What are the best VPNs of 2018?
There are a few hundred VPN providers (that we know of) operating on a global scale.
All VPNs share some common features and give the same promises… but how can we differentiate them all?
How do we know which VPN is suitable for our needs?
We’ve researched into user needs and we can pinpoint the most common use-cases for VPNs:
- Netflix – essentially those outside of the U.S. want to unlock all the content.
- Torrenting/P2P – hiding behind a VPN to avoid DMCA warnings.
- Privacy – operating behind a VPN and other complimenting products like TOR to completely become anonymous, and hide any online activities from anyone.
- Censorship – escaping government restrictions and empowering freedom of speech.
In addition, there are more factors to include such as ping, connection speed, product usability, security features, logging policies, support options, price, and more.
Best VPNs for Privacy, Security, and Anonymity (2018)
With these points 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 more.
Let’s get down to the best VPNs.
#1 ExpressVPN – Best “Go-To” VPN ($6.67 per month)
Rated #1 in our VPN recommendations – features, security, customer service
It’s no surprise that ExpressVPN is mentioned first in our best VPNs list.
ExpressVPN takes the title on most VPN reviews, and for good reason – it simply performs the best.
The website is easy to navigate around in. The product works out of the box and is extremely simple to use. For the 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-logging policy on top of their top-tier security features. On top of all these, the company is based in the British Virgin Islands – safe from any prying government eyes (5, 9, 14 Eye Alliances). 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 also 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; people might complain about the pricing but this is such a low entry barrier that anyone even slightly considering a VPN should take action.
ExpressVPN is simply incredible and we recommend it to our readers as the best “go-to” VPN.
In fact, we’re keeping our subscription.
+ 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 (but currently offering a 49% discount).
#2 NordVPN – Best “No-Brainer” VPN ($3.99 per month – CHEAP)
Rated #2 in our VPN recommendations – top-tier product and support
NordVPN operates with Nordic work ethics – they strive for the highest form of excellence.
But at what cost? $3.99 per month? You read that right, it’s our recommendation for the best cheap VPN.
With an extremely high server count and fast speeds, you can’t go wrong with NordVPN.
They also take some extra security measures – you connect to “Double VPN”, meaning you are encrypting your connection twice over. Your ISP and the government will not be able to track the websites you visit. That’s what we call a secure VPN.
On top of that, they offer TOR integration, namely “Onion Over VPN”.
If you’re doing some illicit activities, this could be your first choice.
The cherry on top? NordVPN is based in Panama, also away from the eyes.
For any of our readers out there who want a working VPN for Netflix, torrenting and for privacy, NordVPN is a great choice.
+ Top-tier security features.
+ Fast download speeds.
+ Lots of servers unblock Netflix.
+ Extremely cheap 2-year contract.
– High month-to-month subscription (offset by an affordable $3.99/month deal).
#3 Ivacy VPN – Best “Too Good To Be True?” VPN ($1.40 per month)
Rated #3 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 $1.40 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 the best in the industry.
Ivacy also provides live chat support! And it’s responsive! How they can support live chat at this price 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 under.
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).
#4 Trust.Zone – The VPN You Can Trust ($3.33 per month)
Rated #4 in our VPN recommendations – Discounted with Bitcoin
Trust.Zone makes our top VPN list with its affordable pricing albeit has a not-so-high server count. 127 servers in 80 countries, actually.
You shouldn’t judge a VPN by its server count and this is especially true for Trust.Zone. What they lack in quantity is quality.
Almost everything they offer is exactly how a good VPN should be. Being based in Seychelles with a no-log policy, their company foundation is as privacy-driven as the premium VPNs like ExpressVPN and NordVPN who are ranked 1st and 2nd on our list respectively.
They absolutely allow torrenting as they openly claim they do not throttle your traffic. Of course, it doesn’t stop there. You can Netflix all you want, provided you’re outside of the U.S.
If you wish to watch content outside of the U.S., Trust.Zone is probably not what you’re looking for.
All that torrenting and Netflix potential… can their servers keep up? We can say this with confidence: their server speed more than makes up for the lack of diversity in servers.
Trust.Zone offers a native Windows client only. iOS, Android, macOS and Linux users can also find guides on using Trust.Zone on their website. In other words, it works on most devices.
Not everything is as great as our first two recommendations, though. Trust.Zone’s support is lacking; customer support is only available through tickets and only during their operating hours during Monday through Friday, 6 am to 4 pm GMT+0.
Lastly, they also provide a 10% discount for those who wish to pay with Bitcoin.
Trust.Zone VPN Pros:
+ Does not keep logs.
+ Torrenting and P2P file sharing are allowed.
+ Extremely budget-friendly price.
+ US Netflix access.
+ Discount with Bitcoin.
Trust.Zone VPN Cons:
– Ticket based support only (M-F 6 am to 4 pm GMT+0).
