In a cyber world, where our data is constantly being collected and sold, it's more important than ever to protect our online privacy and security. A VPN is an essential tool for doing this, as it encrypts your traffic and hides your IP address, making it impossible for third parties to track your online activity or steal your personal information.
Our team of experts and researchers has tested and reviewed numerous VPNs to find the best ones for your needs. Whether you're looking for a VPN to protect your privacy while browsing the web, bypass internet censorship, or stream geo-blocked content, we've got you covered.
In this guide, we'll take a look at the best VPN providers in 2023, based on factors such as speed, security, features, and pricing. We'll also provide tips on how to choose the right VPN for your needs and how to use it safely and effectively.
5 best VPN service providers of 2023
- NordVPN – the best VPN in 2023
- Surfshark VPN – the best cheap VPN
- Atlas VPN – best VPN for beginners
- IPVanish – best VPN for reliable performance
- PureVPN – best VPN for security and privacy
📢 LIMITED OFFER: Cyber Monday! Get NordVPN with 69% OFF + 3 months FREE!
How to choose the best VPN
When choosing a VPN need to consider numerous factors to ensure that the service suits your needs. Here’s a checklist of what to consider when choosing the best VPN:
Strong security and privacy features. The most secure VPNs use industry-standard encryption ciphers to ensure top-class protection of your data. An independently audited no-logs policy guarantee that the VPN doesn’t log your online activities.
- High speeds and consistent performance. Look through VPN speed tests before making long-term commitments. To get the latest data, check our VPN speed test tool. Consistently high VPN speeds ensure a smooth browsing, streaming, and torrenting experience at all times.
- Server network. The more server locations a VPN has, the more chances you have of finding the best VPN country to connect to depending on what you need. Locations close to you ensure the best speeds, and servers in niche regions or countries help with bypassing geo-blocking.
- VPN for your needs. If you’re looking to bypass strict restrictions, look for obfuscated servers and strong unblocking abilities. Ensure the service you’re getting is a streaming VPN and can access the most popular streaming platforms. Torrenters should look for P2P-optimized VPNs.
- Budget. The best VPNs aren’t necessarily the most expensive ones – you can get a powerful VPN for just a couple of bucks. Compare prices, plans, and features, and make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.
- Try first, commit later. Look for a VPN that offers a free trial and money-back guarantees. That way, you can test the provider without committing. Go for a test run and, make sure it works just as you need it to, and only then purchase a plan.
Once you’ve considered all the points above, take a look at the more technical specifications of the perfect VPN service:
|Security features:||Kill switch, Threat Protection|
|Privacy features:||Independently audited no-logs policy, IP and DNS leak protection|
|Speed:||Fast tunneling protocols (WireGuard)|
|Servers:||Obfuscated, RAM-only, optimized for streaming and torrenting|
|Unblocks:||Netflix, Hulu, Max, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube TV, and more|
Cybernews expertise: When it comes to ranking VPN services at Cybernews, we follow a rigorous testing process conducted by our research team. Our aim is to provide you with accurate and up-to-date information to help you make an informed decision.
Cybernews picks: best VPNs for 2023
To compile the ultimate list of the best VPN services, our expert team extensively tested 32 VPN providers. We evaluated each VPN in terms of security, speed, server coverage, streaming and torrenting performance, platform and device support, and pricing. The following list includes detailed overviews of the 10 best VPNs for 2023.
1. Best VPN in 2023 overall – NordVPN
|Servers/countries:||5,900+ servers in 60 countries|
|Money-back guarantee:||30 days|
|Compatible with:||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Current deal:||🔥Cyber Monday! Get NordVPN with 69% OFF + 3 months FREE!🔥|
NordVPN is the best VPN of 2023, offering blazing-fast speeds, robust security features, and a wide range of entertainment options.
Security and privacy: NordVPN is a leader in privacy protection. Its security measures are excellent – it uses AES-256 and ChaCha20 (with NordLynx) encryption, has a reliable kill switch, RAM-only servers (your data gets wiped off every time a server gets restarted), Dark Web Monitoring, Threat Protection, and more security measures. In terms of privacy, it operates under an audited no-logs policy as well. NordVPN stands out from competitors to have established an annual practice of engaging PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct a comprehensive independent audit of its no-logging policy.
Performance: During our hands-on testing, NordVPN consistently emerges as one of the fastest VPNs we’ve ever tested, maintaining up to 90% of initial internet speeds on average, providing seamless browsing, streaming, and downloading experiences. That’s partly thanks to its own NordLynx tunneling protocol – modern a variation of the well-known WireGuard, as well as a high number of available servers and excellent overall server infrastructure.
Features: This VPN blocks annoying ads and infected sites with its built-in Threat Protection ad blocker, offers all kinds of server types (like obfuscated servers), and includes a SOCKS5 proxy for easy torrenting. You can even get a dedicated IP address from more than 10 countries. Also, NordVPN provides next-gen functionalities, such as Meshnet, which lets you access remote devices over encrypted private tunnels anywhere in the world for free. This versatile feature is exclusive to NordVPN. During the recent tests covered in our NordVPN review, it proved to work smoothly while sharing and accessing files remotely.
Streaming: With NordVPN, we were able to unblock virtually any streaming service, including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Max. We also tested the VPN connection with devices that don’t support native VPN apps, and thanks to the Smart DNS technology, it allowed us to enjoy unrestricted streaming on a wide range of devices. By configuring the device to use the VPN’s DNS address, you can reap the benefits of a VPN on a device that doesn’t support native VPN apps.
