The Best VPN Services to use in 2021 | Top VPN Providers for all Devices Tested

The VPN market is full of services claiming to be the most secure, the fastest, or the best VPN around. So, who can you trust? We have reviewed over 140 different VPN services to find the best for our readers. This guide will help you cut through the noise to see which VPNs are at the top of the pecking order.

What is the Best VPN in 2021?

We have listed the best VPNs in 2021 below. Scroll down for a detailed summary of each provider.

  1. ExpressVPN - Our best VPN recommendation. It provides fast speeds and takes privacy seriously.
  2. NordVPN - The best VPN for unblocking all major streaming services.
  3. CyberGhost VPN - The best VPN for value. It has fantastic mobile apps for Android & iOS.
  4. Surfshark - The best cheap VPN. Don't be fooled by the price, Surfshark is a premium VPN with a budget price tag.
  5. VyprVPN - A solid all-rounder with privacy & speed thanks to their proprietary server network.

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A VPN will help keep your internet activity private and prevent websites and other organizations from tracking you as you surf the net. VPNs are also widely used for unblocking streaming services not available in your country.

Want to know more?

For more information about how a VPN works, check out our what is a VPN? non-technical beginner's guide.

 

At ProPrivacy we've tested 140+ VPNs over the years, comparing speeds, privacy features, encryption standards, price and other aspects to help find the best VPN services. Check out our VPN reviews for a list of services we tested.

The best VPNs to use in 2021: In-depth analysis

Below, you'll find an in-depth analysis of the best VPNs around. Take a look through the summaries to see which one is best for your personal needs.

The best VPN service in 2021: ExpressVPN is our #1 pick. This is a trustworthy and reliable service that is brimming with features for privacy, unblocking & streaming around the world.

  • Pricing

    • 12 month: $6.67/mth
    • 6 month: $9.99/mth
    • 1 month: $12.95/mth
  • Pros & Cons

    • Fantastic customer support available 24/7
    • Lots of security features
    • Super-fast servers - perfect for streaming and gaming online
    • 30-day money-back guarantee
    • Servers in over 94 countries
    • No port-forwarding
    • Expensive - but you get what you pay for
    • Only 5 simultaneous connections
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Server speeds

    • 54.74 Mbps
  • Popular services it Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Server locations

    • 160 countries
  • Encryption used

    • PPTP
    • L2TP/IPsec
    • IKEv2
    • OpenVPN
    • WireGuard

ExpressVPN Demo

ExpressVPN Demo
ExpressVPN Demo


ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs money can buy. It's an easy-to-use software that offers fantastic round-the-clock customer support, and I loved how customizable its apps were for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. Express even has setup guides to help you install the VPN exactly how you need it to work!


The apps are really intuitive, considering the sheer volume of features there are to play around with – I never felt overwhelmed, and the modern-feeling user interface surely made a big difference. If you're like me, you'll want to try ExpressVPN and check out its regional Netflix libraries.


Unblock everything!


With servers in 94 countries, it doesn't matter where you live – ExpressVPN will protect you from ISP and government snooping, and grant you the freedom to do whatever you want online, without the fear of being monitored. If you want to unblock Netflix libraries from around the world, Express has more than 30 to choose from – and you can get access to iPlayer, HBO, and Hulu too!


If torrenting is more your way of viewing content, its secure servers are lightning-fast, and can unblock popular torrenting sites such as ThePirateBay, so I was able to watch my favorite films and shows without the pain of buffering. My only gripe was that the service doesn't offer port-forwarding, so if this is a deal-breaker for you, you may want to consider another of the best VPNs for torrenting, such as Private Internet Access.


Watertight privacy


It's impressive just how much this service can improve your digital privacy. This VPN also keeps you secure when using public Wi-Fi networks as well as your home internet. Additionally, if you're looking to unblock restricted content in school or at work – this VPN is ideal.



Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) has even audited ExpressVPN to check its service, and they found it to adhere to its no-logs claims – so you can trust Express to do everything it says on the tin. Add to that a robust obfuscation (stealth) function, and you can use the VPN in places where authoritative government censorship dictates what people can or can't access on the internet.


For added peace-of-mind, it has a kill-switch, DNS leak protection, and split-tunneling to ensure that it is highly versatile, useful, and super-secure. This means your internet usage stays private, and if the connection drops, no information gets leaked.


ExpressVPN recently introduced its own proprietary 'Lightway' VPN protocol that promises to be faster, more secure, and more reliable than other VPN protocols available today.


Always fast


This VPN is also consistently one of the fastest VPN providers in the world (we test VPN speeds three times a day, using a proprietary server-based speed test system). Express regularly tops our charts as one of the fastest VPNs available, it consistently scores high and really lives up to the name – I connected to US servers to unblock Netflix from over here in the UK, and I was able to stream 4K content without any delay or buffering.

Tested by Hannah Hart

Tested by Hannah Hart

NordVPN is the best VPN for unblocking streaming sites. This unblocked pretty much every streaming site that we threw at it and it offers great speeds so you can stream in full HD.

  • Pricing

    • 24 month: $4.13/mth
    • 12 month: $4.92/mth
    • 1 month: $11.95/mth
  • Pros & Cons

    • Based in Panama (great for privacy)
    • Excellent value-for-money
    • Tor over VPN servers
    • Easy-to-use apps with an intuitive server map
    • IKEv2 client for Mac has fewer features than Windows
    • Doesn't unblock as many Netflix servers as ExpressVPN or Surfshark
    • Command-line only for Linux
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Server speeds

    • 17.35 Mbps
  • Popular services it Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Server locations

    • 59 countries
  • Encryption used

    • PPTP
    • L2TP/IPsec
    • IKEv2
    • OpenVPN
    • WireGuard

Nord Demo

Nord Demo
Nord Demo


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 features. 


NordVPN's apps are super easy to use, as a result we often recommend this service to VPN beginners. They plot all of their servers on a map of the world which makes it easy to navigate their server list and gives users a little geography lesson too!


NordVPN offers two Mac clients, which is slightly confusing. The older OpenVPN client has more features, but I detected a WebRTC leak when testing it which isn't great. I detected no such problem with the newer IKEv2 client – though it lacks the same depth of features. 


However, if you're a Windows user, then this service is pretty tough to beat. It allows 6 devices to connect at once which is generous and it's great value for money, especially if you opt for a long-term subscription.


Unblock shed loads of content


This service unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, iPlayer, HBO, NBC, ABC, and much, much more.


I tested using this service on vacation and I was able to stream BBC One and Two live and watch catchup shows via iPlayer when outside of the UK. I was also easily able to access Netflix US which is great and NBC. However, I did have some issues with buffering during ads when streaming free content on NBC. 



Nord also offers a full Smart DNS service to all users. I tried this out on my smart TV and although it was slightly difficult to set up, it allowed me to access geo-restricted content on my TV. Nord does have handy step-by-step setup guides on their website showing you how to set up their Smart DNS on LG and Samsung TVs as well as a generic guide if you have a different brand of TV.


If you like the sound of NordVPN then why not try it for yourself using their 30-day money-back guarantee.


Cheap, but Speedy!


I love NordVPN's consistent ability to provide high speeds, this makes it a joy to stream with. I hardly noticed any difference in speeds when browsing the web too. I tested it out when doing more bandwidth-intensive tasks such as connecting to video calls when using the VPN and I didn't notice much of a difference in my usual connection speeds.


Private and secure


In terms of privacy, it's outstanding. It is a no-logs VPN, which means it doesn't keep track of what websites you visit and how you use their service. The service is headquartered in Panama, which is a win for the privacy-conscious. Xor obfuscation (stealth servers) make NordVPN effective at combatting VPN censorship, while features such as double-hop VPN (double the encryption further hides your IP address), and Tor over VPN bolster its privacy credentials.


This VPN also has a built-in ad and malware blocker called CyberSec. It works by blocking 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.


Tested by Aaron Drapkin

Tested by Aaron Drapkin

CyberGhost VPN is the best VPN if you're looking for value. This VPN is competitively priced and offers a generous 45-day money-back guarantee to test it out. Why not give it a go today?

