We review VPNs independently, but we may earn commissions if you buy a VPN via our links.

The Best Free & Paid VPNs for Windows PCs

A illustration of a Windows spying on a PC protected by a VPN

Simon Migliano 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 and more.

Fact-checked by JP JonesAdditional Testing by Harry Ferrigno

EXPERT ADVICE: Free VPNs for Windows PCs are often unable to access geo-blocked streaming services, limited by data caps, or riddled with third-party ads. ExpressVPN, our top-rated VPN for Windows, unblocks geo-restrictions securely and without limits. Try ExpressVPN risk-free for 30 days.

Because Windows is the most popular computer operating system in the world, it’s also subject to more cyberattacks and hacking attempts than any other platform.

Using a VPN helps to improve your privacy and security while using the Internet on your PC, but sadly not all VPNs are reliable or trustworthy.

Only a handful of VPN services for PC can encrypt your internet connection and hide your real IP address from third parties at all times.

What’s the Best Free VPN for Windows PCs?

Following our recent tests, the best free VPNs for Windows are:

  1. Windscribe Free: Best Free VPN for Windows PC
  2. Proton VPN Free: Free VPN for Windows with Unlimited Data

The best free VPN for Windows desktops and laptops in 2024 is Windscribe Free. Throughout our tests it delivered fully-encrypted connections across 11 server locations. It also unblocked several popular streaming platforms, which is rare for a free VPN. The VPN is limited by a 10GB monthly data cap, though.

The issue with free VPNs is that they’re often limited by small server networks, few advanced settings, streaming and torrenting restrictions, or data usage caps.

Upgrading to a subscription-based VPN gives you access to a much broader and faster server network, advanced security features, effective unblocking, and unlimited data.

What’s the Overall Best VPN for Windows PCs?

The very best VPNs for Windows PC are:

  1. ExpressVPN: Best VPN for Windows Overall
  2. NordVPN: Best Runner-up for Windows PCs
  3. PIA VPN: Best Cheap VPN for Windows PCs

The absolute best VPN for Windows PCs is ExpressVPN, scoring a 9.6/10 rating in our tests. The VPN’s reliable, user-friendly, and fully-featured PC app outperformed all other VPNs in most testing categories. The VPN stood out for its outstanding usability and unblocking capabilities.

These VPNs are easy to set up on Windows devices, and worked extremely well on our Lenovo T480 and Lenovo T480s test laptops.

In addition to testing VPNs on Windows versions XP, 7, 8, 10, and 11, we also tested any Microsoft Edge VPN browser extension they came with.

Comparison of the Best Windows VPNs

The table below compares our top-rated PC VPNs based on download speed, number of countries with servers, cheapest price, and more.

Why Trust Us?

We’re fully independent and have been reviewing VPNs since 2016. Our ratings are based on our own testing results and are unaffected by financial incentives. Learn who we are and how we test VPNs.

Windows VPNs Tested65
Total Hours of Testing30,000+
Test DevicesLenovo T480 & Lenovo T480s

The Best Free Windows PC VPNs Analyzed

  1. 1. Windscribe Free: Best Free VPN for Windows PCs

    Excellent VPN app that unblocks streaming services on its free servers.

    Ranked #1 Free VPN for Windows PCs
    The Windscribe VPN app running on two mobiles; one displaying connection options, the other connected to a New York server.Visit Windscribe

    • Easy-to-use app with great customization options
    • No payment details required on sign-up
    • Unblocks UK Netflix & other streaming services
    • Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox & Edge
    • Uses barely any computer RAM

    • 10GB monthly data limit
    • No human live chat available
    • No longer works with American Netflix
    • Device limit for WireGuard connections
    • Windows app can’t be resized

    Overall Windows Rating: 7.0/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our Windows VPN testing methodology.

    • 9.4/10
    • 8.9/10
    • 8.8/10
    • 8.5/10
    • 7.4/10

    Windscribe Free is the best free VPN for Windows and the overall top-rated free VPN for 2024.

    Windscribe Free performs like a premium VPN service. It’s capable of unblocking Netflix, torrenting large files quickly, and bypassing censorship in China.

    Windscribe Free's VPN app for Windows

    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data Cap10GB
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Data LeaksNo
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection90Mbps
    Countries with Servers11
    US NetflixNo
    Simultaneous DevicesUnlimited
    SupportEmail & Online Resources Only

    Intuitive & Well-designed Windows App

    Windscribe Free is one of the easiest apps to use on Windows due to its simple and condensed design.

    Everything you need is in the main menu of the app. Click the power button to start your VPN connection and activate your kill switch by toggling the widget – there’s no need to go into the settings.

    More experienced users can select the hamburger menu in the corner for advanced features, including custom DNS and split tunneling. There’s also the option to switch between a windowed and docked app to better tailor Windscribe to your Windows.

    Server navigation is made simple too with the inclusion of an in-built search bar and favorites list.

    Windscribe VPN on Windows

    We did, however, find it difficult to read some of the in-app text and UI elements, especially the tool tips. We’d like the ability to resize the Windows app to mitigate this issue.

    Protocol selection is difficult to navigate within the app as well. You’re expected to manually select the port number for the appropriate VPN protocol which isn’t easy if you’re an inexperienced user.

    Integrates Seamlessly into the Windows Ecosystem

    The installation process is straightforward on Windows. Download the client directly from Windscribe’s website and then create an account – no payment details are required.

    The app is ideal for optimizing your Windows performance, consuming the least RAM of any VPN we’ve tested. Windscribe’s memory consumption remained below 32MB of RAM while torrenting a 1GB file on its free UK server.

    Torrenting using Windscribe Free

    Windscribe Free marks out which servers you can use for torrenting, and also keeps track of your remaining data allowance.

    Windscribe is also accommodating of the default Windows browser, Microsoft Edge, providing a custom VPN extension.

    It’s one of the best Microsoft Edge extensions available, allowing you to connect to 11 different server locations as well as blocking ads, trackers, and WebRTC leaks.

    It’s also completely free to use and doesn’t require any account creation.

    Most VPN services don’t support a Microsoft Edge extension, and even less make it completely free like Windscribe.

    Free Servers Unblock Streaming Platforms

    Windscribe Free is the only free VPN that unblocks multiple Netflix libraries, HBO Max, and BBC iPlayer.

    Using Windscribe to stream BBC iPlayer from outside the UK

    The free version of Windscribe can stream BBC iPlayer.

    Using Windscribe with Netflix we were able to unblock 6 Netflix libraries, including UK Netflix.

    You can also use Windscribe to unblock Amazon Prime Video on its free US servers.

    During our streaming testing we were able to unblock UK Netflix in 4K quality using Windscribe’s free UK server. Our stream never buffered or deteriorated in quality while connected to the VPN.

    Windscribe also supports unlimited simultaneous connections, meaning you can use your free account to stream content across a range of devices.

    The only drawback is Windscribe’s 10GB monthly data limit. While this might be enough if you just plan on leaving it running in the background while you do your everyday browsing, it limits you to around 90 minutes of 4K Netflix streaming on desktop.

    You can mitigate this by selecting ‘Tweet 4 Data’ in your Windscribe account, increasing your allowance to 15GB.

  2. 2. Proton VPN Free: Unlimited Free VPN for Windows PCs

    A very good free VPN for Windows 10 & 11 with no data usage limits.

    Screenshot of Proton VPN's mobile appVisit Proton VPN

    • 100% free with no card details required
    • Unlimited data allowance
    • Open-source & independently-audited apps
    • Very high privacy & security standards
    • Excellent speeds connecting internationally

    • Doesn’t allow torrenting on free servers
    • Doesn't unblock streaming services
    • Only 3 VPN server locations
    • Only one simultaneous connection
    • No VPN browser extensions

    Overall Windows Rating: 6.7/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.0/10
    • 9.5/10
    • 9.4/10
    • 1.0/10
    • 0.0/10

    Proton VPN Free is a great choice for Windows. It’s fast, secure, and a genuinely free service that isn’t limited by a data cap.

    Proton VPN Free's Windows app

    Cheapest PriceFree
    Data CapUnlimited
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Data LeaksNo
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection98Mbps
    Countries with Servers3
    US NetflixNo
    Simultaneous Devices10
    SupportEmail & Online Resources Only

    Secure Free App Built for Windows

    When you run Proton VPN Free for the first time on Windows you’re given the option to take a tour of the app’s main features. We found this to be helpful and informative.

    You can choose between a docked and undocked app to tailor Proton VPN Free to how you use Windows.

    Your traffic is encrypted using AES-256 encryption and protected by a VPN kill switch.

    There’s also inbuilt IPv6 leak protection, a feature unique to Proton Free’s Windows app.

    Split tunneling and Custom DNS allow you to further tailor the VPN to your needs, with both features only found on the Windows app.

    ProtonVPN Free App on Windows

    However, we were unimpressed by Proton VPN Free’s impact on our Windows System Performance. Proton VPN Free used an average of 123MB of memory while running, a 51% increase when compared to ExpressVPN’s usage.

    We’d also like to see a Microsoft Edge Extension introduced to fully accommodate Windows users.

    Unlimited Data but No Streaming or Torrenting

    Unlike most free VPNs, Proton VPN Free doesn’t come with a data cap. You can use the app on Windows without any limitations on your bandwidth or data.

    Sadly, you can’t make the most of its unlimited data as Proton VPN Free blocks high-bandwidth activities. This is to encourage users to sign up to the premium service.

    The VPN fails to unblock a single Netflix library or any other streaming sites. This includes HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+.

    Torrenting also won’t work – P2P traffic is blocked on all of Proton VPN Free’s servers.

    Small Server Network

    Using a free VPN inevitably carries some trade-offs.

    In addition to lacking streaming access and torrenting, Proton VPN Free has a smaller server network than the paid version.

    There are only 200 servers located in three countries: the US, Netherlands, and Japan.

    Unless you’re located near to one of these countries, it’s likely you’ll experience slow download speeds while using the service.

    We also encountered long load times when connecting to the free US servers. In some instances, we couldn’t establish a connection whatsoever.

    Furthermore, you won’t have access to Proton VPN’s Secure Core servers which are reserved for the premium version.

The Overall Best Windows PC VPNs Analyzed

  1. 1. ExpressVPN: Best VPN for Windows PCs Overall

    Our top-rated & most user-friendly VPN for Windows PCs with excellent unblocking results.

    Ranked #1 out of 65 VPNs for Windows PC
    ExpressVPN's new app on mobile devicesVisit ExpressVPN

    • Very user-friendly Windows application
    • Excellent long- & short-distance speeds
    • Unblocks 18 Netflix regions & many other platforms
    • Verified trusted logging policy & no security breaches
    • 24/7 live customer support is very responsive & helpful

    • The most expensive option on this list
    • No advanced features like multi-hop servers
    • Some servers trigger CAPTCHAs on search engines

    Overall Windows Rating: 9.6/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.6/10
    • 9.2/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.9/10
    • 9.3/10

    ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Windows overall due to its secure, intuitive, and feature-rich Windows app.

    ExpressVPN’s native Windows app delivers fast download speeds, has a huge range of advanced features, and works to unblock every major streaming service.

    ExpressVPN's app for Windows

    Cheapest Price$6.67/mo over 15 Months See all plans
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Data LeaksNo
    Countries with Servers106
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection97Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Simultaneous Devices8
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    Highly-secure & Intuitive Windows Software

    ExpressVPN is one of the easiest to use VPNs on Windows 10 and 11. The app is sleek and minimal, avoiding the cluttered menus of its competitors

    Speciality servers, including obfuscated and streaming-optimized options, are built into ExpressVPN’s servers by default, simplifying the user experience.

    Connect to a VPN server by clicking the central power button — the app will change from red to green to indicate a successful connection.

    The Windows app is easy to navigate and features a range of options to configure your VPN connection. One of these, split tunneling, is a PC-exclusive feature allowing you to specify which apps enter the VPN tunnel.

    ExpressVPN encrypts your internet traffic using unbreakable AES-256 encryption and the OpenVPN protocol. Its own proprietary protocol, Lightway, has recently been optimized for Windows and outputs fast connection speeds.

    The VPN is also equipped with IP leak protection, a reliable kill switch (Network Lock), and first-party DNS servers.

    Efficient Performance on Windows

    ExpressVPN is the most efficient paid VPN we’ve tested on Windows, barely consuming any of our system memory or CPU.

    ExpressVPN's Windows app alongside task manager

    ExpressVPN won’t affect your system performance on Windows.

    In our testing, ExpressVPN used less than 1% of our CPU and only 43MB of RAM. This was second only to Windscribe, making ExpressVPN one of the best VPNs for optimizing Windows performance.

    This means you can use ExpressVPN while carrying out CPU-intensive activities, like torrenting and online gaming, without slowing down your Windows device.

    ExpressVPN is also the best VPN extension for Microsoft Edge. The browser extension’s functionality is near-identical to the full VPN, including its encryption, server network, and advanced features.

    Optimized for Streaming & Torrenting

    ExpressVPN is the best service for unrestricted streaming with Windows 10 and 11.

    You can unblock 18 international Netflix libraries on Windows using ExpressVPN, including US Netflix.

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

    All of ExpressVPN’s 3,000 servers on Windows permit torrenting without any speed or data caps.

    You can safely use ExpressVPN to torrent on Windows, supported by a working kill switch and a fast average bitrate of 9.4MiB/s.

    Fast Speeds Using the Lightway Protocol

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

    ExpressVPN's Lightway protocol excelled in our Windows 10 speed tests.

    We test ExpressVPN’s speeds weekly on both Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices to verify it reaches the requirements for 4K streaming, lag-free gaming, and fast torrent downloads.

    ExpressVPN remains one of our fastest VPNs, excelling on international connections, with an average speed loss of just 85Mbps across our eight international test locations.

  2. 2. NordVPN: Best Runner-up for Windows PCs

    The most secure VPN available, with useful extra security settings.

    NordVPN Mobile App ScreenshotVisit NordVPN

    • Multiple features exclusive to the Windows app
    • Very fast connection speeds
    • Private logging policy & secure servers
    • Unblocks US Netflix & BBC iPlayer
    • More affordable than ExpressVPN
    • Excellent Microsoft Edge Extension

    • High memory consumption on Windows
    • Windows app can’t be resized
    • Doesn’t accept PayPal
    • Considerably higher renewal price

    Overall Windows Rating: 9.4/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 9.4/10
    • 8.8/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.8/10
    • 9.0/10

    NordVPN is an excellent choice for Windows 10 and 11, providing an easy-to-use Windows app, affordable prices, and fast download speeds across a global server network.

    NordVPN's app for Windows

    Cheapest Price$3.29/mo over 2 years See all plans
    Logging PolicyNo Identifying Data
    Data LeaksNo
    Countries with Servers111
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    Windows App Is Full of Extra Features

    The Windows app is usually the flagship of any VPN service and NordVPN is no different, offering its best VPN app on Windows.

    Windows is the only platform that lets you use NordVPN’s dedicated IP, obfuscated servers, and Onion over VPN with the NordLynx protocol.

    With other platforms you’re limited to using these features with the much slower OpenVPN protocol, restricting your flexibility and connection speeds.

    Similarly, split tunneling and NordVPN’s full Threat Protection feature are reserved for Windows only.

    NordVPN has one of the best VPN kill switches we’ve tested, letting you choose between a system level and application level kill switch.

    This level of configurability isn’t available on any other platform.

    NordVPN’s advanced software comes at a cost, though. It requires an average of 180MB of RAM – this can slow down your Windows if you’re using the VPN in tandem with memory-intensive tasks.

    The main menu is cluttered with all of NordVPN’s extra features, which can be intimidating for inexperienced users. The option to hide the speciality servers would be a welcome addition to streamline the UI.

    Excellent Speeds Across Its Server Network

    If you want to stream international content on Windows then NordVPN is a great choice.

    Averaging a speed loss of just 10% when connecting to London from New York, NordVPN guarantees HD and 4K streaming without any buffering.

    You can use NordVPN to consistently unblock US Netflix on Windows.

    NordVPN can unblock 17 Netflix libraries and proved to be the best VPN at unblocking BBC iPlayer in our testing.

    It’s also the most effective VPN at bypassing Hulu VPN blocks.

    NordVPN’s minimal logging policy, P2P-optimized servers, and reliable kill switch also makes it a solid choice for secure torrenting.

    A Highly Secure Windows App

    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 NSA.

    Despite suffering a server breach in 2018, as covered in our NordVPN review, NordVPN has since overhauled its infrastructure.

    NordVPN is now more secure than ever using AES 256-bit encryption, diskless RAM servers, and first-party DNS servers.

    Its Microsoft Edge extension is secure too, encrypting browser traffic with TLS v1.3.

  3. 3. PIA VPN: Best Cheap VPN for Windows PCs

    Very affordable no-logs VPN optimized for anonymous torrenting.

    Private Internet AccessVisit PIA VPN

    • 18,651 no-logs & P2P-enabled servers
    • Many security settings for increased protections
    • Effective MACE tool to block ads & trackers
    • Low memory & CPU consumption
    • Unlimited device policy

    • App may be complicated for beginners
    • Smart DNS doesn't unblock streaming apps
    • US (FVEY) jurisdiction is not ideal

    Overall Windows Rating: 9.3/10

    This overall rating is calculated based on the following category ratings. To learn more, read our testing methodology.

    • 8.8/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.7/10
    • 9.1/10
    • 9.7/10

    Private Internet Access is an excellent VPN for Windows users, particularly if you want to keep your torrenting secure and anonymous.

    It only supports Windows 8.1, 10, and 11, though — so go with another option if you use Windows 7.

    Private Internet Access' VPN app for Windows

    Cheapest Price$2.03/mo over 28 months See all plans
    Logging PolicyNo Logs
    Data LeaksNo
    Countries with Servers91
    Download SpeediDownload SpeedBased on 100Mbps local test connection95Mbps
    US NetflixYes
    Simultaneous DevicesUnlimited
    Support24/7 Live Chat

    A Verified No-logs VPN

    First and foremost, you can trust PIA to keep your browsing data private.

    The service’s logging policy is one of our favorites, and applies to all users – whether you’re on Windows or any other OS.

    PIA VPN logs zero personally-identifiable data. It barely even logs anonymous data, as the only thing it collects is extremely top-level aggregated usage figures.

    This no-logs policy offsets its terrible choice of jurisdiction. PIA is based in the US, one of the main members of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing alliance.

    The US government can, in theory, pressure VPN services into handing over user data. However, PIA doesn’t collect any user data, which has been proven in court cases.

    Excellent Torrenting Test Results

    PIA’s excellent speeds, secure logging policy, and advanced features make it the best VPN for torrenting on Windows.

    PIA downloads torrents faster than its competitors — including NordVPN.

    We recorded an average download bitrate of 9.6MiB/s using PIA, versus 10.0MiB/s when not using a VPN – barely any difference at all.

    The service also has an effective VPN kill switch, and free port forwarding to make your torrent client even faster.

    Private Internet Access' impact on Windows System Performance

    PIA barely affected our Windows system performance.

    PIA isn’t as efficient as ExpressVPN but an average memory usage of less than 100MB is still impressive, especially while connected to a VPN server.

    Torrenting consumes a lot of your Windows computer’s CPU and memory so PIA’s lightweight performance is ideal for torrenters.

    Windows Client Isn't Beginner-friendly

    Private Internet Access’s Windows program is full of advanced security features.

    You can pick between the secure OpenVPN or the even faster WireGuard protocols, use custom DNS (including PIA’s privately-owned DNS servers), and use split tunneling to channel specific programs outside of the VPN tunnel.

    It also has PIA Mace – a surprisingly effective VPN ad and tracker blocker.

    However, the PIA Windows app isn’t as smooth or intuitive as ExpressVPN’s. In fact, the VPN may be too advanced for users new to VPN services.

Popular Windows VPNs We Also Considered

From the 65 VPNs we tested on our Windows machines, some popular services simply didn’t meet our requirements.

Many of these providers are immensely popular and have millions of downloads, but they lack the necessary safeguards, performance, or features necessary for us to safely recommend them.

Here are five of the most popular VPNs that failed to meet our requirements:


CyberGhost Windows app

The CyberGhost Windows client.

CyberGhost is an excellent service but its speeds are too inconsistent, especially connecting internationally or downloading torrents.

Atlas VPN

Atlas VPN on Windows

The Atlas VPN Windows application.

Atlas VPN isn’t all that user-friendly on Windows: the app can’t be resized and the server list is randomized.

The free version isn’t as good as the recommendations in this list, either, due to its 5GB data cap.


PureVPN homescreen on Windows

The PureVPN app for Windows.

PureVPN underperformed in many of our testing categories, especially streaming, privacy, and speed.


Speed tests with TunnelBear VPN

Testing TunnelBear’s speed on Windows.

TunnelBear’s limited server network and poor streaming performance can’t compete with the best Windows VPNs. The free version of TunnelBear is even worse, with a restrictive 500MB monthly data limit.

