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 for 2020.
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 can get a brilliant VPN service for just a couple of dollars a month. For this, you can enjoy online security and privacy, plus unlock overseas streaming services.
You don’t need to spend much to enjoy a brilliant VPN service. But there's no sense wasting your money on a VPN that won't do everything you need.
Before you sign up for a VPN, check our reviews and recommendations to help decide which is the best VPN for you.
In This Guide:
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.
PureVPN offers a selection of ‘modes' that make it easy to ensure your VPN experience is a smooth as possible, including Privacy', which masks your identity when using file sharing networks, and a dedicated ‘Streaming' mode.
It also allows you to set up your computer as a VPN hotspot, so other devices can connect to it and browse anonymously.
- 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
NordVPN is fast, it's powerful, and it's a cost-effective solution to what ails anyone in need of a VPN service. Granted, you'll need to commit to a service plan of a year or longer in order to get the best value for your money, but the service is more than worth it.
The 256-bit AES encryption is military grade, so you'll be retain your anonymity and safety regardless of which public wifi outlet you log your laptop into. Additional security features include the ability to use two VPN links at the same time and access to the privacy-centric TOR network. And, with 3600 servers in 62 countries, NordVPN has a network of servers that's even larger than it needs to be.
- Fast and effective
- Packed with features
- Excellent value
- Not the most intuitive VPN for absolute beginners
- Couldn't unblock some streaming services when tested
- Assumes some technical knowledge
IPVanish is an excellent VPN, aimed at more advanced users and with a wealth of features that will keep the dedicated VPN experts happy.
Given it has over 1000 servers in 60 countries, there's plenty of global coverage, so chances are you'll be able to find a server that will get you the content you want.
It also doesn't suffer any slow down, like some VPN software can, with your speeds ticking along at a nice pace.
- Crammed with settings that put you in control
- Strong privacy and security features
- Decent speeds
- Slightly intimidating
- Priced above some rivals
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, even where others failed. It's a real powerhouse of a VPN that grants you a high level of control.
TorGuard turned out to be one of the fastest VPNs on our test, with even long-distance transatlantic connections proving refreshingly speedy. While some VPNs can do a number on your broadband speed, you're in safe hands with TorGuard.
The software's security settings are absolutely superb, and it passed all our leak tests with flying colors.
- Strong global presence
- Great features and control for expert users
- Impressive VPN performance
- Not great for less experienced users
- Awkward sign-up process
- Tiny text when you sign in
Private Internet Access
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.
A built-in killswitch will automatically halt any activity should you lose your VPN connection, ensuring that it won't be transmitted over your standard ISP network.
In advanced features, you'll find the Mace option, which provides tools for blocking online adverts and disabling any tracking tools that companies may use.
- Good features
- Good local speeds
- PC app isn't user friendly
- Better-suited to technically confident users
- Long distance speeds suffer
A great value VPN that also has a decent free offering, Windscribe is a fantastic choice for anyone who already knows their way around a VPN.
Newcomers might be slightly daunted by the vast amount of features, but the experienced will revel in the amount of freedom it grants them.
Good news for film buffs too, it can unblock Netflix, bypassing the stringent protections that the streaming giant has put in place to prevent region-free viewing.
- Distinctive app and add-on combo approach
- Good free option with no nagging and no ads
- Decent speeds
- Unblocks Netflix
- Technical style
ProtonVPN is another solid option for experienced users intent on keeping their civil liberties: The speed isn't the fastest, but the privacy and level of control it offers users is unbeatable. The raft of advanced features includes multiple profiles with settable protocols and server types.
The concern for privacy extends to the company itself. It's based in Switzerland, a country with privacy laws strong enough to border on stereotypical, and ProtonVPN internally enforces a strict no-logging policy.
- Impressive interface
- Powerful features
- Lots of hands-on control
- Premium plans are expensive
- Can be intimidating
- Average speeds overall
Hide Me VPN
Beginners who might be scared off by ProtonVPN or Private Internet Access would do well to check out Hide Me VPN: It's easy to set up, has an intuitive interface, and delivers on its promise of helping users stay private.
The one downside is that Hide Me's speed leaves something to be desired, and the price tag is a little above average. Still, for anyone who's new to the internet and just wants to keep their privacy intact, taking things slow in exchange for a simple, understandable VPN service is a smart trade-off. If that's you, Hide Me might be the right option.
- Easy to set-up
- Intuitive, well-designed app
- Decent free plan
- Not great value
AirVPN is another option that serves up all the technical details upfront, which certainly appeals to those who know what they're doing, but also earns it just three out of five stars in the “ease of use” section of our full AirVPN review. Still, its service plans are flexible and at relatively low costs, making this one of the best options for power users who just need a VPN service for a few days.
Each plan offers the hefty encryption and privacy that VPN users need, and AirVPN is clear about its no-logging policies, which should keep expert users happy.
A popular VPN service around the globe, ExpressVPN is largely a strong offering, but with two massive downsides. The good: It's very secure, with an intuitive interface and features that make it easy to set up and to use. The bad: It's also very slow and very expensive.
To be more specific, ExpressVPN's internet speeds were a little erratic in our tests, in which we were able to connect at 12Mps once only to see our speeds drop almost in half when connecting to the same server ten minutes later. Still, the service is workable, including its great mobile app, and it does the job well enough to earn a spot on our list of the best VPNs out there.
- Easy to use with great support
- Extensive features
- Smart location selection
- Inconsistent speeds
- Pricey on per-month plan
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