If you care about your privacy, travel frequently or often work on public Wi-Fi, these are the best VPN services to keep your data safe. About the author: Christian Cawley is MakeUseOf‘s security and Linux editor, with extensive experience in IT desktop and software support. Christian is a regular contributor to print publications such as Linux User & Developer, as well as a number of specials: Raspberry Pi for Beginners, Expert Android, The iPad Book Vol 6, WordPress… MakeUseOf is a technology website, focused on bridging the connection between users, computers, devices and the Internet through education. Image courtesy of Spaxia via Bigstockphoto.
The need for secure, anonymous connections to the Internet has increased considerably in the past few years, as more and more users come to realize the importance of not being seen and followed online.
We’ve compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network service providers — grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. We’ll be updating the list regularly, so leave your feedback in the comments for services we should add (or even remove).
These VPNs offer solutions that will mask your online presence to keep you safe. But remember, VPNs might not be as private as you think.
Intended for the heavy user, these professional VPN services offer the basic required privacy alongside a range of additional features, from increased encryption and mobile support to unlimited bandwidth and “zero records” keeping a log of what you’re browsing.
The following VPN services offer these features and others besides.
With 1,000 physical servers in 136 geographical locations across 87 countries, ExpressVPN’s focus is on speed. You don’t want a slow VPN when you can have a fast one, and ExpressVPN offers privacy on top of this with PTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN protocol support. For $12.95/month you get a wide range of top VPN features, no logging, and Tor support (ExpressVPN has a .onion website, too).
It’s also great for Netflix!
NordVPN has numerous servers across the US, Europe, and Australia that are dedicated to ultra-fast streaming, Tor privacy, anti-DDOS, and more.
Most locations support the PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN protocols and all data is encrypted twice for tighter security. All of this is available for $11.95/month, though discounts are available for 6-month plans at $7/month and annual plans at $5.75/month. These prices are higher than they were in 2016.
Cross platform device support is on offer from VyprVPN, along with a free trial and affordable monthly tariff ($5) for unlimited data and three concurrent connections. Or you might upgrade to their VyprVPN Premium service, at $12.95/month, which offers five simultaneous connections. With desktop and mobile apps, VyprVPN might prove particularly useful to you used in conjunction with OpenELEC/Kodi powered media centers.
Available for $90/year (or monthly for $9.00), Windscribe offers unlimited bandwidth, unlimited devices, and servers in 45 locations. you can pay using standard methods as well as Bitcoin.
Windscribe offers apps for Windows, Mac, Chrome and iPhone. Meanwhile, its support for the OpenVPN protocol means that you can use Windscribe with Linux, Android, routers, and more.
A free, limited Windscribe account is also available.
For Android, iOS, Windows and Mac OS X, pricing is reasonable at $59.88/year, an annual charge that works out at $4.99/month. With unlimited tunneling and a mobile-only plan, note that TunnelBear is offering 256-bit encryption.
As we discussed previously TunnelBear is a particularly good way to enjoy US-only web content, including video and audio. There’s also a $9.99/month option, if an annual subscription is out of your budget range. A free version is also available, detailed below.
Useful for encryption, anonymity, and reliability when downloading and sharing on P2P networks, torrent-friendly VPNs are slightly more expensive than the premium options, offering as they do a specialized service for a narrow group of users.
Ivacy VPN highlights its use as a torrent-friendly VPN, and is available for non-throttled, P2P-optimized file sharing for $9.95/month (or $49/year, or $44.95 for six months). Other features include the usual circumvention of region-blocking, the ability to stream anything from anywhere, and 256-bit encryption.
Also on offer from Ivacy is a “strict ZERO LOG policy” which should prevent your activity from being tracked or observed.
Claiming to be the fastest VPN in the world, Ivacy is ideal for torrenting and media-based streaming.
For just $6.49, SurfEasy Total gives monthly access to its VPN service with unlimited data and ad tracker blocking to users of Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows. A subscription gives you support for up to 5 devices, unlimited bandwidth and torrenting.
Our review of SurfEasy Total explains these features in more detail. Note that there is also a lower-cost subscription at $3.99/month, for torrent-free VPN use.
Costing $6.95/month or $39.95/year (Bitcoin accepted), this secure VPN service offers P2P and VOIP support, as well as the ability to use 5 devices simultaneously and unlimited bandwidth!
A popular choice and recommended by PCMag.com, the fact that it provides VPN for torrenters makes Private Internet Access a particularly attractive choice.
For $9.95 a month you can sign up to BTGuard, whose 10 GBit servers offer unlimited download speeds and anonymous P2P torrent traffic. BTGuard runs with Windows, OS X and Linux, and accepts Bitcoin.
Meanwhile, if you don’t want the full VPN experience but want to protect your torrenting activity, BTGuard offers a $6.95/month BitTorrent Proxy service.
What’s not to like?
Our final recommendation for a torrent-friendly VPN comes in the shape of IPVanish, available for as little as $6.49/month with annual billing ($10/month for monthly billing).
With over 500 VPN servers spread across 60+ countries, you get unlimited P2P traffic and unlimited bandwidth regardless. Claiming to be the world’s fastest VPN, IPVanish is available for Windows, Windows Phone, macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Chromebook and even routers.
Not all VPNs are paid services. If you have only an occasional need to access the web or other online service via a VPN, then signing up with a free service makes sense, especially if you’re concerned about payment privacy and don’t have a Bitcoin wallet.
Unlike the premium service, free access to CyberGhost is ad-supported and works only with Windows, Mac OS X and Android. Speed is capped.
With a monthly allowance of 500 MB a month, TunnelBear’s free option is potentially limiting to your VPN requirements. However, you can get a bonus 1 GB of data by taking part in the company’s Twitter promotion. Tunnelbear Free is compatible with Windows, OS X, iOS and Android.
Like TunnelBear’s free service, OkayFreedom caps your VPN allowance at 500 MB a month, which means you will need to use it sparingly in most cases, even with an extra 100 MB available per referral. This free service is ad-supported, but can be slow at times.
If you’re not so keen to download a dedicated free VPN app, why not try the Opera browser? Since mid-2016 it has shipped with its own VPN, enabling users to easily bypass region blocking and keep their online transactions secure. It may not be the fastest VPN — and it’s unsuitable for streaming Netflix or torrenting — but Opera VPN is a very popular free choice. Indeed, we’re expecting other browsers to follow suit quite soon.
There’s even a free VPN app for Android and iOS!
…and a deep dive on CyberGhost here: