The Best VPN Providers of 2020

A top VPN should have excellent connections, robust security & privacy features, and straightforward usability.

A virtual private network (VPN) helps you stay safe when online, and it keeps your internet activity and personal details away from prying eyes. With a good VPN, you can seal all loopholes and safeguard your security and privacy. The best VPN providers will also allow you to get around geo-restrictions and access the freshest content on sites like BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and YouTube Red as well as view foreign Netflix catalogues.

However, with hundreds of providers out there, each claiming to offer the best service, picking a VPN service can be a daunting task. To help you out, we went ahead and tested numerous offerings from VPN companies to find the fastest and most secure options available.

In this guide, we take a look at the best VPN service providers in 2020.  

How Do We Test VPNs?

User Privacy

Our picks are all secure VPN providers. But what sets them apart from the rest and each other? You see, they don’t offer the same degree of privacy. We look at the technical specifications of a VPN service. Aspects such as encryption type, authentication method, compatible protocols matter.

Technology is in a state of constant change — and not all VPN providers are willing to keep up. Some stick to the same protocols and encryption methods to save money. Others think it’s not that important to maintain their customers.

Support and Leak Protection

But here’s the thing: Not all companies state every detail we need. In this case, we have to check the official website. The support section is valuable. It gives a more detailed look at how the service operates. Likewise, we go into live chat to ask the support team about the service.

On the same note, the features we do see need examining. The best VPN service will not rely on other DNS servers. It will invest in its own server. It won’t matter if a website has an IPv or an IPv6 address. A good VPN service will have excellent DNS leak protection for both types. Thus, it ensures that your online habits are kept hidden as much as possible.

So how do we test VPNs with regards to the IP address? First, we connect to one of the many locations. The continent doesn’t manner. Also, the server should hide the IP address whether it’s offered to free or paying users. Once connected to the server, we check the address through websites like Browser Leaks, IPLeak.net, and WhatIsMyIPAddress.com.

Kill Switch and Mobile Variants

Every user needs a VPN service with a kill switch. Simply put, this feature cancels internet access once it notices your VPN connection is in trouble. This stops anyone from tracking your Internet activities and your real IP address.

Still, kill switches vary among secure VPN providers. We determine if the feature works on multiple platforms. This is necessary because people today use many devices for work and play. Smartphones and laptops alike would benefit from a kill switch. On a related note, this means we have to conduct separate checks on mobile and desktop versions of the same VPN service.

Checking the Kill Switch

The kill switch needs to work as fast as possible. Once you’re no longer connected to a VPN, you should lose internet access. Thus, determining which VPN service is better depends on the time it takes for their kill switch to work. And if it does work, we have to verify if the real IP address was exposed or not.

There are many complex ways to test this feature. But even the Task Manager proves valuable enough. In particular, we open it and then find the active VPN app. We stop this process. Then, we check our internet connection. Does it stop abruptly or did it take several seconds?

Furthermore, users should have the freedom to customize the kill switch. Companies that uphold private internet access often have a dialog box for it. This way, we can see whether it works no matter how we change the settings. Does it work only when we’re connected to a VPN? Some kill switches work as long as you’re logged on to the service but are not using any of the servers.

Malware-Free VPN Services

Many VPN applications are dangerous themselves. In particular, we know that VPN apps available on smartphones and tablets need careful examination. They often promise free VPN at no cost whatsoever. But in reality, these apps will find a way to make money from its free users. They save user data and sell them to interested parties, especially to those in the marketing industry.

About one in every three mobile VPN apps on the Android platform have malware. When we download a VPN app or file, we scan them for viruses. One method we like is to upload the file to a website. Sites like VirusTotal, VirSCAN.org, and Jotti allow anyone to upload and scan files with ease. If the VPN file has at least four identified cases of malware, we label it as malicious. If there’s only one identified malware, we don’t discount the possibility of it being a false positive.

 

Here are our choices for the Best VPN:

1. IPVanish

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Editors’ choice 2020

IPVanish is an incredible all-around VPN. The provider has a vast server network with over 40,000 IPs in 60+ countries. They own all of their servers, and they operate without third parties. If you’re looking for the best VPN for streaming, IPVanish is incredibly fast and is an ideal option. The VPN is also arguably the best VPN for Netflix and unblocks many other sites as well.

Privacy & Security

IPVanish provides secure 256-bit AES encryption on each of their 1200-plus servers. The VPN also boasts advanced security features such as IP/DNS leak protection and an automatic internet kill switch. However, the kill switch feature is only available on Windows and MacOS clients. Although IPVanish is based in the US, IPVanish does not retain any activity or connection logs.

