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Best VPN of 2018

Simon Migliano
Simon MiglianoUpdated

There are many different reasons people decide to start using a VPN, but perhaps the most common of all is to protect their privacy. With hundreds of VPN services available, choosing one is hard, but we’re here to help you make the right decision with our in-depth, unbiased reviews.

The best VPN services of 2018 allow you to enjoy private, encrypted browsing along with worldwide access to your favorite sites and apps, free from surveillance and unwanted data collection. You can rely on our choices to be capable of buffer-free streaming and super-fast downloads thanks to our proprietary speed test tool that allows us to constantly monitor speeds in several popular locations across the globe. To see which VPN we recommend for a specific purpose, tell us why you need one below, or read on for the best overall picks for 2018.

The 5 Best VPN Services of 2018
  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. IPVanish
  4. CyberGhost
  5. PrivateVPN
Read on for our detailed analysis of each VPN.
Our pick for 2018
ExpressVPN

Incredibly fast and ultra secure. HD streaming. 24/7 live chat support.

Best price
$6.67 per month
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
94 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
3
What we like
  • Very fast speeds, average of 61Mbps globally
  • Reliable access to Netflix & iPlayer
  • No restrictions on P2P traffic
  • Very easy to use. Instant set-up on all devices
  • Connect securely to 94 countries
  • Chrome, Firefox and Safari browser extensions
What we like less
  • Price could be lower on shorter plans
  • Three simultaneous connections only
Bottom Line

ExpressVPN is simply the best all-round VPN. Its biggest strength is reliability. No other VPN offers such consistently fast speeds across its entire network, even on distant connections. Nor do many match its uninterrupted access to Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other big streaming services.

The apps are reliably user-friendly and easy-to-use, whatever the device. The list of supported devices has few rivals for length. Sure, the three connection limit could be more generous, but as most won’t need more than that, it’s not a big deal.

ExpressVPN performs just as well as on privacy. The VPN kill switch is a must-have feature while its logging policy is one of the best we’ve seen, collecting the absolute bare minimum of connection statistics needed to maintain performance on the huge global network.

Customer care is best-in-class with 24/7 live support and friendly, helpful agents. ExpressVPN also still works well in China, which says a lot about how good it is.

It’s not the cheapest option but you can bring the monthly fee right down to $6.67 on a 15-month plan, which is great value for such an all-round performer.


Read our full ExpressVPN review

2
NordVPN

Very fast zero-logs VPN. HD streaming & extra privacy features.

Best price
$3.99 per month
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
62 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
6
What we like
  • Fast speeds - 68Mbps global average
  • High speed access to Netflix, iPlayer and more
  • P2P and torrenting permitted on many servers
  • Easy-to-use apps. Simple set-up on all devices
  • Connect securely to 62 countries
  • Specialty servers optimized for individual needs
What we like less
  • Slow email support
  • Browser extensions are proxies
  • No city-specific servers
  • Extra protocols require manual config
Bottom Line

NordVPN does the basics incredibly well – even if it lacks the full package offered by ExpressVPN. It’s very fast, secure and one of the very few services to reliably work with both Netflix and iPlayer. Downloads on local connections peak at 314Mbps while uploads top 180Mbps, making it one of the fastest on the market.

The apps are slick and user-friendly but limited to only the most popular platforms, however you can protect up to a generous six devices at once. Manual VPN protocol selection and no city-level servers are a minus but we do like privacy features such as the VPN killswitch and the strict zero-logs policy.

The quality of customer support may be excellent but responses can be slow. It’s not the best option for China either. So while NordVPN falls a little short of ExpressVPN overall, on a two-year subscription, it works out a lot cheaper at $3.99 per month. So if you want to keep monthly costs down or only care about core performance, NordVPN is the ideal choice.


Read our full NordVPN review

3
IPVanish

Super fast zero-logs VPN. Great for P2P. Lots of extra privacy features.

Best price
$3.74 per month
Money-back guarantee
7 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
61 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
10
What we like
  • Fast download speeds - 45Mbps global average
  • Currently working with Netflix
  • Strict zero-logs policy
  • P2P and torrenting permitted on all servers
  • Simple set-up on popular devices
  • Connect securely to 61 countries
What we like less
  • Apps could be a little more user-friendly
  • Short refund period (7 days)
Bottom Line

IPVanish is a top pick, especially for Kodi and torrenting, due to excellent speeds, zero logging and extensive privacy tools. It’s ultra fast on local connections but less consistent internationally across a network that’s mid-sized for locations but super-sized for servers and IP addresses. Netflix is working but iPlayer is currently blocked, which is a shame as it’s otherwise fantastic for streaming.

The desktop apps could be more user-friendly but make up for it with powerful privacy features, including IPv6 leak protection and a killswitch. The Amazon Fire TV native app is a big plus although IPVanish does lack browser extensions or support for other streaming devices.

It can be made to work at a push in China but there’s better options available. Customer support is improving. IPVanish isn’t cheap but it only requires a 2-year commitment to slash the monthly price by 69% to a reasonable $3.74. If P2P is your priority then IPVanish really is a superb VPN for both privacy and performance that will also cover many other needs.


Read our full IPVanish review

4
CyberGhost

Fast zero-logs VPN with great privacy features. Good choice for streaming fans.

Best price
$3.50 per month
Money-back guarantee
45 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
60 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
7
What we like
  • Fast download speeds - 58Mbps global average
  • Quick, easy access to Netflix
  • Optimized servers for torrenting and P2P use
  • Simple set-up on most popular devices
  • Connect securely to 60 countries
  • Strict zero-logs policy
What we like less
  • Torrenting not available on US servers
  • Server network could be bigger
Bottom Line

Cyberghost is easily the best budget VPN on the market. Not only is it very cheap but it also competes with its more premium rivals on several key fronts, especially streaming and privacy.

Access to Netflix and other streaming services is rock solid thanks to dedicated streaming servers. Torrenting/Kodi performance is equally good except on US servers, where P2P traffic is sadly banned. Download speeds on local connections are typically over 140Mbps and while they drop off on international servers, it’s always enough for HD streaming.

A strict zero-logs policy and first-party DNS servers make CyberGhost a top privacy pick, along with the automatic killswitch and other useful extras. The apps are mostly user-friendly but there are slicker alternatives out there. At $3.50 on an 18-month plan though, it’s incredible value and easy to overlook the shortcomings.


Read our full CyberGhost review

5
PrivateVPN

Incredibly fast zero-logs VPN. Easy access to major streaming services.

Best price
$3.60 per month
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
Live chat Support
No. of Server Locations
56 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
6
What we like
  • Fast, reliable download speeds - 64Mbps global average
  • Quick, easy access to Netflix, iPlayer and more
  • P2P and torrenting permitted on all servers
  • Simple set-up on a range of devices
  • Connect securely to 56 countries
  • Advanced privacy features such as Tor over VPN
What we like less
  • No browser extensions available
  • Live chat availability is inconsistent
  • Small number of individual servers
  • No advanced privacy options on mobile
Bottom Line

PrivateVPN is one of our top picks for providers that offer both robust privacy features and excellent global performance. It is also one of the cheapest options on the current market if you opt for the annual plan. If you’re looking for seriously fast speeds and super-easy access to a range of streaming services including Netflix and BBC iPlayer, look no further. Fantastic upload speeds on local connections combined with low latency make it a great option for torrenters, keen Kodi users and gamers alike.

On the privacy side of things, PrivateVPN couldn’t really get much more secure. Loads of advanced privacy features and a strict zero-logs policy more than make up for the fact it’s based in privacy-unfriendly Sweden, as even if a third-party requested your details there would be nothing to show them.

We really like PrivateVPN’s user-friendly desktop client but the mobile apps leave a lot to be desired when it comes to configurable options, although this probably won’t affect the majority of users. It can be made to work in China at a push, however there are much more reliable options available for that purpose. In terms of striking a balance between privacy and performance, PrivateVPN does a brilliant job.


Read our full PrivateVPN review

How we picked the best VPN of 2018

We are constantly testing every VPN on our site to make sure our reviews and recommendations are as up-to-date as possible. We analyze our speed test results to assess VPN performance. We test access to Netflix, iPlayer and other top streaming services. We inspect the apps and put them through their paces. We even evaluate customer support.

Our top picks are proven to work with streaming apps and sites, reliably clock the fastest speeds and have the most useful set of privacy features. Their logging policies are the most transparent, fair and privacy-focused. Their apps are well-designed, quick to install and above all, easy to use. The best services also offer friendly customer support you can rely on to help you quickly should you get stuck.

Free vs paid VPN: Why pay for a VPN?

You may be considering going with one of the handful of free VPN services available. Why pay for something you can get for free, right? Unfortunately there’s a ton of limitations and risks with using a free VPN. Most offer tiny bandwidth allowances, limited server locations, even capped speeds, as they want to convert you into a paid customer to unlock the full product. Don’t expect to be able to stream more than a few Youtube clips, that’s for sure.

Worse, free VPN providers may try to profit from you and your data in other ways. There have been reports of selling usage history to advertisers, secretly redirecting users via sponsored links to earn commissions and even adding devices to a massive botnet.

In comparison, a good paid VPN will heavily invest in privacy and security measures. It will also have to compete to deliver the best possible service in order to attract and retain your custom.

If you are still keen on using a free VPN, why not have a look at our latest free VPN recommendations.

How to choose a VPN: 8 Tips

  • Does the VPN service have servers in every location you need?

    The nearer the VPN server to your physical location, the better the performance. More servers tends to mean less congestion and improved speeds but this is not always the case. Look for the speed test results in our reviews to get the best idea. Beware, free plans often limit available server locations.

  • Does it work on your preferred devices?

    Almost all VPN software will work on Windows, Mac and Linux machines, along with iOS and Android mobile devices. However, some VPN services are also compatible with other internet-connected items, such as routers, games consoles and streaming devices, such as the Amazon Fire Stick.

  • Check the number of simultaneous connections supported

    Do you want to protect your family’s devices as well as your own? Look for as many connections as you are likely to use at the same time.

  • Will it work with your favorite websites and apps?

    Do you watch Netflix or BBC iPlayer? Not every VPN will work with these apps. We continuously test whether each VPN is working with Netflix and other apps and share the results in our VPN reviews.

  • Check connection, encryption and security features

    The sheer amount of VPN jargon can be overwhelming, even if you are pretty tech-savvy. Do look out for OpenVPN though, as this connection protocol offers the best overall blend of speed and security. Ignore talk of military or bank-grade encryption and just look for AES-256, as that’s the gold standard. Unless you know your DNS from your IPv6, a VPN killswitch is the main thing to look out for among security features as it will protect you from exposing your real IP address should your connection drop unexpectedly.

  • What is their logging policy?

    Every VPN will tell you it is does not track your internet activity or is a “zero logs” VPN. In reality, delivering high performance across an extensive global network is impossible unless you are monitoring at least some connection details of your users. You could read a ton of privacy policies and terms of service to find out exactly what’s collected and for how long it’s stored or let us do that for you and just check the logging policy section of our review that explains this in plain language. Ideally you want a VPN that does not log your IP address at all and limits timestamp logging to just the date of your connection.

  • Are their client apps and software easy to use?

    No-one likes a clunky, confusing app. Look for a VPN with software that’s well-designed, simple and powerful and you will be much more likely to use it all the time. We share the results of our hands-on testing of each VPN app in the the Ease of Use part of its review. We spend all day testing VPN apps, so hopefully we know a thing or two!

  • Finally, check the price and money-back guarantee

    Even the most expensive VPN plans are very affordable but you will likely have a budget in mind. 12-month plans typically offer the best value and you can reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse by choosing a VPN with a long refund period, preferably 30 days and with no questions asked. These guarantees are much more common than traditional free trials but are essentially the same thing.