Best Windows 10 VPN for PC in 2024

Windows 10 VPN being used on a Microsoft Surface laptop
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Windows 10 is by far the most widely used desktop OS, and it makes sense that almost every provider offers a decent app. The best Windows VPN will keep you safe and anonymous online by hiding your real IP address and encrypting your data such that none of your online activities can be traced back to you.

However, with loads of options available, zeroing in on the best VPNs for you can be tricky. My team of experts and I at Tom's Guide have tested, reviewed, and compared dozens of VPN providers and their Windows apps to prepare this guide of the top 5 VPNs for Windows 10. 

In our reviews, we test VPNs in terms of ease of use and setting up, speed, security, unblocking capabilities, and value for money. Read on to know which VPNs are worth looking at if you want to protect your Windows device, but if you're in a hurry, here are our top 3 picks right now.

The 3 best VPNs at a glance

1. NordVPN: the best Windows 10 VPNbuilt-in antivirus tools

1. NordVPN: the best Windows 10 VPN
NordVPN has an easy-to-use Windows app that works like a charm. I like that servers are clearly labeled, so you can connect in a blink, and that each NordVPN plan has built-in antivirus tools that'll keep malware and other threats at bay. A kill switch is the cherry on top – and ensures you don't accidentally leak information.

NordVPN is wickedly quick, too, which is good news if you plan on streaming content from overseas (like Netflix or Amazon Prime). Make good use of NordVPN's 30-day money-back guarantee to try before you buy.

2. ExpressVPN: the best user-friendly appsa handy auto-connect feature

2. ExpressVPN: the best user-friendly apps
ExpressVPN's Windows app is a joy to use. There's no clutter, features are easy to find, and connecting only takes a single click thanks to a handy auto-connect feature. Plus, you'll get tons of security tools, including a kill switch and split tunneling.

If you need a hand using any ExpressVPN tools, the 24/7 live chat support team is happy to help walk you through the process. Pick up a 12-month plan and you'll get 3 months of coverage for free – and be covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. Surfshark: the best cheap VPN

3. Surfshark: the best cheap VPN
Surfshark is a reliable all-rounder with prices that won't break the bank – even if you're working with a budget. It pumps up the value with unlimited simultaneous connections, too, so you can cover all of the gadgets in your house with one subscription.

I often recommend Surfshark to avid streamers and folks who do a lot of online gaming because it's just that fast. In fact, it's neck and neck with NordVPN in terms of speed. Take Surfshark for a test drive with a handy 30-day money-back guarantee.

Recent updates

We've completed our latest round of VPN testing and the results are in. NordVPN has claimed the top spot, bumping ExpressVPN to second place, and I've updated the page to reflect this shift.

The best Windows 10 VPNs in 2024

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NordVPN: the best VPN overall

NordVPN on a Windows laptop

(Image credit: NordVPN)

1. NordVPN

Excellent security-focused Windows 10 VPN

Number of servers: 5,000+ | Also supports: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux | Max connections: 6 | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | 24/7 support: Yes

Great additional functionality
Certified no-logging
Superfast connections
Excellent for streaming
The odd interface quibble
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want the complete security package: NordVPN nudges past rivals like Express in terms of foolproof security thanks to its in-built antivirus and features like Double VPN and Onion over VPN.

✔️ You want a VPN for streaming: Nord unblocked every streaming platform I threw at –  even unblocking all the Netflix locations I tried.

✔️ You want a VPN that performs on every front: NordVPN is an all-purpose VPN and excels in every parameter, including speed, security, streaming, ease of use, and value for money. 

Avoid if:

❌ You want servers everywhere: while NordVPN boasts more servers than its two biggest rivals, it's present in only 60 countries. For a greater range, consider Surfshark or ExpressVPN.

You want unlimited simultaneous connections: NordVPN offers 6 simultaneous connections, which is no match for Surfshark and PIA's unlimited simultaneous connections.

You want the simplest of interfaces: Nord's map-style interface is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, and may take some time getting used to.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

NordVPN is a superb VPN for Windows and pretty much everything else too. It's a total package, offering fast and reliable connections, unrivaled streaming support, and built-in antivirus for extra safekeeping. Take it for a test run with a 30-day money-back guarantee. 

One of the most sought-after VPNs on the market, NordVPN could be right up your alley if you want a widely renowned provider with a brand name that speaks for itself. With over 5,000 servers worldwide, it's got a slight upper hand on ExpressVPN, but with 60 countries, there's not quite as much spread. For almost every user, though, that's unlikely to make much of a difference.

Nord's PC VPN app is attractive, but in my experience using the map interface can be quite fiddly at times. A plain server list is available, but it's not quite as easy to use as ExpressVPN or Surfshark. 

When it comes to speed, however, Nord's reliable and very fast – its peak of 820Mbps is only behind Surfshark’s 950Mbps. It uses a proprietary WireGuard-based protocol called NordLynx, that delivers better and more consistent speeds than other protocols, including the very popular OpenVPN. 

With AES-256 encryption, RAM-only servers, and a built-in antivirus, in my NordVPN review I was confident stating that it's super secure, and much like Express, you'll be able to connect in a single click and forget about it. 

However, there are a couple of unique features like Double VPN and Onion over VPN on offer here. These will certainly appeal to the more privacy-conscious, and while not necessary for day-to-day use, they're useful additions to have on hand. The Double VPN feature routes your internet traffic through not one but two VPN servers, encrypting your data twice. The multiple independent audits are also a nice touch.

NordVPN performed a clean sweep on all the streaming platforms I tested it on in my latest round of testing. It shines through as a Netflix VPN where it unblocks every region with ease, from popular Netflix libraries like the US and UK to even some hard-to-crack countries like Japan. With all other streaming platforms too, including BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Disney Plus, Nord is smooth sailing. 

Overall, NordVPN is a comprehensive package that impresses on all fronts – from speed, security, and reliability to unblocking and ease of use. Should anything go wrong, you'll have friendly live-chat agents ready to take your question, and again, a 30-day money-back guarantee allows you to test-drive the service before you commit.

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NordVPN test results
DesignA cool and intuitive design, but it may come across as clunky at times ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useNot hard to get going, but the map-based interface adds complexity⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceLightning-fast speeds that are up there with the very best⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks everything, from popular platforms to niche Netflix libraries⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyLoaded with security features, and the built-in antivirus and ad & malware blockers are a huge plus⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support24/7 friendly and professional customer support with no shortage of helpful guides⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceReasonably priced but slightly more expensive than some⭐⭐⭐⭐

ExpressVPN: the best VPN user experience

ExpressVPN on a Windows laptop

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

2. ExpressVPN

A sleek suite of apps for Windows and more

Number of servers: 3,000+ | Also supports: Windows, Android, iOS, Mac, Linux (command-line only), Routers, almost everything else | Max connections: 5 | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | 24/7 support: Yes

Windows app is slick and intuitive
Great connection speeds
Independently audited
Great for streaming and torrenting
Only five devices at once
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a VPN you can set and forget: ExpressVPN comes with an auto-connect feature that makes sure you're connected at every moment if activated.

✔️ You want to stream everywhere: ExpressVPN has servers in 160 individual locations, much more than its rivals NordVPN and Surfshark, making it a go-to choice for accessing global content. 

✔️ You want class-leading privacy: with AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, an independently audited no-logs policy, and a built-in password manager, ExpressVPN provides uncrackable security no matter where you are.

Avoid if:

You're on a tight budget: ExpressVPN isn't cheap, and services like Surfshark or PIA might suit you better if you're looking for bargain deals.

You want a full security suite: while its VPN excels, ExpressVPN doesn't offer additional features like antivirus that some rivals do.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

ExpressVPN has easy-to-use apps, top-notch security features, strong unblocking capabilities, a wide server network, and nifty privacy add-ons such as a password manager. The friendly 24/7 support is a huge plus, and thanks to a generous 30-day money-back guarantee, you can try the service risk-free before committing. 

ExpressVPN review rarely disappoints, and its Windows offering continues an impressive trend of excellence. With over 3,200 servers in a huge 94 countries worldwide, you'll be able to find a reliable connection no matter where you are.

ExpressVPN's Windows app is quite simply a pleasure to use. If you want to get connected as quickly as possible, then tap the big on/off button, and you'll connect to the fastest server near you. If you need to manually select a server, there's an intuitive list of locations to choose from and connect to in a couple of clicks. 

Elsewhere, you'll have plenty of control over how the app works. Head into the settings, and you'll be able to customize your kill switch, protocols, auto-connect settings, split tunneling, and plenty more.

All ExpressVPN apps – Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, and even routers and Chromebooks – are simple to use and, at the same time, come with enough options for customization. There's something for everyone, whether you're a beginner or a more seasoned VPN user.

ExpressVPN's in-house, open-source Lightway protocol is suitably rapid. When tested on our 1Gbps connection, it delivered peak speeds of 560Mbps. That's an excellent performance, but it's worth noting that some rivals were even faster – NordVPN at 820Mbps, and Surfshark at a whopping 950Mbps. 

In practice, though, if you're using a regular domestic connection of around 100Mbps, you won't see any difference, and Express's super-reliable connections will be more important.

Fancy expanding your streaming scope? When I tested ExpressVPN with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video, it was able to unblock every single one. This alone could make ExpressVPN worth it for you.

EpressVPN has recently upped the number of simultaneous connections from 5 to 8, which is great to see. This now puts it ahead of NordVPN, but it's worth noting that both Surfshark and Private Internet Access both offer unlimited connections on a single plan. If you've got tons of devices, they may be a better pick.

Should you ever run into any issues with Express, I found the live chat support team incredibly helpful, and the huge range of well-written support guides is a great first line of defense. And, if you choose to sign up and find that you don't enjoy the service, there's also a 30-day money-back guarantee backing you up.

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ExpressVPN test results
DesignAn easy-to-navigate and clean interface⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useIdeal for both new and seasoned VPN users⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceGenerally fast enough for pretty much everything, but not as fast as Surfshark⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks every streaming platform with ease, and only struggles with a couple of hard-to-crack Netflix libraries⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyQuite simply the most secure and private VPN I've tested⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support24/7 friendly and professional customer support, and lots of helpful guides ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceEvery bit worth the price, but cheaper alternatives are available ⭐⭐⭐

Surfshark: the best cheap VPN

Surfshark on a range of devices

3. Surfshark

Excellent value with great Windows performance

Number of servers: 3,200+ | Also supports: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux (GUI) | Max connections: Unlimited | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | 24/7 support: Yes

Unlimited simultaneous connections
Fantastic value
Class-leading WireGuard speeds
Minor kill switch issue on Windows
OpenVPN speeds aren't great
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're on a budget: at less than $2.50 a month, Surfshark offers the perfect mix of bargain price and premium performance.  

✔️ You want unlimited simultaneous connections: with just one Surfshark account, you can cover the VPN needs of your entire family plus share the same login credentials with your friends as well.

✔️ You want a VPN that's rapid: topping out at 950Mbps in my latest round of testing, Surfshark is faster than any other VPN I've tested.

Avoid if:

❌ You use an older version of Windows: Any dinosaurs out there using Windows versions older than 8.1 won't get any updates.

You want a foolproof kill switch: Surfshark's kill switch leaked under extreme pressure in my testing, which was not the case with ExpressVPN and NordVPN. That said, you're unlikely to face such testing conditions in real life. 

You want a VPN for torrenting: Surfshark isn't quite as good as the likes of ExpressVPN or PIA when it comes to torrenting, but it's not far off.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Surfshark offers the perfect blend of high-end features and low prices. Thanks to unlimited simultaneous connections, the fastest speeds in the industry, and an excellent security suite, it's my #3 pick overall. You're backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee in the unlikely event that it's not for you.  

For bargain hunters after a cheap VPN, the sub $2.50-a-month Surfshark will be very tempting – but it's also an excellent choice for those looking for a fully featured VPN. With 3,200 servers in over 100 countries, it's got a very respectable spread that beats both ExpressVPN and NordVPN, and its AES-256 encryption and a full independent audit of its servers will be big ticks for security nuts.

In terms of what you get under the hood, Surfshark certainly doesn't short-change you. Split tunneling, a kill switch, Multi-Hop servers, and even obfuscated servers are all available. 

When I used the Windows VPN app, it was quick and easy to select and switch servers, change settings, and I had no issues with reliability. What's more, you'll even get unlimited connections, meaning you can install Surfshark on as many devices as you like on a single plan. If you're OS agnostic, it's the best Linux VPN too.

It's worth noting that in my Surfshark review stress-testing, I was able to slightly break the kill switch, but what I was doing is very unlikely to happen in real life, unless you're messing around with system processes.

When using WireGuard, Surfshark is the fastest VPN I've ever tested. Outperforming both NordVPN and ExpressVPN with peak speeds of 950Mbps, it has made great improvements since my last hands-on review. OpenVPN speeds are a little sluggish, but now that WireGuard is very much the norm, this is becoming less and less of an issue.

If I was picking hairs, I'd have to mention Surfshark no longer rolls out any updates for those using the VPN app on older versions of Windows – anything lower than 8.1. The Surfshark app is still very much compatible with all of those versions but no more updates from the VPN's end. And surprisingly, Surfshark has a 7-day free trial for all popular device types except Windows. If you're an Android, iOS, or Mac user, you'll be able to benefit from the genuinely free trial.

Surfshark regains its composure when it comes to streaming, and just like Nord and Express, it delivered a clean sweep of Netflix, Prime, Disney+ and BBC iPlayer. Combined with a 30-day money-back guarantee and excellent support, if you're pinching the pennies, you can't go wrong with Surfshark.

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Surfshark test results
Design A fun and intuitive design that makes it a delight for beginners ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of use One of the very best for beginners using a VPN for the first time ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Performance The fastest provider I've tested⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Unblocking Superb unblocking capabilities – grants access to every streaming platform⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacy Overall a very secure provider, but the kill switch could be better⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer support 24/7 customer support to rally behind a hard-to-navigate help section⭐⭐⭐⭐
Price Excellent value for money with very few compromises ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Other quality VPNs I've tested

PIA on a range of devices

(Image credit: Private Internet Access)

4. Private Internet Access

In-depth Windows VPN with tons of niche features

Number of servers: 20,000+ | Also supports: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux (GUI) | Max connections: Unlimited | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | 24/7 support: Yes

Excellent streaming performance
Great for torrenting
Bargain prices
Apps are somewhat complex
Security audit could be more comprehensive
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want to cover unlimited devices: PIA now offers unlimited simultaneous connections, which puts it on par with the likes of Surfshark.

✔️ You want a VPN with a proven no-logs policy: PIA is one of the few providers to have proven their no-logs claims in court – twice.

✔️ You want a massive amount of server options: PIA is head and shoulders above its competition thanks to its 20,000+ servers in 84 countries, with a server in every US state.

Avoid if:

 ❌ Your watchlist is mostly 10Play: while PIA comes with decent unblocking capabilities, it couldn't unblock the Aussie platform 10Play when I last tested it. 

You want the fastest speeds: PIA isn't slow by any stretch of the imagination but Surfshark and NordVPN are going to be better options for speed freaks.

You want to pay via bank transfers: PIA has ties with almost every major payment gateway, but surprisingly, the conventional and popular option of bank transfer is absent. 

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Private Internet Access is a highly configurable Windows VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections, a massive server network, and a proven no-logs policy. It's pretty fast, unblocks most sites, and still remains one of the best bargain deals you can get your hands on. Try it risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee. 

Private Internet Access has been around for years now and is well-known as a trusted name in internet privacy. However, in the last couple of years it's really improved  and is now easily one of the very best Windows VPNs on the market.

With the largest server network of any PC VPN – at least 20,000+, if not even more – you're almost guaranteed to find a connection that can deliver good speeds. What's more, in my Private Internet Access review, I discovered that it also offers servers in every one of the 50 US states, so it's also a great US VPN and streaming VPN.

In its most recent update, PIA has made significant improvements as far as simultaneous connections are concerned. It now offers unlimited simultaneous connections – a huge jump from the 10 simultaneous connections which it previously offered. Even more impressive is the fact that this update comes with no price hike at all, and the service remains neck-and-neck with Surfshark as one of the most value-for-money picks on the market.

In terms of speeds, it's not one the very fastest services I've tested, but topping out at 510Mbps in this round of testing, it's more than enough for downloading, playing games online, and also streaming – you really only need 20Mbps to stream content in 4K Ultra HD and HDR.

PIA's party piece, however, is the power of its apps. Alongside the essentials like AES-256 encryption, WireGuard integration, a kill switch, and split tunneling, there's plenty more to explore. Features like port forwarding make it perfect as a torrenting VPN, and there are a ton of connection settings not often found elsewhere.

For newbies, though, these might add complexity without much payoff, so it's worth considering if you really need them. Services like Express and Surfshark have more intuitive apps with greater attention to detail, and you won't be left guessing no matter how deep you go into their settings.

There's not much to complain about on the streaming front as PIA unblocks most streaming platforms with ease. However, it didn't hold up too well when I tried to unblock the Aussie streaming platform 10Play and couldn't get past its geo-restrictions. 

Overall, though, if you need a cheap, powerful VPN with some surprisingly in-depth apps, PIA is one of the top VPNs for Windows on the market.

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Private Internet Access test results
DesignLots of customization options, at the expense of streamlined apps⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useIdeal for tech experts, but beginners may struggle to get the most out of it⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceIt's sufficiently fast but doesn't match up to the speeds of Surfshark or NordVPN ⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingUnblocks all popular streaming platforms, except the Aussie 10Play⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyProven no-logs policy, and it comes with valuable free add-ons like an email breach scanner⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportLots of helpful guides and 24/7 friendly support ⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceA seriously good value-for-money proposition ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Proton VPN on a Windows device

(Image credit: Proton)

5. Proton VPN

Excellent privacy plus great streaming

Number of servers: 2,900+ | Also supports: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux (GUI) | Max connections: 10 | Money-back guarantee: 30 days | 24/7 support: Yes

Top-tier privacy features
Apps are powerful
Great for streaming
Excellent free version
Support isn't 24/7 yet
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want a VPN you can trust with your life: Proton VPN is based out of Switzerland, is an open-source platform, and comes with an auto-connect feature, all of which make it a reliable pick for privacy-focused individuals.

✔️ You want a VPN with a free version: Proton VPN has a free-forever plan that you can use for as long as you want to.

✔️ You want a Linux VPN: Proton VPN comes with a graphical user interface (GUI) on Linux devices, solidifying its place as an ideal choice for Linux users.

Avoid if:

You want to stream for free: Proton VPN's free version is very capable for normal usage, but streaming support is only available on its paid plans.

You want a VPN with wide coverage: with only 2,900+ servers in 68 countries, Proton is no match to ExpressVPN and Surfshark in terms of reach. 

You're on a budget: even after its recent price cut, Proton VPN is still on the expensive side of things and providers like Surfshark and PIA remain my top recommendations for those looking for pocket-friendly picks.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Proton VPN is a delight for privacy purists, with features like the always-on VPN, Secure Core servers, Swiss privacy laws, and an open-source platform. While some features on the Windows app aren't the most beginner-friendly, the unblocking capabilities on the paid plan are right up there with the best we've seen. Try it risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee. 

Proton VPN is a great choice as a free VPN thanks to a 100% free version that doesn't put a cap on how much data you use and gives you access to around 100 servers in 3 locations. This Swiss provider is also one of the most secure VPNs, with an open-source platform and an independently audited no-logs policy. You can inspect its code at any time to reassure yourself of its claims – Proton VPN has nothing to hide and delivers class-leading privacy, even on the free version.

With a decent 2,900+ servers in 68 countries on its paid plans, in my testing it was quick and easy to get a reliable connection – but there's no escaping the fact that close rivals have double this, or even more in the case of PIA (20,000+) and CyberGhost (9,000+).

What those providers don't offer is an answer to Proton's Secure Core servers. Secure Core routes your connection through a super secure server in either Iceland, Switzerland, or Sweden before forwarding you to your location of choice. Proton recommends you use this function if you're connecting to a potentially troublesome server like Turkey or China, but real privacy obsessives may want to use this 24/7.

Proton is a great choice for streaming as well. Able to unblock a number of Netflix locations, including the US, UK, and Canada, as well as other sites like BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, and Disney+, it certainly isn't all work and no play for this privacy-focused VPN. It's worth noting that Proton's free version doesn't come with any unblocking capabilities.

Proton offers a generous 10 simultaneous connections. That said, providers like Surfshark and PIA allow you to cover unlimited devices on a single plan and at a fraction of the price of Proton VPN. 

Proton VPN's PC VPN app is large and somewhat complex – but it's well laid out and has a better map-based interface than Nord. In my Proton VPN review, I found the servers easy to search through, but newbies may prefer something simpler like ExpressVPN.

Overall though, it's a cracking Windows VPN choice for those who like a little more depth to their VPN – and with a free forever version and a 30-day money-back guarantee on paid plans, you can try the service risk-free before committing.

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Proton VPN test results
DesignThe dark mode feels refreshing and the design is overall very intuitive⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useThe desktop apps are not the easiest to navigate, but no such complaints with the mobile apps⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceDecent speeds, but not as fast as NordVPN or Surfshark ⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingOn par with the best providers for streaming⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyAn audited no-logs policy and an open-source platform inspire confidence in its safety⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportTons of guides and quality customer support, but surprisingly no live chat ⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceThe free plan packs a punch but the paid plans aren't exactly cheap⭐⭐⭐

Update Notes

If you've been on this page before, you'll notice that the mini-reviews are now more detailed, with supporting boxes that make it easier to size up a VPN. 

As an attempt to try and save you time, I've added an "Avoid If" box alongside each provider so that you will instantly know if certain missing functionality is going to be a deal breaker for you. You can then move on to the one that ticks all of your boxes. 

I've also updated all the numbers, such as server count, speeds, and more, to ensure you're getting the most up-to-date information.

How to choose a Windows 10 VPN

Because there are so many good Windows 10 VPNs out there, we recommend signing up to a provider that ticks every box. As always, privacy and security should be your primary concern. However, since a fair few PC VPNs will keep you safe online, it's worth considering what else you'll need from it.

Love TV and cinema? Getting a VPN for Windows that can unblock tons of global streaming sites will be a priority. If you're a gamer, mega speeds will be essential. Those looking for torrenting protection and more customization from their apps may prefer a techier interface with more additional features.

Overall, we consider ExpressVPN to be the best PC VPN available for most users. However, other providers may suit you better, so we've also rounded up four more that offer slightly different experiences.

How we test VPNs

Understanding how our team of experts tests VPNs is important. It lets you know that we really have got hands-on with these products, and that we’ve considered every feature, no matter how small. Some sites just give a rundown of specs found on a provider’s website – we endeavor to do quite a bit more than that.

First of all, we do check the provider websites, and note useful information like the number of servers and locations, whether you’re allowed to use every server for P2P, which encryption protocols are supported, the variety of operating systems it runs on, and tons more. We also check the pricing at this stage.

This initial scan gives us a baseline understanding of the service, and if there are any bold claims on-site we note them to make sure the customer isn’t being misled.

We’ll then dig into privacy policies. This is a very important piece of literature for any company, but for VPNs they need to be absolutely watertight. We’ll also go through the logging or zero-logging policy to look for gaps, and read any information available on independent audits.

Then it comes to testing the applications themselves. We test how easy it is to download and install, noting if any data collection options are clearly outlined to the user. We then inspect the default configuration to see what you have to ‘opt in’ for, and what features are available overall. We then play around with any additional features, such as ExpressVPN’s server speed test or NordVPN’s Double VPN. After we’ve gone through everything on the surface, the fun bit starts – trying to break things.

We throw all sorts of curveballs at these VPNs, like connecting to oddly configured networks, and killing processes to see if we can get the VPN to stop without activating the kill switch.

After we’ve had our fun, we check in with the support team to see if they’re helpful. Then, we’ll check a wide range of streaming sites to see if the VPN is able to access geo-blocked content, and we’ll run a series of speed tests over a few days and nights to get an accurate picture of what sort of connection speeds you can expect. 


What is the best Windows 10 VPN?

Overall, we recommend NordVPN as the best Windows 10 VPN on the market. It's great for streaming, staying anonymous, has plenty of servers, and also delivers excellent connection speeds.

Why do I need a VPN for Windows?

A PC VPN can offer a lot more than many people think. While it can help protect your data from hackers and when you're on public Wi-Fi, you'll also be able to access content that would previously have been unavailable. All you need to do is select a server in the country of your choice, and away you go.

VPNs can also help you avoid location-based price targeting. Many products – especially digital services – alter their advertised prices depending on where the customer lives. If you want to save a bit of cash, it's worth seeing how much the service charges in other countries. 

Often you'll find that lower-income areas will be offered cheaper prices, and businesses also often advertise better prices to those who live in their own country. This process is often trial and error, but your VPN could pay for itself in no time.

Do I really need a VPN for Windows?

We generally consider a VPN to be a useful bit of kit for just about any PC user, but some will get more use out of a VPN for Windows than others.

If all you use your PC for is browsing social media, watching YouTube and sending emails, it's unlikely you'll find yourself opening up your VPN all that often. And, remember that even if you've got a VPN active, signing in to any social media will immediately identify you to any potential snoopers or marketing trackers, no matter where your IP is located.

However, if you want to watch more content on Netflix, torrent in any shape or form, or simply want to keep your activity out of your ISP's hands, a VPN is the perfect tool - and I've written up a jargon-free guide that'll show you how to use a VPN.

What makes a great VPN for PC?

Since Windows is a great all-round operating system, you'll want a VPN that can do it all as well.

Firstly, you'll need great privacy – look for verified no-logging policies and top encryption standards. It's also worth making sure you've got additional features like split tunneling and a kill switch for maximum functionality.

Then you should make sure that you can access the streaming services that you want. Some VPNs struggle with iPlayer or Netflix, so if you want to watch as much as possible, take a look at our VPN for Netflix and BBC iPlayer VPN guides, or just go with ExpressVPN which can pretty much do it all with no hassle.

Finally, it's worth making sure that your VPN is simple and easy to use. Ideally you'll want to set it and forget it, so being able to quickly open the app and get protected is super important.

Can I get a free Windows 10 VPN?

Yes, free Windows VPNs are available, but every one comes with some kind of restriction – after all, VPNs are businesses and at the end of the day, they need to get paid.

Proton VPN offers the best free option on the market, giving unlimited data, and only restricting the servers you can use. Compare that with a service like TunnelBear, which offers 500MB a month, and it starts to look quite tempting.

However, if you're going to do anything major with your Windows 10 VPN – especially if you're using it for streaming – we'd thoroughly recommend paying for a service. 

If you can't afford a premium service like ExpressVPN (which we whole-heartedly recommend to pretty much everyone) it'd be worth having a read through our cheapest VPN list – you might be surprised at how little many fully-featured VPNs go for.


We test and review VPN services in the context of legal recreational uses. For example:

1. Accessing a service from another country (subject to the terms and conditions of that service).

2. Protecting your online security and strengthening your online privacy when abroad.

We do not support or condone the illegal or malicious use of VPN services. Consuming pirated content that is paid-for is neither endorsed nor approved by Future Publishing.

Mo Harber-Lamond
VPN Editor

Mo is VPN Editor at Tom's Guide. Day-to-day he oversees VPN, privacy, and cybersecurity content, and also undertakes independent testing of VPN services to ensure his recommendations are accurate and up to date. When he's not getting stuck into the nitty-gritty settings of a VPN you've never heard of, you'll find him working on his Peugeot 205 GTi or watching Peep Show instead of finally putting up those shelves.

With contributions from