The Best VPN Services for 2019

The best VPNs on the market not only encrypt your data, but they also enable you to access content currently blocked in your location. 

We recognize that different people have different priorities when it comes to choosing a VPN, so in this article, we explain why we think our chosen VPN services are the best all-round options. 

What is the best VPN service?

In the list below, we look at what we think are the best VPN services on the market:

  1. ExpressVPN - is among the most respected names in the VPN industry
  2. NordVPN - combines excellent performance with a service which is private, fast, and secure
  3. CyberGhost - offers a very fully featured service with servers just about everywhere
  4. PrivateVPN - is not only great for privacy, it also unblocks just about every streaming service on the planet!
  5. Ivacy - don’t let the bargain prices fool you, this is a fast and very fully featured VPN service
  6. VyprVPN - offers a wealth of features and has now been fully audited to verify its privacy claims
  7. Surfshark - is the new kid on the block. Based in the British Virgin Islands
  8. ProtonVPN - is a very privacy-focused VPN service from the developers of secure email service ProtonMail
  9. PureVPN - is best known for its streaming prowess, which has recently gone privacy-friendly 100% no-logs
  10. PrivateInternetAccess - voted best VPN by Reddit, PIA is a long-term darling of the privacy community

The best VPN of 2019: In-depth analysis

No two VPN services are the same, but you can’t go wrong picking any of the services listed in this guide. The list below is designed to help you make an informed choice. If you want more information on any of the providers we discuss, then check out our full VPN reviews.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a trustworthy and reliable service that is feature packed

  • Pricing

    From $6.67 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Android
    • Linux
    • iOS
  • Features

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

ExpressVPN won our 2019 Editor's Choice award in Las Vegas. And with good reason...

ExpressVPN consistently ranks as one of the fastest VPN providers in our official BestVPN Speed Test. This makes it a fantastic option for streaming HD content.

Robust encryption keeps hackers at bay and no usage logs means the company can’t share your personal browsing data.

With servers in plenty of countries around the world, “stealth” servers to help users in China bypass the firewall, and Smart Domain Name System (DNS) service that keeps streaming sites like Netflix running smoothly, you can see why ExpressVPN continues to impress our experts and remains one of our most popular VPN providers.

Try ExpressVPN today with a 30-day, no-quibble, money-back guarantee.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN has the best performance for the cost - private, fast, and secure

  • Pricing

    From $3.49 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Android
    • iOS
  • Features

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

NordVPN makes it onto our list of the best VPN services because it combines great performance, a strong focus on privacy, and a raft of useful bells and whistles. This service also won our best overall VPN service at our Las Vegas awards ceremony earlier this year, and with good reason. And that’s before we factor in its bargain-basement prices if you purchase a longer subscription!

NordVPN keeps no logs and is based in Panama, which is outside the NSA-led Five Eyes’ direct sphere of influence. It is very effective at unblocking BBC iPlayer and  US Netflix, and as a backup, offers a full Smart DNS service to all users. Allowing up to 6 devices to connect at once is generous, while a 30-day money-back guarantee provides peace of mind. 

Xor obfuscation makes NordVPN effective at combatting VPN censorship, while features such as double-hop VPN and Tor over VPN bolstered its privacy credentials. CyberSec is a new feature which blocks DNS requests based on a real-time blocklist of harmful websites that may host malware. As such, it should shield you against malware, help prevent botnet control, and block many intrusive web ads.

NordVPN offers two Mac clients, which is slightly confusing. The older OpenVPN client is more fully-featured, but we detected a WebRTC leak when using it. We detected no such problem with the newer IKEv2 client, but it is somewhat lacking in features. 

3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost has servers where you need them and it's easy to use

  • Pricing

    From $2.75 / month
  • Available on

    • Android
    • iOS
    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Linux
  • Features

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

CyberGhost is a no-logs VPN service based in privacy-friendly Romania (with its software being developed in Germany). In addition to a very generous 45-day money-back guarantee, you can try out CyberGhost for free and with no credit card required for 24 hours.

Mac users should disable WebRTC in their browsers, but CyberGhost otherwise provides excellent technical security. A kill switch is baked into the desktop clients, which along with the mobile apps also feature a variety of additional security features such as WiFi protection, ad-blocking, and tracking protection. 

Users can connect up to seven devices at once and torrent to their heart’s delight.

4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN is a favorite among consumers and unblocks all your favorite services

  • Pricing

    From $1.89 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Android
    • Linux
    • iOS
  • Features

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

PrivateVPN lives up to its name by providing a privacy-focused no-logs service. It features a 30-day money-back guarantee and usefully allows up to 6 simultaneous connections. It is also notable for the quality and friendliness of its 24/7 customer support. 

