Ranked: The 3 Best VPN on the Planet in 2018 (Based on Anonymity, Security & Speed)
Despite all the research I did into VPNs prior to diving into them, I felt as if my eyes had been opened only after experiencing each one personally. Some VPN service providers offer money-back guarantees or free trials (no harm asking even if they don’t offer it openly). Take advantage of that to test out the service.
Believe me, you will appreciate it before sinking in $100 into a 3-year deal.
While there are literally dozens of comprehensive reviews around, computer systems are a fickle thing and having two, associated tech things (your PC and a VPN service) work with each other out of the box can result in strange happenings.
Even worse if you’re in a different time zone form where the VPN technical support team is and 6 to 12 hours has to pass between each emailed response.
Yet here, I’ve done my level best to share with you all of the trials and tribulations I faced in assessing the top 3 VPNs in 2018.
How Do We Choose The Best VPN?
I have spent months testing each of our top 3 in detail and that’s what cumulates into #5 (User experience). Let’s have a look at them all though;
- Speed Obviously, you need to expect a bit of a speed drop when using any VPN, but I’ve found that the best usually only cost you perhaps a 5% to 10% extra in overhead.
- Availability The more countries a VPN is in and the greater number of servers it has the better, believe me. Some will be in countries that have terrible speeds, some will be overloaded, so with more, you’ll have more options.
- Anonymity and Security As a rule of thumb, higher security protocols tend to lower speeds. However, I also look at logging policies, evidence of leaks, detection prevention and other small line items. Even anonymous payment methods are scrutinized.
- Customer Service A less than ideal experience with NordVPN customer service dropped it down form 2nd to 3rd place. That’s how important customer service is. It can make or break an otherwise fantastic deal.
- User Experience At the end of the day, if a service hits all the right spots and checks all the right boxes, you may just feel uncomfortable with it for some unknown reason. I find that these feelings are usually accurate, or at the very least, worth saying no to a service over.
Without further ado, here is the list of top VPN providers:
- No restrictions
- Offshore privacy
- DNS/IPv6 leak prot
- 24/7 support
- Multiple protocol support
"Best for those who want stability, security, design & solid performance."
ExpressVPN is one of those services that is simply reliable. By labelling it as my top choice, I’m not saying it is perfect or performs the best in all areas, but rather that it is the most stable and strong offering available.
- Anonymity and Security From being based in the British Virgin Islands to offering a strong mix of connection protocols and military-grade data encryptions, ExpressVPN is a defining name in security and anonymity. It not only does not log but has stated that it has processes in place to eliminate sensitive information if found. Talk about dedication.
- High Availability Although not having the highest number of servers available, I find ExpressVPN to have the best spread of useable servers. It covers all key areas of the globe and has a good mix of protocols and encryption accepted at various servers.
- Sleek Interface Supported on many devices and platforms, I found that the user interface across them is simple and easily useable. Looks great too!
- FAST Speeds Speed tests are a critical point and all my tests have been re-run and double checked many times by others as well as myself. There is the standard 5% to 10% degradation of service, but I find that ExpressVPNs servers are mainly able to keep up with whatever you throw at them. They are fast, and seriously so.
The Downside: COST
If there is a downside to ExpressVPN I have to say it is in pricing. Even for a one-year sign-up period, the cost is always an edge ahead of the others. If you’re serious about a VPN though, you can’t really quibble over nickels, can you?
- Supports all devices
- Ads & malware blocking
- Unlimited speeds + bandwidth
- Stealth VPN protocols
- Multiple GCM & CBC ciphers
"Ideal for those who demand absolutely the best in customer service and anonymity."
TorGuard is a tiny bit different from most VPN offerings since it was designed specifically for P2P file sharing users. It is also flexible enough to offer a variety of options aside from the usual packages – ranging from dedicated IPs to adding on more devices per account.
- Stealth Mode TorGuard realized that many services are starting to recognize and block VPN connections. Thanks to a stealth mode that strips certain information from connections, it can overcome these issues – for the most part.
- Fantastic Customer Service A random spot check on their customer service (live chat) gave me a surprising experience. Their live chat agents were quick to respond and surprisingly helpful, even with technical procedures. In 5 minutes, flat, they were able to recognize issues I had and pass on information that would help me optimize their client app.
- PaymentFlexible Sign Up Packages Instead of the one size fits all sales schemes that is common, TorGuard has multiple options on sign up. These range from extra connections (at $5 each) to paying more for static IPs (even residential address IPs in the US).
- Payment Types Galore If you have any…ANY form of payment, TorGuard will accept it. Well, except cash, but you can use that to buy a gift card, then use it, right?
The Downside: China Exit
Unfortunately, TorGuard has given up on China due to constantly increasing government restrictions and crackdowns. It is exiting the country and although that’s a sound business decision, I can’t help but wonder about a VPN service provider caves under government pressure.
- Over 4,400 servers
- Double DNS
- Secures up to 6 devices
- PGP for comm. privacy
- Multiple protocols
"Great for the no-fuss sheriffs who only need to know they hit the target."
To me, NordVPN was a little bit of a difficult decision. On my first go-around, I felt that everything was going a little too smoothly. It was fast, easy to use and simply – well, glided around like a well-oiled machine. Then I realized that was because everything I was seeing was basically an idiot-proof setup. Just click and go, that’s all.
- PGP Keys Add to Security Aside from multiple protocols and 256-bit encryptions, NordVPN even uses PGP keys to secure communications with their customers. To my knowledge, PGP is pretty much unbreakable, so that’s an added privacy bonus. Oh, and you can pay in Cryptocurrency as well.
- Double VPN Instead of just bouncing off one VPN server, Nord can route you through two! How’s that for paranoia? For a VPN service, this is an advantage, but personally (and this is just me I mean) I think it’s a bit excessive.
- Massive Number of Servers With well over 4,000 servers deployed, wherever you are, Nord has you covered. Literally.
- 3-Years at only $2.75 a month That’s the lowest price I’ve seen a commercial VPN go for and that’s the truth. Unfortunately this price is only available if you sign up with Nord for 3 years, which might be a bit of a long stretch for some.
The Downside: Terrible Customer Service
This is a very personal gripe for me. I was wondering about slow server speeds locally where I am and asked for support via ticket. I’m not sure where their support is based, but turnaround for replies is between 6 to 12 hours each time.
After more than four days of dithering with customer service that seemed determined to wipe out all my network data, I gave up. Minus 1,000 points for you, Nord!
Bottomline: Which VPN Should I Go For?
If you’ll notice my comments for the top 3 VPNs listed here, I’m sure all of you are probably thinking: “Each has their own merits”. You would be correct in this thought. While I do have preferences for some over others, everyone’s needs are unique, and each person’s setup varies.
My advice to you would be to take your own needs into account, be it greater anonymity or security, or even perhaps a preference for a very pro-P2P VPN service provider.
Finally, discard your concerns over pricing. In the case of VPNs, you’re paying for a very niche and yet key service. Price should be the least of your considerations, especially since for the most part, the best VPNs are closely matched in price.