  • Pricing

    • 26 months special: $2.25/mth
    • 36 months: $2.25/mth
    • 24 months: $3.49/mth
    • 12 months: $3.99/mth
    • 1 month: $12.99/mth
  • Pros & Cons

    • 7 simultaneous devices
    • Based in Romania, which has no government surveillance
    • Servers in 61 countries worldwide
    • 45-day money-back guarantee
    • Cheap - a lot of VPN for a little pricetag
    • No obfuscated (stealth servers) - not suitable for countries like China
    • Tests showed a WebRTC leak
    • No OpenVPN client for Mac users
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Server speeds

    • 0.00 Mbps
  • Popular services it Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Server locations

    • 112 countries
  • Encryption used

    • PPTP
    • L2TP/IPsec
    • IKEv2
    • OpenVPN
    • WireGuard

CyberGhost Demo

CyberGhost Demo
CyberGhost Demo


CyberGhost VPN is a well-established VPN provider with an incredible reputation. It is a no-logs service based in Romania; a superb location for privacy thanks to its lack of mandatory data retention directives. Plus, this VPN had its software developed in Germany – a country that is known to have some of the best developers in the world.


Fast connections, no faff


VPN speeds are always a case of fine margins, and from our experience, CyberGhost can certainly keep up with the pack. I don’t really like unnecessarily complicated services – and believe me, there’s plenty on the VPN market – so if you’re looking for something that does the job without forcing you to faff around with settings, look no further than CyberGhost. I found that you can download CyberGhost and start using it straight away.


Feature-rich, and that's how we like it!


CyberGhost VPN has all the features you need to gain privacy both at home and on public Wi-Fi, and robust OpenVPN encryption ensures that you will always be able to conceal your traffic from your internet provider and even the government.



The kill-switch feature means that this VPN is perfect for torrenting and engaging in other sensitive online tasks. In addition, this VPN has obfuscation – which makes it an excellent option for people living in places where VPN use is blocked.


Guaranteed access to the American Netflix library


CyberGhost promises access to Netflix US using its 'streaming optimized servers'. It also gives users the ability to unblock other popular streaming services like iPlayer, Hulu, and Prime Video. Add to that a connection limit of up to seven devices at the same time, and the whole family can stream their favorite shows from around the globe!


If you're struggling to unblock a particular library, CyberGhost offers 24/7 live chat support if you need it, and you can test the service yourself thanks to its 45-day money-back guarantee. It's a superb all-rounder that is a great value for money on the longer subscription periods.


Tested by Attila Tomaschek

Tested by Attila Tomaschek

Surfshark is the cheapest option on our Best VPN list. Despite being a new service, it has quickly made a name for itself by offering excellent speeds and unblocking capabilities for a low price.

  • Pricing

    • 24 months: $2.49/mth
    • 6 months: $6.49/mth
    • 1 month: $12.95/mth
  • Pros & Cons

    • Unlimited simultaneous connections
    • Cheap and cheerful
    • Unblocks over 30 global Netflix libraries with ease
    • Lots of customization
    • One month price is high
    • Slower speeds than some of its more expensive competitors
    • Mac client isn't as fully-featured
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Server speeds

    • 40.77 Mbps
  • Popular services it Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Server locations

    • 63 countries
  • Encryption used

    • L2TP/IPsec
    • IKEv2
    • OpenVPN
    • WireGuard

Surfshark Demo

Surfshark Demo
Surfshark Demo


Surfshark hasn't been around for that long, but the provider has made a huge splash in a short amount of time. I was massively impressed with the speed of Surfshark's connection speeds, the number of features they offer, and its large server network. 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.


Jam-packed with features



Although SurfShark is cheap it is packed with useful features. This service offers split tunneling so you can choose which apps routes through the VPN and which don't, a full Smart DNS service which I found great for unblocking TV and movies on my Smart TV, and the fact that Surfshark unlocked every streaming service I threw at it. 


SurfShark offers users unlimited simultaneous connections meaning you can use this service on as many devices as you want with one subscription.


Unblock Netflix and more!


I am a Netflix junkie, so if I am looking to get the most out of our streaming options on the platform and unblock the most Netflix libraries, then I turn to Surfshark. That's because as of this writing, Surfshark can unblock 26 different Netflix libraries from all over the world. I've never had any issues streaming in HD no matter which library I want to access – because Surfshark's speeds are absolutely incredible.


Surf the web in private 


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 I 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 it uses obfuscation "as default with all servers". Unusually, Surfshark's iOS VPN app features a kill-switch, as do its Windows and macOS clients. It's macOS VPN client is, however, otherwise a little light on features.


Tested by Andreas Theodorou

Tested by Andreas Theodorou

VyprVPN is the most well-rounded VPN on our list. VyprVPN does everything and does it well. It has a proven no logs policy, excellent privacy features and unblocks most services.

  • Pricing

    • 36 months: $1.67/mth
    • 18 months: $2.5/mth
    • 2 months: $6.47/mth
  • Pros & Cons

    • Very fast and secure due to own infrastructure
    • Port selection
    • Proprietary Chameleon stealth servers for advanced obfuscation
    • An independently audited and no-logs service
    • Torrent friendly servers
    • A smaller server network than some of the other services on the list
    • Connection times can be a little slow
    • Does not accept crypto payments
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Server speeds

    • 32.14 Mbps
  • Popular services it Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Server locations

    • 70 countries
  • Encryption used

    • PPTP
    • L2TP/IPsec
    • IKEv2
    • OpenVPN
    • WireGuard

VYPR Demo

VYPR Demo
VYPR Demo


VyprVPN has always been known for the high technical quality of its service – aided by the fact that it owns and manages its entire network. I tried out VyprVPN's applications for a number of platforms and find its interface to be very user-friendly and straightforward.


Keeping things simple


Even with the technical quality it has, the provider has done a good job to not overcomplicate things. VyprVPN keeps it minimalist, but advanced settings can be easy to find. Their apps provide you with server ping times, which is useful to see which ones will be quickest. This feature really helped when I was trying to find a fast server to use for streaming and gaming.


A privacy trend-setter



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 for that indeed. On top of this, the company also boasts its proprietary obfuscation (stealth) protocol, Chameleon, which is designed to bypass strict government censorship, and can even get around deep-packet inspection (DPI).


The provider has addressed concerns over its privacy credentials by moving to Switzerland and going 100% no-logs, and has begun to allow torrenting on its network, which is great.


Plenty to choose from


With servers in over 70 countries, and up to five simultaneous connections per subscription, you've got plenty of options.


Tested by Ray Walsh

Tested by Ray Walsh

Private Internet Access is often claimed to be the best VPN by Redditors and it's hard to argue with that. It has proven its no logs claims in court and its encryption and privacy features are first rate.

  • Pricing

    • 38 months: $2.08/mth
    • 12 months: $3.33/mth
    • 1 month: $9.95/mth
  • Pros & Cons

    • No logs - proven in court!
    • Accepts Bitcoin
    • Perfect for torrenting
    • Budget-friendly
    • US-based company
    • Apple users not so impressed
    • No obfuscation (stealth servers)
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Server speeds

    • 24.88 Mbps
  • Popular services it Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Server locations

    • 74 countries
  • Encryption used

    • PPTP
    • L2TP/IPsec
    • IKEv2
    • OpenVPN
    • WireGuard

PIA Demo

PIA Demo
PIA Demo


Private Internet Access (PIA) has long been a consistent favorite with members of Reddit's privacy forums. I 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 a genuine no-logs VPN service.


A torrenter's paradise


The encryption used by Private Internet Access is first-rate, and I have never detected any IP leaks when testing the service. Peer-to-peer (P2P) torrenting is allowed on all servers, and torrent enthusiasts will appreciate the fact that PIA supports port-forwarding through its NAT firewall.



I had no issues torrenting with PIA, and was pleased to see split-tunneling available so that I could send the torrent through the client while still accessing the internet outside the tunnel to do other things.


Great for streaming right out the gate


When I used PIA's VPN apps on Android and Windows, I found that I was able to stream HD content with ease. Admittedly, looking through the settings could be a bit daunting for total beginners, but I was happy that it comes set to OpenVPN UDP by default, so it is actually ready to go straight out of the box.


Put it to the test


A 30-day money-back guarantee provides peace of mind, and 10 simultaneous connections should be more than enough – even for demanding users. 


Tested by Hannah Hart

Tested by Hannah Hart

IPVanish a top VPN pick at a great price point. We found IPVanish easy to use, with a wealth of servers to pick from .

