It's hard to look online these days and not see a mention of a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, somewhere along the way. Over the past few years they have become far more popular, and there are plenty of great reasons that you should be using one daily. Of course, the increased interest means that there are more companies out there as VPN providers, but we've looked through them to find only the best VPN services that you should use.

Best Vpn Hero BlueSource: Android Central

One of the biggest selling points of having a VPN is the encryption that it offers to your connection. Think of how much of your daily life is spent online. Most people do their banking, visit social media sites, send personal emails, and more on public Wi-Fi connections at the airport, local coffee shop, and more without even thinking twice about it. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there looking to intercept that data and use it for malicious purposes, but connecting to a VPN makes that a whole lot harder for them.

Best VPNs

In addition, by connecting to a VPN you can actually change, or "spoof", your location by using servers in different countries. This allows you to avoid geo-restricted content, stream services like Disney+ from anywhere, watch sporting events that aren't broadcasting locally, and so much more.

The hardest part about a VPN is not actually using it, but instead understanding which one to pick for yourself. Nowadays you can find tons of different VPN options, some of which are free and others that are paid. Some of them have data limits, and others cap the number of simultaneous connections, and picking out the best VPN is not an easy task.

Don't worry, though. We've done the hard part and have put various options through their paces so that we could break it down for you. Our top pick, for a number of reasons which are listed below, is ExpressVPN. It provides the best overall balance between price, speed, reliability, ease of use, and customer service.

Now, let's break them down and help you get started on an easy way to protect yourself moving forward.

What is the best VPN service?

When looking at a combination of all the things, we believe that the best VPN service right now is ExpressVPN. Following pretty closely behind it is Surfshark VPN which is one of the easiest VPNs out there to use, and PureVPN which has a huge array of servers in a variety of different countries. Be sure to check out below for a full breakdown of the good, the bad, and the differences between the options we've tested.

ExpressVPN: Our top pick for most users

Expressvpn HeroSource: Shutterstock

  • Number of servers: 3,000+
  • Server Locations: 160
  • Max Supported Devices: 5
  • IP Addresses: 30,000

While it may not be perfect, it offers you excellent speeds, a reliable connection, customer service that's always available, and an app that you will understand how to use.

There is no perfect VPN out there for everyone, but through testing ExpressVPN it was clear that this the best option available for most people. With ExpressVPN you get access to more than 3,000 different servers that are based in 160 different locations spanning 94 countries, and there's no monthly data limit to worry about. In addition to the wide variety of servers and locations, ExpressVPN offers a huge support system for all types of electronics that you'll be using.

It's common for VPN providers to have apps for your PC or Mac, and even your phones and tablets. Where ExpressVPN stands out even further is its custom firmware that is offered for some routers, its DNS content unblocking for a variety of streaming hardware, and its browser extensions that make connecting to access it all such a breeze.

Some of this sounds a bit intimidating, especially if this is the first VPN that you'll ever use. Worry not, though. The software is extremely easy to understand, and couple that with ExpressVPN's stellar customer service and you'll quickly realize there is nothing to worry about. The support agents actually understand the platform and are able to answer questions with actual information, which is surprising to see these days.

On the security side, ExpressVPN offers Industrial-strength encryption, P2P support, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, a no-logging policy, and more.

When it comes to downsides, there's not much to complain about. The service checks a lot of the key boxes for what most VPN users will care about and want, though it does charge a bit of a premium for it. The pricing structure is higher than some of the competition, but using our link you can actually save up to 49% on your first year of service, along with an extra three months free. Remember, ExpressVPN gives you a free 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you don't find it valuable or just can't figure it out, you can always get your money back with ease.

Be sure to read our full ExpressVPN review and get started for yourself below.

Pros:

  • Servers in 160 locations
  • 100 Mbps download speed
  • Great customer support
  • Works with almost every device & browser

Cons:

  • A little more expensive than others

ExpressVPN

This is our top pick for anyone looking to get started with a VPN. It offers a great mix of speed, reliability, outstanding customer service, and affordability. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee, so give it a shot today.

