The Best VPN Services for 2017

Best VPN Services Android Central 2019

A virtual private network, or VPN, makes it hard for someone to track your online activity by covering your IP address with a virtual invisibility cloak. While a free VPN service is tempting, a paid service is a better option because it's more secure with most using AES 265-bit encryption — the same level of security used by banks and military to protect their digital data — and is less likely to keep logs of your activity. ExpressVPN is one of the fastest and most secure VPN services out there with servers in nearly 100 countries.

Best Overall: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the most popular services with thousands of servers positioned in 160 locations and 94 countries. It's easy to set up, but if you need help, ExpressVPN has 24-hour live support. Hosted in the British Virgin Islands, this VPN service is very secure, using AES 265-bit encryption and never keeping tabs about what you're doing online.

This service has a VPN solution for just about every possible device or browser. It works with PCs, Macs, and Linux computers. There is both an Android and iOS option for cellphones, and browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome if you'd prefer to go that route. ExpressVPN also has a router VPN option that hides every device connected to your internet through your router. Plus, ExpressVPN doesn't cap how many devices can be connected at once, or your monthly bandwidth, so everyone and every device in your home can be cloaked at the same time and all the time.

ExpressVPN isn't the cheapest option costing about $13 per month, though you can get that slashed in half to about $7 per month with a 15-year contract. You do get a 30-day money-back guarantee just in case you decide ExpressVPN isn't the right choice for you.

Pros:

  • Servers in 94 countries
  • No logging
  • Fast
  • Great customer support
  • Works with almost every device and browser

Cons:

  • Not cheap

Best Overall

ExpressVPN

Well hidden, well secured

Connect quickly to one of over 2,000 servers spread out in 160 locations in 94 countries, with military-grade encryption.

Best Value: IPVanish

IPVanish doesn't cost too much while still offering some of the best privacy a VPN can offer. It has 1,300 servers in 75 different locations, plus over 40,000 unique IP addresses. This means you'll show up online from a different location with a different IP address each time you log in. This isn't as much as other VPN services, including our top pick, but it is still a lot of coverage and a good value for the price.

This VPN service doesn't restrict how many times you use it each month and allows you to connect up to 10 devices with your account. However, trying to add more goes against IPVanish's policies and may result in restrictions to your account, or termination of service. You can purchase additional device coverage, however. IPVanish works easily with computers and cellphones running currently supported Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, but it may work with older versions, too. However, that will require a few extra steps, manual setup, and you won't get the guarantees and support IPVanish provides to other operating systems.

Pros:

  • Budget-friendly
  • 40,000 IP addesses
  • Connect up to 10 devices

Cons:

  • Manual set up needed for older devices
  • Strick termination policy

Best Value

IPVanish

Digital protection for less cost

Block 10 of your device locations at once with one of IPVanish's 40,000 unique IP addresses at a bargain price.

Double Encryption: NordVPN

NordVPN has a unique double VPN feature that encrypts your data twice before sending it out, and since it uses the same encryption process as the U.S. military, you can trust it's very secure. This is done by passing your information through two of NordVPN's servers. Based in Panama, NordVPS has over 5,600 servers in 54 countries and lets you decide to use a dedicated IP address each time you log in or be randomly assigned a new one, which makes it harder for ad trackers and other snoops to figure out who and where you are. You can connect multiple devices to your VPN account and have them all logged in and shielded at the same time.

Using NordVPN's double VPN encryption may cause some slowdown since the information is sent through two servers. However, it shouldn't affect you enough to really disrupt your online use. NordVPN does have an automatic kill switch so if for some reason your coverage is dropped, you won't be able to access the web until service resumes, or you tell NordVPN that's you're comfortable accessing the web without being cloaked.

Pros:

  • Dual encryption process
  • Let's you choose how to handle IP address
  • Automatic kill switch

Cons:

  • Causes slowdown

Double Encryption

NordVPN

Encrypt then encrypt again

NordVPN encrypts your outgoing data then encrypts it again to ensure it is extra secure. It also provides a new IP address each time your log in.

