A virtual private network (VPN) is a security service that creates what’s essentially a “tunnel” for your data to travel to and from its destination. While in the tunnel, your data is heavily encrypted, so that no one can see what it is. VPNs are becoming increasingly popular, even among casual users, because they can stop spying attempts, data theft, hacking attempts and so on.
VPNs also allow you to switch between servers around the world, which can make it look like you’re someplace else, allowing you to overcome various regional restrictions.
Of course, their popularity has also led to a sharp rise in the number of VPN companies marketing themselves to the average consumer. Picking the right one for your computer or smartphone can be a challenge if you don’t know what you’re looking for. To help out, here’s a list of some of the best VPNs available, and what makes each of them a great pick.
“Whoa, this is not what I had in mind,” you may be thinking, “I can’t afford to pay for another monthly service, I need something that’s free.” In that case, we highly suggest taking a look at Windscribe.
Windscribe is a Canada-based VPN that offers servers in more than 60 countries, and packages so flexible that you can easily build or download a free version of the service. The app is available across devices and browsers, and you can even get extra features like malware protection. Windscribe’s customer support is great, too!
TorGuard offers more than 3,000 servers across more than 50 countries, allowing up to five simultaneous connections. Like other top options, it supports pretty much every platform you may want to use, including your router. And the encryption is especially impressive, which uses a number of protocols to provide maximum security and versatility depending on your desired setup.
TorGuard’s app also has an excellent interface that’s well-designed and easy to get the hang of, with 24/7 support if you have any questions. Prices start at $9.99 per month, but quickly rise for larger packages.
IPVanish offers 1,300 servers in more than 75 locations, prides itself on high-speeds, and allows up to 10 simultaneous connections for any of your devices. But the company also has a particular specialty; it offers anonymous torrenting. Combining that with its reliable speeds, makes this VPN especially useful for P2P connections and torrent data downloads. If you do a lot with torrents and want top-notch protection, this is a great place to begin. Prices start at around $5 per month.
ExpressVPN is easily one of the best VPN services for consumers. It has more than 3,000 servers around the world, 160 server locations across more than 90 countries (servers that get high marks for speed, too), and supports up to three devices on its most basic plan.
Plus, the app is incredibly versatile, working with iOS, macOS, Apple TV, and even your routers. You can choose your server location and switch as many times as you want for ultimate privacy, too. It also provides increasingly popular features like specific P2P support for exchanging data and Netflix unblocking so you can still get the streaming content you want.
Customer service is also excellent via live chat, so you can ask whatever questions you want throughout the setup process – although ExpressVPN is quite easy to set up and should only take a few minutes. ExpressVPN starts at only $6.67 per month.
NordVPN provides a somewhat larger service than ExpressVPN, ideal for those who may want to support more devices or even small companies that want VPN protection. The service supports up to six connections and has more than 5,300 servers around more than 60 locations.
It uses 2048-bit SSL encryption for excellent protection and supports both macOS and iOS. There are also control extensions available for both Chrome and Firefox.
NordVPN uses smart DNS, or what it calls Smart Play, to find a server location that will play the services you want, like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, without you needing to manually adjust the servers themselves. According to the company, they’ve unblocked more than 150 services with this feature so far.
But perhaps most attractive of all, NordVPN has a particularly affordable price point starting at only $3 per month if you’re willing to sign up for three years.