When it comes to viewing streaming content in other countries, be it a sports event or your favourite TV show, using one of the best VPN options out there makes the process a whole lot easier.
This allows you to bypass restrictions and access geo-blocked material, and on top of this, a VPN provides an additional layer of security with minimal loss of performance – or even improved speeds in some cases.
That’s the theory anyway, but not every VPN is made equal, so there’s some serious picking and choosing to be done.
- Check out the best VPN
Best VPN for streaming in 2020
Best all-round VPN
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
ExpressVPN boasts a 3000 server count spread across 94 countries. In our performance tests, the service achieved consistently solid speeds without much variation throughout the network.
There’s a wide range of native clients including support for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but the service truly shines in the mobile department. There are intuitive apps for iOS, Android, and even BlackBerry, with additional instructions for a number of other devices. Another bonus is that these clients automatically connect to the optimal server to deliver the fastest speeds possible. The service also unblocks Netflix.
For security purposes, the software has a kill switch, along with manual or automatic selection of security protocols (OpenVPN, L2TP – IPSEC, PPTP, and SSTP are supported). You also get strong 256-bit encryption, zero-knowledge DNS and more. There is zero logging of network traffic such as connection times or IP addresses.
The main weakness here is on the pricing front, as subscriptions are somewhat expensive. That said, ExpressVPN does offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. Out of the three plans available, the yearly plan, as ever, offers the most value (and also gets you three months for free). The packages available are:
Get the best VPN for streaming 2020: $6.67 per month (with 3 months FREE)
Express VPN's fast, robust connections combined with its adaptability, ease-of-use and servers in multiple countries mean it takes the crown. And it's also fantastic value as you get 3 free month added on when you sign up for a one year contract. Plus there's 49% off the normal price.
Best VPN for 4K streaming
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70+ | IP addresses: 200,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 3-5
Having full control of its own network allows VyprVPN to deliver blazing speeds as we fully witnessed in our performance tests. Download speeds more than doubled compared to our normal rates, which is simply fantastic. With more than 700 servers in 70+ locations worldwide, finding speedy connections won’t be a problem, which is especially handy for demanding 4K streaming. The service can also unblock Netflix, at least in the US, but it should work in other countries too.
There are some interesting security features here. These include the provider’s own Chameleon technology which defeats VPN blocking and throttling, ensuring consistent performance. The usual security protocols and 256-bit encryption are part of the package, as well as a NAT Firewall and VyprDNS service.
A free 30-day money back guarantee is a welcome bonus to try out the service. For some reason, VyprVPN doesn’t allow refunds so make sure you give it a good run before you sign up for a subscription plan. Monthly plans are expensive so your best bet is annual billing, and the Premium service is worth going for because it sports all the advanced features – plus it doesn’t cost that much more when billed yearly. The packages available are:
- Basic: $9.95 monthly or $3.75 per month billed annually
- Premium: $12.95 monthly or $5.00 per month billed annually
Great mix of power and performance
Number of servers: 1200+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: 40000+ | Maximum devices supported: 10
IPVanish was seriously fast in our testing, even on longer distances speeds were above-average. Mix that up with a sizeable server network, and there won't be any problems finding a speedy connection. The provider supports up to 10 simultaneous connections which should be more than enough even for larger families. Netflix lovers would be glad to hear that the service does unblock Netflix.
The service doesn't offer a free trial and is a bit pricier than some other VPNs, but luckily, a special TechRadar offer makes the pricing more manageable. Out of three options, the annual plan gives you the best savings. The packages available are:
Most secure VPN
Number of servers: 5,600 | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 6
NordVPN’s specific focus on streaming is evident through its Smart Play technology, a secure proxy service that the provider uses to bypass the geo-restrictions of streaming websites. The feature is enabled in all NordVPN apps by default, automatically rerouting the user’s requests through an appropriate remote server. Users can access 400+ streaming services, including Netflix.
During our performance testing, we witnessed above-average speeds and laudable consistency, although latency increased on long distance connections. There are over 5200 servers at your disposal throughout the world.
This Panama-based provider does well on the security front. There is a Double VPN feature that encrypts data twice, sending it through two separate servers, along with a kill switch, 256-bit encryption and support for all major security protocols. You also get additional options like a dedicated IP address and Onion over VPN. NordVPN also benefits from a ‘no logs’ policy.
The provider offers a free trial, but it’s hard to locate on the website. In terms of paying options, there are four price plans complete with a 30-day no-hassle money-back guarantee. The monthly plan is fairly expensive but the three-year subscription is a super-affordable option. The packages available are:
- [$11.95 a month] 1-month
- [$9.00 a month] 6-months - $54.00
- [$6.99 a month] 1-year - $83.88
- [$3.99 a month] 2-years - $95.75
Best balance of performance and price
Number of servers: 3,700+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 7
Cyberghost is a popular choice for many users and there is definitely a reason behind that. It's relatively easy to use with good performance, and the native clients have plenty of features for both newcomers and experts. An issue can be found with the interface on desktop clients, as it can be a bit complicated and irritating. As an added bonus, the service also unblocks Netflix.
The provider has a quite large server network with many locations, so finding a good connection shouldn't be a problem. Cyberghost uses the 256-AES encryption, with support for OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP-IPsec and PPTP protocols. The service also blocks ads and tracking. As for privacy, the company implements a strict no-logs policy.
There is no free trial anymore (mobile users can still get a 7-day free trial) but you do get a 45-day money back guarantee. Subscription is affordable, apart from the monthly plan, and the limited 3-year plan gives great value. The packages available are:
- [$12.99 a month] 1-month
- [$5.25 a month] 1-year - $63
- [$4.13 a month] 2-years - $99
- [$2.75 a month] 3-years - $99
How to choose the best VPN for streaming
In this case, your number one priority is clearly performance, as a fast and reliable connection is obviously good for consistent streaming with none of the dreaded buffering. A high server count is also a major boon in terms of finding a good connection.
You’ll also want user-friendly native clients – ideally optimized for streaming – with wide support for various devices, as you may well be viewing content across multiple bits of hardware, from phones to computers. Naturally, watertight security and privacy are important, as ever.