than confusing plans with add-ons or key features locked behind tiers. We look for easy-to-understand and transparent plans that offer pay-monthly VPN options and longer-term commitments. Above all, these save you money in the long run. They also allow you to pay monthly, so you don’t have to pay a chunk upfront.
Free Plans and Money-Back Guarantees
We know a reputable VPN when we see one because it offers a no-risk money-back guarantee should you decide it’s not for you. Many have free trials, free low bandwidth plans, or at least the opportunity to get your money back. As a result, you can give a few a try before truly committing to a premium plan.
Servers and Locations
Since safe VPNs are all about making the user untraceable, the more servers involved the better. As well as the number of servers, we also look at the number of geographic locations. This is beneficial because it means there are plenty of locations to hide behind if you’re in America or Europe.
Without acceptable speeds, even all the best features can’t tempt us. As a result, we do online speed tests of all the popular VPNs to benchmark against our regular internet connection. We also try to test servers closer to home and far away, to see how reliable they are. If you’re seeing huge speed drops on servers close to home and can barely connect to servers far away, it’s not really a VPN that works as it should.
P2P and Torrenting
File sharing over P2P networks like BitTorrent are increasingly common, whether some would like to admit it or not. Therefore, all good VPNs need to have the right protocols and set up to allow for this. They get bonus points from us for supporting this by default without having to alter any confusing settings. So, we test speeds and if your IP remains hidden. Furthermore, we check if poor port management is stifling uploading or sharing.
Streaming and Gaming
Streaming HD video anywhere from YouTube to Netflix is quite taxing on bandwidth, even without a VPN. Similarly, gaming has its own unique challenges but can also take up a lot of internet resources. If we cannot smoothly stream without buffering or play modern games with lagging or disconnects, however, then then it’s not a cool VPN for us.
Each provider on our list of VPN solutions needs to have a selection of core features nailed down before even considering them for VPN recommendations.
In addition to the above, we look for features like:
- Support for simultaneous devices and connections
- No leaked information
- Manual server selection
- Modern protocols and the latest VPN technology
- Clear no-logs policies
- Bypassing geo-restrictions and stricter firewalls
- 24/7 live web chat support
Some of the most popular VPNs also come with a slew of useful extras that aren’t necessary but compliment the package well. We look for:
- Controlling when the VPN should activate
- Notifications and alerts
- Multi-hop (passing through several servers to throw off advanced tracking)
- Safe browsing options and ad blockers
- Anti-malware tools
- Email encryption
Some even come as part of full security and antivirus suites. These are, however, obviously more than the standalone VPN cost.
Ease of Use
We wouldn’t make a recommendation if a VPN isn’t easy to use. We want clean interfaces, clear options, and also explainers where needed. Moreover, you should be able to turn the VPN on and off with one click or tap.
Getting a VPN should be no trouble if it supports multiple devices. For instance, we look for the obvious Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android support. We also welcome browser extensions, smart TV apps, and pre-configured routers.
Connections and Bandwidth
The perfect VPN service is one that doesn’t limit your bandwidth, monthly data, or significantly limits the number of simultaneous devices/connections.
Most easy-to-use VPN software relies on a form of OpenVPN, though the latest VPN technology is moving closer to WireGuard. Above all, the protocol should be secure, aid encryption, and not require any configuration for beginners. This, all while giving advanced users the option to choose and configure things if they desire.
It goes without saying that the most trusted VPN providers should be secure, else the whole purpose is a waste. We check for at least military-style AES-256 encryption, or variations thereof. We also test for random IP and DNS leaks that can sometimes creep in and reveal your real location. A kill-switch solves this for any popular VPN. The added protection is welcome, though.
Other noteworthy features are ‘double-VPN’ and ‘multi-hop’ that route your traffic between two or more VPN servers respectively. In short, this creates multiple levels of encryption.
Let’s see what you should look for when evaluating the various VPN solutions.
What Should a Good VPN Offer?
There are a few things you should know before choosing the most fitting VPN for you. If you are an experienced user, you can skip this part.
However, not everyone has an in-depth understanding of how a VPN works.
So, let’s start with the basics.
Fundamentally, the VPN technology was designed to create a secure working environment among remote machines/users through encryption protocols. That’s why security is one of the essential components of every VPN service.
Thankfully, all our VPN picks offer military-grade encryption, therefore security.
Speed is a crucial factor for some users. On average, even with the greatest VPN service providers, you can expect a 25%-35% speed drop. That’s the price you have to pay for better security.
However, some of the top VPN solutions you saw above offer excellent speeds. If you use ExpressVPN or Trust.Zone, for instance, you’ll “sacrifice” only about 10% of your speed. That’s a negligible speed drop, considering you exchange it for encryption, security, and anonymity.
The encrypted VPN connection should keep you hidden from the prying electronic eyes across the Web.
But what about the information that your own VPN service provider collects?
And whom do they share it with?
Ideally, a VPN provider should collect little to no information, and should only use it internally to improve their service.
As you can already guess, that’s not always the case.
However, your privacy will be safe with the recommended VPN suggestions.
How a VPN Service Can Help You With Video Streaming?
Now, while watching Netflix shows is an effortless experience, not all shows are available in all locations at all times.
VPN services can help you watch a show that is, say, exclusive to Brazil, from the comfort of your home in Canada.
By default, virtual private networks rely on multiple server locations to function properly. As such, you could route your traffic toward a Brazilian VPN server and access Netflix through it. Netflix would read your Brazilian IP address and spill its Seleção-bound treasures for you to enjoy.
How Is a VPN Service Useful for Torrenting?
VPNs can be a way to access some peer-to-peer goodies without leaving a trail.
To ensure your safety, you must choose a VPN provider with a zero-logs policy that allows torrenting on its servers.
Ideally, said service will be located in a jurisdiction where torrenting is legal and the speeds are good.
How Does a VPN Solution Guarantee Your Message Integrity?
First off – what is message integrity?
It means that no one tampers with your data. Both incoming and outgoing.
The top VPN software offers multiple protocols to ensure that. I’ve mentioned some in the reviews above – IPSec and TLS are such protocols. If a VPN service offers those, you can be sure that no one is tampering with your sent message (data).
That’s why I paid special attention to those while writing my reviews. Thankfully, all of our top picks support these protocols, so you can rest assured that your data is safe.
Today it’s not enough just to mask your IP to bypass geo-restrictions. There’s a whole lot more.
That’s why I’ll explain all the key features the leading VPN service should have.
What is IP masking?
Hiding your IP is one of the essential features a VPN has.
To hide your IP address, a VPN service creates an encrypted tunnel to another area, and your device appears to be in that location. That way, you can bypass geo-restrictions and gain access to country-specific content.
What is DNS leak protection?
In short, the DNS leak protection keeps your data safe from your ISP and third parties. If you want to know more, we have an excellent and detailed article explaining what a DNS leak is.
What is split tunneling?
This feature allows you to select which apps access the private and public networks. It’s especially helpful If you need a VPN for gaming, or you don’t want some apps to use the VPN tunnel.
By enabling split tunneling, you can gain access to all your local content, and you don’t need to sacrifice speed.
What is a kill switch?
In simple words, the kill switch disconnects you from the network in case your VPN connection drops for some reason.
While you are using such a service, you gain protection over a less secure network. If that connection drops, there’s a chance your data will be exposed.
That’s where the kill switch kicks in. It will protect information like your IP, location, etc. from prying eyes.
What is Double VPN?
Double VPN is a feature you’d want if you need extra security.
In essence, it allows you to connect to two VPN servers, thus creating an extra layer of protection.
That way, if one of the connections drop or is compromised, the other will protect your data.
For instance, imagine you live in Italy.
You use a VPN service to connect to Germany and France.
In case one of the connections is compromised, there’s no way someone will know your country of origin since they’ll see either the French or German connections.
Some of the top VPN tools, like Perfect Privacy, offer cascading – meaning you can hop through multiple servers.
What is port forwarding?
In a nutshell, port forwarding is useful when you want to connect your device to a computer or a service within a local area network.
That comes in handy when you want fast torrent downloads, or you need remote access to your devices.
However, port forwarding can compromise your anonymity. That said, I wouldn’t recommend it for novice users.
Keep in mind that not all of our recommendations offer all features. They don’t need to.
Different VPN providers focus on various services. Some are good for streaming, others for torrenting, and some are great at bypassing restrictions.
The VPN industry doesn’t work like the Lord of the Rings, and there isn’t one VPN to rule them all.
That’s why I offered you a variety of top VPN solutions that are excellent in various fields. So, depending on your online lifestyle, you can choose the perfect solution for you.
Do VPNs save log files?
Some of the paid and the majority of free VPN services log some user activities.
What’s important is the kind of data these providers collect. If it’s bandwidth usage and the timestamp of logging in, this could be considered innocent. If this data is used for improving the VPN service, that is.
However, if your VPN is logging your IP, online activities, and browser history – that’s a serious privacy intrusion.
Luckily, none of our top VPN solutions keeps any records regarding this personal information.
Can VPN speed up downloads or uploads?
Typically, a VPN service will lower your speed. That’s because it encrypts your traffic, and it travels to a distant location.
However, sometimes ISPs enforce bandwidth throttling (for a variety of reasons). Some VPN solutions can bypass this restriction, resulting in higher download and upload speeds.
Can VPN block malicious sites and malware?
In short – some of the greatest VPN solutions can. Many of them offer additional security features that protect you from malicious websites and malware.
What are the free VPN limitations?
Usually, you get what you pay for in life.
