Best VPN Services for 2017

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VPNs and How we Reviewed Them

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have become an indispensable tool for many internet users in order to:

  • Protect their privacy and anonymity on the internet
  • To secure their internet connection when using public Wi-Fi networks
  • To access overseas websites and web services such as Netflix, Home Box Office and streamed broadcasts of major sporting events that may be blocked to them by geographical restriction
  • To use BitTorrent and P2P networks anonymously without disclosing their real IP address
  • To bypass national firewalls operated by restrictive regimes that block access to sites like Facebook and Google.

In preparing this series of reviews we looked at 23 commercial VPN services which we culled down to seven as outlined in "How we Selected and Reviewed VPNs." We'll add additional VPN reviews based on suggestions from our site visitors. To have your say click on the poll in the right sidebar or post a comment below.

All the services reviewed here are subscription based though some offer both free and paid services. If you are only interested in free we suggest you consult our separate review of the Best Free VPN services.

Our VPN Review Recommendations

In the process of reviewing VPN services it soon became clear that there was no overall winner that was better in every way but rather particular services excel in particular areas. For example some VPNs provide great anonymity while other offer fast network speed or are geared towards the needs of BitTorrent users.

Consequently we recommend that you choose a VPN that is best suited to your needs. To assist we've rated the best VPNs according to how you want to use them in the list below:

Best VPN’s for anonymity

VPNs with the fastest network speeds

Best VPNs for BitTorrent and P2P users

Easiest to use VPNs

Best VPNs for watching NetFlix, HBO and similar geo-restricted services. Note: This is a fast changing area as services like Netflix try to stop VPNs and VPNs try to bypass new service restrictions.

Best VPNs to bypass national firewalls

Best value VPNs

Best Free VPN Offering

Here is a list (in alphabetical order) of all the services we tested along with a brief summary of each. The main features of each service are listed in the VPN Service Comparison Table. Use these resources to help guide your selection but we strongly recommend you read the full reviews as well.

 

CyberGhost VPNCyberGhost VPN

The fastest VPN we tested. The network coverage is excellent and  security and anonymity are of a very high order particularly with the Windows client.  Great for everything except perhaps BitTorrent.

Our rating:
Price:Premium: $6.95 month billed monthly, Premium Plus: $69.99/year

CyberGhost is a Romanian-based company that offers an extensive VPN network covering 31 countries and 48 cities secured by 256 bit AES encryption and the OpenVPN protocol. Clients are available for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS and Android and these were exceptionally easy to install and configure. The clients differ in their features with the Windows client significantly more flexible than those for OS X and iOS and offering better anonymity as well. Download speeds over the VPN network were the fastest we tested though latency was less impressive. Security is of a very high order particularly when using the Windows client. BitTorrent and P2P are permitted except on servers located in USA, Russia, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong (China). Our only real disappointment was the level of support, which is available in European office hours only.  Read full CyberGhost VPN review

 

ExpressVPNExpressVPN

It has a big network, superfast speeds, great security and anonymity and BitTorrent users are welcome but all this comes at a price. If you can afford it then this is a standout choice.

Our rating:
Price:$12.95 month billed monthly, $99.95/year

Discretely located in the British Virgin Islands, ExpressVPN provides a fast VPN service in 97 cities across 78 countries with easy-to-install clients for Windows, Mac OS X, iOS and Android. A wide variety of streaming media boxes and game consoles are also supported via manual configuration. The default encryption is 256 bit using OpenVPN which should provide excellent security. Sign-up can be accomplished with a high degree of anonymity and no logs are kept for VPN sessions. It’s an outstanding choice for most VPN applications including BitTorrent and P2P.  Read full ExpressVPN review

 

HMAHideMyAss (HMA) VPN

A large network that's great for anyone wanting to access Netflix and similar geo-restricted sites but anonymity is not a strong point

Our rating:
Price:$9.99 month billed monthly, $59.88/year

HMA is situated in the UK and offers a huge VPN network easily accessed by highly configurable clients for Windows and Mac and simple but effective clients for iOS and Android. A highly useful feature of their network is the ability to utilize “virtual servers” which are locally situated but “appear” to be located in other countries such as the USA or Europe. Overall performance of the network was average to slow but by utilizing virtual servers we got good performance when connected to streaming video services in other countries like HBO and Netflix in the USA. BitTorrent is allowed but not for illegal content. It is totally blocked on some of their servers for all content.  A disappointing aspect of HBO is they log the user’s real IP both during account registration and VPN server connection. This is of little consequence to those simply wanting to access geographically restricted web services but will worry those seeking true anonymity.  Read full HMA VPN review

 

PIAPrivate Internet Access (PIA)

A low priced option that's ideal for providing anonymity to BitTorrent users and for accessing geo-restricted services like Netflix and HBO. It's not super-fast but fast enough for most purposes.

Our rating:
Price:$6.95 month billed monthly, $39.95/year

PIA VPN is an American company that has a zero logging policy. It also allows anonymous payment to ensure a VPN service that promises users a high degree of security and anonymity. It largely delivers on this promise though some users may have concerns remain about the ultimate data privacy and security of any USA-based company. BitTorrent and P2P are fully supported. PIA’s network of 30 VPN portals in 18 countries is somewhat smaller than many of its main competitors and this may explain why measured download speeds while adequate, were not as fast as some of the other VPNs we tested.  Read full PIA VPN review

 

PureVPNPureVPN

With a huge high speed network and reasonable pricing this is great all-round VPN but BitTorrent users and those wanting deep anonymity should look elsewhere.

Our rating:
Price:$9.95 month billed monthly, $49.95/year

Hong Kong based PureVPN offers very a fast VPN service offering 500+ servers in 141 countries. There are highly configurable clients for both Windows and Mac users both of which offer the very attractive option of allowing users to select the best server based on purpose rather than simply geographical location. Those trying to access services in other countries such as HBO and streaming sporting coverage will find this particularly useful. The iOS client is more basic but is easy to setup. BitTorrent is supported but only in a limited number of countries. There are some unanswered privacy concerns about information kept during account registration and while this will be of little consequence to average users, it suggests that those wanting the absolute anonymity should look elsewhere.  Read full PureVPN review

 

TunnelBearTunnelBear

The easiest to use VPN of them all and reasonably priced too. The global network is on the smaller side but American subscribers are well catered for. BitTorrent is not allowed.

Our rating:
Price:$6.99 month billed monthly, $49.99/year

TunnelBear is a Canadian company that operates a mid-sized network covering 14 countries with one portal in each country. It was the easiest VPN to install and use of all the VPNs we tested. This necessarily means that TunnelBear is not the most full-featured VPN but it has sufficient features to satisfy all but the most technical users. The VPN download speed performance was average being neither the slowest nor fastest, but sufficient for most users. Security is excellent with the OpenVPN protocol encrypted with AES 256 bit used by default across all platforms except iOS. Users wanting anonymity and privacy are well catered for except perhaps those with the most demanding anonymity requirements.  TunnelBear does not support BitTorrent use as torrent ports are blocked across the TunnelBear network.  Read full TunnelBear VPN review

 

VyprVPNVyprVPN

It's really fast, it's got a big network and is great for busting through restrictive firewalls and accessing overseas web services but the pricing is higher than most. Not good for BitTorrent and deep anonymity.

Our rating:
Price:$9. 99 month billed monthly, $120.00/year

A well-established, full-featured VPN service incorporated in Switzerland that offers secure connections over multiple protocols to more than 700 servers in 50+ locations worldwide. Subscription includes the use of the company’s non-logging DNS servers as well as the optional use of their proprietary “Chameleon” technology claimed to defeat national firewalls such as the great Firewall of China. It provides excellent network speed and security though privacy issues relating to IP logging are currently not sufficiently clarified so we've deducted a half star from our rating because of that. It's still a great choice for users who want to be able to use a VPN for everyday private browsing, connecting to web services in other countries and bypassing national firewalls. It's less suited to BitTorrent users or individuals who require maximum anonymity. Read full VyprVPN review

 

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Average: 3.9 (63 votes)

Comments

Well, I've tried the fuzzy friendly Tunnelbear. And amongst all the various diggings and sundry other antics it performed, it totally screwed up my Internet connectivity. I don't know how. But it gets no jar of marmalade from me. CyberGhost left me with not a ghost of a chance of acceptable speed. It was screamingly bad. I finally settled on a VPN that I don't think is mentioned here: WindScribe, which when reviewed elsewhere seems to get high marks for quality of service, anonymity, etc.

It offers a restricted free service but from time to time, also comes up with some good deals for those who've registered with it as a free user. In December, it offered 12 months' full worldwide service for a dollar a month. (Can't remember what that came to on the then USD to GBP exchange rate.)

Anyway. I thought I'd sign up. I don't use it every day, but certainly, three or four times a week, and for extended periods. Not once has it failed to perform: no slow downs, no glitches, no dropped connections. It doesn't offer funny furry fuzzy bears and doesn't have ghostly presences interfering with its operation. It just works, and at speeds which I can't tell are any different from my non-VPN activity.

(And no, I have no, er, connection with it at all, other than as a happy customer.)

I found a useful list of free VPN trials. I had no problems with the site and VirusTotal found no problem although it has no WOT rating

https://vpn-services.bestreviews.net/free-trials/

I tried NordVPN: support is responsive, software easy to use and thoughtfully designed, so far no problems with bandwidth.

I have been using a paid version of Cyberghost for about 9 months, but cannot recommend it. However, the issue that I continually encounter is not limited to Cyberghost, but to VPNs in general. I am often unable to access sites because they block the VPN IP address or IP address range.

The sites I want to access are not vice sites (i.e., porn, gambling), but common sites (e.g., BBC, CNET, Infoworld). I can access the sites without VPN enabled. I have tried adjusting the VPN settings ad nauseam and frankly am getting tired of it. I just want to keep my browsing habits shielded from my ISP who is petitioning the FCC to enable it to sell customer browsing history.

Interestingly, I can access the sites using Tails and Tor, but these are two slow to use on a daily basis for me.

Can anybody recommend a workaround for VPN IP address blocking? VPN is of no value when I cannot access the sites I want to view. I guess in that respect they work.

I use Hotspot Shield VPN. It works very well and it's free. https://www.hotspotshield.com/

The free version does not allow you to select a country.

You a choice of five (5) country locations with the free version. You can also select the earth icon and it will choose one of them on a random basis.

Another satisfied customer of AirVPN here. I've been with them for over a year and I believe that they do meet all of your requirements.

Hey WykydWytch:

thanks for the tip re AirVpn. I had recently purchased a one month sub to ExpressVPN. Express works very well for me but is a little pricey($100 Yr vs $60 for Air). Both perform equally well as my main concern(besides privacy, of course) is download speed as I do a lot of bittorrent downloads. I will keep using both this month but probably decide on Air.
Express is a little more user friendly but I think I'd rather save the $40 per year.
Thanks again,

PureVPN so far is the best VPN service, I am using PC windows and uTorrent for Torrenting. There is minor drop in speed about 6%, no problem with connecting uTorrent and setup is very easy. Check DNS leak test and new IP, all working fine.

I use both AirVPN and PureVPN in different locations. Both seem to perform well and have few problems and both meet my relatively modest needs for obfuscation of location and IP address.

Have been a user of Gizmos for years now and always trusted the reviews but will think twice after reading this one. Not a single mention of AirVPN which is one of the top five if not the top one in my opinion. Not only does it give a good bandwidth but it is fast and has many servers around the world but it gives a cast iron guarantee that it will never bow to government pressure and release details of its users. How many of the ones above do this?.

I have read the terms of service, and I do not see any evidence for cast iron guarantees.

https://airvpn.org/tos/

They do say that "AirVPN fully complies with the European Union directives...Directive on Data Protection (95/46/EC) and Directive concerning the processing of personal data." I believe that includes IP addresses in Italy. Furthermore, Point 6 seems to suggest that they will release information is some circumstances, maybe not but again its unclear.

Finally, I doubt that they would be prepared to go to jail over me.

Just seen your reply. Have a read of this article.
https://www.privacytools.io/

Warmest Greetings Gizmo,

As one who has been on the lookout for some time for a worthwhile VPN (for myself and others), a recent article (30 June 2015) in the publication The Register (UK) gave me some pause, "VPNs are so insecure you might as well wear a KICK ME sign" - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/06/30/worlds_best_vpns_fall_flat_in_security_tests/ (feedback would be both welcome and appreciated).

Cheers,

AJ

This is a real issue AJ and I will write an article about this. In a nutshell VPNs in themselves provided limited protection to those who need deep anonymity such as journalists and political activists. However these are a small group who have very special needs.

There is a much larger group of people who want to improve their anonymity but don't need to take this to forensic depths, for example BitTorrent users and normal citizens living under repressive regimes. Here VPNs can be useful but you have to pick the right service. It is clear from the reviews on this page, those services that are useful here and those that are not.

Quite separate to these anonymity-seeking groups are those who simply want improved security such as users of public wi-fi networks and business users. Here the right VPN service can be of real value.

Finally many VPN users are not all that concerned about either anonymity and security - they just want to be able to watch major sporting events, NetFlix, HBO, and the BBC from another country!

So the usefulness of VPNs boils down to what kind of user you are and what you are trying to achieve.  I'll write this up as a full article.

I love what you guys (and gals) do for us looking for good freeware. I don't see any hurt in posting occasional info on paid apps, but I REALLY hope you haven't done so to cater to an advertiser on your site. Also, there are many more good VPNs out there that should have included in the review.

Overall, I'd prefer you only post news about freeware.

Paid software is nice to see reviews of too, however, such software (and reviews) should be clearly marked (with a '$" sign perhaps) so one knows that it is not freeware when reading it. Also, Freeware should be included as well in the reviews of paid software.

Excellent! I had not seen that. Keep up the good work.

i have been using vpn unlimited for some time now and don't see why it wasn't reviewed. it seems to do a good job for me and can be used on up to 5 devices, including most tablets and phones. as far as cost goes - i got it for $39 for 100 years or life, which ever comes first.

I have been using VPN Unlimited for over a year and it has worked extremely well. I don't care about anonymity, all I care about is getting to some geo-locked sites with decent quality, which it does quite well. Just my two cents.

I highly recommend YourPrivateVPN, which I have used for years. It is based in Germany. It has servers in Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom, Canada and the USA. It has excellent anonymity. It logs no user IP addresses, and one can even pay anonymously, if one whishes. It has excellent speed and allows P2P and Torrents. The cost for the lowest level of service is 6 euros a month. Setup is via a simple program supplied by the service.

I've been using TorGuard for a while now, got it on a half price deal, $30 for one year I think. Don't know anything about it's true strengths with privacy and security, but it ticks all the boxes otherwise and I'm very happy with it's speed, reliability and ease of use.

I use PIA. It is fast, reliable, and cheap. The ONLY thing I do not like about it is that it does not allow you to automatically switch servers at intervals (bounce around the net). You have to manually change server locations. But, I suppose it is a small price to pay for it being a cheap VPN, but it is good enough for me! It uses the Public Domain tunnel software, "OpenVPN" as its IPSec, so keep that in mind.

I am sad that a site called Gizmo's Freeware has a whole article reviewing only paid-for programs.

We reviewed free VPNs here: http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/best-free-vpn.htm

You may find it helpful to read this, which you must have missed.

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/something-interesting-happening-gizmos-freeware.htm

Nice piece, much appreciated. I'm only a light user of VPN services so haven't migrated from free to paid-for. The monthly allowances of both CyberGhost and Tunnelbear were good enough for my usage, but the latter wrecked my Net connectivity during a botched log-on updating, this despite the furry friendliness of its ursine critters.

May I suggest you consider VPNBook, which is a PC Magazine Editor's Choice?

I've been using VPNs for some time now and I have to say that I am a bit surprised at some of your findings!

PIA is useless for geo locked sites - it cannot access any BBC site and this was confirmed to me by the PIA tech staff, to quote them "there is no way round it". I had paid for a year in advance and am now stuck with a service that cannot meet my needs.

CyberGhost - I am astonished that you rate this well for speed - it is a huge drag on traffic speed and their own forums are full of threads about how it throttles speed. Again, I paid for a year up front and gave it up after trying to tweek it for a couple of months.

Zenmate - browser based and was completely free when I first discovered it. Wonderful service, beats geo restricted sites no prob and virtually no loss of speed BUT it has now become a 2 level service offering a much reduced free service (no UK based servers) but if you are willing to pay their premium service is excellent.

IP Hider Pro - not quite the same as a VPN but it does beat geo restricted sites and has little effect on speed. It does a 3 day full trial so worth looking at.

Boleh - premium service at a slightly higher price (but like they say you get what you pay for). Beats all geo restricted sites I tried including Netflix, Hulu, Pandora Radio, BBC, etc. Can be used for torrents and there is very little reduction in speed.

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