According to GlobalWebIndex, about one in every four Internet user puts VPNs to good use. (In Asia, however, it’s a whole different story.) Either for anonymity, accessing restricted contents and sites or communicating abroad, the use of VPN services is evident throughout the world.
Like every technology, there is a considerable number of options you can use. In this blog post, we compare 10 of the best VPNs in the market. Even better, everything is explained in layman’s term.
What is a VPN?
First of all, VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network. Basically, a VPN is an intermediary between two or more connections.
A VPN normally creates a secure and encrypted connection tunnel so your device can access the Internet safely and securely. That’s the basic meaning of a VPN.
Internet users all over the world use VPNs for different reasons. While most of them revolve around secure connections, the uses of a VPN are enormous. The uses are better explained in the sub-section below.
What Are the Benefits of Using a VPN?
So, why should you even consider using a VPN? From the basic VPN meaning, you can tell a VPN is quite useful for accessing the Internet securely. Below are five general benefits you can get from using a VPN on your desktop or mobile device.
Did you know that in the United States, United Kingdom and the majority of other top-tier countries, the government collects your personal data without your permission?
Why is that? The government and governmental authorities monitor the contents its citizens are accessing for regulation sake. And that’s not even all!
Private companies, application developers, websites, web tools, advertisers, marketers, and Internet service providers (ISPs) track your online activities to record your browsing history, and better target advertisements and branded copies.
Even Google – your Internet friend – also knows a lot about you and keep knowing more day in, day out. Almost everything you do that involves an Internet connection tracks your browsing history and bridges your browsing privacy.
You are not comfortable with that – definitely! In fact, 50 percent of Internet users – according to StopAd – are “very concerned” about their privacy.
With the help of a “competent” VPN, you can bypass these monitoring, censorship and privacy-bridging measures successfully.
Access to Restricted Contents and Prices
Whether you want to access Netflix, Kodi, YouTube, App Store, Play Store, Hulu, BBC, Apple TV, Pandora Internet Radio, or Spotify from a restricted location, a VPN can do the magic. You just have to set it up and you’re good to go.
This is also helpful for those browsing abroad. For instance, if you traveled from the United States to China, you’ll find out Netflix China and Netflix US are two different services. This is where a VPN – actually, a VPN that works with Netflix – come in. It can help you get all those American contents right in China.
In addition to these services, you can also access region-specific games and even improve gaming experience significantly. For instance, if you want to play an online game in Germany and currently in the United States, using a VPN set to a German server will reduce lag.
Further, people also use VPNs to save on hotel, restaurant and airline bookings, and for online shopping. This works because booking websites and e-commerce shops often show different prices depending on your geographical location. With a VPN, you can change your location to lower the cost.
Lastly, some ISPs restrict torrent downloading – but some VPNs can help you download torrents. Although this use is very minute, some users use VPNs for this very reason.
Power to Hide
You can hide your IP address with a virtual private network. This is an obvious reason the majority of people use a VPN.
Since you can hide your IP address, it’s only logical that your actual location will be hidden.
Marketing and Research
This is a not-so-popular reason for using VPNs. Yes, some content marketers, SEO experts, and keyword strategists use VPNs to fake their locations. This is done to test markets, research keywords, analyze marketing strategies and track performance of campaigns.
The majority of VPNs nowadays use 256-bit encryption technology to protect your data and connection from eavesdropping and prying eyes. This way, your mind will be at rest when you are using a public Wi-Fi.
The Top 10 Best VPN Services of 2018
Powerful Encryption and Privacy
NordVPN offers over 400 more servers. If you’re looking for a VPN for Apple TV, NordVPN is up to par.
NordVPN first impresses you by displaying your current IP address in the top area of its website, telling you your status is “unprotected.”
NordVPN is probably the most popular VPN service in the game currently. First, NordVPN is based in Panama. As a result of this, you can be rest assured no government is spying.
Other strengths range from great privacy measures to impeccable security techniques. NordVPN uses the OpenVPN protocol with four different encryption technologies. You have AES 256-bit cipher encryption, HMAC SHA1 data authentication, RSA-2028 Handshake certificate, and DHE forward secrecy.
If you are using an iOS device, you are even in for a better security measure. The iOS app uses AES-256-GCM encryption with SHA2-384 and 3072-bit Diffie-Hellmann keys.
Other features such as DNS, webRTC, and IPv4 leak protection, per-app kill switch, and double data encryption are activated by default.
You can even request a dedicated IP address. You have to pay for it, however.
- Highest Speed and Lowest Latency in the market according to AV-Test
- A two-year plan offers huge savings up to -72% off plus 3 months for free
- 5500+ servers in more than 60 countries
- 30-day Money Back Guarantee
- 6 Simultaneous Connections
- Supports Cryptocurrency payments
- Can use fastest NordLynx protocol based on WireGuard
- 10gbps+ server bandwidth speeds
- Support isn’t very helpful
- Don’t even think of using it with Tor
- No free plan or trial
- Simply expensive
Operating Systems: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows
Price: $11.95/month, $69.00/year, $79.00/two years
Excellent Performance and Speedy Servers
First of all, ExpressVPN has more than 3000 servers situated in 94 countries. That just blew you away, didn’t it?
Well, ExpressVPN offers 256-bit AES encryption and unlimited bandwidth – since there isn’t a free plan or trial. There are other features like the kill switch, zero logging, DNS/IPv6 leak protection, and split tunneling.
ExpressVPN is a solid option to go with because its history is filled with praises from authority websites and experts.
To be honest, ExpressVPN is one of those VPNs that we can call “perfect.” ExpressVPN doesn’t sacrifice a feature for another – everything just seems perfect.
The interface is incredibly easy to use. The servers are enormous and extremely fast. The performance is highly satisfactory. The security techniques are just excellent. The company blends everything into a nice, neat VPN service.
Although not cheap, each plan is followed by a 100% risk-free money-back guarantee. Lastly, ExpressVPN is powerful enough to access Netflix, Kodi, and other geo-restricted contents.
- Great customer support
- 3000+ servers, 94 countries
- Extremely fast servers
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- A modern VPN protocol: Lightway
- No free plan or trial
- Just 5 simultaneous connections
- Simply expensive
Operating Systems: Windows, Android, IOS, Mac, Linux, BlackBerry
Price: $12.95/month, $59.95/six months, $99.95/year
Connect 10 Simultaneous Devices
PureVPN is a pure VPN service that most consider the best. Maybe because there are 750+ servers in 140+ countries. Or, maybe because it is a VPN that works with Netflix, and successfully.
You can use a maximum of 10 devices at once with an account. PureVPN also take logging to another level by actually hating it!
Regardless of the plan you choose, PureVPN supports unlimited server switching – which is one of the best features PureVPN offers.
Further, PureVPN allows you to use your normal network settings for other purposes while encrypting a defined part of your browsing.
You can connect up to 10 devices to your computer. With this feature, PureVPN turns your computer into a virtual router.
- 750+ servers in 140+ countries
- Maximum anonymity, zero logs
- Per-app connection and encryption
- Turn computer into virtual router
- Chameleon technology
- 20+ TV systems and consoles are supported
- Two-year plan is insanely cheap
- Rapid disconnection and the whole connection drops
Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Price: $9.95/month, $47.70/six months, $59.00/two years
Free 10GB Every Month
Based in Ontario, Windscribe Limited is a technology company that provides virtual private network service to customers across the world. Their cross-platform client, Windscribe, has been earning a lot of buzzes lately – mainly for its generosity.
You can get free 10GB every month for just signing up on their website. Another perk of using Windscribe is the fact that you can download it as web browser extensions and for many operating systems, TV systems and routers.
