September 3, 2018
A VPN is an essential tool in the arsenal of every savvy web user, and the best VPNs for Windows can give you peace of mind while you’re connected to the web. While VPNs were once eyed suspiciously, this legacy has long since been buried. A VPN can open up the internet, while also protecting your privacy from individuals and companies.
If you’re a Windows 10 user, there are plenty of reasons to use a VPN. Whether it’s to unlock content on Netflix in a different territory, or to protect yourself on a public Wi-Fi network, its easy to justify signing up for a VPN, especially when you can bag one for just a few bucks a month. Check out our list below for the best apps.
There are also plenty of free VPNs for Windows. We don’t overall recommend free VPNs (and we’ll explain why), but if you’re determined to stay cost-free, we round up the best options.
In this guide:
- Best VPNs for Windows 10
- Top VPN Clients for Windows
- Best Free VPNs for Windows 10
- How to set up a VPN on Windows 10
If you’re after a paid-for VPN for Windows 10 (or Windows 7), then the ones below are the pick of our testing and won’t disappoint.
- PureVPN – The best VPN we’ve ever tested. Easy to use and effective.
- IPVanish – A great VPN choice for expert users, with plenty of options.
- Torguard – Watertight data protection, and unlocks Netflix
- Private Internet Access – A solid VPN that offers good value for money
- Windscribe – Not for beginners, but affordable, fast and effective.
- Proton VPN – Pricey? Yes, but a great package with plenty of options
- NordVPN – A fast VPN more aimed at expert users
Top VPN Clients for Windows
The very best VPNs offer a dedicated client that sits on your Windows 10 PC, rather than just an extension in your web browser. Think of a client as a very small program – it sits on your Windows desktop and controls all of the internet traffic going through your PC.
This means that all traffic that passes through your PC will be routed through the VPN, rather than just the data on your web browser. This includes torrenting and streaming with third-party apps, programs or clients.
A good Windows VPN should always offer a client. Anything that is browser-based only is going to severely limit what you can do with the VPN. Below are the best VPNs available for Windows 10.
- Ease of use
- Help & Support
- Value for Money
- Monthly price
- Annual price
- Get VPN
PureVPN – 82%
PureVPN is our highest rated VPN, and it’s not hard to see why. Firstly, it works, with an unobtrusive interface that’s easy to understand. You can also turn your PC into a VPN hotspot, and connect other devices. It’s also possible to get into a granular level of detail about the apps that will use PureVPN, and those that you want to go through your regular VPN.
For the security consciousness, it offers Ozone and Gravity features. Ozone is effectively an antivirus setting that will automatically block any internet nasties from infecting your machine. Gravity adds another layer of protection with an adblocker. It all works seamlessly in the background while you go about your business.
Read the full PureVPN review
IPVanish – 80%
IPVanish offers a nice interface with plenty of control over the options, including choosing the best server to connect to, a task that IPVanish will assist you with, and we liked the map approach that allows the user to visual exactly where available servers are located.
It’s more aimed at power users, and if you’re au fait with VPN software, you’ll love the depth that the features offer. It offers a killswitch function, which will stop your internet connection dead if the VPN fails, instead of falling back on your own ISP and leaving you exposed.
Read the full IPVanish review
TorGuard – 76%
Torguard takes your privacy seriously, and we found it to be one of the more robust VPNs out there, with a Fort Knox degree of security that meant we didn’t experience any data leaks during testing.
It also has an ace up its sleeve when it comes to video streaming. Many come unstuck at the Netflix test, which is notorious for spotting VPN users and bolting its doors closed. No problem for Torguard however, and we were able to access video libraries for other regions.
Read the full TorGuard review
Best Free VPNs for Windows 10
Before you sign up for a free VPN, be sure to check the fine print. It could be selling your browsing activities to third parties, or even piggy-backing off your bandwidth (as is the case with Hola).
A decent VPN won’t set you back too much each month, so there’s little reason to go for a free version. However, if you want to try before you buy, these VPNs are worth looking at:
This one comes with something of a caveat. It’s not a VPN in itself, but rather a web browser with a VPN built-in. This does mean that you’ll have to ditch Chrome or Edge, but with Opera you get a decent free VPN service attached to your browser for free. It will only hide anything you’re looking at in the Opera browser, but it’s a decent start for a free VPN.
TunnelBear is notable for being one of the few VPNs with a sense of playfulness. Picking your server is signified by animation of a bear popping through a yellow tunnel. Behind the playful exterior, it’s a competent VPN and one that manages to provide decent speeds – an area where many free services fall down.
It’s not generous with its data – the 500MB per month it allows its free users will soon be gobbled up, and forget about streaming video. However, mention Tunnelbear on Twitter and it will throw you another 1GB of data.
3. HolaVPN – AVOID
HolaVPN is on the list only as a reminder why you shouldn’t rely on a free VPN. Sign up for its free service, and you’re giving permission for Hola to use your bandwidth for other customers. This is problematic, as it means that you could be exposing your IP address to illegal activity without even realising.
Not only that, but during our testing, we found several cases where our privacy was compromised, and in one case our IP address exposed. This is exactly the opposite of what a good VPN should be doing.
All we’re saying is, pay a few bucks a month instead and subscribe to a legitimate VPN service.
How to Set Up a VPN on Windows 10
It’s simple to get started with a VPN, and the best services around do everything possible to make it easy for even first-time users to get up and running.
- Once you’ve selected the right VPN for you, you’ll need to create an account and supply some key details (email address, and payment method for example).
- Next up, you’ll be asked to download and install the software (client), during the setup
- After this, you’ll need to log in to the VPN on your Windows PC, using your account details.
- One up and running, take a look at the settings for the VPN and make sure that it’s set up how you would like – do you want it to launch whenever you turn your computer on, for example? Are there server locations you’d prefer to access the internet from? Do you want to set up any extra security features?
A good VPN will typically have lots of features and settings for you to delve into as you grow with confidence.
For the full run down on how to set up a VPN, read our dedicated VPN setup guide.
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