8 BEST VPN TOOLS FOR 2021 REVIEWED AND RANKED
Did you know that search engines and your local Internet providers remember every query you search for, regardless of whether your browser is in incognito mode? It’s, unfortunately, true that you have minimal data privacy as an active internet user irrespective of the device you use. However, VPN tools can help to solve this data privacy issue. Virtual private networks, or VPNs as they are fondly called, are crucial to your online security. They help protect your data and online activities from hackers, organizations, and government agencies.
VPNs essentially make you anonymous on the web as they encrypt all the data from your device to the internet. With this encryption, Internet service providers, hackers, and government agencies will be unable to identify your IP address. VPNs also enable you to access restricted sites, avoid network throttling, and stream a wide range of shows. However, with the large number of VPN services to choose from, it can be daunting to make a selection that suits your needs.
This article will discuss the best VPN tools for you to choose from, considering multiple factors like security, price, server locations, performance, bandwidth caps, and others. So let’s get right to it?
Best for Speed and Security
ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN tools in the industry, and it is known to be secure, reliable, and fast. This VPN provider has over 3000 servers, and it is available in more than 90 countries globally. You can download this tool easily regardless of the device you are using – iPhone, Android, Windows PC, Mac, Chromebook, routers, Kindle Fire, Apple TV, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, or Xbox. Besides, ExpressVPN has a peerless streaming performance as you can use it to stream shows on platforms like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and others.
With this VPN provider, users can simultaneously connect up to five devices, and its privacy features are very impressive. In addition, ExpressVPN provides AES-256 encryption through standard VPN protocols as well as a Lightway protocol that increases the VPN speed without affecting security. However, this VPN provider offers limited business-friendly functionalities, and compared to the competition, it is a little pricey.
DNS leak protection – This VPN provider protects DNS queries and traffic from your devices.
• Kill Switch – The kill switch feature prevents network data from leaking in case of VPN connection failure.
• Bitcoin Payment Support – ExpressVPN supports Bitcoin as a method of payment, adding an extra privacy layer during checkout.
• Split Tunneling – ExpressVPN allows you to designate what applications should use its encrypted connection and those to whitelist.
• 30-day free trial
• It is one of the fastest VPNs available
• Available in over 90 countries
• Strong privacy and security
• Broad fleet of servers
• P2P support
• Easy to use
• 24/7 live support available
• It is costly
• Inability to create multi-hop connection
ExpressVPN offers multiple plans for you to choose from, with a 30-day money back guarantee. The most popular plan is the 15 months plan that goes for $6.67 per month but billed as $99.95 for the first fifteen months. They have the monthly plan and a 6 months plan as well.
Best for Beginners
Unlike ExpressVPN, Surfshark offers its users multiple unique features at a low cost. For example, you can use this VPN service to torrent and stream shows on different streaming services, and there is no limit to the number of devices you can connect to your subscription. Surfshark has over 3200 servers in more than 65 locations, and they are based in the Virgin Islands, which is outside surveillance unions. Plus, they offer top-notch security with AES-256-GCM, Perfect Forward Secrecy, and RSA-2048 security encryption.
This VPN supports many devices like iPhones, Androids, routers, Fire TV, Windows PC, Mac PCs, and even game consoles. With the split tunneling functionality, users can whitelist the apps they want to bypass the VPN. Additionally, users can manually connect to different shared static IP addresses despite the lack of dedicated IP addresses.
Camouflage Mode – With this feature, users can mask their VPN activity to reduce ISP prying.
• Multi-hop Connections – This VPN lets you route connections through multiple VPN servers in the Surfshark private network to hide your track.
• NoBorders Mode – This feature allows you to use the VPN in restricted areas.
• CleanWeb – You can use this feature for an ad-free browsing experience.
• Browser Plugin – Surfshark provides users with this special browser plugin to prevent WebRTC leaks.
• Surfshark Search – Surfshark provides users with this privacy-respecting search tool
• Surfshark Alert – This feature alerts users when their accounts get compromised.
• Unlimited simultaneous connections
• Unlimited device support range
• Low cost
• 24/7 customer support
• No dedicated IP addresses
• Fewer server locations compared to the competition
Best For security
NordVPN is one of the biggest VPN providers in the industry, and it offers users multiple unique features. This VPN provider boasts of being one of the most secure ones in the industry, as they combine industry-standard AES-256 encryption with an extra encryption layer. NordVPN supports a wide range of platforms, and users can carry out only six simultaneous connections on their subscription. Besides, this VPN service does not log user data except billing data.
Businesses can use this tool as it offers centralized management and subscription. Additionally, you can access over 5,000 services located in more than 55 countries when you use this service. NordVPN is located in Panama, ensuring the privacy of all its users. This service also offers DNS leak protection, kill switches, multi-hop, TOR connections, proxy extensions for Chrome browser, and split-tunneling.
