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What is a VPN?
It’s no secret that the best way to keep your internet traffic secure is by using a VPN.
Before deciding which VPN service is right for you, it makes sense to find out what it actually is.
In short, VPN makes it possible to connect computers on the Internet as if they were on the same local network.
On this local network, the computers only communicate with encrypted traffic, which means that your online activity will be protected from other users.
Below is my top list for the most secure and affordable VPN services 2020.
Best VPN 2020
🥇 1. ExpressVPN
30-day money-back guarantee!
ExpressVPN has named itself the #1 VPN in the world and that statement is actually something that they live up to. The 30-day money-back guarantee gives you a great chance to see if ExpressVPN is a good fit for your needs. I strongly recommend to try at least 1 month if you are looking for a versatile service. They support almost every device and operating system available and have 24/7 customer support if you should ever run into problems.
🥈 2. UltraVPN
6 months free!
30-day money-back guarantee!
UltraVPN is a very fast VPN service that has focused on user-friendliness and it’s really noticeable when you use it, both on desktop and the mobile app. UltraVPN is secured with “military-grade encryption” according to their website which actually only tells us that the military uses 256-bit AES-encryption. However, that is currently the most secure commercially viable encryption! With just one UltraVPN subscription, you have access to a VPN on all your devices, super easy to set up!
🥉 3. NordVPN
Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
30-day money-back guarantee!
NordVPN has long been regarded as one of the strongest brands in cybersecurity. With one of the largest server offerings on my list and support for most, if not all operating systems, NordVPN is the obvious choice for many. They have 24/7 customer support if you need help getting started or if need help setting up. Their app is one of the most well-designed apps I have ever looked at and I highly recommend using a VPN on your mobile device. NordVPN accepts all major credit cards and even cryptocurrencies as payment!
30-day money-back guarantee!
Surfshark VPN is perfect for those who want a cheap and reliable VPN that also has many extra features. “Camouflage Mode” hides your usage from your ISP, “Kill Switch” suspends your connection and protects your information if you temporarily lose Internet access, “MultiHop” to connect from multiple countries at the same time just to name a few. My favorite feature of Surfshark is “Whitelists” which allow the user to exclude specific apps and programs from the VPN connection! Extremely useful that not many other services offer.
10 simultaneous devices
31-day money-back guarantee!
PureVPN is at the top of my speed tests, which is a great combination with their easy-to-use UI. PureVPN is perfect for those who want to be able to pay with PayPal which many other services do not support. Right now you can also get a 73% discount on the 2-year plan. But if that is too big of a commitment for you, you have a full 31-day money-back guarantee!
Read our full review of PureVPN
2-10 simultaneous devices
30-day money-back guarantee!
ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland and also offers a free version of their VPN which is currently one of the best free services on the market. There is support for TOR usage and also P2P file sharing so if you are a so-called “pirate” then there is no one better service for you out there. I highly recommend ProtonVPN if you are intending to do some extensive online sharing.
Read our full review of ProtonVPN.
7 simultaneous devices
Dedicated Netflix servers
45-day money-back guarantee!
CyberGhost is the first choice of many technology experts, and the reason is clear; they have the most complete VPN service. An incredible number of extra features that are best suited for the more advanced users but also work flawlessly for purposes like P2P-filesharing. Cyberghost VPN also has the longest money-back guarantee that I have found, which means you have a full 45 days to decide if you want to keep using their service.
8. HideMe VPN
Multiple VPN protocols
30-day money-back guarantee!
Hide.Me was first started in 2012 by, in their own words: a couple of tech geeks who felt stifled by the increasing levels of restrictions, monitoring, and fraud online. Hide.Me also offers a free plan for those who can not afford their service, but still wants to be protected online. The VPN is very easy to understand with its sleek design and its servers are what one should expect from a top 10 VPN-provider – really fast. Since starting out in 2012, Hide.Me has not had any incidents where they have turned in logs to authorities or other 3rd parties, which sadly is starting to become rare for older VPN companies.
3 Netflix libraries
10-day money-back guarantee!
OVPN is an alternative for people who expect heavy security from their VPN provider. No other operator has the same level of physical security that OVPN has. All their servers operate without any type of storing media, which would otherwise log information. One selling point that really stands out, is their insurance. They go out of their way to protect their customers by having insurance so that when some government requests documents, they will have the resources needed to fight the claim in court. This is a highly overlooked concern that smaller VPN-services often don’t realize. With 99,5% uptime and unlimited bandwidth, OVPN is definitely in my Top 10 VPNs.
20% Discount Code: VPNETIC20
Trust.Zone is a rather new player in the VPN-game that offers a minimalistic VPN-option for a competitive price. Based in Seychelles with no-logging policies, this is a great alternative for those that want to remain completely anonymous. You will get a 10% discount if you pay with Bitcoin, which is unlike any other cryptocurrency discount I’ve seen before. Unlimited speed and bandwidth makes this a decent choice of VPN for P2P-sharing, which they do not restrict at all. All common operative systems are supported: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux.
What does a virtual private network do?
A virtual private network creates a private tunnel between two access points in a network.
The tunnel itself encrypts the information and thus protects it from unwanted readers like hackers.
Therefore, it is always a good idea to use VPN if you are using a public network.
How to connect to a VPN?
“How do I get a VPN?”
That is the first question many people ask when they first start reading about how important it is to protect their personal information with a private internet connection.
The answer is simple!
You choose one from my list that suits you, go to their site, and buy a subscription.
A VPN service works just like any other program with the difference that when you open the program and activate the service, there will be a brief interruption in your connection.
Then you are protected!
If you want a more detailed guide on how to set up your VPN then PCmag.com written an easy-to-follow guide.
How does it work?
A virtual private network creates a so-called VPN-tunnel between your computer and the VPN service’s servers.
Your information then needs to be authenticated by the server and is done in one of the following ways:
The VPN Tunnel keeps your information secure using encryption.
What does a VPN protect against?
Virtual private networks are used for a wide variety of purposes. Here is a short list;
- To get around governments’ blockages of certain websites.
- To protect digital data on public and private networks.
- To hide their digital footprint.
- To be able to watch another region’s offerings of streaming such as Netflix, Hulu, etc.
- To be able to see how a website appears when it thinks you’re from a different country.
Why use a VPN?
Why you need to use a virtual private network is highly personal, but many cite their need for privacy as their main reason.
Some do not want to take the risk of hackers coming across their data while browsing dubious websites, while others simply want to be able to watch other regions offerings of Netflix.
VPN pros and cons
Pros of using a VPN
- Increased security.
- Remote access.
- Increased network efficiency.
Cons of using a VPN
Some users may experience temporary connection problems when a server becomes overloaded.
- Monthly cost.
Although the cost is very low, it is seen as a disadvantage for users who do not use it very often.
Free vs Paid VPNs
Many operators will offer free limited trials, and some will claim to be 100% free. But would you ever trust someone with your internet activity, without any incentive for them to keep it private?
They essentially replace the responsibilities of your ISP, who without a VPN can monitor all your online activity.
If you’re not careful with which service you decide to subscribe to, you may end up getting your data sold. There are even instances where companies will have lackluster security and allow their customer’s data to be stolen, which happened very recently with several Hong Kong-based VPN companies.
Every single service in my list will probably fulfill your VPN-purposes but they differ slightly in price, payment methods, and of course, reliability!
What factors to consider when choosing a service
VPNetic ranks my top list depending on several factors. Some of these factors in no particular order are:
- Reliability of the operator.
- Usage of logs. (None are acceptable!)
- User-friendly interfaces.
What you can use a VPN for
Using virtual private networks is very common in countries such as India or the UK as both countries have blocked sites with adult content to some degree.
However, those blocks are not that effective because it is very easy to get around it with the help of a VPN-service.
They are also used to protect people’s data on public networks.
You should generally never connect to a public network without a private connection. On public networks which can be found at libraries and airports, every keystroke is vulnerable to hackers.
Every password and message can be read in clear text if you are not using a virtual private network.
Now, the security of airports’ Wi-Fi is certainly much better than at a library or a regular cafe, so if you just have to check Facebook on your mobile at the airport then there is not a high probability of being hacked.
One VPN provider could be a solid choice in one country, and horrible in another. It can vary heavily by which country you reside in and what purpose you are using it for.
Better safe than sorry though!
VPN for downloading or filesharing
If you decide to download copyrighted material such as movies, music, and games then you should absolutely use something to cover your tracks, unless you don’t care about lawsuits.
If you refrain from using a VPN while sharing copyrighted material then it’s very easy for any government to look for your IP address, connect the digital dots and then give you a hefty fine for copyright infringement.
However, I recommend that you follow the law and abstain from downloading anything that you do not have the permission for. But if you ignore my advice anyway, I hope you choose a VPN from the top list.
Facts about VPN
- VPN uses encrypted and authenticated links to enable the connection between private networks and computers.
