It's not a great surprise that the amount of people using their PCs with a VPN has grown so much over the last few years. According to our own survey results, three-quarters of all VPN users have got theirs loaded on to a Windows computer.
The best VPNs (short for Virtual Private Networks) will encrypt all of the internet data leaving your PC. That means the end of pesky trackers and targeted ads, increased online privacy, and a generally more anonymous way to use the web.
But on top of the security aspects, using a VPN for PC means that you also get the benefit of the software's geo-spoofing tools. In simple terms, that means the ability to make your desktop or laptop appear somewhere completely different in the world. That can come in really handy if you like the idea of streaming something that isn't available in your corner of the globe, you've heard about easier online gaming lobbies in a different country or even, in some cases, saving money on products and services.
Thanks to our in-depth VPN testing on a Windows 10 PC, we can tell you which of the many, many services available are the best options to choose and download. Keep reading for our top choices and further information on using your VPN on a PC.
Today's top 3 best Windows VPNs for PC:
1. ExpressVPN - best VPN for Windows and beyond (opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN shines brightly across most platforms out there, but its Windows version is probably the service's very strongest suit. It has a remarkably easy-to-use client, provides industry-leading encryption, gives access to servers in 90+ countries and there's always 24/7 customer support in case you ever run into difficulties. A superb service.
2. NordVPN - fast, strong, reasonable PC VPN provider (opens in new tab)
NordVPN'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 on Windows devices. And it also displayed some of the most consistent and fast connections we saw in our most recent speed testing.
3. Surfshark - an affordable Windows VPN alternative (opens in new tab)
Surfshark is one of the most attractive VPNs available for PCs right now - both in terms of quality and price-point. Unlike the two providers above, you can sign up for an effective monthly cost of less than $2.50 (when you sign up for a two-year sub) and yet still get the same level of encryption, access to a world of geo-restricted streaming content and use across as many online devices as you (and your family) can handle.
How to choose a VPN for PC
Unsurprisingly, most major VPN companies work on a 'Windows-first' basis, developing their product for the world's most-used operating system. That means the VPN clients for PCs are generally pretty slick. But some are still easier to use than others, and our top picks below are all an absolute doozy to set up and operate.
Regardless of how you intend to use your service - although even more so if you'll likely be streaming or take your gaming seriously - you'll want one that's fast, with robust connections. If you use your monitor or laptop as a TV, we suspect that you'll also want to make sure that your PC's VPN can unlock content that's usually geo-restricted: think shows and movies that are exclusive to US Netflix and other streaming services, for example, or even sport that generally wouldn't be available to live stream where you are.
If you tend to use your Windows laptop on public Wi-Fi, you'll want guarantees around the extra layer of online safety that the VPN affords. And that goes double if you're on your travels to a country with greater online censorship (VPNs are a great way to get access social media apps and other sites in countries where they've been blocked) or that's infamous for government snooping.
And price is always worth bearing in mind, so you'll see the current best rates for each of our recommended services below. It's no secret that ExpressVPN is a bit more expensive than others, but you may consider it's worth the cost considering what a strong VPN for PC (and other devices) it is.
2022's best Windows VPNs for PCs(opens in new tab)
Best Windows 10 VPN for PC 2022 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan (opens in new tab)
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 VPN for a number of reasons.(opens in new tab)
Interface: From the moment that you install ExpressVPN on to your PC, you feel in capable hands. It all starts with an intuitive 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.
Features: 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.
Streaming: 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 Plus) every time.
Speed: 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.
Professional 24/7 customer support is provided via live chat or email for any problems the user might encounter. Simply put, you'll see form our in-depth ExpressVPN review that this a service that has the lot, and is an easy choice as our number one pick VPN for PCs.(opens in new tab)
NordVPN is a mainstay on many ‘best of’ lists for several good reasons. For starters, it boasts a server network of 5,400+, 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.
Interface: 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.
Features: 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.
Streaming: When it comes to streaming, NordVPN offers some of the best unblocking capabilities right now. Not only can it access Netflix libraries around the world (including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Japan), but it'll also open the barriers to the likes of BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, and Disney Plus.
Speed: All this is bolstered further by NordVPN's very own NordLynx protocol, which sees it as one of the most reliable performers. In our latest round of testing, while no longer quite hitting the highs of some of the fastest VPN, it still maintains some excellent peaks ranging from 730-760Mbps.
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.
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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 feel like second nature. It's just so easy to use.
Interface: Getting started is straightforward 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.
Features: 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.
Streaming: 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, BBC iPlayer, and Disney Plus among them), turning your laptop into an all-firing multimedia center when you're out and about.
Speed: While its OpenVPN speeds are a touch slow, WireGuard is where Surshark really excels with highs of 720-790Mbps in our recent round of testing, making this one speedy performer.
Ultimately, we're well aware that it's the Surfshark price, (assuming you're happy to commit to its services for a couple of years) that really stands out.
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Proton VPN continues to improve and make itself a contender among the big boys with its Windows 10 client a great option if you're after a sleek, intuitive client that offers plenty of features and settings to play with. When we opened it up, we enjoyed the choice of navigating its map interface or collapsing it for a more standardized list format for accessing different locations.
In either view, Proton highlights which servers support P2P or Tor with clear icons, and by clicking on a specific location, it'll drop down the servers available with colored indicators to display the kind of load currently on each one.
Its Profiles feature is also super nifty, functioning as a more extensive Favorites list, allowing you to opt for connecting to a specific server in a certain location, or creating one that ensures you're immediately on the faster server in a country.
It also comes loaded with Quick Connect, its new VPN Accelerator, Auto Reconnection, and a kill switch that we were gratified to find did its job well.
You'll be able to choose between OpenVPN and WireGuard. In our speed testing, we saw a slight drop in its previously excellent performance with some lower lows seen. Still, with a range of 360-670Mbps, at its best its still ticking along at a fast rate.
In terms of unblocking streaming services, Proton have got you covered there, too. It'll unblock Netflix (in the US, UK, and Canada at least), as well as the usual suspects - BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, and Disney Plus. And, of course, its free VPN option allows a great starting point for any VPN newbies.
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Hotspot Shield has been a big player in the Windows VPN game for some time now, with its Catapult Hydra protocol seeing it ride a wave to a top 3 spot. However the outright impressive speeds we once saw continue to be vastly overtaken by other WireGuard VPNs, with its own performance slipping below the average figures. That being said, its interface is still a great choice for those after a Windows 10 VPN for their PC.
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.
Unblocking YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video and Disney Plus in our tests was a breeze. However, Hotspot Shield failed at the last hurdle when it came to Netflix. It was unable to unblock any of Netflix' libraries around the globe, only managing to access Canada's Netflix library in one of our three attempts.
However, there's P2P support on every single server, making it a handy torrenting VPN, at the least.
Best VPN for PC: Windows VPN FAQ
What is the best Windows VPN for PC?
Right now, we rate ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) as the best PC VPN that you can get for Windows.
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.
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 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.
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.