When the internet first came out, there was practically total freedom. No restrictions, no censorships, no region locking, no region-based bans, no snooping, no malware except for the run-of-the-mill computer virus and browsing anywhere, even on porn sites, was practically safe. Subscribing to VPNs can bring all of that back so here are the top 5 VPN services out there.
“NordVPN is a robust virtual private network with an excellent collection of features, wrapped in a slick client that secures your online activities. Earning a rare 5-star rating, it’s our top pick for VPNs.”
–Max Eddy, Software Analyst, PC Magazine
One of the best and biggest VPN’s out there is NordVPN, which has over 5000 servers in 60 countries, giving subscribers access to practically all of the web. NordVPN has military-grade 256-bit encryption which provides users a full sense of security. One subscription allows up to 6 devices which includes desktops, laptops, tablets and phones so subscribers can securely access the web at home or on the go. Other features of NordVPN include:
- P2P – while other services do not support P2P, NordVPN knows the value of this much-maligned file-sharing method.
- Double VPN – allows the more paranoid subscribers to encrypt their connection twice by connecting to two servers.
- Dedicated IP – using a VPN hides your true identity. Your true IP is hidden via random IPs from other territories but what if you need to access a secure work-related website that allows only whitelisted IPs? NordVPN can provide subscribers a dedicated proxy IP that can be used for whitelists.
- Cybersec Blocking – being encrypted does not mean complete safety from rogue websites. NordVPN features what it calls Cybersec blocking to block unsafe websites similar to what some browsers can do rudimentarily.
- No Logs Policy – like many other VPN providers, NordVPN does not keep any logs of wherever you’ve been, whether it’s legit or shady.
- Automatic Kill Switch – In case for some reason, your connection to the VPN is broken abnormally, a hack, intercept or breach, your access to the VPN and the web can be instantly broken which breaks the link between you and your attacker.
- DNS Leak Protection – ensures that all requests coming from your computer travels through the VPN.
- Other features include Onion over VPN, Smartplay and transparent Streaming which allows users to get past region locks of services like Netflix.
Pricing – NordVPN is one of the more affordable VPN services out there. Subscribers can enjoy at least 2.99 dollars per month of secure anonymous browsing through a 3-year plan. The catch is that it’s billed the full amount of 107 dollars when the piper comes to collect. 3.99 per month for a two-year plan, and 6.99 per month for a one-year plan and finally, 11.95 per month for those who intend to test the waters. NordVPN also comes with 24/7 support which is essential to remain securely connected.
The pricing alone is a dead giveaway but after testing the features, they are what NordVPN says they are and they work. The connection speed is good and satisfying and the support is great. NordVPN deserves top spot for this review.
Surfshark is one of the biggest VPN services available with over 800 servers in 50 countries. Not as big as many on this list but what sets it apart is that one subscription allows for unlimited devices. Like many of the top VPN services, Surfshark make use of military-grade AES-256-bit encryption. A practically unbreakable encryption protocol. Other features within Surfshark include:
- Cleanweb Ad-blocker – not only does Surfshark protect your privacy but it also adds an extra layer of security that protects you from pop-up ads, trackers, malware and phishing.
- Whitelister – is a feature that allows certain apps to bypass the VPN. Apps such as mobile banking and company apps benefit from this.
- P2P – allows P2P unlike other providers that restrict P2P due to bandwidth considerations.
- No Logs Policy – Surfshark also has a no logs policy meaning that they don’t keep track of where you’ve been. Always a clean slate with every login.
- Kill Switch – Should the VPN connection suddenly drop; a kill switch feature is available to block all devices from accessing the web. This serves as protection against any attack that caused the drop in connection.
- DNS Leak Protection – if the user doesn’t use the Whitelister feature, Surfshark ensures that all web traffic flows through the VPN and not through the ISP.
- Camouflage Mode – speaking of the ISP, the special SurfShark camouflage mode will also prevent your ISP knowing you’re using a VPN.
- Multihop – a very useful feature when trying to evade tracking. Multihop, often seen in movies allow a user to connect to multiple overseas servers at once further hiding the user’s true location.
- No Borders – this mode allows users to access restricted content relative to any country. Streaming is okay especially for Netflix but don’t count on Hulu.
Pricing for Surfshark starts at 12.95 per month for those who want to test the waters. The most popular package goes for 1.94 dollars a month for 36 months which equals 69.99. Quite a steal for all the features above. The third package is an affordable 2.49 dollars per month for 24 months to be paid in full later at 59.76 dollars. While relatively cheap, these pricing schemes can be quite taxing when the piper comes to collect so it’s best to have a coin bank available on your work table and drop the appropriate amount every month.
As for user experience, despite the low number of servers, Surfshark works pretty fast, it features an ad blocker, can be used with unlimited devices, and can be used in China so the No Borders feature actually works. Monthly subscription is quite pricey but once proven, the following package should be great in the meantime.
“ExpressVPN’s performance is great. Consistently good speeds”
“The best offshore VPN for privacy and unblocking.”
ExpressVPN is another one of the great VPN companies out there. As the name implies, ExpressVPN’s speed is considered legendary that it can deliver a fast internet experience and secure connection at the same time. Aside from the speed, what makes ExpressVPN different from the multitude of services out there?
ExpressVPN is one of the largest VPN services available with over 3000 servers in 164 locations in 94 countries so there’s practically no limit where users can go. ExpressVPN is also flexible and supports all major operating systems on computers and mobile devices. It also supports router configurations on many router brands and allows the subscriber to connect up to three devices under one subscription. More devices can be added through additional subscriptions.
So is ExpressVPN one of the fastest VPN services out there? Our tests gave us favorable results with around 17% loss of speed which is still impressive. ExpressVPN’s other features include:
- Secure 256-bit encryption – ExpressVPN uses the same encryption tech as the US government known as AES-256. A 256-bit encryption standard trusted by security experts worldwide.
- Trusted Server Technology – ExpressVPN utilizes servers that don’t use hard drives. The OS, apps and data are all loaded onto RAM which are wiped with every reboot so there’s hardly any risk of any data getting stolen and since there’s no spinning disk involved, this influences the speed in which ExpressVPN delivers. This also ensures the company’s No Logs Policy.
- VPN Split Tunneling – not all network traffic should have to pass through the VPN. Users can shoose what traffic can go through the VPN is what ExpressVPN calls split tunneling. This allows users to maintain access to LAN devices, save on data rates and access local and foreign services at the same time.
- Zero-knowledge DNS – ExpressVPN has its own DNS on every server which minimizes the risk of being tracked.
- Network Lock – is ExpressVPN’s kill switch in case the VPN connection suddenly drops which could mean an attack or intercept. This blocks all network traffic to the user and protects the user until the connection is restored.
- Streaming – ExpressVPN has no problem streaming content from all countries through the major streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO Go.
- P2P is also supported on all of ExpressVPN servers unlike other VPN services.
Pricing – for ExpressVPN comes in three affordable packages. For those who want to test the waters, a one-month subscription will cost 12.95 per month. A twelve-month subscription costs 8.32 dollars per month while a six-month subscription goes for 9.99 dollars per month. Rather pricey but not bad.
Overall, the service is fast, the basics such as security, P2P and streaming are covered. The app is easy to use but the price is rather heavy. Quality does come at a price.
#4) IPVANISH VPN
[IPVanish]’s high speeds, choice of locations and excellent client are hard to beat. If you’re after quality, take the plunge with this VPN…
IPVanish secures your Web traffic from prying eyes and packs extra security features. It’s also one of the few VPNs that improved download performance in our testing.
IPVANISH VPN is one of the top VPN service providers thanks to its over 40,000 available IPs, 1,300 servers in over 75 locations worldwide. For a starting price of $5 per month, IPVANISH is a good full-featured VPN to begin your anonymous and secure journey in today’s less than private internet. For that small amount, subscribers get the following:
- Unlimited bandwidth – which mainly depends on the bandwidth of your current provider. That bandwidth will not be throttled by IPVANISH.
- 256-bit AES encryption – a secure, virtually unbreakable encryption protocol for a complete sense of security.
- Zero Traffic Logs – IPVANISH will not keep any record of your visits to the web
- Anonymous torrenting and unlimited P2P Traffic – download any size of file from P2P or torrent sites. Again, limited only by your original provider’s data plan and they won’t know where it’s coming from.
- Use up to ten simultaneous connections on all major platforms. Ten devices is a good deal considering others only allow 3-6.
- DNS Leak Prevention – Prevents data from being routed to the ISP and keeps transmissions flowing through the VPN.
- Automatic Kill Switch – keeps your devices safe from tracking by locking them out of the web in case the VPN connection drops. In the case of IPVANISH however, this feature is only present for Windows and MacOS devices.
Pricing – As mentioned, pricing starts at a very affordable 5 dollars a month for purely monthly subscriptions. A one-year subscription results in a lower monthly total of 3.25 dollars per month while a 3-month subscription puts the monthly price at 4.5 dollars. Quite affordable compared to the others and offers a quick way out in case of dissatisfaction plus a 7-day money back guarantee.
Performance-wise, IPVANISH VPN is quite fast with little noticeable difference against the original ISP speed. While IPVANISH allows for unlimited torrenting and P2P, streaming is however, limited. Netflix for example, blocks many of IPVANISH’s servers and there are many people who subscribe to VPNs for this very purpose, specifically, to get past geo-locking. IPVANISH, like other major VPN services offer 24/7 support which is moot considering how easy the system is to run and configure. IPVANISH is a solid VPN for most purposes except for geo-restricted streaming content.
Runner Up) CyberGhost
“CyberGhost VPN is practically a one-click solution. It makes the privacy and security of VPNs available to a much wider audience.”
“With unlimited bandwidth and traffic, CyberGhost stands out from many of the other VPNs.”
And lastly, we have CyberGhost VPN which claims to be the truly complete VPN solution for streaming, P2P and of course secure and private browsing, with the added bonus of ad-blocking and anti-malware. CyberGhost is a rather large VPN company that owns over 4000 VPN servers in 55 countries. Aside from the ad-blocks, other features for CyberGhost include:
- Automatic Kill Switch – keeps your devices safe from tracking by locking them out of the web in case the VPN connection drops.
- Unlimited bandwidth and traffic – CyberGhost will not throttle your bandwidth once connected. Though there will be a slight decrease in speed which is common for all VPNs.
- DNS Leak Protection – keeps data flowing within the confines of the VPN connection.
- No Logs Policy – CyberGhost promises that they will not keep any metadata based on any of your past connections and visits.
- 256-bit AES Encryption – a secure, virtually unbreakable encryption protocol for a complete sense of security.
- Simultaneous connection for up to 7 devices – which is more than some of the competitors, perfect for families and small businesses.
- Easy-to-use apps – CyberGhost’s VPN apps are quite intuitive and easy to use with tabs for common VPN functions and the best selection of servers for each.
- Streaming – CyberGhost allows for streaming and even has a dedicated tab for it on their apps. There are hardly any problems with Netflix, Hulu and HBO Go.
- P2P – allows P2P file sharing as well as torrenting.
Pricing – a CyberGhost plan starts at 12.99 dollars for a one-month plan which is rather steep in order to herd subscribers to their cheaper three-year plan of 2.75 per month which costs 99 dollars come bill time. A more reasonable one-year plan comes at 5.99 dollars per month.
Performance-wise, CyberGhost performed well on our tests when it comes to Netflix streaming and getting past restrictions. CyberGhost is also great for torrenting and the apps actually have tabs for the best torrent servers and the best streaming servers to connect to. Although many VPNs claim to get past country restrictions, CyberGhost cannot get past China. Customer support needs a little improvement but is balanced by its easy-to-use apps. In conclusion, this VPN should be okay in case you have any issues with the rest of the entries in the list.