VPN stands for ‘virtual private network’ and is a piece of software that helps to make you more anonymous online, encrypt your internet usage and effectively make you think your laptop or mobile device is in a different location. This means that by opting for the best VPN service available, you are equipping your laptop, PC, and cell phone – even your game console – with a game-changing piece of software.
For many, downloading a VPN service will have everything to do with privacy. Maybe you want to use them to keep your online life utterly safe from hackers – especially with so many people working or educated at home. Perhaps you are an enthusiastic hacker and don’t want your internet service provider to know about it. Or maybe it is the curious eyes of your government that you want to avoid.
However, because the best VPNs let you spoof your IP address to an address in an entirely different city or country, these services have gotten a much wider use. For instance, VPNs are excellent for streamers who want access to a whole world of shows and movies on Netflix and more. If you’re on vacation and your favorite app is banned (think of the internet censorship in Cuba, Turkey, China, and more), an online VPN allows you to use the internet the way you’re used to.
Best VPN Service
The first thing we’ll show you in this article is our definitive list of the best VPNs in the world – there are even a few Cyber Monday deals that are still knocking around and hopefully will make your choice even more effortless. But keep scrolling, and you’ll also discover more top tips to help you get the most out of your new kit.
The best VPN service for streaming, privacy, and speed
ExpressVPN is simply the best VPN available (read the full ExpressVPN review for more information) thanks to its great apps, ease of use, superior speeds, excellent 24/7 customer service, and broad compatibility between different devices. You can use the service on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, even Linux or BlackBerry, and you can also install it on your Android TV, game console, or your home router.
With a kill switch, split tunneling, DNS leak protection, and military-grade encryption as standard, your data will remain secure, and the no-logging policy guarantees your anonymity in any situation. And, Express’s stellar 24/7 live chat support will help if something goes wrong. Even if you’re not interested in all that technical stuff, Express is perfect for beginners and experts alike. You can change the settings if you want, but you can also get started with just one click.
Feel like watching US Netflix when you are abroad? ExpressVPN can arrange that for you – plus any other regional library you might be interested in. It will also fix you up in Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Go, Sky Go, and Disney+ – but be aware that at the moment, it’s having trouble accessing BBC iPlayer. However, these things can change quickly in the VPN, so keep an eye on this space for any developments.
We can go on for pages singing Express’s praise, but all we have to say is that it is the best VPN service available for virtually any purpose. However, if you’re not sure, the 30-day money-back guarantee gives you enough time to test it so you can make sure it’s right for you. If that’s not the case, you can get your money back – without asking questions. For now, this is the best VPN service that you can buy.
The world’s most famous VPN is also among the best.
If you are on this page, you probably know about NordVPN – and yes, the security giant you’ve seen on TV is one of the best VPN services out there. Although it doesn’t quite match ExpressVPN in terms of all-round excellence, it’s hot in its heels and offers an incredibly secure, privacy-focused experience.
You’ll be covered by military-grade encryption in addition to all the usual extra features we’ve come to expect, such as a kill switch and a choice of protocols to let you choose whether you want extra speed or security. You’ll also have a large selection of apps for virtually any device you want to cover. These apps have one of Nord’s drawbacks – on the desktop and larger screens, the map-based interface is very convenient, but on handheld devices, it’s much more cumbersome than a list of servers. While you can access it with a swipe, we want to see one right away.
However, this is a small hitch because otherwise, NordVPN offers a great experience. You will be able to stream Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more overseas, plus the excellent connection speeds won’t let you buff up.
Nord was subjected to a well-publicized data breach in 2018 but has taken significant steps to remedy this, not least a second full independent audit in two years of its internals and no-logs policy. All this comes together to create an excellent VPN service that only comes first because of a few problems with the app – and the fact that the competition is so intense. Read more in our NordVPN Review.
Fast, affordable, and super simple to use
For those on a budget, Surfshark offers a truly powerful VPN for less than half of what some competitors charge. No, you don’t have every bell and whistle, but for those who want reliable Internet security and speeds good enough to stream with, it has everything you need. While not incredibly deep, Surfshark’s apps look great and are easy to use. All you have to do is tap the shortcut button, and you’re done. You can also get apps for various devices, including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux.
