best vpn service
The best VPN services come with solid performance & security to offer an overall effective online shield for the best in digital privacy, without breaking your bank!
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Who is the #1 VPN provider in 2021? It’s NordVPN by far – with double VPN, worldwide access, 24/7 support, at great prices!
We’ve been buying VPNs and using them extensively. To help you make the best choice, we mainly looked at their connection speed, security measure, and server coverage – and narrowed down to the 7 best VPN providers you should totally consider in 2021.
Price shown is lowest based on plans available from each VPN service provider.
- 5,600+ servers
- Connect 6 devices
- No logging
- Double VPN
- Split tunneling
"One of the most powerful yet well-priced VPN services around, NordVPN is a top choice."
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 – basically 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. For the pros, tweakable features still exist, so don’t worry about that.
Some of the highlights of NordVPN include:
- PGP Keys Increase Customer Communication 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 anonymously with Cryptocurrency as well.
- Double VPN
Instead of just bouncing off one VPN server, NordVPN 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, NordVPN has you covered. Literally.
- 3-Year Plan at only $3.49/mo
That’s one of the lowest prices I’ve seen a reputable commercial VPN go for and that’s the truth. You might find a cheaper service but not at these levels of performance. Unfortunately, this price is only available if you sign up with NordVPN for 3 years, which might be a bit of a long stretch for some.
The Downside: Some Slow Locations
With such a huge spread of servers, a few hiccups isn’t surprising. What makes it annoying is that slower servers can be remarkably so. For example, their Malaysia server is local for me and it’s practically unusable.
Read our full NordVPN review to learn why it’s our #1 VPN!
- 1,700+ servers
- Unlimited devices
- Ad & Track Blocker
- Multi-hop connection
"Surfshark is a newer service that has really got its act together in terms of both performance & price."
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 $2.49 per month for their two-year plan, it poses a serious challenge to industry veterans.
Some of its highlights include:
- Shadowsocks Protocol
Where 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 Speeds
Surfshark has a decent network of over 1,700 servers spread across 60-odd countries. Among top-tier VPN providers, that isn’t overly much. However, it makes up for this by offering solid performance all-round.
- Multiple Payment Types Accepted
While 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.
- Unlimited Connections
This is the first high-performing service which I’ve come across to be so generous. Most VPN will restrict you to a certain number of connections. That goes out the door with Surfshark, so run as many as you want at the same time.
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.
Find out more at our complete Surfshark review!
- 3,000+ servers
- Connect 5 devices
- Offshore privacy
- Private DNS
- 256-bit encryption
"Premium option for those who want stability, security, design, and 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.
What I like about ExpressVPN includes:
- 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 usable 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 usable. 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?
See our ExpressVPN review to learn why it’s one of our top VPN!
- 6,800+ servers
- Connect 7 devices
- No logging
- Data compression
- Ad blocking
"A Romania-based VPN with impressive server coverage across the world."
CyberGhost offers a service that is pretty solid all-round. This ranges from their technical specifications to the very attractive price it goes for. To top it all off, performance has also increased remarkably over the years.
Some highlights include:
- Massive Server Presence
Joining the CyberGhost family will give you access to an unprecedented number of servers around the world. Simply put – their network is really massive. With a presence in more than 89 countries, you’ll be hard pressed to find a place you can’t connect to.
- Strong Security
Even for a VPN service, there are many options when it comes to CyberGhost security. This goes way past encryption and all. A big part of the deal is that they’re a cybersecurity company at heart, and that shows strongly in their VPN product.
- Good for Streaming Fans
With so many servers, you might think that the CyberGhost is chasing numbers alone. I assure you that isn’t the case and this can be seen by the specialized server tuning they have in place – for example, P2P or media streaming servers.
- NoSpy Servers
CyberGhost has a special set of NoSpy servers which it maintains under strict control. Only they access the hardware and software on these, and they guard them zealously. NoSpy servers support P2P activities as well.
The Downside: A Few Lame Ducks
Similar to NordVPN, having such a massive server pool can be a bit of a double-edged sword. It takes a huge amount of dedication to upkeep this equipment to the maximum, so at times you may find some slower connections on CyberGhost.
Hop over to our CyberGhost review to learn more!
- 1,500+ servers
- Connect 10 devices
- No logging
- Unlimited P2P
- 256-bit encryption
"Having experienced hiccup in the past, it’s been showing speedy performance worthy of recommendation."
The IPVanish of today is a bit different from what it was in the past. A longstanding name in the business, it once had its reputation tarnished and we can’t say it wasn’t their own fault. However, since then it has come under new management – which has kept its nose clean for the time being.
Great things about IPVanish include:
- Solid Availability
While it may not have the largest server farm in the world, IPVanish still offers over 1,500 of them in over 60 countries. Most are located in Europe and America which is its key user base. Sadly, its Asia presence leaves a bit to be desired.
- Owned Infrastructure Increases Safety
One important thing to note about IPVanish is that they actually own their own network. Unlike many VPN services that lease servers, IPVanish buys and deploys their own. This raises security blessings by a fair bit.
- Multi-platform Available
Most of us today use a ton of different devices. Understanding that, IPVanish tried to accommodate as many of them as sanely possible. This includes everything from the common to more archaically today – the Windows phone. Oh yes, and routers too, if that’s your wish.
- No Logging Policy
While this may be common for VPN services, with IPVanish it’s a matter of pride now. Knowing their sullied past, the new IPVanish is determined not to let that happen again. As such it has a clearly outlined no-logging policy for its users.
The Downside: Really, It’s a Matter of Trust
Having fallen so badly in the past is bad enough, but IPVanish committed the cardinal sin for a privacy service. This really is a bit difficult to look past, and paying them to show your fault can be a bit hard to swallow.
Learn more at our detailed IPVanish review!
- 1,050+ servers
- Connect 10 devices
- No logging
- Secure Core
- Swiss based
"Switzerland-based VPN best for those looking to just simply securing internet connection.""
ProtonVPN is a bit of an outsider. It’s been around for ages and seems like a pretty decent service, but has still struggled. Part of that lies in its previously poor marketing, but the ProtonVPN of today seems to be emerging like a Phoenix from the ashes. In fact, it has a number of other outstanding services as well.
For their VPN service we enjoy:
- The Wonders of Switzerland
Sweet Switzerland is where personal privacy is virtually guaranteed. That means no snoopy government interference. Combine that with strong encryption and protocols and support for even TOR browser – it’s a perfect win scenario.
- No Leaks and Logs
While many VPN providers offer this policy, ProtonVPN has gone the whole hog and established a Transparency Report. This lets everyone know what requests for information it has received and what it has done in response to those. I only wish they were more crude about their responses.
- Extra-special Servers
Instead of random multi-route services, ProtonVPN has established a hardened core of three ultra-secure server locations. The triangle of Switzerland, Iceland, and Sweden is where they house their special servers – including burying them underground in fortified bunkers.
- Decent Speeds
Speeds offered by ProtonVPN do generally offer a bit of a mixed experience. However, I have noted that in some areas they do show very impressive results and the basic feeling is that they’re able to somehow balance their load following popular demand. A very cost effective deployment I would say.
The Downside: Stumbles over some Blocks
This is a little unfortunate, given how well it does overall. Sadly, I did note that certain websites are especially sensitive to their technology and tend to block access. To their credit, they do try to resolve this, but it takes really long.
Find out more at our in-depth ProtonVPN review!
- 30+ countries
- Connect 10 devices
- Ad blocking
- P2P Optimized
- Smart Tunneling
"A surprising addition to our list, FastestVPN shows improved performance for a pittance in cost."
FastestVPN, honestly speaking, is kind of an outsider on this list. Compared to most of the other top-tier service providers, it does pale in comparison. The main reasons it is here is because of two things. The first is that it’s quite new, and the second is that they’ve improved remarkably in a short span of time.
What’s to like about FastestVPN:
- Fast Improving Speeds
Between the time I first tested the service and the most recent occasion, FastestVPN has bumped up performance by quite a lot. While they are by no means really the fastest, there is a lot going on here to look forward to.
- Good All-Round Security
From solid basic security to value added elements like built-in NAT firewall, a lightweight ad-blocker, anti-malware, and more, FastestVPN has thrown in everything but the kitchen sink. At the low price it goes for, that’s very impressive.
- Fantastic Pricing
Speaking of the low price above, that brings us to exactly that – the unbelievable low cost of entry to this service. At just over a dollar a month on their three-year plan, FastestVPN is likely the cheapest on this list.
- P2P and Stream From Any Server
Despite its smaller network of servers, users of FastestVPN can stream and torrent off any of them. This makes their servers very versatile, but you better hope not to be sharing one with a P2P fanboy.
The Downside: Can be Temperamental
While I never really had an issue with it, we did spread the joy around to see if others did. Sadly, getting FastestVPN to work can be a challenge for some, with a few users complaining it simply refused to work.
Read our FastestVPN review for more information!
Best of The Rest
If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for, take a look at these other VPN brands. We’ve gathered a list of other high-quality service providers for you to check out:
Bitcatcha #1 VPN - fast, featureful, secure, and well-priced.
Low-cost VPN with decent feature, speed, and security.
Premium with excellent speed, security, and privacy.
Top-notch security with over 6,000 servers worldwide.
Though based in the US, it offers fair speed & features.
Decent quality & features with secure email services.
A budget-friendly VPN with decent security & speed.
Designed specifically for P2P file sharing users.
Fuss-free VPN that is reliable with great security.
Great for those looking for strong security & wide coverage.
Highly usable & flexible, with over 30,000 servers.
If you are looking for a specialty VPN, here are some “Best VPN” lists that you might find handy:
Best VPN Series
The best VPN Chrome extension to secure your browser.
The best affordable VPN that are actually great.
Which is the ideal VPN for Roku? Find out here.
We reveal the best fastest VPN services you should use.
The best VPN for Australians looking for privacy.
Remain anonymous online for Canadians.
Who could be the best VPN provider for British?
Roam the internet freely in India with the best VPN.
The best VPN for Indonesia-based users (in EN).
VPN terbaik untuk pengguna di Indonesia (bahasa ID).
Best for Malaysians accessing geo-blocked content.
Stay anonymous online with a VPN for New Zealand users.
Reclaim privacy with a VPN for Singaporeans.
Protect yourself with VPN on the internet in the Philippines.
Enjoy internet speed you paid for with VPN (In VI)!
Bypass internet censorship with these top VPNs (in TH).
Maintain true online privacy in Brazil (in PT).
7 Migliori VPN per l’Italia (con test di velocità!)
Das beste VPN für das deutsche Volk.
Le meilleur VPN pour les Français.
¿Cuál es la mejor VPN para México?
How We Test VPN?
To give you an idea of the overall testing, we mainly look along five key areas. These include speed, availability, anonymity & security, customer service, as well as user experience.
The entire testing process looks at:
Without fail, using a VPN will typically result in a reduction of actual speed. Exactly how much may vary, depending on the server you connect to, line congestion, and other things added to the mix.
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 & Security
As a rule of thumb, both encryption and communication protocol chosen will affect performance. However, these are the elements that influence the security side of VPNs. There are also logging policies, evidence of leaks, detection prevention and other small line items to consider.
- Customer Service
Even if a VPN service offers the best performance in the world, how they attend to their customers is important. As relatively technical tools, it must be expected that some users will encounter problems. How quickly those are attended to and effectively resolved count.
- 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.
In order to get a realistic framework for all our performance tests, they always include a baseline speed as well. This serves as a benchmark for each VPN service, to see how much speed it can produce based on actual data.
What Is A VPN?
Virtual Private Network, or VPN, are private networks of servers. They help users increase digital privacy while adding additional layers of security at the same time. They can be used by both businesses and individual consumers.
In a major business context, most VPNs are built and run by the companies themselves, or customized by special service providers. This allows them to offer off-site employees to access confidential information safely.
We mainly look at VPNs from an individual consumer or small business context. Part of this is due to the fact that consumer VPNs are significantly easier to access and use. However, they are also priced for the consumer market – more affordably so.
The main objectives are still the same though – privacy and security. By routing your data connection through secure VPN servers, you adopt the physical characteristics of those servers in some way.
Your point of origin is masked, along with many other details of your own device and internet connection. What you’re showing to the outside world is essentially your representation online – the VPN server.
While all this is going on, VPNs also help by encrypting your data. If somehow data is lost or stolen during transmission, that encryption will prevent anyone else from being able to read and use the information.
Why Use A VPN?
Today, there are literally a million and one reasons to use a VPN to increase your online security and privacy. The digital world is expanding greatly, and accompanying its rise are threats as well.
Cyberspace is littered with hackers flooding it with attempts to steal data, compromise systems, or otherwise wreak havoc – not just on businesses, but aimed at us, individual consumers as well.
To make things worse, legitimate companies online are doing their best to extract this information from us as well. On the surface, it’s to provide us with a better user experience. In reality, it helps them target us for advertising and sales.
Because of this, we need to take out digital privacy more seriously and into our own hands. The best way of doing that is by starting with a VPN. From blocking snoops to safeguarding our points of origin, VPNs can help us in so many ways.
What Can I Use A VPN For?
By their very nature, VPNs are intended to help mask your identity and secure your data. However, they also come along with many other redeeming capabilities. Let’s consider how they can be used:
1. Stream geo-blocked content
There are many web services that restrict access based on where in the world you come from. One major culprit that behaves in this manner are media streaming services such as Netflix. All of us pay the same fees to Netflix, so why should we not get equal access?
Using a VPN will help you bypass the geo-blocks that most of these services put into place. For example, by connecting to a US server, a good VPN service will give you access to US-region Netflix content.
2. Bypass ISP censorship
We don’t all live in free countries. Some governments are more oppressive than others. The more totalitarian among them may attempt to curb digital freedom. This is generally done by issuing instructions to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and telling them what sites to block.
Since VPNs encrypt our data and route information through their own servers, ISP-implemented blocks generally fail. Using them, you can regain your digital freedom and access any sites which may have been blocked.
3. Avoid tracking
The problem with the Internet today is that everyone wants a piece of you. Data has become a much-wanted source of currency and companies and hackers all chase after it. Some tracking is even done more legitimately, but at the end of the day – they know who you are and what you do.
VPNs help avoid this and for regular folks, it helps that you know people can’t follow your data trail.
4. Torrent safely
Torrenting has become a very touchy subject in today’s world. The problem isn’t with the technology itself – it’s simply for file sharing. However, copyrights and intellectual property laws intervene.
Because of this many countries have imposed various laws on torrenting or file sharing. The situation can be very murky sometimes. Using a VPN can help you ease your worries since you can torrent safely – and no one will know where you’re doing it from.
5. Establish safer connections to internal networks
The use of a VPN secures your connection, no matter where you link to. This ability makes it perfect for business use. Anyone who is outside the office can easily and quickly access information on company servers.
This process helps you protect the information you’re getting to, such as invoices, customer information, billing details, and more.
What Are The Limitations Of VPN Services?
While VPNs are awesome, there do remain some limitations that you need to pay attention to. They aren’t blank cheques that will allow you to do anything you want online without heed. For instance, they:
- Doesn’t give access to hidden Dark Web sites
VPNs only protect your access to the net. To get to Dark Web sites, you’ll still need special tools such as the Tor Browser, a search engine like DuckDuckGo and other stuff as well.
- Doesn’t prevent phishing attacks
Since phishing attacks mostly prey on people, the technology behind it can be difficult to guard against. Using a VPN isn’t a substitute for common sense, so don’t leave yours at the door when using one.
- May get blocked by some sites
Some websites are especially sensitive to VPN usage. This is especially true for web apps or sites that belong to financial institutions. You may find yourself denied access to these sites if they detect you’re on a VPN connection.
Why use VPN over TOR or Proxy?
While aiming to achieve many similar things, VPN, Tor, and Proxies are not really the same thing. You might be able to get away with using either for some purposes, but the technology is fundamentally different.
The Onion Router, or TOR, is more of an anonymizer that works by routing packets of data though a massively conflagurated network of hubs and nodes. It does this in the hope of making things as difficult as possible to trace the origins of the data.
It’s free to use, but the way it’s built makes it very slow to use. At the same time it does not offer the same level of protection to either the source or the data itself that a VPN service does.
Proxies only serve to route your connection through a third party server. It doesn’t mean your data is safe, especially since the provider of the proxy server itself can be shady at the best of times.
It is possible to combine these services with a VPNs service to improve your overall security profile. Honestly though, in most cases, simply using a VPN is sufficient.
Verdict: Which Is The Best VPN?
To recap, here is our top 3 VPN services for 2021:
As you can see by now, there are so many situations where VPNs can play a part in our online safety. In fact, thanks to their nature, we can use them for many other things as well. Yet when choosing a VPN, we don’t necessarily have to find one which can do everything.
Each VPN provider is bound to have an edge in one area or another. The ones which have made it onto our Best VPN list, all have some strong points to recommend. Make your choice following your needs, with this list as a guideline.
Take charge of your online privacy and security now, before it’s too late.