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Hey there! If you’ve landed on this page, you’re probably looking to get a little more privacy and security with your internet browsing. I feel you – these days it seems like everyone is trying to track what we do online. Everyone wants the best VPN services to protect your privacy.
Well, I’ve got some good news for you. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are an easy way to take back control of your digital privacy. Think of a VPN as an invisibility cloak that hides your browsing activity and location. Pretty cool right?
I’ve tested out tons of different VPN services over the years. In this post, I’ll share my top picks to help you choose the best VPN for your needs and budget. I know sifting through all the options can get overwhelming, so I’m laying out the pros, cons and key features to look for.
Let’s dive in!
Why You Should Use a VPN
First things first – why even bother with a VPN? Well here’s the deal…
When you connect to public Wi-Fi or browse on your mobile network, your online activity isn’t as secure as you may think. Snoops, hackers, and even your internet service provider can monitor and log the sites you visit. Not cool!
A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and a remote server run by the VPN provider. All your network data is routed through this tunnel, hiding your IP address and scrambling the contents so no one can see what you’re up to.
This brings some major benefits:
- Your browsing history won’t get logged, tracked, or sold by your ISP or sketchy public Wi-Fi owners. Privacy win!
- Hackers on the same network as you can’t intercept your data or see what sites you visit. VPNs keep you safe on public networks.
- VPN encryption hides your location and IP address, helping you bypass geographic restrictions. Hello international Netflix libraries!
- VPNs prevent advertisers from targeting you based on sites you visit. Shh…no more creepy ad tracking.
Pretty sweet right? If privacy and security online are important to you, a VPN is a no-brainer. Now let’s look at the top services out there…
How I Chose the Best VPNs
Trust me, I tested A LOT of VPN providers while researching this list. It wasn’t all fun and games – some were downright awful!
To make things easy for you, I focused on services that met these criteria:
- Proven speed and reliability so your browsing isn’t sluggish. Buffering videos? No thanks.
- Top-notch encryption and privacy policies to keep your data secure.
- Wide range of server locations around the world for flexibility.
- Reasonable pricing and plans to fit different budgets and needs.
- User-friendly apps for all major platforms – Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and more. Gotta work on my phone!
- Helpful customer support in case you need assistance. Who has time to waste troubleshooting?
I also made sure to choose VPNs with a variety of stand-out features that solve different issues. No two VPN users have the same priorities, so having options is key.
Alright, let’s get to it! Here are my reviews of the top 5 VPN services on the market today.
1. ExpressVPN – The Best VPN Service Overall
Out of all the VPNs I tried, ExpressVPN consistently came out on top. Their fast speeds, air-tight security, smooth streaming capabilities and sweet features make them my number one recommendation.
Here’s a quick rundown of why ExpressVPN dominates the competition:
Speed – ExpressVPN was consistently one of the fastest services I tested. Their widespread server network ensures speedy connections for streaming, browsing, and torrenting.
Privacy & Security – Based in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN keeps no activity logs whatsoever. Their 256-bit AES encryption and TrustedServer technology keep your data ultra-secure.
Streaming – Unblocked Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and other streaming sites with ease. Even works in restrictive regions like China and the Middle East.
Support – 24/7 live chat support was super responsive and resolved any issues quickly. The support guides are helpful too.
Extra Features – MediaStreamer DNS unblocks streaming sites on devices that don’t normally support VPNs like Apple TV or gaming consoles. The split tunneling feature is great too, allowing you to choose which apps route through the VPN tunnel.
The one downside is that ExpressVPN is a bit pricier than competitors, with plans starting at $9.99/month. But in my experience, the quality and features are well worth the extra cost. They offer a risk-free 30 day money back guarantee too, so you can test it out.
With lightning-fast speeds, watertight security and easy streaming access, ExpressVPN is definitely worth the #1 spot on this list!
2. NordVPN – Most Reliable VPN for High Speeds
If blazing connection speeds are your top priority, NordVPN consistently delivers the goods. When I tested them head-to-head against competitors, NordVPN blew away the competition in speed tests.
Here’s a quick rundown of NordVPN’s best features:
Speed – Hands-down the fastest VPN I tried. Ultra-fast servers optimized for speed, minimal lag and buffering. Great for streaming big files, gaming, and browsing media-heavy sites.
Security & Privacy – Based in Panama, NordVPN keeps zero logs or usage data. Industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption keeps your activity safe from prying eyes.
Global Server Network – Over 5200 servers across 59 countries! Plenty of choices to get a fast and reliable connection anywhere.
Six Multi-Device Connections – NordVPN plans allow up to 6 devices to connect simultaneously. Share the VPN love across all your gadgets.
If you’re looking for a super-charged VPN connection and reliability is your priority, NordVPN won’t let you down. Plans start at a budget-friendly $3.49/month for their 2-year subscription.
3. Surfshark – Most Affordable VPN Service
If you’re looking to get maximum VPN protection on a budget, Surfshark is a stellar choice. Don’t let their low cost fool you – Surfshark’s features and performance punch way above their weight.
Here’s what sets Surfshark apart:
Price – Starting at only $2.49/month, Surfshark is extremely budget-friendly. But unlike other cheap VPNs, it doesn’t skimp on quality.
Speed – Surfshark impressively held its own in my speed tests. Fast enough for streaming, downloading, and everyday browsing.
Privacy – Based in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark operates under strict no-logging laws. 2048-bit AES encryption and a private DNS keep you ultra-secure.
