ExpressVPN

5 Best VPN Services (August 2016)

When it comes to privacy and security on the internet, there is no such thing as a simple one-stop solution, and anyone who makes such a claim is lying. That said, the best VPN services are highly versatile tools that can greatly increase your privacy when using the internet, and as long as you understand their limitations, using  VPN services can also improve your online security.

Using VPN services protects your privacy by hiding your real IP address from any websites you visit, and by encrypting your internet connection so that your ISP cannot see what you get up to online. And if your ISP can’t see what you get up to online, then your government probably can’t either.

The internet is accessed via a VPN server run by your VPN provider, so using a VPN allows you to geospoof your location in order to access services that are restricted to certain countries.

A VPN is also great for hiding your activity when torrenting, because your ISP cannot see what you get up to, and anyone watching from the internet will only see the IP address of the VPN server. Not your real IP address.

A VPN’s primary use as a security tool comes from the fact that the internet connection between your PC or mobile device and the VPN server is encrypted, which allows you to connect to public hotspots safely, even if they are controlled by malicious entities, or are unencrypted, allowing hackers to “sniff” your WiFi packets.

Best VPN Services Summary

Disclosure: We are a professional review site that receives compensation from some of the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.
Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN LogoExpressVPN
10/10
Read Review
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

Buffered LogoBuffered
8.8/10
Read Review
$8.25 / monthVisit Site

3

BolehVPN LogoBolehVPN
8/10
Read Review
$6.67 / monthVisit Site

4

SaferVPN LogoSaferVPN
8/10
Read Review
$7.50 / monthVisit Site

5

VPNArea LogoVPNArea
7.2/10
Read Review
$4.92 / monthVisit Site
Editor's Choice Award

Winner

ExpressVPN

5/5

Best VPN Service

  • 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 is very popular among our users, and for good reason. It puts the customer first and foremost with easy-to-use software for Windows, Mac OSX, iOS, and Android, friendly 24/7 customer support, and ridiculously generous no quibble 30-day money back guarantee. It also offers servers in 78 countries, so this pretty much guarantees that you’ll find one nearby.

Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN keeps no usage logs, but does keep some connection (metadata) logs. Of note are ExpressVPN’s special ““stealth” servers located in Hong Kong which are are excellent for evading Great Firewall of China-style censorship (and not just for those in China.)

Additional features: 3 simultaneous connections, “stealth” servers in Hong Kong, free SmartDNS.

Get the best VPN service now!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30-day money back guarantee

2nd place

Buffered

4.4/5

Buffered

  • ProsPROS
  • Fast speeds
  • No usage logs
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • P2P: yes
  • Based in Hungary
  • ConsCONS
  • A bit pricey
  • Some connection logs
  • Does not accept Bitcoins

The small Hungarian VPN provider keeps things simple, but focused. It keeps no usage logs (but some connection logs), allows you connect up to 3 devices at the same time, and has servers scattered around 16 strategically located countries around the world. It also features a 30-day guarantee, but please check the small print as conditions do apply. Buffered furthemore offers a unique “port discovery” feature, which searches for open ports in the local LAN neighborhood. This allows you to login to the WiFi at airports and hotels etc. without having to ask reception for a password.

Additional features: 3 simultaneous connections, “port discovery”.

Visit Buffered »


3rd place

BolehVPN

4.2/5

BolehVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs at all
  • Client with VPN kills switch and DNS leak protection
  • VPN over Tor
  • Smart DNS included
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • ConsCONS
  • Somewhat techy and bare-bone

BolehVPN is based somewhere off the coast of Malaysia, and is a great choice for privacy enthusiasts as it uses excellent encryption, keeps no logs at all, and is comfortably outside the Fourteen Eyes spying alliance’s area of influence. It’s “xCloak” servers are great for bypassing government censorship, and it supports VPN over Tor, which therefore allows for true anonymity while using the service.

A tech-heavy focus is one BolehVPN’s strong points, but is also something of a weakness. This is because the whole service suffers from being a little bare-bones and over-techy for some users. The two simultaneous connection limit is also something of a bummer, but this compensated for somewhat with a Smart DNS service thrown in for free.

Additional features: P2P: yes, 2 simultaneous connections, “xCloak” servers, free Smart DNS service.

Visit BolehVPN »


4th place

SaferVPN

3.7/5

SaferVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • No usage logs
  • P2P: yes (NL server only)
  • Great 24/7 support
  • 2 simultaneous connections (Premium plan)
  • Servers in 24 countries
  • ConsCONS
  • Some connection logs

SaferVPN is an Israel-based VPN service with servers in 24 different countries. It also offers 24/7 support, accepts payment via Bitcoins, and provides an easy-to-use desktop client, as well as apps for iOS and Android. The 24-hour free trial and 14-day money back guarantee are also very welcome, as is support for the IKEv2 VPN protocol (which is most noteworthy). Such support is rare among VPN providers, and will be welcomed by Blackberry and Windows Mobile OS users, who often struggle with VPN compatibility issues.

Additional features: iOS and Android apps, IKEv2 support, accepts Bitcoins, SmartDNS service promised soon, 24-hour free trial and 14-day money back guarantee.

Visit SaferVPN »


5th place

VPNArea

3.7/5

VPNArea

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs at all
  • 5 simultaneous devices
  • Accepts bitcoin
  • 7-day money back guarantee
  • P2P: yes
  • ConsCONS
  • Did have teething issues, but these may be resolved by now

This Bulgarian VPN service is small but up-and-coming. It keeps no logs (at all), allows up to 5 devices to connect simultaneously, and offers a 7-day free trial of its service. It uses excellent encryption, and its desktop client is a custom version of Viscocity which offers DNS leak protection, disables IPv6, and provides a per-app kill switch. The auto IP feature changes your IP every 5 minutes, which is interesting. We were very impressed by VPNArea’s connection speed test results, and also the friendliness of its customer support team.

