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Best VPN of 2021

Different VPN suits different varieties of use cases. We recognize this need for flexibility and want to help you identify the best solution that fits your unique use for a VPN. Not only do we examine the capabilities of VPNs themselves, but also explore various usage scenarios.

Whether you want to pay less monthly fees or connect to unlimited devices or the most secured connection, the right VPN is out there. 

Jump to

Best VPN for Multiple Devices

SurfShark VPN

SurfShark VPN - Best for Multi Devices & Budget Users

Surfshark is a relative newcomer to the VPN scene, having launched as recently as 2018. Since then, it has grown remarkably well, considering its formidable opponents in this hotly contested market segment.

  • Monthly Fees: $2.49/mo
  • Signup Offer: Save 81% when signup for 2 years
  • Free Trial: 30 days
  • Headquartered in the British Virgin Islands
  • 3,200+ servers in 65 countries 256-bit encryption
  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections allowed
  • Supports IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard protocols
  • Supports all major operating systems and browsers
  • Allows streaming and P2P/Torrents on all servers
  • Run on RAM-based servers
  • Infrastructure and Chrome extension audited by Cure53
 
Click Here to Visit SurfShark

Surfshark Speed Test Summary

  • Singapore : Average Upload: 308.23 Mbps / Average Download: 413.85 Mbps
  • United States : Average Upload: 259.46 Mbps / Average Download: 183.46 Mbps
  • United Kingdom : Average Upload: 323.02 Mbps / Average Download: 342.69 Mbps

Daily Test Results

Test Singapore United States United Kingdom
1 Download: 62.54 Mbps
Upload: 67.52 Mbps
Download: 170.91 Mbps
Upload: 251.80 Mbps
Download: 358.56 Mbps
Upload: 319.29 Mbps
2 Download: 78.29 Mbps
Upload: 89.25 Mbps
Download: 181.70 Mbps
Upload: 245.68 Mbps
Download: 333.51 Mbps
Upload: 308.48 Mbps
3 Download: 54.71 Mbps
Upload: 50.01 Mbps
Download: 196.98 Mbps
Upload: 269.68 Mbps
Download: 312.72 Mbps
Upload: 345.17 Mbps
4 Download: 566.08 Mbps
Upload: 364.88 Mbps
Download: 175.54 Mbps
Upload: 266.23 Mbps
Download: 324.38 Mbps
Upload: 347.82 Mbps
5 Download: 613.62 Mbps
Upload: 427.20 Mbps
Download: 172.74 Mbps
Upload: 273.63 Mbps
Download: 358.28 Mbps
Upload: 307.62 Mbps
6 Download: 617.13 Mbps
Upload: 424.17 Mbps
Download: 174.27 Mbps
Upload: 240.87 Mbps
Download: 344.90 Mbps
Upload: 328.36 Mbps
7 Download: 630.61 Mbps
Upload: 413.96 Mbps
Download: 195.51 Mbps
Upload: 255.73 Mbps
Download: 336.35 Mbps
Upload: 299.29 Mbps
8 Download: 519.44 Mbps
Upload: 462.07 Mbps
Download: 195.86 Mbps
Upload: 274.97 Mbps
Download: 362.34 Mbps
Upload: 306.76 Mbps
9 Download: 582.27 Mbps
Upload: 475.01 Mbps
Download: 187.59 Mbps
Upload: 256.52 Mbps
Download: 353.13 Mbps
Upload: 344.35 Mbps
Test Singapore United States United Kingdom

Pros

  • Based outside 14 Eyes sphere of influence
  • Fantastic speeds using WireGuard protocol 
  • Multihop (Double VPN) allows routing through two secure servers
  • Recent move to RAM-only servers helps improve privacy and security
  • Good network location availability
  • Allows unlimited device connections
  • Third-party security audits
  • Works with multiple streaming services

Cons

  • Poor Linux deployment and service
  • Some locations have slow servers

Click Here to Visit SurfShark

  • CyberGhost – Allows up to 7 simultaneous connections
  • IP Vanish – Allows up to 10 simultaneous connections

Most VPN providers allow a single connection at a time, which means you’ll need to kick off one device to make room for another. This is not ideal.  To help give you that protection and security, alongside keeping all your online activity private while streaming or browsing – You need to VPN-enable all your devices

As such, you’ll require a VPN that allows multiple simultaneous connections on a single account.

Surfshark (our review here) is not only one of the fastest VPN in market, they are also one of the few top VPNs that allow unlimited simultaneous connections. This means that you can connect as many compatible devices as you want under one subscription.

To learn more, read: VPN for Multiple Devices.

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Cheapest VPN in Town

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost is a old-school VPN. Yet infrastructure has kept up to times resulting in speeds that are very usable.

The VPN company is offering some very competitive discounts and expanding aggressively. Also, with the longest free trial (45 days) period in market – we think CyberGhost is a good fit for those who are hunting for a bargain.

  • Monthly Fees: $1.99/mo
  • Signup Offer: Save 90% when signup for 1 year
  • Free Trial: 45 days
  • Headquartered in Romania
  • 7,100+ servers in 91 countries
  • 256-bit encryption
  • Seven simultaneous device connections allowed
  • Supports OpenVPN, L2TP, IKEv2, and PPTP protocols
  • Supports all major operating systems and browsers
  • P2P/Torrents only on specific servers
  • Unblock almost all streaming services
  • 45 days risk-free trial
  • Extra discounts if you subscribe to annual plan

Click Here to Visit CyberGhost

Cyberghost Speed Test Summary

  • Singapore : Average Upload: 340.40 Mbps / Average Download: 233.84 Mbps
  • United States : Average Upload: 46.00 Mbps / Average Download: 42.57 Mbps
  • United Kingdom : Average Upload: 123.65 Mbps / Average Download: 97.88 Mbps

Daily Test Results

Test Singapore United States United Kingdom
1 Download: 239.25 Mbps
Upload: 351.61 Mbps
Download: 170.73 Mbps
Upload: 33.79 Mbps
Download: 101.55 Mbps
Upload: 218.08 Mbps
2 Download: 226.61 Mbps
Upload: 352.44 Mbps
Download: 16.79 Mbps
Upload: 36.67 Mbps
Download: 124.17 Mbps
Upload: 73.52 Mbps
3 Download: 235.28 Mbps
Upload: 326.04 Mbps
Download: 36.33 Mbps
Upload: 24.30 Mbps
Download: 41.97 Mbps
Upload: 21.64 Mbps
4 Download: 235.68 Mbps
Upload: 330.75 Mbps
Download: 20.60 Mbps
Upload: 22.15 Mbps
Download: 102.92 Mbps
Upload: 99.55 Mbps
5 Download: 239.02 Mbps
Upload: 352.42 Mbps
Download: 6.89 Mbps
Upload: 6.06 Mbps
Download: 160.71 Mbps
Upload: 129.00 Mbps
6 Download: 230.03 Mbps
Upload: 341.51 Mbps
Download: 58.85 Mbps
Upload: 99.26 Mbps
Download: 123.44 Mbps
Upload: 105.62 Mbps
7 Download: 241.20 Mbps
Upload: 315.51 Mbps
Download: 7.63 Mbps
Upload: 8.01 Mbps
Download: 37.16 Mbps
Upload: 29.42 Mbps
8 Download: 228.26 Mbps
Upload: 352.76 Mbps
Download: 41.05 Mbps
Upload: 120.84 Mbps
Download: 71.62 Mbps
Upload: 178.46 Mbps
9 Download: 229.23 Mbps
Upload: 340.59 Mbps
Download: 24.22 Mbps
Upload: 62.92 Mbps
Download: 117.38 Mbps
Upload: 257.58 Mbps
Test Singapore United States United Kingdom
Pros
  • Currently the cheapest premium VPN brand in market
  • Offers perhaps the largest location coverage available
  • Runs a range of tried and tested protocols
  • Completely RAM-based servers assure better privacy
  • Works with almost all streaming sites
  • Has both multi-hop and split tunneling
  • Specific extra-secure servers in their home base of Romania
Cons
  • Premiums servers only located in Romania
  • Odd locations may go offline at times
Click Here to Visit CyberGhost
  • SurfShark – $2.49/mo, save 81% when you signup for 2 years; allow unlimited connections in one account.

We have picked CyberGhost (CyberGhost review here) for the cheapest VPN service but in all honesty, it was a close challenge between them and SurfShark for the best cheap VPN provider.

Both VPN companies offer great features and a competitive pricing to match. CyberGhost is slightly cheaper at $1.99/month while SurfShark offers unlimited connections – which is a big saver if you are sharing the costs with other family members or friends.

While there are free options available – which is much cheaper than $1.99 per month, we really don’t recommend them. Bear in mind that running a VPN service is not cheap. From the cost of development to hardware and infrastructure – This cost has to be recouped somehow and typically, it’s by selling ads. The problem is that ads often contain tracking information – going against the principles of privacy. If you value your online privacy and safety, it’s best that you don’t go with a free VPN.

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ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN - Top VPN since 2009
ExpressVPN is a well-known name in the consumer VPN segment. It’s been around since 2009 and has a solid reputation for performance, reliability, and privacy. It’s one of the few brands that hasn’t suffered a security or privacy lapse since launch.
  • Monthly Fees: $6.67/mo
  • Signup Offer: Free 3 months when signup for 1 year
  • Free Trial: 30 days
  • Headquartered in the British Virgin Islands
  • 3,000+ servers in 94 countries
  • 256-bit encryption
  • Five simultaneous device connections allowed
  • Supports PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2, OpenVPN, and LightWay protocols
  • Supports all major operating systems and browsers
  • Allows streaming and P2P/Torrents on all servers
  • Audited by PwC and Cure53


Click Here to Visit ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Speed Test Summary

  • Singapore : Average Upload: 312.59 Mbps / Average Download: 433.41 Mbps
  • United States : Average Upload: 225.17 Mbps / Average Download: 192.96 Mbps
  • United Kingdom : Average Upload: 294.41 Mbps / Average Download: 378.19 Mbps

Daily Test Results

Test Singapore United States United Kingdom
1 Download: 528.04 Mbps
Upload: 350.01 Mbps
Download: 171.29 Mbps
Upload: 198.11 Mbps
Download: 374.87 Mbps
Upload: 296.12 Mbps
2 Download: 259.82 Mbps
Upload: 222.58 Mbps
Download: 169.64 Mbps
Upload: 222.21 Mbps
Download: 534.74 Mbps
Upload: 330.74 Mbps
3 Download: 536.05 Mbps
Upload: 328.73 Mbps
Download: 201.35 Mbps
Upload: 223.75 Mbps
Download: 29.12 Mbps
Upload: 219.60 Mbps
4 Download: 373.05 Mbps
Upload: 330.88 Mbps
Download: 187.68 Mbps
Upload: 219.61 Mbps
Download: 428.95 Mbps
Upload: 281.68 Mbps
5 Download: 472.57 Mbps
Upload: 309.42 Mbps
Download: 196.84 Mbps
Upload: 238.96 Mbps
Download: 403.26 Mbps
Upload: 298.21 Mbps
6 Download: 341.30 Mbps
Upload: 293.71 Mbps
Download: 242.72 Mbps
Upload: 236.66 Mbps
Download: 414.95 Mbps
Upload: 310.02 Mbps
7 Download: 512.06 Mbps
Upload: 333.53 Mbps
Download: 188.34 Mbps
Upload: 236.24 Mbps
Download: 293.54 Mbps
Upload: 344.28 Mbps
8 Download: 494.34 Mbps
Upload: 338.16 Mbps
Download: 192.93 Mbps
Upload: 234.35 Mbps
Download: 436.38 Mbps
Upload: 293.03 Mbps
9 Download: 383.44 Mbps
Upload: 306.30 Mbps
Download: 185.86 Mbps
Upload: 216.65 Mbps
Download: 487.87 Mbps
Upload: 276.05 Mbps
Test Singapore United States United Kingdom

Pros

  • Independently audited and runs RAM-only TrustedServers.
  • Excellent service stability and connection quality
  • LightWay protocol shows impressove performance
  • Works well with many streaming services
  • Operates a private DNS service
  • Minimal interference encountered when browsing with ExpressVPN active

Cons

  • No multi-server hops available
  • Expensive compared to most competitors

Click Here to Visit ExpressVPN

  • SurfShark – Fantastic value for money; connects to unlimited devices with one account.
  • NordVPN – Aggressively expanding and launching new supporting products, including password manager and secure cloud storage services. 
  • IP Vanish – Based in United States; users (if opt in) also get 500 GB cloud storage backup at additional $0.26/mo for first year.

Pricey though it might be, ExpressVPN remains one of the most popular choices for many reasons. Among many services, it has distinctly kept its hands out of anything that might even remotely smack of contract breach.

Meanwhile, it maintains a relatively unchanging network of secure servers. These offer unprecedented stability in performance, both speed-wise and in reliability. Overall it’s simply one of the most worry-free options you can get in VPN services.

We run 15 speed tests with ExpressVPN every month – see their latest performance stats here.

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Best Zero Log VPN

NordVPN

NordVPN

NordVPN runs on RAM-based servers and maintain strict no-logs policies. Their service is audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers AG Switzerland and they are the first VPN provider to have a public bug-bounty program to boost security.

For the past two years, NordVPN has also launched a number of addons including a password manager and secure Cloud storage service. These add up and make them a perfect fit for users who want extra privacy on Internet. 

  • Monthly Fees: $3.67/mo
  • Signup Offer: Save 69% when signup for 2 years
  • Free Trial: 30 days
  • Headquartered in Panama
  • 5,300+ servers in 59 countries
  • 256-bit encryption
  • Six simultaneous device connections allowed
  • Supports IKEv2, OpenVPN, and NordLynx protocols
  • Supports all major operating systems and browsers
  • P2P/Torrents only on specific servers


Click Here to Visit NordVPN

Nordvpn Speed Test Summary

  • Singapore : Average Upload: 1.02 Gbps / Average Download: 1.90 Gbps
  • United States : Average Upload: 1022.57 Mbps / Average Download: 974.21 Mbps
  • United Kingdom : Average Upload: 1.08 Gbps / Average Download: 1.39 Gbps

Daily Test Results

Test Singapore United States United Kingdom
1 Download: 1.97 Gbps
Upload: 655.02 Mbps
Download: 678.01 Mbps
Upload: 1.03 Gbps
Download: 1.33 Gbps
Upload: 1.05 Gbps
2 Download: 2.12 Gbps
Upload: 538.20 Mbps
Download: 988.66 Mbps
Upload: 1.02 Gbps
Download: 1.36 Gbps
Upload: 1.14 Gbps
3 Download: 1.73 Gbps
Upload: 550.45 Mbps
Download: 1017.28 Mbps
Upload: 896.95 Mbps
Download: 1.34 Gbps
Upload: 1.10 Gbps
4 Download: 1.94 Gbps
Upload: 406.92 Mbps
Download: 1.00 Gbps
Upload: 1008.06 Mbps
Download: 1.45 Gbps
Upload: 1.06 Gbps
5 Download: 1.37 Gbps
Upload: 1.15 Gbps
Download: 1.07 Gbps
Upload: 1.04 Gbps
Download: 1.33 Gbps
Upload: 1.02 Gbps
6 Download: 2.04 Gbps
Upload: 1.75 Gbps
Download: 901.62 Mbps
Upload: 1.21 Gbps
Download: 1.46 Gbps
Upload: 1.08 Gbps
7 Download: 2.04 Gbps
Upload: 1.73 Gbps
Download: 939.66 Mbps
Upload: 815.99 Mbps
Download: 1.31 Gbps
Upload: 1.13 Gbps
8 Download: 1.84 Gbps
Upload: 1.74 Gbps
Download: 1014.05 Mbps
Upload: 1.02 Gbps
Download: 1.50 Gbps
Upload: 1.04 Gbps
9 Download: 2.06 Gbps
Upload: 715.86 Mbps
Download: 1.08 Gbps
Upload: 1.01 Gbps
Download: 1.46 Gbps
Upload: 1.05 Gbps
Test Singapore United States United Kingdom
Pros
  • Excellent server spread and good speeds
  • Proprietary NordLynx offers great performance and stability
  • Completely RAM-based servers assure better privacy
  • Offers access to a large number of servers
  • Smooth media streaming experience
  • Supports server obfuscation so fewer sites block VPN-enabled access
  • Double VPN offers better protection by routing through two secure servers
Cons
  • Rapidly increasing prices
  • Limited number of servers support P2P / Torrenting
Click Here to Visit NordVPN

Other recommended no-log VPNs include:

  • SurfShark – No-log policy audited by Cure-53, proving that SurfShark doesn’t record any of your activities.
  • ExpressVPN – Independently audited by Cure-53 and PwC; runs RAM-only servers.

How seriously committed a VPN software provider is towards privacy and security is important – and a ‘zero logging’ policy is a big part of that. When you go online with a VPN you are entrusting your information to the provider, with an expectation of privacy.

This is why transparency when it comes to logging is vital. VPN service may or may not key various types of logs. The important part is whether they have your consent or not. If they say zero, it should mean zero.

Known to be among the most progressive and forward-looking in technology of all VPN providers, NordVPN (see NordVPN review here) guarantees a strict no-logging policy. 

They do not keep traffic logs, IP address logs and even connection logs. And this has been confirmed by independent audits carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). The inspection is carried out periodically to ensure strict, ongoing standards are kept. 

Learn more about zero-log VPN providers.