User-Friendly: TunnelBear

If you're new to using a VPN, TunnelBear is one of the easiest options to try. It's very basic, automatically installs itself once you click the download button, and is simple to connect to when you're ready to shield your online activities. This VPN service can be used on all your devices, including Android and iOS phones. You can install an easy-to-use the app or install the program within your browser.

TunnelBear uses the strongest encryption process available — AES 265-bit — and is designed to never buffer or throttle, so you won't experience internet slowdown while connected. You get extra protection with TunnelBear stopping targeted ads and other trackers from following your online movements. The Chrome blocker extension is free.

TunnelBear has servers in 22 countries, which isn't as many as other top VPN services, but you can choose where you want your VPN IP address to originate from.

Pros:

  • Easy interface on app and browser
  • Easy to setup
  • No buffering
  • Choose IP address location
  • Well-priced

Cons:

  • Not as many servers as other VPNs
  • No automatic kill

User-Friendly

TunnelBear

Choose your location with ease

This easy-to-use VPN lets you choose where your unique IP address originates from and works on all devices, including cell phones.

Unlimited Bandwidth: Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access hides your online identity by assigning you another IP address when you connect and encrypt all your data, using AES 265-bit encryption, before it is sent out. You can connect 10 devices to the VPN through a single account, and Private Internet Access is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux computers; Android and iOS mobile devices; and has browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

Your bandwidth isn't limited, meaning you won't use up any predetermined time each month and your connection won't ever slow down or stop because of how much you use this VPN service. The interface is easy to use: simply click a button and the program instantly sets up when you download the programs, so you really don't have to do much to start being protected.

Private Internet Access has over 3,000 servers in 32 countries, but its main host city is in the U.S. This isn't as many as other VPN services, but is still enough to keep your online identity shielded.

Pros:

  • Military-grade encryption
  • Multiple device connection
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Connect up to 10 devices
  • Easy setup

Cons:

  • Fewer locations than other services

Unlimited Bandwidth

Private Internet Access

No stopping or slowing

This VPN has unlimited bandwidth so you will never experience a slowdown, buffering, or stop service because you've reached a monthly limit.

Gaming VPN: HideMyAss (HMA)

HideMyAss VPN (HMA) is the best solution if you want to extend your VPN protections to gaming consoles and other smart home devices. This is done through the HMA router VPN package. This product is installed at the router level and automatically covers every device connected to your internet. HMA is compatible with some of the most popular routers, or you can purchase a HideMyAss exclusive router. The number of devices that can be actively using the VPN at once is determined by the router and VPN package your purchase. You do have to buy the HMA VPN in addition to the VPN-friendly router.

If you use this VPN without the router, your device is still assigned another IP address while you're online so it's more difficult to track your online activity. You location, too, is hidden, so it's more difficult to track where you are based on your web movements.

HMA does collect some information on all its users and discloses both which information is retained and how it is used on its website. HideMyAss VPN does promise to never keep tabs on the websites or services you tap into while online or keep a record of your full, true IP address. Another pitfall is while HMA shows you what your monthly subscription charge is, it doesn't allow you to pay each month most other VPN services do. Instead, you're required to pay for a minimum of a full year upfront. You do get a 30-day money back guarantee.

Pros:

  • VPN router
  • Unique IP addresses assigned
  • Compatible with multiple devices

Cons:

  • Records kept on customers
  • Router determines number of devices
  • No month-to-month payment option

Gaming VPN

HideMyAss (HMA)

Route protection to smart devices

HMA provides VPN protection from your internet router so all your smart devices and gaming consoles, plus phones and computers, are always shielded.

