Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.
These are the ten best VPN services in 2019 – rated for safety, performance, versatility, and other essential criteria.
Here at VPNpro, we’re all about using, testing, and evaluating as many VPN services as we can. With more than 200 VPN reviews under our belt, we can safely say we’ve seen everything.
With that said, there’s a handful of VPNs that, time and time again, come out on top – no matter the context. These best VPN services are exactly what this top 10 list is about.
What is the best VPN service in 2019?
Even though no single VPN service can currently claim to be all things to all people, the one VPN that managed to ace each of our testing criteria is ExpressVPN. Following behind is NordVPN in second place, and CyberGhost comes in third place.
With that in mind, any of these top 10 VPNs might be the service that suits you the best. Because ultimately, we’re all individuals with our own particular needs.
How we rank VPN services
We have already reviewed well over two hundred VPNs based on these factors:
- Privacy and security features
- Ease of use and customer support
- Reliability against firewalls and censorship
The criteria can certainly be contested, but these are the ten best VPN services we value the most.
These are the 10 best VPN services in 2019
1. ExpressVPN ‣
This VPN does it all for the right price.
- Pros: great security features, fast connections, very user-friendly
- Cons: somewhat expensive
- Price: starts at $8.32/month
- VPNpro rating: 9.6
ExpressVPN is secure enough for both sensitive purposes – journalism, political activism, etc. – and simple entertainment. The service offers stellar AES-256 encryption, a sturdy kill switch, has absolutely no leaks to speak of, and a no-logs policy proven in the wild. That should assuage the fears of virtually anyone.
Despite the high level of security, ExpressVPN offers high-octane performance and is one of the fastest VPNs on the market today. This is unsurprising, considering ExpressVPN has 3,000+ servers in 90+ 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.
ExpressVPN offers user-friendly 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 helpful and responsive live chat (24/7).
ExpressVPN is a very reliable service to access the US library of Netflix as well as most other geo-blocked services on the web. Alternatively, ExpressVPN will allow you to torrent securely or use Kodi without looking over your shoulder. Also, you’ll be able to connect 5 devices simultaneously.
Are there any drawbacks? Yes – this VPN service is kind of expensive and has no free trial.
2. NordVPN ‣
NordVPN is the most secure and privacy-friendly VPN on the market.
- Pros: advanced security features, good unblocker, cheap, works with P2P
- Cons: not the fastest VPN
- Price: starts at $3.49/month
- VPNpro rating: 9.5
NordVPN has the strongest security features of any VPN. In addition to the bank-level AES-256 data encryption and two types of kill switch, NordVPN has great bonus features for maximum safety. These include Double VPN, Onion over VPN to combine the powers of Tor and VPN, as well as CyberSec to protect against malware and trackers.
Nord has 5,300+ servers in 62 countries around the world. It‘s got user-friendly apps for almost all popular devices (Windows, Mac, Android, Android TV, iOS, Linux) with the exception of routers. With that said, NordVPN does support routers and there are manual instructions available to make use of this fact.
Most of the time, 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. Because of the Obfuscated Servers feature, users will even be able to enjoy the VPN in China.
The only negative? You get “merely” above-average speeds with NordVPN.
3. CyberGhost ‣
This universal Romanian VPN has had a phenomenal 2018.
- Pros: versatile, has slick apps, not expensive
- Cons: not great for China, collects more logs than optimal
- Price: starts at $2.75/month
- VPNpro rating: 9.1
At #3, CyberGhost has both triumphs and vices. CyberGhost has strong security features, including AES-256 encryption, strong tunneling protocols, an automatic kill switch (sadly non-toggleable), and leak protection. Yet it’s not the tool if you want to hack into the Pentagon.
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.
At 3,600+ servers in 59 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. A recent app update fixes a lot of the GUI issues seen in the previous version and the service has great 24/7 live chat support.
It’s not an expensive service and has a 45-day money-back guarantee for longer subscriptions. However, there are some concerns with regard to CyberGhost – it’s owned by a British company of somewhat ill repute (Kape Technologies) and it collects a bit too much user data for our liking.
A superb VPN that might be too cheap for its own good.
- Pros: fast, secure, rich in features, unlimited simultaneous connections, incredibly cheap
- Cons: the website is not the best, support could be better
- Price: starts at $1.99/month
- VPNpro rating: 9.0
A best VPN services list isn’t often a place for yesteryear’s upstarts, but Surfshark VPN deserves an exception. This VPN service opened shop last 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 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 (800+ servers in 50 countries), lets you torrent as much as you want, and unblocks Netflix. The service even has a Camouflage Mode, making it a good choice in high-censorship countries, such as China.
