It can be tricky to decide which VPN is the best service for you and your needs. We’ve used our considerable experience with these tools to create this list of the best VPN services out there.

UPDATE: 04/19/2024

We’ve reviewed our recommendations and are confident these are still the best VPNs you can subscribe to.

What to Look For in a VPN in 2024

A virtual private network, or VPN, is a service that allows you to connect to the internet through one of its own servers, effectively masking your IP address and adding some anonymity to your browsing. VPNs can serve all kinds of purposes. You can circumvent censorship, access another country’s Netflix library, or simply add an extra layer of security while on the internet.

The best VPNs can do all of the above, but as with any product, some will do better at one job than others. On top of that, there are other things to consider, such as usability, speed, and even the number of servers a VPN service has available to connect to.

Most important, though, is the question of privacy and security. As new VPN providers are springing up right and left, it can be hard to figure out which ones are legitimate services and which were brought into existence purely to steal your data—and there are plenty of untrustworthy VPNs out there.

We’ve reviewed all our picks below, checking what they can and cannot do, poring over their privacy policies with a fine-toothed comb, and doing our due diligence to see if there have been any reports about breaches of trust. These are our top picks!

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ExpressVPN running on a desktop computer.
Justin Duino / How-To Geek



✓ Fast

✗ Expensive

✓ Easy to use for everyone

✓ Cracks Netflix’s VPN blocks

ExpressVPN is our pick for the best VPN overall, offering everything you might need from a VPN and then some. It’s fast—as in, the service will only slow you down slightly—and easy to use. ExpressVPN’s interface is pretty much one big button to switch it on and off, with one other button to access the server menu. Simple, easy, and effective.

Of course, ExpressVPN also does everything you need a VPN to do. It easily gets past the Netflix VPN block, as well as Amazon Prime and Hulu’s geoblockers. Thanks to advanced encryption, it’s also highly secure, meaning it’s a great option for circumventing Chinese censorship.

However, you need to pay. The only downside is that it’s one of the priciest VPNs on the market, costing $8.32 a month. It’s a steep price, but ExpressVPN is worth it, especially with the ability to connect up to five devices simultaneously. It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee to try it out at your leisure.

ExpressVPN is the go-to VPN for many of the How-To Geek team, and we’ve never had a problem with it over the years. You can also check out our review of ExpressVPN to get a feel of what you’re paying for:

ExpressVPN gets a lot right with its reassuring no-logs policy, a remote base of operations, solid apps for both desktop and mobile, and performance that (in our testing) meets expectations.

ExpressVPN is just awesome. It’s fast, user-friendly, secure, has a VPN kill switch, and streams everything.

expressvpn logo


Best Overall VPN

ExpressVPN is fast, easy to use, and will let you browse as if you’re in the US or the UK.

PIA banner with devices
Private Internet Access



✓ A great deal

✗ Streaming servers can take speed hits during prime time

✓ Fast

✗ Not ideal for torrenting

If you want a VPN but don’t want to pay top dollar for it, Private Internet Access—better known as PIA—is a good choice. As of April 2024, you can get two years for just $1.98 a month for three years and four months, making this VPN a stellar value. PIA sometimes runs other promotions, too.

But that said, other VPN services offer some great sales. What sets PIA apart is that a deal stays a deal. Most other providers will offer a great deal, but you have to pay the “real” price upon renewal. PIA confirmed in an email that, if you sign up, you’ll pay the same price again upon renewal.

Price aside, PIA is a great VPN in general. With access to servers in 84 countries, you can bypass Netflix and other sites’ geoblocking to access region-locked content. PIA notes that it has servers in every US state, too. PIA also has great speeds—for more details, you can check out the speed comparisons in our PIA review:

Besides price, the other thing that has made Private Internet Access stand out over the years are its speeds: they’re usually pretty good. When I tested this time around—using
—I wasn’t disappointed, though there seem to be some issues with server load on the streaming servers.

PIA even has some servers optimized for streaming, although this is a double-edged sword. During prime times, our testing showed that these streaming services would take a speed hit, presumably from the heavy load of everyone trying to connect simultaneously.

This VPN has the features you expect, including modern protocols like OpenVPN and WireGuard, a kill switch, and a no-log policy. However, there are a few catches. For example, unlike some other VPNs, you can’t sign up anonymously. It’s also headquartered in the USA, and we recommend against torrenting using US-based VPNs. Overall, PIA is a really solid VPN and a great value.

Private Internet Access

Best Budget VPN

Best VPN for Windows: NordVPN

Person using NordVPN on laptop



✓ Easy to use

✗ Fluctuating speeds

✓ Great Windows app

✗ High renewal price

In a way, picking the best VPN for Windows is like picking the most user-friendly VPN. The operating system is so ubiquitous that the best Windows VPN is the best VPN nearly everywhere. We’ve chosen NordVPN for this slot because it’s extremely easy to use and does everything well. We go into this more in our NordVPN review:

Its main strength is its interface, which is an interactive map of the world. Click on a location on the map, and NordVPN will connect you to that location. Easy as pie.

NordVPN doesn’t stand out in any particular way, but it does everything well. Its biggest asset is its user-friendly interface, which offers an interactive world map to easily pick VPN servers. We also like how it lays out all its settings, ensuring that even the most novice user can figure out what they’re doing.

When it comes to general usability, NordVPN does good. It can be very fast—it strongly depends on the server you pick—and offers decent security and privacy. It also offers some special servers, most of which we suggest you don’t use as they don’t seem to have much utility. Double VPN servers are a particular annoyance.

NordVPN is also pretty cheap the first time you sign up, with the Basic plan being $3.09 a month for two years and the Plus plan being $3.99 a month for two years. However, renewing this subscription will cost more than double that, so keep track of your renewal date and decide if you want to pay the increased price.

nordvpn logo


Best VPN for Windows

NordVPN is a great all-around VPN that’s easy for anyone to set up, making it great for Windows users.

windscribe art



✓ Generous free plan

✗ Best features are locked until you pay

✓ Inexpensive upgrade

If you’d prefer not to pay for a VPN, a few decent companies offer free plans. You need to be careful with free VPNs, though, as many “free” VPN companies exist purely to steal your data and sell it to advertisers and data miners.

The problem is so bad that we recommend using only three free VPNs: Proton VPN (which is our pick for the best iPhone VPN), TunnelBear, and Windscribe. Of them, with Windscribe is the best free VPN.

The main issue of legitimate free VPNs is bandwidth, or the amount of data that can be passed through the VPN. TunnelBear offers only 500MB of free bandwidth per month, which can be upgraded to 1GB by posting about the service on Twitter.

Windscribe, on the other hand, offers 10GB per month and another 5GB by tweeting—twenty times the amount TunnelBear does. Referring friends gets you another 1GB per referral, as well. Though 15GB isn’t enough to sustain a hardcore torrenting habit, it should be more than enough for most people. You may even be able to use this free bandwidth for Netflix, as we mention in our Windscribe review:

Giving your email address mainly seems to mean you’ll get the occasional marketing mail, a small price to pay for a free VPN that’s actually trustworthy. Interestingly enough, some of its free servers get through to Netflix, meaning that you could
unblock Netflix
for free with the service. 2GB of bandwidth is roughly two movies worth of viewing, and 10GB is a season binge.

The only reason to use TunnelBear over Windscribe is that the former has servers in a more countries available for free users; Windscribe only has ten. We’d take twenty times the bandwidth over country choice any day, so Windscribe gets our recommendation here. Upgrading Windscribe to a paid version costs only $69 annually (as of April 2024) and works great with Netflix, so that’s another upside.