Compatibility

IPVanish works with a wide range of devices, and there are apps for Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, Chromebook, Windows Phone, routers, and FireTV. The VPN service supports an industry-best 10 simultaneous connections allowing you to cover all your devices with a single subscription.

Pricing

IPVanish offers three pricing plans. The quarterly and yearly subscriptions are moderately priced and will set you back $4.50 and $3.25 per month, respectively. The monthly pricing plan is a little bit costly at $10, but with the offer now, it goes down to $5.00 per month. All pricing plans are backed by a no-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee.

  • Fast and reliable connections

  • Strong encryption

  • Zero logging

  • Unlimited server switching

  • 10 simultaneous connections

  • 24/7 customer support

  • 30-day money-back guarantee

2. ExpressVPN

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ExpressVPN is the premium VPN provider on the market. Its network of more than 3,000 servers, and its ultra-fast speeds are a huge plus. The security and privacy is absolutely top-tier. ExpressVPN also bypasses geo-restrictions with ease and has servers in 160 locations across 94 countries in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and the Asia Pacific.

Privacy & Security

Based in the British Virgin Islands, a jurisdiction without data retention laws, ExpressVPN is one of the most secure VPN providers. They neither keep activity logs nor connection logs and you can rest easy knowing your privacy is well protected. Because ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption security, DNS/IPv6 leak protection, and kill switch, we consider it a top VPN for security.

The VPN also comes with the split tunnelling feature that lets you route some of your traffic through their VPN servers while allowing the rest to access to the internet directly. Tunnelling protocols include PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, and OpenVPN with TCP/UDP.

Compatibility

ExpressVPN is compatible with a wide range of platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. The provider has a custom firmware for routers as well as browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Other supported devices include Apple TV, Fire TV, Smart TV, Android TV box, PlayStation, and many more.

Pricing

Price is the only major downside with this otherwise-fantastic VPN. The monthly subscription will set you back a whopping $12.95 per month. However, the yearly and 6-month pricing plans bring the cost down. ExpressVPN currently has a special 49% discount on the annual subscription, and you can get an extra 3 months at $6.67 per month. A 30-day money-back guarantee covers all pricing plans.

  • Ultra-fast speeds

  • No logs policy

  • Powerful encryptions

  • P2P file sharing

  • 24/7 customer support

  • 30 day money-back guarantee

  • Expensive monthly subscription

Tekcompare has scanned and tested this software for malware

All plans are covered by a 30-day money back guarantee

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3. CyberGhost VPN

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CyberGhost VPN’s fast and stable connections have made it a popular choice among VPN users. The provider has over 3600 servers in 60-plus countries across the world. With so many servers available, bypassing censorship and geo-blocks is quite easy. CyberGhost VPN’s servers are optimised for streaming, and you can expect a buffering-free experience.

CyberGhost VPN also supports P2P file sharing and, thanks to the VPN’s robust encryptions, your ISP won’t be able to detect and throttle your torrent traffic.

Privacy & Security

CyberGhost VPN takes online security and privacy seriously. The VPN uses best-in-class tunnelling protocols with 256-bit AES military-grade encryption. Additionally, CyberGhost VPN offers IP/DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch. The provider also maintains a true zero logs policy, and you don’t have to worry about your data being logged and sold to a third party.

Compatibility

CyberGhost VPN has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, routers, Android TV, FireTV and Amazon Firestick. The apps are easy to set up and use, and you can connect up to 7 devices at the same time. Customer support is professional and friendly, and you can reach out to them via live chat.

Pricing

CyberGhost VPN offers a fully-featured 1-day free trial. No credit card is needed, and you can try it without having to worry about being charged seven days later when the trial period is over. The pricing plans are reasonably priced, and you can save 81% on their 3-year plan.

Additional subscription options include a $12.99 monthly subscription, a $3.69/month 2-year plan, and $5.25/month yearly plan. An unrivalled 45-day money-back guarantee covers all CyberGhost VPN subscriptions.

  • Fast server speeds

  • Robust encryptions

  • Zero logs

  • 7 simultaneous connections

  • User-friendly interface

  • Friendly customer support

  • 45 day money-back guarantee

  • 1-day trial for PC

4. Ivacy VPN

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Ivacy VPN knows more about the VPN industry than most competitors. Established in 2007, it pioneered split tunneling, an essential VPN feature these days. Thus, the company balances security with the need to not use a VPN on certain websites or improve performance. But the award-winning service has more to offer in terms of speed, server choices, user privacy, malware protection, and customer support.

Privacy & Security

No matter which of the four protocols (TCP, UDP, L2TP, and IKEV) you pick, your VPN service will always have 256-bit encryption. This is what military and government institutions use to secure their data, so you can have worry-free online sessions. Likewise, Ivacy VPN has IPv6 leak protection, which prevents third parties from tracking your browsing habits.

If you download any file, Ivacy VPN automatically scans it for malware. This is particularly useful if you receive email attachments or files from unknown users. And to maintain user trust, the service doesn’t keep any browsing logs. A kill switch keeps you safe if you unexpectedly lose connection to the VPN.

Compatibility

Ivacy VPN knows how many devices can benefit from a VPN. It’s available on major desktop platforms: Windows, Mac, and Linux OS. Also, Android and iOS users can access the VPN app. If you have Chrome or Firefox, you’ll be glad to know that extensions are available as well. The VPN works on Kodi, Android TV, Amazon Fire Stick, and consoles like Xbox, PS3, and PS4.

Pricing

You’ll find three standard pricing plans: monthly, annual, and biennial. Each plan has two rates, one for five-device multi-login and another for 10-device multi-login. This helps you pay exactly what you need. Monthly payments ($10.95 or $12.95) are quite expensive, but they offer discounted rates for the first billing. Plus, you can save between 24% and $29 if you choose to pay yearly or every two years.

  • No browsing logs policy

  • IPv6 leak protection

  • Various payment options

  • 256-bit encryption

  • 24/7 live support chat

  • 30-day money-back guarantee

  • Limited servers in some regions

5. RUSVPN

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RusVPN is certainly one of the best VPNs you can find in the market. It has a large enough server network with 367 servers in 37 countries across 5 continents. RusVPN Offers good speed and stable connections. It works with all key platforms, offers excellent documentation, and provides robust customer support.

Privacy

The Commonwealth of Dominica is the jurisdiction of RusVPN. This country doesn’t have data-retention laws, therefore, it’s the ideal jurisdiction for a privacy-focused VPN. While RusVPN maintains a temporary connection log, it removes it within a few hours. It doesn’t log any Internet activities of its users. In addition to implementing an effective “no logs” policy, RusVPN collects bare minimum personal information from its users. This VPN provider diligently secures the personal information of its users.

Security

RusVPN is a highly secure VPN. It supports OpenVPN, which is the most secure VPN protocol. It also supports L2TP, another secure VPN protocol. RusVPN protects your sensitive information, thanks to its 2048-bit SSL encryption. It offers additional security through its “kill switch” feature, which blocks your Internet connection if the VPN drops unexpectedly. RusVPN prevents all IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks, which further cements its reputation of being a secure VPN.

Compatibility

RusVPN supports all key platforms. Among desktops, it supports Windows, Mac, and Linux. It supports Android and iOS among mobile platforms. RusVPN offers easy-to-use custom apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, whereas it offers a helpful guide to configure it on Linux. This VPN has browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, moreover, it supports all popular routers.

Pricing

RusVPN is quite reasonably-priced. Its monthly plan costs you $9.99 per month. If you buy its yearly plan, then RusVPN costs $59.88 a year, i.e., $4.99 per month. RusVPN has a 3-years plan where it offers a steep discount. This plan costs $107.64 once in 3 years, which works out to $2.99 per month. RusVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, however, you can’t get a refund if you have used 500 MB.

  • Implements a “no logs” policy

  • Supports secure VPN protocols

  • Compatibility with all key platforms

  • Robust customer support

  • 30-day money-back guarantee

  • Chat support not available 24/7

6. PureVPN

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PureVPN is a well-established VPN, which focuses on privacy, security, user-friendliness, compatibility, and customer support. This VPN has 2,000+ servers in 180+ locations across 140+ countries, and it invests in high-quality infrastructure. It has over 300,000 IP addresses. PureVPN can unblock geo-restricted streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. If you want to access P2P/torrenting sites securely, even then PureVPN is an excellent choice. Its high-quality infrastructure ensures very good speed.

Privacy

PureVPN has implemented an effective “no logs” policy. Independent auditors have certified that PureVPN doesn’t keep any logs, therefore, this VPN protects your privacy. This VPN is subject to the laws of Hong Kong, which is a privacy-friendly jurisdiction. Hong Kong enjoys a significant degree of autonomy, the Internet censorship imposed by China isn’t applicable in this autonomous territory.

Security

PureVPN supports OpenVPN, which is the most secure VPN protocol. This VPN also supports other secure VPN protocols like L2TP/IPSec and IKEv2. PureVPN provides AES-256 encryption, which is military-grade. Its security solutions prevent all IP, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. PureVPN offers a “kill switch”, which blocks the Internet connection if the VPN connection terminates unexpectedly. In addition to this important security feature, PureVPN also offers an ad blocker.

Compatibility

PureVPN works with a wide range of platforms, which include Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and routers. This VPN offers easy-to-use custom apps for all key platforms, which makes it very user-friendly. PureVPN offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. It also supports other platforms like Android TV, Amazon FireStick, Microsoft Surface, Kodi, Boxee Box, Play Station, and Xbox. In addition to providing excellent compatibility and ease of use, PureVPN allows 10 simultaneous connections.

Pricing

PureVPN offers 3 pricing plans, which are as follows:

  • 1 month: You pay $10.95 per month;
  • 6-months: You pay $8.33 per month on an average, however, the billing happens once in 6 months;
  • 1 year: You pay $69.95 per annum, therefore, your monthly average cost is $5.82.

PureVPN provides a trial period of 7 days, and you need to pay $0.99 for that. This VPN provides a 31-days money-back guarantee.

  • Protects privacy by implementing a “no logs” policy

  • Offers robust security features and strong encryption

  • Works with all key platforms

  • Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer

  • Offers excellent customer support including 24x7 live chat support

  • Offers a 31-days money-back guarantee

7. FastestVPN

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FastestVPN has a consistently increasing subscriber count, and we understand why. For one, the Cayman Island-based company knows why people want VPN services: security, privacy, and convenience. If you want privacy from your bandwidth-throttling ISP or access to Netflix US even if you’re on the other side of the world, FastestVPN has you covered.

Privacy & Security

Like other notable VPN services, FastestVPN utilizes industry-leading 256-bit AES encryption. Thus, you can connect to public wifi networks without worry. If speedy computers can’t decrypt the key, then hackers are less likely to succeed. Users can choose among over 350 servers in more than 30 countries. Likewise, there are no limits to server switching, and torrent users should find the P2P servers useful.

You don’t have to doubt FastestVPN when it comes to user privacy. The company follows a strict no-log policy — it doesn’t exploit user data. Plus, you’re safe even if your device gets disconnected from a VPN server without notice. The internet kill switch will stop online traffic until you’ve reconnected to a VPN.

Compatibility

FastestVPN allows 10 simultaneous logins, which is possible thanks to all the compatible devices. The app works on the biggest operating systems: Windows, Apple, Linux, and Android. It’s compatible with Amazon, Kodi, and Roku, and devices like Apple TV, Fire TV, Smart TV, Android TV box, and PlayStation. Lastly, FastestVPN keeps browsing activities secure with extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Pricing

The service costs $10/mo if you choose the monthly plan. The yearly and three-year plans will save you $90 and $320, respectively, but the five-year plan beats them both. It costs just $49.95 and amounts to just $0.83/mo — that saves you $550 compared to the monthly plan. And if you think that’s a steal, then consider their lifetime plan: one-time payment of $80.

  • Competitive pricing plans

  • 10 simultaneous user logins

  • Over 350 servers in 30+ countries

  • 15-day money-back guarantee

  • 24/7 technical support

  • Superb device compatibility with browser extensions

  • Limited payment methods

  • No free trial

8. NordVPN

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NordVPN is a joy to use. The VPN comes with easy-to-use apps and delivers superb performance. Its security is top-notch, and server speeds are excellent. Moreover, the service provider is based in Panama, a country that sits well outside the Five Eyes’ sphere of influence. NordVPN’s powerful encryptions, strict zero logging, and P2P support help make it one of the best all-around VPNs available today.

Privacy & Security

When you’re looking for the best VPN for security and privacy, consider NordVPN. With threats to internet security and online privacy on the rise, NordVPN makes it easy to stay safe. It uses military-grade encryptions, Double VPN, and CyberSec, which blocks ads and malware. Additional security features include DNS leak protection, automatic kill switch, and Onion Over VPN.

Compatibility

NordVPN has apps for Android, iOS, Windows, MacOS, Android TV, Linux, and routers. Browser for Chrome and Firefox are also available. The apps are easy to set up, and customer support is available 24/7 should you run into any issues. A single NordVPN account can cover up to 6 devices at the same time.

Pricing           

NordVPN is great on value. The VPN is reasonably priced and is currently offering a 75% discount on its 3-year plan which you can get at $2.99 per month. Additional pricing plans include a 2-year plan at $3.99 per month, a yearly plan at $6.99 per month, and a monthly plan at $11.95 per month. NordVPN also offers a free trial, allowing you to test their services risk-free for 7 days.

