The Best VPN Services for 2018

June 21, 2018

8:06 am

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can help you browse the web and download files anonymously, and using a VPN can be a smart way to boost your online privacy. But, there are some big differences in the features and speeds you’ll get from one VPN service to another. In this guide we’ll tell you why you should use one, the features to look for, and the best VPN services available for 2018.

Our top-rated VPN providers have tight privacy settings, good speeds and a range of useful features. All of that is important, as picking the wrong VPN could mean stuttering download speeds, or even worse, security and privacy issues such as having your data tracked and logged without you realising it.

You don’t need to spend much to enjoy a brilliant VPN service. Before you sign up for a VPN, check our reviews and recommendations to help decide which is the best VPN for you.

We’ve reviewed and rated the best VPNs for 2018. Our top choice services are listed below:

PureVPN – 82%Pure VPN logo - tech.co

PureVPN deal – just $59.76 for 2 years ($2.48/month)

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Easy to use while also offering a large suite of options for those that like to dabble. Incredible value for the service if you pick up a two-year subscription. PureVPN can also unblock Netflix in other countries, something which not many VPNs can boast.

Open up the internet with our highest rated VPN, with this special offer for two years of Pure VPN for just $2.48 a month – a 77% saving.

TorGuard VPN – 76%Torguard VPN logo - tech.co

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Excellent choice for the tech-savvy, with plenty of options to deep dive into. TorGuard VPN also super fast, and passed our privacy tests with flying colors, where others failed. It’s a real powerhouse of a VPN, that grants you a high level of control.

Private Internet Access – 75%Private Internet Access logo - tech.co

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More aimed at confident users, Private Internet Access offers solid, good-value privacy and anonymity while you’re online. It comes with features to block ads and tools that companies use to track your internet activities.

NordVPN – 73%NordVPN logo - tech.co

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A great choice for more experienced or expert users, NordVPN  is fast, effective and crammed with useful features, as well as making sure that your privacy is protected online.

This 3-year special offer from NordVPN works out at just $2.75/ month – which is a 77% discount.

ExpressVPN – 72%ExpressVPN logo - tech.co

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A good all rounder, ExpressVPN chooses the fastest server for you depending on location. A useful Killswitch function to instantly terminate your internet connection if the VPN connection is lost for any reason. This prevents your real location and identity being revealed.

ExpressVPN is offering a 30 day money-back guarantee on a 15 month deal costing $6.67/month. That’s a 49% discount.

What is a VPN Service?

A VPN is a service that can be used to mask your own internet access, and works by tunnelling your web activity through to a proxy server, which you then access all online content through.

VPNs have something of a sketchy reputation in some quarters, but there are plenty of legitimate reasons why you would want one, especially if you value your online privacy and security.

Think of the last time you accessed public Wi-Fi, in a coffee shop or hotel. Did you send any personal data? If so, there’s a very good chance it wasn’t secure.

A VPN can also allow you to access services that are “geo-locked”. For example, if you’re overseas but want to watch U.S. Netflix, a VPN can make it appear as if you are accessing the service from the U.S.

Still unclear? Read our full guide on What Is a VPN?

Are VPN services legal to use?

You might question whether or not a VPN is legal. In most countries they are, including the USA and Europe, although there are a handful of exceptions. In Iraq and North Korea, they are banned outright.

In other territories, including China, they are government controlled, which could expose the user to data-logging and defeat the purpose of using one in the first place.

Read our detailed explainer on whether VPNs are legal to use

VPN Features to look for in 2018

To help you decide which VPN service is best for you, it’s best to consider a few key features

Security and Privacy Features

It pays to be security-conscious, and if you’re looking to use a VPN, then you’re probably well aware of the risks of exposing your online activity to nefarious third parties. Some VPN services offer more robust security features than others, such as strong encryption or built-in anti-malware protection.

While you might think that your online activity is under wraps using a VPN, some VPN providers still log your activity on its servers. This could include the sites you have visited or the names of files you have downloaded. The logging may be anonymised, but, given you need to sign up to paid-for VPNs with your email address and card details, any sort of data collection is potentially off-putting.

Whether or not this is something to look out for depends on what you’re using the VPN for in the first place and whether or not you’re comfortable with a third party logging your data in this way. Our reviews make clear the providers that log your information, and those that don’t.

VPN Speeds

Speed is key when it comes to VPN, especially if you’re doing something data extensive. If you’re browsing the web, then you might not be too affected by a slow VPN, but you’ll soon notice when you start downloading data or streaming a movie.

There are several factors that can contribute to slow speeds – a lack of servers, the VPN itself throttling the service, or just the physical distance between yourself and the providers servers. We’ve taken this into account and tested each provider for speed.

Streaming over a VPN

Many people use VPNs for media streaming, such as gaining access to the vast, region specific catalogue of movies and TV show from the likes of Netflix. Unsurprisingly, streaming services aren’t hugely keen on you doing this, and are taking increasingly sophisticated steps to try to quell this activity.

Netflix actively blocks access from overseas users to its U.S. service, for example. It’s been a battle of inches between the streaming giant and the VPN providers. Netflix keeps developing ways to detect VPNs and prevent their use, while VPN providers keep trying to outfox Netflix’s detection.

Some VPNs claim to provide unfettered access to the global library, but in our testing, we found that this wasn’t always the case. Read our reviews to find which ones will let you access Netflix overseas, trouble-free.

Support

If you find yourself lost at sea when attempting to navigate the web with a VPN, then having an expert on hand to answer your questions is vital, especially if you’ve never used one before.

Any decent service worth its salt will have a help guide built-in, but if you need guidance beyond that, then speaking a human, whether its by email, live chat or over the phone could be invaluable, especially if you’re dealing with a level of technical knowledge that is slightly beyond your grasp.

We’ve identified those providers that offer chat services or will pick up the phone when you come unstuck, and those that will leave you with just a help page and a prayer.

Should you pay for a VPN service?

The big question then – should you pay for a VPN? The answer to this really depends on what you want to use it for, and how determined you are to have the best browsing speeds and privacy features.

While there are some free options out there, there can be a considerable trade-off in performance and experience. They will also be fairly limited feature wise, and basic.

Don’t forget the old adage that if something is free, then you’re the product. For VPNs, this means that you might have to put up with adverts, or they may collect data as you browse – in itself, that’s a privacy concern.

For anyone but the most casual of users, paying for a VPN is the way forward. For a small fee – typically around $60 per year – you’ll enjoy more features, better speeds and an advert-free experience.

You don’t have to spend big bucks for a reliable service, either. We’ve found some great VPN tools that are reasonably priced. You’ll get the best value deals by signing up for a year or more of service – paying monthly is rarely the cheapest way to go.

Pure VPN Torguard Private Internet Access NordVPN ExpressVPN
Monthly cost $10.95 $9.99 $6.95 $11.95 $12.95
Annual cost $59 $59.99 $39.95 $69 $99.95
Ease of Use
Features
Privacy
Speed
Help and Support
Value for Money
Overall score 82% 76% 75% 73% 72%
Verdict Easy to use while also offering a large suite of options for those that like to dabble. Incredible value for the service if you pick up a two-year subscription.

Read our full Pure VPN review

Excellent choice for the tech-savvy, with plenty of options to deep dive into. It’s also super fast, and passed our privacy tests with flying colors, where others failed.

Read our full Torguard VPN review

More aimed at confident users, Private Internet Access offers solid, good-value privacy and anonymity while you’re online. It comes with features to block ads and tools that companies use to track your internet activites.

Read our full PIA review

A great choice for more experienced or expert users, NordVPN  is fast, effective and crammed with useful features, as well as making sure that your privacy is protected online.

Read our full NordVPN review

A good all rounder, ExpressVPN chooses the fastest server for you depending on location. A useful Killswitch function to instantly terminate your internet connection if the VPN connection is lost for any reason. This prevents your real location and identity being revealed.

Read our full ExpressVPN review

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Jack is a senior writer at Tech.co with over a decade's experience researching and writing about consumer technology, from security and privacy to product reviews and tech news.

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