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The Best VPNs for Windows PC

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A illustration of a Windows spying on a PC protected by a VPN
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN
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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

There are excellent VPN choices for the Microsoft Windows operating system.

The best VPNs have applications for all popular platforms, but their software for Windows PC is often the most effective and fully-featured.

We tested 68 VPN services on Lenovo T480 test laptops to find the best free and paid VPN clients for Windows 11, 10 and 7.

Based on our speed, security and streaming tests, the best free and paid VPNs for Windows PC are:

  1. ExpressVPN: The overall best VPN for Windows PC. Read summary or Visit ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN: The best alternative Windows VPN. Read summary or Visit NordVPN
  3. Surfshark: The cheapest top VPN for Windows 10. Read summary or Visit Surfshark
  4. IPVanish: A secure, 100% no-logs VPN for Windows. Read summary or Visit IPVanish
  5. ProtonVPN Free: The best 100% free VPN for Windows. Read summary or Visit ProtonVPN

The five VPNs above will hide your IP address and secure your WiFi network connection, whether it’s on a family PC, a laptop, or a computer for your home office.

Windows 11 OpenVPN UDP Issue

Microsoft has stated that the newly-released Windows 11 can cause issues with the OpenVPN UDP protocol. Packet loss problems means that using OpenVPN UDP in your VPN on Windows 11 may be slower than it should be.

Microsoft is working to address this issue with its next Windows 11 update

The 10 Best Windows VPNs Compared

Use the table below to compare the top 10 VPN clients for Windows based on compatibility, logging policy, speeds, and more:

The Top VPNs for Windows: Performance Ratings

The table below compares the top five Windows VPNs in the most important testing categories:

The 5 Best VPNs for Windows PCs in 2021

  1. 1. ExpressVPN: Best for Windows 10

    A fully-featured and highly secure Windows 10 app with great streaming capabilities.

    Ranked #1 out of 68 VPNs for Windows
    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devices
     96% 
    (1,773 user reviews)
    Visit ExpressVPN

    Pros

    1. Fully-featured Windows VPN app
    2. Excellent long- and short-distance speeds
    3. Unblocks 19 Netflix regions and streaming sites
    4. No IP leaks and strong encryption
    5. 3,000 Windows-compatible servers in 94 countries
    6. 24/7 live customer support and 30-day refund guarantee

    Cons

    1. The most expensive option on this list
    2. No port-forwarding for P2P users
    3. No extension for Edge Browser users

    Overall Windows Rating: 9.5/10

    The overall Windows rating is calculated using the following subcategory ratings. To find out more, read our full methodology.

    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 8.78.7/10

    ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Windows. It is an excellent all-round VPN on all platforms, and its Windows app is the best version of itself.

    The VPN delivers fast download speeds and offers useful features without sacrificing your security or privacy in the process. It’s expensive, but we believe it’s worth it.

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. linuxLinux
    3. macosMacOS
    4. chromeosChromeos
    5. androidAndroid
    6. iosiOS
    7. amazon_firetvFire TV
    8. androidtvAndroid TV
    9. appletvApple TV
    10. chromecastChromecast
    11. rokuRoku
    12. playstationPlayStation
    13. xboxXbox
    14. edgeEdge
    15. chromeChrome
    16. firefoxFirefox
    17. routerRouter
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionBritish Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    IP Addresses3,000+
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    Safe, secure, and private

    Most importantly of all, you can depend upon ExpressVPN to keep your web traffic private.

    The VPN service’s audited logging policy is proven to not retain any identifiable information. That means all your web activity on your Windows device is kept secret.

    While you can use VPN protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2, ExpressVPN has fully rolled out its own secure protocol, Lightway, to its Windows 10 client, too.

    Even faster speeds with Lightway

    In addition to being just as secure as other established protocols, Lightway is the fastest available for ExpressVPN.

    ExpressVPN has always been one of the very quickest VPNs on the market, and with Lightway it’s only gotten faster.

