best-VPN-reviews

After a year of new reviews, it’s time to update our best VPN guide. If this is your first time, welcome. Over the course of it, we’re going to show the best VPN providers for every use case, accounting for streaming, torrenting, general privacy and more. If you don’t care to read the 6,000 or so words that make it up, though, you can go easy mode and just sign up for an account with ExpressVPN.

To those who want more options, read on. We’ve taken every provider from our VPN reviews and pitted them against one another for an ultimate — and admittedly nerdy — battle. We’re going to get gritty with the details, so if you want a broad overview, we recommend taking a peek at our VPN comparison chart.

Here’s how it’s going to go down. We’re going to start by outlining what a virtual private network is and how it works, then give you some of the benefits of using a VPN. After that, we’ll proceed with our top picks in each category and end with our best VPN overall, as well as the best VPN for torrenting and the best free VPN.

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Best VPN Providers of 2019

cloudwards rating
$ per month
top features
  1. 1
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card, Bitcoin
    • 5 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit ExpressVPNExpressVPN Review
  1. 2
  2. /month
    • Credit card
    • 6 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit NordVPNNordVPN Review
  1. 3
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • 7 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit CyberghostCyberghost Review
  1. 4
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • 10 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit Private Internet AccessPrivate Internet Access Review
  1. 5
  2. /month
    • PayPal, Credit card
    • 5 Simultaneous connections
    • Unlimited bandwidth
    • Can access Netflix US
    • Allows torrenting
    • No-logging policy
  3. Visit TorguardTorguard Review

How Does a VPN Work?

VPN works

If you’re new to the world of VPNs, we recommend taking a look at our what is a VPN guide to get familiar with how they work in detail. We’re going to provide a brief description for the purposes of this guide.

When you connect to the internet, your IP address and system information are sent along with each packet. Those requests go through the DNS servers of your internet service provider and are routed to the domains they’re requesting. During that time, the government and network snoopers can spy on your connection and log the data you’re transferring.

Once you arrive at the website, more data collection ensues. When it’s all said and done, your ISP, the government and the site you’re connecting to have seen hundreds of data points and logged them.

A VPN eliminates that. VPNs come in at your initial connection and encrypt the data you’re sending to it. Before being routed through your ISP and to the larger internet, the VPN will anonymize your IP address and browser details so no one will know who you are or where you’re located.

In addition to increasing your privacy online, a VPN makes you more secure. By encrypting the original connection, the VPN ensures that no network-based attacks can affect your connection. Open streams are rife with danger, especially if they’re unencrypted, so adding a VPN to the chain makes that connection more secure.

VPNs are useful for many purposes beyond protecting your online privacy and providing security, too, which we’ll outline in the sections below.

VPN Limitations

Before getting into the specifics of VPNs, we’re going to put all their cards on the table. VPNs will help you secure your privacy online, but there simply isn’t a world where you’re completely anonymous. If you want to be off the map, your best bet is to find the most remote area you can and live a life of solitude without an internet connection.

As mentioned in our anonymous browsing guide, true anonymity is a pipe dream. Even the best VPNs with a clear stance on privacy have to log certain aspects of your connection to keep the service running. If there are no details of your connection on record, there’s no way to troubleshoot the service if something goes wrong.

That said, the information kept on record doesn’t need to be personally identifiable. There’s a line between logging usage information for diagnostics and logging user data for sales.

Take ExpressVPN as an example. We rave about its privacy, not only because of its strong stance on maintaining it, but also because of its privacy-friendly location and clear privacy policy. Even then, it collects information, including your app version, successful connections and aggregate sum of data transferred.

There’s no reason to think it’s “keeping logs,” though. The “no logs” claim implies that VPNs truly have nothing on record, and the mere fact that something is on record can lead one to have a negative impression of a certain provider. The existence of logs does not mean they can identify a user or compromise privacy in any way.