Another feature PrivateVPN is known for is its ability to unblock almost every streaming service under the sun. It does this by issuing a unique private IP address to users as required. These IPs are not known to belong to a VPN provider.

PrivateVPN’s technical security is great, and we have never detected any form of IP leak when testing the service. 

5. Ivacy

Ivacy is a bargain VPN that lets you stream and download in peace

  • Pricing

    From $1.33 / month
  • Available on

    • iOS
    • Windows
    • Android
    • Linux
    • MacOS
  • Features

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

Ivacy VPN has been around for a while, but recently this no logs VPN service based in Singapore has reinvented itself with impressive results. This service features in our best VPN list because of it's impressive speeds, it is one of the fastest VPNs on the market at the moment.

It’s also very cheap, which is nice! Ivacy features servers in over fifty counties and is happy to let you P2P download on any of them. Indeed, its optional NAT firewall with port forwarding included makes the service ideal for torrent users. Ivacy also unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and a host of other streaming services with ease.

Its technical security is great, and we have never encountered any form of IP leak using the service. And unlike browser add-ons from some other services, Ivacy’s Android and Chrome extensions secure your connection using HTTPS. 

The 24/7 Live Chat support is good, although we would prefer to see fewer trackers on Ivacy’s website.

6. VyprVPN

VyprVPN has been proven to be secure by independent auditors! A great allrounder.

  • Pricing

    From $5.00 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • Android
    • Linux
    • iOS
    • MacOS
  • Features

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

VyprVPN has always been known for the high technical quality of its service, helped by the fact that it owns and manages its entire CDN network. It has now addressed concerns over its privacy credentials by moving to Switzerland and going 100% no logs.

Indeed, VyprVPN was the first (and still one of very few) services to have its no logs claims verified by a respected independent third party auditor. So kudos.

VyprVPN now allows torrenting on its network, which operates servers in over 70 counties, and allows up to five simultaneous connections. FInally, VyprVPN provides a generous 30-day money back guarantee, which means you can test the service risk free. 

7. Surfshark

Surfshark is a new service that is blowing many VPNs out of the water

  • Pricing

    From $1.99 / month
  • Available on

    • Android
    • iOS
    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Linux
  • Features

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

Surfshark VPN is only a year or so old, but in that short time, it has taken the VPN market by storm with blazing fast speed performance and 500 servers in over 50 countries.

As is to be expected from today’s top VPN providers, Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 live chat support. What is unusual is that it allows you to connect as many devices as you want to the service at the same time!

Throw in split tunneling so you can choose which apps routes through the VPN and which don’t, a full Smart DNS service, and the fact that Surfshark unblocked every service we threw at it, and you can see why it won our coveted Newcomer Award.

Surfshark is registered in the British Virgin Islands and easily meets our requirements for a no-logs VPN. Technical security is also top-notch, and we appreciate the wealth of extra privacy and security features on offer. These include double-hop VPN, and DNS-based ad blocking and malware protection. 

Surfshark tells us that it uses obfuscation “as default with all servers,”. Unusually, Surfshark’s iOS VPN app features a kill switch, as does its Windows and macOS clients. Its macOS VPN client is, however, otherwise a little light on features. 

8. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN is an excellent service by the developers of ProtonMail

  • Pricing

    From $8.00 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Android
    • Linux
    • iOS

ProtonVPN has a strong focus on privacy, which is unsurpirising given that this service is from the same people behind the now legendary ProtonMail. It is based in Switzerland, which is known for its strong privacy laws, although the fact that they recently-passed surveillance legislation is a little concerning.

ProtonVPN keeps no logs, allows up to 10 simultaneous connections (depending on the plan), and runs almost 400 servers in 33 countries around the world. Its free plan is superb, and if you don’t mind access to just three servers, may provide everything you need from a VPN. Signing up for the free plan also gives you a 7-day free trial of the premium Plus plan.

Premium plans are effective at unblocking US Netflix and allow torrenting on selected servers. ProtonVPNs technical security is superb, with no IP leaks insight and kill switches present and correct in the desktop software. It also offers Tor over VPN, and its SecureServer network is a refinement of the “double-hop VPN” concept.

Other than a FAQ-style support page, which is not extensive but which does seem useful, support is only available via email and can take a day or two to respond (about one day in our experience). We were nevertheless impressed by the quality of the answers when they arrived.

9. PureVPN

PureVPN is a cheap service that gives you a lot for your money

  • Pricing

    From $2.88 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Android
    • Linux
    • iOS
  • Features

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

PureVPN has recently had a complete change of heart regarding how it handles users’ privacy. It was known for the extensive connection logs it kept, so the move to becoming a 100% no logs provider is very welcome. 

PureVPN uses strong encryption and known for its ability to unblock just about any streaming service thanks to its willingness to issue dedicated IP addresses as needed. Its 24/7 live chat support is very helpful in this regard. We do caution users to check for IP leaks, however. 

Torrenting is allowed on all its servers in a whopping 141 counties and you can connect up to five devices at once.

10. PrivateInternetAccess

PIA is one of Reddit’s favorite VPNs - a service with a lot of privacy features

  • Pricing

    From $3.49 / month
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • MacOS
    • Android
    • Linux
    • iOS
  • Features

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer

PrivateInternetAccess has long been a firm favorite with members of Reddit’s privacy forums. We do not consider the United States to be an ideal location for a VPN provider to be based, but it has no mandatory data retention laws, allowing PIA to be no-logs VPN service.

The encryption used by PrivateInternetAccess is first-rate, and we have never detected any IP leaks when testing the service. P2P is allowed on all servers, and torrent enthusiasts will appreciate the fact that PIA supports port forwarding through its NAT firewall. 

A 7-day money-back guarantee provides peace of mind, while an allowed five simultaneous connections should be enough for even demanding users. Oh, and it’s very pocket-friendly too. 

The best VPNs for 2019: Speed analysis

If you're looking for a VPN to keep you secure when torrenting, or to help unblock your favorite streaming service, then speed is going to be one of your main considerations. 

The graph below can help you understand the typical level of performance that each of the VPNs can offer.

Will a VPN improve my internet speeds?

No.

If you are getting slow internet speeds, a VPN will not help the situation. In fact, it you can expect to see a slight slowing down of the speeds that you're already getting. The tests in the graph above are conducted in lab conditions using a dedicated gigabit line. You shouldn't expect similar speeds but it provides a strong indication of which VPNs are performing well. Picking a faster VPN will minimise the impact it has on the speeds you're currently getting.

For more information on this topic, check out our guide to VPN speeds.

Why do I need a VPN service?

A VPN connects your device to a VPN server via an encrypted VPN tunnel, the advantages of a VPN are listed below:

  • Anyone on the internet (such as websites you visit or torrent peers) cannot see who you are or who your ISP is because their “view” back to you is obstructed by the VPN server.
  • Your ISP cannot see what you get up to on the internet because its “view” is similarly obstructed by the VPN server.
  • Your ISP cannot see the contents of your data as it is encrypted between your device and the VPN server.
  • VPN servers are located all over the world, which is great for evading censorship or pretending to be somewhere else.

We cover more on this topic in our Beginner's Guide to VPNs.

The benefits of using a VPN service

For a few dollars a month a good VPN service will benefit you in the following ways:

  • Privacy from your ISP or government

    Between the encrypted VPN tunnel and the VPN server acting as a proxy, a VPN leaves your ISP in the dark about what you get up to on the internet. As every mass surveillance scheme on the planet relies on ISPs handing their records over to their government, a VPN is also a very effective tool at preventing the government from spying on you.

  • Privacy when visiting websites

    Websites can see your real IP address when you visit them. If you're using a VPN, however, they just see the IP of the VPN server. You should, however, combine the use of a VPN with browser add-ons which prevent website trackers for maximum privacy.

  • Evade censorship

    ISPs block access to websites for all sorts of reasons, for example in China content is blocked for political reasons. Using a VPN will unblock content. Just connect to a server located somewhere the content is not blocked.

  • Unblocking streaming services

    Using a VPN can unblock many streaming services by allowing you to “spoof” your location so you appear to be in a different country. For example, The US version of Netflix has by far the biggest library. With a VPN you can unblock US Netflix (and other services like BBC iPlayer) and watch it anywhere in the world. 

  • Staying secure on WiFi hotspots

    It is possible for hackers, or the companies who run the WiFi network, to access user data when they are browsing on a public network. Using a VPN encrypts all the data between your device and the VPN server, protecting you from anyone looking at your data via public WiFi. More information on this topic can be found in our VPNs for public wifi guide.

  • P2P downloading in safety

    In order to share torrent files, other torrent users need to know your IP address. Unfortunately, it’s not just other torrenters who can see your IP. In order to torrent without the very real risk of getting caught you should use a VPN religiously. We recommend checking out our best VPNs for torrenting guide for an in-depth look at what you should consider before you torrent anything.

New to VPNs? Familiarize yourself with the basics using our helpful guides:

Find the best VPN for you

Still unsure which VPN is right for you?  Simply answer the questions below to find the best VPN for your needs.

What do you need from your VPN?

Answer a few simple questions and we'll recommend the perfect VPN for your needs

Privacy
Internet access (e.g. Netflix)
Both of the Above

The short answer is yes: using a VPN is legal almost everywhere. Even in most places where VPNs are 'banned', they are just blocked by ISPs rather than being illegal to use. It is usually what you do while using a VPN that is deemed illegal rather than the act of using a VPN in and of itself. This isn't always the case so it's worth doing your research.

We take a more in-depth look at the legality of VPNs in our are VPNs legal? guide.

VPN providers you should avoid!

Below we list the VPN providers that you should definitely avoid. We have reviewed over 150 VPN providers and offer in-depth analysis on them all. Check out our VPN reviews hub for more information. 

ProviderWhy avoid?Extra info
HolaCan sell data to third parties* Shares emails with marketing partners. Sells traffic data to sister firm. Shared anonymized data to third parties.Fraudulently steals & resells user bandwidth through sister company Luminati. DNS and WebRTC leaks detected.
BetternetCan sell data to third parties.* Allows advertisers to cookie users' browsers. Displays targeted advertising. Parent firm can access all data.Lets advertisers track and log user data. IP Leak in Chrome browser extension. Contains 14 tracking libraries in total (according to CSIRO report).
Hotspot Shield FreeCan sell data to third parties.* Redirects users to affiliate sites when browsing. Displays targeted advertising in-app and on websites.Uses 5 different third-party tracking libraries. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners. Shares all data with parent company.
PsiphonCan sell data to third parties.* Allows ad partners to track users. Displays targeted advertising.Shares data with their advertising partners. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners. Shares all data with parent company.
HoxxVPNCan sell data to third parties.* Isn't a VPN (it's a ShadowScos proxy service). DNS and WebRTC leaks. Tracks user activities and works with authorities.Keeps logs and sells them to third-party partners. Shares data with third-party affiliates and partners.
SuperVPNWilling to disclose information to authorities. Reports of it being infected with malware. Tracks user activities and works with authorities.Extensive access to user's sensitive information. Stores session logs in the UK and US.
ArchieVPNReports of being heavily infested with malware.Performs real-time analysis (claims this is for troubleshooting only).
Onavo ProjectCan sell data to third parties.* Uses user info for advertising and marketing. Displays ads to users.Belongs to Facebook. Shares and sells user data with third parties.
HatVPNHas no available privacy policy. Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Invasive app permissionsCould be doing anything they want with user data. Developed and based in China.
VPN by ApalonInvasive app permissions. Shares data with third parties for marketing purposes.Displays ads. In-app purchases.
Private Pipe VPNShares data with affiliate partners. Displays targeted ads on websites.Confusing privacy policy (claims no logs, but contradicts this claim).
Tuxler VPNCan sell data to third parties*. Uses logs to target ads at users.Shares user browsing data with advertising firms.
GO VPNCan sell data to third parties*. Admits to using customer data to build out their database. Displays targeted ads through the platform.Belongs to Chinese firm Talking Data. Willing to sell usage logs to third parties and partners. Extremely invasive app permissions.
HexatechCan sell data to third parties*. Allows advertisers to track and log user data. Advertisers can access user data whenever they want.Created by Betternet (belongs to a marketing firm). Displays ads to users.
TouchVPNCan sell data to third parties*. Adds Cookies, Pixel Tags and Web Beacons to user browsers.Shares anonymous data with third parties.
Faceless.meDoesn't work. The privacy policy is too ambiguous to be taken seriously.Has no support if you have concerns or questions.
FinchVPNCan sell data to third parties*. Reports of being heavily infested with malware.N/A
Cross VPNReports of being heavily infested with malware.N/A
VPN OneClick FreeReports of being heavily infested with malware. Outdated PPTP encryption on Android.Based in the UAE.
Flash Free VPNInvasive app permissions.Uses 11 third-party tracking libraries.
Fast Secure Payment VPNReports of being heavily infested with malware.N/A
sFly Network BoosterReports of being heavily infested with malware.N/A
IP-Shield VPNContains third-party tracking software.N/A
WiFi Protector VPNUses 5 tracking libraries.N/A
TigerVPNsFraudulently steals and resells users bandwidth.N/A
Private WiFiAppears to have poor or no encryption.N/A

*according to the privacy policy

Which is the best VPN software?