    We test ExpressVPN’s speeds weekly to make sure it’s as fast as it claims to be – and it hasn’t let us down so far. We were able to stream in HD, game online without any lag, and torrent files quickly.

    ExpressVPN Windows App

    Well-suited for unrestricted streaming and torrenting

    ExpressVPN is also one of the best services for unrestricted streaming with Windows 10.

    Netflix subscribers can stream 19 content libraries using the VPN service.

    ExpressVPN also unblocks popular content platforms like HBO, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, and more.

    If you use your Windows PC for torrenting, then a trustworthy VPN is a must. With ExpressVPN you can torrent safely on all 3,000 servers, with no speed or data caps.

    The only P2P-related drawback is the lack of port forwarding, although our VPN speed tests show exceptional torrenting speeds regardless.

    Essential Windows extra features work well

    A part of what makes ExpressVPN a great choice for Windows is its simple, clean app. It doesn’t have as many extra features as some other VPNs, but it has all the important ones.

    Split-tunneling and the kill switch are there, as well as IPv6 leak protection and ExpressVPN-owned DNS servers for maximum security.

    If you’re a Microsoft Edge browser user then the lack of extension is a shame. However, there is one available for Chrome and Firefox.

  2. 2. NordVPN: Best Alternative for PC

    NordVPN is one of the most popular, affordable and fast PC VPNs.

    NordVPN Mobile App Screenshot
     94% 
    (246 user reviews)
    Visit NordVPN

    Pros

    1. Private logging policy and secure servers
    2. High-speed global VPN server network
    3. Useful Windows features, including a kill switch
    4. Unblocks streaming sites, plus thousands of P2P servers
    5. More affordable than ExpressVPN

    Cons

    1. You can’t sign up with PayPal
    2. No Microsoft Edge browser extension
    3. A NordVPN server was breached in 2018
    4. Doesn't work in China

    Overall Windows Rating: 9.4/10

    The overall Windows rating is calculated using the following subcategory ratings. To find out more, read our full methodology.

    • 9.49.4/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 9.59.5/10
    • 8.18.1/10

    If you want to subscribe to ExpressVPN but can’t afford it, then NordVPN is the ideal alternative.

    It’s one of the most widely trusted and popular VPNs available, and for good reason. It has many useful features to keep you private and secure online.

    The service provides access to a high-speed global network, on which you can torrent and stream freely.

    Cheapest Price$3.30/mo over 27 Months See all plans
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. linuxLinux
    3. macosMacOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. iosiOS
    6. amazon_firetvFire TV
    7. appletvApple TV
    8. chromecastChromecast
    9. rokuRoku
    10. playstationPlayStation
    11. xboxXbox
    12. chromeChrome
    13. firefoxFirefox
    14. routerRouter
    Compatible Windows VersionsWindows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionPanama (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    IP Addresses5,208+
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    Audited no-logs policy and a Panama jurisdiction

    NordVPN may be the most widely-advertised VPN at the moment. Understandably you may feel a little suspicious. Can you trust it? In our experience, you can.

    Something we always encourage, NordVPN has been audited by an external security firm. Everything stated in its logging policy has been verified to be true.

    In other words, NordVPN doesn’t log anything you do online while using its service.

    Also, NordVPN is based in Panama, which has no connection or obligation to surveillance setups like the Five Eyes alliance, or the NSA.

    The only black mark on NordVPN’s record is in 2018, when it suffered a server breach. While they’re never a good thing, the company reacted well to the incident.

    As a result of the breach, the VPN’s servers are now more secure than ever, after a major infrastructure overhaul.

    Impressive high-speed server network

    With 5,208 servers in 60 countries, NordVPN’s huge network is one the most extensive available.

    NordVPN homescreen on Windows 10

    Most servers allow for unlimited torrenting and P2P traffic.

    There are only two protocols to choose from on Windows: OpenVPN or NordLynx. OpenVPN, a long-time favorite of ours, and NordLynx, NordVPN’s improved WireGuard protocol.