  • Pricing

    • 12 months: $3.2/mth
    • 1 month: $10.99/mth
  • Pros & Cons

    • Accepts bitcoin
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections
    • Great speeds for fast access
    • Based in the United States
    • Customer support could be better
    • Struggles to unblock Netflix catalogs
  • Available for

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Server speeds

    • 24.58 Mbps
  • Popular services it Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • Amazon Prime
    • Hulu
  • Server locations

    • 75 countries
  • Encryption used

    • PPTP
    • L2TP/IPsec
    • IKEv2
    • OpenVPN

IPVanish Demo

IPVanish Demo
IPVanish Demo


IPVanish thoroughly impressed with how easy the app was to use across every platform on which I tried it. Whether I was using it on my laptop at work, or on my mobile devices when I was out and about, the apps performed consistently well.


Excellent Router support


I found IPVanish to be easy to set up on a router, which allowed our team to stream all kinds of content through a TV on our lunch breaks. The service has easy-to-use apps and nothing that you need is ever more than a few clicks away – so you can switch servers to hop around the world and stream your favorite content.



Unlimited connected devices make it great for big families


Anybody who wants to test the service – and who wants everyone they know to test the service – can do so risk-free, thanks to this provider's 30-day money-back guarantee and unlimited simultaneous connection allowance.


Where unblocking is concerned, IPVanish has servers in over 74 countries, and those servers provide access to popular services such as BBC iPlayer and Netflix US.


Plenty of security features to keep you safe


Privacy features such as DNS leak protection, a kill-switch, and XOR obfuscated (stealth) servers make it great for concealing your VPN use when necessary. I always make sure I've got a kill-switch active, so I know none of my information gets leaked if the VPN suddenly disconnects.


Despite being based in the US, which is admittedly not always considered the best place for a privacy-based service to be based, IPVanish makes up for this by ensuring it runs a completely no-logs service, and by giving users a wealth of security options. This means that once a session ends, there is never any record of what you do while connected.


Tested by Ray Walsh

Tested by Ray Walsh

Compare VPN speeds

When choosing a VPN the speed of its servers is vitally important. If you choose a slow service, then you will struggle to stream the content that you love and you'll waste time waiting for web pages to load. We regularly test VPN speeds to ensure that we are recommending the fastest VPN services around. Check out the table below to compare the server speed of the best VPN services in 2021. 

Place Provider Average Speed Max Speed Visit Site
1. 65.01 Mbit/s 72.26 Mbit/s Visit Site
2. 54.24 Mbit/s 82.05 Mbit/s Visit Site
3. 43.60 Mbit/s 68.91 Mbit/s Visit Site
4. 42.86 Mbit/s 55.21 Mbit/s Visit Site
5. 39.09 Mbit/s 78.88 Mbit/s Visit Site
6. 37.57 Mbit/s 103.38 Mbit/s Visit Site
7. 0.00 Mbit/s 0.00 Mbit/s Visit Site

Check out our VPN speed testing page for more information about how we conduct our tests. 

How does a VPN work?

A VPN is an online service that uses encryption to provide you with privacy and freedom online. You can use a VPN to gain data privacy on a PC, Mac, mobile device, or a router. Check out the video below for more information about how a VPN works.

...

What is a VPN Used For and How Does a VPN Work? ProPrivacy Explains ✅
What is a VPN Used For and How Does a VPN Work? ProPrivacy Explains ✅

By using a top VPN, you will gain all the advantages below:

How a VPN works


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How we found the Best VPNs

There are dozens of VPNs on the market. App stores are filled with VPNs, and a Google search brings back thousands of results. If you are new to VPN services, it makes picking once extremely daunting.

VPN companies all claim to be the best, but studies have revealed that many of them contain trackers, malware or to lie to users about the level of security they provide. What's more, due to their lack of knowledge, users often give terrible VPNs glowing reviews – which leads even more people astray.

The important thing to remember is that a VPN is supposed to provide privacy and allow you to unblock websites. It is the marriage of these two features that makes a VPN so useful, which is why it is important to stick to a service that does things right.

We have devised a comprehensive series of tests that allows us to check each VPN service carefully, to determine which VPNs are actually the best. The list below shows what we test before putting together our list of the best VPNs. 


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The advantages of using a VPN service

A VPN an extremely simple tool, but it provides a great wealth of benefits. We think everybody should use a VPN as it helps people gained an added freedom and security online. We explain in more detail below.

