Best VPN in 2023: Ultimate Guide
Privacy is not an option, and it shouldn’t be the price we accept for just getting on the Internet.
From government to advertisers, everyone in today’s world is behind one thing and that is our data. Nowadays data is sold like services on common internet forums. Everyone just wants to control the people and their activities to target them or just for surveillance, but what about the right to Privacy which has now remained only a myth.
One option to rescue from internet surveillance and being targeted by advertisers is a VPN service.
What is VPN?
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a tool that helps to protect your privacy and security online. It does this by creating a secure connection to another network over the internet. This connection, called a VPN tunnel, encrypts all of your internet activity, making it much harder for anyone to track your online activity or intercept your data.
There are many reasons why people use VPNs. Some use them to access region-restricted websites or content, while others use them to protect their browsing activity on public Wi-Fi networks. VPNs can also be used to bypass internet censorship in countries where access to certain websites is restricted.
When you connect to a VPN, you are essentially routing your internet connection through a remote server. This server acts as a middleman between your device and the internet, allowing you to browse the web as if you were connected directly to the VPN server’s network.
So in simple words, a VPN hides your real identity and gives you another IP address. An IP address is your virtual identity and by hiding it, no one can track you or your activities. Also a good VPN lets you watch the content of sites that are not uploaded for your geographical area. That means you can stream the content of the USA while sitting in the UK without changing any account.
Ironically, there are so many VPNs in the market and some even sell your data and privacy illegally. It’s like the police robbing you, so whom to trust? Don’t worry we are here to help you in saving your privacy. We have tested all the VPNs and made a list of the best VPNs out there that really give actual privacy and safety in the world of the Internet.
How do we Test?
There are several factors that go into testing and evaluating VPNs to determine which ones are the best. Here are some of the factors considered when testing VPNs:
Security: One of the main reasons to use a VPN is to protect your online activity and data from prying eyes. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that the VPN you choose uses strong encryption and security protocols to keep your data safe.
Speed: A slow VPN can be frustrating to use, especially if you are streaming video or engaging in other bandwidth-intensive activities. We test VPNs to ensure that they offer fast and reliable connections.
Server network: A larger server network can mean more options for finding a fast and stable connection. We look for VPNs with a wide range of servers in different locations.
Ease of use: We test VPNs to ensure that they are easy to set up and use, with clear and intuitive interfaces.
Compatibility: We test VPNs on a variety of devices to ensure that they are compatible with different operating systems and devices.
Privacy: We carefully review the privacy policies of VPNs to ensure that they do not collect or share user data without permission.
By testing VPNs based on these and other factors, we can help you find the best VPN for your needs.
So let’s begin:
Expensive But Worthy
ExpressVPN is a leading virtual private network (VPN) service that recently redesigned its app to offer a more streamlined and user-friendly experience. With a large presence spanning 94 countries and a network of over 3,000 servers, ExpressVPN is one of the most reliable and widely available VPNs on the market. In 2022, it was the fastest VPN we tested, causing only a 2% loss in internet speeds.
In addition to its fast connection speeds, ExpressVPN offers a range of security and privacy tools, including an IP address checker, leak testers, a kill switch, and a password generator. The company has also increased its independent third-party audits, published details about its TrustedServer deployment process, and joined the i2Coalition to advocate for improved VPN industry ethics. It has also released an open-source Lightway encryption protocol.
ExpressVPN is compatible with a wide range of platforms and operating systems and provides detailed FAQs, setup guides, and troubleshooting articles to assist users. The company also offers 24/7 customer support and a 30-day money-back guarantee with no questions asked.
One of the main reasons people use VPNs is to access geo-restricted streaming content, and ExpressVPN excels in this area. In testing, it consistently unblocked a variety of streaming platforms, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime. It is also effective for regional TV channels worldwide. While NordVPN and Surfshark also offer strong streaming capabilities, ExpressVPN remains our top choice in this category.
While ExpressVPN is a strong overall performer, it may not be the best fit for users who need a dedicated IP or port forwarding. Additionally, its policy of allowing only five devices to be connected at once may be limiting for some users. However, it is possible to work around this limitation by logging in and out on different devices.
Best Overall VPN
Nord VPN is a well-known virtual private network (VPN) service that has always offered a wide range of features, including multi-hop connections and access to Tor over VPN. It has managed to establish itself as a respected player in the VPN industry and has even expanded its offerings by acquiring other companies and launching new products.
Nord VPN has a consistent and modern design across all its platforms and is not afraid to embrace new technologies, such as the WireGuard VPN protocol and RAM-only servers. It is a highly recognized brand in the VPN field and offers six simultaneous connections through its network, a generous count compared to the five or fewer offered by most other providers. It also offers a dedicated IP option and the ability to VPN into Tor. Over half of its more than 5,000 servers are optimized for peer-to-peer sharing, although it has blocked torrenting in 14 countries.
In recent speed tests, Nord VPN’s performance improved significantly, causing only a 13% loss in base internet speeds. It does not accept PayPal payments, but it does offer a variety of other payment options, including major credit and debit cards, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, ACH transfer, and various cryptocurrencies. It has also partnered with several retail stores, such as Staples, Best Buy, and Walmart, where you can purchase your VPN with cash.
In addition, to split tunneling, an effective kill switch, and AES-256 encryption, Nord VPN offers unique features such as Onion over VPN and Double VPN, which are designed to enhance your online security. It also offers Threat Protection, although dedicated tracker blockers may offer more comprehensive protection.
One of the most interesting new features of Nord VPN is Meshnet, which allows users to link devices anywhere in the world via encrypted Nord VPN connections, creating a secure network. This has a lot of potentials, and while the company has not yet figured out how to clearly explain the feature to users, it is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
Overall, Nord Vpn has focused on not perfecting one aspect but making all the aspects better. This way they may not be excessively good in one thing, but when it comes to overall factors, this VPN has surpassed all other VPNs and provided what it stands for. The price of Nord VPN is $3.69/mo. while for one year it costs around $4.49/mo. You can get extra three months free by buying right now.
Best Value For Money
Surfshark is another great VPN that offers security and features that are hard to match by rivals. Surfshark provides features like Multihop, Cookie pop-up blocker, IP rotator, and bypasser. These features are all provided in a single plan that is still cheaper than some other VPNs that don’t even have these features. We have sorted this list by quality and not price and still ranked this higher at just 2.49/mo. is itself an achievement. In terms of speed, this VPN may not be the fastest, but it sure is among the fastest VPNs on this list, and at this price, it has no competition.
Surfshark VPN does have basic VPN features like Kill Switch and DNS protection but along with this, it has some extra features like MultiHop through which you can do more than one server at once. That is like using 2 masks to cover the face in case one may have some flaws, there is still a second one to hide us. Then it has a camouflage mode (which hides the fact that you are using VPN) and an IP rotator that rotates your IP between different servers without interrupting the connection.
SurfShark VPN has more than 3200 servers in 100 countries which means it has a well-spread network of servers in most countries. While one more feature is that there is no limit on the number of devices you can register from one account. This means you can share your account with your family while also using it on all your devices.
One upcoming feature of SurfShark is the Nexus network. The Nexus network will connect all the servers of the VPN in one network through which the users will be able to switch as many servers as they want without even losing a second. This feature can also be called similar to Tor itself but the company has claimed that it will be much faster than TOR. This VPN also has a Bypasser where you can leave some apps and sites from the VPN so you can surf your sites and networks without switching the VPN on and off.
There was an independent audit carried out by Germany-based Cure53, the extensive research did not detect any serious issues. According to Cure53, the server was secure and reliable. The company also has a no log or tabs policy according to which they do not keep any data of their users on record so your network can be really secure and does not leave any impressions.
The price of this VPN as already told is one of the cheapest which also makes this product a great value-for-money option. Currently, it has an 82% discount on the yearly package. You can get the whole year of this premium VPN with most features at just $2.49/mo. which is one of the best deals you can get. While the yearly plan starts will cost you $48 which is still a great deal at this price.