For that matter, Surfshark secures every device you own because it offers unlimited simultaneous connections with a single subscription. That means you can connect 10, 20, even 50 devices with one subscription. Surfshark is not an issue in the privacy department, with a kill switch, split tunneling, and AES-256 encryption. If you want a serious, powerful configuration in your VPN, it probably isn’t for you, but it keeps you safe – it wouldn’t be on this list if it weren’t.
Value is what makes Surfshark the best VPN service. Right now, signing up for a 24-month plan will give you an extra three for free, which works out at just $2.21 a month – and you can cover everything you own with a plan. Check out more in our Surfshark VPN review.
Incredible speeds and excellent clients
While it is probably best known for its free VPN, Hotspot Shield offers a fully paid VPN that is surprisingly impressive. It offers breakneck VPN speeds available at a fair price, and it’s also reasonably easy to use. While those maximum speeds come with a few drawbacks – namely that Hotspot’s proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol cannot be manually set up on routers such as OpenVPN – the service has improved since we last tested it and has now become one of our most recommended VPNs.
Improvements include a Linux app, a tasty annual plan pricing, and an increase in the number of countries covered (to over 80, now). You will also get several freebies – 1Password is the best.
There are still a few logging problems, but they are not significant if we are honest. Although more data is collected than with ExpressVPN, for instance, there is still nothing here that you can link to your activity – and that is a compromise that many people will be willing to make for speeds over 400Mbps. So, if you seriously want to stream fast in just about any service, or if you’re going to download torrents as quickly as possible in safety, Hotspot Shield is the best VPN service for you. Read more in our Hotspot Shield VPN review.
Loads of servers for an excellent price
CyberGhost has a feature-loaded, easy-to-use interface, with convenient buttons in the Windows client software for streaming media, torrenting files, protecting your Wi-Fi transmissions, and bypassing censorship.
Those streaming and torrenting functions are handy because it is the trial-and-error of testing individual servers to see if they work with Netflix and the like (although iPlayer is still a problem). While ExpressVPNs always seem to work, individual servers from many other providers can drop Netflix support if detected, so CyberGhost makes it super easy to get streaming. At that point, there are over 6,100 CyberGhost servers in about 90 countries worldwide, so there’s always a large selection to choose from.
CyberGhost is also transparent about its corporate structure and places photos and biographies on everyone’s website, from the CEO to the cleaning lady. Privacy enthusiasts will love that the company is based in Romania rather than in the US. Moreover, you don’t have to enter your real name to sign up – all you need is a working email address, and you can pay in Bitcoin to remain almost anonymous.
Although CyberGhost’s short plans are among the most expensive on the market, the three-year plan has recently dropped to a record high of just $2.25 per month. CyberGhost’s performance doesn’t quite compare to that, and the apps are a bit inconsistent at times, but it’s still the best VPN service that we strongly recommend. Read more in our CyberGhost VPN Review.
Unlimited simultaneous connections from US-based service
Sixth in our current ranking comes to IPVanish – a great VPN service offering over 1,500 servers in over 75 locations and a 24/7 customer service, but a brand new plus is that IPVanish has recently changed its policy to allow unlimited concurrent connections – along with Surfshark, it is one of the few VPNs on this list to offer it.
Those connections can also come in handy, as IPVanish works on many devices, including Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS. The desktop apps offer numerous options that will satisfy the pros, while the simplicity of regular work applies to everyone else as well. The fact that it all works at far above average speeds is a nice bonus.
The aesthetics of the programs are the same on all devices – read: very technical – and while some might appreciate rolling graphics and an interface full of data, for those less interested in all, that might seem a little intimidating. However, it doesn’t have to be, because, as we said, it’s all effortless to use.
However, one of the most significant selling points for VPNs is unblocking streaming content. While IPVanish can give you access to Netflix, unfortunately, it struggles with Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer. If you use them regularly, you might want to look elsewhere. IPVanish is still the best VPN service worth considering – it’s just not an absolute exception in any particular area. Read more about it in our IPVanish VPN Review.
Private Internet Access
Basic cover at a reasonable cost
Private Internet Access (PIA) has been around for some time, and it has a dedicated following of users who appreciate its reliability and commitment to privacy. Recently, PIA has taken a considerable drive to expand its network and has amassed, somewhat under the radar, a vast 17,000+ servers worldwide. That’s more than Express, Nord, Surfshark, and CyberGhost combined.
Admittedly, almost 9,000 of those are in the US alone, and quite a few of the more exotic locations are virtual servers. Still, this expansion has addressed a previous criticism that PIA’s network was limited (and then some).
