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Best VPN for Windows 10

Illustration of Microsoft Windows laptop computer and desktop computer
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon 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, CNet and more. Read full bio

Microsoft Windows is the most popular PC operating system in the world, but it’s rife with security and privacy issues.

Now more than ever, it’s crucial you use one of the best VPNs for Windows 10 to protect your laptop or desktop, and keep your personal data safe.

We’ve spent over 30,000 hours testing VPN clients on our test Lenovo T480 laptops, and we can safely say the VPNs in this guide are the very best for Windows 10, 8, 7 and older versions.

The Windows VPNs listed below are fast, secure and will safely hide your IP address. They also work with Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and many more streaming services. And, just in case, they all come with money-back guarantees.

Based on our latest test results, these are the five best VPNs for Microsoft Windows in July 2020:

  1. ExpressVPN: ExpressVPN is our highest-rated VPN overall, in large part down to its exceptional Windows application. The best all-rounder on the market – for a price.
  2. NordVPN: NordVPN is another service with a Windows app that really shines. It has no real weaknesses, and comes in at a significantly lower monthly price than ExpressVPN.
  3. CyberGhost: Another very affordable VPN, CyberGhost keeps no user logs whatsoever and is designed especially with streaming in mind.
  4. IPVanish: It’s not as geared towards streaming as some of the other products in this list, but IPVanish is super fast and has tens of thousands of IP addresses available to Windows users.
  5. PrivateVPN: An affordable all-rounder, PrivateVPN supports TCP Port 443 for bypassing censorship, unlocks streaming, and does it all through a very simple and intuitive desktop app.

Scroll down to read more about these five recommendations. Below them we’ve added helpful information, including how to install a VPN on your Windows PC.

If you’re looking for a free VPN for your PC, these free Windows VPNs all have a native app you can download and use, but they won’t perform as well as the VPNs in this guide.

Wondering why you should trust our reviews?
See How We Review VPNs.

Best VPNs for Windows 10

1. ExpressVPN

Our highest-scoring VPN overall and the best for Windows

  1. Excellent speeds on Windows devices
  2. Unlocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer & Disney+
  3. Torrenting allowed on all servers
  4. Easy-to-use Windows app
  5. Advanced features like kill swith & split tunneling
  6. 3,000+ VPN servers covering 94 countries
  1. Price could be lower on shorter plans
  2. No VPN kill switch for iOS
  • Best Price

    $6.67/mo over 15 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    85Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    94 countries, 3,000+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #1 Best VPN for Windows

You can use ExpressVPN on Windows 10 (and older version) thanks to its nicely-designed and easy-to-use Windows VPN app. You can even control the app from your web browser using its Chrome and Firefox VPN extensions.

Not only does it looks good, but it’s very fast too. In fact, ExpressVPN is one of the fastest Windows VPNs available. 

That’s great news for streaming US Netflix and BBC iPlayer, especially as ExpressVPN is one of the most effective VPNs at unblocking geo-restricted video content around the world.

Most importantly: ExpressVPN is safe and very private. It protects your traffic with AES 256-bit encryption and it collects only a minimal, non-identifiable amount of information needed to maintain its service.

It’s also headquartered in the British Virgin Islands (a privacy haven), and the Windows client comes with security features like a VPN kill switch (‘Network Lock’). This setting prevents your real IP address from being exposed if your ExpressVPN connection drops.

If you’re a Windows user in China, or other censored nations like Russia or Turkey, ExpressVPN is currently our number one choice to beat online censorship.

It does come at a higher price than other top VPN services, but ExpressVPN really does provide a superior service. And if you ever encounter issues with the VPN, their 24/7 live chat support is impressive.

ExpressVPN also works on Android, iOS, macOS and more. Remember that you’re only allowed up to five simultaneous connections, though.

If for whatever reason you’re not happy with the VPN service, you can always get a full refund within 30 days of signing up.

For a more in-depth look, read our full ExpressVPN review.

2. NordVPN

A big name you can trust for a small price

  1. Very fast speeds across its network
  2. Supports US Netflix, BBC iPlayer & Disney+
  3. Customizable, user-friendly Windows app
  4. Six connections allowed at once
  5. Adblocker (CyberSec) included
  6. Over 5,500 servers in 58 countries
  1. Extra protocols require manual config
  2. Doesn't accept PayPal
  3. Very unreliable in China
  • Best Price

    $3.49/mo over 36 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    93Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    59 countries, 5,552 servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #2 Best VPN for Windows

NordVPN has a very nice app for Windows, which provides a very smooth experience on Windows. 

Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN also does most things very well and for that reason comes close to being the top VPN for Windows.

NordVPN’s Windows default security protocol is OpenVPN, which prioritizes security without hampering speed. However, if you want to use a different VPN protocol you’ll need to configure it manually. This isn’t great, but OpenVPN is our preferred protocol so you probably won’t need to change protocols.

Your VPN traffic is secured with AES-256-bit encryption, which is still considered unbreakable. NordVPN also offers a feature called ‘Double VPN’ – this essentially allows you to hop from one VPN server to another, to further hide your web activity. In our opinion, this feature isn’t essential since NordVPN is a no-logs service anyway. However, it sometimes doesn’t hurt to have an extra piece of mind.

NordVPN is based in Panama, which is a very privacy-friendly nation and is not a member of any intelligence-sharing alliance. Plus, NordVPN is a no-logs VPN service, meaning it doesn’t collect or store any user web logs. If one of NordVPN’s was seized, none of your web activity would be found.

If you want to unblock US Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and many more streaming services, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs to use. It easily unlocks most streaming platforms, and it also comes with SmartPlay (SmartDNS) technology. This technology makes NordVPN compatible with gaming consoles and streaming devices like Apple TV.

It also competes with ExpressVPN when it comes to customer support, with an efficient 24/7 live chat support service. NordVPN’s support agents are typically friendly and helpful.

One of the most obvious advantages NordVPN has on ExpressVPN is its pricing. NordVPN is considerably cheaper, making it excellent value for money, if you’re ok not using the very best VPN.

For a more in-depth look, read our full NordVPN review.

3. CyberGhost

An excellent Windows VPN that puts Netflix and iPlayer streaming first

  1. Fast & reliable short-distance speeds
  2. Completely zero-logs
  3. One of the best VPNs for streaming
  4. Dedicated streaming & P2P servers
  5. 45-days money-back guarantee
  6. More than 6,000 servers in 90 countries
  1. Won't work in high censorship nations
  2. P2P not allowed on Australian servers
  3. 14-day refund guarantee on 1-month plan
  • Best Price

    $2.75/mo. over 3 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    87Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    90 countries, 6,400+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #3 Best VPN for Windows

CyberGhost VPN has been around since 2011, and since then it’s transformed from a good free VPN to one of the very best paid VPNs.

It’s speeds come close to those of ExpressVPN and NordVPN, and with over 6,200 servers it has the largest server park.

That’s ideal for 4K/UHD streaming, which is where CyberGhost excels. From the Windows VPN client, you can connect to dedicated streaming servers for Netflix (four regional libraries) and BBC iPlayer. You can also unlock other streaming sites like HBO, Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN.

CyberGhost also has servers optimised for torrenting. Given that it’s a no-log VPN with excellent download and upload speeds, anonymous torrenting is a breeze with CyberGhost. As long as you’re not in Australia, in which case you’ll have to connect to another country and speeds may suffer a little.

Privacy-wise, the Windows client includes many useful security features such as automatic WiFi protection and VPN kill switch. Goes without saying, our true IP address has never been exposed when testing CyberGhost VPN.

If you own several personal devices, you can also use CyberGhost on up to seven devices at once, which is more than ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

Customer support has always been very helpful and knowledgeable, and it’s available all day everyday. Plus, if you’re not happy with service when you sign up, you have 45 days to get your money-back.

Clearly, CyberGhost is not far off from being the best VPN of 2020. It’s a shame that it doesn’t work in highly-censored countries like China, Turkey, or the UAE.

For a more in-depth look, read our full CyberGhost review.

4. IPVanish

A huge number of Windows IP addresses available, plus no logs whatsoever

  1. Good speeds around the world
  2. Secure Windows app with strong features
  3. Unlocks US Netflix
  4. Very strict no-logs policy
  5. Over 40,000 IP addresses
  6. Has the best Firestick VPN app
  1. Short refund period (7 days)
  2. Doesn't unblock many streaming services
  3. Doesn't work in China
  4. Live support is not 24/7
  5. No VPN browser extensions
  • Best Price

    $5.20 over 12 months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    84Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    57 countries, 1,400+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #4 Best VPN for Windows

IPVanish is a particularly good VPN for Windows, if you want to torrent quickly and anonymously, or if you want to hide your IP address while you stream on Kodi. 

The Windows VPN client’s speeds on short-distance connections are some of the fastest we’ve seen. We lost 10% of our internet speed using IPVanish to connect to a nearby server, which is very impressive.

These speeds make it a great choice for torrenting and P2P traffic, especially in the US and the UK, where we saw the fastest speeds. They also make streaming Kodi addons on your Firestick a breeze – this is IPVanish’s playing field, since it is a favorite among Kodi and Fire TV Stick fans.

IPVanish is also a no-logs VPN service, even if it had to remake itself after a poor history of handing information over to authorities. Since then, it has changed ownership twice and it has redeemed itself in our view. It’s based in the United States, a Five Eyes nation, so it’s no-logging policy is obligatory otherwise we wouldn’t recommend it.

Sadly, IPVanish doesn’t come close to ExpressVPN, NordVPN and CyberGhost as a VPN for streaming. You can currently unlock US Netflix, but that’s about it. It doesn’t work with BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. Also, it’s US servers don’t always unblock Netflix so you may have to go through a bit of trial and error.

The user interface is also not as eye-pleasing as ExpressVPN and NordVPN. The app’s darker colours and greens give it a more ‘intimidating’ look that may put off VPN beginners. Having said that, it is easy to use so if you can get over the aesthetics then it will work just fine.

IPVanish also doesn’t come with any VPN extensions, so you’ll always have to control the VPN from the Windows client.

Overall, IPVanish is a very good VPN if you want to use to torrent anonymously, or to use Kodi on your Firestick. For everything else, you’re better off using one of the VPNs above.

For a more in-depth look, read our full IPVanish review.

5. PrivateVPN

An intuitive Windows VPN with a low price that makes it ideal for beginners

  1. Excellent speeds
  2. Easy access to Netflix and iPlayer
  3. User-friendly apps for a range of popular devices
  4. Supports TCP Port 443 for bypassing censorship
  5. Connect securely to 59 countries
  6. Strict zero-logs policy
  1. Server network could be bigger
  2. No browser extensions
  3. Mobile apps lack advanced privacy features
  • Best Price

    $1.89/mo over 2 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    86Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    59 countries, 150+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Ranked #5 Best VPN for Windows

If you want quick and easy access to popular streaming sites, PrivateVPN is a great budget option.

It earns good local and international speeds scores, and low ping times make PrivateVPN a good choice for gamers too. 

With all these entertainment demands met, PrivateVPN doesn’t forget to stay true to its name and protect your right to privacy.

We wish it would make things clearer on its privacy policy, but we’ve spoken directly to the service and can assure you that PrivateVPN doesn’t collect or store sensitive data or track your searches of any kind. 

It also comes with a VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection, and first-party DNS servers. TCP Port 443 also works well to bypass censorship. 

In plain terms: PrivateVPN is a robust VPN. It’s not as cheap as CyberGhost, but it’s very close to its overall performance. 

 

For a more in-depth look, read our full PrivateVPN review.

Learn More about Windows VPNs

Why You Need a Windows VPN

We believe you should be using a VPN on your Windows 10 device as much as possible.

Below are they main reasons why you should starting using a top Windows VPNs:

1Hide your web activity from third-parties

Illustration showing a blurred man hidden behind a magnifying glass.

If you don’t use a VPN, your online activities are visible to many indiscreet eyes: your internet service provider (ISP), your government, snoopers, hackers and cyber criminals.

Particularly worrying is the fact that in some countries ISPs are forced to log customer traffic data, while in other nations ISPs are legally allowed to sell web browsing data to advertising companies.

By using a trusted Windows VPN, you’ll be able to hide your IP address and conceal your web activity from snoopers. By connecting to a VPN server, your ISP will only see that you’ve connected to that server, but no more than that.

2Circumventing geo-blocks

Not all of world’s web content is available to you, regardless of where you live. That’s because some web content, especially video content, is either locked to specific regions (due to content licensing rights) or has been blocked by your ISP.

To get round this, you’ll need to change your IP address to a region that will allow you to unlock that online content.

A VPN is essentially an IP changer, since it masks your actual IP address with the IP address of the VPN server you’re connected to.

