Douglas Crawford

Douglas Crawford

May 21, 2018

Do you want to watch movies and TV shows on services like Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon, or HBO Go from abroad? Do you want to torrent without fear of getting caught? Is staying safe from hackers while using public Wi Fi hotspots important to you? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then you need a Virtual Private Network (VPN)! And that’s where we can help! We’ve reviewed hundreds of VPN companies many times for over 5 years to help you find the best vpns available on the market today. Before we get into it, let’s take a sneaky peak at who made our list…

The Best VPN Services: Side-by-Side Analysis

What Is a VPN?

A VPN is an online service that allows you to:

  • Hide what you get up to on the internet from your ISP.
  • Hide what you get up to from your government and the NSA.
  • Evade website blocks and other forms of censorship, whether put into place by your government, school, or work place.
  • Geo-spoof your location so you can watch services such as US Netflix and BBC iPlayer wherever you live in the world.
  • P2P torrent download safely.

VPNs are the Swiss army knife of internet privacy and security. Check out What is a VPN? to find out more!

Why Do I Need a VPN?

A recent survey showed that around 40% of our readers use a VPN primarily to access media streaming services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer. VPNs are also a major boon to sports fans, allowing you to watch sporting events such as the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), and English Premier League. These are often restricted to users in the service’s country of origin.

A VPN also hides your internet activity from your ISP, as it secures all data traveling between your computer and the VPN server. This makes VPNs very effective at preventing blanket surveillance of the kind carried out by the NSA and GCHQ, as well as securing your privacy when torrenting online.

Which VPN Should I Choose?

With many streaming services attempting to ban VPN users these days, the primary consideration for streaming is whether a VPN actually unblocks the service you wish to stream!

If privacy is your main concern, as a torrenter for example, then choose a good no logs VPN. It’s also good to avoid VPNs based in countries notorious for their state surveillance. Strong encryption and technical security are also important, but not as important as the logs a provider keeps.

What is the Best VPN 2018?

10.0/10.0

ExpressVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Special Offer: 49% off today!
  • Super fast – great for streaming!
  • Super easy to set-up + use!
  • Super secure – 256-bit encryption
  • Unlimited downloading
  • 5* customer support and 24/7 live chat
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
CONS:
  • A bit pricey - but worth it!

ExpressVPN earns a spot on our list thanks to its feature-filled service that is easy to use for both technical and non-technical users.

Its headline act is its ridiculously fast performance, but fantastic 24/7 customer support and a generous 30-day, no-quibble, money-back guarantee certainly sweeten the deal!

For those concerned with privacy, robust encryption keeps hackers at bay and no usage logs means the company can’t share your personal browsing data.

Servers located in a whopping 94 countries around the world are also a big draw if you’re seeking speed, privacy, and access to geographically restricted content. Users in China will appreciate ExpressVPN’s special “stealth” servers located in Hong Kong, and users everywhere will appreciate the new free Smart Domain Name System (DNS) service (included with all accounts) that keeps streaming media like Netflix running smoothly on a VPN.

Top it all off with an easy-to- use desktop software for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux (command line only), simple apps for Android and iOS plus custom router firmware, and you can see why ExpressVPN impressed our experts and remain one of our most popular VPN providers.

Additional features: three simultaneous connections, peer-to- peer (P2P) permitted.

Try ExpressVPN today with a 30-day, no-quibble, money-back guarantee.

Try the Best VPN Service Today!

Visit ExpressVPN »30 day Moneyback guarantee

9.8/10.0

CyberGhost Homepage
PROS:
  • Special Offer: 77% off 2-year plans!
  • High speed for ultra-fast streaming
  • More than 800 servers & global coverage
  • Multiple usage on up to 5 devices
  • No Logs Policy, guaranteed security and encryption
CONS:
  • No longer offering a free version (but does offer 30 day money-back guarantee)

Subscribing to CyberGhost is a superb way to introduce yourself to the world of VPNs. There is no bandwidth limit, encryption is similar to that on a premium VPN, and setting up the service is easy. CyberGhost’s user-friendly desktop app makes connecting to the VPN nice and simple.

