Best privacy tool and anonymous browser of 2024

The best privacy tools and anonymous browsers make it simple and easy to protect your privacy and personal data online.

Protecting your personal user data when surfing the net has become increasingly difficult. This is a concern due to the sheer amount of personally-identifiable data that internet companies now try to collect from their users.

For companies such as Facebook and Google, the aim is to help them better understand users so they can better target advertising at them. However, businesses in general have become used to see user tracking as a legitimate way of finding out more about potential customers. 

The result is that individual internet users can end up with dozens of tracking scripts download to their browser which follow which websites are being visited. 

Usually this is all installed without even asking for permission, and it's become such a real concern now that the European Union launched GDPR as an attempt to empower users with a choice of which cookies and scripts they actually consent to.

The problem is that a lot of businesses seek to comply with the letter of the law rather than the spirit of it, with the result that most websites now come with a popup asking if you will accept cookies or not, without offering an actual opt-out from any tracking.

While there are browser settings and plugins that aim to help internet users better control their privacy, often more extreme measure are now required.

Other options include using a anonymous proxy server, or a VPN - Virtual Private Network - even a business VPN - in order to provide you with an anonymous web surfing experience. 

We've compared these privacy tools and anonymous browsers across various aspects, like pricing, platform support, server speeds and locations, data limits, and overall performance. We also checked the ease of installation, the number of streaming sites that could be unblocked, and whether the logs were deleted promptly.

For more information on VPNs, check out our best free VPN guide or see our guide to setting up and maintaining a VPN.

We've also featured the best Linux distros for privacy and security.

The best VPN service right now is ExpressVPN. It's the best all-round option for speed, privacy and unblocking websites. A close second place and third place are Surfshark, whose downright simplicity to download and operate make it a really appealing option, and  IPVanish that handles P2P and torrenting particularly admirably. Read more about these VPN services and the competition below.

The best privacy tools and anonymous browsers of 2024 in full:

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Best privacy tool overall

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)
The best all-round VPN service for speed, privacy, and unblocking

Reasons to buy

Runs on almost any platform
Enterprise-level encryption
Speedy VPN servers in 94 countries 
Superb 24/7 live customer support

Reasons to avoid

Fewer simultaneous connections than some

Get 3 months free with an annual plan on TechRadar's #1 rated VPN
ExpressVPN delivered outstanding performance in our speed tests and excellent customer support plus a 30 day money back guarantee.

ExpressVPN offers access to more than 3,000 servers in 160 locations across 94 countries, alongside maybe the widest platform support you'll find anywhere.

We're not just talking about native clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, plus iOS, Android and even BlackBerry. There's custom firmware for some routers, DNS content-unblocking for a host of streaming media devices and smart TVs, and surprisingly capable VPN browser extensions for anything which can run them.

All that functionality could sound intimidating to VPN newbies, but ExpressVPN does more than most to help. An excellent support website is stuffed with detailed guides and tutorials to get you up and running. And if you do have any trouble, 24/7 live chat support is on hand to answer your questions. It really works, too - we got a helpful response from a knowledgeable support agent within a couple of minutes of posting our question.

The good news continues elsewhere, with ExpressVPN delivering in almost every area. Bitcoin payments? Of course. P2P support? Yep. Netflix unblocking? Naturally. Industrial-strength encryption, kill switch, DNS leak protection, solid and reliable performance and a clear no-logging policy? You've got it.

Downsides? Not many to speak of. The ExpressVPN service supports five simultaneous connections per user (increased from three), and it comes with a premium price tag. But if you want a speedy service, crammed with top-notch features, and with all the support you need to help you use them, ExpressVPN will be a great fit. While they don’t have a free trial, ExpressVPN has a no-questions-asked 30-day money back guarantee if you aren’t happy with the service.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Get the best overall VPN 2021

Get the best overall VPN 2021
Our #1 recommended VPN is the one we would choose if we were getting one: ExpressVPN. TechRadar readers get 3 extra months free when they sign up for a year. And you can also give it a try first with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Best privacy tool for unlimited devices

(Image credit: Surfshark)
Excellent privacy tool with no device limits

Reasons to buy

Unlimited devices covered
Generally fast connections
Reasonable prices

Reasons to avoid

A bit basic
Android app unstable at times

Based in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark has laid-back and playful branding. But when it comes to keeping you and your online identity secure, it's all business.