Surfshark VPN

Surfshark HeroSource: Shutterstock

  • Number of servers: 1,000+
  • Server Locations: 60+
  • Max Supported Devices: Unlimited
  • IP Addresses: N/A

There is no limit to the number of devices you can connect at once, and with servers all around the globe it's easy to keep your account safe and still access everything you want to see.

It may have one of the cutest names of all the VPN services, but that doesn't mean it isn't ready to get down to business. Surfshark allows you to use an unlimited number of devices at the same time, which means no disconnecting one to connect another. There are over 1,000 servers spread throughout 60 different locations, giving you plenty of variety of securing your connection.

The company is based in the British Virgin Islands and has all the basic VPN requirements in place, including AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and an extra security measure in place via its Double Hop capabilities.

You'll be able to easily use and navigate the interface of the apps, as the Surfshark team has stripped out all the extras. The wording in the official privacy policy is a bit unclear, but Surfshark maintains that it does not keep any logs nor user histories for any sessions.

It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you enough time to try it out and see if it's the VPN service for you or not.

Pros:

  • Over 1,000 servers available
  • Company based in British Virgin Islands
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Privacy policy wording is vague

Surfshark VPN

You can connect as many devices as your heart desires at the same time and never worry about any of them being logged. Surfshark also offers a 30-day guarantee that you'll like the product, or it will give you your money back.

PureVPN

Purevpn HeroSource: Shutterstock

  • Number of servers: 2,000+
  • Server Locations: 140+
  • Max Supported Devices: 5
  • IP Addresses: 300,000

With an industry-leading 31-day money-back guarantee, PureVPN is a great choice for lots of people. The software is easy to use, and should you experience any issues the company has 24/7/365 customer support available.

These days, odds are you stream a lot of your media via an app or online, and PureVPN is one of the best VPN providers for this. The service works with Android TV, Roku, Kodi, Xbox, PlayStation, and so much more. There's also a router VPN option that lets you use PureVPN on up to five devices that are connected through the router.

PureVPN offers over 300,000 IP addresses and there are more than 2,000 servers that are spread across 140 different locations. Given the variety of locations, PureVPN is able to maintain fast speeds for streaming relatively easily.

There's an automatic kill switch that ends your internet session should the VPN disconnect so you don't have to keep monitoring it in the background which is a plus. It supports up to five simultaneous connections, which is a bit lower than some of the competition.

PureVPN offers round-the-clock customer support 365 days a year, and edges out the competition by offering a 31-day money-back guarantee instead of just 30 days.

Pros:

  • Over 2,000 servers
  • Round-the-clock customer support
  • Tons of shared IP addresses
  • Works with almost every device & browser

Cons:

  • Only works on five devices at once

PureVPN

PureVPN is so confident you'll like its service, that it offers a whole extra day on its money-back guarantee than Express does. Jokes aside, it offers a ton of server options spread wide in different areas, and offers great customer support.

NordVPN

Nordvpn HeroSource: Shutterstock

  • Number of servers: 5,600+
  • Server Locations: 60+
  • Max Supported Devices: 6
  • IP Addresses: N/A

Recent security concerns have bruised the NordVPN name a bit, but it's still a great VPN service that is worth your consideration.

Let's just get this out of the way. A recent bit of news revealed that back in 2018 one of the company's servers was compromised. After investigating it, and the confirmation from Nord, it was understood that it was a single server with limited information being obtained. There's a lot at play here beyond just Nord's involvement, and our pals at TechRadar have a great breakdown, so be sure to check that out.

Now, NordVPN and why it's potentially your next VPN service. The company continually matches or beats all of its competitors in terms of features and speed. There are more than 5,600 servers (see why only one of them being breached seems a bit less impactful now?) in more than 60 countries, and Nord opts to go for 2048-bit encryption instead of 256 that others are using.

Much like others, Nord offers DNS leak protection, a kill switch, apps for all the popular platforms, extensions for your browser, and allows you to connect up to six devices at the same time. There's a built-in feature to allow you to get around geo-restrictions and content blocks with ease.