    OpenVPN also lets you use obfuscated servers, which are effective at beating aggressive web censorship. Having said that, NordVPN no longer works in China.

    Works well with BBC iPlayer and Netflix

    If you stream a lot of video content on your laptop or desktop, then NordVPN is a VPN to seriously consider.

    It doesn’t unblock as many Netflix libraries as ExpressVPN, but it still streams nine different regions.

    Through our streaming tests, we also found NordVPN to be the best VPN at unblocking BBC iPlayer on all its UK servers.

    Additional features to keep your Windows PC safe

    NordVPN gives Windows users access to its full suite of features.

    There’s two different kill switches: the standard one, which cuts out your internet if the VPN connection drops, and one which just disconnects certain apps – like your torrenting client.

    CyberSec is a built-in ad and malicious site blocker.

    ‘Invisibility on LAN’ is an interesting feature for Windows users. If you’re connected to a shared network, like at school, work, or in public, it hides your computer from the network.

    There’s also an ‘Auto-connect on Wi-Fi’ feature that turns on NordVPN whenever you connect to a WiFi hotspot.

  3. 3. Surfshark: Best Value VPN for PC

    Surfshark presents excellent value at $2.49 per month

    Surfshark app
     82% 
    (120 user reviews)
    Visit Surfshark

    Pros

    1. The cheapest high-quality VPN
    2. Simple, easy-to-use Windows app
    3. No simultaneous device limit
    4. Unblocks 31 Netflix libraries
    5. Fast Wireguard protocol speeds
    6. Strong logging policy

    Cons

    1. Logging policy isn’t audited
    2. Edge extension is only a proxy

    Overall Windows Rating: 9.2/10

    The overall Windows rating is calculated using the following subcategory ratings. To find out more, read our full methodology.

    • 9.29.2/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 9.79.7/10
    • 8.68.6/10
    • 9.29.2/10
    • 8.58.5/10

    Surfshark is a Windows VPN that does a lot of things right, and a very affordable price.

    For just $2.49 per month on a two-year plan, you get a simple, fast VPN to protect your PC.

    Cheapest Price$2.49/mo over 24 months See all plans
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. linuxLinux
    3. macosMacOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. iosiOS
    6. amazon_firetvFire TV
    7. androidtvAndroid TV
    8. appletvApple TV
    9. chromecastChromecast
    10. rokuRoku
    11. playstationPlayStation
    12. xboxXbox
    13. chromeChrome
    14. firefoxFirefox
    15. routerRouter
    Compatible Windows VersionsWindows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionBritish Virgin Islands (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    IP Addresses3,200+
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    The cheapest option with no compromise on quality

    There’s no denying Surfshark’s most appealing feature: its price is exceptional for a VPN of this quality.

    There are no service limitations or inadequacies, either – Surfshark is well worthy of its spot on this page.

    What’s more, just like IPVanish, you can use Surfshark on an unlimited number of devices at the same time.

    Very good for streaming and torrenting on your PC

    Of the VPNs for PC we selected, Surfshark unblocks the highest number of international Netflix libraries. We accessed 31 regions in our recent tests.

    We also streamed other services like BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO Max.

    Similarly to ExpressVPN, Surfshark provides unlimited private torrenting on all its 3,200 servers.

    The Surfshark app connected on Windows 10

    Beginner-friendly app with advanced features

    Surfshark is at its best when used on a Windows computer. Its design couldn’t be much simpler, and even complete VPN newbies can use it without issue.

    While it’s very easy to use, there are still advanced features for more advanced users to enjoy.

    For example, MultiHop bounces your connection off an additional relay server for added anonymity.

    If you’re planning on using Surfshark’s Edge extension, remember it’s only a proxy. While it may unblock geo-restricted websites, your ISP will still see your online activity.

    Fast, secure servers located around the world

    Despite the low asking price, Surfshark gives you full access to a network of 3,200 servers in 65 countries.

    We recorded excellent download speeds on all servers we tested, which don’t track or store any user web logs.

    Surfshark’s logging policy hasn’t been verified by an external auditors, yet, however you can trust the software not to leak or log any of your internet data.

    Furthermore, just like ExpressVPN, Surfshark operates under the privacy-friendly jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands.

  4. 4. IPVanish: Best for Multiple Devices

    Highly secure with 40,000 IP addresses and a no-logs policy.

    IPVanish VPN
     96% 
    (175 user reviews)
    Visit IPVanish

    Pros

    1. Impeccable no-logs policy
    2. All 1,400 servers are privately-owned
    3. Optimized for safe and private torrenting
    4. Unlimited simultaneous connections

    Cons

    1. Poor for unblocking content platforms
    2. No browser extensions

    Overall Windows Rating: 9.1/10

    The overall Windows rating is calculated using the following subcategory ratings. To find out more, read our full methodology.

    • 8.58.5/10
    • 9.69.6/10
    • 9.99.9/10
    • 9.19.1/10
    • 8.58.5/10
    • 8.98.9/10

    IPVanish is a great choice for your entire home thanks to its unlimited number of simultaneous connections.

    Uou can install the VPN service on every household device and get maximum protection without sacrificing speeds.

    Cheapest Price$3.20/mo for 12 months See all plans
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. linuxLinux
    3. macosMacOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. iosiOS
    6. routerRouter
    Compatible Windows VersionsWindows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionUS (Five-Eyes Member)
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    IP Addresses40,000+
    SupportLive Chat

    1,400 no-logs and privately-owned servers

    IPVanish is one of the most secure, private VPNs we’ve tested.

    Every one of its servers is privately owned and operated. That means no third parties have access to your data. There’s also no web data logged whatsoever.

    You may have read that in 2016 IPVanish cooperated with the FBI, revealing user logs in the process. This was a serious black mark against the company, but IPVanish has since changed ownership multiple times.

    Its current ownership has dedicated itself to restoring standards and securing the anonymity of its users. In our opinion, it’s doing an excellent job.

    Fast speeds via two safe VPN protocols

    IPVanish is known for being a quick VPN, which we can confirm. Whether near or far, every server you connect to will barely affect your internet speed.

    The VPN gives you a broad selection of protocols on Windows, including OpenVPN, IKEv2 and L2TP.

    However, we only recommend two: OpenVPN and IKEv2. They both strike the perfect balance of security and speed.

    IPVanish homescreen on Windows 10

    No device limit for complete household protection

    Ordinarily even the best value VPNs come with a simultaneous connection limit. This means only a certain number of devices can use the VPN connection at once.

    IPVanish is special in that it has no device limit. On a 12-month plan, it only costs $3.20 per month.

    You can have the VPN service running on your Windows PC, your smartphone, and any other internet-connected devices at the same time.

    Not only that, but you can also share the account with everyone else in your family or household.

    IPVanish’s biggest weakness is that it’s poor for streaming. It only unblocks two different Netflix libraries (US and Japan) and fails with other popular platforms like BBC iPlayer.

  5. 5. ProtonVPN Free: Best Free VPN for PC

    With no data cap you can set-and-forget this excellent free VPN.

    Screenshot of ProtonVPN Free's Mobile App
     100% 
    (2 user reviews)
    Visit ProtonVPN

    Pros

    1. 100% free with no card details required
    2. The only trusted free VPN with unlimited data
    3. No-logs, trustworthy ownership and great jurisdiction
    4. Fast speeds for a free VPN

    Cons

    1. Servers in only three countries
    2. No torrenting or Netflix access
    3. Missing extra features from the paid version

    Overall Windows Rating: 7.4/10

    The overall Windows rating is calculated using the following subcategory ratings. To find out more, read our full methodology.

