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The best Windows 10 VPN for PC in 2021

IPVanish and NordVPN working on Windows 10 PCs
(Image credit: Future)

One of the great perks about being among the billion-plus global Windows users is the sheer amount of software available to you by default. And installing a VPN on your PC is a great way to stay safer online and make your computer even more useful.

Most people use a Windows VPN because it adds a layer of extra security - and anonymity - to your desktop or laptop. All of your online activity is encrypted when your VPN is turned on. But the 'geo-spoofing' technology that these services offer also mean they're a great way to stream more diverse content and get around web restrictions imposed by your office, school or even your government.

Below, we've compiled a list of the best Windows 10 VPN services. Keep reading to find out the top clients to install on your laptop or desktop PC and boost your privacy.

How to choose the best Windows 10 VPN for PC

Pretty much every VPN on the web caters to Windows users, which means you get your pick of options and features. Plus, you therefore have the luxury of choosing a PC VPN without needing to compromise on quality.

When picking a Windows 10 VPN for PC, you should look for good all-round performance with a little bit of everything – fast connection speeds, a friendly app, P2P support, clearly written and straightforward privacy policy, and so on - all assets shared by our number #1 pick.

Then there’s the matter of pricing as not every service is worth the money they’re asking. Sometimes paying a little bit extra ensures a superb experience, but other times a more affordable service still provides the optimal quality. But we’ve done all the legwork and selected our five favorite VPN options for Windows across various different categories. You won’t go wrong with any of these.

Today's top 3 best Windows VPNs for PC:

1. ExpressVPN - #1 best Windows 10 VPN for PC
ExpressVPN is a fantastic fit for your Windows 10 PC. Offering speedy connections, servers in more than 90 countries and stellar 24/7 live chat support, it ticks all the boxes. Plus, you can now get it with 3 months extra and a year of secure cloud backup free when you sign up.
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2. NordVPN - a focus on Windows security
Nord's enormous reputation is largely staked around the security smarts it has on offer. Plenty of protocols (including its own NordLynx), Double VPN, 'Onion over' privacy and a no-logging policy audited yearly should give you the peace of mind you require when using the internet anonymously.
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3. Hotspot Shield - a fast, easy-to-use alternative
Hotspot Shield has improved in leaps and bounds of late, really coming up with the goods when it comes to speedy connections, unblocking geo-restricted services and delivering great value pricing on its multi-year plan.
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The best Windows 10 VPN for PC in 2021:

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

1. ExpressVPN

Best all-round VPN for PC bar none

Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | Also available on: Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Maximum connections: 5 | 24/7 support: Yes | Free trial?: 30-day money back guarantee

Easy to use Windows app
Handy dedicated features for Windows
Reliably fast speeds
Superb 24/7 support
Not the cheapest provider

Best Windows 10 VPN for PC 2021 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan

ExpressVPN remains at the very top of the pile when it comes to our overall rankings of today's available VPNs. Just like it does on mobile, Mac and other devices, Express really impresses as a Windows 10 VPN - the reasons are many.

TechRadar's Editor's Choice pick

From the moment that you install ExpressVPN on to your PC, you feel in capable hands. It all starts with a very easy-to-understand interface and a big, welcoming On/Off and Choose Location buttons. You'll be up and away in no time at all, even if you're not that computer savvy.

But it doesn't end there. The Windows 10 client boasts an excellent UI packed with a bunch of features including smart server recommendations, multiple VPN protocols, and kill switch technology. A convenient bonus is the ability to control the VPN from browser extensions, and a special mention goes to the split tunneling feature, which is great for torrenting or restricting the VPN connection to a single browser.

A long list of features certainly helps, but you might just want to know whether ExpressVPN can help you watch foreign Netflix and overseas sports coverage. The simple answer is: yes. In our testing, it unlocked Netflix (and the likes of Amazon Prime Video and Disney+) every time.

There's no point in having a PC VPN running if it's just going to slow down your browsing, streaming, torrenting and gaming. Thankfully, with this provider we witnessed outstanding performance for local servers, with very decent results for long-distance connections as well. And it is only set to get better as the service now gives access to its proprietary Lightway protocol.

On the security front, ExpressVPN also delivers in terms of protocols and strong encryption, while the independently audited privacy policy clearly states there is no gathering or logging of traffic data, connection IPs, or online activities. Professional 24/7 customer support is provided via live chat or email for any problems the user might encounter.

Simply put, ExpressVPN has the lot and is an easy choice as our number one pick VPN for PCs.

Get best Windows VPN 2021: 30-day trial and 3 months FREE
You can tell that we really rate Express - it's the VPN we use in the TechRadar office! And it's hard to argue with the provider's 30-day money-back guarantee. Plus, our readers can get a little perk when you sign up, too, as ExpressVPN has agreed to give you three months extra FREE when you sign up for a year as well as a whole year of secure, unlimited cloud backup from the trusted Backblaze. That's a fab offer on a fantastic Windows VPN.
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(Image credit: NordVPN)

2. NordVPN

Windows security is the focus for NordVPN

Number of servers: 5,400+ | Server locations: 80+ | Also available on: Windows, Android, iOS, Linux | Maximum connections: 6 | 24/7 support: Yes | Free trial?: 30-day money back guarantee

Double data encryption
Very good performance
So many servers
Not quite as intuitive as Express

NordVPN is a mainstay on many ‘best of’ lists for several good reasons. For starters, it boasts a server network in excess of 5,000, allows seven connections per subscription, has its no-logging policy audited yearly by PricewaterhouseCoopers and has a fantastic track record of unblocking pretty much every streaming service out there.

