Do you like being spied on by your ISP or government when you surf the web? Do you enjoy having your web content censored on moral, political, or copyright grounds? Do you want to be hacked while using your local coffee shop’s public WiFi? Do you want law enforcement knocking on your door for torrenting? No? Well, VPNs are the solution!
How? In this article we’ll look at all the funky capabilities that a top VPN service has to offer. Over the last 5-years’ our experts have conducted more than 150 VPN reviews to find the best of the best. Before we get started, let’s have a quick look at BestVPN.com’s official best VPN 2018 list:
The best VPN Services: Side-by-side summary
Visit Site »ExpressVPN review »
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NordVPN review »Visit Site »
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CyberGhost review »Visit Site »
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PrivateVPN review »Visit Site »
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VyprVPN review »Visit Site »
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What are the best VPN services?
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- 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
- 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.
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- Servers in over 61+ countries
- Excellent for privacy and security
- Fast connection speeds for streaming
- Easy to use and reliable
- Great customer care
- Perhaps slower than some
Our NordVPN review has consistently rated these guys as a top VPN provider year after year. The reason being that it is a highly secure service that is packed with security features such as DNS leak protection, stealth mode, a killswitch, double-hop and VPN into Tor.
Add to that a zero-logs policy and well implemented OpenVPN encryption (military grade) and you start to understand why. In the past, NordVPN had at times suffered from erratic connection speed issues. However, more recently this superb VPN appears to have managed to really iron those issues out. The result is a reliable and trustworthy VPN that is good enough to do even the most data intensive of tasks (such as streaming in HD). With NordVPN you get freedom and digital privacy, and users are free to do anything they wish (including torrenting). Admittedly, ExpressVPN is slightly faster and does have more servers, but for the added price the difference is negligible.
Finally, this VPN has a 30-day money back guarantee, so that you can test it without risking your hard earned cash, win!
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- 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
- 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.
- Helpful customer service
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- DNS leak protection
- 6 simultaneous connections
- Excellent mobile apps
- 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.
- No bandwidth limits
- Solid speeds
- Free iOs and Android apps
- Automatic internet kill switch
- 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).
Finally, this VPN provides a 3-day free trial and a 7-day money back guarantee to test the service.
Below we take a look at the common questions that we get asked by our readers, but what is discussed below is in no way comprehensive. If you are new to VPNs then we strongly recommend reading our VPNs for Beginners guide. As a refresher (or crash course if you are feeling lazy!)…
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, a technology that creates a private tunnel over the internet. All your online traffic is redirected to the VPN server. All data passing between your device and the VPN server you have connected to is securely encrypted. This means that your internet service provider (ISP) and anyone else spying on your traffic cannot see your data. Your ISP is still needed to connect you to the internet, but all it does is connect you to the VPN server. After that, it cannot see which other websites you visit or other internet resources you connect to. For the more techy of you out there, the VPN server acts as a proxy.
As a result, you can:
- Hide what you get up to on the internet
- Get around blocks and other forms of censorship
- Appear to be in another country to access services such as US Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Download and file share (torrent) safely
- Use public WiFi hotspots safely and securely.
Pretty near all government mass surveillance systems rely on ISPs to log your internet data and hand it over to the government. So if your ISP cannot see what you get up to online then neither will your government.
Privacy-focused VPN providers keep no logs and use shared IPs in order to minimize the privacy risk – and almost any VPN service will protect your privacy more than your ISP. Just be aware, however, that even the most dedicated no-logs VPN see can be forced to start keeping logs when issued with a legally binding court order.
If you’re looking for a VPN for any of the specific tasks above, you may find the information featured at the links below useful:
- 5 Best VPNs for Torrenting
- 5 Best VPNs for Netflix
- 5 Best VPNs for BBC iPlayer
- 5 Best VPNs for Wifi Hotspots
It is also worth noting that an IP address is not the only way websites can uniquely identify and track you. You should, therefore, combine using a VPN with browser privacy add-ons.
How do I setup a VPN?
The majority of VPNs have dedicated apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android, but VPNs can also be manually configured in various ways. Most VPNs allow a number of “simultaneous connections.” What this means is that you can run VPN apps on a number of devices at the same time using the same VPN account. We now have detailed VPN setup for all major platforms, including:
- VPN for Windows Setup Guide
- Installing a VPN on Mac
- Setting Up an iPhone VPN
- How to Setup a VPN on Android
- Linux VPN Setup Guide
Troubleshooting your VPN
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.
If a website can see your real IP address or one belonging to your ISP (which can be used to trace you), then you have what is known as an IP leak. It is therefore always a good idea to make sure the VPN is doing what it is supposed to.
- When first you start using a new VPN service, visit ipleak.net. It is always worth checking when you first start using a VPN plus every now and again to make sure that nothing has changed.
- If you see your real IP address or one that belongs to your ISP, then you have an IP leak.
- If you detect an IP leak, then consult the Complete Guide to IP Leaks. This covers every known reason why your IP might be leaking, together with solutions.
There are a whole host of features that can help protect you against dropped VPN connections or IP leaks. For a more indepth look at these check out our most secure VPNs guide.
Use 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 VPNs. This is dangerous because it means that you may surf 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!
Our VPN reviews have found that many VPN providers’ have custom clients that include a kill switch. It is also possible to build your own using firewall rules.
Best VPNs: Conclusion
As you can see, VPNs are very versatile! For many they are just a convenient way to watch Netflix from abroad, but they are also valuable privacy and security tools. Given that a good VPN service costs only a few bucks per month, it is madness not to use one!
To find out more about how a VPN can improve your online security and privacy, take a look at our Ultimate Privacy Guide.