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5 Best VPN Services for 2017

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

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

VyprVPN Logo
Read Review8.8/10
$8.33 / monthVisit Site

3

NordVPN Logo
Read Review8/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

4

IPVanish Logo
Read Review8/10
$6.49 / monthVisit Site

5

Buffered Logo
Read Review7.2/10
$8.25 / monthVisit Site
Editor's Choice Award

Winner

ExpressVPN

5/5

VPN services

  • ProsPROS
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • No usage logs
  • Servers in 78 countries
  • Great customer service
  • P2P: yes
  • ConsCONS
  • Connection logs
  • A bit pricey

ExpressVPN has always excelled at providing a great customer experience. At the forefront of this is 24/7 live chat support and a genuinely no-quibble 30-day money-back guarantee. Its desktop and mobile software is very easy to use, and is fully featured. Both desktop and mobile apps use great encryption and include DNS leak protection and a kill switch. Users are also protected from WebRTC leaks.

Those wishing to evade censorship (such as users in China) will appreciate ExpressVPN’s Hong Kong-based “stealth” servers and dark web (.onion) address. Although ExpressVPN is a little pricey, the fact that it throws in a free Smart DNS service for all users makes it good value for money.

Additional features: three simultaneous connections, “stealth” servers in Hong Kong, DNS leak and WebRTC protection, free SmartDNS, .onion web address.

Get the best 2017 VPN service now!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30-day money-back guarantee

2nd place

VyprVPN

4.4/5

VyprVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • Very fast due to own infrastructure
  • 36 countries
  • Accepts Alipay
  • Port Selection
  • “Chameleon” stealth servers
  • ConsCONS
  • Basic package very insecure
  • Some connection logs
  • P2P: no

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. Its PPTP-only basic plan should really be avoided, but VyprVPN otherwise offers a great selection of features. This includes a free a SmartDNS service and robust customer support.

VyprVPN offers “Chameleon” stealth technology specifically designed to defeat the Great Firewall of China. And 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, 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, uses UDP ports.

Visit VyprVPN »


3rd place

NordVPN

4.2/5

NordVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs at all
  • Up to six devices at once
  • Fantastic value for money
  • Servers in 47 countries world wide
  • Excellent technology
  • ConsCONS
  • Speeds can be slow

The fact that NordVPN is based in Panama, and is therefore firmly out of the NSA and GCHQ areas of influence, makes it a great option for any privacy-heads out there. This focus on privacy is further evidenced by it keeping no logs at all, using very strong encryption, and accepting payment in Bitcoins. “Double-hop” VPN is also available for those who want it. Speeds on many of NordVPN’s servers can be rather slow, but fast servers are available with a little trial and error.

Additional features: P2P is permitted, DNS leak protection, per-app kill switch (desktop clients).

Visit NordVPN »


4th place

IPVanish

3.7/5

IPVanish

  • 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. But 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 »


5th place

Buffered

3.7/5

Buffered

  • 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, “port discovery.”

Visit Buffered »


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 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

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN Logo
Read Review10/10
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

VyprVPN Logo
Read Review8.8/10
$8.33 / monthVisit Site

3

NordVPN Logo
Read Review8/10
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

4

IPVanish Logo
Read Review8/10
$6.49 / monthVisit Site

5

Buffered Logo
Read Review7.2/10
$8.25 / monthVisit Site

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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54 responses to “5 Best VPN Services for 2017

  1. Hi,
    I’m just wondering how impartial your recommendation for ExpressVPN is, when I see ExpressVPN advertisements and popups all over this site. ???

    1. Hi Abdahl,

      ExpressVPN advertises with us and (as with all VPN providers) provides us with affiliate payments. This does not, however, affect how we review or rank it in out lists. Please see my recent detailed ExpressVPN Review for an in-depth look at why BestVPN.com recommends this provider so highly.

  2. When am overseas i find it hard to sign into my gmail mail account.I have used vip72 but my ip still leaking to gmail and keep asking me to get codes from my phone.
    which of these VPN would you recommend for me to access my gmail account easily anytime am overseas for business

    1. Hi Dominic,

      If you regularly uses the same VPN server, you should not continually need to prove your identity when you sign-in to Gmail. So any of of the above service should work just fine for you.

  3. Hi, I’m wondering why this article, which has a date published date of December 6, 2016, has comments going back to August 2016?
    Also, the star rating system does not seem to line up with the 10 point score.
    Can you please explain?

    1. Hi Sandi,

      We update our core articles on a fairly regular basis. This insures that the information in them remains relevant and up to date (and also helps with our Google rankings). We used to simply replace older articles with the newer versions (automatically redirecting visors to the newer version). We found that this was less than ideal, however, as often valuable discussions in the comments sections got lost each time. So now, rather than publishing new pages, we update the older pages, and revise the publish date when we do so. This allows us to keep the comments sections intact on updated articles.

  4. Just a quick note for this good review:
    Except Buffered, I used all. I wouldn’t give VyprVPN the 4.5 score, because: 1) they do not support torrent. I based in US and I received an email warning that Im using torrent. 2) Their app logging (vyprvpn service) a lot even when the app is not running.

    Among these, IPvanish is the rock solid and the best IMO. Expressvpn is good but expensive. I would go with PIA which is completely anonymous. You can buy gift cards from stores and activate it (no name, credit card or other hassles). Just remember Expressvpn, ipvanish, vyprvpn and PIA are based in US!

    1. Hi vpnuser,

      Thanks for your thoughts! You are correct that VyprVPN does not permit P2P, but this is not an issue for many VPN users. PIA is good, but please remember that you are not actually anonymous because no matter what payment method you use, it can still see your real IP address (this is true of almost all VPN providers, except those that offer VPN through Tor).

    1. Hi Matt,

      Five Eyes (FVEY) is an NSA-led spying alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and which Edward Snowden described as a ‘supra-national intelligence organization that doesn’t answer to the known laws of its own countries.’ Intelligence is freely shared between security organizations of member countries, a practice that is used to evade legal restrictions on spying on their own citizens. Fourteen Eyes is an extended alliance that also includes Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Sweden.

  5. Hi, Good article. Just a quick question. What criteria exactly did you use to come up with a 3.7 review on IPVanish? When I click “read review” for IPVanish I see it has 5 stars under editor review and I’m confused why it has 3.7 on this specific article. thanks

    1. Hi Sam,

      The star ratings on our 5 best lists are a subjective assessment by the article’s author on the merits of each provider in that category relative to the others. In my opinion this is not ideal, but makes more sense when the list deals with a niche category (such as 5 Best VPNs for Linux) rather than such a general one as this. I have flagged this issue up with our team for further discussion.

  6. I signed up with ExpressVPN, I paid by credit card but was not comfortable giving my full address that they asked for.
    After using it for 24 hours I get an email telling me that they have cancelled my service and I need to send a picture of my credit card albeit they said blur out the numbers except the last for digits .
    I google this and it seems they do this with a lot of people.

    1. Hi Billy,

      I agree that this is not good behavior from a VPN provider. FWIW, ExpressVPN does accept payment in Bitcoins..

  7. I purchased and downloaded NordVPN, it was a disaster in terms of speed and overall function – especially the so-called “kill switch” which shut down everything every 20 minutes. I really don’t understand how Nord even makes it on these lists. It was also listed on PCmag as an “editors choice” – whatever that means. But everywhere you look, the user reviews are terrible. How did Nord make it on your list?

    1. Hi Roger,

      As we acknowledge in out NordVPN Review, poor speeds are an issue with NordVPN. The fact that it is based in Panama is is very privacy-focused, however, recommends the service to us.

  8. Nord has some issues, however they don’t show up until well after their 30 money back guarantee. I found their speeds to be really slow on most servers, and you had to physically hunt for something suitable. I bought the top package and it worked reasonably well – just a few hiccups – and then one day out of the blue, could not connect to the service at all! Their techs never did get the problem fixed and I wound up at the very end using L2TP / PPTP (an absolute nightmare of issues) to even be able to use the service at all! No money back of course! Have no idea where to go from here, as being one of your top picks, I am hesitant to try anything at all. Maybe TOR? But I hear the Government is getting really nasty about TOR users because of the tendency for pedophiles to use it.

    1. Hi Ron,

      i’m sorry to hear that you had problems with NordVPN. Slow servers is a problem with the service. You should be aware, however, that Tor is very slow. ExpressVPN is very good, or for a completely no-logs service, I use AirVPN.

  9. Hi there,

    I just ordered and connected to NordVPN and my download went from 27+ without being connected to VPN to under 2 when connected. Quality of Slingbox image is terrible, internet navigation is extremely slow. Tried several servers from different countries withing Europe and USA and no improvement. Not sure if I should use the 30day money back or change some settings. Although so far I’ve only tested NordVPN for leisure internet use, I work remotely from France for a company located (servers) in Michigan US and my work requires a good amount of download and upload speed. Not sure what to do.

