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Best VPNs for Windows in 2021

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For many people, a VPN for Windows is not a luxury but a necessity. Accessing geo-restricted websites, hiding your browsing history from the ISP, and torrenting without risking your privacy are just a few of the reasons for using a VPN on your PC or laptop.

And in some cases, going online without a VPN is downright unsafe. For example, if you want to use public wifi or access the net from oppressive countries like China.

However, it’s really hard to choose the best VPN for Windows if you’ve never used one. To help you make up your mind, we tested dozens of VPNs on Windows 10 and 11, and compiled a list of the VPN services that have the best Windows applications.

Best VPNs for Windows PC in 2021

  1. NordVPN – best Windows VPN for security
  2. Surfshark – best inexpensive VPN for Windows
  3. IPVanish - a user-friendly Windows application
  4. Atlas VPN - a feature-rich Windows VPN
  5. PureVPN - the first VPN with an Always-On Audit

How to choose the best VPN for Windows

First and foremost, if you want to pick a good VPN for Windows, you have to research its Windows application specifically. You see, different apps of the same VPN can be vastly different in terms of design and functionality, so if a VPN is known for its amazing Android app, it doesn’t mean its Windows version will be excellent too.

Other than that, there are a few things you should look for:

  • Speed. First of all, make sure the VPN is able to provide fast speeds. For this, keep an eye for the WireGuard protocol (or an in-house equivalent to it, like NordLynx or Lightway). IKEv2 and OpenVPN UDP are also good options.
  • Streaming. If you’re a movie buff, you should look up if the Windows VPN of your choice unblocks Netflix and other streaming platforms, as not all VPNs are able to do that. Also, consider the server locations - the more, the merrier.
  • Extra features. Not all VPN users need extra features, but if you do, make sure that the VPN will be able to meet your expectations. Not all Windows VPNs offer traffic obfuscation, port forwarding, or even split tunneling.
  • Customer service. To stay on the safe side, it’s advisable to check what kind of customer support options a VPN offers. I prefer VPNs that have a 24/7 support chat.
  • Price. What I like most about VPNs is the fact that, despite their usefulness, they are generally cheap. However, you should still check whether the VPN you want offers long-term plans that would make the subscription even less expensive.

Lastly, make sure that the provider of your VPN software for Windows has a clean reputation. For example, you can research whether the app’s logging policy has been independently audited by a third party.

Best VPNs for Windows – our detailed list

Even though picking the best VPNs for your Windows laptop or PC is not an easy task (there are just so many VPNs that work with Windows OS), we managed to choose a few that excel in various areas like features, speed, and compatibility with streaming services.

1. NordVPN – the best VPN for Windows 11

best vpn for windows
Based in:Panama
Unblocks:Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Youtube
Servers/countries:5,500+ servers in 59 countries
Current deal:Now 72% OFF + 3 Months FREE!

Of all the best VPNs for Windows, NordVPN has the most intuitive Windows application. For one, it actually has a map that lets you pick a server location much easier (which many other VPNs lack).

Secondly, the app crams a lot of cutting-edge features like invisibility on LAN, highly customizable split tunneling, and CyberSec (which blocks ads and malware-ridden websites).

When it comes to tunneling protocols, the Windows application of NordVPN lets you choose between OpenVPN and NordLynx (an updated version of WireGuard), while IKEv2/IPsec is available only with manual setup. Thanks to NordLynx, you can enjoy blazing-fast speeds, as well as an enhanced level of privacy compared to regular WireGuard.

Movie buffs will also love NordVPN because the service flawlessly unblocks a huge chunk of the most popular streaming platforms. These include Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon Prime Video. And let’s not forget NordVPN’s SmartPlay technology that lets you watch geo-blocked movies on Smart TVs, gaming consoles, and other devices.

Once you subscribe to the service, you immediately get 6 simultaneous connections, which means that you can cover all your devices (and give a couple spare connections to your family members). There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee for those who need a little time to make up their mind about NordVPN.

To find out more, check out our full NordVPN review.

2. Surfshark VPN - unlimited simultaneous connections

Windows VPN app - Surfshark
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Unblocks:Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Youtube
Servers/countries:3,200+ servers in 65 countries
Current deal:Get Surfshark, now 81% OFF!

If you’re addicted to Youtube (like the majority of us), you’ve definitely heard about Surfshark VPN. And yes, Surfshark definitely deserves all the praise it’s currently getting.

First of all, it offers great speeds thanks to a large server location list and a selection of fast protocols available on Windows devices (including WireGuard and OpenVPN UDP). You can also use Shadowsocks to access websites from restrictive countries like China.

Feature-wise, Surfshark is also a good catch. Its Windows application offers SmartDNS, double VPN connection, split tunneling, and an ad-blocker. In addition, the VPN is known to unblock various streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu.

You should also know that Surfshark uses RAM-only servers. What does it mean? Well, in short, it means that none of your data is stored long-term, as RAM-only servers get totally wiped out with every single reboot.

Buying any subscription will unlock all the features and applications together with unlimited simultaneous connections. And the best thing - you can get Surfshark for as low as $2.49 a month, which makes it one of the cheapest VPNs available today.

To find out more, check out our full Surfshark VPN review.

3. IPVanish - a user-friendly Windows application

IPVanish
Based in:United States
Unblocks:Netflix, Youtube
Servers/countries:1,600 servers in 75 locations
Current deal:Save 70% OFF the IPVanish 1-year plan!

Now, here’s a VPN that offers one of the best clients for Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices. I’m not exaggerating - the team behind IPVanish did their job pretty well and came up with an app that will make you wonder why on earth you didn’t download it earlier.

To start with, the Windows application of IPVanish is full of useful features. For example, the VPN offers a SOCKS5 proxy that can serve you well if you use torrenting clients often. Next, it has a traffic obfuscation feature that makes it difficult to detect that you’re using a VPN. There’s also a huge list of tunneling protocols to choose from, including both variations of OpenVPN.

In terms of unblocking geo-restricted content, IPVanish also does its job well. It successfully managed to unblock Netflix and YouTube during our tests. However, it failed to unblock BBC iPlayer.

The price of IPVanish starts from $3.20 a month if you only want a VPN. You can also get a bundle that includes encrypted storage, which would cost you $5.50 a month with the yearly plan. In any case, you’ll get unlimited simultaneous connections, which is pretty neat.

To find out more, take a look at our in-depth IPVanish VPN review.

4. Atlas VPN - a feature-rich Windows VPN

Atlas VPN banner
Based in:United States
Unblocks:Netflix, Youtube, BBC iPlayer
Servers/countries:700 servers in 28 countries
Current deal:Get Atlas VPN, now 86% OFF!

Atlas VPN, hands down, is definitely one of the best VPNs for Windows. Its Windows application is slick, intuitive, and a pleasure to use.

You might find it unusual that the application requires 2FA every time you log into your account from a new device. On the other hand, this increases your security, as you will need to confirm the unique code that comes to your email.

On the Windows app of Atlas VPN you will also find a lot of features like SafeBrowse (basically, a malicious site blocker), SafeSwap (IP address rotation), a data breach checker, and a kill switch. Additionally, you can make the VPN activate automatically each time you turn on your PC.

One great thing about Atlas VPN is the possibility of unlimited simultaneous connections. This makes the monthly price of $1.39 seem even lower. Also, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee that will allow you to get your payment back in case you change your mind.

To find out more, check out our full Atlas VPN review.

5. PureVPN - the first VPN with an Always-On Audit

purevpn
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Unblocks:Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Youtube, DAZN
Servers/countries:6,500+ servers in 140+ countries
Current deal:PureVPN is now 74% OFF!

Even though the Windows 10 client of PureVPN is fairly minimalistic, it’s actually really convenient and highly customizable, making PureVPN one of the best VPNs for Windows.

You’ll find such features as port forwarding and a kill switch. Unfortunately, the split tunneling feature works only on Android at the moment. Luckily, the VPN allows for 10 simultaneous connections, so you can use your account with both your desktop and mobile devices.

PureVPN has an impressive list of tunneling protocols to choose from. These include both variations of OpenVPN, as well as IKEv2. In addition, the Windows app uses AES-256 encryption and is the first one to have Always-On Audit, which means that a third party can perform a security audit on PureVPN at any given time.

What’s more, PureVPN works well with streaming platforms. It unblocks the US library of Netflix, BBC iPlayer, YouTube, and even DAZN.

You’ll get all of this for the average price of $3.33 a month if you get a 2-year subscription. There’s also a 31-day money-back guarantee, which gives you plenty of time to make sure that PureVPN is the best VPN for your Windows device.

To find out more, read our in-depth PureVPN review.

6. VyprVPN - a cheap and strong Windows suite

VyprVPN for PC
Based in:Switzerland
Unblocks:Netflix, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, Youtube
Servers/countries:700+ servers in 70 countries
Current deal:Get up to 12 months FREE!

