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There are thousands of VPN solutions available for use. The worst part is that each of these solutions claims to be the best in the market. But give no chance to such claims lest you will get confused. The rule of thumb is to do your research. Nailing down the best VPN involves diving deep to find out how each individual tool performs in terms of factors like privacy, security, and speed. It also involves looking at value for money, the ability to bypass geo-restrictions, usability, and many more factors. This guide looks at some of these factors at a glance.
This is a must-have aspect as far as the best VPN service is concerned. The traffic of any VPN user goes through additional servers, which tend to slow down the internet speed. Based on how it works, a VPNs will always decrease your internet speed. However, VPNs differ in terms of the extent to which they can slow down the internet speed. While some tools will impact on your speed significantly, others have a very minimal effect on speed. Thus, the best VPN must belong to the latter. It should allow you to stream, torrent, and browse without buffering. As a bonus, a fast VPN tool makes it possible to overcome throttling caused by internet service providers.
The best VPN service should be able to work in a jurisdiction which tries to block it. Some of the notorious jurisdictions when it comes to online censorship include the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and China. China, for instance, has put in place what is called the Great Firewall of China, which is a hard nut to crack for most VPNs. Any VPN service which bypasses this firewall is one of the best in the business.
Torrenting has lots of fans, even though it is prohibited in some countries. Even if you live in a country where P2P file sharing is allowed and you follow the rules, you need extra protection when torrenting. Just don’t forget that the internet is full of hackers and copyright trolls. To ensure your P2P connection is secure, you need a VPN. The tool will mask your actual IP address and hide all your internet traffic behind an encryption layer, to protect you from any torrenting-related threats. However, some VPNs don’t allow torrenting. Such tools are definitely not the best in the market.
Security and Privacy
These are the most important ingredients on the recipe of the best VPNs. That’s why every VPN service provider offers the best of them (on paper, that is). In reality, however, things could be different. The best VPN service must provide top-notch security and privacy. When looking for the best VPN, go for one with a no-logs policy. A zero-logs VPN service does not share, store, or collect user data. The bad news, however, is that some VPNs claim to have a no-logs policy yet they are not truly zero-logs services. You will want to be extra careful to make sure that you don’t land in the hands of such providers.
Paid Vs Free
Free VPNs have no chance of being the best VPNs. While some people may argue that the right to online privacy does not have to come at a fee, we must face the somewhat harsh reality: VPN service providers are not philanthropists. Rather, they provide services in exchange for money. And you should really be worried when a VPN is advertised as a free service. This is because there is no such thing as free service when it comes to business. So, if you are not paying for any service, you could be the service yourself!
While there are loads of good free VPNs out there, these solutions don’t offer everything that the best paid for VPNs offer. Thus, if you want the best VPN security and privacy features, it is advisable to opt for a paid service – it is that simple. Remember, most paid VPN services offer coupon codes, discount deals, money-back guarantees, and even free trials periods. Taking full advantage of these offerings could mean that you enjoy a premium VPN service for pocket change.
So, what is the best VPN based on the above criteria? Well, to save you the tedious process of having to analyze each individual VPN, this guide puts together top 13 best VPN services in the market. They include ExpressVPN, IPVanish, PureVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost, Hotspot Shield, StrongVPN, Surfshark, TunnelBear, VyprVPN, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, Private Internet Access, and Windscribe. We take a look at them one by one, in no particular order.
If you’re after the best all round tool for unblocking geo-restricted sites, excellent privacy, and fast speed, then ExpressVPN should no doubt be on top of your wish list. The tool offers access to at least 3000 servers located in 94 countries or thereabouts. Its platform support is perhaps the widest in the industry. And we don’t just mean the tool’s native clients for iOS, Linux, Mac, BlackBerry, and Windows; ExpressVPN also offers custom firmware for smart TV and even router users.
All the above functionality sounds intimidating, especially for newbies, right? ExpressVPN understands this, and that’s why the provider goes the extra mile to provide detailed tutorials and guides to get users up and running. For users who may experience trouble with anything, there is a 24/7 live chat to solve their issues asap.
That is not all as the tool continues to tick so many other boxes. Content streaming (Netflix unblocking)? Of course. Torrenting support? Naturally. peer-to-peer file sharing? Yep. Other strengths include a clear zero-logs policy, DNS leak protection, kill switch, and military-grade encryption.
On the downsides, ExpressVPN has a shortage. While it allows for up to five simultaneous connections per one user account, there are tools which offer a far much better number of such connections. Besides, you will pay a premium to use ExpressVPN, and you won’t find anything like a free trial. But if you’re looking for speed, coupled with high-profile security and privacy features, the tool is a great fit. If the tool does not live to your expectations, you can simply activate the 30-day money-back guarantee option.
Whether you’re looking for value for money, fast speed, or quality desktop and mobile clients, NordVPN competes favorably with its opponents in just about every aspect. Users here get to choose from well over 5,600 servers located in at least 60 countries. They also enjoy a strong kill switch, excellent DNS leak protection, 2048-bit encryption, and many more security features. The tool also offers extensions for Firefox and Chrome browsers. Speaking of payment methods, NordVPN supports more than one method, with credit cards, PayPal, and Bitcoin all available.
Getting around geo-restrictions has been made easy thanks to NordVPN’s SmartPlay, a smart DNS-like feature, which makes it easy to unblock sites such as Netflix and stream content as though there was no buffer. The user experience is perhaps where you may have a quibble with NordVPN. But it is just about minor things, such as lack of alphabetical arrangement of destination cities. Speaking of subscription plans, NordVPN offers three options to choose from, including a one-month plan, a 12-month plan, and a 36-month plan. As of 2019, the plans are billed as follows:
It is unsurprising to find that the longest plan is the best deal, especially for long-term VPN users. If you don’t feel like giving the tool a whirl before you can commit your cash, you could pounce on the tool’s money-back guarantee, which runs for 30 days. In terms of simultaneous connections, NordVPN is slightly better than ExpressVPN. The tool supports up to six devices at a go.
While NordVPN was hit hard in 2018 when it was discovered that the tool was in the hands of hackers in 2018, the providers has since bounced back and they seem to be even stronger. While it is essential to remain extra vigilant, nothing should stand in your way if you feel this is the tool for your needs. What was even more encouraging is how effectively and efficiently the provider acted to resolve the situation.
IPVanish is a strong performer in almost every area. Its stats are nothing short of impressive: unlimited peer-to-peer file sharing, over 1,300 severs in over 70 countries, over 40,000 shared IPs, 24/7 customer support, and 10 simultaneous connections. On platform compatibility, the tool offers powerful mobile apps for iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows. Users of Fire TV are also covered in this respect. The apps come staffed with extraordinary features, and the navigation is extra easy.
Still on the positive side, most of the tool’s servers are always up and running, and the speeds are above average. That means you can stream content on US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and many other geo-restricted sites, without experiencing too much buffering. On the negative side, the iOS app does not come with a kill switch, which means iOS device users will definitely be exposed should there be a connection failure. But even so, there isn’t really so much to worry about as they can easily avoid this risk by using any other supported device besides iOS. While there was news of data security breaches at some point in the past, IPVanish seems to have put that to bed. For users who may end up unhappy with the service, there is a money-back guarantee, which runs for a week. While this is a relatively short money-back guarantee period, it is better than nothing.
In a nutshell, IPVanish is a strong VPN solution, which, despite a few minor drawbacks, offers maximum online security and privacy. As we have seen, the tool boasts excellent download speeds, strong configurable apps, and efficient round-the-clock live chat. And there is one more thing that we must mention about this provider: they own and manage their own servers.
CyberGhost is a VPN solution which boasts well over 10 million users thanks to its mix of ease of use and powerful security features – not to mention excellent value for money. It is based in Germany and Romania for a good reason. These jurisdictions allow for a zero-logs policy, which is what VPN users die for. With over 3,700 servers located in 60-plus countries, the provider seems to cover the basics excellently. There are powerful, configurable apps for loads of devices, including Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac. The live chat is speedy, and P2P file sharing is also possible with CyberGhost.
One major highlight that goes without mentioning is CyberGhost’s task-based app interface. The tool does not leave users guessing which server to connect to. For instance, if you want to access a geo-restricted site, such as YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, or Netflix, all you need to do is choose the site you want to unblock and the app will automatically select the best server to get the job done. Now you could describe this as helpful.
