A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) is a handy privacy tool that keeps your devices secure when you're online. VPNs encrypt your data and send it through secure servers, making it much more difficult to decipher. You'll also get a new IP address that'll make it look as though you're in the location of your choice. This comes in handy if you're trying to unblock geo-restricted sites, and the VPN's encryption prevents invasive third parties from keeping tabs on your browsing habits.
Our team at Android Central has spent several years testing and evaluating VPNs and other internet security solutions. We physically test dozens of VPN servers more than once each year and won't recommend one that we ourselves don't feel comfortable using.
Whether you need a VPN for torrenting, streaming TV shows while traveling, or just want to be more secure online, we've rounded up the best providers on the market today to help you find your perfect match. Our guide has helpful information on what to look for in a VPN, how we test VPNs, and answers to commonly asked questions. To get started, here are our top three VPN picks.
1. ExpressVPN: try the best VPN for up to 49% off + 3 months free
ExpressVPN comes in strong with the highest level of security, a bullet-proof no-log policy, 24/7 live chat support, and plenty of international servers to unlock geo-restricted content worldwide.
Admittedly, ExpressVPN isn't as fast as NordVPN or Surfshark, but it's still quick enough for HD streaming and torrenting. Try ExpressVPN for yourself with a 30-day money-back guarantee, and 3 months free if you sign up for a 1-year subscription.
2. NordVPN: try this VPN with antivirus and ad blocking for 66% off
NordVPN is a security-focused service with a handy Double VPN feature, which routes your data through two servers for an added layer of protection. It's also a great pick for unblocking Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime, to name a few.
The NordVPN app is fresh and fun, though the map-based interface can be a little tricky to use—especially for VPN newbies. Put NordVPN to the test with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee, and see how it compares with our other top picks.
3. Surfshark: a beginner-friendly provider that's real value for money
Surfshark consistently impresses us with just how much functionality it packs into its bargain subscriptions. You'll get excellent speeds and unblocking power, in addition to built in ad-blocking.
The VPN isn't as customizable as ExpressVPN, and its online support could use some TLC, but Surfshark is a user-friendly service with value that can't be beat—and even boasts unlimited simultaneous connections you can use to keep a whole household of gadgets secure.
The best VPN services in 2023
Why you can trust Android Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
Check out our shortlist of the best VPNs in the industry today. We'll dig into how each service compares to the competition, recent test results, and all the features we did (and didn't) like.
The best VPN overall
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✔️ You want a VPN that prioritizes privacy: in addition to being jam-packed with tools, ExpressVPN is a no-logs service that undergoes regular audits.
✔️ You need access to global content: you'll find ExpressVPN servers in 160 locations across 94 countries—more than almost any other provider.
✔️ Customer service is key: ExpressVPN's agents are happy to help and available 24/7 via live chat.
❌ You're on a budget: ExpressVPN is undeniably pricey, and you'll be better off with Surfshark if you're looking for a bargain.
❌ You have lots of devices: ExpressVPN only supports eight simultaneous connections—which might not be enough to keep a whole house secure.
🔒 ExpressVPN is our gold standard, thanks to its balanced blend of speed, unblocking power, and awesome apps for just about every device. Put the 30-day money-back guarantee to good use and see why ExpressVPN is our #1 pick.
Read our ExpressVPN review to see how the service came out on top of our rigorous expert testing.
When it comes to being safe, ExpressVPN puts a lot into its apps to ensure your online history isn't traceable, your privacy isn't logged, and your online experience isn't interrupted by lag. We tested it on a lot of different devices and put it under a lot of pressure to make it leak data, even a little bit. But it held fast. What's more, we've been testing VPNs for many years, and ExpressVPN has always put on a great performance. In reality, we weren't expecting anything different this time around.
ExpressVPN uses the highest AES 256-bit encryption level available. This is on the same plane as militaries, governments, and even financial institutions. If by some chance your info is intercepted, it will be impossible to decode. ExpressVPN also takes your physical privacy seriously, too, so it doesn't keep any personal information on file.
▶ Try ExpressVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
This VPN service allows third-party audits of some of its services. Though it isn't as deep, or as frequent as other VPN services, the fact ExpressVPN allows someone else to peek at its service gives us more confidence in its overall security.
ExpressVPN is designed to more than simply shield your identity as you casually browse online. It has tools and features to help you with other important tasks. For example, when you connect to an ExpressVPN server, your device is given a different IP address. This is handy if you travel outside of your home country and need to access important files or apps that may be restricted because you are now on foreign soil. Connecting to a server close to home gets you around these geo-restrictions.
You can use ExpressVPN to tap into tv streaming services when you travel. It isn't the best for Netflix. When we tested it we couldn't always unblock Netflix in either the US or the UK. We were never able to access Netflix Canada. All other regions were okay, and we didn't have issues watching shows on other streaming sites. These include Amazon, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Disney+. You can watch on more than one device, too, because ExpressVPN allows up to five simultaneous connections.
