Best Anonymous VPN services 2020 | Can you really get a truly anonymous VPN?

Although several VPN services - such as AnonymousVPN - claim to keep you "anonymous," the reality is they don't. No VPN can keep you truly anonymous. This is because, while you're connected to the VPN, your provider will able to detect your real IP address in real-time, and some poorer services even store these invasive logs!

This is why it is vital to use a trustworthy no-log VPN service that never keeps records about what you did while connected to the VPN. 

What are the best "anonymous" VPN services?

Our top VPN picks are listed below if you need an answer quickly. Otherwise, make sure you keep scrolling for more in-depth analysis.

  1. ExpressVPN - The most anonymous VPN service on our list. It offers users secure servers located worldwide and a strong no logging policy.
  2. Private Internet Access - A great VPN for online anonymity. Its no-logs claim has been proven in court and it offers multiple ciphers & settings.
  3. CyberGhost VPN - An easy to use VPN for beginners. It offers secure & sleek apps on Android & iOS to protect your anonymity on the go.
  4. PrivateVPN - The cheapest VPN for anonymity on our list. For just $1.89, you can improve your privacy with some great features & a no logs policy.
  5. VyprVPN - A fully audited and secure VPN. It has great privacy features & offers slick apps for all major devices including iOS & Android.

Although VPNs do not provide complete anonymity, they are the best tool for gaining online freedom and preventing unnecessary corporate and government surveillance. A reliable VPN will encrypt all your internet traffic so that your ISP and the government cannot track your online habits. The VPN software will also conceal your real IP address from the websites you visit - so they do not know where or who you are.

For this reason, when we refer to an anonymous VPN in this guide, we are actually talking about VPNs that keep absolutely no logs about what you get up to when connected to one of their servers. But it's important to remember that you will never be truly anonymous unless you use a service like Tor.

Before recommending a VPN in this guide, we make sure:

All the VPN services listed on this page will greatly improve your online privacy. Let's take a closer look at our top recommendations.

5 Best "Anonymous" VPN Services 2020 | In-depth analysis

We've selected five VPNs to take a closer look at; all of them come with strong encryption, unblocking power and other privacy tools, and we've examined these features closely to see just how anonymous they really make you. If you want more information about any of the services below, then check out our VPN reviews.

ExpressVPN is the most anonymous VPN service. No VPN can guarantee complete anonymity, but ExpressVPN can offer great security features, stealth servers, and no logs.

  • Pricing

    From  $6.67 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

ExpressVPN is the most anonymous service due to its fantastic security features. It is based in the British Virgin Islands and is well-known for providing a strong, zero-logs privacy policy. The service comes with a lot of high-end VPN features such as strong OpenVPN encryption, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch to stop you from ever accidentally leaking unencrypted data to your ISP. In addition, ExpressVPN provides a stealth mode for concealing VPN use from your ISP and evading firewalls in locations such as Iran and China. 


While VPNs do not technically provide anonymity (you will need to use Tor to surf anonymously online), ExpressVPN is a trust worthy no-logs service that is both trusted and reliable. And it recently underwent a third party audit to validate the claims made by its privacy policy. So if you want a service that is a veteran in the industry and that has proven time and time again that it will provide digital privacy; it is well worth giving it a test run using the 30-day money-back guarantee. Admittedly, ExpressVPN is a little pricey compared to some other VPNs on the market. However, in terms of premium features, you definitely get what you pay for.

PIA is great VPN for improving online anonymity. It has a bunch of different cipher settings and has proven its no logging claim in court - pretty impressive.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.69 - $11.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Private Internet Access makes it onto our list thanks to its glowing reputation in the Reddit community. Although PIA is not a pricey provider, it's well-known for offering a well-rounded suite of privacy features that have a lot of customization possibilities. Encryption can be set to be stronger or weaker depending on your specific needs, and subscribers can opt to use OpenVPN UDP, TCP, and a bunch of different ciphers and settings. 