That means when we make a claim that no logs are kept, we’re doing so in good faith that no identifiable information is on record. We’re splitting the hairs so there’s no doubt as to what you’re putting on the internet. We’ve dug through the privacy policies and done the research, so you can rest assured that any meaningful information is off the record.

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VPN Privacy

The topic in question when it comes to VPNs is user privacy. Like it or not, websites and government agencies across the world are data-hungry machines that want to know every detail about you, whether it is to better tailor advertisements to you or do something more nefarious — Minority Report, anyone?

It’s likely that your data is already stored in multiple databases by multiple companies. Be that as it may, a VPN can help you stem the bleeding. By using one, you’re hiding your IP address and the metadata that’s sent with each web request. As we said, VPNs act like middlemen between you and a web server, assigning you a new IP address and, as such, a new location.

Sometimes using a VPN is just replacing one form of data mining with another, though. Despite claiming to keep no logs, some providers, such as IPVanish, have been caught with their proverbial pants down. You can learn about that in our IPVanish review.

Again, some operational information needs to be logged to ensure the service runs smoothly, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is logging user data for marketing or sale. We’ve vetted providers to ensure our recommendations adhere to the strictest privacy standards, so if that’s a point of concern for you, we recommend sticking with our picks.

VPNs and Censorship

Sometimes, it’s not as simple as hiding your personal data from data-hungry organizations or your ISP. Depending on where you live, censorship could play a big role when choosing to use a VPN or not. By replacing your IP address with one from another location, you can bypass even the strictest censorship and access content on the web from around the world.

Our guide to internet censorship covers the five most notorious countries, but there are others that have smaller forms of censorship that sway political power. Plus, if you’re trying to speak out against that power, you could face fines, jail time or even death.

Unfortunately, there are VPNs that have been infected by the government to further that agenda — read our BolehVPN review for an example — so choosing a provider that’s headquartered in a location with good privacy laws is important.

VPN Security

VPN security boils down to two main topics: encryption level and protocol. The VPN protocol determines how the connection will happen, what encryption the connection will use and other miscellaneous information for establishing it. We normally stick to OpenVPN, but you can learn about the differences between protocols in our VPN protocol breakdown.

As for security, the main concern is encryption. In short, encryption makes the packets you’re sending unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the proper decryption key. Our description of encryption piece talks about how that works on a technical level, but that’s essentially what’s accomplished.

By encrypting your connection, VPNs protect you from network snooping and cybercrime. Not all encryption is equal, though, and providers with weak infrastructure can put your connection at risk. Read our PureVPN review for an example of one.

Even those using high-strength encryption can be dangerous. DNS leaks, as well as WebRTC and IP leaks, are a point of concern when it comes to VPN security. Though the tunnel between you and the VPN server may be established, DNS requests, WebRTC information and your IP address might leak, effectively defeating the purpose of using a VPN.

The best VPN providers not only provide the best in encryption, but also resilient tunnels that won’t leak your information. We’ve tested every provider here to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.

Plus, our selections offer a kill switch. A kill switch is like a safety net for your connection. If you have it enabled, the VPN will sever your internet connection if the VPN fails, preventing your personal information from flowing between servers. There are more advanced kill switches, too, which we’ll talk about in the security section below.

VPNs and Streaming

With all the high-level talk, it’s easy to lose sight of the simpler things VPNs are useful for. Streaming is one of their key uses because they allow you to access region-locked content and be more secure when binging.

As YouTube and Netflix make more money, the distribution models become more complex. For example, Annihilation — an instant sci-fi classic, according to your writer —  was released in theaters in the U.S., but released exclusively through Netflix in the U.K. and Australia. Similarly, season four of Better Call Saul aired on AMC in the U.S., while new episodes in the U.K. aired on Netflix.

If you’re using a VPN, you can access those exclusive shows and movies no matter where you are as long as you know where they are available. If you’re in the U.S., you can use a UK server to stream Better Call Saul and an Australian server to stream Annihilation.

Streaming companies aren’t stupid, though. They’re aware of VPNs and their use as a way to circumvent distribution locks. The key is to stream content without the provider knowing you’re using a VPN.