As you would expect from any decent VPN, it has select apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, and even Linux is part of the line-up. The mobile apps don’t disappoint either and offer great coverage whether you’re at home or on the go. However, while PIA can give you access to Netflix abroad, it struggles with BBC iPlayer. That may not be a significant loss, but for Brits abroad, it can have an impact on your decision.
PIA offers ten simultaneous connections that should be enough to cover your household’s devices on a single plan, and the introduction of WireGuard has boosted speeds. Plus, if you go for the more extended subscription, PIA also offers a lot of value. While the support and unblocking capabilities are not optimal, PIA is the best VPN service if you’re looking for a simple VPN to get you started with a minimum of hassle. Read more in our Private Internet Access VPN review.
Unlimited connections plus the useful free version
Windscribe VPNs probably know best for their excellent free service, giving users 10GB of data per month. Still, it also offers a reasonably priced paid service that delivers unlimited data and lets you connect as many devices at once as you want. Most other VPN services only allow five to ten at a time.
Windscribe is compatible with many platforms – including routers and Amazon Fire and Kodi TV set-top boxes. The service offers a wide variety of connection options, has a broad geographic reach with hundreds of servers, and provides an attractive, albeit minimal, user interface. It is also suitable for watching Netflix overseas and has special ‘Windflix servers’ to make this possible.
The Chrome VPN extension of the service is a striking feature. As one of the best on the market, it offers many features and can be used without installing the desktop client – great for work computers from other devices on which you cannot install the software. However, Windscribe’s network performance wasn’t that impressive, and in our tests, it delivered a slower connection time than its competitors.
You can pay for a Windscribe subscription with bitcoin, you don’t even need to provide an email address, and the service is based in Canada, which can appeal to users wary of U.S. authorities. The only feature missing is a ‘kill switch’ to stop all internet activity if the VPN connection is lost during use. But Windscribe states that the built-in firewall prevents data leakage.
Overall, Windscribe is the best VPN service for those who want to try out a VPN with a free service and then sign up as soon as you know it works. Read our Windscribe VPN review.
Security and streaming prowess make ProtonVPN a contender.
ProtonVPN has been attracting more and more attention lately. It is the right VPN provider with some real pros making it a tempting option. One of the most striking is how effective it is in unblocking the catalogs of TV streaming services abroad. Netflix? No problem. Amazon Prime Video? It’s easy. BBC iPlayer? An evasive motion. So, if your main reason to be here is to find a good streaming VPN, then Proton is a decent fit.
However, streaming support is only available on the Plus plan, which, to be honest, is a bit expensive. In the most extended term (two years), you’ll pay about the same as for ExpressVPN, except that you won’t get live chat support, and you’ll miss more than 2,000 servers worldwide. If you probably need an iPhone VPN or Android VPN, ProtonVPN’s apps are a real pleasure to use. They are as functional and easy to use as desktop clients.
A great option for total VPN newbies and technophobes
For those who have never used a VPN – and maybe a little intimidated by the prospect – TunnelBear could be the best VPN service for them. You can start with a limited free plan (which gives you only 500MB of data per month) or upgrade to a full service that gives you access to more than 1,000 servers in about 20 countries.
However, the simplicity of TunnelBear is also its downfall. Although it’s easy to use, ExpressVPN and most other top providers are, but once you get used to using it, you’ll have the choice to explore in-depth options if you want. But TunnelBear isn’t that lucky, as there is a lack of configuration.
You also have no choice but to use TunnelBear’s client software – unless you are using Linux – which may affect some privacy-sensitive users. There is no option to set up TunnelBear connections on routers or other devices. Finally, this small Canadian company is now owned by U.S. antivirus giant McAfee, which may mean that TunnelBear is subject to U.S. search warrants. But, if you want to set up and forget about a VPN, TunnelBear is the best VPN service for you. Read more in our TunnelBear VPN review.
Great VPN for China, plus no logs
VyprVPN is a useful service that has a lot to offer. Firstly, we would like to draw attention to the watertight no-logging policy, which the government has also audited. This is a good start if you are looking for a VPN to keep your information private. You’ll also get broad device support, as Vypr offers a plethora of apps for virtually any device you can ask for, including QNAP, TVs, and BlackPhone, with additional guides for Blackberry phones, OpenWRT, Boxee, and others. However, with only five simultaneous connections, you may have to choose.
However, if you are looking for a high-speed VPN, VyprVPN might disappoint you a bit. Our tests performed well in the UK, but it didn’t come close to taking advantage of our ultra-fast line in the US. Still, it delivers usable speeds, and if you don’t have top-notch Internet, you’re unlikely to notice the difference. With prices starting at $2.50 a month, VyprVPN looks like a quality service – but it still can’t quite match Surfshark’s $1.99 a month. However, for privacy nuts, Vypr is the best VPN service. Read more in our VyprVPN review.
Strong on streaming and support
StrongVPN is a high-performance VPN, perfect for bypassing regional locks. However, beyond the basics, it offers some unique additional benefits while missing some more obvious others.
A lovely feature is that you can run up to 12 devices simultaneously with StrongVPN, which is more than enough to cover all your devices and still have some leftover. But this is compensated for by a lack of detail in the client, which does not contain any information in the server browser or DNS settings. You have to pay a relatively high price for even an annual subscription compared to competing VPNs.
However, coming up with a bit for that high price is the free 250GB of SugarSync storage (yes, precisely the same as IPVanish, but StrongVPN is cheaper), and since the storage provider is usually quite expensive, this is a good deal. However, StrongVPN has missed a trick here because you don’t see anything about this partnership when visiting the homepage.
You get 24/7 customer support, including a phone line with more limited opening hours, plus decent speeds at almost any server location, which makes it pretty usable. For those looking for secure storage plus a simple, easy VPN, StrongVPN is the best VPN for you. Check out more about it in our StrongVPN review.
This 15-year-old VPN is still alive and kicking.
Started in 2005 by a boy named Jack Cator, HideMyAss (who recently stripped himself of his schoolboy origins by half ensuring its name to HMA) has become a fixture in the VPN industry. With servers in 190 countries, HMA has the broadest network of all VPNs on this list, and with apps for many devices, you’ll have plenty of opportunities here. However, those servers are scattered a bit thin, and we would like to see each location populated with more than just a few.
HMA recently conducted a no-logging audit by VerSprite, which was successful. Although we are not entirely sure of the actual extent of this, the final report is not available for the public to inspect. Still, that’s good news. HMA isn’t perfect for streamers unless you’re just watching Netflix – Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+ all remain blocked – but P2P is allowed, so torrenting is still on the table. Overall, it’s the best VPN service that might be worth watching. Read more in our HideMyAss VPN review.
Antivirus all-star has branched out to VPN.
One of the best antivirus providers, Bitdefender, has launched a stand-alone VPN product. Previously, Bitdefender VPN was bundled with the antivirus package, but now it is available on its own and at a very reasonable price. Built around Hotspot Shield’s Catapult Hydra protocol, Bitdefender VPN offers some exceptionally high speeds, matched only by Hotspot Shield itself, and this is a huge appeal for the VPN. However, this dependency on Hotspot Shield means that Bitdefender does not have much control over its log policy. It is also impossible to manually set it up as a VPN router.
Bitdefender’s app is about as simple as possible – which will be positive or negative depending on what kind of user you are. You’ll get an on/off button, a choice of about thirty server locations, a handy checkbox to use to make sure you’re protected when you start P2P traffic, and a fully functional ‘kill’ switch to protect you from drop-outs.
Although we’d prefer to see a little more configuration available, Bitdefender VPN can be the best VPN service for newcomers or people who want to access Catapult Hydra without paying Hotspot Shield’s premium prices. Read more in our Bitdefender VPN review.
Long plans are incredibly cheap, but there are a couple of bugs.
If you don’t mind signing up for five years, Ivacy is pretty much the cheapest VPN you can pick up. At just $1.41 a month, it’s incredibly inexpensive, but you have to ask yourself: will Ivacy keep up with the competition in five years?
What’s more, Ivacy is a pretty good VPN, and unlike Bitdefender, the apps are full of exciting add-ons. You can filter your servers for the best you can use with a particular streaming provider, save your favorites, choose between several protocols, and the app even claims to scan downloaded files for viruses. You will also get a kill switch and split tunneling.
However, there are a few usability issues that we weren’t very impressed with. The server’s automatic selection didn’t often give us the server we would typically choose, and the Streaming Mode threw up a lot of problems like hidden IP addresses and non-switchable servers. Plus, although we know it’s cheap, we didn’t like getting ads in a commercial product. Read more in our Ivacy VPN review