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5 Best VPN Services (September 2016)

Do you like being spied on by your ISP or the government when you surf the web? No? Do you enjoy having your web content censored on moral, political, or copyright grounds? No? Do you want to be hacked while using your local coffee shop’s public WiFi? No? Well one of these best VPN services is the solution!

Do you like the fact that people living in other countries can access better streaming content than you can, just because of where they live? No? Do you want to be caught by copyright holders when torrenting stuff? Still no? Well, VPN services will help you here as well!

A Virtual Private Network is a veritable Swiss Army knife. VPN services allow you to:

  • Hide what you get up to on the internet from your ISP.
  • Hide what you get up from your government and the NSA.
  • Evade website blocks and other forms of censorship, whether put into place by your government, school, or workplace.
  • 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 in safety.

In order to use a VPN service, you must sign up with a VPN provider (such as the ones listed below). This usually costs a few dollars each month. Free VPN services do exist, but these are usually either shady or are very limited in one or more ways.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s look at some of the best VPN services out there!

Best VPN Services Summary

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

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

IPVanish LogoIPVanish
8/10
Read Review
$6.49 / monthVisit Site

4

NordVPN LogoNordVPN
8/10
Read Review
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

5

VPNArea LogoVPNArea
7.2/10
Read Review
$4.92 / 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 excels at providing an accessible service that is newbie-friendly and customer orientated. Its software is easy to use, and is available on most major platforms (Windows, Mac OSX, iOS and Android). Performance is excellent, and it has servers just about everywhere. All this is backed up by what is almost the certainly the best money-back guarantee in the business – 30-days, and genuinely no-quibble. You really do have nothing to lose from giving ExpressVPN a try.

ExpressVPN keep no usage logs, but do keep some connection (metadata) logs. How being based in the British Virgin Islands affects privacy is a little unclear, but users in China will appreciate ExpressVPN’s special ““stealth” servers. Although located in located Hong Kong, these servers will be useful to anyone who suffers from internet censorship and needs to hide their VPN use.

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

Buffered is a small but plucky company based in Hungary. This means that it is out of the direct reach of the NSA and its Fourteen Eyes spying partners, and is not required to keep logs (although it does keep some connection logs). Buffered runs VPN servers in 16 different countries, including the usual popular locations. Its 30-day money back guarantee is quite generous, but please do be aware that conditions apply. Buffered’s most interesting and unique feature is “port discovery.” This allows you to bypass login requirements when using WiFi at airports and hotels etc. by searching for open ports in the local LAN neighborhood.

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

Visit Buffered »


3rd place

IPVanish

4.2/5

IPVanish

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

IPVanish comes in as the third best VPN service on the market. IPVanish has been around for a long time, which has given it the ability to perfect their service. Most importantly they keep absolutely no logs, allow torrenting and, of course, accepts Bitcoin.

While the client can be considered basic, it provides all the functionality that you require and provides leak protection alongside the encryption. This slightly simplified software is also one of the reasons why IPVanish is one of the cheaper VPN services on the market. Don’t worry though, they haven’t sacrificed on any important aspects of the service because of this. On the whole, a very solid VPN service with a 7-day money back guarantee just in case you aren’t satisfied.

Additional features: P2P allowed, mobile apps for all OS’, 5 simultaneous connections

Visit IPVanish »


4th place

NordVPN

3.7/5

NordVPN

  • ProsPROS
  • No logs at all
  • Up to 6 devices at once
  • Fantastic value for money
  • Servers in 47 countries world wide
  • Excellent technology
  • ConsCONS
  • Speeds can be slow, primarily on double-hop encryption

NordVPN is a superb choice as a best vpn service. The primariy reason for this is the fact that it is based in Panama. Panama, of course, is outside US, UK and Fourteen eyes jurisdiction. Therefore, it’s no surprise that they keep no logs at all. Further to this, they accept Bitcoin and use very strong encryption, with the possiblity of a “double-hop” VPN service. With all of this high-level security, you can be sure to be safe even with P2P running.

The only real negative of NordVPN is that we’ve found that speeds aren’t always the fastest, but always remain quick enough for all types of streaming. With it’s low-prices NordVPN offers a great value for money VPN service. Like many other providers on this list, they also provide a 30-day money back guarantee in case you’re not satisfied with their service. So if none of the above have matched your needs, then make sure to give them a try.

Visit NordVPN »


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

Based in Bulgaria, this small VPN provider offers a 7-day free trial and allows up to 5 devices to connect simultaneously. It also keeps no logs at all, and uses excellent encryption. VPNArea’s desktop client is a custom version of Viscocity. It offers DNS leak protection, disables IPv6, and provides a per-app kill switch. Of particular note is VPNArea’s uto IP feature, which changes your IP every 5 minutes. When reviewing this provider I was impressed by the helpfulness of its customer service team, and by its performance results.

