If you're looking for a Windows 10 VPN, picking the right one can be a difficult task. As the most common and arguably most versatile OS available, countless developers have created VPNs for Windows 10, but with that amount choice comes a number of problems – how can you tell which are any good, and which one should you actually pick to be your first line of defense against hackers, trackers, and data collectors?
Well, we've sifted through pretty much every VPN we could find to narrow that choice down to just the five very best Windows 10 VPNs on the market. But first, what can they actually do for you?
- More: Read all about the brand-new Mozilla VPN
Why do I need a Windows 10 VPN?
Put simply, a VPN routes your internet connection through its own servers. These servers are more highly encrypted than the ones your ISP might use, and subsequently are virtually impenetrable. If you want your activity to be totally private – even to your ISP – a Windows 10 VPN is an essential bit of kit.
However, while a VPN for Windows will help keep you anonymous online, it can also provide a host of other benefits. One of the most popular reasons people download VPNs isn't necessarily even to do with security – they just want to watch TV.
Because VPNs have servers all around the world, you can connect to one and you'll appear to websites as if you're in that country. This can be used to bypass geo-restrictions and get you access to streaming content that's not available in your country – all the anime that's available on Japanese Netflix, for example, or even BBC iPlayer.
So, if you're in the market for a Windows 10 VPN, read on to find out which providers we think will get you the most for your money. At the top of our list is the best all-rounder ExpressVPN, but there are still other great options that might be a better fit for you. So, without further ado, let's get into it.
Best Windows 10 VPNs in 2020
ExpressVPN tops this list of Windows 10 VPNs because it's the full package. Not only is the software lovely to look at and easy to use, but it houses serious configuration options as well as some really useful additional features.
At its core, ExpressVPN uses tried and trusted AES-256 encryption on its servers to ensure your data is as safe as possible, and on your end you can choose between a number of protocols to tailor the VPN's performance towards speed or ultimate security.
Housing all this is the client, which neatly packages everything into a clean, crisp UI which is super intuitive to use – and the Windows version is the basis of all others. From the off you'll have a full list of servers plus a quick connect option, as well as a history of your recently used locations. Something a lot of VPNs miss out is the ability to change servers without disconnecting – but Express can do just that.
Looking through the server list you'll see locations in over 94 countries, meaning if you fancy exploring the world's Netflix libraries, you're in luck. On that note, Express can also access pretty much any streaming service you want, and its stellar connection speeds will get you watching in HD.
However, the reason it's top of this particular list is the fact that the Windows client is packed full of extra features not often seen together in one package. Amongst others you'll get a kill switch, a useful split tunneling feature (which routes some apps and not others through the VPN), and the foolproof Smart Connect button, which will get you set up on the best server in a single click.
Get 3 months free + 49% off the best Windows 10 VPN
Tom's Guide readers can get three months free when signing up to a 12-month plan with ExpressVPN – that's 15 months for the price of 12. And if you don't like the service – which we're sure you will – you've got 30 days to claim your money back. Easy.
If you're looking to spend as little as possible on your Windows 10 VPN but still want a premium service, look no further than Surfshark. For less than $2 a month you can get most of the features available in VPNs costing twice as much.
The first thing you'll notice is the simple, pretty Windows client. Admittedly there isn't quite as much configuration available as some of the competition, but Surfshark's by no means underpowered and still boasts some nice features.
You'll get a kill switch to protect you if your connection drops, a good selection of protocols, double VPN hop and useful quick connect button.
Just like ExpressVPN above, Surfshark is also great for streaming, unblocking pretty much every streaming service available. That, along with impressive connection speeds, makes it a very appealing option for casual users who just want the peace of mind a VPN can bring.
Surfshark also provides a 24/7 live chat support service should anything go wrong, and in truth its slight limitations only make the process of using this Windows 10 VPN a simpler task. All you need for $2 a month? You can't really go wrong with that.
Get the best budget Windows 10 VPN
If you're looking for an easy Windows 10 VPN to keep your data safe and access geo-blocked streaming content, Surfshark is an excellent bet. While not as powerful as ExpressVPN, it has everything most people could want – and if it's not enough, you've got a 30-day money-back guarantee, too.View Deal
NordVPN is one of the best VPNs for pure security thanks to its use of a double encryption system. That means you get a 2048-bit encryption on over 5,100 servers spread across 60 countries. Combine that with strong DNS leak protection, two kill switches, IKEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP protocols and excellent connection speeds and you have yourself a very impressive Windows VPN indeed.
The Windows client is P2P friendly and offers a nice simple interface, which makes it an excellent choice for torrenting. And, on top of that, connection speeds are above average, so whatever you're doing, you won't be held up by Nord.
There are a couple of minor issues we found, mostly to do with the user interface – while it's by no means a deal breaker, we hope that Nord keeps updating and recognises where the experience could be improved. Searching through menus to find additional features isn't the most fun, but we're glad they're all available (somewhere).
However, NordVPN is one of the most well-known and popular Windows 10 VPNs for a reason – excellent privacy, tons of servers all over the world and clients that get the job done. If you care about the safety of your data, NordVPN is definitely one to look out for.
A top security-focused Windows 10 VPN for a good price
If you want the peace of mind using a big brand's product can bring, NordVPN will be right up your alley. Powerful clients, excellent Windows functionality and a great support system mean that NordVPN is one of the finest WIndows 10 VPNs around.View Deal
US-based stalwart IPVanish is an excellent WIndows VPN, and totes great credentials to match its impressive performance. With 1,400 servers you're bound to find a quick connection where you want it, and no matter which you choose, you'll be able to torrent thanks to IPVanish's full P2P support.
IPVanish's Windows client stands out from the crowd – compared to the minimalist offerings from most other providers, IPVanish's app is chock-full of data and additional features. You'll get a scrolling graph displaying your connection speed, plus displays of your IP address, data up and down and time connected.
Alongside all that you'll also have a kill switch in the Windows client (although that's missing in the iOS app), split tunneling and a very useful 'Scramble' feature, which hides the fact you're using a VPN at all – very useful if you're also after a VPN for China.
However, the interface is also a slight downfall of IPVanish's – for those not well-versed in VPN usage, it can seem rather intimidating. While it's plug-and-play, being faced with all that information is admittedly quite confusing for newbies, and the amount of configuration can seem like you've been dropped in at the deep end.
If you're comfortable with that, though, IPVanish is one of the most powerful options on the market today, and appears tailor-made to be the perfect Windows 10 VPN for those who want full control.
Powerful Windows 10 VPN with huge configuration
If you want full control over everything your VPN does, then IPVanish could be your perfect VPN for WIndows 10. Although it's priced fairly high, it provides a comprehensive service, and if you can't do it with IPVanish, it's probably not worth doing.View Deal
If you want speed on a budget, Hotspot Shield is a great Windows 10 VPN. By using its proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol, it can reach speeds over double what pretty much any other VPN can deliver. If you want to make the most of that speed, Hotspot Shield can give you access to Netflix libraries around the world, and get you streaming in HD with no trouble.
If you're really strapped for cash, Hotspot Shield offers one of the best free VPNs on the market – learn more here – but although its 500Mb-a-day allowance is generous in free terms, it's nowhere near enough to truly put the Catapult Hydra protocol to work.
Paying customers will be able to cover all their devices with Hotspot's five simultaneous connections and full suite of apps, and you'll also be able to put the SmartVPN option to use – which functions similarly to split tunneling.
There are a few drawbacks. The Windows client doesn't offer a huge amount of options in the way of configuration – you mostly just turn it on and select your server – and Amazon Prime streamers are out of luck, as it can't access overseas libraries of the streaming platform. However, we think in many cases these are acceptable sacrifices to make for such blistering speeds.
For those looking for a Windows 10 VPN that has huge configuration and in-depth features, Hotspot Shield probably isn't the best choice. But, if you're after a reliable, super-fast option that'll get the job done, this Windows 10 VPN could be the answer.
Get one of the fastest VPNs on the market for cheap
For those wanting to blast down the information superhighway in the outside lane, Hotspot Shield is an excellent choice. However, if you're after a more configurable experience, we'd recommend looking elsewhere.View Deal
Best Windows 10 VPN FAQ
Why do I need a Windows 10 VPN?
A Windows 10 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 for Windows 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 Windows 10 VPN could pay for itself in no time.
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.
Fifth-place Hotspot Shield probably offers the best free Windows 10 VPN option on the market, giving a decent 500Mb a day of data. 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 your're using it as a streaming VPN – we'd thoroughly recommend paying for a service.
If you can't afford a premium service like Express VPN (which we whole-heartedly recommend to pretty much everyone) it'd be worth having a read through our cheap VPN list – you might be surprised at how little many fully-featured VPNs go for.