A virtual private network (VPN) service can help yous safeguard your identity, location, and activities online. When looking for a VPN yous’ll want to consider your options carefully. For instance, a VPN should keep your internet usage private and secure just not at the expense of also speed. If anonymity is a business organisation, y’all should look for a VPN with clear and transparent data collection policies. The number of available servers and country locations a VPN offers is also important if you are trying to go around region locks. And finally, extra perks aren’t necessary but could sweeten the deal.
Our in-depth VPN reviews embrace all these issues and more, so y’all can cull the best VPN service for your needs. Whether your primary concern is anonymity, streaming your favorite shows from some other country, speeds, or cost, we’ve got picks for each category. Below that y’all tin can notice information about how we test and what to look for when choosing a VPN.
Granted, not everyone wants a full-fledged VPN service—although it should be a priority if online privacy is important to y’all. You might just desire a VPN for occasional use—when you lot’re using public Wi-Fi, for instance. If so, check out our roundups of best free VPNs for Chrome and best gratis VPNs for Windows for our recommendations, and caveats about a gratuitous VPN’south limitations.
Best VPN services
1. ExpressVPN – Best VPN overall
Consistently good speeds
Easy-to-use desktop program
Broad device back up
Logs data transfer amounts
More than expensive than many competitors
It’s hard to select the best overall VPN. Some services are weaker on privacy, but are significantly easier to use with tons of features, while others could stand an interface redesign.
For many years nosotros chose the all-time VPN based purely on privacy, simply that is no longer the sole business organization of near people when choosing a VPN. Privacy is important, to be sure, but so are functioning, extra features, a wide country option, and ease of use. ExpressVPN has it all, making it our top choice for VPNs. ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested, and it has a very easy-to-utilise app. Its servers are all diskless, running everything in RAM—a welcome practice that’s become fairly standard these days. ExpressVPN also has broad device back up, as well as a smart DNS characteristic for set-top boxes, consoles, and more.
It’due south not the cheapest VPN out there, but you exercise go solid value for the price, and the service is regularly bringing in third-party auditors to bolster its privacy credentials.
Read our full ExpressVPN review
2. NordVPN – All-time VPN for features
Enough features to entreatment to power users and novices
If you like ExpressVPN’due south speeds and features, but want something a little different, NordVPN is also an excellent selection. Nord is arguably more feature-filled than ExpressVPN, and the service is but one part of a larger suite of privacy and security focused products. The desktop app is very like shooting fish in a barrel to employ, and offers a lot of unlike features including access to the TOR network over VPN, multi-hop VPNs, and advertizement-tracker and malware blocking.
NordVPN has gone a long way to bolster user trust. After years of not being transparent, the company is now upfront near who’s running the show, it also undergoes third-political party audits, carries out vendor assessments, and uses diskless servers.
Read our total NordVPN review
three. Mullvad – Best VPN for privacy
College level of anonymity possible than with virtually VPN services
Windows desktop is easy to employ
Not guaranteed to piece of work with Netflix
Lacks the extra services that some VPNs offering
No password protection for your account
As Hotspot Shield is to speeds, so Mullvad is to privacy and anonymity. Nosotros’ve never seen another VPN that actively resists knowing who you are the style Mullvad does. Mullvad doesn’t ask for your email address, proper name, or annihilation else. Instead information technology assigns a random business relationship number that acts as your identifier and login. Mullvad accepts payments using standard methods such as credit cards and PayPal, but y’all can besides mail your payment in cash to remain equally private as possible. Mullvad has a no-logging policy and doesn’t collect whatsoever identifying metadata from your usage.
Mullvad is likewise fast, ranking inside our top five for speeds. Though oddly nosotros did find that on Windows, Mullvad’s OpenVPN configuration was actually faster than its Wireguard implementation.
Read our total Mullvad review
4. IVPN – Best VPN for privacy runner-up
Excellent speeds for its U.S., Uk and European servers
Interface is like shooting fish in a barrel to empathise
Default WireGuard protocol connects quickly
It’southward on the expensive side at $100 per year
Server network is nether 100 servers
Coming in behind Mullvad is IVPN. This Gibraltar-based VPN recently moved to dumping email-based identifiers and going with randomly assigned account numbers instead. Like to Mullvad, it accepts a diversity of payment options for privacy including cash, also as the standard credit cards, PayPal, and other options like Bitcoin and Monero. IVPN doesn’t rank as one of our fastest VPNs, but information technology does take acceptable speeds for most coincidental uses.
