How to find the best VPN?
Take an advantage of the expert’s opinion and users’ reviews. The short overviews are published in a convenient form with pros and cons.
The best VPN services can not only hide your IP address, but also protect you against IP leaks. They cope with the most complicated tasks, such as:
- unblocking Netflix from any region,
- safe torrenting,
- bypassing censorship,
- protection in public Wi-Fi hotspots,
- protection of financial transactions.
The best VPN providers conduct an independent audit, have mindful support service, don’t keep logs about users’ activities, don’t monitor them and sometimes offer additional features, like Double VPN, Dedicated IP, Ad Block, etc.
I have been using dozens of VPNs for many years. Though I chose them in the web-search, such as Google Play Market и Apple App Store by popularity, relevancy and ratings, only 30-40 of them can be considered as really good ones.
Among them, I found 5 best ones that cope with the most complicated tasks. I tested them, while travelling around different countries, including the ones where VPN use is restricted.
I’ll tell you about my top 5 VPNs in this review
5 Best VPN services with maximum opportunities
All VPNs from the list passed all my tests and they have positive user reviews. They have the following characteristics and opportunities in common:
- IP masking;
- excellent online privacy and security;
- wide choice of locations;
- strict no-logs policy;
- reliable multifunctional apps;
- kill switch function (internet disconnection in case a VPN channel is broken);
- absence of ads.
At the same time, each of them has its own peculiarities. Have a look at the short reviews of VPNs to choose the best service for you.
Ranks #1 as the best VPN
- Unblocks the Internet in countries with censorship: China, UAE, Egypt, SA, Turkey, Russia, Iran
- Available for: Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux, iOS, BlackBerry, Chrome, Firefox, Raspberry Pi, Routers, Android TV
- Dedicated servers for: Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, Amazon Prime, torrents.
- Double VPN
- Ad Block: CyberSec technology
- Jurisdiction in Panama: out of spying alliances.
- Independent audit
Tariffs and prices:
- $2.99 per month ($107.55 billed every 3 years, 7 days without paying),
- $3.99 per month ($95.75 billed every 2 years, 7 days without paying),
- $6.99 per month ($83.88 billed yearly, 7 days without paying),
- $11.95 per month.
NordVPN copes with any task. I have no complaints of the apps’ work and the service itself. You get wonderful functions at a good price.
Incredible choice of servers – 5144 in 60 countries, and it’s extended (last check on April 24, 2019). It’s good news for those who need access to blocked resources in China, UAE, and Egypt. In these countries, VPN servers are blocked that’s why people have to look for new ‘’clear’’ IPs. NordVPN updates the list of servers more often than others. Besides, you can configure additional obfuscation of traffic for more reliable unblocking.
Not all servers are equally fast, but I didn’t find really slow servers.
The security and privacy settings are optimal by default (AES-256 encryption won’t allow ‘’hacking’’ your data even with the most powerful supercomputers, and OpenVPN and IPSec protocols are considered to be the most advanced). At the same time, you can change the tunneling protocol on your own.
In addition to their excellent security, NordVPN has launched CyberSec technology that blocks ads and protects from malware.
It’s worth noting that NordVPN also offers SmartPlay technology that allows you to watch Netflix and other streaming services at high speeds with no need to search for working servers.
Personally, I use this very convenient technology that lets me unblock Netflix for the US, UK, CA and NL regions.
For P2P/torrent lovers: NordVPN has dedicated servers for torrenting.
And that’s not all! Compatibility with Tor and an opportunity to launch two VPNs simultaneously on some locations (DoubleVPN) allow you to achieve maximum anonymity on the network.
6 simultaneous connections make it possible to set up NordVPN, for example, on PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad. And AndroidTV.
Free trial NordVPN: obtaining a 1-year or 3-year subscription, you are charged only after 7 days (Try NordVPN for free for 7 days). You’ll be able to cancel the payment during that period. What’s more, you have 30 days to refund your money.
Are there any cons? Yes, any VPN has at least one drawback.
- Low price only for a 3-year subscription;
- PayPal is not accepted.
Probably, NordVPN is not ideal to purchase for a short period and doesn’t let you use PayPal, but considering the other factors, it’s the best VPN among those I tested and used. The company regularly conducts independent audits to prove its opportunities, while millions of current users prove the leadership of this VPN provider.
Ranks #2 as a VPN with the best reviews
- Unblocks the Internet in countries with censorship: China, UAE, Egypt, SA, Turkey, Iran, Russia, Iraq, Turkmenistan
- Available for: Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, FireTV, Routers, Android TV
- Dedicated servers for: Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, Amazon Prime, torrents
- Ad Block
- Block Online Tracking
- Smart Rules: Choose sites and apps to turn VPN off for them
Tariffs and prices:
- $2.75 per month ($99 billed every 3 years),
- $3.69 per month ($88.56 billed every 2 years),
- $5.99 per month ($71.88 billed yearly),
- $12.99 per month.
CyberGhost managed to create really quality product. For the past half a year, they did a stunning breakthrough in functionality and quality. This VPN deserves being among the leaders!
I really liked their technology of Smart Rules. I came across a similar technology at another large VPN. With the help of that configuration, it’s possible to choose the apps which would bypass VPN. It’s very convenient. CyberGhost added an opportunity to create the lists of websites, for which VPN will be off. It’s even more convenient!
Block Online Tracking function allows you to avoid being monitored by websites.
Monitoring of our activities is getting more and more widespread. Special companies are created just for tracking our activities on the Internet and sell this information to advertising networks and third parties. That’s why it’s a very useful configuration.
CyberGhost has dedicated servers for streaming (Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, etc.) and torrenting.
The process of choosing servers is very convenient. You can access each section just in one click.
The technical infrastructure of CyberGhost includes 3738 servers in 59 countries (last check on April 17, 2019), and like at NordVPN, it’s extended. Speed tests also showed diverse speeds, but the major part of locations showed high speeds.
It’s worth mentioning about CyberGhost’s money refund. They claim about the longest period for money-back guarantee in the industry – 45 days after the day of payment.
The security of the service’s clients is provided not only by AES-256 encryption but also by specialized NoSpy servers with advanced privacy. They are located in Romania, and only CyberGhost specialists have access to them. Firstly, Romania is located out of “5 eyes” and “14 eyes” alliances. Secondly, the local authorities don’t oblige internet companies to store logs about user activities.
CyberGhost allows up to 7 devices for simultaneous connections.
But there are several drawbacks:
- Only bitcoins are accepted, other types of cryptocurrency aren’t accepted. Direct transactions are banned, which means you won’t probably pay with cryptocurrency.
- Adblocker and malware blocker. It blocks the websites showing ads and malicious content. But I believe Ad Block works not efficiently enough. I visually compared it with the AdBlock plugin.
- CyberGhost has been recently bought by the Israeli company Kape Technologies (earlier Crossrider) with a questionable reputation.
СyberGhost is a VPN with the perfect functionality, except the Ad Block. I successfully used it to bypass blocking in the UAE and Turkey on my Android smartphone, carefully tested it on Windows 10, Mac X, and iPhone. But what’s more important is that it has positive user reviews!
Ranks #3 as VPN with the best price
- Unblocks the Internet in countries with censorship: China, UAE, Egypt, SA, Turkey, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Turkmenistan
- Available for: Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Xbox, Playstation, Apple TV, FireTV
- Ad Block
- Whitelister: Settings that turn VPN off for some sites and apps
- MultiHop: Chain of two VPNs for maximum anonymity
Tariffs and prices:
- $1.99 per month ($71.64 billed every years, fully refundable for 30 days),
- $2.49 per month ($59.76 billed yearly),
- $12.95 per month.
Surfshark is the most affordable one among professional VPNs (whereby, not only on its ‘’long-term’’ tariff plans but also when paying for 1 month.
But does it influence the quality?
No, it doesn’t. I carefully tested it to prove the fact that there can be a quality service for good money to myself and users. Why doesn’t this service take the first position? You’ll know about it further.
Why am I so impressed by Surfshark?
I like its modern features of bypassing blocking of VPN networks in countries with censorship. They offer Camouflage Mode that will hide the fact of using VPN from your provider. It’s an excellent solution for China, UAE, Egypt, and other countries.
Surfshark has another bonus – Whitelister. By means of it, as you do it with CyberGhost, you can define the list of sites and apps that will be visible without hiding your IP.
MultiHop technology will be useful when anonymity is required. It‘s a chain of two VPNs launched together. If you use Onion browser (TOR) along with it, you’ll achieve ‘’super-anonymity’’. Surfshark is compatible with TOR.
The company has 800+ servers in 50 countries of the world. It’s not its advantage. It’s a start-up company that’s why it’s different from its competitors. But the growth dynamics is good. Just in late 2018 they had only 500 servers.
The speed of servers is ranging from average to excellent.
Another advantage of this VPN is that they allow torrenting on most their servers and they are good for watching Netflix. It’s a ‘’bonus’’ from the current low popularity. In addition, it provides an advanced encryption standard (AES-256), ad blocker and filter of phishing sites.
Surfshark doesn’t limit you in the number of simultaneous connections per subscription.
Thus, here are the drawbacks:
- Poor server network;
- No technology for unblocking streaming services without searching for a working server.
Surfshark is both similar to the leading competitors and has its drawbacks, but it has left them behind in the price and performance in countries with censorship. Like NordVPN (an absolute leader), they do a regular independent audit to earn trust from users.
Ranks #4 as a VPN with the best security
- Has advanced security settings: you can choose a ‘’paranoic’’ maximum security or optimal balance.
- Available for: Windows, MacOS, Android, Linux, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Opera, DD-WRT, PfSense
- Ad Block: PIA MACE
Tariffs and prices:
- $3.49 per month ($83.87 billed every 2 years),
- $5.99 per month ($71.88 billed every year),
- $9.95 per month.
Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the largest VPNs belonging to the London Trust Media company which is based in the US. The company emphasizes on security, privacy and speeds at affordable prices. In the course of work, PIA proved twice the fact that it doesn’t keep logs and follows ‘’no registration’’ policy:
The data is taken from the official trial records of the McWaters case.
Another one took place in 2018 in the case about a hacker.
London Trust Media also owns widely-known brands like IRC, Linux Journal, Block Explorer and many others.
Private Internet Access has more than 3300 servers in 32 countries. It’s a bit fewer than at NordVPN and CyberGhost , but you can get higher speeds by choosing the necessary encryption standard in VPN settings.
If you need a VPN tunnel for delicate task with a high security and anonymity level, PIA will provide you such an opportunity on its servers in Switzerland. Still, because of advanced encryption standard and authentication type, the connection speed will be lower.
For common use, there are optimal speed and security configurations.
- Private Internet Access is suitable for unblocking Netflix. It doesn’t have dedicated servers for video streaming, but you can easily find a ‘’clear’’ IP.
Low price for 1-month subscription – another advantage of Private Internet Access. Competitors often charge up for a ‘’short-term’’ tariff plan. PIA offers the lowest price for a 30-day plan among the competitors.
Private Internet Access provides the opportunity to block ads and phishing sites (PIA MACE), but while using this VPN, the same as CyberGhost, I didn’t notice that there were fewer ads.
Socks 5 is a good addition to the opportunities of Private Internet Access. You can connect to VPN via proxy when it is necessary.
Now let’s turn to its drawbacks. There are quite a lot of them.
- You won’t probably use this VPN in countries with censorship. I failed to connect to PIA from the UAE and Egypt, because Private Internet Access has no OpenVPN (obfuscation protocol), and new servers aren’t often added.
- US jurisdiction. It means that it’s located inside of the spying alliance ‘’5 eyes’’ and vulnerable to being obliged to monitor their users.
- I noticed that the apps from Apple App Store aren’t available in the countries which are under sanctions. It’s not PIA’s policy. It’s a combination of the US jurisdiction and Apple policy.
- Torrenting is allowed by PIA, but I don’t recommend it because of negative reviews on Reddit. For example:
So, is Private Internet Access is good? They have improved their apps and released a user-friendly product. All tests (IP leak, good performance of Kill switch and stable work) were passed successfully. Incredible speeds, advanced security configurations, up to 10 simultaneous connections, the company’s activity ‘’out of’’ VPN services and ‘’no logs’’ policy proved twice make this service similar to the absolute leaders of the industry.
Ranks #5 as the best VPN ‘’with no extra features”
- Available for: Windows, macOS, Android, Linux, iOS, Windows Phone, Chromebook, FireTV, Routers
- Its own server park: the only VPN service that doesn’t rent and has its own servers
- The highest speed
- Has a 3-month tariff plan: Most VPNs offer 1-month and 1-year tariff plans
Tariffs and prices:
- $3.24 per month ($77.99 billed every year),
- $8.99 per month ($26.99 billed every 3 years),
- $10.00 per month.
IPVanish is a wonderful VPN. Just VPN. Secure, fast, easy-to-use. Many users don’t care about advanced functionality with minor opportunities. Some people even don’t use them. If you are one of them, IPVanish will be your ideal VPN.
But what is the difference between IPVanish and dozens of other ‘’simple VPNs’’?
There are two major differences:
- Incredible speed,
- Network of affiliates around the world.
IPVanish has its own servers in more than 60 countries. Only the StackPath company’s staff from Dallas and Texas has access to them. It’s good news for those who are looking VPN for a long-term period and cares about privacy.
In addition, the company emphasizes that no logs about user activities are kept; only emails and payment data are stored. I tested even more servers in order to find low speeds. I failed to do it. Probably, the fact that all servers are real, and there are no virtual servers among them makes their bandwidth good. I tested them on a 100 Mbit/s channel and the speed reduction was no more than 20-25%, which is one of the best results.
Torrents are allowed, here is the page dedicated to this.
What are IPVanish’s drawbacks?
- not always unblocks sites in countries with censorship,
- poor performance for Netflix. It’s possible to find the server that will unblock Netflix content, but I have spent too much time on it.
- supports only paying with credit cards and PayPal,
- US jurisdiction – inside ‘’5 eyes’’ alliance,
- money refund period is only 7 days.
It’s worth noting that IPVanish is more popular in the US, Canada and Australia, where unblocking Netflix and other streaming services isn’t important. Irregular types of payments are rare, and paying with cryptocurrency may attract hackers and cast a slur on their reputation.
Service prices: affordable for a 1-month plan and average for a 1-year plan. I can’t compare the prices for a 3-month plan as the competitors don’t have such a plan.
So, what’s the conclusion? IPVanish is a professional American service with high standards of AES-256 encryption (AES-128 and AES-256 are approved by the US government), its own servers in many countries. They allow up to 10 simultaneous connections, offer apps and configurations for the majority of platforms. I tested their apps for iPhone, Windows 10, MacOS X and didn’t identify any IP leaks and instability of Kill Switch performance.
The facts I have mentioned above prove the professionalism of IPVanish’s team and let consider this VPN as one of the best in the world.
What is a VPN service?
In order to use a VPN (Virtual Private Network), first you have to launch a VPN tunnel between your device and a VPN server, where the special software is installed. However, this VPN still won’t be full-fledged. After launching a tunnel, you will have to fix 3 types of IP leaks. If you don’t do this, your real IP will be easily revealed.
To prevent IP leaks you need to block IPv6, WebRTC in your browser and change DNS servers in your Internet connection.
And even then, you are not fully protected. If your connection drops out for some reasons, your real IP will be revealed after its recovery. In order to avoid this problem, you need to install and configure a firewall properly.
Or you can make it much easier – to use a VPN service, which will provide you with an application with all the necessary settings. Besides, you will not be limited to only one VPN service. You will also be able to change your location at any time.
The price for a VPN service is 5-10 times cheaper than maintaining your own server. Besides, it does not require special technical knowledge.
What are the types of VPN services?
As a rule, VPN services (VPNs) have similar functionality. They can differ in quality, security level, speed, amount of servers, and the availability of advanced functions. These features directly depend on how VPN services make money. Therefore, the most correct way to differentiate VPN providers is to consider their pricing policy models. So, there are 4 types of VPNs:
1. Fully paid VPNs
Paid VPNs have the highest rates of all basic parameters. Their pricing model implies that the profit of such services directly depends on their quality, popularity, and users’ feedback.
