Best VPN

Simply the best all-purpose VPNs, with a fantastic attitude to privacy.
★★★ Best VPN 2019 ★★★

ExpressVPN Review

Fast and easy to use, ExpressVPN is a great service

In this updated review, Cloudwards.net takes a look at one of its favorite providers, ExpressVPN. It's a fast and secure service that is guaranteed to get you into Netflix as well as other streaming services, while keeping your data away from prying eyes.

By Jacob Roach20 Feb'172019-02-07 22:12:37

Starts from$ 666per month
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$$ Best Budget VPN 2019 $$

NordVPN Review

Secure and user friendly, we can recommend NordVPN to anyone

NordVPN is one of the best VPN providers out there, thanks to its ease of use, excellent security and wide server network. Find out more about what we liked and disliked about the service in this comprehensive NordVPN review.

By Jacob Roach05 Nov'182019-01-25 23:28:14

Starts from$ 299per month
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Good VPN

You can't go horribly wrong with these VPN.

Cyberghost Review

A user-friendly and affordable VPN.

In this CyberGhost review we're taking a look at a service that we've been pretty impressed with lately, and is continuing to do so with its most recent update. Join us as we go through the features of this very user-friendly (and Netflix-capable) VPN.

By Jacob Roach06 Jan'192019-01-27 21:49:43

Starts from$ 275per month
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Torguard Review

A highly secure VPN with some usability issues.

TorGuard is an excellent security-focused VPN that safeguards your browsing habits and keeps your data private. It's not the best for streaming Netflix and other services, however, and inexperienced users may have some trouble adjusting to the interface. Read our full TorGuard review for details.

By Jacob Roach05 Jan'162019-01-24 23:11:03

Starts from$ 391per month
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Windscribe Review

A good service with a fantastic free plan.

Windscribe is an interesting VPN service that aims to dethrone the best providers out there and almost succeeds. Though it comes with a few issues, generally speaking it's an excellent VPN and definitely has the best free plan out there. Check out our Windscribe review for all the details on this up

By Jacob Roach27 Aug'182019-01-24 23:19:15

Starts from$ 370per month
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VPNArea Review

A decent VPN that's getting better.

VPNArea is a Bulgarian service that seems to be getting better by the day. While in earlier versions of this review we had a few complaints here and there, as it stands now the service gets you into Netflix U.S., no longer leaks your DNS, has recently gotten a face lift and is pretty affordable, too

By Jacob Roach07 Feb'172019-01-24 23:25:33

Starts from$ 492per month
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Goose VPN Review

A solid service with reasonable pricing.

GooseVPN is a fairly new Dutch service that has impressed the Cloudwards.net team with its high security, ease of use and access to Netflix. Though not quite up to spec to market leaders, we feel confident that's not long in coming. Read our full GooseVPN review for the details.

By Jacob Roach27 Jun'182019-01-24 23:42:18

Starts from$ 299per month
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Ivacy Review

A very solid newcomer to the VPN space.

Ivacy is a relatively new service that has come crashing onto the VPN scene looking to make an impression. It does this by offering a feature-packed, inexpensive servicer that gets you into Netflix. Downsides are slow speeds and an odd interface.

By Jacob Roach02 Jan'192019-01-24 23:45:46

Starts from$ 225per month
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OK VPN

Decent VPN, with few caveats and log files, nothing for the security fanatic.

PrivateVPN Review

A good service that consistently falls short of greatness

PrivateVPN is a good service that offers a no-frills VPN experience at reasonable prices. However, it doesn't do a good job of getting into most streaming services and its customer support system seems to be badly broken. Read our full PrivateVPN review for all the details.

By Brian Murray14 Sep'172019-03-09 01:32:17

Starts from$ 414per month
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AirVPN Review

Great security, tough user experience.

An enthusiast-built program, AirVPN has security that rivals that of any of the top providers on the market. Its interface, however, requires a lot of patience and support in nonexistent, making this a poor choice for people just getting to grips with VPNs. Read all the details in our AirVPN review.

By Jacob Roach06 Jan'162019-01-28 07:23:00

Starts from$ 116per month
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Astrill Review

Fast but expensive, great features but bleh UI.

