There are hundreds of VPNs out there, some good, some bad. One thing’s for sure, you certainly don’t want to end up using an unsafe VPN that puts your security and privacy at risk.
Don’t worry though, because we’ve tested 100 VPN services extensively to answer the ultimate question: what is the best VPN for 2019?
The five VPN services we recommend below are the best VPNs we’ve seen. These trusted VPN providers are fast, protect your online privacy, keep you safe, and unblock your favorite websites and apps from anywhere in the world.
Want to unlock Netflix’s full video library? Torrent safely and privately? Use public WiFi securely? Bypass aggressive online censorship? These VPN services will do all of that, and more.
And if you think it’s hard to install a VPN, think again. These five VPNs all have apps for your favorite devices that you can easily download and install in a matter of minutes. You can even set up any of these VPNs on your router, to protect all of your internet traffic at home.
Sounds great, right?
Keep reading for our honest review of each of these VPN services, where we look at their pros and cons, how much they cost, and how to get them.
Here’s a sneak peek at the top three:
Here are the Most Important Factors When We Review a VPN
- Download (and upload) speeds
- Privacy and security features
- Jurisdiction and logging policies
- Netflix and torrenting availability
- Ease-of-use and customer support
- How much they cost
Wondering why you should trust our reviews? Take a look at How We Test VPNs
See More Information on the 5 Best VPN Services
What are the Benefits of Using a VPN?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a clever piece of software that everyone should use. These main benefits of using a VPN:
1Keep your online activity private from your ISP, the government and snoopers
By using a VPN you can stop your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from tracking you and possibly selling your data to advertisers and third-parties without your knowledge.
In the US, ISPs are legally allowed to sell your sensitive personal data to advertisers without your explicit consent.
Many unsuspecting nations have some of the most aggressive surveillance laws in the world, and they force ISPs to track and store customers’ online activity and hand it over if asked to.
The only way to prevent this is by using a VPN. When you connect to a VPN server, your internet provider is unable to see beyond that server and therefore can’t track what you do online.
2Bypass online geo-restrictions
Not all websites and apps are accessible from where you are, and that applies to ALL countries.
When you connect to a VPN, your real IP address is replaced with the IP address of the VPN server you chose. If the VPN does its job correctly, the website that you visit will think you’re just another visitor from that same country and you’ll be able view the geo-blocked content.
The VPN providers we recommend on this page have many servers spread around the world, so you can appear to be in any location you choose at the click/tap of a button.
3Protect yourself from hackers on public WiFi
Public WiFi networks are dangerous because they’re highly vulnerable to hackers trying to steal your personal information. Free WiFi in restaurants, coffee shops, department stores and on public transport are all very risky.
A VPN encrypts your network connection and makes it near impossible for anyone to intercept your sensitive data. If you’re connected to a VPN, it’s much harder for a hacker to carry out a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack on your device.
4Beat censorship by the government, your ISP, your workplace or school
Online censorship is worryingly on the rise around the world. It works by the owner of the network blocking access to specific websites and apps.
This can be at the very top level by governments forcing ISPs to block websites and apps – like in China – but it can also happen in schools or workplaces.
A VPN is a very effective way around these blocks, as your VPN connection is ‘carrying’ you to the censored website as opposed to your internet provider.
Are VPNs Legal?
Yes, VPNs are almost certainly legal where you live.
So long as you aren’t using a VPN to break the law then there should be no problem with you downloading and using a VPN.
If you live in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, the EU, South America or Africa then you can freely use a VPN.
Outside of those regions, though, there are a few exceptions where VPNs may be banned or otherwise restricted. You can find out exactly where VPNs are with our guide to VPNs and the law.
Does a VPN Really Protect You?
Yes: a VPN really will protect you and keep you safe online. Good VPNs help guard you against man-in-the-middle attacks, eavesdroppers, and hide your IP address and browsing history from your ISP.
There are some threats that you will need a different set of tools for, though. Some VPN services come with the ability to block pop-ups, but you’ll want to install your own ad-block extension to help with that.
VPNs are not antivirus software, although some VPNs do provide some real-time malware protection. While a VPN may help prevent harmful or malicious software reaching your computer in some circumstances, you should always use dedicated antivirus software.
Can You Trust Your VPN Service?
Whether or not you can trust your VPN service depends very much on just what your VPN service is.
A good VPN service retains no logs, properly encrypts your traffic, refuses to hand over user data to those it doesn’t belong to, and is based in a secure and safe jurisdiction.
A bad VPN collects extensive users logs, mines and sells data, manipulates your traffic, and can even share your browsing data with governments and third parties.
Rest assured that you can really trust the five VPN services we picked as the best for 2019.
Can You Be Tracked if You Use a VPN?
A VPN does not make you 100% untraceable – it’s important to bear that in mind and set your expectations accordingly before downloading one.
If someone, be they a hacker or government, want to track you down online then they will be able to.
However, tracking someone who uses a VPN is significantly more difficult than tracking someone who doesn’t.
A proper VPN service will swap your IP address and DNS servers for one of its own, encrypt your traffic thoroughly, and then delete any connection and browsing logs that you leave behind so as to secure your anonymity.
The rule when using a VPN is simple: don’t do anything when connected to a VPN that you wouldn’t do without one.
How We Chose the Best VPN of 2019
We are constantly testing every VPN service on our website to make sure our VPN reviews and recommendations are up-to-date and trustworthy.
We regularly run speed tests to give you the latest VPN speeds (download and upload) and ping times.
We test VPN if and how well VPNs unlock Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other major streaming services, and whether the VPN provider allows torrenting.
We investigate where VPN prodivers are really based, and we put their VPN privacy features and logging policies under the microscope, to make sure that your privacy and security is never jeopardized.
We check that the VPN apps are quick to install, easy to use, and working with all popular devices and operating systems. We also try out every feature of every VPN app.
We even test a VPN provider’s customer support by reaching out to them with real questions and queries, and you’ll often see their answers in our reviews.
Finally, we see how much a VPN service costs, if it’s good value for money and whether there are coupons for you to use to bring the price down further.
Which VPN is the Safest & Most Secure?
All of the VPN services listed on this page are extremely secure and will keep you safe and private online.
Any VPN that we recommend will have the most advanced encryption technologies and security features in place – you can learn more about these features in our in-depth guide to VPN encryption.
What is the Easiest VPN to Use?
When we test a VPN service, we really download, set up and use it. We test every VPN app on every platform offered to make sure it’s as easy as possible to use.
Whether you’re a VPN beginner or a tech expert, our best VPN recommendations are intuitive and quick to set up, with lots of advanced features that are clearly labelled, and in-depth online support.
What is the Best VPN for Streaming (and Netflix)?
Streaming (Netflix in particular) is one of the most popular uses for a VPN – if that’s something you want to do, then it’s important you pick the right VPN service.
See the best VPN services for streaming, and our recommendations specifically for Netflix and BBC iPlayer. The VPNs we recommend are guaranteed to work consistently, giving you fast and unrestricted access to your favorite streaming services.
The best VPNs for streaming unlock video services in popular locations like the US and the UK, often providing servers specifically dedicated to beating blocks and delivering smooth, buffer-free playback.
What Is the Best VPN for Torrenting?
When it comes to torrenting, there are two necessities: speed and privacy.
A good VPN will make your torrenting much more private, with very minimal impact on your download speeds.
If you’re a keen torrenter then take a look at our best (safest) VPN services for torrenting. Our top five VPNs all provide uncapped P2P traffic and speeds free from throttling.
Some of these VPN services even have servers designed just for torrenting.
What Is the Fastest VPN?
A VPN won’t make your internet connection faster, and a VPN won’t make a weak internet connection stronger.
In fact, a VPN will actually make your internet connection slower – which is what makes picking the right one so important.
We sit down with every VPN we review and manually test it for speed on a number of its most popular servers around the world, so that you know what you’re getting before you buy.
If you want extra security without sacrificing your download and upload speeds, then you might want to take a look at the current fastest VPN services.
Free VPN vs Paid VPN: Are Free VPNs Safe?
Often when you have the choice between a free product and a paid product, the free one will be worse. Unfortunately, this is absolutely the case with VPNs.
Most free VPN services have tiny bandwidth allowances, limited server locations, are riddled with ads and even cap your speed as they want you to upgrade to their the full (paid) product.
And unfortunately it doesn’t end there…
Some free VPNs pose serious risks to whoever uses them. When we recently examined the 150 most popular free Android VPN apps we found that over 85% were potentially unsafe!
We 100% recommend that you use a paid VPN, if you can afford the small monthly fee of course.
Are there any good free VPNs out there, though? There is, and we’ve found five safe free VPN services that could be what you’re looking for.
How to Choose the Best VPN : 8 Tips
The closer the VPN server to your real-world physical location the better the performance. More servers will generally mean less congestion and improved speeds. Look for the speed test results in our reviews to get the best idea. Watch out, though – free plans almost always limit the number of available server locations. The very best premium providers will have options on every continent.
Almost all VPN software will work on Microsoft Windows, MacOS and Linux machines, along with iOS and Android mobile devices. However, some are also compatible with other connected devices, like routers, games consoles and streaming devices. If, for example, you game on an Xbox One or watch TV on an Amazon Fire TV Stick then you’ll definitely want to look out for a VPN that can protect them, too.
Just covering your smartphone or desktop computer can sometimes be enough, but do you want to protect every device on your network? Look for a VPN that allows as many connections as you are likely to use at any one time. A cheap VPN can become poor value very quickly if it turns out it will only protect one device. The very best options will allow upwards of 10 simultaneous connections, with some not even limiting it at all.
Do you watch Netflix or BBC iPlayer? Not every VPN will work with these apps. We continuously test whether each VPN is working with Netflix and other apps and share the results in our VPN reviews.
The sheer amount of VPN jargon can be overwhelming, even if you are pretty tech-savvy. Do look out for OpenVPN though, as this connection protocol offers the best overall blend of speed and security. Ignore talk of military or bank-grade encryption and just look for AES-256, as that’s the gold standard. Unless you know your DNS from your IPv6, a VPN killswitch is the main thing to look out for among security features as it will protect you from exposing your real IP address should your connection drop unexpectedly.
Every VPN will tell you it is doesn’t track your internet activity, often throwing around the term ‘zero logs’ when describing itself.
In reality, delivering high performance across an extensive global network is all but impossible unless at least some user connection details are being monitored. You could waste hours reading through reams of privacy policies and terms of service to find out exactly what’s collected and for how long it’s stored – or you could let us do the boring stuff for you.
Just check the logging policy section of our review to have it all explained in plain language. You should aim for a VPN that does not log your IP address at all and limits timestamp logging to just the date of your connection.
No-one likes a clunky, confusing app. Look for a VPN with software that’s well-designed you’ll be much more likely to use it all the time. We share the results of our hands-on testing of each VPN app in the the Ease of Use part of its review. We spend all day testing VPN apps, so we know just how good (and bad) they can be.
Even the most expensive VPN plans can be made affordable by taking out a longer subscription.
Don’t bother with a one-month plan – 12-month plans typically offer the best value and you can reduce the risk of buyer’s remorse by choosing one with a long refund period.
We’d advise a 30-day no-questions-asked guarantee – they essentially act as a free trial period.
Make the right choice, though, and you hopefully won’t be thinking about a refund at all.