Disclosure: We review VPNs independently, however we may earn commissions if you buy a VPN via links on our site.

The Best VPN Services of 2023

Illustration of a Podium Displaying First, Second and Third Place
Simon Migliano

Simon Migliano is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times and more.

Fact-checked by JP JonesAdditional Testing by Callum Tennent

A VPN changes and hides your IP address, bypasses internet geo-blocks, and encrypts your web traffic, including on public WiFi. Only the best VPNs can do so quickly and effectively, though.

My team and I have tested over 150 VPN apps and reviewed 55 services in detail to help you choose the right VPN for greater internet security, privacy, and access.

What Is the Best VPN of 2023?

Based on thousands of tests, the 10 best VPN services are:

  1. ExpressVPN: Best VPN Overall
  2. NordVPN: Best VPN for Security
  3. PIA VPN: Best VPN for Privacy & Torrenting
  4. Surfshark: Best VPN for GPS Spoofing
  5. PrivateVPN: Best VPN for Public WiFi
  6. IPVanish: Best VPN for Fire TV Stick & Kodi
  7. CyberGhost: Best VPN Free Trial
  8. Windscribe: Unblocks Most Netflix Regions
  9. Hide.me: Best VPN for IPv6 Connections
  10. Proton VPN: Best Free VPN

The best all-round VPN in 2023 is ExpressVPN, with an overall rating of 9.6/10. It’s fast, highly secure, and it outperforms all other VPN services in most testing categories. ExpressVPN is our top choice for unblocking streaming platforms, unrestricted gaming, and ease of use – although it is more expensive than most rival services.

Comparison of the 10 Best VPN Services

The table below compares the 10 best VPN services based on logging policy, speed, US Netflix access, torrenting policy, price, and more.

The VPNs we recommend in this guide are the best available for desktops, laptops, smartphones, media streaming devices, and even games consoles.

With thousands of secure servers located around the world, these VPNs are suitable for global internet users, including in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.

Further down, you’ll also find the top VPNs for many categories we test for, as well as an in-depth look at each top-rated VPN.

We’ll also share our advice and guidance on how to choose the best VPN service.

Why Trust Top10VPN.com?

We’re completely independent and focused on VPN software. We’ve spent thousands of hours testing and reviewing VPNs using our unbiased VPN review process to recommend the best ones.

Here are some of our key VPN testing statistics:

Total Hours of Testing30,000+
Weekly Speed Tests3,000+
VPN Services Reviewed55
Streaming Platforms Tested Daily12
IP & DNS Leak Tests Performed9,500+
How Much We've Spent On Testing$25,000+

Best VPNs: Summary Test Ratings

Use the table below to see how the 10 highest-rated VPN services performed in our most important testing categories:

DID YOU KNOW? You can add any VPN we recommend to our side-by-side VPN comparison tool. Simply tick ‘Add to compare’ to add a VPN to the Comparison Tool Preview in the lower right corner of your screen.

Top VPN Services by Category

We rate the 10 VPN services in this guide extremely highly, but the truth is there is no definitive ‘best VPN’. The right VPN depends on your specific needs.

Do you want to unblock more Netflix libraries? Torrent anonymously? Or simply stay safe on public WiFi?

Follow the links below to see which VPNs we recommend for popular categories we test for.

Best VPNs for Streaming

Best VPNs by Device

The right VPN depends on the device and OS you're using. Find the best VPNs for iPhone, Android, PC, macOS, and more.

  1. Best VPN for Windows
  2. Best VPN for Mac
  3. Best VPN for Linux
  4. Best VPN for iPhone & iPad
  5. Best VPN for Android
  6. Best VPN for Fire TV Stick
  7. Best VPN for Apple TV
  8. Best VPN for Routers

Best VPNs for Privacy, Torrenting & Gaming

See our VPN recommendations for internet privacy, anonymous torrenting and file-sharing, and gaming.

  1. Best VPN for Torrenting
  2. Best No-Logs VPN
  3. Best VPN for Gaming
  4. Best VPN for PUBG Mobile

Best VPNs by Price & Speed

VPNs vary when it comes to their speeds and subscription costs. Find the fastest and cheapest VPN services here.

  1. Fastest VPNs
  2. Best Cheap VPNs
  3. Best VPN Free Trials

Best VPNs by Browser

Some VPNs only offer extensions for certain web browsers. Find the best VPN add-ons for specific browsers here.

  1. Best VPN for Chrome
  2. Best VPN for Firefox
  3. Best VPN for Tor

Best VPNs by Country

Best VPN Services Video Summary

The video below briefly summarizes our most highly-rated VPN services and why we recommend them.

Video recap of the best VPN services of 2023.

Analysis of the 10 Best VPN Services

  1. 1. ExpressVPN: Best VPN Overall

    Our most highly-rated VPN, and the best VPN for unrestricted streaming and gaming.

    Ranked #1 out of 55 VPN services
    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     Rated 4.8 out of 5 
    1,848 user reviews
    Visit ExpressVPN

    • Consistently fast speeds across any distance
    • Unblocks 10 Netflix regions, Disney+, Prime Video & more
    • No-logs policy, AES-256 encryption & RAM-based diskless servers
    • Privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands (BVI) jurisdiction
    • Fire TV app, Smart DNS for Apple TV & gaming consoles
    • Friendly & knowledgeable 24/7 live customer support

    • More expensive than its rivals
    • No Linux general user interface
    • No split tunneling on macOS
    • No port forwarding for torrenters

    Overall Rating: 9.6/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following nine category ratings. To learn more, read our VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.39.3/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.89.8/10

    ExpressVPN is the best VPN service of 2023, excelling in all our testing categories. It’s highly secure, consistently fast, and it worked smoothly on all our test devices.

    In our experience, the VPN service is particularly suited for fast HD/4K streaming, lag-free gaming, and anonymous torrenting around the world.

    On the rare occasion we incurred a technical issue, ExpressVPN’s excellent 24/7 customer support was knowledgeable and quick to help resolve the problem.

    ExpressVPN's Windows and Mac app side-by-side

    The home screen of ExpressVPN’s Windows app (left) and macOS app (right).

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection97Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionBritish Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)
    Works In ChinaYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. chromeosChrome OS
    5. iosiOS
    6. androidAndroid

    Excellent for streaming US Netflix

    After thousands of streaming tests, ExpressVPN remains our highest-rated VPN for streaming.

    More specifically, it’s the best VPN to unblock US Netflix and 9 other Netflix regions.

    The video below is real footage of our testing, showing you just how easy it was to access American Netflix with ExpressVPN:

    There’s no extra settings or features needed – just connect to a US ExpressVPN server and start watching Netflix.

    We were also pleased to see the VPN bypass HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video geo-blocks without issue.

    You can also stream using ExpressVPN’s VPN extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. These are full VPN extensions, and not simple proxies (which don’t encrypt internet traffic).

    ExpressVPN also comes with a very good Fire TV app, and MediaStreamer, its Smart DNS tool for use with Apple TV, Roku, and games consoles.

    A highly-secure VPN for torrenting

    All 3,000 ExpressVPN servers allow P2P traffic, without tracking or logging your data transfers.

    All file transfer data travels through secure VPN protocols (OpenVPN, IKEv2, and Lightway) and diskless (RAM-only) servers, with AES-256 encryption.

    Lightway in particular delivered an excellent download bitrate of 9.4MiB/s in our VPN torrenting tests. Only Astrill (10.0MiB/s) and PIA VPN (9.6MiB/s registered faster torrent speeds.

    Using ExpressVPN with the qBittorrent torrent client

    ExpressVPN is fully compatible with BitTorrent clients.

    The VPN also has a wide range of additional security features, including a VPN kill switch, which prevented our IP address leaking on rare instances our VPN connection dropped.

    Thanks to these security safeguards, we’re happy to confirm you can torrent safely with ExpressVPN without restrictions.

    Expensive but worth the higher price

    ExpressVPN isn’t perfect, though, and its main drawback is its above-average subscription price.

    At its cheapest, the VPN service costs $6.67 per month on a 15-month contract.

    Despite the service being more expensive than many premium rivals, you get your money’s worth given its superior capabilities.

    If you want to try the VPN first, ExpressVPN offers 7- and 30-day free trials.

    For a quick overview of ExpressVPN’s best and worst features, watch our 60-second video review:

    Who is ExpressVPN best for?

    You should use ExpressVPN if:

    • You want to unblock streaming services. ExpressVPN unblocks most content platforms including HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and 10 Netflix libraries.
    • You want a VPN that excels in all areas. ExpressVPN performs exceptionally in most testing categories, including privacy, security, speed, streaming, and ease-of-use.

    You should not use ExpressVPN if:

    • You’re on a small budget. ExpressVPN’s cheapest subscription plan costs $6.67 per month over 15 months. This is more expensive than most competitors.
    • You’re a Linux user. While Linux-compatible, ExpressVPN’s client offers no user-friendly interface.
  2. 2. NordVPN: Best VPN for Security

    Industry-leading VPN security paired with a ton of advanced features.

    NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot
     Rated 4.7 out of 5 
    246 user reviews
    Visit NordVPN

    • WireGuard (NordLynx) protocol in use across its network
    • Verified zero-logs policy & no IP or DNS leaks
    • Extra security features like multihop & diskless servers
    • Impressive speeds across short & long-distances
    • Streams US Netflix & allows P2P traffic on many servers
    • Helpful 24/7 live chat support

    • PC & Mac applications can't be resized
    • Less reliable for Netflix on Fire TV devices
    • Unreliable at bypassing web blocks in China
    • Doesn't accept PayPal
    • Minor server breach in 2018
    • Renews at a much higher annual subscription price

    Overall Rating: 9.4/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following nine category ratings. To learn more, read our VPN testing methodology.

    • 8.88.8/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 6.76.7/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.79.7/10

    NordVPN is one of the most popular VPNs in the world, and it’s currently the best when it comes to security and advanced technical features.

    Overall, NordVPN is almost as good as ExpressVPN and it’s significantly cheaper on an initial longer-term subscription.

    The VPN service also unblocks many streaming services, and uses strong encryption to your secure internet traffic.

    The server list in NordVPN's app

    NordVPN’s desktop application for Windows.

    Cheapest Price$3.29/mo over 2 years See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionPanama (Privacy Haven)
    Works In ChinaUnreliable
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. chromeosChrome OS
    5. iosiOS
    6. androidAndroid

    Advanced security settings and a verified no-logs policy

    The NordVPN applications include a wide range of high-end security features. Many were improved after a minor server breach in 2018.

    NordVPN uses secure encryption protocols like OpenVPN and WireGuard (branded as NordLynx). Just like ExpressVPN, the VPN also secures your data with AES-256 encryption.

    Extra features include a kill switch and Double VPN (multihop), which routes your traffic through an extra VPN server for increased anonymity.

    NordVPN's double VPN servers on Windows

    NordVPN only allows short-distance Multi-hop connections.

    NordVPN doesn’t collect any personal web logs, either. It doesn’t record your IP address, browser history, or bandwidth usage data.

    Moreover, the VPN service uses diskless servers, just like ExpressVPN, which never record any data locally.

    The service even comes with a built-in ad and malware blocker called CyberSec.

    Stable connections with barely any speed loss

    NordVPN delivers some of the fastest VPN speeds we’ve tested across the entirety of its global network of 5,613 servers.

    In our short-distance VPN speed tests out of New York, we were impressed by download speed losses as low as 5%. This outcome matched Private Internet Access across the same distance, although ExpressVPN outperformed both with a 3% loss.

    On international connections, NordVPN performed almost exactly the same to ExpressVPN and PIA VPN. It recorded an average download speed of 86Mbps (on a fixed 100Mbps base connection).

    The best VPN for the UK & Canada

    Despite not covering as many server locations as ExpressVPN, NordVPN is a better VPN for specific countries like the UK and Canada.

    We were especially impressed with the performance of the service’s over 440 UK VPN servers, all assigning a London-based IP address.

    NordVPN's List of UK Servers

    NordVPN has over 440 servers in London, UK.

    VPN connections to these London-based servers have been fast and consistent throughout our tests over the years.

    Accessing UK streaming services from overseas has also been very reliable, thanks to the unblocking capabilities of NordVPN’s UK servers.

    It’s a similar story for its over 240 Canada VPN servers, which worked exceptionally in our tests.

    The servers, located in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, continue to be fast and effective at bypassing geo-restrictions.

    Not as user-friendly as ExpressVPN

    We rate NordVPN very highly, however the design of the Windows and macOS applications needs improving.

    The desktop and laptop clients are by no means hard to use, but we don’t find NordVPN’s VPN software for Windows and macOS as user-friendly and intuitive as ExpressVPN’s.

    As the screenshots further above show, displaying the location of servers on a map is unnecessary. This is a legacy feature that makes the VPN client interface very big. Moreover, it can’t be resized.

    In the video review below, we explain the best and worst parts of NordVPN’s apps:

    Who is NordVPN best for?

    You should use NordVPN if:

    • You want a very fast VPN. NordVPN is one the fastest VPN we’ve tested, with minimal short-distance speed losses.
    • You need an affordable alternative to ExpressVPN. NordVPN is almost as good as ExpressVPN, and it’s significantly cheaper for the initial subscription length.

    You should not use NordVPN if:

    • You need a VPN for Fire TV. While NordVPN’s Fire TV app works, it’s more difficult to use with Netflix and other streaming apps than ExpressVPN.
    • You’re an Android user. NordVPN’s Android app is good, but the kill switch can be complicated to configure.
  3. 3. PIA VPN: Best VPN for Privacy & Torrenting

    The best VPN for privacy, excellent for anonymous torrenting and file-sharing.

    Private Internet Access
     Rated 4.3 out of 5 
    29 user reviews
    Visit PIA VPN

    • Fast P2P-enabled 17,087 servers in 84 countries
    • Verified zero-logs logging policy
    • Effective VPN kill switch & port forwarding
    • The best VPN service for the USA
    • Servers in 50 US states to bypass US blackouts
    • Streams US Netflix, HBO Max & Disney+

    • Mac client has usability issues
    • Smart DNS doesn't work with streaming apps
    • Firestick app needs improvements
    • Headquartered in the USA (FVEY jurisdiction)

    Overall Rating : 9.3/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following nine category ratings. To learn more, read our VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.79.7/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 9.39.3/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 8.18.1/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.29.2/10

    Private Internet Access (PIA) is a highly private and secure zero-logs VPN with the largest server network available.

    We were pleased to record fast connection speeds across all servers, particularly when file sharing and downloading torrent files.

    The American-based VPN also comes with many advanced security settings, as well as a rare native application for Linux, to keep your internet activity private and secure.

    Cheapest Price$2.19/mo over 26 months See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionUS (Five Eyes Member)
    Works In ChinaYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Extremely private VPN suited for torrenting

    Private Internet Access is currently the best VPN for anonymous file sharing and torrenting.

    The VPN outperforms the competition thanks to its no-logs policy, a very effective kill switch, and exceptional P2P download bitrates.

    Using Private Internet Access to download a torrent file

    Your IP address is anonymized when torrenting with PIA.

    PIA VPN also includes port forwarding, which improves torrenting speeds and helps with seeding files. Sadly, it’s not allowed on US servers.

    Huge server network with very good speeds

    PIA’s VPN server network is not only the largest there is, but it’s also one of the most secure we’ve tested.

    The service provides access to 17,087 no-logs VPN servers in 84.

    The impact of the VPN’s server size on short-distance speeds is significant: we recorded an internet speed loss of just 5% connecting to nearby server locations within New York.

    The best VPN for the USA

    Private Internet Access is the only VPN with servers in 50 US states.

    Additionally, PIA runs the most VPN servers in America, which deliver the fastest VPN speeds connecting within and into the country.

    PIA's US server locations

    PIA’s server locations in USA.

    This deep US server location coverage allows Americans to easily bypass US sports blackouts. In our experience, PIA VPN has always got around NFL, NBA, and MLB regional restrictions with ease.

    The service also lets internet users from outside the United States easily obtain an anonymous US IP address to access American web and video content.

    Mac client could be more user friendly

    While PIA is a great VPN for privacy, security, and streaming, it’s not the easiest VPN to use on MacBooks and iMacs.

    The main issue we have with the macOS software is the very slow loading times, which is rather frustrating. It can take three seconds to load, if you’re running the VPN as a windowed app.

    The other issue is that the app launches as a menu bar app by default. Therefore, you can’t place the VPN app in the dock, or launch it from Spotlight.

    We explain PIA’s pros and cons in the short video review below:

    Who is Private Internet Access best for?

    You should use PIA if:

    • You want to torrent files securely. PIA’s fast P2P servers, port forwarding, and verified zero-logs policy are ideal for anonymous file-sharing.
    • You want to bypass US sports blackouts. PIA’s server coverage in America is the best there is, giving you access to US IP addresses from 50 US states.

    You should not use PIA if:

    • You’re a new VPN user. Despite its strong security credentials, PIA’s advanced features and customization settings may be off-putting for VPN beginners.
    • You’re a macOS or Firestick user. PIA’s Mac app is slow to load and frustrating to use. On Fire TV, our tests found that 75% of PIA’s US servers don’t unblock Netflix.
  4. 4. Surfshark: Best VPN for GPS Spoofing

    An affordable VPN with the rare ability to spoof GPS data on mobile.

    Surfshark app
     Rated 4.1 out of 5 
    131 user reviews
    Visit Surfshark

    • Many advanced security features & settings
    • Diskless (RAM-based) servers & Double VPN
    • GPS spoofing setting on Android app
    • Rotating IP address feature
    • Very affordable on a two-year subscription plan
    • Unlimited device connections

    • Kill switch not enabled by default
    • No IPv6 leak protection
    • NoBorders mode inconsistent in China
    • No OpenVPN on macOS
    • Slower than ExpressVPN and NordVPN

    Overall Rating: 9.2/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following nine category ratings. To learn more, read our VPN testing methodology.

    • 8.78.7/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 8.68.6/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 8.58.5/10

    Surfshark competes with the very best VPNs, and at a much lower price. There’s no compromise on quality, either, especially when it comes to internet security.

    This highly secure VPN offers several advanced security features such as GPS spoofing, diskless servers, multi-hop servers (Double VPN), and the ever-important kill switch.

    In short, Surfshark represents excellent value given the quality of its security and technical features.

    Surfshark's android application

    Surfshark’s Android application and server list.

    Cheapest Price$2.30/mo over 26 months See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionNetherlands (EU Member)
    Works In ChinaUnreliable
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Effective at bypassing IP and GPS blocks

    We were very impressed by how effective Surfshark is at bypassing IP-based geo-blocks from services like Netflix, Disney+, and HBO Max.

    But what sets Surfshark apart is its ability to spoof your GPS location on Android phones. Extremely few VPNs are able to do this.

    The ‘GPS Override’ function prevents Android mobile applications using GPS to detect your real location. It’s very simply to use and worked as intended.

    GPS Override feature in the Surfshark Android app

    The GPS Override feature in Surfshark Android.

    When activated, the integrated function spoofed our GPS coordinates on our Android mobile device to match our VPN server location.

    An ideal VPN for increased internet security & privacy

    Surshark is exceptionally secure, offering many of the essential security features we expect from top-tier VPN providers.

    All of the VPN’s applications include AES-256 encryption, WireGuard as the default protocol, built-in IP and DNS leak protection, and a VPN kill switch.

    The kill switch isn’t enabled by default, which is surprising and needs to be fixed. You can easily turn it on from the settings menu, though.

    Similarly to ExpressVPN, Surfshark’s servers are RAM-based, meaning no data can be extracted from them in the event of a breach or server seizure.

    Additionally, Surfshark has introduced a ‘Rotating IP’ feature. When enabled, the VPN changes your IP address every 5-10 minutes without changing the server location you’re connected to.

    Surfshark's Rotating IP

    Surfshark’s rotating IP feature on macOS.

    The Rotating IP function, which worked smoothly for us, further increases your anonymity and security online without affecting your IP location.

    An excellent VPN available for a very low price

    Another great benefit of Surfshark is its price: it’s extremely affordable. More than that, it’s the best cheap VPN we recommend.

    At its cheapest, the VPN costs just $2.30 per month on a 26-month subscription plan. Even when paying the $59.76 upfront, this is still very affordable.

    When a VPN costs as little as this, often you won’t be getting a good product. That’s not the case here: Surfshark is one of the best VPNs we’ve tested.

    Slow server connections and moderate speeds

    The issues we’ve faced testing Surfshark revolve around disappointing server connection times and speed.

    We often find ourselves waiting several seconds before connecting to popular servers. And once we’re connected, the speeds are not as fast those from ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

    On short-distance connections, Surfshark VPN reduced our internet speed by 5%. This is isn’t bad by any means, but it’s significantly worse than ExpressVPN’s 3%.

    Who is Surfshark best for?

    You should use Surfshark if:

    • You want a secure cheap VPN. Surfshark’s two-year subscription plan costs just $2.30 per month, which represents excellent value.
    • You need unlimited simultaneous connections. Unlike many top VPN services, you can use a single Surfshark subscription with an unlimited number of devices at once.

    You should not use Surfshark if:

    • You need a VPN to beat strict web censorship. Surfshark’s ‘NoBorders’ obfuscation mode doesn’t consistently work in China.
    • You’re a regular torrenting user. Surfshark allows P2P traffic, but it doesn’t include port forwarding or IPv6 protection. Also, its kill switch isn’t enabled by default.
  5. 5. PrivateVPN: Best VPN for Public WiFi

    A user-friendly VPN ideal for securing free public WiFi connections.

    Image of PrivateVPN's app on mobile
     Rated 4.9 out of 5 
    1,735 user reviews
    Visit PrivateVPN

    • Easy-to-use apps suitable for beginners
    • High level of encryption and no-logs servers
    • Fast and secure short-distance connections
    • Costs only $2.00/month on a 3-year plan
    • Unblocks 14 Netflix regions
    • Bypasses internet filters in China

    • Small network of 200 servers
    • Slower speeds on long-distance connections
    • No VPN browser extensions & no Smart DNS
    • No WireGuard protocol
    • 24/7 live support not always available
    • Logging policy lacks important details

    Overall Rating : 9.1/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following nine category ratings. To learn more, read our VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.39.3/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 8.38.3/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 8.38.3/10

    PrivateVPN is a no-logs VPN with easy-to-use applications suitable for securing free public WiFi connections.

    The VPN is also highly reliable at unblocking many streaming websites and apps, despite having a smaller server network than higher-ranked VPNs.

    Cheapest Price$2.00/mo over 3 years See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionSweden (14-Eyes Member)
    Works In ChinaYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Advanced WiFi protection on insecure networks

    PrivateVPN’s applications are not only beginner-friendly, but highly secure.

    The software encrypts internet connections using the AES-256 cipher and a 2048-bit RSA handshake.

    Furthermore, the no-logs VPN includes a working VPN kill switch to protect from unexpected IP address leaks (which we’ve never detected in our tests).

    PrivateVPN’s security is optimal for securing free public WiFi in airports, hotels and coffee shops, where the risk of data profiling and MitM (man-in-the-middle) attacks is heightened.

    Easily beats streaming geo-restrictions

    PrivateVPN is very good at unblocking websites and applications.

    The VPN can in fact unblock 14 Netflix regions as well as BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, and many more platforms.

    PrivateVPN working with US Netflix.

    PrivateVPN always works with US Netflix.

    However, there is no Smart DNS feature. You’ll have to set up PrivateVPN on your router to use it with devices like Apple TV and games consoles.

    Small server network and slower international speeds

    PrivateVPN’s main drawback is its small network of servers. It only offers 200 servers compared to ExpressVPN’s 3,000.

    This limited server park often causes congestion issues on the network, which is why PrivateVPN’s long-distance connections are often slower than its competitors.

    Therefore, don’t always expect HD quality when streaming American Netflix or HBO Max from outside the US.

    Who is PrivateVPN best for?

    You should use PrivateVPN if:

    • You need an affordable VPN for public WiFi. PrivateVPN uses industry-standard AES-256 encryption and costs just $2.00 per month on a 3-year plan.
    • You’re new to VPN services. In addition to its low monthly price, PrivateVPN’s apps are very simple to use and ideal for beginners.

    You should not use PrivateVPN if:

    • You want a large server network. With just 200 servers in total, PrivateVPN’s network is significantly smaller than its competitors.
    • You need to connect to far-away servers. Our VPN speed tests have recorded slow speeds when connecting to PrivateVPN servers in distant locations.
  6. 6. IPVanish: Best VPN for Firestick & Kodi

    A private, no-logs VPN well suited for Fire TV Stick and Kodi users.

    IPVanish VPN
     Rated 4.8 out of 5 
    175 user reviews
    Visit IPVanish

    • Excellent app for Fire TV devices
    • .apk file for side loading on Android boxes
    • Fast short-distance download speeds
    • No-logs first-party DNS servers
    • SOCKS5 proxy for torrent clients
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections

    • Doesn't unblock as many streaming apps
    • No VPN browser extensions
    • No Smart DNS for Apple TV & games consoles
    • Can’t bypass strict web censorship
    • Kill switch not enabled by default
    • No kill switch in the iOS app

    Overall Rating: 9.1/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following nine category ratings. To learn more, read our VPN testing methodology.

    • 8.88.8/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 66.0/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 99.0/10

    IPVanish has the best VPN app for Amazon Fire TV Stick. It’s fast, secure and doesn’t keep streaming activity logs.

    By virtue of its several privacy and security tools, IPVanish is particularly suitable for anonymous streaming using Kodi and IPTV apps.

    Cheapest Price$3.33/mo over 24 months See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionUS (Five Eyes Member)
    Works In ChinaNo
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. chromeosChrome OS
    5. iosiOS
    6. androidAndroid

    A private application for Fire TV devices

    IPVanish remains the highest-rated VPN for the very popular Amazon Fire TV Stick and other Fire TV devices.

    The app is very simple to use, and records high speeds connecting to nearby VPN servers. In recent tests, we only registered a 10% loss in download speed.

    The IPVanish homescreen on Amazon Fire TV Stick

    The IPVanish homescreen on Amazon Fire TV Stick.

    While IPVanish doesn’t unblock most Netflix regions, and other popular video platforms, we found the VPN works well with Kodi and IPTV streaming apps.

    There’s even an Android apk file to use the VPN on Android devices with no access to Google Play Store (e.g. Android boxes).

    Encrypted zero-logs servers and 40,000 IP addresses

    While IPVanish isn’t a top choice for unblocking streaming apps, it is one of the most private VPN services we’ve tested.

    All 2,200 servers, entirely owned by IPVanish, are completely no-logs. They don’t monitor or store any of your internet activity.

    Favoriting servers in IPVanish's Windows application

    Favoriting server locations in the IPVanish Windows client.

    You’ll be happy to know that we’ve never suffered an IP or DNS address leak while using the service’s various VPN clients.

    Moreover, you can quickly change your IP location by accessing one of the 40,000 anonymous IP addresses IPVanish offers.

    Offering such a high quantity of IP addresses to its customers is commendable, and rare among VPN services.

    Not the best at bypassing geo-restrictions

    While IPVanish is great for anonymous Kodi and IPTV streaming, historically it’s been unreliable at beating video geo-restrictions.

    In the past, the VPN simply couldn’t bypass geo-blocks imposed by Netflix, BBC iPlayer and several other content platforms.

    However, over the last several months of testing, the VPN has performed much better in terms of unblocking geo-restricted platforms.

    Sadly, IPVanish still doesn’t offer Smart DNS functionality, which makes streaming geo-blocked content on Apple TV and games consoles more complicated.

    Despite recent streaming improvements, IPVanish still struggles with strict internet filters in China. For bypassing the Great Firewall of China, we recommend using Hide.me instead.

    Who is IPVanish best for?

    You should use IPVanish if:

    • You need a VPN for Fire TV Stick or Kodi. IPVanish is highly-compatible with Android-based Kodi devices, and it has an excellent native app for Fire TV Stick.
    • You want to use a SOCKS5 proxy. Though its core VPN servers are fast, IPVanish also includes access to a SOCKS5 proxy server for torrent clients.

    You should not use IPVanish if:

    • You want to change VPN servers directly from your browser. IPVanish lacks VPN extensions for your Chrome or Firefox browser.
    • You need to bypass aggressive web censorship. IPVanish fails to circumvent the strictest internet censorship in countries like China.
  7. 7. CyberGhost: Best VPN Free Trial

    Offers the best VPN free trial with no payment details required.

    CyberGhost app
     Rated 4.7 out of 5 
    342 user reviews
    Visit CyberGhost

    • 24-hour, three-day & seven-day free trials
    • Trials don't require payment or credit card details
    • Long 45-day refund guarantee & 24/7 live support
    • 9,769 servers across 90 countries
    • Doesn't log personal usage data
    • Smart DNS tool for increased device compatibility

    • Not as fast as its rivals over long distances
    • Browser extensions only cover four countries
    • Mobile and macOS apps lack important settings
    • No port forwarding setting
    • No OpenVPN option on Mac and iOS

    Overall Rating: 9.1/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following nine category ratings. To learn more, read our VPN testing methodology.

    • 8.68.6/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 8.68.6/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 88.0/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.59.5/10

    We recommend CyberGhost to those wishing to trial a high-performing VPN without submitting payment or credit card details.

    In fact, CyberGhost offers the absolute best VPN free trial available right now.

    CyberGhost's Windows and macOS apps side by side

    CyberGhost’s applications for Windows and macOS.

    Cheapest Price$2.19/mo over 26 months See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection94Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionRomania (EU Member)
    Works In ChinaNo
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Genuine free trials with no payment details needed

    CyberGhost is the only top VPN to offer VPN free trials that don’t require upfront submission of payment details.

    There are two free trials available: a 24-hour free trial on desktops and laptops, a seven-day free trial on iPhone/iPad, and a three-day trial on Android devices.

    You can even combine these free trial periods with the VPN’s 45-day refund guarantee to use CyberGhost for free for over 50 days.

    Dedicated IPs and 9,769 servers worldwide

    One of the reasons why CyberGhost is popular with remote workers and travelers is its wide network of 9,769 servers.

    With so many servers available in 90 countries, connecting to a nearby server is quick and with little traffic congestion.

    Additionally, CyberGhost’s Dedicated IP is ideal for users that need to connect to specific web services using the same private dedicated IP address.

    Dedicated IPs cost extra, though, and are only available in Canada, France, Germany, the UK, and the US.

    CyberGhost's Dedicated IP setting on Android

    CyberGhost’s Dedicated IP setting on Android.

    Slower international speeds

    The main drawback of using CyberGhost is the speed inconsistencies across distances.

    Over thousands of speed tests, the VPN’s speeds have kept fluctuating noticeably, particularly over long distances.

    Compared to ExpressVPN and NordVPN, CyberGhost is typically slower and less reliable on international connections.

    In other words, we don’t rate the VPN as highly for high bandwidth activities like HD streaming and torrenting.

    Who is CyberGhost best for?

    You should use CyberGhost if:

    • You want a free trial without submitting payment details. CyberGhost offers a 24-hour, three-day and seven-day free trial across different devices.
    • You want a diverse choice of server locations. Cyberghost’s network includes 9,769 servers in 90 countries.

    You should not use CyberGhost if:

    • Fast speeds are a priority. CyberGhost’s speeds have been inconsistent lately, especially over long-distance connections.
    • You’re primarily a macOS or Chromebook user. CyberGhost is incompatible with Chromebooks, and missing key features on macOS, including the OpenVPN protocol.
  8. 8. Windscribe: Unblocks Most Netflix Regions

    A very dependable VPN that unblocks over 30 Netflix libraries.

    Windscribe mobile screenshots
     Rated 5 out of 5 
    3 user reviews
    Visit Windscribe

    • Windscribe Pro works with 32 Netflix regions
    • Free version unblocks many streaming services
    • Doesn't collect personal internet traffic logs
    • Bypasses content filters in China
    • US & Canadian residential IPs available
    • Unlimited simultaneous connections

    • Slow international speeds & server connection times
    • No independent no-logs audit
    • No human live chat support
    • No Smart DNS service

    Overall Rating : 9.0/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following nine category ratings. To learn more, read our VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.39.3/10
    • 9.39.3/10
    • 8.18.1/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 8.98.9/10
    • 88.0/10

    Like Proton VPN, Windscribe VPN comes in two versions: free and paid.

    The stand-out attribute of Windscribe Pro, the premium version, is that it unblocks 32 international Netflix catalogs. No other VPN can match this, not even ExpressVPN.

    Also, the free version of Windscribe is the best free VPN for streaming. Uniquely, it works with 6 different Netflix regions, as well as other popular platforms like Disney+ and HBO Max.

    Cheapest Price$5.75/mo over 12 Months See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection96Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionCanada (Five Eyes Member)
    Works In ChinaYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Optimized for worldwide streaming

    What sets Windscribe apart is how easily the VPN beats streaming blocks.

    The paid version can access 32 Netflix regions including the US, UK, Brazil, Italy, and Germany.

    Windscribe Pro also works with popular video platforms like HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.

    Accessing geo-blocked HBO Max content using Windscribe

    Windscribe bypasses HBO Max’s geo-blocks.

    The free VPN no longer works with the US Netflix library, but it can unblock 6
    other Netflix regions, HBO Max, Hulu, and more.

    Windscribe is also a great VPN choice for streaming BBC iPlayer outside the UK.

    Additionally, Windscribe’s free US servers also work to bypass American sports blackouts.

    Using Windscribe Free to bypass MLB geo-restrictions

    Windscribe’s free servers always work with MLB.tv.

    However, you are limited by the 10GB monthly data allowance, which equates to roughly four hours of HD streaming.

    Clearly, Windscribe is a great streaming VPN. It’s therefore a shame that its streaming speeds are much slower than ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

    Plus, the lack of a Smart DNS solution makes it more challenging to use the VPN on devices such as Apple TV, Xbox, and PlayStation.

    Residential IPs available in USA and Canada

    Windscribe is one of the few VPN services to provide residential IP addresses located in the United States (Chicago, Dallas) and Canada (Toronto).

    These static IP addresses never change, and are useful if you want to keep using the same IP address in the US or in Canada.

    Windscribe’s residential IPs belong to internet service providers like AT&T. As such, they can bypass streaming geo-blocks. However, these IPs do cost an extra $8.00 per month.

    The residential IP section of the Windscribe app

    Our Windscribe’s residential IP address in Chicago always unblocks US Netflix.

    Moreover, while these IPs are allocated to a handful of users (not just you), they’re not as private as using the dynamic IP addresses shared among many more VPN customers.

    Slow international speeds and connection times

    The problem we found with Windscribe was the slower long-distance speeds compared to ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

    These slower speeds affect the quality of the picture when streaming overseas video content. We experienced a blurry broadcast several times while streaming a movie in our recent tests.

    Furthermore, connecting to certain servers can take many seconds at best, but many minutes at worst. Sometimes we couldn’t even connect at all.

    Who is Windscribe best for?

    You should use Windscribe if:

    • You want access to as many Netflix regions as possible. Windscribe unblocks the highest number of Netflix libraries.
    • You want an American or Canadian residential IP address. Windscribe offers residential IPs in the USA and Canada.

    You should not use Windscribe if:

    • You need fast international speeds. We recorded slow long-distance speeds and poor connection times in our Windscribe speed tests.
    • You want to unblock streaming apps on Apple TV and games consoles. With no Smart DNS tool, Windscribe isn’t very compatible with devices that don’t support native VPN apps.
  9. 9. Hide.me: Best VPN for IPv6 Connections

    An exceptionally fast VPN with full IPv6 tunneling capabilities.

    Hide.me mobile screenshots
     Rated 5 out of 5 
    1 user reviews
    Visit Hide.me

    • Very fast upload & download speeds
    • Full IPv6 connection support
    • Safe logging policy & good security settings
    • Works with streaming platforms around the world
    • Fast, anonymous torrenting with port forwarding
    • Works well in censored countries like China

    • Ugly and outdated apps
    • Logs your aggregate bandwidth usage
    • Can't unblock as many Netflix libraries as some rivals
    • Kill switch isn't automatically active
    • No Smart DNS service

    Overall Rating: 9.0/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following nine category ratings. To learn more, read our VPN testing methodology.

    • 8.98.9/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.49.4/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 7.57.5/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 8.18.1/10

    Hide.me VPN has made huge strides in 2023 to become one of the very best VPNs on the market. As long as you can get over its ugly and outdated-looking apps.

