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Best VPN services for 2021

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It’s no secret that choosing the best VPN service is an important task in 2021.

Whether you want to use public Wi-Fi without risk, watch geo-restricted content on Netflix, or simply stay anonymous online - you’ll need a good VPN for maximum security. And we are here to help!

Having tested dozens of the top VPNs on the market, we bring you our list of favorites for the coming year.

Best VPNs in October 2021

  1. NordVPN – Best VPN service for all usage cases
  2. Surfshark VPN - Best VPN for a low price
  3. IPVanish - Best VPN for affordable, all-around security
  4. Private Internet Access - Best cheap VPN for torrenting
  5. VyprVPN - Best VPN against censorship

Best VPN providers – our detailed list:

When choosing the VPN service that’s best for you, it is important to stop and think a little about the reasons why you need a VPN in the first place.

A decent VPN that unblocks streaming sites might not be sufficient for a tech-savvy user with exotic needs, or someone in a sensitive position, like a political activist.

The following list of the best VPNs of 2021 includes VPN services that cater to different needs and are 100% secure and reliable.


Editor's disclosure: We are aware of and concerned about the Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) recently released by the US Department of Justice. It names Express VPN’s CIO Daniel Gericke among the persons who received monetary penalties and agreed to “full cooperation with the relevant Department and FBI components” due to their past misuse of covert surveillance tools, targeting US citizens, as well as journalists and political parties.

At the moment, there are no direct connections established between the misuse of such tools and ExpressVPN. However, in order to offer our readers only the most reliable and safest VPN solutions available, we are temporarily removing ExpressVPN from our lists until further privacy, data security, and ethical evaluations are completed. You can read our full story about the agreement here.


1. NordVPN - Best VPN in 2021

NordVPN banner
Servers/countries:5,500+ servers in 59 countries
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV
Current deal:🔥 Get NordVPN, now 72% OFF + 3 Months FREE! 🔥

NordVPN balances speed and security while also providing access to various streaming services like Netflix.

Security and privacy

Based in Panama, NordVPN is not legally required to collect any information on its users. This is reflected in their no-logs policy, which was independently audited by Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC). This is a crucial factor when choosing a VPN, especially if you want to hide your identity.

NordVPN implements AES-256 encryption - the go-to encryption cipher of this day, used even by the US government. These include an ad blocker, Double VPN, and integration with the Tor network (Onion over VPN).

Speed

NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs today thanks to its in-house tunneling protocol NordLynx. Our speed tests put it at the top of fastest VPNs.

So, even though the connection speed depends on many different factors, you are not bound to experience significant slow-downs when using NordVPN.

Features

It features security options like CyberSec (which blocks malware, infected sites, and ads), and kill switch for your internet in case your VPN connection drops. Additionally, NordVPN offers double encryption, split tunneling, and a free SOCKS5 proxy.

Finally, you can combine NordVPN with the Tor network or use Obfuscated servers to enjoy the service in countries such as China, where VPN use is restricted.

Streaming

After testing NordVPN on various streaming platforms, we can assure you that it will unblock virtually any geo-restricted website you want to access.

The VPN doesn’t struggle with such popular streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Hulu, and HBO. As a cherry on top, if you want to stream on devices that don’t support VPN - you can. Just use NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature.

Platforms

You can use a single NordVPN account on six devices simultaneously. In other words, all your phones and computers are covered. You can also share your account with friends or family members.

NordVPN offers apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, as well as extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Additionally, you can set it up manually on routers, firewalls, and other devices.

Customer support

The customer support of NordVPN is really good. Write them an email and you’ll get an answer in a couple of hours or give their live chat a chance for an almost immediate reply.

Those who are more tech-savvy can use Nord’s FAQ section and the knowledge base filled with extensive articles on various IT-related topics.

Price

You can get NordVPN for as cheap as $3.30 a month if you purchase the two-year subscription plan. This price is lower than the industry average, which is quite impressive keeping in mind all of NordVPN’s features and overall quality.

You can also buy a yearly subscription that would cost you $4.92 a month, or simply try NordVPN for one month for $11.95.

Visit NordVPN to read more about the features

2. Surfshark VPN - Best feature-to-price ratio

Surfshark banner
Servers/countries:3,200+ servers in 65 countries
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV
Current deal:🔥 Get Surfshark, now 81% OFF! 🔥

Based in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark arguably offers the most value for your money of any VPN. It has a strict no-logs policy, a massive list of features, and an ever-growing server list - all for the competitive price of $2.49 a month.

Security and privacy

The team behind Surfshark takes your security and privacy very seriously. That’s why all data that goes through the VPN gets encrypted with the strong AES-256 cipher, with strong features adding to the overall safety. Surfshark has a kill switch, leak protection, and an ad-blocker to make you as waterproof as possible.

All their servers are RAM-only, which means that every time a server is rebooted, all the data gets completely wiped out. Surfshark operates out of a privacy-friendly location and doesn’t store user activity data.

Speed

If VPNs often disappoint you in terms of speed, then Surfshark will be a breath of fresh air for you. In terms of download speed, it is listed as the #3 fastest VPN by AV-Comparatives. Surfshark VPN is one of the best choices for you if you struggle with internet speed.

Features

Surfshark VPN is tightly packed with all sorts of cool features. All its servers support P2P file sharing (torrenting), each one having a private DNS for even more protection. In addition, Surfshark offers a multi-hop (double VPN) feature and Camouflage Mode to hide the fact you’re using a VPN.

There’s also a malware blocker, and an advanced split tunneling feature that lets you exclude apps and websites from the VPN connection.

Android users get yet another neat feature in GPS spoofing. It hides your phone’s physical location, showing the one that correlates with your current VPN server.

Streaming

With 3,200+ servers in 65 countries, you should always find the perfect server for the streaming service you want to unblock.

Surfshark VPN works wonders with Netflix, Peacock, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Youtube. And if you want to watch your favorite shows on your PlayStation, Smart DNS is there to help.

Platforms

One of the biggest selling points of Surfshark VPN is the possibility of unlimited simultaneous connections. In other words, a single subscription can cover all the devices owned by you and your family.

So, Surfshark will work with any of your Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire TV devices. It also offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Customer support

If you encounter any problems when using or setting up Surfshark VPN, you can either try solving the problem yourself (with the help of extensive guides on their website) or use their 24/7 live chat for an instant reply.

Price

If you want the cheapest option, you should consider purchasing the two-year plan, which would cost you $2.49 a month.

Remember that 1 account is good for all your devices at the same time. You can also get a free 7-day trial for Android and iOS.

Visit Surfshark to read more about the features

3. IPVanish – affordable, feature-packed VPN option

IPVanish banner
Servers/countries:1,600+ servers in 75 countries
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:🔥 Save 70% OFF the IPVanish 1-year plan! 🔥

IPVanish is one of the most affordable VPN services out there. Pairing that with some exciting privacy and data storage features, IPVanish becomes an exciting combination. After the recent update, IPVanish now includes WireGuard. It makes this VPN faster, safer, and more convenient than ever before.

Security and privacy

IPVanish uses 256-bit AES encryption, used by banking and military institutions for classified documents and other sensitive data. Your account credentials are protected with SHA-512 hash functions scrambling your login and passwords. This is as good as anyone else in the market.

Speed

For the most part, IPVanish speeds don't disappoint. If you pick a closer location, even with protocols like OpenVPN, you will be getting good speeds. We were blazing through downloads on servers located close to us, and while the performance was understandably lower on locations far away, it was perfectly usable for all cases.

Features

All IPVanish plans come with additional features. You can automate your connections with On Demand toggle and use split-tunneling to control which apps connect via VPN and which go through directly. If you're an avid torrenter, there's a free SOCKS5 proxy, too.

IPVanish has recently implemented the WireGuard protocol. It allows for additional security, faster connection speeds, and better battery life, as well as more reliable overall connection.

Finally, paying IPVanish subscribers will be given an option to use SugarSync – AES-256-encrypted file storage, working similarly to Google Drive or Dropbox. With this feature, your files get the same level of security as your browsing data. Offering up to 500GB of storage, IPVanish can offer a more secure data storage solution for critical files.

Streaming

IPVanish is a decent option for streaming, unblocking Netflix and YouTube with no issues. It took a while longer for us to get a reliable connection to DAZN or BBC iPlayer, though. Still – if Netflix is what you want to do, this will be a top pick.

You may also set up IPVanish on your Kodi player with OpenELEC or LibreELEC. That way, you can watch all kinds of shows without exposing your IP.

Platforms

The only case when IPVanish might not be for you is if you're strictly a Linux user. IPVanish doesn't support this OS. Though, if you're on Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS, you will be able to download and install their apps.

There are no browser extensions – you won't be able to set up a lightweight add-on. Instead, you'll have to use their apps or set up a manual connection.

Customer support

Just like many other VPN services, IPVanish has a knowledge center. There, you'll find a great deal of frequently asked questions, tutorials, and guides. 99% of the time, you'll find a solution there without the need to dig around for answers.

Still, if you need human support, you can contact them via email or live chat. Live chat is our preferred option, with live agents connecting in a matter of a few minutes.

Price

The first year's discount is the most appealing, making IPVanish look like an absolute steal. Combining together with SugarSync, you can get an excellent online security bundle on a great deal. Plus, all their plans offer ten simultaneous connections – so you can connect just about anything you own on IPVanish.

Visit IPVanish to read more about the features

4. Private Internet Access - Best VPN for torrenting

Private Internet Access banner
Servers/countries:29,000+ servers in 77 countries
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux
Current deal:🔥 Get PIA, now 83% OFF + 2 Month FREE! 🔥

No list of best VPN services would be complete without Private Internet Access (PIA). This US-based VPN has been a staple of the Virtual Private Network market for years, earning lots of user trust in the process.

Security and privacy

Open-source and completely anonymous (as it doesn’t store any logs), PIA VPN gives you a lot of freedom to set your own level of security. Even though its default encryption is AES-128, you can upgrade it to AES-256 or even turn it off completely.

Also, you are free to pick your preferred handshake and data authentication methods as well as the VPN protocol (OpenVPN, IKEv2, or WireGuard). In addition, PIA has its own DNS, which minimizes the risk of DNS leaks, and has a kill switch to protect you from connection failures.

Speed

PIA has been known to sometimes struggle with its download speeds (however, its upload speeds are usually excellent), but the massive increase in server count and introduction of WireGuard has largely solved those problems.

Features

Aside from the basic VPN features like the kill switch, Private Internet Access VPN also blocks ads, trackers, malware, and prevents all sorts of identity leaks. It also offers Split Tunneling and is compatible with DD-WRT routers.

PIA is one of our favorite VPNs for torrenting because it offers a great combo of torrenting-centric features. This includes a free SOCKS5 proxy and Port Forwarding to keep that download/upload ratio in the green.

Streaming

Trying to unblock Netflix with PIA VPN can be hit and miss. It’s not the best for streaming and unlike our top choices, it doesn’t offer Smart DNS for your Smart TV and console needs.

Platforms

You can download the PIA VPN app for your Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, and Mac devices. However, if you want to use a browser extension instead, you can check out PIA’s extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.