The tool has plenty of extras as well. Don’t like ads? CyberGhost has an adblocker, which blocks any ads to ensure you enjoy an interruption-free streaming experience. There are also blockers for malicious sites and trackers, so you don’t have to waste time screening websites before visiting them. You could also choose to activate the data compression settings to reduce costs on your mobile gadget.
However, as with any good service, not everything about CyberGhost is good news. For instance, desktop users, especially newbies, may need to contend with a rather complicated interface. The provider also offers a somewhat stingy free trial for desktop users; it lasts for only 24 hours. Additionally, the tool does not lay claim on the best speeds in the industry. Overall, CyberGhost offers lots of out-of-the-ordinary functionalities and features at a fair price, despite these weaknesses. At the time of writing this guide (2019), its subscription plans are as follows:
On average, the 12-month plan costs $2.75 per month, which means it is the cheapest plan. So, unless you are planning to use the tool short-term, this is the best plan if you want to save your valuable cash.
PureVPN is one of the best services, especially for first-time VPN users. Choose from the list of clearly-defined modes, such as File Sharing and Stream, and the tool will select a suitable server for the activity. You can easily customize the tool from its simple Preferences or Settings menu. Of course, there is nothing to worry about even if you decided to work with the tool’s default settings.
On the subject of privacy, PureVPN comes with an issue. The tool logs connections, which is somehow bad news. However, there is nothing very serious with this given that user activities are not logged. Another negative thing about the tool is its one-week refund period, which looks somewhat dodgy. Despite these cons, PureVPN is still one of the best services. Here is a summary of what the service is good for:
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Looking for a super fast swimmer in the VPN sea? With Surfshark, you’ve got just that. It doesn’t matter the server you are connecting to, whether it is a UK or a US server, you will still enjoy excellent speeds with this VPN solution. By design, the provider is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is located far away from any draconian internet surveillance authorities. For starters, Surfshark has put all the basics in place. These include a kill switch, which prevents traffic leakage in case of a failed connection, and AES-256 encryption, a top-notch security layer which encodes all your traffic before transmission. Protocols here include IKEv2, TCP, and OpenVPN. Still on matters security, Surfshark comes with a double VPN hop, as well as a private DNS leak protection.
We must also mention that Surfshark implements a zero-logs policy, which means the tool does not collect and store your internet traffic. All you will find on the provider’s records are your billing information and email address. So, there is nothing to identify you at all. For those who want to access Netflix from overseas, Surfshark has all it takes to unblock the site without strain.
If you’re that kind of person who gets bamboozled when it comes to using myriad options and complicated menus, then you should definitely consider giving Surfshark a whirl. Its interface is simple and clutter-free. All it presents are “All locations” and “Quick connect” options, coupled with a “Setting” icon. Whether this level of simplicity is a drawback or a boon, well, it is a matter of personal opinion. But the gist here is that Surfshark is easy to use, and this attribute makes it a good fit for new and existing users alike.
One of the most likable things about Surfshark is the unlimited number of simultaneous connections it supports. This makes it ideal for large families, as well as businesses. So, if want to use the tool on your desktop/laptop (Linux, Mac, or Windows), smartphone/tablet (Android or iOS), and Amazon Fire TV, you can connect all these devices to your Surfshark account at ago. If you want to give the tool a try before you can commit to it, there is a 30-day refund period available for you.
The available packages offered by Surfshark include a one-month plan, which costs $11.95; a 12-month plan, which goes for $71.88; and a 27-month plan, which costs $47.79. Costing just $1.77 per month on average, Surfshark’s 27-month plan is obviously the most pocket-friendly, followed by the 12-month plan, which costs $5.99 per month on average.
As the name suggests, StrongVPN is a true heavyweight and one of the best services when it comes to online security and privacy. Of course, you will enjoy the usual array of perks, including no-logs policy and money-back guarantee. Beyond these usual features, the provider implements a minimalistic approach, focusing more on strength than style. And truth be told; while StrongVPN has got its own fair share of weaknesses, the tool does what it can with aplomb, living no stone unturned.
To begin with, we must applaud the provider’s decision to support up to 12 simultaneous connections on a single account. So, if you want to have all your gadgets covered – be it tablet, smartphone, laptop, desktop, or any other device – that is definitely a big number.
