Remember when we were free? Roaming the great digital outdoors like creatures of the wild. Grazing on the green grass of Napster and eMule, basking in the warming rays of AltaVista. Uncorrupted by big data, targetted ads, the NSA and the Great Firewall of China… The World was brave and ripe for the taking. We can return to those days, brothers and sisters, using the best VPN services!
In this article, we‘ll give you an overview of the best VPN services on the market today. Stepping into the “shop“ blind is dangerous: a lot of providers claim to be the “best VPN service in the World” when in reality most are either mediocre or downright damaging. But don’t despair! There are solid choices if you know where to look.
And now, without further ado – here are the Top 10 best VPN services.
Top 10 VPN Rankings
As we’ve alluded to, not many VPNs are genuine all-rounders. ExpressVPN is one of the exceptions: it delivers on security, as well as performance, support, and features.
ExpressVPN is secure enough for both sensitive purposes – journalism, political activism, etc. – and simple entertainment. It has great performance and is one of the fastest VPNs on the market today, which is surprising. Speed is inversely proportional to security, yet ExpressVPN manages to reconcile both.
They have 2,000+ servers in 94 countries, including some very exotic locations. If you want to see the internet through the eyes of a Mongolian or Bahamanian, you can easily do so with ExpressVPN. You will find user-friendly ExpressVPN apps for most of the main platforms (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, routers). Any issues you may have with the service can be addressed by reaching out to customer support via live chat (24/7).
Netflix is a major issue for most VPNs nowadays. The video streaming platform has grown in popularity in recent years, amassing a huge user base on both sides of the Atlantic.
Unfortunately, Netflix‘ attempts at blocking VPN servers have left a lot of people in need of their video fix. ExpressVPN is one of the very few ways you can still access the US library of Netflix. Alternatively, you‘ll be able to use torrents or Kodi without any issues. ExpressVPN‘s obfuscation features will get you around blocks and restrictions, making it one of the best VPN services for users in China and other restricted countries.
Are there any drawbacks? Yes – it‘s kind of expensive: $12.95 a month, $9.99 a month billed every 6 months, or $8.32 a month billed annually. Also, it supports only 3 simultaneous connections – may be a bummer for Apple users.
Read our full ExpressVPN Review
We could have certainly gone both ways with #1 and #2. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are largely indistinguishable.
NordVPN has the strongest security features of any VPN but it’s a bit slower than ExpressVPN. Don’t get us wrong – Nord is still quick for being the security behemoth it is.
Nord has 5,100 servers in 62 countries around the World. It‘s got user-friendly apps for almost all popular devices (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux) with the exception of routers. With that said, NordVPN does support routers and there are instructions available to make use of that. It‘s difficult to make definitive statements about the quality of customer support a company provides (because the tests are anecdotal by nature). Regardless, we feel that the NordVPN 24/7 live chat offers the best support experience.
This VPN will unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu and get you making popcorn in no time. If you‘d rather download stuff using torrents – help yourself, NordVPN even offers specialized P2P servers. And with stellar security, there‘s no way you can get caught. Similarly to ExpressVPN, Nord has obfuscated servers (a stealth protocol), which makes the service great for users in restricted countries.
Finally, NordVPN offers some great deals for one of the best VPN services on the market: $11.95 a month, $6.99 a month billed annually, $3.99 a month billed every 2 years, or $2.99 a month billed every 3 years. It also allows 6 simultaneous connections – double what ExpressVPN gives.
Read our full NordVPN Review
3. Astrill VPN
Astrill VPN has a smaller caliber than either of the Top 2 VPN services. Regardless, it has quietly built a solid product that offers almost all of the features of ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Perhaps it could even compete for the top spot if it weren’t for the fact that it’s more expensive than either perennial front-runner.
This VPN service offers users a huge variety of tunneling protocols – perhaps more than any other VPN on the market today. There’s the usual OpenVPN, IPsec, IKEv2/IPsec, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP; the less-usual SSTP; the new and revolutionary WireGuard; and the proprietary stealth protocols – OpenWeb and StealthVPN. A protocol for every occasion! With this impressive list, it’s no wonder that the user also gets various levels of encryption with Astrill, going from the super-secure AES-256 to the outdated MPPE ciphers of PPTP.
