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Let’s get one thing straight, the internet that you and I are constantly hooked to is no longer safe. Online security breaches, identity theft, and targeted marketing were virtually unheard of a few years back.
However, nowadays everyone wants a piece of the pie, even if it means violating someone’s privacy. Hackers want to steal your precious data and companies want to shove their products in your face.
Even with the intervention of the GDPR, we are being constantly monitored. We are the product. Without our data, giant corporations or malicious hackers don’t have a reason to exist.
This is exactly the reason why anonymity tools like Virtual Private Networks (VPN) are booming nowadays. The VPN industry has grown rapidly over the years and now there are over 300 different registered VPN providers online.
Ironically all of them claim to offer the best of the best in encryption, privacy, and applications so on and so forth.
However, in my experience reviewing VPNs, I’ve always come across companies falsifying their claims.
To suggest you guys only the best VPN services in the industry, I’ve rigorously tested the industry’s top 20 providers and shortlisted only 4. In this blog, I’m going to tell you all about them.
Do You Really Need a VPN?
Aside from segregating you from the unencrypted network traffic, VPNs are great for a bunch of other reasons as per the VPN experts. Think about the following before opting for a VPN in your daily use.
- Unrestricted and unhindered streaming
- Downloading free stuff through torrents
- Consistent online gaming performance
- Secure online banking and shopping
Unrestricted and Unhindered Streaming
For one, VPNs are really popular in the online streaming community. Since Netflix, Hulu, DSTV and even BBC iPlayer are only offered in selected regions, there’s no other way to stream content without a VPN.
Basically, if you’re residing in an unsupported region, you’re out of luck. That is unless you use a premium VPN service.
That is because VPNs use cunning encryption and globally available anonymous servers to bypass geo-blocked content. Even if you’re nowhere near the supported region, you can spoof your location to virtually appear there.
Downloading Free Stuff Through Torrents
Let’s face it, not everyone wants to pay for movies or games. A lot of people just want to get the latest and greatest without paying for them.
Now I don’t condone piracy but I strongly believe everyone has the right to do so as they please. Anyone who has ever downloaded torrents knows exactly how risky torrenting can be.
If you’re lucky, you might get away with only a throttled internet connection. But if you’re not, you can even find yourself dealing with lawsuits.
That said, any premium VPN service can mask your true identity. Since you’ll be torrenting through the VPN providers IP address, your network activities can’t be backtracked to you.
Consistent Online Gaming Performance
We all know how it feels to experience lag in online gaming. One slight stutter and you’re done. That is because online gaming takes up quite a lot of your bandwidth.
Since ISPs (internet service providers) constantly monitor internet traffic, they can throttle your speeds if they find out you’re consuming too much bandwidth. The way they do this is by monitoring your IP address.
This is where a VPN can come in handy. A VPN can swap your default IP with one of their encrypted ones. No matter how much online gaming you do, your ISP won’t be able to tell if it’s you.
Secure Online Banking and Shopping
Lastly, VPNs are perfect for online banking and shopping. Since online threats like phishing, Trojan and session hacking are at an all-time high, the need to get a VPN is crucial. Shopping or banking using untrusted networks is never a good idea.
Let’s say you’re in a coffee shop and you’re checking up on your bank account, anyone on the same network can very well use packet sniffing tap into your computer. I’m speaking hypothetically, but it is very well possible. Believe or not, there are complete tutorials available online.
Worst of all, you don’t have to be some geek to figure out how hacking works.
That said since VPNs create a virtual barrier around you. Even if you’re using public Wi-Fi, no one would be able to decrypt your inbound and outbound traffic.
Things to look out for in the Best VPN in Layman terms
Now that you know what a VPN is capable of and what can it be used for, it’s time to look into some of the essential features a VPN must-have.
Bear in mind, not all VPNs have the features and reliability to secure your privacy. Many VPN providers in the industry use fancy marketing to over-exaggerate their features and services. However, in my experience reviewing VPNs, most providers only falsify their claims.
In order to save you guys from a whole lot of trouble, I’m going to tell you guys 7 essential features every VPN service must have down below.