We test every provider we review with the top four streaming platforms across multiple servers to ensure they can access the content stored there. Unfortunately, not all VPN providers can, so make sure you stick to the streaming recommendations in this guide if that’s a concern for you.

VPNs and Torrenting

Another reason to use a VPN is for torrenting. The risks of torrenting with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act present are real. Though doing so may only result in a notice from your ISP in certain countries, in others it may lead to a fine or jail time. We’re not here to condone torrenting copyrighted content, or deter it, but you should be using a VPN if you’re going to pirate.

Peer-to-peer traffic, which is what torrenting is, eats a lot of bandwidth, though, so not all providers are friendly toward it. That’s not even considering the obvious issues of copyright infringement.

The question of is torrenting illegal is a messy one, but you’re not adhering to the law if you’re stealing copyrighted material. Using a VPN can protect you from legal action, though. As with privacy, hiding your IP address and identity means no one can identify who’s doing what on a VPN server, so torrenting becomes fair game.

Choosing the Best VPN Providers

With all the uses for VPNs accounted for, it’s hard to nail down what the best VPN is. We’ve created some criteria, though, and picked our three best providers in each category, so you have an idea of what to look for.

Ease of Use

Some VPNs are notoriously difficult to use — read our AirVPN review for an example — so those that offer a streamlined experience shouldn’t be overlooked. VPNs that exemplify good ease of use have a balance of power and usability, without sacrificing the core features that allow you to customize the experience. Read our TunnelBear review to see what oversimplified looks like.

Aesthetics shouldn’t be discounted, either. Even providers that have simple interfaces, such as Hide.me (read our Hide.me review), fall behind the top providers if their interface doesn’t look too hot. We found providers with common sense design, an easy checkout process and plenty of power.

ExpressVPN

No VPN combines power and usability quite like ExpressVPN. The streamlined interface allows even the most extreme technophobes to get connected, while still offering enough power under the hood for tinkerers to have their toys. After installing, all you have to do is click “connect.”

Despite the mobile-style application, ExpressVPN has a lot of features. True geeks may not appreciate its marketable approach, though. It’s easy to find the server you want because ExpressVPN separates locations by region and country, and you can run a quick speed test on each to see which is right for you.

CyberGhost

CyberGhost’s past iteration had an unusual user experience that took it down a few pegs because of the learning curve. Version 7 has streamlined the interface, though, while maintaining the features that set CyberGhost apart.

The abundance of features means it isn’t quite as plug-and-play as ExpressVPN, but those competent with software will find an excellent balance of power and usability.

Like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost has a smartphone-style UI with a few buttons. To connect, you just need to tick the “connect” switch. The interface can be expanded, though. With it, you can browse CyberGhost’s specialty servers, configure automation settings and access the many features it offers. You can learn about that in our CyberGhost review.

NordVPN

NordVPN takes yet another approach. That doesn’t make it unapproachable, though. Instead of using the smartphone-style application, NordVPN opens with a map that shows all of its server locations. All you have to do is choose a location and tick the “connect” switch to get started.

It takes third place, though, because the rest of the UI is just decent. Scrolling through its features and configuration options is the same as any other VPN and more complicated than ExpressVPN given how many settings there are. Even so, its approach to server navigation earns it a bronze medal.

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Speed

Unlike ease of use, speed is quantifiable. Our dive into the fastest VPN providers gave insight into which VPNs were fast where, and the results surprised us. While the top pick is still ExpressVPN, our other two recommendations weren’t apparent at first.

We’re basing our recommendations on tests ran on 16 providers with OpenVPN and AES 256-bit. Some providers, such as CyberGhost, have much better results with other protocols. That said, OpenVPN with AES 256-bit is the standard we look for, so we’re basing our recommendations on that.

ExpressVPN

As a favorite here at Cloudwards.net, we’re happy to say that ExpressVPN is the fastest and most consistent VPN we’ve tested. During our testing rounds, NordVPN had a faster average, but its inconsistent performance globally kept us from making a recommendation. ExpressVPN, on the other hand, is rock solid.

It was resilient across every server we tested. Our weighted average, which favored our testing location in the U.S., was around 70 percent of our unprotected speed. If we just factor in the U.S., we only lost around 20 percent. Across the board, ExpressVPN also maintained low latency, making it the best VPN for gaming.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access surprised us. Though our testing in our PIA review showed it was fast, we assumed that was because of the low level of encryption it has as a default. In our most recent batch of tests, we found that isn’t the case. Even when the encryption is turned up, PIA is the second fastest VPN on the market.

Compared to ExpressVPN, it had slower speeds in the U.S., but it was able to catch up internationally. When the weighted average was calculated, it was only 5 megabits per second slower than ExpressVPN. If you want to see how they stack up in other areas, make sure to read our ExpressVPN vs. PIA comparison.

Astrill

Astrill is often trumped by other providers — and you can see why in our Astrill review — but it had a good showing in our latest round of testing. Its weighted average was about the same as PIA’s, just pulling ahead of our other fastest providers, AirVPN and TorGuard (read our TorGuard review).

Astrill offers two proprietary protocols and both are faster than OpenVPN. That said, it still takes third place because of its good but unimpressive performance internationally and inconsistency compared to ExpressVPN.

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Security

All top-shelf and most middle-of-the-road VPNs provide the secret sauce when it comes to security: AES 256-bit with OpenVPN. That makes it hard to determine which is the “best” because most providers are on a level playing field when it comes to encryption and protocol standards.

Keeping that in mind, we tracked down the three providers that go beyond encrypting your data. In addition to providing the typical VPN security, they add security features that can protect you when trying to bypass censorship or just give you peace of mind when opening your browser.

NordVPN

NordVPN has a lot of security features, which makes it an easy first pick. In addition to the top-notch encryption and protocol settings, it includes many speciality servers. As far as security is concerned, the double-hop servers are the most interesting because they essentially allow you to double your encryption.

It also comes with CyberSec, which is a built-in malware and ad blocking tool. Most VPN ad blockers are bad, but CyberSec is impressive. Though it’s no replacement for the best antivirus software, Cybersec can block annoying ads or protect you from getting ensnared in a botnet. Read our what is a botnet guide to learn about that.

TorGuard

TorGuard is an excellent choice for VPN security. It doesn’t do anything special, but it combines top-notch security with customizability, making it a great choice for tinkerers. It’s set to use OpenVPN with AES 256-bit out of the box, but you can change the protocol and cipher you use. Most providers only allow you to change the key size.

Outside of that, TorGuard has a useful kill switch. In addition to working globally on your connection, you can set it to work on specific apps. For example, you could set it to sever the connection to your torrenting client if the VPN fails while keeping your browser connection intact.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has the standard security features that we like to see. It includes a kill switch, comes stock with 256-bit AES and can support OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP and SSTP. That said, it takes third place for security because of its consistency.

Though it’s standard when it comes to security specs, ExpressVPN is anything but when it comes to stability. During our testing, which has gone on a long time because many Cloudwards.net writers use it, ExpressVPN has never leaked a DNS request or IP address, and in the few cases when the kill switch was triggered, it always cut the connection immediately.

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Privacy

Privacy is a point of contention for a lot of VPN shoppers. There are a ton of “no logs” claims made by VPN providers, which implies something that isn’t true. We did the dirty work to find providers that have a clear stance on privacy and don’t log anything that’s personally identifiable.

Though we have three top picks, that doesn’t mean other providers mentioned in this guide keep logs. To our knowledge, none of our recommendations do. We’re basing this section more on the privacy laws in the countries where the providers are located than anything else, decreasing the risk of personal data falling into the wrong hands.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has proven that it’s a privacy-friendly provider. Its location in the British Virgin Islands has some of the best privacy laws in the world, and ExpressVPN carries the government’s attitude to its VPN service.

ExpressVPN only keeps operational records on file. Personally identifiable information isn’t monitored or kept in system memory, not even temporarily. If anyone came knocking at ExpressVPN’s door, which is unlikely given its location, the staff members would have nothing to hand over but a blank hard drive.

Mullvad

Mullvad has a clear “hands-off” approach when it comes to user data. In addition to being one of the few services that accepts cash as payment, Mullvad requires little information about you. You don’t need to have a username, password or payment information on record. Mullvad knows nothing about you, so it can’t hand anything over.

Instead of making you sign up, Mullvad asks you to generate an account number. That is what you’ll use to log in and pay for more service. Mullvad works on the principle that you pay for the amount of time you want with the option to add more whenever you want. It flips the script on privacy in a way that few other providers have.

NordVPN

NordVPN also has a clear stance on privacy. It doesn’t keep anything about you on record and barely requires information from you in the first place. All you need to do during sign-up is enter your email address. Its location in Panama is comforting, as well, because it isn’t required to keep user information.

The logs it has to keep for service are kept to a minimum. NordVPN stores your email address and payment information for obvious purposes and tracks analytics on its website. Outside of that, though, there’s nothing on record. Your name, IP address and location are not there.

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Server Locations

The number of servers in a VPN’s network has become a you-know-what measuring contest. Size doesn’t always matter, though. When choosing our recommendations, we considered the size of the server network and, more importantly, the spread of it. Just because a company has 5,000 servers, that doesn’t mean they’re in useful locations.

Small networks aren’t a good thing, though. Read our VyprVPN review to see how that hurts a service.

In addition to the major media outlets of the world, we looked for networks with locations that are underrepresented in the VPN market. In particular, Africa, the Middle East and most of Asia are blackout areas for VPNs, so providers with servers in those locations pulled ahead.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has a theme, and that’s consistency. Despite having a large network of over 3,000 servers, it takes first place because of its consistent performance across locations. It has exotic server options, too, so it earned brownie points there.

It’s in 148 locations, each with varying numbers of servers. ExpressVPN’s network spans 94 countries, which is unmatched by most competitors. It covers every continent except Antarctica, with solid coverage in Asia and Africa. Some servers in exotic locations, such as Vientiane or Algier, are virtual, though, so beware if you’re concerned with security.

NordVPN

NordVPN is known for its massive server network. At the time of writing, it has 5,196 servers, which is probably the largest network of servers of any VPN. Though there are a lot of servers in the web, they’re not as dispersed as ExpressVPN. Despite having so many, NordVPN only has presence in 60 countries.


We say “only” like that’s a bad thing when it’s not. The server network doesn’t have as large a spread as ExpressVPN, but it’s still impressive when compared to any other provider. It may be difficult tracking down the server you want, though. NordVPN lists the options but doesn’t make it clear where they’re located in a particular country.

HideMyAss

HideMyAss has problems when it comes to speed and privacy, but its server network is impressive. It has over 280 locations to choose from in more than 190 countries. There are unusual locations in the network, too, including Cape Verde, the Falkland Islands and Fiji.

As far as representation goes, HideMyAss is an industry leader. That means sorting through the options can be difficult, though. Thankfully, it provides “freedom mode,” which automatically routes your connection through the nearest country with strict free speech laws.

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Pricing

As seen in our worst free VPN guide, there are reasons why you should pay for a VPN. That said, you shouldn’t go broke just because you should pay. In addition to finding the cheapest VPNs on the market, we looked for the providers that offer the most value for your dollar. If you can’t afford a VPN, you can read our section below with our free recommendation.

Price was the most important aspect, but we also considered the number of simultaneous connections, payment options and the refund period for each provider. Our top three picks not only pack a lot of value, but give you the flexibility to back out of a subscription.

Private Internet Access

Choosing our top provider for this section wasn’t easy because one provider may have a lower monthly rate but worse refund period, while another may have the reverse. PIA has the best balance of value across its plans, though, making it an excellent choice for privacy nuts on a budget.

The monthly rate is better than most VPNs, but worse than our other two picks’. PIA takes first place because of its annual and biennial plans, which are much cheaper than just about every other VPN available. Plans come with five simultaneous connections, and you can pay in almost any way you want, including bitcoin.

Though it’s the best value, PIA isn’t perfect. It only offers a seven-day money-back guarantee, which is one of the shortest periods we’ve seen. You can learn more about why we think it’s worth it in our PIA review.

Mullvad

Mullvad has a no-nonsense approach to pricing. Its service costs $5.60 per month and you can buy as much of it as you want at one time. There are no multi-year discounts or extras to add to your plan. The price is what it is. That makes Mullvad unusual among VPN providers and software companies in general, but what really sets it apart is its payment options.

It accepts cold, hard cash. You can send any amount of cash in any currency to Mullvad with your account number and it will credit your account for that much. Mullvad provides an example: if you send 17 euros, your account will be credited 100 days of use.

Mullvad is as quirky as it is charming, and there’s a lot to love about its streamlined approach. You can learn more in our Mullvad review or try it with a three-hour limited run.

SaferVPN

SaferVPN doesn’t have the flexibility of PIA or Mullvad. Plans are offered for one, two or three years, without the option to pay month-to-month. Though that stings for those strapped for cash, SaferVPN has some of the lowest multi-year rates we’ve seen. Plus, it offers a three-year plan, which is uncommon among providers.

The fact that you can’t pay monthly is made up for by the 30-day refund window and 24-hour free trial. You can’t find the trial from the homepage, but if you ask a chat agent for it, they’ll provide a URL where you can sign up and download it. You can learn more in our SaferVPN review.

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Streaming

One of the more common uses for VPNs is bypassing geoblocks that streaming platforms have put in place. Despite aggressive marketing claims, not all VPNs can beat the Netflix VPN ban. Our recommendations have proven that they can bypass those restrictions without issue.

Though our top three picks are good, we recommend reading our best VPN for streaming and best VPN for Netflix guides if you want a deep dive on this topic. In addition to the ability to bypass VPN restrictions, we looked for streaming-specific features.

ExpressVPN

Once again, ExpressVPN wins not because it offers the most streaming features but because it is the most resilient. ExpressVPN can bypass almost any geoblock from any location, making it an ideal choice for binge watchers with an impulse of travel. It’s fast, too, so you can always stream at high-definition or better.

In addition to winning in our Netflix guide, ExpressVPN took the crown in our best VPN for BBC iPlayer piece. It doesn’t have dedicated servers or extra features for streaming, but the rock-solid performance shown in other aspects of the service shines when streaming, too.

CyberGhost

Unlike ExpressVPN, CyberGhost has a section of its interface dedicated to streaming. Version 7 has specialty servers for over 50 streaming platforms, with everything from movies to music in the mix. Each server is optimized for a particular platform based on its location. For example, Channel 4 is optimized on a U.K. server and Netflix is optimized for the U.S.

That said, during our testing we found that you could use the U.K. Channel 4 server to stream Netflix. Though that takes some of the magic out for those who’ve peeled back the curtain, CyberGhost’s approach works wonders for newbies. Those unfamiliar with VPNs will have no questions which streaming platforms they can access and what server they should use.

NordVPN

NordVPN always tails ExpressVPN, and that fact is the same when it comes to streaming. It can bypass almost any geoblock, gaining you access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and more. During our testing, we were able to access them, and with consistency, but the speed hurt the experience.

It may be solid when it comes to streaming, but it isn’t solid when it comes to speed. NordVPN’s inconsistent performance across servers means you’ll spend time tracking down a location to use that you could spend streaming. Despite that, NordVPN’s ability to bypass restrictions earns it a third place spot for this section.

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The Best VPN: ExpressVPN

Out of our seven sections, ExpressVPN earned a spot in six of them. Its weakness is its pricing, which isn’t that bad compared to providers such as Hide.me and Astrill. Though it’s not the most value-focused provider available, ExpressVPN gets everything else right. It’s fast, secure and privacy-focused, making it the best VPN for almost any task.