- VPN operators found on VPNetic never log any of their customers VPN-usage.
- Using a VPN can increase your internet speed.
- VPN services can sometimes protect you from viruses. (not always!)
- VPN’s are banned in over 30 countries, for example, China, North Korea, and Russia.
- With VPN you can get around barriers that your internet service provider has set, such as a ban on P2P filesharing. (Torrents, magnet links, etc.)
- OpenVPN is the most popular and reliable protocol used today. It is open source and has been released to the public under a GPL license.
- PPTP is the first-ever VPN protocol created and it’s rarely used today due to its relatively low security.
- You can save a lot of money on the monthly price of VPN services if you commit to one year or more instantly. In some cases, you can reduce your cost by up to 70%!
How we test the operators and their software
I am constantly looking for new VPN services to test and review. The newest service I am keeping an eye on is Mozilla’s “Firefox Private Network” which is scheduled to be launched soon.
I have seen a trend of more extra, unnecessary features being thrown in to make their service look better than it actually is. Many of these extra features have no use for the common user.
Some important features that I value greatly are the following;
- The number of simultaneous connections allowed.
- Built-in Adblock / Antimalware software.
- If file sharing is allowed.
- Static/Personal IP addresses.
- The number of servers.
- Average server load.
- The number of server locations.
VPN reviews and VPN comparison
The most honest reviews are the ones that do not adhere to the provider’s prior trust and reputation.
The principles of each operator are not something that is set in stone and can change very quickly and subtly, perhaps during a shift of upper management.
That is why it’s very important to review these operators every single year, in order to bring you the most honest reviews possible.
- SEE ALSO: Best Free VPN
Policy on logs
The cheapest VPNs are not always the best ones. But in the grand scheme of things, a paid service is always more trustworthy than a free one. The absolute top private networks are the ones that do not carry logs over their customer’s activity.
Do you really need VPN Protection?
The protection that a user gets from a VPN is in most cases enough to protect your data. But in other areas of use, you need even more protection. Those users may want to use a virtual operating system, like Tails OS.
Which is the best mobile VPN?
Giving one provider the title of the best mobile VPN is not an easy task. This is because each day there are new apps being added to the app stores. But my pick for the most versatile VPN that has a decent app that also offers several simultaneous connections is ExpressVPN.
VPN deals with VPNetic
Discounts and deals are often time-limited. The campaigns go on for roughly 1-3 months and can make your prices go down substantially. If you want to stay up to date with the most recent campaigns make sure to bookmark this page and to opt-in into VPNetic’s e-mail newsletter.
Can you trust VPN reviews?
It is easy for providers to fake good reviews. Almost as easy as buying Facebook likes. Considering this fact, I also look for bad reviews. They seem more important. They can also be faked, but it is pretty easy to spot a genuine upset user and a generated username and 1-star review.
What is the most secure VPN?
The title for Most secure VPN service changes year to year. Operators change their policies, legislation, and regulation changes, and the title can be claimed by anyone who dares stand up for internet privacy.
One thing is certain though, and that is that a provider who carries logs of user activity will never be deemed “most secure”.
The following services have deemed to be safe for 2020:
- Surfshark VPN
- CyberGhost VPN
Best VPN for multiple devices
If you are busy on multiple devices such as PC, laptop, phone, and possibly an iPad then it makes sense to protect yourself on every single device.
However, some providers do not make this easy. Some of them charge extra for multiple devices.
I find it is the most cost-effective to sign up to a provider when they are offering some kind of deal with multiple devices included.
🔒 What does a VPN do?
- A virtual private network encrypts your data through a VPN-tunnel.
🔒 Is VPN legal?
- VPNs are legal in most of the world with the few exceptions being: Russia, China, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Belarus, Oman and Iran.
🔒 How do I get a VPN?
- You sign up for a free trial and then you have 7-30 days to decide if you want to keep using their service.
🔒 How much does a VPN cost?
- The cost of a VPN varies between 2-10 US dollars per month. With some operators, it can be even lower than that if you subscribe for multiple years at once.
Please note that using a VPN does not protect you completely from hacker attacks because ultimate protection would require you to use a virtual machine. We will write a guide for this later this year so keep an eye out for it in our blog!
SUP46, Start-Up People of Sweden, Regeringsgatan 6th floor, Stockholm
Author Per-Erik Eriksson
Per-Erik-Eriksson is the main author of VPNetic. Everything you read here has been written by him or one of his colleagues. Per-Erik has 10 years of experience within cybersecurity and has previously worked at Microsoft as a software engineer.