Compatibility: NordVPN supports all the major platforms – Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. There are also apps for Android TV, Raspberry Pi, Fire Stick. All the applications are easy to use and tailored to a specific product's interface. So you won’t have any problems, even if it’s your first time using a VPN. We enjoyed the map-based interface, which is intuitive for both desktop and mobile users. Also, NordVPN supports up to 6 simultaneous connections, so you can basically cover the whole household.
Pricing: NordVPN's premium plans start at $2.99/month if you’re getting the annual offer. It’s worth noting that monthly billed plans are pricier, starting at $12.99/month, so long-term offers might be better value for your money. And if you don’t fully enjoy the service or just want to try it out, you have a 30-day money-back guarantee and 7-day free trial options.
2. Best price-to-quality ratio VPN – Surfshark
|Servers/countries:||3,200+ servers in 100 countries|
|Money-back guarantee:||30 days|
|Compatible with:||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Current deal:||🔥Cyber Monday! Get 80% OFF Surfshark + 5 months FREE🔥|
Surfshark claims the runner-up position on our best VPNs chart, thanks to its outstanding bang for your buck. While affordability is important, let's delve into the extensive range of features that this VPN provides.
Security and privacy: Surfshark operates under the highest security standards and has everything a reputable security tool must offer. It implements the industry-standard AES-256 encryption and has an audited no-logs policy. Also, Surfshark offers RAM-only servers, Camouflage mode, NoBorders mode, CleanWeb, Multihop, and Nexus network that will rotate your IP address every couple minutes for extra privacy, and reduce the probability of being disconnected from a VPN server.
Performance: Surfshark lets you pick from secure tunneling protocols like WireGuard and OpenVPN. Our in-house tests showed very few speed drops with WireGuard protocol, retaining around 86% of initial connection speeds on average. With OpenVPN, speeds might be slower in comparison but not very noticeable. So, you won’t encounter any lag or buffer when using Surfshark for gaming or streaming.
Features: Surfshark serves to torrent enthusiasts with P2P-friendly servers. It also offers server obfuscation and the double VPN feature. You also get a malware blocker (CleanWeb), split tunneling, and GPS spoofing on Android. Additionally, features like whitelisting (granting access to your trusted IP addresses, software, or emails) can also benefit you in different ways. Unlike other top providers we tested and reviewed, Surfshark also offers Search – a totally ad-free search engine. Our team of researchers also tested it in our Surfshark review and found it quite useful for users who prefer the real incognito mode and want to go completely log-free. To top it off, Surfshark can be used to unlock a dedicated IP address from 7 countries. Lastly, Alternative ID allows to create a fake online identity and email address to prevent sensitive information leaks.
Streaming: This VPN comes with powerful streaming capabilities – we tested it ourselves on different devices with various servers and managed to unblock not only the usual services like Netflix or YouTube – you’ll also be able to enjoy Max, Apple TV, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and other channels for seamless sports and events streams. If you prefer the big screen – Surfshark also has a Smart DNS feature to set it on any device you want.
Compatibility: No matter which operating system you use, Surfshark has an app for it. It covers Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS devices, as well as browser extensions for Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. You can also download apps for streaming devices, like smart TVs or Amazon Fire Stick, or set Surfshark up to work on your gaming console or router. Compared to other leading market providers as NordVPN, Surfshark excels in mobile apps and has an excellent interface as well as functionality.
Pricing: Surfshark VPN is competitively priced. While its monthly plan isn’t as cheap as its competitors ($3.99/month), the 2-year deal price starts at $1.99/month, which is almost unmatchable to the quality you get. Keeping in mind that you get unlimited simultaneous connections and a great set of features, this is the best option in the market for all devices you own. Same as with NordVPN, you can use the 30-day money-back guarantee for a refund or try it out with a 7-day free trial.
3. Beginner-friendly VPN with free options – Atlas VPN
|Servers/countries:||1,000+ servers in 42 countries|
|Money-back guarantee:||30 days|
|Compatible with:||Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Android TV, Amazon Fire Stick|
|Current deal:||🔥 Cyber Monday! Get Atlas VPN, now 86% OFF + 6 months FREE! 🔥|
Atlas VPN earns its reputation as a respected provider, setting itself apart in the industry with a unique offering: a completely free plan alongside premium services. While it may not aim to be the fastest or the most secure, its well-rounded approach offers a reliable VPN that caters to the requirements of a wide range of users.
Performance: Speaking of speeds the implementation of the WireGuard protocol accelerated the performance of Atlas VPN. It now ranks as one of the fastest VPNs on the market, retaining up to 80% of initial speeds on average – an ideal choice for gaming, streaming, and other online activities.
Features: While Atlas VPN may not offer an extensive array of features, it certainly has some noteworthy ones. For a start, it ensures a malware-free browsing experience with its Atlas VPN SafeBrowse feature, which focuses on blocking malicious websites. Additionally, to boost your privacy and anonymity, the SafeSwap feature continually rotates your IP address automatically. In our most recent review of Atlas VPN, we observed that the SafeSwap function operated seamlessly, changing our IP address every few minutes with a low impact on internet speed. The service also includes a Data Breach Monitor, which actively scans for any cases of your data appearing in data breaches.
Streaming: With this VPN, we were able to Netflix and chill with shows from all over the world. If you’re more of a YouTube or BBC iPlayer fan, Atlas VPN won’t disappoint you either. Even though it might struggle with bypassing more powerful geo-blocks and can be slower with servers further away, you’ll have no problems watching the mainstream content.
Compatibility: While the best apps of most VPNs are desktop ones, Atlas VPN is more mobile-focused. Although the Windows and macOS apps are great, the Android and iOS apps run even smoother. Our hands-on testing and extensive experience confirm that the Android and iOS versions of Atlas VPN not only perform exceptionally well but also provide an intuitive and responsive interface.
Pricing: Starting from $1.64/month for unlimited simultaneous connections, Atlas VPN is definitely on the cheaper scale. Even though it doesn’t offer such a big server network and feature set as NordVPN or Surfshark, it still has the essentials. You can try out Atlas VPN or use a limited suite with its free version. If you purchase the premium version and it doesn’t live up to your expectations, you can always make use of their 30-day money-back guarantee.
4. Fast and P2P-optimized VPN – IPVanish
|Servers/countries:||2,200+ servers in 52 locations|
|Money-back guarantee:||30 days|
|Compatible with:||Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS|
|Current deal:||🔥Cyber Monday! Get 81% OFF IPVanish + 3 months free!🔥|
IPVanish is another best VPN option due to its versatility – protection, torrenting, and streaming. The quality of the service and the affordable price make it one of the most respected providers by the experts.
Security and privacy: Like all other best VPN software, IPVanish uses the industry-standard AES-256 encryption with SHA-512 hash functions. IPVanish operates under an audited no-logs policy and has a functional kill switch to prevent data leaks if your connection accidentally drops. Although it’s based in the US and belongs to the 5-Eyes alliance, it claims to treat your data with respect.
Performance: This VPN supports multiple tunneling protocols – WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2. In our latest tests for IPVanish review, it consistently delivered fast speeds, retaining around 80% of the original connection speeds. The speediness drops with OpenVPN and other protocols, so make sure to pair a close server with WireGuard for the fastest connection.
Features: IPVanish has split tunneling so you can choose which applications use the VPN tunnel. You also get a free SOCKS5 proxy for fast torrenting. Just like Surfshark and NordVPN, IPVanish offers obfuscated servers that help you safely use a VPN where VPN usage is closely monitored or blocked.
Streaming: IPVanish successfully unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and YouTube. However, it may struggle with other streaming services, so keep this in mind if you want a VPN for the sole purpose of unblocking movies and shows.
Compatibility: In terms of device coverage, IPVanish is compatible with most devices and its OS. The application works with Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS operating systems. While the apps offer an extensive range of features, we feel this can lead to a cluttered interface, and the desktop editions have some usability issues. They're not major problems, but lack the level of polish we would ideally like to see.
Pricing: Price-wise, you get unlimited simultaneous connections and pay as little as $2.49/month if you get a long-term subscription. IPVanish has a 30-day money refund for its long-term plans in case it doesn’t fit your needs.
5. Best no-log VPN under a constant audit – PureVPN
|Servers/countries:||6,500+ servers in 65 countries|
|Money-back guarantee:||31 days|
|Compatible with:||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Current deal:||🔥Get PureVPN, now 83% OFF + 3 months FREE!🔥|
PureVPN is a user-friendly VPN software for anyone who is strongly focused on online security. Not only does it offer comprehensive security features, but it’s also the first VPN on the market with an Always-On audit.
Security and privacy: PureVPN employs cutting-edge AES-256 encryption for rock-solid security. Moreover, it has a kill switch feature that guarantees no accidental data exposure. Notably, PureVPN has enhanced its security, proudly becoming the first VPN to introduce an Always-On audit, ensuring your data remains safeguarded around the clock.
Performance: While some time ago, PureVPN didn’t have impressive speeds, the implementation of the WireGuard protocol changed the game. The provider now retains around 67% of initial speeds on average and doesn’t limit your browsing experience. However, as we noted in our PureVPN review, during our tests, we experienced some difficulties connecting to further servers in some countries like Australia. PureVPN implements quite an array of different tunneling protocols (WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, SSTP, and L2TP/IPSec), that you can select according to your online activities.
Features: Android users get to enjoy the split tunneling feature – it’s a great solution when you want only certain apps to go through a VPN connection. There’s also the port forwarding feature useful for remote device access or setting up gaming servers. These are some of the standout features, which can be advantageous for specific use cases. For an additional dollar, you can even access the password manager, providing secure storage and autofill capabilities for your credentials.
Streaming: In terms of streaming and unblocking capabilities, PureVPN has made a significant improvement. Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu – you name it, PureVPN can now unblock it all. You can access different global libraries of these platforms, which is a must for a VPN provider. Our tests confirmed that PureVPN excels at unblocking content across various platforms, providing seamless access to global content libraries. This makes it a highly recommended option for those seeking a VPN with robust streaming capabilities and unrestricted access to online content.
Compatibility: PureVPN has apps for all of the famous platforms – Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. The apps are neatly organized, clean, and simple to use. However, sometimes the app malfunctions – some buttons don’t work properly, and the established connection notification is delayed or doesn’t show at all.
Pricing: In terms of pricing, you won’t have to break the bank. With prices starting from $2.08/month, PureVPN is a wallet-friendly solution. And since there’s a 31-day money-back guarantee, you can try the service without an instant long-term commitment. However, even the premium subscription limits the connection cap to 10 devices.
6. Best everyday use VPN to avoid bad actors – Norton Secure VPN
|Servers/countries:||1,000+ servers in 29 countries|
|Money-back guarantee:||60 days (for annual plans only)|
|Compatible with:||Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS|
|Current deal:||🔥 Black Friday! Get up to 80% OFF Norton VPN! 🔥|
Norton Secure VPN is a good VPN for everyday use, as it is easy to set up and use, and offers a variety of features to protect your online privacy and security. It’s also part of the Norton suite of security products, which means you can opt for a complete security solution for your devices.
Security and privacy: Norton VPN is secure but very limited feature-wise. We liked that it uses the market-standard AES-256 encryption and has a strict no-logging policy. However, there’s no WireGuard tunneling protocol, and the kill switch is only available on Windows and Android apps. Norton VPN can protect your data online with the addition of security tools like Wi-Fi security and an ad blocker. We also found Norton to be based in the US, which is part of a 14-Eyes alliance.
Performance: Norton VPN uses the OpenVPN protocol on Windows and Android, as well as the L2TP/IPSec on macOS and iOS. The speeds with OpenVPN were relatively good, allowing you to enjoy safe browsing online without any major issues. During our speed analysis for a Norton Secure VPN review, the average download speed rate ended up being around 74%. We discovered that the closer we were to a server physically, the better were the speeds.
Features: This service offers a basic set of features to help you protect your identity, activities, and sensitive information while browsing online. While it is not packed with complex additions like other top VPNs, it definitely does the job if you want fundamental protection. Its Wi-Fi security feature (available on Android and iOS) triggers an automatic connection to Norton VPN whenever an insecure network is detected. The split tunneling feature offers an option to exclude apps from connecting to a VPN. Lastly, its ad blocker can block various ads and malicious websites.
Streaming: If bypassing geo-restrictions is your main reason for getting a VPN, we would suggest opting for a streaming-optimized VPN. During our tests, we managed to unblock YouTube TV, the US library of Max, and the UK library of BBC iPlayer with Norton VPN. Surprisingly, there weren’t any issues with these platforms, and we accessed it instantly. However, there was no luck with Netflix or Hulu.
Compatibility: Norton Secure VPN is compatible with all popular platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. It has the same user-friendly interface on all devices, so you can switch between them without having to learn a new layout. Installing Norton Secure VPN was quick and easy. We simply downloaded it from the official website and followed the on-screen instructions.
Pricing: Norton VPN prices start at $0.83/month (1-year plan) and come with 10 simultaneous connections. It’s also important to note that you can either get the Norton VPN separately or together with the Norton antivirus suite. That way, you’ll also be able to use a 60-day money-back guarantee.
7. Best VPN for streaming and gaming – ExpressVPN
|Servers/countries:||3,000+ servers in 105 countries|
|Money-back guarantee:||30 days|
|Compatible with:||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Current deal:||🔥 Cyber Monday! Get ExpressVPN, now 49% OFF + 3 months FREE! 🔥|
ExpressVPN comes with powerful security, the ability to unblock numerous streaming services, and multiple additional features, making it one of the best VPNs on the market. It has been setting the industry standard and recently made it to our best VPN list, so let’s see how it stands out from the crowd.
Security and privacy: ExpressVPN uses the best-in-class encryption (AES-256) but if you select its proprietary Lightway protocol, it uses ChaCha20/Poly1305 encryption. Also, this ExpressVPN promises it doesn’t collect any logs or activity, so it’s only visible to you. For proof, it has been independently audited by Cure53, ensuring your online activities remain confidential.
Performance: This provider offers a proprietary, ExpressVPN-branded Lightway protocol that scored average speed retention rates of 77% in our latest speed tests. As of other tunneling protocols tested in our full ExpressVPN review, it scored similar or slightly slower speeds respectively. Overall, the performance is great and suitable for browsing, streaming, or gaming but if you’re in need for speed, we’d recommend opting for faster VPNs like Surfshark.
Features: While ExpressVPN doesn’t stand out in terms of the feature suite, it offers split tunneling, MediaStreamer, stealth servers, Threat Manager, Network Lock, its own router applet, and more. These features are not strictly essential, but they can certainly add to your VPN experience. For example, split tunneling can be useful if you need to access local devices or resources while still keeping your other traffic protected. MediaStreamer is great for streaming devices, and stealth servers can help you bypass VPN blocks.
Streaming: ExpressVPN's ability to unblock streaming services is one of its strongest selling points. With this VPN, you can unblock almost anything online and bypass geo-restrictions to stream your favorite content. During our latest in-house tests, it managed to unblock streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Max, Disney+, Apple TV, and more platforms. It definitely doesn’t disappoint in this category and sets an example for other leading VPN providers.
Compatibility: With ExpressVPN, you can protect devices that run on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android operating systems. Also, there are ExpressVPN browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Edge for those who need a more lightweight option while browsing. In addition to being compatible with a wide range of devices, ExpressVPN is also very easy to use. The apps for all operating systems are well-designed and easy to navigate. The modern feel of the apps makes them even more enjoyable to use.
Pricing: ExpressVPN plans are quite expensive compared to other top providers, starting at $6.67/month. With the VPN purchase, you get a 8 simultaneous connection cap, which is less than other premium providers offer. For instance, Surfshark and Atlas VPN give you unlimited connections. On the other hand, ExpressVPN offers a 7-day trial for mobile devices. And you can also use their 30-day money-back guarantee if you want to try out the service.
8. Specialized VPN with the biggest server fleet – CyberGhost
|Servers/countries:||10,200+ in 100 countries|
|Money-back guarantee:||45 days|
|Compatible with:||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Current deal:||🔥 Cyber Monday! Get CyberGhost VPN, now 84% + 4 months FREE! 🔥|
CyberGhost is one of the most versatile VPNs on the market, offering a massive server selection (over 10,200), specialized servers for streaming, torrenting, and gaming, and reliable security features to protect your data while browsing online.
