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Best VPN for PC

Rebecca Duff
By Rebecca DuffUpdated

If you own a PC it’s likely where you spend the majority of your time online. It’s also where a VPN is most essential.

We’ve tested over 80 VPNs, the very best of which will all work on your desktop PC, keeping you safe no matter what you do.

For a low price, these choices will all hide your activity, unlock streaming services, protect you while torrenting, and more.

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

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

Best price
$6.67 per month
Special deal
49% off 15-month plan
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 Live chat support
No. of Server Locations
94 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
3
Pros
  1. Very fast speeds - 64Mbps global average
  2. Leak protection against the Windows' login flaw
  3. Works with Netflix and other popular sites
  4. Effective, user-friendly desktop app
  5. Advanced privacy features such as split tunneling
  6. Connect securely to 94 countries
Cons
  1. Shorter plans are quite expensive
  2. Limited to three simultaneous connections
Bottom Line

ExpressVPN is by far the best all-rounder VPN we’ve tested – performance is excellent locally (up to 190Mbps) and internationally.

The Windows app is super user-friendly, grants access to Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and packs in loads of advanced security features.

ExpressVPN offers a minimal-logs policy and leak protection against the Windows’ login flaw, according to AVTest’s June 2018 report.

 


Read our full ExpressVPN review

2
NordVPN

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

Best price
$2.99 per month
Special deal
75% off 3-year plan
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 Live chat support
No. of Server Locations
62 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
6
Pros
  1. Excellent speeds - 67Mbps global average
  2. Leak protection against the Windows' login flaw
  3. Works with Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  4. User-friendly desktop app with optimized servers
  5. Generous six device connection limit
  6. Connect securely to 62 countries
Cons
  1. Extra VPN protocols require manual config
  2. Slow responses to email
Bottom Line

NordVPN is a fantastic zero-logs VPN. It doesn’t quite match up to the premium service you can expect from ExpressVPN but is still a solid choice.

NordVPN’s intuitive Windows app also offers leak protection against the Windows’ login flaw, according to AVTest’s June 2018 report.

Performance is great across its global server network, with speeds of up to 209Mbps on same country connections.

 


Read our full NordVPN review

3
CyberGhost

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

Best price
$2.75 per month
Special deal
79% off 18-month plan
Money-back guarantee
45 Days
Customer Support
24/7 Live chat support
No. of Server Locations
60 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
7
Pros
  1. Reliable speeds - 61Mbps global average
  2. Peak speeds of up to 249Mbps on local connections
  3. Optimized servers for Netflix & iPlayer
  4. Simple, user-friendly apps for popular devices
  5. Strict zero-logs policy
  6. Connect securely to 60 countries
Cons
  1. Server network is on the small side
  2. Some restrictions on torrenting
Bottom Line

CyberGhost is an excellent budget VPN with modern custom apps and servers optimized for torrenting and streaming.

Performance on individual servers doesn’t quite match up to that offered by our top picks but some peak at a very fast 249Mbps.

Privacy-wise it’s a great choice due to a strict zero-logs policy combined with lots of advanced privacy features.


Read our full CyberGhost review

4
IPVanish

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

Best price
$3.70 per month
Special deal
69% off 2-year plan
Money-back guarantee
7 Days
Customer Support
24/7 Live chat support
No. of Server Locations
61 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
10
Pros
  1. Average global download speed of 48Mbps
  2. Peak speeds of up to 294Mbps on local connections
  3. Works with Netflix and other popular sites
  4. Powerful desktop app with robust privacy features
  5. Very strict zero-logs policy
  6. Connect securely to 61 countries
Cons
  1. Apps aren't really made for beginners
  2. Short refund period (only 7 days)
Bottom Line

IPVanish is our top VPN pick for keen torrenters and Kodi users due to fast local uploads (up to 187Mbps) and an abundance of security extras.

The custom apps don’t look that great but are ideal if you’re happy to fiddle with loads of settings to find your optimal connection.

Ridiculously fast download speeds on local connections are some of the best we’ve ever seen, peaking at up to 294Mbps locally.


Read our full IPVanish review

5
PrivateVPN

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

Best price
$2.88 per month
Special deal
73% off 15-month plan
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
Live chat Support
No. of Server Locations
58 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
6
Pros
  1. Excellent speeds, averaging 70Mbps globally
  2. Dedicated servers for Netflix and iPlayer
  3. Custom apps available for many devices
  4. Supports TCP Port 443 for stealth
  5. Connect securely to 58 countries
  6. Strict zero-logs policy
Cons
  1. Small number of individual servers
  2. Lack of browser extensions
  3. Limited advanced privacy features on mobile
Bottom Line

PrivateVPN is a low-cost, zero-logs VPN that’s great for newbies looking for one-click access to popular streaming sites.

