Best VPN Providers 2021: The Ultimate List

Our online activity is like an open book. If that doesn’t sit right with you, getting the best VPN on the market might be a good call. It’s not just a matter of privacy. A good VPN can also protect you from cyberattacks by keeping you from under the bad guys’ radars.

VPN providers are constantly improving their offerings. So, it’s hard to keep up with the latest features and developments. This, in turn, makes deciding on the best option very difficult.
Sure, the easiest solution is to go for the most famous provider. But is it the best? Are there real gems hidden among the lesser-known names in the industry? Let’s find out.

What Is a VPN?

VPN stands for “virtual private network.”

This technology redirects your traffic through a secure server so the websites you visit can’t see your IP address. Additionally, your internet provider doesn’t know what you’re doing online.
While using a VPN, your connection is encrypted. This keeps your data anonymous and hidden from prying eyes. It can be handy when you want to access some geo-restricted online content or prevent others from tracking your movements around the Web.

Our Top 3 Recommendations

NO.
COMPANY
STATS
FEATURES
PRICE
9.2
FROM $3.49/mo
9.0
FROM $12.99/mo
8.0
FROM $11.95/mo

10 Best VPN Providers in 2021

ExpressVPN Review

PROS
  • 3,000 servers in 160 countries

  • AES 256-bit encryption

  • No-logging policy

  • Kill-switch feature

CONS
  • Slightly expensive

Security & Privacy

This industry leader uses unbreakable AES 256-bit encryption and dynamic IP addresses to ensure your safety and anonymity. To further enhance your protection, ExpressVPN has a no-log policy. That means the company doesn’t keep any of your data and knows nothing about you or what you’re doing online. So, even in case of an external attack or a government order to disclose information, it wouldn’t have anything to reveal.

Another useful feature this top VPN offers is the kill switch. This automatically terminates all traffic if your VPN connection gets shaky or broken. With it, you’ll remain anonymous while the VPN reconnects to your chosen server.

Speed & Servers

This is one of the fastest VPNs on the market. With this kind of service, the number of servers and their global dispersion significantly impact speed. The closer the server is to your location, the higher your browsing speed. ExpressVPN has more than 3,000 servers in 160 countries.

Wherever you are, you won’t be far away from one of its servers.
Server density like this enables ExpressVPN to have only a 10%–15% speed reduction. This makes ExpressVPN the best VPN service for users primarily interested in speed. What’s more, having so many servers also ensures that none of them will be overcrowded and slow.

Price

ExpressVPN isn’t exactly the cheapest option on the market. However, you can’t really expect high-quality software to be the cheapest. Luckily, the monthly price drops with longer subscription periods. For instance, a one-month subscription for this top rated VPN will cost you $12.95. If you decide on six months, the price drops to $9.99 per month. Lastly, the lowest monthly price of $8.32 comes with a one-year plan.

If you’re unsure about buying, ExpressVPN offers a generous 30-day money-back guarantee. That’s plenty of time to try it out on all of your operating systems and devices.

NordVPN Review

PROS
  • 5,800 servers in 60 countries

  • Double VPN feature

  • CyberSec protection

  • Reasonable pricing for long-term plans

CONS
  • A tad pricey monthly plan

Security & Privacy

NordVPN is one of the best VPNs. It provides state-of-the-art security, thanks to the AES 256 encryption and DNS leak protection. This approach ensures none of your data bypasses VPN protection. For example, some video chat programs often avoid VPN connections. Additionally, NordVPN has systems that make ID theft impossible. To protect your privacy even further, you can buy it in many brick-and-mortar stores, pay in cash, and leave absolutely no trail.

If you want even more protection, the company offers Double VPN. This feature sends your connection through two different VPN servers, hiding your trail even better. This feature, sometimes called server-hopping, is very rare, even amongst the best VPN services. And if you’re worried about malware, the NordVPN CyberSec feature will keep you protected.

Speed & Servers

NordVPN has one of the largest fleets of servers—5,800 servers in 60 countries. It’s impossible not to find an available server. And although they’re dispersed in only 60 countries, the company still covers all the regions that are most interesting to VPN users.

The provider also offers obfuscated servers. That is why NordVPN is the best VPN service for countries that don’t allow virtual private networks. This is a way to hide a VPN signal. Outside observers typically can’t see what’s going through your channel. Nonetheless, they know that it’s a VPN based on its unique signature. Obfuscated servers mask that signature, and no one will know you’re using a VPN. The feature is also known as “ghost server.”

Even though it has so many servers, it’s straightforward to use because the program will suggest the best servers based on proximity and your preferences (e.g., gaming or torrenting). A setup like this makes NordVPN perhaps the best VPN for torrenting. When it comes to speed, NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs on the market. However, its speed can drop significantly when the Double VPN feature is activated.

Price

NordVPN has several subscription plans and offers considerable discounts on long-term subscriptions. The one-month plan costs $11.95. It’s one of the highest prices on the market but still in line with other top software.

The prices go down when you choose longer plans. If you’re willing to commit for a more extended period, NordVPN becomes one of the most affordable VPNs around. For instance, if you choose a one-year plan, you’ll pay $6.99 a month for one of the best VPN software packs available today. Furthermore, a two-year subscription lowers the monthly price to just $3.99.

This price can drop even more if you get one of the provider’s limited-time offers. It sometimes offers a three-year plan for just $2.99 a month—and that’s truly a bargain.

IPVanish VPN Review

PROS
  • DNS leak protection

  • Military-grade AES 256 encryption

  • Two versions of the OpenVPN protocol

CONS
  • Bad logging policy reputation

Security & Privacy

Like other top VPN services, IPVanish also uses high-end AES 256 encryption and IPv6 with DNS leak protection to ensure your safety and anonymity.

There was a minor issue with the company revealing sensitive user data to the government in the past. But they now have new management and are committed to providing the highest safety and privacy standards. The software doesn’t include malware or virus protection. However, for a small extra cost, you can get the company’s all-encompassing VIPRE Advanced Security tool for that.

Speed & Servers

IPVanish has more than 1,700 servers around the globe. It doesn’t sound like much, especially compared to industry leaders with more than 5,000 servers. However, as you’ll learn from our VPN review, it’s not bad either. There are plenty of providers that offer much fewer servers.

If you’re worried about speed, you’ll be happy to know that IPVanish has a good global server distribution. So, you won’t be far away from one, no matter where you are. This layout enables a speed reduction of just 20% on average. Of course, it can vary. But if you do a little bit of tweaking and experiment with TCP and UDP versions of the OpenVPN protocol, you can find a configuration that will work great and turn IPVanish into the best VPN for streaming.

Price

IPVanish isn’t expensive. Moreover, the $10 monthly price goes down if you choose longer subscription periods. For instance, a one-year plan costs $6.49 per month. This is affordable, but other VPNs seem to offer more significant savings on their long-term plans. On the upside, you can use it simultaneously on ten devices.

CyberGhost VPN Review

PROS
  • 4,000 servers in more than 60 countries

  • State-of-the-art AES 256 encryption

  • Incorporated malware protection

CONS
  • Pricey if you choose the monthly plan

Security & Privacy

CyberGhost is known for its high security standards that make it one of the top VPNs. Besides the AES 256 encryption, it offers additional security features to keep you safe and anonymous. CyberGhost automatically connects to the HTTPS (secure) versions of websites. Additionally, the integrated malware protection software keeps malicious software at bay. Other extras include a kill switch to cut off the internet traffic if your connection breaks, a no-log policy, and an ad blocker.

Speed & Servers

CyberGhost operates around 4,000 servers in 60 countries worldwide. However, the server number and locations can vary depending on customers’ requests. It’s one of the reasons CyberGhost keeps getting such high scores in different VPN reviews. The company really listens to its customers. So, if great demand appears for a server in a specific location, users will be given access as soon as possible.

In terms of speed, CyberGhost is among the best. Although the speeds can vary (as with any other VPN), it has several tricks to increase speed. First of all, the software suggests the best server for your needs to ensure you get the best VPN service possible.

It also offers the split-tunneling feature. This enables you to redirect one part of your traffic through a VPN while you can simultaneously view some local content. As a rule, less data flowing through a VPN means higher speeds.

Price

The one-month subscription will cost you $12.99, and that’s not cheap. But you can get a much lower monthly price if you commit to a one-year service ($5.99). Additionally, a two-year plan knocks down the monthly fee to just $3.69. If you’re looking to save more money, a three-year plan might be perfect for you. Your monthly VPN cost will be only $2.75. With the savings, you could buy a dedicated IP address, which costs $5 per month.

Surfshark VPN Review

PROS
  • Many security features

  • Split-tunneling

  • Multi-hop servers

  • Warrant canary for extra transparency

CONS
  • Fewer servers than other industry leaders

Security & Privacy

Surfshark is a relatively new VPN on the market, but it has quickly made a name for itself. In addition to the industry-standard AES 256 encryption, this company offers many features that improve your security and privacy. This makes Surfshark a serious contender for the most secure VPN title.

For instance, the CleanWeb feature will block ads, trackers, and malware, while Whitelister enables you to choose which websites to access by bypassing VPN. The camouflage mode hides the fact you’re using a VPN by masking the distinctive VPN signature. This enables you to use it in countries that don’t allow virtual private network usage or access to some streaming services.

Surfshark takes your privacy very seriously and even has a warrant canary page that proves it didn’t divulge any information to government agencies.

Speed & Servers

Surfshark falls behind the industry leaders when it comes to the number of servers, our VPN comparison shows. It operates more than 800 servers in 50 countries, which is not that impressive. Still, the company provides many different types of servers to choose from.

You can choose between physical and virtual locations, P2P servers, and those specially designed for multi-hopping. This last feature is especially useful to people who want an extra layer of protection, as it redirects their connection through two VPN servers. The only drawback is that it reduces speed by around 25%.

Price

The one-month subscription will cost you $11.95. If we make a quick VPN price comparison, we can conclude that Surfshark isn’t cheap. But the long-term plans offer substantial discounts. You can get a $5.99 monthly price if you opt for a one-year plan. What’s more, a two-year subscription will get you the best deal for just $1.99 a month.

If you’re interested in some extra features, you can get both HackLock and BlindSearch for an additional fee of $0.99 per month. The former alerts you if your online accounts were compromised, while the latter lets you perform web searches 100% anonymously.

Windscribe VPN Review

PROS
  • Incorporated anti-malware tool

  • Hotspot VPN guard

  • 110 server locations

  • Great customization options

  • Generous free plan

CONS
  • Limited location choice for free users

Security & Privacy

Windscribe is considered the best free VPN by many, and there are plenty of reasons for that. It offers many interesting free features and enables users to test them before buying more advanced paid plans.

For instance, the R.O.B.E.R.T. tool is a fully customizable ad blocker that ensures smooth and safe browsing. With it, you can control which websites can be accessed by different devices. The desktop version also includes a firewall and hotspot security that can turn your computer into a completely secure router. This top free VPN uses AES 256-bit encryption. You can choose between several encryption protocols — IKEv2, Open VPN, or the built-for-speed WireGuard.

Windscribe also supports split-tunneling, server-hopping, and static IP addresses. Add to that the provider’s no-log policy, and the features list is impressive, as is the protection this software provides.

Speed & Servers

Windscribe doesn’t offer many servers. However, they are well-dispersed into 110 locations in 63 countries. All these servers are available to Pro users. Those interested in using one of the best VPN clients for free have 10 locations to choose from. The upside is that the free servers are located in relevant countries and are not just a gimmick some VPNs offer (e.g., servers located in Brunei or Nauru).

The tests conducted on the Pro version showed a speed reduction from 25% to 45%, depending on the server proximity. The free version will have a lower speed since the servers are more likely to be overcrowded. But even with this reduction (which is about the industry average), Windscribe is still the best free VPN for torrenting or streaming HD movies. If you decide to use the server-hopping feature, you should know that it will further reduce the connection speed.

Price

Windscribe has very interesting pricing plans. Besides having a generous free version, it gives users many customization options when it comes to server locations. Each server will cost you $1 per month. You can choose the free plan and then combine specific servers to make your very own best cheap VPN.

For instance, if you choose two servers you use most often and add an unlimited amount of data for just a dollar a month, you can have a great VPN for only $3 a month.
If you want a more traditional subscription, you can choose the Pro plan, which will cost you $9 a month. It’s a bargain, considering Windscribe is one of the top 10 VPN providers out there.

To save even more, going for a yearly subscription will reduce the monthly price to just $4.08, and students get a 40% discount. This is one of the most affordable VPNs on the market that offers incredible value for your money.

PureVPN Review

PROS
  • Well-protected servers

  • NAT firewall

  • More than 2,000 servers in 140 countries

CONS
  • Lack of a more thorough support page

  • Can be complicated to use

Security & Privacy

PureVPN enjoys the reputation of the best VPN app around. That’s mainly because the company operates a self-managed global VPN network that currently stands at 2,000+ servers in more than 140 countries. It’s always a good sign when a VPN company owns its servers. This means that they are solely responsible for their security. Many VPN providers rent servers from others. So, they must rely on the server owners’ perception of online safety.

The company claims it now has a full no-log policy. In 2017, they had to release some information to a government agency. It turned out the company was keeping a lot more personal info about its VPN users than it was saying. Since then, PureVPN has invested heavily in keeping its promise of zero-knowledge and even contracted a third-party auditor. The external audit showed that PureVPN is not storing any user info, which is commendable and necessary.

As for the connection security, PureVPN gives its users everything they would expect from a high-end VPN provider. It uses AES 256-bit encryption. Moreover, there are several encryption protocols—OpenVPN TCP/UDP, PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, and IKEv2. Unfortunately, there’s no WireGuard protocol support. That’s a significant drawback since WireGuard is almost standard with any provider aspiring to offer the best VPN service for multiple devices.

Users also get split-tunneling, kill switch, dedicated IP, DDoS protection, and more. However, the split-tunneling feature is still in beta version and thus susceptible to glitches.

Speed & Servers

PureVPN operates 2,000 servers in 140 countries. So, you can easily find a server that suits your needs. The app makes it easy by asking you about your preferences. When you install it, you’ll get to select one of the following five modes: Stream, Internet Freedom, Security/Privacy, File Sharing, and Dedicated IP.

In Stream mode, the VPN will be optimized to get the highest possible streaming speed. This makes PureVPN the best VPN for Netflix. On the other hand, If online safety is your biggest concern, you can choose the Security/Privacy mode.

Unfortunately, PureVPN doesn’t provide in-depth information about those modes within the app. So, you need to do some research on the support page. You’ll be happy to know the company does a lot better in terms of speed. A test showed a 30% speed loss, which is an industry average.

Price

The price of a monthly subscription for PureVPN, arguably the best paid VPN out there, is $10.95. While that’s not cheap, you can significantly reduce the monthly cost by choosing one of the long-term plans. A one-year program will lower the monthly price to $5.81, while a two-year commitment will get you the best monthly price of just $3.33.

The company offers a generous 31-day money-back guarantee. However, the paid trial overshadows it. Believe it or not, if you want to test what many claim is the best VPN for Android and other operating systems, you’ll actually have to pay for it. The 7-day trial will cost you $0.99.

TunnelBear VPN Review

PROS
  • Regular independent audits

  • Built-in malware blocker

  • Excellent upload speed

CONS
  • Subject to Canada’s strict VPN laws

  • Servers in just 22 countries

Security & Privacy

Don’t let the adorable bear mascot fool you. TunnelBear is a serious, user-centered company. Many believe it’s the best mobile and computer VPN service. This is because it has a no-log policy and isn’t afraid to put that claim under scrutiny. TunnelBear goes through a third-party audit every year and shares the results with the public, which is very rare in the VPN market. The only downside is that TunnelBear is located in Canada, making it susceptible to the country’s tight VPN laws.

When it comes to connection security, TunnelBear blends robust AES 256-bit encryption with its proprietary malware blocker. It protects you from email infections and browser and ultrasonic tracking from untrusted Wi-Fi networks. These features also work to provide one of the best identity protection. The provider also offers Wi-Fi protection even with its free plan. This makes it the best free VPN for Android and iOS, especially for those who often rely on public Wi-Fi networks.

Speed & Servers

TunnelBear manages 1,800 servers in 22 countries. The number of servers isn’t so bad, but their distribution isn’t ideal. Other VPNs with a similar number of servers have a much better allocation, covering up to 100 locations. With VPN, the server’s distance directly impacts the connection speed, which means TunnelBear won’t break any speed records.

The upside is that the speeds are very stable. So, you won’t see any significant spikes and drops. Although it’s far from being the best VPN for gaming, the stable connection makes it completely adequate. So, you won’t have any problems while playing your favorite game. There are no speed limits with the free version, but data limits exist. Namely, you only get 500MB a month, which you can increase by 1GB if you tweet about TunnelBear.

Price

TunnelBear offers three main subscription types. Besides the free plan we’ve already mentioned, you can choose a monthly or a yearly subscription. The first one will cost you $9.99 a month, which is pretty reasonable for what many say is the best VPN for Mac. Sadly, that’s all you get, as some popular devices like Firestick and Apple TV are not supported. The latter offers substantial savings, as the monthly price drops to just $4.99.

Avast SecureLine VPN Review

PROS
  • Optimal security

  • Excellent reputation

  • Kill switch

  • Torrenting support

CONS
  • Doesn’t support Netflix

  • Relatively low number of servers and locations

Security & Privacy

This VPN comes from a company that makes one of the most popular antivirus programs, so top-notch security is a given. SecureLine features AES 256 encryption, OpenVPN protocols, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch feature that automatically terminates your connection if the VPN fails.

Touted by many as the best VPN for PC, Avast’s SecureLine is also available on Mac, Android, and iOS. Unfortunately, there is no router app or support for devices like Firestick, Apple TV, and Kodi.

Another thing that might raise some eyebrows is Avast’s unique no-logging policy. The company does keep records on the bandwidth you use and how much time you spend online. This could be a deal-breaker for some, especially because the company is based in the Czech Republic. The country is not a member of the Five-Eyes alliance. However, it cooperates with this cybersecurity organization on some matters.

Speed & Servers

Avast has 700 servers in 34 countries. That doesn’t sound like much, especially compared to the best VPN providers out there, some of which have ten times more servers. Things are looking up, though. Only a few years ago, Avast had just 55 servers, so this is a major increase. The main upside is that many Avast servers are optimized for torrenting, something not many VPN providers can say.

As far as the speed is concerned, you can’t expect lightning speed with this number of servers and their global distribution. The speed loss of what some say is the best VPN for Windows is about 40%. That’s a slightly bigger loss than most other top-end VPNs. However, it’s still sufficient for uninterrupted gaming and streaming. Speaking of streaming, Avast doesn’t currently work with Netflix, which is a significant drawback.

Price

The prices depend on the number of devices and the subscription period. The company doesn’t offer a monthly subscription. You have to commit for one, two, or three years.
If you want to use a VPN on just one device (many say this is the best VPN for iPhone, for instance), the one-year plan will cost you $3.99 per month. The two lengthier plans reduce the price to $2.99.

To use up to five devices, you’ll have to add a dollar for each plan. The good news is that there is a free 7-day trial. So, you can test the software on all your devices before committing.

Perfect Privacy VPN Review

PROS
  • Several VPN protocols

  • Torrenting and Netflix support

  • Many security features

CONS
  • Only 60 servers

  • Unappealing long-term discounts

Security & Privacy

Perfect Privacy VPN has plenty of security features that would make most VPN providers with high ratings envious. Besides using the AES 256-bit encryption and DNS leak protection to safeguard your traffic, it also has the kill switch feature to cut off your internet traffic if anything goes wrong with the VPN connection.

Another interesting option is server-hopping, which further masks your trail by redirecting traffic through two servers. Moreover, you can use the ghost server feature to go around some countries’ VPN restrictions.

Perfect Privacy VPN uses several encryption protocols, such as OpenVPN, IPSec, and SSH, along with SOCKS5 and PPTP proxies. If you want to hide and protect all devices in your home network, the company offers arguably the best VPN router on the market, preconfigured and ready to use. When it comes to user privacy, the company has a strict no-logging policy. It uses RAM discs, which means that all data disappears on every reboot.

Speed & Servers

Perfect Privacy operates just 60 servers in 25 countries. That’s not very impressive as the industry leaders have 100 times more servers than that. With such a low number of servers, speed reduction is inevitable. During a test, the Windows client showed a latency increase of more than 160%, which doesn’t make it the best VPN for Windows 10.

Price

The one-month subscription costs $12.99, and it’s in line with the best options on the market. However, the price is a bit high, considering the number of servers the company provides. What’s even stranger are the prices for long-term plans. As it turns out, the 12-month plan will reduce the monthly cost to $9.99. Additionally, buying a two-year plan will get you a monthly price of $8.95. These are, by far, the most expensive long-term plans on the VPN market.

How to Find the Best VPN Service: Methodology

Our methodology is based on the main elements that make a good and reliable VPN.

Security & Privacy

Security and privacy are the main aspects of any VPN. High-rated VPNs use only the best data encryption software to secure your data. Moreover, we look at what additional security features are offered.

When it comes to privacy, the provider must have a firm no-logging policy. This means that it doesn’t keep records of your browsing history and identity.

Speed & Servers

You’re bound to experience some speed reduction with any VPN, but good ones make this reduction unnoticeable. For instance, if you’re looking for the best VPN for Firestick or other streaming devices, you should pay attention to the number of servers and their distribution.

The connection speed is directly related to the number of servers. VPNs should have a large number of servers adequately distributed across the world. If you’re too far away from a server, the speed will drop. Furthermore, if there are not many servers available, they’re more likely to be overcrowded, which also affects speed.

Price

In this section, we evaluate the VPN’s pricing plans, discounts, and limited-time offers. After all, if you’re eyeing the best android VPN, but it doesn’t fit your budget, it doesn’t matter how impressive its features are.

Conclusion

You shouldn’t settle for an unreliable VPN. Not only does it fail to protect your privacy, but it also gives you a false sense of security. It’s not just a waste of money—it’s actually dangerous.
On the other hand, a good VPN is much like the best friend from your teenage years. They always had your back, told no one where you were the night before, and sneaked magazines and CDs into your room when you were grounded. With all this in mind, choose your VPN as carefully as you would a friend.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best VPN?

There are several pretenders to the throne. The best providers on the market include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost. If you’re looking for a good VPN tool, there are many reasons to choose one of these.

They offer excellent connection speed and quality, thanks to many servers and their good global dispersion. Besides that, they provide many cutting-edge features to ensure user protection and privacy.

Which free VPN is best?

Unfortunately, there aren’t many completely free VPNs out there. What’s more, some companies that offer free VPNs often have hidden agendas like selling your data.

We recommend sticking to free versions of established VPN providers because their only agenda is pushing you to buy their paid version. So, in our opinion, the best free clients include the following:

  • Speedify (2GB a month, 50 server locations)
  • Windscribe Free (10GB a month, 11 server locations)
  • ProtonVPN Free (unlimited data, 3 server locations)
  • Hotspot Shield Free VPN (500MB a day, 1 server location)
  • TunnelBear (500MB a month, 20 server locations)

Which VPN is the fastest?

Although many companies claim to offer the fastest VPN on the market, independent speed testing showed that Hotspot Shield is the fastest VPN — it outperformed the competitors in both local and global testing.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the fastest VPN for you because the speed depends on your location, local infrastructure, distance from the server, and some other factors. You should try several programs to find out which one works best for you.

Which is better, NordVPN or ExpressVPN?

It’s hard to say which of these two leading VPNs is better. They are both excellent products and offer great value for the money. There are, however, some differences between them that might help you decide.

For example, ExpressVPN proved to be slightly faster than NordVPN in many tests. It also offers more security features. On the other hand, NordVPN is somewhat cheaper and has more servers.

Do you need a VPN at home?

Whether you want to access country-restricted content or browse the internet anonymously, investing in a good VPN is a smart choice.

A VPN improves your security by creating an encrypted tunnel around your traffic. That means no one can track you or see what you’re doing online. But keep in mind that this technology has its limitations. More importantly, it’s not antivirus software. For optimal protection, you should have a separate antivirus program installed on your device.

Is VPN safe for online banking?

Yes, VPN is safe for online banking. What’s more, it’s even recommended to use it while on untrusted public Wi-Fi networks. That’s because they are notorious for using outdated software and having many security issues.

VPN encrypts your traffic, making it unreadable to outside observers. So, whenever you’re using public Wi-Fi at a coffee shop, restaurant, or hotel, you should use the best VPN you can find.

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