What's the Best VPN Service?
Right now happens to be one of the best times to invest in a VPN service and for a myriad of reasons. The prime reason is that using a VPN has become increasingly easy. It is no longer in the domain of geeks and tech geniuses who often used VPNs when working on sensitive material. Today VPNs are easier to use and cheaper than they ever were before. However, since there are so many VPN providers finding one that works best for you can be a challenge.
The important thing to keep in mind when searching for a VPN service is what you want to do with it. Sure! There are many VPNs that claim they can do it all from streaming to obfuscated servers but in reality, some of their touted features fall short. So, if you’re going to use the VPN service to stream Netflix and Hulu shows for instance then make sure that that particular service has it as its best feature.
On the other side of the spectrum, you also need to steer clear from so-called free services. If anything, these services have an adverse effect on your privacy. Some are even meant to steal your personal information. Since premium quality VPN services are no longer expensive, it is worth investing in one for the sake of your privacy.
We have put some of the best VPN services through a battery of tests and rate them in terms of performance. That said it is clear from our tests that you’ll need to pick a VPN based on what features you’ll be using the most and not the one that claims to offer the most features!
The Best VPN Services for 2021
The following are the 5 best VPN services for 2021, detailing their cost, features and advantages:
NordVPN is one of the most established names in the industry. The company offers an excellent mix of features and price. Tests have shown that NordVPN provides the best VPN speeds compared to competing VPN services coupled with excellent privacy policies which means that you don’t have to worry about the company disclosing your browsing habits, real IP or any other bit of private information.
The other attractive feature that many people may overlook is ease of use. Available across iOS, Android, Windows and Mac computers the interface is uniformly easy. So, even people who have no experience using a VPN can get started in no time. Plus it allows for up to 6 connections from different devices at the same time. That means you are protected across all personal devices.
The service has 5500 servers in 59 countries internationally. So, there is always a server available when you need it the most. Perhaps that’s also a significant selling point for people who want to stream movies, shows, and other stuff online because there is a very low probability of running into a server which is crowded. However, NordVPN is known for offering excellent speeds across the board something we’ve tested extensively in our full review.
Prices start at $6.99 a month if you subscribe to the service for an entire year. However, you can further lower the price to $3.99 with a 2-year subscription. It goes without saying that it costs nearly nothing to start using NordVPN. Those who don’t like NordVPN can ask for a refund within 30-days of subscribing. The 30-day money back guarantee means that you get to try out the service and if it does not work for you then get your money back!
If there is one thing that PureVPN is good at, it is creating a great first impression. In our years of reviewing VPN services, we must say that PureVPN may have impressed us the most. Starting from the simplistically laid out website to the actual software the minimalist approach works perfectly.
It is also one of the most impressive VPNs we’ve reviewed for people who want to stream online content or download torrent files. While the speed does vary greatly across every server and when you connect to it, for the most part, the experience is consistent.
Another excellent selling point is the 24/7 customer support which works perfectly. Our full review covers how we contacted and tested the company’s support.
The money back guarantee adds another layer of trust. Any customer can ask for their money back within 31- days of subscribing to the service. However, most won't mainly because the service works as advertised. Also, starting at $2.88 a month on the 2-year plan puts it amongst the more affordable VPN options. Though the single month plan at $10.95 is expensive which is why most people will want to get a year long subscription at least. Also, a single subscription can be used by five devices at a time. So your computer, laptop, smartphone, and tablet PC can all be connected at the same time.
PureVPN has 2000 servers across the world including Central America, North America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania. So, you’ll never be left high and dry when a server a needed. Also, when it comes to paying for your subscription the company accepts all regular forms of payment as well as various cryptocurrencies. Using cryptocurrencies means that the company has no way to trace payments back to you or store any identifying information.
3. Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access abbreviated as PIA is one of the cheapest VPN services we’ve used and reviewed. While it is light on the pocket, it certainly isn’t light in the performance department. That said compared to other premium quality VPNs, PIA may not perform as well in terms of speed and consistency.
Buying a Private Internet Access subscription starts at $2.75 a month if you subscribe to it for 3 years. However, if you just want to test the waters the monthly $9.99 subscription is what you’ll want to get. Plus, PIA backs their service with a 7-day money back guarantee. Which means that if you’re not satisfied with the service or it does not work as promised the company will issue a refund.