Aside from the aforementioned data breach, there are a few other quibbles we have with NordVPN as a whole. Finding the server you want to connect to can be a pain since the list is not alphabetized, and trying to navigate some of the menus makes you really wonder who designed some of the software interfaces.

When signing up for NordVPN, you can opt to pay for just a single month of access, or go with a one-year or three-year plan. The cost per month drops significantly as you commit to a longer period of time, with the best pricing being on the three-year plan.

Pros:

  • Nearly 6,000 servers
  • 2048-bit encryption
  • Multiple plan options

Cons:

  • Recent security breach

NordVPN

Despite a recent security blunder, NordVPN has been a favorite VPN provider for quite some time. Odds are you've heard the name, so why not give it a shot today?

Hotspot Shield VPN

Hotspot HeroSource: Shutterstock

  • Number of servers: 2,500+
  • Server Locations: 70+
  • Max Supported Devices: 5
  • IP Addresses: N/A

It's our top pick for free VPNs for several reasons, but Hotspot Shield really shines through on the paid premium side.

Almost every complaint that we have with Hotspot Shield in our best free VPN post is solved by just paying a few bucks for the company's premium offerings. You step right up to unlimited bandwidth and gain full access to all of its 2,500+ servers that are scattered across 70 different locations. You can connect up to 5 devices at the same time still, and you get that wonderful 24/7 support as an added bonus.

Hotspot Shield is completely ad-free, doesn't log any data, and is available on a variety of devices. The company switched from OpenVPN support to its own Catapult Hydra protocol, which means you can't set it up on your router, Chromebook, and a few other places.

While talking about areas that Hotspot Shield is lacking, it's worth noting that there is no Bitcoin support, and the raw speeds that it delivered in testing were lower than many of the other services we tested. Hotspot Shield does offer a free 7-day trial, though, so it's definitely worth giving the service a shot.

Pros:

  • Great customer support
  • Unlimited bandwith each month
  • Over 2,500 servers
  • Great free plan available

Cons:

  • No longer supports OpenVPN protocol

Hotspot Shield VPN

This is our top recommendation for those looking for a free VPN. You do need to enter your credit card number, but the company won't charge you and you can use the service for free beyond the 7-day trial.

CyberGhost VPN

Cyberghost HeroSource: Shutterstock

  • Number of servers: 6,200+
  • Server Locations: 110+
  • Max Supported Devices: 7
  • IP Addresses: N/A

There's a whole lot to like about CyberGhost, but it's ability to easily match you with the right server for accessing geo-restricted content is one of the best parts.

CyberGhost is a company that's based out of Romania and Germany. It has more than 6,200 different servers that span more than 110 locations, which is quite impressive.

Where CyberGhost really excels though is in its interface. The company doesn't make you guess which server to use for certain tasks, it helps you identify them with ease. Select the geo-blocked service that you want from a list, like Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, etc, and then it will show you the best servers to connect to in order to view the content. Once connected to the server, the app will even open a browser window for you so you can start streaming. That's convenience if we've ever seen it.

Additionally, the service can block ads, trackers, and malicious sites. It automatically sends you to the HTTPS version of each site to ensure you are viewing the most secure option you can. On mobile, you can enable data compression to help save you some MBs while on the go.

Thanks to the ease of use, speeds, and reliability it offers, CyberGhost has been able to bring over 10 million users to its service. The pricing is quite competitive, and by signing up for longer-term plans you can help reduce the per-month cost of the service as well. Will you be the company's next subscriber?

Pros:

  • Over 6,200 servers available
  • Based in Romania & Germany
  • Automatic server matching for geo-restricted content unblocking

Cons:

  • Connection speeds are slower than competition

CyberGhost VPN

Despite a recent security blunder, NordVPN has been a favorite VPN provider for quite some time. Odds are you've heard the name, so why not give it a shot today?