Don’t get discouraged by the intimidating logo of VyprVPN - this service is actually really beginner-friendly if you give it a chance. It’s also surprisingly cheap, offering a subscription for only $1.66 a month - talk about a budget VPN.

So, what else does VyprVPN do to stand out from the crowd? Well, to start off, it’s really, really great for streaming. It can unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and even DAZN, which is one of the hardest nuts to crack.

It also goes without saying that VyprVPN uses WireGuard, a tunneling protocol famous for its high speeds. Thanks to this, the VPN lets you trick yourself into believing that you’re not using a VPN at all when browsing or watching movies online.

When it comes to features, VyprVPN doesn’t offer anything magnificent in comparison to other best VPNs for Windows 11. However, there are still a few things to discover including VyprDNS, which is a DNS service that will help you protect your online privacy and bypass censorship. Recently they have also improved their Chameleon protocol making it even more effective at that.

To find out more, check our VyprVPN review.

7. ExpressVPN - enjoy your awesome speeds!

ExpressVPN
Based in:British Virgin Islands
Unblocks:Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, Youtube
Servers/countries:3,000+ servers in 94 countries
Current deal:Get ExpressVPN, now 35% OFF!

ExpressVPN is a VPN that always gets a lot of praise by its Windows users. That’s because it not only offers a really slick application, but also a lot of useful features. These include split tunneling, a reliable kill switch, and Smart DNS (MediaStreamer).

When it comes to tunneling protocols, the Windows app of ExpressVPN offers Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec. As expected from such a revolutionary protocol like Lightway, the speeds of ExpressVPN are great - you shouldn’t feel a drop in performance when the app is in use.

I also love the fact that ExpressVPN works with a myriad of streaming services. You’ll be able to unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, and Youtube when connected to the VPN.

You should also keep in mind that ExpressVPN offers a proprietary router app that allows you to use the VPN connection on all the devices that connect to the router. However, any subscription plan will give you five simultaneous connections, so you’ll be covered even if you don’t want to set up the VPN with your router.

To find out more, read our in-depth ExpressVPN review.

How we selected and tested these VPNs

A service doesn’t get featured on our list of the best VPNs for Windows for nothing. It has to meet certain requirements for speed, security, and features. So, here are the criteria that helped us choose the best of the best:

  • Logging policy. No matter how good a VPN might be - if its logging policy is suspicious, we’d never recommend it. As a result, each and every service on this page offers a true no-logs policy.
  • Windows client. This should come without saying - to be selected as one of the best VPNs for Windows, a service has to offer a state-of-the-art Windows application that’s not only easy to use, but also pleasant to look at.
  • Speed. Even though using a VPN usually means a slower connection, it doesn’t have to be that slow. Using suitable tunneling protocols (like NordLynx or WireGuard) can drastically improve your experience when browsing or watching your favorite shows with a VPN.
  • Streaming capabilities. Watching movies on your PC is more convenient than doing this on your phone - that’s why the best VPNs for Windows must be able to unblock at least a few streaming platforms like Netflix or Hulu.
  • Price. Nobody wants to break the bank for a new piece of software. That’s why most of the Windows VPNs we selected are really cheap, costing only a couple of bucks a month.
  • Customer support. Even though installing and using your new VPN on your PC is a piece of cake, a few questions might still pop up here and there if you’ve never done this before. That’s why having good customer support (preferably, on live chat) is crucial.

Why do I need a VPN for Windows?

Using the best VPN for Windows may bring a lot of positive changes in your life. Let’s explore what you can do while connected to a VPN:

  • Protect yourself while using public wifi. Do you often take your laptop and work at your local Starbucks? Keep in mind that public wifi is usually unencrypted, making your network traffic visible to anyone nearby. Luckily, a VPN will encrypt your traffic and keep your personal information safe.
  • Hide your online activity from your ISP. Did you know that your Internet Service Provider can see everything you do online? A good VPN will put a stop to this by making your traffic downright unreadable.
  • Access blocked websites. Whether a website blocks traffic from your country or is simply blocked in your office or school, a VPN will help you access it without trouble by hiding your real IP address and providing you with a new one.
  • Watch movies and shows. This is the reason why Windows VPN usage is steadily increasing every year: some VPNs are able to unblock foreign libraries of Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and other streaming platforms. What’s more, basically any VPN will let you watch Youtube videos blocked in your own country.
  • Avoid bandwidth throttling. Sometimes, your ISP can intentionally slow down your internet connection to regulate network traffic. This can result in a much slower connection than you’re used to, which can be especially frustrating when you’re watching movies or torrenting. Fortunately, using a VPN eliminates this problem.
  • Save money. Using a VPN might save you quite a lot of money if you often buy plane tickets or rent cars. Sellers implement lots of techniques to make you pay more, from price discrimination to browser cookies. A VPN will let you make use of smaller prices by letting you change your location as much as you want.