Astrill VPN is based in Seychelles, which, similarly to NordVPN and ExpressVPN, is a privacy-friendly off-shore location. This allows the VPN to store the absolute minimum of logs.
Unlike its larger brethren, Astrill doesn’t have thousands of servers. The list contains 328 servers in 65 countries. Despite the relatively low number of servers, Astrill has managed to keep a good spread and very fast speeds that are arguably even better than those of ExpressVPN and NordVPN. This service is particularly well-positioned for use in Asia — not only because of the servers but also due to the stealth protocols (which are great against censorship).
Astrill VPN is torrent-friendly, has great customer support, and unlocks Netflix US and most other streaming platforms. You can get it on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and routers for a hefty price — $15.90 a month, $11.65 a month billed every 6 months, or $8.33 a month billed annually.
Read our full Astrill VPN Review
There’s very little separating TorGuard from the Top 3 best VPN services. Contrary to its title, it can do much more than just guard your torrents. As a matter of fact, it can do everything NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Astrill VPN can.
The server list is very impressive: TorGuard VPN has 3,000+ servers and IPs in 50+ countries. It’s hardly a surprise that their performance is one of the best among Top VPN services. Crucially, this VPN works well in China and has many weapons against the Great Firewall (stealth servers, stealth proxy, direct IP connection). TorGuard VPN also has a way of making sure their users can always access streaming platforms: for an extra charge, they will give you a dedicated IP for streaming, making it impossible for Netflix and other platforms to block your popcorn time. With that said, it’s otherwise not the best for Netflix.
TorGuard’s support is responsive, efficient, and available 24/7 via live chat or phone.
One thing that triggers us about TorGuard VPN is the pricing – they offer many plans and it’s easy to get confused. Overall the price seems to be somewhere in the middle of this Top VPN list.
Read our full TorGuard Review
5. Ivacy VPN
Despite the truly unoriginal name, Ivacy VPN is one of the best. It can do most of what the services above can, although somewhat less reliably. The major strength of Ivacy over its betters is the ridiculous price – the deals are some of the best.
Ivacy VPN has brilliant security features and a great selection of tunneling protocols (OpenVPN, IKEv2, SSTP, L2TP, PPTP) and a range of encryption levels, with the highest being the industry standard AES-256. This service has no leaks — either DNS, IPv6, or otherwise — and protects your connection with an inbuilt kill switch.
The company behind this VPN is based in Singapore, which is not the most privacy-friendly place on the globe and a 5 Eyes partner. With that said, Ivacy has a strict no-log policy, making this issue less relevant.
With its P2P-optimized servers and positive outlook on torrenting, Ivacy is a good choice for those who would set sail for The Pirate Bay. It will also unlock the most important Netflix libraries (US/UK) and other geo-blocked streaming platforms. Although Ivacy does not have stealth protocols, its great server list (450+ servers in 100+ locations) makes it a decent choice for users in Asian countries such as China.
Ivacy VPN has good speeds and is available for next to nothing: $9.95 a month, $3.33 a month billed annually, or $2.25 a month billed every 2 years.
Read our full Ivacy VPN Review
At 100+ servers across 57 countries around the world, this is a smaller VPN than any on this list. PrivateVPN has strong security credentials and few blemishes. Their encryption is sound, they have a zero logs policy (which they are adamant about), and they seem very trustworthy. The service offers a reliable kill switch, proxy servers, and a good selection of security protocols.
The only question mark with PrivateVPN’s security/privacy is its location – Sweden. While this is not the worst country for a VPN service, Sweden does have data retention laws and a hostile stance towards copyright violations. Keep this in mind when you’re making a choice.
PrivateVPN is neither the fastest nor the most sluggish VPN service. With their low number of servers, the performance is quite admirable. With that said, there are certainly faster VPNs on this list.
One area where PrivateVPN wins is versatility – with it, you will be able to bypass Netflix US restrictions (as well as those of most other Netflix libraries) as well as use torrents. PrivateVPN has recently begun offering their own “stealth mode” (stealth protocol), which makes it a very good choice for users in China as well.