IPVanish VPN

Ipvanish HeroSource: Shutterstock

  • Number of servers: 1,300
  • Server Locations: 75
  • Max Supported Devices: 10
  • IP Addresses: 40,000

Real-world testing has proven that IPVanish is a fast and reliable service. The apps are available on a variety of different platforms, and they are all easy to use.

IPVanish is a provider you won't want to rule out. It offers 1,300 servers spread across 75 different locations, allows for up to 10 devices to be connected at the same time, and boasts an impressive 40,000 shared IP addresses.

There are apps for all the popular platforms, including Roku, Fire TV, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows, and more. They aren't bogged down with useless features, and make connecting to the service the fastest and easiest thing to do from within it.

In testing, the servers were always up and running, and the download speeds actually came in above the average. It wasn't all rainbows and sunshine, though. Some of the servers didn't appear to be in the same locations that they were advertised to be (which is a bit frustrating), and there's no easy kill-switch in the iOS version of the app.

Another area where IPVanish excels is customer support. You can get support any time since the company offers 24/7 coverage, and agents are able to be reached right from within the iOS and Android apps. It really doesn't get easier than this.

Pros:

  • Over 40,000 shared IP addresses
  • Great customer support

Cons:

  • Server locations don't match what's said
  • No iOS kill switch

IPVanish VPN

Despite a recent security blunder, NordVPN has been a favorite VPN provider for quite some time. Odds are you've heard the name, so why not give it a shot today?

Private Internet Access VPN

Privateinternetaccess HeroSource: Shutterstock

  • Number of servers: 3,300+
  • Server Locations: 50+
  • Max Supported Devices: 10
  • IP Addresses: N/A

PIA is a U.S.-based VPN provider that gives you an unlimited amount of data to use each month and up to 10 simultaneous connections.

Before sending the data of your session out anywhere, PIA assigns you a new IP address to help hide your online identity. It uses AES 256-bit encryption and has a no traffic logging policy.

There are more than 3,300 servers, which is great, but they are only spread amongst 50 locations, which is lower than most of the competition. Luckily, there are no data limits, though. This means that you're able to keep your sessions connected for everything you do without a worry of running out of data each month.

The apps are easy to use, and once you set them up the first time all you have to do is click a single button to instantly get connected.

Being based in the U.S., PIA does keep some user data on hand, which may be something that turns you off from using the service.

Pros:

  • Easy to use apps
  • No data limits
  • Supports 10 devices at once

Cons:

  • Based in the U.S.

Private Internet Access VPN

Despite a recent security blunder, NordVPN has been a favorite VPN provider for quite some time. Odds are you've heard the name, so why not give it a shot today?

TunnelBear VPN

Tunnelbear HeroSource: Shutterstock

  • Number of servers: 1,000
  • Server Locations: 20+
  • Max Supported Devices: 5
  • IP Addresses: N/A

This Canadian-based company injects a little bit of bear-related humor in its VPN, but focuses on simplicity and privacy (both of which it nails).

TunnelBear may not be the best option of this list for those looking for granular control over where they are connecting or how their VPN is operating. The company goes for a much more simplistic approach, which works for most people in all honesty. The interface is very clean and easy to understand, and the apps are available on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and there are even a few browser extensions.

The focus on simplicity goes beyond just the app, though. There are only 20 server locations, which is a good bit less than many of the others are offering. That's not a huge concern, though something to note if you're looking to connect to specific locations.

On the privacy front, which is what most people are using a VPN for, TunnelBear scores some extra points for its hiring of independent specialists to run a security audit on its servers. This is something no one else is doing, and we wish that more companies would follow suit and do the same.

Pros:

  • App is super simple to use
  • Uses independent specialists to conduct audits
  • Apps available for major platforms

Cons:

  • Limited server locations

TunnelBear VPN

The data limit is low, but if you are just lookint to test the water or use it infrequently, TunnelBear is a great choice to consider.

ProtonVPN

Protonvpn HeroSource: Shutterstock

  • Number of servers: 700
  • Server Locations: 44
  • Max Supported Devices: Unlimited
  • IP Addresses: N/A

From the makers of ProtonMail comes another security-focused VPN that has a lot of attractive selling points.

Proton may not offer the most servers, or have them spread out in the most locations, but if there is one thing that the company knows it's privacy and security. ProtonVPN is designed to ensure that no one can eavesdrop on your connection, and it does so by routing your connection through fully encrypted tunnels.

The company is based in Switzerland, which means that it benefits from additional strong legal protection. Switzerland offers some of the world's strongest privacy laws, and remains outside of the EU and U.S. jurisdiction, meaning that it can't be coerced into spying on any users.

There are strong no-logging policies, DNS leak protection, a kill-switch, and it can be used as an always-on VPN that automatically reconnects to a server should the connection be interrupted at any point. All of the servers have a minimum speed of 1 Gbps, and many of them actually use a 10 Gbps connection.

Before you get started with the paid service, you can always try ProtonVPN out for free. It is worth noting that the company does prioritize paid users during peak times, so on a free plan you may notice slower speeds when more people are online.

Whether you end up wanting a free or paid plan, Proton is definitely a VPN provider worth considering.

Pros:

  • Based in Switzerland
  • Many servers utilize 10 Gbps connections
  • Has great free plan with unlimited bandwith

Cons:

  • Free plan users are deprioritized during peak hours

ProtonVPN Free

From the creators of the secure and encrypted ProtonMail comes ProtonVPN. There are no data limits here, but free users are deprioritized in favor of paid ones during peak usage times.

Windscribe VPN

Windscribe HeroSource: Shutterstock

  • Number of servers: 400+
  • Server Locations: 60+
  • Max Supported Devices: Unlimited
  • IP Addresses: N/A

Another one of our favorite free VPNs is also a great paid option. There are a lot of key features available here and the pricing is pretty affordable each month.

We featured Windscribe on our best free VPNs post as well because of the unique approach it takes to data allotment. With the paid plans, however, you get an unlimited amount of data to use each month and can connect an unlimited number of devices at the same time. It has more than 400 different servers that span across 60 different locations, which is about average.

There are clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and extensions for all the popular browsers. You can manually set up Windscribe on your router, Kodi, and more with a little extra effort.

Unfortunately, Windscribe speeds can be a little bit slow (due to the low overall server count, likely), and there is no 24/7 support which means that you may have to wait a bit to get any issues you encounter resolved. It may not be the fastest, or offer the most options, but Windscribe is definitely worth considering. You'd be best off to check out the free plan for a month first, and then upgrade based on your needs.

Pros:

  • Free plan offers generous data bucket
  • Supports unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Apps for all major platforms

Cons:

  • Speeds can be a little slow
  • No 24/7 support

Windscribe VPN

You can add to the healthy 10GB data allotment by tweeting your love for the Windscribe service and inviting friends. It's a great way to bring even more data to your free pool.

What about the rest?

There are hundreds, if not thousands of other VPN providers. We've worked with our pals at TechRadar to test as many of them as possible and come up with a list of just the best. It seems like a new VPN provider pops up each week, and some of them make some pretty crazy promises.

We'd recommend sticking to one of the options mentioned here when you get started with a VPN.


What is a VPN even?

A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. The idea behind it is to add an extra layer of security to whatever network you are trying to connect to, including both broadband and internet hotspots. It allows you to send a receive data privately while connecting to a public network.

Once connected, your traffic is routed through a "tunnel" which encrypts the data so that outside eyes can't monitor it.

In addition to adding security, you can use a VPN to "spoof" your location by connecting to a server that's based in a different location. This means you'd be able to bypass some geo-restrictions, and view content that you may not have been able to otherwise.

How do VPNs work?

It may seem like a VPN is super complicated, and beyond what you would need / understand, but that's not the case. It's designed to make the internet a bit safer, and it takes your standard web traffic and routes it through secure pathways (referred to as tunnels) and encrypts it so that others can't see what you're doing.

The way it works is that the VPN provider takes your traffic and reroutes it through one of its own servers before landing you on the destination page.

Instead of going from Your Device to the website, a VPN adds a middle step. Now the pathway actually looks goes from Your Device to Secure VPN servers then ends up at the website.

All of this is done in the background once you are connected to the service and a server. One of the coolest parts is that you can be sitting in an airport in New York and connect to a server in Europe, without having to move.

Do I really need a VPN?

We can't really answer this for you, but we'd say that yes, everyone can benefit from a VPN. So much of our day to day activity is done online. Think about how many times you've accessed bank information from a public network, or logged into your most personal accounts from the airport. All of it is unprotected, and in the hands of the wrong people it could be bad for you.

In most cases, a VPN is a nominal cost each month, and there are even some free options that are definitely worth considering. For the price of a cup of coffee, or a fast food lunch, you could add protection to all your browsing sessions for the whole month. It's a pretty great trade off, honestly.

What can I use a VPN service for?

There are many use cases for having a VPN, though two main ones stick out. Most people will use a VPN to secure their traffic, especially when connecting to public and open Wi-Fi. This is becoming a more popular requirement in the business world where people are constantly traveling. Many companies require the use of a VPN in order to access the company's intranet and services.

Alternatively, many will use a VPN to be able to connect to a server in a different location to access content that may be regionally blocked. This is known as "spoofing" your location, and it allows you to do things like watch Netflix, Disney+, and more from anywhere even if it isn't officially supported where you live.

There are plenty of other uses for VPN services as well.

Is a paid VPN better than a free VPN?

Many VPN companies these days offer both free and paid VPN options, but when you opt for the free one you make some sacrifices. Most of the time, the free versions allow for less devices to be connected at the same time, and the data allotments for each month are often substantially less.

Some services, like ProtonVPN offer unlimited data but will offer better speeds to paying customers during peak times. Windscribe allows you to score extra data each month by referring friends and tweeting about the service, so there are definitely ways to live with a free VPN, you just need to be a bit more aware of the limitations.

Upgrading to a paid plan ensures that you see no ads, often times means that there are no data limits, and many companies offer unlimited connections as well.

Any VPN (free or paid) is better than no VPN at the end of the day. Give a free service a shot to see if it works out for you, and if you are happy with it, then maybe you should consider upgrading to a paid option for an even better experience.

What to look for when picking a VPN?

There's a whole lot of information above about different VPN providers, but knowing what's important to look for isn't always easy. We've broken it down into a few easy things that everyone should be focused on when researching different VPN providers.

  • Does the provider have servers in the country you need? Sometimes you are looking to watch specific content, or you only want to be able to connect to local servers, and every single VPN provider operates in different areas. The server count isn't always the biggest factor in determining speed or reliability, so be sure to care more about location.
  • Can you connect everything you want at the same time? Some providers offer only one connection at a time while others offer an unlimited amount. This is critical because you don't want to be worrying about disconnecting one device to protect another. Get one that works for everything you need it to.
  • What is the logging policy? Many providers have a "no-logging" policy, but that doesn't always mean the same thing to each of them. Be sure to read through the Q & A and the privacy policy so that you totally understand what information (if any) is being collected when you use the service, and how it is used.
  • Are you comfortable with the pricing structure? Prices vary from free to $15 per month for some services. The longer you commit to using the service (buying a one or three year plan) the cheaper you can get the per-month rate. It may prove worth spending a little more upfront to keep yourself protected for a longer period of time, for less.

Are VPNs legal?

In most areas of the world, VPNs are perfectly legal. Some countries have put bans in place to restrict VPNs as a whole, and others have limitations on their use cases, though these generally apply to people who live there not travel there.

For the countries that do restrict VPN uses, there's often times some providers that are specifically approved for use there. This means that you may not have as many options, but some are better than none. For example, in China companies have to get Chinese government approval, and those who use unapproved VPNs can be fined heavily.

On the other hand, in the United Arab Emirates, things are far more serious. The fine for using a VPN (any of them) is over half a million dollars and you can be sentenced to jail time.

If you are unsure of the legalities of a VPN where you live, be sure to seek some information from local authorities before getting one installed.


We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:

1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).
2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.

We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.

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