Purchasing a PIA subscription can be done in several different ways. The first is obviously you can use PayPal, Credit and Debit cards. However, the company also accepts gift cards from over 90 retailers globally like Bloomingdales and Starbucks. You can also pay using a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. Anyone who wants to cancel can simply click on the large “Cancel” button on the ‘your account’ page.
PIA supports 10 devices simultaneously using the service. That’s made possible with apps for Windows, iOS, Android and Mac computers. Apart from that PIA offers state of the art encryption algorithms like PPTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP/IPSec. P2P Support, adware, malware, and tracker blocking. All of this means that not only is your connection secure but you’re protected from third parties snooping on your online activity.
PIA boasts of having 12945 plus servers in currently 75 countries, what that means is you can access any server you like at any time. Plus, the probability of you running into a heavily burdened server is pretty low
CyberGhost is one of the leading names in the VPN services industry for many reasons. For starters, the company has been around since 2011. Then there is also the fact that it is based in Romania which means that they don’t need to comply with laws that require logging and storing user sessions. The company was recently acquired by Crossrider and Robert Knapp and boasts of well over 15 million users which is enough to convince most people that they are doing something right.
CyberGhost provides users with several types of encryption such as OpenVPN, L2TP-IPsec and PPTP protocols. Plus the software allows for 7 devices to simultaneously connect to the VPN via their respective apps. If that wasn’t enough, the company also provides access to over 7000 servers in several international destinations. So, you always have access to a server.
Now in terms of pricing CyberGhost like most other VPN service providers offer 3 different pricing layers. The first is monthly which is the most expensive at $12.99. In our opinion, it is the most costly monthly pricing in the industry. The lowest-priced tier is $2.75 a month with a three-year subscription. Additionally, everyone gets a 45-day money-back guarantee except for those who subscribe to the monthly plan who only have 14 days within which to ask for a refund if they are not satisfied.
In addition to the major points above, there are many other reasons to chose CyberGhost VPN which you can find out by reading our full review here.
Ivacy VPN impressed and continued to impress us in many different ways. For starters, the company offers unique single-purpose servers. The software can actually recommends a server based on what you want to do online. The recommendation is often of the best server suited to that task.
Based in Singapore the company has been offering VPN services for over a decade. Over the years the features along with the interface have evolved dramatically. Today, the interface is very easy to use, modern and yet it provides users access to so many different features.
Opening up the left rail reveals seven options. The main one is Smart Connect, but then you also have Unblocking, Streaming and Secure Download. By choosing any one of these the software will suggest the best servers for the task.
IVACY has 2000 servers spread out across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America, i.e. 100+ locations. A single subscription can accommodate up to 5 Devices Simultaneous logging into the service.
IVACY offers up to 30 Days Money Back Guarantee. Prices start at a low $3.33 a month. If anything it makes IVACY one of the most competitive and trustworthy VPN solutions available.
When we review and rate VPNs there are a number of things we’re looking at. In the perfect world, every one of these features will perform flawlessly. However, in practice, they don’t. That said, in a nutshell, the VPN with the most features that perform the best are ones that we are inclined to recommend, i.e., the best VPN services.
That said with an increasing number of VPN services adding more features almost every few months it’s hard to keep up with all the updates. So, we have decided on a baseline list of features. We expect all VPNs to perform well across all these features. But what are these features we keep mentioning? Here is a list of what we take into consideration when rating VPN services:
Encryption – All VPN services should have a couple of different encryption algorithms to offer users. OpenVPN is the most common one. But there are others like SHA, AES, PPTP, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec and IKEv2. Apparently, the more encryption options, the better. We test these encryption algorithms and rank VPNs that offer the most secure encryption features.
Ease of use – What is the point of having a VPN service if you can’t use it? Ease of use is one of the most important factors we consider because the majority of people reading our reviews are not tech geniuses. Our readers, for the most part, are regular people who just want to use a VPN to stream movies or hide their identity online. The more comfortable a service is to use the higher we rate it. So, the best VPN services should be the easiest to use.
