Best VPN Service: Torguard vs PIA vs ExpressVPN vs IPVanish vs PureVPN vs NordVPN vs CyberGhost & More!

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Who’s really watching you when you’re online? These days, it’s virtually impossible to know. Advertisers, marketers, cyber stalkers, potential employers, even your own neighbors could be tracking your online behavior. Until our lawmakers pass more specific cybersecurity legislation, we’re all at risk.

What can you do to protect your privacy and identity? Consider installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service on your computer and mobile devices, especially when you are traveling. For a low monthly fee and easy installation, you can protect yourself from Big Brother.

Article Overview

What Is A VPN Service?

Think of a VPN service as an invisible cloak that shields your online use from virtual peeping toms. In more technical terms, a VPN service creates a secure, encrypted connection, often referred to as a tunnel, that lets you use the public internet in private.

VPN services hide you from companies tracking your data, keep your browsing history private, give you a secure WiFi connection anywhere — and they’re accessible worldwide. If you have a U.S. based VPN service and you’re in a foreign country, for example, the internet still thinks you’re in the U.S., so you have all the internet freedom you enjoy at home (catch up on your latest Netflix show!).

How Does A VPN Work?

Check out this video from CyberGhost, our best free VPN service winner, to get more details about how a VPN works and the benefits you’ll enjoy from signing up.

Best VPN Service Winners

The VPN service industry has exploded in the past few years because of growing need to protect privacy, so it’s tough to weed through all your choices. We’ve done a lot of the research for you and give you our top picks for the best VPN services. What should you look for when choosing?

The best VPN services have high encryption levels, solid performance that doesn’t slow down your internet connection, are easy to install and use, and have a transparent privacy policy. Other factors include reputation, price, customer service and additional features. And if you need help understanding some of the VPN industry lingo, jump to our terminology & protocol section.

PureVPN Review


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PureVPN is our winner for best VPN service. An old-timer (for a VPN service) at more than 10 years old, Hong Kong-based PureVPN has really upped its game in the last couple of years to become a major player in the VPN industry.

What’s the consumer’s benefit? A new IP address for each user, no traffic logs, all the protocols you’d want and a ton of advanced features that many VPN services don’t offer. PureVPN guarantees a 99.9% uptime (most don’t). And for less tech savvy users, PureVPN has an automatic protocol selection feature.

Their newest feature is a “Virtual Router” within its Windows application, in which you can convert your Windows-based desktop or laptop into a virtual router and use it to connect up to 10 devices. Score! Pure VPN’s price is slightly higher than some other top services, but in their case, you get what you pay for.



  • No traffic logs (they don’t store any of your online traffic)
  • High 256-bit encryption level
  • Simultaneous use on up to 5 devices
  • 80,000+ IP addresses
  • NAT firewall
  • Select best server feature & unlimited server switching
  • Split tunneling (you can have your VPN connection for what you need, but faster speed for streaming or other unsecured needs)
  • DNS leak protection ensures all DNS requests go through VPN
  • Kill switch to immediately disconnect
  • Supports Torrent/P2P
  • Consistently unblocks Netflix in 60 seconds
  • Accepts Bitcoin and other anonymous payments
  • 24/7/365 fast customer support via live chat, email and ticket
  • No free trial
  • Slightly more expensive than other services
  • A bit more difficult to install & get working, especially on Mac


PureVPN offers one plan at three different lengths of time (the longer the term the higher the savings). Included is a 100% money-back guarantee for the first 7 days of service.

  • $10.95/month for month-to-month
  • $4.91/month for 1 year
  • $2.87/month for 2 years


Save up to 50% per month on PureVPN plans when you pay for a full year via this link. You can also see and discuss other options on our dedicated PureVPN coupon page.

Read our PureVPN Review

ExpressVPN Review


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ExpressVPN has become a major contender in the VPN space and has a lot going for it, with 1,000 servers scattered across 94 countries, solid security and unlimited server switches. And it’s one of the most robust, speedy and user-friendly VPN services we’ve seen. They also recently won the T3 Award for customer service and product standards.

So, why isn’t ExpressVPN our #1 pick? This service is more expensive than its competitors, and you can only use it on three simultaneous devices (most give you five). If these factors don’t concern you, give British Virgin Islands-based ExpressVPN some serious consideration.



  • No traffic logs
  • Easy set up and very user-friendly
  • High 256-bit encryption
  • Unlimited server switching and split tunneling
  • Widespread global coverage and 1,000+ servers
  • Kill switch
  • DNS and IPV6 leak protection
  • Torrent/P2P friendly
  • Consistently unblocks Netflix and Hulu
  • Accepts Bitcoin and many other anonymous payments
  • Reliable 24/7 live chat customer service
  • Expensive
  • Can only use on 3 devices simultaneously
  • No NAT firewall protection


ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee. You also can get 30 days free if you a refer a friend and they sign up.

  • $12.95 per month for month-to-month
  • $9.99 per month for 6 months
  • $8.32 per month for 12 months


Get 35% off your ExpressVPN subscription when you pay for a year in advance, just use this link to get started.

NordVPN Review


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NordVPN is loaded with amazing features and has some of the best security measures on the VPN market. Unique to NordVPN is their double encryption system, which applies military-grade encryption twice, for inbound and outbound data. DoubleVPN, however, is only available on select servers.

NordVPN, which is based in Panama, also offers security extras like secret notes, encrypted chat and web proxy extensions.



  • Strict no traffic logs policy
  • Among the easiest set up we’ve seen
  • Extremely high military-grade encryption level
  • Use with up to 6 devices simultaneously
  • Choose server location and type of server (DoubleVPN, Tor over VPN)
  • Good global coverage and number of servers
  • DNS and IPV6 leak protection
  • Automatic kill switch
  • Allows Torrent/P2P
  • Consistently unblocks Netflix and Hulu
  • Accepts Bitcoin and other anonymous payments
  • A bit on the pricey side
  • No NAT firewall
  • No split tunneling
  • Some users complain about long customer support wait times


NordVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee.

  • $11.95 per month for month-to-month
  • $9.00 per month for 6 months
  • $6.99 per month for 12 months


Get 52% off your NordVPN subscription when you pay for a year in advance, just use this link to get started.

How Do VPN Services Compare Side by Side?

Our comparison table makes it easier for you to compare features side by side and help you choose the best VPN service for your needs.
 Winner: PureVPN2nd Place: ExpressVPN3rd Place: NordVPNCyberGhostHotspot Shield VPNIPVanishIvacy VPNLimeVPNOneVPNPrivate Internet AccessSaferVPNTorguardVyprVPN
Winner: PureVPN2nd Place: ExpressVPN3rd Place: NordVPNCyberGhostHotspot Shield VPNIPVanishIvacy VPNLimeVPNOneVPNPrivate Internet AccessSaferVPNTorGuardVyprVPN
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Monthly Cost (Basic Plan)$10.95$12.95$11.95$11.99$12.95$10.00$11.95$2.49$7.95$6.95$10.99$9.99$9.95
Annual Cost (Basic Plan)$58.92$100.05 (15 months)
Free Trial7 DaysFree Version24 hours3 Days
Money Back Guarantee7 Days30 Days30 Days30 Days45 Days7 Days7 Days7 Days7 Days7 Days30 Days7 Days
Company LocationHong KongBritish Virgin IslandsPanamaRomaniaU.S.U.S.SingaporeHong KongHong KongU.S.IsraelU.S.Switzerland
Unlimited BandwidthCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
No User Traffic LogsCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Anonymous Payments (Bitcoin)CheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Encryption Level256-bit256-bit2048-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit256-bit
NAT FirewallCheckmarkUnlistedCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Number of Simultaneous Connections53651 (Free Version) or 5 (Paid)105235553 to 5
Number of Countries140+9460+50+2460+50+105928+3450+64+
Number of Servers750+1,000+4,8561,000+Unlisted1,000+275+19390+3,100+700+3,000+700+
Number of IP Addresses80,000+UnlistedUnlistedUnlistedUnlisted40,000+Unlisted6,000UnlistedUnlistedUnlistedUnlisted200,000+
Server Location ChoiceCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkOnly with paidCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Split TunnelingCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Router CompatibleCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
PPTP ProtocolCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Supports Torrent/P2PCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkUnlistedCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkLimitedCheckmark
ChromebookCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkComing SoonCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Kodi CompatibleCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Netflix CompatibleCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Customer Support24/7/365 via live chat, email, ticket24/7 live chat, ticket24/7 live chat, email, ticketLive chat, email ticketEmail ticket only24/7/365 via live chat, email ticket24/7 live chat, ticket24/7 live chat and ticket24/7 live chat, email24/7 via live chat, email, ticket24/7/365 live chat, email24/7/365 via live chat, email, ticket24/7/365 via live chat, email
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How Do I Know If I’m Protected?

We’ve had some readers ask us how to tell if the VPN is actually working — most providers have an app or service with icons indicating your level of protection. Some even offer extensive statistics such as data sent and received while on the VPN.

The most obvious way to directly tell if you’re on a VPN is to check and see if your IP address changed. Visit to check before and after you connect. If you need help setting up your VPN, we have a step by step guide.

Other VPN Service Reviews

Several other VPN services deserve mention that didn’t make it into our top categories. Each has its strengths, and we encourage you to consider all your options. To jump to a specific review, click on a link below.

CyberGhost | Hotspot Shield VPN | IPVanish | Ivacy VPN | LimeVPNOneVPN | Private Internet Access | SaferVPN | TorGuard | VyprVPN

CyberGhost Review

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Romania-based CyberGhost used to offer the best free VPN plan available, but alas times have changed. With no free plan available, is CyberGhost still worth consideration? Yes; CyberGhost is a reliable option with a long-standing solid reputation. Cyber Ghost offers many of the robust features top VPN’s provide, but their price tag is, unfortunately, higher than most.



  • No traffic logs
  • High 256-bit encryption
  • Use up to 5 devices simultaneously
  • Choose server location
  • Good global coverage
  • DNS and IPV6 leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Supports Torrent/P2P
  • Accepts Bitcoin and other anonymous payments
  • Anonymous sign-up
  • Pricier than most
  • No NAT firewall
  • Some consumers report slow speeds
  • Live chat and email ticket aren’t 24/7


CyberGhost offers a 30-day money back policy.

  • $11.99/month for month-to-month
  • $5.99/month for 1 year
  • $3.50/month for 2 years


CyberGhost is offering 57% off Premium Subscriptions when you pay for a year in advance. Just use this link to get started.

Read our CyberGhost Review

Hotspot Shield VPN Review

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U.S.-based Hotspot Shield gets rave reviews from customers who’ve signed up for their free plan for its speed and ease of use. But Hotspot’s free and paid plans have definite limits. Server coverage is low compared to most other VPN services, and, even with their paid plan, you can’t select specific protocols.

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use VPN for free, Hotspot Shield could be just your ticket. But their “Elite” paid plan is expensive compared to many other VPN services that give you a lot more for less money.



  • Free plan available
  • No traffic logs
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Elite plan allows for 5 simultaneous devices and server selection
  • Users report fast speeds
  • Supports Torrent/P2P
  • Supports Netflix unblocking
  • Accepts Bitcoin and several other anonymous payments
  • Expensive
  • Free plan only allows one device at a time and no server choice (only available in U.S.)
  • Fewer locations globally than other VPN providers
  • Can’t select specific protocols
  • No kill switch, NAT firewall or DNS and IPV6 leak protection
  • Customer support limited to email ticket


Free Plan

Hotspot Shield’s Free plan only gives you access to their U.S. virtual server, and there are daily bandwidth limits. It’s also slower than the Elite version, and you’ll have to put up with a lot of ads.

Elite Plan

Hotspot Shield offers a 7-day free trial and a 45-day money back guarantee.

  • $12.95 per month for month-to-month
  • $8.99 per month for 6 months
  • $5.99 per month for 12 months
  • $119.99 forever


Get 80% off your Hotspot Shield subscription when you pay for a year in advance, just use this link to get started.

IPVanish Review

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U.S.-based IPVanish has a robust set of features and had been one of our top three picks for several years, but their service has gone way downhill in the last year. They claim to be the only tier-one VPN network (which means it owns and operates its own infrastructure) with fast and reliable speed, but customers vehemently disagree.

A vast majority of consumer reviews we’ve seen over the last eight months give this service a 1-star rating for everything from the inability to get a connection at all and connections being dropped regularly to severely sluggish speed and poor customer service. We’ll have to wait and see if they can get back on top.



  • No user traffic logs
  • High 256-bit encryption level
  • Easy to use and install
  • Offers dynamic IPs to users
  • Supports 10 connections simultaneously
  • Choose server location
  • Good global coverage
  • VOIP support included
  • NAT firewall
  • Supports Torrent/P2P
  • Accepts Bitcoin and other anonymous payments
  • A lot of users report slow speeds, unreliable connections and other problems with service
  • Kill switch for Mac and iOS users only
  • No DNS leak or IPV6 protection
  • Not compatible with Netflix
  • Several consumer complaints about unresponsive customer support


IPVanish doesn’t offer a free trial, but they do have a 7-day money back guarantee.

  • $10/month for month-to-month
  • $8.99/month for 3 months
  • $6.49/month for 1 year


New IPVanish users can use coupon code TAKEOFF30 to get 30% off their initial purchase. Use this link to take advantage of this offer. You can also see and discuss other options on our dedicated IPVanish coupon page.

Read our IPVanish Review

Ivacy VPN Review

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Singapore-based Ivacy VPN has been around since 2007 but remains relatively unknown in the VPN space. That’s a shame, because Ivacy is a reliable and feature-rich VPN. In fact, Ivacy pioneered the advanced feature of split tunneling back in 2010. What’s not to like about Ivacy VPN? They only have 275 servers around the globe — far fewer than other VPNs.



  • No traffic logs
  • Easy set up and user-friendly
  • High 256-bit encryption
  • Up to 5 devices simultaneously
  • Unlimited server switching and split tunneling
  • NAT firewall
  • DNS and IPV6 leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Torrent/P2P friendly
  • Consistently unblocks Netflix and Hulu
  • Accepts Bitcoin and many other anonymous payments
  • Users report excellent 24/7 live chat customer service
  • Very limited number of servers compared to other VPNs
  • Only offers shared IPs
  • Speeds are average
  • Some user complaints about connection problems
  • Servers in 20 countries aren’t P2P optimized


  • $11.95/month for month-to-month
  • $3.33/month for 1 year
  • $2.04/month for 2 years


Save 83% on Ivacy VPN plans when you pay for a full two years via this link.

LimeVPN Review

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Hong Kong-based LimeVPN is a decent choice if you’re on a tight budget and don’t use a VPN on a regular basis. However, you’re probably better off going with another service if you’re a more regular user. LimeVPN is bare bones in the feature department and is the only VPN in our reviews that limits your bandwidth. They also are very limited in their global coverage.



