What is the best VPN in 2021?
There are a few hundred VPN providers (that we know of) operating on a global scale.
All VPNs seem to promise similar features… but which ones actually deliver on that promise?
How do we know which VPN is suitable for our needs?
Through extensive research into user types and needs, we can pinpoint the most common use-cases for VPNs:
- Unblocking Netflix/Streaming Platforms/Websites – unlocking all the content whether you live outside of the US or inside. From Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, etc–the best VPNs offer this without hiccups.
- Torrenting/P2P – your IP is publicly visible when engaging in P2P activities. Use a VPN to keep your IP hidden from the public and avoid DMCA warnings.
- Privacy – operating behind a VPN and other complimenting products like TOR to completely become anonymous, and hide your online activities from anyone including the government and your ISP.
- Security – VPNs encrypt your data so you’re safe even when using public Wi-Fi networks. Your data can’t be read by anyone other than you and the party that you’re sending the data to.
- Censorship – escaping government restrictions and advocating our rights to free speech. There are many activists and journalists around the world who rely on VPNs to push us forward.
There are additional factors to consider such as ping, connection speed, product usability, security features, logging policies, support options, price, and more.
The best VPN services offer vaguely similar features too. So how do you go about deciding the right one?
10 Best VPNs for Privacy, Security, and Anonymity (2021)
With everything above in mind, we can narrow down the massive VPN list to a select few—top ten, to be exact.
So far, we’ve signed up (paid), downloaded, installed, and tested all the VPNs listed below, and 100+ others.
Let’s get down to the best VPNs.
#1 NordVPN – It’s the Best VPN. Here’s why:
Rated #1 because it’s a top-tier product and provides responsive 24/7 support–at $2.99 per month (great price).
NordVPN operates with Nordic work ethics – they strive for the highest form of excellence.
NordVPN has the global network, fast speeds, torrenting, Netflix access in 5 countries, and is privacy-minded. No activity logs and they’re in a rather secure jurisdiction.
It’s only $2.99 per month. It’s our recommendation for the best overall VPN. The cheap price aside, NordVPN somehow delivers the best product and experience in the industry.
There are some added-on security measures too. You have access to “Double VPN” which encrypts your connection twice over. They offer TOR integration, namely “Onion Over VPN”. With these features available, NordVPN should be your first choice if you plan on engaging in any illicit activities.
Cyber criminals will not be able to track the websites you visit. NordVPN is based in Panama, away from the 5, 9, 14 Eye Alliances.
For any of our readers out there who want a guaranteed working VPN for Netflix, torrenting and for privacy, NordVPN is the first choice regardless of the price.
+ Top-tier security features (no logs!).
+ Fast speeds.
+ Extremely cheap 2-year contract.
+ 5 country Netflix access (US, UK, CA, NL, JP).
– Cheap 2 year contract vs. high monthly subscription.
#2 ExpressVPN – Best Premium VPN ($6.67 per month)
Rated #2 in our VPN recommendations with premium features, security, and customer service.
It’s no surprise that ExpressVPN is mentioned in our best VPNs list.
ExpressVPN takes the title on most VPN sites, and for good reason.
The product works out of the box and is extremely simple to use. For advanced users, it also offers a ton of customization.
Netflix works 100% and torrenting is encouraged, with one of the fastest speed tests to boot.
ExpressVPN respects their customers with a zero-log policy on top of their top-tier security features. The company is based in the British Virgin Islands – also safe from any prying government eyes. Your personal information stays safe along with all your online activities.
The software and apps are available for pretty much all devices and operating systems. Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS and Android aside, you can even protect your Kindle, Chromebook, smart TV, gaming consoles, and more. Want an easier way to use this VPN? Just get a browser extension. ExpressVPN has it all.
The price won’t break your wallet. It’s affordable at $6.67 per month; some people complain about the price, but this is a premium VPN.
ExpressVPN is a longstanding company in the industry as well.
+ Top-notch security features.
+ Fast download speeds.
+ Massive server count.
+ Huge device compatibility (everything you can think of).
+ No logging and in a safe jurisdiction.
+ Works with Netflix 100%.
– Premium VPN pricing (currently offering a 49% discount).
#3 Private Internet Access VPN – Safest VPN (Proven No Log VPN)
Rated #3 having proven they kept no logs in court.
Who hasn’t heard of Private Internet Access VPN? They are true veterans in the industry.
Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN is a company based in the United States of America. For many it doesn’t matter whether they fall under the Five Eyes jurisdiction or not. It’s due to the fact that they’ve proven the legitimacy of their no-log policy in court. TWICE.
This key detail is the driving force behind the world-acclaimed PIA VPN–if anonymity and secure are your main priorities then PIA is it.
Let’s discuss some basic features. Strong security with zero leaks of any kind, decent speeds, and a fantastic infrastructure to support streaming Netflix inside and outside of the US.
In regards to torrenting, there’s close to zero mention of it on their website. We like to think they’re looking the other way, especially when we know they’re not keeping logs.
A kill switch is available for everyone. PIA VPN also offers native applications for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Let’s not forget about their browser plugins for ease of use.
All that customer base and money aside, PIA doesn’t have the best customer service options. Live chat has limited operational hours and they heavily rely on a ticket system. The advertised 24/7 support doesn’t feel all too real.
PIA VPN Pros:
+ Proven no logging policy.
+ Decent speeds.
+ Passes Netflix test.
PIA VPN Cons:
– Falls short in customer support.
– US Jurisdiction (but proven no-log policy).
#4 ProtonVPN – Best Product & Fastest VPN
Rated #4 for delivering the best product under the right team.
By the makers of ProtonMail, ProtonVPN is another privacy-focused product for privacy-minded people.
The team is comprised of security experts and based in Switzerland where they have great jurisdictional advantages. Of course, they have a no-log policy and you can even pay with crypto.
Being the fastest VPN means you can stream 4K content without with ease; entertainment options are there with Netflix access and they even allow torrenting.
ProtonVPN has the best product. Other VPN companies seem like a carbon copy of one another with similar product design and interface. ProtonVPN is easy to use, has custom profiles to get you going fast and also provides useful information around your connection. It’s a given that they have a kill switch, and an advanced one at that.
Lastly, their customer service is top-tier. They don’t have 24/7 live chat but their responses are faster than live chat agents. The customer service team is quite knowledgeable and are able to handle technical questions as well.
They offer a free version if you want to give it a go without any risk but scales to $8/mo for all the optional privacy features.
+ The best product.
+ Fastest speeds.
+ Passes Netflix test.
+ Secure & anonymous.
+ Strong Swiss jurisdiction.
– Premium pricing for privacy people.
– No 24/7 live chat.
#5 HideMyAss VPN – Best VPN for Traveling
Rated #5 for having the most accessible global network
HideMyAss may have started as a small company, but they now operate under Avast – the same billion-dollar cybersecurity company.
One accomplishment that the company holds is the number of countries they operate under. HideMyAss has servers in 190 countries around the world, far more than what any other VPN provider offers.
It’s also possible to access Netflix and supports fast speeds. For these reasons, it’s the best VPN for traveling. You’ll most likely fall under their network should you go abroad anywhere.
New customers of HideMyAss will have a 30-day money-back guarantee which essentially is like a 30-day free trial.
One caveat – it’s not for privacy folks. They do some minimal logging and this includes IP addresses. The information is only kept for 30 days, though.
HideMyAss VPN Pros:
+ Most coverage around the globe.
+ Operating under a $bn cybersecurity company.
+ Fair pricing.
HideMyAss VPN Cons:
– Some logs retained for 30 days.
#6 VyprVPN – 3rd Party Audit-Approved VPN (Transparent Company)
Rated #3 out of all VPNs – Security audited & published to the public
GoldenFrog, the parent company of VyprVPN came a long way since its inception.
From claiming to be “The World’s Most Powerful VPN” to “The World’s Most Trusted VPN,” VyprVPN puts in an incredible amount of effort in being a transparent, no-log VPN. They’ve invited Leviathan Security Group, a world-renowned security firm, to evaluate and review the VPN platform.
That doesn’t mean the overall price and performance falls short. In fact, VyprVPN performs wonderfully and the company actively works on improving the services.
For example, they’ve recently started offering Netflix UK bypasses and faster server infrastructure in Asia (based on our review, no less). We’re happy to hear these companies are listening to our feedback.
Although their free trial period is only 3 days long, we find that most people who try it tend to keep their subscription.
With operations running from Switzerland with its strict privacy laws, it’s no wonder this VPN provider has made our top 10 list.
At prices being as low as $5.00 per month, VyprVPN is a solid choice.
+ 3rd party security audit-approved.
+ Chameleon protocol for safety.
+ US and UK Netflix access.
+ Decent speeds.
+ Based in Switzerland.
– Short free trial period (3 days).
#7 Surfshark VPN – Best VPN for Families
Rated #7 because they do almost everything right
Surfshark is rather new to the game but doesn’t hold back. It has all the qualities of being the best VPN and headed towards the right direction (for example, they’ve already been audited by Cure53).
While Surfshark VPN has been operating only since April 2018, they’ve ironed out a lot of the details. No logs, decent speeds, entertainment options, secure encryption, and no leaks.
Why is it the best for families? For one, you can connect unlimited devices to one account – you won’t need to configure your router. Two, the price is competitive and working families can definitely afford it. Lastly, it’s simple to use and just works.
As mentioned in our review, the business itself is far too immature to trust with critical data. The business has not been challenged, there hasn’t been enough research and discoveries from the community and we don’t know anything about the company. It’s clearly well-funded because they are quite aggressive with marketing and growth tactics. Whether it’s all a hype or a VPN that will protect your family for the long-run is in the air.
Surfshark VPN Pros:
+ Unlimited devices.
+ Family-friendly prices.
+ Simply works.
Surfshark VPN Cons:
– Rather new business.
– Unknown owners and motive.
#8 Ivacy VPN – Best Cheap VPN ($1.33 per month)
Rated #8 in our VPN recommendations – Super cheap, feature-rich
If you thought NordVPN was cheap, wait until you see this VPN.
Ivacy VPN actually looks too good to be true; the price is way too low and it’s extremely feature-rich. It provides the most basic fundamentals of a great VPN: consistently decent speeds, Netflix access, torrenting-friendly, high security, kill switch…
And the cherry on top?
It only costs $1.33 per month.
Sure, you have to sign up for the 5-year package, but this price point is almost unheard of. Just think about all the features it comes with at this price. The value-for-price is among the best in the industry.
Ivacy also provides live chat support! And it’s responsive! How they can support live chat at this price point is honestly baffling.
Of course, the best VPNs don’t log (as most claim to be) and Ivacy is no exception to that rule. The only concern we have is the jurisdiction in which the company is operating. Although the company is based in Singapore – outside of any surveillance alliances – the country is sort of known to cooperate with the Five Eyes Alliance. We can only hope their no-log policy is the truth…
Ivacy VPN Pros:
+ Ridiculously cheap.
+ Works with Netflix.
+ Wide compatibility.
+ Obfuscated servers.
+ Wide range of payment options.
Ivacy VPN Cons:
– Singapore isn’t in any Alliances, but they have cooperated with the FVEY. (But let’s remember, they promise to retain no logs).
#9 Windscribe VPN – Best Free VPN
Rated #9 out of all VPNs – All the necessary features are there with some odd things
Windscribe VPN shows off a super clean product with native Windows, macOS, iOS and Android clients. Linux users can simply apt-get as usual.
One notable thing about Windscribe VPN is that they offer a freemium plan. Windscribe likes to keep it simple – free users get minimum access to the VPN while premium subscribers get full access including torrenting and US-Netflix.
Windscribe also allows free users to earn credits. How? By using the users’ browsers to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero. This is an odd concept but it surely caught our eyes.
Although they are based in Canada (under the Five Eyes), they do take security seriously. They have double hopping (routing your traffic twice through their network) and a kill switch.
Windscribe is a little bit of an oddball… but we like “different” and we’re not alone – Windscribe is the 10,000th most visited website in the US according to Alexa. They’re the only VPN service with a Discord community.
The company also logs your bandwidth and timestamp of your last activity, although they claim it’s to enforce their free tier limitations and to purge inactive accounts. Oh, and we also found out their live chat is actually a bot. Yes, you can still contact their human support through a contact form.
+ Windflix for US Netflix.
+ Cheap (or completely free).
+ No IP or DNS leakage.
+ Extremely fast.
– Customer support is lacking.
– “Harmless” logging.
#10 CyberGhost VPN – Well-Polished VPN ($2.75 per month)
Rated #10 out of all VPNs – Huge brand with 30 million users.
CyberGhost hails from Romania (that’s in Europe for those geographically-challenged) – outside of government surveillance. On top of that, they were amongst the first VPN companies to publish Transparency Reports.
CyberGhost has quite the server count, nearing almost 3,000 servers distributed globally. The VPN client helps you navigate through your needs – whether it’s Netflix or torrenting, you won’t have a difficult time finding the answers you’re looking for. In case you don’t, there’s a 30-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.
There’s a reason why CyberGhost VPN grew to 30 million users in just 8 years. They have the fundamentals locked down – cheap pricing (albeit a 3-year lockup period), awesome product, responsive live chat support and, above all, the promise of privacy.
CyberGhost VPN features a super slick and clean product – it’s easy to use and easy on the eyes.
CyberGhost VPN Pros:
+ Intuitive menu.
+ Beginner-friendly UI.
+ Works with Netflix.
+ Low-cost VPN.
+ Fast 24/7 support.
+ Transparent operations.
CyberGhost VPN Cons:
– 3-year contract.
Honorable Mention: Mullvad VPN – Great “Anonymous Signup” VPN (€5/$5.80 per month)
Mullvad focuses on anonymity and having a working product.
Mullvad VPN does something different than other VPN providers.
They have a completely anonymous signup form.
There’s a one-click account generation method, and you can even pay in crypto. If you’ve paid in crypto, your identity is surely more secure than if you used your credit card or PayPal.
There’s no need for an email address, and no overlap with your other usernames or passwords – you simply use your account code.
Mullvad also operates with a zero-log policy but are based in Sweden who is part of the 14 Eyes Alliance.
More security, however, means more responsibility on your end as the end-user. Should you lose access to your account number, you might be out of a VPN–make sure you write this stuff down.
+ Super simple and secure anonymous signup process.
+ No IP or DNS leaks.
– Based in Sweden (14 Eyes Surveillance Alliance)
– Customer support is severely lacking.
– Very limited UI.
Features of the Best VPNs in 2021
Our top 10 VPNs most certainly cover the common use-cases listed above such as unblocking sites, torrenting, privacy and security. Some may lean towards features around entertainment while others focus strictly on the privacy side. So, all things mostly equal on the surface, how do we differentiate the best of the best VPNs?
2021 is The Year of Privacy and Transparency
One of the things that premium VPNs do better is being transparent.
There’s been a small but distinct movement towards business transparency. Our top 5 are the ones leading this movement towards VPN providers becoming more transparent with the public. Usually, this means having a third-party security firm conduct a rigorous penetration test as well as evaluating their logging policies.
What exactly do the industry leaders do to achieve transparency?
CyberGhost claims to be the first to run yearly Transparency Reports since 2011 and still going strong. VyprVPN recently went through an independent audit by a third-party security firm and published the results. Both of our #1 and #2 VPNs, NordVPN and ExpressVPN, also went through independent audits and passed.
It’s difficult to distinguish which VPN service is good, let alone trustworthy. We can start by reading these audit reports.
The Best VPNs are Reliable
In the privacy industry, trust and reliability are often hard to come by. What indicators other than transparency reports should you look out for?
VPN Business Track Record
GoBestVPN includes a “[Brand] VPN as a Business” section in every VPN review so you can get a sense of how the VPN operates as a business. This section shares bits like the year the business was founded, controversies in the media, acquisitions, history with government inquiries, etc. All these are track records you should be reviewing as a consumer. It will help you determine whether the business itself is reliable.
It’s strange to see numerous VPN review sites rank SurfShark VPN as their top 3 pick. How can they list a brand new VPN provider as a top tier VPN? New VPN services have not proven themselves just yet.
Great Customer Service
We’re huge fans of great customer service. This means fast, accurate, and helpful responses from the customer support team. Of course, we like seeing live chat support but it doesn’t really matter in the end.
You can end up waiting 10+ minutes on a live chat agent who won’t provide any help vs. a 1-minute email response filled with useful information. You decide.
VPN Uptime and Network Ownership
The truth is, VPN services do not own all the servers within their network–they rent them out from resellers. And the server count? It’s heavily inflated by counting VPN instances instead of counting the physical servers.
We can only assume that your data isn’t secure in cases like these.
But the best VPNs actually do own their own servers and data centers with proprietary security. The most secure VPNs own their servers outside of any Alliance jurisdiction. They will route your traffic through these servers specifically so your data stays secure.
Price Stability For Your Money
In 2021, VPN services have been lowering their prices dramatically to compete with one another. You don’t want to pay for a 5-year contract only for the price to drop by 30% in the following week. The best VPNs aren’t affected too much by the market and they usually don’t run crazy promotions.
In case that they do run promotions and discounts, GoBestVPN will be the first to let you know.
The Best VPNs Have a Great Product
Are VPN programs and apps all the same? Absolutely not.
VPN companies offer security and anonymity as a subscription-based service, but they’re also creating a usable product that serves millions around the world.
Here are some examples of outstanding features in a VPN.
Server List Organization
Having an organized server list is one thing, but additional features built on top of it? That takes some thinking and time to develop.
Take CyberGhost’s server list as an example. You get to see how far the servers are away from you, server load in percentages and how many users are active on the said server. Plus you get to favorite specific servers so you can quickly access them in the Favorites tab later.
But even this method isn’t perfect.
We’ve seen VPN clients that show ping as well as built-in speed tests like what SlickVPN has done. It’s surprising that other VPNs don’t have this kind of feature.
Profiles for Different Uses
Setting up profiles is one of the best rare features you can take advantage of. In the most barebones case, you can simply favorite a server like in the example above.
In the best case? You can have custom profiles set up for different uses.
ProtonVPN allows you to do exactly that. You can name the profile, pick the default server for that profile as well as the protocol. This makes perfect sense too—you wouldn’t use your Netflix server and protocol to browse the Dark Net and vice versa.
It makes us wonder why other top VPN brands don’t build this feature into their product.
Do the Best VPNs Have the Best Design?
Design preference is purely subjective. What do we mean by that? The color, shapes, etc. are not product features. If a VPN client uses the color blue and you only like the color red, it doesn’t mean the VPN with a blue color palette is worse than a VPN that has a red color palette. It also doesn’t make a VPN with red bits the best VPN either, no matter how much you love the color red.
At the same time, we also keep track of the latest design trends. We won’t compliment a VPN client that looks like it’s from the early 2000s; outdated design often hints at a bad VPN service and overall experience.
We most likely won’t count the design towards the final conclusion unless it’s exceptional or awful but we’ll definitely share our thoughts on design.
Popular VPN Questions
What is a VPN and why should I use one?
You probably already did your research but here’s a brief in case you didn’t get the note.
A VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network” – it’s usually a paid subscription like using your Internet. A VPN service acts as a gateway between you and the Internet, securing your identity and browsing history.
If you care at all about your privacy or anonymity, then a VPN is the go-to tool in the arsenal.
You may have different reasons for wanting privacy and anonymity. It could be that you’re a believer in the fundamental rights, or another reason could be that you’re trying to protect your illicit online activities such as piracy.
Whatever the reason is, a VPN is your defense.
How do I choose a VPN?
We briefly went over some basic use-cases of a VPN. Here are our essential tips on choosing the right VPN for you. Before we get started, make sure you prioritize your needs. It usually comes down to entertainment vs. privacy. Some of the best VPNs do both, but it’s a rare occurrence. If you don’t want a premium VPN then you won’t get the best of both worlds.
In the case of entertainment, you can choose to go for a VPN that advertises Netflix unblocks like NordVPN and Windscribe VPN. There are VPN services that work with other services like HBO, Amazon, BBC iPlayer, etc but it’s always a gamble.
Privacy is a bigger issue since there are other considerations to review. What is the business track record? What is their logging policy (and has it been tested)? Have they been audited? You want a business that has been tested (ie – don’t believe in reviews that rank new VPNs as the best; SurfShark, for instance, looks good on paper but is too new to be listed in any top 10 VPN lists.
Global presence is something to keep in mind if you’re traveling a lot or if you live in a less populated country. The best VPNs have around 60+ countries in their network so you’ll be served with localized content.
If all the essential features are ticking the right boxes, then you can look into the VPN clients. Each VPN service offers a different client; some offer native apps for all platforms while others… don’t offer even the most basics. It’s important that you won’t have to troubleshoot things yourself with configuration files and such if you are new to VPNs.
Lastly, take a look at how the VPNs restrict you. Usually your subscription only covers around 5 devices. This means you can only use the VPN on 5 different devices simultaneously. Luckily, most of the best VPNs can be configured on the router, so any and all devices connected to your network will be protected.
Have you narrowed your choice down? Great. The best VPNs offer a money-back guarantee, or a free trial, or a freemium service. You now just have to choose one and go with it. Luckily, there’s no risk with these VPNs even if you have to pay first and request a refund later if you’re unsatisfied for any reason. We’ve tested the refund system ourselves, so we know you’ll get your money back 100% (provided you’re not abusing the system).
How much does a VPN cost?
A short answer to this question is, “anywhere from $1 per month to $10.”
Our findings reveal the optimal range for a VPN subscription per month is somewhere around $3 to $7, or about $5 on average.
A VPN subscription will cost significantly more if you opt-in to pay on a month-to-month recurring subscription. Many, if not all, VPN services offer a flexible pricing plan for you to pay for a long-term contract; anywhere from 1 to 3 years.
For instance, our #2 rated VPN, ExpressVPN, costs $12.95 on a month-to-month subscription basis. But if you sign up for a 1-year contract, you only have to pay $99.95, and you’ll also receive 3 months on top.
The cost savings are nearly 50% at $6.67 per month.
So, if you’re worried about cost, get a long-term subscription with a reliable brand that has a track record.
Can a VPN unblock websites and let me watch Netflix?
Another short answer: “YES.”
Of course, a VPN can unblock websites and enable streaming services such as Netflix.
So the question is not about “whether they can,” but rather, “which one?”
Most of the VPNs on our list provide US Netflix streaming options – sometimes even a dedicated streaming server.
As you may have heard, Netflix is hunting down VPNs and blocking their IPs. So if you’ve paid for a year’s worth of VPN and all their IPs are banned from Netflix, you’re out of options.
In the cases of the top-tier VPNs, they will constantly update their server IPs to always allow Netflix streams for their customers. Even if some of their IPs are detected by streaming services, they will replace them with working ones in no time. At least that’s how NordVPN is keeping up and even offering Netflix in five countries.
Can I torrent with a VPN?
VPNs usually have three policies for torrenting.
- Completely allowed – VPN services will outright say you are allowed to stream or download anything from anywhere.
- Completely disallowed – VPN services will outright say you are not allowed to stream or download illegally.
- No mention/no policy – VPN services not mentioning a torrenting policy is their way of saying, “stream or download, but at your own risk (since we may not be able to protect you)”.
Please keep your safety in mind and read their policies, or read our reviews to get a quick snippet of their policies in case all the legal wording is too much.
Will a VPN affect my Internet speed?
Generally speaking, a VPN will reduce your current speeds by 20-30%. The reason is that when you use a VPN you are routing your connection around in your VPN provider’s network.
This usually causes delays in sending and receiving data packets and is especially noticeable while gaming.
Keeping a VPN turned on for everyday use should not affect your Internet browsing and streaming experience, but keep in mind that it will most likely affect your gaming experience.
For instance, when we conduct speed tests, we test different regions.
Here’s one of three tables we publish in our reviews:
NordVPN North America Speed Test
(to NA Server)
(to EU Server)
|13 ms (+8 ms)||Ping
|95 ms (+5 ms)|
(-22.2 Mbps, -23%)
(-5.3 Mbps, -6%)
(-3.1 Mbps, -3%)
(-7.7 Mbps, -14%)
Can I use a VPN on my router and other devices?
A VPN can be installed on various devices from your router, gaming console, smart TV, Raspberry Pi, Chromecasts and even a Kindle Fire.
One advantage of enabling a VPN on your router is that your entire WiFi network is then protected by the VPN. So all devices connected in your network will use the service. In case your subscription limits you to a few devices, this is a great way to go around that issue. There are online services that sell routers which are pre-flashed, or already set up and good-to-go with the VPN of your choice.
For casual users, there are even browser extensions. A simple one-click solution built into the browser – it can’t get any simpler.
Are VPNs legal?
In freer countries, yes. That accounts for around 97% of the countries around the world.
However, the remaining 3% remain either:
- Outright ban VPNs
- Only allow government-approved VPNs (which keep your data and share with the government).
Both options are not ideal, especially if you break these laws you may face files and jail time.
The remaining 3% are:
There are still “technically illegal” aspects of using a VPN. For instance, it is completely legal to use a VPN in the United Arab Emirates, but illegal to use it to bypass geo-restrictions or to hide your identity (which defeats the purpose of using a VPN).
Are VPNs safe?
The main point of using a VPN is to keep yourself safe. So, are VPNs safe to use, and will they protect your identity and browsing history?
It depends. The factors that keep you “safe” are the following:
- Is the connection encrypted?
- Does it leak your IP and DNS?
- Does the company fall under any surveillance alliance jurisdiction?
- Is the company trustworthy?
If the connection is encrypted, at least there is virtually no way of brute-forcing and decrypting the information. Some VPN services can leak your IP and DNS, revealing your true identity.
The VPN service may fall under a surveillance-heavy jurisdiction where they have to retain customer data and send them to the government.
The company itself is a huge factor. Are they transparent? Have they been involved in any lawsuits? How long have they been operating? How many customers do they have?
All these points are covered in our analysis because that’s how we keep you safe.
Do VPNs keep logs?
Logs are crucial in retaining your anonymity and protecting your identity.
Let’s accept the fact that there is no such thing as zero log. Logging policies can seem legitimate but in most cases, VPNs do log things. It matters what they log and for how long.
Some VPNs keep logs of your IP address, connection date and time, bandwidth used, and more.
If all this information is recorded and you were involved in a lawsuit of some kind, the government would have the right to request this information form the VPN services (provided they are in one of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances).
It’s extremely important that you sign up for a VPN with a no-log policy that is enforced – for instance, PIA is one that has proven in the US court that they retain no logs.
Log policies are especially important to activists, privacy advocates and those who practice not-so-legal things online. Make sure to keep an eye out for no “activity” logs.
Are free VPNs reliable?
Not at all. Completely free VPNs are unreliable in general.
They either do not work and/or install malware on your computer. Let’s not get into them selling your data to third parties.
Free VPNs are free of monetary costs, but remember, nothing in life is free.
You are paying for the subscription with your identity. You become the product that they sell to shady companies. You will have software that is listening in on your activities at all times.
How do you conduct VPN reviews?
We can proudly say that our VPN review process is the most extensive industry, by far.
We use a 17-step review process that ensures we stay transparent while providing accurate and unbiased reviews.
Some of the most notable things from the process:
- We pay out-of-pocket and subscribe to VPN services. We do this initially to test the entire signup process as well as the refund system.
- We test speeds, security, and privacy (IP and DNS leaks, jurisdiction, business info, and policies).
- We test for streaming and torrenting services.
- We challenge the customer support team by asking questions, measuring responses and using the refund systems.
- We compare the cost and value of the VPN services.
- We listen to you, the readers.
Our full review process can be read here.
What’s the best VPN? What to look for in 2021?
VPN services have pretty much figured out the needs of their users. It will be a tough competition to see which one can come out on top based on how they deal with improving their product.
The best VPNs in 2021 will have all the requirements on lock-down. On top of that, they will expand their device compatibility range, offering a smooth and seamless VPN ecosystem. We should also consider more security features such as multi-hop routing, better integration with TOR or possibly an entirely new security feature no one has thought of.
Of course, let’s not forget about streaming, geo-restrictions and censorship issues – these are ongoing issues that the top VPNs are already dealing with.
Perhaps it all comes down to the user experience. Or having a more transparency policy. If these companies provide a working product that fills the entertainment and security needs of consumers…
…All while providing a smooth experience? Then we have our list.