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VPNs are a tool for everyone. Why? When you turn on a VPN, it sends your web traffic through an encrypted tunnel to a server controlled by the VPN company. From there, your traffic goes to the web normally. If you make sure to connect only to websites protected with HTTPS, your data will remain encrypted, even after you leave the VPN.
This sounds simple, and perhaps superfluous, but it can profoundly affect your privacy. With a virtual private network (VPN), you can use the Internet more anonymously and securely using an encrypted connection. Most VPN providers require a monthly fee if you want to use their secure server network. However, there are some VPN providers that offer a free connection.
We compare dozens of VPNs to find out which are the best for online security, Zoom, Netflix, and more. In the end, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and CyberGhost topped the list. We researched and tested more than 40 VPN companies and chose ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost, Private Internet Access, and Hotspot Shield as our top picks. What stands out most about Express VPN is its interface, which is clean and easy to use.
It also doesn't collect the IP address, connection timestamp, or session duration. That huge number of 7,400+ servers is another great feature. In addition, CyberGhost allows you to connect up to seven devices, a (small) step beyond the five limit of NordVPN and ExpressVPN each. The best VPN service provider out there right now is ExpressVPN.
But there are plenty of other options to choose from if you're looking for a specific VPN feature or if you have a unique need, such as location, video calling, gaming, or streaming. VPNs like ExpressVPN stand between you and the websites you visit, so your data isn't as vulnerable to leaks and theft. And if you're at home, it's a good idea to install your VPN service directly on your router to protect your entire private network. More VPN servers mean more value.
When there are thousands of servers, as you'll find in apps like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost, you can almost always find a reliable and secure connection that's also fast enough for the purposes at hand. After testing, we found that the best VPNs are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost, Private Internet Access (PIA), Hotspot Shield, Surfshark, IPVanish, PureVPN, TunnelBear, and ProtonVPN. Both NordVPN and ExpressVPN are a solid option, but we think ExpressVPN has a slight advantage due to its speed, the increased number of countries to choose a server, and the use of dynamic IP addresses. PrivadoVPN is headquartered in Switzerland, a country with excellent privacy laws.
There are no strict data retention policies, which means that PrivadoVPN is not required to retain usage data. In fact, Private does not store any usage data as part of its no-logs policy. In addition to that, Privado uses first-class 256-bit AES encryption, in addition, it has a kill switch to protect the privacy of its users in the event of a sudden loss of the network. Hotspot Shield limited our data usage, but it was more generous than most other free VPNs.
Hotspot Shield updated our data allocation every 24 hours, giving us 500 MB of bandwidth to consume every day. That's around 15 GB per month, as long as we make the most of our daily allowance. However, the unused data didn't accumulate the next day, so if we only used 400 MB in one day, we would only receive 500 MB the next day. The daily limit made sense, as it helped us control our data usage.
Instead of giving us 15 GB per month, which, frankly, we could exploit in just a week or so, limited our daily usage, so we would still have bandwidth left by the end of the month. Most free VPNs don't offer access to streaming websites, but Atlas does. While we were connected to Atlas, we were able to stream from Netflix and Prime Video. However, keep in mind that there is a data usage limit of 10 GB per month, which could make your binge watching sessions difficult.
A couple of episodes of Bones, and your data allocation is gone. Still, if you're willing to sacrifice video quality, you might be able to binge using Atlas. While other VPNs limit the number of virtual locations accessible to free users, we loved that TunnelBear allowed us to connect to more than 20 different server locations. It allowed us to choose the server closest to us for faster speeds and to switch to different servers if our current connection was not good.
And for those of us who aren't into geography, TunnelBear's interface makes it easy to see where your servers are located. The interface also makes it easy to search for other nearby servers in case the closest one doesn't produce good speeds, or if you want to change the location of your iPhone to a specific country. Windscribe worked on almost any device we used at home. There were desktop clients for Windows, Mac and Linux, apps for iOS and Android, browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera, and even an app for our Amazon Fire TV.
That's impressive, but let's get back to basics. We use Windscribe mainly on our MacBook Pro. The desktop client connected all our applications to the VPN tunnel, while the Windscribe extension that we installed in our Chrome browser only encrypted our browser activity. It was useful because, given the data limit of 10 GB per month, we mainly use Windscribe for surfing the Internet.
If, for example, we wanted to search for something on Google during a Skype call, we could simply connect our browser to Windscribe without having to connect Skype and all our other desktop applications. We also looked at each VPN company's legal obligations to share customer information with the government. Companies based in member countries of the international surveillance alliances Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes are particularly risky because their government could force them to hand over customer information. While we're not going to go so far as to avoid them, we want our readers to know the risks.
Most free VPNs can bypass geo-restrictions, but for best results, we recommend free VPNs with servers in more than 10 locations. Not all free VPNs are secure, so we recommend getting a free version of a reputable paid VPN instead of downloading a VPN advertised as 100 percent free. . .