  • No traffic logs
  • High 256-bit encryption
  • Unlimited server switching 
  • NAT firewall
  • Kill switch
  • Torrent/P2P friendly
  • Accepts Bitcoin and many other anonymous payments
  • 24/7 live chat customer service
  • Very expensive Pro plan
  • Trickier to set up than others
  • Bandwidth limits on both plans
  • Can only use basic plan on 2 devices simultaneously (or pay a ton extra for 20)
  • A dedicated IP will cost you a fortune
  • Only 19 servers in 10 countries
  • No DNS and IPV6 leak protection
  • Not Netflix friendly


LimeVPN offers a 7-day money back guarantee.

  • Basic Plan: $2.49/month or $17.88 annually
  • Pro Plan: $19.99/month or $179.76

OneVPN Review

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Hong-Kong-based OneVPN is a newcomer to the VPN service industry, and the best thing going for OneVPN is speed. Otherwise, OneVPN is a pretty mediocre, bare-bones service. The biggest drawback for many users? The difficulty in using the service. OneVPN is open source (no client software), so you have to be fairly tech savvy to set it up.

While OneVPN is in 59 countries, they only operate 390 servers, which is far fewer than most VPNs. Their knowledge base and FAQs could use some sprucing up, as well. Unless you have the tech skills, we’d recommend another service at this time but will keep our eyes on One VPN as they continue to evolve.



  • Affordable
  • No traffic logs
  • High 256-bit encryption
  • NAT firewall
  • You choose your server location
  • Supports Torrent/P2P
  • Does well in speed tests
  • Accepts Bitcoin and other anonymous payments
  • Major learning curve to set up and use
  • Limited number of servers
  • Can only use on 3 devices simultaneously
  • No kill switch
  • No DNS or IPV6 leak protection
  • Consumers complain that tech support isn’t knowledgeable


OneVPN offers a 7-day money back guarantee.

  • $7.95/month for month-to-month
  • $4.99/month for 6 months
  • $4.00/month for 1 year


OneVPN has many ongoing promotions, just use this link to see the current ones.

Private Internet Access Review

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Private Internet Access (PIA) is a fantastic VPN service based in the U.S. PIA’s reputation is excellent, with top kudos from the likes of Forbes, PC World, Kiplinger’s and Lifehacker to name a few. They offer more than 3,300 servers in 28 countries.

With an excellent price, unbelievably simple interface, high encryption level, nearly anonymous sign-up, and much more, PIA lives up to its reputation. In addition to the app’s protection icon, you can visit the website once connected, and it will show your protection status.



  • Very affordable price
  • No traffic logs
  • Simple, easy interface and easy to install and get working
  • High 256-bit encryption level
  • Use up to 5 devices simultaneously on one account
  • Kill switch
  • DNS and IPV6 leak protection
  • Supports Torrent/P2P
  • Accepts hundreds of payment types, including Bitcoin and other anonymous payments
  • Almost anonymous sign-up (all they require is an email address)
  • 24/7 customer support with live chat, email & ticket
  • In fewer countries than other top services
  • Can’t select server location (but you can select geo location)
  • No NAT firewall
  • Hit or miss with unblocking Netflix
  • No statistics in app (data sent/received, etc.)
  • Long wait times for live chat support


Private Internet Access offers a 100% money-back guarantee for the first 7 days of service.

  • $6.95/ month for month-to-month
  • $3.33/month for 1 year
  • $2.91/month for 2 years


Save up to 52% on PIA plans when you pay for a full year via this link. You can also see and discuss other options on our dedicated PIA coupon page.

Read our PIA Review

SaferVPN Review

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SaferVPN gets overall excellent user reviews, and they offer a solid, highly encrypted service with good customer service. Besides its VPN service, Israel-based SaferVPN commits itself to freedom of speech and information — so much so, they helped launch an online movement, called Unblock the Web, to give dissidents, who live in blocked societies around the world, uncensored internet access and to help defeat mass surveillance attempts.



  • Free trial with no credit card required
  • No traffic logs
  • Quick, easy set up
  • High encryption level at 256-bits
  • Can run 5 simultaneous devices
  • Unlimited server switching
  • Kill switch
  • Fast speed
  • Accepts Bitcoin and other anonymous payments
  • Users report excellent customer support 24/7
  • In fewer countries than many other VPNs
  • No NAT firewall
  • No DNS or IPV6 leak protection
  • Very limited P2P support


Safer VPN offer’s a free 24-hour trial and a 30-day money back guarantee.

  • $10.99/month for month-to-month
  • $5.49/month for 1 year
  • $2.76/month for 2 years


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TorGuard Review

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A solid but basic VPN service, TorGuard’s strengths lie in its other services available for purchase. If you’re a Torrent/P2P user, give TorGuard some serious consideration. For an additional $1.55 per month, you can get a bundle that gives you VPN, BitTorrent optimization, HTTP and SOCKS5 proxies. TorGuard, which is based in the U.S., also offers a secured private email address with unlimited storage as a separate service.



