Best VPN Services for 2017

VPN services can hide your online activity from prying eyes, help you access global content without pesky region locks, and improve your internet privacy and security. Take your pick from our list of the best VPN services out there today.
    • Provider
    • Features
    • Visit Site
    • 1
    • Super fast : ExpressVPN has always been at the top of the game in terms of raw speed!
      Super secure: 256-bit AES OpenVPN encryption ensures no-one can access your data
      Unlimited downloading
      30-day no quibble money-back guarantee: just give it a try
      24/7 Customer support: world class!
    Special Deal: Save 49% Today!
    • 2
    • Great for Privacy : No logs at all so nothing to trace what you do online
      Based in Panama: so no government spying or link to the NSA
      6 simultaneous connections Good for the whole family!
      Servers in 61+ countries
      30-day money back guarantee – so you have nothing to lose!
    • 3
    • Super fast VPN servers make this VPN the video streamers choice
      Easy to use VPN software means a no hassle VPN experience
      P2P for Torrenting is permitted meaning you can download securely
      Awesome features give you full control over your privacy and unblocking needs
      Strong encryption stops anybody from snooping on your data
    • 5
    • 30 day Money-back Guarantee!: No need to commit
      Unlimited Downloading and Streaming!
      Servers in 70 Countries: Access content all over the globe
      24/7 Live Support: Get help whenever you need it
      Connect up to 3 Devices: Protect all of your devices

Using a VPN service is arguably the single most effective measure you can take to improve your online privacy and security. In addition to making our pick of the best 2017 VPN services out there, this article explains why you need a VPN.

It also aims to give you a clear idea of the limitations of using a VPN. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are powerful and important tools, but there is no such thing as a one-stop-shop when it comes to protecting your privacy and staying secure when using the internet. VPNs should, therefore, be regarded as a vital tool in your internet toolbox.

So What Are VPN Services Good For?

  • Privacy – a VPN will hide your internet activity from your ISP. This also makes it very effective at preventing blanket surveillance of the kind carried out by the NSA and GCHQ.
  • Security – a VPN encrypts all your data as it travels between your device and the VPN server. This means that you can use public WiFi networks and hotspots safely, because even if these have been compromised in some way, your data remains securely encrypted.
  • Hiding your real IP address – when you visit a website, that website will see the IP address of the VPN server you are connected to, not your real IP address. This provides privacy when visiting websites, and can help prevent you being tracked as you surf the internet.
  • Geo-spoofing – a side-effect of this is that with VPNs you can access geo-restricted services such as US Netflix and BBC iPlayer simply by connecting to a VPN server in the relevant country.
  • Related to both hiding your real IP address and that your ISP can’t see what you get up to on the internet, is that using a VPN makes it possible to P2P torrent download safely (as long as you use a VPN service that permits this).

As you can see, VPNs are very useful for a number of things. This means that VPN users look for different things in a VPN service, and there is consequently no one-size-fits-all VPN. Our job at BestVPN.com, therefore, is to help you find the VPN service that best matches your needs…

 

Best VPN Services: Summary

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information
Editor's Choice Award

Winner

ExpressVPN

5/5

Best VPN Services

  • ProsPROS
  • Ultra-fast – great for streaming!
  • Ultra secure – 256-bit encryption
  • Unlimited downloading
  • 5* customer support + 24/7 live chat
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ConsCONS
  • Aggregate connection logs
  • A bit pricey

ExpressVPN hits our number one spot thanks to offering a feature-filled service that is readily accessible to the more casual user. Its headline act is probably its ridiculously fast speed performance, but fantastic 24/7 customer support and a generous 30-day, no-quibble, money-back guarantee certainly don’t hurt! Robust encryption, no usage logs (but some connection logs), and servers located in a whopping 94 countries around the world are also big draws.

Users in China will appreciate ExpressVPN’s special “stealth” servers located in Hong Kong, and users everywhere will appreciate the new free Smart DNS service that is included with all VPN accounts. Of particular note is ExpressVPN’s easy-to-use desktop software for Windows and Mac OS X, and its funky apps for Android and iOS.

Additional features: three simultaneous connections, P2P: yes.

Try the best VPN service today!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30-day money-back guarantee

2nd place

NordVPN

4/5

NordVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • Double data encryption
  • Great for Privacy: Based in Panama
  • 1,006 servers in 61+ countries
  • Up to six simultaneous connections
  • Torrenting: yes
  • ConsCONS
  • Issues with support

If you are located in the US and privacy is of great importance to you, NordVPN might just be the best pick for you. NordVPN has a reputation for taking encryption very seriously, as evidenced by its “DoubleVPN” encryption system. This system allows NordVPN to encrypt inbound and outbound data with AES-256-CBC encryption not once, but twice!

NordVPN is also based in Panama, and it emerged from the recent Panama Papers scandal unscathed – erasing any doubts regarding logging policies. Tor users will also be happy to see NordVPN’s support for Tor over VPN.

NordVPN does have slightly higher prices and slower speeds (due to heavy encryption), although a nice touch is that a three-day trial to test out the service before purchasing. Check out the second best America VPN using the link below.