A single plan lets you use PIA VPN on 10 devices in total, which is quite generous compared to other VPN providers.

Customer support

When it comes to troubleshooting, PIA has a decent knowledge-base that may contain the solution you’re looking for.

However, if you come across a more sophisticated problem, you can either send a support ticket (filling it out might be a bit of a hassle) or use the 24/7 chat option.

Price

The monthly price of PIA VPN greatly differs depending on the plan you pick. Choosing a two-year plan is the least expensive option in the long run: you’ll pay only $2.69 a month.

On the other hand, the monthly plan of PIA VPN goes for around the industry average, costing you $9.95.

Visit Private Internet Access to read more about the features

5. VyprVPN – Top VPN against censorship

VyprVPN banner
Servers/countries:700+ servers in 70 countries
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Blackphone, Anonabox, QNAP
Current deal:🔥 Get up to 12 months FREE! 🔥

VyprVPN is often included among the best VPN apps. Excellent security, fast speeds, and fair prices make VyprVPN a popular choice among all kinds of users.

Security and privacy

It’s hard to find a more privacy and security oriented provider. Located in Switzerland, VyprVPN has an independently-audited no-logs policy and owns all of its servers.

To encrypt your data, VyprVPN uses AES with a 256-bit key, which is the current industry standard used by most important organizations and services. It also has a reliable kill switch and no IP or DNS leaks.

Speed

VyprVPN doesn’t sacrifice performance for security. Thanks to the WireGuard protocol, it’s among the fastest services in 2021. If you have a decent internet connection, you should be able to stream in HD or 4K and download large files in a matter of minutes.

Features

VyprVPN has few features and even those aren’t available on all devices. For instance, ad blocking and split tunneling is for Mac and Android only.

There’s also the Public Wi-Fi Protection feature that instantly connects you to VyprVPN as soon as you connect to an unknown Wi-Fi network. Additionally, this VPN is torrenting-friendly and doesn’t throttle the traffic.

Streaming

This VPN unblocks multiple Netflix libraries (US, Japan, Canada) and does so without a significant decline in speed. You can also use VyprVPN to watch content on other streaming sites like Disney+, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.

What’s more, this service has apps for Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV. You can also configure your router to work with VyprVPN in order to watch movies directly on your smart TV.

Platforms

Whether you use Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS, you will find the VyprVPN app to match your needs. It also has a router app, which is a rare find. There are even apps for Android TV, Blackphone, Anonabox, and QNAP.

You can use VyprVPN on five devices simultaneously.

Customer support

VyprVPN gives you a few different ways to get help. For example, you can submit a ticket and receive an email reply in a few hours.

There’s also a 24/7 live chat if you want to talk to an agent as soon as possible. Most of the time, they answer quickly and solve the issue in a matter of minutes.

Price

Even though VyprVPN is one of the best VPNs of the year, its price doesn’t reflect this high position.

At the moment, it starts at $1.66 a month (if you purchase a 36-month subscription) and covers 30 devices (limited offer). All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Sadly, VyprVPN doesn’t offer anonymous payment options.

Visit VyprVPN to read more about the features

6. CyberGhost VPN – Truly global coverage

CyberGhost VPN banner
Servers/countries:6,100+ servers in 89 countries
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV
Current deal:🔥 Get CyberGhost VPN, now 83% OFF + 2 Months FREE! 🔥

CyberGhost is a great VPN with 6,800+ servers in 89 countries and no monthly data limits.

Its main strengths lie in its breakneck speeds, huge server list, and the ability to unblock almost any geo-restricted content.

Security and privacy

Like many other top VPN services, CyberGhost VPN implements military-grade encryption to encrypt your internet traffic. In addition, it has an always-on kill switch and no leaks.

This provider doesn’t keep any logs (including traffic, timestamps, and IP addresses). However, its owner is a UK company Kape Technologies which has a spotty reputation.

Speed

Thanks to its vast server network and the WireGuard protocol, CyberGhost offers some of the industry’s best speeds. It’s probably not the fastest one, but if you have a decent connection, the drop-off shouldn’t be a problem.

Features

CyberGhost VPN has the majority of the features any experienced VPN user needs. It supports torrenting and split tunneling (Windows and Android), offers dedicated IP addresses, and has a free SOCKS5 proxy.

Those who want extra protection will be happy with the Tor over VPN feature. We recommend it to anyone living in a place where internet freedom is restricted.

Streaming

CyberGhost VPN is one of the best when it comes to streaming. It has a long list of optimized servers dedicated for Netflix and other content platforms.

This service unblocks multiple Netflix libraries, including the US. Furthermore, it gives you Disney+, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and many more.

Platforms

CyberGhost VPN is extremely versatile when it comes to applications for different platforms. It offers desktop apps for Windows, Linux, and Mac, as well as mobile applications for iOS and Android. There are dedicated Amazon Fire TV & Fire Stick and Android TV clients too.

Aside from that, you can download free browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox, or set up CyberGhost on a number of routers and NAS.

Last but not least comes the SmartDNS feature. It will allow you to unblock your favorite movies and shows on gaming consoles and different smart TVs.

Customer support

Like many other best VPN services of the year, CyberGhost VPN offers 24/7 customer support via live chat, which is available in English, French, and German. Alternatively, you can submit a request form.

You can also browse through the numerous troubleshooting guides on the official website of CyberGhost VPN. There are whole sections dedicated to different operating systems like Windows, Linux, Android, Mac, and others.

Price

There are four plans in total, ranging from one month ($12.99) up to three years ($2.25/month). At the moment, the last plan comes with 3 months extra.

Additionally, you can buy a dedicated IP for $5/month. The available locations are the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Germany.