- More servers = better performance
- Cross-platform compatibility
- No kill switch? Don’t buy it
- Legitimate no data logging policy
- Support for router
- OpenVPN among other encryption protocols
- Affordable & flexible pricing plans
+ More servers = better performance
It’s a simple equation. The more servers a VPN provider offers, the better the speeds and accessibility you’re going to get. Having a massive server count at your disposal means you’ll less likely face any server congestions. Another reason why having more servers is an absolute necessity has to do with IPs (internet protocol addresses).
Allow me to explain…
When you connect to a VPN network, you’re assigned a new IP address by your VPN provider. The new IP gets assigned to you based on the server location you choose. For instance, if you choose the U.S, you’ll get an IP from the United States and so and so forth.
If a VPN provider offers an abundance of servers, you’ll get thousands of IP addresses and locations to choose from.
You’ll get to anonymize your identity and get access to all sorts of geo-locked sites including streaming services at the same time.
+ Cross-platform compatibility
This is an absolute must. Gone are the days when people actually relied on desktops and laptops to get online.
In fact, most people have become so accustomed to portable computing devices that they hardly know how to use a laptop or a desktop computer.
While a lot of VPN providers do offer clients for both Macs and PCs, they don’t really offer applications for phone, tablets or even routers.
Therefore, whenever you get a VPN, make sure that it offers cross-platform compatibility. This way, you can secure all your devices with just one VPN subscription.
+ No kill switch? Don’t buy it
Kill switch is an absolute must-have feature in any VPN. If a VPN provider doesn’t offer this feature, there’s no point in getting it.
In case you don’t know what this feature does, it’s basically an automated functionality that disconnects your internet connection in case your VPN client malfunctions.
Since it only takes less than a second for an ISP to pick up your IP, it’s a race against time before your true identity gets exposed.
Fortunately, a kill switch prevents this from happening. As the name suggests, a kill switch simply disconnects you from the internet as soon as it detects a drop in the connection.
As amazing as this feature is, a lot of VPN providers don’t offer it and those that do, offer it as a separate tool. That said, some premium VPN services actually offer an integrated kill switch feature in their client. All you have to do is enable it within the VPN application.
+ Legitimate no data logging policy
No matter how many features a VPN offers or how cheap it is, if it doesn’t offer a true data logging policy, it is useless.
No data logging policy is also widely abused by a lot of VPN providers nowadays. Even VPN providers operating from the U.S claim that they don’t log user data, however, I call it a bluff.
Any data that a VPN provider logs about you can also be used against you. If you’re someone who downloads torrents a lot, you should be very much concerned. If your VPN provider hands over your logs to the authorities, you’re pretty much screwed.
+ Support for the router
While a lot of people don’t really consider this as a necessity, it is an absolute lifesaver to have.
Let me tell you why…
Instead of installing VPN applications on all your devices, wouldn’t it be much more convenient to just install it on your router?
This way, with just one router, you can basically protect every device that’s hooked up to it. That said, in order to install a VPN directly on your router, you need to get a VPN provider that offers support for routers and you’ll also need to get yourself a compatible router.
+ OpenVPN among other encryption protocols
You might hear the word “powerful encryption” used a lot by VPN providers, but what exactly does it mean? In reference to VPNs, encryption is the mechanism that makes sure no one gets to see your private data.
In order to do this, VPN providers rely on encryption protocols. Although VPN providers advertise a lot of protocols, you must make sure they also offer OpenVPN.
OpenVPN comes in two variants UDP and TCP. It is the most up to date and most powerful encryption protocol around.
If a VPN provider offers OpenVPN, it’s a keeper.
+ Affordable & flexible pricing plans
Lastly and most importantly, a VPN must be affordable. What good is a VPN if you can’t afford it? Fortunately, owning a VPN isn’t all that expensive. In fact, it should only cost you a couple of dollars a month.
A general rule of thumb when purchasing VPNs is that you should always go for the longest plan. Generally, a yearlong plan will end up costing you way less than let’s say a monthly plan.
You shouldn’t also cheap out on subscription plans. There’s no point in saving a couple of bucks for way lesser features.
So for quick recall, purchase a plan that’s at least a year-long and go for the premium plan as opposed to basic.
