Finding the best VPN that will keep you safe online can seem impossible. There are hundreds of VPNs out there, all claiming to be the best.
Our experts spent months putting over 300 tests through their paces to find out which ones deliver what they promise – and do it well. We connected with these VPNs from around the world, and researchers tested them in internet-blocked countries like China and Russia to check their security, reliability, and connection speeds.
We even called Google and PayPal to investigate some of the rumors surrounding VPNs. We also removed some suspicious VPNs from our list: although they haven’t been caught sharing user data yet, we fear they will soon.
Our honest, comprehensive review will help you choose the right VPN, whether you want to stream Netflix, avoid government censorship, or stay completely anonymous online.
It’s not just about size – some of the smaller VPNs have outperformed some of the big brands, even if they don’t have the marketing budget to match. And when we tested them, we found that some popular VPNs are largely worthless – and some are dangerous!
We can honestly say that, based on our rigorous testing and reviews, our top 10 VPNs will keep you safe, protect your data, and give you lightning-fast streaming speeds.
Are you Busy to Read Full Review? Here is The Quick Summary of Best VPN 2024
- ExpressVPN – Fast Speed, and Safe to use internet, easily bypass all servers including China.
- NordVPN – Strong security service, unblocks Netflix, Prime video, Hulu, etc.
- Surfshark – Good server coverage, no logging policy.
- CyberGhost – App is Easy to use, Great Customer Support.
- StrongVPN – Easy to use, No logging policy
The Best VPN – A Comprehensive Analysis
With our team working in over 40 countries around the world, we’ve conducted hundreds of tests over several months to find out which VPNs offer the best speed, security, and reliability. We spent weeks surfing, downloading, streaming, and torrenting to bring you these confirmed results.
NordVPN torrent support is definitely a strong point, and it also has a lot to offer in terms of privacy, with many smart features that help you stay safe and anonymous online. Of course, you’ll remember that NordVPN security reputation was tarnished in the past by the 2018 hack, but the company has learned a lot from it and has implemented many commendable measures and audits since then (it’s important to note that other VPNs haven’t been audited as often).
Performance is good, it’s one of the fastest VPNs we tested, and we were able to unblock Netflix or other streaming content on demand (albeit sometimes only via the VPN’s browser extension).
NordVPN’s mobile app is better than most VPN providers, and the Windows client is generally pretty good – though the latter has some odd quirks, it’s nothing major and generally pretty user-friendly. Aside from that, there are plenty of high-quality tutorials to help you set up your VPN, and great customer support, which is good for those who aren’t as tech-savvy if you somehow run into trouble.
The large network of servers makes it even better, and NordVPN’s commendable 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee is worth mentioning. If you are not satisfied, you can get your money back in the first month without any hassle.
You can also consider NordVPN as a high-quality, all-in-one VPN. Even though some competitors offer better performance in some areas, if you want to get everything right – and most importantly, a stable service – NordVPN won’t steer you wrong.
Pros and Cons for NordVPN
- Zero logging policy
- Strong security
- The fastest VPN we’ve tested
- Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, etc
- Allows up to 6 simultaneous connections
- Over 5,000 servers in over 60 countries
- Some unreliable servers
- Suffered a data breach in late 2019
Surfshark VPN is another newer provider that competes with larger providers on almost every level. It specializes in unlocking region-specific content, such as Netflix and other streaming services. Perhaps most notably, Surfshark VPN is the only provider on this list that allows unlimited connections per account. While it doesn’t have as many server locations, it is on par with the older providers in terms of speed and security. It does not keep logs and can torrent as well. Live chat support is available 24/7.
It bypasses censorship in China and other countries with restricted Internet access. The application is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Fire TV, and Linux operating systems and offers extensions for Firefox and Chrome browsers.
Pros and Cons for SurfsharkVPN
- Unlimited devices
- Operates in the UAE and China
- Unblocking of Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer
- No logging of any kind
- Relatively small server network
- Very small network size and sometimes slow server speeds
ExpressVPN is a highly regarded VPN service that many people use – but how does it actually work? Over the past year, ExpressVPN has made some major security and infrastructure upgrades. The biggest change was the release of Lightway, a new VPN protocol that promises faster speeds and improved encryption – but also has some notable drawbacks.
We purchased an ExpressVPN account and tested the VPN app on both desktop and mobile operating systems to answer these questions and more.
Pros and Cons for ExpressVPN
- Strong security
- Fast speed
- No identification records
- Unlocked from Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, etc
- Easy to use
- 24/7 live chat support
- Working in China
- Slightly more expensive
CyberGhost is easily one of the cheapest VPNs out there if you’re willing to commit to a longer plan and get theindustry-leading 45-day money-back guarantee. However, the monthly plans are more expensive and only offer a 14-day guarantee.
CyberGhost, while not independently audited, makes a strong statement about whether it logs user activity (it doesn’t) and its app seems thoroughly secure. The transparency report is also a nice touch.
CyberGhost delivered speeds of 160-180 Mbps in the UK and 180-240 Mbps in the US on test connections . That’s not incredible, but certainly enough to satisfy the vast majority of users. It’s also enough to stream and torrent to your heart’s content. However, our tests show that you can’t access BBC iPlayer.
If you want to torrent, you’re still in luck, because while not all servers are P2P compatible, there are plenty of options. There are also some really nice features, such as automatic connection when using certain apps, which can help ensure the ultimate in torrenting security.
On desktop computers, especially Windows, CyberGhost’s client is very powerful and offers a lot of additional features that you wouldn’t normally find in any VPN, let alone at such a low price. The mobile app is quite usable, but it lacks functionality compared to some of its competitors.
Finally, if there are any issues, CyberGhost’s customer support is one of the best, and the live chat operators are always helpful and knowledgeable – but note that some of the written instructions can be difficult to understand. Overall, CyberGhost is a really capable VPN with only a few minor issues, such as the lack of a mobile interface and iPlayer support, that keep it from truly being among the elite.
Pros and Cons for CyberGhost
- Fast server optimized for streaming
- Connects up to 7 devices at once
- Turns off all apps and does not save logs
- App is great for beginners
- Does not work reliably in China or the United Arab Emirates
Private Internet Access(PIA)
Private Internet Access or PIA is a US-based software company that offers a virtual private network of the same name. PIA is known for its strict zero-logging policy and its commitment to ensuring the complete privacy of its users. They offer over 20,000 servers in 70 different countries around the world. The apps are available for Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, and Android, and also offer browser extensions for Google Chrome, Opera, and Mozilla Firefox. PIA uses military-grade encryption to protect users personal online data, and uses industry-standard OpenVPN Among PIA’s in-app security features is the ability to customize the app to your needs. They offer a kill switch function, DNS leak protection, and IP leak protection. As well as a Mace feature that blocks domains used by third-party providers.
Pros and Cons for Private Internet Access
- Very fast speed
- Unlocked US Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Allows torrents on all servers
- Advanced and customizable encryption
- Low price
- Not available in China
- Located in the privacy-friendly USA
Although IPVanish has a turbulent past, it is still a very good VPN service in 2024. It’s fast, secure, and now totally reliable. It offers excellent speeds and over 40,000 VPN servers in 75 locations.
Pros and Cons for IPVanish
- Excellent Fire TV Stick VPN application
- Excellent short-term speed
- No storage of network activity logs
- Unlocks US Netflix
- Over 40,000 IP addresses in 75 locations
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Does not unblock BBC iPlayer or Disney+
- Located in the US where privacy is not tight
- Can’t bypass Chinese network censorship
- No VPN browser extension
- No intelligent DNS tools
- Handed over information to the FBI in 2016
When we tested ProtonVPN’s speed, we found an impressively low 9.6% speed loss compared to the average speed without VPN. ProtonVPN’s base speeds outperformed most of the services we tested, coming in second only to ExpressVPN. Even more impressive is that Proton was able to achieve these speeds despite its relatively small number of 1,259 servers in 55 countries. As with ExpressVPN, Proton costs more than most of the VPNs we tested. Still, ProtonVPN’s high security standards and traditional transparency are probably worth the price of this VPN.
In addition to being able to send traffic through the secure mask of a private server, we liked ProtonVPN’s transparency policy: it’s completely open source, publishes regular audits, and includes a built-in VPN route to Tor servers. We also highly recommend it for mobile applications, as it eliminates some of the weaker security protocols like PPTP and L2TP that some other VPNs still use.
As for the price, we’d like to see ProtonVPN come in a bit lower. The basic plan, called ProtonVPN Plus, costs $8 per month ($96 per year). This price is higher than our Editor’s Choice VPN, and the best package for ExpressVPN is the annual plan for $6.67/month. ProtonVPN is also outpriced by NordVPN’s two-year package at $5 per month ($60 per year), and Surfshark is currently available for $6 per month ($72 per year). ProtonVPN does offer a $4 per month package, but this package does not include enough valuable features to compete with NordVPN.
Tunnelbear‘s free subscription option allowed us to use 500 MB of data on five different devices. While this amount of data isn’t enough to watch TV or listen to music, it’s definitely enough for our basic web browsing, and there are affordable monthly and annual packages available if we want to upgrade. With the annual plan, we get unlimited data on five devices for just $59.88, or $4.99 per month if we pay monthly. We also like the fact that Tunnelbear is audited by a third party, as this means they take their no-log policy seriously.
Pros and Cons for TunnelBear
- Offers a free version
- Great app for iOS and Android
- Reliable no-log policy
- Independent third-party audits
- Based in Canada
- Disappointing customer support
- No access to Netflix
- Only available on Android devices for torrents
Although Hotspot Shield is perhaps best known for its free VPN, it offers a full-featured paid VPN that is impressive. It offers incredibly fast VPN speeds and a decent price, and it’s also easy to use.
Although there are some drawbacks to maximum speed – namely that the hotspot’s own protocol, Catapult Hydra, can’t be manually configured on the router like OpenVPN – the service has come a long way since our last review and is now one of our top recommended VPNs.
Improvements include the addition of a Linux app, a slight decrease in the price of the annual package, and an increase in the number of countries covered (which is now over 80). You also get some free services – the best of which is 1Password.
There are still some issues with logging, but if we’re honest, they’re not major. More data is collected than ExpressVPN, for example, but there’s still no way to link your activity – that’s a trade-off many will make for speeds above 400 Mbps.
So if you’re looking for fast streaming on almost any service, or want to download torrents securely as quickly as possible, Hotspot Shield is definitely worth a look.
Pros and Cons for Hotspot Shield
- A decent free version
- The fastest VPN we’ve tested
- Servers in China and Russia
- Great for streaming media
- Some minor session logs
- No manual configuration required on the router, etc
Of all the VPNs on this list, HideMyAss! tops the list in terms of server locations. It has found servers in about 200 locations in more than 200 countries around the world. While you will find few locations outside Europe and North America with other providers, HideMyAss! 14 locations in the Middle East, over 50 in Africa, and 55 in Asia-Pacific.
Of course, server variants are far from a panacea (in fact, in the grand scheme of things, it’s a pretty small “win”). However, the VPN provider has been around for a while and is part of the well-known cybersecurity company Avast. It obviously takes data protection very seriously and has joined the list of VPN providers that have independent auditors confirm that they adhere to all security standards.
The app is easy to use and covers the basics well. You can use HideMyAss VPN! (or HMA, as it seems to be more popular these days) pretty much anywhere, with customized apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. OpenVPN supports maximum compatibility with other devices, as well as guides to help you set it up on routers, smart TVs, game consoles, and more from services.
Nonetheless, the online support page is quite inadequate. If you have any questions about setting up or using the service, a 24-hour live chat with a customer service representative is available.
Still, we can’t help you streamers, unfortunately. Aside from Netflix, HMA has really struggled to displace most of the other big names in TV streaming. That’s a black mark, but if your main reason for buying a VPN is secure online anonymity, it doesn’t matter to you.
Pros and Cons for HMAVPN
- Wide choice of server locations
- Truly convenient on-site support
- Proven no-log policy
- No service for streamers
- Only basic online support
Best VPNs – Quick Comparison Table
What is a VPN?
An Virtual Private Network is a technology that allows you to connect privately over a less private network by creating an encrypted tunnel between your computer and the Internet. With a VPN, you can bypass censorship in your country, access geographically restricted media content from another country, and prevent your ISP from spying on your browsing habits and invading your privacy.A VPN allows you to appear to be connected from another location or country.
VPNs are ideal for anyone using public, unprotected Wi-Fi, such as in airports, bars, and coffee shops.VPNs can protect your sensitive data-from your work projects to your bank account login information-from being seen by malicious actors roaming public Wi-Fi networks. When you browse the Internet through a VPN, your computer connects to the website through the VPN’s encrypted connection. The VPN then forwards the request on your behalf and sends the website’s response back over a secure connection.
How does VPN Work?
VPN are designed to make your internet experience more secure, private and convenient. This is done by creating a secure connection between you and the website or service you want to visit. All traffic between you and the website or service is encrypted so that it cannot be traced by others.
For this reason, VPNs intercept internet traffic and route it through their own servers – instead of doing this.
Your device -> the website
And then back again, something like this.
Website -> your device
When you connect to VPN It goes like this :
Your device -> secure VPN server -> website.
Then you comes back like this.
Website -> secure VPN server -> your device
Not only does this improve security – although that’s the main reason – but it also hides your location. You might have your computer, smartphone, tablet or gaming console in London, but according to the website, you can also connect from New York, Mumbai or Naples.
That means a VPN can also protect your privacy and bypass “geo-blocking,” where a website decides whether you’re allowed to see or hear something based on your location data.
How do I Setup a VPN?
The recommended providers on our site all have their own VPN apps. To set it up, simply download and install the app, enter your username and password, and hit the “Connect” button. All the server configurations are already built in, so choosing a location is as easy as browsing a list.
However, some VPNs do not create an app and require manual configuration. Many operating systems have VPN settings built in, but setting up a VPN this way is much more tedious and doesn’t provide the added security benefits that a good VPN app does.
One of the first things you may notice when learning about VPNs is the different protocols they use. A protocol is simply the format in which a VPN transmits data. Protocols are usually coupled with an encryption layer to keep the contents of the data secret during transmission. Different protocols offer different speeds and security.
- Wireguard is the latest trend and is used by several major VPNs, including NordVPN, StrongVPN and Surfshark. It is a lightweight, open-source protocol that has been proven to be a lot faster than other protocols. It requires a third-party application to work on most devices.
- Although there is no recognized “best” protocol, OpenVPN has become the standard for most commercial VPNs that offer their own applications. It is open source, so it is publicly verifiable and auditable.
- L2TP/IPSec and SSTP are common protocols that are usually built into major operating systems such as Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. They are not open source, but are generally considered secure and their speeds are not significantly different from OpenVPN.
- PPTP is the “original” VPN protocol. It is faster and easier to configure than its competitors and is integrated into most popular operating systems. However, it is no longer secure and contains many known security vulnerabilities. Therefore, we do not recommend it if privacy is very important.
- Finally, there is IKEv2, a newer protocol that is especially useful for those using 3G and LTE connections. IKEv2 is secure and good at quickly restoring the connection if it is interrupted, which makes it popular with iOS and Android users.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of using a VPN?
- A VPN hides your IP address and encrypts your Internet traffic so that your session is completely anonymous.
- First of all, a VPN hides your IP address. So, make sure that the service you use does not share your DNS or IP address.
- By pretending to be somewhere else, you can bypass geo-blocked content or unblock censored websites. This also helps journalists and privacy activists avoid backlash, jail time, or worse under authoritarian regimes.
- VPNs create a secure tunnel around your entire Internet connection (often using the OpenVPN tunneling protocol), protecting not only your browser but also your application activity. Most VPNs use 256-bit AES encryption, which makes it nearly impossible for your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to track the websites you visit.
However, it also means that your personal data is protected.
Are there any free VPNs?
There are free VPNs out there, but our advice is simple: it’s best to stay away.
It’s definitely tempting to get something for nothing. With the wrong free VPN, you may pay nothing upfront, but you may pay later in the form of ridiculously slow connection speeds, malicious infections, and even stolen identities.
Not all free VPNs are scams. We recently scanned dozens of services to find truly legitimate free VPNs. They all have limitations, such as data caps or restricted access features, but they can be used safely if you really need them.
How much does a VPN cost?
After hearing about all the amazing things a VPN can do, you might be wondering how much it costs. The VPNs recommended above are all very affordable, with some costing less than $2 per month.
Even our top recommendation – the powerful but affordable NordVPN – costs less than $4 per month.
Are you having trouble using a VPN?
The best VPNs are very easy to use. In most cases, all you have to do is download the right app for your device, install it, and launch it.
The best VPN services we recommend above all have a user-friendly interface that even beginners can easily figure out. In many cases, you can instantly connect to a nearby server using the Quick Connect button. If you want to bypass geo-blocking, simply choose a server in a location of your choice.
Tip: If you’re new to the world of VPNs and want to learn more about their features, check out our beginner’s guide to VPNs – it’s full of information about their features, use, and benefits.
Are VPNs completely legal?
Yes, it’s perfectly legal to use a VPN in 97% of countries worldwide.
However, we checked the laws of 196 VPN countries and found that some countries control the use of VPNs, while others ban them altogether.
Only “government-approved” VPN can be used.
- China Only ‘government-approved’ VPN
- Turkey VPN
- United Arab Emirates
If you are caught using an unsponsored device, you could face fines, jail time, or both. Be careful when you are in these countries. Because you can almost assume that “government approval” means that some (if not all) data will be shared with individual governments upon request.
Can you use a VPN to stream or watch Netflix?
You can use a VPN to stream content and watch Netflix, but not all VPNs work with specific streaming services.
We found that about 70% of the VPNs we tested were able to bypass Netflix’s Geoblocking. Those are pretty good numbers considering that Netflix has been aggressively cracking down on VPN connections and proxy servers in recent years.
Their licensing restrictions are under extreme pressure, so they’re doing everything they can to stop Brits from streaming US content (and vice versa). Our tests show that Surfshark and NordVPN work perfectly on multiple servers.
This means that they actively avoid being detected by Netflix. This means that you can be confident that they will continue to work successfully in the future. In addition to Netflix, many people use VPNs to bypass geo-restrictions, watch sports channels and even other streaming services like HULU