Visit NordVPN »


3rd place

IPVanish

4.4/5

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs at all
  • Client with VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • Smart DNS included
  • Accepts bitcoin
  • ConsCONS
  • Based in US
  • So-so support

This high-profile VPN company has good privacy credentials. It keeps no logs (at all), accepts payment in bitcoin, and permits torrenting. IPVanish also throws in a free Smart DNS service for all customers. It is based in the US, which is not ideal if NSA surveillance bothers you. Its client provides DNS leak protection, and despite being a little stripped-down, works very well.

Additional features: P2P allowed, mobile apps for all operating systems, seven-day money-back guarantee.

Visit IPVanish »


4th place

Buffered

3.7/5

  • ProsPROS
  • Fast speeds
  • No usage logs
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • P2P: yes
  • Based in Hungary
  • ConsCONS
  • A bit pricey
  • Some connection logs

This Hungarian VPN provider may be small, but it punches above its weight. Being based in Hungary places it outside the direct reach of the NSA and GCHQ. In addition to running servers in 16 countries, Buffered offers a unique “port discovery” feature. This allows you to bypass login requirements when using WiFi at airports, hotels, and so forth by searching for open ports in the local LAN neighborhood. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available, but do read the terms of service, as important conditions apply.

Additional features: three simultaneous connections.

Visit Buffered »


5th place

VyprVPN

4.2/5

  • ProsPROS
  • Very fast due to own infrastructure
  • Over 70 countries
  • Accepts Alipay
  • Port selection
  • Based in Switzerland
  • ConsCONS
  • Some connection logs

VyprVPN is notable for being one of the rare VPN services to own and control its entire network infrastructure. The result is fantastically fast connection speeds around the world. Dedicated IP servers are available, but only on the premium package. A free Smart DNS service is also included and customer support is outstanding.

VyprVPN offers “Chameleon” stealth technology specifically designed to defeat the Great Firewall of China. In addition, it uses UDP ports in its apps to help defeat port blocking and other throttling issues. Its mobile apps are also very smart, and with a 30-day money-back guarantee (and three-day free trial), there is little reason not to give this service a go. Do please note, though, that VyprVPN does not permit torrenting.

Additional features: no usage logs.

Visit VyprVPN »


Best VPN Services: Considerations

Understanding VPN Services – an Encrypted Connection

When using a commercial VPN service, you connect to the internet via a VPN server. The VPN server is operated by a VPN provider, and the connection between your computer (or smartphone, tablet, or similar) and the VPN server is encrypted.

  • You still need an ISP to provide your internet connection, and that ISP can still see how much data you consume.
  • Your ISP cannot see what data you consume, however. This is because it is securely encrypted.
  • It also cannot see which websites you visit on the internet, as the VPN server acts as a proxy. Your ISP can only see that you have connected to an IP address belonging to a VPN provider. It cannot see which websites you visit after that.
  • Because governments rely on ISPs to gather surveillance data for them, using a VPN is a very effective way to prevent blanket government surveillance. They will not help you, however, if your government individually singles you out for targeted surveillance.

The big proviso here is that your VPN provider can see what you get up to on the internet. Please see my notes regarding privacy and logging below for further discussion on this issue.

WiFi Hotspots

The connection between your device and the VPN server is encrypted. Not only does this hide your data from your ISP, but it protects it from criminal hackers.

  • Private WiFi networks are almost always securely encrypted, but using public ones is a major liability.
  • The most common dangers are packet sniffers that can read your data on unencrypted networks, and “evil twin” hotspots. These have names such as “Free airport WiFi” in order to fool you into connecting to them.
  • Using a VPN means that even if hackers can access your data, they will not be able to read it.

VPNs Act as Proxy Servers

Because the VPN server acts as a proxy, from the internet it looks as if you are accessing the internet from the IP address and location of that server. This means that web pages cannot see your real IP address, only that of the VPN server.

VPN providers usually operate servers located in strategic locations around the world. By connecting to one of these, you can pretend to access the internet from that location. This is known as geo-spoofing, and is very useful for accessing online services that are restricted to those living in a certain country.

Tracking the IP address of torrent downloaders is trivially easy. But when using a VPN, anyone doing this will only see the IP address of the VPN server. Assuming your VPN provider does not hand over your details to copyright holders, this means that VPNs are great for protecting you when torrenting. It is vital, however, to choose a provider that will not hand over your details (some will!). For a full discussion on this topic, please see here.

netflix-december-2017

It is worth noting that many online streaming services are currently trying to block VPN users. This takes the form of blocking IP ranges known to belong to VPN providers. These blocks do not affect all services, and others have found ways around them. But it remains an issue.

I therefore strongly recommend taking advantage of any VPN’s with free trials and/or money-back guarantees on offer. This allows you to check that any given service works with the content you wish to access.

VPN Services and Privacy

If privacy is important to you then it is important to understand that your VPN provider knows who you are, and can see what you do on the internet. Privacy-focused VPN services mitigate this issue by using shared IP addresses and keeping no logs. Some even accept (potentially) anonymous payments methods such as Bitcoins, store cards, or (in the case of Mullvad) cash sent by post.

