The need for secure, anonymous connections to the Internet has increased considerably in the past few years, as more and more users come to realize the importance of not being seen and followed online.
We’ve compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. We’ll be updating the list regularly, so leave your feedback in the comments for services we should add (or even remove).
Last updated: May 18th, 2016
These VPNs offer solutions that will mask your online presence to keep you safe. But remember, VPNs might not be as private as you think.
Intended for the heavy user, these professional VPN services offer the basic required privacy alongside a range of additional features, from increased encryption and mobile support to unlimited bandwidth and “zero records” keeping a log of what you’re browsing.
The following VPN services offer these features and others besides.
NordVPN has numerous servers across the US, Europe, and Australia that are dedicated to ultra-fast streaming, Tor privacy, anti-DDOS, and more.
Most locations support the PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN protocols and all data is encrypted twice for tighter security. All of this is available for $8/month, though discounts are available for 6-month plans at $5/month and annual plans at $4/month.
Cross platform device support is on offer from VyprVPN, along with a free trial and affordable monthly tariff ($14.99). With desktop and mobile apps, VyprVPN might prove particularly useful to you used in conjunction with OpenELEC/Kodi powered media centers.
Our review of VyprVPN tells you more.
128-bit encryption for just $11.52/month or $138.24/year isn’t a bad deal, although only two simultaneous connections are permitted with HideMyAss Pro. Support for Windows, OS X, iPhone and Android.
For Android, iOS, Windows and Mac OS X, pricing is reasonable at $49.99/year, an annual charge that works out at $4.16/month. With unlimited tunnelling and a mobile-only plan, note that TunnelBear is offering 256-bit encryption.
As we discussed previously TunnelBear is a particularly good way to enjoy US-only web content, including video and audio. There’s also a $6.99/month option, if an annual subscription is out of your budget range.
Claiming to be “The World’s Most Trusted Privacy Solution”, Hotspot Shield’s Elite service is $29.95 a year with the ability to access VPN services on 5 devices, simultaneously, including Windows, Mac OS X, Android and iOS. However, beware that while numerous servers are available worldwide, none of them a specialist (e.g. games, torrents, streaming) and Hotspot Shield Elite offers fewer servers than competitors.
Useful for encryption, anonymity, and reliability when downloading and sharing on P2P networks, torrent-friendly VPNs are slightly more expensive than the premium options, offering as they do a specialized service for a narrow group of users.
For just $6.49, SurfEasy Total gives monthly access to its VPN service with unlimited data and ad tracker blocking to users of Android, iOS, Mac OS X and Windows. A subscription gives you support for up to 5 devices, unlimited bandwidth and torrenting.
Our review of SurfEasy Total explains these features in more detail.
Costing $6.95/month or $39.95/year (Bitcoin accepted), this secure VPN service offers P2P and VOIP support, as well as the ability to use 5 devices simultaneously and unlimited bandwidth!
A popular choice and recommended by PCMag.com, the fact that it provides VPN for torrenters makes Private Internet Access a particularly attractive choice.
Available for Windows and OS X, our evaluation of Private Internet Access revealed some good features.
For $9.95 a month you can sign up to BTGuard, whose 10 GBit servers offer unlimited download speeds and anonymous P2P torrent traffic. BTGuard runs with Windows, OS X and Linux, and accepts Bitcoin.
What’s not to like?
Not all VPNs are paid services. If you have only an occasional need to access the web or other online service via a VPN, then signing up with a free service makes sense, especially if you’re concerned about payment privacy and don’t have a Bitcoin wallet.
The free service from Hotspot Shield is ad-supported, and offers good speeds. Available for Windows, OS X, iOS and Android, Wi-Fi and malware security are among its features, as is data compression for mobile devices.
As well as giving the paid version of Hotspot Shield our attention, we’ve also previously looked at Hotspot Shield Free, and Dave LeClair was particularly impressed with the free service.
Unlike the premium service, free access to CyberGhost is ad-supported and works only with Windows, Mac OS X and Android. Speed is capped.
With a monthly allowance of 500 MB a month, TunnelBear’s free option is potentially limiting to your VPN requirements. However, you can get a bonus 1GB of data by taking part in the company’s Twitter promotion. Tunnelbear Free is compatible with Windows, OS X, iOS and Android.
Like TunnelBear’s free service, OkayFreedom caps your VPN allowance at 500 MB a month, which means you will need to use it sparingly in most cases, even with an extra 100 MB available per referral. This free service is ad-supported, but can be slow at times.
VPNs for Netflix
You may be reviewing this list to find a VPN solution that is going to work as a Netflix region blocking bypass. While Netflix has asserted that it will be blocking VPNs to prevent this from happening in the future, as of May 2016 various services are still waiting to be blocked.
This means they’re still useful, and our dedicated look at VPNs you can use with Netflix lists them.
Our Top VPNs – What Are Yours?
We’ve compiled this list over the course or several years. This means two things: one, that we’re satisfied that the services we’ve included are worthy of their continued presence on the list, and two, that we might have missed a VPN service that you think should be included.
Use the comments section to let us know what you think should be added or removed.