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The best VPN service 2021

best vpn

Having a VPN helps to make you more anonymous online, encrypts your internet use and lets you effectively trick your laptop or mobile device into thinking it's in another location entirely.

And it's the versatility of the best VPNs that have made them such a game-changing bit of kit for laptops, desktops, tablets, smartphones, streaming devices, smart TVs - even games consoles.

If you're already in the know about what VPNs are and so, this is the place to discover mini reviews of the best VPNs in 2021 following our most recent round of in-depth testing...

2021's best VPN services

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1. ExpressVPN - best VPN service in the world
ExpressVPN just can't be knocked off its perch at the head of the top VPN table. It ticks all of the boxes: fast server connections, serious security smarts, ridiculously easy to use, ace customer support - even free cloud backup thrown in. It's the very best around and you can try it for 30-days risk-free.

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2. NordVPN - the biggest name in the business
NordVPN is jam-packed with features, unblocks loads of streaming services and boasts extra privacy perks like 'Double VPN' security and an independently audited no-log policy. And despite the quality on offer, the pricing gets really reasonable if you sign up for a multi-year plan.

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3. Surfshark - easy to use VPN that's great value
If you're more concerned about grabbing a bargain than going for the all out best above, then Surfshark should be on your shortlist. From just $2.50 USD/£2/$AU3.50 per month it's a fantastic, premium option that's super simple to use and has become a TechRadar favorite.

For those completely new to the world of VPN, not to worry - you've come to the right place. Keep reading and you'll find our full guide on what they are, what they do, how they work, and why they're such a handy and affordable tool to equip your devices with.

What is a VPN?

VPN is short for 'virtual private network' and is a piece of software that allows you to use the internet via secure, encrypted tunnels.

For many, getting a VPN service will be all about privacy. You may want to use them to help keep your online life completely anonymous from prying eyes of your ISP (handy for keen torrenters) or even your government.

But because the best VPNs also let you change your IP address to one in a completely different city or country, these services have taken on a much wider use. VPNs are fantastic for streamers, for example, who want to have access to a whole world of shows and films, or want to watch a sporting event somewhere you ordinarily can't.

While if you’re on holiday and find your favorite app is banned (think about some of the internet censorship in Cuba, Turkey, China - even Canada), an online VPN will let you use the internet in the way you’ve become accustomed.

Below you'll find handy VPN reviews of all the best services on the market - with services like Netflix and states such as Russia getting increasingly aggressive against VPNs, it's imperative to know which provider is strongest. While further down the page there's stacks more information about the software.

The best VPN services of 2021 in full:

ExpressVPN - the best VPN service in 2021 - on a range of devices

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

1. ExpressVPN

The outright best VPN service for speed, privacy and unblocking

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | Countries: 94 | Maximum devices supported: 5

Top marks across the board
Easy to run on almost any platform
Enterprise-level encryption
Speedy VPN servers in 90+ countries 
Superb 24/7 live customer support 
Fewer simultaneous connections than some
Some recent controversy

Get TechRadar's #1 rated VPN risk-free and with 3 months extra free

When we completed our latest round of in-depth VPN reviews this year ExpressVPN once again came out on top of the pile. It impressed in every test we threw at it and the 5-star rating we've given the VPN service is testament to the fact it can barely be improved upon.

ExpressVPN is TechRadar's editor's choice

So let's get in to some specifics. It starts well right from the off, as you you'll immediately note that ExpressVPN gives you the choice of over 3,000 servers in 160 locations across 94 countries.

Its five simultaneous connections will be more than enough for most subscribers (although most other VPN services on this list to permit more) and in addition to fantastic apps on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux (and dedicated extensions for Chrome and Firefox), it's also really easy to use on the likes of Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, smart TVs, PlayStation, Xbox and routers, too.

The service already used industry-standard encryption and a choice of various other protocols (including IKEv2, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPsec) to keep your data safe. But perhaps most exciting is that it has now begun rolling out its very own Lightway protocol that seeks to increase speed and reliability even further.

But away from the numbers and specifications, it’s in our real-life testing where ExpressVPN really shines. For starters, it’s fast. Really fast, with fantastic connection speeds across servers in multiple countries. And that's even when we're using the default OpenVPN protocol in our tests - they get even quicker with the aforementioned Lightway option turned on.

We also love just how easy to use this service is. That might seem obvious, but not every VPN provider out there has worked out how to make its tools intuitive, regardless of what device you're using it on. From desktop and mobile, to TV streamers and browser extensions, ExpressVPN is a doddle to set up and operate for both pros and inexperienced users. 

For many people looking for a VPN, it all comes down to how good a service is at unblocking banned websites/services and getting around TV streaming hurdles. So we check to see whether they can unblock geo-restrictions that stop you watching services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and Disney+ from abroad – ExpressVPN unlocks them all without a hint of difficulty.

In terms of additional features, ExpressVPN goes above and beyond. Bitcoin payments, P2P support, kill switch, DNS leak protection, solid and reliable performance and a clear no-logging policy that’s been verified by independent auditors. It’s all there.

It’s really worth knowing about this VPN provider’s excellent levels of customer support. Its 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.

Frankly, we don't mask the fact of how highly we rate ExpressVPN. It's very simple... it is the best VPN you can get in virtually every scenario. That said, it would be remiss of us not to talk about ExpressVPN's rather exciting few days in August 2021. First, it announced that it had been acquired by Kape Technologies, the company that owns CyberGhost and PIA below and has a somewhat chequered history. Then it was revealed that its CIO had been fined for previous hacking allegations. TechRadar's initial view is that neither incident feels particularly major - although we can see why they could call the provider's trustworthiness in to question - but we'll naturally be keeping a vey close eye on things as/if the stories develop.

Either way, you can always take advantage of ExpressVPN’s quibble-free 30-day money back guarantee that you can use like a free trial – not that we imagine you’d need to use it.

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Get the best overall VPN 2021 with 3 months FREE
Our #1 recommended VPN is the one we use ourselves. And the great news is that TechRadar readers get three extra months free when they sign up for an annual plan, as well as a year's access of unlimited Backblaze cloud backup (worth $60). Plus, you can also give it a try with a 30-day money back guarantee.

2. NordVPN

The biggest name in VPNs is a very close second

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 5,100+ | Server locations: 80+ | Countries: 59 | Maximum devices supported: 6

NordLynx protocol is a game changer
Unparalleled security smarts
Brilliant at unblocking
Some great value subscription options
User experience could still be improved

NordVPN's current product matches or beats virtually all of the competition in just about every area. When it comes to our overall title for the best VPN, ExpressVPN should watch its back!

For starters, the levels of security NordVPN has to offer have been impressing us for some time now. While it too offers AES-256 as standard, you also have the option to turn on its Double VPN system where all your internet traffic is encrypted not once, but twice. Handy to know  where your internet anonymity is paramount like when you're on public Wi-Fi or, perhaps, torrenting.

It actually bests ExpressVPN on pure server count, cranking things up to an eye-watering 5,000 (in roughly 60 countries) and it allows for one more simultaneous connection at six.

Like its main competitor above, other features include strong DNS leak protection, kill switches (application-specific and system wide), proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers, and payment options that include Bitcoin, PayPal and credit cards. And it is also strong on unblocking Netflix and other services - although Brits abroad do have to resort to a workaround to access iPlayer.

The steps to take are all explained out in one of NordVPN's myriad troubleshooting articles. Not only are they plentiful, these guides are also really useful. And there's always chatbot and excellent live customer support on hand 24/7 if you're still struggling.

We also have a lot of love for Nord's dedication to putting the tarnishing news of historic data breaches behind it. It now brings in PricewaterhouseCoopers to carry out a thorough audit of its no-logging policy every year.

Last year's introduction of the provider's custom NordLynx protocol was certainly eye-catching. It has helped to make Nord's connection speeds even faster and more reliable, even from servers that are further afield. That said, this is one category where Express pips it to the post.

If we have one other quibble, it would be with the user experience that NordVPN supplies. Just little things like the destination cities not being listed in alphabetical order or searching through menus for specialist task functions left us wishing for tweaks. That's especially the case when it comes to its otherwise effective mobile apps. But, these are pretty minor minus points and, as with any reviews you'll find on the internet, we understand that this ultimately comes down to personal preference.

NordVPN has a few options available included monthly subscriptions and an excellent value two-year special offer. If you want to give the service a whirl before you commit, NordVPN provides a 30-day money back guarantee.