  • No traffic logs
  • Uses highest TSL encryption tunneling
  • Choose your server location
  • Private email option (additional fee)
  • Simultaneous use on up to 5 devices
  • DNS and IPV6 leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Specializes in Torrent/P2P
  • Accepts Bitcoin and 80+ payment types
  • Users report excellent 24/7 customer support

  • Setup can be confusing
  • No NAT firewall
  • Numerous reports that it’s not working with Netflix
  • Some user complaints about slow speeds


TorGuard has a 7-day refund policy, but it’s only valid if you don’t go over 10GB.

  • $9.99/month for month-to-month
  • $19.99 for 3 months
  • $29.99 for 6 months
  • $59.99 for 1 year



VyprVPN Review

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Switzerland-based VyprVPN has some unique features, namely its own encryption technology called Chameleon that uses OpenVPN 256-bit encryption and scrambles the metadata to prevent DPI and VPN blocking.

Their parent company, Golden Frog, owns all their DNS servers, which are built-in to VyprVPN, so you get even more security and anonymity. Vypr VPN is a solid service, but they didn’t make our top three because they’re not as easy to set up and customer complaints about account blocking.



  • Free 3-day trial and competitive pricing
  • No traffic logs
  • Excellent security features with Chameleon encryption and VyprDNS servers (high 256-bit encryption)
  • NAT firewall
  • Unlimited server switching
  • 200,000+ IP addresses and good global coverage
  • DNS and IPV6 leak protection
  • Kill switch
  • Reliably unblocks Netflix
  • 24/7/365 customer support with live chat and email
  • Offers Cyphr, encrypted messaging plan
  • Set up isn’t as intuitive as may other VPNs
  • Basic plan only supports 3 connections at a time
  • Many users have had their account blocked if they torrent (although they claim to support P2P)
  • No Bitcoin or anonymous payment methods
  • No refund policy


VyprVPN offers a 3 day free trial.

  • Basic Plan (3 connections) – $9.95/month or $5/month for annual subscription
  • Premier Plan (5 simultaneous connections) – $12.95/month or $6.67/month for annual subscription


Our readers can get 25% off any annual plan (which is already a savings of 50% per month) at VyperVPN via this link.

VPN Terminology

Don’t understand some of the high-tech VPN lingo we’ve included in our VPN reviews? No worries! We’ve broken down all the need-to-know techie terms below.

  • NAT firewall — A NAT (Network Address Translation) Firewall adds an extra layer of security by hiding computers, servers and other IT equipment from outside threats. NAT firewalls are better than your standard OS firewalls at filtering out a lot of potential threats before you get that annoying message: Do you want to allow this connection?
  • Kill switch — A VPN kill switch automatically disconnects your internet connection in case the VPN fails, gets interrupted or you forget to enable your VPN. With a kill switch, you’re always ensured a secure VPN connection.
  • DNS leak protection — When you go to a website using your browser, it sends a request to a DNS (domain name server) with the URL that you typed in. The DNS server then points you to the correct IP address. ISPs (Internet Service Providers) assign you certain DNS servers, and they can monitor and record your online activities whenever you send a request to the server. But when you use a VPN, your DNS request should direct to an anonymous server, keeping your ISP from monitoring your connection.  A DNS leak occurs when your browser inadvertently ignores your VPN connection and sends your DNS request straight to your ISP, all without your knowledge. But some VPNs come with DNS leak protection software that alerts you to that threat.
  • Torrent/P2P — Torrenting or peer-to-peer (P2P) involves obtaining files and content using the Bit Torrent protocol. When you download a torrent file, you’re sharing bits of that file with anyone else who’s downloading or sharing that file. And these “peers” can see your IP address. However, if your VPN supports Torrent/P2P, you’re protected.
  • Internet Protocol — Internet Protocal (IP) is the method or type of protocol by which data transfers from one computer to another computer via the Internet.
  • DPI Prevention: Deep packet inspection (DPI) prevention tools allow your VPN use to be hidden and undetected even by deep packet inspection and other firewalls that can block VPN use. DPI prevention unblocks 3rd-party app restrictions so you can gain permanent access no matter your location.

VPN Protocols

There are several VPN protocols that secure your data transport over a public network, and each protocol varies in how it keeps your data secure. Here’s a breakdown of the different protocol types.

  • IP security (IPSec) uses either tunneling or transport mode to encrypt data traffic in a VPN. The transport mode encrypts only the message within the data packet (also referred to as the payload). Tunneling encrypts the entire data packet. People use IPsec, often called a “security overlay,” as a security layer for other protocols.
  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) use cryptography to secure data transport over the Internet. SSL and TLS authentification require the same network parameters between remote clients and servers. With SSL and TLS you need a certified, crypted key to make a secure connection.
  • Point-To-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) uses tunneling to connect a remote client to a private server. PPTP is one of the most popular VPN protocols because its configuration and maintenance are straightforward and because it’s included with Windows. PPTP doesn’t require a key.
  • Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) is used to tunnel data traffic between two sites. People often use L2TP with IPSec as an added security layer to keep the transfer of L2TP data packets secure. L2TP/IPSec requires a shared key or certificate.
  • Internet Key Exchange version 2 (IKEv2) is a newer tunneling protocol that becomes a VPN protocol when paired with IPSec. It’s natively supported by Windows 7+, Blackberry, and iOS devices. IKEv2 is ideal for mobile devices because it’s very resilient to changing networks (i.e. moving between hotspots or switching between WiFi and mobile connections). IKEv2 is also good at automatically re-connecting VPN service if you temporarily lose your internet connection.

Why Not Take Back Your Privacy?

With the rapid growth of unsecured WiFi hotspots everywhere from hotels to coffee shops to airplanes, a private, secure connection is more important than ever before. And with unknown eyes watching whatever you do online, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself.

Even with the explosion of the VPN Service market in the last few years, only about 10% of Americans use a VPN or other form of advanced encryption, according to a recent Pew Research Center data anonymity survey. Given the low monthly prices and relative ease of installation and use, it makes sense to protect your privacy.

How Else Can You Protect Your Online Privacy?

In today’s troubling privacy climate, it makes sense to protect yourself on all fronts. Even if you have a VPN to protect your online usage, you’re still vulnerable to hackers. That’s where an identity theft protection service can bring you more peace of mind. Check out our reviews of the best identity theft protection services to see how they can protect you.

What has your experience been with VPNs? Why are you considering using one?

Sally is a passionate writer but her interests do not stop there. She spends a lot of time daydreaming about the beach, however, she spends most of her time taking advantage of all the activities her town has to offer in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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I’m extra paranoid about cyber attacks and malware and all that crap so nordvpn with it’s double encryption seemed the right choice to me. Been using it for almost 6months and still happy with it. Actually, had some issues with my android app a few months ago, but it gets better and better recently.
I’m a user of nordvpn and after reading your review wanted to share that my experience with their support is completely opposite. I had a few problems at the beginning with setting up their app manually on linux, but wrote them a quick message via live chat and some sweet girl guided me threw out the process.
Michelle Schenker (Admin)
Tip: Don’t forget to turn off your VPN when you are back on a private network if you want all your services to work!
I was working on PIA VPN on the public/free wifi network at the MCO airport yesterday and I forgot to turn it off when I got on my plane. No big deal until I got home and worked all day yesterday at my house on my own private wifi and could not get Slack to work. I thought Slack was down and went so far as to complain about the service being down on Twitter only to discover this morning that PIA was still on! I turned it off and Slack started working perfectly! Ha!! Gmail also thought it was raining even though there is not a cloud in the sky, probably because the masked IP address being used by PIA was somewhere that it is raining! Too funny.
Tim F
Is there any reason to have a VPN at work? I feel like while I’m at work and on their private network, I probably might not see any benefits from VPN privacy. I also don’t want to get on the bad side of the IT team!
I’ve been using PIA for years but curious what others think about these other services based on their experiences?
BBC Junkie
I read an article from the BBC about Russia’s new VPN law that went into effect November 1, 2017. Basically the law makes VPN companies and anonymous users block access to banned sites in Russia. If they don’t follow these rules, they themselves may be added to the blocked list. I thought this was interesting and was looking to discuss more with people. Does anyone have thoughts on this?
Alex Schenker (Admin)
Interesting. I don’t see this flying in a free market economy for the simple reason around the subjectiveness of “banning.” Who decides whom is banned and what are the reasons for being banned? If they get those wrong, and all VPN networks falsely ban someone, I see a major overstep of regulators that, in the U.S. at least, would lead to a legal nightmare.
Joe T
Are there any disadvantages of VPNs? Is there any concern that someone (government agency, browser or website) could think that I’m trying to hide something illegal because I’m using a VPN?
I’ve thought of that myself, but as long as you are not up to anything illegal, I don’t think there is anything to be concerned with.
I’m new to the idea of VPNs but saw a segment on the news about how important it is to not use public wifi without a private network. I’m still a bit overwhelmed. Is this difficult to sign up for and use? I’m not the most “tech savvy” so I don’t want to be too overwhelmed but want to be smart about my online activity.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Hi Victoria, VPNs are pretty simple to sign up for and use. You can have it installed and running on your computer in less than 10 minutes. Most companies are good about providing instructions for how to properly use their VPN service. I personally use PIA when I’m at airports, coffee shops, etc. Let me know if you have any other questions!
I recently had my cell phone account hacked, I asked Sprint where the IP address was from and he said Brazil, and that they immediately put a “IP Brick” on it. What does that mean? I wonder if the hacker maybe they used a VPN too and wasn’t really in Brazil?
Paul K
Exactly what does a VPN hide? I keep hearing about VPN’s on the news and it all seems to be going over my head. Can someone tell me exactly why I would benefit?
Jeff Butler (Admin)
I had a hard time understanding this myself at first. But essentially, using a VPN creates a private, secure and encrypted connection with the internet. This added layer of security is especially important when you are on a public wifi network. Also, there should not be a log of your activity on the web, thus limiting what kind of data your ISP can collect on you.
Basically, a VPN hides your identity while you use the Internet.

Your computer is given a unique address by your ISP.

Without a VPN when you use a website or other Internet service (e.g. torrent) there is a record created at your ISP and on the website or Internet service that your address used the website or service.

With a VPN your computer redirects all your Internet usage through a third party which hides your unique address, stopping your ISP and the website or Internet service from knowing that your computer used the website or service.

VPN’s are used most often by people who want to mask their Internet usage so their government or other parties can’t track what they are doing on the Internet.

THANK YOU! To clarify, you don’t need one when you’re at home on a secure connection right? Just when you’re using public, unsecure wifi?
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Hi Margo, that’s correct. For example, I don’t use a VPN when I’m at home because I’m on a secure, password protected connection. However, when I’m at a coffee shop using public wifi where the password is clearly shared, I use a VPN.
Paul K
Thanks Michael, that makes a lot of sense. So how did Snowden evade the U.S. government? I can’t imagine a simple VPN like the ones reviewed here was enough to mask his identity from the highest paid hackers in the world?
Has anyone here ever used PIA? It is so much cheaper that I’d love to go with it vs. PureVPN but I also don’t know if it’s worth the risk when it comes to identity theft risk. Any thoughts?
Michelle Schenker (Admin)
I have been using PIA for a little over a year now. It works very well on my laptop but it only works about 70% of the time on my cell phone. When I am on some public wifi networks, it cannot ever seem to connect. No rhyme or reason to which networks it plays well with either, or not so far as I can tell. I would recommend it for a most of the time solution but if you want something that works all the time, you may need to spend the extra cash.
I have been using PureVPN for around 3 years now and I haven;t faced any difficulty ever in unblocking websites or torrenting movies and shows. Speeds are also great. They have some dedicated servers for torrenting.. You must give it a try..
Don M
Do I need a VPN when using cellular or is the network secure enough?
I think most people just use a VPN if they’re connecting to public wifi. So if you’re just using your cellular data on your phone I think you’re ok without a VPN.
Do VPNs work in Russia? Asking for a friend…
Alex Schenker (Admin)
VPN’s should work in most countries. Check with each provider to determine compatibility. And note that speed may be affected by whether or not the VPN provider has a server in that country, as well as which country you’re logging in from.
Dave R
I would love to know from a speed perspective whom do you consider to be the best? I’m not worried about having the ultimate security, I just want the dang thing to work so I can watch porn while on public wifi.
Alex Schenker (Admin)
Hi Dave,

From a speed perspective, you’ve got quite a few options. More details in our article and company pros/cons above, but our tests and consumer feedback indicate that PureVPN is a good choice (they offer split tunneling, which means you can “split” your VPN connection and use it for different purposes (for example, one for speedy streaming, and another for more secure, but slower, sensitive data tasks)). ipVanish offers the only tier one VPN network in our tests, which means it owns and operates its own infrastructure. Lastly, OneVPN performed well in our speed tests. Good luck and let us know your experiences and whom you decide to go with!

I travel a lot of work and there is quite a bit of sensitive data on my computer. Would using a VPN be beneficial from a security perspective?
Alex Schenker (Admin)
Hi Judy,

Yes absolutely. Please read our article above, it goes into detail on the security aspects of VPN’s.

While researching VPN’s I was curious on whether the internet would still work if the VPN connection was lost. The kill switch explanation explains that, thanks!
Most of the time the VPN kill switch feature will not be set as a default, so you’ll need to go into settings to turn in on. For PIA, it is simply: Advanced > Check “VPN Kill Switch”.
The only VPN i have used is Ivacy. Pretty shocked its not in the list cause I think its one of the best VPN’s for Torrenting, especially with the price it offers. Its a sweet deal combined. I have been using it foo almost a month know and its working quite fine.
Sadie Cornelius (Admin)
Thanks for sharing, we’ll consider adding it to the list during our next article update, we’re glad to hear it works well for you though!
Gena F
I’ve heard good things about Vypr. I’m based in Australia, and I’m wondering if I can watch Nextflix (U.S. version) and the BBC iPlayer when I’m logged into VyprVPN?
Alex Schenker (Admin)
Hi Gena, yes you can. We’ve confirmed with our contacts at Golden Frog (parent company of VyprVPN) that this is indeed possible.
Torguard is terrible. Torrents worked and speed good but utorrent showed unconnectible which is a port issue. They advised how to set a port forward but no suggestions fixed the issues. Then around the time USA woke up my speeds dropped to 1.1MB constant and never fluctuated.

Disconnect and port issue and speed all fixed. They deny all throttle of speeds and we had 12hrs offering basic support that didn’t help. I asked to cancel and refund and they asked again to help and can we hold off the cancel. I headed home to continue our support after all day at work trying to fix.

When got home they had cancelled me with no notification and no advise on refund. I am now chasing them for refund advise.

They are clearly not very professional and have no ideas on fixing basic port issues. And went admit throttle when clearly do.

1.1MB on all servers all day after 9am USA time.