Astrill is a bit of a mixed bag: it's fast and has great features, but its interface was designed for ants and it's pricey. Still, it's good for Netflix and other streaming and allows torrenting, so we can't ban it from keeping company with our best VPN providers.

By Jacob Roach05 Oct'182019-01-28 07:24:59

Starts from$ 833per month
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Hide.me Review

A good free plan, and an expensive paid one.

Hide.me is famous for its free plan, and rightfully so: it's probably one of the better ones out there thanks to its decent speed and server network. When you start paying for it, however, is when the cons start mounting up as its plans are expensive.

By Jacob Roach15 Jun'182019-01-28 07:29:20

Starts from$ 500per month
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Mullvad Review

The little service that could.

Mullvad is an interesting service that has a high standard for privacy, is pretty fast and gets you into Netflix most of the time. It's also unique in that it accepts hard cash as payment. Read all about this quirky service in our full Mullvad review.

By Jacob Roach05 Jan'162019-02-19 03:10:23

$ 568per month
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Surfshark Review

A slow but solid service.

Surfshark is an interesting provider in that it shows a lot of promise with some exotic features, yet doesn't deliver on some core abilities. That said, there is a lot to like about this Netflix-unlocking, split-tunneling and malware-blocking VPN, as you can read in our Surfshark review.

By Steve Iva27 Nov'182019-01-28 07:32:42

Starts from$ 175per month
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ProtonVPN Review

A middle-of-the-road option.

After testing ProtonVPN, the Cloudwards.net team can only conclude that you could do worse, but you could also do better. While it does what it needs to without leaks and can access Netflix, we're left with the nagging feeling the same amount of money buys you more elsewhere.

By Jacob Roach06 Jul'182019-03-07 10:18:06

Starts from$ 500per month
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Private Internet Access Review

A fast, no-frills service.

If you're looking for a fast, no-frills VPN service, Private Internet Access deserves your attention. It does what it needs to, no questions asked, though we do wish PIA had a little less trouble getting into Netflix and other streaming services. Read our full review to know more.

By Jacob Roach06 Jan'182019-03-20 08:52:22

Starts from$ 349per month
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VyprVPN Review

Great security, but bad support and some speed issues.

VyprVPN is a good service that would be great if it'd only update the desktop client, fix its speed issues and teach its reps some manners. If you can live with that, though, you get great security and Netflix access. Read the details in our full VyprVPN review.

By Jacob Roach05 Mar'152019-01-28 07:38:24

Starts from$ 500per month
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SaferVPN Review

A service that gets a lot right, but misses the finer points

SaferVPN is a fairly standard and cheap VPN service with decent features but slow speeds keep it from the top echelons. We also have a few concerns about its privacy policy, though it does get you into Netflix (kinda). Read our full SaferVPN review for the details.

By Jacob Roach31 Jul'172019-01-27 22:01:32

Starts from$ 229per month
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HideMyAss Review

A great UI and network, but keeps logs.

The service with the largest network on the market, HideMyAss has a great interface and decent pricing. However, as you can read in our full HMA review, it doesn't do that great a job of actually hiding your ass as it keeps logs.

By Jacob Roach08 Aug'182019-03-01 01:19:55

Starts from$ 499per month
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Speedify Review

A good free VPN, though there are better paid options.

Speedify is a U.S.-based VPN that offers a good free plan, though the Cloudwards.net team feels there are better paid options out there. However, thanks to its great ease of use, some individuals may very much appreciate it, as you can read and see in our full Speedify review.

By Steve Iva22 Oct'182018-10-22 00:13:10

Starts from$ 417per month
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Avast SecureLine VPN Review

A pricey VPN that does the job less well than others.

Avast SecureLine VPN is but one of Avast's many security products. As VPNs go, it's pretty decent as it gets you into Netflix and uses good encryption, but for the price you can get better. Check out our full review for the details on why we recommend going elsewhere.

By John Tangney12 Jul'182018-11-20 03:18:44

Starts from$ 167per month
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VPN.AC Review

A solid service, but it keeps logs.

VPN.AC is a good VPN provider that offers solid encryption and good streaming. However, its logging policy gives us pause, meaning the more security-conscious may want to avoid using it just in case. Read our full VPN.AC review for the details on that.

By Ben Stockton03 Apr'192019-04-03 04:37:53

Starts from$ 375per month
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IPVanish Review

Privacy concerns give us pause on this otherwise decent VPN.

IPVanish is a well-established VPN with a strong fan base and a mixed reputation. During this latest round of testing we liked a lot about it, but its track record for privacy, as well as a few other niggles, keep it from being anywhere near the top spot. Read our full IPVanish review for the deets.

By Jacob Roach05 Mar'152018-11-09 02:35:49

Starts from$ 649per month
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Norton Secure VPN Review

A good entry from a trusted brand.

Norton Secure VPN is part of the wider Norton family by Symantec. It's a fine VPN, but comes with limited customizability, as well as some minor issues with bugs. Total novices might like it, but more experienced users likely will not. Read our full Norton VPN review to find out why.

By Ben Stockton14 May'192019-05-14 03:08:27

Starts from$ 417per month
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VPN Unlimited Review

A middle-of-the-road service with decent security

VPN Unlimited is a service with good security, but lacking in features. Our overall impression was one of squandered potential, but thanks to its lifetime plans it may be the perfect fir for small businesses that need that extra bit of security. Read our full VPN Unlimited review for the details.

By Fergus O'Sullivan19 Sep'162018-07-31 02:50:58

Starts from$ 417per month
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StrongVPN Review

Some great features, but lacking in others.

StrongVPN is a powerful service with some unusual features, but balances this out by not offering features common with other providers. The overall impression is a service that could be good, but is simply too bland. Read our full review for the details.

By Jacob Roach06 Mar'182019-03-06 04:17:35

Starts from$ 583per month
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TunnelBear Review

A mediocre service with a good free plan.

TunnelBear is probably the best free VPN out there, but that isn't saying much: it won't get you into Netflix and speeds are mediocre at best. However, customer service is much improved since we last review TunnelBear, so it may be worth a shot.

By Brian Murray01 Dec'162018-11-01 23:51:54

Starts from$ 499per month
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Webroot Wifi VPN Security Review

An insecure VPN with features missing.

Webroot Wifi VPN Security is the longest named VPN on the market, but that's all that's remarkable about it. It's not particularly secure, has a weird privacy policy and is missing commonplace features. Read our full review to see why you want to avoid this VPN.

By Brian Murray27 Mar'192019-03-27 01:43:06

Starts from$ 333per month
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Bitdefender VPN Review

A featureless but safe experience.

Bitdefender VPN is a decent solution designed to work in tandem with the company's antivirus. It's pretty good, though eschews the features and functionality found in market leaders. Still, it's a solid choice if protection is your main concern, as you can read in our full Bitdefender VPN review.

By Brian Murray29 Mar'192019-03-29 02:33:59

Starts from$ 333per month
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KeepSolid VPN Lite Review

A decent free VPN for your smartphone.

KeepSolid VPN Lite is VPN Unlimited's smaller brother and has some of the same issues as its sibling. That said, if you want an easy-to-use free VPN on your smartphone, you could do a lot worse. See whether you can do better by checking out our full KeepSolid VPN Lite review.

By Ben Stockton17 Apr'192019-05-19 21:29:53

Starts from$ 208per month
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ibVPN Review

A good-looking, but ultimately unimpressive VPN.

ibVPN is a service that seems to know exactly what people look for in a VPN, but then spectacularly fails at delivering any of it. Though we would like to recommend it we can't in good conscience do so, as you can read in our full ibVPN review.

By Brian Murray20 Mar'192019-03-20 03:23:42

Starts from$ 308per month
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Phantom VPN Review

Poor speeds and a terrible privacy policy.

PhantomVPN is from the same company that made Avira antivirus, and a stunning example of needing to stick with what you're good at. While PhantomVPN is pretty easy to use, its speeds, customer service and above all privacy policy should make you stay away.

By Brian Murray14 Mar'192019-03-14 03:08:32

Starts from$ 563per month
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OverPlay Review

A problematic service with a great interface.

