The idea of this ‘best’ list is to give you a range of options as you look for the best VPN for your needs. To meet that goal we include here the highest quality, budget, most popular VPN options, and research results.
ExpressVPN is a well-established VPN service operating for nearly a decade.
Labeling itself as “high speed, ultra-secure, and easy to use”, it is generally regarded as one of the highest quality VPNs overall. In fact, TechRadar named ExpressVPN the best VPN software in 2018.
ExpressVPN stands out for its speed, privacy, and unblocking capabilities.
With 148 server locations and more than 2,000 servers the VPN service offers fast VPN connection in nearly 100 countries. Some of the benefits include higher speeds, a wide range of server locations, and compatibility with both desktop and mobile devices. Users have also noted that the VPN company has great customer service 24/7.
The only major drawback is that the service is limited to 3 devices at a time and of course, the best VPN out there is sure to come with a higher price tag.
ExpressVPN pricing is around $12.99/month, but users can get a discount by signing up for many months at once. For example, you can pay for 12 months at once for $99.95 (or less than $9 per month).
While ExpressVPN does not offer a free plan or a free trial, they do offer a 30-day refund with no questions asked. Many users find the monthly fee well worth it for a reliable VPN service.
+ Impeccable history on security & AES 256-bit encryption
NordVPN features everything mentioned above including a handy kill switch which automatically disconnects from the Internet if the VPN service goes offline. This protects users against reprisals from their browsing.
NordVPN is a relatively inexpensive service, considering the offerings.
The paid version starts at $2.75/month, provided that you sign up for 36 months at once ($99 total). By opting for a 1-year contract the price jumps to $6.99 – still relatively reasonable considering the competition.
If you’re still not sure whether NordVPN is right for you, the VPN service also offers a short free trial of 3 days and 30-day money back guarantee.
IPvanish is known as one of the best VPN services for the iPhone. The app takes up only 14.4MB of space and needs less CPU, making it one of the most compact VPN services available.
The US-based VPN service offers over 1,000 server locations, supports torrenting, and features a kill switch. While some users may have difficulty getting used to the interface, many customers note that IPvanish offers fast connection speeds and love the fact that there are no traffic logs (therefore they have more privacy).
Users tend to like how easy IPVanish is to use on their mobile devices − and how secure they feel when using it.
IPvanish offers similar pricing to its competitors, with a month-to-month plan and the option of paying 1 year in advance.
The 1-year package runs around $60, or $5/month depending on the discount they are currently offering. This is most likely the best value for IPvanish.
HotSpotShield is considered by many to be one of the best free VPN services available as an app and desktop software. It’s certainly a popular option with over 500 million users around the world.
According to our research HotSpotShield offers fast connection, a great user interface that is easy to use, torrenting support, and fast installation. If you are looking for a free or low-cost VPN option, this may be it.
Of course, HotSpotShield may not be the best option for those looking for full privacy, like as Ian Paul at PCMag warns. The service works more like a proxy, allowing access to many of the streaming services but lacking in terms of anonymity.
HotSpotShield offers a free version, but it is relatively limited. For instance, the free version is limited to a 500MB bandwidth cap which resets every 24 hours. For those looking for unlimited access the VPN service offers a paid version starting at $3.50/month − if you sign up for 36 months at once.
+ Free service (limited)
– Not working with Netflix
! Company located in 5 eyes jurisdiction
+ Fast server speeds
– No double hop
– Incompatible with routers
– Long customer service response time
– Cryptocurrencies not accepted
There are a number of factors to consider when looking for the best VPN to use for secure browsing:
Some VPN plugins are free, but utilize your consumer info; others come at a premium, but offer better privacy policies.
Any VPN service will slow down your Internet connection. Some do more than others.
Server network. Some VPN services allow users to choose their geo-shifted locations while others are random or fixed.
User reviews and popularity are a great way to gauge how well the VPN software will work for you.
Some VPN services are tailored to mobile users, others not so much.
Your use. Depending on the why of your VPN usage, the right option may take different forms. We’ll jump into this more after going through the top VPN services to choose from.
The Bottom Line: It’s All About Your Needs
Finding the best VPN service for your needs is all about you.
If all you’re looking for is a simple screen so that you can browse streaming services more freely, a free and basic VPN tool may do the trick.
Some users will need more complexity in the VPN. Advanced users may look for specific encryption, a VPN kill switch, or zero bandwidth capping for P2P file sharing.
Some beginner users will be looking for the easiest to use (and cheapest!) VPN service out there. Others may want a free trial, a monthly payment plan instead of a lifetime license, or a 100% refund guarantee. Some VPN features to look for include: