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Although the most popular OS has many built-in tools that help you to keep your data private, you won’t find the best VPN for Windows among them. Numerous security vulnerabilities are constantly threatening your cybersafety and the average number of security breaches is on the rise. This is affecting businesses and private individuals alike, so it’s never a bad idea to add an additional layer of protection. For many users that layer is a reliable VPN software.
A good VPN for Windows will increase your security and privacy online.
This simple tool can encrypt your network traffic so that it could be safe from anyone who might want to snoop out what you’re doing. Your real IP address and location become hidden as you now can surf the web anonymously.
You’ll also be able to unblock Netflix, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, download torrent files, and in some cases even improve your gaming ping. All VPN’s for Windows selected for this list meet high-quality standards and deliver their advertised features. All that is left for you to do is pick yours and enjoy the secure and private experience on the web.
Top 5 VPN for Windows in 2021
|#||PROVIDER||CATEGORY SCORECATEGORY SCORE|
All-around leading VPN
Forward-thinking and affordable
Security first VPN
Cheapest streaming VPN
Popular cheap VPN
Best VPN for Windows overview:
- Excellent security
- Extremely fast
- Custom apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and more
- No router app
Laptop or desktop, NordVPN is the best VPN for Windows 10 devices. This VPN is great for free public wi-fi spots as well as at home. It’s known for including the latest security features, like its proprietary NordLynx protocol or Double VPN.
With this VPN on Windows you can browse safely and avoid annoying geo-restrictions when it comes to streaming Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. Their own SmartPlay feature can unblock all of these platforms without reducing the connection speed.
We also found NordVPN great for torrenting – its huge network of 5100+ servers in 60 countries includes special P2P servers and the free SOCKS5 proxy capability ensures speed and safety. NordVPN runs an independently audited no-logs policy, ensuring full anonymity.
If you need more reasons to get NordVPN, it’s cheap, allows 6 connections per account, and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of NordVPN, read our NordVPN review.
British Virgin Islands (BVI)
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Great performance
- Excellent security features
- Weak self-help support section
If you’re looking for a premium VPN for Windows that’s so cheap is practically free of charge, it’s definitely SurfShark.
Their fleet of 3200+ servers in 65+ countries makes Surfshark super-fast. And, with the help of Camouflage Mode, you can even use it in high-censorship countries.
Surfshark VPN was our best friend when streaming and torrenting. It easily unblocks Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and other streaming platforms so you can enjoy all the content the internet has to offer. Besides, Surfshark has a no-log policy and has been audited multiple times.
Most importantly, Surfshark comes with an unlimited number of simultaneous connections per account, meaning you can use it on as many devices as you like. If you’re disappointed by the low-quality free Windows VPN services, install Surfshark to get one of the best VPN experiences for PC you can get.
For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.
- Zero-knowledge VyprDNS™ service
- Proprietary Chameleon™ protocol
- Additional layer of security via NAT Firewall
- No anonymous payment options
VyprVPN is a truly unique VPN service for Windows providing a blend of security measures. With their 256-bit encryption and custom-made Chameleon protocol, you can be sure that your location and browsing activity will remain hidden forever.
This Windows VPN not only will make your device and your data more secure, it also provides enough entertainment value to justify its price even when you main goal of using a VPN is unblocking Netflix, Twitch or other streams even in 4K. You may also use P2P services but be advised, as your account can be suspended due to copyright infringement.
What we find lacking in this otherwise amazing VPN for Windows, is anonymity: the signup and payment methods require you to use a credit card or other non-anonymous payment methods. We hope to see some changes in the sign-up process in the future.
If you’re looking for a solid VPN for PC that unblocks internet even in restrictive countries like China and Iran – get VyprVPN.
For a deeper investigation of VyprVPN, read our VyprVPN review.
- Apps for main platforms
- Excellent for Netflix
- Great speeds
- macOS and iOS apps have fewer features
PrivateVPN manages a fleet of 150+ servers spread over 62+ countries. It may not seem much, but this service is a fast VPN for Windows PC, allowing comfortable torrenting, streaming, and gaming.
This provider has an easy-to-use Windows app, aimed at casual users. We liked that it lists dedicated P2P and streaming services separately. After all, PrivateVPN has plenty of them, and sorting everything alphabetically would create a mess.
This provider unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+, among others. PrivateVPN offers military-grade encryption and a strict no-logs policy, but what really makes it shine is the bang-for-the-buck ratio.