OverPlay does a few things right, and a lot of them wrong. While a very specific kind of customer might enjoy using it, we hesitate to recommend it to the public at large. Read the why in our full OverPlay review.

By Brian Murray12 Feb'192019-02-12 00:30:06

Starts from$ 416per month
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TigerVPN Review

A mediocre service that needs some serious improvement.

TigerVPN has taken care of the worst of its security issues since we reviewed it last, but still contends with streaming issues, a lack of features and a poor privacy policy. While it's not a truly bad service as such, we still can't recommend it, as you can read in our full TigerVPN review.

By Brian Murray12 Apr'182018-05-07 07:15:17

Starts from$ 275per month
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ZenMate Review

ZenMate plays fast and loose with your data. Avoid.

You may be interested in using ZenMate thanks to its attractive pricing and intuitive interface. This would be a mistake: the service is inherently insecure and you may as well stand on the rooftops and yell your personal information out from there. Check out our ZenMate review for more details.

By Brian Murray07 Mar'172018-03-26 05:32:28

Starts from$ 205per month
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BoxPN Review

The slowest VPN around.

BoxPN is a promising VPN service that utterly fails to deliver when it comes to speed. While its ease of use is impressive, its server switch time is great and it has great pricing, it drops the ball in too many vital areas to be recommended. Read our full BoxPN review for the details.

By Kevin Kassidy31 Oct'182018-11-01 04:17:34

Starts from$ 666per month
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PureVPN Review

Improving, but not there yet.

PureVPN has improved a lot since we last reviewed, but still falls short in a few key areas. Though we still have some hopes for the service, right now we can't truly recommend it. Read our full review to find out why and also see some PureVPN alternatives we recommend.

By Fergus O'Sullivan25 Jul'162018-08-24 00:27:05

Starts from$ 165per month
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WiTopia PersonalVPN Review

A feature-light, decent provider

WiTopia personalVPN seems to have been put together with the idea that features only confuse. The result is a no-nonsense, highly functional VPN that could use a speed boost as well as a few options toward security and ease of use. Read our full WiTopia review for the details.

By Ben Stockton14 Feb'192019-02-14 00:54:38

Starts from$ 417per month
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Perfect Privacy Review

Customizable and costly, Perfect Privacy mostly impresses.

While it's somewhat pricey and doesn't do much to hold your hand, Perfect Privacy packs a slew of features designed to protect your anonymity and offers more configuration options than most VPNs today, if not as many country connections.

By Ben Stockton24 May'182019-03-07 05:48:33

Starts from$ 1020per month
Visit Perfect PrivacyPerfect Privacy Review

e-VPN Review

A brand new service that has a ways to go.

Though is shows a lot of promise, e-VPN isn't there yet. This brand new provider wants to do a lot and has made some serious steps to get there, but will need more time to fully mature. That said, if you can find a server close by, you're looking at a great deal. Read our full e-VPN review for the d

By Jacob Roach03 Dec'182019-01-10 00:45:44

Starts from$ 255per month
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mySteganos Online Shield Review

An old-fashioned entry into the market.

A solid VPN maybe ten years ago, mySteganos Online Shield just hasn't kept up with the market. While its core functionality is fine, of a bit slow, it offers very few of the extra features that make modern competitors so attractive. Read the details of our findings in our full review.

By Jacob Roach28 Nov'182018-11-28 03:19:45

Starts from$ 416per month
Visit mySteganos Online ShieldmySteganos Online Shield Review

CactusVPN Review

A suspiciously fast service with weak security.

CactusVPN is a service that has a lot going for it, but due to suspiciously high speeds and weak security we recommend you pass on it. If, however, you're feeling adventurous, you do get good streaming performance and a nice UI, as you can read in our full CactusVPN review.

By Brian Murray27 Jul'172019-02-19 03:06:28

Starts from$ 217per month
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cryptostorm Review

Good security, but only for hardcore techies.

Cryptostorm is a VPN aimed at hardcore techies, or people who are willing to become one to protect their privacy. It is, without a doubt, one of the most user unfriendly VPNs we've reviewed, but its security is excellent and the price is right. Read our full cryptostorm review for the details.

