5 Best VPN Providers for 2014

26 Oct 2014 |

While choosing to use a VPN is a must in modern society (in our humble opinion), choosing the right one can remain a tricky task, especially as the personal requirement from a VPN can vary substantially. Here’s a the main points we examined when selecting the best VPNs of the year.

  1. Do they keep logs? Yes = bad, no = good
  2. Any other policies that support user’s anonymity and privacy?
  3. Is P2P torrent downloading permitted?
  4. Do they have servers in locations that are useful to you?
  5. Price
  6. How easy is the service to use? How is the customer support?
  7. Encryption used (PPTP bad, OpenVPN good)

With these points in mind, this is our 5 Best VPN Providers for 2014, but of course this does change over time.

Summary

Rank Provider Starting price Review Link

1

ExpressVPN Logo $8.31/mo 9.9
Read Review
Visit Site

2

IPVanish Logo $6.49/mo 9.7
Read Review
Visit Site

3

VyprVPN Logo $8.50/mo 9.6
Read Review
Visit Site

4

PIA Logo $6.95/mo 9.4
Read Review
Visit Site

5

BolehVPN Logo $9.99/mo 9.4
Read Review
Visit Site
Editor’s Choice

Winner – ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Logo

Positives: great apps for all major platforms, 30 day money back guarantee, no usage logs, servers in 78 countries, superb speeds

Negatives: US based

ExpressVPN has been in the business for a number of years now and it’s no surprise that they rank at number 1 or 2 in most of our lists. They have servers across 78 countries in the world with great speeds across the whole network.

On top of this they have fantastic clients both for mobile and desktop devices, which means you can protect your internet connection no matter where your based, or what device you’re using. Alongside this they provided detailed and easy to follow set-up instructions for many other platforms and routers too.

ExpessVPN keeps no usage logs and there is a very generous 30 day money back guarantee to get you started. Pricing is not the cheapest, but you get what you pay for, and ExpressVPN delivers.

Try Out the Best VPN Today!

Visit ExpressVPN »

30 day money back guarantee

2. IPVanish

IPVanish Logo

Positives: great security, no logs, excellent speeds, cheap

Negatives: Not Much

IPVanish has over 15 years of experience in the networking industry and run some of the best Tier 1 level networks – amazing speeds in simple terms. They have servers in a whopping 59 countries and with their recent security updates they keep absolutely no logs, have shared IPs and even accept Bitcoin!

Their prices are very cheap, for this level of service they are by far the cheapest provider so they are highly recommended if you choose on price.

They keep no logs whatsoever. The software is perhaps a bit simpler than some other services, but all the essential features.

IPVanish are definitely deserve this crown, they have an amazing product at an amazing price! Click the button below to sign up now!

Visit IPVanish »


3. VyprVPN

VyprVPN Logo

Positives: fast, 160-bit and 256-bit OpenVPN encryption (Pro only), servers in38 counties, Android app, iOS app, 7 day money back guarantee, up to 3 simultaneous connections, P2P: yes

Negatives: a bit pricey, US based but Swiss registered

VyprVPN is a large provider run by global consortium Golden Frog (who have recently legally moved to Switzerland, giving them more freedom and non-US jurisdiction), with servers in 38 countries worldwide. It has simple but effective Windows and OSX clients, and very nice Android and iOS apps. Linux is also supported. 2 devices (or 3 for the premier package) can be connected at once, and the very good 160-bit to 256-bit OpenVPN encryption. Note that these comments apply to the Pro service, not the PPTP-only Basic plan, which is not really secure and so should be avoided. They do keep connection logs, but no usage logs.

VyprVPN own their own networks and data centers, which is not something many VPNs can boast, giving them excellent speeds and control over their service. They’ve also built their own protocol called “chameleon” which can hide the fact that you are using a VPN completely, which is very useful in places like China.