Netflix is a good example of geo-blocked content, as its video library varies across different countries. You can see how to unlock Netflix libraries below.

3Protection against hackers on public WiFi

Illustration of a man connected to public wifi while traveling.

Unsecured WiFi hotspots in cafes, hotels and public places are dangerous places where hackers lurk in search of personal data to steal.

In fact, hackers can intercept your web communications by carrying out man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks over unsecured WiFi connections.

Because a VPN encrypts all the web traffic to and from your device, it makes it a lot harder for a hacker to interfere with your data communications.

4Window’s Security & Privacy Issues

Windows 10 comes with many privacy and security issues which makes the use of a VPN, and other security tools, very important.

When you buy a PC with Windows pre-installed, some of the features enabled by default are not very privacy-friendly. For example, Integrated Advertising and Tailored Experiences mean that Microsoft will be tracking what you do.

Windows will also scan the contents of your emails and store this information on Microsoft’s servers.

We recommend you disable all these features when you start up your Windows machine for the first time. Most of these features can be deactivated from the Privacy section of your Windows Settings.

5Microsoft’s NSA Compliance

Microsoft is renowned for passing data over to the infamous NSA, the USA’s secret intelligence service that was caught spying on millions of people.

While Microsoft claims that the US government doesn’t have access to any Microsoft product, such as Outlook, OneDrive, or Skype, it will comply with data requests from the NSA.

A VPN won’t help much with (4) and (5), but it’s important that we make you aware of how using a Windows machine can affect your online privacy.

How to Install a VPN for Windows 10

There are several ways to install a VPN on your Windows desktop or laptop. All of the methods are quick and easy, however we’re going to run through the easiest and most popular setup method.

Here are the steps to take to setup a VPN on Windows 10:

1Download Your Chosen VPN Software

Log into your VPN account and download the Windows client from the interface. Click on the download button and a .exe file will download onto your computer.

2Run the Windows Application

Open up the download .exe file from either your web browser, or from the folder where your downloads are stored. Follow the on-screen prompts that will guide you through the installation process.

3Log In

If the application asks you to, enter your login credentials and/or your activation code. This varies across VPN providers.

CyberGhost login in our CyberGhost VPN review

The app will automatically open once installation is complete. Simply type in your login details.

4Check Your Settings

Once you’re logged into the Windows VPN client, the first thing to do is make sure your security settings are optimised. This means making sure that:

5You’re All Set

You’re now ready to select a server location of your choice and connect securely to it.

If you want a more in-depth explanation, or see other setup methods, we’ve created a comprehensive guide on how to install a VPN on Windows 10.

Does Windows 10 Come with a VPN?

There’s some confusion as to whether Windows 10 comes with a built-in VPN or not.

If you go to Settings > Network & Internet, you’ll see an option to add a VPN connection. And, if you click ‘Add a VPN Connection’ it comes up with Windows (built-in).

To clarify, this is not a built-in VPN provided by Windows, but it’s simply a feature that allows you to add existing VPN server details from a VPN service.

In other words, built-in is merely Microsoft’s way to say that a feature is available within Windows to add a VPN connection. 

Windows VPN Options in Settings

Best Free VPN for Windows

Why bother paying for a VPN when you can get one for free, right? 

Sadly, many free VPNs are to be avoided. They’re often very poor at protecting your privacy, and some even extract your personal information or inject malware into your device. Most free VPNs are bad news.

We’ve carried several investigations into free VPN services, and our findings have been alarming. Here’s an illustration to show you what we found out:

We do understand that not everyone wants, or can afford, to buy a VPN.

The good news is that there are a handful of free Windows VPN clients that are safe and good enough for casual safe web browsing. Below are the current top five free VPNs:

  • Windscribe
  • ProtonVPN
  • TunnelBear
  • Hide.me
  • Avira

The VPNs above are completely free, and don’t require any credit card or payment details when you sign up.

It’s definitely worth checking our guide to the best free VPNs, where you can read more about each of these VPN services’ strengths and weaknesses.

Windows VPNs to Avoid

As mentioned above, there are many (free) VPNs that you should never use because of the dangers associated with them.

Here are some of the worst VPNs we’ve tested that are still available and come with Windows apps:

  • SkyVPN
  • Betternet
  • Hola VPN
  • Touch VPN
  • VPN 99
  • VPNBook
  • SlickVPN

Unblocking Netflix on Windows 10

A man breaking through a wall with a hammer to reveal the Netflix logo

Many people turn to VPNs to unlock Netflix’s regional libraries, which offer different video content based on your location.

For example, the American Netflix library has over 5,500 titles, while the UK catalogue less than 3,000, and the Australian one only 2,000.

If you want a VPN that unlocks US Netflix on your Windows device, you need to get a tried and tested service that consistently bypasses Netflix’s VPN restrictions.

The problem is many VPNs are not able to beat the Netflix VPN ban, which is why you may have gotten this proxy error alert when using a sub-optimal VPN:

Screenshot of the image that Netflix displays when it detects a VPN or proxy service

That’s why we’ve tested over 70 VPN services and have identified the best VPNs that still unblock Netflix. Choose the one that’s right for you out of those five, and set the VPN up using the installation method above.

Once the VPN is up and running, you can either select a US server location from the app’s server list, or pick a dedicated Netflix server (not all providers have these, though).

Now that you’re connected to a US server, your IP address will have changed to a US one and you should have no issue watching US Netflix.

Expert tip: If you’ve already visited the Netflix website before turning on your VPN, clear your web cookies from your web browser. Sometimes cookies can interfere with your VPN connection, and cause issues when you try to unlock the American Netflix library.

In case you’re wondering, you can also unlock HBO, Hulu and ESPN from abroad by using a top streaming VPN. The same applies to Disney+, as long as you use one of these working VPNs.

Best Windows VPN for PC Gaming

PC gaming is more popular than ever and you might be one of the millions of gamers playing on their PC every day.

Microsoft knows this, and even introduced ‘Game Mode’ to Windows 10, which is designed to produce higher frame rates and lower latency.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take into account your privacy and security. 

With all the risks that online gaming poses, for example DDoS attacks, you should consider using a VPN to increase your security and take advantage of other benefits a VPN gives you.

Benefits of Using a VPN when Gaming

  • Protecting from DDoS attackes
  • Unlocking geo-restricted games
  • Accessing geo-blocked game features
  • Bypassing IP blocks

Drawbacks of Using a VPN when Gaming

  • Higher latency/ping
  • Some VPN IPs are blacklisted

If you’re a PC gamer, read our guide on the best VPNs for gaming. Whether it’s Minecraft, World of Warcraft or Fortnite, this list is for you.

Best Windows VPN for China

Illustration of a VPN circumventing the Great Firewall of China

If you’re planning on going to China, and want to be able to access the ‘open’ Internet from your Windows laptop, you’ll need a VPN. But not just any VPN, as many services won’t work in such a high-censorship country.

To bypass the Great Firewall of China, we strongly advise to use one of the best VPNs for China on your PC. The top three at the moment are:

Please be aware that in China VPN speeds are much slower than in other countries. Also, even if the three VPNs above are the most reliable in beating Chinese censorship filters, sometimes even these top China VPNs won’t work due to heightened web traffic restrictions.

VPN or Freegate for Windows?

Freegate is free anti-censorship software, and it’s one of the most popular proxy anonymity tools used in China to circumvent censorship. It’s also very easy to add to Windows PCs.

The important thing to remember about Freegate is that it’s just an anonymizer proxy, not a VPN. In other words, it should be faster but your connection isn’t encrypted, and it’s not guaranteed to work all the time.

Here’s a quick comparison between VPNs and Proxies:

VPN vs. Proxy comparison table

Additionally, Freegate is far less user-friendly than VPNs as it has an incredibly outdated look. Most VPNs are consumer products designed to make their use as easy as possible, without compromising performance.

Overall, we recommend using a VPN instead of Freegate as your main ant-censorship tool.

Can I Use a VPN with Microsoft Edge?

Microsoft Edge is a web browser developed by Microsoft in 2015, meant to replace Internet Explorer.

Since its release it’s been the default browser for Windows, so it’s only natural that you should ask: can I use a VPN while using Microsoft Edge? The answer is yes.

Just like any other web browser, you can use Microsoft Edge while connected to a VPN service.

However, none of the top VPN providers provide VPN extensions for Microsoft Edge. This means that you’ll have to run the main VPN application while browsing (we recommend doing this anyway).

About the Author


  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon 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, CNet and more. Read full bio