    • 9.89.8/10
    • 99.0/10
    • 9.89.8/10
    • 7.27.2/10
    • 11.0/10
    • 00.0/10

    While ProtonVPN’s free offering may not have all the features of some of its free rivals, its strongest benefit is unique: a completely unlimited data cap.

    If you want a free VPN to install on your PC or laptop, activate, then forget about, ProtonVPN free is your best option.

    Cheapest Price$6.63/mo over 24 Months See all plans
    Compatible with
    1. windowsWindows
    2. linuxLinux
    3. macosMacOS
    4. androidAndroid
    5. iosiOS
    6. amazon_firetvFire TV
    7. androidtvAndroid TV
    8. chromecastChromecast
    9. routerRouter
    Compatible Windows VersionsWindows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7
    Data LeaksNo
    JurisdictionSwitzerland (Privacy Haven)
    Logging PolicyAnonymous Server Usage Data
    IP Addresses1,433+
    SupportEmail & Online Resources Only

    Unlimited data, but no Netflix or torrenting

    Of all the safe and trustworthy free VPNs we’ve tested, only ProtonVPN Free places no restriction on how much you use it every month.

    Once the VPN is installed on your Windows computer, you can connect to a server and leave it running for as long as you like.

    Sadly, there will be times when you’ll have to turn it off: when streaming or torrenting. Like so many free VPNs, ProtonVPN saves its best (streaming and P2P) servers for paying customers.

    This means that ProtonVPN Free won’t unblock Netflix or any other popular streaming platform.

    Torrenting also won’t work – we tried, but our P2P client couldn’t even retrieve the magnet file metadata.

    The free ProtonVPN app on Windows 10

    Doesn't store any user logs

    The hardest part of picking a free VPN is trying to find out if you can trust the company behind it or not.

    There’s no doubt surrounding ProtonVPN, though. Since the launch of ProtonVPN in 2017, Proton Technologies has proven itself as a privacy-first company you can safely entrust with your data.

    Its no-logs policy was verified in real-life, when it revealed nothing but blank servers in a Swiss court case in 2019.

    Switzerland also serves as its base of operations, which is an acceptable choice of jurisdiction thanks to the absence of invasive privacy laws.

    Does the basics, but limited versus paid apps

    Using a free VPN inevitably carries some trade-offs.

    In addition to lacking streaming access and torrenting, ProtonVPN Free lacks the extra features present in the paid version.

    For example, Secure Core servers and the Netshield malware and ad blocker are all unavailable to free users.

    At least you still get access to split tunneling, IPv6 leak protection, custom DNS servers, and the all-important kill switch.

    The other big drawback is the lack of servers. There are only 12 free ones located in three countries: the US, Netherlands, and Japan.

    Our tests returned good speeds, especially for a free VPN. But, if you don’t live near one of the servers locations above you will likely experience slow speeds.

How We Test VPNs for Windows PC

When recommending Windows VPNs, we focus specifically on attributes and features that are most relevant to Windows users.

For Windows VPNs we specifically consider:

  • How easy-to-use the Windows app is, plus its range of extra features.
  • If secure AES-256 encryption and a strong VPN protocol are in use.
  • If any personal data is retained and if the logging policy is anonymous.
  • How large the impact to download and upload speeds is.
  • Can it consistently access streaming libraries, particularly US Netflix.
  • If secure and anonymous torrenting is permitted across all servers.

In this section, we’ll go into more detail on how we test all of those categories, and how they affect the overall rating for Windows:

1. Windows App: 30%

Minimum Requirement: Easy to navigate, with essential features like the VPN kill switch.
We Recommend: The above, plus clear labelling, helpful shortcuts, and in-app FAQs.

As a Windows user, you’re lucky – Microsoft’s PC operating system is the number one priority for most VPN services when designing an app.

Ordinarily, Windows VPNs will be the best-designed version of the app, with the best range of features.

Of course, that’s not always the case, which is why we mark harshly here. A kill switch is the bare minimum. Ideally there will also be split tunneling, customizable server lists, auto-connect, and even port forwarding.

We also greatly favor VPN apps which clearly explain the features present, ideally with good labeling and in-app FAQs. Users with absolutely no experience of VPNs should be able to use it with confidence.

2. Encryption & Security: 17.5%

Minimum Requirement: AES-256 encryption combined with the OpenVPN protocol.
We Recommend: The above, plus a choice of protocols and private DNS servers.

A secure, reliable connection is always one of the most important factors for a VPN, but it’s especially important on your PC or laptop.

OpenVPN is a reliable, open-source protocol that has been popular for years. WireGuard is a new protocol which is being used more often – it’s extremely fast, while also maintaining the same security standards as OpenVPN. We test for both of these protocols in every Windows VPN.

AES-256 encryption is also expected from the top VPNs. If you find a VPN which only offers AES-128, it’s still perfectly safe, but it’s not the strongest available.

We consider all of these factors when awarding ratings in this category.

3. Logging Policy: 17.5%

Minimum Requirement: Anonymous or aggregated usage logs briefly retained.
We Recommend: No logs retained whatsoever, audited by a third party.

Equally as important as the encryption used is the logging policy of the VPN itself.

Using a VPN is pointless if the service logs private, revealing information like timestamps and URLs visited.

All the VPNs we recommend have a privacy policy that’s minimal and transparent.

The ideal VPN won’t log any information whatsoever, with everything deleted as soon as your session ends. These VPNs are rare, but they do exist.

More realistically, the top Windows VPNs maintain anonymous, aggregated usage data. This might be something like the total amount of data you use in a month, how many times you connect, or the total number of users connected to a server at once.

We also place great importance on third-party auditing. This is where an external legal agency verifies the claims of a VPN’s logging policy. Conducting these on a regular basis is a huge sign of trustworthiness for a VPN.

4. Speed: 15%

Minimum Requirement: Less than 40% speed loss on local connections.
We Recommend: Less than 20% speed loss on local connections or 40% on distant ones.

If you have fast home internet, then a bad VPN will noticeably slow down your connection. If you have slow home internet then a bad VPN will make your Windows device practically unusable.

We conduct two different types of speed tests to determine the fastest VPNs for PCs.

We perform manual speed tests on a weekly basis, while our automated speed test tool runs 126 tests every six hours to keep a log of VPN speeds across the world.

The best VPNs are between 5% and 20% slower on local connections, but anything less than 40% is acceptable.

We typically expect to see greater slowdown on international connections. The further your desired server, the greater the slowdown will be.

Speed losses of less than 40% on a connection that’s 400-800 miles away from you is very respectable.

5. Streaming: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Can provide reliable access to US and UK Netflix.
We Recommend: Reliable access to various international streaming libraries.

The very least we expect of a VPN is to consistently stream US Netflix (or UK Netflix if you’re based in the US). These two libraries have the most varied and popular content.

A great VPN will also work with BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and more.

We have subscriptions to all these streaming services, and perform regular tests to determine which Windows VPNs can unblock them.

Some VPNs offer specialized streaming servers, designed to stream a particular platform more easily. While these servers are useful, we prefer VPNs that give streaming access on any server.

6. Torrenting: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Permits P2P activity on a wide choice of servers.
We Recommend: Permits torrenting on all servers, with good P2P bitrate.

Torrenting is very popular on PC, and it’s crucial you can trust your VPN to hide your torrent IP address.

The trouble is, not every VPN supports torrenting. We test ever VPN for a wide selection of servers compatible with P2P traffic. They should be well-distributed geographically, too.

The top-rated Windows VPNs allow torrenting on every server. We check both marked and unmarked servers don’t throttle or restrict your bandwidth while you torrent.

We test using qBitTorrent, and download a series of large files when testing to make sure that bitrates are good.

While rare, port forwarding is an important bonus for a torrenting VPN. Being able to open specific ports within the VPN can lead to big increases in download speed.

Are Free VPNs for Windows Safe?

