5 Best No Logs VPNs 2020

VPNs are flexible tools that are useful for many things. This includes watching US Netflix from abroad, defeating state censorship, overcoming Facebook blocks at work, and preventing tracking by websites and commercial WiFi hosts.

Many people, however, use a VPN primarily to provide privacy while online. And if you value privacy, then you want a no-logs VPN.

 

Unfortunately, the term "no logs VPN" is often abused by VPN providers and is often misunderstood by customers. In this article, we will examine what VPN providers really mean when they say they keep no logs and discuss why and when such claims can be trusted.


Learn more about internet privacy

For more information on improving your online privacy, take a look at the following guides:

What are the best no-logs VPNs?

Here's a sneak peek at our expert's favorite VPNs to use when in the US:

  1. ExpressVPN - is a top-tier VPN provider that takes security seriously
  2. NordVPN - is a great no logs VPN that is cocked full of security features
  3. CyberGhost VPN - is a great option for people who want a private, easy to use VPN
  4. PrivateVPN - is a zero-logs VPN service at a fraction of the cost
  5. ProtonVPN - is secure VPN from the brains behind ProtonMail, so you're in safe hands

For more information on these VPNs, keep scrolling. 

5 best no-log VPNs: In-depth analysis

Below, we take a more in-depth look at each no-log VPN provider we recommend. If you want to find out more about them, be sure to click through for full detailed reviews.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a private service that is fast and a has zero-logs policy

  • Pricing

    From $6.67 / month
  • Available on

    • Android
    • iOS
    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu

Although this top-tier VPN provider keeps some minimal anonymous usage statistics, these do not include a timestamp or IP address. To all practical intents and purposes, this makes ExpressVPN a no-logs VPN. And a very good one it is too! Its ridiculously fast performance is ExpressVPN's headline act, but fantastic 24/7 customer support, 5 simultaneous connections and permission to peer-to-peer (P2P) file-share certainly sweeten the deal.

For those concerned with privacy, robust encryption keeps hackers at bay and what is in effect a no-logging policy means that it will have nothing useful handover, should it ever be forced to.

Servers located in a whopping 94 countries around the world are also a big draw if you’re seeking speed, privacy, and access to geographically restricted content. Users in China will appreciate ExpressVPN’s special “stealth” servers located in Hong Kong, and users everywhere will appreciate the new free Smart Domain Name System (DNS) service (included with all accounts) that keeps streaming media like Netflix running smoothly on a VPN.

Features are easy to navigate using the desktop software for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, the sleek apps for Android and iOS or the custom router firmware. It's pretty easy to see why ExpressVPN impressed our experts and remains one of our most popular providers to date, but don't just take our word for it; try ExpressVPN today with a 30-day, no-quibble, money-back guarantee.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is ideal for anybody wanting a no logs VPN that is feature rich

  • Pricing

    From $3.49 / month
  • Available on

    • MacOS
    • Android
    • iOS
    • Windows
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu

NordVPN is a no-logs VPN provider based in Panama. This alone makes it one of the best VPN choices available for privacy fanatics, as it puts it comfortably outside the direct influence of both the NSA and copyright holders. It backs up this privacy-friendly stance by using great encryption and accepting potentially anonymous payment in bitcoins. 

Alongside peer-to-peer (P2P) permission and obfsproxy technology to defeat censorship, one thing that sets NordVPN apart from the competition is its all-inclusive feature-set. The newly-launched NordPass helps you keep track of your passwords, even generating stronger ones to replace debatably weaker, memorable variants. Although I have to be convinced of its utility, many also value NordVPN’s support for “double-hop” VPN chaining (which essentially routes traffic through two servers rather than one).

Try it now, backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost is a great option for people who want zero-logs and ease of use

  • Pricing

    From $2.75 / month
  • Available on

    • Android
    • iOS
    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

CyberGhost‘s software is easy-to-use while also being very fully-featured. It uses very strong encryption and offers a generous 7 simultaneous connections. Being based in Romania and keeping no meaningful logs is also a big draw. Like ExpressVPN, some minimal statistics are kept, but with no timestamp or IPs recorded, these present no threat to users' privacy.

CyberGhost’s great logging policy, decent local (burst) speeds and fully-featured software are a winning combination. With servers in over 90 countries and a 45-day no-quibble money-back guarantee, there is no reason not to give it a whirl.

4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN is a customer favorite that offers zero-logs at a fraction of the cost

  • Pricing

    From $1.89 / month
  • Available on

    • Android
    • iOS
    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu

PrivateVPN is a zero-logs VPN provider based in Sweden. It features both a firewall-based system kill switch and a per-app kill switch, which pretty neat. Full IPv4 and IPv6 DNS leak protection, port forwarding, a kill switch, auto-connect and both HTTPS and SOCKS5 proxies can be found built into the client, making it one of the more enticing VPNs around. 