    What stands out with Hide.me is the software’s ability to run smoothly on both IPv4 and IPv6 connections. This is a rare feature, with most other VPNs either blocking IPv6 connections, or leaking your IPv6 location.

    Hide.me is also exceptionally fast, it unblocks almost every international streaming service we tested it with, and it even bypasses internet restrictions inside China.

    Hide.me Desktop Apps

    Hide.me’s desktop apps: macOS on the left and Windows on the right.

    Cheapest Price$3.45/mo over 26 months See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection96Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionMalaysia (Privacy Haven)
    Works In ChinaYes
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    Incredibly fast and reliable global speeds

    Hide.me isn’t the fastest VPN we’ve tested, but it’s the fastest one among our top 10 VPN recommendations.

    Wherever you are in the world, Hide.me delivers VPN connections fast enough for you to not even notice you’re using a VPN.

    We were especially impressed with the VPN’s upload speeds, which resulted in lag-free video calling and improved P2P file sharing in our tests.

    Hide.me also makes for what we call an excellent ‘set and forget’ VPN. If you want to connect to a nearby server and leave your VPN running 24/7, then it’s a great choice.

    That’s because Hide.me’s download speeds on close connections are fantastic, losing just 4% connecting to the closest VPN server.

    Unblocks VOD platforms from around the world

    Those exceptional VPN connection speeds help make Hide.me a very good choice for streaming.

    Not only did we not encounter any buffering (even when watching in 4K quality), but Hide.me easily bypassed streaming blocks on popular services like HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer.

    In our tests, Hide.me also unblocked 6 different Netflix libraries, including the American catalog.

    The VPN service doesn’t offer Smart DNS though, so you won’t be able to use it to unblock these services on Apple TV and games consoles. Choose ExpressVPN or NordVPN if you require wider device compatibility.

    Safe and secure torrenting

    The benefits of Hide.me’s fast speeds don’t stop there – the VPN provider also impressed in our torrenting tests.

    Hide.me is one of only a handful of reputable VPNs to offer port forwarding. This can increase P2P file transfer speeds and prevent downloads from stalling.

    Its excellent logging policy and Malaysian jurisdiction go a long way to building our trust in Hide.me as a torrenting VPN, too.

    The service doesn’t retain any identifiable user activity data, and our testing revealed no DNS or IP address leaks.

    We also verified that the VPN’s AES-256 encryption works as intended, as the screenshot below shows:

    Hide.me Wireshark Encryption Test

    The Wireshark tool confirms Hide.me’s traffic is properly encrypted.

    Its encryption and obfuscation technology has been powerful enough to even work in China 84% of the time over the past year.

    Who is Hide.me best for?

    You should use Hide.me if:

    • You need a fast internet connection. Hide.me is consistently fast all around the world. Testing in New York, it averaged 96Mbps download speeds on a 100Mbps connection.
    • You want to use a VPN in a censored country. Hide.me is one of very few VPNs that works in China – it’s not perfect, but it’s still one of the best.

    You should not use Hide.me if:

    • You care about design. Put bluntly, Hide.me is the least attractive VPN on our top 10 list. It’s still easy to use, and it works well, but it’s not a sleek or modern-looking VPN at all.
    • You stream using VPN-incompatible devices. VPNs can’t be installed directly on games consoles or Smart TVs so, with no Smart DNS feature, Hide.me won’t help you unblock streaming apps on them.
  10. 10. Proton VPN: Best Free VPN

    The best free VPN with an unlimited data usage allowance.

    Screenshot of Proton VPN's mobile app
     Rated 5 out of 5 
    3 user reviews
    Visit Proton VPN

    • Free plan has no data usage limits
    • Fast speeds on free & paid-for servers
    • AES 256-bit cipherage & privacy-first logging policy
    • Secure Core technology provides higher encryption
    • IPv6 leak blocking capabilities
    • All apps are open-source & independently audited

    • No 24/7 live chat support
    • No Smart DNS for unblocking apps
    • No VPN browser extensions
    • Paid plan almost as expensive as ExpressVPN
    • Free version doesn't unblock streaming services
    • Torrent traffic blocked on free servers

    Overall Rating : 9.0/10

    This overall rating is calculated using the following nine category ratings. To learn more, read our VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.59.5/10
    • 8.68.6/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 6.56.5/10
    • 8.88.8/10
    • 8.68.6/10

    Proton VPN was created by the team behind the private email service ProtonMail. It’s no surprise privacy and security are at the heart of the software.

    The VPN service comes in both a free and paid version. The free software version is the best free VPN we’ve reviewed, while the paid version is particularly good for security.

    All Proton VPN apps are open-source and encrypted via secure connection protocols and the AES-256 cipher.

    Cheapest Price$4.99/mo over 24 Months See all plans
    SpeediSpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection87Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionSwitzerland (Privacy Haven)
    Works In ChinaNo
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. macosMac OS
    3. linuxLinux
    4. iosiOS
    5. androidAndroid

    The highest-rated free VPN available

    The free version of Proton VPN is the best free VPN we’ve tested and reviewed. Because it doesn’t impose any limits on data usage, you can leave it running all the time.

    There are no adverts inside the app, and in our latest tests we recorded impressive speeds connecting to all three free server locations.

    Proton VPN's free server list on Windows

    Proton VPN’s three free server locations.

    The free app uses the exact same security standards of its premium counterpart. Moreover, we’ve never detected and IP or DNS leak using Proton VPN Free.

    Don’t expect to torrent or unblock streaming websites using this free VPN, though. The app simply won’t work.

    For streaming and torrenting specifically, Windscribe is a much better free VPN.

    Robust encryption and security settings

    Proton VPN is synonymous with highly secure and encrypted VPN connections.

    The software uses the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols, the AES-256 cipher, and Forward Secrecy (FS).

    Proton VPN creates a unique set of encryption keys in frequent intervals, limiting the amount of data in each key.

    Like all the other VPNs we recommend in this guide, Proton VPN has a working kill switch to protect against unexpected VPN connection failures.

    The VPN’s premium plan also includes Secure Core technology. Used on 40 of its servers, it adds a further layer of security.

    Proton VPN's Secure Core connection toggle in the Proton VPN app

    Proton VPN’s Secure Core connection toggle in the Proton VPN app.

    The technology bounces traffic via multiple servers before relaying it onto the destination app or website. This is comparable to the Multihop and Double VPN features used by NordVPN and Surfshark.

    Lacks several important features

    While Proton VPN is a very good VPN, it sadly doesn’t represent as good value for your money as other highly-rated services.

    The best price you can get is $4.99 per month with a two-year subscription, which is more expensive than higher ranked servics.

    While Proton VPN’s best price per month may not seem that expensive, the VPN service lacks features we expect to see in a VPN of this calibre.

    The main features missing are: VPN browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, a Smart DNS service, and 24/7 live chat support.

    Who is Proton VPN best for?

    You should use Proton VPN if:

    • You need industry-leading VPN security. Proton VPN’s apps are open-source, independently-audited, and use AES-256 bit encryption with Secure Core technology for increased security.
    • You regularly use Tor with a VPN. Proton VPN offers ‘Tor via VPN’ servers for quick and easy connections to the Tor network.

    You should not use Proton VPN if:

    • You want to stream on Apple TV and games consoles. Proton VPN doesn’t come with Smart DN, making it difficult to unblock content on Apple TV and games consoles.
    • You want to use VPN browser extensions. Proton VPN doesn’t offer any browser extensions for quick in-browser IP location changes.

Other VPNs We've Reviewed

As part of the 55 VPN services we reviewed, we evaluated many in demand VPN services that didn’t make our top 10 list for various reasons.

Below are some of the most popular VPNs that fell short of appearing on our top recommendations list:

Atlas VPN

Overall Ranking: #12 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 8.6/108.6

What we don’t like: The free version of Atlas VPN is excellent, and its premium tier is not bad either – falling just short of our top 10 recommendations. However, it fails to match the best VPNs when it comes to additional features like Smart DNS, split tunneling, and browser extensions.


Overall Ranking: #15 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 8.2/108.2

What we don’t like: An exceptional VPN for bypassing censorship in regions like China, it’s just not quite strong enough for other uses. It’s terrible for streaming and it’s super expensive.


Overall Ranking: #16 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 7.8/107.8

What we don’t like: Mullvad VPN is very secure, but it’s not able to bypass geo-restrictions. It doesn’t unblock most streaming platforms, and it doesn’t work in high-censorship countries.


Overall Ranking: #20 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 7.7/107.7

What we don’t like: We still have privacy concerns around HMA VPN. It currently has a broken kill switch, it had a very invasive logging policy not too long ago, and it handed over user data to law enforcement in the past.

Hotspot Shield

Overall Ranking: #18 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 7.7/107.7

What we don’t like: Hotspot Shield logs too much information. This includes your IP address, approximate geolocation, connection timestamps, bandwidth used per user and per session, device-specific information, and non-personal logs of the websites you visit.


Overall Ranking: #25 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 7.5/107.5

What we don’t like: IVPN has a small server network with few IP addresses. While its speeds have picked up recently, it’s still largely incapable of unblocking streaming services.


Overall Ranking: #26 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 7.4/107.4

What we don’t like: TunnelBear has a very limited server network and it can’t beat most geo-blocks. This means it’s no good for streaming or for use in high-censorship countries.


Overall Ranking: #29 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 6.9/106.9

What we don’t like: PureVPN can’t unblock US Netflix, and it can’t bypass strict web blocks. Also, the VPN’s logging policy isn’t privacy-focused enough.

Avast Secureline VPN

Overall Ranking: #34 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 6.2/106.2

What we don’t like: Avast VPN offers basic security, is poor at bypassing geo-blocks, and it logs too much data. Put simply, it does not perform well compared to leading VPN services.

Norton Secure & 360 VPN

Overall Ranking: #40 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 5.0/105.0

What we don’t like: Norton VPN doesn’t unblock websites, and it doesn’t allow torrenting on any of its servers.

VPNs You Should Avoid Using

During the course of our testing, we’ve also discovered several VPN services that we firmly recommend you avoid using.

These VPNs don’t just fall short of our strict approval criteria, they’re downright invasive, ineffective, and in some cases actively dangerous to use.

Below are some of the worst VPNs we’ve tested and why we recommend avoiding them:


Overall Ranking: #55 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 1.1/101.1

What we don’t like: SkyVPN logs your public IP address, which is reason enough to avoid it. However, it’s also based in an invasive jurisdiction, fails to unblock websites (including Netflix), lacks any customer support, and was extremely slow in our speed tests.


Overall Ranking: #53 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 1.6/101.6

What we don’t like: VPNBook does not achieve its purpose as a VPN. It leaks DNS requests and logs your IP address, which means your identity and activity are both permanently exposed.

Betternet VPN

Overall Ranking: #51 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 2.0/102.0

What we don’t like: Betternet VPN is a bad VPN all-round. It lacks adequate security features, suffers from slow speeds, and it leaks DNS requests.

Thunder VPN

Overall Ranking: #50 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 2.0/102.0

What we don’t like: Thunder VPN is a privacy and security risk. It logs your IP address, uses weak SSL encryption, and lacks a functioning kill switch. During our testing, we also recorded massive speed losses while connected to all of Thunder VPN’s servers.

Super VPN Free

Overall Ranking: #48 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 2.0/102.0

What we don’t like: Super VPN is the lowest-rated VPN we’ve tested. It has a vague logging policy, severely limited server locations, and apps that are riddled with advertisements. The app’s developer has questionable links to China, and it fails to unblock the simplest geo-restrictions.

VPN Proxy Master

Overall Ranking: #47 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 2.1/102.1

What we don’t like: We detected invasive permissions and malware when testing VPN Proxy Master’s Android application. It’s owned by a company with ties to China, lacks a kill switch, and logs several types of connection data. Even if VPN Proxy Master were safe, it’s far too slow to use and fails to unblock streaming websites.

Snap VPN

Overall Ranking: #45 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 2.4/102.4

What we don’t like: Our review found that Snap VPN simply does not work for torrenting or streaming. Even if it did, our performance tests discovered extensive throttling which reduces the VPN’s speeds to a crawl. From a security perspective, the VPN has no kill switch and its apps have invasive permissions.

Free VPN by FreeVPN.org

Overall Ranking: #44 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 2.5/102.5

What we don’t like: This VPN is owned by a disreputable company with an untrustworthy logging policy. It’s consistently slow, uses outdated encryption, and its parent company was subject to a data leak in 2021.

Touch VPN

Overall Ranking: #43 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 3.1/103.1

What we don’t like: Touch VPN is a free VPN that’s based in the US and collects your IP address, location, and ISP – which makes it useless from a privacy perspective. It caps your data usage to 500MB, leaks DNS requests, and completely fails to establish a connection on Windows devices.

Hola VPN

Overall Ranking: #41 out of 55 VPNs Reviewed

Overall Rating: 4.1/104.1

What we don’t like: Hola VPN is one of the worst VPN services we’ve tested. It’s slow, doesn’t unblock Netflix, blocks BitTorrent traffic, and logs all your internet activity.

How We Test VPN Services

To find the 10 best VPN services in 2023, we put 55 services through our comprehensive and unbiased VPN testing process.

We maintained a consistent testing environment to minimize external influences. Our hands-on testing was conducted from New York City on various devices and platforms, including Windows, iOS, Android, and Fire TV.

Our VPN testing is divided into nine categories:

  1. Privacy & Logging Policy (20% weighting)
  2. Speed (20% weighting)
  3. Security & Technical Features (15% weighting)
  4. Streaming (15% weighting)
  5. Ease of Use (10% weighting)
  6. Server Locations (5% weighting)
  7. Torrenting (5% weighting)
  8. Bypassing Censorship (5% weighting)
  9. Customer Support (5% weighting)

By following our methodology and using our data, you can reproduce our findings yourself.

We assign every VPN a rating in each of these testing categories, which are then combined to produce an overall rating for each VPN.

For eight of the nine categories, we use a data-driven calculator to automatically determine the ratings, ensuring we produce unbiased results.

Ease of Use is the only exception, which is calculated based on our experience with each VPN and our expert judgment on how the product feels to use.

Below is a more detailed breakdown of the attributes we test each VPN for, and how every VPN we’ve tested performed in each category:

1. Privacy & Logging Policy (20% of Overall Rating)

A VPN’s logging policy indicates the amount of data it monitors and stores about your online activity. If a VPN logs excessive data, like your browsing history or IP address, this information could be accessed by a hacker or law enforcement.

To evaluate this, we study every VPN’s privacy policy in-depth to understand its data handling practices. We also research its ownership, history, and any privacy-enhancing features, like diskless VPN servers.

Screenshot of CyberGhost Privacy Policy

We examine the VPN’s privacy policy and assess its approach to data retention.

Given its importance in protecting user privacy, a VPN’s logging policy takes up 20% of our overall rating. We further break down the rating into subcategories, to give us a more comprehensive view of the VPN’s performance.

Our privacy and logging policy rating is calculated by the following subcategories:

  • Data Logged: 60%
  • History: 20%
  • Jurisdiction: 10%
  • Trustworthiness: 5%
  • Privacy-enhancing Features: 5%

To ensure consistency and minimize bias, multiple testers review each VPN’s privacy policy to reach an agreed final rating.

In the table below, you can see our test results for the ten VPNs that performed the best in the privacy and logging policy category:

2. Speed (20% of Overall Rating)

Speed is a measurement of how fast a VPN can retrieve and transmit data to the internet. The primary benefit of a faster VPN is that you can access web pages quicker and stream geo-blocked videos in higher quality.

To measure each VPN’s speed, we conduct extensive speed tests by connecting to servers in five continents in a controlled testing environment.

To remove the possibility of inconsistencies, each test is conducted on our proprietary internet speed testing tool. No third-party software is used.

NordVPN speed test results.

We manually test every VPN’s connection performance using our proprietary speed test tool.

Our speed rating is calculated by the following subcategories:

  • Download Speed: 80%
  • Upload Speed: 10%
  • Ping: 10%

We input the VPN’s raw speed results into our custom-built calculator, which automatically produces a rating out of 10.

In the table below, you can see our test results for the ten VPNs that performed the best in the speed category:

3. Security & Technical Features (15% of Overall Rating)

Security measures the strength of the VPN tunnel while connected to a server. A secure VPN protects your data from potential threats, like hackers, that might attempt to steal it.

To measure a VPN’s performance in this category, we use a range of tests to evaluate the VPN’s technical features. Here’s a quick table of common technical features and how we evaluate them:

Technical Feature Evaluation Method
Encryption Analyzing web packets using Wireshark
Perfect Forward Secrecy Check VPN logs for evidence of Perfect Forward Secrecy
Kill Switch Detect any IP address leaks using our in-house kill switch testing tool
DNS Leaks Detect any IP address leaks using our in-house leak testing tool
Analyzing ExpressVPN's browser extension encryption using packet-sniffing software

We use packet-sniffing software to evaluate the strength of the VPN tunnel.

To score highly in this category, a VPN must offer many advanced technical features and pass stress tests proving their effectiveness.

While additional features are important, a VPN’s ability to adequately protect your data transfers is more important than the sheer number of features it has.

For this reason, a VPN that does the basics of securely encrypting web traffic — even if it does not have advanced features — will score higher than a VPN with many features that don’t work effectively.

In the table below, you can see our test results for the ten VPNs that performed the best in the security and technical features category:

4. Streaming (15% of Overall Rating)

Streaming is an evaluation of how well a VPN can access geo-blocked streaming services, like US Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer.

To measure this, we spend hours each week testing every VPN by connecting to a VPN server and seeing whether we can access the content we want. In total, we test every VPN with 20 streaming services from around the world.

Surfshark Netflix Tests

We test all 55 VPNs with 20 different streaming services.

We’ve developed a system to rate each VPN’s ability to unblock streaming services:

  • 0.1: Doesn’t work with any streaming service
  • Up to 4.0: Works with US Netflix or BBC iPlayer
  • Up to 7.0: Works with both US Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  • Up to 9.0: Works with multiple streaming services, such as Hulu, HBO Max, and Prime Video
  • Above 9.0: Works with all tested services
  • 9.9: Consistently works with every service

In the table below, you can see our test results for the ten VPNs that performed the best in the streaming category:

5. Ease of Use (10% of Overall Rating)

Ease of use refers to how intuitive the VPN’s software is and how easily a typical user can interact with it and configure its settings. The less of a learning curve, the higher the VPN will score.

Our experts evaluate this category based on our experience with the product and how it relates to the other 54 VPNs we’ve tested.

Unlike other categories, this rating isn’t arrived at by using a data-based calculator. However, multiple testers are used to minimize potential bias.

ExpressVPN vs PIA Server Menus

We calculate a VPN’s ease of use rating by comparing the experience with every other VPN.

This assessment takes into consideration the download and setup process, with higher ratings awarded to VPNs with a clear download link and a useful onboarding screen.

After installation, we give more points to VPNs with features that make it easier and more convenient to use. These include an automatic server selection feature, clearly labeled buttons, and a consistent interface across devices.

We also factor in how pleasant the VPN feels to use in everyday situations, rewarding those with a minimalist and well-designed app, while penalizing those that suffer from CAPTCHAs and connection drops.

In the table below, you can see our test results for the ten VPNs that performed the best in the ease of use category:

6. Server Locations (5% of Overall Rating)

Server locations refers to the diversity of IP address locations you can get by using the VPN. A greater range of locations allows you to bypass more geo-restrictions and achieve better connection performance.

To evaluate a VPN in this category, we analyze the number and spread of server locations listed on its website. We verify this information by testing the available locations in the VPN’s software. We record the findings in a table separated by geographical regions, giving us an overview of the global distribution of servers.

PrivadoVPN Server List

We examine the VPN’s server list on its website and within its software.

We’ve developed a scoring system to quantitatively rate each VPN’s server location performance:

  • 0.1: Single fixed server location
  • Up to 1.5: Single dynamic server location
  • Up to 4.0: Up to 6 country locations
  • Up to 6.0: Up to 12 country locations
  • Up to 7.0: Up to 20 country locations
  • Up to 8.0: Up to 40 country locations
  • Up to 9.0: More than 40 countries, up to twenty city-level locations, up to 1,000 total servers
  • Above 9.0: More than 40 countries, more city-level locations, more than 1,000 total servers

In the table below, you can see our test results for the ten VPNs that performed the best in the server locations category:

7. Torrenting (5% of Overall Rating)

A VPN excels at torrenting when it offers both anonymity and fast P2P speeds. This ensures it will hide your torrenting activity from ISPs while delivering quick downloads.

Using Windscribe to hide our tormenting activity

Each VPN is put through our standardized torrenting test.

We evaluate a VPN’s torrenting performance using a controlled test. This involves downloading a self-hosted 1GB torrent file from a private torrent tracker while connected to a local VPN server.

Our torrenting subcategories are as follows:

  • P2P Speed: 30%
  • Encryption & Security: 20%
  • Logging Policy: 20%
  • P2P Servers: 20%
  • Additional Torrenting Features: 10%

Our torrenting calculator processes the results to produce a numeric rating, eliminating human bias.

In the table below, you can see our test results for the ten VPNs that performed the best in the torrenting category:

8. Bypassing Censorship (5% of Overall Rating)

Bypassing censorship evaluates how well a VPN can circumvent web restrictions to access blocked websites, like Twitter in Russia and China.

To gather these results, we test each VPN directly in China. We record the success rate of each over the past three and 12 months with each VPN tested weekly, giving us an accurate reliability score.

China tests with Psiphon proxy.

We test if a VPN can bypass the Great Firewall from within China.

Here are our bypassing censorship subcategories:

  • Success Rate in China: 80%
  • Nearby Servers to China: 10%
  • Obfuscation Technology: 10%

Similar to other testing categories, this calculator has been designed for compatibility with quantitative data and to output a numeric rating.

In the table below, you can see our test results for the ten VPNs that performed the best in the bypassing censorship category:

9. Customer Support (5% of Overall Rating)

As VPNs are advanced and technical pieces of software, it’s important that your VPN provider can provide prompt and effective assistance if you need it.

To evaluate the quality of a VPN’s customer support, we contact their support team via all available channels and fact-check their recommendations.

Our customer support rating is an objective measure of how well a VPN’s support team can address and resolve issues, taking into account both accuracy and response time.

NordVPN customer service

We contact every VPN’s customer support department to assess its usefulness.

We’ve developed a scoring system to rate each VPN’s customer support based on the availability of support and the quality of assistance:

  • 0.1 – 0.9: Doesn’t offer any support options.
  • 1.0 – 5.0: Support is available through a single channel, such as online resources, email, or telephone.
  • 5.1 – 8.5: Provides a combination of two support channels, such as online resources and email, or online resources and telephone.
  • 8.6 – 9.5: Offers live chat as well as a combination of two support channels, such as online resources, email, and telephone.
  • 9.6 – 9.9: Offers excellent support through online resources, email, and 24-hour live chat, with consistently knowledgeable and accurate agents.

In the table below, you can see our test results for the ten VPNs that performed the best in the customer support category:

VPN Buying Guide: How to Find the Best VPN

You must do your own research before deciding which VPN service is right for you.

Spend time reading up-to-date reviews, test results and advice from trustworthy and independent VPN review websites before subscribing to a VPN service.

Features to Consider When Choosing a VPN

We strongly advise you to consider the features and factors below when choosing a VPN.


If you want a VPN to protect your internet traffic on public WiFi and cellular networks, look for the following features:

  • Secure protocols like OpenVPN and WireGuard, and AES-256 encryption.
  • A VPN kill switch to protect your real IP address in the event the VPN connection drops.
  • Specialized servers that allow multi-hop, obfuscation, and even Tor over VPN.
  • IP leak blocking for IPv6 traffic (since most VPNs don’t work on IPv6 connections).


To anonymize your browsing activity with a VPN, look for these key attributes:

  • A no-logs privacy policy to prevent your internet activity being linked back to you.
  • Company headquarters in a country with no data retention laws (i.e. a privacy-friendly jurisdiction).
  • ‘RAM-only’ servers that never write data to hard disks.

Streaming Capabilities

If you want to use a VPN to access geo-restricted streaming services, here are the product features to look for:

  • Works with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.
  • Fast international speeds, especially into popular server locations like the US and UK.
  • Smart DNS, Fire TV, and Android TV apps, to unblock content on streaming devices.
  • 24/7 live chat customer support to find working streaming servers more quickly.


If you want a VPN with the fastest outright speed, here are the more important factors to consider:

  • Uses WireGuard or a proprietary VPN protocol that’s optimized for speed.
  • Offers VPN servers with high bandwidth, such as 20Gbps, for reliable speed performance.
  • Operates a large server network so you can always connect to a nearby server for the quickest speeds.

Device Compatibility

If you own several computers and devices, consider the following compatibility criteria:

  • Native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android devices.
  • Native app for Fire TV devices, and the option to set the VPN up on routers.
  • Smart DNS technology to use the VPN service’s DNS credentials on Apple TV, PlayStation, and Xbox.
  • Chrome and Firefox VPN extensions for controlling the VPN at browser-level, and to use on Chromebooks.
  • Router compatibility for VPN use with Chromecast, Roku, and any other devices on your WiFi network.
  • Android APK file to sideload (install) the VPN on Android devices that don’t support native VPN applications.

Advanced Features

If you’re an advanced VPN user, here are important features to get the most from your VPN:

  • A high number of permitted simultaneous connections, so you can secure every device you own.
  • Split tunnelling, so you can configure certain devices or applications to use your standard internet connection.
  • An ad blocker to prevent adverts and trackers when you’re online.


The cost of a VPN varies by quality and subscription length, but you can expect to spend between $2.00 to $13.00 per month for a paid-for VPN service.

Cheap: To get a good VPN for roughly $2.00 a month, you’ll have to pay for at least two years upfront. The main drawback is that if the product gets worse over time, you won’t be able to get your money back. While we do recommend some budget VPNs, many cheap VPNs come with fewer features and under perform in several testing areas.

Mid-Range: The majority of VPNs cost around $6.00 a month. For this price, you can either get a top VPN on a long-term plan, or a mediocre VPN on a short-term plan. If this is your budget, you’ll have to decide whether you can afford the expensive initial cost of a better VPN.

Expensive: Generally, the very best VPNs cost $12.00 or more per month. Paying each month lets you switch VPNs easily, with a smaller financial loss if your VPN is no longer satisfactory. The downside is the much higher cost over time. But, you can reduce the monthly price by paying an upfront yearly/multi-year subscription fee.

Free vs Paid VPN Services: Should You Pay for a VPN?

Most of the VPNs we recommend in this list are premium services, which means you’ll have to pay a subscription fee in order to use them properly.

You can also find free VPN services advertised online and in app stores, which can be a tempting alternative. Some are 100% free, while others are limited ‘freemium’ versions of premium services.

The Limitations of Free VPNs

Just like paid VPN services, free VPNs come in a wide spectrum of quality. However, they are almost always inferior products compared to their paid equivalents.

It costs money to support a server network and run a secure VPN service, which is why free VPNs are usually very limited or offer inadequate privacy and security.

Due to the extensive resources required, it simply isn’t possible to match the best VPN services completely for free.

‘Freemium’ VPNs

The safest free VPNs are limited versions of paid-for services like Windscribe, TunnelBear, and Proton VPN.

