Security tools like the best password managers (opens in new tab) and the best VPNs are designed to protect your web browsing, offering layers of privacy and security to prevent prying eyes from spying on you. VPNs do this through a number of means, including routing your traffic through a network of servers and using high-grade encryption algorithms.
But selecting the right VPN for your needs can be confusing. While they aren’t all that difficult to use, there are some technical details you will need to understand to make an informed selection.
Luckily, we’ve done all the hard work for you. We’ve tested countless VPNs, analyzing their useability, security, privacy, and other features so you don’t have to. Can’t find an option you like on the list below? Check out our guides to the best business VPN (opens in new tab), best cheap VPN (opens in new tab), and best free VPN (opens in new tab) to find out more.
The best VPN deals right now
1. ExpressVPN – The best VPN bar none (opens in new tab)
For just about every user, ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) is the best VPN. You'll have stellar security, excellent support, over 3,000 servers to choose from and access to tons of geo-blocked streaming sites. You'll also be covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee, plus ITProPortal readers can claim three months free.
2. NordVPN – Big name offers serious security (opens in new tab)
Hugely popular across the world, NordVPN (opens in new tab) is a real contender for best VPN. With tons of additional security features alongside the basics, it's a great middle ground between the more expensive options and the bargain basement.
3. Surfshark – It may be cheap, but it's the full package (opens in new tab)
If you don't want to spend a fortune on a VPN but still want online anonymity and access to restricted streaming content, Surfshark (opens in new tab) is the perfect choice. While it's not as flexible as more expensive rivals, it's powerful enough for most, and has been very reliable in our testing.
What is the best VPN?
The best VPN on the market in 2022 is ExpressVPN, which is user friendly, offers excellent security and privacy, and enables connections to 94 countries. NordVPN is a close second, with more affordable prices and a similar level of privacy and security.
Surfshark is also a great option with its unlimited device connections, and ProtonVPN offers a highly secure free forever plan. Last, but not least, CyberGhost is known for its excellent VPN features, and its free trial makes it an option worth considering.
How much does a VPN cost?
The price of a VPN subscription can range from free to over $10 per month. Most free programs are quite simple, and you should be careful if you go down this route to ensure you select one with adequate security and privacy features.
Our number-one VPN choice, ExpressVPN, starts at $8.32 per month for a 12-month plan, which is at the expensive end of the spectrum. ProtonVPN, for example, has a neat free plan, and Surfshark starts at just $2.49 per month.
|Lowest price||Platforms Supported||Max Devices||Number of Servers||Countries|
|ExpressVPN||$8.32 per month (annual subscription)||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux||5||3000+||94|
|NordVPN||$3.49 per month (24-month subscription)||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux||6||5300+||60|
|Surfshark||$2.49 per month (24-month subscription)||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux||Unlimited||3200+||65|
|ProtonVPN||Free||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux||10||1500+||63|
|CyberGhost||$2.29 per month (36-month subscription)||Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux||7||7700+||91|
Get 3 months free with an annual plan on our #1 rated VPN (opens in new tab)
ExpressVPN has long been recognised as one of the world's top VPN providers, with fast speeds and solid customer support.
ExpressVPN (opens in new tab) is hands-down the best VPN on the market today. It boasts a large network of more than 3000 servers spread across 94 countries, offering near-global coverage. It’s known for its excellent performance, and it’s available across most desktop and mobile operating systems.
In terms of encryption and privacy, ExpressVPN has long been at the forefront of the industry. The recent release of its open-source Lightway protocol only serves to boost its reputation here, and you can choose between this and better-known protocols such as OpenCPN, IKEv2, and others.
There’s a seven-day free trial available for iOS and Android users, while desktop users will have to settle for the 30-day money-back guarantee to test the platform. Paying monthly will set you back $12.95 per month, although this drops to $8.32 per month with an annual subscription.
ExpressVPN also boasts an excellent user interface that’s both beginner friendly and intuitive. Advanced tools are available at the click of a button, but they aren’t forced onto users who don’t need them. The mobile apps are attractive and highly functional, and the TV extensions are easy to install.
We experienced excellent results unblocking platforms like Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu. Ultimately, if you’re looking for a high-quality VPN,s and you’re happy to pay, you just can’t look past ExpressVPN.
Read our full ExpressVPN review (opens in new tab).
Prices are on the higher end, but signing up for a year-long plan will get you a good discount – and you really do get what you pay for here.