However:

  • Your VPN provider will always know your real IP address. The only exception to this rule is if your provider offers VPN through Tor.
  • Even services that keep usually no logs can monitor your activity in real-time.
  • They can also be forced (for example by a court order or subpoena) to start keeping logs.

In general, many VPN services’ business model is to protect their customers’ privacy. And they can be relied on to do this much better than your ISP will. If you are doing something highly criminal, however, using a VPN is unlikely to protect you.

Please see 5 Best Logless VPNs for a more thorough discussion on this subject.

IP Leaks

In theory, when you visit a website using a VPN, the website will only see the IP address of your VPN server, not your real IP. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

  1. When first you start using a new VPN service, visit ipleak.net. It is always worth checking now and again thereafter to make sure that nothing has changed.
  2. If you see your real IP address or one that belongs to your ISP, then you have an IP leak.
  3. If you detect an IP leak, then consult my Complete Guide to IP Leaks. This covers every known reason why your IP might be leaking, together with solutions.

Using a Kill Switch

Sometimes your VPN connection will just drop. There are many possible reasons for this, but it happens when using even the best VPN services. This is dangerous, because it means that you may surf the internet thinking that you are protected by a VPN, when you are not.

Torrenters who leave their downloads unattended for long periods of time are in particular danger from this problem. The solution is to use a kill switch. This prevents you from accessing the internet unless your VPN is turned on and is active. Firewall-based kill switches are best, but any kill switch is better than none at all!

expressvpn-network-lock

ExpressVPN’s custom vlinet included a dandy kill switch.

Many VPN providers’ custom VPN clients include a kill switch. It is also possible to build your own using firewall rules, or use third party software. For more information on kill switches, please see here.

Resources

Best VPN Services: Conclusion

VPN services are fantastic tools, and should be routinely used by every serious internet user. Free VPN services do exist, but they are generally either rubbish, or are actively hostile to your privacy. After all, running VPN servers is expensive, and no-one is going to do it out the kindness of their heart.

If viewed in the context of being one (very powerful) tool among many, using a VPN will greatly improve your online security and privacy.

 

Best VPN Providers: Recap

    • Provider
    • Price
    • Features
    • Our Score
    • Visit Site
    • 1
    • ExpressVPN LogoExpressVPN
    • $6.67
      PER MONTH
    • Super fast : ExpressVPN has always been at the top of the game in terms of raw speed!
      Super secure: 256-bit AES OpenVPN encryption ensures no-one can access your data
      Unlimited downloading
      30-day no quibble money-back guarantee: just give it a try
      24/7 Customer support: world class!
    • 10
    Special Deal: Save 49% Today!
    • 2
    • NordVPN LogoNordVPN
    • $3.29
      PER MONTH
    • Great for Privacy : No logs at all so nothing to trace what you do online
      Based in Panama: so no government spying or link to the NSA
      6 simultaneous connections Good for the whole family!
      Servers in 61+ countries
      30-day money back guarantee – so you have nothing to lose!
    • 8.8
    • 3
    • IPVanish LogoIPVanish
    • $3.25
      PER MONTH
    • Super fast VPN servers make this VPN the video streamers choice
      Easy to use VPN software means a no hassle VPN experience
      P2P for Torrenting is permitted meaning you can download securely
      Awesome features give you full control over your privacy and unblocking needs
      Strong encryption stops anybody from snooping on your data
    • 8
    • 4
    • Buffered LogoBuffered
    • $6.60
      PER MONTH
    • 30 day Money-back Guarantee!
      Unlimited downloading and streaming!
      Servers in 39 countries
      Ticket Support
      Connect up to 5 Devices
    • 8
    • 5
    • VyprVPN LogoVyprVPN
    • $6.67
      PER MONTH
    • 30 day Money-back Guarantee!: No need to commit
      Unlimited Downloading and Streaming!
      Servers in 70 Countries: Access content all over the globe
      24/7 Live Support: Get help whenever you need it
      Connect up to 3 Devices: Protect all of your devices
    • 7.2

*All prices shown in US dollars

Advertiser disclosure

Your Information will never be shared with any third party.
Enter your email address to receive your Beginner's Guide to Online Security for Free
You'll also receive great privacy news and exclusive software deals!
Enter your email to get the ebook:
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.
Enter your email address to receive your Ultimate Online Privacy Guide eBook!
You'll also receive great privacy news and exclusive software deals!
Enter your email to get the eBook:
Special VPN Deal
SAVE 49% TODAY
WITH OUR
Exclusive Offer
Get a Special Deal - 72% OFF!
With a biannual subscription
Exclusive Offer for BestVPN.com Visitors!
50% Off Annual Plan
Limited Time Only
Exclusive price of
$3.25/mo
Exclusive Offer
SAVE 72% TODAY
LIMITED TIME OFFER
Get NordVPN for only
$3.29/month
Exclusive Offer
SAVE 77% TODAY
LIMITED TIME OFFER
Get NordVPN for only
$2.75/month