Visit VyprVPN »


4. PrivateInternetAccess

PIA Logo

Positives: accepts Bitcoin, no logs, fast, up to 256-bit AES OpenVPN encryption, uses shared IPs, client features port forwarding, VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection, 3 simultaneous connection, Android app, P2P: yes

Negatives: No free trial, based in US

If privacy matters to you but you want a US based solution (see Considerations below), then PIA offers a fantastic service. It keeps no logs keep, uses shared IPs, and accepts anonymous payment via Bitcoins. It also has newly implemented strong OpenVPN encryption (to up to 256-bit AES OpenVPN, with SHA-256 hash authentication and 4096-bit RSA handshake encryption), a very fully featured Windows and OSX client with DNS leak protection, IPv6 leak protection, port forwarding, and an internet kill switch, is happy with P2P downloading, and allows up to five devices to connect at once (ideal for using with its excellent Android app). Compared to ExpressVPN and VyprVPN we hear a lot of complaints that PIA is not very non-techy friendly, but for experienced users not worried about it being based in the US, PIA is excellent.

Visit PIA »


5. BolehVPN

BolehVPN Logo

Positives: no logs, fast, great OSX and Windows software, 2 simultaneous connections, HK server uses shared IPs, P2P: yes

Negatives: 128-bit Blowfish OpenVPN encryption could be stronger

This Malaysian based provider gets our number five spot because it is an excellent choice for users in China and throughout the Far East. It keeps no logs and has an excellent OSX and Windows VPN client, which while having a bit of steep learning curve, has a wealth of connection options, including to ‘cloaked routers’ in Hong Kong and the US East Coast (excellent for users in mainland China). Super-fast, BolehVPN is also happy to allow P2P downloading.

Visit BolehVPN »


Considerations

We have a good VPN buying guide available, but to summarize (and update a little to reflect developments over the last year, plus mention some issues not covered in that article), things you want to consider when choosing a VPN provider are:



1. Do they keep logs?

If all you want is to access geo-restricted material (for streaming Netflix, Hulu, etc) then this may not matter, but if you are interested in using a VPN to protect your privacy then it is vital that it keeps no logs of your internet activities. If logs are kept then (whatever the company says), it can be made to hand them over to the authorities, or they can be hacked by criminals. If no logs are kept then there is nothing to hand over / hack. Note that we make a distinction between keeping logs, usage logs, connection logs and no logs;

  • Usage logs – details of what you get up to on the internet, such as which web sites you visit etc. These are the most important (and potentially damaging logs).
  • Connection logs  – many ‘no logs’ providers keep metadata about users’ connections, but not usage logs. Exactly what is logged varies by provider, but typically includes things like when you connected, how long for, how often etc. Providers usually justify this as necessary for dealing with technical issues and instances of abuse. In general we are not too bothered by this level log keeping, but the truly paranoid should be aware that, at least in theory, it could be used to identify an individual with known internet behavior through an ‘end to end timing attack’.  This should not be a big concern for most users however.
  • Keeps logs – it is depressingly common for VPN providers to keep logs of everything (usage and connection). In general, if a provider keeps usage logs it will also keep connection logs
  • No logs – what it says. The provider promises not to keep any logs (usage or connection)

‘No usage logs’ = keeps connection logs (only).

2. OpenVPN & encryption

We firmly believe that OpenVPN is the only truly secure VPN protocol these days, and where possible should be your only choice. An increasingly small number devices do not support OpenVPN, in which case you should chose L2TP/IPsec over PPTP (which is laughably insecure) whener possible.

Also, following news of the NSA’s concerted efforts to undermine international encryption standards, we have revised our assessment that 128-bit encryption is sufficient, and now recommend 256-bit at a minimum. We would also love to see VPN providers move away from NIST standards (such as AES), but so far onlyLiquidVPN has done so.

For an in-depth discussion of this subject, please see here.

3. Do they accept Bitcoins?

Although Bitcoins are not anonymous in themselves, with a bit of care they can be made so (at least to a high degree), and we believe that any service which trades on the anonymity of its customers (as most VPN providers do) should allow them to pay for the service as anonymously as possible. We therefore see accepting Bitcoins as the mark of a company which takes privacy seriously, and should be a consideration even if you intend on paying using more conventional methods. For details on using Bitcoins for pay VPN anonymously, please see our guide.

4. Do they allow P2P BitTorrent downloading?

Not all do, so if that’s what you want a VPN for, you’d better make sure.

5. Do they use shared or dynamic IPs?

If privacy is important to you then you want a service which uses shared IPs. This means that many users access the internet over a single IP address, making it almost impossible to determine which of that IP address’s many users is responsible for any action on internet. All good VPNs should use shared IPs.

6. How many devices can be connected at once?

In a world where we increasingly access the internet from our laptop, phone and tablet, not to mention wanting our family members to access the internet with the protection afforded by our VPN connection, it is ever more important that  more than one device can be connected at once. Unfortunately many providers have been somewhat slow to catch up with the mobile device revolution, and allow no simultaneous connections (i.e. only device can be connected at a time).

7. Does the VPN support your mobile device(s)?

Following on from the last comment, some providers have been slow to support mobile devices, particularly with OpenVPN, while others have swanky apps for Android and iOS. It should be noted however that generic OpenVPN apps are available for both Android and iOS, which can configured to work with standard OpenVPN config files, even when a provider does not explicitly support this.

8. Server locations

If accessing geo-restricted content is important to you (e.g. watching Hulu from outside the US), then it is vital that the provider has servers in the country that the services are restricted to. Similarly, P2P downloaders should chose a country that is P2P friendly (Hong Kong, Panama, Sweden, Netherlands, Romania and Switzerland are all good choices). The closer a server is to you geographically the less lag you will suffer (as the data has less distance to travel), but if privacy is important then we recommend always choosing a server outside your own country’s legal jurisdiction.

9. Where are they based?

Following Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations, the issue of whether the United States is a good place for a VPN provider to be based is a matter of hot debate. Our view is that the NSA cannot be everywhere, but in the US they have the Patriot Act, Pen Orders and a whole raft of legal (and extra-legal) resources with which to force US companies to comply with their wishes. The fact that in the US the debate purely concerns the rights of US citizens is a matter of huge frustration to the rest of the world, but as has been shown many times now, has done nothing to prevent US citizens being spied on their own government.

At least VPN providers in some European counties (not the UK!), Hong Kong, Panama etc. have some legal protections against direct NSA bullying. That every major US tech company (Google, Apple, Microsoft, RSA, the list goes on) has been in cahoots and /or otherwise been compromised by the NSA is now a matter of record, and if even small companies such as Lavabit are forced to shut down rather than hand over all its encryption keys then it seems impossible to us that popular and well-known privacy services such as VPN providers have not been also been compromised. Note that others have a very different take on the situation, and you may like to read the views of our reader Ohana (in the Comments sections here andhere) for an alternative viewpoint.

The UK, with its GHCQ spying organization, is as bad as the US, and most EU counties force VPN providers to keep logs thanks to the EU Data Retention Directive. Some EU countries however have not implemented the DRD, have not applied it to VPN providers, or provide other legal protections that make them suitable locations for a VPN service. For more details on this, see this article.

10. Other services and unique selling points

Many providers offer unusual (or even unique) services that may be perfect for your needs. We highlight these in our reviews, and try to mention important ones in the summaries above.

Conclusion

While choosing a VPN can be a hard task, we hope that we have highlighted enough information for you to make an informed decision as to what provider to chose. If you’re looking for something specific to use a VPN for and none of these on our list (summarized below) are to your fancy, then feel free to navigate our website or ask us any questions.

Summary

Rank Provider Starting price Review Link

1

ExpressVPN Logo $8.31/mo 9.9
Read Review
Visit Site

2

IPVanish Logo $6.49/mo 9.7
Read Review
Visit Site

3

VyprVPN Logo $8.50/mo 9.6
Read Review
Visit Site

4

PIA Logo $6.95/mo 9.4
Read Review
Visit Site

5

BolehVPN Logo $9.99/mo 9.4
Read Review
Visit Site

Based on original article by Douglas Crawford

Peter Selmeczy Written by Peter Selmeczy
I am an engineer by trade and tech geek by night, who's passionate about sharing his knowledge with the people. Find me on Google+.

18 Responses to “5 Best VPN Providers for 2014”

  1. anarchris says:

    once again expensive options are chosen and once again cyberghost is ignored

    • Peter Selmeczy Peter Selmeczy says:

      Hi Anarchris

      CyberGhost is a great provider and we feature them in a number of lists, here is why I didn’t include them:
      1) The Premium package allows only 1 device and the Premium Plus (which allows 5) is in the same price category as the ones mentioned
      2) The server list is mainly based around Europe
      However, you make a valid point and we know that they are making some great progress and introducing some innovative features so you might get to see them in 2015 list.

  2. what-vpn says:

    thank you my friend for this information and i like this paragraph
    “Does the VPN support your mobile device(s)?”
    Regards

  3. Ian says:

    I don’t think that from any angle ExpressVPN is capable to hold number one position. In fact it shouldn’t be in the list until or unless, they have paid you well. 39 Locations only; if you must have known the fact that VPN is now used more for streaming then online security and privacy. As many options of servers are available, as many chances for more online freedom. please be fair while making such lists.

    • Peter Selmeczy Peter Selmeczy says:

      Hi Ian
      39 locations is plenty for streaming not to mention it’s one of the most a VPN provides. Most of the time people will only use UK/USA servers for streaming anyway and nearly all VPNs have that covered. Not to mention for those that only want streaming we have different lists and there is also the possibility to use SmartDNS which gets the best speeds.
      Peter

  4. vpn verizon says:

    Another example is when you use public Wi – Fi, knowing your wireless data can be sniffed out by criminals.
    Connecting is easy at the office or on the road by signing up with an i – Phone VPN service provider.
    This means that you may not be getting all of the news that is essential to have or that you may not be able to use the same websites
    for research as in other countries.

  5. RobM says:

    I would definitely reccomend PureVPN!! I have used it multiple times in China and never had any issues with it. I have reccomended it to quite a few people who have all been happy too! :)

  6. Jayson Tamayo says:

    Last time i checked, ExpressVPN has servers in 97 cities in 78 countries.
    https://www.expressvpn.com/vpn_server_locations

  7. Sam Scott says:

    Can you recommend a VPN service for Trinidad and Tobago?

    • Peter Selmeczy Peter Selmeczy says:

      Hi Sam
      Well that’s a hard one, I had a quick look and couldn’t find any.
      I added your request to our By Country list so hopefully we’ll have something for you shortly.
      Thanks
      Peter

  8. Miklos Soos says:

    Hi Peter,

    Where is IPVanish based? Not in the US?

    Regards,

    Miklos

    • Peter Selmeczy Peter Selmeczy says:

      Hi
      Yes they are based in the US. Why do you ask?

      • Miklos Soos says:

        Because you don’t mention this disadvantage like in the case of the others…

        • Peter Selmeczy Peter Selmeczy says:

          Hi

          So you’re right. We try and keep pros and cons the same but sometime we miss things or do it differently as all of our writing is natural and not done by a machine. It’s why it’s always a good idea to read the full reviews as we try to go very in-depth with them.

