A VPN works by routing your internet traffic through a private and secure server instead of your ISP. When you connect to websites and applications, they see the IP address of the VPN server instead of yours. This means your internet traffic can’t be tracked and allows you to access geo-locked content like regional Netflix and blocked websites by making it look like you’re in a different country.
There are many VPN services, and it can be difficult to know which provider to go for. This listicle will round up the best VPN services: explaining their strengths and why you should check them out.
8 Best Paid VPNs of 2023
Locations: 160 across 94 countries
If you’re looking for the fastest, most reliable, and lowest latency VPN service, ExpressVPN is great for users who need the best performance from their VPN connection. Users have reported that ExpressVPN can cover their full network speed without bottlenecking. Speed is very consistent, with very little in the way of slowdowns when there is a surge of people wanting to connect to the network. It can stream 4K video (it works with Netflix and other streaming providers), and Express is excellent for gamers who require a low ping in their competitive games.
Whilst ExpressVPN is a little pricey, with a monthly price of $12.95, you can get that down by committing to a longer subscription length – and even then, ExpressVPN’s speeds and reliability are unmatched in this market, becoming a firm favorite for many VPN power users.
Locations: 80+ across 59 countries
NordVPN is one of the biggest names in the VPN world, deservedly as they stand as one of the best service providers in the market. With up to six simultaneous devices and breakneck speeds, power users will also enjoy their versatile service. Based in Panama, NordVPN’s location means their service benefits from very pro-privacy data protection laws. NordVPN had a comparatively small data breach in one of their Finnish servers in 2018, but no customer information was leaked. They have since pledged and effectively demonstrated a greater emphasis on data security.
NordVPN’s logging policy is assured, and they are regularly audited by PwC. Their platform support matches ExpressVPN’s offering, including support for open-source applications and custom firmware for routers. The speeds of NordVPN, whilst a little slower than ExpressVPN’s, are still very good, but the appeal of NordVPN is its simplicity. NordVPN has put a lot of work into application usability, and thus their service is incredibly easy to use. If you ever get stuck, your connection drops out, or is slow, NordVPN offers 24/7 support.
Pricing their service a little cheaper than ExpressVPN means NordVPN have made some speed sacrifices, and you give up the ridiculous number of available locations. But, NordVPN still offers a solid and reliable service, and as a flagship brand in this space, they’re a provider you can trust.
Locations: 51 Countries
Monthly: $5 a Month/$10 a month
ProtonVPN was born from a group of former CERN employees who met to create the self-proclaimed “only community supported secure VPN service.” This ethos drives their pricing model, privacy-first approach, and vast features. Rather than differentiating pricing on subscription length, ProtonVPN offers three distinct tiers of service based on the features that matter to you. Their free VPN offering is one of the only services on the market with no data cap, whilst the Basic package starts at $5 a month. With Basic, you get access to servers in all 51 countries it offers – only omitting premium “plus” servers. Bumping up to Plus and paying $10 gives you access to ‘secure streaming’ to stream geo-locked content like Netflix and Hulu. With both the basic and plus packages, you get their fastest speed offering.
As you can see, ProtonVPN’s service is very price competitive. If you’re not worried about unblocking streaming services, $5 a month for the basic plan is fantastic. Their network speeds are consistently high and can compete with some of the best in the VPN space. This provider is based in Switzerland, a country with some of the world’s strongest privacy laws. So, using ProtonVPN means your data is secure and away from the prying eyes of governments or third-party advertisers.
Locations: 51 Countries
Monthly: $7.12 a month
PrivateVPN is a relative newcomer to the VPN market and may not have the same number of servers as more established rivals such as ExpressVPN. But, reviewers have commented that despite this, slowdowns are rare, and PrivateVPN offers excellent network speeds. Users can unblock Netflix and all other major streaming sites and connect using up to 6 simultaneous devices simultaneously.
Locations: 60 in 40 countries
Monthly: $10 a month
Based in Canada, Private Internet Access offers customers a competitive and fast privacy-orientated VPN service. The network provides 60 locations, and their apps are very user-configurable with plenty of expert-level settings and tweaks. They have apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS – although reviewers have stated their clients can be a little cumbersome to use. Though, automatic kill switching is a plus on the usability front.
