These Are Your Best Most Secure VPN Options
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If, like a lot of people, the [ coronavirus pandemic] is forcing you to [/news/how-to-stay-sane-and-productive-when-working-from-home/ work from home] these days, remote VPN access is more essential than ever for maximizing your privacy online. But as the number of commercial virtual private networks continues to grow exponentially, [/how-to/how-to-pick-the-right-vpn-now-that-youre-working-from-home/ finding the best VPN] to meet your specific needs can be tricky.
So to help you find the best VPN for you, we've sifted through a multitude of overhyped VPN providers all touting their own private network, including such popular names as Nord, ExpressVPN, IPVanish, Surfshark and more. In our current [/news/how-we-evaluate-and-review-vpns/ testing and ranking system], we looked at more than 20 factors, including price, security, number of server locations, ease of remote access, bandwidth caps, logging, dedicated and dynamic IP, client software and customer support. We're keeping a close eye on how each VPN provider stands compared with its competitors, as well as any new VPN services that may become available. Below, we've catalogued our favorite services to date -- and listed some less viable options, too, based on our testing, and we'll be regularly updating this directory as new options hit the market.
That said, the VPN landscape can be confusing and mystifying. Here are some quick tips, each of which link to a more in-depth discussion of the topic in question.
[/how-to/best-free-vpns-5-reasons-why-they-dont-exist/ Don't use free VPN services]: You'll only find paid options below because they're the only ones we can recommend.
[/news/why-you-should-be-skeptical-about-a-vpns-no-logs-claims/ Look for a no-logs VPN, but understand the caveats]: The best VPNs keep as few logs as possible and kynghidongduong.vn make them as anonymous as possible, so there's little data to provide should authorities come knocking. But even "no-logs" VPNs aren't 100% anonymous.
[/how-to/warrant-canary-what-you-need-to-know-about-this-online-privacy-warning-sign/ VPN transparency is important, but warrant canaries are only the beginning]: Many services use "warrant canaries" as a way to passively note to the public as to whether or not they've been subpoenaed by a government entity, as many investigations from national security agencies can't be actively disclosed by law. But -- like the no-logging issue -- warrant canaries aren't always as straightforward as they seem. You should spend more time investigating whether your prospective VPN has cooperated with authorities in the past -- and how and when they've disclosed that fact.
[/news/why-i-dont-trust-us-vpns/ Think twice about using a US-based VPN]: The Patriot Act is still the law of the land in the US, and that means that any VPNs in the United States have little recourse if and when the feds show up with subpoenas or [ national security letters] in hand, demanding access to servers, user accounts or any other data. Yes, they may have little data to access if the service has a strong no-logs policy, but why not do an end-run on the feds and just choose a service that's based outside Uncle Sam's jurisdiction? (You'll want to avoid those countries that the US has intelligence-sharing agreements, too.)
The best VPNs right now
Let's look at each of our VPN vendors below in more depth. Keep in mind that this is an evolving list: It was originally published earlier and is constantly updated. We're actively working on more VPN testing and research, so expect this guide to change throughout the year as our virtual private network use continues and we put each VPN option through its paces.
The list below presents our favorites in an overall ranking; if you want to see them judged by more specific criteria, check out the links below.
[/news/best-mac-vpn-of-2020/ Best VPNs for Mac] [/news/best-android-vpn-for-2020/ Best VPNs for Android][/news/best-iphone-vpn-in-2020/ Best VPNs for iPhone]
You'll mostly find the same names you see here, but we'll call out when and where specific traits make for a better choice in a more narrow evaluation.
[ Editor's Choice: Blazing speeds, proven privacy]
Number of IP addresses: 30,000Number of servers: 3,000-plusNumber of server locations: 160Number of simultaneous connections: 5Country/jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands94-plus countries[ 3 months free with 1-year plan]
ExpressVPN consistently proves itself one of the fastest VPNs on the market, and actively promotes its commitment to privacy. The company tells us its network is powered by TrustedServer technology, which ExpressVPN built to ensure that there are never any logs of users' online activities. In the privacy world, ExpressVPN has a strong track record, having experienced a server seizure by authorities which proved their zero-log policy true at the time. We also like the quality of the VPN's setup guides, and the detailed information in its FAQ.
Like the rest of the top five VPN services we've reviewed for 2020, ExpressVPN offers a useful kill switch feature, which prevents network data from leaking outside of its secure VPN tunnel in the event the VPN connection fails. Unlike the others, though, [ ExpressVPN] gained points from us for du lịch cửu trại câu its support of bitcoin as a payment method -- something not all of our favorites offer, but which adds an additional layer of privacy during checkout.
The company has been in business since 2009, and [ ExpressVPN] has a substantial network of fast VPN servers spread across 94 countries. [ Its best plan is priced at less than $7] a month for an annual package, which includes three months free.
Read more: [ ]
[ See at ExpressVPN]
[ A speedy up-and-comer, packed with features]
Number of servers: 1,700+
Number of server locations: 63
Country/jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
[ $2.49 a month (81% discount) for a two-year plan]
While [ Surfshark's] network is smaller than some, the VPN services makes it up on features. Let's start off with the biggest win it offers: unlimited device support. If you want to run your entire home or office on Surfshark's VPN, you don't have to worry about how many devices you have on or connected. It also offers antimalware, ad-blocking and tracker-blocking as part of its software.
Surfshark received generally high marks when its Chrome and Firefox extensions were [ audited for privacy] by German security firm Cure 53 ([ PDF link of full report]) -- though that audit was commissioned by Surfshark.
The company has a solid range of app support, running on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Fire TV and routers. Additional devices such as [ game consoles] can be configured for Surfshark via DNS settings. We particularly like the feature that allows you to whitelist certain apps and websites to automatically bypass the VPN. For some business uses, this can be critically important.
Surfshark also offers three special modes designed for those who want to get around restrictions and more carefully hide their online footsteps. Camouflage Mode masks your VPN activity so your ISP doesn't know you're using a VPN. Multihop jumps your connection through multiple countries to hide your trail. Finally, NoBorders Mode "allows [you] to successfully use Surfshark in restrictive regions." Just be careful. Doing any of these three things could be illegal in your country and could result in severe penalties. During our testing, we saw no DNS or IP address leaks, and had no trouble accessing Netflix.
Unlike many of the other VPN providers, Surfshark doesn't offer a one-year plan. Its best offer is [ $2.49 a month], for its two-year plan (you pay about $60 up front). A six-month plan is $6.49 a month (about $39 up front), and month-by-month plans are $12.95 a month. Definitely take advantage of its generous 30-day trial to decide if you like this service (and if you choose the two-year plan, maybe set a reminder in 23 months to see if you can talk it into a continued discount rate).
Read more: [ ]
[ See at Surfshark]
[ Reliability and security]
Number of IP addresses: 5,000Number of servers: 5,200-plus serversNumber of server locations: 62Country/jurisdiction: Panama62 countries[ $3.71 a month (68% discount) for a 2-year plan][ NordVPN in-depth review and hands-on testing] (ZDNet)
[ NordVPN] is one of the most recognized brands in the VPN field. It offers a generous simultaneous connection count, with six simultaneous connections through its network, where nearly all other providers offer five or fewer. NordVPN also offers a dedicated IP option, for those looking for a different level of VPN connection. NordVPN offers a kill switch feature, and the ability to VPN into Tor. We detected no privacy leaks during our tests, and found its speeds to be reliably fast.
The company's [ two-year subscription plan costs $3.71 a month] ($89 billed at once). That price is lower than most contenders, but creeps up for the six-month plan ($9 a month or $64 total) and the monthly plan ($11.95 a month). But it does have a full 30-day refund policy.
While NordVPN has lived on this list for a long time, we moved it to the penalty box in October 2019 to re-evaluate our recommendation after a report emerged that one of its rented servers was [ ]. Nord's actions following the discovery included -- eventually -- multiple security audits, a [ bug bounty program] and heavier investments in server security.
While we'd have preferred that Nord self-disclosed the issue much earlier, the fact that the [ ] served to further verify that NordVPN keeps no logs of user activity. As a result, Nord remains on this list as a recommended vendor.
Read more: [ ]
[ See at NordVPN]
[ High security standards at high speeds]
When we speed-tested ProtonVPN, we saw an impressively small 9.6% speed loss compared to average speeds clocked withou[
routinely published audits][ routinely published audits], and includes a built-in route to VPN into [ ]. We're also confident recommending its mobile app since it has eliminated the use of some weaker security protocols, like PPTP and L2TP, which are still used by some other VPNs.
On price, we'd like to see ProtonVPN come down a bit. ProtonVPN's standard package, called Plus, runs $8 per month ($96 charged yearly). That price is higher than our Editors' Choice VPN, ExpressVPN, whose best plan is [ ][ ]
[ See at Proton]
[ Fun, flexible choice for beginners]
Number of IP addresses: 40,000-plusNumber of servers: 1,300Number of server locations: 60Number of simultaneous connections: 10Country/jurisdiction: US[ $5.20 a month (57% discount) for a one-year plan]
A big win for [ IPVanish] is its fun, configurable interface, which makes it an ideal client for those who are interested in learning how to understand what a VPN does under the hood. Its multiplatform flexibility is also ideal for people focused on finding a Netflix-friendly VPN.
A unique feature of IPVanish, and one we're intrigued by, is the VPN's support of Kodi, the open-source media streaming app that was once known as XBMC. Any serious media fan has used or built Kodi or XBMC into a media player, and the integrated IPVanish Kodi plugin provides access to media worldwide.
At [ $10 a month or $62 a year], IPVanish is obviously trying to move you towards its yearly program. We're a little disappointed that it only allows a seven-day trial, rather than a full 30 days, but it does offer a full money-back guarantee. That said, the company gets kudos for its recent increase from five to now 10 simultaneous connections. We also liked its connection kill switch feature, a must for anyone serious about remaining anonymous while surfing.
Read more: [ ]
[ See at IPVanish]
Other VPNs we've tested
Not every VPN can be a favorite. These are ones we reviewed, but they're not full-throated recommendations for one reason or another, including limited features and concerns over adequately hiding your identity.
[ CyberGhost VPN]
Number of servers: Over 7,100 worldwide in 90-plus countries
Number of server locations: 112
Jurisdiction: Romania, with UK parent companyNumber of simultaneous connections: 5[ $2.75 a month for a 3-year plan, or $3.69 a month for 2-year plan] [/reviews/cyberghost-vpn-review/ CyberGhost in-depth review and hands-o[ $2.75 per month for a three-year plan][ $2.75 per month for a three-year plan].
As we've bolstered our approach to VPN reviews in recent months, however, CyberGhost has raised some red flags. Its [ ] warrants skepticism; our previous tests have shown it to expose your VPN use to your ISP; its website and app trackers are more numerous than warranted; and its ad-blocker uses an untrustworthy method of [ traffic manipulation] no VPN should even think about. Its low price previously made it worth considering if you needed to change the appearance of your location online, but not if you wanted best-in-class security.
While CyberGhost's speeds and security appear to be improving, I don't currently recommend using CyberGhost if you're in a [ country where VPNs are illegal]. I also recommend anyone in the US reviews CyberGhost's parent company before deciding whether to pay for a subscription.
On the plus side, however, CyberGhost is still faster than Norton Secure VPN and was less taxing on my device's processing power during testing. It also offers split-tunneling in its Windows client and has its servers neatly organized into user-friendly categories: NoSpy servers, servers geared for torrenting, servers best for streaming and servers best for use with a static IP address. CyberGhost imposes no data caps and allows unlimited server switching.
Read more: [/reviews/cyberghost-vpn-review/ CyberGhost VPN review: Promising improvements but its parent company concerns me]
[ See all CyberGhost VPN plans][ ]
[ Norton Secure VPN] Number of countries: 29Number of servers: 1,500 (1,200 virtual)Number of server locations: 200 in 73 citiesCountry/jurisdiction: US[ $40 for the first 12 months]
LifeLock, long known for excellence in security products, has a relatively limited offering in its VPN product. [ Norton Secure VPN] does not support P2P or BitTorrent, and it does not support Linux, routers or set top boxes. Its Netflix and streaming compatibility is somewhat limited. Even worse, during testing, we experienced privacy-compromising data leaks.
During CNET's testing, Norton Secure VPN speeds were comparable to other mid-tier VPNs but not particularly competitive. Although its VPN is only available on four platforms -- Mac, iOS, Windows and Android -- Norton gets points for its 24/7 live customer phone support and 60-day money back guarantee.
[ See all Norton plans]
Read more: [ ]
Other VPNs in the mix
Below you'll find some additional VPNs. We're in the process of reevaluating them in the coming months.
Number of IP addresses: 300,000Number of servers: 2000Number of server locations: 180Country/jurisdiction: Hong Kong[ $3.33 a month for a 1-year plan, $1.65 a month for a 5-year plan]
PureVPN does not log connection information. The company joined the "no log" movement in 2018, which was recently verified via a third-party [ audit] by [ Althius IT] (albeit one commissioned and paid for by PureVPN).
We like that PureVPN offers a 31-day refund policy and supports Bitcoin payments, to further extend anonymous browsing. We also like that PureVPN has both Kodi and [ Chromebook] solutions available. In addition, PureVPN was the first VPN service we noted to fully implement the GDPR.
[ See all PureVPN plans] [ ]
Number of IP addresses: 59,500
Number of servers: 650-plus
Number of server locations: 26 countries and 46 cities
[ $5.83 a month (42% discount) for a 1-year plan][ StrongVPN in-depth review and hands-on testing]
[ StrongVPN] blasts onto our favorites list with excellent infrastructure and decent price performance. As with our other favorites, StrongVPN has a strong no-logging policy. Since VPN is all about protecting your privacy, that's a place the savvy VPN providers can pick up points.
Strong also picks up kudos for its large base of IP addresses, which also helps protect your anonymity. It has a solid collection of servers and worldwide locations. For those of you who need a dedicated IP, you can get one from the company, but you'll need to contact support to get help setting it up.
One of [ StrongVPN's] strongest strengths is the company's network. It owns and operates its entire network infrastructure, which means it has no externally dictated limits on bandwidth or the type of internet traffic allowed on the network. This gives you the confidence that you'll be able to power through your work.
StrongVPN's regular [ monthly price of $10] is in the middle of the pack, but its yearly price of $70 is among the lowest of our contenders.
[ See all StrongVPN plans]
Private Internet Access
[ Private Internet Access] Number of IP addresses: N/ANumber of servers: 3,252Number of server locations: 37Country/jurisdiction: US
Speaking of price, if you want a solid VPN provider, [ Private Internet Access] is the place to go.
The key to getting the most savings with this vendor is buying its two-year plan for $69.95. That works out to [ $2.69 a month]. It also offers a [ one-year plan] for $39.95 (which comes out to $3.33 a month), or a monthly plan for $9.95 a month.
The company does not release information on the number of IP addresses available, but at 3,252, its server count is more than any of our other picks.
These folks have been around since 2010, and don't log anything. It provides a generous five connections, a connection kill switch feature, and some good online documentation and security guidance. Our one disappointment is that its refund policy is seven days instead of 30, but you can certainly get a feel for its excellent performance in the space of a week.
[ See all Private Internet Access plans][ ]
[ Hotspot Shield]
Number of IP addresses: 50,000
Number of servers: 3,200
Number of server countries: 80-pl[
Mobile VPNs][/news/best-mobile-vpn-services/ Mobile VPNs] are designed and optimized to ensure a seamless user experience when devices are switching networks or moving out of coverage. It generally has a smaller memory footprint, and because of that, it also requires less processing power than a traditional VPN. Therefore, it enables your applications to run faster while the battery pack is able to last longer.
A Mobile VPN is a worthwhile tool to have since it increases privacy, user satisfaction and productivity, while also reducing unforeseen support issues caused by wireless connectivity problems. The increasing usage of mobile devices and wireless connectivity make it more important to ensure that your data is being transferred through a secure network. It will allow you to access the internet, while staying safe behind a firewall that protects your privileged information.
Who needs a VPN?
People who access the internet from a computer, tablet or smartphone will benefit from using a VPN. A VPN service will always boost your security by encrypting and anonymizing all of your online activity. Communications that happen between the VPN server and your device are encrypted, so a hacker or website spying on you wouldn't know which web pages you access. They also won't be able to see private information like passwords, usernames and bank or shopping details and so on. Anyone who wants to protect their privacy and security online should use a VPN.
How to choose a VPN service?
There's a vast range of VPN services on the internet. Some are free VPN services, but the best ones require a monthly subscription. Before you decide to download a VPN, make sure you consider these factors for [ understanding a VPN].
Cost: VPNs aren't too pricey, but they vary from vendor to vendor. If your main concern is price, then go with something inexpensive, or a free VPN service -- like Spotflux Premium VPN or AnchorFree HotSpot Shield Elite. Free servers are often slower, and since most are ad-supported, they place adverts on the online pages you access. Others can even limit the speed of your connection, as well as your online time or amount of data transferred.
It's also important to note that leading VPN providers offer stronger security features to ensure you're digitally safe. When selecting a paid VPN service, always be sure to check which countries it operates servers in.
Reliability: Select a VPN that is reliable and read the reviews to make sure that it's capable of protecting you by providing you with sufficient online privacy.
High security: An effective VPN will have the following security features: 128-bit encryption, anonymous DNS servers and an absence of connection logs.
Are there any bandwidth limits? This can often be linked to price; paying more will generally provide more bandwidth with faster internet access.
Are VPN apps for Android, iOS phones and tablets available? Apps for Android and iOS devices are also vulnerable, so make sure your VPN server can support a VPN app.
To ensure privacy, you want to make sure you have a VPN that doesn't store online logs. Some servers provide virus and spyware protection, and features like that can significantly increase your online safety.
Using a no-logs VPN service will provide you with a higher degree of security. It can protect you from blanket government surveillance and prevent your internet service provider from knowing your online activity.
Using a VPN for Netflix and other forbidden treasures
[ ] like Netflix and Hulu have been making it difficult for foreign users to access their content in other countries. Many people can get around region restrictions by using a VPN service to route your traffic through another country.
It can be quite simple to watch Netflix and other restricted goodies. You'll have to use a VPN service that allows you to get a unique IP address. This can often be available for an additional fee. Look for VPN services that offer a "dedicated IP address," "dedicated IP" or "static IP." Additional features like these will always allow you to access content from Netflix through a VPN service.
This is by far the easiest way to access your forbidden apps since there's no specific way to block VPN traffic.
Many people started using a VPN to evade geo-restrictions. But despite its forbidden benefits to users outside the US, a VPN is a great tool that can protect you and enhance your online experience over the internet by providing you with sufficient security and privacy. When it comes to selecting the best VPN, you have plenty of choices. There are many cost-effective VPN options, and all of them will vary in monthly offerings. Choosing the best VPN is easier once you narrow down the competition. The best indication of a good VPN service provider is that it has the right security and the right support in place for you.
Got a question for our security community? Head over to the [ ] and join the conversation.
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