Risky Free VPNs to Avoid

Aside from a few trustworthy exceptions, most free VPNs are unsafe and should not be used.

To compensate for the absence of paying subscribers, free VPNs make money in other ways.

This includes collecting user data to sell to third-parties, allowing advertisements within the app, and infecting your Windows with malware.

Free VPNs often lack the security features and infrastructure of paid VPNs due to their lack of investment. This can result in slow speeds, IP leaks, restrictive data caps, and limited server choice.

Below are some popular free Windows VPNs that are too dangerous to use.

Turbo VPN

Overall Rating: 2.2/102.2

Turbo VPN is awful for security and privacy. It doesn’t have a kill switch and our investigation into free VPN ownership reveals troubling links to China.

It also bans torrenting, only covers three server locations on Windows, and can’t unblock streaming platforms.

Avira Phantom VPN

Overall Rating: 2.0/102.0

Avira Phantom is restricted by a 1GB monthly data cap and it can’t unblock streaming content on Windows devices.

It also hasn’t got a kill switch – a security essential on any platform.

Touch VPN

Overall Rating: 3.1/103.1

Our Touch VPN review found that the Windows app can’t load webpages – the VPN connection collapses each time. Its Windows app hasn’t got a kill switch or any advanced features, and it leaks your DNS requests.

Does Windows Have a Built-in VPN?

All Windows devices have built-in support for PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, and IKEv2 VPN connections.

You can find VPN setup options within Settings > Network & Internet > VPN > Add a VPN connection.

This solution isn’t entirely native, though. You’ll still need to download configuration files from a VPN provider’s website to set up Windows’ built-in VPN.

Instead, we recommend using a VPN service with a native Windows client. It’s easier to set up and ensures that your VPN connection is configured properly.

How We Test VPNs for Windows

We’ve tested over 65 VPN services to determine the very best VPNs for Windows users.

Our testing is carried out on both Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices to properly assess how each VPN performs across different Windows iterations.

For Windows VPNs specifically, we test for:

  • How easy-to-use the Windows app is.
  • How much CPU and memory the app uses on Windows.
  • A generous data allowance.
  • If any identifiable logs are retained.
  • Connections speeds over short and long distances.
  • Ability to unblock geo-restricted streaming libraries.
  • If secure and anonymous torrenting is permitted.

To make our recommendations, we test each VPN in six different categories, rating each category out of 10. We then combine these ratings to calculate an overall rating for Windows.

In the table below, we summarize how the top-rated VPNs performed in each category, as well as their overall rating:

VPNs with a data cap receive a reduction to their overall rating.

Here’s a full list of the categories we test for when identifying the best VPNs for Windows, along with how much of the overall rating they account for:

1. Windows App: 30%

Minimum Requirement: A native client for Windows, with basic customization options and a working kill switch.
We Recommend: An easy-to-use app optimized for Windows and equipped with multiple advanced feature.

The Windows app is normally the best-designed and fully-featured of a VPN service.

As such, we expect to see the widest array of protocols, the largest server network, and the most advanced features on Windows.

This shouldn’t come at the cost of usability, though. We reward VPNs with simple installation processes and intuitive apps that can be used at any ability level. This includes options to adjust the size of the Windows app, pin and unpin to your system tray, and alternate between light and dark modes.

We also want the VPN to balance performance and functionality on Windows. A well-developed Windows VPN should be optimized for the operating system, only consuming a minimal amount of CPU and memory.

Lastly, we take into consideration the VPN’s compatibility with Windows. VPNs that provide a native Windows app and a browser extension for Microsoft Edge, rank higher.

2. Privacy & Logging Policy: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Anonymized or aggregated connection logs.
We Recommend: No logs retained, audited by a third party.

A private, no-logs policy is essential for preventing your online activity from becoming identifiable.

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

Any VPNs that log identifiable or unnecessary amounts of data have been excluded from this lift by default.

During our testing process, we examine every VPN’s privacy policy. We then record any information it collects, how long it’s stored for, and the reason for its collection.

As part of this process, we also reward VPNs that make an effort to outline their logging policy clearly and succinctly.

We also value VPN services that have partaken in third-party auditing. This is where an external 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.

We only recommend Windows VPNs that log minimal, anonymized usage data or, even better, no logs whatsoever.

3. Speed: 20%

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

Using a VPN will always slow down your connection speeds, the best Windows VPNs minimize this impact as much as possible.