CyberGhost has more than 800 servers & global coverage. The CyberGhost app is really funky and will appeal to a fashion-conscious, young crowd.

CyberGhost are based both in Romania and in Germany, the latter being responsible for most of the software development. With both teams united by a common credo for internet anonymity, CyberGhost is a major supporter and promoter of civil rights, a free society and an uncensored internet culture.

9.6/10.0

PrivateVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • Helpful customer service
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • DNS leak protection
  • 6 simultaneous connections
  • Excellent mobile apps
CONS:
  • Not much

PrivateVPN is a zero-logs Swedish provider with 80+ servers in 52 countries around the world. It features a firewall-based system kill switch and aper-app kill switch, which is great. Full IPv4 and IPv6 DNS leak protection is also built-in to its client.

We have been particularly impressed by PrivateVPN’s high level of customer service, which even features remote installation for technophobes! 6 simultaneous devices are permitted, which is very generous - and port forwarding plus HTTPS and SOCKS5 proxies are a nice bonus.

With a 30-day no-quibble money back guarantee, why not give PrivateVPN a try?

Additional features: works with US Netflix and iPlayer, kill switch and auto-connect, website available in English, German, Dutch, and Swedish.

9.2/10.0

VyprVPN Homepage
PROS:
  • No bandwidth limits
  • Solid speeds
  • Free iOs and Android apps
  • Automatic internet kill switch
  • Transparent privacy policy
CONS:
  • Some minimal connection logs for 90 days

VyprVPN belongs to the internet conglomerate Golden Frog. For this reason, it runs on a proprietary network of servers that can provide lightning fast speeds. VyprVPN has apps for all platforms, and the software is very easy to use. The VPN is also fully featured with advanced settings such as a killswitch, DNS leak protection and VPN cloaking (Chameleon mode).

VyprVPN has servers in over 70+ countries, perfect to unblock content from all over the globe. This VPN also has a strong privacy policy and provides robustly implements OpenVPN encryption. No usage logs are kept, and only minimal connection logs are kept. This VPN prides itself on providing privacy. However, it does ask users to refrain from using the VPN for illegal torrenting. If a VPN for torrenting is your requirement, then look elsewhere.

Finally, this VPN provides a 3-day free trial and a 7-day money back guarantee to test the service.

8.8/10.0

PrivateInternetAccess Homepage
PROS:
  • 7 day money back guarantee
  • No logs - proven in court!
  • Cheap
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • Great OpenVPN encryption
  • Kill switch and DNS leak protection
CONS:
  • US-based company
  • Apple users not so impressed

PIA is another great option and offers a 7 day money back guarantee. It keeps no logs, which is a claim that it has proved in court! And although optional, its security can be first rate. Its desktop software supports multiple security options, a VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection, and port forwarding.

Up to 5 simultaneous connections are permitted. Its Android client is almost as good, and PIA boasts excellent connection speeds. PIA has servers located in 29 other countries.

How We Picked the Top VPN for 2018

Based on our detailed VPN reviews and data collected as part of our BestVPN Awards process, we’ve carefully considered a range of factors that go into making a great all-round VPN.

This includes things such as speed performance, encryption strength, privacy policy, legal jurisdiction, price, free trial, any money-back guarantee, and much more. We recognize that what makes a great VPN for one user may miss the mark for another. Fortunately, the best VPNs tend to be rather good at everything!

For more information about how we review VPNs see our BestVPN.com’s VPN Review Process Overview.

VPN Services: FAQs

Can I Use a VPN Service on My Mobile Phone or Tablet?

If your looking for an Android VPN or a VPN on iPhone you will be happy to know that almost every VPN in existence provides support for these devices. Windows Phones are also well supported. Older Blackberry devices are much less so, but it possible to use a VPN with them.