  • Excellent server speeds

  • 256 AES encryption

  • No logs policy

  • 7-day free trial

  • Simple intuitive apps

  • 30-day money-back guarantee

  • Servers speeds can vary

9. HideMy.name

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HideMy.name is a privacy-focused VPN, and it has certainly earned its place among the top VPNs known for providing privacy. You can use this VPN with all kinds of devices, and it offers robust security. HideMy.name offers good speed, thanks to its 112 servers across 77 cities in 43 countries. It’s a highly user-friendly VPN with custom apps for all the key platforms it supports. HideMy.name offers excellent documentation and robust customer support, moreover, it’s priced very competitively.

Privacy

HideMy.name is owned by InCloak Network Ltd., a Belize-based company. Belize isn’t one of the “14 Eyes” countries that conduct mass surveillance, therefore, HideMy.name doesn’t need to comply with any data retention law. Belize is a privacy-friendly country, and HideMy.name utilizes that fact well!
HideMy.name doesn’t log the Internet activities of its VPN users, moreover, it only collects their email addresses. Users don’t need to provide their name and address. HideMy.name provides an access code to users so that they can use its VPN service, and there’s no other registration process. This anonymity, along with a “no logs” policy and a privacy-friendly jurisdiction makes HideMy.name an excellent VPN for privacy-focused Internet users.

Security

HideMy.name has implemented a comprehensive set of security solutions. It supports secure VPN protocols like OpenVPN, L2TP, and IKEv2. This VPN uses AES-256-CBC encryption, which is the strongest encryption in the market. It also uses RSA 2048-bit keys, therefore, you can count on its encryption solution.
HideMy.name offers a “kill switch”, which blocks your Internet connection if the VPN connection drops unexpectedly. It prevents IP leaks. HideMy.name uses Google DNS servers and Cloudflare, however, we believe that it should operate its own DNS servers. We also think that HideMy.name should proactively offer solutions to prevent WebRTC leaks. Overall, we found that HideMy.name is very secure.

Compatibility

HideMy.name supports all key platforms like Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. What’s more, it offers custom apps for each of these platforms, and these apps are very user-friendly. If you want to set up a HideMy.name VPN connection manually on your device, then you can use its excellent guides to do so. This VPN also supports DD-WRT routers, and it offers guides to configure it.
With 5 simultaneous connections, HideMy.name is a very user-friendly VPN. Thanks to its excellent guides, a knowledgable customer support team, and live chat support, HideMy.name offers robust customer support.

Pricing

While the monthly plan of HideMy.name costs $8 per month, you can get attractive discounts if you buy its longer-duration plans. Its 6-months plan costs $4 per month on average, whereas the average monthly cost for the yearly plan is $3. HideMy.name offers even more discounts if you buy its multi-year plans. The monthly average costs of its 2-years, 3-years, and 5-years plans are $2.50, $2.39, and $2, respectively. That’s really competitive!

With so many advantages including a great focus on privacy, we consider HideMy.name as one of the top privacy-focused VPNs.

  • “No logs” policy

  • Secure protocols

  • Robust encryption

  • Compatibility with all key platforms

  • User-friendly custom apps for all platforms it supports

  • Excellent customer support and documentation

  • Bypasses Internet censorship

  • Good Speed

  • 30-day money-back guarantee

  • Can’t unblock streaming services like Netflix consistently.

10. VyprVPN

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VyprVPN is a fast and secure VPN service based in Switzerland. What makes the VPN stand out is the fact that they own and manage all of their 700-plus servers. You’ll be impressed by VyprVPN’s proprietary Chameleon VPN technology which offers excellent geo-unblocking capabilities. With the VPN, you can easily unblock premium sites like Netflix, Hulu, and iPlayer without any hassle. 

Privacy & Security

Security wise, VyprVPN rivals the very best. The VPN uses the powerful 256-bit AES encryption with NAT firewall and perfect forward secrecy. Other security features include Zero-Knowledge DNS and an automatic kill switch. This is one of the best because VyprVPN does NOT keep logs.

Compatibility

VyprVPN offers efficient and easy to use apps, and you can use the VPN on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and smart TVs. VyprVPN also supports QNAP, Anonabox, Blackberry, Blackphone, DD-WRT, and OpenWRT.

Pricing

VyprVPN has some great options when it comes to pricing. They now only have one plan, which you subscribe to in three different options. The monthly subscription is available at $12.95. If you want to save, opt for the annual subscription which costs $3.75 per month. If you want to maximize the discount that you will get, grab the two-year subscription and get VyprVPN at only $2.50 per month.