We have been particularly impressed by PrivateVPN’s high level of customer service, which even features remote installation for technophobes! Up to an unprecedented 6 simultaneous devices are permitted and entertainment enthusiasts will also be pleased with its selection of servers across 60 countries, some of which can unblock US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.

With a 30-day no-quibble money-back guarantee, why not give PrivateVPN a try?

5. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN is a secure VPN from the developers of ProtonMail

  • Pricing

    From $8.00 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Android
    • Linux
    • iOS

ProtonVPN is a superb no-logs VPN that is run by the same people as ProtonMail. As well as having a free version with limited bandwidth, ProtonVPN has a full unlimited premium service. Servers are located in 44 countries, and they all provide fast speeds for streaming and doing other data-intensive tasks.

The software is available for all platforms and can be used on 5 simultaneous devices. The VPN is also fully featured with a kill switch, DNS leak protection, Tor through VPN, and a Secure Core network. When it comes to logs, Proton keeps no usage logs whatsoever, no IP logs, and last login time is overwritten on each new connection. That makes Proton a very good VPN for privacy.

What are VPN logs?

Simply put, VPN logs are a record of customers’ activity while using the VPN service.

In reality, it is all but impossible for a VPN to keep no logs at all. Even the strictest no-logs VPN, for example, needs some way to know when subscriptions have expired and require renewal. Even the strictest no-logs VPN needs some way to know when its customers’ subscriptions have expired and require renewal.

What is a zero-logs VPN?

This is the burning question and a great deal of disagreement surrounds it. Can a VPN call itself no-logs if it deletes all logs a few minutes after a session ends? What about if it logs timestamps and bandwidth, but does not associate this data with users’ IP addresses or account details? Does anonymized and aggregated usage statistics count as logs?

As far as ProPrivacy.com is concerned, a no-logs VPN is a VPN service that keeps no identifiable logs that can be used to tie a customer to their internet activity when using the VPN service. 

Similarly, if some logs are kept, but for so short a time that we can’t really see how they could be used to compromise a user’s privacy, then we are also happy to describe a VPN as “no logs.”

Why should I use a no-logs VPN?

Your internet provider (ISP) keeps detailed records of how you interact with its service. When you use a VPN, your internet provider is blocked from seeing the content of your data (because it is encrypted), and what you get up to on the internet (as this is shielded by the VPN server, which acts as a proxy).

Your VPN provider, however, can now see this information instead. This includes the IP addresses of individual web pages and even the contents of your data on sites that are not protected by HTTPS

The good news is that most websites are protected by HTTPS these days, but your VPN provider can still see which websites you have visited. And if it knows that you habitually visit gop.com and grindr.com, then it can have a fair stab at guessing your political affiliation and sexual orientation. 

Unlike ISPs, which are often required to hand over their logs to the government, almost every VPN service promises to protect your privacy, at least some extent. But only a no-logs VPN can really be trusted to keep such a promise when push comes to shove, simply because it cannot hand over information that it plainly doesn’t have…

Types of VPN logs

The kinds of logs either an ISP or VPN service can keep about users’ internet usage (not including customer account information) can be broadly divided into usage logs and connection logs.

Usage logs

Usage logs basically boil down to a record of the websites you visit. ISPs often keep this kind of record as a matter of course, and in some countries are required to by law (usually with a set time limit for how long they should be kept).

No VPN service we know of admits to keeping usage logs, sometimes in contradiction to the laws of the country in which they are based.

In the UK

ISPs (and VPN providers, which is a good reason to avoid UK-based VPN services) are required by law to log this information and store it for 12 months in a way that is accessible to a wide range of government departments.

In the US

ISPs have successfully lobbied Congress to sell or share customers’ detailed web browsing history to advertisers and partner companies.  

Connection logs

These are also known as metadata logs, although the UK government abuses this term by classing web browsing history as “metadata.” A full set of connection logs includes the following information:

  • The IP address the connection was made from.
  • When the connection was started.
  • When the connection was finished (which together are often referred to a timestamp).
  • How much bandwidth you use while connected.

Crucially, they do not include websites you connect to (unless you are the UK government). It does provide more than enough information to compromise users’ privacy.

The danger connection logs pose should not be underestimated. Every known case of people who got caught after trying to use a VPN to hide their identity while performing criminal activities was the result of VPN providers analyzing its connection logs and handing the results over to the police.

Note: Some less scrupulous VPN services claim to be “no logs” VPNs because they do not collect usage logs. But they do log a lot of connection information, which in our view makes such claims misleading.

Real-time logs

It is important to understand that all network systems such as VPNs generate logs in real-time as a simple byproduct of their operation. Even if these logs are instantly deleted (e.g. are sent directly to a /dev/null file), for a few milliseconds they exist.

This means they can always be monitored as they are created (i.e. in real-time). Even the strictest no-logs VPN service will monitor logs in real-time when network issues need to be resolved or abuse identified. 

Most “no logs” VPNs keep these real-time logs for a short time, which is understandable since having some information about their own systems helps VPN companies provide the service they do.

In our view, this is perfectly acceptable within reason. Keeping real-time logs for a few minutes, or deleting them the second a session has finished, poses a negligible threat to users’ privacy.

Server Logs

Almost all VPN companies rent servers from third-party server providers. So, even if the VPN provider keeps no logs, it is likely that the server centers in which the VPN servers are located do. Unlike VPN companies, server centers have no obligation to protect users’ privacy.

Any way you look at it, this is not an ideal situation. Good VPN companies, however, who genuinely care about their users’ privacy, can do a great deal to mitigate the problem.

Although server logs are an issue that needs to be considered, it is the logs kept (or that can be kept) by a VPN provider itself which pose the greatest privacy threat to its users. Where a VPN company is based, therefore, has a big impact on its ability to protect your privacy.

Will a no-logs VPN make me anonymous?

VPNs provide privacy, not anonymity. No matter its usual logging policy, a VPN can always start logging in order to match users with their internet activity. Even when it comes to historical data, VPN services are not always entirely honest about the logs they keep.

VPNs provide a high level of privacy against all sorts of blanket surveillance on the internet, and they do this with minimal impact on your internet experience. A VPN will also keep you out of trouble when torrenting, but you should not rely on them to protect you if commit a serious crime.

Journalists, political dissidents, whistleblowers, and those whose life or liberty relies on true anonymity, should use Tor instead.

Logging can always be turned on

No matter how fanatical about privacy a VPN service is, it can always be forced to start keeping these real-time logs instead of discarding them. Under enough pressure, it will. No VPN staff are going to risk jail themselves in order to protect your criminal activities!

So why all the fuss about using a no-logs VPN?

A VPN keeping no logs, then, is more about professionalism than a guarantee that you won’t get into trouble no matter what. This does not mean the exercise is pointless though.

Any service which promises to improve its users’ privacy should be designed from the ground up to do just that. Keeping no logs that can compromise users’ privacy is one of the most basic building blocks of any such design.

Logs are the antithesis of privacy, and no VPN which keeps logs has the right to claim it can ensure your privacy.

How to be sure your VPN is a no-logs provider?

At the present time, we have to take providers at their word or pay attention to the increasing number of independent audits that set out to test this. Here at ProPrivacy.com, we hope such audits become common throughout the industry as they have the potential to provide a level of transparency that does not exist today.

Always read the VPNs Terms of Service and Privacy Policies

Many VPN providers are happy to make bold and generalized “no logs” claims on their home page but are quick to qualify such claims in the small print of their Terms of Service and Privacy Policies.

Take a look at our full VPN reviews, in which our experts review each VPN providers’ ToS and Privacy Policies so you don’t have to!

Warrant Canaries

Warrants and court orders requiring companies to hand over customer details are usually accompanied by gag orders, which prevent the company from alerting its customers that something is amiss.

In order to reassure customers that something like this has not happened to them, some VPNs operate warrant canaries. For a detailed discussion on what these are and whether they are effective, please see Are Warrant Canaries Useful?

No-log VPN overview

Although nothing can be guaranteed, it’s a safe bet that a no-logs VPN cares a hell of a lot more about your privacy, and will do a lot more to protect it, than your ISP. Most, in fact, go much further in this regard than the majority of us will ever need.

A key part of which, when it comes to VPNs, is keeping no logs that can compromise its users’ privacy. If you need a very high level of anonymity, then use Tor, but the rest of us are spoilt for a choice when it comes to great no-logs VPN services...

FAQ

Written by: Douglas Crawford

Has worked for almost six years as senior staff writer and resident tech and VPN industry expert at ProPrivacy.com. Widely quoted on issues relating cybersecurity and digital privacy in the UK national press (The Independent & Daily Mail Online) and international technology publications such as Ars Technica.

23 Comments

  1. AYYASH

    on September 28, 2019
    Reply

    Hi AYYASH. All the VPNs on this list are good for privacy. ProtonVPN runs an excellent free tier and the per-month pricing for Pro plans is probably the most competitive here. If you are willing to buy longer-term plans, however, then NordVPN, CyberGhost and PrivateVPN can work out v ery cheap.

  2. Hi

    on October 11, 2018
    Reply

    Why is mullvad not on this list?

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Hi

      on September 20, 2019
      Reply

      Only because we can only put 5 services on this list. Mullvad is also a very good no-logs VPN.

  3. Yoshi

    on July 30, 2018
    Reply

    Many thanks for the great in-depth articles you write here, Douglas. What one could notice in addition is that depending on the personal level of paranoia, it is of course very well possible to cascade VPNs as well similar to the nice layers of the famous onion, only still way faster. When in doubt, there is also still the good old school method of sitting in a phone booth with an acoustic coupler at hand (every good household should have one) in the best cheesy but cult 90s movie "Hackers" - style. "Grand Central Station" it is. ;) https://youtu.be/s-eZSIn9kHA

  4. Robin

    on May 1, 2018
    Reply

    NordVPN not on your list?

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