ExpressVPN Received CNET Editors' Choice Award for Best VPN Overall. Express isn't the cheapest, but it's one of the fastest and, so far, the safest. CyberGhost is one of the best and most intuitive VPNs on the market. CyberGhost strikes the ideal balance between a powerful set of features and an interface that's intuitive enough for users of all levels.
Features include dedicated server locations for streaming and torrenting, as well as privacy-focused NoSpy servers. CyberGhost offers a generous 45-day refund period, so you can test the system yourself without having to commit. NordVPN is a fast and secure VPN service with a host of unique features. It's one of the most secure VPNs out there, combining AES-256 encryption with an ad and malware blocker, as well as dual VPN services, also known as multihop connections.
If you want to bury your online presence, NordVPN provides the tools. NordVPN has a robust set of add-ons for its VPN plan, including NordLocker, a file encryption service; NordPass, a password manager; and most importantly, a dedicated IP address. If you need it, NordVPN also offers a Team subscription for small businesses, although its price is opaque. What sets IPVanish apart from the competition, according to our standards, is its lack of additional features and, most importantly, its lack of a dedicated IP address add-on.
Without a dedicated IP, IPVanish may not be the best option for heavy duty or business use. Where IPVanish stands out is its sensible user experience, top-notch security, and affordable pricing. It's also available with SugarSync, in case you're looking for some online storage. ExpressVPN is a kind of poster for the personal VPN market.
It is unmatched in security and ease of use, providing an intuitive VPN application that has a wealth of advanced technology behind the scenes. In addition to AES-256 encryption via standard VPN protocols, ExpressVPN offers its patented Lightway protocol that increases speeds without compromising security. ExpressVPN aims to intentionally protect individual VPN users and not companies, who apparently can track the behavior of their employees through a business VPN. Therefore, ExpressVPN doesn't offer any of these services.
In a market for copycat VPNs, Surfshark manages to stand out with a list of unique features. This includes split tunneling, which allows you to send only selected applications through the VPN tunnel, and multi-hop connections, which bounce your tunnel across multiple servers for added security. Unfortunately, Surfshark doesn't offer dedicated IP addresses. However, it allows you to manually connect to a limited number of shared static IP addresses for free, which can help access working documents remotely.
This feature alone could make it the perfect choice for users with specialized workflows. Check out our Surfshark review for more information. Our experts did the heavy lifting of testing dozens of VPNs, and these services performed better. We've all thoughtlessly joined public Wi-Fi networks before, whether in coffee shops, subways, libraries, or airport lobbies.
Many of us don't pay much attention to it, but connecting to public Wi-Fi isn't the safest practice. In fact, it could lead to the theft of some of our sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords, bank account information, etc. The truth is that public networks don't offer much protection, and since anyone can easily connect to them, hackers could use those networks to hijack data from other public Wi-Fi users. Fortunately, there are virtual private networks (VPNs).
When you use a VPN, it encrypts your web traffic and routes it through a private virtual tunnel. It's like having your own secret path to the Internet. And with encryption, even if a hacker intercepts your Internet traffic, all they'll see is a mess of data packets. After testing dozens of VPNs, we've become familiar with the major VPN brands.
Below, we list the best in terms of features, security and speed. Plus, they're also some of the most innovative VPNs we've seen. For example, not to spoil anything, but our first-choice NordVPN not only encrypts internet traffic, but recently added a feature that also keeps you away from harmful websites and blocks intrusive ads. The purpose of a VPN is to keep you safe when you're online, and VPNs aren't much more secure than NordVPN.
Not only does the company employ best-in-class security features, such as AES-256 encryption and the OpenVPN protocol along with its proprietary NordLynx protocol, but it offers additional features that you won't find in other VPNs. For example, NordVPN blocks intrusive ads, trackers, and malicious websites. With multihop, user connections are not routed through an encrypted tunnel, but through several encrypted tunnels. In addition, NordVPN has a strict logging policy and is located in Panama, a country outside the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes surveillance alliances.
Whether you're looking to avoid government espionage or gardening hackers, NordVPN has you covered. Surfshark made it easy for us to download and download movies and TV shows without fear of retaliation. With unlimited subscription-based devices, this VPN gave us a different IP address each time we connected, making it very difficult to track; however, if we wanted to keep the same IP address, it was also an option. In addition to that, it allows you to stream Netflix in addition to downloading torrents.
When you connect to a VPN, government and network surveillance can't know what you're doing online, but they can infer that you're using a VPN based on how your traffic looks. The problem with that is that it could get you in trouble if you travel to a country that restricts or prohibits the use of VPNs. Surfshark has an ingenious solution called Camouflage Mode, or in general VPN terms, obfuscation. Basically, Surfshark uses technology to camouflage your traffic and make it look like you're not using a VPN.
It's a great privacy feature, especially if you travel frequently. While we only connect to Surfshark from the old United States of America, they have options in more than 60 countries, from Vietnam to Albania. In the U.S. In the US, there are servers in more than 20 cities, including L, A, Chicago, Dallas, Boston; you know.
The closer you are to a server, the better your connection. With Surfshark, we were more than satisfied. It's no secret that we love streaming, and the amazing thing about Surfshark is that we didn't have to test a bunch of different servers to stream on different platforms. Let us give you an example.
We were dying to see National Treasure on Disney+, for obvious reasons related to Nick Cage. Normally, with VPNs, we have to try to connect from several different servers before finding one that the streaming service hasn't blocked, but Surfshark did that job for us, automatically finding the right server for the right streaming service. In addition to Disney+, we also stream from Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Spotify and YouTube, although the VPN works with even more services. Learn more about the best VPNs for YouTube TV.
Surfshark also works with Apple TV, making it one of the best VPNs for Apple TV, too. We got a new IP address every time we connected to Private Internet Access, which is definitely preferred to static IP addresses. That made us more difficult to track, guaranteeing our anonymity online. Think of it as if you were wearing a mask; if you wore the same mask every time, people would eventually grasp your identity.
With private internet access, we got a new mask every time we logged in, which made would-be hackers guessing. One day we used IPVanish in the library, and when the connection failed, the VPN closed all our web windows automatically, ensuring that no one could see our IP address or web traffic. This was much better than the alternative, although we had to reopen the windows that IPVanish “killed”. Of course, when we were downloading large files and didn't want to be interrupted even if the VPN failed, we had the option to turn off the kill switch.
All of the VPNs we've reviewed have privacy policies that describe what types of data they collect, why they collect those types of data, and how they use them. However, not all of them have been audited as IPVanish. The Leviathan Security Group, an independent security and privacy auditing firm, audited IPVanish's privacy and security practices this year. They found that IPVanish's claim that it doesn't record browsing and usage data is true.
The firm also determined that IPVanish is not invasive to its users' privacy, making it a solid VPN for privacy-conscious users. As long as you don't track any of this data, we feel quite safe and secure. VPNs serve multiple purposes, but Ivacy actually set up servers optimized for specific purposes. It has servers optimized for streaming, downloading, unlocking content and much more.
We made the most of its streaming capabilities, as it allowed us to access Netflix without interruption. However, it's not just for Netflix, as we were able to use Iprivacy to stream on Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, Kodi, BBC and other streaming platforms. More and more VPNs have started offering additional benefits to their customers, such as free cloud storage. Atlas provides a data breach monitor in all of its payment plans.
This monitor analyzes leaked databases for your personal information. While it's not as comprehensive as the best identity theft services, it does provide important early warnings so you can change your credentials and lock your accounts at the first sign of problems. Atlas VPN prices are among the lowest we've found, but they also have a free plan. This is not one of those tests with a strict 500 MB data limit.
It's not set up to give you a measly seven days of service before you move to an expensive paid plan. It's not one of those VPNs that offer a free service by selling your data to the highest bidder. Atlas free VPN is a true VPN that can keep you safe and secure while browsing the web. You're limited to just three servers, but there are no data limits and you'll never have to worry about Atlas handing over your personal information to anyone.
ExpressVPN is at the forefront of VPN technology. In addition to adopting existing VPN protocols, it developed a proprietary protocol that is secure and fast, called Lightway. This VPN protocol runs on just 2,000 lines of code, much less than protocols like OpenVPN. And, as a result, it's lightweight and provides a smooth user experience.
Of course, ExpressVPN didn't keep up with our traffic or web activity, which is the most basic thing we expect from VPNs intended to give us privacy. But they didn't store much more information than necessary either; they only knew what application and version we were using, when we used it, the server we connected to and the amount of data we were transferring in MB. Fortunately, our traffic, metadata, and DNS queries weren't recorded. There are VPNs that we consider “leaking” because their technology doesn't effectively block the leak of IP addresses and browsing data.
However, ExpressVPN is far from it. It is one of the most secure VPNs on the market, capable of blocking DNS leaks and WebRTC leaks. In fact, once you're connected to ExpressVPN, you can use your website's WebRTC leak detector to make sure you're not leaking your IP address through your browser's WebRTC function. Every time we tried ExpressVPN for those leaks, we didn't find any, just the result we expected.
PureVPN is one of the best VPNs for traveling, with more than 6,500 servers in 78+ countries, including the UK and the UK. This made it easier for us to travel without joining shady Wi-Fi networks and without falling into Internet censorship. PureVPN hid our browsing history and IP address so we could be more anonymous online. Everything we did online, on the other hand, was ours to keep it.
And since PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, a company that is not a member of Five Eyes, the company cannot legally be required to give our information to the government. Throw in some AES-256 encryption, the highest standard there is, and PureVPN is certainly trustworthy when it comes to privacy. CyberGhost has more than 7,500 servers in 91 different countries, so even though we only tested it in the United States, wherever in the world you're in, you probably won't have problems connecting either. The company is based in Romania, it is not a member of the international surveillance networks that we continue to mention, and Romania, as a country, has almost no data retention laws of its own, which makes CyberGhost an excellent choice for privacy.
In general, we avoid free VPNs because they are prone to suspicious privacy practices and because most of them are limited in what they can do. However, Hotspot Shield is a reputable company with a proven track record, so we had no problem testing their free VPN. It still has limits; for example, only one device can be connected at a time and there is a daily data limit of 500 MB (which we think is generous). But we liked that the free VPN was covered by the company's no-logs policy, so we didn't worry about Hotspot Shield logging our activity and selling our data to third parties.
Hotspot Shield was one of the fastest VPNs we tested on our Windows and Mac computers. Download speeds decreased by 30% and 18%, while upload speeds decreased by 0.2% and 26% on Mac and Windows, respectively. Although the latency was a little more than we would have liked, Hotspot Shield is an excellent option to download torrent files or watch Netflix. Norton Secure VPN encrypted our web activity and concealed our IP address with AES-256, the same encryption as the U.S.
UU. Government and military use, so you know it's safe. Beyond that, in some places, the VPN encrypted our web activity and changed our IP addresses several times, a process called multi-hop or double-hop. That made it much more difficult to track us online, from our personal emails to the items we bought on Etsy.
After all, no one needs to know about our obsession with vintage cookie jars. In addition to our list of the best VPNs you're currently reading, we've also reviewed the best VPNs for games, iPhones, and Android, as well as the best free VPNs and the best VPNs for Xbox. Most of the above VPNs are on these lists, along with a few other options that we tried and liked. VPNs, also known as virtual private networks, are software that allows users a “private connection to the Internet”, meaning that their traffic and web activity will be hidden in an encrypted tunnel and their IP addresses will be replaced.
By connecting to private servers, people can ensure that their web traffic is not easy to hack for someone who is on the same public Wi-Fi network. Because all your traffic will be encrypted, no one will be able to access the websites you have visited or your credentials, such as your usernames, passwords, financial account information, and other sensitive personally identifiable information (PII). Depending on your country, VPNs may or may not be legal, and countries also differ when it comes to net neutrality and domain blacklisting. But as the popularity of VPNs increases, we expect more international servers to be created than ever before.
Whether it's accessing your office's private network while working from a local coffee shop or watching HBO Max on your trip to China, VPNs can be useful for more than just general privacy or online security, but they'll give you that, too. VPNs work by connecting the user to a private server and not to a public server. The private server encrypts web traffic and user activity in a tunnel and replaces their IP address, making them much less likely to be hacked while on a public Wi-Fi network. Most VPN companies have servers around the world so that users can connect as locally as possible; the closer the server is, the faster the speeds while they are connected.
Some VPNs even encrypt user traffic multiple times across multiple servers, a process called “multihop”. Anyone using the Internet on a public Wi-Fi network needs a VPN. They are also ideal for anyone traveling abroad who needs access to a private network in another location, or for anyone who wants to bypass government, school, or work restrictions on Internet use. VPNs are ideal for journalists, activists, whistleblowers, and anyone else who wants to be as anonymous as possible online.
Getting a VPN is as easy as downloading an app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store; you can also use a browser extension if that's easier for you. Of course, we recommend that you research the VPN thoroughly before connecting, since not all of them are created equal. A good place to start is our best VPN page; scroll up to see our tried and tested favorite picks. First, we start with the VPN itself, making sure it has all the necessary features for a VPN and putting it through speed and security tests.
Many people who use VPNs do so to protect their web traffic, consisting of domain name servers (website names) and their respective IP addresses. We also want to make sure that users' private IP addresses aren't leaked due to WebRTC, which allows browsers to communicate directly with each other and is the default option in browsers such as Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Opera. Since many people use VPNs for media such as movies and TV, we looked for VPN with Netflix and access to torrents. Keep in mind that Netflix is constantly updating its code to block any VPN connection, so there's no guarantee that it will ever work on a VPN.
Another feature we're looking for is split tunneling, which allows users to access both the VPN and the public network at the same time. This allows for lower bandwidth, which can create faster speeds. We also prefer double- or multi-hop VPNs, as they encrypt data multiple times across multiple servers. Compared to public Wi-Fi hotspots, our home networks are, for the most part, safer from hackers looking to steal our data.
However, hackers aren't the only ones looking for our Internet traffic. Congress has given Internet service providers (ISPs) the go-ahead to sell their consumers' browsing data. Right now, your ISP could be snooping through your browsing history, looking for data to sell. While a VPN won't be able to stop your ISP from doing so, it will make it much more difficult for anyone to link your Internet traffic to you and your devices.
Therefore, to answer the question, a VPN is necessary even at home if you want greater privacy from the prying eyes of ISPs. Before you open Netflix, connect to your VPN so that no one can see your web traffic and voila, you can binge privately. Does anyone want Breaking Bad? They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but for VPNs, that's not exactly the case. Some VPNs have free options, either for a limited period of time, such as 30 days, or for a limited amount of data.
If you want to use a VPN only for a short period of time, check out free options like TunnelBear or Hotspot Shield. However, for long-term VPN use, it's worth spending money for a monthly or annual subscription. The best VPNs are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish, Ivada VPN, PureVPN, CyberGhost, Hotspot Shield, ProtonVPN, Surfshark, Private Internet Access, and Norton Secure VPN. Is it worth paying for a VPN.
VPNs that are “free” tend to limit the time you can use them and the amount of data you can use while you're connected, which is quite limiting for most people. If you're constantly using public Wi-Fi networks or want to access a private server, it's worth spending a few dollars a month on VPNs. Overall, VPNs are reliable, as almost none of the companies we reviewed recorded our traffic or web activity. However, some VPNs are definitely more reliable than others; we prefer companies based in non-member countries to Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes, the international surveillance alliances.
We also look for VPNs with strict logging policies that only retain the minimum amount of customer data to run their services; these types of VPNs are more reliable than most. You can't usually be tracked if you use a VPN. VPNs hide your traffic and web activity and replace your real IP address with a replacement. However, some VPN companies keep your real IP address along with your device type, the times you connected to the Internet, and more information that could be used to track people.
Get 3 months FREE of the best VPN (opens in a new tab), Tom's Guide readers can claim 1 year of Backblaze and 3 months free on a 12-month plan with ExpressVPN, that's 15 months for the price of 12. But for everyone else, the service offers a tremendous amount of power, but it's still very accessible to VPN newcomers, and it has some of the best value for money plans. You can use Ivacy VPN on 10 devices simultaneously, and the VPN offers apps for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. . .