Although the VPN is based in the US, which is far from ideal for a privacy service; it does have a zero logs policy, which tends to make up for it. What's more, it maintains a transparency report, a warrant canary, and it has proven its no-logs claims in court on two separate occasions. This service is good value for money and it is a service that can provide high levels of privacy. It is generally considered less beginner friendly than some of the other VPNs in this guide, but you can dive in and see if it suits you with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

CyberGhost has some fantastic privacy features and it is also really easy to use, which is great if you are a VPN beginner looking to improve your online privacy.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.75 - $12.99
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Romanian-based CyberGhost is a VPN with excellent levels of privacy. For those who want to remain as anonymous as possible, the VPN accepts Bitcoin payments and you can subscribe using a burner email if you wish. CyberGhost has 6,100 servers in a massive 90 countries, and even more impressive, all of those servers provide lightning fast speeds without any bandwidth caps or data restrictions. ISP throttling will also be a thing of the past. This makes it a great choice for streaming, multiplayer gaming, VoIP conference calling, and anything else you want to do online.


With CyberGhost you get a zero logs policy and robust OpenVPN encryption to ensure you never leak data to your ISP. And this VPN is great for gaining privacy on any WiFi network, including at work, at home, and on public WiFi hotspots. We like this VPN’s apps on all platforms and because you can use it on 10 simultaneous devices, it is ideal for larger families. We think this VPN provides excellent value for money on the two-year plan, and it is well worth testing using its 45- day money-back guarantee.

PrivateVPN is one of the cheapest VPNs to improve your anonymity. As it name suggests it is a really private VPN with great security features & a zero logs policy.

  • Pricing

    From  $1.89 - $10.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

PrivateVPN is based in Sweden, and it is a service that gets rave reviews from its subscribers. While it is a smaller and younger service than the VPNs above it in this list, it is a service that constantly impresses us. True to its name, this VPN has a zero-logs policy - which means that it can be trusted to process your data without fear of there ever being a data trail.


A kill switch is available on its Windows client but not on its other apps. This makes PrivateVPN a better prospect for Windows users who need strong levels of privacy. DNS leak protection and obfuscated servers are also available, and because Private VPN provides access to temporary dedicated IPs by default, this VPN is great for unblocking services such as Netflix US. A cheap VPN that is private, efficient, and provides good speeds for streaming. Like others on this list, PrivateVPN has a money-back guarantee, meaning you can refund it within the first 30 days if you are unhappy.

VyprVPN is a really secure VPN service with slick apps for Andorid, iOS, Windows, and Mac. It is also fully audited by a third party.

  • Pricing

    From  $2.50 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

VyprVPN is based in Switzerland; a location that is generally agreed to be great for privacy services to be based. The VPN runs on a proprietary network of servers owned by its parent company, Golden Frog; which means that it can provide both privacy and fast speeds. The VPN has a zero logs policy, and it has all the important features you would expect to get from a premium VPN service.


A kill switch, stealth mode, DNS leak protection, and OpenVPN encryption is available with this provider. And it has easy-to-use apps for all platforms. This VPN has servers located in over 70 countries, and it is definitely worth giving a test run using its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Can you get a truly anonymous VPN?

While it is true that the websites you visit cannot detect your real IP address when you use a VPN, they may still be able to tell who you are. Websites can do this by using:

It is for this reason that we don’t generally refer to VPNs as “anonymous”. 

VPNs provide unprecedented levels of digital privacy - but not true anonymity - mainly because the VPN knows who you are at all times. To gain true anonymity, you should use Tor browser. The VPNs in this guide all have zero logs policies and military-grade encryption: which is why they are considered the best anonymous VPNs.

A VPN provider can always identify its users’ IP addresses and knows what they are doing online - even if no one else can. Even providers that keep no logs can monitor traffic in real-time.

How to be more anonymous with a VPN

Although a VPN will not provide definitive anonymity, it has features that will provide a high degree of digital privacy. Certain VPN features are vital if a VPN is to give you the most “anonymous” experience possible.

