A VPN (virtual private network) service is a great way to ensure you have a secure network connection while online. We rounded up the best VPNs for a variety of budgets, devices, and use cases, so you can find the best one for your needs.
In addition, a good VPN also allows you to protect your browsing history, torrent files, and access content that is blocked or regionally restricted. They’re perfect to have while traveling or working at a remote public location.
Update, 8/24/21: Checked all picks for accuracy. Added picks for iPhone, Android, and Mac.
Each of your devices (your computer, smartphone, etc.) have their own unique IP address, which tells services who, what, and where you are. A VPN sits in between your device and however it connects to the internet, spoofing your device’s IP address. Anything you do online goes first through the VPN, then to the router, causing your router (and everything outside of your device) to think you have a different identity.
VPNs are great to have when you are planning on hopping online over an unsecured connection (a network that does not ask you for a password), like at a cafe, as it keeps your information (such as your browsing history and any data you transfer) safe from prying eyes. A VPN offers other benefits, like accessing content that may be restricted geographically, as they allow you to interact with the internet as though you were doing so from the VPN’s location, not your own.
You can do a variety of other things with a VPN as well, including access your work or home network while traveling, bypass internet censorship, view streaming video content exclusive to other regions, and download files.
If you need to use a VPN, it’s easy enough to get started: simply choose a service, sign up on the company’s site, and download the client. Here are a few things to look for when picking a VPN:
- Lots of Servers: The more servers a VPN has, the faster your connection speeds are and, typically, the more country connection options you’ll have. This means you likely won’t have to deal with buffering or throttling issues.
- High Simultaneous Connections: If you need to connect more than one of your devices to your VPN at the same time, more power to you. The best VPN services allow you to connect five of your devices simultaneously, if not more.
- Great Ease of Use: For those who are new to VPNs, having a clean and clearly labeled interface, as well as easy access to customer support, is what’s important. For veteran users, this may mean an app that’s configurable and loaded with extras like a kill switch, data compression (for mobile), and automatic HTTPS redirection.
- Excellent Security and No Logging: Good VPN services won’t monitor, log, or sell any of your personal info, like which websites you visit. They also ensure they are protecting you with strong encryption (AES 256-bit) and regular security audits. This is a surprisingly hard thing to find out about most VPNs, too, which is why we’ve made sure you can trust all the picks on our list.
That’s even more impressive when you pair that with its extensive platform support: native clients for Mac, Windows, Linux, Android, and iOS. Want your smart TVs, routers, and gaming consoles covered? They’ve got custom firmware options for them, plus browser extensions. The Android app even works on Chromebooks, so you’re covered across the board.
ExpressVPN doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to advanced features either. It offers split tunneling, a Network Lock kill switch, server speed tests, zero-knowledge DNS, and unlimited bandwidth. For beginner VPN users, no need to worry: ExpressVPN has tons of tutorials and guides you can use, as well as 24/7 live chat support so you can be up and running in no time.
Get fast and secure VPN protection on any device.
Tunnelbear (Free) isn’t just easy on your wallet, it’s easy on the eyes. With cute bears and an extremely user-friendly interface, it’s a great option for anyone new to VPNs. Its free service is limited to 500 MB per month, and should you want more, subscription options start at $4.95 per month, giving you unlimited secure browsing for five devices and priority customer service.
Tunnelbear is a simpler and less powerful VPN than leading options like ExpressVPN, but it’s still a solid option for new users and those that don’t care too much about having lots of customization and advanced features. It only has about 22 server locations and 1,800 servers, so it’s fine for working at a coffeehouse but probably not ideal for heavy users. Tunnelbear offers apps for Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android, and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. For being a free VPN, Tunnelbear is a solid choice.
Browse safely and privately online without busting your budget.
The VPN service has user-friendly apps for all devices: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Fire TV, and routers. The apps are solid and feature-rich, with options like automatic IP address cycling. The one major downside to IPVanish is that its interface isn’t quite as approachable and intuitive as others are, so it might not be the best choice for novice users. However, with its 24/7 customer support, users can quickly get answers to questions and issues when they need them most.
Connect all of your devices to your VPN and browse securely.
The VPN’s simple app interface is easy enough for anyone to use. When you open the VPN, you’ll see a world map, and from there all you need to do is tap one of the flags to connect. The intuitive interface makes it easy to navigate, find, and toggle menus and other settings to your liking, too.
The free plan offers 23 servers in three countries and a single connection at a medium speed. Upgrading to either the Basic or Plus plans (starting at $4 per month) gives you faster speeds, access to hundreds of servers in over 40 countries, supports multiple connections and P2P/BitTorrent, and more. Love ProtonMail? Bundle the two together in the Visionary bundle for $24 per month and enjoy all the perks of the Plus plan.
ProtonVPN is our favorite pick for iPhone users, and it boasts fast service and an easy-to-use interface.
This is a good VPN for Android users (especially those who travel frequently), as it offers a large server network that’s spread across the world. It offers decent speeds, though it might not be the ultimate choice for 4K streaming marathons. Pricing for this VPN is decent overall but you’ll get a better deal if you spring for the yearly plan, as it’s just $4.99 per month.
Alternatively, any Android users who are also heavy-duty Google users may want to check out the VPN by Google One. If you have a 2TB or larger plan ($9.99/month), this fast and seamless VPN is automatically included and available to you. Plus, it’s super secure and private, with an open-sourced client library and regular independent audits on its end-to-end systems. This VPN is currently only available on Android, though Google is working to bring it to iOS, Windows, and macOS soon.
Hide.me helps you stay safe while browsing or watching videos on your Android device.
This VPN has more than 950 servers spanning 30 countries and can support twelve connected devices at once. If you sign up for StrongVPN’s annual plan, you’ll pay just $3.33 your first year. From there, it jumps $40 to $79.99 annually. You can also opt for the $10.99 monthly plan, or try the service out as a whole free for 30 days before committing to either plan.
Use a Mac computer? This VPN is perfect for you, as it offers fast speeds and nearly 1,000 servers.