Asia’s top VPN choice.
- Pros: lightning fast, very secure, and a good unblocker
- Cons: expensive, collects more user data than optimal
- Price: starts at $8.33/month
- VPNpro rating: 8.9
Astrill VPN is a smaller network. Regardless, the service has quietly built a solid product that offers almost all of the features of the crème de la crème. Astrill VPN offers solid data encryption (AES-256 and other strong ciphers) and an assortment of secure tunneling protocols for all occasions. 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.
The stealth protocols and high percentage of servers located in Asia make Astrill the best performing VPN service on the continent. Yet the seemingly compact 328 server list spread out over 65 countries gives some of the best speeds anywhere.
The Seychelles-based Astrill VPN is torrent-friendly, has great customer support, and unlocks Netflix US along with most other streaming platforms. You can get it on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, and routers.
With all that said, Astrill VPN is not the ideal VPN service: it’s the most expensive VPN on this list and logs more data than we would consider optimal. Additionally, Astrill doesn’t have the most aesthetically-pleasing or user-friendly VPN apps.
6. TorGuard ‣
An American solution for the geeks.
- Pros: secure, versatile and highly customizable
- Cons: based in the US, not very user-friendly
- Price: starts at $4.99/month
- VPNpro rating: 8.8
The server list is very impressive: TorGuard VPN has 3,000+ servers and IPs in 50+ countries. Crucially, this VPN works well in China and has many weapons against the Great Firewall.
TorGuard VPN also has a way of ensuring 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 bypassing geo-blocking.
TorGuard’s support is efficient and available 24/7 via live chat or phone. You may need it too because the apps offer a lot of choice, perhaps at the cost of ease of use.
Aside from this slight issue, TorGuard is unfortunately registered in the US, which is not a very privacy-friendly jurisdiction and certainly not the optimal country to run a VPN from.
7. Ivacy VPN ‣
Lots of bang for your buck with this Singapore-based VPN.
- Pros: very fast and has lots of features
- Cons: registered in Singapore and related to PureVPN
- Price: starts at $1.33/month
- VPNpro rating: 8.7
Despite the truly unoriginal name, Ivacy VPN is one 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 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 (although its Singaporean location is concerning).
Ivacy VPN is not at all expensive. Perhaps its only real weaknesses are the location and its curious relationship to PureVPN and its developers in Pakistan (Gaditek).
8. PrivateVPN ‣
The VPN market’s lightweight king of unblockers.
- Pros: unblocks most online services, has great speeds, decent security features
- Price: starts at $3.82/month
- VPNpro rating: 8.5
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, the service has a reliable kill switch, proxy servers, and a good selection of security protocols.
PrivateVPN is neither the fastest nor the most sluggish VPN service. With their low number of servers, the performance is quite admirable. One area where this VPN wins is versatility – with it, you will be able to bypass Netflix US restrictions (as well as those of most other Netflix libraries) and safely 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, macOS, 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.
Windscribe has many features and flexible pricing.
- Pros: versatile and quick, lots of great features, cheap
- Cons: not great for use in China, some shady practices, based in Canada
- Price: starts at $1.00/month
- VPNpro rating: 8.4
This Canada-based VPN is very rich in security features, rivaling the best of the best. It has military-grade AES-256 encryption, a good selection of tunneling protocols, no leaks, and some bonuses in the form of Double Hop and R.O.B.E.R.T. – a solid anti-tracking/malware feature.
With over 540 servers in 60+ countries, Windscribe is able to output great speeds across a wide geography. You’ll be able to use these perks for a big list of activities, including unblocking Netflix through its Windflix servers, gaming, or secure torrenting (although P2P traffic is only allowed on some servers).
Windscribe is on the cheap end of the spectrum and has flexible pricing plans, including a “Build A Plan” option, allowing you to pay $1.00/month per location. There’s a limited free version as well, which you can use to get a taste of what you’ll be getting.
There’s multi-platform support with apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, as well as extensions for Firefox plus Chrome.
The drawbacks include the fact that Windscribe is registered in Canada and controversy concerning its use of the free version as a crypto-miner.
10. VyprVPN ‣
VyprVPN is beyond reproach, but it’s certainly not for everyone.
