Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, are a helpful service that encrypts your online searches, browsing, and all other data and jumbles that information so you can remain totally anonymous on your devices and bypass certain geographic limitations and censorship. Basically if you want privacy and anonymity online, they’re your best bet in achieving it by making you virtually untraceable. Say you’re checking in on your bank account or browsing something of a private nature outside your home, or even just checking sensitive work emails: anyone can spy on you if you’re using public wifi unless you’re subscribed to and using a service such as those listed below.
Many of the options on the market today look similar, and most offer basic services like routing through a long list of locations and countries, the ability to unlock streaming services blocked in your country, and the protection of your IP address and physical location. Other common examples include health conditions you may be researching on your own but don’t want to make public–if ads for treatments of those conditions start appearing in your social media feeds because you looked it up, others who look over your shoulder may be able to pick up on what you’re going through and in essence destroying your privacy. Plus there’s always the risk of hackers stealing your information in a public space, which a VPN will eradicate the chance of should you use it while online.
If those reasons or just the simple comfort of increased privacy appeals to you, keep reading to see a few of the nuances highlighted through each of these VPN providers. Prices listed are for the basic monthly costs, but most offer a discount for a longer commitment that you can find by clicking through and reading further.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn a commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing, expert advice and our own research. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
ExpressVPN promises you can “become anonymous in seconds” with their IP address hiding and network data-encryption tools that can be used on all of your devices to lift censorship, beat content restrictions, and basically turn you into an online ghost. You can choose from 160 locations in 94 countries that hide your true location and if you’re not satisfied, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee included in the deal.
Backed by 15 years of experience, CyberGhost offers up the ability to bypass georestrictions, access to safe peer-to-peer torrenting, unblocks streaming services, and helps with cyber security like other companies offering similar services.
One subscription can cover up to seven devices, and 6300 servers in around 90 countries ensures quick speeds and unlimited bandwidth so you won’t encounter buffering or throttling issues.
Like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost is $12.99 a month, but you can get an incredible deal by buying two years up front for $66 which equals out to a $10+ savings per month.
With an ad blocker included as well as Chrome extensions, top speeds, and around the clock live chat services for customers, NordVPN is a fantastic and highly recommended service.
As quoted on their website, Max Eddy of PC Mag says: “As VPN services go, it's hard to beat NordVPN. It has a large and diverse collection of servers, an excellent collection of advanced features, strong privacy and security practices, and approachable clients for every major platform.”
It’s also slightly cheaper than other options, running $11.99 a month for the regular plan with an option to purchase a three year plan for $125.64 or $3.49 a month with 30 days to change your mind.
Hotspot Shield are so confident in their claims of being the #1 VPN that they offer a 45-day money-back plan that lets you test out the service 50% longer than many other leaders in the industry.
Unlimited streaming and gaming, military-grade encryption for anonymous browsing, and top ranking speed and security makes it a standout service for $12.99 per month or $2.99 per month with a three year purchase.
IP Vanish has 1400 servers in 75 locations to assist your incognito surfing and browsing that also help you navigate straight through censorship filters and surf without leaving a trace.
They, like Nord, offer 24/7 help chat, and “user-friendly apps” are available to download on all your devices with unlimited bandwidth and server switching, 10 simultaneous connections available on various devices, and secure connection in over 50 countries.
Price-wise, this is a better option for those looking for just a quick bout of anonymity, as it’s only $9.99 monthly or you can commit to a full year for only $2.92–clearly the better option.
Private Internet Access
PIA has some big claims at the top of the page, namely in calling themselves the top-rated VPN service in the United States, but their offerings back the lofty self-appointment by providing unbeatable encryption, secure protection on public wifi, and compatibility with all widely used operating systems. Their pricing is fairly standard, starting with the $11.95 a month tier and quickly jumping to $2.69 per month for a two-year contract, but the latter option provides two months free to sweeten the deal.
Surfshark has a handy chart on their homepage to show you what they can offer against other popular services, including US and Japan Netlifx, P2P, and an unlimited number of devices available for each account for the incredibly low price of $1.94 per month billable as a single payment of $69.99 once every 36 months. No monthly price is listed though, so this is for those who are sure they need the VPN for the long haul.