Visit VPNGate »


Considerations for best VPNs

When using a VPN, you connect directly to another computer run by a VPN provider before connecting to the internet. All data entering and exiting your computer (which could be a desktop PC, laptop, smart phone, or tablet) does so via the VPN server, and all data is encrypted as it passes between your computer and the VPN server.

VPN servers are usually run by commercial VPN providers and charge a monthly fee for their services, and almost always run servers located in strategically chosen locations around the world.

At its heart, this is a fairly simple setup, but on consideration,a number of important consequences should quickly become evident.

1. Your ISP cannot see what you get up to online

Because all data traveling between your device and the VPN server is encrypted. Your ISP can see that you have connected to a VPN server, but since VPNs are illegal almost nowhere and are regularly used by businesses in order to keep communications secure, this is of no particular note.

For the same reason, using a VPN will help protect you from indiscriminate blanket surveillance of the kind performed by the NSA and GCHQ (who mainly just access ISP’s records anyway). Please note, however, that using a VPN is unlikely to protect you if your government is specifically interested in targeting you as an individual.

Please note that your ISP cannot see what you get up to online, but your VPN provider can. If you want to use a VPN for privacy reasons, it is consequently important to choose a VPN service that is specifically setup to protect your privacy. Check out my article on 5 Best Logless VPNs for a full discussion on this subject.

2. Your real IP is hidden from websites

And anyone else watching on the internet, which provides a measure of privacy while surfing the web, but unfortunately many websites use a variety of sneaky tactics to uniquely identify and track you, and Browser add-ons provide a better counter to these than simply using a VPN on its own.

But points 1 and 2 do mean that..

3. VPNs are excellent for protecting you while P2P torrenting

But be sure to use a kill switch to prevent downloads continuing in the event of a VPN dropout., and note that not all VPN services allow torrenting. You can only trust ones that permit P2P to protect you from DMCA notices and suchlike, so do check before signing up.

Note also that using a free VPN service is rarely a good idea for torrenting. Almost all free VPN services do not permit P2P anyway, as protecting users is far too much hassle when they are not even paying for the service! The bandwidth and speed restrictions imposed by free VPNs also make torrenting with them rather impractical.

For more information on this subject, please check out 5 Best VPNs for Torrent Downloads.

vuze 2

You can configure the Vuze BitTorrent client to only download over a VPN connection

Another advantage of accessing the internet from the IP address of your VPN server, rather than your real IP, is that…

4. VPN services are great for geo-spoofing

This means that you can easily access BBC iPlayer (normally restricted to UK residents) simply by connecting to a VPN server located in the UK, and to the US version of Netflix (which has a much bigger catalog than your own version of Netflix) by connecting to a US server.

Unfortunately, both BBC iPlayer and US Netflix have started to block VPN users. These blocks are patchy and do not affect all VPN services, but I strongly advise taking advantage of any free trials or money back guarantees a VPN service may offer in order to test that you can access the service you want before committing to a subscription.

5. VPNs are therefore very effective at defeating censorship

Be this at the state level (such as in China), or school/work filters. In most places, you simply connect to a VPN server located somewhere that is not censored, and off you go, and because the connection between your device and the VPN is encrypted, your government/school/college/office/etc. will not be able to see what you get up to.

In places such as China this can be a little trickier, as vast resources are spent trying to block you from doing just this. With a little effort, however, it is usually possible to evade such blocks (even in China!).

6. Using a VPN will protect you when using a public WiFi hotspot

Using WiFi hotspots of the kind found in coffee shops, hotels, and airports the world over to access the internet is very handy., but risky. Hackers often setup spoof “evil twin” hotspots, or take control of legitimate ones. Many hotspots are also poorly configured, or even have encryption disabled for the sake of convenience! As a result hackers can use packet sniffers to listen in your unencrypted WiFi (radio) transmissions.

Using a VPN protects you against all of this, because all your data is encrypted by the VPN. Even if you connect to a fake hotspot run by a criminal hacker, your data is completely safe because it is securely encrypted.

iPlayer

Resources

VPNs for Beginners – What you need to know is a comprehensive guide to using VPN services.  I also strongly recommend reading A Complete Guide to IP leaks, in which I discuss ways that  a VPN connection can fail to hide your true IP… plus ways to fix the problem!

If you are a would like to understand VPNs on a more technical level, you will probably like:

VPN Services Conclusion

Whew!  I think it fair to say that VPN services are very handy tools! A good VPN service costs the price of a couple of beers a month, and they should be considered an essential component of any internet users’ digital toolkit.

Best VPN Providers Recap

Disclosure: We are a professional review site that receives compensation from some of the companies whose products we review. We test each product thoroughly and give high marks to only the very best. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.
Rank Company Score Price Link

1

ExpressVPN LogoExpressVPN
10/10
Read Review
$8.32 / monthVisit Site

2

Buffered LogoBuffered
8.8/10
Read Review
$8.25 / monthVisit Site

3

BolehVPN LogoBolehVPN
8/10
Read Review
$6.67 / monthVisit Site

4

SaferVPN LogoSaferVPN
8/10
Read Review
$7.50 / monthVisit Site

5

VPNArea LogoVPNArea
7.2/10
Read Review
$4.92 / monthVisit Site

Published 2016-08-05
Douglas Crawford Written by 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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4 responses to “5 Best VPN Services (August 2016)

    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.

  1. 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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