Of the three free VPNs we mentioned, Windscribe offers 10GB of bandwidth, about twenty times more than TunnelBear. This gives Windscribe an almost automatic win.


Best Free VPN

If you can’t afford a VPN but would like privacy, you need to be careful of scams. Windscribe is not a scam, offering effective VPN services, and the basic plan doesn’t cost a dime.

Best VPN for iPhone: Proton VPN

The Proton VPN logo on a blue and black background.
Andrew Heinzman / How-To Geek



✓ Company with a good reputation

✗ Expensive by itself

✓ Bundle with secure mail

✗ ProtonMail bundles are even more expensive

Due to the increasing number of attacks aimed at smartphones, protecting your privacy while using mobile devices is just as important as protecting desktop computers and laptops. Most of the VPNs on this list have mobile apps that do a fine job of protecting any and all your devices, but if you’re predominantly an iPhone user, you may want to give Proton VPN a shot.

Famous for offering the secure email service ProtonMail, there’s a lot to like about Proton VPN. This VPN app is fast, secure, and clearly committed to users’ privacy. It also offers a decent pricing scheme and offers a discount if you bundle Proton VPN with ProtonMail, as we mention in our review of Proton VPN:

Of course, the question of the value of Proton VPN changes a little if you take
Proton Unlimited
into account, a plan that bundles Proton VPN, Proton Mail, Proton Drive, and the new-ish Proton Calendar. At $120 per year, it’s not quite the
Google Drive killer
Proton seems to want it to be, but it’s still a pretty good deal considering you get some nifty services on top of your VPN.

As of April 2024, the Proton bundle raises the price from $59.88 for the VPN alone to $199.88 annally, so it’s not cheap. However, you’ll get the VPN and mail service, as well as access to Proton Calendar, Proton Drive, and Proton Pass, meaning you’ll get the whole nine yards in terms of security.

We mainly like Proton VPN for iPhone because of its interface. The app is just a map; you click the flag of the country you want to connect to, and other buttons let you manipulate the options. Everything is laid out intuitively.

Proton VPN has a good UI that fits well into the screen without too many extraneous buttons. It’s very secure, and you can bundle it with ProtonMail, making it a great overall service for the iPhone.


Proton VPN

Best VPN for iPhone

Proton VPN is a service from the makers of ProtonMail, so you know they have your privacy in mind. It’s easy to use on your iPhone, and you can bundle it with their mail service.

Best VPN for Android: company name and logo against blue background



✓ Good interface

✗ Can be a bit slow

✓ Affordable

✗ Not as good on desktop

Most VPNs will do a fine job for Android devices, and we like ExpressVPN thanks to its one-button approach. However, ExpressVPN comes with a pretty hefty price tag, so for a more cost-effective solution, we recommend approaches the Android app with the same simple philosophy as ExpressVPN, with just a single button dominating the the interface. Set the server, connect to it, and then forget about it. We appreciate it a lot when designers keep it simple. has plenty of functionality beyond its Android app too, with a long list of devices you can use with the VPN service. You can read more about them in our review:

Besides ease of use, has a few other things going for it. It has a large server network spread out all over the globe, which is great for frequent travelers. The biggest downside is that it’s not as reliable for streaming as some competitors, but that may be less of a concern if you’re only using it on mobile. As a bonus, is also pretty cheap, with a $69.95 plan that lasts 26 months (as of April 2024).

If you need a VPN for Android, then give a shot. This VPN is fast, secure, and, most importantly, has one of the most straightforward interfaces we’ve ever seen on a smartphone.


Best VPN for Android is effective on Android, with a simple interface and a large servers network that makes it great for travelers.

Best VPN for Streaming: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Android app running on a Google Pixel 6A
Justin Duino / How-To Geek



✓ Beats Netflix block

✗ Pricey for just streaming

✓ Gets into Hulu and Amazon as well

Streaming geo-restricted content is probably the most common reason people get a VPN. With one single purchase, you can unlock Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and more libraries from anywhere in the world, provided you have subscriptions to these services.

