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:
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 by some margin, thanks to its effectiveness and ease of use.
- NordVPN – NordVPN is a super-fast VPN that is aimed at expert users, making it a good choice for those who want do download lots of data.
- IPVanish – A great VPN choice for those who already know their way around a VPN, with plenty of options.
- Torguard – An excellent VPN for those who like to protect their privacy, with a watertight approach to your data.
- Private Internet Access – An excellent VPN that is a good all-rounder that offers good value for money.
- Windscribe – This VPN isn't one for beginners, but if you know how to use a VPN, its affordable, fast and effective.
- Proton VPN – ProtonVPN might not be one of the cheapest options out there, but it's a great package with plenty of options.
- Hide Me VPN – A secure service that offers users plenty of protection, but falls down when it comes to speed.
- AirVPN – AirVPN promises not to log any of your data, and offers military grade levels of security.
- Express VPN – A great all-round package with plenty of features, and a fantastic app that makes for a smooth experience
Scroll horizontally to view full table on mobile devices
|PureVPN||NordVPN||IPVanish VPN||TorGuard||Private Internet Access||Windscribe||Proton VPN||Hide Me VPN||AirVPN||Express VPN|
|No. of devices||5||5||5||5||5||10||10||5||5||3|
|No. of servers||750||3605||1000||3000||3035||480||112||150||60||1500|
|Ease of use||★★★★★||★★★★★||★★★★★||★★★★☆||★★★★☆||★★★★★||★★★★★||★★★★☆||★★★☆☆||★★★★★|
|Help & Support||★★★★☆||★★★★☆||★★★★★||★★★☆☆||★★★★☆||★★★☆☆||★★★★☆||★★★☆☆||★★★☆☆||★★★★☆|
|Value for Money||★★★★★||★★★★☆||★★★★☆||★★★★★||★★★★☆||★★★★☆||★★★★☆||★★★★★||★★★★☆||★★★☆☆|
|Price per month||$2.88 (1-year plan)||$2.99 (3-year plan)||$4.50 (3-month plan)||$4.99 (1-year plan)||$3.49 (2-year plan)||$4.08 (1-year plan)||$4 (1- month plan)||$5.41 (1-year plan)||$2.78 (2-year plan)||$8.32 (1-year plan)|
|Discounts||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers||See offers|
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.
The best overall VPN for Windows users
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
- 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
A fantastic VPN from a widely trusted brand
NordVPN gives its users a great deal of choice when it comes to features, such as the ability to pick from a myriad of servers, deciding between ones for certain uses to those that will give you the highest level of security.
We also found that NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs around. All VPNs will cause your internet connection to take a speed hit, but with NordVPN, this was minimal.
- 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
A brilliant Windows 10 VPN service to choose
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 visualize 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
- Crammed with settings that put you in control
- Strong privacy and security features
- Decent speeds
- Slightly intimidating
- Priced above some rivals
A VPN with fantastic privacy features and a great Windows 10 client
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
- 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
Private Internet Access catches the eye with its price – it’s one of the cheapest packages out there, especially if you sign up for an annual package. However, don’t assume that its budget price is a reflection of its features – this is a fully laden VPN package that packs in plenty of advanced VPN features.
These include a killswitch, which will kick in if your VPN connection fails, instead of falling back onto your regular, trackable ISP connection. It’s also simple to use, with most features accessible by right clicking on the icon in the system tray.
- Good features
- Good local speeds
- PC app isn't user friendly
- Better-suited to technically confident users
- Long distance speeds suffer
Windscribe is a good value VPN that also boasts a free version. It’s an impressive VPN, but first-timers might find its range of options a little too confusing. However, those who have used VPNs before will appreciate the sheer flexibility it offers.
If you’re looking to watch some overseas Netflix, then good news, Windscribe can do this for you, as well as unlocking other video streaming sites.
- Distinctive app and add-on combo approach
- Good free option with no nagging and no ads
- Decent speeds
- Unblocks Netflix
- Technical style
Like Windscribe, Proton VPN is more aimed at expert users than beginners. It’s a full featured VPN, and the security conscious will be pleased to hear that when it came to testing, we found it to be water tight, with no sign of any data leaks that could compromise your privacy.
If Proton VPN stumbles anywhere, it’s trying to unlock Netflix content. Sadly we got a ‘proxy detected’ message when trying to connect and the game was up. Proton VPN is a great VPN, so long as you’re not bothered about Netflix.
- Impressive interface
- Powerful features
- Lots of hands-on control
- Premium plans are expensive
- Can be intimidating
- Average speeds overall
Hide Me VPN
While Hide Me can’t crack the tough nut that is Netflix, is can unlock plenty of other video streaming services, including Comedy Central and NBC.
It’s a secure service and we found it to be robust in our testing, although disappointingly we did find that it was one of the slowest services we’ve tested.
- Easy to set-up
- Intuitive, well-designed app
- Decent free plan
- Not great value
Unlike some VPNs, AirVPN makes a big deal about not logging your data and if you’re sensitive about your privacy, you’ll be pleased to hear that the level of security AirVPN adopts surpasses most military standards.
AirVPN doesn’t boast a slick and simple to use interface – it’s rather utilitarian in this regard, but for those that like to be served plenty of options, AirVPN is a good choice.
Low costs and flexible plans
Strong encryption and privacy options
Clear no-logging policies
Complex and technical
Tricky to get started
No dedicated mobile app
ExpressVPN is a fantastic package for VPN users, combining an excellent app and plenty of important features, while not being too daunting for new starters.
One interesting feature is ‘split tunneling’, which lets you decide which applications will use your VPN, and which will connect via your standard ISP.
- Easy to use with great support
- Extensive features
- Smart location selection
- Inconsistent speeds
- Pricey on per-month plan
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.
- Once 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.
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.
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