Another option is
This VPN doesn’t get to the levels that Mullvad and IVPN do, merely information technology does only require a username and password to create an business relationship. OVPN doesn’t require an email address, though yous tin add one every bit a backstop for business relationship recovery should yous forget your countersign. OVPN doesn’t rank in our meridian 10 for speeds, but information technology’southward just outside the top performers at number 12.
Read our full IVPN review
5. Hotspot Shield – Fastest VPN
Large country selection and plenty of servers
Domain visits are recorded, though not tied to you
While our pick for best overall VPN, ExpressVPN, boasts above-boilerplate speeds, Hotspot Shield is on another level. No other service comes close to hitting the speeds we’ve seen with this service. This isn’t but a one-off occurrence either; Hotspot Shield has consistently been at the acme with speeds that are 12 to 15 percent points above the competition. In our tests, Hotspot Shield maintained around 67 percent of the base of operations speed. That’due south substantially faster than you’ll see with nigh VPN services—though your experience may vary.
Notwithstanding, Hotspot Shield has excellent speeds, it’south desktop application is very overnice, and every bit a bonus information technology works with U.S. Netflix.
Read our full Hotspot Shield review
6. AirVPN – All-time VPN for torrents
Detailed real-time information nigh the network
Good pricing with many subscription options
Torrents get a bad rap, and if we’re honest, that’s for good reason. Using torrents is the number one mode to download pirated material including movies, Television set shows, music, and games. But that’s not all there is to torrenting. It’south a very efficient style to download legitimate software such as Linux distributions and authorized content from sites such as BitTorrent Now.
Whatever your reasons, when it comes to torrenting, a VPN makes it easier—especially if the network y’all’re on blocks torrenting. There are many VPNs among our top picks that could be used for downloading torrents, but our preferred choice is AirVPN. This no-frills VPN has a reasonable number of servers and state locations, really good speeds, excellent network transparency, and a focus on user protection. The price is also right at most $58 a year.
Read our total AirVPN review
vii. AVG Secure – Best VPN for novices
Allows an fantabulous 10 simultaneous connections
Does log some data
No real customizability for power users
If you want something that’south all about ease of use so AVG Secure is a good choice. Commencement, it comes from a known and trusted security company, then there are fewer worries about data security than with one of the independent services. The central thing with AVG Secure is that the interface is like shooting fish in a barrel to empathise and utilise. It has a big “Change location” push button to help you select the land you’d like to announced to exist in. The app too tells you what your current IP address is and how long you’ve been continued to the VPN. That’s pretty much information technology. This VPN also works with streaming services and it has P2P servers. 1 matter it doesn’t take is a lot of actress features, which is actually perfect for anyone looking for a no-frills VPN.
Read our full AVG Secure review
viii. Individual Internet Access – Best budget VPN
Adept number of actress features such as multi-hop and split tunneling
Allows for up to x simultaneous connections
App panel locked to lower-right corner of screen
New ownership may give some users suspension
Choosing the best VPN for you tin can often come down to price. When that’s the case it’s hard to shell Private Cyberspace Access. It’s got very skillful speeds and an everyday price of just $twoscore for a total year. It really is hard to beat for that simple reason. This no-frills VPN offers a good server and land count. Plus, avant-garde users can adjust their level of data encryption, data authentication, and handshake protocols.
Read our full Private Internet Access review
9. PersonalVPN – Best U.S.-based VPN
Fast servers in many locations around the globe
Good for ability users and novices
Not a lot of extra or specialized features
Tiered pricing has odd choices for premium features
If you want a VPN based in the good ol’ USA, we recommend WiTopia’s PersonalVPN. The speeds are good, the price is correct, and the app is very easy to use. It’s true that a lot of VPN review sites stress the importance of having a VPN that’s exterior of the so-called Five Eyes countries, which includes the U.S.—some will even say to avoid the Xiv Eyes. The idea being that if you apply a U.S.-based VPN your activities may end upwards being secretly monitored by Western authorities. Snowden revealed such truths dorsum in 2013. Simply if yous’re using a VPN to access your accounts for Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other U.Southward.-based service, then staying outside the Fourteen Eyes is more or less pointless. Sure, that VPN with an exotic locale may be able to hands ignore U.Due south. subpoenas for data, only the American online services you use are some other story. Likewise if an American VPN does you incorrect, it’ll be a lot easier to hold it to account than one based in Singapore, or even Sweden.
What is a VPN?
VPNs create a secure tunnel between your PC and the internet. Y’all connect to a VPN server, which can be located in the United States or a strange land—say, France or Nihon. Your web traffic and then goes through
server to make information technology appear as though you’re browsing from that server’s location, and not from your actual location.