The main selling point for PIA is that you can connect up to ten devices simultaneously. This makes their service perfect for large groups like families or friend groups. If spreading the cost with peers, PIA looks like a seriously good deal. Speed is very decent, matching most of the services on this list, and you can take advantage of those speeds using streaming services you may want to bypass geo-locking for (like Netflix and Hulu). Overall, PIA is a solid and reputable VPN provider that is perfect if you share the service with your family or other groups.
Locations: 110+ in 90 Countries
German-based CyberGhost is another stellar choice for a VPN service. With over 90 countries, there is a lot of options to bypass geo-locking, and with over 6,200 servers available, CyberGhost isn’t as susceptible to surge slowdowns as smaller rivals. Their speeds are also very fast, and their service allows you to use streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. They also support Torrent downloading, so they are perfect if you want privacy while using BitTorrent transfers.
Their software is simple and intuitive to use and has a ‘task-based’ system for selecting a server. Simply choose what you want to do, and whether it is browsing privately or unblocking certain services, the application will select you the optimum server. It also blocks ads, and trackers, and even looks out for malicious websites: keeping you safe online.
Locations: 130 in 80 countries
Whilst Hotspot Shield is best known for its excellent free VPN service, its premium offering delivers incredible speeds and reliability for a fair price. Hotspot Shield uses their proprietary protocol Catapult Hydra, allowing them to optimize their service for some breakneck download speeds. Their service works on most streaming platforms, making it an excellent choice for bypassing geo-locked regional content offerings. They have a generous simultaneous device limit of 5, and their apps are available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS – with some support for routers and smart TVs also.
AnchorFree, an American tech company, operates Hotspot Shield. This means they’re subject to the US’s anti-privacy data protection laws and are required to keep more logs of user information than other providers from countries like Switzerland and Canada. Whilst Hotspot Shield is speedy, other European-based offerings would suit you better if you require top privacy protection.
Locations: 784 servers in 36 countries, 57 cities, and 25 providers
If you’re looking for the most secure and private VPN service, the answer must be Mullvad. It’s one of the only providers where you don’t even have to provide any personal information to use. Download the app, and you can pay with a decentralized currency or cash. They offer strong encryption, DNS Leak Protection, and an Automatic Kill Switch to keep your unprotected data secure if your connection to the VPN drops out. Mullvad has apps for macOS, and Windows, and you can use its OpenVPN config files on almost any modern device. Yes, even Chromebooks. They also allow for up to 5 simultaneous connections.
Mullvad’s network speeds are brilliant, and reviewers note there isn’t much of a drop in download speed from unprotected to using Mullvad. The service allows torrenting but doesn’t work with streaming sites like Netflix. Mullvad has a top privacy record and should be your choice if you’re serious about staying anonymous online.
Conclusion: do I need a VPN?
A significant question to ask in your search for a VPN is whether you would properly benefit from using one. Premium VPNs can become significantly expensive, especially if you plan on using their services for a long time. Therefore, I’ll end this article by addressing whether you would benefit from using such a service. You must use a VPN for the right reasons before you decide whether to bite the bullet on a VPN service.
Do you want to access geo-locked content? If so, yes – a VPN is one of your only options. By routing your traffic through a remote server in a different country, you can bypass any regional restrictions placed on you by your local government.
Want to access regional streaming services and content not available in your country? Again, yes – a VPN is a great choice. Given the VPN supports services like Netflix, routing your connection through that server would allow you to access the streaming catalog available in the country you are masking yourself as.
Worried about your network admin, ISP, or government spying on your browsing data? A VPN is a great way to mask your internet information to maximize your privacy and keep snoopers away from what you browse on the web. Install a VPN.
Also read: Best Free VPNs for 2021
Are you worried about your passwords being stolen on public wi-fi? You don’t need a VPN. VPN providers use this common marketing ploy to scare you into using your services. They try to sell you “military-grade encryption” to suggest your banking details and passwords, and other personal data is at risk and for the taking if you don’t use a VPN. The truth is, as long as you are using an HTTPS connection (look for the little green padlock in the address bar of your browser), your data is already using SSL encryption. Nowadays, virtually all log-in pages and payment portals use HTTPS SSL encryption. Keeping your passwords safe means looking out for that padlock and ensuring you don’t give your data away to a site that doesn’t have an HTTPS certificate. You don’t need a VPN to ensure that.