To identify the fastest VPNs for Windows, we perform manual speed tests on a weekly basis while connected to a dedicated 100Mbps connection.

All testing is carried out on our Lenovo T480s running Windows 10.

We test each and every VPN while connected to servers in five regions: local (UK), the US, Central Europe, Australia, and Singapore.

From these results we calculate an average speed loss and assign the VPN a rating out of 10.

From a top-rated Windows VPN, you should not expect a greater speed loss than 20% on local connections and 40% on international ones.

4. Streaming: 20%

Minimum Requirement: Works with US and UK Netflix.
We Recommend: Works with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.

As the most popular platform, Windows VPNs often have multiple users connected to them at once.

This allows streaming services to easily identify and block IP addresses associated with the VPN’s server.

To determine which Windows VPNs work with streaming platforms, we test every VPN weekly on our Lenovo T480s.

This includes connecting to a variety of servers within a single location to identify the best one for unblocking geo-restrictions.

Once a VPN has successfully accessed a streaming service for four consecutive weeks, we update our review accordingly. This is to avoid any false positives or anomalous results.

We also take into account the streaming quality, any buffering issues, and if the VPN service offers streaming-optimized servers.

The best Windows VPNs will unblock several Netflix libraries, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+. The worst won’t access a single streaming service.

5. Torrenting: 10%

Minimum Requirement: Permits P2P activity on some servers and a minimal-logs policy.
We Recommend: Permits torrenting on all servers, with a working kill switch, fast bitrate, and a no-logs policy.

We apply the same in-house methodology to every Windows VPN we review to calculate its torrenting score.

First we measure the VPN’s P2P speed by torrenting a 1GB file while connected to a local VPN server. This provides us with an average bitrate for the VPN.

All P2P speed testing is conducted using the qBittorent client on our Lenovo T480s.

Throughout the process, our testing device is connected to a dedicated 100Mbps connection to eliminate possible speed fluctuations.

We also take into consideration the VPN’s data collection practices and its policy towards P2P activity generally.

Furthermore, VPNs are rewarded for their spread of P2P-optimized servers as well as any advanced torrenting features such as port forwarding support.

Torrenting by itself can use upwards of 10% of your Windows’ CPU. The best Windows VPNs mitigate this by optimizing its Windows performance.

Data Cap Penalty: Up to 50% Reduction

Freemium VPNs almost always impose a data cap on its free users. As with most restrictions on free VPNs, this is intended to encourage customers to upgrade to a paid subscription.

A generous data allowance is vital for accommodating data-intensive activities, such as 4K Streaming, torrenting, and online gaming.

If you use up your data cap, your online activity will be left unencrypted and visible to third-parties, including your ISP.

We apply a penalty to the VPN’s final overall rating for Windows based on its data cap:

  • Unlimited bandwidth: No deduction to the overall rating
  • 10GB per month: -20% to the overall rating
  • 500MB per day: -25% to the overall rating
  • 5GB per month: -30% to the overall rating
  • 1GB per month: -35% to the overall rating
  • 200MB per day: -40% to the overall rating
  • 500MB per month: -50% to the overall rating

Additional Testing Criteria

Alongside our six key testing categories, we take into consideration several other factors when determining the best Windows VPN.

All the VPNs we recommend on this list are secure, using robust levels of encryption. We automatically exclude any VPNs that don’t use reliable forms of encryption or have been known to leak personal data.

As a minimum, we expect every VPN to tunnel traffic using AES-256 encryption and OpenVPN protocols. The top Windows VPNs also come with IP and DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and their own DNS servers. All of these measures ensure you remain anonymous and secure online.

We also look for VPNs that ensure a smooth user experience. VPNs that use ads or pop-ups and paywall key features are all penalized. This is not only a hindrance to usability but also presents a risk to your privacy as VPN services can sell your personal data to third-party advertisers.

All of the Windows VPNs on this list do not use ads, sell your data, or log identifiable information.

Lastly, we take into account the quality and availability of a VPN’s customer support. As a minimum, we expect a VPN to provide access to a support agent whether that’s through an email, ticket system, or live chat feature.

We also evaluate how quickly the service responds, whether the information provided is correct, and how adequately our query is answered. All of our recommended Windows VPNs provide multiple avenues of support with an excellent track record of solving user issues.