The VPNs in this guide have all been selected because they provide the highest levels of digital privacy available on the VPN market.

So, if you've been searching for an "Anonymous VPN" on Google, you're really looking for these VPNs!

Let's take a look at the all-important "anonymity" features:

Choose a No logs VPN service

The most private VPNs keep zero logs. That means that after you finish a VPN session, there is no connection logs or usage logs stored anywhere. Everything that you did online is completely unrecorded, including the time you connected and what VPN server you connected to. 

With no logs stored anywhere, copyright holders or government agencies can never come knocking at the VPN’s door for evidence of a paper trail.

Connection Logs and e2e timing attacks

Some minimal connection logs or aggregated statistics are not particularly damaging to a VPN service. However, when a VPN stores connection time stamps alongside IP addresses or personally identifiable account details this is a problem. 

Timestamps stored alongside IP addresses allow for time correlation attacks (e2e timing attacks). This is when data gathered from third-party endpoints (websites) is tied to a VPN user by analyzing what time they logged onto a specific VPN server. 

With a little effort, time, and money (and enough information), it is possible to use these logs to figure out what a VPN user did online. For this reason, these kinds of logs can pose a direct risk to your privacy. A no-log VPN is the closest thing you will find to an anonymous VPN.

Shared IPs

When you use a VPN server with “shared IPs” it means that not only you but many other people are all using that server IP address at the same time. With a large number of people all using the same IP address, it becomes hard to know what each person did online. 

This provides a certain level of anonymity by mixing in your web traffic with the web traffic of many other VPN users. A dedicated IP, on the other hand, is one that only you use. This kind of VPN IP address is much easier to track you on. Because you are the only person using it - you do not get lost in a sea of fellow VPN users.

Pay with bitcoin or with cash

Another way to boost your online anonymity is to ensure that your VPN provider knows as little about you as possible. Using a burner email, a fake name, and paying with “washed” bitcoins is one method to gain that extra privacy. Some  VPNs even allow you to send cash by post!

However, it is worth noting that the VPN still knows what IP address you are connecting to their servers from. That IP address is unique to home, which means that it can be used to identify where and who you are.

Double Hop or Chaining VPNs

Double Hop is a feature that allows VPN users to jump through various VPN tunnels, usually via two (but sometimes more) servers. This helps to further obfuscate the VPN user's web habits and location, particularly if those servers are also shared IPs

Chaining VPNs will slow your internet connection down, because of the extra processes it entails. However, if you prefer to trade connection speed for this extra security measure, it is worth a try.

Use a VPN with strong privacy

When you use a VPN that has strong encryption and a zero logs policy you stop local network administrators (workplaces, schools, shared accommodation, landlords, WiFi hotspots) from being able to tell what you are doing online. 

ISPs are also stopped from tracking you - so they can’t retain web browsing habits on behalf of the government (in countries with mandatory data retention). In the US, where ISPs are legally permitted to retain and sell web browsing histories to create a source of revenue, VPNs stop ISPs from keeping those logs in the first place. 

If a VPN keeps zero logs it has nothing to hand over to the authorities - even if they come knocking at the VPN’s door with a warrant. It is for this reason that a zero-logs VPN with strongly implemented OpenVPN encryption is the most private option on the market.

How to be anonymous online?

For true online anonymity, nobody must be able to detect you are who you really are - or what you are doing - at any stage. VPNs simply do not do this. A VPN provides privacy from scrutiny by third parties (such as ISPs and network admins) using encryption. This is digital privacy NOT anonymity - it is a subtle difference, but it is a very important difference.  