StrongVPN has about 650 servers set in at least 46 locations across 26 countries. While the tool still has got a lot of work to do in this respect (considering that it is nowhere near the likes of ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost, and many other competitors), its performance in terms of speed is not any inferior. Sure, StrongVPN is one of those solutions with the most impressive connection speeds.
Looking for one of the best VPN services to unblock a host of steaming sites, including the popular BBC iPlayer and Netflix? StrongVPN is truly a great choice. If you’re a doubting Thomas, you could take advantage of the provider’s 30-day refund period and see things for yourself. Users can choose between the tool’s one-month plan and the 12-month plan. The plans set users back $10 per month and $5.83 per month respectively. Remember, the 12-month plan is billed every 12 months at $69.96. While you will feel the pinch of paying this cash at once, you’ll save almost half of the total amount you would spend on the monthly plan for the same period of time.
When TunnelBear is mentioned, the first thing which comes to mind is ease of use. The tool offers great user experience, as well as a long list of clients for both mobile and desktop users. As you will tell from the simple language used on the provider’s website, it is clear that the TunnelBear implements a simplistic, hassle-free approach to give both newbies and experts easy time. The tool is supported by 1000-plus servers located across 20 or so countries. Offering up to five connections simultaneously, the tool is as good as the likes of ExpressVPN. This is pretty good, especially for a small family.
TunnelBear is based in Canada, which is a no-logs jurisdiction. On top of its zero-logs policy, the tool has plenty of solid security and privacy features on offer. As if to instill confidence in their clientele, the provider trusts independent experts to audit its servers, code, and systems for security. In so doing, TunnelBear surely deserves all the plaudits given that very few providers have the audacity to do such a thing.
Its speeds are not bad either, which means it supports streaming and torrenting. All of its paid plans come with unlimited data. The plans include a one-month plan, which costs $9.99 per month, and a 12-month plan, which sets you back an average of $4.99 per month. The latter is billed once every 12 months, which means you will need to pay $59.88. There is also a free plan, but it comes with a monthly bandwidth limit of 500MB. So, if you’re not planning to download and send myriad tons of files, you could grab this free option. However, don’t forget that free services may cost you a fortune. Use them sparingly.
TunnelBear offers apps for Android, Windows, iOS, and Android. There are also extensions for browsers, such as Firefox, Chrome, and even Opera. The tool has the ability to unblock US Netflix, allowing users to enjoy content on this highly coveted platform.
While KeepSolid VPN Unlimited may not be a perfect tool (and none is perfect), it is one of the best VPNs around. If you can get past its two or so real irritations, you will have a solid VPN solution which you can rely on for your online security and privacy. One of the irritations is that the tool’s basic plans come with a five-device limit. This means that if you connect your Smart TV, two desktops, and two smartphones, there will be no space left for another device, whether the connected devices are on or off. In order to connect other devices, you will need to delete the existing ones from the list. The deletion is not instant, and this may cause inconvenience. The positive thing about this device limit is that you can easily avoid it by opting for a plan which supports more devices. There is also an option to add extra devices at a the cost of $0.99 a month, for each added device.
Once you have the limited device issue sorted, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited will hardly disappoint you in other areas. It runs on Apple TV, Windows phone, Linux, Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android. The fact that it unblocks BBC iPlayer and Netflix also makes the VPN to stand out and get counted as one of the best solutions. It also supports P2P on some of its servers. If you want to enjoy the best performance, you can choose to have a personal server dedicated to you. All customers are entitled to a seven-day trial period, within which they are allowed to use the service without spending a buck.
Private Internet Access is a powerful all-round VPN solution which comes at a fair price. While it may not be a first choice for many users, the tool has more than enough features, which warrant it a place on this shortlist. It is supported by servers in at least 50 locations in 32 countries, with all the servers supporting peer-to-peer file sharing. We must give credit to the provider on this one, given that there are many tools out there with only a part of their servers supporting P2P. Other VPNs don’t support torrenting at all (those are definitely not some of the best though).
Private Internet Access VPN offers clients for loads of platforms, with iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, and Mac all covered. As well as these apps, the tool offers extensions for some of the most popular browsers, including Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. With detailed guides and tutorials for devices such as routers also provided on the provider’s website, it means that the VPN can run on just about anything.
The apps are simply designed to ensure ease of use, with every button correctly placed where one would expect. But they also come with reasonable expert-level extras, as well as plenty of strong security fundamentals. However, there is nothing like a Favorites system in the Android app. Thus, finding popular servers may take slightly longer that you would expect. On a positive note though, the app comes with a kill switch to prevent traffic leakages just in case the VPN drops, and it offers protection against unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
The tool’s browser extensions also surpass many expectations in terms of delivery. They come with a list of privacy extras, including microphone protection, camera protection, cookie cleaning, and Flash blocking. Privacy Internet Access offers two subscription plans to choose from. These include a one-month plan and a 12-month plan, which cost $6.95 and $39.96 respectively. On average, the latter costs $3.33 per month, which means that users on this plan can save more than half of what they would spend on the monthly plan. As a bonus, this VPN allows you to connect to up to 10 devices at once. In this regard, Private Internet Access beats many VPNs on this list.
Looking for unlimited device connections? Windscribe is perhaps best known for that. This is a rare phenomenon as far as VPNs are concerned. But not just that, the tool comes with plenty of extras, which make it one of the best VPN services thus far. With this solution, you get to enjoy apps for Android, Windows, Linus, iOS, and even Mac. On top of these apps, you have extensions for Chrome, Opera, and Firefox. The provider also provides lots of tutorials for manual setups on Kodi, routers, and many more devices.
Does Windscribe support streaming? Yes. In fact, the tool unblocks Netflix and many more streaming sites from abroad. While the speeds may be only average, the tool still delivers great performance. There is a good-size server network spread across over 110 cities around the world. With a zero-logs policy, customers have nothing to worry about their traffic.
You can subscribe to Windscribe in two ways: one-month subscription plan or 12-month subscription plan. On the former, you will part with $9.00 per month, while the latter goes for $48.96. There is also a free plan, but it comes with certain limitations. For instance, you will have to be contented with a 10GB monthly bandwidth limit, and you will gain access to only 10 out of about 110 server locations.
One obvious downside of Windscribe is the lack of 24/7 live chat support. That means it may take a while for your issue to be attended to. While it is a wait-and-see scenario, an improvement in the customer support department would definitely push the provider up the pecking order.
While Hotspot Shield’ free version is a decent option, it is its paid version which earns it a spot on this exclusive list. With just a few dollars, you get to access more than 2,500 servers distributed across 70-plus countries, unlimited bandwidth, round-the-clock customer support, and five simultaneous connections. Of course, the paid version is advert-free, so you will enjoy the internet without any annoying pop-ups. It doesn’t matter where you are located, Hotspot Shield is known to deliver some of the highest speeds in the VPN world, thanks to its own Catapult Hydra protocol. What is even more surprising is how consistent these speeds are. The tool has also been designed with ease of use in mind, and it effectively unblocks Netflix.
Any negatives? Of course, there are. The fact that the provider uses a single protocol, Catapult Hydra, (which is their own) is sort of worrying. This protocol is device choosy and cannot be used on Chromebook, games consoles, or routers. So, unless you have a device which runs Hotspot Shield’s Android, Mac, iOS, or Windows app, you cannot use the tool. Other issues include lack of Bitcoin as one of its payment methods and lack of adequate app configuration options (at least for now – 2019). If you think these drawbacks are not something of a bother to you, then there is probably nothing serious to stop you from giving Hotspot Shield a look. You can use the 7-day trial period to test the tool free of charge.
Based in Switzerland, VyprVPN is one of the best VPN services with at least 70 server locations around the world – not to mention plenty of high-end security features. For instance, the provider has their own Chameleon protocol, as well as a DNS service. The protocol has the potential to access sites even in censorship-notorious jurisdictions, such as Iran and China. VyprVPN’s platform support runs far and wide, with regular Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS apps all covered. The tool can also be configured to work on Anonabox, Blackphone, QNAP, Android TV, routers, and many more devices.
Save for a few server locations, such as the Maldives, Macao, and Taiwan, the download speeds tend to be great, making torrenting and streaming straightforward and smooth. While there have been allegations in the past suggesting that VyprVPN is not a true zero-logs solution, the provider has since moved to turn the situation on its head by allowing external auditors to do their job and confirm that the tool is indeed a stickler to zero-logs policy. With this VPN, you can also access American Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and many more content streaming hubs. As you can see, there is really a lot of good stuff to like about this tool. This makes it a must-have on the best VPN services shortlist.