– Limited device support.
#5 Private Internet Access VPN – Proven No Log VPN ($2.91 per month)
Rated #5 in our VPN recommendations – Proved they kept no logs in court
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN is a company in the United States of America. Yes, they fall under the Five Eyes jurisdiction.
But for some, this is all negated by the fact that they proved their zero log policy in court. TWICE.
This key detail is the driving force behind the world acclaimed PIA VPN. Other VPNs never got the chance to prove themselves while PIA has been thriving under good publicity.
With that out of the way, we can discuss some features. Strong security with zero leaks of any kind, decent speeds, and a fantastic infrastructure to support streaming Netflix inside and outside of the U.S.
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. Customers can reach them through tickets only; 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).
#6 Mullvad VPN – Best “Anonymous Signup” VPN ($5.80 per month)
Rated #6 out of all VPNs – Completely anonymous
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 in usernames or passwords – you simply use your account code.
Mullvad also operates with a zero-log policy but operates in Sweden who is a 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.
+ Super simple and secure anonymous signup process.
+ No IP or DNS leakage.
+ Extremely fast.
– Customer support is lacking.
#7 Windscribe VPN – The “Oddball” VPN ($3.70 per month)
Rated #7 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. This might raise some flags but Windscribe likes to keep it simple – free users get minimum access to the VPN while premium subscribers get full access including torrenting and Netflix. For Netflix, you can only unblock U.S. Netflix with their “Windflix” option.
Windscribe also allows free users to earn credits. How? By using the users’ browsers to mine for 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 U.S. according to Alexa.
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.
#8 ibVPN – The Invisible VPN ($2.42 per month)
Rated #8 out of all VPNs – Transparent company and team
Hailing from Romania (that’s in Europe for those geographically-challenged), Invisible Browsing VPN (ibVPN) has been in the game since 2010. Since they are located in Romania, they are outside of any Eyes jurisdiction and does not keep user activity logs (but do keep minimal logs to detect free trial abusers).
The VPN package we reviewed was the “Ultimate” package which averages out to $2.42 per month. With this package, you have some access to Netflix although you may bump into the dreaded “black screen” sometimes. Torrenting is also available with this package, and with SOCKS5 proxies for faster speeds.
ibVPN is a VPN provider that knows their customers – people who want privacy. That’s why they accept cryptocurrencies from Bitcoin to Dogecoin. The VPN service comes with a 15-day money back guarantee for those who simply want to dip their toes in.
Some additional key points to go over are the wide range of devices that are compatible with ibVPN, human-operated live chat support, great security with TOR integration and a kill switch, and no leaks! If you want the basic plan with no Netflix or torrenting, you can just take $1 off per month. We believe it’s worth to pay the extra dollar.
+ Lots of security features.
+ Netflix works sometimes.
– UI feels dated.
– No PayPal.
#9 CyberGhost VPN – Well Polished VPN ($2.75 per month)
Rated #9 out of all VPNs – Huge brand with 20 million users
Where to start? CyberGhost VPN features a super slick and clean product – it’s easy to use and easy on the eyes.
Like ibVPN, CyberGhost hails from Romania – outside of government surveillance.
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 20 million users in just 7 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 Pros:
+ Intuitive menu.
+ Beginner-friendly UI.
+ Works with Netflix.
+ Low-cost VPN.
+ Fast 24/7 support.
CyberGhost VPN Cons:
– 3-year lockup.
#10 hide.me VPN – Decent VPN ($4.99 per month)
Rated #10 out of all VPNs – VPN with great Asian coverage but no Netflix
Hide.me VPN doesn’t offer all the best features but still makes it to our top ten list. It just goes to show how few good VPNs there are in reality.
The price is probably the highest you should pay for a VPN, excluding ExpressVPN (which is a huge exception because they are simply amazing). Hide.me VPN’s interface is just OK, pricing isn’t too attractive but it has the barebones features.
If you’re looking for an all-access Netflix pass… Hide.me VPN doesn’t offer it.
At least they offer the privacy you’re looking for. Based in Malaysia, they are out of Eyes jurisdiction and promises a no-log policy.
The servers are 1-gigabit servers and our tests found them to be extremely capable. We can’t forget about crypto payment options with a 14-day money back policy.
There are even browser plugins for casual users.
All these points are OK on paper, and nothing exceptional.
Sure you can get a decent VPN for about $5 per month, but if you pay a little more, you can get the best. Why settle for less?
hide.me VPN Pros:
+ Great free trial plan.
+ Quality servers.
+ No logging.
hide.me VPN Cons:
– No Netflix.
– Small server count.
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 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 #1 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 U.S. 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 – for instance, PIA is one that has proven in the U.S. court that they retain no logs.
Log policies are especially important to activists, privacy advocates and those who practice not-so-legal things online.
Are free VPNs reliable?
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 others.