Visit VPNArea »


Best VPN Services Considerations

Understanding VPNs

To understand what VPN technology can and cannot do, it is useful to know what, basically, it is. A VPN connects your computer (which can include your smart phone and tablet) to a VPN server run by a VPN company. This server stands between you and the internet, and all data passing between your computer and the server is securely encrypted.

 The setup means that:

  • Your ISP is still needed to connect you to the VPN server, but after that it cannot see what websites etc. you visit on the internet.
  • Your ISP cannot “see” your data because it is encrypted
  • Because VPN services run VPN servers located in different locations around the world, using a VPN is a great way to avoid censorship measures (just connect to somewhere where there is no censorship). It is possible to try to censor VPN use itself, but there are a number of ways to get around this.
  • For the same reason, using a VPN allows you to access geo-restricted services such as the US version of Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Note that both these services are currently trying to block VPN users, but it is still possible to watch them using some VPN services.
  • Your real IP is hidden from any websites you visit (although other browser-based methods such as flash cookies and fingerprinting may be able to uniquely identify and track you).
  • You are protected when P2P torrenting, because your IP address appears to be that of the VPN server, rather than your real IP address.
  • You are also protected when using public WiFi hotspots because all data between your device and the VPN server is encrypted. This means that even if you connect to an “evil twin” hotspot, or your data is packet-sniffed over an unsecured WiFi connection, it does not matter because it is encrypted and is therefore inaccessible to hackers.

VPN services: Points to note

So VPN services are great at doing a number of very useful things. Yay! It will help, however, to be aware of the following points. Not only will they help you chose a provider that is suitable for your VPN needs, but understanding them will ensure that you get the most from your VPN.

Logs & Privacy

Although your ISP cannot see what you get up online, your VPN provider can. This is why VPNs are said to provide privacy, but not anonymity. If you need true anonymity, then use Tor instead.

Almost all VPN providers use shared IP addresses in order to confuse the issue of who does what online, and many services keep no logs. You should be careful, however, about what a provider means when it says it keeps no logs. Many say they keep no logs to mean that they keep on logs of your activity on the internet (usage logs), but they do keep quite a lot of metadata logs (connection logs).

If privacy is a high priority for you, always chose a provider that keeps no logs at all. Do be aware, however, that even the most privacy-focused VPN service can be served a court order or subpoena forcing it to keep logs on a named individual.

For a full discussion on this subject, please see 5 Best Logless VPNs.

Netflix US September 2016

I live in the UK, but can access the latest full US Netflix catalog using a VPN

IP leaks

When using a VPN, any website you visit should be unable to see your real IP address. Unfortunately, and for a number of reasons, sometimes they can. When using a new service you should therefore always visit IPLeak.net. If you can see your real IP address or one belonging to your ISP, then you have an IP leak.

If this happens, don’t panic! I have written what I believe to be a most excellent Complete Guide to IP Leaks. This should cover every known cause of this problem, plus provides fixes.

Kill switches

A related issue is VPN dropouts. Even the best VPN connection occasionally drops, leaving your true IP exposed. This is a particularly big problem if you use a VPN to protect yourself while torrenting, as you likely leaving you PC unattended for hours at a time.

The solution is to use a kill switch. Firewall-based kill switches which prevent any traffic leaving your computer outside the VPN are the best kind, but any kill switch is better than none! Many VPN providers include a kill switch in their custom software, but third-party solutions are also available, and you can even build your own using Firewall rules!

vpnetmon 3

 VPNetMon will shut down your internet connection when it detects a VPN disconnect. This is not as good as a firewall-based solution, but is a hell of a lot better than nothing!

For more information on kill switches, please see here. And if you are a regular downloader, you may be interested in checking out 5 Best VPNs for Torrenting, which includes an in-depth discussion on this topic.

Additional reading

I have covered some of the basics you need to know about VPN services in this article, but if you are interested in knowing more, then I have written a much more in-depth VPNs for Beginners – What you need to know guide.

In order to understand the more technical aspects of VPNs, you might also be interested in checking out:

VPN Services Conclusion

As you can see, VPN services are very useful tools. Whether you are a torrent downloader, want access to the full Netflix catalog, or care about maintaining your privacy on the internet, a good VPN service is easily worth the few bucks per month it costs.

Best VPN Providers Recap

Disclosure: compensated affiliate: click here for more information

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

IPVanish LogoIPVanish
8/10
Read Review
$6.49 / monthVisit Site

4

NordVPN LogoNordVPN
8/10
Read Review
$5.75 / monthVisit Site

5

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


Published 2016-09-03
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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14 responses to “5 Best VPN Services (September 2016)

    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).

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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 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.

  5. 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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