Once you download PrivateVPN for Windows, you’ll get 6 connections per account, a free 7-day trial, and a 30-day money-back guarantee to test the service out.
For a deeper investigation of PrivateVPN, read our PrivateVPN review.
5. Private Internet Access
- Re-designed Windows app
- 10 simultaneous connections
- Good coverage in the West
- No 24/7 live chat
If you’re looking for a truly cheap premium VPN for Windows PC, Private Internet Access (PIA) is your bet. This service boasts 29300+ servers in more than 78 countries. Unless you’re in Asia – expect decent VPN speeds from PIA.
Private Internet Access Windows 10 client is elegant, simplistic, well-organized. This means you will be watching Netflix and downloading torrents in no time. What’s more – you can do that on 10 devices simultaneously!
PIA encrypts data using the military-grade cipher, has a great kill switch, and no leaking issues.
The only real handicap is the customer support – this service doesn’t have a live chat and none of the help options are 24/7. However, you can try Private Internet Access using its 7-day money-back guarantee.
For a deeper investigation of Private Internet Access, read our Private Internet Access review.
Why do I need a VPN for Windows?
With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft gave this OS away pretty much for free. With integrated advertising, Cortana, and background information synchronizations with their servers, your Windows experience got a lot less private and many users think that they’re paying with their own data.
Microsoft is also known to have complied with NSA’s bulk surveillance program and GCHQ (Britain’s equivalent to the NSA) in the past. The US government is one of Microsoft’s top customers each year, paying tens of millions a year. This should be a point of concern since you can never know what is done with your data once it leaves your PC when you account for possible exchanges between the US government and this corporation.
Windows 10 also suffer from patches that sometimes leave open security vulnerabilities. It’s unreasonable to stop using your computer while you wait for hotfixes, which is why a VPN is one of the tools that can protect your privacy while using Windows.
How to choose the best VPN for Windows
While Windows keeps getting more secure, it’s still far from providing its users with solid protection. This means that a third-party VPN download for PC would give you more guarantees that your online presence is safe. While we’ve already established some criteria in the introduction, there’s certainly more to it when it comes to picking the best VPN for Windows 10.
Here are the basics that your VPN for Windows should have.
- Encryption. Most third party VPNs provide the military-grade 256-bit cipher, which is the gold standard in today’s VPN industry.
- Protocol. OpenVPN and IKEv2 are the two most secure popular tunneling protocols out there. Search for a VPN service that offers these protocols or WireGuard – a new and extremely promising tunneling protocol.
- No-logs policy. The more data your provider stores about you, the easier it is for your government to track you down. That’s why your VPN shouldn’t be keeping any logs or keeping them at a minimum.
- Jurisdiction. While for most users this doesn’t play a significant role, it’s still better to use a VPN that operated from a privacy-friendly location.
- Speed. A very important criterion for many – VPNs slow down your connection due to the fact that your traffic is being encrypted and routed through a remote server. Some services have hundreds of servers, some have thousands, but you won’t really know how it performs until you test it for yourself. Or check our list of the fastest VPN services in 2020.
- Entertainment. Most users get a VPN for torrenting, streaming, or both. Therefore, when looking for the best VPN for PC, make sure it allows P2P and unblocks Netflix or any other streaming service you wish to use.
- Customer support. Having a 24/7 live chat is not that important until you actually need it. That’s why you should take it as the industry standard, rather than some premium feature. Having a good knowledge base with tutorials and FAQs is crucial, too, in case the live support is temporarily unavailable.
- Price. Last, but definitely not least, price is the deciding factor when choosing the best VPN for Windows 10. Ask yourself – am I getting my money’s worth? Is the money-back guarantee long enough? Am I entitled to try the service for free, without entering my payment details?
Considering these points will allow you to get just what you need – the best VPN for PC.
Windows VPN protocol comparison
There’s a number of different Windows VPN protocols available. In general, they help establish a connection between your device and the VPN server. Some have just started to appear, while others can still be found despite being outdated and insecure. Below is a short overview of protocols for Windows VPNs.
WireGuard is the next-gen Windows VPN tunneling protocol. It’s much faster and safer than any other protocol. What’s more, WireGuard is easy to implement and audit. Expect to see more and more services that implement this open-source protocol.
OpenVPN is the most popular protocol, supported by nearly every provider. While it’s considered very secure, it’s also easily detected by Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and hard to audit. There’s also a standalone OpenVPN Connect app that you can use instead of your VPN’s client.