Unlimited Devices – Use Surfshark on as many gadgets as you want simultaneously! Great value for protecting all your home devices.
Surfshark also offers a generous 30-day money back guarantee, so it’s risk-free to give them a shot. For the price, you won’t find a better VPN service.
4. ProtonVPN – Best Free VPN Option
If you want to test drive a VPN at zero cost, ProtonVPN offers the best free plan out there. It has no data limits or annoying bandwidth caps.
Here’s a snapshot of ProtonVPN’s free plan:
Price – Totally free! A rarity among VPN services.
Speed – Decent speeds for browsing, email, streaming music, and light use. Don’t expect video streaming though.
Servers – Access servers in 3 countries – USA, Netherlands, and Japan. Limited but better than nothing!
Data – No caps or restrictions. Use up to 512mbps of data per month.
Security – Standard 2048-bit encryption. Not the tightest security but gets the job done.
ProtonVPN’s excellent free plan lets you test their service without inputting any payment info. If you like ProtonVPN, paid plans start at $5/month. For a 100% free VPN, nothing beats ProtonVPN.
5. CyberGhost – Best User-Friendly VPN
For newbies looking for an easy, hassle-free VPN experience, CyberGhost is a fantastic choice. Their smart interface and preconfigured settings make it super simple to get started.
Let’s look at why CyberGhost is so beginner-friendly:
Ease of Use – CyberGhost’s clean interface lets you connect with one click. Built-in profiles automatically optimize settings for things like torrenting or streaming.
Apps – CyberGhost offers apps for all major platforms – Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and more. Apps are intuitive with clear labeling.
Streaming – CyberGhost reliably unblocks popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, ESPN+, and BBC iPlayer. Less fiddling with settings.
Price – At $2.25/month for 3 years, CyberGhost is reasonably priced. Shorter plans are a bit more expensive at $12.99/month though.
If you just want a VPN that works with a minimum of fuss, CyberGhost fits the bill. Tech newbies will appreciate their simplified approach.
What Makes a Good VPN? Key Factors to Consider
Now that you know my top recommendations, let’s discuss what factors and features make for a good, trustworthy VPN provider. Choosing the right provider is about more than just pure speed – although that doesn’t hurt!
Here are the crucial criteria to evaluate:
Encryption & Security Protocols – This is the method used to scramble your data as it travels through the VPN tunnel. Look for AES-256 bit encryption, the current gold standard. Protocols like OpenVPN and IKEv2 are the most secure.
Logging Policies – VPN providers should have a strict no-logging policy not storing any of your usage data or activity. Steer clear of sketchy VPNs that do keep logs.
Server Network – The more servers a VPN has in more locations, the more reliable and fast it will be. Good global coverage is important if you travel or want to access geo-restricted content.
Speed – Speed tests measure how much a VPN slows your connection. The fastest VPNs have well-optimized networks that minimize lag and buffering.
Leaks – Reputable VPNs run leak tests to check for DNS or IP leaks that could compromise your privacy. Make sure your provider checks for leaks.
Customer Support – VPNs often have technical issues, so quality 24/7 live chat support and extensive troubleshooting guides are useful.
User Experience – Choose a VPN with an intuitive interface and apps that make it easy to get connected. Preconfigured profiles for streaming, torrenting, etc are helpful.
Price – VPN services run from around $2 to $10 per month. Look for affordable plans from reputable providers rather than super cheap options.
Getting the right mix of security, speed, reliability, and ease of use is crucial when choosing a VPN. Make sure to thoroughly research providers before handing over any payment info!
Getting Set Up With Your New VPN
Ready to get started protecting your privacy with a new virtual private network? Awesome! Here’s a quick 5-step checklist to get your new VPN up and running:
- 1. Sign up for the service you selected by purchasing a plan and creating a username and password.
- 2. Download your VPN provider’s app for your devices like Windows, MacOS, iOS or Android. Many allow 5+ simultaneous connections.
- 3. Install and open the VPN app, then log in using your credentials.
- 4. Select a server location – your VPN app will list available countries and cities.
- 5. Click Connect! This will encrypt your internet traffic through the VPN server. Be sure to disconnect when done browsing.
It’s super quick and easy to start browsing with your privacy shielded by your new VPN. Most apps make it a simple one-click process.
Once connected, you can verify your VPN IP address at sites like IPLeak.net or DNSLeakTest.com. It should match your selected VPN server location rather than your actual ISP.
Take your VPN for a spin on public Wi-Fi or your home network. Enjoy seamless secure web browsing, access blocked streaming content, download torrents safely, and explore the internet anonymously!
Protect Your Online Privacy Today
Few things feel better than taking back control of your digital privacy. Hackers, ISPs and advertisers have gotten away with monitoring our online activity for too long!
I hope this guide gave you some clarity on the best VPN services available today. Any of my top recommendations will serve you well, but I encourage you to think about your specific needs and priorities.
For most folks, I recommend starting with ExpressVPN or NordVPN. However, Surfshark is a stellar budget option, and ProtonVPN offers the best free plan. CyberGhost also makes it easy for beginners.
No matter which VPN you select, your online world is about to get a whole lot more private and secure. Here’s to unchecked web browsing without prying eyes! Never feel paranoid about public Wi-Fi again.
Did you find this VPN guide helpful? I’d love to hear your feedback and which provider you decide to go with. Feel free to connect with me on social media or shoot me an email if you have any other privacy and security topics you’d like me to cover.
Stay safe out there!