That all said, the one factor that will matter most to many PC VPN users is its tight security. The service offers a certain number of ‘Double VPN’ servers which pass your data through two separate VPN servers, not just one, which makes things even more secure. The Windows kill switch works nicely, too.

And now all this is bolstered further by NordVPN's very own NordLynx protocol, which has catapulted NordVPN to one of the very fastest VPNs you can download right now.

The Windows client is fast to set up and the busy Nord devs have been working away at making the Windows client even easier to use - it features a compact interface that has all the essentials and then some (it's now added the split tunnelling feature like it already has on its Android VPN app). Although we think it may rue its decision to get rid of the handy old 'Favorite' servers bookmarks.

But you can probably tell that we're straining to pick holes here, as the truth is that NordVPN is a quite superb all-round Windows 10 VPN. There's also a 30-day money back guarantee and it becomes rather affordable (aside from the monthly subscription), offering numerous plans with the best value option being the multi-year subscription.

Hotspot Shield VPN running on an HP laptop

3. Hotspot Shield

The choice to consider when you want the fastest speeds

Number of servers: 1,800+ | Server locations: 110+ | Also available on: Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Maximum connections: 5 | 24/7 support: Yes | Free trial?: 45-day money back guarantee

One of the very fastest VPNs
A pleasure to use
Strong on unblocking
Slightly limiting in scope

Hotspot Shield has been a big player in the Windows VPN game for some time now, and its unique Catapult Hydra protocol means that it's an easy pick for our top 3 here.

The effect of using its own protocol means that server connection speeds are fast. Really fast. So if you're particularly fond of streaming, torrenting or just not being kept waiting, then Hotspot Shield will have a worthy place on your PC VPN shortlist.

Beyond sheer speed, Hotspot Shield offers a Windows client that is ridiculously easy to set up and use - even for VPN newbies. Hit the big, fat On/Off button and you'll be connected to the server of your choice (or it will guide you to your most local server, if that's what you want) in a matter of moments.

There's a Smart VPN feature that helps you connect to the ideal server dependent on your location and activity, a fully-functioned kill switch and a bonus feature that automatically connects Hotspot Shield when you access unsafe Wi-Fi hotspots - so ideal for the cybersecurity conscious. And if you want to trust all your online security to the Pango stable, you can also add antivirus, spam call blocker and password manager for a small amount extra.

Unblocking YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ in our tests was a breeze. And there's P2P support on every single server, making it a handy torrenting VPN, too.

The one issue that crops up for Hotspot these days is that the aforementioned Catapult Hydra protocol prevents you from manually setting up the VPN on certain devices like Smart TVs and games consoles. But then again, this is an article about 'best Windows 10 VPNs'...

Surfshark Windows 10 VPN for PC

(Image credit: Surfshark)

4. Surfshark

An excellent PC VPN on the cheap

Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 100+ | Also available on: Windows, Android, iOS, Linux | Maximum connections: Unlimited | 24/7 support: Yes | Free trial?: 30-day money back guarantee

Most affordable provider on the list
Covers as many PCs (and more) as you like
So easy to use
Less fast than others
Would welcome more support documents

If you worry that VPNs might be a bit complicated to use and understand, then Surfshark is here to put you right back into your comfort zone. Generally - but particularly on Windows 10 - it's a VPN that makes operating a virtual private network just feel like second nature. It's just so easy to use.

Getting started is a doddle and, once you're in, we love the way that the main interface adapts like a responsive website as you resize windows and navigate the app. It keeps things simple in its smallest form, but opens up more and more features as you expand it. Hey, we know this may sound pretty minor, but it just lets you know that your in the hands of a provider that has really thought about the user experience.

If your priority is more about getting a VPN for streaming, Surfshark boasts a long list of streaming service that it will get you access to (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ among them), turning your laptop into an all-firing multimedia center when you're out and about.

Underpinning all that is your choice of OpenVPN, IKEv2 and WireGuard security protocols, private DNS, AES-256 encryption, and a ready and waiting kill switch in case your connection drops. Although we'd like the latter to be a bit more clear in its messaging when your connection drops.

Ultimately, we're well aware that it's the Surfshark price if you're happy to commit to its services for a couple of years, that really stands out. And that value on increases when you also consider that a single subscription will cover as many devices as you can handle - so add your Mac, mobile, tablet, router, TV streaming device and many more to using it on your PC.

