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Best VPN for Windows

Callum Tennent
By Callum TennentUpdated

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. A long-term vulnerability within the popular OS means that hackers can potentially access usernames and passwords of any signed-in user. 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. CyberGhost
  4. IPVanish
  5. PrivateVPN
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
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: 67Mbps global average
  2. Peak speeds: up to 245Mbps on local servers
  3. Works with Netflix & iPlayer
  4. Effective, easy-to-use Windows app
  5. Advanced privacy features such as split tunneling
  6. Connect securely to 94 countries
Cons
  1. Price could be lower on shorter plans
  2. 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 245Mbps, which is more than quick enough for buffer-free HD streaming. Access to Netflix, BBC iPlayer 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 kill switch. ExpressVPN 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. We were also pleased to see that ExpressVPN offers leak protection against the Windows’ login flaw, according to AVTest’s June 2018 report.

Customer support is industry-leading, with prompt, helpful responses to live chat and email. Minor complaints are the limit of three 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
$2.99 per month
Special deal
75% off with 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. Great speeds - 74Mbps global average
  2. Peak speeds: up to 301Mbps on local servers
  3. Works with popular sites such as Netflix
  4. Customizable, user-friendly Windows app
  5. Generous six device connection limit
  6. Connect securely to 62 countries
Cons
  1. Extra protocols require manual config
  2. 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 301Mbps, 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 kill switch and DNS leak protection. Switching the VPN protocol requires manual configuration, which will be a downside for some. Reassuringly, NordVPN was another provider to pass the Windows’ login leak test that AVTest carried out.

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 $2.99 per month on a three-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
CyberGhost

Fantastic speeds and HD streaming. Simple and effective Windows app.

Best price
$2.75 per month
Special deal
79% off with 3-year plan
Money-back guarantee
45 Days
Customer Support
24/7 Live chat support
No. of Server Locations
60 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
7
Pros
  1. Fast speeds - 62Mbps global average
  2. Local server speeds around 169Mbps
  3. Quick, easy access to Netflix
  4. Simple and effective Windows app
  5. Completely zero-logs provider
  6. Connect securely to 60 countries
Cons
  1. Server network could be bigger
  2. Some restrictions on torrenting
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 169Mbps on most local connections are more than good enough to do pretty much anything you want online without breaking a sweat.

The Windows app is simple but effective with dedicated streaming servers that provide reliable access to Netflix and many other popular services. There are also servers optimized for P2P activities but beware torrenting isn’t permitted on US and Australia servers. CyberGhost is also one of our top choices for privacy due to its strict zero-logs policy, along with features such as an integrated VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection, and even a malicious website blocker.

Customer support is excellent with 24/7 live chat, and a comprehensive knowledge base on the website too. At the ridiculously low price of $2.75 per month on the three-year plan, however, it’s very easy to overlook CyberGhost’s shortfalls.


Read our full CyberGhost review

4
IPVanish

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

Best price
$6.49 per month
Special deal
46% off with 12-month plan
Money-back guarantee
7 Days
Customer Support
24/7 Live chat support
No. of Server Locations
61 Countries
Simultaneous Connections
10
Pros
  1. 50Mbps average global download speed
  2. Peak speeds: up to 350Mbps on local servers
  3. Works with popular apps including Netflix
  4. Powerful Windows app with solid privacy features
  5. Very strict zero-logs policy
  6. Connect securely to 61 countries
Cons
  1. Short refund period (7 days)
  2. 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 kill switch 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 12-month 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

5
PrivateVPN

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

Best price
$3.60 per month
Special deal
67% off with 17-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 64Mbps globally
  2. Dedicated streaming servers for 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 57 countries
  6. Strict zero-logs policy
Cons
  1. Server network could be bigger
  2. No browser extensions
  3. Mobile apps lack advanced privacy features
Bottom Line

PrivateVPN is a budget VPN that’s ideal for VPN beginners who want quick, easy access to popular streaming sites. Local and international performance is excellent, peaking at 433Mbps in some locations, with low ping times making it a great choice for gamers. Dedicated streaming servers make watching your favorite shows on Netflix and iPlayer hassle-free.

The custom apps are simple without compromising on configurability, and you can protect up to six devices at one time. PrivateVPN lives up to its name, with a strict zero-logs policy as well as a VPN kill switch, DNS leak protection and first-party DNS servers. You can also connect using TCP Port 443, which works well to bypass blocks in high-censorship countries.

Customer support could be better – we found live chat availability to be intermittent, which can be frustrating. But it’s very easy to overlook this minor downside for the bargain price of just $3.60 a month on the 17-month plan.


Read our full PrivateVPN 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 the connection, encryption and security features

    The sheer amount of VPN jargon can be overwhelming, which is why we make sure to spell out when a product is the real deal and when it’s talking nonsense.

    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.

    A VPN kill switch is the most vital extra feature 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 can be made affordable by taking out a longer subscription. Don’t bother with a one-month plan – 12-month plans typically offer the best value and you can reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse by choosing one with a long refund period. We’d advise a 30-day no-questions-asked guarantee – they essentially act as a free trial period. Make the right choice, though, and you hopefully won’t be thinking about a refund at all.