Competition between VPNs is high. Therefore, services try to develop VPN technology and implement new opportunities, remaining as honest and affordable as possible.
2. Free Trial VPNs
It’s rather a kind of paid VPNs. I’ve separated them in a diverse group only because many Internet users are looking for a qualitative paid VPN with a free trial. Other users need a VPN for a short period of time, however, fully paid VPNs tariffs for a “short-term” period are 1-3 times as much as yearly plans.
Some full paid VPNs offer their free options temporally. That is why today one service is paid, but tomorrow it can become a free trial. For example, only recently NordVPN has introduced a 7-day free trial. On the contrary, CyberGhost has cancelled a 1-day free trial.
At the same time, this group contains a huge number of VPNs, which call themselves “Free”. However, they are far from being free of charge. The bad thing about this is that paid services do not insert advertising. Whereas, those who call themselves free do.
Why is it bad? The point is VPN services which make money from advertising monitor us! They collect and store data about our location and activity on the Internet. They do this for more effective advertising. However, we will speak about free VPNs a little bit further.
Here are some examples of Free Trial VPNs:
3. Freemium VPNs
Such a strange name came from two words – “Free” and “Premium”. The point is, these VPNs offer free plans with unlimited time but “cut down” speeds and maximum traffic volume.
Do not think that they are a good alternative to paid services. Freemium VPNs will do EVERYTHING possible to force you to buy a premium plan. Freemium VPNs use pop-ups and limit the number of available locations. You will not be able to unblock Netflix without a premium subscription. They even won’t provide you with enough speed to watch videos on YouTube.
In my experience, Free VPNs and Freemium VPNs are not appropriate for bypassing geo-blocking and streaming Netflix. Their servers are rapidly blacklisted and blocked. Besides, the purchase of Premium subscription does not guarantee that you will be able to unblock websites. This can be proved by Reddit reviews. Here is an example of a comment about the VPN Windscribe:
Here are some examples of Freemium VPNs:
4. Free VPNs
The most dangerous and useless type of VPNs – free VPNs. With the help of Play Market or App Store you can find dozens off apps of this kind. However, are they actually VPNs? Many of them claim to be VPN socks, VPN proxy or VPN browser. However, these notions are incompatible! They are not true VPNs!
In most cases, these notions are used in order to take advantage of inexperienced users and force them to install the software on their device.
A true VPN masks IP address for all apps at once, not only for one browser. It cannot be called proxy or socks because these technologies differ. Encryption and traffic tunneling is available only with a VPN. In other cases, you are deceived. You will never unblock Netflix and download torrent files safely without a VPN. Otherwise, IP masking will be defective. There also will be no guarantees your traffic is encrypted.
At the same time, most VPNs that call themselves free are actually Freemium or Free Trial VPNs.
Unlimited free VPNs have almost despaired. Earlier when Windows and Android were not so safe and had a lot of vulnerabilities, such VPNs made money from malware distribution. Today it’s difficult and inefficient to work in such a way. It is also unprofitable to maintain a server park and a team only on advertising. Thus, you will hardly find Unlimited free VPNs (not proxies or browsers, namely VPNs).
In this regard, I do not provide links to such services.
What do you need a VPN service for?
Whether you are looking for a VPN for a specific task or just want to know the features of VPNs, this chapter will be useful for you. Here I am going to tell you about why do you need VPN services and why they are so important.
- Privacy. Do you know that Internet service providers (ISPs) collect and store data about your Internet activity for a long time? It relates not only to censored countries but the whole world as well.
You may find more detailed information about countries and laws on the Wikipedia page.
There are a lot of cases when you need to ensure privacy: in your workplace, while travelling, or if you are politically active.
And even if you think that you do not have anything to hide, it does not mean that tomorrow the authority, laws or your social status won’t change. Things that were just harmless “jokes”, can become huge problems.
- Hide your real location. With a VPN you can easily fake your location. In fact, you can virtually be at any point of the world and make use of it. For example, you can watch films and TV shows, which are blocked in your country. You can also unblock websites, which are restricted or do not allow registration from your location.
This function is extremely useful while travelling. I highly recommend you to install a VPN on your device before visiting other countries.
