You’ve probably already figured out that the best way to protect your privacy and access geographically restricted online content (like Amazon Prime) is to subscribe to a VPN service. But the question is: which one?
Not familiar with VPNs? Here’s our handy guide to what VPNs are and why they matter.
In 2017, what’s the best VPN service the online world has to offer?
To find out, our VPN experts tested over 100 VPN services, rating them based on speed, encryption (security), location, customer support, money-back guarantees, and price.
Here are our experts’ top picks.
Quick Links to our best 5 VPN services
- Super fast – great for streaming!
- Super secure – 256-bit encryption
- Unlimited downloading
- 5* customer support and 24/7 live chat
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Aggregate connection logs [link to page explaining concept]
- A bit pricey
- Protects your data - no logs at all
- Protects your privacy - VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection
- Supports multiple devices – up to five simultaneous connections
- Smooth streaming - smart DNS included
- Accepts bitcoin
- Based in US
- So-so support
- No bandwidth limits
- Solid speeds
- Free iOs and Android apps
- Automatic internet kill switch
- Limited locations
While CyberGhost Free is superb, there are some drawbacks to consider. CyberGhost Free users have in-app advertisements, queues to connect (during peak hours), and limited server locations.
Check out CyberGhost Free for yourself using the link below!
- Super fast – uses server clusters instead of third-party hosting
- Servers in over 70 countries
- Accepts Alipay
- Port selection
- Based in Switzerland
- Some connection logs
- Fast speeds
- Good privacy - no usage logs
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- peer-2- peer sharing allowed
- Based in Hungary
- A bit pricey
- Some connection logs
2017’s Best VPNs Compared Side by Side
- Our Score
- Visit Site
- $8.32PER MONTH
- Ultra-fast - great for streaming!Ultra Secure - 256-bit encryptionUnlimited downloading5* Customer Support + 24/7 Live Chat30-day money-back guarantee
- $6.49PER MONTH
- 7 day Money-back Guarantee!Unlimited downloading and streaming!Servers in 60 countriesTicket SupportConnect up to 5 Devices
- $2.90PER MONTH
- Hides your geolocation.Makes your Internet use more private.Encrypts your online data.Works on multiple OS platforms.Helps you stream media.
- $6.67PER MONTH
- 30 day Money-back Guarantee!Unlimited downloading and streaming!Servers in 70 countries24/7 Live SupportConnect up to 3 Devices
- $8.25PER MONTH
- 30 day Money-back Guarantee!Unlimited downloading and streaming!Servers in 39 countriesTicket SupportConnect up to 5 Devices
*All prices shown in US dollars
Choosing the Right VPN for You
When it comes to choosing the right VPN, expert opinions (like those above) are a great place to start. But make sure to also consider your specific VPN needs.
If privacy is your goal, look for a VPN with no logs, good encryption, DNS leak protection, kill switches, and maybe even anonymous bitcoin payments.
If speed is your number one priority, a VPN with its own dedicated servers is the way to go.
For access to things like Hulu, Amazon Prime, and the BBC iPlayer while abroad, look for a VPN with servers in a large number of countries.
And if you’re planning on torrenting with your VPN, make sure you choose one that allows P2P/torrenting.
Most of our top five VPNs offer free trials or money-back guarantees, which means taking them for a test run is easy and if they’re not right for you, it won’t cost you a dime.
So pick a VPN that fits your needs and try before you commit to buy.
What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology that connects two computers over the internet using a secure connection. This secure connection is sometimes referred to as a VPN tunnel. VPNs were originally developed to allow remote workers to securely connect to corporate networks in order to access corporate resources when away from the office.
Although VPNs are still used in this way, the term now usually refers to commercial VPN services that allow customers to access the internet privately through their servers. It is this use of VPNs which concerns us here.
Commercial VPN services operate VPN servers, which are typically located in various places around the world. When you subscribe to a VPN service you can securely connect to one of its VPN servers with one or more of your internet capable devices. These include desktop PCs, laptops, smart phones and tablets.
Are VPNs safe to use?
