Your Guide to the Best VPN Services for 2019

Last updated: October 2, 2018 at 5:46 am

Disclaimer: we earn commisions from some services to support our research. However, our rankings are unbiased and based on real results  all recorded.

(The overall testing process is described in Methodology page.)

Top 10 services. Click to see the full ranking.

The best VPN services give you the privacy you need for browsing at a reasonable  and sometimes even for free! There are 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 with a premium but offer better privacy policies.
  • Any VPN service will slow down your Internet connection, though 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 VPN software will work for you.
  • Some VPN services are tailored for mobile-users others, not so much.
  • Your Use Case. 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.

In this post, we dive into the five best VPN services to consider if you’re looking for private browsing or a way to watch your favorite shows. The idea with 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 the highest quality, budget and most popular VPN options here.

Ready to jump in? Let’s go!

#1: NordVPN (Best Cheap VPN)

https://www.nordvpn.com

NordVPN is a popular VPN service for the budget-conscious user seeking online privacy. It offers many of the more popular features of ExpressVPN such as mobile support and access to thousands of servers worldwide at a fraction of the cost.Some of the major benefits include compatibility across both iOS and Android devices, an above average speedy connection. This means it will work equally well for streaming services and fast download speeds. The company also offers complete privacy, promising to never share user information with advertisers.

And, as you can see in the review below, NordVPN features a handy kill switch, which automatically disconnects from the Internet if the VPN service goes offline. This protects users against reprisals from their browsing.

“It works great. I am pleased. It has a nice kill switch that stops all internet traffic if the service disconnects. This is most important for when using public Wifi to prevent malicious insertion of Javascript / http or snooping. I love to have all my software updates go through a VPN tunnel, too, and this guarantees it.”

~ NordVPN User Review on TrustPilot

NordVPN is a relatively inexpensive service, considering the offerings. The paid version starts at $2.75/month provided you sign up for 36 months at once ($99 total). By opting for a 1-year contract, the price jumps up to $6.99 – still a relatively reasonable price considering the competition. If you’re still not sure NordVPN is right for you, the VPN service also offers a short free trial for 3 days. The company also offers a 30-day money back guarantee.

#2: ExpressVPN (Best Fast VPN)

https://www.expressvpn.com

ExpressVPN is a well-established VPN service, operating for nearly decade. Billing 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. According to the review site, ExpressVPN stands out for its speed, privacy, and unblocking capabilities.

With 148 server locations and more than 2,000 servers, the VPN service is able to offer 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.

 “This is like my beacon of hope when I am in China, definitely. For many reasons the Chinese government blocks nearly all daily-use apps and sites such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Youtube, you name it, and ExpressVPN is the only thing I’ve found to effectively and constantly bypass the GREAT WALL.”

 ~ ExpressVPN User Review on TrustPilot

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 multiple months at once. For example, you can choose to pay 12 months at time 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.

For a reliable VPN service, many users find the monthly fee well worth it.

PIA (Popular VPN)

https://www.privateinternetaccess.com

Private Internet Access (or PIA) bills itself as the most trusted VPN out there and for good reason. PIA may just be the most popular VPN for most Internet users and consistently receives top-notch reviews. In fact, Brian Nadel on Tom’s Guide said PIA is “still the one to beat” earlier in 2018.

The wide range of features of PIA is what makes it one of the best VPN services out there, mainly due to super fast speed. These include, but are not limited to:

  • An above average number of servers.
  • Ad blocking.
  • P2P file sharing support.
  • Multiplatform and device support.
  • Strong encryption.
  • Fast connections.
  • Servers in nearly 30 countries.
  • A great stance on keeping customer information private.

Customers report fantastic speed performance across multiple devices and love the price point at the same time. Some of the potential drawbacks to watch for include the fact that PIA is based in the US has limited flexibility for specialization or usernames and reloads more than usual. At the same time, users tend to love the simplicity of PIAs interface.

“The price is reasonable and I can pay as I go until I am certain that this is something I really want. Installation was flawless on my three devices ( two android), and as far as I can tell, it is performing as advertised.”

~ PIA User Review on TrustPilot

 PIA happens to offer relatively cost effective browsing privacy for the average Internet user. Pricing starts at just $2.91/month for 24 months at a time ($69.95 total), or $6.95 if you want to pay month to month.

IPvanish (“Compact” iPhone VPN)

https://www.ipvanish.com

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 there are no traffic logs (therefore increasing their privacy as consumers).

As you can see with the review below, users tend to like how easy IPVanish is to use on their mobile devices and how secure they feel when using it.

IPVanish is very easy to use. Just open the app, press the connect button and you are instantly connected. You can also choose a connection anywhere they have listed if you have a preference. I feel much safer now when I am doing any transaction using my credit card or when I am surfing online.”

~ IPVanish User Review on TrustPilot

IPvanish offers similar pricing as 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 (Popular Free/Limited VPN)

https://www.hotspotshield.com/

HotSpotShield is considered by many to be one of the best free VPN services available as an app and piece of desktop software. It’s certainly a popular option, with over 500 million users around the world.

According to reviews, HotSpotShield offers a 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 true privacy, 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.

“Honest to god this is the best free vpn app there is. Non-intrusive, fast and secure. What more could you ask for. Of course the paid version you get to choose your desired virtual locations which to me is also worth the money. Of course, I use the free version because I’m a student.”

~ HotSpotShield User Review on TrustPilot

HotSpotShield offers a free version, but it is relatively limited. For instance, the free option is limited to a 500/mb 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.

Speed Tests. Which VPN is the Fastest?

As already mentioned, the fastest safe VPN is ExpressVPN.

Nonetheless, Perfect-Privacy gave amazing results.

Speed tests conclusion conducted in September 2018

The most important aspect would be download speed, as for most VPN users, it affects streaming and torrenting. It might seem unintuitive, however, the higher the ping, the worse.

It’s important to remember that speed tests are individual, as speed varies depending of his original location. At the same time having done the tests across 3 different continents – Asia, Europe and America, we can still sum up which service servers tend to be the fastest.

Not surprisingly, the last in the list is Hola VPN.

The Bottom Line: Choosing the Right VPN Service Is 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 just do the trick.

However, some users will need a bit more complexity included with the VPN. Some advanced users may look for specific encryption, the ability to use a VPN kill switch, or zero bandwidth capping for P2P file sharing.

Other beginning users will be looking for the easiest to use (and cheapest!) VPN service out there. Still, others may want a free trial, a monthly payment plan instead of a lifetime license, or a 100% refund guarantee. Certain VPN features to look for include:

  • Safety features and no DNS leaks
  • Top-notch customer support for the VPN service
  • A proven speed test for the VPN in action
  • A straightforward UX for use with streaming services
  • Compatibility with mobile devices
  • Low-cost or high performing VPN services

All of these are factors that may impact what the best VPN service for you is. The bottom line is that a VPN can either create a private browsing tunnel or let you browse sites otherwise not available in your geographic location, as Desire Athow at TechRadar points out.

Ranking Table with Features (September 2018)

Take your time doing your research, reading through our in-depth reviews and capabilities of each of the top 5 VPN services outlined above to make the best decision.