ExpressVPN checks most of the boxes when it comes to overall service. While it isn't perfect (no VPN is), it gets pretty close. However, it does charge a premium price for all its services. In fact, it's one of the most expensive VPN services we reviewed. Plus, it gets more costly as the years go by since it advertised prices are usually for the first year and for new users. Renewals jump up, sometimes, by 49%. You do get a 30-day money-back guarantee if you want to try it out and then change your mind.
|Design||Very clean with everything placed exactly where you'd want it to be||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Auto-connect and intuitive apps, plus a true Chrome VPN||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||Fast enough for most uses, but only slightly above average for a VPN||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Unblocking||Not our top pick for this, especially since it struggles with many Netflix regions||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||Always available through live chat||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Price||One of the most expensive VPN services out there||⭐⭐⭐|
Best VPN with antivirus
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✔️ You want added security: NordVPN double encrypts all data routed through it, plus includes antivirus and ad blockers.
✔️ You need a VPN for streaming: this VPN unblocks everything, everywhere, all the time.
✔️ You want to create a network for torrenting: NordVPN comes standard with Meshnet.
❌ You're new to VPN: this app isn't the easiest to figure out, especially if you're a beginner. Try Surfshark or CyberGhost for an easier experience.
❌ You want a simple interface: the interactive map feature makes it busy and a bit overwhelming for some users.
❌ You need a Chrome VPN: the browser extension is just a proxy.
🔒 NordVPN includes added protections against malware and ad. It's also great for unblocking Netflix in every region, and most other streaming sites.
Check out our NordVPN review to learn more in-depth details of its complete security offerings.
When it comes to security, NordVPN is on par with ExpressVPN. It has had to work to get there and hasn't been on top as long as Express has. But we're seeing a positive trend as NordVPN is more consistent in passing our rigorous security tests. NordVPN does add a few tools that Express doesn't have. Firstly, it sends your data through two servers. This double-encrypts the information to make it twice as hard to decode. This also assigned an IP address that is impossible to trace back to you or your device.
Another tool NordVPN adds to its service is an antivirus. This malware protection tool is limited to online threats, and even more specifically to blocking malicious websites known to harbor threats. These could be malware files or phishing schemes. Both are blocked by NordVPN. This isn't as effective as true antivirus software, but it is a definite start.
▶ Try NordVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN also includes ad blockers. Ad blockers strip websites you visit of advertisements. This helps the page look less cluttered but also cuts down on the risk of a dangerous ad that contains a malicious link.
For unblocking geo-restricted content, NordVPN is one of the best. In fact, it's the best for unblocking all Netflix in all regions. It also lets you watch shows on your Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+ accounts when you're traveling away from home. You don't have to watch on a mobile device or a small laptop screen. NordVPN is compatible with game consoles and streaming devices like Roku, AppleTV, and Amazon Firestick.
We don't recommend using NordVPN's Chrome browser, though. This is a proxy rather than a true VPN client. This means your IP address will change, but it won't encrypt your info. This essentially allows the website you're on to potentially peel back the layers and see where you really are. It can be done if you use the Chrome browser in conjunction with the full NordVPN client. You'll need to be a little tech-savvy to get it to work since the apps already aren't the easiest for new users to figure out.
When signing up for NordVPN, you can opt to pay for just a single month of access or go with a one-year or two-year plan. The cost per month drops significantly as you commit to a longer period of time, with the best pricing being on the two-year plan.
|Design||Fun design, but maybe a bit too busy for some||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||The interactive map is cool, but not every's preference||⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||One of the fastest VPNs we tested||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Unblocking||Unblocks all Netflix regions and so many other streaming sites||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Security and privacy||Every bit as secure as ExpressVPN, plus includes malware protections||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||Friendly, professional, and very helpful||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Price||Good overall value for the level of protection you get||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
Best cheap VPN
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✔️ You want a fast VPN: Surfshark left other VPNs in the dust during our speed tests with a top speed of 960Mbps.
✔️ You travel internationally: this VPN has more than 3,200 servers in an impressive 100 countries.
✔️ You need to save money: Surfshark is cheap without sacrificing service to be the best value.
❌ You want unwavering security: we noticed some intermittent kill switch issues, especially on Windows.
❌ You need quick access to support: it's hard to navigate the online support library when you're in a hurry.
❌ You need a torrenting VPN: though Surfshark can handle torrents, it's not where it focuses its resources. We recommend PIA for this task.
🔒 Surfshark is fast and cheap and has servers in an impressive 100 countries. Just watch out for its kill switch when using it on Windows computers.
Read our Surfshark review to learn more about the kill switch issue and the speed tests we conducted.
Surfshark is the fastest VPN on our list. It topped other VPNs with an impressive 960 Mbps. To put this in perspective, you need 14 Mbps to stream Netflix on a single device, and 45 Mbps to run a VPN without experiencing a slowdown to your internet connection. Surfshark's speed means you can have so many devices connected at the same time, which is good since you get unlimited connections with this VPN.
