The Greatest VPN Providers for 2021

Online security is more important today than ever. A common way to protect yourself online is to use a virtual private network – VPN for short. You can send information securely by using public networks through a group of network computers and servers that are far away. However, since not all VPNs are created equal, we've taken some time to find the best VPN services.

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However, signing up for free VPN services – especially mobile apps – can be a risky business. Know that all “free” services make money off of you somehow, be it through advertising or something less harmful like selling user activity data. The best VPNs don't usually promise any activity or user logs … but they do require a fee.

We scoured the internet for reviews, testimonials, and statistics that represent the best VPN options. Then we tried the services ourselves, made usability notes, and tested the network speed. With all these factors in mind, these are the outstanding services.

Private internet access

If the happy family on the home page isn't enough to convince you, it may be the fact that it is one of the most reliable VPN services out there. Private internet access has everything you could want in a good VPN. It hides your IP address, protects your information, and encrypts your browsing activities using various encryption methods. It also tends to have one of the best VPN sales for Black Friday and similar events.

We tested Private Internet Services with the Windows installer, which configures the VPN protocols and provides a simple utility in the system tray to turn the VPN connection on and off. While the interface was spartan, the performance was excellent. With the VPN connection activated, our test system consistently maintained a download speed of over 110 Mbit / s and an upload speed of 19 Mbit / s, which is very close to our usual download speeds of 125 Mbit / s and upload speeds of 20 Mbit / s.

On the other hand, Netflix was complaining about a proxy and Amazon Prime Video was not playing due to a geographic restriction. These errors occurred regardless of whether we used the automatic setting or selected a local server in the USA. However, Private Internet Access claims that they can unblock both Netflix and Amazon Prime.

  • costs: $ 12 monthly, $ 40 for an annual subscription ($ 3 monthly), $ 80 for three years
  • Number of servers: 24,519+
  • Number of server locations: 77 countries
  • Supported clients: Windows, MacOS, Unix / Linux, iOS, Android – several browser extensions
  • Number of simultaneous connections: Up to 10

$ 7 from private internet access

TorGuard

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

With a name like TorGuard, the software offers better protection. The software's trademark lies in its ability to connect to a range of services for different activities, with four different packages available based on different requirements. The VPN service costs you $ 10 every month. These include server switching, DPI bypassing, malware blocking, and no activity logs.

Like most VPN services, the program prevents websites from displaying your personal IP address so that others cannot identify you or your geographic location. From offshore emails to unlimited server switching between thousands of servers around the world, TorGuard offers impressive scale. Seasoned geeks and professionals should check out the service along with the discount packages that come with hardware.

The TorGuard Windows client was easy to install and allowed for a quick connection to a VPN server, including the ability to select a server location before connecting. The internet speed on our test system dropped from our usual download of 125 Mbit / s to 53 Mbit / s, and our upload ran at 17 Mbit / s compared to our usual 20 Mbit / s. This is not the best performance in our tests, but all of the internet services we tested, including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, worked fine.

  • costs: $ 10 / month for anonymous VPN; $ 60 for the annual package; $ 9 for anonymous email / file sharing only; Business plans start at $ 70
  • Number of servers: 3,000+
  • Number of server locations: 50+ countries
  • Supported clients: Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS (including Apple TV), Android, WiFi router
  • Number of simultaneous connections: Up to eight for home users, more for businesses

NordVPN

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

With double 2048-bit SSL encryption, it's easy to see that NordVPN values ​​your privacy. However, the company has also worked hard to build its server network to more than 5,500 server locations in 62 countries worldwide. The service also includes a variety of security tools for encrypted chat and proxy extensions. You can use up to six devices at the same time. Like many of the best VPNs, it also supports split tunneling protocols. This means you can whitelist some activity to bypass the VPN for faster performance.

The theme of this service is personal safety. From secure DNS queries to automatic kill switches, NordVPN wants you to know your information doesn't fall into the wrong hands: it's also one of the most open VPNs that tells you exactly which servers are offered in which countries, and offers 24/7 live chat support for questions. The company recently improved its platform support, adding iOS and Android, overcoming its only weakness. However, unlike TorGuard, there aren't any really good business options.

