And if you were hoping for a shock new-entry or a real shake-up in the rankings, we're afraid you're going to be disappointed. ExpressVPN has retained its crown as the number one overall service on the market, with the familiar names of NordVPN and Surfshark remaining alongside it on the podium.
Beyond that, Private Internet Access and ProtonVPN make up the top five, entirely unmoved from their positions the last time we reviewed them.
You can see our full rankings below, together with quotes from our new reviews to help explain why these really are the best VPN services to download in 2022.
The top 5 best VPNs in 2022
1. ExpressVPN (opens in new tab)
"This is a top-quality VPN which exceeded our expectations in everything from platform coverage and privacy, to ease of use, unblocking abilities and its excellent support. This is a polished, powerful and professional service - the best just keeps on getting better."
Read more in our full ExpressVPN review
2. NordVPN (opens in new tab)
"NordVPN is an appealing VPN provider with great performance, loads of features, and an excellent no logging audit. We've a few small issues with the app interfaces, but the company has added a bunch of welcome improvements recently, and overall, it's a service which will deliver good results for most users."
Read more in our full NordVPN review
3. Surfshark (opens in new tab)
"OpenVPN speeds aren't the best, but Surfshark excels just about everywhere else, providing an array of advanced features for a very low price. An absolute must for your VPN shortlist."
Read more in our full Surfshark review
4. Private Internet Access (opens in new tab)
"Private Internet Access isn't perfect, but it scores in many key areas: this VPN runs on almost anything, is easy to use, crammed with advanced features, unblocks Netflix and almost everything else we tried, and all for a very low price."
Read more in our full Private Internet Access review
5. ProtonVPN (opens in new tab)
"ProtonVPN unblocked everything we tried, its well-designed apps are open source and independently audited, WireGuard speeds are excellent and there's a free plan with no bandwidth limits. This is a great VPN, and it's getting better."
Read more in our full ProtonVPN review
ExpressVPN is top of the VPN pops
ExpressVPN may have had a bit of a weird 2021 - in the same week in August, it was first bought out by cybersecurity giant Kape Technologies before having an executive team member implicated in historical hacking allegations - it's still managed to keep on doing what it does best.
Mike Williams, TechRadar's cybersecurity expert and chief VPN tester, said: "There was plenty of competition among the top of the tree, with Surfshark's WireGuard speeds up 50%, and NordVPN adding Threat Protection malware scanning and an Edge browser extension while also cutting its prices.
"But ExpressVPN's higher speeds, shorter connection times and new ad and malware blocking just kept it ahead of the pack."
The provider's proprietary Lightway protocol ensures that speeds are among the fastest on the market, while it continues to perform admirably in our streaming VPN stress tests. That means it's a consistently useful tool for getting around geo-blocks put in front of it by services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Peacock TV, ESPN Plus and many more.
Another thing we love about Express is that it's just so easy to use - and on a range of devices, too. It tops this list of Android VPN and iPhone VPN providers, while its desktop clients on Windows and Mac are also second to none. And if you do run into a spot of bother, there's fantastic 24/7 live chat support ready and waiting to help solve your issue.
ExpressVPN remains a little pricier than some of the competition (there's no danger of it topping our cheap VPN chart). But the free year of unlimited secure cloud backup from Backblaze - which it chucks in when you sign up for an annual plan - helps to increase the value on offer. And you can of course try ExpressVPN for 30-days without risk (opens in new tab), thanks to its quibble-free money back guarantee.
Best VPNs for 2022: more of the same
The VPN industry isn't unique for being one where marketing speak and big promises are the norm for providers. You'd think that would mean that our list of top providers is constantly being peppered with up-and-coming new entries bringing their A-game to shake up the established players.
But only provider Hide.me VPN really made much of an impact this time around, bursting into the top 10 for the first time.
So why is there so little movement within highest echelons? Williams says: "There's a lot going on with the top providers, both in terms of powerful new VPN features and interesting extras - ad-blocking and antivirus is taking off everywhere, for example.
"But right now all the big names are developing their services at a similar pace, and so no-one's quite gained enough speed to overtake anybody else."