Speed – Another major factor when using a VPN is speed. Now by their very nature VPNs will have an effect on your internet’s speed. Each time you’re connecting to a VPN server, your connection is re-routed to the VPN server first which could be halfway across the world and then from the server to the internet. The speed depends on two factors the first being the distance of the server from your location and the second being the load on the server. If you’re in Asia and accessing a VPN server in the US, the speed will be slower than if you were accessing a server in India or Malaysia for instance. Though some services are able to minimize this so-called slowdown or latency (in technical terms) using various optimization methods. So, we always check the speed of the connection multiple times to get a baseline average and compare that to the competition.
Number of Servers – The more, the better is what we think. However, the quality of the servers matter too. Having more servers mean that there is always a server available for you can connect to. Also, high-quality servers mean that the speed is also good. Plus, because users are spread out across many servers, you don’t experience a major slowdown. That’s why we are always in favor of VPN services that continue to add more servers in different parts of the world.
Multi-Platform Support – We regard the support for more platforms better because it offers users more flexibility. Generally, most if not all the VPNs we’ve listed as our top picks have apps for iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems. Though there are also some that support Mac OS, Linux, and Chrome OS. If you’re using an obscure operating system make sure it is supported because that’s the only way to use the VPN.
No-Logging Policy – We only consider VPNs that have a strict no-logging policy which is proven. We never take the service’s word for it. That’s why we investigate to find out where the VPN is based and if in fact, they legally do not have to maintain logs. As a rule of thumb, if a VPN service does not state that they have a no-logging policy, we assume that they do and so those services never make the cut.
Price – Price is a huge factor for many of our readers. You don’t want to pay a fortune for a VPN service. Thankfully overall prices on average are going down and with special deals and offer what more could you want? That said the best VPN services are ones that provide the best price to performance ratio. So, all things considered, we’d all want the perfect VPN to be the cheapest one too, but that does not always happen!
Extra Features – All VPN services, especially those that make it to the top part of our listing has a unique feature. Some services may even have two features. That said we make sure to check out those unique features to determine if, in fact, they are practical and not gimmicks. If the unique features are found to work and work well, that’s another point for the VPN we are reviewing. However, in our experience, there are far more gimmicks than unique features which actually enhance your browsing or internet experience.
We acknowledge that many people reading this article may not have much knowledge in regards to computer security and how to best protect it. Most have probably heard about VPNs on our website or have been referred here from another article. Regardless of what level of knowledge you have about VPNs, the after-mentioned FAQs should help to make things clearer, perhaps even clarify a few misconceptions.
What is a VPN?
Answer: VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network which as the term suggests is a private network, which isn’t hosted on your computer or in your home which is why it is virtual. The term ‘private’ means that all information flowing to and from it can’t be intercepted and it is encrypted. So, a VPN by its very nature gives you access to the internet but via its servers. That means all traffic is routed from your computer to the VPN and then to the internet.
When you use a VPN, websites, and online applications like Google Docs, for instance, can’t see your real IP address or physical location. So, even if that information is logged or stored it is of no use. Plus, ISPs can’t intercept the traffic flowing to and from your computer to the internet.
Who needs a VPN?
Answer: In this day and age of open public WIFI connections, adware, spyware, and malicious websites coupled with government-sanctioned spying we’d recommend everyone use a VPN. But even if you’re not the paranoid type, using a VPN will give you access to websites, and streaming services which are otherwise not accessible in your country. For instance, residents of China will be able to stream the UK and American Netflix by directly connecting to the VPN server in those countries.
What can you do with a VPN?
Answer: Well, you can do a lot more with a VPN than you can with a standard internet connection without one. For starters, you can gain access to otherwise banned websites and services. You can also browse the internet without having Big Brother watch over you. Plus, you can carry out activities like downloading torrents, streaming video, etc. all of which would otherwise not be permitted in your country of origin. So, with a VPN you get to access a great deal more of the internet freely than without it.
Does a VPN Ban in My Country mean it will not work?
Answer: Countries like China, Turkey, Iraq, Russia, Belarus, North Korea, UAE, Iran, and Oman have all limited or banned the use of VPNs. However, by no means is this an exhaustive list as these are only countries that we know of that has banned VPN usage. However, this does not mean that VPNs will not work in your country.
What it does mean that if you’re caught using them, then you’ll have to deal with the full brunt of the law. If you’re going to use a VPN in any of these countries, make sure that VPN service provides ‘Obfuscated Servers.’ Only the best VPN services use Obfuscated Servers but using it means that your ISP will not suspect or be able to block your connection to the VPN server.
How to choose a VPN Service?
Answer: Well, you’ll want to look at a few things when choosing a VPN service. Some of the most important features to consider is ease of use, features, number of servers, speed, and price. You’ll also want to use a VPN service that accepts a mode of payment that you’re comfortable using. For instance, if you’re not comfortable using your credit card, debit card or PayPal wallet, then it should also offer Bitcoin or other cryptocurrency payment options. Many people who are careful about their privacy often opt to use a VPN service that accepts cryptocurrencies since it can’t be traced back to them.
You should also consider what the VPN will be used for every day. If you want to stream movies or download torrent files, those features should be included in the service. Read their reviews to find out how well these features function since in the case of many VPNs you may experience issues.
Will a VPN Service Really Give My Money Back?
Answer: The one thing most people who have read our reviews will have noticed that most if not all VPN services offer a money back guarantee. Most people are inclined not to trust this so-called guarantee, especially those who have had a bad experience in the past with a similar service. The fact is that VPN services, for the most part, will try to make sure that you don’t cancel.
They will do everything in their power including offering you a discount just so that they don’t lose you. Though at the end of the day if the service is reputed, you will get your refund. The number of days it takes mainly depends on the service you choose, the payment method you chose and where you live. It is important to highlight here that our highly recommended VPN services promptly process refund requests after customers answer a few questions usually relating to why they were not satisfied.
Why Pay for a VPN When There are Several Free Options?
Answer: Sure, there are several free VPN services around which don’t charge you a dime. However, you need to think about how these services continue to make a profit? Apparently, they are doing something which ensures that they can turn a profit that’s large enough to keep running the servers and software for years. Well as it so happens, they make money selling your personal information to advertisers, marketers and anyone else who is willing to pay for it.
Free VPN services log everything and don’t offer the latest iron clad encryption algorithms which means they can see everything you’re doing. If that wasn’t enough, the majority of servers are of low quality and often crowded. So, expect up to an 89% slowdown in your internet speeds. Do, you think all of this hassle is worth it?
Does a VPN Slow Down My Internet Connection?
Answer: Yes, it does! All VPNs slow down your internet, but some do it more than others. It all depends on the VPN service you’re using, your present internet speeds, and the server you’re connected to. Consider the fact that each time you connect to the internet via a VPN, the traffic has to pass to and from your computer through the VPN server which is an added segment.
If the VPN server is slow or if its located very far from your location it will have a significant impact on speed. Generally speaking, if you’re using a premium quality VPN service like the ones we recommend you’ll only experience up to a 10% reduction in speed.
Will Using A VPN Affect My Internet Connection?
Answer: Using a VPN has nothing to do with your household internet connection. It will not reconfigure the router or other devices in your home. As the term suggests, it is a virtual connection between your computer and the server. So, if you’re connected to a VPN on your smartphone, for instance, your desktop computer, and laptop, etc. will not be affected in any way.
Most apps are so well designed that they don’t even reconfigure your computer’s internet settings. So, when you’re disconnected from the internet, there are no errors or other issues.
We have been in the business of reviewing VPN services since the early days. Over the years we’ve watched these services evolve from clunky pieces of software which required a degree in computer science to use to ones that anyone can use. Today VPNs are easier to use, faster and offer many more features than they ever did before. However, your choice of a VPN service provider will ultimately depend on two things, i.e. what you can afford and what you want to do with it.
The best VPN service in our opinion is one that you can rely on to do the stuff you want. For instance, someone who wants to stream Netflix movies should be able to count on it each time they turn on the VPN app. The same goes for someone who wants to download files from P2P or torrent networks. It is for this very reason that our in-depth reviews of top VPN services specify the weaknesses and strong suites of the service. If what you want to accomplish is part of the service’s strong suites then you should go for it.
The top VPN services we recommend are the most secure, fastest, and offer the most bang for your bottom dollar compared to the hundreds of others we’ve tested. Plus, apart from our reviews these companies and their services are backed by thousands of positive reviews. The companies have an impeccable reputation, and so you have nothing to worry about. If things go south for some reason, you can ask for your money back!