Choose the best VPN service
VPN (Virtual Private Network) works by creating an encrypted connection between your computer and a VPN server from a service provider (there are dozens of them to choose, from all over the world).
Anything you do online - sites you're visiting, emails you send or receive, files you download, web forms you complete - passes through that secure tunnel and can't be intercepted by anyone else (unless one of these servers - or your own computer - is compromised, but that's another story).
Below are the top 10 VPN services that we've picked out for you. This list is regularly updated so is subject to change.
1. Hotspot Shield
The best VPN tool for browsing online privately
If you want the absolute best VPN service, check out AnchorFree's Hotspot Shield Elite. It is, in our view, the one that manages to provide all the necessary features at an attractive price with the option of getting a lifetime license. It supports private browsing, virtual locations, allows "access all content", and supports up to 5 devices.
Performance results in our tests were excellent, with latency showing only a marginal increase, and both upload and download speeds were a little faster once connected. We'd like more configurability and a wider range of locations, but Hotspot Shield Elite's high speeds and low price have a lot of appeal, and the 7-day trial makes it easy to test the service for yourself.
2. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited
The best VPN for multiple devices
Some companies take a one-size-fits-all approach to VPNs, offering the bare minimum of products, but KeepSolid's VPN Unlimited is different. Very, very different. Forget the usual two or three plans: VPN Unlimited offers six, plus there's a 7-day free trial to get you started (and also a 7-day money-back guarantee for a little extra security).
VPN Unlimited's PC client opens with a clear overview of the service state. Your real and virtual IPs are displayed as addresses and plotted on a map, and the number of days left on your current plan is visible at a glance. Its choice of servers is less than some but for a more general purpose VPN, the service does very well.
The best VPN for those looking for an ultra-secure service
Despite being based in a country located in Central America - hardly a tech hub - NordVPN's current products match or beat the competition in just about every area. 563 servers in 49 countries, 2048-bit encryption, 6-device support as standard, strong DNS leak protection, automatic Kill Switch, handy security extras, optional dedicated IP addresses, and payment options including Bitcoin, PayPal and credit cards.
Performance was good, too, with download speeds around 95% of our typical rate. Latency and upload speeds weren't as impressive at 197% and 40% of the regular rates, but overall our system still felt relatively snappy and responsive.
The best VPN for those looking for maximum speed
PureVPN's PC client stands out immediately for the sheer volume of connection options and tools it makes available. Its policy on logging is unusually clear: the company records the time you connect to a server and the total bandwidth used, but otherwise there are no logs of the websites you visit, the files you download or anything else.
PureVPN did well on our performance tests, where amazingly it managed to improve most of our download speeds. Latency was a mere 5% higher than normal, upload speeds actually increased by 4%, while downloads were a very surprising 80% up on our normal speeds.
The best VPN for torrenting and other P2P traffic
While many VPN providers try to stand out with their free plans and cheap commercial products, IPVanish talks more about service quality. It's "the world's fastest VPN" says the website, boasting 40,000+ shared IPs, 500+ VPN servers in 60+ countries, unlimited P2P traffic, five simultaneous connections and more.
The price is still going to be an issue for some – it is more expensive than the average VPN, but IPVanish's high speeds, choice of locations and excellent client are hard to beat. If you're after quality, take the plunge with this VPN, and if somehow you end up unhappy with the service there's a 7-day money-back guarantee.
The next 5 to be considered are: