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 90 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.
Wondering why you should trust our reviews? Take a look at How We Test VPNs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
There’s a good chance 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.
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.
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.