Whether it’s for providing online security, protecting privacy or accessing blocked content (or all of the above), the use of VPNs is on the rise. The sheer number of services out there illustrates that, if nothing else.
And with a somewhat bewildering array of options on the table, a free trial is an obvious route to making the right decision about whether you want to sign up with a particular VPN or not.
Sampling the service for a period of time allows you to get a feel for how the provider’s apps work, and whether there might be any problems with the software – and indeed how good the tech support is if you do run into trouble. And naturally, you also get a handle on exactly how well the VPN performs in terms of speeds, and perhaps in other areas like how capable it is of accessing otherwise geo-blocked content.
It’s also true that some VPNs are quite expensive, so it’s always good to see a thorough, unrestricted trial on offer, so you can make an informed decision before signing up for a perhaps (relatively) sizeable financial commitment.
How to choose a VPN trial
When attempting to pick out a provider with a good trial, it’s essential to pay close attention to the terms of any offering. For example, some trials may require you to part with financial details – like your credit card number – so the company can charge you and kick-off your subscription if you don’t opt out. And that could catch you out, particularly if you happen to be forgetful…
Ideally, you want a proper, no-strings-attached full access trial (not a limited access free plan) which gives you a few days to properly take the VPN out for a spin around the block.
We’ve done the hard work for you, though, and below are our top five choices for the best VPN trials.
- Check out the best VPN services of 2018
Best overall VPN trial
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70+ | IP addresses: 200,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 3-5
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On paper, VyprVPN is an excellent candidate to dip your toes in the water with a VPN. This provider offers solid server coverage, over 200,000 IPs, secure DNS servers, along with intuitive and configurable software (or setup instructions) for almost any platform and device. It obviously doesn’t hurt that the service is seriously speedy, too, and indeed in our performance testing, we found it was one of the fastest VPNs we’ve ever witnessed.
Security-wise, VyprVPN offers strong protection with a wide range of VPN protocols, 256-bit encryption, a system-wide kill switch, NAT firewall, as well as its very own Chameleon protocol, which is designed to prevent VPN blocking, throttling and deep packet inspection.
Although this provider is based in privacy-friendly Switzerland, some session logging takes place (connection times, IPs, the total number of bytes used), so that might be an issue for some folks who prefer things to be tighter on the privacy front.
Another catch is the refund policy, or rather the lack of it. Refunds are not available under any circumstances, although that’s less of a problem when you consider that you can properly test out the service with the unrestricted 3-day free trial.
VyprVPN offers two commercial plans based on monthly or annual billing. Choosing to pay monthly is a rather expensive affair, so you’re best off committing to an annual subscription for the most bang for your buck. Also note that only the Premium plan gives you all the advanced features like the aforementioned Chameleon technology. The packages available are:
- Basic: $9.95 monthly or $5.00 per month billed annually
- Premium: $12.95 monthly or $6.67 per month billed annually
Most secure VPN
Number of servers: 3360 | Server locations: 60 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 6
NordVPN is a Panama-registered service that offers more than 3,000 servers in 60 countries, support for six simultaneous connections, and it’s P2P-friendly too. During our testing, we experienced above-average speeds on a relatively consistent basis, which is always a boon.
This provider offers native clients for all the major platforms and devices, with a few browser extensions (and support for routers) thrown in for good measure. It's a well-rounded software offering that boasts lots in terms of server selection features and configurability, although the Windows client still needs a little work.
NordVPN offers a 3-day trial, although oddly, it doesn't advertise this on the front page of its website (you wouldn’t know about it unless you rummage through the FAQ like we did). As for pricing, you can choose between three subscriptions. The 2-year plan offers great savings if you’re happy to commit for that long. Otherwise, the 1-year plan is the next best thing. The packages available are:
Great mix of speed and configurability
Number of servers: 1200+ | Server locations: 50+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
CyberGhost gets off on the right foot, as in our testing, we found that it delivered reliable and fast performance with above-average speeds on shorter hops. That said, very long distance connections dropped significantly in speed (which is to be expected to an extent), although the service was still usable for basic browsing.
The provider offers a wide array of native apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, and they sport an impressive range of features, particularly the Windows client. On the downside, we did notice the odd glitch in the interface, and the Windows app suffered from issues when installed alongside other VPN software.
CyberGhost offers a generous 7-day free trial without limitations, allowing for a thorough test of the full service. Available subscriptions include an expensive monthly plan and a far more affordable option in the form of a 2-year subscription. The packages available are:
Best option for Windows users
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 35+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 2-5
SaferVPN runs its own network and it shows: in our speed tests, performance was generally very good. This provider offers easy-to-use apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, along with a free Chrome extension. You also get automatic protection whenever you connect to unsecured Wi-Fi, and 24/7 customer support via live chat or email if anything goes south.
The Windows client is a definite highlight, as it manages to strike a laudable balance between being nice and user-friendly, while still offering powerful features that more experienced users will want.
Not everything is rosy here, though, and torrent users will be disappointed as P2P connections are not supported on any server. SaferVPN also records a great deal of session data: connect and disconnect times, bandwidth used, your incoming IP address and the IP address of the server allocated to you. That doesn't tell anyone what you're doing, but it's more information than many other services collect.
On the other hand, you only need an email to sign up for the company’s 24-hour trial which boasts unlimited access to the service. There are three price plans on offer here, with the 2-year subscription offering the best value-for-money ratio. The packages available are:
Best VPN for privacy
Number of servers: 37 | Server locations: 22 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 3
Compared to other providers on this list, IVPN offers considerably less in terms of server coverage, with only a handful of server locations in 13 countries. However, that doesn’t mean the service is slow. Our speed tests delivered great results locally, and we still saw above-average speeds as we moved slightly further afield. It’s also worth noting that the provider has a useful dedicated page on its website where you can check server loads at any time.
Platform support is reasonable, with custom clients available for Windows, Mac, and iOS. There is no Android client, but there are detailed setup guides for Google’s mobile OS, as well as for routers, some NAS devices, and more besides. IVPN also allows P2P traffic with ‘unlimited’ bandwidth.
In terms of security, you get interesting features like multi-hop (entering and exiting through different servers), and a firewall to block non-VPN traffic, along with the usual protocol support.
IVPN offers a 3-day trial, plus you can use the service for a week and get a full refund if you are not satisfied, no questions asked. If you do fancy signing up, however, the prices might be hard to stomach – especially the monthly billing. So the yearly plan is by far the best option if you want somewhat palatable pricing. The packages available are:
- We’ve rounded up the best free VPN services of 2018