Using a VPN through Tor

Some people want to use Tor and a VPN together. On the whole, this is considered overkill. However, some VPNs accommodate this desire by offering a VPN into Tor and VPN through Tor. For most people, this simply isn’t necessary. Allow me to explain why:

  • Using a VPN into Tor stops the first Tor node from knowing your real IP address. If you are somehow traced through the Tor network, then an adversary will find the VPN server, not your real IP. If using the Tor browser the VPN cannot see your data, but if using a service that routes your regular VPN connection to the Tor network, it can. Either way, this provides no protection from malicious Tor exit nodes. Non-HTTPS traffic entering and leaving Tor exit nodes is unencrypted and could be monitored. Tor exit nodes are also often blocked.
  • VPN through Tor. Some people want to route their traffic via Tor before it arrives at the VPN. This has some merits and can provide an anonymous VPN experience since the VPN will not know your real IP address. However, this is only true if you also sign up to the VPN anonymously with a burner email and using an anonymous payment method (like posting cash through the post or using “washed” bitcoins). The fact that the end-point is fixed rather than random (as is normal with Tor), however, reduces your anonymity on the Tor network. 

Staying Anonymous on Mobile 

Because of the reasons mentioned previously, A VPN will not make you anonymous on your Android or iPhone device. On mobile devices, which can be tracked with a MAC address, for example, things get even more tricky. A mobile phone is usually tied to the person that owns it (especially true if you have a mobile contract, but also true for many people with a pay as you go SIM),  so anonymity is always going to be very hard to come by.

Purchasing a cheap phone and SIM with cash from a supermarket is an option that will provide much higher levels of anonymity. This, combined with a zero-logs VPN which you purchase with a fake name, a burner email address, and pay for in cash or with bitcoins,  is the only way to get high levels of anonymity on a mobile device.

However, if you use that mobile device from your home’s WiFi address, for example, your IP address will still let the VPN know who you are. If served a warrant by the authorities (and the VPN keeps connection logs), an e2e timing attack could be used to figure out your IP address, which would then be tied to you by your ISP. It is for this reason that a zero-logs VPN is necessary for strong privacy.

Furthermore, even if your VPN does not keep logs, it could be served a warrant and gag order and VPN servers could be monitored for activity in real-time. It is for this reason that a VPN is said to provide privacy, not anonymity.

Although they won't make you anonymous, VPNs are in fact great for keeping you secure on public WiFi and unblocking content. 

Are any free VPNs anonymous?

It take a lot of time, money and resource to run a good VPN service, so free VPN services should be viewed with a degree of suspicion.

There are some reputable free VPN services available, but many free VPNs have been known to log user data. And, in some instances, these same services have even been found selling these logs on to third parties.

So, if staying anonymous online is truly important to you, we would recommend you stay on the side of caution and steer clear of free VPN services.

Conclusion

Although many VPNs claim to provide anonymity, however, this is a marketing tactic used to sell VPNs. 

VPNs are an absolutely invaluable online service that provides the highest levels of digital privacy available on the market without sacrificing performance. There is no doubt, however, that anybody who desires true anonymity online should use Tor. However, Tor is not suitable for data-intensive tasks such as streaming, gaming, and P2P torrenting. In this case, you will need a VPN for torrenting.

For this reason, VPNs are a unique privacy service that has no real alternative. In this article, we have described how to get the most private VPN experience possible. Our recommended VPNs keep no logs and implement high standards of OpenVPN encryption. Thus, you will be secure using any one of these services. If you have any questions about anything in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact us below.

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 

3 Comments

Mike
on October 11, 2019
Reply
Express VPN is a chinese company (at least the devs are working under a chinese company) so I have my serious doubts how private and secure it could be
greg
on June 13, 2018
Reply
Buddy. VPN through tor does not expose your traffic to an exit node. You misunderstand how tunneling works.
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to greg
on June 13, 2018
Reply
Hi greg, VPN through Tor (Tor -> VPN) does not expose your expose your traffic to an exit node. But Ray (who is on holiday at the moment) did not say this. He said that VPN into Tor (VPN -> Tor) exposes your traffic to exit nodes. I admit that his terminology could be clearer here, and I would prefer to say "Tor through VPN."
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