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Best VPN for Online Streaming

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost is another industry veteran and they’ve been expanding by leaps and bounds of late. They have one of the most massive networks of servers in the VPN game, covering more than 90 countries in the world.

  • Monthly Fees: $1.99/mo
  • Signup Offer: Save 90% when signup for 1 year
  • Free Trial: 45 days
  • Headquartered in Romania
  • 7,100+ servers in 91 countries
  • 256-bit encryption
  • Seven simultaneous device connections allowed
  • Supports OpenVPN, L2TP, IKEv2, and PPTP protocols
  • Supports all major operating systems and browsers
  • P2P/Torrents only on specific servers
  • Unblock streaming services including Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, BBC One & Two, ESPN, CrunchyRoll, Vudu, Hulu, Kodi, YouTube TV, Gem, Comedy Central, Zatto, TF1, Globo, Sony Crackle, and more. 


Click Here to Visit CyberGhost

Cyberghost Speed Test Summary

  • Singapore : Average Upload: 340.40 Mbps / Average Download: 233.84 Mbps
  • United States : Average Upload: 46.00 Mbps / Average Download: 42.57 Mbps
  • United Kingdom : Average Upload: 123.65 Mbps / Average Download: 97.88 Mbps

Daily Test Results

Test Singapore United States United Kingdom
1 Download: 239.25 Mbps
Upload: 351.61 Mbps
Download: 170.73 Mbps
Upload: 33.79 Mbps
Download: 101.55 Mbps
Upload: 218.08 Mbps
2 Download: 226.61 Mbps
Upload: 352.44 Mbps
Download: 16.79 Mbps
Upload: 36.67 Mbps
Download: 124.17 Mbps
Upload: 73.52 Mbps
3 Download: 235.28 Mbps
Upload: 326.04 Mbps
Download: 36.33 Mbps
Upload: 24.30 Mbps
Download: 41.97 Mbps
Upload: 21.64 Mbps
4 Download: 235.68 Mbps
Upload: 330.75 Mbps
Download: 20.60 Mbps
Upload: 22.15 Mbps
Download: 102.92 Mbps
Upload: 99.55 Mbps
5 Download: 239.02 Mbps
Upload: 352.42 Mbps
Download: 6.89 Mbps
Upload: 6.06 Mbps
Download: 160.71 Mbps
Upload: 129.00 Mbps
6 Download: 230.03 Mbps
Upload: 341.51 Mbps
Download: 58.85 Mbps
Upload: 99.26 Mbps
Download: 123.44 Mbps
Upload: 105.62 Mbps
7 Download: 241.20 Mbps
Upload: 315.51 Mbps
Download: 7.63 Mbps
Upload: 8.01 Mbps
Download: 37.16 Mbps
Upload: 29.42 Mbps
8 Download: 228.26 Mbps
Upload: 352.76 Mbps
Download: 41.05 Mbps
Upload: 120.84 Mbps
Download: 71.62 Mbps
Upload: 178.46 Mbps
9 Download: 229.23 Mbps
Upload: 340.59 Mbps
Download: 24.22 Mbps
Upload: 62.92 Mbps
Download: 117.38 Mbps
Upload: 257.58 Mbps
Test Singapore United States United Kingdom

Pros

  • Offers perhaps the largest location coverage available
  • Runs a range of tried and tested protocols
  • Completely RAM-based servers assure better privacy
  • Works with almost all streaming sites
  • Has both multi-hop and split tunneling
  • Specific extra-secure servers in their home base of Romania

Cons

  • Some server locations are very slow
  • Odd locations may go offline at times

Click Here to Visit CyberGhost

Speed capabilities and coverage of major content libraries are two other deciding factors for the best online-streaming VPN. Besides CyberGhost – we think NordVPN, SurfShark, and ExpressVPN are equally great for streaming media from most sources. 

  • NordVPN – Provides dedicated VPN servers for online streaming; excellent speed with with NordLynx protocol.
  • SurfShark – Covers major streaming services; watch your favorite show from unlimited devices.

Many VPN services sell hard on support for streaming services; it’s what many of us seek. Among those that can let you stream major streaming service providers (including  Disney+), CyberGhost stands out. Not only does it support streaming, but it offers a smooth, buffer-free experience.

I’ve used many VPNs for streaming before, and I can’t stress how important the user experience is. Just because a VPN is fast doesn’t mean it’ll stream well. That’s why CyberGhost is my top pick when I want to hop on the Netflix band.

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Best VPN for Small-to-medium business

NordVPN Teams

NordVPN Teams
NordVPN is perhaps one of the few VPNs who are taking care the needs of small business owners. The provider offers NordVPN Teams, which allows users to setup, manage, and pay for multiple team members accounts from a centralized control panel. Add this up with their satellite products such as NordPass and NordLocker, NordVPN is the perfect one-stop security solution for many business users.
  • NordVPN Teams Basic  Fees: $7.00/mo per user
  • Signup Offer: Save 22% when signup for a year
  • Free Trial: 30 days

NordVPN

  • Headquartered in Panama
  • 5,300+ servers in 59 countries
  • Supports IKEv2, OpenVPN, and NordLynx protocols
  • Supports all major operating systems and browsers


NordVPN Teams

  • Centralized billing and control panel
  • SSO with Google, Azure AD, Okta
  • Shared access to 33 server locations
  • 24/7 priority support 
  • Fixed IP dedicated server available at $40/mo

 

Click Here to Visit NordVPN

Pros

  • Excellent server spread and good speeds
  • Proprietary NordLynx offers great performance and stability
  • Completely RAM-based servers assure better privacy
  • Offers access to a large number of servers
  • Supports server obfuscation so fewer sites block VPN-enabled access
  • Centralized billing and license transferability to streamline business operations
  • 24/7 priority customer support 

Cons

  • Rapidly increasing prices
  • Relatively pricier compare to normal commercial VPN plans
  • Smaller location spread than many competitors

Click Here to Visit NordVPN

Other great for-business VPNs include:

  • ExpressVPNWell-known name since 2009; independently audited and runs RAM-only TrustedServers.
  • CyberGhost – Server network covers more than 90 countries globally. 

Methodology: How We Rate a VPN Provider

There are several common elements that we scrutinize closely for all VPN service providers. Most of these areas will impact your experience with the VPN service and the overall effectiveness of the principle VPN usage.

Remember, regardless of what you do with them, VPNs must always have security and privacy at the forefront of their concerns.

VPN HQ Locations

You might be surprised, but the location of a VPN service potentially affects the concept of privacy. To understand this, consider a VPN service provider based in the United States. It’s a democratic country that advocates freedom; unless the government decides otherwise and intervenes.

Comparatively, locations like Panama and the British Virgin Islands have lax data retention laws and a history of non-government intervention in private businesses. It’s a small detail that can make a big difference.

VPN Server Locations

Many VPN services will boast of a massive number of servers. While that’s important, so too is the strategic spread of those servers. A service that offers a million servers based in South Africa would be impressive but relatively useless.

That’s why we note the balance of servers that VPNs offer. While most will show multiple locations, these must be well-dispersed to support users with global connection needs. At the very least, they should cover primary domains, including America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Logging and Privacy Policies

Connections to a server almost always generate log files. These can serve as tracks for anyone looking at them, allowing identification of devices, activities, and more. This capability goes against the basic tenet of VPN services.

As such, most reputable VPN providers will have a “no logging” clause to assure users of privacy on the VPN servers. However, this clause isn’t always present. In extreme cases, VPN, some providers have kept logs in violation of policy.

Pricing

Although pricing doesn’t affect performance (typically), it is a concern of affordability. VPNs need to balance their price with what they offer. It’s a reason why they often sell hard on certain statistics; to prove they’re worth the price.

Since we assess them in-depth, we can see the real implications of price versus quality of service. That’s what makes our price assessment more vital than simply looking at the dollar and cent value presented to the public.

Protocols and Encryption Technology

The technical portion of VPNs doesn’t change much over extended periods. One of the most common protocols, for example, has been OpenVPN. It’s been a standard for years, but many are now adopting WireGuard, a turning point for the industry.

Our assessment of VPN considers how well the service is adapting to new technologies and the spread of options it offers customers. Meanwhile, a few service providers may try to get away with improving speed by lowering encryption levels; and we do take note of them.

User-friendliness for Various Platforms

Platform support isn’t generally a concern for mainstream devices like PCs and Macs. Yet, not all of us use them, and you can deploy a VPN on almost any platform (in theory). Allowing greater access for a non-tech-savvy user to deploy the VPN on, say Linux, can make a difference.

Meanwhile, as a while, the experience should be streamlined and we try to ensure the VPN doesn’t try to confuse users with lots of technical-sounding jargon.

Streaming Capabilities

We love Netflix and VPNs, which makes us even harder on VPN services that make false claims. Regardless of any claims made, from a personal standpoint, VPNs need to support at least a few mainstream streaming services and allow a seamless viewing experience.

Past that, it’s more of a bonus. While the focus is often on US-region content, some users want access to media libraries for other regions like Japan and Australia, which not all VPN services can access.

Torrenting Support

Traditionally, many VPN service providers frown on torrenting. It occupies a dominant portion of bandwidth and drives up their cost. To mitigate this, some VPN providers have restricted P2P to specific servers only.

While that may be fair, P2P users who sign up for the service will suffer. The question we often ask is how much this impacts the experience for torrent users for the VPN.

VPN Speed and Stability

Lastly, we come to the most critical element; speed and stability. All the frills in the world can’t make up for a VPN that slows your line speed to a crawl.

Hide & Seek runs automated testing for all critical VPN services.

Our VPN Speed Test runs on average ten to 15 times each month per VPN, with three locations sampled for each test tun. It gives us an excellent long-term assessment of speed and quality of service, and all the marketing materials in the world won’t bypass these tests.

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A Beginner’s Guide to VPN

How VPN works?

A VPN connects your device to a secure server at a location of your choice. From there, your connection is routed on to whichever website you are heading for.

When you connect to the internet through a virtual private network, your private data – such as your IP address, torrenting activity logs, and browsing records, is transmitted through a virtual tunnel that’s free of hackers and government surveillance.

More: Virtual private network (VPN) explained

Key VPN Features to Know

Although the core features of VPNs are mainly fixed, many VPNs today come with extras. As add-ons, each of those features has the potential to impact some part of our devices and our safety on the Internet – VPN encryption taking up a high amount of processing power, for example. 

Because of that, learning more about the bits and pieces that make up a VPN service can be extremely beneficial.

Kill Switch

Kill Switch is a special mechanism in VPN application that auto-disconnects your device from the Internet whenever it detects any disruptions in connection.

A Kill Switch is designed to prevent your IP, location and online activities from any accidental exposure at all times. Once the Kill Switch is activated, you won’t be able to browse, stream, or download anything. Since your entire Internet connection is shut down, your real IP remains protected, your privacy stays intact and the security of the connection will not be compromised.

More: Different types of VPN kill switches

Split Tunneling

Split Tunneling is an advanced feature that helps manage the flow of data on your device, allowing you the choice of what exactly gets routed through the VPN service.

The remainder goes through a separate tunnel on the open network. The primary objective of split tunneling is to increase speed of your VPN connection without jeopardizing the security of your sensitive data.

More: The three approaches to Split Tunneling

Double VPN

Double VPN works by having your data travel through one VPN server and then routed through another before heading to its final destination.

When you use a double VPN, your data is encrypted and passed through a VPN server twice to add an extra layer of security to your connection. The core benefits of double VPN are a further boost in security and anonymity. Since all your data is protected with an extra layer of encryption, this makes it twice as hard for hackers to crack.

More: When do you need a Double VPN

How to Choose a VPN

Just because a VPN is labelled the best, doesn’t mean it is the best at what you need it for.

We recognize this need for flexibility and want to help you identify the best solution that fits your unique use for a VPN. This is why our “Best VPN” recommendation is based on different use cases and not a ranking list of providers.

For example if you are new to VPN, choosing a budget-friendly VPN with long trial period is highly recommended. Offering at $1.99/mo and 45-days risk-free trial, this is where CyberGhost comes top.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at specific areas of VPNs you should consider when choosing one.

Security

From Encryption protocols to built in security features of client software, VPNs today offer security on many levels. However, the most critical is the security and integrity of the connection it maintains between you and the Internet though.

For best security, choose a VPN with high grade encryption and offers additional security features such as Double VPN and auto Kill Switch.

Anonymity

The best VPNs typically offer users a “No Logging” service. This means that they will not keep records of any of your activities online. However, some do break their word. If you happen to be relying on your VPN to keep you anonymous, this can be a major issue.

Also keep an eye on the country in which the provider registers its business when choosing a VPN. Many VPN providers state that they do not log user activity, but some countries have mandatory data retention laws and share surveillance data with their allies (i.e.. 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, 14 Eyes Alliances). We recommend users to go with a VPN provider that is based in a country without mandatory data retention law. Examples of locations such as this are Panama (NordVPN) and the British Virgin Islands (SurfShark / ExpressVPN).

Connection Speed

Three primary factors dictate the speed of your VPN connection: Server capability, server locations, and connection protocols.

As a rule of thumb, pick a VPN with a good spread of server locations and multiple connetion protocols. Take ExpressVPN for example, the provider has over 3,000 servers spread across 94 countries. The extensive network offers users from almost any country amazingly fast access points.

Unblocking

Do you wish to watch a news video on BBC iPlayer? Perhaps you’re in Japan and want to catch up on some streamed releases on the US version of Netflix? If you do, you’ll be out of luck since lots of services restrict content by region.

If you want to unleash the full power of streaming subscriptions, choose a VPN provider that explicitly states it works with those services.

Best VPN for online streaming

P2P & Torrenting Support

Torrenting is always risky since it essentially occupies a grey area of online activities. While it is not generally illegal in most places, copyright infringement is. You will never be sure if your downloaded files are something that might get you into trouble with the authorities.

Using a VPN will help make torrenting a lot safer. It hides your real IP making you anonymous and encrypts all your data. Because all your traffic heads to the VPN server first, ISPs cannot track and will not know what you have been doing.

Because file sharing is often bandwidth intensive, some VPN service providers totally forbid P2P usage or limit P2P to certain servers. In case you plan to do torrenting frequently with your VPN,  make sure you check before buying in to one.

Compatibility

Typically a good VPN supports mainstream operating systems, mobile devices, and other “smart” devices. This usually include different versions of MacOS, Windows, Android devices, as well as popular smart TVs and routers.

However if you’re using a less popular platform, you may find yourself in a situation where your VPN simply doesn’t support it. For example not all VPNs – even the very popular ones like IP Vanish, does not offer an usable Linux app.

Always be aware of limitations a VPN service provider has before you sign up for an extended contract. At the very least, ensure the devices you currently use are supported.

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Common Questions with VPN Usage

How many VPNs should you have?

Just as there is no single best VPN for everyone, there is no perfect number of VPN to have. It depends on your needs and how critical it is to have a secured Internet connection. Some people carry just one VPN and use it for everything. Others might have two to three VPN accounts suit different use cases.

For example – It is normal for a businessman who travels to China* frequently to own more than two VPNs so he/she can remain connected with their business associates and family members.

* FYI – Facebook, WhatsApps, Instagram, Twitter, and a whole lot of other mainstream social networks are blocked in China.

When deciding how many is right for you, keep in mind:

  • Some VPNs are designed for special needs (i.e. WannaFlix is mainly for Netflix streaming in China) – make sure you are aware of their specialty before signup.
  •  You don’t need multiple VPN accounts to connect to more devices. Some VPNs (i.e. SurfShark) support unlimited simultaneous connections, you can secure all your devices with just one VPN with them.
 

Are VPNs Necessary?

Do you need a VPN? Our quick answer: Yes.

The fact that a VPN ranks the same with an Antivirus Client in terms of being protected online from data breach or unethical hacking speaks much for itself. VPNs are popular today as they have uses that go past merely privacy and security. Overcoming geo blockings, getting  around authority’s censorship, and prevent bandwidth throttling are some other key reasons why people signup to VPNs.

As a product, it offers more benefits than can be imagined for what can essentially amount to the price of a cup of coffee each month.

That said however, let’s play devil’s advocate and talk about the issues that may arise from VPN usage.

Disadvantages of using a VPN

  1. Possible Slower Internet Connection – Your data needs to be encrypted and routed through a VPN server. This could extend the distance it normally would have travelled. Longer distances normally result in slower speeds and increased latency.
  2. Potential Abuse of Data – The best VPNs typically offer users a “No Logging” service. This means that they will not keep records of any of your activities online. However, some do break their word. If you happen to be relying on your VPN to keep you anonymous, this can be a major issue.
  3. Unwarranted Sense of Online Impunity – There is a tendency for people to believe that having a VPN connection makes them completely anonymous and therefore immune to all ill-effects of the Internet. This is entirely a fallacy and there are many ways VPN users can still encounter problems.
 

So when should you NOT use a VPN?

  • Law Violation – If it is illegal to use a VPN service in the country  you are at, you may end up paying a huge fine or even going to jail if caught. The world is large and each country has very specific regulations about personal privacy, various technologies and other factors. Be aware of where you are when you’re using a VPN service.
  • Slow Internet – In some cases, using a VPN may actually result in slower Internet connections. For high speed lines, this may not be much of an issue. For those with slower connections, you may find yourself having to disconnect your VPN to get usable speeds sometimes. Of course, much of this also depends on other factors such as the server you’re connecting to, but it’s another issue to be wary of.
 
 

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