Though we like to dog ExpressVPN for its price, it isn’t horrible. As with any VPN, its monthly rate is, but the annual rate is in line with what we’d expect from a top shelf provider. The only thing you’re giving up is a couple of simultaneous connections.

What you’re gaining is one of the most solid VPN experiences available. What ExpressVPN trades in features it makes up for in consistency. From sign-up to your first connection, everything about ExpressVPN is fluid and resilient. Across the board, its server network is fast and able to bypass restrictions.

That’s one of the reasons it took the cake in our best VPN services for China guide. ExpressVPN’s consistency makes it an ideal choice for bypassing censorship, where a drop in VPN connection could mean a major fine or even imprisonment. During our testing, its kill switch worked in the rare cases that it was triggered and its tunnel never leaked.

Plus, it has a strong stance on privacy. ExpressVPN’s privacy policy is clear. It does not log information about you under any circumstance, not even temporarily. All it knows is an ExpressVPN user connected to a server and some miscellaneous, unidentifiable information, such as the app version.

It’s all thumbs-up when it comes to ExpressVPN, and you can learn why in our ExpressVPN review. If you’d rather spend hands-on time with it, you can do so risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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The Best Free VPN: Windscribe

Our best free VPN guide goes deep on the topic, but there aren’t many options available. We struggled to gather even five providers that had free plans that wouldn’t compromise privacy, security or speed.

That said, there’s one provider that doesn’t compromise anything. Windscribe has the best free plan we’ve seen, with multiple options to upgrade to a paid plan in the future. You get 10GB of data transfer and access to a limited server network, but all the other features are left intact. That includes Windscribe’s range of privacy tools for browsers and its URL checker.

Though the 10GB of data transfer make it the best free VPN already, the options to upgrade push it even further ahead. You can add locations to your free plan for $1 each, and each additional location adds another 10GB to your monthly limit. Plus, if you’re content with the limited server selection, you can purchase unlimited data for only $1.

Outside of that, Windscribe takes notes from the “free to play” model when it comes to its free plan. The base number is 10GB, but you can earn more data by completing certain tasks. Tweeting will earn you an extra 5GB, while solving hashes to mine cryptocurrency can earn you up to 10GB permanently or a month of premium for free.

Windscribe is a rarity when it comes to VPN pricing, so much so that it deserves its own section in this guide. If you want to learn more, read our Windscribe review or sign up for a free trial to see how you like it.

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The Best VPN for Torrenting: NordVPN

Our best VPN for torrenting guide shares all the providers we think are suitable for it, but NordVPN takes the gold medal. Though our other picks, such as ExpressVPN and CyberGhost, are the same when it comes to security, NordVPN edges them out with specialty servers for P2P connections.

The P2P servers are designed for torrenting, offering increased security and data flow for those data-hungry connections. If you’re particularly worried about being found out, you can also use one of NordVPN’s double-hop servers. That connection method routes you through two VPN servers, effectively doubling the level of security.

All of that is backed by NordVPN’s strict no-logging policy and multiple sign-up methods. You can use a burner email and pay with bitcoin, too, to make sure no personal information is on record.

NordVPN isn’t perfect, but it’s close. You can learn the specifics of the service in our NordVPN review or try it risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Starts from $ 349 per month
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Final Thoughts

Another year of reviews is behind us and ExpressVPN is still the best VPN you can buy. Though expensive, it balances everything we want to see from a provider in a way that no other does. That said, it may not be the best choice for you if you’re trying to save a dime or don’t care for its streamlined approach.

We like NordVPN and CyberGhost a lot, too. Both come with an expanded interface and unusual features. If you’re trying to save money, we recommend giving PIA or Windscribe a go.

Do you agree? If not, which VPN would you rate the best? Let us know why in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.