With this much speed, Surfshark can handle streaming tv services. We tested it out with several streaming sites, and it unblocked everything from Netflix in every region to Amazon and Disney+. It also lets you watch the BBC iPlayer from your UK accounts.
▶ Try Surfshark with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
These speeds are also good for torrenting, also known as P2P transfers. However, Surfshark hasn't put a lot of details into this service, so there are some hiccups getting it to work, and we saw some dips in speed when we tested it.
For international travel, or tapping into geo-restricted content, Surfshark has over travel 3,200 servers in 100 countries. It will be hard to find one in an area you need. There are VPN services with more servers. For example, Private Internet Access has over 20,000 servers worldwide.
Surfshark, like most VPN clients, encrypts your data using the highest level of encryption available. It also has a solid no-log policy. Both of these help keep you both secure and private while using its VPN service. However, when testing Surfshark's overall security, we did notice a glitch with the kill switch on Windows. Usually, the kill switch will turn on when the VPN is compromised. This shields your data from being seen while the VPN connection is reestablished, or your internet connection is severed. We noticed that sometimes the kill switch turned on without notifying us of any VPN issue. Other times it said it was on, but we still detected small leaks. These issues didn't happen all the time, but enough that we feel it important to report on it.
Overall, Surfshark is secure enough and easy to use. Plus, it's the cheapest VPN service on our list, especially if you choose its 2-year plan. You can try it out for 30 days with its money-back guarantee.
|Design||Simple, intuitive, and not at all cluttered||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Great for beginners, everything you need is well placed||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||Faster than any of our preferred VPNs||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Unblocking||Not amazing, but generally reliable||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Security and privacy||Some kill switch issues on Windows, though it isn't a consistent problem||⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||There are a lot of support documents online, but it's a chore to find the one you need||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Price||The best cheap VPN on the market||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
Best Linux VPN
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
✔️ You need a Linux VPN: it has a GUI Linux app, and works on Windows, Mac, and mobile devices, too.
✔️ You want a VPN for torrenting: PIA has torrent-friendly servers, supports port-forwarding, and includes other tools specific for P2P file sharing.
✔️ You need a VPN with proven privacy: this VPN has proven its no-log policy in court, twice.
❌ You need an easy VPN: it's highly configurable with a rather cluttered interface that's overwhelming for even seasoned users.
❌ You want fast connection speeds: though they are fast enough to support browsing, they aren't the best for streaming, gaming, and other high-speed tasks.
❌ You want additional protections: PIA doesn't have the added tools included with NordVPN, like double encryption.
🔒 Private Internet Access is our pick for a Linux VPN, plus it has an impressive 20,000 servers in its network.
Private Internet Access – or PIA as it is more commonly known – is a good choice if you use a Linux computer. While other VPNs are compatible with Linux machines, PIA uses a GUI, or graphical user interface rather than a command line user interface (CLI). Regardless of the device you use this VPN service on, it is highly configurable, which makes it difficult for beginners. If you're new to VPN, we recommend either Surfshark or CyberGhost. Both have easier apps for beginners.
One area PIA excels is in torrenting. It has dedicated servers just for this purpose and adds additional safeguards to ensure your privacy and a secure connection while downloading or sharing files. One tool includes is port forwards. This helps speed up your connections so file transfers happen quicker.
▶ Try Private Internet Access on unlimited devices
Overall speeds are just okay. They are good for general browsing, but compared to other VPN services we tested, Private Internet Access clocked below-average speeds. You can still watch tv streaming services, but it won't be as good compared to using a VPN with faster speeds.
If you need a US VPN, PIS is one of the best. For starters, it has over 20,000 servers worldwide. Many of these are located in popular US cities, so you can tap into North American content even if you're overseas. This includes tv streaming services. We checked to see which services PIA is able to unblock. For US content, it did well. We could watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney+. It struggled a bit with other Netflix regions, and popular channels located in the UK and Australia.
For technical support, you're directed first to the Private Internet Access online support library. There are some good articles there that can help, but not everything is clear or easy to find. You can reach out via live chat to an agent for more personalized assistance. We've found that wait times are about 1-2 minutes and answers are helpful and clear to follow.
|Design||A bit overwhelming and not easy to locate tools||⭐⭐⭐|
|Ease of use||Not easy for beginners because of all the setup and customization||⭐⭐⭐|
|Performance||Lower-than-average connection speeds with both OpenVPN and WireGuard||⭐⭐⭐|
|Unblocking||Unblocks most streaming services, all servers optimized for torrenting||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Security and privacy||Proven security and privacy||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Customer support||Great live chat and email options, online articles can be overwhelming||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐|
|Price||Lots of value for the money if you choose its 2-year plan||⭐⭐⭐⭐|
Best Chromebook VPN
Our expert review: