Best VPN Services
ConsumerAffairs Research Team
Updated on 01/04/2018
Your internet provider can sell information about your browsing history. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) keep your information safe from your internet provider, hackers, government agencies and other groups that could track your movements online.
VPNs create an encrypted connection between your computer and VPN servers located around the world. Once connected, your IP address shows you’re in that location so groups that collect information about your browsing habits will be unable to track your online activities.
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Compare Reviews for Top VPN Services
|Hide My Ass VPN||Read Expert Review|
Hide My Ass (HMA) offers VPNs that connect to more than 850 servers in nearly 200 countries. The company was founded in 2005 and is headquartered in the United Kingdom. It offers individual and business plans.
|VyprVPN||Read Expert Review|
Through VyprVPN, Golden Frog offers services to help individuals and businesses keep their internet activity private and uncensored. The company has more than 700 VPN servers worldwide and doesn’t use any third-party providers.
|IPVanish VPN||Read Expert Review|
IPVanish operates a VPN with more than 750 servers in a diverse group of countries around the world. It stands out for allowing unlimited P2P sharing. The company is based in the United States.
|Private Internet Access VPN||Read Expert Review|
Private Internet Access (PIA) is a VPN service with more than 3200 VPN servers. It offers several options for protecting your data and has ad-blocking features. PIA is headquartered in the United States.
|KeepSolid VPN Unlimited||Read Expert Review|
KeepSolid offers a variety of software products and services, including standard and personal VPNs for individuals and businesses. Their standard VPN, VPN Unlimited, is supported by over 1000 servers around the world.
|IVPN||Read Expert Review|
IVPN has dozens of servers around the world and supports VPN use on Macs, Linux and Windows computers and iOS and Android mobile devices. It is incorporated in Gibraltar and was founded in 2009.
|Tiger VPN||Read Expert Review|
TigerVPN was established in 2011 and currently has over 300 servers in more than 60 locations in 43 countries. The company’s annual VPN subscription comes with a free password manager and a VPN protocol manager.
|PureVPN||Read Expert Review|
PureVPN provides VPNs to individual and business consumers. It has over 140 server locations around the world with more than 750 servers and over 80,000 IP addresses. PureVPN has a 99.99 percent uptime.
|ExpressVPN||Read Expert Review|
ExpressVPN is a VPN provider with private DNS on over 145 servers around the world. It works on both desktop and mobile devices. The company has been in business since 2009 and is based in the British Virgin Islands.
|NordVPN||Read Expert Review|
NordVPN offers a VPN for users of iOS, Android, Windows and OS X and has plans for businesses and individuals. The company was founded in 2012 and now has more than 730 servers located around the world. NordVPN accepts Bitcoin.
Questions to consider when choosing a VPN
Do VPNs limit any activities?
Some VPNs limit certain activities on their servers or limit your bandwidth. Select a provider that doesn’t block the activities you want to do. Also, make sure your VPN provides you with the bandwidth you need.
- P2P: Peer-to-Peer (P2P) sharing and BitTorrent file sharing let you send digital media files like movies, books and music without using a lot of bandwidth. Some VPNs don’t allow P2P sharing because it takes up a lot of the server’s processing power, and torrents are often used to share pirated content.
- Bandwidth: VPNs either offer unlimited bandwidth or have a data cap. Even if you choose a provider with a limit, you’ll typically get unlimited bandwidth if you pay for a full year of service at once.
- Devices: Nearly all VPN providers limit the number of devices you can connect to the VPN at the same time. Choose a provider that allows access for all the devices you plan to use.
- Server switches: If a specific server has slow speeds, you may want to switch to another one. Look for a VPN company that offers unlimited switches so you can always get the highest speeds.
Do VPN servers matter?
VPN companies have many servers in a lot of locations. The number of servers they have and their locations can impact your online experience.
- Number: The more servers a VPN has, the less likely you’ll be forced to use a crowded, slow server. Look for a VPN provider with a high number of servers, especially if you use a streaming service or a lot of data.
- Locations: The more VPN server locations, the more likely you’ll be able to connect to one close by. The closer the server is to you, the better speeds you’ll get. Nearly all companies post a list of their server locations.
How do you pay for a VPN?
If you’re buying a VPN for privacy, you want to keep your payment information safe. VPN companies offer many payment methods to give you maximum control when paying for the service.
- Traditional: All companies accept major credit and debit cards.
- Bitcoin: Many providers allow you to pay with Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency.
- Gift cards: For increased privacy, some providers allow you to pay with a gift card from a major retailer. You can buy a gift card with cash, and then use the gift card to pay for your VPN.
- Cash: A few VPN companies process cash payments. Paying with cash offers similar privacy to paying with a gift card, but it might delay the start of your service.
Are VPNs reputable?
VPNs exist to protect your privacy, so it’s important to choose a provider that values your privacy as much as you do.
- Reviews: Look at online reviews, like those on ConsumerAffairs, to see what other consumers have to say about the company.
- Time in business: The growing demand for online privacy means new VPN companies open all the time. Look for a provider that’s been around for a few years to make sure it’s a legitimate and thriving business.
What security features are important for a VPN?
A few factors impact the security of your information when using a VPN.
- Encryption: Encryption makes data unreadable unless you have the decryption key. VPNs encrypt data as it leaves your computer and decrypt it when it gets to their server. Many providers use 256-bit AES encryption.
- Protocols: Internet protocols send packets of information back and forth between IP addresses. Most VPNs use an open source protocol called OpenVPN. Some VPN providers have developed their own protocols for extra security, but many experts still prefer OpenVPN because it is open source and widely-used.
- Usage logs: Nearly all VPN providers say they don’t keep usage logs that track what you do online. However, most companies keep connection logs that show them when you were connected to the server.
- Headquarters: Some countries legally require companies to keep usage logs. If you’re concerned about the government spying on you, pay special attention to where VPN companies are incorporated and learn about those countries’ record-keeping laws.
- Shared IP addresses: To increase security, VPNs often assign more than one user to a single IP address. This mixes your data with data from other users. Even if the VPN provider recorded all the data, no one could link you to your data.
- Warrant canary: Governments can issue warrants to collect information from many companies, including VPNs, but the companies can't always disclose this fact. Therefore, many internet companies and VPNs post documents called warrant canaries on their website. These posts tell you that they haven’t received a warrant. When the company removes the warrant canary, you know they have been issued a warrant. If you’re highly concerned about government spying, look for a company with a warrant canary on its website.
What other VPN features should you consider?
Some VPNs offer extras to attract customers.
- Dedicated IP address: Having a dedicated IP address means you won't be held responsible for someone else's misuse of the address. However, having one IP address keeps your browsing habits in one place, potentially reducing your protection.
- Free tools: Some VPNs offer freebies like password managers and VPN managers. But don't let these perks sway you to pick a VPN with free tools over one with better security or better reviews.
- Ad blocking: A few VPNs incorporate ad blocking programs. This can make browsing less cluttered and decrease the chance you’ll end up on a scam site after clicking on an ad.
Different types of VPNs
Several free VPN options are available. These offer the same security as paid VPNs, but they’re usually slower because more people are using them. They sometimes increase the number of ads you see and make money from the extra ads. If you only want a VPN to use when you’re connecting to a public hotspot, a free VPN might be a good choice for you.
Most VPNs have a small subscription fee of about $4 to $10 a month. You’ll usually save money by paying annually instead of month-to-month. Paid VPNs are more likely to offer perks like ad blocking or password managers.
Who uses VPNs?
If you’re concerned about private corporations tracking and selling your data, you’ll like the privacy a VPN offers. You’ll also appreciate a VPN if you worry about the government invading your privacy.
If you frequently travel or use your computer in public places, a VPN can help you secure a public Wi-Fi connection. If you use a VPN when you’re traveling to a country with internet censorship, you’ll still be able to access the same sites you can when you’re at home.
High data users
Some internet providers throttle your data speeds when you’re using streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. A VPN helps mask your data usage and prevent throttling for better streaming and gaming experiences.
Connecting to a public internet connection on your phone may give you a faster connection than cellular data. Download a VPN for your mobile device to protect yourself when you’re on the go.
Your employer might require you to use a VPN to increase the security of off-site data if you work remotely.
If you work in sales, marketing or SEO, you can use a VPN to change the location of your IP address to do better market research.
Businesses may want all employees to use a VPN to protect proprietary data. VPNs can also help reassure clients that their data is safe with your company.
Expert reviews for VPN services
PureVPN was established in 2006 with servers in two locations. It now has over 750 servers in more than 140 different places. The company offers plans for individuals and business customers. Prices start at $2.95 a month with a two-year contract.
- Encryption: All data between your device and the PureVPN server is encrypted. The company uses 256-bit AES encryption to help keep your browsing data and location private.
- No third-party involvement: PureVPN wrote the code for all its tools and manages its own network. Your data is more secure because no third parties have access to the network or the code.
- Split tunneling: You can use PureVPN for some browsing and online activity while using your standard ISP for other activities. This means you can do things like stream a movie from a foreign streaming service while still having your local news and weather show up when you log in.
- Mobile apps: PureVPN has iPhone and Android apps, so you can keep your mobile browsing data private. You can log in to five different devices at once.
- Payment options: You can pay for your service using all major credit cards, PayPal, AliPay, Cashu, Bitpay and a large number of gift cards.
- Best for: marketers, travelers, mobile users, remote workers and businesses.
ExpressVPN, headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, was founded in 2009. The company has over 145 servers in more than 1000 locations. It offers VPN tools for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android as well as customizable configurations for other devices. Prices start at $8.32 per month with a one-year contract.
- Privacy: ExpressVPN uses 256-bit AES encryption to keep your data private. It also runs its own DNS on each server, so DNS requests remain private.
- Linux: ExpressVPN offers tools for Linux users. You can install the app in two steps using a command-line interface.
- Blog: ExpressVPN’s blog has free informative articles about internet security, privacy and the dark web. If you’re unfamiliar with any of those topics, check out the blog to learn about the benefits of browsing with a VPN.
- Referral program: Once you sign up for ExpressVPN, you can earn extra subscription days by referring friends. For every friend that signs up using your referral link, you’ll get an extra 30 days of service.
- Built-in speed test: ExpressVPN has a built-in speed test tool, so you can easily check the speed of different servers. Because the company allows unlimited server switching, you can try several and then use the fastest one.
- Best for: privacy-conscious individuals, travelers, remote workers and marketers.
NordVPN was established in 2012 and now has over 730 servers in nearly 60 countries. It offers VPN software for Windows, OS X, iOS and Android. Prices for individuals start at $3.29 a month for a two-year plan, and prices for business subscriptions start at $4.50 per user.
- Dedicated IP address: For an extra fee, you can buy a dedicated IP address to use when connected to the VPN. This service might make it easier for you to connect to some networks and databases.
- Double encryption: NordVPN uses double encryption for extra privacy and security. It sends your data through two servers. It encrypts your information when it goes through the first server and then re-encrypts when it goes through the second server.
- P2P: NordVPN allows you to easily share files with your friends with Peer-to-Peer (P2P) sharing. Some ISPs and VPN companies throttle speeds for P2P sharing.
- Bitcoin payment: NordVPN accepts several forms of payment, including Bitcoin.
- Referral program: NordVPN gives users a unique referral link to share with others. You earn credits that can go towards extra services or an extended service period when someone signs up using your link.
- Best for: frequent travelers, high data users, mobile users, marketers and businesses.
Hide My Ass (HMA) operates over 850 servers in more than 340 locations and 190 different countries. It has more than 110,000 IP addresses. The company has been in business since 2005 and is based in the United Kingdom. HMA is a part of Privax Ltd., which AVG acquired in 2015. Prices start at $6.55 a month with a one year contract for individual users and $210 a year for businesses.
- Server locations: HMA has servers around the world, including areas many other companies do not, like Africa and South America. If you travel to one of those areas frequently, you’ll get better speeds with HMA than you would with a VPN that doesn’t have servers in the area.
- Payment options: You can pay for your VPN service with all major credit and debit cards, through PayPal and via check. You can also sign up using a gift card from major retailers, including Walmart, Target, Starbucks and Best Buy.
- Free tools: The HMA website offers several free tools for all consumers, whether or not you’re a HMA VPN customer. Tools include a proxy web server, anonymous email service, link anonymizer, browser extensions and more.
- Free business trial: If you’re a business user, you can contact the company to get a free trial of their VPN. This can help you decide if the service will work for your employees.
- Blog: If you’re interested in learning more about VPNs or online privacy, you can follow HMA’s blog. The company is also active on Twitter and Facebook.
- Best for: frequent travelers, remote workers and businesses.
Golden Frog runs VyprVPN and was founded in 2009 in response to news about government spying programs. It’s incorporated in Switzerland with offices in Austin, Texas. Golden Frog now has over 700 servers in almost 200 countries. The standard VyprVPN plan is $5.00 a month when you pay annually. VyprVPN for Business starts at $299 a year.
- No third-party involvement: VyprVPN writes and develops its own code, and the company owns all its servers. It has in-house network engineers. Golden Frog also has its own private DNS service. This means no third-party vendors have access to your data.
- Chameleon: Chameleon is Golden Frog’s proprietary protocol. It uses a version of OpenVPN’s 256-bit protocol to increase security. The unique protocol makes it more difficult for governments and ISPs to detect when you’re using a VPN.
- Apps: VyprVPN makes apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Blackphone, Android, iOS, Anonbox and more. Using the VPN on your mobile device allows for more secure browsing on public Wi-Fi.
- Internet freedom: Golden Frog champions internet privacy and freedom. Company executives speak on the subject, and the company lobbies to ensure consumers’ rights are protected.
- Support: The company’s website includes an in-depth troubleshooting section. If you can’t find the answer on your own, you can get instant help with a live chat feature on the site.
- Best for: frequent travelers, high data users, mobile users, remote workers, marketers and businesses.
IPVanish was established in 1999 and is headquartered in the United States. It has over 750 servers in more than 60 countries. Its VPN is available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Chromebook. IPVanish’s VPN is $6.49 a month when you pay for a full year.
- Encryption: IPVanish uses 256-bit encryption to keep your browsing information secure.
- Server location: IPVanish has servers in fewer countries than some of its competitors. However, the locations of its servers are very diverse, including countries in Africa and the Middle East. They also have servers in China. These areas are often underrepresented by other VPN companies.
- P2P: IPVanish allows unlimited Peer-to-Peer (P2P) sharing, including the use of BitTorrent. Many other VPNs prohibit P2P or throttle speeds for P2P sharing.
- Payment options: IPVanish accepts all major credit and debit cards, PayPal, CashU, AliPay and more. You can also pay for the service with Bitcoin if you pay for a full year of service.
- No logs: Like nearly all VPNs, IPVanish does not keep logs of user data. The company has demonstrated its commitment to this policy. It stopped operating in Russia when the Russian government started requiring companies to keep records of internet activity.
- Best for: frequent travelers, high data users, remote workers and mobile users.
Private Internet Access (PIA) offers a VPN to protect your privacy while online. PIA is a part of the London Media Trust and is headquartered in the United States. The service starts at $3.33 a month when you pay for a one-year subscription.
- Encryption options: PIA gives you encryption options so you can focus on either speed or security as needed. You can use the VPN to simply hide your IP address (the fastest, but least secure option), use AES-128 (the fastest encryption option) or use AES-256 (government-level security that may slow down your connection).
- Payment options: You can pay for the service with major credit and debit cards, Bitcoin, PayPal, CashU, Mint and other options. You can also pay with gift cards from nearly 100 retailers like Amazon, Lowe’s, Walmart and Starbucks.
- Servers: PIA has over 3200 servers around the world. It has the largest server network of any VPN provider, which means you’ll always be able to find a server that isn’t crowded.
- Ad blocking: PIA blocks ads. This makes your internet experience better and safer because some malware attackers use ads to target victims. PIA does this by blocking domains associated with malware, ads and trackers.
- Blog: PIA has a blog to inform consumers about internet privacy and security. You can also follow the company on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with related news.
- Best for: privacy-conscious individuals, mobile users, remote workers and marketers.
KeepSolid’s VPN Unlimited has more than 1000 serves in over 70 locations around the world. Plans for businesses start at $33.33 and allow 20 accounts to use the VPN on up to 100 devices at the same time.
- Dedicated IP: You can pay an extra $12.50 a month to have a dedicated IP address. This service makes it easier to access some sites.
- Personal VPN: KeepSolid offers a personal VPN, meaning you do not share a server with other users. This option provides the security of a VPN without sacrificing speeds. Prices for this service start at $18.33 a month when billed annually.
- KeepSolid Wise: KeepSolid Wise is its proprietary internet protocol. Wise makes it more difficult for ISPs and government agencies to determine that you’re using a VPN. It’s built on the OpenVPN protocol and is an available option for several operating systems.
- Encryption: VPN Unlimited uses 128-bit and 256-bit encryption. Your operating system determines which encryption is used, but both are highly secure and help protect your privacy.
- Lifetime subscription: You can purchase a lifetime subscription to KeepSolid’s VPN Unlimited for $149.99, which is less than the cost of a four-year subscription.
- Best for: frequent travelers, high data users, mobile users, remote workers, marketers and businesses.
IVPN offers VPNs for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. Information security professionals founded the company in 2009, and it's incorporated in Gibraltar. IVPN’s service starts at $8.33 a month if you pay for a full year at once.
- Encryption: IVP uses 256-bit AES plus 4096-bit RSA encryption. IVPN calls this model “paranoid encryption” because it’s so secure.
- Multihop VPN: IVPN allows you to route your traffic through more than one VPN server if you want. This feature provides extra security because attackers or observers would have to trace your usage through multiple VPN servers.
- Payment option: Pay with a credit card, PayPal, Bitpay or cash when you sign up. The cash option takes longer to process, but may offer you extra peace of mind about your privacy.
- P2P: IVPN allows customers to practice Peer-to-Peer (P2P) sharing without throttling their speeds. Because of Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) takedown requests, the company asks you not to use any U.S.-based servers with P2P sharing.
- Warrant canary: IVPN will continue to publish a warrant canary once a month until it is no longer appropriate to do so. The site also provides directions on how to check the validity of any warrant canary.
- Best for: privacy-conscious individuals, frequent travelers, high data users, mobile users and remote workers.
TigerVPN operates more than 300 servers in over 60 locations around the world. It was founded in 2011 and has offices in Slovakia and Romania. Prices start at $6.67 a month for a 12-month plan.
- No third-party providers: TigerVPN owns and monitors its own servers and DNS servers, so your data is never given to any other company.
- Password manager: When you sign up for a one-year subscription for TigerVPN, you also get a subscription to Sticky Password. This password manager automatically keeps track of your passwords and helps you generate strong ones.
- Shimo: All annual TigerVPN subscriptions come with a Shimo subscription. Shimo is a tool for Mac that allows you to control multiple VPN protocols.
- Blog: TigerVPN’s website has a blog where you can read about news related to internet privacy as well as how to keep yourself safe online.
- Live chat: If you have questions or have a problem once you get a TigerVPN subscription, you can get help through live chat on the company’s website.
- Best for: frequent travelers, mobile users and remote workers.
Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.