CyberGhost VPN offers a lengthy 45-day money-back guarantee, which should be enough for you to make up your mind. There’s also a 24-hour free trial for desktop users.

Payment options include credit cards, PayPal, AmazonPay, and Bitcoin.

Visit CyberGhost to read more about the features

7. PrivateVPN – superb VPN for streaming

PrivateVPN banner
Servers/countries:150 servers in 62 countries
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Current deal:🔥 Get PrivateVPN, now 79% OFF! 12 Months + 12 Month extra! 🔥

Not that long ago, PrivateVPN received a complete UI overhaul. Now, it has a fresh look and is more than capable of competing with most best VPN services.

Security and privacy

PrivateVPN isn't located in a very privacy-friendly jurisdiction. The company's headquarters are in Sweden, which is Fourteen Eyes country. On the upside, the service has a strict no-logs policy, meaning that your data should remain safe despite these concerns.

You can customize how your data will be encrypted with 128 or 256-bit versions of CBC or GCM modes. So, if you're very cautious, you can get stronger security.

Speed

Even though PrivateVPN primarily relies on OpenVPN tunneling protocol, the speeds are decent. They are on the same level as what you could expect from other providers.

Keep in mind that encryption level can affect your speeds, so adjust your settings accordingly.

Features

Features is the area in which PrivateVPN has a few aces up its sleeve. Namely, HTTP, SOCKS5 proxies, and port forwarding. These are not something that you could find on any given VPN service, so it helps PrivateVPN distinguish itself from the competition.

Streaming

Out of all VPNs we've tested, PrivateVPN is one of the best options for streaming. It unblocked every media streaming website that we threw at it. This list even includes Netflix and DAZN.

Most VPN service providers struggle with the latter, while with PrivateVPN, you can breeze through them without any problems.

Platforms

Unless you're using Linux, you shouldn't worry that PrivateVPN won't support your device. The apps are available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS, so you'll be able to install them on every device that you use daily.

The service supports up to six simultaneous connections. This should be enough even for larger families.

Customer support

With PrivateVPN, you can find help in several ways. For starters, there's their knowledge base which should answer most basic questions that you might have.

If you still can't find a solution, you can reach out to their customer support agents via live chat or email. Most of the time, the replies are pretty quick, so you can expect your issue to be solved just as fast.

Price

On top of all the other benefits, PrivateVPN is very affordable. The longest plan can be bought for as low as 2.50/month. That's a fraction of what the other service providers are charging.

Plus, you can also try their service for free for 7 days. It doesn't even require any payment information, and if you end up opting for a full subscription, all plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

You can test the premium PrivateVPN version freely for one day.

Visit PrivateVPN to read more about the features

8. ProtonVPN – Best freemium VPN

ProtonVPN banner
Servers/countries:1,080+ servers in 54 countries
Free version:Yes
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Chromebook
Current deal:🔥 Save up to 33% with 2-year plan! 🔥

ProtonVPN is open-source, keeps no logs, has a good free version, and offers a lot of useful features for beginners and advanced users alike.

Security and privacy

ProtonVPN uses the bank-grade AES-256 encryption, which would potentially take millions of years to crack. In other words, it’s impossible for anyone to steal the data you send online when using ProtonVPN. On top of that, this service has no DNS or IP leaks whatsoever.

Privacy-wise, this provider looks great. Located in Switzerland, it has no connection to the Fourteen Eyes alliance members. Moreover, it keeps no activity logs and has its open-source apps audited.

Speed

All VPNs have an effect on internet speed, and ProtonVPN is no exception. However, the fact that this service doesn’t have WireGuard automatically puts it on the second-tier list. There, ProtonVPN manages to fare pretty well.

Features

ProtonVPN is quite a feature-rich service. It automatically blocks trackers and dangerous websites (NetShield), and offers its own version of multi-hop, named SecureCore. Tor over VPN is also available, but once again, to Visionary and Plus subscribers only.

There are lots of customization options for split tunneling, letting you exclude/include apps or even websites.

Streaming

To be fair, ProtonVPN is not the best option for Netflix and streaming in general. While it has specialized servers that can unblock your movies and TV shows, we can’t guarantee they will work all the time.

And now comes the sad part – streaming servers are available to Plus and Visionary users only.

Platforms

You can use ProtonVPN on many platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android devices. Even though each app is slightly different (lacking a feature or two, or using only one tunnel protocol), the most important features are the same.

There are also apps for Android TV and Chromebook users plus some tutorials on configuring ProtonVPN on routers.

The number of simultaneous connections depends on your pricing plan. Free users get one while Visionary subscribers enjoy ten devices per account.

Customer support

Like many other services on this list of the best VPN software, ProtonVPN has a huge knowledge center with lots of guides that help you deal with various issues yourself.

However, if you want the help of a real human being, you’ll have to create a support ticket – there’s no live chat available.

Free users usually get a reply within a few hours, while paid users get their problems solved a bit quicker. We think that this is fair.

Price

The free version of ProtonVPN allows for one VPN connection and provides you with servers in only three countries. On the bright side, you can use it indefinitely as it has no data caps.

Then, there are three paid versions, which cost $4, $8, and $24 a month if you choose the annual plan. The difference in price comes from the number of features and allowed connections.

Payment options include credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and gift cards. All subscribers are eligible for a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Visit ProtonVPN to read more about the features

9. Mullvad VPN - Most privacy-friendly VPN

Mullvad VPN banner
Servers/countries:761 servers in 36 countries
Free version:No
Platforms:Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux

Mullvad is the VPN choice for anyone who has a strong security, privacy, and anonymity focus. This little Swedish VPN has a completely anonymous sign-up process and zero third-party trackers on their website.

We especially like that Mullvad is open-source, doesn’t keep any logs, and places a high-degree of importance on business ethics.

Security and privacy

Mullvad takes your security and privacy very seriously. Aside from a completely anonymous account, Mullvad VPN implements AES-256 encryption to hide your data that goes through their servers. Needless to say, Mullvad also has the usual protections, namely, a kill switch and leak protection.

Mullvad lets you choose between two tunneling protocols: WireGuard and OpenVPN. While OpenVPN is the industry standard in terms of security, WireGuard lets you enjoy higher speeds while browsing the web or downloading content.

Speed

From our experience testing VPN services, we can say that Mullvad is one of the fastest VPNs in 2021 - especially if you use the WireGuard protocol.

Depending on the server you choose, you will experience only a minimal decline in download and upload speed. However, there’s one caveat - Mullvad doesn’t cover a huge number of countries, which means your speeds may suffer due to your location.

Features

Advanced users will really appreciate Mullvad because it’s rich in features that can be difficult to find otherwise.

For example, Mullvad VPN supports torrenting, offers port forwarding, the Bridge Mode feature to merge two or more networks, and split tunneling. In addition, it has a SOCKS5 proxy and supports IPv6. You can also edit your preferences, enabling a kill switch or making Mullvad automatically connect you to a server as soon as you turn on your device.

Streaming

This is the section that prevents Mullvad from taking a higher spot on the list of the best VPN software. It seems unblocking geo-restricted content is simply not Mullvad’s objective. For example, it struggles to unblock Netflix and BBC iPlayer, which is a bit disappointing.

On the other hand, Mullvad VPN lets you watch geo-restricted content on Youtube.

Platforms

As of now, Mullvad VPN supports Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and macOS.

The user interface of the program is almost identical no matter which version you use. However, the number of features can differ. For example, the Android app is in its beta version and lacks features like the kill switch, and doesn’t support IPv6.

Customer support

If you are an advanced VPN user, you will like all the extensive guides that Mullvad features on their website.

However, when you come across a problem you can’t fix yourself, you can use Mullvad’s customer support - just write them an email or contact them via Twitter or Facebook.

Price

Unfortunately, there’s no free version of Mullvad VPN, so you’ll have to buy a subscription to try out this service yourself.

Mullvad costs $6/month no matter the subscription length. Even though this might sound like a disadvantage, we like that Mullvad doesn’t try to tie you down with a prolonged subscription plan.

Visit Mullvad to read more about the features

How did we test and rank these VPNs?

Ranking VPN services is no easy feat. You have to consider a lot of factors, from the number of features to compatibility with various devices.

So what should you know before buying a Virtual Private Network? There’s more than a few things to check if you want to choose the best option for you.

Below is the VPN buying guide for 2021 with 7 crucial points we considered in making this list:

  1. Speed. Unless your ISP is using bandwidth throttling, your connection with a VPN will be slower because of encryption, distance to the server, and other factors. That being said, it doesn’t have to be slow. If top speed is a priority, search for a service that offers the WireGuard protocol and is often mentioned on fastest VPN lists.
  2. Server list. Check if the VPN has enough servers around your location. Some concentrate their resources in North America and Europe, but others have solid presence in Asia as well. Also, make sure there are servers in the countries from which you’re planning to connect to. Finally, look for a VPN that has only physical servers with RAM-only storage.
  3. VPN jurisdiction. You have to be a really bad girl or a bad boy to get noticed by the intelligence agencies. Nevertheless, it’s still better when your VPN is in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction, such as Switzerland and not in one of the Fourteen Eyes countries (US, UK, Australia, etc.) or, in the worst case, a country like China.
  4. Streaming and torrenting. Some VPNs are unable to unblock Netflix and other streaming platforms, while others prohibit P2P traffic. If that’s what you need, make sure you’ll be able to do both.
  5. Apps and supported devices. Most VPNs support the major OS types, but if you’re a fan of Linux, the list narrows down. Furthermore, you would want to protect all of your devices, so make sure your provider supports your router, game console, and smart TV. Finally, check if the number of simultaneous connections will be enough for you.
  6. Customer support. Don’t settle for a VPN that doesn’t offer 24/7 live chat. It’s an industry standard, not some premium feature.
  7. Bang-for-the-buck. Finally, make sure you’re not overpaying. There are many VPNs with similar features and contrasting prices. Also, don’t forget to exercise your money-back guarantee – most providers give one month to test things out.

Best VPN services compared

NordVPNSurfsharkIPVanishPIAMullvad VPNVyprVPNPrivateVPNCyberGhost VPNProtonVPN
Brand
Rating
4.9
4.7
4.6
4.5
4.3
4.3
4.2
4.2
4.1
Free versionYesYesNoYes (Android, iOS)YesYes (Android-only)NoNoYes (Android and iOS)
Price (lowest price per month)$3.30$2.49$2.62$2.69€5$1.67$2.50$2.25$8.00
StreamingNetflix, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, Youtube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, Disney+Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Youtube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, Disney+Netflix, YouTubeNetflix, Youtube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, Disney+YoutubeNetflix, DAZN, Youtube, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO NowNetflix, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, YoutubeNetflix, BBC iPlayer, Youtube, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, Disney+Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Youtube, HBO Now
LoggingNo logs, independently auditedNo logs, not auditedNo logs, not auditedSome personal information logging, not auditedNo logs, auditedNo logs, auditedNo logs, not auditedNo logs, not auditedNo logs, not audited
Servers5,400+ servers in 59 countries3,200+ Servers in 65 countries1,600+ servers in 52 countries35,400+ servers in 78 countries770+ servers in 37 countries700+ servers in 70+ countries200+ servers in 63 countries7,000+ servers in 91 countries1,200+ servers in 55 countries
Simultaneous connections6Unlimited10105561-75
CountryPanamaBritish Virgin IslandsUS (part of 5 Eyes)US (part of 5 Eyes)Sweden (Part of 14 Eyes)SwitzerlandSweden (Part of 14 Eyes)RomaniaSwitzerland
ReviewNordVPN reviewSurfshark VPN reviewIPVanish reviewPIA reviewMullvad VPN reviewVyprVPN reviewPrivateVPN reviewCyberGhost VPN reviewProtonVPN review