- Double VPN encryption – This service provides users with an additional encryption layer for security
- NordPass – This feature is a password manager for users to keep their passwords safe.
- NordLocker – NordVPN provides users with this file encryption service
- NordLynx protocol — This feature increases the connection speed of the VPN service provider.
- Easy to use
- P2P sharing support
- Dedicated IP
- Build-in ad and malware blocker
- Cryptocurrency payment option
- Opaque pricing models
Best for Connection Speed
ProtonVPN is well known for its speed, even though it has just over 1000 servers in 55 countries. This open-source service provider supports multiple platforms and devices, and it does not log user data. Furthermore, ProtonVPN has an in-built route to VPN into TOR servers, and you can use it to get around geo-restricted sites effectively. Besides, this service provider is located in Switzerland, ensuring user safety.
ProtonVPN uses VPN Accelerator tech to offer users one of the fastest OpenVPN connections in the industry. This service provider also provides secure and stable apps on different devices. You can access the free version of this service that allows you to connect one device at medium speed. Plus, the number of simultaneous connections you can carry out depends on the plan you choose.
- Multi-hop Secure Core Servers – ProtonVPN enables users to make two hops from their device to the secure core servers and then to the VPN server selected.
- Always-on VPN –This feature attempts to restore service if the VPN drops in the middle of communication
- Adblocker – This DNS filtering feature protects users from malware and prevents website trackers from tracking them.
- High-security standards
- ProtonVPN’s transparency policies
- P2P support for torrenting
- Bitcoin payment option
- Unlimited bandwidth
- No browser support
- Fewer servers
Best for Mobile Devices
IPVanish is a US-based VPN provider that offers unlimited simultaneous connections despite its 1,600 servers. This service provider supports standard platforms like Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Chrome, routers, and Linux, and they support their servers. In addition, IPVanish recently implemented WireGuard, which has increased its connection speed. Besides, you can access the VPN from your iPhone or Android device.
IPVanish offers a kill switch, AES-256 encryption, and DNS leak protection, but it is not ideal for streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime Video. This VPN provider also does not offer a dedicated IP address, so it may not be the best choice if you need it for business. Additionally, it provides users with 250 GB of encrypted cloud storage for every plan.
- Scramble – This feature allows users in countries like China to make use of VPN services
- Cloud Backup – IPVanish, in collaboration with SugarSync cloud backup, enables users to protect their cloud data.
- Password Generator – With this feature, IPVanish can help users protect their accounts from hackers.
- 24/7 customer support
- Relatively cheap
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- No dedicated IP address
- It doesn’t work well for streaming services like Netflix
- It is not beginner-friendly
IPVanish offers a monthly plan that goes for $10.99 per month, a yearly plan billed at $53.99, and a 2-year plan billed at $94.98.
Best for Windows PC
Compared to its competition, Private Internet Access is very affordable, and it supports close to 10 simultaneous connections. You can pay for this service using different payment methods like credit cards, gift cards, or cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Zcash, and BitcoinCash. Furthermore, Private Internet Access provides a kill switch and enables you to stream shows on US Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and other streaming platforms.
- Chrome extension – You can use this feature to block third-party cookies and location access.
- Ad blocking – This in-built adblocker blocks trackers, ads, and malicious websites
- Torrenting Support – Private Internet Access supports torrenting and offers flexible settings.
- Dedicated IP address
- It offers plenty of servers
- Kill switch
- Browser extensions are available
- Cryptocurrency payment support
- Weak customer support
- Poor WireGuard speed
Best for Torrenting
CyberGhost is one of the popular VPN providers with over ten million subscribers, and it offers more than 7400 servers in 91 countries. This VPN provides apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac, and just like other top VPNs, it uses AES-256 encryption to protect user data. Besides, you can use CyberGhost for torrenting files, streaming, and safeguarding your data transmissions.
Users can simultaneously connect up to 7 devices using this VPN provider, but split tunneling is only available for Android devices. Also, since CyberGhost is situated in Romania, where there are almost no data retention laws, your privacy is assured. Finally, CyberGhost offers fair pricing for several valuable features compared to other VPN providers.
- Web blocking feature – This VPN offers a full security system for malicious website blocking, cookie blocking, and ad blocking.
- DNS Leak protection – CyberGhost protects your device’s DNS queries from leaking
- Cookie Cleaner – Users can use this VPN to clear their cache, cookies, and browsing history, enabling their browser to run faster.
- Dedicated IP address
- Easy to use
- Automatic kill switch
- Split tunneling available on only Android
Best for Netflix
This VPN provider has over 3200 servers in more than 80 countries, and it supports a maximum of 5 simultaneously connected devices. Hotspot Shield works well for Netflix streaming, and it has a free version that comes with a daily 500 MB cap that can affect movie streaming. In addition, this VPN has been known to deliver fast speeds due to its proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol. Plus, you can use it on routers, TV streamers, mobile devices, and PCs.
