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In an increasingly interconnected world where privacy and security concerns are paramount, finding the best VPN service has become a necessity. With a wide range of options available, it can be difficult to navigate through the sea of providers. Fear not, as we have done the research for you. In this article, we will guide you through the top contenders for the best VPN - whether you are a beginner, need customizable security features, or seek seamless integration with Tor. We will explore each VPN's unique offerings, discuss popular VPN uses, and explain how to choose the best VPN for your needs. Additionally, we will delve into the technical aspects of VPNs, evaluate top providers such as Proton VPN and NordVPN, and uncover the limitations and advantages of using a VPN. So, if you want to enhance your online security, protect your data, and browse the web with peace of mind, keep reading to discover how to find the perfect VPN for you.

Perfect for Novices



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Number of Devices

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Top Choice for Personalized Security

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

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On's Website

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Superb Tor Integration



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Finest for Securing Wi-Fi Connections

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Unmatched Number of Connections



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Dedicated IP Address

Number of Devices

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Unparalleled Multi-Device User Experience

VPN Unlimited (aka KeepSolid)

VPN Unlimited (aka KeepSolid)

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On VPN Unlimited's Website

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Easiest App Interface to Navigate



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Top Pick for Extensive Server Locations



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Choosing the Optimal VPN

When it comes to selecting the most suitable VPN, there are several crucial factors to take into account. Customers should seek a perfect blend of affordability, beneficial privacy features, server locations, and user-friendly interfaces. Considering these aspects can assist you in finding a VPN that provides the necessary protection and privacy.

Here are some specific aspects to pay attention to:

Essential VPN Features

  • Data Security and Encryption: A VPN must possess robust security measures, such as AES-256 encryption, to safeguard your online data and activity from hackers and other malicious individuals.
  • Privacy Policy: A VPN’s privacy policy should be transparent, clear, and not permit any logging of your online activity.
  • Network of Server Locations: A VPN should offer an extensive network of server locations, enabling you to select the server that suits your location and performance requirements.
  • Compatibility: Your VPN should be compatible with all your devices and operating systems, including Mac, iOS, Windows, Android, and Linux.
  • Performance and Reliability: You should expect your VPN to deliver fast and reliable connections with minimal lag or downtime.
  • Killswitch: A killswitch is a feature that instantly terminates your internet connection in the event of a VPN connection drop. This ensures the protection of your online data and activity in case of disconnection.

Server Number and Locations

The number and locations of servers play a crucial role in a VPN's overall performance, privacy, security, speed, and functionality.

Number of Servers

A large number of servers usually means more connectivity options with the VPN. This ensures that you can find a fast and reliable server close to your physical location. Additionally, having many servers allows for flexibility in terms of server switching and load balancing, both of which contribute to improved overall performance.

Server Locations

A VPN with a wide range of server locations permits you to choose a server located in a specific country or region. This can be beneficial if you want to access geo-restricted content or ensure that your data is transmitted through a specific country's jurisdiction. The more server locations a VPN offers, the more options you have for a fast and reliable connection.

It's also important to ensure that the VPN provider has servers in countries that prioritize privacy and are not part of any surveillance alliances. If you have concerns about data collection and retention laws, selecting a VPN server located in a country with no data retention laws, such as Switzerland or Panama, may be advisable.

If you prioritize fast load times, quick downloads, or seamless online gaming or streaming, choose a VPN server closest to your location.

Speed and Performance

Speed is a vital factor to consider when choosing a VPN as it affects the overall performance of the VPN and your ability to use the internet efficiently. A slow VPN can lead to delays in webpage loading, video buffering, and difficulties in using real-time applications like online gaming or video conferencing.

Other performance factors include:

  • Latency: Latency refers to the time taken for data to travel between your device and the VPN server. Low latency is crucial for real-time applications such as online gaming or video conferencing.
  • Bandwidth: Bandwidth refers to the amount of data that can be transmitted over a connection. A VPN with high bandwidth can support more data-intensive activities, such as streaming high-definition (HD) videos.
  • Uptime: Uptime refers to the duration during which a VPN server is available and online. A VPN with high uptime is more reliable and less likely to experience disruptions or downtime.
There may be variations in speed across different devices, as some devices may have faster processors or better network connectivity than others. However, a good VPN provider should provide fast and reliable connections irrespective of the device.

To assess a VPN's performance, you can use online speed test tools to measure the VPN's download and upload speeds, as well as its latency and jitter. Additionally, you can check the VPN's uptime records and read reviews from other users to gain a general understanding of its performance.

Before subscribing to a VPN service, it's advisable to opt for a free trial or a money-back guarantee period to evaluate its performance and suitability for your needs.

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Common Uses of VPNs

Here is a compilation of popular VPN applications and key features to consider:

General Internet Browsing

Your internet service provider (ISP) has the ability to monitor your online activities, including the websites you visit and the time spent browsing. In some cases, ISPs may even sell your data to advertisers. However, your stored data is typically kept confidential by internet providers.

In the United States, ISPs are required to retain browsing history logs for a period of 90 days. If the government requests access to your internet history, ISPs are obligated to comply. Furthermore, even without a warrant, the government can access your internet data for national security purposes. In theory, local law enforcement can use your data to potentially incriminate you in a crime, given a warrant. Employing a VPN can help mask your online activities and provide you with peace of mind.

Key Features to Consider:

  • Robust encryption
  • No-logs policy
  • Access to various server locations

Streaming and Accessing Blocked Content

A VPN can do more than just protect your data; it can also bypass geographical restrictions on media content. One of the inherent advantages of using a VPN for this purpose is the accessibility of shows and movies that may not be available otherwise. For instance, Netflix and Hulu offer different programming based on location. If you are in the United States, you might not have access to the content available on Netflix in the United Kingdom.

Certain countries may restrict access to specific websites or content for political reasons. For example, YouTube is blocked in China, and recent legislation in France can potentially block access to adult websites. A VPN can create the illusion that you are accessing the internet from a different location, allowing you to bypass geographical restrictions and access blocked websites or media content. Your connection to the VPN can hide your actual location and IP address, making it difficult to pinpoint your identity.

Key Features to Consider:

  • Access to various server locations
  • No-logs policy
  • Dedicated streaming servers
  • Fast download and upload speeds


While VPNs can sometimes cause performance issues during gaming, the right VPN can minimize any slowdowns while ensuring the security of your network activity. It can also help bypass region-specific restrictions, such as accessing location-restricted events in games like Genshin Impact.

Key Features to Consider:

  • Low latency
  • Fast download and upload speeds
  • No-logs policy
  • Access to various server locations


Torrenting is a controversial practice as it is commonly associated with illegal downloading of copyrighted materials. Countries like the United States, Russia, Australia, and Italy have previously banned or taken down torrenting platforms. Additionally, downloading the wrong torrent can expose your computer to viruses. These peer-to-peer platforms are also potential sources for data tracking and harvesting user data.

While we at Forbes Advisor do not support or encourage any illegal activities on torrenting websites, there are legitimate reasons to use torrents legally. However, it is important to ensure your safety while doing so. A VPN can provide an extra layer of protection for your data and safeguard you against potential threats present on torrenting platforms. However, it's crucial to check if your VPN supports peer-to-peer file sharing, as not all VPNs offer this feature.

Key Features to Consider:

  • No-logs policy
  • Strong encryption
  • Support for peer-to-peer file sharing

Business Usage

As more employees adopt hybrid or fully remote work arrangements, companies face significant security concerns related to remote workers accessing company servers from home. Unless you are the provider of your internet connection, it is difficult to ascertain the security of an employee's connection. They may be working from home or from a coffee shop, and if their connection is compromised, sensitive company data could be intercepted by hackers rather than routed through the intended Wi-Fi.

In such cases, companies have turned to VPNs as a means to protect their confidential data regardless of where an employee logs in from. VPNs are also beneficial for employees who frequently travel for business, as they can access company resources even in countries with restricted internet access.

Key Features to Consider:

  • Strong encryption
  • Support for simultaneous connections
  • No-logs policy
  • Ability to establish a site-to-site VPN connection
  • Option for a dedicated IP address
To learn more about specific use cases, explore our comprehensive guide on the reasons to use a VPN.

Tips on Using a VPN

The majority of VPNs available today are incredibly user-friendly. After creating an account with your chosen provider, simply download the VPN app onto your computer or smartphone. Once you've logged in, you'll usually have a selection of remote servers from different parts of the world. Choose the one you want, and the system will automatically establish a connection. Once you receive confirmation that you're connected, you can use your device as you normally would without the VPN. If you want to disconnect or switch servers, you can do so from the home screen of your app.

If you prefer to set up your VPN manually, you can follow these steps tailored for your operating system:

  • Download and install the app or software.
  • Click on "Settings" or "System Preferences."
  • Select "Network" or "VPN."
  • Complete the fields for "Server Name," "VPN Type," "Remote ID," "Local ID," and your account information (fields may vary depending on the operating system).
  • Connect to your VPN.

For more detailed instructions, refer to our comprehensive guide on establishing a VPN connection.

Checking If Your VPN Is Functioning

Various methods can help you ensure that your VPN is operational, such as verifying your location or IP address to detect DNS or WebRTC leaks. Here are the most common techniques for swiftly assessing your VPN:

  • Verify Your IP Address: One straightforward way to check your VPN status is to compare your IP address when connected to the VPN to the one displayed when disconnected. You can determine your IP address by searching "what is my IP address" on Google.
  • Confirm Your Location: You can visit websites like to validate whether your location matches your VPN connection. A discrepancy suggests your VPN is active.
  • Check for DNS Leaks: DNS leaks occur when your device uses a DNS server separate from the one provided by your VPN. Use websites like to detect DNS leaks.
  • Look for WebRTC Leaks: WebRTC leaks transpire when your browser inadvertently reveals your actual IP address. Websites like can help you identify WebRTC leaks.
  • Monitor Your VPN's Connection Status: Most VPN software includes a connection status indicator that displays whether the VPN is connected or disconnected. This is a reliable method for checking your VPN's functionality.
  • Attempt Accessing Blocked Content: If you're attempting to access restricted content in your region, try accessing it to confirm that your VPN is functioning correctly. Successful access indicates that your VPN is working.

It's critical to note that even if your VPN appears to be working, it doesn't guarantee your internet connection's security. Regularly testing your VPN helps ensure proper functionality and identify potential leaks or vulnerabilities.

Evaluating VPNs: Our Methodology

At Forbes Advisor, we've assessed 16 of the top VPNs on the market and evaluated them based on eight primary factors and 33 subfactors. These scores allowed us to rate the VPNs on a scale of one to five. The primary factors we tested include download and upload speeds, pricing, and general features. Additionally, our experts' firsthand experience with these VPNs influenced the final scores.

  • General Features (25%): This section covers the essential features any VPN must possess to be considered worthwhile. It encompasses split-tunneling, anonymous browsing, DNS protection measures, dedicated IP addresses, and kill switches.
  • Speeds (20%): VPNs can impact device performance due to routing connections to different IP addresses. Consequently, upload and download speeds are often slower than when browsing with your IP address.
  • Pricing and Fees (15%): Pricing plays a significant role in product selection, and VPNs are no exception. Our evaluation considered the lowest and highest price tiers, the availability of a free version or trial, and the transparency of pricing information on providers' websites.
  • Additional Features (10%): In addition to general features, we examined supplementary qualities that aren't necessarily essential but offer added value. These include browser extensions, simultaneous device connections, and the presence of a no-logs policy.
  • Expert Score (10%): Our experts thoroughly investigated and tested each VPN, assigning grades based on their hands-on experience with the software. Factors such as standout features, overall value compared to other VPNs, popularity, and user-friendliness influenced this score.
  • Customer Reviews (10%): To provide a comprehensive assessment, we considered aggregate ratings from trusted websites like G2, Trustpilot, and Capterra alongside our experts' experiences.
  • Service and Support (7%): A VPN provider's customer service and support options can significantly impact a user's experience. Our scoring involved evaluating 24/7 customer support availability, live chat features, phone support, and the existence of a knowledge base.
  • Mobile Apps (3%): The availability of a VPN's mobile app is crucial, especially for users accessing the internet while traveling. All 16 VPNs we reviewed included mobile apps. Ratings on the Apple Store and Google Play Store factored into this section's score.

Give UltraVPN a try, completely risk-free! Test it for the initial 30 days, and if you decide it doesn't meet your needs, they'll refund your subscription fees in full. UltraVPN pricing starts at $1.99 per month.

Proton VPN

Outstanding VPN Option

Why We Selected It

ProtonVPN stands out for its comprehensive capabilities. It offers multi-hop connections and access to the Tor network via VPN, in addition to standard VPN functionalities. ProtonVPN's app interface has also undergone a redesign to enhance user experience. Moreover, ProtonVPN provides the best free VPN subscription available.

The company responsible for ProtonVPN recently revamped its entire product line, meaning that signing up for ProtonVPN also grants you access to ProtonMail—an encrypted email service. This value-add is applicable to both free and paid accounts. Additionally, ProtonVPN has introduced a Stealth feature designed to enhance security for highly vulnerable users in countries like Iran and Russia. ProtonVPN earns a rare 5-star rating.

Intended User Base

ProtonVPN is an excellent all-round option, catering to both seasoned users seeking advanced features and novices looking for a simplified experience. It offers affordable pricing, as well as a fantastic free option.


  • Competitive pricing, including outstanding free subscription
  • Extensive range of advanced privacy tools
  • Strong commitment to customer privacy
  • Intuitive and visually appealing client interface
  • Impressive speed test scores


  • Flawed implementation on ChromeOS


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Premium VPN Choice

Why We Chose It

NordVPN offers a diverse range of features, making it a comprehensive VPN with a wide selection. It includes unique features like multi-hop connections and Tor access via VPN, which are still rare among competitors. As a well-established player in the VPN industry, NordVPN continuously acquires other companies and introduces new products to enhance its VPN services.

NordVPN consistently delivers a solid user experience with a sleek, modern design across all platforms. It's also an early adopter, being one of the first VPN providers to fully integrate the new WireGuard VPN protocol and employ RAM-only servers. All these advantages come at a higher price compared to the industry average.

Intended User Base

NordVPN appeals to a wide range of users, offering something to suit everyone's needs. Privacy enthusiasts appreciate the rare tools available, while individuals seeking access to restricted streaming content benefit from NordVPN's extensive server selection and the ability to choose specific locations and servers. First-time users experience an intuitive setup process, and NordVPN's list of additional services, including encrypted storage and a password manager, may pique their interest.


  • Multi-hop, split tunneling, and Tor connections
  • Impressive design and user interface
  • Traffic routing and file-sharing via Meshnet
  • Built-in antivirus tools


  • Higher price point
  • Moderate malware-blocking results
  • Constraints on free Meshnet traffic routing


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Surfshark VPN

Top Choice for Safeguarding Multiple Devices

What Makes it Stand Out

Surfshark burst onto the scene as a relatively new player, but quickly gained momentum by offering a polished product that kept up with the competition. Although it doesn't boast all the features of its rivals, it does support multi-hop connections and the WireGuard protocol.

