The best VPN service in 2024

Best VPN provider ExpressVPN on a range of devices

VPNs are a really simple way of improving your privacy online, but with so many to choose from, picking the right one can seem overwhelming. On this page, I've brought together the very best VPNs available right now, so you can be sure you're signing up to a trustworthy, reliable service.

At Tom's Guide, we've reviewed dozens of different providers, and there are some key areas we focus on. Privacy is always number one, followed closely by ease of use. I've outlined the privacy specs of each VPN, alongside what it's like to actually use them every day.

Unblocking streaming sites is another big reason for using a VPN, so I've included details on how each provider performs with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, and more.

If you just want to check out the three best VPN services of 2024, simply pick from NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Surfshark below – I rate them as the very best products available. However, If you want more in-depth info, keep scrolling for my rundown of the 10 top VPNs available today, and details on how I test VPNs at the bottom of the page.

The 3 best VPNs at a glance

1.NordVPN: the best VPN overall

1. NordVPN: the best VPN overall
NordVPN ticks all the boxes, and in my review it came out as the best VPN overall. It's fast, secure, offers lots of extra tools and unblocked every streaming site that I tested it with.

You can sign up to the VPN alone, or upgrade to add a password manager, secure cloud storage, and cyber insurance. You'll get a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, and prices start from $3.09 a month.

2. ExpressVPN: best VPN for ease of use

2. ExpressVPN: best VPN for ease of use
ExpressVPN is runner up to NordVPN by a very slim margin. It's more expensive at $6.67 a month, but it's perfect for beginners. The apps are simpler to use, it offers great privacy, and it really excels on mobile devices.

All plans come with a free password manager, and Tom's Guide readers also get a free year of Backblaze cloud storage. New subscribers get three months free – which works out as a 49% discount – and there's also a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. Surfshark: the best cheap VPN on the market

3. Surfshark: the best cheap VPN on the market
Surfshark is a good choice if you want premium VPN features for a bargain price. Its privacy credentials match up to ExpressVPN and NordVPN, and in my testing it was the fastest VPN overall.

You'll get great streaming performance and plenty of servers worldwide, so you can watch almost anything you want. Best of all, though, it's currently only $2.19 per month, which includes four months free.

Recent updates

The biggest change to this page came a couple of months ago, in which NordVPN overtook ExpressVPN as my number-one recommendation. I've removed Atlas VPN due to the company being shut down, and I've gone through all the details of each provider to make sure everything is up to date.

The best VPNs in 2024

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

NordVPN: the best VPN overall

1. NordVPN

NordVPN excels in almost every area. It offers great privacy features, has in-depth settings to please experts, and is the best VPN for streaming global content. Its apps are somewhat complex, but it's the best overall VPN package.

Number of servers: 6,000+ | Server locations: 140 in 110+ countries | Maximum devices supported: 10 | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Excellent focus on security
Impeccable streaming performance
NordLynx delivers incredible speeds
Tons of servers
Interface is a little complex
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want the very best VPN service on the market. It's close, but if you're just interested having a class-leading VPN, NordVPN is it.

✔️ 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, with even more features available on higher tiers.

Avoid if:

❌ 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.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

NordVPN offers everything you could realistically want from a VPN: privacy, speed, streaming service unblocking and very reasonable prices. Those looking for very simple apps might want to look elsewhere, but overall, Nord leads the market. You'll also have a 30-day money-back guarantee to make sure it's the right fit for you.

NordVPN is undoubtedly the biggest name in the VPN industry, and in my full NordVPN review I found that it has absolutely earned that reputation – it's quite simply the very best VPN you can buy.

With over 6,000 servers in over 110 countries, NordVPN practically guarantees a speedy server wherever you are. In fact, Nord has very recently upped the number of countries it's present in, which has addressed one of my few complaints about the service – it's now on par with its biggest rivals ExpressVPN and Surfshark in this area.

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 – one of the fastest VPNs 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 – although at this stage, it` should probably be used in tandem with dedicated software.

> NordVPN is my #1 VPN – get it from $3.09 a month

Nord's apps are powerful and 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 – but this is, of course, subjective.

Despite that, though, the apps are very capable, and you'll be able to install them on a huge range of devices.

One of Nord's most interesting features 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, 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 the most reliable streaming VPNs available.

On the basic plan you'll get unlimited access to the VPN, malware protection, but blockers for ads and trackers, as well as the Meshnet feature. Sign up to higher tiers, though, and you'll get access to a password manager, data breach scanning, encrypted cloud storage and even cyber insurance. 

Of course, I wish these were included in the base plan, but seeing as Nord starts at such a reasonable price, it's nice to be able to configure what you pay for rather than paying over the odds and never using half the features available

With a 30-day money-back guarantee and some attractive deals running throughout the year, NordVPN is an elite service that has well and truly earned itself the top spot on this guide. It's not perfect, but it's closer than any of its rivals.

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NordVPN test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignFun interface but might seem a little crowded for some users ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useThough simple to use, the map-like design might not work for everyone ⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceOne of the fastest with an average speed of 950 Mbps⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingEffortlessly unblocks most content streaming platforms⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyStrong encryption with additional features like Threat Protection for safe streaming⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportReliable 24/7 customer support⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceProvides ample value for the price.⭐⭐⭐⭐

ExpressVPN: the best VPN for ease of use

2. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is NordVPN's biggest rival, and is targeted at people who prefer their software to be secure, reliable, and very easy to use. It's quite expensive, but if you're looking for simplicity, it's the best choice.

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

Rock-solid privacy features
Apps are incredibly easy to use
Superb for torrenting
Class-leading 24/7 support
Premium pricing, but well worth it
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're looking for a simple, streamlined experience. ExpressVPN is powerful, but has a super simple interface that makes getting protected a breeze for beginners and experts alike.

✔️ 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 history of protecting its users should inspire confidence.

Avoid if:

❌ 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.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

All things considered, ExpressVPN is one of the very best VPN I've tested. Its privacy features are excellent, it delivers good 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 a simpler alternative to NordVPN, it's your best choice – and you can try it out with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

ExpressVPN pushes NordVPN to the limit, and really impresses 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 ease, and its privacy features are rock-solid.

On paper, ExpressVPN looks excellent: 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 outdone 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.

> Tom's Guide readers get 3 months of ExpressVPN FREE 

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. This is probably ExpressVPN's biggest selling point, as quite literally anyone can get up and running immediately.

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.

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 looks 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 an excellent package that's well suited to experts and newbies alike – and I think that premium price is well worth what you get.

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ExpressVPN test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignSimple, navigable design that’s easy on your eyes and straightforward to understand⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useBeginner-friendly, little to no expertise needed⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceReliable and very fast, although some others deliver higher peak speeds.⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingServers in 160 locations and 90 countries ensure limitless content⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyTop-notch security with 256-bit AES encryption⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportExpert assistance is available 24/7⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceSlightly more expensive than other options ⭐⭐⭐

Surfshark: the best cheap VPN

3. Surfshark

Surfshark is perfect if you're looking to improve your online privacy without breaking the bank. It outperforms providers twice the price, and despite a hiccup with the kill switch, it's the best-value VPN on this page.

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

Unlimited devices supported
Recent update to over 100 countries
Great value considering the features
Excellent for streaming
Steep price hikes after first term
Slight issue with kill switch under extreme conditions
Subscribe if:

✔️ 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.

Avoid if:

❌ 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.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

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.

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Surfshark test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignMinimalistic, clean, and intuitive design ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useBeginner-friendly and easy to understand⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceSeriously quick and almost on par with NordVPN⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingGreat at unblocking streaming apps and getting around censorship⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyKill switch isn’t the best, but everything else is excellent⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportDecent 24/7 customer support and tons of help articles⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceCheap VPN with excellent value for money⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The best VPN for torrenting

4. Private Internet Access

PIA is perfectly suited for techy types that value customization, in-depth features, and wide device support. Its apps aren't the most intuitive, but it's very secure and excels when it comes to torrenting.

Number of servers: 20,000+ | Server locations: 84 countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Excellent value
Unblocks US Netflix
Reliable apps and kill switch
Passed no-log audit
Apps are powerful, but complex
Full app audit still in the works
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're a Linux user. PIA is an excellent VPN for Linux users, and is one of the few providers to offer a native GUI (Surfshark being another).

✔️ You want proof of a no-logs policy. PIA has had its claim of no logging proven in court twice. That's just about as reliable proof as you're going to get.

✔️ You want a server in every US state. This is perfect for getting around things like sporting blackouts and shopping restrictions, or doing research on medical procedures banned in your state.

Avoid if:

❌ You prioritize connection speed. With peak speeds of around 360 Mbps in my testing, PIA certainly isn't slow – but there are much faster out there. 

You value simplicity. PIA definitely presents as more of an 'expert' option, meaning that newbies could be intimidated by the additional functionality and settings.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Private Internet Access is an excellent VPN that offers deep customization, rock-solid privacy, as well as a proven zero-logging policy. It slightly lags behind the top three in terms of streaming and connection speeds – but some users will definitely find value here, especially due to the bargain price.

Private Internet Access has been around for a long, long time, but unlike other dinosaurs of the VPN game, it's stayed on an upward trajectory rather than falling to the new guard. 

In fact, it's risen another place to #4 since my last Private Internet Access review.

While PIA doesn't disclose its server network size, I believe it to sit at around 20,000 servers, which makes it by far the most server-rich provider on the market. Combine that with 84 available countries and you've got yourself quite the spread. 

PIA really stands out when you get under the surface a little. Its desktop apps offer port forwarding – a relative rarity – and its kill switch is super reliable. 

Also, its proxy browser extensions are also very good, with updated tech that allows for faster browsing. For newbies and those looking for a simpler experience, though, this could very well be a little annoying or intimidating.

It's great for streaming, with access to Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer. I have expanded my streaming testing even further this time round, and as an improvement on last time, PIA was able to unblock every single service.

What's more, Private Internet Access also offers all subscribers unlimited simultaneous connections, just like Surfshark.

This means that you can keep as many devices as you like protected – and potentially share your details with your family and friends if you're feeling generous. For some, this might not be a huge selling point, but for gadget obsessives, it's a must-have feature.

We're also still waiting for PIA to complete a full independent security audit, but the good news is that it's started the process. The zero-logging policy has been audited and confirmed as true, so now I'm just waiting on the full shebang.

For those looking for a highly featured, reliable service that's keenly priced, I'd recommend giving PIA a go – it has a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it out risk-free.

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Private Internet Access test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignLoads of customization options, can be a bit overwhelming⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useGreat for tech-savvy users, not too beginner-friendly⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceDecent speeds but falls behind the industry heavyweights like NordVPN and Surfshark⭐⭐⭐
Unblocking20,000+ servers in 84 countries for smooth and fast content unblocking⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyBest-in-class encryption with a proven no-log policy⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportAdequate resources, plenty of guides, and a contact form to reach the team⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceOne of the cheapest VPNs, all the more ideal for the long term.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Other quality VPNs I've tested

I think that one of either NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Surfshark, or Private Internet Access will be the best VPN for the vast majority of users. They all deliver excellent speeds, provide class-leading privacy and security features, are effective at unblocking tons of content around the world and are super simple use.

They also cover a range of price points, ranging from the premium-priced ExpressVPN to the absolute bargains that are Surfshark and PIA.

However, if you have a very particular feature you're looking for, there are plenty of other trusted providers to choose from. Below I'll run down a number of other VPNs I'm comfortable recommending – and while they're not quite as versatile and well-rounded as my top picks, they could still be worth considering if it provides a niche feature you're looking for.

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Proton VPN on a range of devices

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)

5. Proton VPN

Swiss-based Proton VPN is great for privacy, and its free version is one of the very best. It's not quite as well-rounded as NordVPN or ExpressVPN, but constant improvements mean it's not far off.

Number of servers: 5,200+ | Server locations: 91 countries | Maximum devices supported: 10 | Live chat support: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Privacy-focused
Excellent for streaming
Apps are stable and powerful on all platforms
Support site is complex
Can take a while to connect
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're looking for a decent free plan. While Proton's free service can't match up to its paid plan, it's still very useful for emergencies.

✔️ You want a provider that advocates for internet freedom. Proton as a company has demonstrated its commitment to internet freedom by offering, among other things, free servers dedicated to accessing Deutsche Welle's unbiased reporting. 

Avoid if:

❌ You're looking for a bargain. Proton is fairly pricey when compared to the likes of PIA and Surfshark – although Tom's Guide readers get an extra discount.

❌ You want comprehensive support. Proton VPN has excellent articles on-site, but finding them can be complex, and live chat isn't 24/7

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Proton VPN has made a lot of improvements in the last few years, growing from a pretty techy and complex option to an accessible VPN that's remarkably good for streaming. Its free plan is great, and for those who need features like Secure Core, this may well be the best option.

The Swiss-based Proton brand has had quite the makeover recently, and its star product Proton VPN has been given a well-earned bit of zing. Now that the fresh new look matches its stellar performance, it's even easier to recommend. 

Since my last review, Proton VPN has supercharged its connection speeds up to an eye-watering 950 Mbps when using WireGuard. This matches the likes of NordVPN and Surfshark, and addresses one my key issues with the provider in my last review.

What's more, when using the old faithful OpenVPN (essential for Stealth Mode), you'll see speeds of up to 400 Mbps. That's faster than almost every other VPN out there when configured the same way, outpaced only by Mullvad and Surfshark in my testing. Very impressive.

You'll also get a comprehensive zero-logging policy and string encryption, and Proton VPN will certainly appeal to those looking to use their VPN for absolute online privacy.

What's more, Proton VPN also offers its Secure Core servers, which are located in physically secure locations in privacy-friendly countries. You can choose to use these, and then route to a destination of your choice for added anonymity. Proton Unlimited also adds the entire privacy suite of Proton Mail, Proton Drive, and Proton Calendar for a fairly reasonable price.

However, it's not all work and no play for Proton – in my testing for the full Proton VPN review it proved to be a real standout when it comes to unblocking Netflix, reliably accessing a number of useful locations, as well as BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and Amazon Prime.

However, Proton VPN really stands out thanks to its commitment to helping users around the world access a free and uncensored internet. One such example of this is its partnership with news company Deutsche Welle. Even free users can connect to a dedicated server and access unbiased news anywhere in the world. 

For example, this is a godsend for those in countries like China and Russia who prefer not to consume state-controlled news.

It's getting trickier by the day to pick faults with Proton, but there are still a couple of sticking points. Firstly, while some servers do support P2P traffic, there are relatively few compared to the competition – although if Proton detects P2P activity, it'll seamlessly redirect you to a compatible server. 

Prices have recently dropped across the board, but it's still not cheap. However, sign up for 2 years and you'll get a decent deal, with a generous 10 simultaneous connections to boot.

Overall, Proton VPN is very much on the up, and it's evident the developers are putting in some hard work rather than resting on their laurels. Thanks to that, Proton VPN is a service we can wholeheartedly recommend.

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Proton VPN test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignIntuitive and dynamic design with the dark mode as a standout⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useSome desktop features may be too technical for regular users to understand⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceSeriously fast and up there with the best⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks most sites on the paid subscription⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyState-of-the-art security with Swiss law protection and an independent audit⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportDecent response time with countless guides⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceNot the most budget-friendly, but there’s a free plan for new users ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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6. CyberGhost

CyberGhost has a long history, and it's still a top contender. Its dedicated servers for streaming and torrenting are very useful, but overall it's a little behind the very best VPNs.

Number of servers: 11,700+ | Server locations: 100 countries | Maximum devices supported: 7 | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 45 day money back guarantee: Yes

Tons of servers
Feature-heavy apps
Great WireGuard speeds
Some useful streaming features
Infrequent app updates
UK Netflix and Disney+ unavailable
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're looking for a bargain. Often almost hitting the $2-a-month barrier, CyberGhost is very affordable

✔️ You want a long refund period. CyberGhost gives you 45 days to make up your mind, rather than the industry-standard 30.

✔️ You like easy-to-use apps. Clean and clear, CyberGhost's apps are super intuitive.

Avoid if:

❌ You want to use lots of devices. Instead of allowing you to log in and out to make the most of your simultaneous connections, CyberGhost only allows 7 installations. To use another device, you'll have to remove it completely.

❌ You need top-tier support. CyberGhost's support is decent, but nothing like the quality of ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

CyberGhost is an established provider that's trusted by an incredible 36 million users. It's private and secure, and its apps are great to use. However, it falls a little behind the pack when it comes to streaming, and its device limit is quite restrictive, especially if you're sharing within your household.

CyberGhost is another long-standing name in the world of the best VPNs, and in that time it's developed a reputation for privacy, streaming performance, and torrent-friendly servers.

With over 11,000 servers, CyberGhost has one of the largest server networks in the industry, and with a spread of 100 countries, there's plenty of variety when it comes to picking which to connect to.

In my expert CyberGhost VPN review, the Romanian provider delivered great connection speeds of up to 760 Mbps, and while few users will have base connections capable of such heady heights, it's still quite an accolade. 

CyberGhost's apps had an overhaul in 2021, and with the introduction of Version 8, the experience is much more modern and sleek. 

However, you'll only be able to install CyberGhost on 7 devices – and after that, you'll need to unregister a device to use another, rather than simply logging out on one device like almost all other providers allow.

This can be a real pain if you're right on the edge of how many devices you're active on. We'd implore CyberGhost to change this silly feature – why not go unlimited like fellow Kape Technologies-owned provider PIA?

Back to positives, CyberGhost's apps offer some very useful dedicated streaming features like Netflix and iPlayer-optimized servers. It's fairly capable when it comes to unblocking, and in my last testing I saw it unblock some Netflix libraries, iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. 

Some smaller streaming sites like the Australian site 10Play were unavailable, however, and the likes of ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshark are better providers for streaming.

One of my biggest issues with CyberGhost in my last review was that it hadn't undertaken a security audit of any kind. This time round it's still not perfect, but it has had its no-log policy audited by Deloitte. Let's hope a full server and app audit is in the works.

Overall, CyberGhost is a cheap, effective VPN provider that impresses when it comes to torrenting and general privacy. However, it's honestly quite outclassed by the providers above.

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CyberGhost test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignVery nice to use, with good customization.⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useSimple layout means it's great for beginners and experts alike.⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceGreat performance, and only outsped by the very fastest.⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingClaims to have dedicated streaming servers, but sometimes failed to access Netflix and Disney+.⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyGood baseline tech with an audit from Deloitte.⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportNot bad, but customer support agents could be more helpful.⭐⭐⭐
PriceExcellent price considering what you're getting.⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Windscribe on a range of devices

(Image credit: Windscribe)

7. Windscribe

Windscribe offers a wide range of features, and its Chrome extension is the best of its kind. However, awkward apps and a general lack of polish make it hard to recommend over the top providers.

Number of servers: 400+ | Server locations: 134 in 69 countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | 24/7 live chat: No | 30 day money back guarantee: No

Incredible speeds
Feature-packed apps
Decent value with flexible plans
Best built-in tracker blocker of any VPN
Apps aren't the simplest to use
No 24/7 live chat or audit
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're after a quality Chrome extension. Windscribe offers the best standalone proxy Chrome extension available, which is great for quickly accessing blocked sites and changing location.

✔️ You want the best ad- and tracker-blocker. Windscribe's blocking tech is some of the best I've tested.

Avoid if:

❌ You want a premium plan. While the free plan is excellent, if you're willing to pay, there are much better options.

❌ You want an audited VPN. While Windscribe is open-source, it's fallen behind the competition in terms of independent auditing.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Windscribe absolutely shines when it come to the things it gives you for free. You'll get a generous amount of servers, and a great proxy extension that I use day-to-day at Tom's Guide. However, paid plans are expensive and complicated, and the vast majority of users will want to look elsewhere when parting with their cash.

Our expert Windscribe review found the provider's free VPN that gives users 10GB of data a month very useful, but it also offers a fairly-priced paid service that delivers unlimited data and lets you connect as many devices at once as you like. Most other VPN services permit only five to 10 at a time.

Windscribe is compatible with many platforms – including routers and Amazon Fire and Kodi TV set-top boxes. The service offers a great variety of connection options, has a wide geographic reach with hundreds of servers, and presents an appealing, if minimal, user interface. 

It's also good for watching overseas Netflix, and has dedicated 'Windflix servers' to enable this. One failure I did notice, however, was unblocking amazon Prime Video.

The service's Chrome VPN extension is a standout feature. As one of the best on the market, it offers tons of features and can be used without installing the desktop client – great for work computers of other devices you can't install software on. 

For those that do install the desktop client, you'll notice the brand-spanking Windscribe 2.0 software has tidied up the interface and offers a ton of nifty features – although newbies may be overwhelmed. One such feature is Decoy Mode on Android which, although very niche, could be invaluable to dissidents in truly extreme situations.

Once of my previous complaints was that Windscribe simply wasn't very fast compared to others, but since then it's upped the ante, topping out at an excellent 950 Mbps.

This matches up to the very fastest providers on the market, and it's great to see Windscribe pushing more established [players like this.

You can pay for a Windscribe subscription with Bitcoin, you don't even have to provide an email address, and the service is based in Canada, which may appeal to users wary of US authorities.

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Windscribe test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignFairly well laid out, but the UI is quite cramped⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useNot too tricky, but others are simpler to get going with.⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceOne of the fastest I've tested⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingImpressive, with the only issue being Japanese Netflix.⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacySolid code and open-source, but no audit.⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportNo live chat, but the knowledgebase is good.⭐⭐⭐
PriceThe free plan offers a lot, but the paid plan is simply too expensive.⭐⭐⭐

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IPVanish on a range of devices

(Image credit: IPVanish)

8. IPVanish

US-based IPVanish has always been a favourite with those looking to modify the way their VPN works, and take control of their connection. Unfortunately, it's let down by its unimpressive streaming performance.

Number of servers: 2,200+ | Server locations: 75+ in 52 countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | 24 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Verified as no-logging
Unlimited simultaneous devices
Tons of features
A number of Netflix locations unavailable
Apps are complicated
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want unlimited connections. A single IPVanish plan can be used on unlimited devices. 

✔️ You're a fan of in-depth interfaces. IPVanish has slightly toned down its techiness, but it still shows tons of data in the app.

Avoid if:

❌ You want to pay the same price forever. Be aware that if you don't cancel and resubscribe at the end of your plan, prices go through the roof.

❌ You're a Netflix addict. IPVanish is a decent VPN when it comes to streaming, but it can't unblock some niche locations like Japan Netflix.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

IPVanish has been around for a long time, and is pretty good across the board. It's fast, decent for streaming, and offers plenty of customization. However, compared to the leading providers, it hasn't quite kept up with the pack. 

IPVanish is a US VPN that's been in the game for a long time, and it's widely regarded as a safe, reliable, and trustworthy provider. It's designed for the more techy user, it boasts a bunch of useful additions and powerful apps that display all the data you could wish for.

In my testing for the IPVanish review, I saw the provider deliver good speeds of around 770 Mbps when using WireGuard, which is respectable, but down a little since my last test.

Its OpenVPN speeds are good but nothing special, at around 230 Mbps in my testing, but most users will be using WireGuard anyway. 

'Scramble' is an interesting feature that allows VPN use in countries like China, and while it's not quite as robust as other specialized China VPN services, it's still very useful.

When it comes to streaming, it's also a mixed bag. I got access to US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and Prime (which is an improvement from last time we checked), but unlike providers further up this list, we couldn't tap into Netflix Australia.

One of my biggest criticisms in my last review was that IPVanish rarely updated its apps – and it looks like the devs were listening. 

The brand new interface looks great, retains many of the in-depth features I loved, while integrating a Favorites function as well as in-app support. 

However, on the flip side, it's a shame that some niche features have been removed, rather than tucked away more neatly.

Overall, though, while it's lost a little ground on the top services, IPVanish is still well worth considering, especially if you're a fan of in-depth, techy software.

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IPVanish test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignFairly attractive, but complex to navigate⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useNot as easy as many other providers⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceVery good speeds of around 770Mbps⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingPretty reliable, but not flawless⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyAudited, reliable, and trustworthy⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportArticles aren't hugely helpful, although live chat is available⭐⭐⭐
PriceDecent to begin with, but renewals hikes are hefty⭐⭐⭐

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Mullvad being used on a laptop

(Image credit: Future)

9. Mullvad

Mullvad is one of the few VPNs that eschew crowd-pleasing functions like unblocking Netflix in favor of hardcore privacy features. For some, it'll be perfect. For others, it simply won't do everything you need it to.

Number of servers: 669 | Server locations: 73 in 43 countries | Maximum devices supported: 5 | 24/7 live support: No | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Excellent speeds
Open-source apps
Good kill switch and leak protection
Not designed for streaming
No live chat
Subscribe if:

✔️ Privacy is your #1 concern. Mullvad doesn't require you to submit any identifying info. That means no email address, no name, no nothing.

✔️ You want to pay with cold, hard cash. Mullvad is one of the only VPNs that accepts posted cash as a payment system.

Avoid if:

❌ You want to stream content. Mullvad isn't set up for streaming, nor is this a priority for the provider. Go for ExpressVPN, Nord, or Surfshark if this is a deal-breaker.

❌ You're after a cheap choice. No matter how long you sign up for, you'll be paying $6/€5 a month. No discounts or deals here.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mullvad is well-known and widely recommended online for its privacy features, and I can't disagree. For those looking for a very private VPN service, it's a good choice, but in terms of streaming, speed, app features and general usability, it can't compete with the top three.

In my expert Mullvad review, I found that the Swedish provider eschews 'gimmicks' for true privacy performance. However, while this certainly endears Mullvad with techies and old-school VPN veterans, the crowd-pleasing likes of ExpressVPN and NordVPN arguably offer a better proposition for the casual user.

With no tricks and a very transparent website, Mullvad's one of the few providers that avoids making disputable claims of "unblocking anything" or
"guaranteed anonymity". 

Rather, it leads by example by never taking any personal details, accepting cash payments sent through snail mail, and offering simple, effective and open-source apps. New additions include the ability to purchase account numbers through Amazon – an anonymity plus point – and a fresh DNS server audit.

It also avoids the incredible complexity of other 'expert' VPNs, and while a very small selection of users will want to tweak countless DNS settings, many will simply appreciate the no-nonsense approach to online privacy.

As I said, though, Mullvad does lack in some important areas that many users won't want to compromise on. While connection speeds are very impressive, in line with IPVanish, CyberGhost, and the like, it's not able to unblock any streaming services – and likely never will. 

On that connection speed note, though, in my last testing it topped out at a very impressive 950 Mbps – just as fast as the highest flyers. 

What's more, though, is that when using OpenVPN, Mullvad outpaced every other provider I tested except for Surfshark, topping out at a heady 410 Mbps. If you'll be using OpenVPN and don't care about streaming, it could be a great choice.

The apps also lack some fairly commonplace usability features like automatic selection of the nearest/fastest location, and no favorites list. Plus, if you run into any issues you'll have to rely on email support or the bare-bones support site rather than live chat.

Overall, though, if you're looking for a transparent, privacy-focused VPN, you could do a lot worse than Mullvad.

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Mullvad test results
FeatureCommentsRating
DesignPretty simple apps on most devices.⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useNot the easiest, and assumes a bit of knowledge.⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceGood speeds using both WireGuard and OpenVPN.⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingCan access blocked websites on occasion, but absolutely no streaming sites are unblocked.
Security and privacyPrivacy-first business model inspires confidence⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportEmail support is swift and knowledgeable, and almost makes up for the lack of live chat.⭐⭐⭐
PriceQuite expensive, but at least there are no price hikes.⭐⭐⭐