Best VPN for Streaming
Rank #1 Surfshark VPN ($1.99/mo)
Top Speed: 9.5Mbps
Servers Used: United States
Everyone hates crappy streaming speeds. There’s nothing worse than seeing a pixelated screen or the dreaded buffering wheel.
In order to see which VPN provider offered the best streaming speeds, I tested 4 of the absolute best VPN providers in the industry.
Since Netflix is the most popular streaming platform, I used it as the test subject.
To verify that I was getting the expected streaming speeds, I tested the before and after streaming speeds of Netflix on all four VPNs individually.
To test the streaming speeds I wanted to use something that was accurate and relevant. To do this, I used fast.com because it’s powered by Netflix itself.
I’m going to cover how each VPN fared in the streaming test down below.
#1 Surfshark Netflix Streaming Test
Next up, I tested the speeds with Surfshark. Just like before, I tested the Netflix streaming speeds with and without Surfshark.
I also connected to a U.S server just to keep things even. Without Surfshark turned on, I was getting about 10 Mbps and after enabling it, I got about 9.5 Mbps downloading speeds.
This was much better than NordVPN. I performed the test multiple times and I was still getting roughly the same results.
I also liked the fact that the connection latency was also a bit less than Nord. I’m guessing this has something to do with their servers being new.
Similar to NordVPN, there was no lag and the video played in HD just as before.
#2 NordVPN Netflix Streaming Test
First up, I tested the speeds using NordVPN. Since Netflix U.S has the best content library, I connected to a U.S server located In San Francisco.
Without the NordVPN enabled, I was getting around 10 Mbps download speeds. After enabling it, I was getting a very consistent 7.7 Mbps speed.
Not bad at all.
Even after a 3 Mbps drop in speed, I was able to stream in HD mode without experiencing any lag or jittering.
Overall NordVPN faired pretty well in my Netflix streaming test.
#3 Cyberghost Netflix Streaming Test
I tested the Netflix streaming speeds once more but this time I tested it using Cyberghost. Without Cyberghost enabled I was getting about 10 Mbps and after enabling it and connecting to U.S server, I was getting about 8.0 Mbps.
That said, even though there was a solid 2 Mbps drop in speeds, it didn’t really affect my streaming experience. In fact, the video playback was in HD and just like before there were no lags either.
There was only one issue though and that was with the server selection. Unlike NordVPN and Surfshark which connected me to the most optimized server, Cyberghost for some reason didn’t. I had to manually choose the most optimized server.
Overall, Netflix worked great.
#4 ExpressVPN Netflix Streaming Test
Lastly, I tested the streaming speeds on ExpressVPN. The results were not what I expected.
Generally, Express is known for its fast speeds. However, after putting it to the test, it managed to give my around 7.8 Mbps streaming speeds at max.
Although I didn’t encounter any issues while streaming, it didn’t manage to offer the speeds I was expecting.
Since both Cyberghost and ExpressVPN managed to offer similar streaming speeds, it was a tie.
The results are in.
While ExpressVPN and Cyberghost managed to offer similar speeds, they couldn’t outperform NordVPN or Surfshark.
After comparing all four, Surfshark managed to offer the highest streaming speeds amongst them all. Surfshark clearly wins in the streaming segment.
NordVPN is The Best VPN as Per Reddit
Although NordVPN, Surfshark, Cyberghost, and ExpressVPN are my personal favourites, I did take it to Reddit to see what other people prefer.
I found a thread by the name of: “/r/vpn Recommendations Megathread #8”.ill links it below if you want to check it out.
Surprisingly enough, a lot of people referred to ExpressVPN and NordVPN. Other than these two, there were few comments that either referred or inquired about Private Internet Access (PIA).
That said, since NordVPN was the most recommended and inquired about VPN I could find on Reddit, it clearly wins in this segment.
Even for many reasons genuinely recommend their service based on my NordVPN review. However, sometime to truly experience something, you need to try it out for yourself. Even NordVPN offers 7 days free trial as well. You can avail and experience first before buying this service.
Best VPN for Torrenting
Rank #1 NordVPN ($3.49/mo)
Top Speed: 8.55Mbps
Server Location: United Kingdom
Torrenting is the number one reason why people even get VPNs in the first place. Since it’s technically illegal to download torrents in many parts of the world, it’s a good idea to opt a VPN that can anonymize your online traffic.