Windscribe has 50 servers in varying countries. Encryption is also taken simply. (Don’t worry, this is a good thing.) Windscribe encrypts your connection using the AES-256 cipher with a 4096-bit RSA key and the SHA512 hash algorithm.
You can also create a proxy server for other devices with this VPN. This is handy if you have multiple devices. So, all you need is a subscription that connects to a number of devices at once.
Windscribe uses OpenVPN, IKEv2 and SOCKS protocols and connects via UDP, TCP, and Stealth.
You also get features like DNS leak protection, ad-blocker, firewall, P2P sharing, timezone spoofing, and the ability to connect to two Windscribe servers at a time.
Lastly, Windscribe offers a Secure.link Generator that secures a link you point it at. This helps expose links that track your browsing history or bridge your privacy.
- Simple interface
- An array of operating systems and platforms
- Generous free plan
- Secure. link Generator
- Bitcoin accepted
- Not-so-helpful customer support
- Slightly average speed
- 50 servers is small when compared to other VPNs
Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Centos, Android, iOS
Price: $9/month, $49/year
IPVanish will make all your privacy-bridging measures vanish with ease.
There’s a 7-day money-back risk-free guarantee on all VPN plans. With any plan, you have access to 40,000+ shared IP addresses and 850+ servers in 60+ countries.
IPVanish uses 256-bit AES encryption technology to keep your device safe and secure. It keeps zero traffic logs and allows anonymous torrenting with unlimited P2P traffic.
IPVanish uses three VPN protocols: OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP/IPsec. The choice is truly yours – and whichever you choose will surely satisfy you with top-notch speed and performance.
You can connect a maximum of five devices simultaneously. Another notable perk is the unlimited server switching feature. The bandwidth is proudly unlimited too.
Lastly, IPVanish is arguably the best VPN for Kodi, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and an array of other services.
- Bitcoin payment option
- User-friendly apps
- Unlimited server switching
- Unlimited P2P traffic
- Anonymous torrenting
- Zero traffic logs
Operating Systems: Windows, Ubuntu, macOS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Price: $10.00/month, $26.99/three months, $77.99/year
Power to Unlock and Unblock
Although based in Switzerland, the company Golden Frog is incorporated in the Bahamas. Hence, it is impossible for your server logs to be examined under any patriot act.
Their servers are one of the most secure servers in the industry. Speed is another advantageous consideration.
VyprVPN successfully unlocks Hulu, Play Store, YouTube, App Store, Netflix and other geo-restricted services.
There are two different plans. VyprVPN, which is the cheapest, gives you three simultaneous connections and an unlimited bandwidth. The other plan is quite expensive. You get VyprVPN Cloud and Chameleon Protocol, plus five simultaneous connections.
- More than 700 servers located in six continents with 200,000+ IP addresses
- No caps on downloads or server switch
- Access to encrypted domain name server (DNS)
- Best for restricted contents and sites
- VyprVPN defeats VPN throttling
- Fast servers
Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Price: $9.95/month, $60/year (VyprVPN), $12.95/month, $80.04/year (VyprVPN Premium)
Torrent Downloading Fully Supported
For those who prefer to torrent anonymously or unlock websites that are restricted in their regions, PIA is an ideal option.
It has gathered a widespread name for these features alone. Also, you can work on five devices at once.
It is impossible for ‘snoopers’ to match individual file transfers to any individual on this service. This is because multiple subscribers are assigned to the same IP address while using the Private Internet Access VPN service.
In order to prevent unwanted connections from penetrating into your smartphone, tablet and PC, this VPN is one of the VPNs that comes with a firewall.
PIA has its exit servers in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Romania, and Netherlands.
- Shared IP addresses
- Excellent kill-switch feature
- Zero DNS leaks
- Annual plan is insanely cheap
- Uncomfortable promotional emails
- Very limited servers and locations
Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android
Price: $6.95/month, $35.95/six months, $39.95/year
VPN For Your Team
If you are a casual worker who wants a VPN service that can protect your data, TunnelBear is your best option.
One major goal of TunnelBear is to make your set up as automated as possible.
Unfortunately, there is an undisclosed number of servers readily available to you in just 20 countries. You can connect to TunnelBear using the closest VPN server.
TunnelBear for Teams is a solution for corporate users, teams, and workers. It’s ideal to secure your team anytime, anywhere.
- TunnelBear for Teams
- Bitcoin accepted
- Automated setup
- Average to terrible speed
- Servers in just 20 countries
Operating Systems: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows
Price: $9.99/month, $49.88/year
Free Plan and Easier Weekly Plans
If you prefer a VPN service where you have to pay on a weekly basis, then ZenVPN is your best bet.
Brazil, Denmark, USA, Romania, India, Norway, and Netherlands are seven of the 30 countries where their servers are located.
You can get started with ZenVPN after just a few clicks if you’re using a Windows computer. If not, setting ZenVPN up is quite difficult – especially with the OpenVPN protocol.
Peer-to-peer traffic is unlimited, so you can successfully torrent with this VPN service.
The secret to ZenVPN’s success is the free service the company offers. Although there is a 250MB daily limit, it’s still better than nothing.
ZenVPN offers standard and unlimited plans. The standard plans come with 5GB daily limit while the unlimited plans are – obviously – unlimited.
Pro-Tip: Don’t bother using this VPN service on any platform except Windows.
- Easier weekly plans
- File sharing is a priority
- Free trial
- Responsive customer support
- 5GB daily limit on standard plans
- 250MB daily limit on free plan
- Setting VPN up is difficult for other platforms except for Windows
- Setting OpenVPN up is difficult
Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux
Price: $2.95/week, $5.95/month, $49.95/year (Standard plans); $5.95/week, $9.95/month, $95.50/year (Unlimited plans)
User-Friendliness On Steroids
Considered by some to be one of the easiest and most user-friendly VPN. Hide My Ass (or HMA! Pro VPN) is a UK-based VPN service.
Many users continue to use HMA! Pro VPN for their private browsing despite a 2011 horror. Their reputation was marred by a 2011 FBI investigation of a Sony hacker. Unfortunately, HMA! Pro VPN disclosed the logs of the suspect, Cody Kretsinger.
HMA has over 800 servers throughout the world. This number might not be totally staggering but it’s more than enough.
In order to support their wide range of customers, the VPN clients have been translated into a number of languages.
- Rotating IP addresses
- Extremely easy to setup and use
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Translation-ready VPN clients
- File and torrent sharing not supported
Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux
Price: $11.52/month, $49.99/six months, $78.99/year
What Makes a Good VPN?
A perfect balance of security, encryption, available servers, connectivity protocols, and price are the main qualities that make a VPN very appealing.
However, before you go ahead to choose a VPN with these qualities in mind, watch out for the following.
Location of your VPN Service
It is important to consider the corporate and exit location of your VPN service. This is only if you intend to get around a location restriction.
For example, you would want to be sure your VPN service provider has servers in the UK assuming you want to watch live TV in the UK. We strongly recommend you pick a service operated outside your country of residence. We recommend this if you are concerned about state-sponsored monitoring.
When shopping for a VPN service, it is important to ensure that a VPN not only has servers in multiple locations but also in the locations you are interested in.
Your Provider’s Logging Policy
Bear in mind that you are trusting the VPN service provider with your data whenever you connect to a VPN.
Hence, other systems on the same VPN can log your data if they choose – despite the fact that your communications are secure from snooping.
The solution to this is to be sure that you perfectly understand your provider’s logging policies before you sign up.
But, this may not be of much importance if your preferred provider doesn’t keep logs.
Regardless if you’re using a VPN or not, you should visit HTTPS websites exclusively. A VPN software is not an anti-spyware software. But, a good percentage of VPNs features this perk.
