Whether you're after a VPN to secure your browsing when accessing work over a public wifi connection, or simply to gain control over your privacy, we are here to help.
Not all VPNs are created equal. Their privacy settings, speed, and features can reveal big differences in the quality of the hundreds of VPNs available to download.
To determine which VPNs are best, we conduct in-depth research and user testing. This ensures we can give you the best recommendations and make it easy for you to choose with confidence.
This research was last updated on: 28th June, 2021
How we create our VPN scores
As part of our testing process, each VPN is judged on a range of factors that we know are important to you. These include:
“Our VPN recommendations are based on independent tests and rigorous assessments of privacy, speed and ease of use.” — Natasha Willett, Senior Tech.co Researcher (BSc, MA, MMRS)
Ease of Setup
There's no sense using a VPN if it's a monumental effort every time you want to switch it on. A good VPN should be effortless to enable, and our testing helps identify the VPNs you can use with ease. From initial ease of setup – from downloading, installing and creating an account – to daily ease of use and changing the settings, we rate each VPN we test against a range of criteria to help you choose.
A good VPN lives or dies by its privacy settings, and we make sure our tests and assessments capture how well a VPN protects your privacy. From judging the types of encryption offered to analysing whether the VPN brand itself captures any user data (or has a history of sharing it, when requested by authorities), we take VPN privacy seriously. We also assess the range of privacy features on offer, such as an automatic kill-switch, which cuts your connection instantly should the VPN server break. Sounds important? It is – but not all VPNs offer this.
It's pretty much unavoidable that a VPN will slow your browsing speeds, but the degree to which this can vary from one brand to the next is jaw-dropping. To ensure you choose a VPN that will let you browse the web without grinding to a halt, we run a range of repeated speed assessments, testing connection speeds with the VPN enable or disabled, and over long-distance VPN servers and servers closer to home.
If you find yourself stuck with your VPN not working as it should, then help should be at hand. A good VPN can make you anonymous, but the support team behind it shouldn't be – we rate the range of support options available, whether you need online articles, email support, 1-2-1 chat or a good old-fashioned phone line.
We'll say it again – not all VPNs are created equal. Some are so simple that you have little more than an “on/off” toggle and, if you're lucky, a few different countries from which to choose a virtual server. We rate VPNs based on how many servers they let you choose between, and how much manual control you have over choosing one – some will just give you a single option for “Canada”, for instance; others will let you choose from dozens of server locations at a state or city-level. The most advanced VPNs let you dig far deeper into the technical settings and setup options. They're not for everyone, but if you're a confident user, these sorts of features can be essential to the way you wish to use a VPN.
Value for money
Does value mean “the cheapest one available”? Not always. We don't want to see you spend a dime more than you should when it comes to a VPN, but equally, it's about getting your money's worth. We rate VPNs based on the price plans they offer (whether paid monthly, annually, or in 2-year plans) and peg this against the range of features you get in return. This way, you can feel confident that you're spending on a VPN brand that's worth your investment.
To compare VPNs directly and see who's ranked top at the moment, check out the pages below.