How do I set up a VPN on my PC?

Unlike Linux, Windows OS is extremely user-oriented. That’s why you won’t have any problems installing and setting up the VPN of your choice onto your computer - especially if you’re only going to use the default app.

In short, here’s what you’ll need to do to have a Windows VPN application up and running:

  1. Go to the official page of the VPN provider you like. We recommend NordVPN.
  2. Find the download link of the Windows app and download the software
  3. Click on the .exe file and pick “Yes” when asked if you want to allow the app to make changes to your device
  4. Follow the instructions on the installation wizard
  5. Log into your account and connect to the country of your choice

However, if you want to set up a VPN connection on Windows manually, check out our guide that explains how to do this in great detail.

What protocols does Windows VPN use?

Not sure which tunneling protocol to pick for your connection? Here are some of the most common VPN protocols you’ll find on Windows applications and how they differ from one another:

  • WireGuard. This is an extremely fast and secure tunneling protocol developed only a few years ago. Some VPNs (like NordVPN) have improved WireGuard even further, resulting in such revolutionary protocols as NordLynx.
  • OpenVPN (UDP/TCP). One of the most popular VPN protocols in the world, OpenVPN is both really strong and extremely versatile, working on a wide variety of devices. It offers two versions: UDP (which is the faster one) and TCP (whose connection is a bit more stable).
  • IKEv2/IPsec. Used on both Windows and mobile devices, this protocol is both fast and secure. However, it might get blocked more easily than other protocols.

All of the best VPNs for Windows let you choose between a few different tunneling protocols. And the wider the choice, the better, because some protocols might not work with your particular PC as smoothly as you’d like to. Alternatively, you might want to prioritize speed over stability or vice versa, and the possibility to pick one protocol over the other really comes in handy.

However, the one tunneling protocol you should really look for is WireGuard. Right now, it’s one of the best ones the industry can offer, flawlessly combining speed and security. OpenVPN is also a great choice for those who want the highest level of privacy.

What is the fastest VPN for PC?

If you want a truly fast VPN for your Windows device, look no further than the services listed below. Their performance was the best in comparison to all the other VPNs we tested so far:

  • NordVPN. We got really good results with NordVPN’s proprietary NordLynx tunneling protocol: sometimes, the drop was only 6% from the original speed. The speeds with the IKEv2 protocol were also impressive, lowering the speed by only 7% when connected to the nearest country.
  • ExpressVPN. This VPN service is known for being among the fastest VPNs for Windows. We got great results with its Lightway protocol (with speed reduction fluctuating between 8% and 27%) and OpenVPN UDP (that offered great download and upload speeds, some of which retained up to 86% of the original speed).
  • Surfshark. Even though Surfshark doesn’t offer an in-house tunneling protocol, its use of WireGuard guarantees minimal speed reduction when connected to the VPN. When we tested it, the speed reduction went from only 6% to 23%.

Of course, keep in mind that your speed results will be a bit different than ours. That’s because they depend on a lot of factors, even though it’s possible to see major tendencies.

Should I use a free VPN for Windows 11?

If you’re ever tempted to try out a free VPN for your PC or laptop, you have to be aware of the difference between free and freemium Virtual Private Networks.

Free VPN services (the ones that don’t offer a paid version at all) might pose quite a few risks to your privacy and your beloved Windows device. They might infect your computer with malware, display pop-up ads, and slow down your PC in general. What’s more, free VPNs might collect your personal information and then sell it to third parties - how else do you think they are making a buck?

On the other hand, freemium VPNs are another beast entirely. They simply offer a free limited version as an appetizer to their paid product. For example, Hide.me lets you use 10GB of free data a month (together with a limited number of countries). After using up the free data, many users invest in a full subscription, so it’s a win-win situation.

Alternatively, lots of VPNs offer a generous 30-day money-back guarantee that lets you get the gist of what the service is capable of. If you don’t like the VPN, you can simply contact the customer support and get your money back with no questions asked.

Bottom line

I hope that this article helped you choose the best VPN for Windows, whether you need it for work or entertainment. Don't forget that, despite all VPNs looking similar on the outside, they might have very different personalities on the inside. For example, some Windows 11 VPN services are targeted towards tech-savvy users and include lots of advanced features like port forwarding support.

