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, and VPN will take us there!
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 these tools 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 5 best VPN services.
Top 5 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 in 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 a good choice 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 $6.67 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 we feel that this additional protection doesn’t make up for the drop off in speed. Don’t get us wrong – Nord is still quick for being the security behemoth it is.
Nord has 4,000+ servers in 60+ countries around the World. It‘s got user-friendly apps for almost all popular devices (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS) with the exception of routers and Linux. With that said, both are supported by NordVPN 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, which makes their service great for users in restricted countries.
Finally, NordVPN offers some of the best deals on the market: $11.95 a month, $5.75 a month billed annually, or $3.29 a month billed every two years. It also allows 6 simultaneous connections – double what ExpressVPN gives.
Read our full NordVPN Review
There’s very little separating TorGuard from the Top 2. Contrary to its title, it can do much more than just guard your torrents. As a matter of fact, it can do everything NordVPN and ExpressVPN 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 cool way to make 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.
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
At #4, CyberGhost has both triumphs and vices. We could have ranked it lower but we must recognize one important thing – CyberGhost is also an all-rounder.
The simplest way to put it: CyberGhost is a slightly worse version of ExpressVPN and NordVPN. We would say “budget version” but it costs almost exactly the same as Nord. You can do all the same 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 will 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. Multiple reviewers report that this VPN has a leak problem (both DNS and WebRTC), especially on the Windows client. We believe this is a temporary issue that will soon be patched-up. 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.
At 1,500+ servers in almost 60 countries, CyberGhost has decent coverage and speed, but it’s not a leader in either of these areas.
A less important gripe we have with CyberGhost are their UX decisions – both the apps and the website are confusing and unintuitive. At least they have great 24/7 live chat support.
You can get CyberGhost for $11.99 a month, $4.99 a month billed annually, $3.79 a month billed every two years, or $2.75 a month billed every three years. One subscription gets you 7 simultaneous connections.
Read our full CyberGhost Review
At around 100 servers across 52 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 use torrents. Unfortunately, PrivateVPN has the same issues in China most other VPNs do – they suggest bypassing the Great Firewall of China using the L2TP protocol. This isn’t the most ideal solution to the Chinese issue.
PrivateVPN has custom apps for the main platforms (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android), but that is where it ends. The service supports many other devices 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 ($7.12), 3 months ($4.50 a month billed every 3 months), or, currently, 19 months ($2.73 a month billed every 19 months). With that, you also get 6 simultaneous connections – not bad at all!
Read our full PrivateVPN Review
Also worth a shot
Although VyprVPN comes in at #6, it may be the best choice 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 their 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, but VyprVPN fails when it comes to Netflix or torrenting. You won’t be able to bypass Netflix’ blocking efforts, although you might be successful in using it to access other streaming platforms. In addition, VyprVPN has a problem with you violating copyrights, so torrenting might get your subscription revoked.
Although Golden Frog are based in VPN-friendly Switzerland, they collect too much data about you. Might want to keep that in mind if you’re doing something they don’t like.
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.
VyprVPN is somewhat on the expensive side for what you’re getting. It costs $9.95 a month or $5.00 a month billed annually for the “basic” package, and $12.95 a month or $6.67 a month billed annually for the “premium” package.
Read our full VyprVPN Review
7. Private Internet Access
The poor man’s VPN service – Private Internet Access (or PIA) is the cheapest half-decent tool on the market.
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 30 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.
Despite having almost 2k servers in North America, PIA will not unblock Netflix for you on any of them. At least 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
At #7 we have IPVanish. This is a decent product that could probably be higher, but isn’t due to several huge drawbacks.
IPVanish has good security stats and features in terms of encryption, kill switch and other online privacy aspects. They own all of their 1,000+ servers in 60+ countries and have awesome speeds rivaling ExpressVPN or VyprVPN. So, what’s the issue?
Unfortunately, this VPN has been caught lying about their logging policy and has given their users’ data over to law enforcement on at least one occasion. We don’t support crime, but this is a hard blow for any VPN. The only reason IPVanish makes this list is the fact that since the trial in question the company behind IPVanish has been bought by a different business. We’re inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt.
It’s not like this is the end of IPVanish’ woes. The VPN won’t unblock Netflix and will only work in China using the L2TP/IPSec protocol. Even then, you’ll have to set the connection up manually.
You can get IPVanish for $10.00 a month, $8.99 a month billed every 3 months, or $6.49 a month billed annually. One subscription gets you 10 (!) simultaneous connections.
Read our full IPVanish Review
The position of HMA! Pro among the Top VPNs is tenuous. If we’re being honest, it’s probably possible to find better all-around VPNs. So, why is it here?
There’s one primary reason – variety. HideMyAss covers more of the globe than any other VPN. They have servers in as many as 190+ countries. That’s more than double ExpressVPN’s number. Due to this reason, HideMyAss may actually be the best choice for people outside of global population centers. It’s also very fast, as may be expected with such insane coverage.
Although it’s not the safest VPN service around, HideMyAss is not a bad choice for those who want to torrent. They are registered in the UK, however, where privacy is a thing of the past. Keep this in mind and act accordingly if you want to stay out of trouble.
HMA will not get you watching Netflix, but then again, neither will most of this list.
The price is a bit high: $11.99 a month, $7.99 a month billed every 6 months, or $5.99 billed annually. If you choose the service, you’ll get 5 simultaneous connections and custom apps on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux.
Read our full HideMyAss Review
The world of VPN is large and growing each day. For the time being the leaders are clear – no one can touch ExpressVPN or NordVPN. These tools can do it all and no one takes VPN as seriously as they do. CyberGhost is close behind and just might catch up one day. VyprVPN will always be niche but brilliant. The others are a motley crew of ups and downs.
Some promising alternatives we haven’t tested yet – keep an eye out:
Check out the list of all our VPN reviews.
How we made this Top VPN 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.