Starts from $ 666 per month
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15 thoughts on “The Best VPN Providers of 2019: Protect Your Privacy Online”

  1. Have you ever known a person who tries too hard to be cute? That’s TunnelBear…with all of the same pitfalls.

    Even rudimentary features of TunnelBear feel unfinished because most of the development effort has focused on presenting an image of “cuteness”.

    Support is probably the worst aspect of TunnelBear. As expected, the cuteness actually masks mean-spiritedness. When I failed to participate in the cuteness game by contacting TunnelBear about a problem and suggesting how the unfinished features could be improved, TunnelBear responded with a pompous, sactimonious attitude.

    In short, TunnelBear needs more substance and less cuteness.

  2. PIA is great. I am just getting ready to sign up for another year. They have excellent support, are easy to use and seriously their price for a year is ridiculously low.

  3. It’s going to be my second year with Nordvpn, and without any hesitation would recommend it to anyone. A high-quality product nordvpn is providing, and this time it’s even cheaper. Kudos to them 🙂

  4. It’s funny seeing that first places have very similar features but the price is so different. Anyway, I don’t care about the price that much, service quality is what’s the most important to me. I’ve already tried the bigger half of your list, there are some fine options out there, but my favourite is Nordvpn, it’s cheaper than others and performs very well with Netflix and torrenting.

  5. Hi,
    out of pure curiosity, what are the selection criteria of the names presented in the list?
    And, secondly, Cyberghost started (for a while now) to give users 7 devices (instead of 5 – like it used to be).
    Cheers

    1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

      Thanks for the CyberGhost info, we’ll change it in our review and this piece. As for the criteria, we do mention those in the respective sections.

  6. I recently signed up with NordVPN. So far the issues I have found are that occasionally data is unavailable from certain websites. One of these is Amazon. Certain data, such as some Amazon images, are not available from US servers but can be accessed using the Canadian server. A hassle but at least a workaround. I did have a problem getting schedule data from the MLB (baseball) site from both US and Can. servers. Still evaluating whether I should try another service. Thanks.

  7. Why was ProtonVPN left out?! Cmon its super cheap starting at $4/month but you can go with a totally free plan in which you have access to two servers, both of which are US based and not entirely slow. At the $6 and $8 plan ranges you can also add TOR routing to your connection on top of the OpenVPN protocol that ProtonVPN gives you. They also have Secured Core you can add in the $6 and $8 plans where they route your traffic through one of their secured core servers located hundreds of feet underground in the swiss alps for maximum security. Its a company based out of Switzerland so their privacy laws are top notch. Cross platform accessible. (windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOs).

  8. Which, if any/all, work seamlessly (or how closely?) with password managers? Expats & travelers need to move freely – while keeping their presence appearing to be in their home country (many banks for example won’t help you readily if you’re not “in the country”). At the same time these folks still need to use services like Dashlane or LastPass- which don’t allow you to designate your location.

    The last thing I want to do is pick a vpn and password manager and arrive at my destination and find they don’t play well together…

    I hope my explanation makes sense.

    Thanks

    1. Cloudwards.net - Chief Editor

      Hi Mark, this isn’t something you need to worry about. I myself travel all the time and just using a VPN to spoof your location is enough, password managers do not give away your location as you fear. Happy travels!

  9. What about the VPNs that come with other programs like Dashlane. I use Dashlane password manager and I have been using their VPN, but having some trouble sending emails from Outlook. Can receive fine. It seems to send the next day before I turn on the VPN. Other times it works fine. Unpredictable.

    Norton’s also has a VPN option. Do you have any experience with them. I am using McAfee, but my husband uses Nortons and Dashlane so wonder which has a better VPN. My son-in-law says to use NordVPN

    1. Cloudwards.net - Deputy Editor

      We generally recommend against bundled VPNs in favor of options like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. There are a number of reasons, but it boils down to security, server locations and speed.

  10. Do a review of cactusvpn.com have had them for years. A lifetime membership all I had to do is post a blog about them never have any problems with my service.

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