The benefits of using a VPN service

For just a few dollars a month, you'll receive the following benefits from your VPN:

Privacy from your ISP or government

A VPN encrypts your internet data and proxies your DNS requests. This basically means that your ISP completely unable to track what you are doing online. If your ISP can't track your web activity, that means the government, hackers, or advertisers also won't be able to get their hands on that information. This makes a VPN an extremely effective tool for protecting your privacy. 

If you want to learn more about government surveillance? We take a closer look at website and government surveillance in our ultimate online privacy guide.

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, not your true IP address. You should, however, combine the use of a VPN with browser add-ons which prevent website trackers for maximum privacy.

Evading censorship

Governments all over the world force ISPs to blacklist certain websites. In China, the list of websites and services that are blocked is huge. China is by far the clearest example of online mass censorship, to find out how you can get around Chinese content blocks, check out our guide listing the best VPNs for China.

Using a VPN is the perfect way to unblock any restricted content; no matter where you happen to live. A VPN lets you pretend to be in a different country so that you can bypass any local censorship.

See how our top VPNs compare:

ExpressVPN NordVPN CyberGhost VPN
Kill Switch
Obfuscation (stealth)
Self-hosted/Proxied DNS Yes Yes Yes
WebRTC leak protection
Bare Metal Servers?
IPv6 leak protection
Self-hosted DNS

Unblocking streaming services

Online streaming services use geo-restrictions to ensure that content is only available in a specific region. They do this to protect licensing agreements. This is annoying because the streaming service you are paying for actually has much more content!

Using a VPN opens the door to all those extra TV shows and movies by letting you pretend to be in a different country to bypass the restrictions.

Netflix US, UK, and Canada, for example, have much larger and more sought-after libraries of titles than elsewhere around the globe. With a VPN for Netflix, you can unblock Netflix (and other popular international streaming services like BBC iPlayer) and watch it from virtually anywhere in the world! Even if the service is restricted on your Wi-Fi network. 

What can the best VPNs unblock?

ExpressVPN NordVPN CyberGhost VPN
Netflix
iPlayer
Amazon Prime
Disney+
Hulu

Staying secure on Wi-Fi hotspots

It is possible for hackers – or the companies who run Wi-Fi networks – 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 or intercepting your data via public Wi-Fi. More information on this topic can be found in our VPNs for public Wi-Fi guide.

Torrenting 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. To torrent safely, without the very real risk of getting caught, you need to 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.

What can torrenters expect from our top VPNs:

ExpressVPN NordVPN CyberGhost VPN
Port forwarding
Torrenting Allowed?
Port selection
Split Tunneling
Dedicated Servers?

VPNs are legal just about everywhere in the world. Even in the countries where VPNs aren't easily accessible, VPNs are blocked by ISPs in order to prevent people from using them. The important distinction to remember is that while using a VPN is not in and of itself illegal, what you do while using one can be. It's best to check the law where you live in order to be completely sure that you understand the specifics regarding the legality of VPN use in your country.

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

Some VPN providers you should avoid!

Not all VPNs provide users with a good service, in fact, some VPNs provide substandard encryption, sell user data, or even contain malware. Below we list the VPN providers that you should definitely avoid at all costs.

Provider Why avoid? Extra info
Hola Can 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.
Betternet Can 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 Free Can 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.
Psiphon Can 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.
HoxxVPN Can sell data to third parties.* Isn't a VPN (it's a Shadowsocks 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.
SuperVPN Willing 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.
ArchieVPN Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Performs real-time analysis (claims this is for troubleshooting only).
Onavo Project Can 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.
HatVPN Has no available privacy policy. Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Invasive app permissions. Could be doing anything they want with user data. Developed and based in China.
VPN by Apalon Invasive app permissions. Shares data with third parties for marketing purposes. Displays ads. In-app purchases.
Private Pipe VPN Shares data with affiliate partners. Displays targeted ads on websites. Confusing privacy policy (claims no logs, but contradicts this claim).
Tuxler VPN Can sell data to third parties*. Uses logs to target ads at users. Shares user browsing data with advertising firms.
GO VPN Can 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.
Hexatech Can 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.
TouchVPN Can sell data to third parties*. Adds Cookies, Pixel Tags, and Web Beacons to user browsers. Shares anonymous data with third parties.
Faceless.me Doesn't work. The privacy policy is too ambiguous to be taken seriously. Has no support if you have concerns or questions.
FinchVPN Can sell data to third parties*. Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
Cross VPN Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
VPN OneClick Free Reports of being heavily infested with malware. Outdated PPTP encryption on Android. Based in the UAE.
Flash Free VPN Invasive app permissions. Uses 11 third-party tracking libraries.
Fast Secure Payment VPN Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
sFly Network Booster Reports of being heavily infested with malware. N/A
IP-Shield VPN Contains third-party tracking software. N/A
WiFi Protector VPN Uses 5 tracking libraries. N/A
TigerVPNs Fraudulently steals and resells users' bandwidth. N/A
Private WiFi Appears to have poor or no encryption. N/A

*according to the privacy policy

What goes into the best VPN software?

The very best VPN services offer advanced features and provide the highest possible levels of online privacy and security. Below, we've drawn up a list of the core VPN features a service must have in order to be considered reliable:


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Features that the best VPNs offer

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

No logs policies

What a VPN provider does with user data has a massive impact on whether that VPN can actually be considered truly secure. A no-logs policy provides 'privacy by design'. This kind of policy ensures that the VPN provider stores no records of what its users do while connected.

If the VPN never has any record of what its users do, it is impossible for that VPN to comply with a government warrant for data. As a result, it doesn't matter who approaches the VPN with a data request, there is simply nothing available in terms of user data to pass to them. For more information on privacy by design and VPNs, 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.

What VPN encryption protocols do our chosen VPNs provide?

ExpressVPN NordVPN CyberGhost VPN
L2TP/IPsec
SSTP
IKEv2
OpenVPN
WireGuard
PPTP
Shadowsocks

Smart DNS

Smart DNS is an alternative technology to a VPN, one that is used exclusively 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. That said, however, it does offer some advantages over using a VPN:

Obfuscation technology

Some governments use packet inspection and a simple firewall to block VPN-encrypted traffic. This allows repressive governments to cut people's internet if they are found to be attempting to conceal what they do online.

Most VPNs allow you to route OpenVPN connections over TCP port 443 in order to simulate regular HTTPS traffic. This method can be effective in certain instances, but will not work against more 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

Netflix is of course one of the most popular streaming services around, so a VPN must be able to unblock different Netflix regions. We also think a VPN should be able to access BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and more.

Unless a VPN service takes special measures to evade such blocks, it is unlikely you will be able to use it to access these types of streaming services.

Fortunately, a number of top VPNs specialize in unblocking these and other streaming platforms. If you are looking to unblock a specific TV show or movie, but you aren't sure what Netflix library it is in, you can check out our StreamCatcher tool. Simply search for whatever you want to watch to find out what VPN server you need to connect to in order to unblock it.

What Netflix Libraries can you unblock with our favorite VPNs?

ExpressVPN NordVPN CyberGhost VPN
USA
UK
Canada
Japan
France
Germany
Number of Netflix libraries 20 countries 16 countries 6 countries

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 can undoubtedly be useful to some users.

When considering any extra bells and whistles, be sure to consider if they are actually useful to you before allowing them to impact your purchasing decision.

FAQs

Conclusion

This article should provide you with food for thought. All the VPNs in our top 10 list are excellent services, so you can’t really go wrong. With that said, let's review our top picks:

  1. ExpressVPN - Our best VPN recommendation. It provides fast speeds and takes privacy seriously.
  2. NordVPN - The best VPN for unblocking all major streaming services.
  3. CyberGhost VPN - The best VPN for value. It has fantastic mobile apps for Android & iOS.
  4. Surfshark - The best cheap VPN. Don't be fooled by the price, Surfshark is a premium VPN with a budget price tag.
  5. VyprVPN - A solid all-rounder with privacy & speed thanks to their proprietary server network.

This post available in: Arabic German English Spanish French Hindi Dutch Portuguese Russian Turkish

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. 

235 Comments

George
on July 30, 2020
Reply
The VPN market is changing at unbelievable speeds. I remember only few years ago the majority of products on the market had much slower speeds, no live support and far fewer features. Right now all of the products on this list provide a premium experience to the end user. I've personally tried Nordvpn, Expressvpn and Cyberghost, was delighted by all of them. I would say don't hesitate, secure your online activity, and get any product from this list, you won't be disappointed!
Earnest B.
on July 4, 2020
Reply
Maybe this is of interest to some of the people here. I am a MacOS, iOS and Ubuntu user. I subscribed to NordVPN in December 2017. Quite happy with it until now for MacOS, not so much for iOS. Ubuntu is a special case due to the lack of a GUI, but it works fine. In May of this year after an update of the app on MacOS, I discovered that the app tried to connect to a couple of third party servers, especially servers belonging to Google LLC. After having contacted NordVPN twice about it, I was served the standard boilerplate answers. After another email, they admitted that they use Google Analytics to keep track of the usage, claiming "these tools are only used to check aggregated usage data in order to optimize our apps for better user experience and determine the efficiency of our marketing campaigns. However, they do not collect or track any identifiable information whatsoever." I have to admit here that I oversaw the new checkbox authorizing telemetry in the last version of the app. But the checkbox was checked after the update and probably few people would go to the preferences menu to find out. After all they say that this is all very secure, don't they? So, now imagine that you are using and paying for a VPN connection and the app just connects to a Google server directly from the app without your knowledge and delivers information about your connection and your activities..... I was quite taken aback. Could this be a way to improve their P&L? Inquiring minds are eager to know... Soon, I noticed that it was possible to block the app to access any server and that just allowing openVPN to connect was good enough. So far, fine. That was OK with me as long as I can control it. After a further update, the connection requests to Google disappeared. I thought: well, maybe somebody just had the good idea to stop that idiocy. They might have somebody reasonable in their offices. I was wrong. A couple of days later, the connection requests to third party servers were back and this time impossible to block them. The app would not work anymore without allowing third party connections. For me the case was clear enough. Although I still had around 200 days left, I requested the immediate removal of my account. Now evaluating other offerings...
Cotts
on July 2, 2020
Reply
Hi Douglas First of all I just want to say great website. I've got a couple of comments to add here. I'm surprised that PrivateVPN doesn't make this list. Sure, there are quite a few great VPNs out there, but even so I find it odd that say Vypr are number 4 and Private nowhere. Also, I can't find any mention on your website of StreamVia. Have you ever considered reviewing them? A friend has used them for years and swears by them. Their website has a professional feel to it and they have some unique offerings as well. Maybe take a look at some point, I'd be interested in your expert opinion.
lawrence cobb
on May 16, 2020
Reply
Douglas, I bought and used NordVPN for nearly all the 30 day money-back guarantee period, then canceled my purchase and got my money back. They repeatedly denied that the problem I was having with their service was their fault. I decided they were wrong, and bailed. Now I’d like your opinion on whether they should have fixed this, or is this normal VPN behavior that I should expect from other services: Soon after installing the VPN client on my Win10 laptop, while googling, I would randomly get a Google msg that refused to do the search for me until I filled in a Captcha. (I never got this problem before installing and using NordVPN, and haven’t gotten it since uninstalling.) The included information said I was searching so often that Google suspected I wasn’t human, and included the IP# assigned to the NordVPN client after it made a connection with its algorithmically chosen “best choice” server. NordVPN Support’s work-around that worked (among others that were useless) was to make my NordVPN client disconnect from the NordVPN server and reconnect to a different server. (To me, the mere fact that worked told me that NordVPN is doing their server NATting wrong, but they disagreed.) What do you think, and should I expect this problem using another service, like ExpressVPN?
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 lawrence cobb
on May 18, 2020
Reply
Hi lawrence. Although by no means universal, this is a common problem encountered when using a VPN service. The IPs you are issued by the VPN company are shared among many users. This great for privacy as it makes tracing an IP back to an individual user very hard, even when logs are kept (and NordVPN doesn't keep logs). But it does mean that the IP can get blacklisted thanks to the behaviour of other users (or in your case, simply because so many users have searched using that IP address). NordVPN's suggested the solution it did in the hope that the new server's IP hasn't been placed on a blacklist somewhere (so no, its not a NATing issue). This whole problem can be mitigated against somewhat by VPN providers who regularly refresh their IP pools, but the frequency with which each service does this is not usually public knowledge. ExpressVPN offers 30-day no-quibble money-back guarantee (which it is very good at keeping), so the best I can suggest is giving it a try and see what happens...
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