I tried TorGuard and am so bummed. I wish I would’ve seen this article (and this comment) sooner. The price was a little high but I figured for a good VPN you need to pay the price. Then setting it up was kind of difficult and frustrating. Finally, once I did have everything setup it was SUPER slow. Thankfully I was within the 7 days so I got a refund but I wish I wouldn’t have wasted my time on it. Going to look into using one of the top three recommended in this article. Will keep you posted…
Jack Flynn
Really Sally? or Kimberly? Deleting my comment because it is factually critical of your info? How lame. Proves the point I was making about bias.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Hi Jack, we have not deleted you comment. With the holidays we were a little behind on comments but are back in full swing. Your comment is still in the que. We are doing some research so we can provide a well thought out comment. I can assure you this article is not biased. Sally is one of our best writers and provides great content for us. We will do our best to address your previous comment as quickly as possible. Thank you for being patient with us while we do some research. 🙂
Jack Flynn
I’m curious what sort of kickbacks you’re getting from the top 3 that you promote? Even if not, this is laughably biased.

I used PIA for a year and a half and it was crap. Consistency poor speeds on inconsistent connections, and horribly unknowledgeable customer support who provide the same cookie cutter cut and paste answers for most problems; answers that include changing the same settings that never resolve anything. You contact customer support and with each response you’re passed from one rep to another. By about the third rep you are just back to getting the same cut and paste info that the first tech support person used. I tried NordVPN next, but also got poor speeds. Then I switched to TorGuard where I get fantastic speeds from the Seattle and Cali servers closest to me in BC Canada – something I didn’t get with PIA from the same gateway locations. Also the customer support is much better with Torguard.

So I look at your comparisons and they reek of bias:

With PIA, in the pro’s list you include :

– High 256-bit encryption level; yet you omit that form the pros of Torguard even though it offers the same level of encryption, but includes CF-CBC Cipher

– Use up to 5 devices simultaneously on one account; same with Torguard, but you omit that form TorGuard’s pros. Why?

– Has a VPN kill switch in settings to immediately disconnect you; Torguard has an app kill switch which acts as a tunnel, and is preferable for many, as you can kill per app or program without crippling your entire connection. Gives you far more control. Why omit that form TorGurad’s pros

-DNS Leak Protection ensures all DNS requests go through VPN; Even if you’re using the Torguard app (not the OpenVPN client) you have DNS, IPV6, and WebRTC leak protection – more than PIA, as PIA does not offer stand alone WebRTC leak protection with their client.

-Accepts hundreds of payment types, including Bitcoin and other anonymous payments; TorGuard accepts Bitcoin, yet you omit it from their pros

-U.S. data centers – some countries have data retention laws (ie. EU); TorgGurad has US data centers. Why omit that?

And the most laughable one of all, you mention as a pro for PIA that they have “24/7 customer support with live chat, email & ticket”, & then in the cons you admit that they have “Long wait times for live chat support”. It’s more like non-existent support.

And that’s just the TorGuard comparison.

How could anyone take this seriously?

Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Hi Jack, I am so sorry for the wait on a response for this comment. We wanted to make sure we had all the facts so we could give you an accurate response. We are sorry to hear you’ve had a negative experience with PIA and appreciate your feedback about Torguard. We agree that Torguard is an excellent choice, which is why we included it in our “Best VPN” article. To address some of your points:

Torguard, indeed, does have some of the features you’ve highlighted (number of devices, payment types, and kill switch availability) and have incorporated them into Torguard’s Pros. Thanks for notifying us of our omission! We do state in our Torguard “Pros” that Torguard offers the highest encryption available compared to the other services we review here.

In terms of speed, Torguard varies per user and location (as all VPNs do). Per Torguard’s website, “servers feature gigabit+ port speeds, so DL rates can vary from 5mbps – 100mbps+ depending on your connection speed, server load, CPU, distance from you to the location you are connecting to and ping, speed has many factors!”

Thank you for your comment and keep us honest! We strive to provide factual content to our readers and we never intend on leaving any content out. We’re glad you’ve found a VPN that you’re happy with!

PIA rocks! Thanks for this solid comparison, I was looking for a provider that would allow at least 4 simultaneous devices and also with DNS leak protection. I never thought I would find a service at such a low cost! Got it up and running now with my macbook and iphone and it’s running flawlessly so far. Thanks Sally!
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Happy to hear you’ve had success with PIA! I will pass along the kind words to Sally!
Now that we’ve been using this for a while we’re noticing that while it’s pretty solid on mobile, the connection on Mac OS (via the PIA app) can be excruciatingly slow, and the auto-connection is not reliable (i.e. it won’t connect by default). Is anyone else experiencing these issues with PIA?
Jack Flynn
I did experience the slow speeds and the dropped connections, that would not reconnect. I used PIA with VPNCheck Pro kill switch because the PIA app kill switch caused problems for me. Then after bashing my head against the wall with PIA for a year and a half I finally dumped them. PIA is the WalMart of VPN’s; you get the lowest price, but you get what you pay for.