When you use the free version of these apps, your VPN use is essentially subsidized by premium subscribers, so the company doesn’t have to monetize the free VPN directly.

PrivadoVPN Free Pricing Plans

‘Freemium’ VPNs usually offer a restricted version of the premium service.

Freemium VPNs often use the infrastructure of a premium VPN, but with major restrictions on its functionality. You’ll typically get a limited number of servers and a monthly data cap of 10GB or less.

As a result, these free VPNs also tend to have slower speeds and unblock fewer streaming services.

100% Free VPNs

The worst VPN services are usually completely free to use. They generate income by running invasive advertisements or – in the worst cases – logging and selling user data to third parties.

Aside from their privacy and security risks, most 100% free VPNs are simply less effective, too. They often use weak encryption, have slow speeds, and leak your IP or DNS data.

It’s also very rare for a 100% free VPN to unblock popular streaming services.

Since 2016, we’ve tested more than 150 free VPNs and found that 77% had privacy and security risks.

The chart below illustrates some of the key findings of our free VPN investigations:

We’ve discovered dozens of popular free VPNs that are essentially proxy services: they reroute your web traffic, but they don’t encrypt your data.

Many of the most-downloaded free VPN apps on the Google Play Store even have suspicious links to Chinese companies.

When Should You Use a Free VPN?

Premium VPNs are almost always faster, more secure, and have more servers than their free equivalents.

Additionally, paid-for VPNs unblock more streaming services, offer unlimited data usage, and have a range of extra privacy and security features.

By contrast, many popular free VPNs are ineffective or limited at the very least. If you plan to use a VPN regularly, it’s worth paying for a high-quality premium VPN service.

However, not all free VPN services are bad.

The very best free VPNs securely encrypt your data transfers and hide your IP address, which can be enough if you only need a VPN for very casual use.

However, you’ll be limited to a small monthly data allowance, and you’ll be restricted when it comes to speed, streaming, and torrenting.

Out of all the free VPNs we’ve tested, only Windscribe Free consistently streams multiple Netflix regions at reasonably fast speeds.

This is impressive for a free app, but the paid version of Windscribe offers more than ten times as many servers and unblocks 32 Netflix regions.

In short: a handful of free VPNs are safe to use in limited circumstances. However, if you plan on using your VPN for streaming, torrenting, or handling sensitive data, it’s absolutely worth paying for a premium VPN subscription.

What Is a VPN Service?

A VPN (virtual private network) service is a system that gives its users access to proxy servers in order to bypass internet geo-blocks.

VPN software also protects your internet data transfers from hacking attempts and unsolicited data profiling.

In essence, a VPN serves two main functions: to hide your public IP address and encrypt your internet traffic.

How a VPN Works

how a virtual private network (VPN) works

VPN software connects your device to a remote server through an encrypted tunnel.

VPN software forms an encrypted connection between your device and the websites, applications, and web services you use. It does this by connecting to a secure VPN server.

When you connect to a VPN server, your public IP address is replaced with the server’s IP address. This can make it appear as if you’re browsing from a different city or country.

Encrypting your data transfers and changing your IP address significantly improves your internet privacy, security and freedom.

What Is a VPN: Video Explainer

We made the short video below to explain in simple terms what a VPN service is, what it does, and how it works:

VPNs are not that complicated once you understand how they work.

Why You Need a VPN Service

There are several advantages to using a VPN service.

VPN services are typically used to:

  • Protect sensitive data transfers on public WiFi networks.
  • Hide your web traffic from Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
  • Unblock websites and international streaming content.
  • Safeguard your identity and activity while torrenting.
  • Bypass web censorship and internet shutdowns.

We’ve explained each benefit in more detail below.

1. Encrypt Data Transfers on Public WiFi Networks

Cybercriminals take advantage of public WiFi networks without password protection to steal sensitive data like your bank details and passwords.

When you use a public WiFi connection that doesn’t require a password, you’re putting your sensitive data at risk.

VPN software can protect your web traffic from hackers and other third parties. It encrypts your browsing activity and makes it almost impossible for criminals to intercept your data transfers.

2. Hide Your Web Activity from Your ISP

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like AT&T and Verizon monitor every website you visit and every unencrypted message you send.

An ISP can see any HTTPS web domain and any HTTP web page you visit. Depending on where you live, it will almost certainly be required by law to store your browsing history for years.

In some instances, ISPs can even decide to throttle and slow down your internet speed based on the web services you use.

A VPN encrypts your web requests as they travel from your device to the VPN server. Your ISP will know you’re using a VPN, but it won’t know what websites, applications and web services you’re accessing.

Therefore, your ISP will find it much harder to track your activity and browsing history on the web.

By changing your IP address, VPN services also make it much harder for the websites you visit to identify you.

3. Unblock Geo-restricted Web (Video) Content

Streaming platforms like Netflix, HBO Max, and BBC iPlayer use your public IP address to limit the number of movies and TV shows you can watch.

Every country has a different content library, and some content platforms are only available in a specific country.

You can use a VPN to switch your real IP address with an IP address from another country. This way you can ‘trick’ streaming services, and unblock region-restricted content on Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and the best free movie streaming sites.

How to use Netflix with Private Internet Access

We easily unblocked US Netflix using Private Internet Access.

4. Hide Your IP Address While Torrenting

P2P file-sharing without a VPN or proxy can be dangerous. Your personal IP address is visible to everyone you’re sharing files with, and your ISP can track your download activity.

A VPN hides your IP address, your identity, and your file-sharing activity from both your ISP and other users. This protects you from the risks of torrenting with your real IP address.

CyberGhost qBittorrent test

We tested CyberGhost’s torrenting capabilities on qBittorrent.

5. Circumvent Government Censorship

Governments around the world choose to censor what you can view and do online.

Some governments even choose to shut down certain online services, like social media platforms, in times of political unrest.

The best anti-censorship VPN services use obfuscation technology, which is specifically designed to evade sophisticated internet censorship.

By scrambling your web traffic and changing your IP address, VPNs with obfuscation let you bypass aggressive web censorship and access the global internet safely.

Surfshark Unblocking YouTube in China

We accessed YouTube from China using Surfshark.

Limitations of VPN Services

VPN services are great for improving your online security, privacy, and freedom. But even the best VPNs come with limitations.

Below are some things that VPN software can’t do:

  • Provide complete virus and malware protection. Always use trusted antivirus software, even if your VPN has a malware-blocking tool.
  • Store all your passwords securely. Some VPNs now offer password managers, but we suggest using established ones like 1Password.
  • Increase your internet speed. The only exception is if your ISP is throttling your connection.
  • Block ads. Some VPNs come with an ad-blocker. If yours doesn’t, it’s worth getting one. We recommend uBlock Origin.
  • Make you completely anonymous. VPNs can improve your privacy, but they can’t make you completely anonymous. There are other ways to track your activity online including browser fingerprinting, tracking scripts, and traffic analysis.


What Is the Best VPN in 2023?

Based on our most recent tests, ExpressVPN is the best VPN service of 2023. It has an extensive set of security features, consistently fast speeds, and intuitive applications for all devices. Importantly, it also has an excellent track record for protecting its users’ privacy.

ExpressVPN works particularly well for unblocking geo-restricted streaming services. It can access 10 international Netflix regions, along with other popular services like Hulu, Disney Plus, and HBO Max.

Put simply, ExpressVPN outperforms every other VPN service in almost every single testing category. Despite its above-average subscription price, it’s absolutely worth it given its superior capabilities as a VPN.

What Is the Best Free VPN?

The best free VPN in 2023 is Proton VPN Free. It’s the only safe free VPN that doesn’t impose a data limit, which means you can use it as much as you want, completely for free, and without adverts.

Unlike many free VPN services, our testing found that Proton VPN is fast and highly-secure. Its applications protect against IP leaks and operate under a privacy-friendly logging policy.

Despite its advantages, Proton VPN Free offers a limited number of server locations, and it doesn’t work for streaming or torrenting. If those areas are important to you, it’s worth investing in a premium VPN instead.

Are VPN Services Legal?

VPN services are legal in most countries, including the US, UK, Canada and Australia.

However, VPNs are illegal in Belarus, Iraq, North Korea and Turkmenistan. There are also government restrictions on VPN usage in China, Iran, Oman, Russia, Turkey, and the UAE — although they’re not banned completely.

How Do I Set Up & Use a VPN?

The process of setting up a VPN depends on the device you’re using it with.

For computers and smartphones: sign up to the VPN service and use the download link to install the software. Then, sign in with your account details and you’re good to go.

For Fire TV devices: subscribe to a VPN with a Fire OS application, and search the Amazon App Store for the app. Install it, sign in, and launch the application.

For Apple TV and games consoles: subscribe to a VPN service with Smart DNS functionality, then use the DNS credentials provided and update your device’s DNS settings accordingly.

Are VPN Services Worth It?

Using a top-rated VPN service is worthwhile. It hides your IP address from the websites you visit and encrypts your web traffic, concealing your internet activity from snooping third-parties like your ISP, government agencies, and hackers.

Using a VPN, you can also unblock geo-restricted websites and apps, even in highly-censored countries.

How Much Do VPN Services Cost?

On average, the month-to-month price of a VPN is $11.77. Subscribing to a yearly or a multi-year VPN subscription reduces the average price to $4.11 per month.