- Pros: fast, secure, great against censorship, slick apps
- Cons: not great for torrenting
- Price: starts at $5.00/month
- VPNpro rating: 8.3
VyprVPN 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. 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.
GoldenFrog (the company behind VyprVPN) owns all of the VPN’s 700+ servers in 70+ locations. The owners of VyprVPN done a lot to optimize these servers, achieving brilliant performance across the board and increasing security to a superb level.
VyprVPN is good for bypassing Netflix geo-blocking measures. However, this VPN service is not great when it comes to torrenting. VyprVPN has a problem with you violating copyrights, so torrenting might get your subscription revoked. That said, the likelihood of that happening is slim to none – VyprVPN’s revised no-logging policy should preclude the company from ever messing with your account. At least in theory.
Golden Frog is based in VPN-friendly Switzerland and provides an audit-proven no-log service. It also has top-notch customer support, brilliant apps for a wide range of platforms, and is reasonably priced.
As mentioned, VyprVPN’s only issue is with torrenting and other copyright-related matters.
Why use a VPN service?
There are plenty of reasons to use a VPN:
- With governments spying on our online selves, corporations profiling users for targeted ads, and copyright warriors keeping an eye on our torrent traffic, using a VPN is only natural.
- People who find themselves using public wifi hotspots rely on encryption to keep sensitive details out of the hands of hackers.
- Activists and journalists under oppressive regimes depend on privacy for their lives, while businesses use VPNs to protect valuable information.
- The overwhelming majority of VPN users are mostly concerned with accessing geo-blocked entertainment platforms, such as Netflix, or censored websites, such as YouTube in China.
This multitude of reasons people use Virtual Private Networks for has caused VPN services to flourish and become ubiquitous. Virtually anyone can benefit from them in some way.
How to choose a VPN service?
Learning how to choose a VPN service is essential because making a mistake can cost you both financially and in terms of online security.
If you’re on the lookout for a secure and reliable VPN service, there are multiple factors to consider. Here are the main criteria we use to evaluate VPN providers:
- Server count and global spread: the more servers, the merrier
- Speed and performance: good VPNs tend to have a smaller impact on your connection speeds
- Encryption and tunneling protocols: look for AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN or L2TP/IPSec protocols
- Jurisdiction: be wary of VPNs based in 5-eyes, 9-eyes, and 14-eyes countries
- Geo-unblocking capabilities: the best providers can reliably unblock Netflix
- Multi-platform support: if you plan to use your VPN on more than one device, make sure it’s compatible
- Value for money: pricier doesn’t necessarily mean better – always check the feature list
- Customer service: solid and established VPNs always offer live chat support
For a more detailed look on how to choose a VPN, see our comprehensive guide to VPN selection.
Are VPNs legal?
Mostly yes, but the legal status of VPN services depends on the laws of each country and other contextual factors. For example, VPN use is completely illegal and punishable by law in Saudi Arabia, North Korea, or Belarus. Elsewhere, VPN services are restricted in some way – China and Russia are prime examples of this.
Most countries allow VPN use. However, some actions people use these tools for can be illegal. Copyright infringements or hacking, for example, will get you into trouble regardless of country.
If you’re not sure whether VPNs are legal in your country, take a look at our global VPN legality guide and find out if your country is on the VPN prohibition list.
Should I trust VPN service providers?
Be careful, because you cannot trust all VPN services! The VPN market is all about trust – we can never be fully aware of what happens in the data centers around the world. As such, you should rely on the available facts to determine whose trustworthy and who isn’t.
Also, make sure to stay up to date with the goings-on of the VPN market – it’s constantly in flux, and even incredibly popular VPN providers sometimes get involved in privacy scandals or are acquired by less than trustworthy companies.
Independent audits, tests of “no-logs” policies in the wild, and independent research are invaluable sources of information to make an informed decision. Remember – using a compromised anonymity tool leaves you exposed to all kinds of risks!
Can I use a VPN for watching Netflix?
Absolutely – the ability to stream your favorite Netflix TV shows and movies from anywhere in the world is probably the best reason to use a VPN.
Whether you’re on vacation abroad or happen to live in a country with a different Netflix library, you’ve definitely seen your favorite show disappear from Netflix at least once.
A VPN will help you bypass such geo-blocking measures and stream whatever, wherever, on whichever devices you own. By changing your IP address, the best VPNs for Netflix manage to reliably fool the platform, which is notorious for its tireless proxy detection efforts.
What is the best VPN for streaming?
If watching Netflix, BBC iPlayer, or other geo-blocked platforms is the reason you’re looking for a VPN, our recommendation is to get NordVPN as the best VPN for streaming.
NordVPN works with a wide variety of streaming platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other popular services. It also offers the largest selection of specialized streaming servers and supports a whopping six simultaneous devices, which means you can use NordVPN on any desktop or mobile device you own, including Android TV.
NordVPN is a great VPN for Kodi as well, and will let you stream safely, no matter which Kodi add-on you choose.
Here are some simple step-by-step guides for streaming the most popular geo-blocked TV shows and sports events:
Can you set up a VPN on a router or Smart TV?
If your VPN supports routers and/or Smart TVs, you can set it up on your device. Some VPNs that don’t have native support for routers or Smart TVs can provide you with manual instructions to do so.
That said, it’s always better to use a VPN that has a native app for the device in question.
Setting up a VPN on your router is a really smart move. That way, you no longer have to worry about your VPN’s limitations on simultaneous connections and extend the protection to all the devices you own. If you’re thinking about pairing your router with a VPN, here’s an in-depth guide on how to do just that.
Setting up a VPN on your Smart TV is also a good idea. This will let you effortlessly stream geo-blocked shows and movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming platforms. We have a guide for that, as well. You’re welcome.
Does a VPN protect my online privacy?
Yes – besides being great for streaming, VPNs also enhance the security of your online connection. When you connect to a VPN server, it acts as a secure and encrypted tunnel between your network and whatever online service you’re using.
This means that potential attackers (or your ISP) can’t intercept or identify your online traffic, which makes VPNs some of the safest and most reliable tools for protecting your connection while you’re browsing, shopping online, or even torrenting.
What is the best VPN for privacy and security?
All of the ten VPN services on this list are great at protecting your privacy and security since they all offer military-grade encryption, safe tunneling protocols, and have no leak problems.
With that in mind, the most advanced tool in the shed security and privacy-wise is NordVPN. There are many reasons why NordVPN is considered the most secure VPN service on the market:
- NordVPN is based in Panama, which doesn’t belong to any intelligence-sharing alliances.
- The provider has an independently-audited no-logging policy, which means that your online traffic data remains yours and yours alone.
- NordVPN’s security and privacy package is unrivaled in the industry and includes advanced features like Double VPN (multi-hop), Onion over VPN, Obfuscated servers, CyberSec browser security suite, as well as an automatic killswitch and watertight DNS and IP leak protection.
For these reasons and more, we consider NordVPN as the best VPN service for privacy and security.
Can a VPN help me fight online censorship and harassment?
Yes! If you live in a country or community known for restricting human rights – both off- and online – a VPN can be your best bet in terms of protecting yourself from government surveillance, internet censorship, and cyberbullying.
VPN security and privacy measures we mentioned above – coupled with additional features like Stealth VPN, Chameleon protocol, or obfuscated servers – are offered by top-notch VPN services to bypass geo-blocking and online traffic scanning techniques that are often used by both individual predators and organized government agencies alike.
To learn more about how a VPN can help you stay safe and regain your freedom online, check out our guides on the following subjects:
- Bypass internet censorship in China
- LGBTQ online safety guide
- Avoid government surveillance: 5-9-14 eyes alliances
What are the best free VPN providers in 2019?
As you might’ve noticed, pretty much all the VPNs listed in this Top 10 are premium. But are paid VPNs always better than the countless apps you can use without paying?
In short, yes.
That said, not all free VPNs are created equal.
Free VPN services fall into two categories:
- Free VPNs funded by “selling the user”
- Free versions of paid VPNs
The first category is problematic because they usually track user behavior and sell the data to third-parties. This is plainly irreconcilable with privacy.
Meanwhile, the second category usually means a limited product: fewer features than the premium versions, restrictions on the amount of data users can transfer and so on. However, some free VPN services are significantly better than others.
One such service is ProtonVPN, which offers a tool without limits on how much data you can use or how many server switches you have. It’s also impeccable on the security and privacy front, making it great for those who need real anonymity but can’t afford a top VPN service.
Best VPN comparison table
Just to reiterate, the following table lists the best VPN services for 2019 that scored the best on these factors during our tests:
- Offers top of the line privacy and security features
- Has great performance and low speed drop-off percentage
- Reliably unblocks entertainment and streaming platforms
- Offers easy to use apps and helpful customer support
- Can reliably bypass firewalls and online censorship
- Has a good price and/or value for money