Developed primarily for mobile users and natively supported on iOS, IKEv2 is now often used in desktop devices as well in combination with IPSec. It’s secure, fast, but not open-source. The latter means it’s hard to audit the IKEv2/IPSec protocol.
SSTP is a 100% Windows VPN protocol developed by Microsoft. Therefore, it doesn’t work on any other platform. It manages to bypass Deep Packet Inspection and firewalls without much trouble. SSTP is a safe protocol if we dismiss the possibility of Microsoft having a backdoor for it.
PPTP is an outdated protocol that you shouldn’t use. While it’s fast, it’s far from secure. This Microsoft creation should be forgotten, but some Windows VPNs still implement it.
If you’re keen on learning more about Windows VPN protocols, check out our dedicated VPN protocols article.
Is Windows 10 built-in VPN good enough?
Some Windows 10 users consider using the built-in VPN to encrypt their traffic and hide their IP address. If we thought this was a good idea, we probably would have included in our best VPNs for PC list. Let’s look at the differences between the default Windows 10 VPN functionality and a quality third-party service.
- Self-sustenance: Windows built-in VPN is just a piece of client software that doesn’t provide any servers of its own. That means that to make it work, you’ll still need to connect to some third-party provider that would allow such a connection. In contrast, premium VPNs have their own networks of servers.
- Security: the built-in version is included with every PC, meaning it has a huge footprint and is vulnerable to all the typical Windows issues. You’re far more likely to suffer IP leaks and other issues with the built-in Windows VPN functionality. In the meantime, a top VPN like NordVPN has dedicated teams working specifically on the security of the VPN. As a result, these services have significantly fewer security holes.
- Protocols: Windows 10 built-in client doesn’t support the OpenVPN protocol, which is the most popular one. That leaves users with the next best choice – IKEv2. Beyond that, the options are less secure and slower, such as L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, or, god forbid, PPTP. Third-party VPN services almost always support OpenVPN, and occasionally also more advanced protocols like WireGuard.
- Supported platforms: Windows VPN client works only on Windows! While you’re precisely looking for a VPN that’s best for PC, chances are you own an Android or iOS device and want to keep it safe as well. Most top VPN services happen to offer apps for all major platforms with the same subscription.
- Features: Starting from the basic ones like a kill switch and ending with stealth protocols, premium VPN services have prepared their product for any eventuality. All these features are accessible with the click of a mouse, whereas someone using the Windows VPN would have to work hard to configure them. Even then, some are simply impossible to configure using native tools.
- Price: Perhaps the only area where Windows built-in VPN stands high is the price – it’s completely free. With that said, since Windows doesn’t run a VPN server network, you would likely have to pay for a VPN server somewhere around the world.
How to set up a VPN on Windows 10?
- Right-click the “Start” button and select “Settings”
- In the new window click “Network & Internet”, then “VPN”
- Click on “+” to add a new VPN connection
- In the new screen, under drop-down menu select “Windows (built-in)”
- Give a name to this connection and type the address of the server you’re connecting to
- Choose a protocol that is supported by your VPN provider
- In the type of sign-in menu choose the method of authentification, likely username and password
- Click “Save”
That’s it, you’ve configured your VPN. If you want to connect through it, you may click wi-fi or ethernet sign on the taskbar and choose this profile to connect.
Is free VPN for Windows safe?
A free service will always make compromises: be it the level of security features, numbers of servers, speed or versatility. Always ask questions like “why is this service free?”, maybe they’re getting some revenue through ads, maybe they sell your private data to third parties, perhaps they’re even injecting your device with malware to add it to a botnet.
The point is, with free VPN you can never know for certain unless you have a habit of reading terms of service for everything that you download off the web.
It’s also unlikely that you’ll be able to use a free VPN for torrenting, Netflix, Hulu, or truly remain anonymous. If you still remain unconvinced, you’re welcome to check our free VPNs for Windows list.
VPN software for Windows FAQ
Which is the best free VPN for Windows PC?
Of all the options, ProtonVPN provides the most secure free VPN service for Windows. It has no data caps, but you get only 3 servers with 1 device. Plus, torrenting is not really possible using it, and neither is unblocking some of the major streaming platforms.
Which is the best VPN for Windows?
