The best anonymous VPN services in 2021 | Does a VPN make you untraceable?

Looking for a way to stay anonymous online in 2021? In this guide we discuss the ways a VPN can and can't help you protect your identity online and if a VPN can make you truly untraceable.

What are the best "anonymous" VPNs in 2021?

We recommend these VPNs to stay anonymous online in 2021:

  1. ExpressVPN - The most anonymous VPN service on our list. It offers users secure servers located worldwide and a strong no-logging policy.
  2. NordVPN - is a highly secure service with features like; obfuscated servers, and a no logs policy
  3. Private Internet Access - A great VPN for online anonymity. Its no-logs claim has been proven in court and it offers multiple ciphers & settings.
  4. CyberGhost VPN - An easy to use VPN for beginners. It offers secure & sleek apps on Android & iOS to protect your anonymity on the go.
  5. 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.

Some VPN services, like AnonymousVPN, claim to keep you "anonymous." The reality, is that they don't. No VPN can give you complete anonymity because of the way that they work. When connected to a VPN, the provider can detect your IP address in real-time, and some untrustworthy VPNs even store these sensitive logs!

A reliable VPN provides high levels of digital privacy, because it has strong encryption and a  no-logs policy. This kind of VPN will not give you anonymity (like you get with Tor) but it will ensure that everything you do online is kept a tight-lipped secret. 

Although VPNs do not provide complete anonymity, they are still the best tool for gaining privacy and freedom online. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic to prevent your ISP, local networks, WiFi hotspots, and government from tracking your online habits and web visits. It also stops websites and services from tracking your real IP address.

Again, while many people refer to privacy as "anonymity," the reality is that any anonymous VPN is actually just a secure VPN that keeps zero logs. Without data logs to analyze, there's nothing to pass onto prying agencies. This is the most secure type of VPN available, but it is important to note that you will never be truly anonymous online unless you use a service like Tor.

Before deciding on private VPNs for this guide, we always make sure the providers:

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 to use in 2021

These are the best VPNs to use for anonimity in 2021:

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

ExpressVPN is an industry-leading provider when it comes to privacy and security, helped in part by its support for cryptocurrency payments, which means it can be considered the most 'anonymous' VPN around. The service is based in the British Virgin Islands - a superb location in terms of privacy protections. And it has a no-logs policy, which means it will never store any records of what its users do online (or even basic connection logs).

The service comes with a lot of high-end privacy 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. And ExpressVPN provides obfuscation to let you conceal VPN use from your ISP (by disguising it as regular HTTPS traffic). This stealth feature also lets you evade 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 fast and reliable VPN that has proven that it can completely conceal your online habits from your ISP, the government, and local networks (such as employers or WiFi hotspots). In addition, it will prevent websites from tracking your IP address; and real-world location. 

Admittedly, ExpressVPN is a little pricey compared to some other VPNs on the market. However, in terms of premium features you get what you pay for, and you can test this VPN risk-free thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee. It's a fantastic VPN that provides watertight privacy levels and a large choice of servers in 94 countries worldwide.

NordVPN is a no logs service with great security features such as DNS leak protection, obfuscated servers and more

  • Pricing

    From  $3.71 - $11.95
  • Aggregated or Anonymised Logs?

    • Anonymized
  • Accepts Cryptocurrency?

    • Yes

NordVPN is a provider based in Panama that offers the perfect combination of privacy and value for money. Like ExpressVPN, this service has strong OpenVPN encryption, a killswitch, DNS leak protection, and obfuscated servers for concealing VPN use and bypassing ISP firewalls. It also has a zero-logs policy. Being based in Panama means that this service is well out of reach of invasive jurisdictions such as the UK, the EU, and the US.

Starting at just $2.99 per month, this VPN is incredibly good value for money - especially considering that it has rare VPN features such as double hop encryption and Tor over VPN. Although it does have less servers than the number one VPN on this list, it still has servers in over 60 countries which means it will probably be ideal for most people's unblocking needs. Definitely worth a test run using its 30-day money back guarantee.

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 - $9.95
  • Aggregated or Anonymised Logs?

    • Anonymized
  • Audited?

    • Yes
  • Accepts Cryptocurrency?

    • Yes

Private Internet Access (PIA) makes it onto our list thanks to its glowing reputation within the Reddit community, and high-end privacy services. It is a VPN that is often praised because of its highly secure apps and advanced privacy and security features. This is outstanding considering the relatively low cost of a subscription.

With PIA you get apps for all platforms that come with a kill switch, DNS leak protection, strong OpenVPN encryption, obfuscation, a SOCKS5 proxy, port forwarding, and split tunneling. Encryption can be set to be stronger or weaker depending on your specific needs - with subscribers able to switch between OpenVPN UDP, TCP, and a bunch of different ciphers and settings. This makes the VPN great for techy users who want higher levels of customization, or those doing sensitive tasks such as torrenting.

Although the VPN is based in the US, it does have a zero-logs policy that it has proven in court. It also maintains a transparency report and a warrant canary. In addition, PIA accepts crypto payments, which is as anonymous as a VPN can really get. It also has fast servers in 47 countries to let you unblock anything you need, and to easily bypass censorship. Overall, a secure and reliable VPN that you can test yourself using 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  $2.25 - $12.99
  • Aggregated or Anonymised Logs?

    • Anonymized
  • Audited?

    • No
  • Accepts Cryptocurrency?

    • Yes

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 - $7.12
  • Aggregated or Anonymised Logs?

    • Anonymized
  • Audited?

    • No
  • Accepts Cryptocurrency?

    • Yes

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.

Fast Anonymous VPNs in 2021

A VPN packed with tech to protect your identity doesn't necessarily mean it's slow. In fact, all our recommended anonymous VPN providers offer susprisingly fast speeds, so you can browser the net, stream, torrent and game without frustration.

To help you understand what speeds you can get from out top VPN picks, we run daily speed tests on them and display the results in the table below.

Place Provider Average Speed Max Speed Visit Site
1. 65.43 Mbit/s 81.64 Mbit/s Visit Site
2. 62.06 Mbit/s 76.09 Mbit/s Visit Site
3. 49.46 Mbit/s 57.83 Mbit/s Visit Site
4. 44.23 Mbit/s 61.56 Mbit/s Visit Site
5. 41.69 Mbit/s 65.20 Mbit/s Visit Site

Can you get a truly anonymous VPN?

When you use a VPN, it is impossible for the websites you visit to detect your real IP address. This can allow you to use those services with a much greater level of anonymity (as long as you always use online services without providing any real account information or payment details).

However, depending on how you use online services, they may still be able to detect who you are. Websites can do this by:

  • Using cookies 
  • Recognizing you from your login details 
  • Engaging in browser fingerprinting
  • Tracking device level information (IMEI or MAC number, for example)
  • Your user agent

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 (or can at least detect your real IP address in real time if it wants to).

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.


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. 


on October 11, 2019
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
on June 13, 2018
Buddy. VPN through tor does not expose your traffic to an exit node. You misunderstand how tunneling works.
Douglas Crawford replied to greg
on June 13, 2018
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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