Unlike most VPNs we have talked about, Hotspot Shield logs VPN sessions, domains accessed, IP addresses, and bandwidth. However, this VPN uses militart0grade encryption to keep users anonymous.
- Password Manager – With this feature, users can protect their accounts from hackers.
- Spam Call Blocker – Hotspot Shield helps users block out spam calls and protect their browsing experience.
- Easy to use
- P2P support
- Fast connection speeds
- No dedicated IP address
- Limited free version
What is a VPN, and How Does It Work?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts all the data and traffic from your device to the internet, and it is used to connect and extend a private network across the internet. With a VPN, you can remain anonymous on the web as it creates a secure tunnel where every information is encrypted, stopping hackers, intelligence agencies, and ISPs from snooping on your online activities. In addition, a good VPN provider will create virtual IP addresses from any server you select to hide your digital identity. Besides, VPNs provide extra security, functionality, and increased resource management.
Users also use VPNs to access restricted sites and many streaming offerings unavailable in their country. For example, Google and Facebook are banned in countries like China and Cuba, but you can access these sites with a VPN. There are multiple VPN providers available, each with unique features and functionalities. Both free and paid VPNs are available, but getting a paid VPN service for complete web protection is advisable. Most VPN service providers offer different subscriptions so that you can choose the best one based on your need and budget.
Key Criteria For Selecting the Best VPNs
You need to consider multiple things when choosing a VPN that suits your need. So, we have streamlined them to these essential factors outlined below. So let’s get right to it.
• Number of Servers and VPN Location
You need to factor in the physical location of the VPN provider when choosing one because several locations come with their limitations and benefits. For example, a VPN with a physical location in the Virgin Islands will protect you from intelligence surveillance, while one in Asia will restrict sites like Google, Netflix, and Facebook. In addition, you must choose a VPN service provider with a wide range of servers in different countries as this would enable you to have plenty of functionalities to choose from.
• Pricing and Payment Options
Pricing is an essential factor you need to consider when choosing a VPN service provider. Some VPNs are costly but come with solid features, while others are cheap with fewer features, so you have to consider your needs and budget when choosing. Most VPNs offer monthly and yearly fees, enabling you to choose the plans that fit your needs.
You should also consider the payment options available on the service. Some accept credit cards, direct transfers, PayPal, and cryptocurrencies, so you must ensure you choose VPNs that offer payment options you have. For example, if you want to stay anonymous, you should opt for VPN providers that accept cryptocurrency as a payment method.
• Device Support
If you have multiple devices like a Mac, Windows PC, iPhone, Android, routers, and others, you must opt for VPNs that support these devices. Some VPN providers even support gaming consoles, Nintendo switches, PlayStation, and Fire Sticks.
• Data and Connection Limitations
VPNs tend to slow your internet capability, so you must consider the connection and data restrictions when choosing a VPN provider. Ensure that the connection speed will not affect your bandwidth. Plus, it is vital that you carry out comparisons to make sure you don’t choose a VPN that will limit your internet access.
• Logging Policy
If privacy is a significant reason you want to use a VPN, ensure you check the logging policy of the VPN provider. Even though VPNs protect your data from security threats and intelligence agencies, VPN providers still have access to it. This is why you should choose a VPN provider that has a robust no-logging policy in place.
• Security and Encryption
VPNs offer an additional encryption protocol that helps protect your data, which is why you must consider the encryption protocols when selecting a VPN provider. Besides, you can choose any VPN that offers L2TP/IPSec or OpenVPN as its security protocol.
Why are VPN Services Beneficial?
• Sidestep government Restrictions
VPNs enable you to access government blocked websites, especially for countries that limit their citizen’s access to the internet. For example, if you travel to countries like China, Belarus, or Cuba, VPNs allow you to use Google, Facebook, and other sites.
• Limit ISP Throttling
VPNs encrypt your data and develop a virtual IP address for you, restricting ISPs and government agencies from snooping at your online activity. With a VPN, you get complete anonymity when accessing websites and web applications. Plus, they provide users with multiple IP addresses from different countries, limiting ISP throttling.
• Access Location-specific shows on streaming networks
Streaming networks like Netflix offer location-specific shows, and users can use VPNs to access movies and shows that are not available in their location. They have access to a broader range of films and plays with a VPN.
• Digital Privacy Protection
With a VPN, you become anonymous on the internet, and it protects your digital privacy from hackers. VPNs provide users with IP addresses that show whenever the host requests their IP address. This way, their IP address remains hidden, and their site visits and online activities stay private.
• Data Security
Users can share files using VPNs without any issue of data theft. In addition, most VPNs come with extra security to protect your data.