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NordVPN gives you a big saving on 2-years plan
NordVPN goes big on discounts with its long term plan. If you commit to Nord's excellent service for the next two years, it will slash 65% off the price, bringing things down to around an effective $4 per month.

Surfshark VPN working on several devices

3. Surfshark

One of the best value swimmers in the ocean of VPN services

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 3,200 | Server locations: 100+ | Countries: 65 | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited

Eye-catching price
Unlimited devices covered
A dream to use
Excellent unblocking
Lacks the speeds of the top three
Some functionality missing

Surfshark is a VPN service we really like and with a couple of very attractive USPs.

We'll come on to features, spec and the like in a moment. But there's no getting away from the fact that the main draw here is Surfshark's scarcely believable pricing. Sign up to its annual plan and the effective monthly cost comes in at less than $2.50 USD / £2 GBP / $3.50 AUD.

And that's for unlimited connections, too. 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. And theoretically you could even let friends and family members use your sub, too.

But the success of this  VPN isn't exclusively based on cost. We'd also let Surfshark's laid-back and playful branding take some of the credit, which helps to make a potentially scary sounding bit of software look like a really user-friendly product.

If you're somebody who is easily bamboozled and, ultimately, put off by complicated menus and myriad options, Surfshark - like ExpressVPN above - could be the ideal 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.

That all said, when it comes to keeping you and your online identity secure, Surfshark is all business. It has now added the new protocol in town WireGuard to its OpenVPN UDP and TCP and IKEv2 options. In addition, Surfshark boasts a private DNS and an extra security blanket via a double VPN hop. And we found it successfully gets to grips with unblocking geo-restricted access to Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ and others.

Surfshark offers a 30-day money back guarantee, giving you plenty of time to give it a try before committing for a longer period.

So where does it lose marks? Not too many places, but competition is tough these days - especially when Express and Nord have managed to improve their server speeds so substantially, while Surfshark's have remained merely 'good'. But it always feels like Surfshark is trying to raise its game, and in May 2021 it let independent security consultants Cure53 complete a security assessment to "to thoroughly examine and evaluate the security posture exposed by the Surfshark server" - it ultimately confirmed that there was "a very solid security premise at Surfshark".

And we'd certainly say that a place in the top three out of the 200+ VPNs we've reviewed isn't bad going, and the above considerations are unlikely to put off the bargain hunters among you.

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One of the world's best value VPNs
While Surfshark loses out to ExpressVPN and NordVPN 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 $2.50 USD.

Hotspot Shield - best VPN contender working on different devices

(Image credit: Hotspot Shield)

4. Hotspot Shield

Massively improved VPN service that has some of the fastest speeds

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 45 days | Number of servers: 1,800+ | Server locations: 110+ | Countries: 80+ | Maximum devices supported: 5

Rapid connection speeds
Super-easy to use
Better and better for streaming
Excellent exclusive pricing
iPhone app could be improved
Would welcome more privacy peace-of-mind

Hotspot Shield is a premium package gives you full access to 1,800+ servers in more than 80 countries, support for connecting up to five devices, 24/7 customer support and, of course, absolutely no ads at all. It's yet more evidence that taking the plunge and paying just a few dollars a month gets you a far superior VPN experience - especially when you read more below about its exclusive pricing just for TechRadar readers.

Yes, some of those specs on paper are fairly unspectacular in the context of what some other providers give. But it's what our in-depth testing revealed that really stands out - and that's pure speed. If your main consideration when picking a VPN is speed (perhaps you're a gamer, streamer or torrenter) then Hotspot should be towards the very top of your shortlist.

Performance was a big highlight in our tests, with Hotspot Shield's proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol helping to deliver some of the fastest and most consistent download speeds we've seen and an average of 360-380Mb when using US or UK servers. Speeds remain high to some of the most distant locations, too.

As well as being able to run the service on devices where you can use its native Windows, Mac, Android or iOS apps, Hotspot has added functionality to support use on routers, Linux and TV streamers, too. A SmartVPN feature - that let's you select websites on which the VPN will be bypassed - is another welcome addition, especially if you only really wanted to keep your VPN on when shopping, banking, streaming, etc.