Mobile VPN: Hotspot Shield

For protecting yourself while on your cellphone, try the Hotspot Shield VPN app. This program is specifically designed for when you aren't connected to your own home or business internet, but rather a public hotspot. Hotspot Shield works like all other VPNs by assigning a private IP address for your device that isn't easily traced back to you, and by hiding your location by filtering your sent and received information through one of its 3,200 servers in 80 countries.

Hotspot works fast with fast download speeds. It doesn't interfere with gaming, social media, videos, or other fast-paced activities. Plus, it works with Windows and Mac computers. One advantage that Hotspot Shield has over other VPNs is its ability to automatically enable the VPN as you start your device. This takes away the need to always remember to connect to the VPN when you open a web browser.

There aren't a lot of negatives about Hotspot Shield. Some users report that they have trouble connecting with customer service reps when help is needed, and then don't have issues resolved quickly when they can get a hold of someone.

Pros:

  • Secure public Wi-Fi
  • Automatic connection
  • Mobile friendly
  • Works with a lot of devices

Cons:

  • Difficult to get customer assistance

Mobile VPN

Hotspot Shield

On the go security

Public Wi-Fi is more securing using this VPN because it hides your device's IP address and location making it harder for hackers to breakthrough.

VPN w/ Antivirus: Avast Premium Security

Avast Premium Security is one of the top antivirus softwares out there, and it comes with a VPN that's easy to use and will shield your online activity as part of a whole computer protection package. This VPN stops adware from creating targeted ads, and internet trackers from flowing what you do online. Your IP address and location are hidden, just like standalone VPN services, but you get the added benefit of knowing Avast will stop malware files before they have a chance to start downloading. Avast Premium Security also has a password manager to hide and store your login credentials that works alongside the VPN.

This program takes up more of your computer resources because of the size of the program, and you will notice some slowdown. Also, while the price of using this VPN costs under $8 per month — cheaper than most VPN services — you do need to purchase a full year license, which may make the $90 price tag a bit much to hand over. However, the amount of protection you get with Avast Premium Security far exceeds what you get with a standalone VPN program.

Pros:

  • Shields digital identity
  • Includes antivirus
  • Password protection
  • Easy to setup

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Slows devices

VPN w/ Antivirus

Avast Premium Security

Snoops and malware snubbed

Avast's VPN shields your online identity while also blocking malware from downloading and infecting your computer. It also secures passwords.

Bottom line

ExpressVPN is what we call a full-featured VPN. This means it includes several settings and services that go above and beyond simply shielding your online identity. ExpressVPN gives you access to streaming services, videos, websites, and games that are regionally blocked by assigning you an IP address from that region. It also has extra protections for when you are banking or shopping online to ensure your personal, as well as your digital, identity to safely guarded. With L2TP protection even cryptocurrency transactions are secure. ExpressVPN uses military-grade protection, or AES 265-bit encryption, to secure your online data. It has a automatic kill switch that detects if the VPN shield is ever dropped and immediately stops online access blocks your real IP address and location from being seen until you reconnect with the VPN.

There are two reasons why ExpressVPN beats out the competition to be our top pick. First, it has servers in more locations than any other VPN service we reviewed: 94. With this many locations, and with the ability to choose where you'd like your IP address to originate, you don't have to worry about your online activity being traced back to you. The second reason is ExpressVPN is one of the few services that offers router protection. This means you can have your VPN protections deployed from your internet router rather than just on the protected device. Router VPNs let you protects smart devices, like Alexa Echo and Google Home, and gaming consoles that otherwise might not be as secure. Plus, because ExpressVPN doesn't place bandwidth restrictions on you, you don't have to worry about hitting a data cap or your connection dropping or stopping at any time.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

Nicole Johnston writes for multiple Mobile Nations brands, including Android Central, covering primarily internet security and privacy programs. She has over 12 years of research and writing experience in both the public and private sectors, including six years testing and reviewing consumer products and four evaluating antivirus software, parental controls, VPNs and identity theft services.

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