Virtual private networks, also known as VPNs, are safe to use – provided you choose a reliable one. A VPN changes your IP address to effectively mask your computer's identity and disguise your browsing location.
There's no risk to your device in using a VPN, and you're not using some back-channel version of the internet – it's the same web, just accessed over a different server.
In fact, using a reputable VPN is safe and a recommended way to connect to the internet. With a secure VPN service, you can protect your online data and privacy. A VPN isn't, however, a licence to carry out illegal or nefarious activities. Using a VPN doesn't make you invincible online, but pick a good one, and your data and privacy will remain secure.
Top VPN services offer a great way to protect your identity online, as well as opening up areas of the internet that could be blocked off to you because of your location. This guide explains what to look out for with a VPN, the benefits of paying for one over a free alternative (far less safe), and how to keep yourself protected online.
Why Should Businesses Use a VPN?
Now that you know that VPNs are safe for businesses, it's important to understand just how important it is for your company to utilize one to improve security. For one, security breaches are a real threat in 2021, and doing everything you can to protect your company data is vital.
In fact, with remote work becoming such a common occurrence at businesses during – and likely after – the pandemic, security gaffs have risen substantially.
This is where a VPN really shines. If you're working at home or even in a coffee shop, a business VPN will completely encrypt your online activity, protecting you from anyone trying to access the network. Particularly with a business account run by your IT department, you'll have the peace of mind that comes with your entire staff behind securely protected, no matter where they are.
Our scoring is based on independent tests and assessments of features, privacy settings, ease of use and value.
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BEST CHEAP VPN
Industry-beating good value, with a single low price to cover all your devices, plus great speeds and top security features
Fast, effective, low-cost and simple – the best VPN we've tested, with risk-free money-back guarantee
A safe, simple, outstanding VPN
Outstanding value, with an advanced VPN app
Good VPN privacy at good speeds
A good, well-priced VPN
A decent option for expert users
A user-friendly VPN, let down by some speed loss
A powerful tool for expert users
Excellent privacy features for the security-minded
$2.49 (2-year plan)
$3.67 (2-year plan)
$2.91 (2-year plan)
$3.33 (1-year plan)
$4.99/yr (personal) or $32/mo/5 users (business)
$4.08 (1-year plan)
$4.00/mo (1-year plan)
$2.25 (2-year plan)
$3.19 (3-year plan)
$2.25 (2-year plan)
All of the above VPNs are safe services from reputable brands that take your security seriously. From our extensive testing, we identified three that stand out from the crowd.
NordVPN, IPVanish and PureVPN combine great features with dependable speeds and all-important ease-of use. Below, we give a little more detail on our top-choice VPN services:
You may worry that in order to get a safe VPN, you'll need to spend more. Surfshark proves this isn't the case – this is one of the cheapest VPNs around, but also, reassuringly, one of the most secure.
Low cost, high safety
Surfshark shames the competition when it comes to value. For just $2.49 per month, you can use Surfshark across an unlimited number of devices, and it works on Macs, PCs, iPhones, Android devices and even FireTV sticks.
In terms of safety and security features, Surfshark gives you everything you'd want in an easy-to-use package. It offers a choice of 3,200 global servers to choose from. There's an all-important killswitch function to make sure your data isn't exposed should the VPN ever pause. And, reassuringly, Surfshark holds firm to a “zero data logging” policy, keeping customer's privacy at the forefront.
- Great value plans and regular discounts
- Unlimited devices
- Works on PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux and FireTV
- Excellent security features
- Simple interface
- Less well known than some competitor brands
- No fully free tier
NordVPN takes your security very seriously. To begin with, it uses military-grade 256-bit AES encryption to protect your information, a great bonus if you're looking to use public WiFi networks without concern.
Additional VPN security features
As well as built-in malware blocking, NordVPN also features a Kill Switch option.
This will stop your browsing dead should your connection to the VPN fail, instead of continuing your activity on your ISP.
- Risk-free money-back guarantee
- Excellent mobile app
- Fast and effective
- Packed with features
- Excellent value
- Couldn't unblock some streaming services when tested
- Assumes some technical knowledge for advanced features
Unlike some other VPNs, IPVanish has a policy of not logging your data. This means that records of your online searches and the websites you have visited won't be kept.
Secure but technical VPN
IPVanish has over 1,000 servers in 60 countries, and owns them all outright, rather than leasing them from third-party data centres. This means that your data is passing purely through IPVanish's systems, rather than a faceless third party.
It's a powerful VPN to choose, though arguably a little technical if you've never used one before. However, the privacy conscious will love the ability to deep-dive into the settings and features.
- Great Savings: Up to 73% Off
- Crammed with settings that put you in control
- Strong privacy and security features
- Decent speeds
- Slightly intimidating
- Priced above some rivals
PureVPN is not only a great VPN in its own right, but also boasts an impressive suite of additional security features. One of these is Ozone, a tool that gives you content filtering tools, and has intrusion-detection features that alert you if someone is trying to hack into your PC.
Then there's a tool called Gravity. This is an ad-blocker that stops ads appearing during your browsing.
Simple but secure VPN
For VPN first-timers, PureVPN is also brilliantly simple to use. You don't have to delve into complex settings to get up and running, and there's support on hand, too. Best of all? You don't have to spend much – it's a great-value VPN.
- Effective privacy and security features
- Smart Mode-based approach
- Clear notifications
- Excellent value
- Not quite as fast as billed
- Doesn’t unblock Netflix unless you use the browser extension
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