Hence, it is important to check if anti-spyware protection is one of the features being offered by your VPN of choice.
You should be getting a perfect experience across all your devices if you are spending money on a VPN service. The same should also be applicable when you are using a free VPN service.
Although most of these VPNs do not offer cross-platform solutions for corporate networks, they offer them for individual users.
When you want to secure all your devices, be sure to use a VPN that supports multiple platforms.
We can all admit the price of a product or service is a great determinant.
There are free VPNs available everywhere.
A typical free VPN is not totally committed to your privacy and usually uses your usage to serve you targeted ads. Most of the time, you’re buying into contextual ads and logging.
If logging and ads policy and privacy are important to you, you should avoid free VPNs even if they offer the best features. The process is not a good trade-off!
However, they are your best option if you are traveling on a budget and need a very quick security without any fuss.
On the other hand are subscription-based VPNs. Since you are paying for their services, they do not take your privacy with levity. Although logging varies from one company to another, they usually let you enjoy browsing ad-free.
Some offer free trials while others offer a money-back guarantee.
The truth is you don’t have to worry too much. Most (or all) VPNs offer multiple security-focused protocols that are activated by default.
How to Setup a VPN
Technology has gone past being a tech-savvy before doing a thing. You don’t have to be a programmer, hacker or networking expert before you could get a VPN up and running.
Most VPNs require nothing more than to download the VPN and click on any “Connect” (or such) button. Once the connection is successful, you are ready for take-off – so fly!
Concurrently, some VPNs require you to choose a protocol. SOCK55, IKEv2, OpenVPN, Softener, SSTP, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP and Cisco IPsec (IPsec IKEv1) are the most used protocols. Each protocol has its advantages and disadvantages – but OpenVPN is generally considered the best protocol. Also, OpenVPN is easily the most popular VPN protocol – generally because of its open source policy and high-end security.
Configuring some VPNs is even more complex. You might have to run some commands on your Windows computer or configure server details on your Mac.
The entire process – depending on your device – is rampant online, so it’s highly recommended to watch tutorial videos before trying to configure a VPN.
If you are on a mobile device, setting up a VPN is easy as described initially.
VPN vs. Proxy Server: Which Should You Pick?
The closest competition a VPN has is a proxy server. A proxy server (or simply “proxy”) basically works as a medium between the Internet and your device. So, a proxy server will mock your IP address by sending a very different IP address to the Internet.
That sounds exactly like a VPN, right? Well, that’s partially true – but there is a bit of difference though. The similarity: a VPN is a type of proxy server after all. The difference: VPNs encrypt your connection while proxies fake your address. Therefore, their varying connection processes marks their only difference.
Basically, a proxy server simply acts as a middleman between your device and the Internet. A VPN, on the other hand, encrypts your device even to the operating system level. So, every application requesting Internet connection will face the configured VPN before creating a connection.
This is why many people prefer VPNs to proxy servers. Moreover, VPNs do more than just fake your IP address. Instead of a simple proxy mock, a VPN creates a secure tunnel between your device and the Internet. Yet, there is a high probability that a proxy server can do just what you want with a VPN. So, the decision is really yours.
However, a VPN is generally more preferred. This is a major reason why you are better off picking a VPN. And with this piece, it should be an easy task picking a “competent” VPN to browse securely.
Decisions have always been tests from hell – and so is picking the right VPN.
Whether you need one to bypass geolocation restrictions, change your IP address, help you browse anonymously or put an end to government censorship, these are your best options. To reiterate, you cannot go wrong with any of these aforementioned VPNs.
What’s better? Most are reasonably priced for the security value they offer. This is a win-win for you.
However, each has its pros and cons so it’s best to sit down and decide what your required features are. Once done, pick the one that suits your needs the most. Then, you are ready to access the Internet with zero fears. Happy free-surfing!