A good VPN shouldn’t leak your IP. It should also offer decent downloading speeds and multiple P2P compatible servers.
I’m going to compare all 4 VPNs and see which one is the absolute best. I’ll be performing the test on the UK, U.S and Canadian servers using my dedicated 10 Mbps connection.
Note: since a VPN uses a lot of overhead encryption, you may encounter slow downloading speeds. However, this is perfectly normal.
#1 NordVPN For Torrenting
NordVPN worked just fine with torrenting. I liked the freedom I got with NordVPN. Since it offers over 5000 servers, I was quickly able to switch to different servers every time I experienced slow connection speeds.
I’ll add the screenshots below Just to let you know the speeds I got after connecting to each server.
NordVPN U.S Server
The U.S server took a major chunk out of my downloading speeds. I also noticed quite a lot of fluctuation. Sometimes I was getting really fast speeds while other times the speeds weren’t all that great.
None the less, I was able to download my torrent file without any connection drops which was great.
NordVPN U.K Server
NordVPN’s U.K server performed much better. Both the download and upload speeds were as if I wasn’t even connected to the VPN server at all. Torrenting speed was also much better than the U.S server.
NordVPN Canada server
NordVPN’s Canadian server also offered much better speeds than their U.S server. Both upload and download speeds were decent and my torrent file downloaded in a fairly reasonable time.
NordVPN IP leak Test For Secure Torrenting
NordVPN also didn’t leak my IP which was great.
#2 Surfshark For Torrenting
Surfshark performed great too. Although the speeds were not as great as NordVPN, it effortlessly downloaded my test torrent files.
Surfshark U.S server
Similar to the NordVPN U.S server, Surfshark’s U.S server also took a toll on my downloading speeds. Having said that, the upload speed was definitely impressive.
Surfshark U.K Server
Again, the U.K server was a bit better than the U.S one. Even though the download speed was not that great, the upload speed was much better with Surfshark.
Surfshark Canada Server
Surfshark’s Canadian server was also quite decent. Again the upload speeds were significantly less than the upload speeds. None the less, I didn’t encounter any issues while downloading torrents.
Surfshark IP leak test
Just as before, I also performed a DNS and IP leak test to see If Surfshark leaked my default IP address. Surfshark passed this test with flying colors.
#3 Cyberghost For Torrenting
I didn’t notice a lot of difference in performance with Cyberghost. In fact, the results were quite similar to Surfshark.
Cyberghost U.S server
Just like Surfshark; Cyberghost’s U.S server also drastically reduced my download speed. However, the upload speed was quite impressive. Torrenting also went pretty well with Cyberghost. I was able to download my torrent file without any issues.
Cyberghost U.K server
Cyberghost’s U.K server was slightly better than the U.S one in terms of downloading speeds. However, this time the U.K server took a major toll on the upload speed.
Cyberghost Canada server
The Canadian server of Cyberghost didn’t blow me away either. It was the same old story with this one too. The download speed was quite low while the upload speed was quite good.
Cyberghost IP leak test
Just like Nord and Surfshark, Cyberghost also passed my IP leak test.
#4 ExpressVPN For Downloading Torrents
Lastly, I tested ExpressVPN to see how it performed while downloading and seeding torrents.
ExpressVPN U.S server
Although ExpressVPN is known for its speeds, I did notice quite a low download and upload speeds on their U.S server. However, it still performed better than both their U.K and Canadian servers.
ExpressVPN U.K server
ExpressVPN U.K server didn’t offer a great download number but it did manage to provide mind-blowing upload speeds.
ExpressVPN Canada Server
ExpressVPN’s Canadian servers didn’t manage to do well in the torrenting test. It managed to offer a quite low upload and download speeds.
ExpressVPN IP Leak Test
Finally, ExpressVPN also didn’t leak my IP or DNS.
Best VPN App Interface
Rank #1 Express VPN ($8.32/mo)
A VPN has to be simple to use. It should also be able to connect and switch to different servers in the least possible time.
To see which VPN provider offered the best application, I put all four to the test. I’ll first judge them on their user interface and ease of use and then I’ll test which connects the fastest.
