This page contains the very best VPNs as determined by our VPN reviews. Our experts test every VPN in several key areas and combine this data to calculate an overall rating.
We test every top VPN for:
- Fast upload speeds, download speeds, and latency around the world.
- AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN functionality, and additional security.
- Streaming capabilities and torrenting support.
- How easy the app is to set up and use on a range of devices.
- The quality of the customer support and online help guides.
In our reviews, you may have also noticed ratings awarded in two other areas: ‘Price & Value for Money’ and ‘Bypassing Censorship’.
Price & Value for money is not a factor on this page. We consider overall quality regardless of price – you can decide for yourself whether it’s one you’re happy to pay.
Bypassing Censorship makes up a small portion of the ‘Features, Encryption & Security’ category. You can learn exactly how this process works by reading our full VPN testing process.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the categories we test for when recommending the best VPNs, and how much of the overall rating they account for:
1. Privacy & Logging Policy: 30%
Minimum Requirement: Retains no identifying data, with servers regularly wiped.
We Recommend: No logs retained whatsoever. Truly ‘zero logs’.
You should not use a VPN that logs anything that could identify you or tie you to your internet activity.
We take a very harsh stance against any VPNs that admit to logging your IP address, DNS requests, or connection metadata.
Anonymous or aggregated usage data is acceptable. This can include the total data used in a month, your total number of monthly logins, or the number of users concurrently connected to a server.
No matter what the data collected is, VPNs are rewarded if it is deleted as soon as possible – ideally at the end of your session.
2. Speed & Reliability: 25%
Minimum Requirement: Fast enough for HD streaming on local connections.
We Recommend: Less than 20% speed loss on local connections or 40% on distant ones.
We use two different types of speed test to work out how fast a VPN is: manual and automatic.
Our manual tests involve running the VPN on a controlled, dedicated testing network. We connect to several servers around the world and record how much they reduce our connection speed.
Our automated tests involve a custom-built tool running on 11 of our own servers located all around the world. The tool is constantly testing 16 of the most popular VPNs, updating its data every six hours. While these numbers aren’t as relatable, they’re more consistent due to their frequency.
We look at the download speeds, upload speeds, and ping from both sets of tests before we apply our formula and award a speed rating.
3. Features, Encryption & Security: 20%
Minimum Requirement: AES-128 encryption, 100 servers, and an internet kill switch.
We Recommend: AES-256, OpenVPN or similar, and obfuscation tools.
Almost every VPN we test uses some form of AES cipher for encryption. AES-128 is perfectly secure, but we test for AES-256 for maximum security.
Most VPNs will offer OpenVPN as a default protocol choice, as it best balances speed with security. Other VPNs choose to offer WireGuard or their own bespoke protocol, both of which are also rated highly (we never recommend a proprietary protocol without inspecting and testing it first).
It’s hard to say exactly how many VPN servers is the right number. We check every VPN and find out if there are enough servers to ensure that the most popular locations do not experience any lag even under high load.
We also check to make sure a VPN has a diverse global spread of servers before recommending it.
The very best VPNs also offer some form of obfuscation. This is essential technology if you’re looking to bypass censorship, whether it’s from your employer, school, or government.
We own a server located in China which we access regularly to test each VPN’s ability to operate around censorship.
4. Streaming & Torrenting: 15%
Minimum Requirement: Can access US Netflix and allows torrenting on most servers.
We Recommend: Accesses multiple streaming libraries and permits P2P on all servers.
We have active subscriptions to all of the most popular streaming services, including Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.
We spend hours each month testing every VPN by simply connecting to a VPN server and seeing whether we can stream the content we want. Every premium VPN should be able to access the US Netflix library, at least.
As for torrenting, a VPN you pay a monthly fee for should never restrict torrenting too harshly. You should be free to torrent on almost any server you choose.
We also test and record P2P bitrates for the best torrenting VPNs, to see if there’s any difference between that and regular download speeds.
5. Ease of Use: 5%
Minimum Requirement: Easy installation and intuitive apps across major platforms.
We Recommend: All of the above, plus clear in-app labels and apps for unusual platforms.
Unless specifically downloading a mobile-only VPN, we make sure every VPN we test offers a bespoke app for Microsoft Windows, Apple MacOS and iOS, and Google Android at the very least.
These apps should be clearly labeled for beginners to better understand them. It should never take more than a few taps or clicks to connect to a server, and the server list should be well-organized and easy to navigate.
Our ratings award VPNs that offer a well-designed app for Amazon Fire TV, a GUI for Linux, or an effective Smart DNS system for streaming devices and consoles. Installation walkthroughs for these more niche platforms are also considered.
6. Customer Support: 5%
Minimum Requirement: A support email address and online troubleshooting guides.
We Recommend: All of the above, plus 24/7 live chat support and in-depth FAQs.
With years spent testing VPNs every single day, we’ve come to appreciate one thing: the very best VPNs separate themselves with the quality of their customer support.
As a paying customer you should accept no less than a prompt and helpful email support service, plus some basic online FAQs.
The top-rated VPNs will also offer 24/7 live chat support. More in-depth online guides, or even a user forum, can make troubleshooting a much less painful experience.