By Steve Iva01 Nov'182018-11-02 01:05:07

Starts from$ 186per month
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VPN.asia Review

A deeply mediocre VPN provider

VPN.asia is a badly misnamed VPN provider based out of Central America. Though it has a nice interface and gets into Netflix, customer support isn't very good and speeds are so low that you can't stream properly. Check out our full VPN.asia review to see why you may want to keep shopping.

By John Tangney16 May'172018-11-26 05:41:17

Starts from$ 250per month
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BolehVPN Review

Mediocre service plagued by issues.

BolehVPN is a Malaysia-based service that does certain things well, but suffers from mediocre usability and a limited server network. On top of that, streaming performance is poor, making it hard to recommend it, as you can read in our full BolehVPN review.

By Ben Stockton06 Jan'162018-04-19 00:14:30

Starts from$ 370per month
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Buffered VPN Review

A terrible privacy policy and poor streaming performance.

Buffered VPN is a mediocre service that would be decent if it fixed its privacy policy. On top of that, its ownership is also cast in dark clouds, making us recommend against using this service. Read our full Buffered VPN review for the details.

By Jacob Roach01 Feb'172019-02-14 07:46:31

Starts from$ 412per month
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Not Recommended

These VPN didn't pass our tests and should be avoided.

TotalVPN Review

Bad billings practices, a lot of customer complaints.

By Mauricio Prinzlau01 Nov'162018-04-13 10:58:13

Starts from$ 499per month
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SecureVPN.pro Review

One of the slowest services we have reviewed.

SecureVPN.pro (no to be confused with SecureVPN.com) is one of the slowest services we've ever reviewed, and has a horrible privacy policy to match. We wouldn't recommend using it to anybody, as you can read in this full SecureVPN.pro review.

By Spencer Lowe28 Feb'192019-02-28 03:58:31

Starts from$ 790per month
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Hotspot Shield Review

A worrying privacy policy mars an otherwise okay experience

A decent service we would happily rate as "good," were it not for the highly worrying privacy policy.

By JeanLuc Gusmao09 Aug'172018-03-23 04:47:44

Starts from$ 333per month
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VPN.Express Review

A mere shadow of a great service.

Trying to cash in through name recognition, VPN.Express is a mere shadow compared to the service whose name its ripping off. However, its existence is a great way to showcase all a VPN shouldn't be, so we recommend reading our full review anyway.

By Brian Murray28 Feb'192019-02-28 03:57:16

Starts from$ 499per month
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Shellfire VPN Review

Slow, insecure and ugly, this VPN rates "pass"

Shellfire VPN is a service that seems to think highly of itself, but once you pop open the hood fails spectacularly. Between the ugly interface, the slow speeds and the iffy security, we recommend that shoppers look elsewhere. Read our Shellfire review for the dirty details.

By Brian Murray06 May'172018-04-13 11:00:04

Starts from$ 396per month
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SecureVPN.com Review

Isn't working, no matter how good the site looks.

SecureVPN.com is a VPN provider that we've not been able to test simply because we cannot log into the client. Add that the site's SSL certificate has expired and you've a recipe for disaster. Read about our experience in this brief SecureVPN.com review.

By Fergus O'Sullivan16 May'192019-05-16 05:21:43

$ 799per month
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VikingVPN Review

The client does not work, but the payment page does...

VikingVPN is either defunct or a scam. Do yourself a favor and do not pay money to this service. Not only will your login not work on the client, locking you out, customer support will be entirely unresponsive. We'd offer a full VikingVPN review, but there's nothing to review. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

By Fergus O'Sullivan24 Jul'182019-01-10 00:55:39

Free
Visit VikingVPNVikingVPN Review

UnoTelly Review

Not working at time of writing.

UnoTelly is an ambitious service, it's in fact so ambitious that it has set up shop without bothering to actually have a VPN in place. Things may turn for the better at some point, but till then, avoid this VPN service.

By Fergus O'Sullivan08 Feb'192019-03-20 08:45:35

$ 800per month
Visit UnoTellyUnoTelly Review

It’s not easy choosing which is the best VPN provider. There are a lot of options available — the above VPN reviews will attest to that — so nailing down what the right pick is shouldn’t be taken lightly. After all, VPNs are the core of online privacy, so you don’t want to reach for the bargain bin when choosing a provider.

Our VPN reviews are the heart of our online security articles. No matter if we’re talking cybercrime or the best antivirus software, VPNs always play a role. As a primer for our best VPN guide and our VPN reviews, you can find our methodology for testing, as well as some frequently asked VPN questions, below.

So, if you’re interested in learning how to watch free movies online or if torrenting is legal, read on. VPNs allow you to stream, torrent and browse til your heart’s content. If you’re here looking for the best VPN for Kodi, make sure to check out our Kodi archive, too.

How We Rate

VPNs aren’t easy to evaluate given how many moving parts are required for one to work. There are a lot of use cases for VPNs, too, so trying to pigeonhole a provider into a particular niche doesn’t always work out. Because of that, we take an analytical approach to our VPN reviews, evaluating each provider across nine categories.

Features

Features are what really make a VPN “pop” when we go to review it. There are a lot of providers that will get you connected securely — just see the list of VPN reviews above — so the features are often a key selling point on which provider you should choose.

There are some standard features, such as a VPN killswitch, that we always look for, but unique offerings are welcome, too. For example, Windscribe includes a privacy link checker (read our Windscribe review) and VyprVPN comes with a proprietary VPN protocol (read our VyprVPN review).

Pricing

The options for free VPN services are few and far between, so you’ll have to spend a little money to get protected. That said, just because you’ll have to spend something doesn’t mean you should spend a lot.

When judging a providers pricing, we look at the value that provider offers. While price is a big factor in that, we also consider the overall user experience, any extra features, the number of simultaneous connections and the refund period.

User Friendliness

Some providers understand that just because VPNs appeal to a more “techie” crowd doesn’t mean they need to be difficult to use. Some providers don’t. From sign-up to connection, this section accounts for how easy a VPN is to use.

Features come into play during this section, too. We evaluate what features are available easily in the interface. Split tunneling and port forwarding, for example, are commonly available features. However, very few VPNs actually provide a way to easily setup these advanced configurations.

Speed

Speed is an important aspect of any VPN. While we’ve taken a scientific approach to comparing multiple providers in our fastest VPN guide, this section of our VPN reviews expands each provider.  

For testing, we gauge our unprotected speed using speedtest.net and then proceed to test five other locations around the globe. While it’s impossible to use the same locations for every VPN, we try to get a mixture of different results from the U.S., Europe and Pacific Asia.

Security

You can read our VPN security guide for the details on what we look for when evaluating security. In short, though, the main mechanism we evaluate is the VPN protocol and level of encryption. If you’re uninitiated in the world of cryptography, we recommend looking at our description of encryption to get caught up.

Outside of that, we also look at any additional security features, such as a killswitch, double-hop servers and app kill. This is also the section where we run DNS leak tests using ipleak.org to see if the VPN is leaking requests, your IP address or WebRTC information.  

Privacy

The importance of VPN privacy cannot be understated. When using a VPN, you’re entrusting your data in the hands of another company instead of your ISP or the government. Because of that, a solid track record and clear stance on privacy is important. There’s some level of trust that goes into this section.

We don’t just blindly recommend providers, though. This is the section where we get to pull out our notepads and do a bit of journalism. There isn’t a hard rule outside of looking at the VPN privacy policy, but we do digging around the internet to find if the VPN has ever been caught logging information when it says it hasn’t.

Streaming Performance

One of the reasons you’d want to use a VPN is to stream geoblocked content. In this section, we test multiple servers — usually around 10 — with Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. While there are plenty of other streaming platforms out there, these four give a solid baseline for if the VPN works for streaming.

You can read our best VPN for streaming guide if you want our top picks. In most cases, a provider will work with a couple of providers and fail with others. Note that this section is time-based. We write based on our experience at that time. You may have better or worse luck depending on what server you use at what time.

Server Locations

This category is important, though not as important as, say, VPN security. When evaluating server locations, we look not only at the raw number of servers, but also how they’re dispersed throughout the world.

In particular, we look at the Middle East, Pacific Asia and North Africa, as these areas are typically underrepresented in VPN providers. NordVPN, for example, easily has the largest number of servers, but HideMyAss, while having fewer servers, has better coverage of unique regions (read our HideMyAss review).

Customer Service

While VPNs should work without you knowing they’re there, problems aren’t uncommon. In such a case, a solid support team is needed. During the final section of our VPN reviews, we test support by live chatting, emailing and/or calling to gauge the swiftness and quality of the responses.

This is usually done by sending a dummy question that can be found in the VPN’s knowledgebase. The goal is to see if a support rep will take the time to answer the question or simply redirect us to the knowledgebase entry.

Speaking of which, we also look at any self-help options, including a knowledgebase, community forum or YouTube channel. In addition to them just being present, we also look at the quality and thoroughness of the content.

Top VPN Providers

While there are special cases in which you may want to use one VPN over another, we have our top five VPN providers ranked based on the criteria above. Note that we only rate individual sections — the overall rated is calculated from that — so rest assured that the providers in our top five are truly the best.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN isn’t just a little better than other VPNs; it crushes the competition. Our second rated provider, NordVPN, came close in our ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN comparison, but our top dog still came out with the crown. From streaming to torrenting, ExpressVPN ticks all of the boxes we want to see from a provider.

The strongest aspect of the service is its consistency. ExpressVPN explifies VPN privacy, security and speed, and does so with resilience. If you want a VPN, ExpressVPN is the de facto choice. You can learn more in our ExpressVPN review.

NordVPN

NordVPN is the antithesis of ExpressVPN. It throws all the consistency out the window in favor of a more robust feature set and interface and higher top speed. While throwing caution to the wind comes with some usability woes, there’s no doubt that NordVPN has a lot of raw power and, because of that, it’s the second best VPN service you can buy.

The best aspect of NordVPN is its features. For the same price as other top-tier VPN providers, you have access to an inclusive malware blocking tool, double-hop connection and Tor over VPN. It may not be the best optimized, but the value is undeniable. You can learn more in our NordVPN review.

CyberGhost

CyberGhost is similar to NordVPN — you can see how similar in our NordVPN vs. CyberGhost comparison — but it’s not as fast as our second best VPN provider. That said, CyberGhost has a lot of features, and it’s pretty cheap, too. The features, ease of use and low price point make up for any speed issues it may have.

It isn’t as fast as NordVPN, but it is more consistent. CyberGhost performs best with the IKEv2 protocol it installs with, so if you’re not too worried about being blocked by firewalls, it’s a good choice. It also includes the highest simultaneous connection limit out of our top five VPN providers, so it’s great for families, too. You can learn more in our CyberGhost review.

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access is all about ease of use. It’s the most inexpensive provider of our top five, and comes with a decent number of features, to boot. While it’s annoying to use the application through the tray, Private Internet Access comes with a great balance of value, security and privacy.

At around half the price month-to-month of our other top picks, Private Internet Access is the de facto choice for saving money. It even offers a two-year plan that’s less than a single year most other places. You can learn more about the pricing, as well as PIA’s other features, in our Private Internet Access review.

TorGuard

TorGuard is a security-focused VPN provider that’s perfect for tinkerers. While not the most accessible for newcomers, TorGuard puts all aspects of the VPN in your control, giving a great amount of control over how the VPN works and how secure it is.

It’s also extremely fast. While not quite meeting the levels of ExpressVPN, TorGuard gets close when it comes to speed. Additionally, it comes with an excellent list of features, including secure email, custom scripts and app kill. You can learn more about those in our TorGuard review.  

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VPN Frequently Asked Questions

While we cover most topics in our best VPN guide, there are some basic questions that are surprisingly difficult to find answers for. We’re going to answer for frequently asked questions about VPNs so you can get up to speed.

What Is a VPN?

Our what is a VPN guide is the best source for this topic, but we’ll provide you an overview here. “VPN” is an acronym for virtual private network. It’s a network, meaning there are multiple servers connected together, it’s private, meaning no one outside the network can access it, and it’s virtual, meaning that the servers aren’t physically connected together.

Instead of connecting directly to the website you want to go to, you connect to the VPN first and route all of your traffic through it. By doing it this way, you conceal your IP address, location and browser information, making your go invisible online.

What Can I Do With a VPN?

Once you go invisible, there are a lot of new possibilities. As far as what you can do with a VPN, it usually boils down to torrenting and streaming. When you’re torrenting, you’re opening what’s called a peer-to-peer connection, meaning there are multiple other peers (computers) connected to yours, each sharing a small amount of the file you’re downloading.

This, obviously, opens some security issues, as the other computers could trace that connection to identify who you are. Since you’re first connected to the VPN, whatever the peer on the other side of the connection wants to do is targeted at the VPN server, meaning you’re safe from others on the connection.

Depending on where you live, streaming with Netflix or Hulu is already possible, but not all of the content available on those platforms is available to you. Because of distribution geoblocks, streaming platforms only release certain content in certain regions. For example, if you wanted to watch season 4 of Better Call Saul on Netflix, you’d have to be in the UK.

Streaming across multiple regions becomes possible with a VPN. By replacing your IP address with the IP address of the VPN server you’re connected to, you can trick the streaming platform into thinking you’re in a location that you’re not in. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work, so make sure to read our best VPN for Netflix guide if streaming is of importance.

However, it may be more simple than that. If you live in or are traveling to a country with strict censorship, using a VPN can simply allow you to access the internet. The best VPN services for China, for example, have options that bypass deep packet inspection, allowing you to move around censorship easily.

Why Do I Need a VPN?

If you want to do any of the things listed above, you need a VPN. However, even if you’re not interested in streaming, torrenting or bypassing censorship, a VPN is a good idea. With an onslaught of government spying around the globe, a VPN will keep your data in your hands where it belongs.

Privacy is a key topic when using a VPN, so even if all you do is watch YouTube and check your email, a VPN is still important. By encrypting your internet connection and spoofing your IP address, a VPN makes it look like you’re someone else online. In such a configuration, you can bypass the data collection of the government, Facebook, Google and just about everyone else.

Furthermore, you can keep your connection secure. Since the connection between you and the VPN server is encrypted — usually with 256-bit AES — anyone spying on your network won’t be able to see what requests you’re sending. With a VPN, you’re securely connecting to a fortress that protects everything you do online.

Is a VPN Legal?

In one word, yes, VPNs are legal, except if you’re in one of the handful of countries that have banned them. China is one of these countries, and Russia and Turkey have policies in place that boil down to an outright ban.

If you’re traveling to one of these countries, make sure to install and set up your VPN before you go. Read more in our best VPN for Russia and best VPN for Turkey articles.

Will a VPN Slow Down My Internet Speed?

One question that should be asked more is: will a VPN slow my internet speed? The short answer is yes. As always, the long answer is a little more involved. When connecting to a VPN server, you’re adding overhead to your network time. It takes time for the request to be encrypted, then to travel through the VPN server and onto the open internet.

However, there are cases where a VPN can actually increase your speed. In the recent panic surrounding net neutrality, there was a lot of talk of ISP throttling. ISP throttling is when your internet service provider throttles, or reduces, your speed when connecting to certain websites. In some cases, your speed may be reduced from simply using too much bandwidth.

Because a ISP can reduce your speed, you may be getting slower internet than what you’re paying for. When using a VPN, though, your ISP doesn’t know what you’re doing and, therefore, its automated systems can’t discriminate against your connection. In such a case, a VPN could actually improve your internet speeds.

How Do I Get a VPN?

Setting up a VPN is a lot simpler than it used to be. In the all of the reviews above, you’ll find links to purchase a VPN subscription. Simply follow the instructions provided by the VPN, download it and connect. We walk you through the process for any VPN that has a more involved setup during the course of each review.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, our VPN reviews aren’t taken lightly. Our approach attempts to account for any issues that may arise during use, including streaming performance, speed and usability. While some amount of our reviews is left up to personal preference, we believe our top five best VPN providers are truly the best.

You don’t just have to take our word for it here, though. Above, you can read any of our long-form VPN reviews to see if you agree with what we saw. We invite you to leave your thoughts on if you think a VPN is worth it there.

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