The basics are all in place for starters. So that includes OpenVPN UDP and TCP, IKEv2 security protocols, AES-256 encryption, and a kill switch ready to stop your details leaking if ever your connection fails. In addition, Surfshark boasts a private DNS and an extra security blanket via a double VPN hop. Not to mention a logging policy whereby only your email address and billing information are kept on record. It's fast, too, whether you're connecting to a US or UK server or somewhere further away - say in Australia and New Zealand. Handy if you're trying to access your Netflix account from abroad.

If you're somebody who is easily bamboozled and, ultimately, put off by complicated menus and myriad options, Surfshark could be the best VPN for you. It keeps its interface completely stripped back and free from complication. All you'll really see are options for 'Quick connect' and 'All locations', accompanied by a Settings icon, and nothing else at all really. Whether that level of detail (or lack thereof) is a boon or a drawback entirely depends on your perspective.

One of our favorite things about this VPN service (other than the price) is the fact that your subscription covers an unlimited devices and services. So if you plan to use your VPN on your laptop, desktop (compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux), tablet, a couple of mobile phones (iOS and Android both covered) and Amazon Fire TV Stick for watching overseas TV, the one account will cover you on all of them simultaneously.

Surfshark offers a 30-day money back guarantee, giving you plenty of time to give it a try before committing for a longer period. And even then, annual plans are very reasonably priced indeed.

Read our full Surfshark review.


One of 2021's best value VPNs
While Surfshark loses out to Express when it comes to sheer all-round quality, security and support, Surfshark has bite when it comes to pricing. Subscribe to a longer plan and you can bring the monthly spend down to less than $2/£2.

Best privacy tool for speed

(Image credit: IPVanish)
A solid privacy tool that's speedy and highly configurable

Reasons to buy

Owns and manages its own servers
Speedy live chat support
Powerful, configurable apps
Excellent download speeds

Reasons to avoid

Some usability issues on desktop apps

IPVanish is another strong performer in our VPN tests. The service also has some impressive stats: 40,000+ shared IPs, 1,500+ VPN servers in 70+ countries, unlimited P2P traffic, unlimited simultaneous connections and 24/7 customer support. On the subject of support, we really like that you can access it directly from your Android or iOS app on mobile.

The apps are a powerful highlight. Not only are there loads of them (Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, even Fire TV), but they're absolutely stuffed with unusual features, options and settings, trampling all over the horribly basic "list of flags and a Connect button"-type apps you'll usually get elsewhere.

The good news continued when we tried some real-world tests. Servers were always up, and connected quickly; download speeds were above average; torrents are supported on every server, and we were able to unblock US Netflix with ease.

There are some issues, too. The apps are powerful, but that means there's a lot to learn, and we noticed a few small usability issues. A small number of servers didn't appear to be in the advertised locations, and there is no kill switch in the iOS app.

Overall, if you need its ten simultaneous connections, or the power and configurability of its apps, take the plunge with this VPN service, and if somehow you end up unhappy you're protected by a 30 day money-back guarantee.

Read our full IPVanish VPN review.


Unlimited VPN connections and free cloud storage
IPVanish has been loitering around our top few best VPN services for some time now. Even with it's huge discount for an annual plan, it comes out a bit higher in price than some. But you're paying for high quality here, as many simultaneous connections at any one time as you can handle and a whole year free of SugarSync cloud storage - so fantastic value overall.

