Microsoft Windows, the most popular PC operating system in the world, is rife with inherent security issues and its overwhelming popularity makes it a prime target for hackers.
A VPN is an essential tool for keeping your computer safe and your data private. The five VPN services below all work brilliantly with Microsoft Windows.
If you were looking for a free VPN to use on your PC, these free VPN services all have a Windows app you can download.
The Most Important Factors When We Review a VPN for Windows
- Streamlined custom apps for Windows
- Reliable and fast speeds
- Works with popular streaming sites
- Useful privacy features
- Transparent, fair and privacy-focused logging policies
- High-quality customer support
Wondering why you should trust our reviews? Take a look at How We Test VPNs
Read More Information on Our Top 5 Best VPN Services for Windows
How We Picked the Best VPN for Windows
Our top picks for Windows all deliver an outstanding experience on Windows computers, with streamlined custom apps making it easy even for inexperienced users.
They perform the best in popular locations according to our own independent speed tests and work with popular streaming services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
Privacy is key, too, with the latest security standards in place backed up by minimal logging policies.
How to Use a VPN for Windows
All the VPNs we’ve recommended here couldn’t be simpler to use: just download the software, install and run.
There are a few key choices for you to make after your purchase, though.
Choosing the right protocol is important – 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 VPN apps have an option to automatically connect to the ‘best server’, which is usually 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.
If you need more help, take a look at our guide on how to set up a VPN on Windows devices.
How to Choose a VPN for Windows: 8 Tips
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 VPN 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 for VPNs.
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.
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!
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.