Really just want a VPN to help you stream more and varied content? Then this is another area that Hotspot really impresses. In our testing, we found that this service is pretty much on a par with Express and Nord when it comes to unblocking geo-restricted apps and services. So from watching foreign Netflix catalogs, to accessing HBO Max from outside the US, to using social media apps that your school or office might block, Hotspot Shield is a reliable tool.

If Hotspot uses 2021 to bring in some independent auditors to verify its logging practices, we'd be happier still. Especially as the provider does admit to logging VPN sessions, bandwidth, domains accessed and IP addresses. All of these are reasoned out on Hotspot's website, but we'd welcome an auditor's view on things. There's also room for improvement on its iOS app, which just doesn't quite match the high quality desktop or Android experience.

Subscribe for more than just a month at a time, and Hotspot Shield becomes one of the best priced premium VPNs on the market. And if you try it and still aren't impressed, then there's a generous 45-day money back guarantee that will let you get your money back without issue.

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Save big with TechRadar's exclusive pricing
You can try one of our current favorite VPNs for 45 days risk free to discover for yourself why we rate it so highly. The biggest savings kick in if you choose to sign up for three years, as it brings the effective monthly cost down to a mere $2.49 USD / £2.29 - a price you won't find anywhere else on the webu0021

Private Internet Access - best VPN

(Image credit: Private Internet Access)

5. Private Internet Access

A strong all-round VPN with a huge number of servers

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 10,000+ | Server locations: 100 | Countries: 78 | Maximum devices supported: 10

So many serversu0021
Feature-filled apps
Good value
No security audit
WireGuard speeds inconsistent in our testing

It may not be quite the fastest VPN, or the cheapest, or the most powerful, but Private Internet Access (often stylized as simply PIA) is still a likeable VPN provider with more than enough features to justify a place on your shortlist.

Its most notable claim of recent VPN reviews is a huge increase in PIA's server count. It took things from a mediocre 2,000ish to an almost unfathomable 30,000+. The latest count we're told is more like 10,000, which still puts it way ahead of the rest when it comes to pure server numbers.

That sure sounds impressive, but it wouldn't be worth a thing without the usability and security aspects. Fortunately, PIA offers a healthy mix of privacy features and security protocols (including WireGuard) - this extends to its first rate Chrome extension, which adds in the option to block location access, third-party cookies, website referrers and more.

Whether you're intending to use your VPN mostly on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux or maybe a mix, they're all reliable, easy to use, with more features than most. That's not just us saying that either, as the user reviews on the App Store and Play Store are generally really positive. And there's support here for up to 10 simultaneous connections, so it's easy to cover pretty much all of your devices on one reasonable subscription.

Speaking frankly, in its current state PIA will never get near featuring on our list of the fastest VPNs. It isn't the slowest around and won't significantly hold you up for most 'normal' web activity. But for gamers looking for an edge, streamers who hate the merest hint of buffering and torrenters not wanting to hang around, maybe you should go from one of the better/faster options on this list.

But PIA still does plenty to stand out from the crowd and the pricing beats a lot of the competition - often throwing in free extra months or additional security licences when you sign up for more than a year.


CyberGhost - best VPN

(Image credit: CyberGhost)

6. CyberGhost

Feature-packed clients and impressive configurability

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu, iPlayer | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 45 days | Number of servers: 7,000+ | Server locations: 105+ | Countries: 91 | Maximum devices supported: 7

Desktop apps have plenty of features
Excellent performance levels
Torrents are supported
The odd streaming hiccup
No audit

VPN service CyberGhost has been a firm favorite of ours for some time now, and it's no surprise that it has a user base of over ten million subscribers. The company covers the basics well, with more than 7,000 servers spread across 90-odd countries, apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, torrents allowed and speedy live chat support.

If you're somebody who will largely be using your VPN on a Windows desktop or laptop, that's where CyberGhost really shines. Beneath its clean, easy to follow interface lies a sea of fantastic features and functionality. It will quickly connect you to the right server for you if you're specifically looking to stream or torrent, for example.

And extra touches like its Smart Rules panel shows that the engineers at CyberGhost have really put some thought into the user experience. It allows you to automatically connect to your preferred server launch a particular app (such as your default browser in incognito mode) when you boot up your computer. A genuinely useful added bonus.

We need to spend just a bit of time mentioning the speeds CyberGhost demonstrated in our most recent tests. Even before we jumped on the WireGuard protocol, we witnessed some connection speeds that give the likes of NordVPN and ExpressVPN a run for their money. Although further afield (like in New Zealand), these began lagging behind a little.

Website unblocking has historically been another string suit of CyberGhost's, but it has been somewhat patchy in recent times. Yes, it can get around geo-restrictions on certain services like Netflix US and Disney+. But it can't handle others like BBC iPlayer, nor can it get access to exclusive Netflix content in other regions like Canada and the UK.

But with a meaty 45-day money back guarantee and fair pricing (especially if you're willing to commit), CyberGhost is still well worth a closer look. With parent company Kape showing more and more ambition in this cybersecurity field, you should be in capable hands of an organisation that continually seeks to push the envelope.


Windscribe - best VPN

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

7. Windscribe

Reliable VPN service keeps improving

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | 24/7 support: No | Trial period: N/A - free version available | Number of servers: 400+ | Server locations: 110 | Countries: 63 | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited

Unlimited device connections
Reliable security features
Speedy WireGuard protocol supported
Fewer servers than competition
Where's the live chat support?

Windscribe is a trusted name in the realm of VPNs and it delivers a high quality product with plenty going for it. You get clients for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux, for instance, as well as slick browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera extensions. A single subscription covers unlimited devices, too, so you can cover them all with Windscribe.

Streaming Netflix (in some regions), Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and YouTube via Windscribe was also possible. That makes the provider a sound option for streamers that want to watch overseas content or their own programming from abroad. While Windscribe seems to have put plenty of effort in to maintaining high VPN server speeds, too.

The network has locations in 110 cities spread across more than 60 countries, but its 400-odd servers in total are far fewer than what most other providers have on offer.

And unfortunately, there's no 24/7 support, so any questions you have might not get answered for a while. That seems like a big miss these days, with all of the big competition offering an on the spot advisor to pick up queries. Similarly, it's high time it joined the likes of ExpressVPN and NordVPN and got an independent eye in to verify its privacy policy.

Windscribe doesn't tick every available box then, then, but the service does have a lot of interesting features. If you're looking for a new VPN, use the free plan to find out what Windscribe can do for you. The free plan limits you to ten locations but gives you a generous 2GB-10GB data allowance a month.


IPVanish - Best VPN

(Image credit: IPVanish)

8. IPVanish

A really solid VPN solution - but streamers should look elsewhere

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, YouTube, Hulu | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 1,600+ | Server locations: 75+ | Countries: 50+ | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited

Owns and manages its own servers
Powerful, configurable apps
Reliable security features
Patchy streaming unblocking
Below average speeds

IPVanish has been a reliable performer in our VPN tests for years. The service has some impressive stats: 40,000+ shared IPs, 1,600+ VPN servers in 70+ locations, unmetered 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.

There's something about IPVanish that just feels immediately comforting when you get started. It's probably the reassuring graphs and charts in the desktop app that does it. But rest assured, it's not just about looks as IPVanish has the security smarts (AES-256 encryption, kill switch, DNS and IPv6 leak protection) to fit the bill as a great choice for the privacy conscious.

While the Android and iOS apps don't seem to get updated or refreshed that often, there's probably a good reason for that - they function really well. The Android VPN app is a particular feather in IPVanish's cap, with more settings and options than most of the competition and the ability to really configure it to your ideal set up.

With the likes of Nord, Express and Hotspot all rolling out their own proprietary security protocols, IPVanish is beginning to look a little bit left behind in terms of modernisation and speeds as we plough on into the 2020s. It doesn't even offer WireGuard yet. And our latest round of testing showed struggles to unblock Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer and large swathes of Netflix shows, which makes it hard to wholeheartedly recommend if you're looking to uncover a new world of content to stream.

But overall, if you need its unbarred 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.


ProtonVPN - best vpn

(Image credit: ProtonVPN)

9. ProtonVPN

A VPN that does things a little differently

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | 24/7 support: No | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 1,200+ | Server locations: 55+ | Countries: 55 | Maximum devices supported: 5

Loads of features
Free plan with unlimited bandwidth
Improving all the time
Not as fast as most
No live chat support available

ProtonVPN is a VPN service that continues to grow in terms of servers (almost doubling its network in the last year), making notable improvements to its clients and apps, and adding new features and support.

That all only adds to our opinion of a VPN provider that does things a little differently. There's nothing revolutionary here, but the service does have plenty of appealing aspects to help it stand out from the crowd. And it's even begun auditing its apps to show they comply with today's rigorous privacy standards. On to your desktop clients next please, Proton.

It's based in Switzerland - already feels safer, right? - and offers really stylish apps that are a joy to use and are enhanced by working kill switches and desktop-like features. Pay by Bitcoin, if you like, and enjoy solid P2P support for torrenting and a range of streaming services unlocked.

Proton has also started to improve its streaming skills, too, becoming a reliable provider for getting around geo-restrictions when you're abroad. It breezed past BBC iPlayer, aces Amazon Prime Video and netted us access to foreign Netflix catalogs without much trouble at all. Although it should be noted that this is only the case if you have a Plus subscription - you won't get this kind of quality from its free or Basic tiers.

Of all ProtonVPN's plus points this year, it has begun lagging behind the rest when it comes purely to server speed, and it's yet to adopt WireGuard to help it compete. And, like Windscribe above, it's high time it hired a few customer support staff to answer queries readily at all times of the day. We also feel just a little bit irked that the 30-day money back guarantee works on a pro-rata basis - if you use it for 15 days, say, you'll only get a 50% return. Feels like poor form, although at least Proton has a very useful free VPN if you do want to give it a try without any cost whatsoever.

So ProtonVPN isn't perfect. It still doesn't have that many servers or locations, and it's quite expensive if you need all the features we've described here (though a basic plan costs less than $5 a month). This is a powerful and trustworthy service, though, and if that's your top priority, we'd recommend you take a look.


StrongVPN - best VPN

(Image credit: Future)

10. StrongVPN

Strong by name...

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Hulu | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 950+ | Server locations: 59 | Countries: 30+ | Maximum devices supported: 12

Can be used on loads of devices
Really tempting cloud storage freebie
WireGuard on all devices
Variable speeds
Fewer server options than most

Well you can't accuse StrongVPN of being vague when it comes to its name. Unlike premium services such as CyberGhost and Windscribe, there's no doubt left in anybody's mind what StrongVPN is all about.

And the similarities with those bigger names doesn't end there. StrongVPN offers a litany of protocols (L2TP, SSTP, OpenVPN, IPSec and IKEv2) including the super speedy WireGuard on all of its apps, and an impressive roughly 60,000 VPN IP addresses.

Outside sheer brawn, StrongVPN takes something of a minimalist approach, favouring strength over style. But what it does, it does with aplomb. For starters, you have to applaud the decision to include the ability to connect up to 12 of your devices at any one time. So that will cover your desktop, laptop, mobile, tablet, streaming device and...well, a fair few more.

And if your primary aim is to find the perfect piece of software to help you stream all your favorite services, we found that StrongVPN easily unblocked streaming sites like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video from overseas (although we had no luck with BBC iPlayer).

But it comes up short in other areas - read up and down this page and the 900-odd servers, 50-something cities and 30 countries perhaps feels somewhat behind what the others on this list offer. And our latest set of speed tests weren't overly encouraging either. 

But see for yourself - StrongVPN still has a lot going for it, as well as that familiar 30-day money back guarantee. And, as an extra added perk, it will throw in 250GB of free secure cloud storage from the reputable SugarSync when you sign up for one of StrongVPN's already-reasonable annual plans.


hidemyass - best VPN

(Image credit: HMA)

11. HideMyAss! (HMA) VPN

A quality VPN from antivirus vendor Avast

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, YouTube | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 1,000+ | Server locations: 290+ | Countries: 210+ | Maximum devices supported: 5

Huge breadth of server locations
Really handy live support
Audited no-log policy
Not the service for streamers
Only basic online support

Of all the VPNs on this list, it's HideMyAss! that tops the lot when it comes to server location numbers. It's somehow scouted out servers in around 200 locations across more than 200 countries worldwide. And so while other providers might give you just a handful of locations outside Europe and North America, HideMyAss! manages 14 locations in the Middle East, 50+ in Africa, and more than 55 in Asia Pacific.

Of course server variation is far from everything (in fact, it's a fairly minor 'win' in the grand scheme of things). but the jocular provider has been around a while now and is owned by reputable cybersecurity company Avast. It clearly takes privacy very seriously, and joins the list of VPN providers that have brought in independent auditors to confirm that it's firing on all security cylinders.