When asking this question, the first thing to do is asses what you mean by “safe”? Safe from what and from whom? This is known as assessing your threat model. If you are primarily concerned about being caught out when torrenting pirated movies then your threat model is very different to that of Edward Snowden.
Are VPNs legal?
Yes. VPNs are perfectly legal almost everywhere (except the UAE and maybe one or two other places). Plus, because VPNs are also routinely used by businesses for secure communication between offices and remote workers, their use is not considered suspicious in any way.
Can I trust my VPN provider?
Yes (probably). Most VPN companies’ business model relies on offering privacy. Failure to protect their customers’ privacy would be a commercial disaster. So it comes down to a matter of trust: do you trust your ISP or a reputable VPN company that is in the business of providing privacy more?
Is my VPN app safe to use?
It depends. Unfortunately, the recent surge of interest in VPNs has led to a glut of “cowboy” mobile VPN apps hitting the market. At best, these are poorly designed and will do little to protect your privacy. At worst, they will actively imperil your privacy and online security by tracking your activities as you surf the web, accessing sensitive data stored on your device, installing malware, and more. For the full gory details, please see here.
It is therefore vital to pick a reputable VPN service that is recommended by a reputable source (such as BestVPN.com, of course!). This almost invariably means using a paid-for VPN.
Can I use a VPN for streaming Netflix?
Although VPNs are great for privacy and security, our research shows that by far the most popular use for them is to stream TV shows from countries that restrict access to their content based on where you live (usually because of licensing restrictions).
The US version of Netflix, for example, offers a much bigger and more up-to-date catalog than is available to international customers. This is despite the fact that international customers pay pretty much exactly the same price as US-based customers!
I live in the UK, but thanks to the miracle of VPN technology I can access the full US Netflix catalog!
BBC iPlayer is also very popular, thanks to the world-renowned quality of its programing. That all iPlayer content is freely available to VPN users can’t hurt either! Many expats use VPN services in order to enjoy a slice of home from home by streaming national networks when living abroad.
In theory, in order to access these services you simply need to connect to a VPN server located in the correct country. So a US server for the best Netflix experience, or a UK server for iPlayer. Unfortunately, both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer are trying to block VPN users. Implementation of these blocks is patchy, and many providers have founds ways to defeat them. But it is a cat-and-mouse game.
We test to see whether US Netflix and BBC iPlayer are available at the time of writing in all of BestVPN.com’s newer reviews. However, as this situation can change rapidly, we always advise taking full advantage of any free trials and money-back guarantees on offer. This way, you can test whether your chosen VPN works with the streaming service you wish to access.
How to setup a VPN
The easiest way to setup a VPN is to download and install the custom software supplied by your VPN provider. Check out our full VPN provider reviews for a detailed look at the custom software available from each VPN service.
Some VPN providers do not have their own custom software, and no VPN provider has custom software for every platform and VPN protocol they support. They will instead provide setup guides that explain how to manually configure your device for their service. The quality of these guides can vary a little, but they are usually perfectly clear and easy to follow.
Can I use a VPN with my mobile phone?
Yes indeed! VPNs work well on Android devices, iOS devices (iPhones and iPads) and Windows Phones. Support for BlackBerry phones is much more limited. As with VPNs on desktop devices, they encrypt your data and hide your IP address for all internet connections. When accessing websites through your browser for P2P downloading, you are therefore fully protected when using a VPN.
But (and it’s a big but)… although all data will go through the VPN, individual mobile apps can and do send a great deal of highly personal data back to their publishers. This can include your phone’s unique International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number, Global Positioning System (GPS) location data, your contact lists, your Google Play/ iTunes ID, and much more.
To gain the full advantage of using a VPN on a mobile device you should therefore avoid using custom apps as much as possible. The most private and secure way to access online services using a VPN on your mobile device is via their webpage or web interface using your mobile browser.
If you would like to access geo-restricted content, then you want to use a VPN. If you care about either privacy or security on the internet, then you really should be using a (no logs) VPN. If you want to P2P download without looking over your shoulder, then you absolutely must use a VPN.
For the price of a beer or two each month, you know it makes sense!