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What is a VPN-provider?
It is 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, a 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 current top list for the best VPN services 2020. Please note that this list is ever-changing and can change from year to year as VPN-providers can switch owners, stop maintaining their servers, start logging traffic, and other concerning events.
Top VPN services 2020
What does a VPN actually 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.
What is the best VPN?
A smart way to keep you safe on the internet is through the use of a VPN.
But the question on everyone’s mind is what is the best way to choose a VPN?
To answer this question, there are a few things that you need to consider.
The first and most important is privacy.
Ensure that the company that you choose respects privacy.
One of their policies should be a no-log, which means no tracking of your online activities.
Protocol is another thing; OpenVPNs offer a secure protocol as compared to PPTP.
OpenVPN’s are open source and can be installed on any device, including mobile phones and laptops.
Below are two main factors to consider before getting a VPN.
Cost of the VPN
Cheaper VPNs are very tempting for new users.
After all, everyone wants to spend as little as possible each month.
However, focusing on just the price could lead to mistakes and poor judgment.
Remember, the VPN will have access to private information, and the provider should be reliable and maintain your privacy.
The connection should also be fast with no downtimes.
Considering all these, the best services’ prices range from $9.99 to $12.99 per month, excluding additional costs.
Furthermore, these prices change depending on the type of service being delivered.
Some offer prices as low as $4.99 per month, but for only one device.
The same provider can also charge $12.99 for a month, but ten devices are allowed.
Number of Servers
More important than the actual cost of the VPN is the number of servers.
Typically, the more, the better.
VPNs that run on only a few servers will have slow speeds and, when overwhelmed, fail to provide the intended services.
This happens when many users are connected at the same time.
Not only will connecting to the server be an issue but so will streaming and downloading content from the servers.
When looking for a better service, check for the ones that have many servers.
A minimum of 1000 servers is less likely to run into problems.
Some providers have VIP servers for customers using their highest rates.
These servers have fewer users and are less likely to fail.
What can 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 exceptionally low, it is seen as a disadvantage for users who do not use it very often.
Factors to consider
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 quite 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 quite 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.
Better safe than sorry though!
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.
Best Free VPN
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!
If you are still hesitant about paying for a VPN-service, then there are a few options left for you.
Please refer to my “Free VPN“-article for advice on the best free VPN-service.
Best VPN for torrenting
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.
Best Cheap VPN
The cheapest VPNs are not always the best ones.
But in the grand scheme of things, a paid service will always be more trustworthy than a free one.
So if you’re interested in paying as little as you can for a VPN, you should focus on the price points of the VPNs listed here.
All of them have gone through rigorous tests and are of top-notch quality.
While some are better than the others in terms of extra features, some will have a lower price.
And if that’s the main thing you’re interested in, there is no good reason for you to be paying more than you want.
Purchasing a VPN-subscription can be tricky because you really do not want to be cheap regarding your online privacy.
But I can personally assure you, that all of the services listed in our Top 10 are of the highest quality available.
Best VPN for Mobile
The best VPN for mobile is whichever app that has the least amount of latency/lag and the best user interface.
There are certainly some personal preferences to be had here, but generally, the most popular services will spend more on their apps than other smaller services.
For advice on which VPN is the best mobile, please refer to the top 5 of the list on this page.
Best VPN for Android
It is very unlikely that a VPN-service that is in the top 10 for PC, won’t be in the top 10 for Android.
With that said, there are some operators that spend more time on app UI than others.
I won’t be mentioning any specific names, but if the VPN’s Android or iOS app is awful, they will not be considered for any Top 10 on this site.
We are at a point in technology where we should expect VPN-companies to not skimp on any costs regarding user-friendliness.
Best VPN for Netflix and Streaming
The one single most important factor when choosing a VPN specifically for using while streaming is speed.
Some will argue that it’s more important that you can get around geographic restrictions, I will argue that if your media is constantly buffering, it will not matter anyway.
Netflix and some other streaming-services will sometimes discover that you are using a VPN, and will display an error message like this:
“Whoops, something went wrong. Streaming error. You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.”
This error can easily be circumvented by an IP-refresh feature, that many of the VPNs in my top list have.
The error message just means that Netflix has discovered that you are using a VPN-server and that they are legally obliged to tell you to stop.
Your account will never be banned for using a VPN and while their efforts of blocking VPNs have increased, VPN-companies have stepped up their game as well.
Most notably with making IP-refresh features available for all customers, free of charge.
For a more comprehensive guide to streaming Netflix with a VPN, click here: Best VPN for Netflix
Best VPN for multiple devices
The most versatile VPN will have support for PC, Windows 10, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, and every other OS and browser you can think of.
Technologically, there are no limitations that the company shouldn’t be able to circumvent.
However, some providers do not make this easily available to you.
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, or just making sure that your choice of provider isn’t a predatory one.
Which is the Safest 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
VPN facts and statistics
- 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 to test the operators and their VPN software
No company really expects their customers to actually do it.
That is where VPNetic comes in.
If they pass, I will move on to creating an account.
Just like an ordinary customer, I will visit their website and purchase a subscription.
If there are any problems along the way, I will also make sure to contact customer support to see how helpful they will be.
If no major problem has occurred this far, this is where I will download the application and evaluate the UI.
Most applications will be pretty similar, but I have definitely used lackluster VPN-software many times before.
Now is the time for testing the performance and speed of the VPN-servers.
Usually, I will test them on 6 different servers in 6 different countries.
If they want to pass this test, they need to keep 80% of our baseline speed or more, on 5 or more countries.
Some other important factors that I consider when picking the Top 10 are the following:
- The number of simultaneous connections allowed.
- Built-in Adblock / Antimalware software.
- Static/Personal IP addresses.
- The number of servers.
- Average server load.
- The number of server locations.
How can you trust VPN reviews and VPN comparisons
Most VPN-reviewers are affiliated with the operators and will receive a commission for every sale made through their links.
While that doesn’t have to be a problem, it can become one when rankings are decided based on commission percentages.
The most honest reviews are the ones that do not adhere to the provider’s prior trust and reputation or the amount of commission they will receive.
That is why it’s very important to be critical of affiliate reviewers, and make sure that what you are reading is someone’s honest opinion.
Otherwise, you might as well be reading an advertisement.
Dark web, TOR browser, and Tails OS
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.
That virtual OS is primarily being used when venturing out on the dark web.
In order to fully protect your connection, using just a VPN and TOR might not always be enough.
It is highly advisable that you do proper research before exploring the dark web.
I have written a complete guide to the dark web here: What Is The Dark Web and How To Access It
Best VPN FAQ
🔒 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.
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