Proton VPN is a virtual private network (VPN) service based in Switzerland that has recently undergone a makeover and now boasts a sleek new look to match its impressive performance. It offers fast connection speeds using both WireGuard (510Mbps) and OpenVPN, as well as a comprehensive zero-logging policy and strong encryption, making it a top choice for those seeking online privacy.
Proton VPN also offers its Secure Core servers, which are located in secure and privacy-friendly locations, and allows users to route to a destination of their choice for added anonymity. Its Proton Unlimited plan also includes access to the full privacy suite of Proton Mail, Proton Drive, and Proton Calendar for a reasonable price.
In testing for our full review, Proton VPN proved to be a standout in terms of unblocking Netflix and accessing a variety of other streaming services, including BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime. However, it was unable to unblock 10Play. While it does support P2P traffic on some servers, there are relatively few compared to its competitors, although it will seamlessly redirect users to a compatible server if it detects P2P activity. Prices have recently dropped, but it is still not the cheapest option on the market. However, signing up for a two-year plan can result in a decent deal, including 10 simultaneous connections.
Proton VPN also includes an Accelerator which is said to increase the speed up to 400% in some cases which is a bit hard to believe. Proton does have a special research team that keeps innovating new methods and ways to upgrade the VPN. They are also the innovators of Proton mail and Proton Drive.
Proton VPN can be said to keep privacy as it has jurisdiction in Switzerland which has strict laws for privacy and the country is not a part of the fourteen eyes surveillance network. The speed of this VPN is good and this VPN is a reliable VPN with content access and world-class security that is hard to get.
Best for Torrents and Streaming
CyberGhost is another marvelous gem VPN. It has more than 9,308 servers in 91 countries. Yes 8000+ servers, which is the highest among any reputable VPN. CyberGhost gained a lot of reputation by providing the maximum level of security at the lowest price possible.
CyberGhost can be said as one of the most transparent VPNs of all. In 2022, CyberGhost invited Deloitte to run a third-party audit of CyberGhost’s No Logs policy and they passed the test which proved that CyberGhost does not keep tabs on its users. This makes it one of the most affordable VPNs at this price. Everyone can check the number of DMCA complaints, malware activity flags, and police requests they get, but due to their NO Logs Policy, there are never any logs or data to submit. The other best thing about CyberGhost is its headquarters which is located in Romania where they are under no legal obligation to store customer data.
However, CyberGhost only allows users to register on 7 devices after which you would have to log out from one device to login into another. Though the amazing thing is its 45-day money-back guarantee. All other VPNs allow a maximum of 30 days money back but CyberGhost supports up to 45 days.
The unique streaming options offered by CyberGhost’s apps, such as Netflix and iPlayer-specific servers, are incredibly helpful. In our most recent testing, we saw that it was able to unblock several Netflix libraries (but not the UK), iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. So this is another bingo for CyberGhost.
Currently, CyberGhost is giving a discount of 82% discount on the 2-year package with 2 months extra for free. The price of the 2-year plan would be $2.19/mo while the annual plan is also cheap but the saving is more in the 2-year bundle and I don’t think there is a drawback as you already have a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Best For Europe and UK
Atlas VPN is one of the other premium VPNs that focus more on speed and network quality than on the number of servers or locations. This VPN has most of its servers in the US and Europe so for others, this might be not the best choice. Another thing to note here is the jurisdiction of this VPN is in the USA which is not at all friendly in terms of privacy so maybe there are tabs kept on you.
Atlas VPN has 750 servers spread across 45 countries and the numbers are increasing rapidly. The VPN also allows unlimited devices, so if you are a tech hoarder with many devices or you want your whole family to have private and secure internet, you can register on all those devices without any extra costs. This VPN also has Wireguard Protocol which means a secure connection with the fastest speed possible.