The NordVPN client offered one of the most attractive interfaces, and connecting to a VPN server was straightforward and very fast. We found the performance a bit spotty, however, as our fastest connection was 53 Mbps down and 26 Mbps, compared to 125 Mbps down and 20 Mbps with the VPN connection turned off. We had a problem connecting to Netflix, but Amazon Prime Video ran without any problems. Our other internet tests went smoothly.

  • costs: USD 12 per month; $ 60 for a full year; $ 90 for two years of service
  • Number of servers: 5,529+
  • Number of server locations: 59
  • Supported clients: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Wi-Fi routers
  • Number of simultaneous connections: Up to six

ExpressVPN

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

While ExpressVPN's claim as the "# 1 Trusted Leader in VPN" is a little difficult to prove, the service has a compelling list of features. We are also constantly trying to improve the speed and simultaneous streaming functions. With support for all major platforms (Windows, macOS, Android, etc.), you don't have to worry about compatibility. ExpressVPN appears on a number of "best VPN" lists, so its relatively high prices are justified.

The more than 3,000 servers are all well placed in popular travel destinations and urban centers. With every package you get unlimited bandwidth and speed, guaranteed availability of 99.9 percent and 24-hour customer service. With so many features guaranteed, it's no wonder this provider is one of the best. Note, however, that ExpressVPN only supports up to five simultaneous connections. This is the lowest of the services on our list.

Setting up ExpressVPN and connecting to a VPN server was easy enough. When connected to the VPN server, the average performance was 49 Mbit / s down and 16 Mbit / s up, compared to our usual speeds of 125 Mbit / s down and 20 Mbit / s up. Netflix complained about using a proxy when we used the automatic configuration option, but it worked just fine when we manually selected a local US server. Amazon Prime Video ran flawlessly and our other internet tests completed without any problems.

  • costs: $ 8 / month billed annually; $ 10 / month when billed every six months; $ 13 / month billed monthly
  • Number of servers: 3,000+
  • Number of server locations: 160 locations in 94 countries
  • Supported clients: Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, Android, consoles, WiFi routers, smart TVs
  • Number of simultaneous connections: Up to five

ProtonVPN

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

ProtonVPN is one of the newest VPN services and has a few star-studded founding members. The company was founded at CERN, the birthplace of the Internet, and emerged from the ProtonMAIL service, which has been protecting the emails of activists and journalists for years. The service acts as a Swiss company and is therefore free from the laws of the USA and the European Union. It is also not a member of the "fourteen eyes surveillance network", so user traffic is not logged and is routed through privacy-friendly countries. So you don't have to worry about your real IP address being leaked.

ProtonVPN is a bit expensive, but only the most expensive OpenVPN protocol is used, not the less expensive one for running PPTP and L2TP / IPSec protocols. It also offers a free plan that lets you try the service, which is limited to three countries, one device, and low speeds, while prices go up from there.

The recent introduction of Linux, iOS, and macOS clients was a major improvement to the service. It is now available for all major operating systems and platforms.

Installing and configuring ProtonVPN's Windows client was easy enough and provided some of the best statistics for use. The performance was at the lower end of our comparison group with 39 Mbit / s down and 18 Mbit / s up, compared to our usual 125 Mbit / s down and 18 Mbit / s up. Netflix was blocked, but Amazon Prime Video and our other test services connected without any problems.

  • costs: Free for a limited plan; $ 4 / mo if billed annually on the baseline (two devices, high speeds, 54 countries); $ 8 / month billed annually for the Plus plan (five devices, top speeds, and access to Secure Core, Secure Streaming, and Tor servers); $ 24 / month if billed annually on the Visionary plan (10 devices, email, all other features)
  • Number of servers: Depending on the plan (up to 1080)
  • Number of server locations: Depending on the plan (up to 54)
  • Supported clients: Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux
  • Number of simultaneous connections: Up to 10 (only one with the free plan)

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