    1. Hi Sophie,

      NordVPN’s speeds can be rather slow (as noted in this article). In the past I have found that I can find a fast servers with a little trial and error. If you cannot find a fast server, however, then I suggest you cancel your subscription and try a different service.

      1. Thank you for your response Douglas, I had to purchase HideIPVPN last night because I could not even connect to any server with NordVPN. At this point I’m waiting for a reply back from NordVPN regarding the 30 days money back guarantee, day 2 waiting. HideIPVPN worked faster I had 10 download and 5 upload.

    1. Hi Dillon,

      First generation Kindle Fire devices required rooting in order to install a VPN client, but more modern devices can run VPN software out-of-the-box if it is installed via the Amazon Appstore. ExpressVPN is a good option.

    1. Hi Barbara,

      Simply re-download the software from your VPN providers’ website and install again the same as you did the first time. You were probably sent an email with all relevant links, so you can search your email account for that, or look on your providers’ website. If you are still having problems, then I am sure that your VPN provider will be happy to assist you.

  10. My ISP speed is 180Mbps.
    PIA gives me 130Mbps, on a good day. Never less than 60Mbps
    ExpressVPN gave me 33Mbps.
    Who is calling them the fastest VPN service around.
    Someone’s getting some pennies for porkies!

    1. Hi David,

      A 180Mbps internet connection is very fast. Faster, in fact, than any of our reviewers have the facilities to test.

    1. Hi Alfred,

      Unfortunately iPlayer is trying to block VPN users, so its a game of cat and mouse. You may well find that IPVanish works again soon (or maybe not).

  11. Used ExpressVPN for 8 months. Lousy speed, dropping connection 20 times a day, not to mention it`s the most expensive one. The only thing they have going is customer service – everything else is not worth it

  12. It seems like a glaring omission not to include Private Internet Access here. They keep no logs and are one of (if not the most) popular vpn. Any explanation as to why they were left off or are in your opinion not worthwhile?

    1. Hi Sean,

      Which VPN providers to include in our Best 5 lists is a team decision. This necessary because no one BestVPN team member is familiar with all 100+ providers that we have reviewed. Points against PIA:

      – It is based in the USA, so the NSA must (IMO) be spying on users in some way. The fact that PIA stridently denies this only reduces my trust in the company.
      – I used to use PIA, but disconnections were becoming so common as be a major issue.
      – Apple users (OSX and iOS) repeatedly report dissatisfaction with the service.

      I actually think that PIA is a good service, but factors such as the above led our team to prioritize the providers above.

  13. I use VPN to browse .Precisely I use VIP72 ..I disabled cookies and are cleared on my system and dns cache it’s always cleared, I disabled flash aswell and I barely use Java scripts , am not black listed I have 100% anonymity when I check on whoer.net but somehow some websites seems to detect my original location ..telling me they can’t verify my when I call them and I know it’s because of my internet settings .. What do you think is the cause ? And I need s solution ..Please I need a reply ASAP

  14. Any reason why NordVPN wasn’t included? It’s protected by the panama laws. They also keep no connection logs whatsoever. They also have the option to connect via TOR using their VPN, have dedicated IP VPN’s and VPN’s for streaming. They also have SSL 2048bit encryption.

        1. Hi Jerry,

          The tried and tested method is to ask you to choose your own password when you sign-up up for a service (which will be protected using HTTPS). That way, a password need never be sent via plaintext email for all the world to see.

          1. Hi Jerry,

            Yes. Most good VPN companies ask you to choose your own your password during signup. NordVPN instead just sends you one by email, which is not secure (or at least it did last time I used the service).

    1. Hi JaSem,

      Scroll down to the bottom of the VPNArea home page, or go to the Buy Now page. On the chart, look at the 6th entry down. I have posted a screenshot here.

  15. Hi,

    I would like to get a VPN, i am a bit of a technophobe but manage!! I did try one but had problems, I am all Apple and Sky is my broadband provider here in UK (I also go to the Canaries, am assuming it would work out there?) and when I tried to make a call via whatsapp (with VPN connected) iPhone couldn’t connect to internet!
    Is there a VPN I can get that is compatible??

    Regards

    Jane

    1. Hi Jane,

      Yup, a VPN should work wherever in the world you are (unless they are actively blocked, which is unlikely to be the case in the Canaries!). Hmm… using a VPN shouldn’t interfere WhatsApp or prevent your iPhone from accessing the internet! Try another provider – any provider e.g. the ones listed in this article or in 5 Best VPNs for iOS (although I personally do not recommend PIA for iPhone users).

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