In an increasingly competitive market space, VPN providers are keen to stand out by offering additional bells and whistles in their custom software. These additional features can be useful, but should never come at the expense of the core functionality every VPN client should provide:

Features that top VPNs offer

As noted above, we think that effective IP leak protection and a kill switch should be a given in any decent VPN software. Other groovy features that top VPNs offer to set themselves apart from the pack include:

  • No logs policies

    Good privacy is achieved through privacy by design. We know that you aren’t using a VPN to do anything illegal, but a good tool should be designed from the ground-up to be as good as it can be at doing what it does.

    In the case of VPNs, a key aspect of fully realizing their purpose as a privacy tool is keeping no logs of what you do online. Simply put, a VPN provider cannot compromise your privacy by handing over logs to an adversary if it has no logs to hand over. This is good privacy by design. For a detailed look at this subject please check out best No Logs VPNs.

  • Strong encryption

    IP leaks are probably a bigger danger to your privacy when using a VPN than the risk of someone trying to break the encryption used to protect your data. But as we just said, a good tool is good by design, so a good VPN uses strong encryption.

  • Speed

    Distance between you and the VPN server will always be the biggest factor determining how fast your VPN connection is, but even taking this into account, some VPNs are faster than others. Check out a daily VPN speed tests for more information.

  • Smart DNS

    Smart DNS is an alternative technology to VPNs, used to spoof your location. It provides none of the privacy and security benefits of a VPN, and is therefore only really useful for unblocking streaming services. For this, however, it does offer some advantages over using a VPN:

    • It’s faster because no encryption/decryption is required, which means that buffering issues are less likely.
    • Almost every internet-capable device can be configured to use Smart DNS, including many devices such as games consoles and smart TVs which cannot run a VPN client.
    • Services which block VPNs can often (but not always) be accessed by Smart DNS instead. Stand-alone Smart DNS services are often comparable with the cost of a VPN service, but a number of top-tier VPN services throw in a Smart DNS service for free…
  • Obfuscation technology

    Regular VPN connections can be blocked using a simple firewall, something that repressive governments the world over take full advantage of.

    Most VPNs allow you to route OpenVPN connections over TCP port 443 in order to simulate regular HTTPS traffic. This can be effective but does not work against determined efforts to block VPN use. Some providers go the extra mile by providing more advanced ways to defeat VPN censorship. Please see How to bypass VPN blocks for more information on this subject.

  • Unblock Netflix

    Streaming services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and more try to block VPN users. Unless a VPN service takes special measures to evade such blocks, it is unlikely you will be able to use it to access such services.

    Fortunately, a number of top VPNs specialize in unblocking these and other streaming platforms.

  • Additional stuff

    Many VPN services offer additional features such as double-hop VPN, DNS filtering, built-in malware protection, and more. We are a little ambivalent about many of these, although they are undoubtedly useful to some.

    When considering extra bells and whistles, be sure that they are useful to you before allowing them to affect your purchasing decision.

FAQs

Conclusion

This article should provide you with lots of food for thought. But as we have already said, there is no reason to panic if it seems a bit too much. All the VPNs in our top 10 list are good services, so you can’t really go wrong.

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.

203 Comments

  1. Terry

    on November 28, 2019
    Reply

    Seems PrivateVPN doesn't want our business. If you try to visit the website using another VPN, you're blocked. Stupidity... if someone is going to pay them to switch from another VPN, why would they block them? Just like these idiot businesses that go political... they're throwing money away. I certainly won't waste any time on them. They're blocking me for using the type of service they're offering!

    1. Douglas Crawford replied to Terry

      on December 9, 2019
      Reply

      Hi Terry. Yes, we have noticed this too.

  2. KEK

    on September 19, 2019
    Reply

    I don't see VPNAC on either of your lists -- good or bad -- but I did not have a good experience with them an uninstalled it. It dramatically slowed down everything I did on every computer, even simple word processing. Two years later, its TAP drivers are still hidden in my system somewhere. I'll try one of your VPNs, and maybe that will override their TAP drivers.

  3. Francis

    on April 25, 2019
    Reply

    Team Surfshark here. I believe it's one of the best newcomers in a long looong time. The price and quality ratio says it all really. I'm glad I see it in more and more charts recently.

  4. Yankel Warshinski

    on March 31, 2019
    Reply

    Why is Panama regarded as "safe"? The CIA has owned Panama since Reagan and Iran contra. Ask Ollie North about that.

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