When you’re using a VPN, it’s difficult for others to snoop on your web-browsing action. Only you, the VPN service, and the website you’re visiting will know what you’re up to.
A VPN can be a swell response to a variety of concerns, such equally online privacy, anonymity, greater security on public Wi-Fi, and, of form, spoofing locations.
While a VPN tin can aid privacy and anonymity, I wouldn’t recommend fomenting the next great political revolution by relying solely on a VPN. To get an internet phantom (or every bit close as you can realistically get to one), it takes a lot more than a $5 monthly subscription to a VPN.
Across that, a VPN is an excellent choice for staying secure while using Wi-Fi at the airport or your local café. Hackers sitting on public Wi-Fi can try to hack your PC, simply a VPN makes that task much harder.
Finally, you may want a VPN to spoof your location to download content yous shouldn’t have access to, but this too has limits. A VPN used to be the go-to solution to watch U.South. Netflix overseas. That changed in 2016 when Netflix opened up to almost every state on Earth. Since and so, the company has invested a lot in detecting and blocking VPN users. Even people using a VPN inside their own country will be blocked by Netflix if detected.
At that place are VPNs that tin can fool Netflix, just they are rare and there are no guarantees these services will outsmart Netflix forever.
Beyond Netflix, a VPN tin help to download an Android app that is only available on a strange version of Google Play, or stream content from regionally restricted services such every bit the United kingdom of great britain and northern ireland-bound BBC iPlayer or Disney Plus.
One last note of caution: Practice not rely on your VPN to protect cyberbanking information on an open Wi-Fi connection. Whenever possible, leave online fiscal dealings for home over a difficult-wired connection.
What to look for in a VPN
Earlier anything else, empathize that if you want to use a VPN y’all should exist paying for it. Free VPNs typicall sell your browsing data in aggregated class to researchers and marketers, or give you a paltry corporeality of data transfer every month. Either mode, a basic dominion of pollex is that a free VPN will
protect your privacy in whatever meaningful way.
The next thing to consider is a VPN’s logging policies. In other words, what kind of data is a service collecting about you lot and your VPN activeness, and how long is that data saved?
Privacy is the bones principle of a VPN, and what good is information technology to avoid passive regime surveillance only to take a VPN provider record all your website visits?
Ideally, a VPN will say information technology only keeps logs for the briefest of periods. Some providers, for example, only log activity in RAM during a session or automatically send all records to oblivion in one case they’re created. Other providers may go along records for a few hours, days, weeks, or even months.
VPN policies also vary when it comes to personal data. Some VPNs desire to know very little near you lot, preferring users sign on with a pseudonym and pay with Bitcoin. That’s a little exotic for nigh people, which is why many services also accept PayPal.
Paying this way isn’t ideal for privacy, but it means the VPN doesn’t take your payment information on record—though information technology would be available from PayPal.
After the logging policies, you desire to know how many servers the VPN offers and how many country connections it has. The number of servers provides an idea of how much load a VPN can accept before slowing to a crawl due to overwhelming traffic.
The land connections, meanwhile, matter well-nigh to those who want to spoof their location; however, non-spoofers should also make sure in that location are connections in their abode country. If y’all live in Los Angeles, for example, and want access to American content, and then y’all’ll demand a VPN that provides U.South. connections. It won’t work to try and watch Amazon Prime Video over a Dutch VPN connexion, because every bit far as Amazon’s concerned your calculator would be in the Netherlands.
Some users will too desire to research a VPN provider’s peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing policies. There are VPNs that block torrents. Others plough a bullheaded eye to them, but volition sell yous out in a heartbeat should you exist up to no adept. P2P is not our main focus hither, only we will note in each review whether a detail provider allows file sharing or not.
Finally, how many devices does a VPN support from a single account? In this age of smartphones, tablets, laptops, and PCs, a VPN’s cost should include licensing for at least five devices. Likewise, a provider should have Android and iOS apps to brand information technology easy to connect a smartphone or tablet to the service.
How nosotros tested
We guess VPNs on a diversity of criteria including overall connection speeds, privacy protection, usability of the interface, country choices, server count, and cost.
Speed tests are kept equally simple as possible. We connect to five different global locations for a given VPN—typically North America, Europe, the Uk, Commonwealth of australia, and a wild menu somewhere in Asia–on three dissimilar days at dissimilar times of the twenty-four hour period running the test at each location multiple times.
Before the test begins we check the speed of our base Wi-Fi connection using an online speed test. Then we connect to the VPN’due south servers around the world and run the speed test again. Nosotros then show each result, average them out, and calculate the average every bit a percent of the base speed.
