Virtual private networks conceal your internet footprint and make it seem like you’re at a different place than you really are. You’ll discover the best VPNs, with all the features you need to hide your online activity from the authorities, unblock websites and applications, and even watch TV in another country.
VPNs have a technical name, but they are really rather simple to set up and use today. Almost all of them have user-friendly applications for a wide range of devices, allowing you to connect with a single tap. If you can get Facebook onto your phone, you can set up a virtual private network.
If you’re in a hurry and just want to go right to the top-rated VPN services of 2023, look no further than our recommended providers, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark. Continue reading for a summary of the 15 best VPNs currently on the market, as well as a comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions section.
What is a VPN?
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are programs that, once installed on your device, reroute your internet traffic via their own network of servers located in various locations worldwide. Change your virtual location to access stuff that is restricted in your country on sites like Netflix while remaining anonymous online.
Additionally, a virtual private network encrypts your data, making it unreadable even if it is intercepted. A virtual private network (VPN) shields your online activity from everyone, including hackers, governments, and ISPs.
This enables you to visit sites that your Internet service provider (ISP) has blocked, such as YouTube or TikTok at school or Western news and social media in Russia or China.
In a nutshell, having access to the best VPN makes the internet a more liberating and flexible place, and with the current VPN discounts available, there’s never been a better time to join up.
What’s the best VPN?
Each time we update our list of recommended VPN services, the rivalry among the industry’s top providers heats up, and developers are constantly adding new features and improving the VPNs’ usability.
However, only ExpressVPN passed all of our current tests with flying colors. (opens in new tab).
The most obvious reason for this is that it provides excellent streaming performance with services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN+, and many others, as well as rock-solid privacy for the vast majority of users.
Read our whole review of ExpressVPN to learn more, but know that you may try out the service and all of its 3,000+ servers for an entire month without any financial risk.
Get an in-depth look at the best VPNs of 2023
The best VPN on the market
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: Up to 560Mbps | VPN locations: 160 in 94 countries | Maximum devices supported: 5 | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
- Rock-solid privacy features
- Apps for just about everything
- Superb for torrenting
- Class-leading 24/7 support
- Slightly more expensive, but well worth it
It’s not easy to give away such a high honor, but after rigorously testing and reviewing dozens of VPN services, we can claim without a doubt that ExpressVPN is the finest money can buy.
ExpressVPN has several impressive features on paper, like a kill switch, split tunneling, and obfuscated servers, as well as over 3,000 servers in 160 locations across 94 countries. You can count on fast, consistent connections no matter where you are on the planet because to the service’s global network of servers. Its coverage in Asia is particularly extensive, a region typically overlooked by other service providers.
The OpenVPN and Lightway protocols, together with the industry-standard AES-256 encryption, are used by all applications. Lightway is the clear winner here, with superb speeds provided via the company’s own open-source protocol, while some other providers do provide better peak speeds when utilizing WireGuard. You won’t notice a change until your connection speed is 1Gbps or higher.
ExpressVPN’s proprietary TrustedServer technology guarantees that the service’s RAM-only DNS servers never track or store any of your personal or browsing data. In a nutshell, ExpressVPN is quick, safe, and features an iOS kill switch that was much required after a recent upgrade.
ExpressVPN’s applications are intuitive and consistent across all supported platforms; you’ll feel right at home with any of them. You can safeguard not just your personal computer, Mac, iPhone, or Android, but also your router, Chromebook, Linux computer, Fire TV Stick, and a lot more.
One of the most common reasons to download a VPN is to access geo-blocked streaming content. Here, ExpressVPN really delivers. In our testing, it reliably unblocked a number of Netflix locations, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime, and works impeccably for regional TV channels around the world. Only a few other providers like NordVPN and Surfshark can match this – and Express is still our #1 streaming VPN.
Of course, improvements can be made with any service, and the same is true here. For example, if you need a dedicated IP or port forwarding, a provider like PIA might be a better fit. Plus, ExpressVPN’s five-device policy is a little limiting – although not hard to get around by logging in and out.
Finally, a word on customer support. If anything doesn’t work as it should – perhaps you’re having issues unblocking UK Netflix from the US, for example – the 24/7 live chat support is always on hand. In our experience, they have been quick and knowledgeable, and in general much better than most other VPN providers’ live chat teams. Plus, the on-site help articles are excellent, too.
When everything is tallied up, it all comes together to make a near-unbeatable package that’s well suited to experts and newbies alike – and we think that premium price is well worth what you get.
The big-name VPN is one of the very best
Number of servers: 5,500+ | Server locations: 80+ in 59 countries | Maximum devices supported: 6 | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
- Excellent focus on security
- Impeccable streaming performance
- NordLynx delivers incredible speeds
- Tons of servers
- Renewal prices are high
Back again at #2 is NordVPN, and in our full NordVPN review, we found that arguably the biggest name in VPN is still one of the very best.