  9. Aylagh MacAnnadh, M.D. says:

    Slainte’,
    I’m surprised to see PIA coming in 4th place. I used Express VPN & IPVanish & found both lacking, firstly & most importantly in my opinion is the frequency they drop-out. With IPVanish it wouldn’t happen too often but when it did is was for a significant amount of time. Express VPN was more incidious in that they would drop-out for seconds at a time, not even enough time for it to show disconnected. I discovered it was disconnecting when I was on uTorrent & having trouble with a download which would be going nicely at 10 to 12 MBS & then dropping suddenly to 50 kbs and staying there for 45 seconds before climbing back-up again. I don’t know how much of a fluke it was but I received a warning letter from Comcast about that very movie & that was when I said goodbye to Express VPN.
    I use PIA today for two reasons, neither of which you gave much attention to. ****The 1st reason is PIA offers what is known as a KILL SWITCH if your PIA service is cut off for only a second your Internet service is immediately disconnected. As soon as PIA is running-again then your internet service automatically turns-on again. I know it sounds like it is a pain in the butt at times however, it would be more of a pain in the arse to have to pay the MPAA thousands of dollars in fines for copyright infringement from torrenting. People don’t seem to believe this is still going on but I assure you it is and if you should not be torrenting AT ALL (in my opinion) unless you are using a VPN, Proxy or Seedbox. There are any number of these services out there which is why I am so grateful for people like Peter who took the time and not inconsiderable effort to go through this mountain of information about all of them and come-up with a list of the best to use AND WHY! The 2nd reason is PIA also offers a Socks 5 Proxy for the same price as their VPN service. You choose which one you turn on and when. You don’t ever have to use the proxy unless you want to but it is there if it is what you prefer. The service doesn’t increase your monthly $6.95 service fee. I set it so I can have the fee automatically deducted from my PayPal account. I’ve also noticed most of these other services limit the number of devices who can run simultaneously to 1 or 2. PIA gives me 5 and with a house with 2 to 3 devices per person this can get to be an issue. We had to replace our router because it couldn’t handle it. It would cost me an arm and a let to have to use their services to buy the extra coverage.
    I also use a wonderful FREE service called “First Row Sports”. Live sports, around the world, via the Internet. It is the only one that is truly free and you can get anything. We use it for the Eagles games and the Phillies here in Phila., HOWEVER, in the USA you can not access it without a VPN or a Proxy. This is what I don’t understand. When we had Express VPN I could not access “First Row Sports”. When I changed to PIA I could. On the same day. I have a friend with IPVanish who comes over to watch sports with my husband and sons because he can not access “First Row Sports” either. I don’t know about the other services listed as I have never heard of any of them. I just wanted to share why I am so grateful to have found PIA.
    Finally, I was even happier to see who you DIDN’T include on your list. BTGuard is a service who has been around for years. I am so glad you didn’t include this den of horrors in your review of the best. They are just there for the money and if you have a problem good luck finding life anywhere as you can’t contact them via email or snail mail or phone or carrier pigeon I imagine. I have heard so many people say they had a really bad experience with either their Proxy services or their VPN. I know the management at Demonoid is trying to reach them as they have a note on their home page they are looking for someone at the company to contact them as soon as they read that message. Well the message is still up there so I guess they haven’t had any luck.
    Thank you again for your wonderful review. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through all the information and was glad to see my favorite (over the past so many years) is right up there in the list.
    God Bless,
    Maegi

  10. Greg says:

    What’s your view on free Sites like hide.me?

    • Douglas Crawford Douglas Crawford says:

      Hi Greg,

      In general we do not recommend free services, as running a VPN service is not cheap, and most such companies profit by collecting users’ data and selling it to advertising companies. hide.me, however, uses its free service as an advert for its premium plans, so all is well on that front.

      Our reviewer liked hide.me (I personally have not used it), but you should be aware of the very limited 2 GB per month data cap, and no support for OpenVPN. I would suggest using CyberGhost, which also uses its free service as an ad for its premium plans, but which is less restrictive e.g. no data cap. It is also worth pointing out that no free service we are aware of permits P2P.

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