However, as much as different VPNs loudly proclaim that they’re the one service that can unlock all these streaming sites, in our estimation, there’s only one real winner: ExpressVPN, making it the best VPN for Netflix. In our years of using it, we’ve never encountered any serious issues trying to access Netflix libraries in other countries or faking a U.S. IP address to access Hulu.

Some other services, like NordVPN, Windscribe, and CyberGhost get close, but ExpressVPN beats them in the end. The few times you are locked out of Netflix, all you need to do is switch to a different server in the same country, and you should be fine.

The other reason binge-watchers should consider ExpressVPN is its superior speeds. Streaming requires some fast connection speeds, and thanks to the service’s great speeds, ExpressVPN will cause the least buffering.

When it comes to streaming, we go with ExpressVPN every time. It unblocks most countries’ Netflix libraries with ease and is fast as greased lightning.

expressvpn logo


Best VPN for Streaming

ExpressVPN is hands down the best for streaming. The service has no problem cracking Netflix blocks, and also has an easy time with Hulu, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services.

Best VPN for Gaming: TorGuard

TorGuard graphic



✓ Maintains good ping

✗ Bit pricey

✓ Nice interface

✗ Confusing price plans

Finding a VPN that will work well when gaming online can be tricky. For gamers, one of the most important things is having low ping. Basically, ping is how fast your internet connection reacts to your actions. In online games, it determines how soon your character acts when you press the button. If your gun is slow to fire when seeing an opponent because of your ping, you’re toast.

The problem is that VPNs will always slow you down and give you higher ping, since the signals have farther to travel. While there’s no way around this, the best you can hope for is to control the damage. This is where TorGuard comes in—it’s a solid VPN that’s among the fastest on the market and keeps ping low.

When testing TorGuard, the VPN managed to keep latency at an acceptable level:

Losing only 10% of the connection’s speeds when connecting to Japan is a solid result, and we like how overall
doesn’t take too much of a hit, either—TorGuard should be a
great VPN for gaming

Of course, the further you hop from your current location, the worse it will get, but if you keep distances reasonable, you should be able to game online and remain competitive.

TorGuard has plenty going for it besides ping and speeds. It has a pleasant, easy-to-use interface and can do some work with Netflix. The only downside is that it’s a little pricey, coming in around the same price as ExpressVPN, though offering slightly less performance. Still, for gamers, it’s worth looking into.


Best VPN for Gaming

TorGuard offers low latency, low ping gaming, something that many VPNs can’t offer.

Best VPN for Torrenting: IVPN

iVPN banner



✓ Anonymous signup

✗ User ID is one of a kind

✓ Fast

✗ Not too many servers

Though it’s not often discussed, one of the most common reasons to use a VPN is for torrenting. Copyright watchdogs come down hard on people who pirate copyrighted content, and a good way to dodge surveillance is to use a VPN. One of our favorites for torrenting is IVPN, a service that focuses strongly on privacy.

Though it’s not the only service on this list that does well in hiding user data (Mullvad is our pick for the best VPN for privacy), what makes IVPN enticing for torrenting because it’s also really fast. Your downloads will have come down the pipe before you know it. Anonymity and speed make a VPN ideal for torrenting, and IVPN offers both.

IVPN allows you to sign up without using an email address, and you can pay with pseudonymous methods like cryptocurrency or anonymously with cash. This means that even if IVPN is forced to hand over user records, there’s nothing there except the number IVPN assigned you. You do need to make sure you don’t lose that code, however, as we mention in our IVPN review:

Your only account information is a code, there’s no email or other identifiable information. This keeps things nice and anonymous but comes with the downside that you need to keep the code safe or lose access to your VPN. Since IVPN keeps no record of you other than the code, there’s no way to retrieve your account if you lose it.

