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Best VPN for Windows

Simon Migliano
Simon MiglianoUpdated

It’s essential to use a VPN with Windows devices due to the inherent privacy issues of these machines that put your personal data at risk. You need to make sure you select a provider with a high quality Windows app that’s quick and easy to use while also offering the best privacy and security features, and these aren’t easy to find without doing a load of research. Thankfully that’s where we come in, thoroughly testing out each VPN provider so you don’t have to, and publishing our findings in our detailed, easy-to-read VPN reviews.

The best VPN services for Windows protect you from government surveillance and unwanted data collection by your ISP, while also allowing you to access your favorite sites and apps through an encrypted connection, keeping your online activity private. Our proprietary speed-testing tool allows us to provide you with incredibly accurate VPN speed data from several locations worldwide, meaning you can rely on our top picks not to drastically slow down your Windows machine. To see which VPN we recommend for a specific purpose, tell us why you need one below, or read on for the best VPNs for Windows.

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

Super fast speeds and access to Netflix. Simple yet powerful Windows app.

Best price
$6.67 per month
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
94 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
3
What we like
  • Very fast speeds: 45Mbps global average
  • Peak speeds: up to 128Mbps on local servers
  • Works with Netflix & other top sites
  • Effective, easy-to-use Windows app
  • Advanced privacy features such as split tunneling
  • Connect securely to 90+ countries
What we like less
  • Price could be lower on shorter plans
  • Three simultaneous connections only
Bottom Line

ExpressVPN is an excellent all-round VPN with few rivals for performance. Upload and download speeds on both local and international connections are quick, consistent and above all reliable, peaking at an impressive 128Mbps on the Toronto server, which is more than quick enough for buffer-free HD streaming. Access to Netflix and other popular streaming sites will be a bonus for fans of these services.

Sleek, user-friendly apps are available for a long list of devices, and offer advanced features such as split tunneling and a VPN killswitch. Express has a very privacy-friendly logging policy, collecting only the minimal amount of basic connection metadata needed to keep the server network operating at peak performance levels, and none of this information is personally-identifiable.

Customer support is industry-leading, with prompt, helpful responses to live chat and email. Minor complaints are the limit of 3 simultaneous connections and lack of manual configurability, but these won’t be issues for most. ExpressVPN offers fantastic value on the annual plan at an affordable $6.67 per month, and you’re guaranteed a seamless browsing experience whatever your device.


Read our full ExpressVPN Review

2
NordVPN

Excellent performance and HD streaming. Full-featured but streamlined Windows app.

Best price
$3.99 per month
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
62 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
6
What we like
  • Great speeds - 54Mbps global average
  • Peak speeds: up to 332Mbps on local servers
  • Works with popular sites such as Netflix
  • Customizable, user-friendly Windows app
  • Generous 6 device connection limit
  • Connect securely to 62 countries
What we like less
  • Extra protocols require manual config
  • Slow responses to email and live chat
Bottom Line

NordVPN falls a little short of the premium experience offered by ExpressVPN but is still a solid all-round provider. It’s very secure and one of the only services to still reliably work with both Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Performance is excellent across the global server network, with downloads on local connections peaking at 332Mbps, one of the fastest peak speeds we’ve seen.

The apps are simple and user-friendly but limited to popular platforms, however we really like the generous six device connection limit. Nord operates a strict zero-logs policy and there are loads of advanced privacy features on offer too, including a VPN killswitch and DNS leak protection. No city-level servers will be a downside for some.

The quality of customer support is fantastic but responses can be slow at times. It isn’t quite up to the standard of ExpressVPN yet but it does work out a lot cheaper at just $3.99 per month on a two-year subscription, so if you’re looking to cut costs and only care about core performance, NordVPN could be perfect for you.


Read our full NordVPN Review

3
IPVanish

Excellent speeds and lots of advanced privacy settings. Highly configurable Windows app.

Best price
$6.49 per month
Money-back guarantee
7 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
61 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
10
What we like
  • 34Mbps average global download speed
  • Peak speeds: up to 234Mbps on local servers
  • Works with popular apps including Netflix
  • Powerful Windows app with solid privacy features
  • Very strict zero-logs policy
  • Connect securely to 61 countries
What we like less
  • Short refund period (7 days)
  • Could confuse inexperienced users
Bottom Line

IPVanish is the best VPN on the current market for P2P users and Kodi fans. Blazing-fast speeds on local connections are some of the best we’ve seen, especially uploads, however if you’re going to be connecting internationally there are quicker options out there. It currently works with Netflix but lacks dedicated streaming servers so access is pretty touch-and-go.

The software isn’t the best-looking in the world but it does a good job at getting you optimally connected and packs in loads of configurable options, including a VPN killswitch and DNS/IPv6 leak protection. IPVanish is strictly zero-logs, not even collecting basic connection metadata, which we really like.

Customer support is improving now there’s live chat. It’s pretty reasonably priced at $6.49 per month if you opt for the yearly subscription. If you have a basic level of tech savviness and value raw speed and privacy over accessibility, then definitely consider IPVanish.


Read our full IPVanish Review

4
CyberGhost

Fantastic speeds and HD streaming. Innovative, customizable Windows app.