If you’re searching for a VPN for Windows 10, you could be tempted to search the Microsoft Store to see what’s popular. The screenshot below shows what comes up when you do that.

Some of the most popular free VPNs available in the Windows Store

With a few trustworthy exceptions, you should avoid almost all of the VPNs in the screenshot above.

We constantly discuss how few good free VPNs there are, and it’s the same for Windows as any other operating system.

Some free VPNs will be harmless, but a nightmare to use – slow speeds, lack of server choice, daily data caps, and more. But at worst, some will log everything you do online.

In addition to ProtonVPN Free, there are a small number of free VPNs that are 100% safe, trustworthy, and performed well in our tests. See the ones we rate highly in our list of the best free VPNs.

Free VPNs to Avoid On Windows

It’s not just no-name VPNs that can be unsafe. There’s a number of popular, well-known VPNs you should stay away from.

Here’s two of the biggest names you should not trust:

Hola Free VPN

Hola Free VPN has been downloaded by millions of users around the world, but the fact is that you should never download it.

In reality, Hola isn’t a proper VPN. Rather than providing its users with a network of secure and anonymous servers, Hola instead treats its users like servers.

Whenever you connect to an IP address using Hola, you’re actually using the IP address of another user.

This goes both ways of course, meaning that thousands of Hola users could be using your IP address to do whatever they want online.

What’s more, Hola’s parent company can also sell any ‘spare’ bandwidth from your connection to anyone willing to pay for it.

Hola is not a real VPN, and it is not safe – avoid it at all costs.

Turbo VPN

One of the most downloaded apps on the Google Play Store, Turbo VPN is also available on Windows. You should not download it.

Our independent investigation into free VPN ownership revealed some troubling information about the ownership of Turbo VPN and its siblings.

While it tries to remain suspiciously anonymous, Turbo VPN is actually linked to a family of corporations with no background in privacy, and worrying ties to mainland China.

You shouldn’t trust Turbo VPN with your personal data, as there are no guarantees as to what is being done with it.

The free version of Turbo VPN also has intrusive advertising and invasive trackers. Use a proven free VPN instead.

How to Set Up a VPN on PC

Installing a VPN on Windows is quick and easy, even if you’re someone who’s bad with technology.

While there are a few ways you can approach it, we recommend simply downloading from the official website of the VPN service of your choice. In this example we’ll use NordVPN.

  1. The first step is to sign up for the VPN. Choose a payment plan that suits you – you’ll save more money by picking a longer subscription.
    The NordVPN subscription selection page
  2. Click on the Downloads tab on the left-hand side of your screen. Here you’ll see all the different platforms the VPN is available to download on. Choose the Windows icon.
    The NordVPN members download page
  3. Run the installation file. By default it should suggest installing to the hard drive that you have Windows installed on. This is usually the C: drive. Click Next until you are presented with the Install button, then click it.
    Windows 10 dialog box for installing NordVPN
  4. Once it’s completed installing, click Finish to launch NordVPN for the first time.
    End screen of the Windows 10 install wizard for NordVPN

While these instructions are tailored for NordVPN, the process will be similar for most VPNs on PC.

There are other ways you can install a VPN on Windows, although they’re a lot more complex. If you’re curious, take a look at our guide explaining how to set up a VPN on PC.

Does Windows 10 Have a Built-In VPN?

Windows 10 does not have a built-in VPN. However, it does let you manually set up a VPN connection without downloading any extra software.

To do this, you still need a subscription to a VPN service.

To manually set up a VPN on Windows, navigate to the Windows search bar and type in ‘VPN settings‘.

Searching for VPN settings within Windows 10

In the next window, click Add a VPN connection. From here you can then add a custom configuration from the VPN you are subscribed to.

The VPN settings screen within Windows 10

The end result of this is almost exactly the same as just using your VPN service’s downloadable client. There’s no real benefit to you to setting your VPN up this way, and it takes much longer – but the option is there if you want to try it.

Additional research by Liam Mullally

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