When it comes down to it, NordVPN will be your best bet for a great VPN for Windows. It has industry-leading features, as well as an amazing price. However, if you’re looking for alternatives, make sure to check out this video.
Which Windows VPN is the fastest?
NordVPN is the fastest Windows VPN. However, to come up with such a conclusion, we had to make speed tests of all five services. We connected from Europe to servers in the UK, the US East Coast, and Australia and then crunched the numbers. Here’s how the final table looks:
|1.||NordVPN||214 Mbps||60 Mbps||137 Mbps|
|2.||PIA||131 Mbps||78 Mbps||105 Mbps|
|3.||Surfshark||151 Mbps||56 Mbps||104 Mbps|
|4.||PrivateVPN||70 Mbps||132 Mbps||101 Mbps|
|5.||VyprVPN||87 Mbps||20 Mbps||54 Mbps|
How to share a VPN connection on Windows?
All of our recommended Windows VPN services are great for connection sharing. Basically, there are two main ways to do this. It’s either sharing a VPN connection over the Ethernet cable or wifi.
Are there any differences between VPNs for laptops and desktops (PCs)?
No, there isn’t. VPN providers have clients for desktop (Windows, Linux, macOS) and mobile (Android, iOS). That’s why you should choose a VPN, depending on your operating system.
What should I know about the VPNs for Windows Phone?
With the last Windows Phone 8.1 released five years ago and Windows Mobile 10 discontinued in 2017, it should be quite obvious that finding a VPN that works with one is hard. None of our recommended top providers have apps for Windows Phone, and you would be hard-pressed to find where to download some old client.
That being said, some VPNs still allow us to manually configure them on Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows Mobile 10 devices. The former OS supports IKEv2, and L2TP, while the latter adds SSTP as well. You can find the configuration instructions on the provider’s website.
Best VPNs for Windows Phone in 2021
Here’s the list of the best VPNs for Windows Phone.
- Surfshark VPN – starts at $2.49/month
- VyprVPN – starts at $1.67/month
- CyberGhost VPN – starts at $2.25/month
- ExpressVPN – starts at $8.32/month
Don’t forget that not all providers offer IKEv2 protocol, meaning you’ll have to rely on a less safe L2TP/IPSec.
Can a VPN prevent your PC from being tracked?
Yes, it can. In fact, that’s one of its main roles. By hiding your IP address and encrypting your traffic, a VPN makes it really hard for someone to track you. However, it’s not entirely impossible. Therefore, if you caught some hacker’s or your government’s attention, a VPN might not be enough to remain anonymous.
In one scenario, a site that you’ve visited might have injected you with malware. It can see your real IP address and track your activity throughout the web. Another example is you posting on social media and giving away identifying information. This can be GPS coordinates where a photo was taken or other metadata, such as the date, device, and even the author’s name.
Even if you stop using social media and visit only Wikipedia, hackers can learn more about you by doxing. This practice involves doing rigorous research about you to get identifying information. If that’s not enough, doxing can also mean hacking and social engineering.
Can a VPN prevent your laptop from webcam hacks?
A Virtual Private Network can help against webcam hacks. It will block your IP address, encrypt your traffic, secure public wifi connections, and block WebRTC leaks. However, there’s no guarantee it won’t happen because there are many ways to access your camera. That’s why you must do more to protect yourself from such attacks.
You should start by covering your webcam. If you open it only during videochats, the chance of a hack will plummet. Of course, if you’re a fan of Chat Roulette-type conversations, you may still receive threatening emails in the future.
Next, make sure your device software is up-to-date. Hackers love exploiting known vulnerabilities, so check for new versions of your OS and apps often. Additionally, you should consider turning on a firewall and using anti-malware software. In fact, some of the best Windows VPNs, such as Surfshark or NordVPN, have it integrated.
To share over the Ethernet:
- Make sure you’re not connected to a VPN first.
- Afterward, open Network and Sharing center > Change adapter settings.
- Right-click the TAP adapter with your VPN’s name.
- Choose Properties > Sharing > Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection.
- Select the network interface and click OK.
- Connect the device that needs a shared VPN to your PC with the Ethernet cable.
- Connect to a VPN on your PC.
To share over wifi:
- Make sure you’re not connected to a VPN first.
- Press the “Windows” button, type “cmd,” and Run as administrator.
- Enter “netsh wlan show drivers.” If the line “Hosted network supported:” says Yes, it means you can share your VPN connection over wifi.