Meanwhile, others are created specifically for first-time users who only want to unblock the desired content and try out foreign Netflix libraries. In case you're one of them, feel free to check out our beginner’s guide on using your first VPN.

And in case you have any questions, feel free to hit the comment section and I’ll be more than happy to help you!

FAQ


More VPN guides from CyberNews:

Best VPNs for torrenting: Download torrents safely in 2021
Best VPNs for Fire Stick TV: Lag-free & lighting-fast streaming
Best VPNs for Mac: increase your Macbook's security and privacy
Best VPNs for Android: protection for your Android device
Best VPNs for iPhone: protect your iOS device

Comments
Shess
Shess
prefix 1 month ago
I was looking for best rated vpn for pc and I got many answers it being Nordvpn. I also heard about Expressvpn but never about Surfshark and it’s higher in the list. Gotta choose.
smart
smart
prefix 1 month ago
initially i thought that all the nordvpn with major influencers like pewdiepie is just marketing but then i started using it (after switching from a different vpn provider) and omg. its really amazing. quality in every step!!!
regray
regray
prefix 2 months ago
Is it true that NordVPN doesn’t have free version? I saw somewhere they offer free trial with Android? I really wanna try it because of awesome vpn reviews
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 2 months ago
Hi! You’re right, NordVPN has a free 7-day trial for Android. You can get it from the Google Play Store.
pro n
pro n
prefix 2 months ago
i want to find a fast vpn for pc and my pc is quite slow. I saw you’ve written expressvpn is best for slower pc, why?
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 2 months ago
Hi! ExpressVPN offers great speeds, which means it won’t affect your internet connection that much.
charles
charles
prefix 4 months ago
Is it true that NordVPN has onion over vpn technology? How do I connect? I can’t find where to click when using Nord application on my computer.
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 4 months ago
Hi, Charles! Yes, it’s true that NordVPN has Onion over VPN. On your desktop app, you can find the option on the left side of the main screen (the one with the map). The feature is under the section Specialty servers, just above the country list.
sir
sir
prefix 5 months ago
hey, quick question. Does NordVPN work with BBC iPlayer? Which servers are the best to connect to? Any help is greatly appreciated!
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 5 months ago
Hello! Yes, NordVPN unblocks BBC iPlayer. Simply connect to the UK and it should work for you.
eventer
eventer
prefix 5 months ago
i feel like windows applications always have more capabilties compared to the ones on mac. like more tools, tweaks, more freedom. is that the case with vpn on windows? or are those vpn applications kind of identical now?
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 5 months ago
Hello! You’re right – VPNs and other applications often tend to favor Windows devices. If you want a VPN for macOS that has lots of functionality, check out our list of the best VPNs for Mac.
don3
don3
prefix 5 months ago
Currently exploring options for best pc vpn and Surfshark sounds quite good for a reasonable price as well, but after reading the article I’m still unclear about a few things: What does smartDNS do ? And I see surfshark’s con is no SOCKS5 proxy. What is that for ? Does it matter ?
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 5 months ago
Hi, thanks for the comment! SmartDNS lets you unblock geo-restricted streaming content on devices that don’t support VPN connections, like some smart TVs or gaming consoles. You can read more about it here. As for the SOCKS5 proxy, it can be useful in cases when you don’t need your data to be encrypted but need to hide your IP address, as it allows for better speeds. It’s definitely not an essential feature!
Gab
Gab
prefix 5 months ago
I’m looking for best vpn for pc windows 10 specifically. Would appreciate your suggestions:)
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 5 months ago
Hi, Gab! All the VPNs mentioned on our list are great choices for Windows 10. However, if you can’t make up your mind, I’d recommend downloading our #1 choice, NordVPN.
Sebastian
Sebastian
prefix 6 months ago
Is nordvpn truly the best rated vpn for pc? Where could I see some reviews and read some more information?
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 5 months ago
Hello, Sebastian! You can read our NordVPN review here. Alternatively, you can check out a couple of our VPN comparison reviews like NordVPN vs Surfshark or NordVPN vs ExpressVPN.
Zyrion
Zyrion
prefix 6 months ago
Hi! Which tunneling protocol would you recommend for windows phone vpn? I can see there’s openvpn, nordlynx, ike..not sure which one to go for.
Rūta Rimkienė
Rūta Rimkienė
prefix 6 months ago
Hello, Zyrion! Not all tunneling protocols work with Windows phones. From the ones that are available, you can use IKEv2, which is both fast and secure.
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