The Best VPNs – Get the Most Secure and Private VPNs Available
Your online life now contains so much information about you that you’d be foolish not to secure it. Every time you visit a website, your activity could potentially be tracked and logged. Your internet service provider can even horde your data and sell it on to the highest bidder if you live in the US. For these reasons, it’s important that you keep your activities online private.
If you thought that you’re not doing anything wrong and thus don’t need to worry, then think again. If you check the price of a flight, the flight operator can track that you’ve done this and then hike up the price. The same applies for insurance companies that would love to know if you’ve been searching for medical treatment or researching symptoms so they can demand a higher fee from you.
There are situations in which online trackers can do you over if you’re not careful. This is just the tip of the iceberg, there are much more malevolent actors out there seeking to get hold of your information, too.
With a VPN, your online activities are kept totally private and all your data is encrypted, meaning that no one can see what you’re doing or the sites that you visit.
What is a VPN?
Before we go on, you should know exactly what a VPN is and what it can do for you. A VPN is a virtual private network. When you have one active, all of your data is encrypted and then sent to a VPN server, where it is then sent onwards to its destination. This means that when it arrives at its destination it’s carrying the IP address of the VPN server and not your device. As a result, your IP address is kept secret – only the VPN server is aware of it and most good VPNs don’t log any data or even take your details, meaning they can’t use this information against you.
VPNs are commonly used by businesses to ensure that their communications are kept secure and thus the risk of corporate espionage is reduced. They’re also used by activists and journalists to keep them safe from the consequences of their work.
For everyday internet users, they’re an excellent tool to ensure that you’re kept anonymous when online. They also help keep hackers at bay by providing state of the art encryption on all your data and messages. One more common reason that they’re used is to get around geo-blocked content online – if you want to watch BBC iPlayer, for example, but you’re outside the UK, then using a VPN will circumvent this problem. The same applies for Netflix and Hulu. If you’re concerned about privacy while online (which you should be), then you should definitely have a VPN active.
Best VPN Services
Now that you have more of an idea why you should be using a VPN, let’s take a look at the best VPN services currently on the market. We’ll go through some paid ones first as these are the ones that you should be prioritizing, then we’ll take a look at a couple of free ones that you can use while making your mind up.
With around 300 VPN services currently on the market, making your mind up alone will be a nightmare, so let’s have a look at some of the best performing and most trusted products for your consideration.
Factors in judging a VPN service
- Encryption: It’s important that your VPN uses state of the art encryption such as 256-bit AES (military-grade).
- Privacy: Your VPN shouldn’t ever leak your IP address.
- No logging: Your VPN shouldn’t keep your data, let alone pass it on to third parties.
- Kill switch: This is a tool that automatically disconnects you from the internet if it senses that your IP address is being leaked.
- Speed: VPNs slow down your connection, but with best ones this is hardly noticeable.
- Location: Being private companies, all VPNs are ultimately subject to the judiciary of the country that they’re based in. Some countries have tighter data retention laws than others.
- Bandwidth: Of course, you want a VPN that gives you unlimited bandwidth.
- Blocked sites: Get access to Netflix, Hulu, and other geo-blocked sites.
ExpressVPN – $6.67 / month
We’ll start with what Techradar called ‘the best VPN for privacy and unblocking.’ ExpressVPN is arguably the best VPN for iOS, Windows, Android, and more. Based in the British Virgin Islands – a territory with no data retention laws – the service has more than 3,000 servers in 94+ countries.
The VPN uses 256-bit AES encryption – the same level used by the US military and most major banks – to protect your data. It also comes with a kill switch and doesn’t log any of your data, meaning you can rest in the knowledge that no one is going to snoop on your online activity. Ever.
ExpressVPN is also very easy to use and a single subscription allows you to set it up on three separate devices. This makes it one of the best VPNs for iOS and Android, as well as desktops.
For the small monthly fee, you get the world’s most trusted VPN service that you can count on to keep you anonymous and secure while browsing the web.
NordVPN – $2.99 / month
Coming in second is the best value VPN you’re likely to find. NordVPN is based in Panama City – another destination with laxed data retention laws. The VPN has more than 5,000 servers around the world, which is more than any other competitor.
NordVPN doesn’t log any of your data and features a kill switch to ensure your IP address never leaks. What’s more, you can connect to two servers at the same time, providing an extra layer of protection while you use it.
NordVPN’s main downside is that its download speeds aren’t as fast as ExpressVPN. That being said, it’s still faster than most other VPNs and it allows you to effortlessly circumvent online censorship.
It’s available on most major platforms including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, and more. If you’re looking for good value without compromising security or privacy, then NordVPN is your best bet.
CyberGhost – $3.50 / month
CyberGhost VPN is another secure and private VPN service, based in Romania – a country with strong privacy laws. The company doesn’t log your data and it uses state of the art encryption to keep your information secure.
With almost 3,000 servers around the world, you can guarantee that you’ll be able to access any website online, including Netflix and Hulu, without any issue.
You can count on CyberGhost to keep your IP address secure and it comes with a built-in kill switch, just in case.
This is another affordable option, although the parent company was recently changed to Kape Technologies, who have been known to build and distribute malware in the past. Your call.
The best free VPN for Windows, iOS, and Android
If you’re looking to get a VPN but don’t want to part with your cash, then there are many free options out there that will allow you to access geo-blocked content. The thing is, most free VPNs aren’t overly secure, most of them log your data, and some have even been known to sell it on to third parties. This is something that you have to be very careful of and we’d generally recommend not using free VPNs.
That being said, if you just want to access geo-blocked content online and you’re not overly concerned about hiding your IP address, then we recommend the below free VPN.
Betternet VPN – Free
While Betternet VPN won’t give you the same level of protection and privacy as the above mentioned options, it’s one of the only free VPNs that we’d be willing to actually use. This is because they don’t log your information, they use fairly good encryption to protect your data, and you can use it to access geo-blocked content.
Betternet is easily the best free VPN out there.
It doesn’t come equipped with a kill switch, but then, you get what you pay for. The company is based in Canada, which means that it falls under the Five-Eyes intelligence sharing nations and this could put some users off. If the Canadian authorities really wanted to, they could potentially seize the servers.
One more plus about this VPN is that it doesn’t take your personal details when you sign up to it. This is a big plus as it makes it harder for anyone to trace your data back to you.
The main problems however, are that it has very slow, full of ads (to fund it) and you can’t watch Netflix on it. Assuming you’re just using Betternet VPN to access news and other sites, you’ll be fine, but if you want a more fully loaded VPN, then bite the bullet and spend some cash.
We hope you found this post useful. Feel free to get in touch if you have any more questions regarding VPNs and how they work. You stay classy, internet.