PrivateVPN has custom apps for the main platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android) and also has a Kodi addon. The service supports other devices as well (such as routers) but you will need to follow a more complicated process to make it work.
Finally, we’re very glad to say PrivateVPN offers very nice deals: 1 month ($5.48), 3 months ($3.75 a month billed every 3 months), or 36 months ($2.00 a month billed every 36 months). With that, you also get 6 simultaneous connections – one more reason why it’s one of the best VPN services today!
Read our full PrivateVPN Review
At #7, CyberGhost has both triumphs and vices.
The simplest way to put it: CyberGhost is a slightly shadier version of ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and other VPN services at the top. We would say “budget version” but it costs almost exactly the same as Nord and more than Ivacy or PrivateVPN. You can do most things as a “Ghostie” – unblock Netflix, use torrents, bypass most geo-blocking measures. Like many other VPNs, CyberGhost has problems working in China, and unlike some, it doesn’t have a good way around it. To a lesser degree, this also applies to other restricted countries. To be perfectly clear – CyberGhost currently works in these countries, but you may have to use a less secure protocol than OpenVPN. If what you’re doing is sensitive, perhaps you should choose some other service.
CyberGhost has strong security features and the right outlook, but there are also noteworthy oversights in their product. This VPN has had some leak problems in the past, for example — especially on the Windows client. CyberGhost is registered in VPN-friendly Romania and has over a hundred of their own servers in this country for maximum security. The “Nospy” servers make it particularly good for power users in and around Europe.
One of the concerns in relation to CyberGhost is that is was recently acquired by an Isle of Mann-based corporation — Kape Technologies. This makes CyberGhost’s legal status and the safety of user data unclear.
At 3,000+ servers in 60 countries, CyberGhost has decent coverage and speed, but it’s not a leader in either of these areas. That said, the server list has more or less doubled this year, so who knows what the future will bring for CyberGhost. The app update fixes a lot of the GUI issues we mentioned in the review and the service has great 24/7 live chat support.
Despite its drawbacks, CyberGhost is clearly one of the best VPN services, and you can get it for $12.99 a month, $7.99 a month billed every 6 months, $5.25 a month billed annually, or $3.50 a month billed every 18 months. One subscription gets you 7 simultaneous connections.
Read our full CyberGhost Review
Although VyprVPN comes in at #8, it may be one of the best VPN services for a lot of people. This is a technologically flawless product with only one big con – it’s not for everyone.
GoldenFrog (the company behind VyprVPN) owns all of the VPN’s 700+ servers in 70+ locations. They have done a lot to optimize these servers, achieving brilliant performance across the board and increasing security to a superb level. VyprVPN has strong encryption and a good selection of protocols, including its very own Chameleon protocol. This proprietary technology was created specifically to bypass blocking efforts in places like China, Russia, Iran, and other enemies of free speech.
That’s a strong start in this race and VyprVPN is also good for bypassing Netflix geo-blocking measures. However, it is not great when it comes to torrenting. VyprVPN has a problem with you violating copyrights, so torrenting might get your subscription revoked.
Golden Frog’s customer support is second only to ExpressVPN and NordVPN – their 24/7 live chat is very helpful, although the self-help resources are somewhat weaker. The VPN’s apps are user-friendly and available on most platforms, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, routers, etc.
The Premium VyprVPN package is somewhat on the expensive side for what you’re getting. It will cost you $12.95 a month or $6.67 a month billed annually. The Basic, on the other hand, is pretty cheap and will be yours for $9.95 a month or $5.00 a month billed annually.
Read our full VyprVPN Review
The Top 10 isn’t often a place for newcomers, but Surfshark VPN deserves an exception. This service opened shop this spring and has demonstrated a meteoric rise to the top.
Surfshark offers the most secure protocols in OpenVPN and IKEv2, encrypting data under AES-256-GCM. This is a very high level of protection as is, but the security features don’t end there. Surfshark VPN also has a kill switch and even multi-hop (cascading connections through two VPN servers). Following TunnelBear, Surfshark got the security of its browsers extensions independently audited by the German cybersecurity firm Cure53.