Remember that cyberspace speeds can vary wildly based on location, routers, PCs, time of twenty-four hour period, connexion type, the load on the VPN and speed test servers, and numerous other factors. In other words, our test results will likely differ from yours. For that reason, consider our speed results only as a rough guide for how each VPN performs.
Judging server choices by country is besides kept simple. Nosotros await a VPN to offer a diversity of country connections with a minimum of at least 20.
Privacy and anonymity is judged on the guarantees the companies brand, likewise as its reputation from any news items we’re aware of that may impact the trustworthiness of these claims. We also take a await at the data encryption, authentication, and handshake protocols used.
Finally, for pricing we expect to pay $60 per twelvemonth, and anything over that needs to justify its cost with extra features or unique selling points of some kind.
Other notable VPNs
There are many more than worthwhile VPNs than simply our favorites listed above, including AVG Internet Security, CyberGhost, ESET Security Premium, FastestVPN, Hide.me, HMA Pro 4, OVPN, Trend Micro Maximum Security, Windscribe Pro, Perfect Privacy, PrivateVPN by TrunkSpace Hosting, PureVPN, Speedify x, VPNCity, ClearVPN, Malwarebytes Privacy, TorGuard, VeePN, AceVPN.com, and SurfEasy.
We’ll proceed evaluating new ones and reevaluating services we’ve already tested on a regular ground, so be certain to come dorsum to see what else nosotros’ve put through their paces.
Is it legal to use a VPN?
Yeah! It is perfectly legal in most countries, including the United states of america, to use a VPN. While using a VPN, yous might find some websites that endeavor to block your connectedness, simply this is an private website’s use policy and has nothing to practise with the legality of the VPN itself. I thing to note though, while it’south legal to employ a VPN, some of the activities washed
a VPN might be illegal. Such things as downloading pirated copyrighted content or accessing night web markets are illegal whether you utilize a VPN or not.
Do VPNs protect confronting malware and figurer viruses?
No, a VPN connectedness itself does non protect yous from malware and estimator viruses. It does however encrypt your internet traffic and keep prying eyes from accessing your browsing history.
Some VPN services, such equally Nord VPN, do however provide additional security features such every bit advertizing and malware blockers. Additionally, many antivirus suites at present offer VPN services along with their security features. Although VPNs and antivirus software are used for different purposes, there is all the same a degree of overlap that makes using both tools together benign.
Will a VPN impact my internet speeds?
Most likely you will see a moderate speed decrease to your internet while using a VPN. This is mainly due to the procedure of your net traffic existence rerouted and encrypted through a VPN server earlier heading on to its destination. The amount of latency you will experience through this process is downwardly to what country’s server you choose to proxy your traffic through. If you choose a server located on the other side of the world, and so you lot will notice a much greater hit than if you were to connect to a server nearby in your same country.
Thankfully, most modern VPNs should have the infrastructure to maintain high-speed, secure information transfer rates. And then it’south likely yous can however browse and stream with no noticeable impact while using a reputable VPN like those listed above.
Will a VPN make me bearding online?
Unfortunately, it’south not as simple as just turning on your VPN and disappearing off grid. While VPNs certainly offer meliorate privacy and security, they don’t make you lot completely anonymous. There are a mindbogglingly number of ways that companies track you beyond the internet and a VPN isn’t capable of blocking all of them. For example, when yous sign into a website, your identity is revealed to that website. Or when yous log into your Gmail account while using a VPN, Google can at present collect cookies based on your browsing.
How many servers should my VPN take?
There is no set number of servers that brand i VPN meliorate than another. Even so, most major VPN providers offer between 3,000 to five,000 servers. Besides, we recommend avoiding any paid services whose providers have under 1,000 servers as this may exist an indication that the company is not notwithstanding well established, significant that there is a college hazard for reliability issues.
It is common for VPN providers to advertise the number of servers they have, but this is largely a marketing gimmick and doesn’t mostly equate to the quality of the VPN provider itself. Things such as the spread of server locations and server quality are every bit important, if not more and then, than the number of available servers.
Editor’due south note:
Because online services are often iterative, gaining new features and performance improvements over fourth dimension, our reviews are field of study to change in order to accurately reverberate the current state of the services.
Want to observe the perfect VPN for a specific employ? Check out some of our other best VPN roundups to learn more:
- Best VPN for gaming
- All-time VPN for Amazon Fire Stick
- All-time VPN for streaming Netflix
- Best VPN for torrenting 2022: Superlative picks tested and ranked