Even while it isn’t available in as many places as ExpressVPN, you will still be quite well serviced by NordVPN’s vast 5,500 servers in 59 different countries. Nord’s NordLynx protocol, a modified version of WireGuard, is what you’ll use to connect to those servers. In a nutshell, it passed our stability tests with flying colors and provided blisteringly fast connection rates of about 820Mbps.
Split tunneling, an efficient kill switch, AES-256 encryption, and even more out-of-the-ordinary features like Onion over VPN and Double VPN are all included to ensure your online safety. Threat Protection is an additional cool function, but although it’s useful, more powerful tracker blocks already exist.
While the map-based interface of Nord’s applications is useful and even enjoyable on bigger screens like PCs and tablets, it may be cumbersome and even annoying on smartphones. The PC client is no longer resizable with the latest update, and there are other anomalies among platforms as well. However, the applications are very functional, and it can be installed on a wide variety of devices; for just $2.99 per month (opens in new tab), it’s a great deal.
However, Meshnet is the most exciting new addition to Nord. With NordVPN, users can securely connect their devices from anywhere in the world to one another inside their own private network. We can’t wait to see where this goes, since its potential is enormous and Nord hasn’t yet figured out how to make the feature evident to consumers.
However, NordVPN shines when it comes to online video streaming. You’ll be able to bypass geo-restrictions on streaming services like Netflix, iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and more with Nord, and the service has actually been more consistent with Netflix as of late compared to our top pick, ExpressVPN. This is why it has been placed at the top of our Netflix VPN list.
NordVPN, which offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and enticing specials throughout the year, is a good VPN service that falls short of being the best mainly because of a few minor UI issues and, to be honest, the high quality of its rivals.
Well outperforms its bargain price-tag
Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 160+ in 100+ countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
- Unlimited devices supported
- A recent update to over 100 countries
- Longer plans are great value
- Great for streaming
- Steep price hikes after the first term
- Support is slightly lacking
Surfshark is the best value VPN service on the market, easily beating out competitors charging twice as much. Given that our guide ranks services based on quality rather than cost, the fact that a VPN with such low pricing is at #3 is remarkable.
As we discussed in our Surfshark review, the service’s applications are quite well-designed, and they include a number of useful security and privacy features. These include AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, split tunneling, and the lightning-fast WireGuard protocol. MultiHop and Nexus, two additional features being developed by Surfshark, are in the early stages of development but show promise.
Surfshark’s unlimited simultaneous connections policy is great news for those who collect and store various pieces of gear. One package may be used to safeguard an unlimited number of devices, making it ideal for families to pool resources. When it comes to Linux VPNs, Surfshark is one of the few options that offers a graphical user interface in addition to the standard command line. Incredible performance for a VPN that costs less than $3 per year. (opens in new tab).
Recently, we ran some tests and discovered that our 1Gbps connection was capable of speeds up to a whopping 950Mbps. We found Surfshark to be one of the fastest VPNs available. Furthermore, early results show that it is a very dependable streaming option. There have been some problems in the past, but practically every service provider has problems.
We were able to temporarily disclose ourselves when we subjected Surfshark’s kill switch to our exhaustive battery of tests. The circumstances under which this occurred, however, are very improbable to arise in the actual world. Moreover, in comparison to ExpressVPN and NordVPN, Surfshark’s customer service falls short.
If you’re on a tight budget, Surfshark is a great choice, and it’s few flaws seem almost negligible when you consider how cheap it is.
Excellent value, and is very useful for torrenting
Number of servers: 10,000+ | Server locations: 84 countries | Maximum devices supported: 10 | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
- Excellent value
- Unblocks US Netflix
- Reliable apps and kill switch
- Passed no-log audit
- Apps are powerful but complex
- Full app audit still in the works
Despite being an industry veteran, Private Internet Access has continued to grow rather than being overtaken by newer VPN services. Since we last reviewed Private Internet Access, it has moved up one spot to #4.
We estimate that PIA’s server network has about 10,000 servers, making it the most server-dense service available. Add in the 84 other nations and you’ve got quite a selection!
The true brilliance of PIA becomes apparent upon closer inspection. It has a kill switch that is very dependable and desktop software that supports port forwarding, which is rare. It also has excellent proxy browser addons, which make use of cutting-edge technology to speed up your web surfing. Newcomers and those seeking a less complex experience may find this frustrating or off-putting.
Streaming services including Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer are all available. This time around, we ran our streaming tests on even more services, and Australian streaming provider 10Play was the only one that could keep PIA from a perfect score.
The good news is that PIA has begun an independent security audit, which has been long overdue. The zero-logging policy has been verified by audit, so all that’s left to do is roll out the rest of the features.
If you’re searching for a service with a lot of bells and whistles and a low price tag, we think PIA is worth a try because of its 30-day money-back guarantee.
5. Proton VPN
Privacy favorite keeps getting better
Number of servers: 1,700+ | Server locations: 64 countries | Maximum devices supported: 10 | live chat support: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes
- Great connection speeds
- Excellent for streaming
- Apps are stable and powerful on all platforms
- Support site is complex
- Can take a while to connect
Proton VPN, the flagship product of the Swiss-based Proton brand, has lately received some much-deserved attention. Now that its sleek redesign complements its excellent functionality, it’s much simpler to advocate for.
Proton VPN is a great option for those concerned with maintaining complete anonymity on the web due to its stringent zero-logging policy and blazing-fast connections when using either WireGuard (510Mbps) or OpenVPN (aided by Proton’s proprietary VPN Accelerator tech).
The Secure Core servers provided by Proton VPN are placed in isolated facilities in countries known for respecting user privacy. To further protect your privacy, you may utilize them and direct your traffic to whatever location you choose. For a low monthly fee, Proton Unlimited subscribers have access to Proton Mail, Proton Drive, and Proton Calendar, the full Proton Privacy Suite.
Proton isn’t just a VPN service, however; in our testing for our comprehensive Proton VPN review, we found that it excelled in unblocking Netflix from a variety of countries and regions, as well as BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime. Unfortunately, we were unable to break 10Play using either PIA or this method.
Finding issues with Proton becomes more difficult every day, but there are still a few to consider. While Proton will automatically reroute you to a server that supports P2P traffic if it finds it, the number of servers that really do so is few in comparison to the alternatives. Even if there has been a general price decline, it is still not inexpensive. If you commit to a 2-year plan, though, you’ll receive a discount and a generous 10 concurrent connections.
Proton VPN is clearly on the rise, and its creators aren’t resting on their laurels but rather working tirelessly to keep it that way. As a result, we feel comfortable recommending Proton VPN to our readers.
Tons of features and an excellent Chrome extension
Number of servers: 400+ | Server locations: 110 in 62 countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | 24/7 live chat: No | 30 day money back guarantee: No
- WireGuard speeds are much improved
- Feature-packed apps
- Decent value with flexible plans
- Best built-in tracker blocker of any VPN
- Apps aren’t the simplest to use
- No 24/7 live chat or audit
According to our Windscribe review, the free VPN service, which provides 10GB of data per month, is a great value, and the subscription plan, which provides limitless bandwidth and allows you to connect as many devices as you want, is reasonably priced. Five to ten connections are the typical maximum allowed by other VPN providers.
Windscribe works with a wide variety of devices, such as routers and the Amazon Fire and Kodi TV streaming media players. The service boasts a large number of available connection methods, a global presence with hundreds of servers, and an attractive, albeit spare, user interface. It’s also great for accessing international Netflix thanks to specialized ‘Windflix servers,’ however, we weren’t able to access Netflix Japan this time.
One of the best parts of this service is the Chrome VPN addon. As one of the finest available, it provides a wealth of capabilities and may be used on machines where installing software is not permitted.
Those who choose to use the desktop client will immediately recognize the fresh The new 2.0 version of the Windscribe program has a much more streamlined interface and many useful additions, but it may be too much for inexperienced users. Even though it’s not widely used, Android’s Decoy Mode might come in handy for dissidents in the direst of circumstances.
We’ve had issues in the past with Windscribe’s speed compared to that of competing services, but the service has subsequently improved and now reaches a respectable 700Mbps.
Windscribe accepts Bitcoin as payment, requires no user registration or email verification, and is headquartered in Canada, all of which may entice users who are concerned about sharing their data with the United States government.
To sum up, Windscribe is a great choice for people in need of a free VPN service to try out before committing to a paid plan.
Excellent for torrenting and streaming
Number of servers: 8,900+ | Server locations: 91 countries | Maximum devices supported: 7 | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 45 day money back guarantee: Yes
- Tons of servers
- Feature-heavy apps
- Great WireGuard speeds
- Some useful streaming features
- Infrequent app updates
- UK Netflix and Disney+ are unavailable
CyberGhost is another well-established VPN service, and it has earned praise for its security, speed, and torrent-friendly server infrastructure.
Over 8,900 servers in 91 different countries provide you with lots of options when choosing a server location while using CyberGhost, which boasts one of the biggest server networks in the market.
While few customers will have baseline connections capable of such high speeds, the Romanian company CyberGhost VPN nonetheless received high marks in our most recent VPN review for delivering fast speeds of up to 730Mbps.
CyberGhost’s applications were updated last year, and the result is a lot more polished and up-to-date experience with the release of Version 8. However, CyberGhost only allows for its software to be installed on a total of seven devices; beyond that, you’ll need to unregister a device before you can use another, unlike with the vast majority of VPN services.
Dedicated Netflix and iPlayer-optimized servers are only two of the many beneficial streaming capabilities available via CyberGhost’s mobile applications. In our most recent round of testing, we were able to access Netflix libraries outside of the UK, as well as iPlayer and Amazon Prime Video. Unfortunately, Disney+ was not accessible.
In our previous study, we found CyberGhost’s lack of a security assessment to be one of its major flaws. While it is not yet flawless, it has undergone a no-log policy examination by the reputable accounting firm Deloitte. A thorough server and app audit, one hopes, is in the works.