Security and privacy: Like any other best VPN, ChyberGhost uses AES-256 encryption to hide your data, has an independently audited no-logs policy, and is based in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction (Romania). This assures that your data is secure and protected. That’s not all – CyberGhost has RAM-only and NoSpy servers (fully managed by CyberGhost), which set more advanced privacy measures. Plus, they support P2P connections, which is great news for torrenting enthusiasts.
Performance: CyberGhost works with the open-source WireGuard tunneling protocol that helps deliver reliable connection speeds and a lag-free browsing experience. During our evaluation, the average speed retention rate was around 86%.
Features: CyberGhost has specialized servers for streaming, torrenting, and gaming, and there’s an automated kill switch to prevent data leaks. Also, you can get a dedicated IP, an ad blocker, or customize smart rules that work like split tunneling, and other smaller features We tested all the features and one feature that stood out that other providers lack was smart rules. It allows you to customize how the VPN works. For example, you can create a rule that automatically connects to a specific server when you open a particular app.
Streaming: This is a really reliable streaming VPN. During our tests, it unblocked popular streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, Max, and others streaming platforms with ease. There were no errors, but we had to switch to a streaming server optimized for BBC iPlayer. The same can be said about geo-blocked YouTube videos. However, while with streaming-optimized servers the streaming quality was great, our in-depth CyberGhost review revealed some buffering when streaming HD video.
Compatibility: CyberGhost offers apps for all popular OS, like Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. There are also capabilities to set up a browser extension on Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Brave, and Opera. All the apps are easy to use and functional but some lack some features. For example, iOS lacks a kill switch feature, which is quite a bummer if a mobile phone is your primary VPN use. In this case, NordVPN would be a better pick for you.
Pricing: CyberGhost is really affordable – you can get a subscription for $2.04/month and cover up to 7 devices. While there’s no free trial, you get an extra long 45-day money-back guarantee.
9. Best VPN with anonymous payment options – Ivacy VPN
|Servers/countries:||5,700+ servers in 68 countries|
|Money-back guarantee:||30 days|
|Compatible with:||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS|
|Current deal:||🔥Get Ivacy VPN, now 90% OFF + gift!🔥|
Ivacy VPN stands out within the best VPN market with its extensive network of global servers, anonymous payment options, robust security features, and reliable streaming capabilities, all offered at an attractive price point.
Security and privacy: A simple and intuitive split tunneling function, AES-256 encryption, and no logs – something we’ve grown to expect from all premium VPNs by now. There’s also leak protection as an extra layer for your data. However, Ivacy VPN is based in a country that is a partner of the 14-Eyes Alliance (Singapore).
Performance: Ivacy VPN offers the WireGuard protocol. However, the average speed retention rates fluctuated around 32% during our tests. So if you need lightning-fast connections, then Ivacy VPN is not the one for you.
Features: Ivacy VPN's Secure Download feature scans your downloads for malware and other threats, providing an additional layer of security that sets it apart from many other VPNs. Plus, with cryptocurrency payments, privacy-conscious users can also purchase Ivacy VPN without revealing their personal data. Ivacy VPN also offers a dedicated IP address feature, which allows you to whitelist specific IP addresses.
Streaming: Ivacy VPN offers specialized streaming servers, and they work really well when unblocking Netflix, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, and more services. However, when streaming, we encountered connection speed issues, which is the downside we mentioned above. Our in-depth Ivacy VPN review covers all the ins and outs of the streaming issues discovered.
Compatibility: The VPN offers applications for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. Plus, you can get browser extensions (Chrome, Firefox, Edge), add-ons for streaming devices, smart TVs (Android TV, Amazon Fire devices), routers, and more platforms. However, when streaming, we encountered connection speed issues, which is the downside we mentioned above.
Pricing: With Ivacy VPN, you can cover 10 devices simultaneously. It also stands out with its long-term plan offer. You can sign up for a massive 5-year plan for just $1.00/month – and you’ll get a solid password manager app thrown in for free. As usual, there’s a 30-day money refund in case you’re not happy with the VPN service.
10. Best freemium VPN with competitive speeds – Proton VPN
|Servers/countries:||3,000+ servers in 69 countries|
|Money-back guarantee:||30 days|
|Compatible with:||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Current deal:||🔥Cyber Monday! Get up to 60% OFF Proton VPN!🔥|
Proton VPN is a great choice for both beginners and experienced users. It offers a generous free plan, a strict no-logs policy, and robust security features.
Security and privacy: Like many first-class VPN services, Proton VPN uses the so-called unbreakable AES encryption. And in case your VPN connection drops, the provider’s kill switch is going to keep your data safe. Privacy-wise, its no-logs policy been independently audited and when it comes to anonymity – you can even pay with Bitcoin.
Performance: In the speed department, Proton VPN is relatively fast. Although at times, there can be some speed inconsistencies, the overall performance is great. Thanks to WireGuard, and Proton VPN’s own VPN Accelerator feature, which we tested in our Proton VPN review, this provider can compete even with the speediest VPN providers, retaining up to 85% of initial speeds on average.
Features: There’s split tunneling and the double VPN feature, which routes your traffic through two VPN servers instead of one. For additional privacy, Tor over VPN and alternate routing will help you browse peacefully in countries with restricted internet freedom. Proton also has a Quick Connect feature, which connects you to the fastest server automatically, and a VPN Accelerator, which is supposed to speed up the connection. We liked that the features we tried were fully functional and worked flawlessly.
Streaming: If you’re in need of a VPN for streaming, Proton VPN will definitely do the trick. There’s Netflix, Hulu, Max, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, and more streaming services that Proton VPN can easily unblock. Our latest tests proved its powerful streaming capabilities. The only downside is that all these unblocking capabilities aren’t available on the free version.
Compatibility: While Windows users will experience the best version of Proton VPN, others, including macOS, Linux, and mobile users, won’t be disappointed either. The apps are very minimalistic, dark, and simple to navigate. Even for beginners, it’s easy to find the way around and connect to a VPN server in a few clicks. The Linux app, though, was not as well-designed as the Windows and macOS apps, but it was still relatively easy to use.
Pricing: Proton VPN’s prices aren't the most wallet-friendly starting from $3.99/month for 10 simultaneous connections. There’s also a limited free version, so if you’re looking for a basic option, it might fit you just right. And if this provider turns out to be not your cup of tea with a premium subscription, there’s a month-long money-back guarantee.
Honorable VPN mentions
Some VPNs don’t make it to the top 10 list, but that does not mean they are not worthy of attention. Below are 4 VPN providers that deserve to be mentioned, but don’t quite reach the level of the best VPN providers on the market right now:
- Private Internet Access (PIA) – offers advanced security measures like a kill switch or port forwarding. However, it lacks in terms of performance and strict privacy measures.
- Bitdefender VPN – comes in an antivirus bundle and offers solid performance with a large server network of 4000+ servers in 48 countries. However, it keeps some logs, so it’s not the best solution in terms of privacy.
- PrivateVPN – very easy to use and unblocks a few streaming libraries while maintaining good speeds.Unfortunately, it lacks servers, mobile apps functionality, and other must-have features.
Comparison of the best VPNs
We compared the 10 best VPNs with all their most notable features in the comparison table below. Explore the benefits and differences of each VPN service to make an informed decision when choosing.
|Free trial||Yes, 7-day||Yes, 7-day||Yes, unlimited||Yes, 7-day||Yes, 7-day||Yes, 7-day||Yes, 7-day for mobile devices||Yes, 1-day on a desktop, 3-day on Android, and 7-day on iOS||Yes, 1-day||Yes, unlimited|
|Logging||No logs, independently audited twice by PwC||No logs, independently audited by Deloitte||No logs, not audited||No logs, independently audited by Leviathan||No logs, always-on audit by KPMG||No logs, not audited||No logs, independently audited by Cure53||No logs, independently audited by Deloitte||No logs, not audited||No logs, independently audited by Securitum|
|Servers||5,900+ servers in 60 countries||3,200+ servers in 100 countries||1,000+ servers in 42 countries||2,200+ servers in 52 countries||6,500+ servers in 65 countries||1,000+ servers in 29 countries||3,000+ servers in 105 countries||10,200+ servers in 100 countries||5,700+ servers, 68 countries||3,000+ servers in 69 countries|
|Streaming||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more||Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Disney+, and more||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube||BBC iPlayer, Max||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and more||Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Disney+||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Youtube||Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, HBO Max, Disney+|
|Based in||Panama||The Netherlands (part of 9-Eyes)||United States (part of 5-Eyes)||United States (part of 5-Eyes)||British Virgin Islands||United States||British Virgin Islands||Romania||Singapore||Switzerland|
|Review||NordVPN review||Surfshark VPN review||Atlas VPN review||IPVanish review||PureVPN review||Norton VPN review||ExpressVPN review||CyberGhost review||Ivacy VPN review||Proton VPN review|
Read our detailed comparisons:
Surfshark VPN vs NordVPN: security and performance of industry giants compared
NordVPN vs ExpressVPN: which one stands higher in the ultimate VPN comparison?
NordVPN vs ProtonVPN: can a favorite freemium VPN stand up to the industry leader?
How we tested VPN software
Ranking VPN services is no easy feat. At Cybernews, our expert research team conducts regular and extensive VPN tests in order to provide you with accurate and up-to-date information and help you make an informed decision. The frequency of our tests may vary depending on the evolving landscape of VPN services and any major updates or changes introduced by the providers.
Here is a general technical overview of what we test:
|Operating systems used:||Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS|
|Servers tested:||UK, US, Australia, Germany, Japan|
|Protocols used for speed testing:||WireGuard|
|Streaming services tested:||Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, Disney+|
|Platform tested for torrenting:||uTorrent with the file from Ubuntu|
|Customer support option tested:||24/7 live chat, email support, knowledge base, how-to guides|
For our list of the best VPNs in 2023, we also evaluate the following factors:
- Security. We prioritized the services with specialized servers, threat protection, IP leak protection, strict no-logs policy, which would be audited, service run on RAM-only servers, and any extra features that make a private and secure VPN.
- Speed. We test the speeds of each VPN using our proprietary speed testing tool and conduct other in-house tests with specific devices, platforms, browsers, streaming and torrenting services, and video games.
- Server list. We reviewed the server networks of each service to find which ones offer global coverage. We only included VPNs that offer great server distribution around the world.
- Streaming and torrenting. We test how well each VPN works with different streaming services in terms of unblocking the site itself, its geo-restricted content, or features. We also test how well VPN providers work with torrenting – whether it is allowed on the provider’s server and whether the speeds are satisfactory.
- Simultaneous connections. We chose the best VPNs that support 5 or more connections since you might want to use a VPN on several devices at the same time.
- Apps and supported devices. We include VPNs that support the most popular OS types, as well as other devices, such as smart TVs, routers, gaming consoles, and streaming boxes.
- Pricing. Finally, we select VPNs that give you the best value for your money.
NordVPN is our top recommendation due to its versatility. It offers advanced security and privacy measures, exceptional performance, a massive server network, and excellent apps for attractive prices. Try it risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.Get NordVPN
How does a VPN work?