- Protection from malefactors. We all visit such public places as cafes, airports, hotels, camping from time to time. We use free Wi-Fi there.
However, we do not know that by doing this, we connect to the public network into which hackers can connect as well. That’s not uncommon! Scammers can intercept your traffic secretly by using special software. They can even get access to your device. And what if you are entering your password, paying for products or booking accommodation at that exact time?
VPNs will reliably protect your data against interception, and some addition firewall functions will guard you against hacking your device.
- Safe torrenting. We all know about unlimited possibilities torrents opened up in the past decade. Despite everlasting struggle between copyright holders and torrent trackers, torrenting is still often the only option to find the needed software or media files.
Unfortunately, we cannot know for sure if we break the law by downloading this or that torrent file. In fact, not all of them were published with a violation, though there are some of this kind. Besides, torrenting is illegal in many countries, as while using P2P we not only download but also distribute files.
Countries where torrenting is illegal: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States.
This is what happens if do not know about this:
Always use a VPN for safe and anonymous torrenting! Only this technology is able to hide your torrent activity securely.
- Unblock Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO, etc.
Aren’t you satisfied with streaming media in your region? Cannot stop watching your favourite TV show, but have to visit another country? It is not a problem! Download and install a VPN application, which offers a service to unblock Netflix or other streaming services.
I have been following this matter for several years and should emphasize that there is always a struggle between VPNs and streaming services. Netflix monitors copyright compliance for a specific region, not taking into account that millions of people, who travel around the world, are denied the right to access the favourite content even having a purchased subscription.
VPNs, in turn, do everything to destroy the borders between countries and allow people choosing themselves what to watch.
The reaction is purely technical. Netflix blocks servers of VPN providers. They, in turn, add new technologies or use others.
However, not all VPNs are able to help you. Bear this in mind while opting for a VPN.
- Bypass restrictions in censored countries. Here is the list of countries where you will face restricted access to numerous sources:
China (more than 10.000 websites are banned, including Gmail, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram),
Egypt (dozens of news sources and VPNs are restricted; Signal, WhatsApp, etc. are not available as well),
India (lots of websites with adult content are banned),
Pakistan (WordPress, YouTube, Flickr, Wikipedia, Twitter, etc. are banned),
Russia (Telegram, Dailymotion, LinkedIn and many news sources are not available),
Indonesia (banned content: porn sites, Vimeo, etc.),
United Arab Emirates, Qatar, SA, Morocco and other Middle Eastern countries (VoIP services are restricted, including Skype, WhatsApp, Snapchat, FaceTime, etc.; sites for adults, online casino, a large number of VPN services are banned),
Turkey (more than 1.500 websites are banned, almost all for political reasons).
It is not the full list with countries which censor the Internet. Before visiting one of them, clarify what restrictions are established by law while using the Internet.
I divide censored countries into 3 groups: countries with censorship for political reasons, countries with censorship for religious reasons, and countries with mixed censorship. It is more difficult to unblock sites in countries from the first group.
As a rule, in such countries, special equipment is used in order to detect a VPN by some features of OpenVPN and IPsec tunneling protocols (China, Egypt, Turkmenistan, etc.).
Therefore, it always happens that there is a working VPN service that soon stops working. In such cases, it’s better to use a VPN with protocol obfuscation. For example, NordVPN or Surfshark. However, the very site of a VPN provider can be blocked as well. Hence, install VPN software on your devices before visiting these countries.
What did I create this website for?
I have been using and exploring VPN since 2003. I have learnt everything about this technology and providers that appeared and left the market, everything that is needed in order to choose the best VPN.
I believe that my experience as an expert and user (moreover, from different parts of the world) will be useful for those, who like me, think that the Internet should be free, safe, and convenient.
In this review, I shared all relevant information for 2019, which is needed for choosing a good VPN.
Unfortunately, despite all the promises in the advertising, I have not found any truly good free services among dozens of VPNs. Therefore, this is the only reason they are not in my list of the best VPNs.
Use only good and proven VPNs. After all, the best VPN is not an advertising and endless search of working IP, but discreet multifunctional technology that opens up borders and provides absolute privacy and security.