  • Excellent speeds

  • 256-bit AES encryption

  • No activity logs

  • Reliable customer support

  • Doesn't keep connection logs

  • 30 day money-back guarantee

  • No free trial

11. Private Internet Access

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Anonymity is a big deal for Private Internet Access. Right from the get-go, users have the option to use the service without any logs. You can pay using gift cards if you don’t want to use PayPal or your credit card. This VPN service provider has yet to launch multiple servers in certain regions. Still, its worldwide growth has no signs of stopping anytime soon.

Privacy & Security

Private Internet Access prioritizes user privacy. This a no-log service — and is the only one of its kind in the world. Thus, neither traffic nor request logs are necessary for you to connect to a VPN. Such a feature alone ensures a significant reduction in the information the company could collect from you. The company is US-based. But you can connect to gateways in Japan, Italy, France, India, and other countries.

As one of the most secure VPN providers, Private Internet Access utilizes the Netfilter Project. Simply put, this feature blocks questionable and unknown connections. This works on both computers and mobile devices. No hackers or third-party entities can easily steal your data. This VPN service uses the formidable Blowfish CBC algorithm and the OpenVPN protocol to secure all your online activities.

Compatibility

The service is available to both desktops and portable devices. Windows users should at least have Windows 7 to use it. Likewise, Private Internet Access works with Mac OS X 10.10 and up. As for Linux users, it is compatible with variants such as Arch Linux, Debian 9+, and Ubuntu 16.04. The VPN service also works on Android, iPad, iPhone, and even the iTouch.

Pricing

The full monthly price is $9.95. Currently, it’s down to $6.95. If you prefer to pay for half a year, you can save up to 40 percent and pay just $35.95 for six months. Still, that’s not the best deal here — that goes to the yearly offer. If you choose to pay for all 12 months, you only need $39.95. You’ll save 67 percent compared to if you paid every month. Likewise, there’s a seven-day money-back guarantee.

  • VPN servers in 30 countries

  • Affordable yearly plan

  • Can be used on up to 10 devices

  • No traffic and request logs

  • Anonymous payment methods

  • Extensions for internet browsers

  • Live chat not always available

  • Few servers in some regions like Asia and Oceania

12. Surfshark VPN

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Surfshark isn’t a household name in the VPN industry like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. Still, this service has turned heads with its low price and excellent features. There are no limits to the number of devices you can connect. Besides, you can even secure your smart TV and gaming console with Surfshark. And while its server count is just around 1,040, they are available in over 60 countries.

Privacy & Security

One of its best features is CleanWeb. This is designed to keep your browsing sessions both private and efficient. How? It blocks ads, trackers, and pop-ups from appearing. Thus, you won’t have to spend bandwidth or mobile data to load these intrusive objects. Suspicious websites that may contain malware are banned. Also, Surfshark allows users to pick between OpenVPN and the IKEv2/IPsec protocol.

But here’s where Surfshark sets itself from the competition: It’s perfect for people living in countries that are facing Internet censorship. For one, the NoBorders mode ensures that everyone can use the VPN service even in repressive states. Then there’s the MultiHop feature. This allows you to connect to two countries at the same time — making it difficult for others to track your digital footprint even more.

Compatibility

If you have a laptop or desktop, don’t worry. Surfshark VPN is available not only on macOS and Windows but also on Linux. As for mobile devices, the service is compatible with iOS and Android. But that’s not all: There are dedicated extensions for internet browsers Chrome and Firefox. Surfshark works on FireTV, Apple TV, and other smart TVs. You can play games without worry since it’s also on Xbox and PlayStation.

Pricing

Other notable VPN providers offer a seven-day money-back guarantee. The Surfshark VPN offers 30 days. However, we don’t recommend the monthly rate. It’s priced at $11.95, which is quite high. But if you pay for a full year, the total would be just $71.88 — a 50 percent discount. Yet the most savings come with the 24-month purchase: It’s just $47.76. That amounts to paying only $1.99 a month.

  • Unlimited device connections

  • Double VPN thru MultiHop

  • Option to whitelist apps and sites

  • Doesn’t collect logs

  • Kill Switch

  • Available in restrictive regions

  • Server ping times unavailable

13. Windscribe

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Simplicity and customization are key to the success of Windscribe. This VPN provider utilizes minimalist design so that anyone can benefit from its many features. If you’re using it on your desktop, it will allow you to turn your computer into a secure hotspot. Moreover, it has a flexible plan that can bring down the rate to a mere $1 a month. There’s even ScribeForce for managing multiple VPN accounts for your office.

Privacy & Security

Windscribe servers are available in over 60 countries. This will help you access more geo-restricted sites and find servers with better ping times. And like other secure VPN providers, Windscribe doesn’t take any logs that can reveal your identity. You have full control over which apps use the VPN or not, which is great for accessing banking sites. Users can also avail of static IPs for gaming and site-hosting purposes.

Still, the most intriguing feature of Windscribe is R.O.B.E.R.T. This specialized tool does a ton of work to keep users safe. With it, you can manage blocklists, which group similar items together. There are lists for allowing or blocking all social networks, crypto miners, malware, fake news, and ads and trackers. And any changes to the R.O.B.E.R.T settings work instantly — there’s no need to reconnect to the VPN.

Compatibility

Windscribe is available on Mac, Windows, and Linux computers. The official website states that there’s also an app for iPhone devices — but what about Android? Even though it’s not listed there, you will find the Windscribe VPN app on Google Play. It even has over a million downloads. For browser extensions, you can use Windscribe on Firefox and Chrome.

Pricing

Some VPN providers offer 24-month or even 36-month plans. In contrast, Windscribe sticks to monthly and annual plans. The former costs $9, which is average. If you opt for the yearly plan, you save up to 55 percent. It costs just $49 or about $4.08 each month. But the company also has a so-called Build A Plan. It’s a monthly plan that’s priced according to the number of locations, with each costing just a dollar.

  • The free version has servers in 10 countries

  • Blocks malware and trackers

  • Static IPs

  • Firewall for Windows and Mac versions

  • Matches GPS with chosen proxy location

  • Payment options include Bitcoin and Payment wall

  • A few locations have unstable speeds

What Is A VPN?

You see it mentioned all the time when it comes to cybersecurity. You also know it’s short for “virtual private network” — but what is a VPN? There are many ways to improve one’s understanding of it. For one, we can describe it as an online service. The app will stay on your device offline. However, its main feature won’t work without an Internet connection.

Since it is a service, there is a cost. There are secure VPN providers that are available for free, especially on mobile devices. But these are often limited to a degree. They may have a restricted number of servers or the locations aren’t ideal. So if you want to experience the full benefits of a VPN service, you should go for a paid plan. Typically, companies offer plans on a monthly and yearly basis.

Virtual Private Network

Another way of looking at a VPN is through its name. It is virtual, private, and it’s a network. The service is virtual because it happens online. The secure connection has no physical restrictions. Thanks to its virtual aspect, you can activate a VPN within seconds. It then changes your IP address to hide your geophysical location. In a way, such a digital service improves your level of safety in the real world.

Next, a VPN service upholds user privacy. The service creates a connection that requires authorization and authentication. It’s a deterrent against hackers and other cybercriminals. Simply put, no one can just track which sites or apps you’re visiting on your device. Not even your government or internet service provider (ISP) can infiltrate you.

Moreover, it adds a layer of security to an otherwise risky Internet connection. If you use public wifi, a VPN will make your connection private. And finally, it’s a network because it’s made of up multiple servers. The servers of a single VPN provider can number in the thousands. Likewise, these servers can be located in more than 50 countries around the world.

Devices and Servers

What is a VPN? We know it’s a service. Also, we’ve inspected its three basic terms. So how else do we make the concept clearer? Let’s explain the particular kind of connection it creates. For one, it’s different from the Internet connection you get from your ISP.

Without a VPN, your ISP knows what website you’re browsing. But how? When you open a website, a request is sent from your computer to your router. Then, the router transmits your request to the ISP-owned server. From there, the server reads your request and loads the website. Since the ISP owns the server, it can log your browsing activities.

But with a VPN, you’re connecting your computer to a new server. And this server is unlike the one your ISP has. First, the ISP has no ownership over the VPN server. Second, its location varies from one to the next. One server can be located in your country while another is in Sweden, Singapore, or New Zealand. So when you use the Internet, the VPN connection makes it seem like you’re browsing from these areas.

How Do VPNs Work?

Understanding how VPNs ensure a secure connection over the Internet requires learning about data. First of all, data files aren’t transmitted online as a whole. Every file is converted into a group of packets. Computers then transmit each packet over the Internet. With a VPN service, your computer gets two connections: one to your ISP’ server and one to the VPN provider’s server.

With only the former connection, the packets of data don’t travel through any private connection. But with an encrypted VPN connection, encapsulation happens. Each packet is hidden in another packet. These outer packets keep the data concealed from unauthorized entities as they travel over the Internet. Only when they reach the intended computer destination will the data packets unravel.

So how do VPNs work? They achieve privacy by securing packets of data. Any information you want to send online does not leave until they’re encrypted. Think of VPNs as tunnel builders. These services guide your data from one computer to another through secure pathways over the Internet.