Best privacy tool for user-friendliness

(Image credit: Hotspot Shield)
User-friendly privacy tool to hide your IP address from prying eyes

Reasons to buy

Impressively user-friendly
Fast VPN network

Reasons to avoid

Restrictions and adverts with free app

Hotspot Shield is available in two flavors: a free, ad-supported one, and a paid-for version that offers unlimited bandwidth. Hotspot Shield hides your IP address and provides encrypted traffic tunneling (ideal for use on public Wi-Fi networks) to improve security and ensure privacy.

You may not want to use Hotspot Shield at all time. For instance, you may only be interested in using it to access certain sites that are blocked in your country. In this case you can create shortcuts to individual sites in the Hotspot Shield window, which will enable protection before launching the sites. Protection can also be toggled on an off with a single click.

The paid-for product, Hotspot Elite, only costs a few dollars or pounds a month, but it's worth trying the free edition first before opening your wallet. The premium version's additional features, including ad-free browsing and dedicated customer support, make it a tempting proposition.

Read our full Hotspot Shield review.

Best privacy tool for additional security

(Image credit: Norton)
Great privacy tool with multi-feature firewall protection and more at an affordable price

Reasons to buy

Secure VPN
Dark Web monitoring
Password manager
Online backup

Reasons to avoid

VPN kill switch issues

Norton 360 Deluxe offers an even richer and more feature-packed internet security suite than just providing a firewall. While it provides for antivirus and standard anti-malware protections like the above internet security suites it dares to go further.

Additional features in the Norton 360 Deluxe edition includes a secure VPN, parent controls, a password manager (although you still may want to use the best password manager for the job), and online cloud backup. There's also a feature for dark web monitoring so you can be alerted if any of your details appear for sale on the Dark Web.

This all comes at a more expensive price than the other internet security suites featured here, but the additional features and peace of mind are likely to be worth it for some people.

Beyond the deluxe edition, you can upgrade to the Lifelock Select version which provides additional identity protection and credit rating monitoring as well as insurance provision in the event that your personal information is misused.

Read our full Norton 360 Deluxe.

Best privacy tool for advanced users

Website screenshot for Incogni

(Image credit: Incogni)
Great privacy tool for more technical users that lets you keep your personal data safe

Reasons to buy

Weekly updates on data removal process
Substantial savings on annual plan

Reasons to avoid

Limited support options

Incogni is a privacy service coming from a well-known VPN provider Surfshark. The main selling point of the service is that it was designed for users to get their data from the data broker’s service. Not only does it help you get your data from data brokers and from various public databases, but it also helps keep your data out.

The service has a huge list of data broker databases and they provide a user-friendly data removal tool, to help your data stay private. The request to remove the data goes out immediately after a user subscribes. The response time is within a week, and most of the requests are processed in the first month. Worth noting is that the users get weekly updates on the progress.

Pricing is pretty simple, with only one plan available. The only thing to choose is between monthly and annual payments. Both options grant a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Support could benefit from more options as there are only a few options to actually contact support. There’s a support portal, and one option for direct communication, but you won’t find a phone number, chat box, or even an email.

Read our full Incogni review.

Best privacy tool for features

(Image credit: Panda)
High-quality privacy tool with an excellent firewall and internet security solution

Reasons to buy

Lots of features
Can cover unlimited devices

Reasons to avoid

Interface won't be for everybody

Firewall, real-time malware detection, speedy cloud-based scanning, URL filtering to block malicious websites: Panda Dome Essential antivirus has all the essentials – not to mention, the goodies – you'd expect from the best antivirus software.

And, that's just the beginning. Panda Dome is brimming with added extras that some of the other plans on this list can’t match – from port scanning and ping handling to in-depth process monitoring and an integrated VPN.

The interface will be a little bit decisive, too. With so many weird and wonderful features included, Panda Dome does a very capable job of making sure that they can all be accessed and you can go as in-depth as you need. However, on the other hand, this might put off users who just want a quiet, simple antivirus package.

One undoubted advantage here is the price - Panda Dome Essential is one of the best value programs out there. And, you even have the option of paying a little more and upgrading to cover an unlimited number of laptops, phones, tablets and desktops with a single subscription.

Read our full Panda Dome Essential review.

Best free tools

Best free anonymous tool overall

(Image credit: Tor)
Best free anonymous browser

Reasons to buy

Highly effective privacy protection
Very simple to use
Can unblock censored websites

Reasons to avoid

Slow performance

Tor Browser is probably the best-known anonymous browsing tool out there, and it is described as a 'censorship circumvention tool'.

Tor Browser has a vast following in the online privacy and security communities. It works by bouncing your communication through numerous encrypted nodes on the internet, making it impossible to determine your location or other identifying information.

Tor Browser employs complex technology, but is refreshingly accessible. It's based on the same code as Firefox, and guides you through the process of getting online one step at a time.

It uses different connection methods depending on what you're trying to achieve, but there's no need to understand the details because it's all taken care of for you. This combination of effective protection and ease of use makes Tor Browser the best free privacy software you can download today.

Read our full Tor Browser review.

Best free anonymous tool for ease of use

(Image credit: TunnelBear)
Great anonymous browsing that's easy to get started with

Reasons to buy

The most accessible VPN around
Bypasses ISP throttling

Reasons to avoid

Keep an eye on the data limit

In addition to anonymous browsing, free VPN client TunnelBear can also be used to bypass traffic-shaping and throttling put in place by ISPs.

The free version of TunnelBear gives you up to 500MB of data each month, but if this isn't enough, unlimited data is available for a subscription. Alternatively, you can pay around twice that to use on a month-by-month basis.

Whether you go premium or stick with the free version, you can share a single account between up to five phones, tablets, Windows PCs or Macs.

Configuration is incredibly simple, and TunnelBear's free privacy software can be used with any browser. It's probably the most accessible VPN tool there is, and is just about impossible not to recommend because it does an excellent job of simplifying VPNs for novice users.

Read our full TunnelBear review.

Best free anonymous tool for performance

(Image credit: VPNBook)

3. VPNBook

Speedy, anonymous browsing that doesn't store data permanently

Reasons to buy

Extremely fast performance
Blocks adverts and other nuisances
Clear logging policy

Reasons to avoid

Limited locations

In addition to its titular virtual private network, VPNBook provides a free SSL-encrypted web proxy for a spot of anonymous browsing. Take your pick from proxy servers based in the US, UK, France, or Canada, or let the proxy pick one at random. 

In our tests, VPNBook was extremely fast, and its address bar/banner was unobtrusive. It also blocked ads and some scripted elements from web pages, which can be beneficial for privacy (though we would appreciate being given a choice), and it supports HTTPS connections.

Like all free web proxies, VPNBook keeps web logs, which it can use to report illegal activity, but these are deleted automatically after a week.

It may not be perfect, but VPNBook’s speed, convenience, and clear policy on logging make it our pick for the best free web proxy.

Best free anonymous tool for low-level configuration

(Image credit: Privoxy)

4. Privoxy

Great anonymous browsing for those who want low-level configuration

Reasons to buy

Wide range of platforms supported
Great for those who want low-level configuration

Reasons to avoid

Not so beginner-friendly

Privoxy is a web proxy tool that's available not only for Mac, Windows and Linux, but also Android and iOS. It is a tremendously powerful tool, but you'll need to invest a little time and effort to get it up and running.

Privoxy can be used in conjunction with just about any web browser, which is a big bonus; simply set the browser to run its traffic through the tool.

However, one of Privoxy's key features could also be a drawback for new users: it gives you very granular control over privacy settings, and configuring them is very much a manual process. There's a helpful quick start guide available, but it has the potential to be off-putting.

That said, if you're happy to persevere, this free privacy software lets you set up advanced filters that will not only ensure you remain anonymous online, but also protect you against unwanted ads.

Best free anonymous tool for data allowance

(Image credit: Windscribe)
Best free anonymous browsing with a huge data allowance

Reasons to buy

Free plan has 10GB data allowance
P2P and Bitcoin support

Reasons to avoid

Somewhat inconsistent connection speeds

Windscribe is another multi-platform VPN tool in this list, where free users have access to one of the biggest data allowance in the business.

The free plan offers 10GB if you register (2GB if you don't) which for occasional use should be perfectly adequate. If not, there are paid plans that grant unlimited data and additional configuration options.

Configuration is simple as all you need to do is to click one button to turn the VPN on and you're good to go. Depending on your region, the software will automatically connect you to the best location, giving the impression that you're browsing from another country. 

The downside of using Windscribe (free plan especially) is that the connection speeds can be average and inconsistent. Still, the pros outweigh the cons, so the service is well worth a try.

Read our full Windscribe review.

Private Browsing

Also consider: private browsing

As well as private browsing software and VPNs, another possibility is to use stricter privacy controls on your usual browsers. 

However, this is probably best considered as a first defense rather than a complete solution, especially when these are primarily aimed at preventing tracking cookies, and the browser manufacturer may consider themselves already granted permission to collect some user data in the first place. 

Even still, we'll explore your options for making a start with private browsing using the most popular browsers.

Mozilla Firefox: You can adjust your privacy settings for Firefox using the official guide, which should allow a better degree of private browsing. Do note that unless you make adjustments, your browser will actually send a lot of information both to Mozilla as well as partners such as Google, not least on your location.

Google Chrome: Information on changing your privacy settings in Google Chrome can be found here, though take note that this is mainly aimed at controlling how much information third-party websites might try to gain on your surfing habits, and doesn't exclude Google from collecting data for its own purposes, not least usability and service improvements.

Microsoft Edge: You can find out how to adjust your privacy settings for surfing with the Microsoft Edge browser here. Again, this is more focused on browsing more privately than anonymously, not least with regards to advertising cookies.

Apple Safari: Information on how to adjust privacy settings using the Safari browser on a Mac can be found here. Apple has put in place new privacy protections in Safari 12, in order to better protect consumers against the increasing use of data collection by companies through the apps they provide.

Best privacy tools and anonymous browsers FAQs

How to choose the best privacy tools and anonymous browsers for you?

To choose the best privacy tools and anonymous browsers, start with assessing the features that are most essential to you. This includes the platforms the tools run on, the server speeds and locations, the encryption level, the number of devices they can be used on simultaneously, and the monthly data limits. 

If you plan to use it for unblocking streaming sites, you'll want to check whether the tool is capable of unblocking the sites you plan to use. You'll also want to look out for the overall ease of setting up the tool and the simplicity of the user interface, along with the pricing model.

How we test

To select the best privacy tools and anonymous browsers, we extensively tested various tools. We considered the platforms they run on, the number of devices they can be used on simultaneously, the server speeds and locations, the encryption grade, the monthly data limits, and the pricing structure. 

We evaluated the overall ease of setting up the tools and how user-friendly the installation and interface were. Along with the performance and speed, we looked at how many streaming sites the tools could help unblock. We also checked whether the tools had ads and if there was a clear logging policy that'd delete all the data.

Read more on how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar.

Get in touch

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Sofia Elizabella Wyciślik-Wilson
Freelance writer

Sofia is a tech journalist who's been writing about software, hardware and the web for nearly 25 years – but still looks as youthful as ever! After years writing for magazines, her life moved online and remains fueled by technology, music and nature.

Having written for websites and magazines since 2000, producing a wide range of reviews, guides, tutorials, brochures, newsletters and more, she continues to write for diverse audiences, from computing newbies to advanced users and business clients. Always willing to try something new, she loves sharing new discoveries with others.

Sofia lives and breathes Windows, Android, iOS, macOS and just about anything with a power button, but her particular areas of interest include security, tweaking and privacy. Her other loves include walking, music, her two Malamutes and, of course, her wife and daughter.

You can find her on Twitter and Mastodon.

With contributions from