The best VPN of 2024 is an essential tool for staying safer online, no matter where you live. With the help of my team of experts, I've tested dozens of VPNs hands-on to work out exactly which ones truly prioritize your online privacy, and which ones promise the world but fail live up to their claims.
Virtual Private Networks are a kind of software that help keep your online activity hidden from your ISP, the government, and even hackers. In simple terms, they do this by encrypting all your traffic and routing it through their own servers located around the world, hiding your real location and your activity in the process. They're also great for unblocking streaming content, and evading government censorship.
If you just want quick access to the three best VPN services of 2024, simply pick from ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark below – in my expert reviews I rate them as the very best in their respective price ranges. However, If you want more in-depth info, simply keep scrolling for my rundown of the 10 top VPNs available today, and details of how I test VPNs at the bottom of the page.
The 3 best VPNs at a glance
1. ExpressVPN: the best VPN – get 3 months free
I think ExpressVPN is the best VPN in 2024, with great performance in just about every area. It offers class-leading privacy and security features, can unblock just about every streaming site, and is super easy to use.
Its 30-day money-back guarantee lets you trial the service risk-free, and Tom's Guide readers can claim 3 months free – plus 1 year free of backup software Backblaze.
2. NordVPN: the fastest VPN and packed with tools
NordVPN is arguably the biggest name in the VPN industry, and for good reason. As well as its secure and private VPN, it offers a wider suite of cybersecurity tools, including an ad blocker and malware protection.
Starting at just $3.39 a month, Nord's a slightly more affordable option compared to ExpressVPN, and you'll also get a 30-day money-back guarantee to make sure it's right for you. What's more, you can also grab a free Uber Eats voucher – tasty.
3. Surfshark: the best cheap VPN on the market
For those looking for a premium VPN on a budget, Surfshark is well worth considering. With top-tier privacy and incredibly fast connections, it's snapping at the heels of pricier brands.
It's excellent for streaming and day-to-day privacy, and offers servers in 100 countries, so you'll never be far from a connection. Best of all, it's currently only $2.29 per month, which includes 2 months free.
In my most recent update to this page, I've included some information further down the page on the experts involved in testing, reviewing, and ranking the best VPNs. There have been no changes to our ratings, but I've also polished up some copy to make it easier to read, added some extra info on features ExpressVPN offers, and updated a new deal NordVPN has recently introduced.
The best VPNs in 2024
Why you can trust Tom's Guide
The best VPN overall
The best VPN on the market overall
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: Up to 750 Mbps | VPN locations: 160 in 105 countries | Maximum devices supported: 8 | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
✔️ You want the very best VPN service on the market. Others have marginally wider suites, but if you're just interested having a class-leading VPN, ExpressVPN is it.
✔️ You want to stream global content. From Netflix to Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, ExpressVPN is super reliable.
✔️ You value your privacy. Whether you're in the US, Europe, or even China, ExpressVPN's countless audits and unblemished history of protecting its users should inspire confidence.
❌ You're on a strict budget. ExpressVPN certainly isn't the cheapest on the market. Those looking for a better price may want to consider NordVPN or Surfshark.
❌ You want a fuller suite of software. Despite the introduction of the password manager Keys, other VPNs like NordVPN offer a wider range of additional features.
All things considered, ExpressVPN is the very best VPN I've tested. Its privacy features are second to none, it delivers great speeds, unblocks a whole host of global streaming sites, and is very accessible in terms of design and device support. If you're looking for the best of the best, this is it, and you can try it out with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN takes the top spot with its easy-to-use apps that take the complexity out of setting up a VPN and leave the difficult stuff to the experts. My ExpressVPN review showed that it unblocked anything and everything I threw at it with a peerless quality.
On paper, ExpressVPN already impresses: over 3,000 servers in 160 locations spread across 105 countries around the world, a kill switch, split tunneling and obfuscated servers. While some providers have more servers in total, very few have such a wide spread – meaning that wherever you're based, you'll get swift, reliable connections. It has an especially impressive range in Asia, which is often neglected by other providers.
All apps use super-secure, industry-standard AES-256 encryption, paired with OpenVPN and Lightway protocols. Lightway is the standout here, and the in-house, open-source protocol delivers excellent speeds – although this is an area where Express is just beaten by close rivals Surfshark and NordVPN. However, unless you're using a 1Gbps+ connection you won't notice a difference.
ExpressVPN also uses its own TrustedServer technology, which ensures its RAM-only DNS servers retain no information about you or your activity. In short, ExpressVPN is fast and secure – and a recent update has added a well-needed kill switch to iOS. Combined with the 3 months free Tom's Guide readers can claim, you get a lot for your money.
Its apps are a pleasure to use and almost identical across the board – once you've used one, you've used them all – and the range of devices is huge. Not only can you cover your PC, Mac, iPhone, or Android, but your router, Chromebook, Linux PC, Fire TV Stick, and a ton more can also enjoy the same protection.
What's more, ExpressVPN can now be used on 8 devices at once, up from the previous 5. This is great news for those who have tons of devices, and addresses one of ExpressVPN's few downsides – although rivals Surfshark and PIA offer unlimited connections on a single plan.
One of the most common reasons to download a VPN is to access geo-blocked streaming content. Here, ExpressVPN really delivers. In my testing, it reliably unblocked a number of Netflix locations, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and works impeccably for regional TV channels around the world. Only a few other providers like NordVPN and Surfshark can match this – and Express is still my #1 streaming VPN.
Of course, improvements can be made with any service, and the same is true here. For example, if you need a dedicated IP or port forwarding, a provider like PIA might be a better fit.
ExpressVPN also doesn't have quite the breadth of additional privacy tools compared to rivals like NordVPN. ExpressVPN Keys – a password manager, free forever – is a very nice addition, but when you consider Nord offers things like Meshnet, a data breach scanner and even cyber insurance, Express's offering look a little limited. That said, though, there are no extra charges for what you do get from Express.
Finally, a word on customer support. If anything doesn't work as it should – perhaps you're having issues unblocking UK Netflix from the US, for example – the 24/7 live chat support is always on hand. In my experience, they have been quick and knowledgeable and in general much better than most other VPN providers' live chat teams. Plus, the on-site help articles are excellent, too.
When everything is tallied up, it all comes together to make a near-unbeatable package that's well suited to experts and newbies alike – and I think that premium price is well worth what you get.
|Simple, navigable design that’s easy on your eyes and straightforward to understand
|Ease of use
|Beginner-friendly, little to no expertise needed
|Reliable and very fast, although some others deliver higher peak speeds.
|Servers in 160 locations and 90 countries ensure limitless content
|Security and privacy
|Top-notch security with 256-bit AES encryption
|Expert assistance is available 24/7
|Slightly more expensive than other options
The best VPN + security suite
The best VPN with a full security suite
Number of servers: 5,500+ | Server locations: 80+ in 59 countries | Maximum devices supported: 6 | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
✔️ Netflix access is a priority. As my #1 rated VPN for Netflix, NordVPN unblocks more locations than any other provider I've tested.
✔️ You want more than just a VPN. NordVPN also offers malware detection and ad-blocking on a standard plan.
✔️ You want maximum bang for your buck. While NordVPN isn't quite the cheapest, it offers a very tempting blend of price and performance.
❌ You like simple apps. Compared to the likes of ExpressVPN, Nord's map interface can be quite busy.
❌ You torrent often. Only some of Nord's servers are configured for P2P, and due to this I've found it can be somewhat slow to download torrented files.
❌ You need a huge range of global locations. NordVPN offers a healthy 60 countries, but ExpressVPN offers 105, and Surfshark tops out at 100.
NordVPN is a powerful VPN that offers just about everything anyone will need from a VPN for a great price. For the price, it's well worth considering, and its 30-day money-back guarantee means you can try it before you commit.
Sitting at #2 is NordVPN, and in my full NordVPN review I found that the biggest name in VPN is still one of the very best.
With over 5,500 servers in a generous 60+ countries, NordVPN practically guarantees a speedy server wherever you are – and while it's not present in as many locations as ExpressVPN, you'll still be very well served. You'll likely be connecting to those servers with Nord's own NordLynx protocol, which is a reworked version of WireGuard. In short, it's stable, and delivered searing connection speeds of over 950 Mbps in my testing – the fastest VPN in my testing.
You'll get split tunneling, an effective kill switch, AES-256 encryption, and you'll even get some unusual options like Onion over VPN and Double VPN which are designed to keep you even safer when browsing the web. Another interesting feature is Threat Protection – but while it's a nice addition, dedicated tracker blockers do work more effectively.
Nord's apps are powerful and fairly pleasant to use, but while the map-based interface works well on larger screen such as PCs and tablets, on smartphones it can be more of a hindrance than a benefit – simpler interfaces like ExpressVPN's tend to work better here.
A recent update also means the PC client can't be resized, and there are inconsistencies between platforms. Despite that, though, the apps are very capable, and you'll be able to install it on a huge range of devices – for just $3.39 a month, it's excellent value.
Nord's most interesting new feature, however, is Meshnet. This allows users to link devices anywhere around the world via encrypted NordVPN connections, creating its own secure network. This has real power, and while Nord hasn't quite worked out how to make the feature clear to users yet, I'm very excited to see where it goes.
When it comes to streaming, however, NordVPN really impresses. You'll be able to unblock tons of Netflix locations, iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and more – and in recent months Nord and the related Surfshark have proved to be a little more reliable with Netflix than my top choice overall ExpressVPN.
With a 30-day money-back guarantee and some attractive deals running throughout the year, NordVPN is a quality service that only misses out on the top spot thanks to some small UI quirks – and, frankly, the sheer quality of the competition.
|Fun interface but might seem a little crowded for some users
|Ease of use
|Though simple to use, the map-like design might not work for everyone
|One of the fastest with an average speed of 950 Mbps
|Effortlessly unblocks most content streaming platforms
|Security and privacy
|Strong encryption with additional features like Threat Protection for safe streaming
|Reliable 24/7 customer support
|Provides ample value for the price.
The best cheap VPN
The best cheap VPN available today
Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 160+ in 100+ countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
✔️ You're looking for quality on a budget. Surfshark is an absolute bargain, and I'm consistently amazed that it can offer such a good product for the price.
✔️ You have a need for speed. Surfshark is as quick as NordVPN, topping out at 950 Mbps.
✔️ You have tons of devices. Surfshark's unlimited simultaneous connections policy means you can use one plans on as many devices as you like.
❌ You truly rely on your kill switch. While it's very unlikely to happen in real life, my testing was able break Surfshark's kill switch. This didn't happen to ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
❌ You're a hardcore torrenter. Surfshark is more than capable of torrenting effectively, but if your main use case is sharing P2P, try ExpressVPN or PIA.
Surfshark is one of those rare examples of a product combining genuinely premium features with an incredibly low price. While it's not quite as powerful as the leading two providers, it's super secure, can be installed on unlimited devices, and also offers a 30-day refund period.
If you're looking for a cheap VPN that outperforms products twice its price, look no further than Surfshark. The services in this guide are ranked by quality, not price, so to see a VPN that's so affordable sitting at #3 is seriously impressive.
In my Surfshark review, I found its apps great to use, and offer all the privacy and security essentials such as AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, split tunneling, and the superfast WireGuard protocol.
Surfshark's been hard at work on extra features like MultiHop, and Nexus – the latter of which is not currently fully formed, but looks promising. According to the company, "connecting to Nexus means that your traffic gets routed through a whole network of servers rather than a single VPN tunnel." Decentralizing your connection is a very interesting innovation, and it's great that Surfshark is exploring new ways to improve VPNs as a whole.
Currently, Nexus offers an IP Rotator – your IP address will be changed every 15 minutes or so – and an IP Randomizer feature is coming soon. This will change your IP address every time you visit a new website
If you're a hardware hoarder, Surfshark's unlimited simultaneous connections policy may put it above my #1 and #2 picks. You can install one plan on any number of devices – great for complete protection, or even sharing with those in your home. And, as a Linux VPN, Surfshark is one of the few providers to offer a full GUI – most others are only command line. Very impressive for a VPN that costs well under $2.50 a month.
In the most recent testing, connection speeds rose considerably, and on my 1 Gbps connection, it maxed out at a staggering 950 Mbps. That makes Surfshark one of the fastest providers I've ever tested – beating out the likes of ExpressVPN, PIA, and CyberGhost. Plus, it's currently proving to be very reliable for streaming. I've had some issues before, but almost every provider has at some point.
However, when I put Surfshark's kill switch through my rigorous testing procedure, we did manage to catch it out and get it to reveal us very briefly. However, the situation in which this happened is unlikely to happen in the real world. And, unfortunately, Surfshark's support isn't quite as good as ExpressVPN's or NordVPN's.
Overall, Surfshark is an excellent budget option, and when you consider its price, what small sacrifices you may need to make seem really quite insignificant.
|Minimalistic, clean, and intuitive design
|Ease of use
|Beginner-friendly and easy to understand
|Seriously quick and almost on par with NordVPN
|Great at unblocking streaming apps and getting around censorship
|Security and privacy
|Kill switch isn’t the best, but everything else is excellent
|Decent 24/7 customer support and tons of help articles
|Cheap VPN with excellent value for money