With its blue color scheme and slightly higher monthly price, Surfshark VPN draws some parallels to another blue VPN provider, NordVPN. However, it's important to note that Surfshark VPN remains independent even after being acquired by NordVPN. Furthermore, Surfshark VPN has expanded its offerings to include antivirus protection for an additional fee.

Who Should Use It

Surfshark not only offers a solid range of features but also allows unlimited simultaneous connections—a selling point that surpasses most VPN providers, which typically restrict you to just five devices. This makes it an excellent choice for large families or households with multiple devices, as you can protect all of them with just one subscription.


  • Unlimited simultaneous connections

  • Wide range of global servers

  • Multi-hop connections and split tunneling tools

  • Fascinating potential in Surfshark Nexus


  • Higher monthly cost

  • Some issues encountered with IP rotator feature during testing

  • Privacy policy requires clarification


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TunnelBear VPN

Perfect Choice for VPN Beginners

What Makes it Stand Out

TunnelBear VPN may seem easy to overlook due to its amusing bear-themed app, vibrant visuals, and limited range of features. However, underestimating TunnelBear VPN would be a grave mistake. This VPN is incredibly user-friendly and even offers a free subscription option, making it an excellent entry point for individuals new to VPNs. TunnelBear VPN also distinguishes itself by undergoing transparency audits, instilling confidence in its reliability.

Who Should Use It

TunnelBear VPN is an excellent choice for those new to VPNs, thanks to its simple and approachable interface. It is also a solid option for individuals seeking a general-purpose VPN without the need for intricate network settings.


  • Unlimited simultaneous connections

  • Exceptional privacy policies

  • Annual independent audits

  • User-friendly design with an endearing bear motif


  • No multi-hop connections

  • Split tunneling unavailable on certain platforms

  • Data limit on free subscription


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CyberGhost VPN

Top Choice for Frequent Travelers

What Makes it Stand Out

CyberGhost VPN boasts one of the largest networks of VPN servers available. Although sheer quantity doesn't always equate to quality, CyberGhost VPN stands out with its extensive server locations spanning 90 countries, making it an enticing option for individuals seeking global VPN coverage. However, it falls short in some aspects, such as the absence of multi-hop connections and delayed release of third-party audit results.

Who Should Use It

With its vast network of servers and extensive server locations, CyberGhost VPN ensures that you can easily find a nearby VPN server, regardless of your location. Moreover, it offers numerous options for disguising your location. While it carries a slightly higher monthly subscription fee compared to other providers, its annual rate is more competitive.


  • Extensive and well-distributed server fleet

  • Allows up to seven simultaneous connections

  • Additional features, including antivirus protection

  • Impressive speed test scores

  • Recently completed third-party audit


  • Expensive

  • Confusing privacy policies


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Top Pick for Worldwide Location Spoofers

Why We Chose It

ExpressVPN recently revamped its app, but it's not just aesthetically pleasing. ExpressVPN has an extensive presence in 94 countries and uses minimal virtual servers. While it opted not to adopt the new WireGuard VPN protocol, it instead developed its own technology called LightWay in addition to the open-source OpenVPN protocol.

Who It's For

With its wide range of server locations, ExpressVPN is an excellent choice for individuals living or traveling outside the US. It is also well-suited for those looking to manipulate their location for specific purposes.


  • Vast and diverse server fleet

  • Robust privacy and security practices

  • Split tunneling capability

  • Sleek and stylish interface


  • Relatively expensive

  • No multi-hop connections available


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Private Internet Access VPN

Top Pick for Personalization

Why We Chose It

Private Internet Access was once known for its low prices and subpar interface. However, that is no longer the case. Private Internet Access now offers a polished interface that allows users to customize their experience. Despite the increase in monthly subscription costs, it remains just slightly above the average for tested products. 

In addition, it offers useful privacy features like multi-hop connections. The customizable interface enables easy access to advanced settings, giving users control over their network security.

Who It's For

Private Internet Access appeals to individuals who require personalized workspaces. Privacy enthusiasts will appreciate its features, and the ability to connect multiple devices simultaneously makes it suitable for households.


  • Unlimited simultaneous connections

  • Split tunneling and multi-hop functionality

  • Numerous server locations

  • Good Speedtest scores

  • Completed third-party audit


  • Relatively expensive

  • No free version available


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Top Pick for Robust Privacy on a Budget

Why We Chose It

IVPN and Mullvad VPN boast two distinctive features that set them apart. Firstly, both VPNs employ a privacy-focused account number system that requires minimal personal information. Secondly, both accept cash payments sent to their respective headquarters. While IVPN is more expensive than Mullvad VPN, it offers a unique system that enables users to choose entry and exit points for multi-hop connections.

Who It's For

IVPN will appeal to individuals who wish to disclose as little information about themselves as possible and seek a VPN provider that prioritizes privacy. The advanced features of IVPN are particularly attractive to those who desire full control over their network security.


  • Flexible and affordable pricing plans

  • Powerful multi-hop system

  • Privacy integrated into its account system

  • Firm commitment to transparency


  • Limited server locations

  • Multi-hop and account ID features may be confusing for some users

Mullvad VPN

Top Pick for Budget-Conscious Users

Why We Chose It

As previously mentioned, Mullvad VPN and IVPN share two remarkable features: a privacy-oriented account system and the ability to make anonymous cash payments for their services. However, Mullvad VPN goes a step further. It no longer accepts recurring payments, which means they have no knowledge about their customers. Mullvad VPN is also exceptionally transparent, providing customers with extensive information about its service. Additionally, it offers a flat rate, making it exceedingly affordable at just 5 Euros per month (as of the time of writing).

Who It's For

Mullvad VPN strives to know as little as possible about its customers, but this approach does come with certain drawbacks. Its interface may not be the most user-friendly, but at this price point, it delivers an excellent service with all the key features found in top VPNs.


  • Affordable pricing

  • No email or account information required

  • High level of transparency

  • Multi-hop, split tunneling, and port forwarding capabilities


  • Desktop interface can be cumbersome

  • Limited server coverage in select countries

  • Pay-as-you-go system may confuse certain customers

Mozilla VPN

Top Pick for Promoting an Open Internet

Why We Chose It

Mozilla is renowned for its Firefox browser and its advocacy for an unrestricted internet. As a nonprofit organization, Mozilla lacks the same motivations for data collection as other companies. It has sought alternative means of supporting itself, such as subscription payments for its VPN service. Simple yet stylish, Mozilla VPN is user-friendly and a great option for those in need of a VPN.

It is important to note that Mozilla licenses Mullvad VPN's service to power Mozilla VPN, ensuring strong security and privacy measures.

Who It's For

Mozilla VPN offers a solid service with a straightforward interface. Although it is slightly more expensive than Mullvad VPN alone, all funds contribute to supporting a nonprofit organization. The value of this contribution may vary depending on the individual customer.


  • Supports nonprofit Mozilla

  • Powered by privacy-focused Mullvad VPN

  • Streamlined and elegant design

  • Offers multi-hop and split tunneling features


  • Limited server coverage

  • Gathers some user information

  • Relatively expensive compared to Mullvad VPN

Buying Guide: The Best VPN Services for 2023

Understanding VPNs and Their Importance

Using a VPN involves redirecting your internet traffic through an encrypted connection to a server controlled by the VPN company. From there, your traffic is sent out onto the web as usual. If you exclusively visit websites secured with HTTPS, your data remains encrypted even after leaving the VPN. While the concept is straightforward, utilizing a VPN can greatly enhance your online privacy.

Think of it this way: when you drive away from your house, someone could follow you, observe your destination, duration of stay, and return time. They might even look inside your car to gather more information about you. With a VPN, it's like driving from your home into an underground tunnel, emerging in a closed parking garage, switching to a different vehicle, and exiting. Those who were following you won't have a clue where you went.

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Similarly, with a VPN, no one snooping around your network can monitor your online activities, even if they control the network. Public Wi-Fi networks, although convenient, prove to be a breeding ground for attackers. Unfortunately, you cannot always be certain that "starbucks_wifi-real" is genuinely the Wi-Fi network for the coffee shop. Some mischievous security researchers even create networks with the same name as a popular free service to see how many devices automatically connect.

Even if you are inclined to trust others, your internet service provider (ISP) may raise concerns. ISPs in the US have extensive insight into your online activities. To make matters worse, Congress has authorized ISPs to sell your browsing history after you have already paid for their service. This seems quite unfair. A VPN ensures that even your ISP cannot monitor your online movements.

Another advantage of a VPN is that it conceals your actual IP address behind that of the VPN server. This makes it more challenging to track your online activities. Even experienced observers struggle to distinguish between different users' internet traffic since your data gets mixed with that of everyone else on the server.

Hiding your IP address also provides an additional benefit: it becomes more difficult for prying eyes to determine your precise location. You can leverage this feature to your advantage by connecting to VPN servers located far away to create a false location.

Note: VPNs are distinct from proxies, which can sometimes cause confusion. To learn more about their differences, read our guide on "VPNs vs. Proxies: What's the Difference?"

The Limitations of VPNs

While VPN services are undoubtedly useful, they do not offer a solution for every type of threat you may encounter. For instance, a VPN cannot protect you from downloading ransomware or falling victim to a phishing attack. We highly recommend using local antivirus software, enabling multi-factor authentication whenever possible, and employing a password manager to generate and store unique and complex passwords for each site and service you use.

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It's important to recognize that there are limitations to how anonymous you can be when using a VPN. Advertisers employ various tactics to gather data and track your online movements, ranging from online trackers to browser fingerprinting. To combat this, we suggest using the anti-tracking features available in your browser and installing dedicated ad or tracker blockers.

Additionally, many VPN services provide their own DNS resolution system, which translates text-based URLs like "" into IP addresses that computers can understand. Savvy snoopers might monitor DNS requests to track your online movements while malicious attackers can employ DNS poisoning to divert you to phishing pages designed to steal your data. By using a VPN's DNS system, you add an extra layer of protection. While secure DNS services already enhance privacy, VPNs take it a step further.

Security experts are divided on the efficacy of VPNs. With most websites supporting secure HTTPS connections nowadays, a significant portion of your online experience is already encrypted. Secure DNS products like Cloudflare exist precisely because some individuals find VPNs excessive. However, VPNs cover the information that HTTPS does not protect, provide a buffer between you and those controlling internet infrastructure, and make online tracking more challenging.

VPNs prove useful for enhancing individual privacy, but there are individuals for whom a VPN is crucial for personal and professional safety. Journalists and political activists, for instance, rely on VPN services to bypass government censorship and communicate securely with the outside world. Nevertheless, before using a VPN in countries such as China or Russia, or in war zones like Ukraine, it's imperative to familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations. In such situations, concealing your location may be a matter of life or death.

For comprehensive anonymization of your traffic, accessing the free Tor network is recommended. While a VPN tunnels your web traffic to a VPN server, Tor directs your traffic through several volunteer nodes, making it extremely difficult to track. Moreover, using Tor grants you access to hidden Dark Web sites, something a VPN cannot provide. However, some services like NordVPN and ProtonVPN offer Tor access on specific servers. Keep in mind that using Tor will slow down your connection even more than a VPN would.

It is important to note that a determined adversary will likely find a way to breach your defenses. Nevertheless, a VPN safeguards you against mass data collection and individuals harvesting user data for nefarious purposes.

Choosing the Right VPN

The VPN market has exploded in recent years, transforming from a niche industry into a highly competitive market. Many VPN service providers seek to capitalize on the growing concerns about surveillance and cybercrime among the general population. Consequently, distinguishing between companies offering genuinely useful services and those seeking to deceive consumers has become increasingly challenging. In fact, fake VPNs have even emerged, necessitating caution.

When perusing reviews to find the best VPN service, it's crucial to consider more than just speed, as it is the factor you and the VPN have the least control over. Since most VPN companies offer a similar range of technologies, it is advisable to assess the value they provide. Which service offers the most features while remaining cost-effective? Look for additional functionalities like split tunneling and multi-hop connections. While you may not need them all the time, they can be highly advantageous when required.

Almost every VPN service provider offers its own app with a full graphical user interface (GUI) for managing connections and settings. We recommend utilizing these apps, even though some may consider such features as mere embellishments, opting instead to manage VPN connections manually. Although this approach may work, it can be laborious, necessitates manual updates, and lacks access to the additional privacy tools that many VPNs provide. When selecting a VPN, consider whether you can tolerate the app's appearance.

The best way to determine if a VPN suits your needs is by trying it out in your own home environment. Test whether you can access all the sites and services you require and if the interface is user-friendly. It's also important to assess whether the speeds in your area meet your expectations. Some VPN services offer free trials, so make use of them. Ensure that you are content with what you subscribed to, and take advantage of any money-back guarantees if necessary.

This is why we recommend starting with a short-term subscription, such as a week or a month, to ensure your satisfaction. While signing up for a year may yield a discount, it also entails more financial risk if the service fails to meet your performance requirements.

Occasionally, a VPN may be bundled with another service as an additional incentive. Comparing such bundles can prove challenging since they often differ significantly from regular VPNs in terms of features. Google One, for example, includes a VPN that lacks many of the tools typically associated with VPN services. However, it offers an unmatched 2TB of cloud storage. In such cases, consider whether the bundled VPN fulfills your intended use and meets your requirements.

Can VPNs Prevent Tracking Completely?

When relying on a service to route all your internet traffic through its servers, it is crucial to trust the provider. Older companies tend to be more trustworthy due to their established reputation. However, the VPN industry is relatively young, and some VPN companies engage in unscrupulous practices. Navigating this landscape becomes challenging when determining whom to trust.

At PCMag, we pay considerable attention to the privacy practices of VPN companies, not just the technologies they employ. During our testing, we carefully review privacy policies and engage in discussions with representatives from VPN companies to assess their commitment to protecting user information and their approach to collecting and retaining as little data as possible.

As part of our research, we investigate the base location of each company and the legal framework under which it operates. In some countries, data retention laws are absent, making it easier for VPN providers to guarantee that they do not retain any logs. Knowing under what circumstances a VPN company would disclose information to law enforcement and what information it would possess in such cases is also important.

The best VPN services maintain a comprehensive privacy policy that clearly outlines their actions, the information they gather, and the steps they take to protect that data. Some companies specify that they collect certain information but fail to disclose how they intend to utilize it. Others offer more transparency.

How Many Devices Can My VPN Safeguard Simultaneously?

When searching for a VPN, certain factors are crucial to consider, such as the total number of simultaneous connections allowed by the VPN service, the available servers, and the number of server locations offered by the company.

Most VPN services enable users to connect up to five devices using a single account. Any service that offers fewer connections is considered outside the norm. It is important to note that each device you wish to protect needs to be connected to the VPN service. Therefore, a mere two or three licenses may not be sufficient for a single person, let alone a couple or a family with multiple devices.

However, the landscape is evolving, and many services now offer more than five simultaneous connections. Some providers have even eliminated this restriction altogether. VPN services like Avira Phantom VPN, VPN, IPVanish VPN, Surfshark VPN (the Editors' Choice winner), and Windscribe VPN do not impose any limit on the number of simultaneous connections.

It is worth mentioning that homes have more than just phones and computers. Game systems, tablets (including Chromebooks), and smart home devices like light bulbs and fridges also require internet connectivity. While many of these devices cannot run VPN software on their own, certain VPN companies offer instructions on how to configure a router to use a VPN. This approach safeguards all devices connected to the network. Nevertheless, it is important to note that there is ongoing debate about whether this setup may lead to unforeseen complications. It is only recommended for experienced individuals who are patient and willing to experiment.

Where Can I Find My VPN's Servers?

The distribution of VPN servers is a critical factor to consider when selecting a VPN service. Having numerous servers in different locations ensures that regardless of your travel destination, you can easily find a VPN server nearby. The closer the VPN server, the better the speed and reliability of the connection it can offer. It is important to note that you do not need to connect to a far-flung VPN server to enjoy security benefits. Depending on your location, a server in your vicinity can provide the same level of safety.

In addition to the number of servers, the use of virtual servers and virtual locations by VPN companies is worth considering. A virtual server is a software-defined server running on server hardware that may host multiple virtual servers. Similarly, a virtual location is a server configured to appear in a different physical location from where it is actually located. While neither of these aspects is inherently problematic, it is crucial for VPN companies to be transparent about their use. Some VPN providers utilize virtual servers to offer VPN support in regions where it may be risky or challenging to establish physical server infrastructure. When VPNs employ such technologies, it is preferred that they openly disclose these details.

Which VPN Offers the Highest Speed?

Using a VPN can sometimes result in slower download and upload speeds, as well as increased latency, due to the circuitous route your web traffic takes. However, with modern VPN technology, the impact on speed is not as drastic as in the days of dial-up internet.

To gauge the speed of VPNs, we use the Ookla speed test tool. This test measures various metrics, such as latency, download speeds, and upload speeds. Depending on your specific needs, any of these metrics can be significant. However, in our evaluation, we primarily prioritize download speed, considering the prevalent digital consumption habits of today. For a detailed explanation of our VPN testing methodology, please refer to our article titled "How We Test VPNs" (Note: Ookla is owned by Ziff Davis, the parent company of

Below, you can find our most recent speed test results. For a comprehensive list of the fastest VPNs we've tested, please check our dedicated article. We have also published an update on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our VPN speed tests, which you can read for further insights.

Ivacy - The Most Affordable Option

Product Logo for Ivacy

Product Logo for Ivacy


  • Multi-hop: No
  • Camouflage Mode: No
  • Kill switch: Yes
  • Split Tunneling: Yes
  • Netflix: Yes
  • Torrenting: Yes

Why We Selected It:

Finding a VPN that costs just over a dollar per month is challenging. Finding one that is not willing to compromise your data for added profit is even more difficult. Ivacy VPN, however, offers subscriptions starting as low as $1.19 per month, while maintaining their commitment to user privacy.

We thoroughly examined Ivacy's privacy policy and discovered that they do not retain IP addresses, timestamps, or browsing histories. Additionally, their location in Singapore ensures that they are not subject to surveillance bodies like the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes alliances.

What We Liked:

  • Split tunneling
  • Strict logging policy
  • Affordable long-term subscriptions
  • Access to Netflix

What We Didn't Like:

  • Poor Mac app
  • Kill switch only available for Mac and Windows
  • Relatively slower download speeds
  • Located in Singapore, a member of the Five Eyes alliance

Strict Logging Policy:

Every VPN company needs to retain some information for operational purposes. Ivacy VPN collects the following information:

  • Names
  • Email addresses
  • Payment methods
  • Crash event reports
  • Performance data
  • Failed connection attempts
  • Application usage
  • Aggregated bandwidth use

These details are essential for efficient VPN operation. However, what sets Ivacy VPN apart is what they do not retain:

  • IP addresses
  • Browsing histories
  • Timestamps

By safeguarding this sensitive information, Ivacy VPN provides a secure and private browsing experience.

Ivacy VPN Windows Screenshot:

Ivacy VPN Windows Screenshot

Ivacy offers servers optimized for specific purposes. They have servers specifically designed for streaming, downloading, unblocking content, and more. We particularly found their streaming capabilities impressive, as they allowed uninterrupted access to platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney , Hulu, Kodi, BBC, and others.

Ivacy Pricing:

  • Monthly: .95
  • One-year: $47.76 ($3.99 per month)
  • Five-year: .64 ($1.19 per month)

Who Will Benefit:

If you are seeking an affordable VPN, Ivacy is an excellent choice. Moreover, their long-term subscriptions offer substantial value for users who plan on using a VPN for an extended period.

  • ExpressVPN - Outstanding Encryption
  • Specialization in Encryption:


    • Multi-hop: No
    • Camouflage Mode: Yes
    • Kill switch: Yes
    • Split Tunneling: Yes
    • Netflix: Yes
    • Torrenting: Yes

    Why We Chose It:

    ExpressVPN excels in one fundamental area that every VPN should master - encryption. They utilize 256-bit AES encryption as the standard, and further enhance security by offering a range of robust VPN protocols. ExpressVPN even developed their own VPN protocol, which combines secure encryption with agility.

    Though the cost of ExpressVPN subscriptions may be slightly higher, it is worth the investment considering their top-tier security features.

    What We Liked:

    • No data retention laws apply
    • Excellent app ratings
    • Access to Netflix
    • Fast speeds on Windows

    What We Didn't Like:

    • No phone support
    • Slower speeds on Mac
    • Only five simultaneous connections allowed per subscription
    • No browser extension available for Internet Explorer

    Lightway Protocol:

    ExpressVPN is at the forefront of VPN technology. In addition to adopting existing VPN protocols, they have developed their own lightweight VPN protocol called Lightway. This protocol is secure, fast, and runs on a minimalistic 2,000 lines of code, compared to the more complex OpenVPN. Thanks to its efficiency, Lightway provides a seamless user experience.

    Here's a comparison of Lightway and OpenVPN:

    • Year Established:
      • Lightway: 2020
      • OpenVPN: 2001
    • Security:
      • Lightway: Secure
      • OpenVPN: Secure
    • Speed:
      • Lightway: Faster
      • OpenVPN: Fast
    • Battery Consumption:
      • Lightway: Low
      • OpenVPN: Mid to High

    Strict Logging Policy:

    ExpressVPN does not retain web traffic or activity logs, as it prioritizes user privacy.

    Additionally, ExpressVPN limits the collection of user information to only what is necessary for business operations. They keep records of the app and version used, connection timestamps, the server connected to, and the amount of data transferred in MB. Importantly, no traffic, metadata, or DNS queries are logged.

    IP Leak Blocking:

    ExpressVPN ensures a secure connection by effectively preventing IP address and browsing data leakage. It is known for its robust security measures, capable of blocking DNS and WebRTC leaks. By utilizing ExpressVPN, users can rest assured that their IP address remains hidden and protected.

    Who Will Benefit:

    ExpressVPN is an ideal choice for individuals in need of agile data protection, particularly frequent travelers. With its strong emphasis on privacy and lightweight proprietary VPN protocol, it is a reliable companion for secure browsing on various mobile devices and computers.

  • PureVPN - Enhancing Privacy for Travelers
  • Specs:

    • Multi-hop: No
    • Camouflage Mode: Yes
    • Kill switch: Yes
    • Split Tunneling: No
    • Netflix: Yes
    • Torrenting: Yes

    Why We Selected It:

    PureVPN boasts an extensive network of over 6,500 servers across 78 countries. This wide coverage makes it an excellent choice for travelers, ensuring secure connections even in the most geographically diverse locations. With PureVPN, users can browse without worry, as their browsing history and IP address remain hidden, protecting their privacy.

    What We Liked:

    • AES-256 encryption
    • OpenVPN protocol
    • Over 6,500 servers in 78 countries
    • Based in Hong Kong, not a member of intelligence alliances

    What We Didn't Like:

    • Torrenting may not always work
    • Static IP addresses
    • Latency issues on Windows and Macs
    • No free trial available

    Huge Global Network:

    PureVPN's vast network of servers spans across 78 countries. Notable server locations include the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, and the United Arab Emirates. This extensive presence allows PureVPN to provide consistent and reliable service worldwide. Additionally, PureVPN's large network positions it favorably as one of the best VPN options for Australia, France, Germany, and other countries.

    Strict Logging Policy:

    PureVPN adheres to a strict no-logs policy, ensuring that user browsing activities and IP addresses are not recorded or retained. The information PureVPN collects is limited to names, email addresses, payment information, and total bandwidth consumed. Crucially, PureVPN does not store IP addresses, browsing histories, or timestamps. Their commitment to privacy, combined with AES-256 encryption, establishes a strong sense of trust and security.

    Dedicated IP Address Available:

    PureVPN uses shared IP addresses for enhanced security and anonymity. However, in cases where websites recognize shared IP addresses and block access, PureVPN offers dedicated IP addresses for an additional fee. With a dedicated IP address, users enjoy the same level of security and encryption while being the sole user associated with that IP address. This makes it easier for websites to remember and recognize the user.

    Who Will Benefit:

    PureVPN is a great option for individuals seeking a VPN to access blocked websites in their country or to access Netflix libraries from different regions. The extensive global network and fast servers make PureVPN an excellent choice for unblocking content.

  • CyberGhost - High Level of Security
  • Product Logo for CyberGhost


    • Multi-hop: Yes
    • Camouflage Mode: No
    • Kill switch: Yes
    • Split Tunneling: Yes
    • Netflix: Yes
    • Torrenting: Yes

    Why We Selected It:

    Atlas VPN may be a newcomer, but it has already made a strong impression with its extensive range of features. With AES-256 encryption and a strict privacy policy, Atlas VPN ensures top-tier security for its users. Additionally, users can benefit from numerous extras, such as access to multiple streaming platforms, unlimited simultaneous connections, rotating IP addresses, and a free data breach monitor.

    What We Liked:

    • Affordability
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections
    • Data breach monitor
    • Access to all streaming platforms

    What We Didn't Like:

    • 750 servers across 44 locations
    • Does not support OpenVPN
    • Headquartered in the United States
    • Being a new VPN, some inconsistencies may arise

    IP Address Safeswap:

    Atlas VPN offers an innovative feature called Safeswap. Unlike traditional dynamic IP addresses that change only upon logging in, Safeswap assigns users new IP addresses as they browse. Every time a user visits a new site, a new IP address is assigned. This dynamic IP address rotation enhances anonymity and makes it harder to track user activity.

    Data Breach Monitor:

    Atlas VPN provides a data breach monitor as an added perk for their paid plans. This feature scans leaked databases, ensuring users are promptly alerted in case their personal information is compromised. While not as comprehensive as the best identity theft protection services, the data breach monitor offers valuable early warnings that enable users to secure their accounts and credentials promptly.

    Free Option:

    Atlas VPN offers a free VPN service that does not limit bandwidth or impose speed caps. Unlike many other free VPNs, Atlas does not require users to upgrade to a paid plan after a certain amount of time. With Atlas' free VPN, users can enjoy unlimited speeds, data, and time, with only a limitation on simultaneous connections to three servers.

    Who Will Benefit:

    Atlas VPN is an excellent choice for families. The data breach monitor, included with paid plans, provides basic identity protection for both parents and children. Moreover, Atlas VPN supports unlimited simultaneous connections, making it suitable for families with multiple devices.

    Watch our video review below or through our Youtube channel, which showcases the VPNs in action. Don't forget to subscribe!

    VPNs, known as Virtual Private Networks, are software applications that enable users to establish private internet connections. By encrypting web traffic and replacing IP addresses, VPNs ensure that users' online activities are concealed and protected. conducted a study on VPN usage and shopping habits among adults in the United States. The findings revealed several interesting insights:

    • Nearly 50% of respondents use VPNs for general security reasons, while 40% prioritize privacy.
    • 38% of individuals aged 45-60 reported their jobs covering VPN expenses, compared to only 14% among those aged 18-29.
    • Approximately 68% of survey respondents, amounting to around 142 million people in the US alone, use VPNs for personal or work purposes.

    The study also shed light on VPN costs. The majority of respondents (28%) reported paying between $5 and $10 per month for their VPN subscriptions, followed by 24% who paid less than $5 monthly.

    However, it's crucial to note that not everyone uses VPNs. 57% of respondents who didn't use VPNs cited not needing one for personal use, while half stated they had no plans to use a VPN in the next six months. These results suggest a lack of awareness regarding the privacy benefits provided by VPNs in today's digital landscape.

    Reasons People Use VPNs

    People utilize VPNs in various parts of the world, not solely within the United States. Interestingly, only 17 percent of North Americans who are online use VPNs, while the numbers increase to 19 percent in the Middle East and 30 percent in the Asia Pacific region.1 In particular, VPN usage is prevalent in countries like Indonesia and India, where 38 percent of internet users rely on VPNs. Turkey follows closely with 32 percent of users utilizing VPNs. These countries are considered the most popular for VPN usage. Other countries where VPN usage is significant include:

    Depending on the country, the legality of VPNs varies. Moreover, countries differ in terms of their stance on net neutrality and blacklisting domains. However, as VPNs gain popularity, we anticipate the construction of more international servers than ever before.

    There are several purposes for which VPNs can be used, including:

    • Enhancing security on public networks: Being connected to a public network exposes individuals to a higher risk of hacking, as their web traffic and IP address become easily accessible. However, by connecting to a VPN, users can replace their IP address and encrypt their web traffic, thereby safeguarding their privacy.
    • Accessing private networks: VPNs with split tunneling capabilities allow users to access both public and private networks simultaneously, making it convenient for individuals to connect to networks in their homes or offices, even when they are elsewhere.
    • Increasing security for e-commerce: Purchasing items online can be worrisome, especially from unfamiliar websites. VPNs help protect financial information by concealing web activity.
    • Hiding data from marketers and Internet Service Providers: It is widely known that big tech companies like Google and Facebook generate billions of dollars by selling user data to third-party advertisers for targeted ads. Given the weak or nonexistent data privacy laws in 47 out of 50 U.S. states for consumers, connecting to a VPN is one of the few ways to prevent online tracking and data selling.
    • Accessing international content: Whether someone wants to explore Canadian Netflix or bypass restrictions in a country where Netflix is not available, VPNs can provide access to content that would otherwise be inaccessible without being in a specific location.
    • Bypassing government, school, or office restrictions: Whether an individual desires to browse social media during work hours or access torrent files in a country where it is prohibited, having the ability to connect to VPNs worldwide permits unlimited internet access without restrictions.
    • Facilitating activism/whistleblowing: Journalists, activists, or whistleblowers may utilize VPNs to ensure their anonymity while conducting research or writing.

    VPNs prove to be helpful beyond privacy and online security, such as when individuals need to access private networks from a local coffee shop or enjoy HBO Max while in China.

    Hotspot Shield Windows Kill Switch

    The primary purpose of downloading a VPN is to maintain online anonymity. However, it is worth noting that some VPNs retain more user data compared to others. Although we have not extensively reviewed VPNs that store user data, many VPNs do collect additional information about their users, which may include:

    • The time and duration of the user's VPN connection
    • The user's IP address
    • The amount of data utilized by the user while connected to the VPN
    • The user's personal information, such as their name, address, payment information, and email

    For the majority of VPNs, they do not track user visits to websites or any other web traffic or activity. However, it is recommended to read the VPN's privacy policy to ensure they do not log web activity. An alternative is to refer to our detailed VPN content, which covers each VPN's privacy policy extensively. We have delved into the policies on your behalf!

    VPNs function by connecting users to private servers instead of public ones. These private servers encrypt users' web traffic and activities in a tunnel, replacing their IP addresses, thus reducing the likelihood of hacking while connected to public Wi-Fi networks.

    Most VPN companies operate servers worldwide so that users can connect to servers in close proximity, ensuring faster speeds. Certain VPNs even encrypt users' traffic multiple times through multiple servers, also known as "multi-hop."

    Web traffic is encrypted using state-of-the-art industry standards like AES-256, SSL (Secure Socket Layer), and SHA 2 (Secure Hash Algorithm). Once the VPN establishes the encrypted tunnel, the user's data is transmitted to the server using VPN protocols like TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol). Users do not witness this process; they simply click "connect," and their web traffic is encrypted while their IP address remains concealed.

    There are several reasons why anyone accessing the internet requires a VPN, including:

    • Protection against hackers: With a hacker attack occurring every 39 seconds, connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, such as those in cafes or libraries, increases the likelihood of becoming a victim. However, VPNs replace users' IP addresses and conceal their web traffic, making it more challenging for hackers to gain access to personal information and commit identity theft.
    • Access to international content: Whether it's the desire to watch Hulu from a neighboring country or the need to bypass web restrictions in places like China, connecting to a private VPN server in a preferred location allows users to access content that would typically be limited geographically. This enhances streaming options while evading governmental restrictions.
    • Torrenting: Although torrenting resides in a legal gray area, many individuals use VPNs to download movies and TV shows that may not be accessible otherwise.
    • Access to private networks: Whether it's a home or work network, VPNs with split tunneling capabilities enable users to connect to public networks while simultaneously accessing private networks.
    • Preserving online anonymity: From pop-up ads to cookies, being online exposes personal data to various risks. While absolute anonymity online is impossible, VPNs can help by hiding users' web activity and IP address.

    Anyone using a public Wi-Fi network requires a VPN. Additionally, they are essential for international travelers needing to access private networks in different locations or individuals desiring to circumvent government, school, or work internet usage restrictions. VPNs are particularly beneficial for journalists, activists, whistleblowers, and anyone seeking maximum online anonymity.

    Obtaining a VPN is as simple as downloading an app from the Apple Store or Google Play Store. Alternatively, users can opt for a browser extension if it better suits their needs. Nonetheless, we recommend thorough research before connecting to a VPN, as the quality and reliability of VPNs may differ. Our best VPN page is an excellent starting point, offering a list of our tried and tested recommendations.

    Although VPNs are designed to conceal users' web traffic, if the VPN itself is untrustworthy, the purpose is defeated. Unfortunately, not all VPN companies can be relied upon. Here's how we determine whether we can trust a VPN service:

    • Company headquarters: We look for companies based in countries that are non-members of the surveillance alliances known as Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes. These alliances enable governments to legally force companies to provide customer data. For instance, in Five Eyes member countries like the United States, companies have been compelled to surrender customer information, as seen in the case of IPVanish. Ideally, we prefer VPNs headquartered in non-member countries without any data retention laws.
    CyberGhost Data Logging PolicyCyberGhost Data Logging Policy
    • Privacy policy: While most VPNs claim to have a "zero logs" policy, it is rarely the case. Many VPNs store user information beyond web traffic, such as IP addresses, visit times and durations, and data usage. To determine the extent of data collection by a company, we thoroughly review their privacy policy. At the very least, VPNs should store minimal data necessary for account management, typically limited to an email address and payment information.
    • Encryption methods: Our preference lies with companies that employ the latest encryption methods like AES-256 rather than outdated techniques like AES-128.

    VPNs are legally accepted in countries such as the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, among others. However, this may not be the case elsewhere, as several countries have either complete or partial bans on VPNs, including China, United Arab Emirates, Russia, Oman, Iran, Belarus, Turkey, and Iraq.

    While VPNs are undeniably beneficial to numerous individuals, they do have drawbacks, such as potential decreases in speeds. Since data is routed through an additional server, users may experience slower download and upload speeds and increased latency. Moreover, VPNs do not grant users the right to engage in illegal activities, such as torrenting copyrighted material or accessing illegal websites based on their location. Furthermore, if a VPN is headquartered in a Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes country, they can be compelled to provide customer information to the government, compromising complete online invisibility for most users.

    When selecting a VPN, specific key numbers come into play, including:

    • Simultaneous connections: The number of devices that can be connected to a VPN at the same time. For large families or workplaces, this factor assumes significance. Although connecting multiple devices simultaneously may result in slower speeds, it is an essential feature for many users. We have reviewed VPNs that allow connections ranging from one device to an unlimited number, so it is crucial to ensure that the chosen VPN offers the desired coverage.
    • Available servers: The number of servers maintained by the VPN company. For instance, NordVPN provides access to 5,246 servers, while smaller companies like Perfect Privacy have approximately 55 servers. Frequent travelers should seek VPNs with a large server count to ensure uninterrupted connectivity.
    • Server locations: The global distribution of servers is even more critical than the sheer number of servers. Opt for a company offering servers in close proximity to your location, as this enhances connection speeds. Some companies, such as ExpressVPN, allow users to choose servers by city, including options like New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.

    VPNs belong to a category of products known as undifferentiated products,3 where their functionality, such as concealing web traffic and replacing IP addresses, largely remains the same. Hence, the choice of VPN primarily depends on specific features. Here are a few features that warrant consideration:

    • Streaming: Users who wish to stream content from platforms like Netflix, HBO Go, and Hulu should ensure that the VPN servers support these services.
    • Simultaneous connections: Consider the number of devices that will be connected to the VPN simultaneously to ensure it meets the requirement.
    • Split tunneling: Evaluate whether simultaneous access to public and private networks is necessary and choose a VPN that offers split tunneling.
    • Privacy:
      • Jurisdiction: Depending on the importance of privacy, select a VPN based in a country that is not a member of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or 14 Eyes. Such countries cannot legally be forced to provide customer data to the government.
      • Privacy policy: Despite numerous VPNs claiming to have a "zero-logging" policy, this is seldom the case. Reading the VPN's privacy policy reveals the extent of data collection. At the very least, they should refrain from logging web traffic and IP addresses.
      • Encryption: Choose VPNs that employ up-to-date encryption methods like AES-256 bit.
      • Two or multi-factor authentication: Prevent unauthorized access by opting for VPNs that offer additional security measures like passcodes sent to mobile devices or biometric authentication.
    • Location: Ensure that the VPN has servers in the locations where you intend to use it. This is especially important if fast speeds are required for activities such as gaming.
    • Device Type: Verify whether the VPN is compatible with your device. Although most VPNs cater to a wide range of devices, it is advisable to double-check compatibility before making a purchase.
    • Browser Type: Some VPNs also provide browser extensions. If you prefer using a browser extension instead of an app, check whether the VPN supports your preferred browser.
    • Budget: Consider your budget when selecting a VPN. Prices can vary significantly, with options like NordVPN available at a few dollars per month. Additionally, pay attention to the term length, as longer commitments often translate to lower monthly rates.

    If you desire a comprehensive understanding of how reviews VPNs, refer to our methodology, which will transform you into a VPN expert! We commence by scrutinizing the VPN itself, ensuring it encompasses all necessary features, and subject it to speed and security tests.


    Just as we mention in our individual evaluations, we conduct tests on all of our VPNs using a private Optimum network in our Brooklyn office. Employing only one device at a time, we ensure that our Internet speed without a VPN serves as an objective control to compare against.

    We also perform tests on both a Macbook Air and a Windows Vivobook to provide valuable information to a wider range of readers. To gauge download speed, upload speed, and ping (latency), we employ the website,4 running tests both with and without the VPN.

    While download and upload speeds are measured in megabits per second, latency is measured in milliseconds. Once we gather these figures, we calculate the difference between the two measurements as a percentage, as Macs and Windows computers have significantly different natural speeds.

    Ideally, VPNs should exhibit no more than a 40% disparity in any of the speed categories. Nevertheless, it is crucial to bear in mind that various factors can lead to speed variations, such as server distance, operating system, and device. While we strive to maintain objectivity, we advise readers to view the speed test results with some skepticism.


    A significant number of VPN users employ these services to safeguard their web traffic, which comprises domain name servers (website names) and their corresponding IP addresses. Additionally, we ensure that users' private IP addresses are not exposed due to WebRTC, the default communication method on browsers like Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Opera.

    To test for DNS leaks, we employ By comparing the IP address of our computer with the IP addresses displayed on the website, we can determine the presence of a DNS leak caused by the VPN. Subsequently, we test for WebRTC leaks using the tool provided by ExpressVPN's website.5 By examining the local and Public IPv4 IP addresses, we can identify any WebRTC leaks.

    Apart from conducting tests for DNS and WebRTC leaks, we evaluate a company's privacy jurisdiction and data-logging policy. It is preferable for VPN service providers to be located in countries that are not part of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes, international surveillance alliances that possess the legal authority to demand customer information.

    Regarding data-logging, we favor companies that solely retain users' account information, such as their name, email, and payment details. We believe it is unnecessary for VPNs to store information on when customers utilize their services, for how long, or the amount of data transferred.

    In our comprehensive reviews, we assess the VPN's encryption methods and Internet protocols to ensure that they conform to industry standards, typically including AES-256 and OpenVPN, the most secure methods available. We also examine the presence of private domain name servers and the use of anonymous and dynamic IP addresses, as they enhance tracking resistance. Finally, we ascertain whether each VPN incorporates a kill switch, which terminates all Internet connections in the event of VPN failure.

    ProtonVPN Kill Switch


    Since many individuals use VPNs for media content, such as movies and television shows, we seek VPNs that provide access to Netflix and allow for torrenting. It is important to note that Netflix continually updates its code to block VPN connections, making it impossible to guarantee uninterrupted access.

    We also look for the feature of split tunneling, which enables users to simultaneously access the VPN and the public network. This feature optimizes bandwidth usage, resulting in faster speeds. Additionally, we have a preference for double or multi-hop VPNs, as they encrypt data multiple times across multiple servers.


    In our reviews, we strive to provide readers with objective information about a company's subscription options, including an assessment of the pricing's reasonability based on competitors' rates and the features offered.

    VPN subscription prices can range from less than a dollar to $15 per month, with the majority falling around $4 monthly. We favor plans that offer both monthly and annual options to allow users flexibility. Furthermore, we highlight whether a VPN service offers a trial period or a money-back guarantee, as these are common features among VPN providers.

    Finally, we outline the specifics of each subscription in terms of the number of server switches allowed, simultaneous connections, and devices permitted. Typically, VPNs offer unlimited server switches and devices, with simultaneous connections ranging from one to an unlimited number.

    Windscribe Customer Support

    Customer Support

    While VPN companies are not typically renowned for their customer support, it is desirable for them to provide a live chat feature, in addition to an online help center. We consider 24/7 live chat support to be preferable, and we award extra points if a phone line is also available.


    Finally, we evaluate the apps available for both iPhone and Android devices, as well as their user ratings. If an app has a rating below three stars, we cannot recommend it to the users of the corresponding device.

    FastestVPN App When it comes to our home networks, they are generally safer from data theft by hackers than public Wi-Fi hotspots. However, hackers are not the sole entities interested in our internet traffic. Under the approval of the U.S. Congress, Internet Service Providers (ISP) have the ability to sell consumers' browsing data.

    At this very moment, your internet provider could be combing through your browsing history, seeking data to sell. While a VPN cannot prevent your ISP from engaging in such practices, it does make it significantly more challenging for anyone to trace your internet traffic back to you and your devices. Therefore, to answer the question, even when at home, a VPN is necessary if you desire enhanced privacy and wish to escape the prying eyes of ISPs.

    VPNs serve another useful purpose at home: entertainment. With certain VPNs, you can access websites that are blocked in your country, as well as digital content that is not available in your region. A popular example is the ability to watch shows from foreign Netflix libraries, which leads us to the next question.

    Whether or not you can access Netflix with a VPN varies depending on the company and the specific server you connect to. In our testing, these are some of the VPNs we used to enjoy Netflix and chill:

    • ExpressVPN
    • NordVPN
    • CyberGhost (though certain server prerequisites may be required)
    • Perfect Privacy (though compatibility may vary across servers)
    • Windscribe (only on U.S. and U.K. servers)
    • FastestVPN
    • Trust.Zone (on select servers in the U.S., U.K., France, and Canada)
    • StrongVPN
    • Ivacy VPN
    • Hotspot Shield
    • ProtonVPN.
    Before diving into your Netflix binge, connect to your VPN to ensure that no one can monitor your web traffic, and voila! You can indulge in private viewing. How about some Breaking Bad?

    When searching for a VPN that works with your Windows 10, Chrome, or Linux devices, you don't want to spend hours hunting for a compatible option. That's why we have curated a list of the best VPNs for each platform:

    • Windows 10: StrongVPN,, TunnelBear, Ivacy VPN, Hotspot Shield
    • Chrome: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, IPVanish, BlackVPN, ibVPN, TunnelBear, Ivacy VPN, Hotspot Shield, PureVPN, Windscribe
    • Linux: ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost, IPVanish, Perfect Privacy, Windscribe, BlackVPN, FastestVPN, Trust.Zone, ibVPN, IVPN.
    IPVanish Desktop AppIPVanish Desktop App Connecting to a VPN on your mobile device is a straightforward process. Simply visit the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, depending on the make of your phone, and download the VPN app. From there, sign in and click connect for private browsing.

    While it is often claimed that there's no such thing as a free lunch, that isn't entirely accurate in the case of VPNs. Some VPNs offer free options, either for a limited time, such as 30 days, or with a restricted amount of data.

    If you only require a VPN for a short period, consider free options like TunnelBear or Hotspot Shield. However, for long-term VPN use, it is worth investing in a monthly or yearly subscription.

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