You can choose from these packages:(opens in new tab)
NordVPN (opens in new tab) is an extremely well-known name in the VPN world, and it sits just behind ExpressVPN when it comes to the best all-around options on the market. It has long been known as a leader for unblocking geo-restricted streaming platforms, although we did have a little trouble accessing US Netflix.
Its security features also stand out, and we place them among the best we’ve seen. For example, it uses AES-256 bit encryption as standard, which is virtually impossible to hack. You can also turn on the Double VPN feature, which basically results in your data being encrypted twice.
Other noteworthy features include the advanced kill switch, which can be configured for specific applications or turned on system-wide. The Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are neat, and mobile apps enable you to use NordVPN on Android and iOS devices.
The user interface is slightly confusing and could use some tweaking, but NordVPN remains one of our top choices. And with prices as low as $3.49 per month, it presents excellent value for money.
Read our full NordVPN review (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
If you need a reliable VPN that supports unlimited device connections, it’s hard to look past Surfshark (opens in new tab). It’s also one of the best options for beginners. But it doesn’t compromise security for useability, and it delivers some of the most advanced VPN features we’ve seen.
As with ExpressVPN, the user interface is tidy and intuitive, but advanced features are only a click away. It offers a selection of connection protocols, including OpenVPN, WireGuard, and IKEv2, and the VPN hop feature adds another layer of security.
The main downside to using Surfshark is its sometimes slow speeds, which could become a concern if you’re gaming or streaming high-quality video. The kill switch has some very minor issues, but the fact that we’re even mentioning them speaks volumes about the rest of Surfshark’s service.
Prices start at just $2.49 per month for a 24-month subscription, which is quite competitive. There’s a seven-day free trial for Mac, iOS, and Android users, and those using other platforms will be covered by the 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Surfshark review (opens in new tab).
Until a few years ago, ProtonVPN (opens in new tab) was a relatively unknown name in the tech world. However, it has grown rapidly over the past few years, reaching height after height to earn a place on this list.
One thing ProtonVPN is known for is its excellent network speeds. It offers the WireGuard protocol, aswell as OpenVPN and others. On top of this, ProtonVPN is a great option for unblocking geo-restricted sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
On the downside, ProtonVPNs apps are a little technical. They’re certainly highly functional and still quite easy to use, but there’s no comparison to platforms like Surfshark and ExpressVPN.
ProtonVPN does offer a great free forever plan, making it our number one choice for those on a tight budget. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, but it only covers the unused portion of your subscription. Prices start at just $4 per month for a premium subscription, though, so we’d highly recommend giving it a try.
Read our full ProtonVPN review (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
For IPVanish, its key selling point is the quality of service.
The company claims to offer 'online security made simple', and with more than 40,000 shared IPs, over 1,600 servers spread across 75 countries, unlimited P2P traffic, unlimited connections and no logs, it appear to have a good foothold in the market.
IPVanish used to be on the expensive end of the VPN scale, but recently it's begun an introductory offer that delivers serious savings on your first month or year. Its month-long plan is especially attractive, as most other providers charge three or more times the price for the luxury of flexibility.
IPVanish's apps are very configurable, and display a ton of data to the user. We're not sure if this really is 'online security made simple', but if you like to see what your software is doing you'll be glad to have it. It's also not the most modern when compared to, say ExpressVPN or Surfshark, but it functions very well.(opens in new tab)
Hotspot Shield is another of the market's top offerings, coming with all the necessities at a competitive price, packaged with class-leading speeds. And that's Hotspot's real selling point.
Thanks to its in-house Catapult Hydra protocol, Hotspot Shield can outperform just about any VPN we've tested in terms of sheer speed.
We’d also like to see more freedom for configurations, but with such high speeds and competitive prices, there’s very little room to feel unsatisfied. And, at the end of the day, there is a fully free version so you can test it yourself without cost.(opens in new tab)
CyberGhost VPN (opens in new tab) is an extremely popular program, with millions of users across the world. And it’s easy to see why. It’s available across mobile and desktop operating systems, and there are more than 7000 servers located in 91 different countries.
One thing that stood out about CyberGhost was its excellent customer service. The live chat agent we connected with was responsive and knowledgeable. But on the other hand, the self-help resources could be better.
Like most of the VPNs on this list, CyberGhost is an excellent choice for unblocking geo-restricted platforms, including US Netflix and Disney+. It also boasts excellent connection speeds, placing it among the fastest VPNs we’ve used.
CyberGhost is also one of the more affordable options on this list, with prices starting at just $2.29 per month for a three-year subscription. There’s a short 24-hour trial for desktop users and a 48-hour trial for those on a mobile device, enabling you to test the platform before committing to a subscription.
Read our full CyberGhost review (opens in new tab).(opens in new tab)
Whenever someone mentions TunnelBear, ease of use is the first thing that comes to mind. This Canada-based VPN offers extremely good user experience, but also plenty of clients to choose from on both desktop and mobile platforms.
Its hassle-free approach is clearly visible from the company's website – the language is as simple as it can be. Experts, on the other hand, might not enjoy not being able to get access to all the nuts and bolts of the clients. So if you're a beginner – this one may be for you.
TunnelBear comes with servers in more than 20 countries and offers up to five connections at the same time, which is pretty good, all things considered. It has strong privacy measures and clear policies.
It also performed well in our tests, even though long-distance connections seem to drop in speed.
There is a free plan limiting you to a distinctly ungenerous 500MB per month, but paid plans offer unlimited data and are fairly cheap anyway.(opens in new tab)
This service offers four native clients – one for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. There are also solidly built browser add-ons.
Windscribe's strongest selling point is that it offers unlimited connections with its commercial plans, so it can cover everything, regardless of how many machines you throw at it.
VyprVPN looks to stand out from the crowd with a useful unlimited data usage offering.
The service is also based in Switzerland, meaning it can benefit from the country’s advanced privacy laws. There are more than 70 server locations around the world, and comes with cool features like auto-connect or a kill switch.
Clients are very intuitive, especially the Windows offering, and the service includes VyprDNS and the Chameleon protocol to provide extra security.
Image Credit: Flickr / Mike MacKenzie
Frequently asked questions about VPNs
Want to find out more about VPNs? Our FAQs are a great place to start.
Why do I need a VPN?
VPNs are extremely useful in helping you maintain your privacy when browsing online. They are designed to cloud your identity, making it difficult, or even impossible, for anyone to hack you.
Another popular use for VPNs is to unblock geo-restricted content. For example, let’s say that you live in Europe but want to watch a series that’s only available on the US version of Netflix. The right VPN will enable you to set your “digital location” to the US so that you can access this content.
Should I pay for a VPN?
No, you don’t always have to pay for a VPN. There are numerous free and premium options on the market. However, the free VPNs that are currently available tend to be quite simple, which means that they won’t always be able to do the things you need them to. They often also come with limited bandwidth, making them useless for things like streaming or torrenting.
Are VPNs legal?
In the United States and most other countries in the world, VPNs are perfectly legal and fine to use. However, using a VPN won’t necessarily protect you from the consequences of illegal actions such as torrenting copyright material.
The benefits of VPNs
A VPN will help you secure your internet connection, especially when you’re browsing on public networks. Without a VPN hiding your identity, hackers and other malicious third parties could be tracking and recording your movements while waiting for an opening to get into your computer.
Similarly, VPNs are essential for maintaining a high level of web privacy. Since they effectively hide your identity (including your IP address), they enable you to remain anonymous. This may not seem super important, but remember that every single link you click and action you take online could be tracked if you’re not using a VPN. Do you really want that?
Unblocking geo-restricted content
By setting your VPN to specific countries, you can unblock geo-restricted content that’s not available in your physical location. This can include blocked websites, social media platforms, and different versions of streaming platforms such as Netflix.
How we review VPNs
Our VPN review process starts at the company website, where we browse the available information and collect details about the product and exactly what it claims to bring to the table. Some of the most important things we look for include the number of countries you can connect to, the services supported, the operating systems you can use it with, and any other features that stand out as potentially interesting.
We also pay special attention to the security and level of privacy on offer. The whole point of using a VPN is to protect your browsing habits, so this is important. Things like AES encryption, a kill-switch feature, and zero-logging are all particularly important.
Finally, we download the VPN we’re interested in and test it on a variety of devices. Here, we’re paying particular attention to its functionality. Can it do the things it claims to? Is the connection fast enough for streaming and general use? Are the apps functional and useful?
And of course, we test each platform’s customer service. After all, it’s important to be able to access technical assistance when you need it.
Want to find out more about the VPN services on the market? Try our guides to the best free VPN (opens in new tab), the best cheap VPN (opens in new tab), the best Mac VPN (opens in new tab), and the best business VPN (opens in new tab). You might also like to read about why your business needs a VPN and how a secure VPN can be a key to a successful remote business. (opens in new tab)