When you're connecting to some website, your device sends a query to your ISP DNS server asking for its IP address. Once the query is fulfilled, your device establishes a connection with another device (server) via your ISP. Any data that passes through this connection is visible and easily accessible to your ISP if you’re not using a VPN.
When you subscribe to a VPN service, you gain access to a large volume of encrypted servers. All traffic that previously went straight from and to your ISP now also passes through an encrypted VPN tunnel.
The VPN encrypts your traffic and gives you a different IP address. The destination server (e.g. a website) receives the VPN server’s IP address instead of your ISP’s. That way, your ISP can see that you are using a VPN, but all the data, such as which websites you visit, what you do, and for how long, remains hidden.
How to set up a VPN?
Setting up a VPN is very simple and does not require any specific technical knowledge. You can set up a VPN in a matter of minutes by simply following the steps below:
- Go to your chosen VPN’s website (or find the provider in an app store).
- Choose your subscription plan.
- Fill in the necessary checkout information
- Download the VPN app on the devices you want to use it on
- Install the VPN app by following the installation wizard instructions
- Connect to a chosen server.
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 as if you actually were teleported to a foreign country.
Video review: Best VPN services in 3 minutes
Check out our video review of the best VPN service providers of 2023 – reviewed in just 10 minutes:
Can VPN services be trusted?
Yes, VPN services can be trusted, but only if you choose a reputable provider. The most important thing to consider is the no-logs policy – but that’s not all you should take into account. So here are all the factors that a trustworthy VPN should ensure:
- Independent audit. If a service had its no-logs policy audited, it's an even better chance that a VPN is trustworthy. Many VPNs choose to be audited by one of the Big Four auditing companies which carry the reputation of being the best in the VPN auditing industry.
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.
- Privacy-friendly headquarters. Some countries belong to the 5-Eyes, 9-Eyes, or 14-Eyes alliances. They are known to share personal data of their citizens and even attempt to force tech companies to provide them encryption backdoors.
How you can benefit from a VPN
In today's digital landscape, VPNs have become indispensable tools for various online activities. Here’s how using a VPN can benefit you in your digital escapades:
- Browse safely on public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi is never secure and tends to be a hiding place for hackers and other threat actors. A VPN for public Wi-Fi helps protect sensitive data and online privacy by encrypting your internet traffic. VPNs create a secure tunnel that shields user information from potential public Wi-Fi threats, such as hackers, surveillance, or even malware.
- Remain anonymous and private online. Since VPNs encrypt your traffic, your online activities become invisible to your ISP, government, and other interested parties. Besides, it becomes increasingly difficult to trace a VPN IP address back to a specific user, which helps your private information and online life remain private.
- Use a VPN to unblock restricted sites. By changing your virtual location, a VPN can help access content and sites that aren’t available in your region. For example, if you’re trying to unblock a Netflix show, you’ll want to use one of the best VPNs for Netflix. They are specifically designed to grant you access to geo-restricted content and can unblock a huge number of geo-restricted streaming sites and other websites.
- Improve your connection speed. Some ISPs throttle users’ connection speed if they detect unusual or high-speed demanding activities, such as gaming, streaming, or torrenting. A VPN will redirect your traffic through one of its servers and help you escape ISP throttling, thus improving your connection speed.
Choosing the best VPN based on your needs
While a universal VPN fit for everything is a dream we all have, some VPNs are better for specific use cases than others. For example, a gaming VPN might not help with unblocking Netflix, and a VPN for security might not have a server network big enough for accessing geo-restricted streaming libraries.
Whether you are a streamer, gamer, torrenting enthusiast, or someone with multiple devices, you will need a VPN that delivers the necessary features and performance to enhance your personal online experience. When choosing a VPN for your particular purpose, consider a number of factors, including the importance of advanced security, and whether you need a VPN that is the best at bypassing restrictions or delivering the best speeds. Finally, think about the device you’ll be using – some VPNs work better on mobile devices than on personal computers.
Top-rated VPNs for your device
If you’re looking for a VPN compatible with your particular device, look no further. Here is our list of the best VPNs for the most popular device types:
|Best VPN for Android||Find the best VPN for your phone or tablet|
|Best VPN for iPhone||Upgrade your iPhone security with a VPN|
|Best VPN for Windows||Choose a VPN with the best Windows compatibility|
|Best VPN for Mac||Get an easy-to-use and secure Mac VPN|
VPNs for ultimate online privacy
If online privacy is your main concern, consider a VPN that works best in a specific scenario – whether it’s an activity such as torrenting, or bypassing restrictions in a country with high surveillance levels.
|Best VPN for online banking||Ensure the safety of your finances|
|Best VPN for remote workers||Keep your work secure and accessible|
|Best VPN for business||Secure your company network|
|Best VPN for Europe||Find the best VPN for any European country|
Unblocking content with a VPN
One of the most popular VPN use cases is accessing geo-restricted streaming content. However, not every VPN is capable of unblocking every streaming service. See below to find the best VPN for your favorite streaming site or event:
|Best VPN for Netflix||Find a VPN to unblock any Netflix show|
|Best VPN for Amazon Prime||Catch up with the newest releases with a VPN|
|Best VPN to watch NFL online||Don't miss any NFL game ever again|
|Best VPN to watch Premier League online||Access all Premier League games from anywhere|
Cannot access the newest version of a video game, want to play on the same server as your friends, or are you experiencing severe lag? Take a look at our lists of the best VPNs for specific video games:
|Best VPN to fix game lag||VPN for lowering ping and reducing lag|
|Best VPN for PS5/PS4||Unlock any PlayStation game with a VPN|
|Best VPN for PUBG||Access PUBG mobile from anywhere|
|Best VPN for Warzone||Get easy bot lobbies in Warzone 2.0|
VPN for safe traveling
If you’re planning on leaving your home country for a while, consider getting a VPN – to access content available only in your home country, stay safe on public Wi-Fi, and more:
|Best travel VPN||Find the best option for traveling abroad|
|Best VPN for digital nomads||Find a top-tier VPN for work from anywhere|
|Best VPN for geo-blocking||Unblock anything with a VPN|
|Best VPN for Public Wi-Fi||Protect yourself on public Wi-Fi|
Free vs. Paid VPNs: which is the best for you?
