Your personal or confidential information is at risk!
Imagine this: you need to use a public Wi-Fi connection. Be it at a cafe, at the airport, out in the mall or at school or university.
What you may not consider is that public Wi-Fi hot-spots leave your devices completely open to intrusion. Your bank information could be discovered, your passwords or personal pictures could be stolen by software which catches your data and recreates it on another device.
There is a way to browse online without worrying about this.
And this is where a VPN comes in.
A VPN masks your location by encrypting your information completely, allowing you to browse the internet privately and securely.
By sending your data through multiple layers of encryption, VPNs make it almost impossible for hackers to gather your personal information. Your anonymity is guaranteed and your location is hidden from prying eyes.
Sounds pretty great right? But a question arises here:
Which VPN to go for?
In order to find the best VPN, we’ve thoroughly tested over 50 companiesand narrowed down a list of the absolute best VPN services of 2018.
For some more proof of this, take a look at NordVPN’s commitments, named Warrant Canary:
We are 100% committed to our zero-logs policy – we never log the activities of our users to ensure their ultimate privacy and security.NordVPN
Up to 6 synchronous device connections
Majority of servers in Europe
Torrenting limited to small number of servers
30-day money-back guarantee
Works with Netflix US
30 day free trial available
NordVPN comes up really well in terms of pricing, too. Currently, with a special deal on the link, you get 4 price plan options:
36 months plan: $3.99 /month
12 months plan: $6.99 /month
6 months plan: $9.00 /month
1 month plan: $11.95 /month
Looking at this, it’s clear to see that a 3-year plan offers by far the best value – and it renews at the same price, as well. So it’s 2 years of secure internet for only $99.
And if for some reason you aren’t extremely satisfied by what NordVPN provide, then you can go ahead and take advantage of their 30-daymoney-backguarantee.
There are no bandwidth caps to be seen, and you can connect to almost every online streaming service, thanks to the many server locations. So if you want to watch BBC iPlayer or Netflix US from abroad, NordVPN will be your new best friend.
There are a couple of small issues though. The vast majority of NordVPN’s servers are located in Europe, so American users won’t have a variety of close-distance servers. Also, only a limited number of servers are available for torrenting.
Here is how NordVPN did when we tested its speed:
NordVPN is 47Mbps slower in downloads compared to our benchmark. Overall a really solid showing! NordVPN isn’t just secure and cheap, it’s also fast. This makes it an excellent choice for P2P file-sharing, HD streaming or online gaming since its security is also top.
Number of servers: 1800+ | Server locations: 148 | Maximum devices supported: 3 | IP Addresses: 1000+
ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN solutions in the world, and it’s for a good reason. The provider, located in the British Virgin Islands, is incredibly extensive in its solutions.
It offers a wide range of supported operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS and even Blackberry!
What’s also great is that there are plenty of web-based tutorials which are easy to follow and will help you to get up and running with the service.
ExpressVPN’s website also offers live chat support, with agents staffed 24/7 to respond to any questions you may have concerning their services.
Zero logs & great encryption
No ad blocker
Simple cross-platform client
3 simultaneous connections
Unlimited bandwidth for P2P
30-day money-back guarantee
Next up, let’s talk about pricing. Like most good VPNs, ExpressVPN offers three selections:
12 months: $8.32 /month
6 months: $9.99 /month
1 month: $12.95 /month
We mentioned the pricing as a negative thing – you can see that ExpressVPN is pretty expensive as most providers go. But it’s quite a fantastic option for your money – considering their great support and strict no-logging policy, as well as many server locations. You can login from countries like Belarus, Brunei, and Cambodia.
Just like with NordVPN, you’ll be able to access all of the main streaming services like Netflix US and BBC iPlayer. And if you ever do run into any issues, ExpressVPN’s incredible customer support team will have your questions solved in no time. And once again, a 30-day money-back guarantee is present.
Here’s how ExpressVPN handled the speed test:
ExpressVPN is a whopping 80Mbps slower in downloads compared to our benchmark. Aside from the ping, not very well. It’s a shame that the speed of ExpressVPN didn’t quite match up to its promise. What are you getting for you money? Great customer support and complete security – if those are your priorities, this is the best VPN for you.
Number of servers: 200+ | Server locations: 28 | Maximum devices supported: 10 | IP Addresses: Undisclosed
ProtonVPN is coded with an exclusive Secure Core Architecture which prevents surveillance and stops hackers on the off chance that they infiltrate the VPN provider. This is why the make the place of 2nd best VPN provider.
This makes ProtonVPN incredibly unique since in the (unlikely) event that Proton’s servers are hacked, this technology ensures that no one has the ability to track your movements or location.
ProtonVPN takes customer privacy very seriously.
Hence, they are located in a country with very strong privacy laws, Switzerland.
Since Switzerland is located outside of the EU and, obviously, the US, ProtonVPN has no duty to disclose any kind of sensitive information to the governments of external countries or groups.
Top plan is quite expensive
Strict no logging policy
No live chat support
Free version available
Based in Switzerland
Let’s take a look at the pricing and plans available with ProtonVPN. (All paid plans are shown with monthly prices for an annual subscription)
Free plan – 3 server locations, 1 device connection, low speed
Basic plan – $4 /month, all server locations, 2 devices, high speed
Plus plan – $8 /month, all server locations, 5 devices, highest speed, plus servers, secure core
Visionary plan – $24 /month, all server locations, 10 devices, highest speed, plus servers, secure core, ProtonMail
With 4 plans on offer, you are certainly spoiled for choice. You will get more features and a better performance with the more expensive plans, but for a beginner, the entry-level plan is more than enough. There is a 30-day money back guarantee here as well. Which, of course, you won’t need should you choose the company’s free plan. Which is pretty good but has serious limitations – although that is fully expected.
No such issues bug the biggest, Visionary plan, with which you can connect up to 10 devices on one account all at the same time. This is the best result out of all services here. We should also quickly mention ProtonMail, which comes free with the aforementioned plan. ProtonMail is an end-to-end encrypted mailing service – and if you’re interested in the privacy of your letters too, this might be a great value option.
And when it comes to performance, ProtonVPN is actually doing pretty well. Take a look:
ProtonVPN is 49Mbps slowerin downloads compared to our benchmark. Could be better, but it’s still a pretty good result.
Number of servers: 3100+ | Server locations: 33 | Maximum devices supported: 5 | IP Addresses: Undisclosed
If you are looking for a VPN solution that is fully-fledged and ready to go, then Private Internet Access (PIA) should be a name you consider. It has over 3000 servers worldwide and a reliable, lag-free performance.
Deploying the industry standard AES-256 bit encryption and support for the OpenVPN protocol, you can count on PIA to keep your information secure.
PIA is also packed with features. From encrypted Wi-Fi to the SOCKS5 Proxy being included as standard, it has pretty much every single feature you can think of – and then some more.
Private Internet Access enforces no restrictions on P2P or bandwidth and allows up to five simultaneous device connections.
Doesn’t unblock Netflix
Lots of servers
Only 7-day money-back guarantee
Up to 5 connections
The absolute best thing about PIA is its pricing. It’s hands down the cheapest on our list of the best VPN services available.
24 months: $2.91 /month
12 months: $3.33 /month
1 month: $6.95 /month
A monthly plan of $6.95 is almost half of what you’ll pay for ExpressVPN. Now that is exceptional value!
You can stream and play games online as much as you want since there is no data capping. However, you won’t be able to unblock Netflix US.
In addition to these rare shortcomings, it is worth mentioning that PIA is not a very user-friendly VPN. After downloading the application your login credentials are sent to your email address – and they tend to be quite difficult to remember. Also, the desktop app interface is a bit clunky, not comparing to something like Nord VPN.
Sadly there is no month-long money-back guarantee, as with PIA you only get 7 days. So you better decide if you like it, quick.
Out of all reasons to use that money-back guarantee, speed won’t be one. PIA is one of the best-performing VPNs on this list, only 33Mbps slower in downloads compared to our benchmark. Ping, upload and download speeds are all very good.
Number of servers: 650+ | Server locations: 45+ | Maximum devices supported: 5 | IP Addresses: Undisclosed
StrongVPN lives up to its name in more ways than one. Not only do they manage to bypass Netflix US’ restrictions, but they are one of the few VPN services out there that gets past China’s great firewall, too.
Located in Texas, USA, StrongVPN offers over 650 servers in 26 countries. Of those, 46 are in different cities. This will allow you a decent number of choices on where to connect, and this could definitely be better.
They also offer a number of operating systems support. Including Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, and even some Wi-Fi routers.
Like all of the best VPN services, StrongVPN includes AES-256 bit encryption as standard, as well as the less commonly seen IKEv2/IPsec protocol.
Speed is average at best
Multiple device support
Small locations list
Gets past Chinese firewall
30-day money-back guarantee
Now we’ll once again talk about pricing:
12 months: $5.83 /month
1 month: $10 /month
There is only one plan StrongVPN offers, and the price depends on the way you wish to be charged. You can either purchase one year of VPN access, or a month-to-month plan. Both are priced really fairly, but nothing stands out here.
It’s very simple – and if the plethora of options on other providers is a bit too much for you, then StrongVPN will be a very nice option.
StrongVPN is an excellent choice for those who are buying their first VPN or for those who just want to start accessing the web securely.
StrongVPN is a huge 68Mbps slower in downloads compared to our benchmark. Is it simple? Yes. Easy to use? Absolutely. But in downloads and uploads, we never really hit the 30Mbps mark, so it’s definitely not quick. You would probably be better off looking at NordVPN or ProtonVPN if you’re really focused on performance.
Whilst it is super user-friendly, TunnelBear doesn’t skimp on security. No logging of data here.
No data logging
No torrenting support
No Netflix support
Works on 5 devices at once
Download speed could be better
TunnelBear offers 3 plans, here they are:
Grizzly (12 months): $4.17/month
Giant (1 month): $9.99/month
Little (1 month): Free
The Grizzly plan is a 12-month long unlimited data plan, as opposed to the Giant plan, which is billed monthly but also offers unlimited data. The Little plan, however, only offers 500MB of data usage per month – but it is free!
A 500MB data limit on the free plan might not sound like much. To be fair, it isn’t. An extensive speed test alone took nearly half of the allowed monthly dataĄHowever, if all you need a VPN for is occasionally checking foreign news sites that would otherwise be blocked, 500MB should be more than enough.
TunnelBear also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
There are some downsides here though. The lack of support for both Netflix US and being able to torrent is quite disappointing.
Now it’s time to take a look at the speed on offer:
TunnelBear is 48Mbps slower in downloads compared to our benchmark. Really good upload speed and pretty good ping. Overall solid – and you see the same speeds in the free plan as well, so there’s no throttling!
Number of servers: 720+ | Server locations: 320+ | Maximum devices supported: 5 | IP Addresses: 3600+
Despite having a fairly poor reputation with those in-the-know, HideMyAssVPN is a quality choice for a lot of people. It’s a very feature-light product, but the features it does have are of the highest quality.
What HideMyAssVPN does have going for it, though, is a huge amount of servers located in just about every country possible.
Do you want to surf in Alaska or North Korea? Well, now you don’t have to choose, because HMA has both. One my favorite things is definitely the fact there are so many USA locations, so you can see what the users from various parts of the country see.
No other VPN service has anything like this scale of network. It may not have the highest number of servers, but the way they are spread out is commendable and gives users many choices.
The one big downside to HideMyAss is their security record. They have been known for handing over data on its users to the police and other law enforcement agencies.
Huge number of server locations
Hands data to governments
Good quality applications
Speed isn’t great
Netflix US & BBC iPlayer available
No P2P support
And now is the final time we have to talk about money:
12 months: $5.99 /month
6 months: $7.99 / month
1 month: $11.99 /month
Pricing here is pretty standard. Sure, it’s not as cheap as NordVPN or PIA, but it doesn’t fall into the ProtonVPN or ExpressVPN cost territories.
Overall I would say that HideMyAssVPN is a VPN with a poor reputation that perhaps is undeserved. The Mac OS and Android apps specifically are really good quality, and the choice of server locations is not something to turn our noses up to. It’s definitely an interesting option for people who want to see Google search results or custom pages, and how they look on each locale and a US state.
Let’s see how HideMyAssVPN does on the speed test:
HideMyAssVPN is 35Mbps slower in downloads compared to our benchmark. That is just slightly above average – not a bottleneck for sure, but you won’t get blown away.
Which is the best VPN service for your specific needs?
While NordVPN is hands-down our favorite overall VPN service, there are certain instances where you may prefer another choice.
Best VPN for Android
A good Android app is an important thing for any VPN service since over 80% of all smartphones in current use are operated on the Android OS.
NordVPN takes the prize here. Not only is their Android app beautifully designed, but it has superb functionality and performance. There is virtually no learning curve on the NordVPN Android app – it’s very user-friendly, so even the newest users of VPNs will feel right at home.
Another great feature to mention is the inclusion of NordVPN’s security protocol, CyberSec, which blocks annoying advertisements and prevents you from accessing malware-hosting sites. This reason alone would be enough to give NordVPN the title of best VPN for Android.
ExpressVPN– ExpressVPN also make a really nice Android application. It’s smooth, easy-to-use and has some nice features like the inclusion of a ‘favorites’ tab
HideMyAssVPN– HideMyAssVPN is also a decent shout here. Like ExpressVPN it is smooth and user-friendly. And with many locations it will always have this special edge over plenty of competitors.
Best VPN for Mac OS
Despite the fact that mobile users are becoming a real force, there are still lots of people who want to use a VPN through their computer. A good Mac OS application should follow Mac design principles, as well as be fast and user-friendly.
Our number one pick for the best VPN for Mac OS is ExpressVPN, which offers a superb Mac OS application that is really clear and simple to use.
You can click simply to connect whenever you want, and a feature that really caught our eye was the inclusion of a ‘favorites’ tab. This allows you to add locations of servers you like to use often to one easy-to-find place.
ProtonVPN– ProtonVPN makes a great Mac OS application. It is beautifully designed and is super fast.
Best VPN for torrenting
The best VPN for torrenting must tick two big boxes. Speed and data transfer limits. If the VPN you choose has great speed and unlimited data transfer, you’re all set.
NordVPN is definitely our favorite VPN service for torrenting. With unlimited P2P data transfers and a strict no-logging policy, you don’t have to look any further if you’re after a VPN to use when torrenting.
It doesn’t hurt to mention that NordVPN also has incredibly good speed and reliability, two crucial aspects of torrenting.
Private Internet Access– With great speed across the board and unlimited data transfer, PIA makes a fantastic choice for those interested in P2P file sharing.
Best VPN for Netflix
If you’re outside the US, you may have noticed that your Netflix selections are very limited. (Who needs only the 3rd season of anything?) This is due to many complex licensing agreements with the companies that make TV shows/movies. Ultimately it means that often the best stuff is only available in the US.
But don’t worry! StrongVPN is a fantastic choice if you want the best VPN for Netflix. Including multiple device support, you and your family/friends can all watch Netflix whenever you like.
ProtonVPN – Offering wonderful speed, ProtonVPN is a great choice for watching Netflix through your VPN.
How do we test VPN performance?
When using a VPN you’re bound to get slower speeds than you would when connecting to the internet directly through your provider.
This is because your data has to be sent to another server, often in another country, and then back to your device, which inevitably slows things down slightly.
We used Speedtest.net to check the download speed of each VPN service.
For each provider, we connected to a server in San Jose, California, in order to keep things as fair as possible. Here are our results with no VPN turned on, as a benchmark for the VPN services to try and beat:
How to choose a VPN service
I hope that my recommendations have helped you to decide which VPN service you want to go for, but in case they haven’t, there are some more factors to think about.
I’ve compiled a list of tips for you to take a look at:
1.Does the VPN service have servers in every country and region you need?
If you are signing up for a VPN service primarily to watch US Netflix, then a service that doesn’t have servers located in the US will be no use to you, despite offering perhaps many times more servers than a competitor. Also, if you care about a specific location performance (i.e. California and Illinois, rather than just the US), you should find a provider which offers that as well.
2. Check how many synchronous connections are supported.
This will allow you to have more than one device connected to a VPN at the same time. It could be that you want to watch US Netflix on your PC but at the same time, someone from your circle wants to watch BBC iPlayer on their phone. This is where multi-device support comes in. Most VPN plans can act like shared family plans!
Usually, good VPN plans allow for around 3 to 5 devices connected at the same time. Some providers, like NordVPN, increase this to 6 or even more.
3.All VPN companies say they don’t log whatever you’re doing online, but inevitably they collect some data.
Some services record the day your account logged on, the amount of data you used, and delete anything else when the session closes.
Others add things like your incoming IP address and the server you were on, and keep the data for a long time, several years in some cases. With the introduction of GDPR, however, you will be able to see these policies more easily. If privacy is your #1 concern, make sure to do the latest research on the privacy policies to see what they are.
4.Finally, there’s the price.
Beware of apparently cheap deals.
Often, these cheap deals may have restricted features or exclude taxes.
Look for a ‘”Pricing’” link and read the small print. Also, consider purchasing a longer-term deal. A 2 or 3-year plan with a payment up front may sound scary. But it’s an investment in the long run. For instance, NordVPN’s 2-year premium plan costs $99. That’s equal to 1 year of ExpressVPN! You get the point.
Once you’ve found what looks like the best VPN candidate for you, be sure to take it for a trial before you spend any big money.
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