This VPN provider is based in the same place as ExpressVPN — the British Virgin Islands. That fact, as well as no connection limit, means that Surfshark can afford to have a real no-log policy.
Surfshark VPN is super fast, has a great server list (500+ servers in 50 countries), lets you torrent as much as you want, and unblocks Netflix. At the moment, the service still doesn’t offer a stealth protocol, meaning that it isn’t the best choice for users in China.
You can get it for $11.95 a month, $5.99 a month billed annually, or $3.49 a month billed every 2 years. Remember, it has no simultaneous connection limit, which makes one subscription enough for your whole family.
Read our full Surfshark VPN Review
10. Perfect Privacy
Here’s a service we’re partial to – Perfect Privacy. Again, the name isn’t exactly the most original, but the features more than make up for it.
Aside from NordVPN, Perfect Privacy has probably the strongest security credentials of any VPN service. It offers OpenVPN, IPsec, SSH2 and other protocols, encrypting data traffic using the military-grade AES-256 cipher. In addition, Perfect Privacy has multi-hop, NeuroRouting (AI based routing), a tracker stopper, and no logs whatsoever.
That last bit of information is aided by the location of Perfect Privacy — the Mecca of Privacy — Switzerland.
With all its advantages, Perfect Privacy has a lot of issues as well. Firstly, it’s not good at unblocking Netflix. Secondly, it’s not the best for users in countries like China. Thirdly, it’s as ugly as a ’90s outfit and probably designed in that era as well.
Perfect Privacy offers average speeds and is not the cheapest. You can get it for 12.99 EUR a month, 11.98 EUR a month billed every 3 months, 10.99 EUR a month billed every 6 months, 9.99 EUR a month billed annually, or 8.95 EUR a month billed every 2 years. That’s not a great deal, but at least you get unlimited connections for it.
Read our full Perfect Privacy Review
Also worth a shot
Private Internet Access
One of the poor man’s best VPN services – Private Internet Access (or PIA).
You can’t do everything with PIA, but it will keep you safe in the day-to-day. Its biggest security issue is being registered in the United States. As such, it won’t save you if you’re doing something the US government cares about dearly. Other than that, PIA’s commitment to privacy has already been proven in court and their encryption is very strong.
Private Internet Access has 3,000+ servers, but this huge number is concentrated in Europe and North America. The PIA server list contains only 33 countries, very few of which are in Asia, Oceania, Africa, or South America. Consequently, the speeds are good only in saturated locations and pretty bad elsewhere.
With almost 2k servers in North America, it’s no surprise that PIA will unblock Netflix for you with ease. However, the same is not true in other countries. Torrent fans will have a better time – they will find PIA sufficiently safe and non-judgemental in that regard.
You can use Private Internet Access in China but it will be slow (due to the lack of servers in the vicinity). It is also not the most secure endeavor, because you will be forced to use IPsec/L2TP. Think twice if you’re doing something risky!
PIA costs $6.95 a month, $3.33 a month billed annually, or $2.91 a month billed every two years. One subscription gets you 5 simultaneous connections.
Read our full PIA Review
The world of VPN is large and growing each day. For the time being the leaders are clear – no one can touch ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Astrill VPN, or TorGuard. These tools can do it all and no one takes VPN as seriously as they do. Some others are close behind and just might catch up one day.
Check out the list of all our VPN reviews.
How we made this Best VPN Services list
In making this Top VPN service list, we relied mostly on our own experiences. We have tested all of the services listed below and read a lot to fill the gaps. Before you make a choice, keep in mind that:
- This list prioritizes universality. You can do a lot of things using a VPN but frequently you can’t do a lot of them using the same VPN. This ultimately translates to value for money – with all-rounders you get more bang for your buck.
- Security and trust are more important than performance or comfort features. Within the limits of reason, of course.
- Price functions as the decider between similar services.
- The list is not final and will be constantly updated. With that said, the VPNs at the very top got there due to hard work. They may change places a few times, but the bottom half will be a lot more volatile.