Best price
$2.75 per month
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
60 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
7
What we like
  • Fast speeds - 37Mbps global average
  • Local server speeds around 92Mbps
  • Works with Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  • Innovative, highly-configurable Windows app
  • Completely zero-logs provider
  • Connect securely to 60 countries
What we like less
  • Server network could be bigger
  • App can be clunky at times
Bottom Line

CyberGhost is the best budget VPN we’ve reviewed. It doesn’t quite match up to its rivals in terms of overall performance but speeds of 92Mbps on most local connections are more than good enough to do pretty much anything you want online without breaking a sweat. Dedicated streaming servers provide reliable access to Netflix and iPlayer.

The innovative apps allow you to customize your experience based on your online activity, which is a great concept, although they can be a little clunky at times. CyberGhost is also one of our top choices for privacy due to its strict zero-logs policy, along with features such as a VPN killswitch, DNS leak protection and even a malicious website blocker.

Customer support has recently been given a makeover with the introduction of 24/7 live chat, and the knowledge base on the website is pretty good too. At the ridiculously low price of $2.75 per month on the 18-month plan however, it’s very easy to overlook CyberGhost’s shortfalls.


Read our full CyberGhost Review

5
HideMyAss!

Excellent global server performance. Sleek, mobile-style Windows app.

Best price
$3.50 per month
Money-back guarantee
30 Days
Customer Support
24/7 live chat support
No. of Server Locations
190+ Countries
Simultaneous Connections
5
What we like
  • Fast downloads: 40Mbps global average
  • Peak local speeds of 160Mbps
  • Optimized servers for streaming and torrenting
  • Recently updated, user-friendly Windows app
  • Brilliant customer support
  • Connect securely to over 190 countries
What we like less
  • Based in the privacy-unfriendly UK
  • Collects detailed connection logs
Bottom Line

HideMyAss! is the VPN with the largest server network on the current market. Few providers can match the fantastic speeds on offer on both local and international connections, with many servers consistently performing at over 107Mbps, peaking at over 160Mbps in Tokyo. This means that you’ll have no buffering issues when using the dedicated servers to stream your favorite shows on Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other popular sites.

HMA!’s apps are well-designed with a ‘mobile app’ feel. They’re great if you just want to click and forget, however you do miss out on the advanced features you get with providers such as IPVanish. It offers a decent level of privacy and is good enough for those who just want to hide their browsing history, however the logging policy is pretty intrusive, storing detailed connection logs for up to three months.

Customer support is comprehensive with snappy responses via live chat and email. It’s fairly pricey but you can get the monthly price down to $3.50 by choosing the 2-year plan, which is well worth it if you need access to a diverse server network and raw speed.


Read our full HideMyAss! Review

How we picked the best VPN for Windows

Our top picks for Windows all deliver an outstanding experience on Windows devices, with streamlined custom apps making it easy even for inexperienced users. They perform the best in popular locations in our independent speed tests and offer access to popular streaming services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer. They have a good set of privacy features and sensible logging policies, and we make sure customer support is top-notch in case you run into any problems.

We continually test all of the VPNs on our site to ensure our recommendations are always fresh. We spend hours running performance tests and thoroughly inspecting the apps so we can tell you what it’s really like to use them.

How to use a VPN for Windows

Before you start using a VPN on your Windows device, you need to decide whether you’re going to install the software at router level or download the app directly onto the device you want to use it on. One major advantage of having the VPN on your router is that you can protect all the connected devices in your home at once, however it can be pretty fiddly if you want to switch servers. Downloading apps onto individual devices is the more popular method for VPN newbies as it’s a lot simpler, however you’re usually only able to use the software on 3-5 devices simultaneously.

You then need to choose which protocol you’re going to use to connect – we recommend OpenVPN in most cases as it strikes the best balance between privacy and performance. Most providers will offer a few others, but unless you have a specific need for them we would advise sticking to OpenVPN. For the best performance you then need to connect to a server as close as possible to your physical location. The majority of VPNs have an option to automatically connect to the ‘best server’, which is usually at least in the same country as you.

Once you’re connected, the VPN will continue to run in the background and you can just carry on using your Windows device as normal. Be sure to activate the killswitch feature though, as this means all your internet traffic will be blocked should the VPN connection drop for any reason. Also be aware that should you need to switch servers, your internet connection will most likely drop during the transition, simply to prevent your true IP address from being leaked when you’re not connected to a VPN server.

We’ve published a guide showing you how to install a VPN on Windows devices, so check this out for extra hints and tips if you’re not sure.

How to choose a VPN for Windows: 8 Tips

  • Does it have a user-friendly Windows app?

    Nearly all VPN providers offer a dedicated app for Windows users, however the quality of these does vary massively from one provider to the next. Our top picks all have sleek, user-friendly Windows apps that still pack in loads of configurable manual settings without being too cluttered or confusing. You should also make sure the protocol you’ll want to use (OpenVPN for most people) is available on the Windows app, which it will be for the majority of popular providers.

  • Does it offer fast, consistent speeds?

    There’s no point in choosing a VPN with a super-sleek Windows app if the performance is no good and is going to affect your everyday activity. 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.

  • 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.

  • Will it work with your favorite websites and apps?

    Do you enjoy watching Netflix or BBC iPlayer? Not every VPN 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 “zero logs” but unfortunately this is almost never the case. In order to deliver consistent performance across a vast server network, the majority of providers will need to monitor at least some connection details of their users. The logging policy section of our reviews saves you having to read through a ton of privacy policies and terms of service we tell you all the information in plain English. 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!

  • Check connection, encryption and security features

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

  • Are their client apps and software easy to use?

    Most of you aren’t only going to be using a VPN on a Windows device, so you need to choose a provider that offers a good range of custom apps for other devices such as your phone. 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!

  • 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.