Its apps are easy to use and cover the basics very well. You can use HideMyAss! (or HMA as it seems to prefer these days) almost everywhere, too, with custom apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux, OpenVPN support for maximum compatibility with other devices, and tutorials to help you set up the service on routers, Smart TVs, games consoles and more.

That said, it's online support website is pretty underwhelming. We're just glad that there are customer advisers available via 24/7 live chat that you're able to speak to in the event that any of the set up or use becomes problematic.

We're afraid that's still not going to help the streamers among you though. Other than Netflix and iPlayer, HMA really struggled to unblock most of the other big names in TV streaming. A black mark, but won't matter to you if your main reason to grab a VPN is for sure-fire anonymity online.


VyprVPN - best VPN

(Image credit: google)

12. VyprVPN

Security-conscious VPN with great streaming chops

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70 | Countries: 66 | Maximum devices supported: 5

Netflix and other services unblocked
Impressive Android app
Privacy-focussed VPN
Slow connections on OpenVPN
Some kill switch bugs

VyprVPN is the second Switzerland-based provider on this list and is probably one of the more famous names on it as well. It boasts plenty of the features you'd expect of a modern VPN, including a no-logging policy that's audited by an outside security company, instantaneous live chat support, and the speedy WireGuard protocol on its desktop clients and mobile VPN apps.

It may only have 700-odd servers - much less than most of the competition these days - but they're spread far and wide across 60+ countries and are all fully owned by VyprVPN itself. That means it doesn't have to rely on third-party web hosts, thus making the whole operation immediately feel more secure.

If you're looking for website unblocking, this service gave us easy access to US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Hulu and many more during our testing. The only blemish was Amazon Prime Video, but that does generally tend to be a more challenging service for VPNs to handle.

Android user that knows you'll be using the VPN frequently on your phone? Then VyprVPN is a fine foil. Open up the app and it looks just like the full Windows client (that's a good thing, by the way) and features a hatful of handy features: kill switch, DNS leak protection, start-up and auto-reconnect options, URL filtering. The iOS app doesn't quite squeeze as much in as the Android version (no kill switch, for example), but it's still nice to use on iPhone.

It functions admirably on Windows, too, although we did get some niggly kill switch issues there. And using OpenVPN as default, we found the connections speeds to be a fair way down on average - a problem that should be avoidable if you just use WireGuard.

VyprVPN isn't quite perfect, then, but there's undoubtedly a lot to like - a must for your VPN service shortlist.


TunnelBear - Best VPN

(Image credit: TunnelBear)

13. TunnelBear

An easy-to-use VPN service with plenty of privacy perks

Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS | Streaming sites unblocked: YouTube, Hulu | 24/7 support: No | Trial period: None | Number of servers: 1,000+ | Server locations: 26+ | Countries: 26 | Maximum devices supported: 5

Extremely user-friendly
Substantial security audits
Well-designed mobile apps
Not good for streamers
No trial period

TunnelBear is a Canadian-based VPN service with a strong emphasis on ease-of-use and bear-related humor. Fortunately, usability does get priority over the bear pun, though sometimes it's a close-run thingu0021

The focus on a product that's simple an effective is actually quite refreshing in a sea of other VPNs that claim to have every tiny feature under the sun. Whether you're going to be using TunnelBear on desktop or generally on its very attractive mobile apps for Android or iPhone, this provider makes using a VPN an absolute doddle.

TunnelBear scores plus points for privacy, too, with the company hiring independent specialists to run a public security audit on its servers, systems and code. If only other providers were that brave.

While we're on the subject of other providers, however, TunnelBear does come up short in a few areas of direct comparison. There's support for starters, with not a lot of online articles and a complete omission of live chat support present. You can't pay by PayPal for your subscription (although Bitcoin users have that option) and it's very surprising these days not to see a money back guarantee available if you're dissatisfied. So if you really do like the look of this provider, we'd suggest giving the underpowered free version a whirl first.

And streamers bear-ware (wow, it really rubs ofu0021) as this VPN really struggled in its attempts to unlock foreign Netflix and BBC iPlayer catalogues.

But if you're happy with the basics, there's plenty to like here. Performance was another highlight, with speedy UK and European servers and solid results from the US.


Bitdefender VPN

(Image credit: Future)