A VPN, or virtual private network, is essential whether you’re working remotely or just want to keep your personal information hidden from prying eyes. The following is how it works: A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your internet connection, keeping your data safe and your surfing habits are hidden.
As more individuals become aware of the benefits of using a VPN, a plethora of new alternatives appear on the market. However, not all VPN services provide the same level of security, dependability, or speed. Finding the best VPN service to match your needs might be difficult as a result. That’s where my guide to the best VPNs comes in.
What is a VPN?
A commercial virtual private network (VPN) is software that allows you to establish a secure connection over a public network by establishing an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the internet. On your smartphone or computer, you can install a VPN just like any other app or program. A VPN can help you bypass censorship in your home country or access geo-restricted media content from another country, as well as protect your privacy by preventing your internet service provider from snooping on your web browsing. VPNs accomplish this by making it appear as if you’re connecting from another location or country.
Anyone who uses public, unprotected Wi-Fi, such as that found in airports, bars, or coffee shops, will benefit from a VPN. Your VPN protects your sensitive data, such as work projects and bank account login information, from malicious actors who scour public Wi-Fi networks. When you use a VPN to access the internet, your computer communicates with the website via the VPN’s encrypted connection. The VPN will then forward your request to the website and receive the response through its secure connection.
What’s the best free VPN?
None of these are true. Seriously. While there are many good free security and privacy tools available online, VPNs are unfortunately not one of them. Safe VPNs are expensive to operate and maintain, while inexpensive ones are nearly always malware-ridden data snoops. But there’s good news: Right now, the booming VPN industry is so competitive that even the finest VPNs can be had for less than $5 a month. In fact, the cheapest VPN we’ve encountered so far is among our top three VPNs in terms of security and speed. Check through our brief selection of low-cost VPNs to discover one that fits your budget.
- The total number of IP addresses is 30,000.
- There are over 3,000 servers in 160 locations.
- The maximum number of connections that can be made at the same time is five.
- The British Virgin Islands is a country and a jurisdiction in the British Virgin Islands.
- There are over 94 countries in total.
- With a one-year plan, you’ll get three months free plus a free year of Backblaze cloud backup (limited-time offer)
ExpressVPN tells us its network is powered by TrustedServer technology, which ExpressVPN built to ensure that there are never any logs of users’ online activities. In the privacy world, ExpressVPN has a strong track record, having experienced a server seizure by authorities which proved its zero-log policy true at the time. We also like how well-written the VPN’s setup guides are, as well as how thorough the FAQ is.
While ExpressVPN’s speeds regularly compete with the industry’s best, our 2020 speed tests revealed a 52 percent total loss of our usual internet speeds, a substantial decrease compared to its 2019 result of a 2% speed loss.
ExpressVPN, like the other top five VPN services we’ve examined, has a helpful kill-switch function that stops network data from leaking outside of the private VPN tunnel if the VPN connection goes down. Unlike the others, though, ExpressVPN earned points for accepting Bitcoin as a payment method, something not all of our faves do but which offers an extra degree of security to the checkout process.
- Number of servers: 3,200-plus
- Number of server locations: 65
- Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
- $2.49 a month (81% discount) for a two-year plan
While Surfshark’s network is smaller than some, the VPN service makes it up on features and speed. Let’s start off with the biggest win it offers unlimited device support. If you want to run your entire home or office on Surfshark’s VPN, you don’t have to worry about how many devices you have on or connected. It also offers antimalware, ad-blocking, and tracker-blocking as part of its software.
And it’s fast. With more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, we lost less than 17% of the average internet speed during our most recent speed tests. That’s faster than the 27% speed loss we saw in previous tests and pushes it ahead of ExpressVPN to be the current front-runner in our speed comparisons.
When Cure 53, a German security firm, examined Surfshark’s Chrome and Firefox extensions for privacy, it gave them excellent scores (PDF link to complete study), despite the fact that the assessment was commissioned by Surfshark.
Apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Fire TV, and routers are all supported by the firm. Surfshark may be set up for other devices, such as gaming consoles, using DNS settings. We really appreciate the functionality that allows you to whitelist specific applications and websites to circumvent the VPN automatically. This can be crucial for some commercial applications.
The total number of IP addresses is 5,000.
Server count: over 5,200 servers
There are 62 server locations.
Panama is a country and a jurisdiction.
There are 62 nations in the world.
A two-year plan costs $3.67 per month (a 69 percent savings).
In-depth evaluation and hands-on testing of NordVPN (ZDNet)
In the VPN industry, NordVPN is one of the most well-known businesses. It has a large number of simultaneous connections, with six available on its network, compared to virtually all other providers’ five or less. For those searching for a more advanced VPN connection, NordVPN also provides a dedicated IP option. NordVPN has a kill switch and the ability to connect to Tor through VPN. During our examinations, we found no evidence of privacy breaches.
NordVPN’s performance in our most recent speed testing was on par with many of its competitors, lowering our speeds by 53% on average (which is slower than the 32 percent loss measured in previous speed tests). NordVPN’s speeds were consistently fast. There were no unexpected drops in performance or service disruptions, and the VPN performed admirably in areas where we anticipated it to fall short.
The company’s two-year VPN membership package costs $3.67 each month ($99 when paid all at once). The monthly plan ($11.95 per month) is less expensive than most competitors, but the one-year plan ($4.92 per month or $59 overall) is more expensive. It does, however, feature a 30-day money-back guarantee.
While NordVPN has been on this list for a long time, we relegated them to the punishment box in October 2019 after learning that one of its rented servers had been accessed without authorisation in 2018. Following the finding, Nord implemented a number of security assessments, a bug reward program, and increased server security spending.
There are 1,259 servers in 55 countries.
Switzerland is a country and a jurisdiction.
Money-back guarantee for 30 days
Plus Package: $8/month ($96 if paid annually)
In comparison to typical speeds obtained without a VPN, we noticed an impressively modest 9.6% performance reduction when testingProtonVPN. basic speeds blew away the majority of our tested services, putting it in the second position behind ExpressVPN. Proton’s ability to achieve those speeds while having a very modest network of 1,259 servers in 55 countries is even more astounding. Proton, like ExpressVPN, is more expensive than the majority of the VPNs we’ve evaluated.
We like ProtonVPN’s transparency principles, which include the ability to transmit your traffic through a safe bunker of private servers. It’s entirely open-source, with regular audits, and it comes with a built-in route to Tor servers. We’re particularly confident in endorsing its mobile app because it no longer uses some of the poorer security protocols that other VPNs still employ, such as PPTP and L2TP.
We’d like to see ProtonVPN’s pricing drop a little. The Plus plan from ProtonVPN costs $8 per month ($96 if paid annually). That’s more expensive than ExpressVPN, which won an Editors’ Choice Award for its best plan, which costs $6.67 per month for a yearly subscription. NordVPN’s two-year package costs $3.75 per month ($45 per year), whereas Surfshark’s two-year plan costs $2.95 per month ($30 per year). While ProtonVPN does provide a $4 per month plan, it lacks enough essential features to compete with NordVPN.
The number of IP addresses is estimated to be in the 40,000s.
There are almost 1,600 servers in all.
There are more than 75 server sites.
There is no limit to the number of connections that can be made at the same time.
Country/jurisdiction: United States
A one-year subscription costs $5.20 per month (a 57 percent savings).
IPVanish’s colorful, customizable interface is a huge plus, and it makes it an excellent client for people who want to learn more about what a VPN works behind the scenes. Its multiplatform versatility makes it perfect for anyone looking for a Netflix-friendly VPN.
The IPVanish VPN’s support of Kodi, the open-source media streaming program formerly known as XBMC, is a unique feature that we’re interested by. Any serious media enthusiast has used or developed Kodi or XBMC into a media player, and the IPVanish Kodi plug-in gives you access to media from all around the world.
IPVanish is clearly attempting to get you to join their annual subscription, which costs $10 per month or $80 per year. We’re a little unhappy that it only offers a seven-day sample rather than a full 30-day trial, but it does provide a full refund. However, the firm deserves praise for increasing the number of simultaneous connections from 10 to an infinite number. We particularly appreciated its connection kill-switch function, which is essential for anyone who wants to be anonymous when browsing.
6.Norton Secure VPN
29 countries are represented.
The total number of servers is 1,500. (1,200 virtual)
There are 200 server sites in 73 cities.
Country/jurisdiction: United States
For the first 12 months, it’ll cost you $40.
NortonLifeLock, which is well-known for its security solutions, offers a rather restricted VPN service. P2P and BitTorrent aren’t supported by Norton Secure VPN, and it also doesn’t work with Linux, routers, or set-top boxes. It has limited Netflix and streaming compatibility. Worse, we encountered data leaks that jeopardised our privacy throughout testing.
Norton Secure VPN speeds were comparable to other midtier VPNs during CNET’s tests, though not exceptionally competitive. Norton earns marks for its 24/7 live customer phone service and 60-day money refund guarantee, despite the fact that its VPN is only accessible on four platforms: Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android.
What’s the best VPN right now?
The CNET Editors’ Choice Award for best overall VPN went to ExpressVPN. We rank VPNs according to their overall performance in three categories: speed, security, and cost. Express isn’t the cheapest option, but it is one of the fastest and, thus far, the safest.
Thanks to its outstanding performance and limitless device support, Surfshark is a close second among our selections, despite its cheaper price.
Our third option, NordVPN, is a stalwart heavyweight. It costs more than Surfshark but less than Express, has a massive network that’s becoming faster and more secure all the time, and is certainly the most dependable service we’ve tried.