#1 ExpressVPN App Interface
Though I checked the ExpressVPN app in the last the interface I experienced was smooth AF. And I’m not going to beat around the bush too long. The interface of ExpressVPN was clearly the best out of the bunch.
The colors and overall look and feel looked much better and far modern than the VPN we discussed earlier.
The home screen provides two options. “Smart location” automatically connects you to the best servers and “choose server” allows you to pick a server of your choice.
Aside from just looking great, it also blew away NordVPN, Surfshark, and Cyberghost with its amazing connection speeds.
It took ExpressVPN only 3.44 seconds to connect. I barely even notice it connect.
#2 NordVPN App Interface
First up, I tested the NordVPN application.
The user interface looked good. It offered a simple yet minimalistic user experience.
Choosing a server location was also very simple. You can either use a map from the home screen or pull out the list of servers from the bottom of the screen.
I also liked the quick connect feature of NordVPN. It quickly connected me to the most optimized servers.
There are not a lot of settings available within the NordVPN iPhone application. Clicking the settings cog only gives an option to enable or disable the Kill switch.
Now don’t get me wrong. I liked the simplicity of this application; however, I do wish there were few more settings to play with.
Aside from the user interface, I also tested the average time to connect to a server. Since there is no proper way to do this, I used a stopwatch application.
On an average, it took about 7.85 seconds to connect to a server. I also tried it on multiple servers for consistent results. Overall the application was dead simple to use and the connection latency was barely noticeable.
#3 Surfshark App Interface
Similar to NordVPN, Surfshark also has a fairly minimalistic user interface. However, I personally prefer the interface of NordVPN. Surfshark’s user interface was just too simple for me.
There was no map feature nor were there any colors to bring the interface to life. The main screen only has one button to connect and disconnect and underneath it is the option to change server locations. That’s it.
On the flip side, it did offer more setting options than NordVPN.
While the interface of the Surfshark application was not that attractive, its connection speeds were definitely impressive.
Just like before, I used the stopwatch application to note down the connection speeds on various different servers.
Surfshark took less than 5 seconds to connect to a server. More specifically it took about 4.85 seconds. That’s seriously impressive.
#4 Cyberghost Application Interface
Cyberghost looked particularly great. The yellow and black contrasts really complimented each other well.
Servers were nicely laid out in the server section and very easy to find. You can also use the automatic connection option to connect the best available servers.
I also liked the quick options for torrenting and unblocking streaming services. Overall, I really love the user interface of Cyberghost. It’s much more appealing than both NordVPN and Surfshark.
As cool as the interface of Cyberghost was, its connection speeds were not that great. In fact, after hitting the connect button, it took about 19.52 seconds to connect. Switching to a U.S server, was even slower. It took about 24 seconds to connect.
This was a lot slower than both NordVPN and Surfshark.
Best VPN for iPhone
Rank #1 ExpressVPN ($8.32/mo)
Without a doubt, iPhones are the most popular smartphones in the world. Naturally, there’s always great support available for the platform. VPN applications also tend to work way better than on any other platform.
NordVPN, Surfshark, Cyberghost, and ExpressVPN all offer a premium application for iPhones. Just as before, I’ll also put the iPhone applications of each provider’s head to head to see which one is the absolute best.
Since I’ve already covered the user experience and look and feel of all four providers in the best VPN app heading, I’m not going to go into too much detail.
While the 3 providers fared well, there was one that really stood out. ExpressVPN not only offered a much cleaner and responsive application, it also offered a much resource friendly app. The application also didn’t drain a lot of battery, considering it was constantly running in the background.
Overall, ExpressVPN wins this round.
Best VPN for Netflix
Rank #1 Surfshark VPN ($1.99/mo)
While we have already discussed which VPN streams and unblocks U.S Netflix the best, it’s now time to see which VPN manages to unblock other regional libraries of Netflix.
To test this, I wanted to see which VPN was able to unblock the following Netflix libraries:
Surfshark worked the best with Netflix. It not only unblocked the U.S library but also unblocked other regional libraries without a hitch.
Connection latency wasn’t anywhere to be found either. Overall, highly recommend Surfshark if you want complete control over Netflix.
#2 NordVPN Unlocking Other Netflix Libraries
First up I tested the NordVPN before even Surfshark, hoping it to top the list in this category. While the U.S library unblocked with ease, I wanted to see if it worked with other regional libraries.
To my surprise, NordVPN managed to unblock all above mentioned regional libraries. UK library unblocked almost instantly while the Australian library of Netflix took some time to unblock. That said, after switching a few servers, I gained complete access to all Australian content.
Brazilian, Spanish and Canadian libraries also unblocked without any issues.
Overall, NordVPN worked great with Netflix; however, connection times were a little bit slow.
#3 Cyberghost Unlocking Other Netflix Libraries
Cyberghost also fared well. It easily managed to unblock both Canadian and U.K library of Netflix. However, it struggled quite a bit with both Spanish and Brazilian Netflix libraries. Eventually, it did work though.
That said, I was quite disappointed to see that Cyberghost wasn’t able to unblock the Australian library of Netflix. I was not expecting this from Cyberghost.
#4 ExpressVPN Unblocking Other Netflix Libraries
Lastly, I tested Netflix with ExpressVPN. Everything worked fine. It managed to unblock all other libraries without any issues. Connection times were also really fast.
Overall, ExpressVPN managed to rank second after Surfshark.
Best VPN for Family use
Rank #1 Surfshark VPN ($1.99/mo)
Price also plays a very important role in purchasing VPNs. If a VPN is cheap and offers simultaneous connections, that’s the perfect combination.
Typically, you would want a VPN that offers at least 3 simultaneous connections. Basically, anything above 3 is good.
Also, Monthly prices shouldn’t exceed $10.
I’ll compare all 4 of the above-mentioned VPNs and see which one offers the perfect mix of pricing and simultaneous connections.
Although NordVPN’s subscription pricing plans were great, they were no match for Surfshark. They offer 3 plans. 1 month, 12 months and 24 months plan.
The 24 months plan is the cheapest among all four VPNs. It comes with an 83% discount and only costs $1.99 a month.
Their 12 months plan also comes with a 50% discount and costs $5.99 a month. Lastly, their 1-month plan costs $11.95 a month.
Aside from being ultra-affordable, Surfshark also offers the most numbers of simultaneous connections. In fact, they offer unlimited simultaneous connections.
Surfshark clearly wins this round.
#2 NordVPN Pricing & Simultaneous Connections
As of now, NordVPN offers 4 plans. 1 month, 1 year, 2 year and 3-year plan. The 3-year plan is the best in my opinion. It comes with a 70% discount and only costs $3.49 a month. You also don’t have to worry about renewing your subscription for 3 years.
The 2 year and one-year plans are also amazing. They also come with a 58% and 41% discounts respectively.
Their one month plan is also fairly priced, only costing $11.95 a month.
NordVPN offers 6 simultaneous connections. You can connect up to 6 devices to one subscription plan. This is seriously impressive.
#3 Cyberghost Pricing & Simultaneous Connections
Next up, we have Cyberghost. They also offer 3 plans. 1 month, 1 year and 3-year plan. Their 3-year plan is the most affordable. It comes with a 79% discount and only costs $2.75 a month.
Their 1-year plan is also quite affordable and only costs a modest $5.25 a month. That said, their 1-month plan is definitely not cheap. It costs $12.99 a month.
Although their monthly plan isn’t cheap, it definitely makes up for it with its 7 simultaneous connections. You can protect up to 7 devices with just one subscription plan.
#4 ExpressVPN Pricing & Simultaneous Connections
Lastly, we have ExpressVPN. It offers 3 plans. 1 month, 6 months and 12 months plan. Their 12 months plan is the most affordable and after a 35% discount, it only costs $8.32 a month. Their plans are quite expensive.
Their 1 month and 6 months plans are also not that cheap. They cost $12.95 and $9.99 respectively.
Express VPN also don’t offer a lot of simultaneous connections. At max, you can only connect up to 3 devices.
That’s way less than NordVPN, Surfshark, and Cyberghost.
So there you have it, folks, these were the best VPN services to get right now. NordVPN, Surfshark, Cyberghost, and ExpressVPN are not only super affordable but also highly versatile. Whether you’re into torrenting or unblocking streaming services, you can do that and much more with these amazing VPN services.