- Enter “netsh wlan set hostednetwork mode=allow ssid=Name key=Password.” Change Name and Password to your desired ones.
- Enter “netsh wlan start hostednetwork” to activate the network.
- Connect to your VPN.
- Go to Network Connections, click on a TAP adapter with your VPNs name, and choose Properties.
- Choose Sharing tab and tick “Allow other network users to connect through this computer’s Internet connection.”
- From the “Home networking connection drop-down,” pick a network with your chosen SSID name and click OK.
- On a device that needs a shared VPN connection, search for the network with your chosen SSID name, enter the password and connect.
How do I set up a VPN on two Windows 10 computers?
You can easily set up your Windows VPN on two PCs because all of them allow simultaneous connections. The number of devices that can be connected at the same time varies greatly. Some VPN providers, like VyprVPN, allow five, while Surfshark sets no limit at all.
In case you are already above the simultaneous connections limit, you can still share your VPN connection. This can be done either via Ethernet cable or wifi. The detailed instructions on how to do that are right above this section.
How to share a VPN connection with PS4?
VPN’s don’t have apps for PS4, which means the connection has to be shared. It can be done either via router (the faster way) or PC (the slower way). Below you will find each method in a step-by-step format.
Sharing via router
- Set up your VPN on a router. Some VPNs have router apps, but most have to be configured manually.
- On Play Station 4, go to Settings > Network > Set Up Internet Connection.
- Choose “Use wi-fi” and “Easy” set up mode.
- If asked, select “Do Not Use a Proxy Server.”
Sharing via PC (Ethernet cable)
- Connect your PC with PS4 using the Ethernet cable.
- On Windows, go to Network Connections.
- Right-click a TAP driver with your VPN name and choose Properties.
- On the Sharing tab, check “Allow other network users to connect through your computer’s internet connection” and press OK.
- On Play Station 4, go to Settings > Network > Set Up Internet Connection.
- Choose “Use a LAN cable” and “Easy” set up mode.
- If asked, select “Do Not Use a Proxy Server.”
Can a VPN on PC replace antivirus?
Unfortunately, it can’t. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a VPN for that extra layer of security and privacy. It’s always a good idea to hide your IP and encrypt your traffic with a bank-grade cipher.
What’s more, some Windows VPNs have built-in anti-malware tools. So even though it’s not the same as using pure-bred antivirus software, it still reduces a chance of catching some malign script.
Video published: 22 May 2020
Which Windows VPN is the safest?
All of the services on this list are great for their own reasons, and all are extremely safe. We would say that NordVPN, SurfShark, and VyprVPN are the best for security due to their offered amazing safety features.
That being said, the best way to see which Windows VPN is the safest is to compare their security and privacy features. Here’s how our 5 services fit in the table:
|Place||VPN||Protocols||Kill switch||No-logs||Jurisdiction||Malware blocker|
|1.||NordVPN||NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2||Yes||Yes, independently-audited||Privacy-friendly||Yes|
|3.||VyprVPN||OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, Chameleon||Yes||Yes, independently-audited||Privacy-friendly||No|
|4.||PIA||WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2||Yes||Yes, court-proven||US, Five Eyes||Yes|
|5.||PrivateVPN||OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP||Yes||Yes||Privacy-friendly||No|
Does Windows 10 have a VPN?
Yes, however, it’s not without shortcomings.
Is Windows built-in VPN good?
It has major security flaws when compared to third-party VPN providers, and you’ll still need an address and credentials of an actual server through which you’re trying to connect.
How to solve Windows VPN issues
There are plenty of reasons why your Windows VPN won’t work. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint the cause, so you may need to try different fixes until one will solve the issue. Here’s a couple of most common tricks that you can try.
One way is to try restarting DHCP client. First, close all browsers. Then, press the “Windows” button, enter “Services,” and open the manager. There, find DHCP client and click “Restart.”
Another option is to disable IPv6, which often clashes with VPN clients. To do so, go to Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center. Then, find your wifi device, right-click, and choose Properties. Finally, uncheck the box beside “Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)” and press OK.
You may also want to contact your VPN’s customer support. All of them have live chat and all but PIA have it available 24/7. This means you should be able to solve the issue fast, even if it’s about Windows and not the VPN.
Ethan is a security researcher and digital privacy advocate. He spends his time unraveling various anonymity and security tools, plus contributing to open-source projects. Otherwise, he keeps a low profile by hiking or cycling around the countryside.