Ever wanted to browse a different country’s supply of Netflix shows? Or more seriously, found yourself in a country with a high level of internet censorship? In both cases, using a VPN service helps you get around such issues. With dozens of different VPN companies out here, we’ve taken a look at three of the best for your situation.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, works by creating a virtualized network between two physically separate networks—i.e. your PC/home network and one located elsewhere. Such technology means that homeworkers can connect to their work network no matter where they are, but it also means you can change your location virtually. If you’re in Australia, it can make you look like you’re in NYC and vice versa.
There are other benefits too such as hiding your online activity from a snooping government or simply from your ISP if they love to throttle your connection based on what you’re doing (such as downloading large files). We’ve got a full explainer on the technology over at How-To Geek.
Different VPN services offer different strengths, as well as price points, but we’ve focused our search on three of the best. Each service is fast, well priced, and sure to keep your internet activities more private than not using one. They all make it simple to geo-shift/change your location too. However, don’t expect them to promise full anonymity. Despite the promises made by some VPN services, this is rarely achievable by the average VPN subscription, although they will all slow down any tracing efforts.
Our First Choice Pick: ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN has everything you could need. It offers over 2000 servers across 94 different countries, it’s consistently fast, and it’s incredibly easy to set up and use. That’s thanks to client applications for every platform possible from Windows, Mac, and Linux based desktop tools, to browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. You can even buy a router that has its VPN client pre-installed for added convenience.
ExpressVPN offers a few different subscription plans. It’s possible to subscribe on a month by month basis for $12.95 each month but that price drops to the equivalent of $9.99 per month if you pay every six months. The best deal comes from a 12-month plan. At the time of writing, it costs $99.95 for 12 months with 3 months free so effectively, you’re paying $6.67 per month. In all cases, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the service.
We reckon you will be though. ExpressVPN is super fast, it doesn’t log any of your activities or block anything, and there are no bandwidth restrictions or limits. It’s exactly what you could want from a quality VPN service.
Our Second Choice Pick: StrongVPN
Most of the time, it makes sense to use the best-known service but guess what? With VPN services, it often makes sense to use a lesser-known service as it’s more likely to slip by blocks put in place by content providers (Netflix, we’re looking at you). That’s what makes StrongVPN a solid second choice. It’s pretty fast, well priced, and easy to set up.
A month by month subscription costs $10 per month but that price drops to $5.83 if you tie yourself into a 12-month subscription. Again, there’s a 30-day money back guarantee if you don’t like what you see.
There are client apps for all the platforms you could need including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and even Amazon Fire TV. There are extensive guides for manual set up too, and they’re easy enough to follow.
The service has over 650 servers in more than 20 countries, with a “best available location” option on its apps ensuring you don’t have to think too hard when you simply want a fast connection. No logs are collected either so you know you’re secure here. And, much like ExpressVPN, there are no bandwidth caps, speed limits, or restrictions on what you can do through the VPN.
There’s only one downfall here—StrongVPN limits you to two concurrent connections per account, but that’s not much of an issue if you configure your home router accordingly.
The Best For Occasional Use: TunnelBear
Don’t actually need a VPN all the time but it’s useful to have the option? Use TunnelBear. It’s entirely free for up to 500MB per month. Now, that’s not much if you’re planning on streaming a lot of content but if you simply need to access a few blocked sites every once in a while, it’s perfect.
TunnelBear has servers in over 20 countries although it doesn’t state how many exactly. It also has easy to use (and surprisingly cute looking) clients for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, as well as browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
The free account is limited to a single user, but you can purchase a premium account for unlimited bandwidth for up to five computers or mobile devices. It costs $9.99 month by month or $59.99 per 12 months. And, much like the others, there’s no fear of any logging along the way. Its paid service is sometimes not quite as speedy as StrongVPN or ExpressVPN, but the free tier is unbeatable for occasional users.