Who Needs A VPN?

At this point, we’ve provided a comprehensive VPN FAQ. But we have yet to assess the intended market for VPN services. Who needs a VPN? Is there a genuine need for secure online connections? How can it help people from all walks of life?

Consumers of Digital Content

Not everyone gets access to the same shows. If you’re in the United States, the movies and series on your Netflix account will vary from someone who watches in Japan or the United Kingdom. Why? It has to do with geo-blocking, which is when content is restricted based on geographical locations. This is the same reason why people outside the US can’t subscribe to Hulu.

But with a VPN, you can change the IP address and pick a server located in your preferred region. This also benefits people who play online games. If they want to play in other regions, they just have to use a VPN. A player from Asia may then be able to enter a once-restricted European or American server. On the same note, a VPN will protect your identity if you decide to download files through torrenting.

People in Regions with Rampant Censorship

As we’ve mentioned earlier, not all countries allow free speech on the Internet. Censorship is apparent in some countries. For example, there’s the Great Firewall of China. This government effort blocks sites like Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Wikipedia. So if you’re on a business trip to China, you may want to get a VPN. Otherwise, you won’t have access to your social media accounts.

But the VPN doesn’t only benefit foreigners. People who live in countries facing internet censorship need VPN technology. It protects them from an ISP that may be throttling their bandwidth speed on certain sites. Also, there are many cases of governments tracking down vocal critics on social media. If citizens want to uphold free speech in the digital realm, they need VPNs.

Anyone Who Values Privacy

Everyone should consider getting a VPN. Whether you’re a college student or an employee, it will prove valuable. It gives you access to any website even if you’re using the university wifi. Likewise, it allows remote office workers to use public wifi connections without risking data security. A VPN ensures their emails and activity on company apps are safeguarded from unauthorized entities.

Hacking, censorship, and identity theft can happen to anyone. If you want to use the Internet without risking your privacy, get a VPN. It’s far from expensive — and the investment is worth it. You’ll have a better time online if you don’t have to worry about your privacy and security.

Best VPN Providers: Choosing the right one for you

What is the best VPN? Below are some of the considerations you should make when selecting the right provider for you.

  • Speed: Speed is arguably the most crucial factor you should consider when picking a VPN service. If a VPN has slow server speeds, it’s not worth your while. You would surely hate to spend on a VPN only to find you’re unable to stream even a standard definition video.
  • Server distribution: How many VPN servers does the provider offer? The more the number of servers, the better. With a vast server network, you’ll have better chances of finding a fast server connection and enjoy easy access to censored and geo-restricted sites. Just make sure the VPN you choose has servers in all your preferred locations.
  • Zero-logging policy: All the data that passes through a VPN’s network can be logged and stored. This includes all your DNS requests and timestamps. If a VPN doesn’t have a zero-logging policy, it can store this information for a prolonged period which compromises your privacy.
  • Device compatibility: If you want your device to be protected, you’ll need a dedicated VPN client for that platform. The best VPNs offer easy-to-use apps for all the major platforms. A VPN app that requires you to become a tech expert isn’t worth the hassle.
  • Traffic restrictions: Some VPNs block torrent/P2P traffic. With such a VPN, you’ll be unable to download files from sites like The Pirate Bay.
  • Customer support: Even with the best VPNs you can run into challenges. When that happens, reliable and professional customer service can be invaluable.

Free vs Paid VPN Services

There are some free VPNs that offer respectable service. However, most free VPNs pale in comparison to paid VPN services. If you are looking for the best VPN for secuity and privacy, you will be better off with a paid provider. You will get powerful encryptions and enjoy a faster and more reliable connection.

Paid VPNs also maintain a Zero logs policy, so you won’t have to worry about the authorities raiding their premises and obtaining your data. By contrast, many free VPNs are known to log user activities and sell the data to advertisers and other third parties. Additionally, free VPNs impose bandwidth limits and are, therefore, unsuitable for streaming and other bandwidth applications.

Then there is the matter of accessing BBC iPlayer and Netflix. While not always guaranteed, you’ll have a better chance of unblocking the sites with a premium VPN service that offers dedicated IPs and actively replaces blacklisted IPs.

Final Word

Ultimately, the best VPN service provider will be the one that matches your needs. If your primary use is streaming Netflix, then you will need a VPN that can reliably unblock the service. Torrenting fans, on the other hand, will need a VPN that accepts P2P traffic. All of the VPN service providers have a 99% guaranteed uptime availability and will ensure uninterrupted connections.

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