Cyberghost logo on a laptop computer

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

5. CyberGhost

Dedicated Windows-friendly features makes CyberGhost stand out

Number of servers: 7,000+ | Server locations: 105+ | Also available for: Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Maximum connections: 7 | 24/7 support: Yes | Free trial?: 45-day money back guarantee

Welcome Windows flourishes and features
Some attractive pricing
Not fantastic for streamers
Time to get the auditors in

Some VPN providers look the same across all devices, providing the same litany of features no matter what you're using it on. While that's admirable, we also like it when a service has really thought about specific platforms - and that's what makes CyberGhost a natural fit for our Windows 10 VPN guide.

Regardless of OS, CyberGhost boasts a massive 6,000+ global servers, a generous 45-day money back guarantee and consistently fast connection speeds that are only bolstered by the availability of WireGuard.

On the face of it, the CyberGhost PC VPN looks quite lightweight; when you get started, the console is stripped down to little more than a list of server locations, your current connection status, and a welcoming 'Connect' button.

But dig a little deeper and it really makes your Windows sparkle. We love, for example, its Smart Rules feature that automatically launches a particular app (like your default browser in incognito mode) the second you jump on to a particular server. That's alongside other handy morsels like app protection, the ability to create a bespoke list of websites that don't go via the VPN tunnel, and in-depth permissions and protection settings. There's far too much to go into on this guide - that's what our extensive CyberGhost review is for!

CyberGhost can get cheap, too, if you commit to its multi-year subscription, making it a fantastic alternative to the other names above. But only if you're not specifically looking for a streaming VPN. While CyberGhost can do the basics fine (unblocking Netflix US and the likes of Disney+ for example), it struggles with tougher foes like BBC iPlayer and other foreign Netflix catalogs.

Windows 10 VPN FAQ

What is the best Windows 10 VPN for PC?

Right now, we rate ExpressVPN as the best PC VPN that you can get for Windows 10.

It's an absolute dream to use on desktops and laptops (as well as mobiles and pretty much everything else, for that matter) and supplies fast, reliable server connections. It's got a proven track record of unblocking Netflix and loads of other streaming services, while also having the security smarts to give you peace of mind that your online activities will always be anonymous when it's switched on.

What can I do with a VPN on my PC?

Although VPNs started life as a way to share data securely, they have become a lot more broad in their usage. If you use your Windows 10 laptop as a portable multi-media device, for example, you can geo-spoof your PC's IP address to other regions of the world to make sure your don't miss out on your favorite content when abroad - or even catch films, TV and sport that is shown in other countries but not yours.

Virtual private networks have also become a key tool in unlocking restricted websites on PCs (just one of the reasons why VPNs in China have become so popular, with the likes of Google, Facebook, BBC, CNN and more being blocked there).

There are plenty more ancillary VPN uses you can explore, too - you can discover more by clicking the link.

Man using a Microsoft Surface tablet/laptop

(Image credit: Worawee Meepian / Shutterstock)

How do I set up a VPN on my PC computer?

Once you've chosen the ideal VPN for your PC, getting started is ridiculously easy. We've gone into it in some detail in our dedicated guide to how to set up a VPN, but anybody - from inexperienced Windows 10 users to absolute pros - can get going with ease. Head to the website of your chosen provider and it will guide you to the download page for Windows. Once downloaded and installed, most VPN clients have a big fat 'On' button that you just can't miss and will give you a long list of countries from which to choose your server.

Does Windows 10 have a built in VPN - and is it good?

Many people don’t know that Windows 10 has its own built-in VPN client. But before you rush to cancel your current VPN subscription, it’s worth taking a closer look at what the Windows option is capable of.

The most important thing to know about the built-in Windows option is that it’s not really a VPN service - or at least not the kind we've become accustomed to from third party providers. Windows doesn’t give you access to a secure server network, which is what you pay for when using a VPN service. Instead, the built-in tool is just a desktop client for connecting to a third-party network and it can't hep you with all the other use cases that we've described above and has limited features.

What's more, it's rather complicated to get set up and requires a deep dive into your network settings and probably even some tinkering with your router. In contrast, the VPNs listed above can get you protected within seconds, are supremely easy to use and only cost a few dollars a month.

How safe is Windows 10

Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 10, is a significant improvement in terms of security and protection over previous incarnations (some people even argue that you don't really need a Windows 10 antivirus any longer). Even so, there are some widely discussed, controversial privacy issues pertaining to the OS, and what’s more you can never be ‘too’ secure, let’s face it.

Surface Pro 8 outside on a table showing Windows 11 desktop

(Image credit: Future)

Can I use VPNs on Windows 11

There's no reason to think anything other than the fact VPNs will work just as well with Windows 11 as they did on Windows 10. That said, you should be aware that all of our VPN testing was carried out on a Windows 10 experience.

We're hoping that Windows 11 will have a better self-contained VPN facility and we'll report back in that when Windows 11 is out of its infancy.

It is worth noting though that one of the biggest VPNs in the game - NordVPN - has had some teething issues with people beta testing Windows 11. So ensuring compatibility with the updated OS will be key for VPN companies as more and more users upgrade.

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Adam is the Editor-in-Chief of Subscriptions and Services at Future, meaning that he oversees many of the articles TechRadar produces about antivirus software, VPNs, TV streaming, broadband and mobile phone contracts - from buying guides and deals news, to industry interest pieces and reviews.