In general, paid VPNs are better than 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. Also, there have been cases where free VPN was used to spread malware. 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. Let’s check how free vs paid VPNs differ and find out the most common free VPN limitations:
- 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 we tested will often give you a certain amount of GBs per month or MBs per day. For instance, Atlas VPN free version imposes 5GB cap. 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 access worldwide content from Netflix or other streaming platforms with most free VPNs. What’s more, some of them also prohibit torrenting, especially if they don’t have a data limit.
If you choose the best 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.
But if you’re on a strict budget, you can make use of the free trials and money-back guarantees that some VPNs offer. For example, NordVPN comes with a 7-day free trial for Android devices that you can set up on other gadgets after signup. Plus, you can take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee on top of it.
Best VPN server locations for different countries
While it’s essential to know how to correctly use a VPN, knowing which VPN country or location to connect to, can also benefit you, whether you're gaming, streaming, browsing, or using a VPN for other uses.
Here are some of the main countries and VPN combos:
- Best VPNs for the US
- Best VPNs for India
- Best VPNs for Iran
- Best VPNs for UK
- Best VPNs for Canada
- Best VPNs for Taiwan
- Best VPNs for Australia
- Best VPNs for Hong Kong
- Best VPNs for Germany
- Best VPNs for the Netherlands
We’ve done comprehensive research and testing to decide which countries are the ideal ones to use the VPN in. The aspects we took into consideration – privacy laws, belonging to the 14-Eyes alliance, regulations regarding torrenting, betting, streaming, gaming, infrastructure, and more.
To learn more, read our article about the best VPN countries.
When choosing the best personal VPN, it's important to consider your individual needs. If you need a VPN for security and privacy, you have to pick a service with advanced features and a clear no-logs policy. And if you’re into data-consuming activities such as streaming, you’ll need to find a fast VPN with excellent unblocking capabilities.
Choosing the best VPN service might be challenging, so we did the research and testing for you. NordVPN and Surfshark conquered our best VPN list due to their competitive performance, versatile features, and excellent streaming or torrenting capabilities. But these aren’t the only options – we always strive to provide multiple services to suit different needs.
What is the best VPN in 2023?
The best VPN in 2023 is NordVPN. It provides the highest level of security with AES-256 encryption, high speed with NordLynx protocol, and comes for an affordable price. Its features include a reliable kill switch, obfuscation, and a SOCKS5 proxy for easy torrenting. Finally, NordVPN is able to unblock virtually any streaming site.
What is the best free VPN?
Currently, Atlas VPN is the best free VPN. It provides you with 5GB of monthly data, industry-standard encryption to ensure your security and an audited no-logs policy for privacy. Also, the free version includes a kill switch to protect you if your connection drops and DNS leak protection.
Is it worth paying for VPN?
Yes, a paid VPN subscription will ensure the highest level of security, obfuscation, plenty of global servers, and unmatched connection speeds. By comparison, most free VPNs have questionable security, limited features, and data limits, so you’ll most likely get a fixed monthly MB amount, which will be too low for consistent daily use.
Is a VPN good for gaming?
Yes, if you choose a specific VPN for gaming. You should look for one with reliable features that include access to foreign servers, dodging IP bans, improved ping, and protection against DDoS attacks. To obtain the best ping, you should always connect to the servers closer to your location. This will strike a great balance between privacy and performance.
What is the most trustworthy VPN?
Our top pick for the most trustworthy VPN is NordVPN. It’s based in Panama and has an independently audited no-logs policy, next-gen data encryption, and reliable security tools, such as a kill switch, Dark Web Monitoring, Threat Protection, obfuscated servers, and double VPN.
Can you be tracked if you use VPN?
Yes, you can still be tracked even if you use a VPN. However, you can make the tracking more difficult by using anonymous payment ways or a throwaway email address to create your account, connecting via Tor over VPN, and choosing a VPN with an audited no-logs policy and IP and DNS leak protection.
What is the most powerful VPN?
Our thorough research and tests showed that NordVPN is one of the most powerful VPNs out there. With superior features like Meshnet (functionality that allows you to connect to any remote device directly over encrypted private tunnels), obfuscated servers (lets you hide your Internet traffic and VPN connection), Onion Over VPN, Private DNS, and more advanced top-class features, it wins the most established VPN’s name.
Are VPNs legal to use?
Yes, VPN usage is legal in most countries. However, some of the places that prohibit or restrict VPN usage are China, North Korea, Iraq, Belarus, UAE, Egypt, Turkey, and Russia. In such locations, you should check whether VPNs are legal (or only restricted) beforehand, and what are the consequences of using one.
Should I always use a VPN?
Yes, having a VPN at all times is highly recommended. It encrypts your internet connection, protects your data from leaks and your device from threat actors, and always allows you to browse anonymously.
Does VPN unblock Netflix?
Yes, VPNs can unblock Netflix by masking your IP address and making it appear as if you're accessing Netflix from a different location. This allows you to bypass geo-restrictions and access Netflix content that may be unavailable in your current location.