Seeing how a few VPNs have been forced to hand user data over, it’s nice to know that IVPN does not have anything that will track back to you.

IVPN is also pretty affordable. Though we won’t call it cheap, you can sign up for just a $6 month and get a solid, fast, private VPN with a pretty nifty interface. What’s not to like?


Best VPN for Torrenting

If you’re looking to torrent, you’ll want a VPN that keeps your information secure. IVPN puts your security first and foremost.

Best VPN for China: VyprVPN

VyprVPN Logo



✓ Chameleon protocol is tried and tested in China

✗ It’s a bit slow

✓ Good deals on pricing

✗ Not great for Netflix

Beating Chinese censorship is no mean feat: the blocks put up by the government that keeps people from browsing foreign internet sites, collectively known as the Great Firewall, are formidable. Getting caught tunneling under the Firewall can land you in hot water with the police, who may want to chat about your browser history.

The Chinese authorities control internet traffic flow through several access points throughout the country. From there, they can check connections made to see if they flag sites and block them, or, it’s speculated, even check whether a connection has the tell-tale signs of a VPN and block that.

VyprVPN is one of our favorite VPNs to get from the Chinese internet onto the regular internet thanks to its specially developed Chameleon protocol, which we discuss more in our review:

When it comes to
VPN protocols
, VyprVPN defaults to WireGuard, which is one of the best out there. As a secondary choice, it offers OpenVPN, which is also very good, IPSec, which isn’t all that great, and of course, its proprietary Chameleon protocol. This last one is interesting as it was designed as a way to punch through the
Great Firewall of China
by disguising your VPN connection as regular traffic.

Few other providers have anything similar, and very few have the track record of VyprVPN in pulling it off.


Best VPN for China

It can be difficult to find a VPN that works well in China. VyprVPN has the Chameleon Protocol, which masks your connection as a normal connection, allowing you to access the internet without worry.

Best Private VPN: Mullvad

Mullvad VPN logo on green and blue background
Mullvad VPN



✓ Completely anonymous

✗ Not the cheapest

✓ One of the very few services that accepts cash

✗ Email address necessary for account recovery

As great a tool as VPNs are, they have some weaknesses. Services are only as good as their no-log policies, and the service you sign up with has access to your account information. For one, they have your email address and payment information. The exception is if you paid with cryptocurrency, though it’s not always available.

Mullvad avoids these issues by not requiring an email address for account creation, opting for a randomized key that serves as your user ID. You can also send the service an envelope with cash to cover the VPN’s operating costs, leaving no paper trail.

This VPN service was also exceptionally fast when we tested it:

These speeds are very, very good. It’s extremely rare to see results like this. On relatively nearby servers in Israel and the United Kingdom, I lost practically no speed, while speed loss when connecting to the United States was barely noticeable. Only Japan saw a significant drop, but it’s on the other side of the world and it was late afternoon there when I tested.

If you want to maximize your anonymity, then Mullvad may be the best VPN out there. Your own personal organization abilities need to be top-notch, as there’s no password recovery without an email address, but it does mean that you can sleep soundly at night, secure in the knowledge that nobody can trace your IP address.

As a VPN that requires no email address and accepts cryptocurrency and cash, Mullvad is the most private VPN service, hands down. If you don’t want to be tracked in any way, accept no substitute.

Mullvad VPN

Best VPN for Privacy

You want complete privacy? You can send Mullvad an envelope with cash and your payment token to pay for your account, so they’ll never have your personal information.


What Is a VPN?

VPN stands for “virtual private network.” It’s a way of sending data across a public network (like the internet) as if you were connected to a private network in a different location. Consumer VPN services are often used to bypass geographical restrictions, avoid internet censorship, and boost privacy. An organization like an employer or school may have you connect to its own VPN to access resources on its network.

How Does a VPN Work?

When you connect to a VPN, your device creates a secure tunnel between itself and the remote VPN server. The VPN server functions as a go-between, forwarding traffic back and forth. Anyone in between—for example, your internet service provider, workplace network, or coffee shop Wi-Fi operator—can only see that you’re connecting to the VPN server, not what you’re connecting to. The server or service you’re connecting to sees your IP address as the VPN’s. For example, if you’re in the U.K. and connect to a VPN server in the U.S., you will be able to browse the internet as if you were in the U.S., and websites would see your IP address as being in the U.S.

How Do I Get the Most Out of a VPN?

First, choose a solid VPN. Not all VPNs are equal. For the best service, you’ll have to pay for a VPN. The good news is that solid VPNs only cost a few dollars a month. Many free VPNs violate your privacy and collect data to pay their bills. While some paid VPNs do have free plans that are more trustworthy, even their free servers will generally be slower than the paid servers. For maximum speed, connect to a nearby server (unless you must appear to be in a faraway country.) If you’re looking for privacy, rethink how you browse online.

How Do I Set Up a VPN?

If you’re picking a consumer VPN, setup is easy: You will just need to create an account, download an application, sign in, and press a button or two. The VPNs we recommend offer apps for platforms like Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android, iPad, Chrome OS, and Linux. There are also some operating-system level features for connecting to VPNs—you may use these with a workplace or other organization’s network—but we recommend using your preferred VPN service’s app for ease of setup.

Can I Still Use Streaming Platforms on a VPN?

It depends on the VPN you choose and the streaming service you’re trying to watch. Netflix and other streaming services are playing a game of cat-and-mouse with VPNs, constantly trying to block VPNs to fulfill content licensing requirements while VPNs are trying to get around the blocks. We recommend choosing a high-quality, highly rated VPN to ensure the best luck with streaming services.

Can I Change My IP Location With a VPN?

A VPN effectively lets you change your IP address’s location. That’s because the VPN functions as a middleman, forwarding traffic back and forth. If you’re in the U.S. and connect to a VPN in Japan, websites and other services you connect to over the VPN will see your IP address as the IP address of the VPN in Japan.

Can I Be Tracked Using a VPN?

A VPN can make it more difficult to track you online. Rather than using a unique IP address, you’re sharing a VPN’s IP address with other people, and that IP address isn’t tied to your physical location. There are still many ways you could be tracked: If you don’t choose a trustworthy VPN, the VPN itself may track you and sell your data. If you connect to a VPN and promptly sign into Facebook with your normal Facebook account, now Facebook knows who you are—even though you’re using a VPN. We recommend using Incognito Mode and VPN together for maximum privacy.

Does a VPN Slow Down My Internet Speed?

There’s no way around it—a VPN will generally slow down your internet speed while you’re using it. Rather than connecting directly to websites and other servers, you’re adding an additional step in the middle. In some rare cases, a VPN may be faster—if your internet or network service provider is slowing down some types of traffic but not VPN traffic, for example—but you should not expect this. You can choose to use a VPN only for specific applications or only enable it at specific times. If you choose one of the best fast VPNs (like ExpressVPN, which we recommend), the slowdown will often be very minimal and perhaps even unnoticeable.

What Are the Red Flags to Look Out for in a VPN?

VPNs are big business, and it’s important to look out for red flags. If a VPN is completely free for all its users, that’s a red flag—the VPN must be making money somewhere to pay its bills, perhaps by tracking its users and selling their data. For paid VPNs, sketchy websites full of typos and a lack of reviews (or fake-looking reviews) are bad signs. You should also ensure you pick a VPN with a no-log policy, although you’re trusting the VPN’s promises here—unless the VPN submits to an independent audit. The best thing you can do to avoid bad VPNs is to seek out trustworthy, widely recommended VPNs with longstanding good reputations, like the ones we cover in this guide. You may be able to save a bit of money by going with an unknown option, but a good VPN just costs a few bucks a month. You’re placing a lot of trust in a VPN, so you don’t want to cut corners.

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