Please do be aware, however, of a major caveat when using a VPN on a mobile device. When using your mobile browser, the VPN will do everything a VPN does on a desktop system. Mobile apps, however, can and do send a great deal of personal information directly to both the platform provider (for example, Google or Apple), and to the app developer.

The NordVPN Android VPN app

This information can include your phone’s unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, Global Positioning System (GPS) location data, your contact lists, your Google Play/iTunes ID, and much more.

A VPN can’t prevent an app sending this information. Therefore, to benefit fully from the VPN you should avoid apps. Access services via their web portals using your mobile browser instead.

How Do I Set up a VPN?

Most VPNs these days offer custom apps for the major platforms. To use a VPN all that is usually required is:

  1. Register an account with your one of the VPN providers listed above.
  2. Download the relevant client or app for your device(s). Most providers send a confirmation email upon registration that contains all the links you’ll need. If not, a Downloads area should be clearly labeled on the website.
  3. Install and run the app. You’ll be likely be prompted to enter your account details on first run.

The exact details of how custom clients and apps are used varies a great deal. Check out our individual VPN reviews for in-depth looks at their software.

If your platform isn’t supported, your VPN provider will provide detailed manual setup guides for configuring your devices, using its inbuilt VPN client or third-party software. Some VPN providers offer better guides than others, but all get the job done.

How do I Test My VPN Is Working?

To test that your VPN is working, visit ipleak.net. If the VPN is working then “Your IP addresses” should show the IP of the VPN server, not your real IP address. If you’ve connected to a VPN server in a different country, it is very easy to see whether your IP has changed.

ip leak test results

Here I am in the UK, connected to a US VPN server with no IP leaks. My ISP doesn’t currently support Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), but if your does then also look out for IPv6 leaks!

If you see an IP address belonging either to yourself or your ISP, then you have an IP leak. This includes IPv4 DNS leaks, IPv6 leaks, and Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) leaks. Please consult our Complete Guide to IP Leaks to find out why this might be, and how to fix the issue.

What is the Best VPN Protocol to Use?

A VPN protocol is the set of instructions used to negotiate a secure encrypted connection between two computers. A number of such VPN protocols are commonly supported by commercial VPNs. The best VPN protocol for you depends on what you’re using your VPN for.

PPTP

A widely supported VPN protocol that is no longer considered secure. Use with older devices if necessary.

L2TP

A widely supported protocol. It’s not secure against the NSA, but suitable for general use.

IKEv2

A new standard that is both faster and more secure. Mobile users may prefer it to OpenVPN thanks to its reconnect feature when an internet connection is interrupted.

OpenVPN

An open source protocol is widely regarded as the most secure and versatile VPN protocol available. Use OpenVPN whenever possible.

For more information on this subject, check out our VPN Encryption: The Complete Guide.

Can a VPN Unblock US Netflix?

Yes! The good news is that successfully spoofing your location is enough to access any local version of Netflix. Netflix does not require that your account and payment method be registered to that country.

The Bad news is that following intense pressure from copyright holders, NetFlix will block anyone it detects using a VPN to bypass its geo-restrictions. So it’s important that you use one of our recommended Netlix VPNs if this is what you’re looking to do.

What is the Fastest VPN Service?

By far the biggest downside of a VPN is that it will slow down your internet. This is inevitable.

Some VPN services have invested heavily in fast server networks that can handle the VPN processing needs of many users at once. The result is that with a good fast VPN service, you can achieve 85%+ of your full internet speeds if connected to a nearby server.

If speed is a main concern for you any of the VPNs on this page should serve you well. But, if you’re looking for more choice, we recommend checking out our fastest VPNs guide.

Conclusion

As you can see, VPNs are a very versatile tool! For many, they are just a convenient way to unblock Netflix from abroad. However, they are also a valuable privacy and security tool. Given that a top VPN can cost only a few bucks per month, it’s madness not to use one!