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Best VPN Services For Better Data Privacy & Online Safety

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

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. 

1. Surfshark

About the Company

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.

Surfshark Key Features

  • 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

Our Take on Surfshark

Great Value; Support Multiple Devices

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.

Surfshark 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

Surfshark Cons

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

SurfShark Speed Tests

Surfshark Speed Test Summary

  • Singapore : Average Upload: 397.15 Mbps / Average Download: 579.69 Mbps
  • United States : Average Upload: 264.57 Mbps / Average Download: 187.96 Mbps
  • United Kingdom : Average Upload: 333.24 Mbps / Average Download: 337.12 Mbps

Daily Test Results

Test Singapore United States United Kingdom
1 Download: 596.94 Mbps
Upload: 381.53 Mbps
Download: 195.46 Mbps
Upload: 276.52 Mbps
Download: 358.62 Mbps
Upload: 336.78 Mbps
2 Download: 596.89 Mbps
Upload: 451.96 Mbps
Download: 182.73 Mbps
Upload: 268.03 Mbps
Download: 328.97 Mbps
Upload: 332.34 Mbps
3 Download: 585.34 Mbps
Upload: 448.72 Mbps
Download: 180.79 Mbps
Upload: 276.91 Mbps
Download: 325.24 Mbps
Upload: 321.99 Mbps
4 Download: 596.76 Mbps
Upload: 403.78 Mbps
Download: 183.22 Mbps
Upload: 254.27 Mbps
Download: 361.55 Mbps
Upload: 330.04 Mbps
5 Download: 548.42 Mbps
Upload: 462.45 Mbps
Download: 181.22 Mbps
Upload: 268.99 Mbps
Download: 347.96 Mbps
Upload: 347.92 Mbps
6 Download: 627.18 Mbps
Upload: 384.89 Mbps
Download: 184.80 Mbps
Upload: 262.00 Mbps
Download: 322.06 Mbps
Upload: 341.14 Mbps
7 Download: 621.97 Mbps
Upload: 430.15 Mbps
Download: 191.55 Mbps
Upload: 242.90 Mbps
Download: 336.07 Mbps
Upload: 342.36 Mbps
8 Download: 618.93 Mbps
Upload: 421.57 Mbps
Download: 186.03 Mbps
Upload: 264.21 Mbps
Download: 363.36 Mbps
Upload: 349.89 Mbps
9 Download: 596.39 Mbps
Upload: 409.01 Mbps
Download: 197.27 Mbps
Upload: 256.49 Mbps
Download: 316.22 Mbps
Upload: 329.50 Mbps
10 Download: 644.86 Mbps
Upload: 463.57 Mbps
Download: 178.22 Mbps
Upload: 265.85 Mbps
Download: 356.89 Mbps
Upload: 319.49 Mbps
11 Download: 599.94 Mbps
Upload: 338.20 Mbps
Download: 194.48 Mbps
Upload: 280.31 Mbps
Download: 313.85 Mbps
Upload: 315.67 Mbps
12 Download: 440.61 Mbps
Upload: 266.86 Mbps
Download: 191.39 Mbps
Upload: 266.76 Mbps
Download: 326.92 Mbps
Upload: 348.54 Mbps
13 Download: 461.78 Mbps
Upload: 300.27 Mbps
Download: 196.30 Mbps
Upload: 256.20 Mbps
Download: 324.87 Mbps
Upload: 316.45 Mbps
Test Singapore United States United Kingdom

How Much Does Surfshark Cost?

  • Surfshark pricing: $2.49 (signup for two years)
  • Unlimited connections; all security & privacy features included
  • Pay in credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and crypto

2. ExpressVPN

About the Company

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.

ExpressVPN Key Features

  • 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

Our Take on ExpressVPN

Expensive But Very Popular

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 – read our full review to learn more.

ExpressVPN 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
  • Widest coverage with servers in 94 countries

ExpressVPN Cons

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

ExpressVPN Speed Tests

Expressvpn Speed Test Summary

  • Singapore : Average Upload: 319.02 Mbps / Average Download: 471.06 Mbps
  • United States : Average Upload: 246.09 Mbps / Average Download: 226.83 Mbps
  • United Kingdom : Average Upload: 317.65 Mbps / Average Download: 462.58 Mbps

Daily Test Results

Test Singapore United States United Kingdom
1 Download: 309.98 Mbps
Upload: 252.47 Mbps
Download: 224.40 Mbps
Upload: 188.01 Mbps
Download: 368.14 Mbps
Upload: 291.70 Mbps
2 Download: 537.61 Mbps
Upload: 333.50 Mbps
Download: 171.88 Mbps
Upload: 221.48 Mbps
Download: 510.79 Mbps
Upload: 281.56 Mbps
3 Download: 564.74 Mbps
Upload: 341.86 Mbps
Download: 185.16 Mbps
Upload: 226.05 Mbps
Download: 587.90 Mbps
Upload: 349.03 Mbps
4 Download: 542.99 Mbps
Upload: 353.25 Mbps
Download: 190.70 Mbps
Upload: 243.21 Mbps
Download: 472.63 Mbps
Upload: 312.51 Mbps
5 Download: 597.19 Mbps
Upload: 277.12 Mbps
Download: 203.08 Mbps
Upload: 242.68 Mbps
Download: 476.09 Mbps
Upload: 278.28 Mbps
6 Download: 378.12 Mbps
Upload: 333.84 Mbps
Download: 194.39 Mbps
Upload: 250.31 Mbps
Download: 295.09 Mbps
Upload: 254.25 Mbps
7 Download: 369.45 Mbps
Upload: 335.23 Mbps
Download: 214.31 Mbps
Upload: 238.92 Mbps
Download: 343.85 Mbps
Upload: 289.83 Mbps
8 Download: 552.51 Mbps
Upload: 319.70 Mbps
Download: 214.00 Mbps
Upload: 242.96 Mbps
Download: 538.65 Mbps
Upload: 374.47 Mbps
9 Download: 602.21 Mbps
Upload: 328.25 Mbps
Download: 261.63 Mbps
Upload: 252.29 Mbps
Download: 589.12 Mbps
Upload: 379.18 Mbps
10 Download: 363.86 Mbps
Upload: 339.57 Mbps
Download: 178.59 Mbps
Upload: 202.26 Mbps
Download: 351.94 Mbps
Upload: 360.27 Mbps
11 Download: 375.75 Mbps
Upload: 327.49 Mbps
Download: 202.08 Mbps
Upload: 239.95 Mbps
Download: 642.04 Mbps
Upload: 327.67 Mbps
12 Download: 465.65 Mbps
Upload: 303.94 Mbps
Download: 329.32 Mbps
Upload: 318.24 Mbps
Download: 422.18 Mbps
Upload: 330.03 Mbps
13 Download: 463.69 Mbps
Upload: 301.07 Mbps
Download: 379.26 Mbps
Upload: 332.89 Mbps
Download: 415.10 Mbps
Upload: 300.72 Mbps
Test Singapore United States United Kingdom

How Much Does ExpressVPN Cost?

  • ExpressVPN pricing: $6.67 per month (signup for one year)
  • Free 3 months when signup for 12 months (save 49%)
  • Pay in credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, Union Pay, WebMoney, and Bitcoin

3. NordVPN

About the Company

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.

NordVPN Key Features

  • 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

Our Take on NordVPN

Stream Well with Nordlynx; Zero-log VPN

Known to be among the most progressive and forward-looking in technology of all VPN providers, NordVPN (our full 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. 

Also – 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 Netflix and Disney+), NordVPN stands out. Not only does it support streaming, but it offers a smooth, buffer-free experience with its in-house developed NordLynx connections.

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
  • 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

NordVPN Cons

  • Rapidly increasing prices
  • Limited number of servers support P2P / Torrenting

NordVPN Speed Tests

Nordvpn Speed Test Summary

  • Singapore : Average Upload: 1.30 Gbps / Average Download: 1.78 Gbps
  • United States : Average Upload: 1.09 Gbps / Average Download: 1.08 Gbps
  • United Kingdom : Average Upload: 1.12 Gbps / Average Download: 1.40 Gbps

Daily Test Results

Test Singapore United States United Kingdom
1 Download: 2.03 Gbps
Upload: 1.73 Gbps
Download: 765.42 Mbps
Upload: 956.45 Mbps
Download: 1.39 Gbps
Upload: 1.06 Gbps
2 Download: 1.65 Gbps
Upload: 1.76 Gbps
Download: 759.89 Mbps
Upload: 925.39 Mbps
Download: 1.42 Gbps
Upload: 1.14 Gbps
3 Download: 1.71 Gbps
Upload: 1.74 Gbps
Download: 991.74 Mbps
Upload: 1021.13 Mbps
Download: 1.33 Gbps
Upload: 1.14 Gbps
4 Download: 760.51 Mbps
Upload: 640.48 Mbps
Download: 1.10 Gbps
Upload: 1.19 Gbps
Download: 1.50 Gbps
Upload: 1.11 Gbps
5 Download: 2.11 Gbps
Upload: 1.73 Gbps
Download: 1.28 Gbps
Upload: 1.26 Gbps
Download: 1.46 Gbps
Upload: 1.05 Gbps
6 Download: 1.95 Gbps
Upload: 1.75 Gbps
Download: 1.29 Gbps
Upload: 1.28 Gbps
Download: 1.45 Gbps
Upload: 1.20 Gbps
7 Download: 2.08 Gbps
Upload: 573.99 Mbps
Download: 1.18 Gbps
Upload: 1.22 Gbps
Download: 1.37 Gbps
Upload: 1.06 Gbps
8 Download: 2.07 Gbps
Upload: 1.74 Gbps
Download: 1.24 Gbps
Upload: 1.03 Gbps
Download: 1.45 Gbps
Upload: 1.08 Gbps
9 Download: 2.04 Gbps
Upload: 681.55 Mbps
Download: 1.18 Gbps
Upload: 1.08 Gbps
Download: 1.33 Gbps
Upload: 1.15 Gbps
10 Download: 1.97 Gbps
Upload: 1.76 Gbps
Download: 1.08 Gbps
Upload: 1.14 Gbps
Download: 1.41 Gbps
Upload: 1.05 Gbps
11 Download: 2.04 Gbps
Upload: 542.99 Mbps
Download: 655.31 Mbps
Upload: 861.55 Mbps
Download: 1.37 Gbps
Upload: 1.15 Gbps
12 Download: 1.33 Gbps
Upload: 1.16 Gbps
Download: 1.24 Gbps
Upload: 1.17 Gbps
Download: 1.39 Gbps
Upload: 1.15 Gbps
13 Download: 1.39 Gbps
Upload: 1.18 Gbps
Download: 1.31 Gbps
Upload: 1.15 Gbps
Download: 1.33 Gbps
Upload: 1.17 Gbps
Test Singapore United States United Kingdom

How Much Does NordVPN Cost?

  • NordVPN pricing: $3.67 per month (signup for two years)
  • Pay in credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, and crypto

Alternatives & Other VPN Choices

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 we have reviewed dozens of VPN services in market and recommend VPNs based on different use cases.

Here are some other VPN we have reviewed in the past:

VPN Gate Review

Jerry Low

TunnelBear Review

Helen Chan

VyprVPN Review

Helen Chan

Windscribe Review

Helen Chan

Turbo VPN Review

Helen Chan

UltraVPN Review

Helen Chan

AtlasVPN Review

Timothy Shim

Methodology: How We Rate VPN Providers

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.

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.

Helen Chan

Helen Chan is a writer and mother of one. Despite her background in business, her love for tech has resulted in extensive experience in web connectivity and security.
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