The custom apps are user-friendly without lacking in manually configurable options, and you can protect up to six devices at once.

Speeds on local and international connections are superb, peaking at 396Mbps in some locations for buffer-free HD streaming.


Read our full PrivateVPN review

How We Picked the Best VPN for PC

Our top choices for PC all deliver an excellent experience on desktop, with sleek, modern custom apps making them accessible even to VPN newbies.

They offer the best possible performance on both local and international connections and allow you to access popular streaming sites including Netflix and BBC iPlayer. They have a solid, extensive set of privacy features and minimal logging policies, and we even check out the customer support on offer to make sure it’s up to scratch.

We run regular tests on all the VPNs featured on our site to make sure we’re giving you the most up-to-date information we possibly can. Our proprietary speed test tool is constantly running across a variety of locations worldwide, providing us with real-time information about the kind of performance you can expect from each VPN.

How to Use a VPN for PC

Before you start using a VPN on your PC, you need to make the decision as to whether you’re going install the software at router level or download individual apps onto each device you wish to protect. There are pros and cons to each.

If you have the VPN on your router, every internet-connected device in your home will benefit from the protection of the VPN, however it can get a bit complicated if you want to change servers. Installing apps onto individual devices is usually the go-to method for most users as it’s a lot easier, however some providers only allow you to use the VPN on up to 5 devices simultaneously.

Once you’ve decided on this, you then need to select your VPN protocol. We’d advise choosing OpenVPN wherever possible as this offers the best compromise between performance and security, however most providers will offer alternatives should you have a specific need for one (such as connecting out from a high-censorship country).

For the quickest speeds you’ll want to connect to a server close to your true physical location – most providers will do this automatically, but if not, just choose one in the same country as you.

Once you’re connected to your chosen server, the VPN will run in the background and you can continue to use your PC as your normally would. Make sure to turn on the VPN killswitch feature though, as this will prevent your true IP address from being leaked should the VPN connection drop for any reason. Also be aware that when you switch servers, your internet connection is likely to drop, but this is simply to protect you from IP leaks when you’re not connected to a VPN server.

How to Choose a VPN for PC: 8 Tips

  • Does it offer user-friendly desktop apps?

    All top-tier VPN providers offer a dedicated apps for PCs, however the quality of these does vary massively from one provider to the next.

    Our top picks all have sleek, user-friendly desktop apps that pack in a ton of configurable manual settings without being too cluttered or confusing.

    You should also make sure the protocol you’ll want to use (OpenVPN in most cases) is available on the desktop app, which it will be for the majority of popular providers.

  • Does it offer fast, consistent speeds?

    It’s not much good choosing a VPN with a super-sleek desktop app if bad performance is going to limit what you’re able to do online. As a general rule, the faster speeds, the better, and you should also look for low latency on local servers for a seamless browsing experience.

  • Will it work with your favorite websites and apps?

    Do you enjoy watching Netflix or BBC iPlayer? Not all VPNs will work with these websites. We are continuously testing whether each VPN is working with Netflix and other popular sites, and share these results in our VPN reviews.

  • What is their logging policy?

    Most VPNs will tell you that they’re completely “zero logs” but in reality this is almost never the case. In order to deliver reliable performance across a global network, the majority of providers will need to monitor at least some connection details of their users.

    The logging policy section of our reviews summarizes providers’ privacy policies and terms of service in plain English, meaning you don’t have to read through them all. Ideally you want to look for a provider that doesn’t log any personally identifying details, or even better, one that doesn’t collect any logs at all!

  • Does it have servers in the locations you need?

    The nearer the VPN server to your physical location, the better the performance. A higher number of servers tends to mean less congestion and improved speeds but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. Take a look at our speed test results to get the best idea, especially if you’re looking to connect to a specific country.

  • Are their client apps and software easy to use?

    Most of you aren’t only going to be using a VPN on a PC, so you need to choose a provider that offers a good range of custom apps for other devices such as your phone or tablet. Look for a VPN with software that’s well-designed, user-friendly 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!

  • Check connection, encryption and security features

    The sheer amount of VPN jargon can be overwhelming, even if you really know your tech.

    Be sure to look out for OpenVPN though, as this protocol offers the best balance of speed and privacy. Don’t get caught up in 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.

  • 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.