That’s why by using free VPN services, you are subject to numerous limitations and possible dangers. Here’s what I mean:
- Can’t unblock streaming services
- Can’t bypass geo-restrictions
- Limited bandwidth
- Slow speeds
- A free VPN service may be infected with malware
- Collecting and selling your data
- So if you are looking for free VPN providers, be careful.
I am from China, can I use any VPN?
Yes, you can.
One of the top VPN solutions for Chinese residents is VyprVPN. It can bypass the Great Firewall of China, and you can surf the Web anonymously.
If you live in China and you need to unblock any sites and apps, this is the perfect solution.
Note: At the time of writing, the VPN for iPhone client doesn’t work well within Chinese borders, but the company is trying to resolve the problem.
Can VPN protect from DNS attacks and DNS poisoning?
Even the most-recomennded VPN services can’t guarantee 100% security.
However, they immensely reduce the risk of such attacks. That’s because all DNS requests go through the encrypted VPN tunnel, making these attacks almost impossible.
Can advertisers track me if I use a VPN?
But that’s in case you use a good VPN. It encrypts your connection, and no one, even your ISP can’t track you.
For advertisers to track you while using such a service, they’ll need too much money, computing power, and time. Needless to say, that makes it unfeasible for advertisers to go through all that trouble.
While reading VPN user reviews when I was doing my research, I noticed that even some of the recommended VPN solutions have holes in their security. That way, many users saw ads targeting their original location.
Thankfully, none of our top picks will give you such problems.
Can a VPN help me on public WiFi networks?
Yes, it can.
Being on a public WiFi network makes you an easy target for a man-in-the-middle attack.
By using a VPN on your laptop or mobile device, you encrypt your connection and keep yourself safe. This feature is excellent for securing online banking and other activities that can reveal sensitive information.
Can VPN protect me from phishing attacks, ransomware, the dark web?
Can I set up a VPN on routers and TV consoles?
Some of the top VPN providers offer dedicated apps for routers. Others offer workarounds. The same goes for TVs.
By configuring your router to channel the traffic through the encrypted VPN tunnel, you can secure all your connected devices.
Is VPN legal in my country?
Using a VPN service is banned and illegal in several countries:
- North Korea
VPN usage in some countries is allowed, but only government-approved VPNs are legal:
- United Arab Emirates (banned for individuals, only companies and institutions can use such a service)
Do mac users need a VPN?
Yes, you do need a VPN for Mac.
Sure, there are more attacks and malware on Windows devices, but Mac users aren’t immune.
Additionally, Mac users need a VPN service for the same reasons all others do – gaining access to restricted content, protecting your anonymity, and so on.
Thankfully, all our VPN picks work perfectly with Macs.
What is the best VPN app?
Each mobile VPN app review followed the same criteria as above. While some excelled as paid options, others provided safe free VPNs.
Our top VPN apps for mobile are:
- ExpressVPN for Android
- Mullvad VPN for iOS
- Proton VPN free for Android
- TunnelBear free VPN software for iOS
Where to Buy a VPN?
For starters, you’ll need to visit the website of the provider. Depending on the plan or any free trial, you may be able to download the computer software or mobile apps right away. For a premium service you need a credit or debit card to purchase a VPN. Some providers, however, also accept crypto like Bitcoin. This is rare, though.
Billing is monthly or for a longer commitment you pay upfront to make savings on the monthly equivalent price.
Are there any good free VPN providers?
Our VPN list includes several restricted free taster plans and viable longer-term free plans as well. For example, Hotspot Shield tops these rankings by offering great features and 500mb of daily data usage. Moreover, It’s the most popular free VPN available, and for a good reason.
Proton is also worth a look for mobile. It offers a free plan and there is no data limit.
What is a good VPN for Windows?
NordVPN is an excellent choice for Windows, due to its all-round performance and ease of use on the operating system.
If you’re looking for a free VPN service for Windows, TunnelBear gives you 500mb a month to test before going premium.
How much does a VPN cost?
VPNs are not expensive on a monthly basis. Nonetheless, commit to a yearly or longer plan to make savings, as per our VPN client reviews. Paying monthly almost always increases the cost of a VPN.
The exception is Mullvad VPN, which has a flat monthly €5 cost (approximately $6). This is by far the best cheap VPN service. Meanwhile, committing to Surfshark for two years is only the equivalent of $2.49 a month.
Check out the VPN cost comparison in the chart above for a full overview.
Is there a one time VPN deal?
Paying for a lifetime VPN is not unheard of but is very rare. These only pop up as special promotional offers. So, you’re better off looking at regular VPN prices.
Check out the article above to see the best VPN services.
Deyan has been fascinated by technology his whole life. From the first Tetris game all the way to Falcon Heavy. Working for TechJury is like a dream come true, combining both his passions – writing and technology. In his free time (which is pretty scarce, thanks to his three kids), Deyan enjoys traveling and exploring new places. Always with a few chargers and a couple of gadgets in the backpack. He makes mean dizzying Island Paradise cocktails too.
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