Ranked: The 3 Best VPN on the Planet in 2020 (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 2020.
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:
- 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 5,000 servers deployed, wherever you are, Nord has you covered. Literally.
- 3-Year at only $3.49 a month That’s one of the lowest prices I’ve seen a reputable commercial VPN go for and that’s the truth. You might find cheaper, but not at these levels of performance. 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. Read full NordVPN review here.
- 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 one of my top choices, I’m not saying it is perfect or performs the best in all areas, but rather that it is stable and a very strong offering with a solid reputation.
- 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 ExpressVPN 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?
- Consistent speed
- Great pricing
- Unlimited connections
- Shadowsocks protocol
- Support many platforms
"Frills-free and consistent in performance, Surfshark is making its name as a strong upcoming contender."
Surfshark may be quite new – it was only introduced in late 2018 – but it certainly is a service provider to keep a close eye on. Maintaining an excellent entry price point of only $1.99 per month for their two-year plan it poses a serious challenge to industry veterans.
- Shadowsocks ProtocolWhere many VPN providers are beginning to give up on the China market, Surfshark still maintains hope here with their inclusion of the Shadowsocks protocol. This is supposedly able to get you over the Great Firewall of China and may be the last bastion of privacy on the mainland.
- Consistent SpeedsWith a decent network of over 1,000+ servers spread across 60-odd countries, Surfshark may not be the biggest around. However, it makes gains in speed due to the sheer consistency of service, no matter which location you’re connecting to. Their servers are also well spread over the globe and not overly clustered in certain areas.
- Multiple Payment Types AcceptedWhile you can pay via most traditional forms such as credit cards, Surfshark introduces new concept payments such as Google Pay, Amazon Pay and Alipay. For the more paranoid you can also opt for cryptocurrency as well.
The Downside: It’s a Newbie!
In the field of security, reputation means a lot since you need to be able to trust the provider who you are hoping will keep you safe. Being relatively new in the market, Surfshark simply hasn’t the street cred yet to buy it an automatic pass into trust.
Best of The Rest
If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, take a look at these four additional VPN brands.
Great in security, privacy and speed at competitive rates.
Premium pricing for excellent speed, security, privacy and features.
Has impressive network of servers at a great price.
Designed specifically for P2P file sharing users.
Offer good basic protection and decent speed; but not ideal for P2P.
Though based in the US, it offers fair speed & features.
Decent quality & features with secure email services.
If you are looking for specialty VPN, here are some best VPN lists that you might find handy.
Best VPN Series
The best VPN Chrome extension to secure your browsing activities.
The best VPN for Australians looking for privacy.
Remain anonymous online for Canadians.
Roam internet freely in India with the best VPN.
The best VPN for Indonesia based users (in English).
VPN terbaik untuk pengguna berbasis di Indonesia (dalam Bahasa ID).
Best for Malaysians accessing content at other side of the globe.
Stay anonymous online with VPN for New Zealand users.
Reclaim privacy with VPN for Singaporeans.
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.