Video review: Best VPNs of 2021

Best VPNs video review

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that secures your connection over the internet. It does so by encrypting your traffic and hiding your Internet Protocol (IP) address from third parties, such as your government or your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

As a user, your interaction with a VPN isn't going to be difficult. Every step of the connection process is automated and is controlled via an app. Once you install it on your device, the service creates an encrypted "tunnel," which it uses to exchange with a VPN server. It acts as an intermediary in your connection displaying an IP address assigned by your service provider.

Companies use VPNs to secure remote access of company data, but lots of individuals also need this type of service. I’m talking about journalists who work with sensitive information and want to remain anonymous, or those who live under authoritarian regimes and want to unblock access to various internet resources.

Some people are using VPN to protect their privacy or to access geographically restricted sites. This can happen due to censorship or because the website is available only to a limited number of visitors from a particular country.

How does a VPN work?

Generally, when you're connecting to some website, your device sends a query to your ISPs DNS server asking for its IP address. Then, your ISP routes your request to the website's server. When your device crunches the data, it displays a website with videos and pictures once it fully loads. This is fast, but it leaves a lot of traces of what you were doing online. So, over time ISPs can harness quite a lot of information about their users.

When you subscribe to a VPN service, you're entering an agreement to borrow their infrastructure. Such services own a large volume of servers, so your connection is no longer routed via your ISP when you connect to them. The VPN uses a tunneling protocol to connect to your selected remote server. However, this time you're not connecting directly.

The end website receives a different IP address than your own, and your ISP can only tell that you're using a VPN, but it doesn't know what you're doing. That way, your privacy becomes protected by a veil of shadow.

Do I need a VPN?

Like antiviruses, VPNs are a cybersecurity tool aimed to provide better protection against various cyberthreats. Your digital footprints are scattered all around the web, so picking the breadcrumbs can be a way to get a pretty good idea of who you are.

Marketers and cybercriminals can even go as far as to use this data against you, so a VPN tool helps a lot. With it, not only can you disappear off the grid, but you have other uses like unblocking geographically-restricted websites or safely torrenting.

Benefits of using a VPN

Those new to this field may ask: "What can you do with a VPN?" It turns out, there are quite a few ways these tools can help you on a daily basis. Here's what you can do with a VPN:

  • Protect your data. All reputable VPNs use military-grade encryption, which means that the information you’re sending over the Internet becomes inaccessible to decipher to third parties. For example, people living in restrictive countries use it to protect their identities. As such, VPN for China is a must.
  • Hide your online activities from your ISP. A VPN hides your browsing activity from your Internet Service Provider. A VPN can even help you if you’re using Comcast Xfinity, one of the least privacy respectful providers in the US.
  • Protect your identity. If you absolutely need to disappear off the grid when you’re surfing the web, use a VPN for anonymity. They will effectively remove any ties between your browsing habits and your real identity.
  • Secure your wifi connection. Hotels and airports offer free but often unsecured wifi. Therefore, hackers might be snooping on your traffic. Luckily, thanks to the VPN's encryption, that is no longer a problem. It's an especially good pairing with Android or iOS phones.
  • Beating geo-blocking. I bet you've seen a message "This content is unavailable in your country" at least once. Due to geo-blocking, you may not see the same Netflix shows that are available in the US or another country. However, the best VPN services can unblock Netflix, Hulu and support other popular streaming platforms and devices, such as Amazon Firestick and HBO, no matter where you are.
  • Have better connections for gaming. Some ISPs are notorious for throttling gaming traffic. You can solve this by using a VPN with your PlayStation, Xbox, or Nvidia Shield.
  • Safe torrenting. P2P is legal in most countries, but that doesn’t mean downloading copyrighted content is. Using a VPN for torrenting will protect your identity and your location from both the ISP and the government.

These are only a few ways of using a Virtual Private Network. Others may include avoiding bandwidth throttling, defending against malware, or finding the lowest prices when doing online shopping.

What are the limitations of a VPN?

Although VPN is a good tool to make your connection safer, this doesn't protect you from all possible dangers. Your connection will indeed be much safer with them, but if you enter your personal information on some sketchy website, your data will still end up in someone's hands.

You can still download malware when using a VPN, as they aren't intended to check your files. So, it still matters to exercise proper cyber-hygiene when visiting websites, even when using a VPN.

Be mindful of your browser if you're using an outdated app that has Javascript vulnerabilities. This could also be used to inject malicious code into your system, which is also a cause for concern. Keeping your daily applications and installing important security updates is paramount.

How do I get a VPN?

If you prefer a DIY approach, you can rent a server somewhere far away and then self-host a VPN for yourself. You'd need a could-hosting provider and some technical know-how. For everyone else, there are VPN service providers.

These are businesses that are lending their server fleet for a monthly fee. When you pay them, they give access to their global networks. Once you're their subscriber, you can just head to their website, download, and install their client. Once you log in, you get the list of all available countries where you're able to connect.

You can minimize the VPN to the background so it doesn't interfere with your browsing. However, if you head online to check your IP address, it would display a different one if you actually were teleported to a foreign country.

Can VPN services be trusted?

All VPN providers claim to have no-logs policies, but this isn't often the truth. There are many reports of a no-logs VPN service, which leaked private its users' information after a major data breach. So, even if you're not paranoid, it may be a bit hard to trust such claims.

However, there are ways to filter out untrustworthy VPN services. Here's what you should look for:

  • Independent audits. If a service had its no-logs policy audited, it's a good chance that a VPN is trustworthy. Agencies like PwC are multi-million dollar industries that are outside the scope of bribery. So, if they're saying that a VPN adheres to privacy policy claims, you should probably take note.
  • Court cases. There's no better method to prove its privacy-policy claims than their response to the law requests. If a VPN service collaborates with law enforcement and shows up in court with a list of logs, don't think that it would be different in your case.
  • Ownership. You should always take into account the owners of a VPN service. Chances are they manage several other products and look into how they are managed. Were there any data breaches or privacy scandals? This may also help to form a perspective on how your data will be treated.

Free vs. Paid VPNs: which is the best for you?

In general, paid VPNs are better than the free ones. The latter have to rely on ads and selling your data (which is not always anonymized), unless they are offered by a premium VPN provider. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a good free VPN – it’s just that they will have one or more limitations that often are a deal-breaker.

The most common free VPN limitations are as follows:

  • Speed. Most free services are slower than paid ones. While you might be able to stream in full HD using some VPNs, expect a serious drop-off in speeds.
  • Servers. Free VPNs usually offer only a few servers in the US, the Netherlands, and some other countries. Also, those servers tend to be overloaded and have high latency, which is bad for gaming and VoIP calls.
  • Data limit. Freemium VPN services will often give you a certain amount of GBs per month or MBs per day. Therefore, downloading large files or streaming high quality videos will soon leave you blocked until next month.
  • Number of devices. Expect to get only one connection per account. This means that you won’t be able to use a free VPN on both your computer and your smartphone.
  • Geo-blocking and P2P. You won’t be able to use Netflix and other streaming platforms with most VPNs. What’s more, some of them also prohibit torrenting, especially if they don’t have a data limit.

If you choose a solid paid VPN, you won’t have to deal with the issues listed above. You won’t see any ads either and your data won’t be sold to third-parties. Also, you can expect priority customer support which will solve most of the problems right away.

Are free VPNs safe?

Whether a free VPN is safe will entirely depend on the context. Even on the Google Play store, you can find many of them, though the most popular option isn't always the safest one. Free VPNs are a notoriously muddy segment.

Always be suspicious of free VPN that serve you ads, as they're most likely contenders that are collecting your data. This completely invalidates the purpose of a VPN in the first place, so you should not install them on your devices.

A much better option is using reputable VPN providers. Some of them have free versions of their premium products. It often acts as a bait for you to buy their service later, but there are ones that have no caps and can be used for free forever.

Don't forget that most premium VPNs offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so if you refund it before your trial ends, you essentially get a free service.

What's the fastest VPN?

When we're talking about the VPN speeds, we're actually factoring in several different things.

  • The distance from your location to a VPN server to your device
  • The used tunneling protocol
  • The VPN server's load
  • Your baseline Internet speed

Even time of the day could also be an important factor. All of this makes the evaluation for the fastest VPN that much more challenging.

We usually calculate the drop-off speeds in our reviews and comparisons compared to the baseline speed test results. So, the faster VPN is the one that reduces your baseline speed less. Among such services are NordVPN, Surfshark, Hotspot Shield, and ExpressVPN.

Can you be tracked if you use VPN?

In theory, you can be tracked even if you use a VPN. However, only governments hold such power and they likely won’t spend the necessary resources to get you.

But doing that won’t be easy if you use an anonymous payment and a throwaway email to create your account. The tracking also becomes much harder if you use Tor over VPN and your chosen provider doesn’t keep any logs.

FAQ

Comments
Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie
prefix 3 months ago
I can see that Nordvpn allows 6 devices with their subscription. I have a question. If I set up vpn on a router would it count as one device or is it however many devices are connected to the wifi? many thanks.
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 2 months ago
Hello! A router counts as one device. However – all the devices connected to that router don’t count anymore then. This means that you can use the VPN on as many devices as you want while using your wifi!
Pou
Pou
prefix 3 months ago
All the picks look decent, you might as well choose by the color. Which of these VPNs have a dark mode feature? I’m not a fan of the bright green / purple colors.
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 3 months ago
Hello! You can either try Surfshark or VyprVPN, as both of them offer a dark mode.
boy yough
boy yough
prefix 3 months ago
hey! thanks for the comprehensive list. i’ve tried multiple vpn providers over the years and based on my experience best rated vpn is not necessarily the best for each user. sure it’s the overall easiest to recommend, but you must consider your needs and use case first.
mauve
mauve
prefix 4 months ago
thanks for all the vpn reviews. I’ve read a bunch of them on your page and I feel a lot more confident and smarter about my future choices! finally out of the woods 🙂
Eazyy
Eazyy
prefix 4 months ago
CyberGhost is one of the best VPN available currently, it’s surprising to see that their owner has a ‘poor reputation’. Where could I read more about it? Thanks for any info
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 4 months ago
Hi, thanks for the comment! If you want more information on the current owners of CyberGhost, you can read about Kape Technologies.
Dion
Dion
prefix 4 months ago
These same vpn providers seem to be everywhere, nordvpn, Surfshark, expressvpn, pia and vypr. Do you have the list of best vpn services from last year as well? Is that the same or any different? I’m interested in fluctuations, just out of curiosity. Seems like no one can beat these giants.
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 4 months ago
Hello, Dion! Our Best VPN list gets constantly updated, which means we don’t currently have the older versions.
lily
lily
prefix 5 months ago
I heard that the best VPN with no DNS leak is NordVPN. I have it and I often test it using DNS leak test websites. However, although I trust they’re pretty good with their technology, maybe there are more ways to check for DNS leaks or maybe even be alerted if that happens? Many thanks!
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 5 months ago
Hi, Lily! The best way to check for DNS leaks is the one you’re currently using, which is testing via leak test websites. If you want to be 100% sure you don’t leak, simply use NordVPN’s DNS on your computer. You can find the instruction on how to do it here.
chief
chief
prefix 5 months ago
Even though I’m using vpn, I heard that it actually matters which countries you connect to. What do you think is the best vpn server location and does it have any impact? I mean, it should all be encrypted anyway right?
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 5 months ago
Hello, thanks for the comment! If all you need is encryption, then it doesn’t matter which country you connect to, as the level of security will be the same. However, keep in mind that servers that are located near you (in your own country or a neighboring country) will provide you with better speeds. The location of the server truly starts to matter when you want to unblock content from a certain country (the US Netflix, for example).
Bob
Bob
prefix 6 months ago
Rūta Rimkienė, I request that you’re review process includes this simple test of split-tunnel. I just spent hours trying out recommended VPNs only to discover they all fail on split-tunnel.
Step 1) Using split-tunnel, select Chrome as the only app to use VPN.
Step 2) Connect to a VPN on the other side of the planet.
Step 3) Observe if ping times have jumped because the packets are now routed to other side of planet.
None of the VPN’s (NordVPN, ExpressVPN, SurfShark) have working split-tunnel implementations. This should be a minimal test that VPN reviewers should use to prove out implementations.
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 6 months ago
Hi, Bob, thank you for your comment! What kind of ping testing tool were you using? From what we’ve discovered, the “ping” command on Command Prompt doesn’t take split tunneling into consideration. You should try doing that with tools like Speedtest if you want accurate results.
Saxx
Saxx
prefix 7 months ago
Thank you for the article! How secure and reliable can VPN services be considered? As far as I know, users ‘ personal data is still stored on the servers and therefore their owners can always access it.Is it true? Is it possible to consider decentralized ecosystems such as Utopia p2p https://u.is/en/ for example, where data is not stored on a third-party server, more secure? In addition, such ecosystems are usually completely free of charge.
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 7 months ago
Hi, Saxx! None of our mentioned VPNs store personal information, so there’s no reason to worry. You can also use a VPN (like NordVPN) that operates on RAM-only servers that get completely wiped out after every reboot.
Christopher
Christopher
prefix 7 months ago
Is Surfshark the best VPN for multiple computers? I live in a big family, and we have 4 laptops, one PC, and a couple of phones. I want a VPN that could allow all those devices being connected at the same time.
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 7 months ago
Hi, Christopher! You’re totally right – Surfshark is a great VPN for the whole family, as it offers unlimited simultaneous connections. In addition, it supports all of the devices you mentioned.
roman
roman
prefix 7 months ago
Please, tell me the best small business vpn solution. I’m planning to work with sensitive data – photos, and an extra level of security is needed. What vpn would be the best for it? We will be sending photos to clients, and I’m afraid that while doing that hackers can steal them.
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 7 months ago
Hi, Roman! You can try NordVPN, as it has a small business solution called NordVPN Teams. It offers a high level of security and great speeds – perfect for sending photos online.
Alek
Alek
prefix 7 months ago
I’m going to China for a half of a year soon. I’ve read a lot about banned apps, restrictions and many other crazy stuff. Please, suggest the best vpn for travel to China. I need it for a half of a year, so I want it to be relatively cheap, and be effective in unblocking apps.
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 7 months ago
Hello, Alek! If you want a cheap VPN that works in China, you can give Surfshark a go. It may bypass the restrictions thanks to the Shadowsocks proxy. You can also try ExpressVPN, which uses Stealth servers to unblock websites for those who reside in China. It might have a higher chance of working, however, it’s more expensive.
bobbiez
bobbiez
prefix 7 months ago
ProtonVpn only
Caleb
Caleb
prefix 8 months ago
For me, best vpn that allows torrenting is Nordvpn. You simply select  P2P server and you are ready to go. The speed is very impressive and fast. I think it’s because of the latest new protocol implementation.
Nick
Nick
prefix 8 months ago
Hello! Can you suggest best vpn service in USA? I am planning on unlocking American Netflix, so I’m looking for a fast vpn, with good unflagged ips. I am aware that Netflix constantly detects usage of vpn. Also, since it will be my first experience using a vpn, I want it to be cheap. 
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 8 months ago
Hi, Nick! In your case, I would use NordVPN, as it unblocks the US Netflix library and is pretty cheap (from $3.30/month).
Nick Hudson
Nick Hudson
prefix 10 months ago
Hello there,

I want to buy a VPN for streaming and gaming. I have shortlisted these VPNs. What’s your opinion about these:
– Pure VPN 86% off on 10 devices for 5 years.
– Nord VPN 68% off for 2 years.
– Express VPN 35% off for 1 year only.

TIA
Mindaugas Jancis
Mindaugas Jancis
prefix 9 months ago
Hey Nick, sorry for the late reply. ExpressVPN is pricey, so you should pick it only if you really like it. PureVPN can be really cheap if you’re not afraid to commit for five years. However, I’d suggest NordVPN for streaming and gaming because it has the best speeds, thanks to the WireGuard protocol. What’s more, it’s capable of unblocking most streaming platforms.
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