Atlas VPN also shares some premium features at this price which is hard to get in this price range. The Data Breach Monitor is a built-in Atlas VPN feature that informs you whether your personal details were leaked in data breaches. Exposed data can lead to severe consequences for users’ privacy and financial well-being. Then it also has safe browsing and a kill switch that automatically halts your connection in case your network was exposed a bit.
If you want a VPN for streaming web content or OTT content, this might be a good option. Though not all the servers are applicable for streaming, it has streaming servers in countries like USA, UK, and Japan that mostly have international content.
Though the company claims to keep no logs of the users, it was hard to believe. This was because of the jurisdiction that lies in the US which is not a great place for privacy. The company once had an independent audit by VerSpite, though that was only for the iOS app and not the whole system. This does raise some flags for users but if you just need VPN for streaming, this might be the one for you.
Atlas VPN currently has a discount of 83% where you can get it at just $1.83/mo. in the 3-year plan or at 3.29/mo. in the one-year plan. The three-year plan also gives 3 months extra free costing a total of $71.49 while the one-year plan costs $39.42.
IPVanish is a trusted and reputable VPN provider that has been in the industry for many years. Its goal is to provide users with a safe, reliable, and secure internet connection. With IPVanish, users can expect a high level of privacy and security, thanks to its zero-logging policy and strong encryption. In addition, IPVanish offers a feature called Scramble, which allows VPN use in countries with strict internet censorship, such as China.
When it comes to connection speeds, IPVanish delivers impressive results with its WireGuard protocol, achieving speeds of around 720Mbps in our tests. Its OpenVPN speeds may be slower, at just 120Mbps, but most users will likely be using the faster WireGuard protocol. In terms of streaming, IPVanish has mixed results, being able to access US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Amazon Prime, but not being able to access other Netflix locations such as Australia or Canada.
IPVanish has recently redesigned its apps for Windows and Android, making them more user-friendly and visually appealing. The app includes a variety of configurable settings and options, such as a kill switch, split tunneling, VPN protocol, and LAN connection allowance, making it a great choice for tech-savvy users who want precise control over their internet traffic. The app is also flexible and compatible with multiple platforms, making it a good option for users looking for a VPN that can unblock Netflix.
IP Vanish VPN has a flaw of having jurisdiction in the US which is not a country with strict privacy laws and that might be a factor to consider. In terms of pricing, IP Vanish provides a quality VPN service at a considerably cheap price. The annual plan is currently on a 66% discount with $3.99/mo. billed $47.89 for the first year.
Best in Low Price Range
Hotspot Shield is a bit different VPN than others due to its jurisdiction and use of a closed-source protocol. Hotspot Shield is based on Hydra-Catapult, 128-bit AES encryption support, US jurisdiction, and a large number of virtual servers. Most of this is not good news but the company claims to be using this to increase the speed.
Now when we are sacrificing many things for speed, we do get an astonishing speed which is by far among the best speed from top VPNs. This does somewhat prove that it might be all because of the speed but then again VPNs are supposed to serve privacy and security also, not just speed.
However, the privacy and security of Hotspot Shield are not particularly appealing. We’d like to see Hotspot Shield provide the public with more third-party audits so that it can catch up with routinely tested VPNs like TunnelBear as the service uses the closed-source proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol rather than the more transparent open-source OpenVPN protocol. A DNS leak in Hotspot Shield’s Google Chrome plug-in was found as recently as April 2021 by the review website VPNMentor. At the time, Hotspot Shield acknowledged the issue and worked to fix it.
The other thing that I did not like about this VPN is the amount of data it collects. It also stores the data which is a red flag for privacy. When using the premium version, it keeps a little more information than the other premium VPNs but when you use the free version which by the way has both a speed limit of 2 Mbps and a total browsing limit of 500 MB, then it even shares your IP address with advertisers which do not suit a respected VPN.
There are two types of plans offered by Hotspot Shield, one is more of a premium of one person while the other is the family plan. The individual plan supports one person and up to 10 devices costing, $7.99/mo or $95.99 yearly while the family plan supports up to 5 people with 25 devices costing $11.99/month billed at $143.88 yearly. The VPN also provides a 45-day money-back guarantee.
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