Updated June 2020
What Is A VPN Exactly?
These days, pretty much everyone has heard of a VPN, though you may not yet have made the leap to actually using one. A VPN is something that hackers need right? Not something that you need for everyday internet use? But in reality, it is a service that everyone should consider.
VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, allow you to access websites and online services anonymously. It does this by sending all of your internet traffic via the VPNs servers, so to the end website you appear like you are using the VPN’s IP address at the VPN’s location rather than your own.
There are many reasons why you might want to do this. You might be concerned about privacy. If you thought your internet connection was already private, sorry to burst your bubble. Your IP address, your device’s personal signature, is recorded by every website that you visit.
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However, you might like to appear like you are accessing a service from a different location in the world. This is mainly used for streaming services that offer different content in different countries. But there are a variety of websites that can only be accessed locally, and sometimes, it is possible to make cheaper purchases, such as for flights and hotels, from different locations.But there are hundreds of different VPN providers out there, each offering different services at different prices. How are you supposed to know which is the right one for you? Read on to find out.
We will go through what you can do with VPNs and what you should be considering when choosing a VPN service. Finally, we recommend our top VPNs for different devices and types of internet use.
Does It Matter If I Use Mac Or PC?
VPNs are device-agnostic, so it doesn’t matter if you use Mac, PC, a tablet, or a cell phone, or even a streaming device. Read more about whether or not you need to use VPN for streaming devices.
A VPN is accessible and helpful regardless of device preference. While I will suggest certain VPNs for Mac and others for Windows or Kodi, the beauty of a VPN is that it works pretty much universally across devices. I’ll break it down by which VPNs work best for certain devices a little further down.
What Can I Use VPN For?
Imagine you’re on vacation or business in Thailand, but you’re desperate to keep up on your favorite show back home. It’s Thursday night and you open Hulu or Netflix, but wait, where is your show? All you’re seeing is a skimpy selection of the movies and shows you’ve seen dozens of times.
Then you remember that Netflix and Hulu’s offerings are different in different countries. Well, what do you do now? If you have a VPN, you change your location to somewhere in America, we’ll say Miami, and there you go! Suddenly your screen is flooded with the familiar options.
Or what about trying to make last-minute purchases online? Did you know that stores such as Khol’s, Target, and Nordstroms are blocked in other countries? Even if you’re wanting to purchase online and have it delivered to the store for a relative or friend to pick up.
You’ll get an “Access Denied” note scrawled across the top of your screen. But if you have a VPN, you can circumvent this issue by simply changing your location.
This location change is also good for travel purchases. Searching for deals on hotels, B&Bs, trains, and plane tickets, you can get better deals depending on the country you’re in.
Someone in Japan searching for a flight from San Francisco to Washington D.C. may find that tickets are sold several hundred dollars cheaper than for your average Joe in Midwest Kansas.
Sounds unfair, but that’s the way it works. However, with a VPN, you can change your location as many times as you need to until you find out that buying a ticket from a location in Prague was actually the cheapest way.
In the long run, that’ll mean more vacation adventures for you and more money in the bank.
More than just masking your location, the VPN sends info from your device to their server and then on to your final destination. This means that the websites you use can only track you back to the VPN, not to you.s.
So, your information stays private, even from the government.
They are unable to track your data transmission past the server that safeguards and reroutes your information. It’s like having a very good secret keeper.
Is A VPN Really Worth The Purchase?
In today’s world, the simple answer is yes. Yes, a VPN is a vital tool, worth every penny if you find the right service.
Whether you are working in a business or simply from our home, a VPN will provide you with opportunities to better protect and hide your device as well as unlock better deals and shows to stream online.
How Much Does A VPN Cost Me?
Though VPN costs vary, most are actually a very affordable option. Most VPNs cost approximately the same as a monthly Netflix subscription, ranging from $3-10.
Often there are sales, deals, and packages you can take advantage of to get lower monthly costs, and plans tend to be cheaper if you pay for an entire year (or three!) in advance.
Some brands offer premiums and upgraded plans for higher security encryption. But you only need to pay for these extras if you need them.
Who Is A VPN For?
A TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCE FOR EVERYONE, ESPECIALLY BUSINESSES.
Credit companies, online stores, hotels, and airline businesses specifically benefit from this added security.
Because the information is transmitted through a closed channel to the VPN server before going to the website itself, your clients will feel more secure using their credit card numbers and personal data to make purchases.
When it comes to personal use, it is great for those afraid of how much the government is able to pry.
It is also perfect for those who plan to travel and want to stay connected. Different countries have laws about what is permissible, and therefore, block content and entire sites from being accessed.
With a VPN, you don’t have to worry about running into blocked screens.
It is also great for searching the cheapest hotels, flights, resort stays, tours, and excursions. Search the web from virtually anywhere to find the cheapest deals and maximize your savings.
What Do I Need In A VPN?
Okay, so now you understand exactly what a VPN does and you’re thinking that sounds like exactly what you need.
But the problem is that you have no idea what makes one VPN better than the next. Problem? Nope, because I’ll give you some simple specs to consider.
- Number of servers: more VPN servers in your network essentially means that you will have more location options and a faster connection as there are fewer users being channeled through each server.
- Check how much data you can use without paying extra.
- How many devices you can use on your VPN; don’t be surprised if you find a lot of offers for only one device per VPN.
- Price: while you can find free plans, it is usually worth the few bucks a month to upgrade to a better quality plan.
- Where the company is based: while the VPN allows you to appear like you are anywhere in the world, the companies that provide the service need to be registered in a specific country and abide by their laws.
- Does it have an enabled kill switch?
- Does the plan have a free trial?
A small disclaimer for the VPN is that it does bog down your internet speed regardless of how fast it is stated to stream. But that is to be expected t when rerouting your connection through another server. If you’re worried about this particular problem, do not let it deter your security, but instead increase your VPN speed.
I’ll show you the best tricks of the trade in order to speed up your surfing without cutting your protection. I firmly stand behind the need for a VPN in this day and age but I also wouldn’t want to compromise on speed and you shouldn’t have to either.
1. Best VPN For Personal Use
CyberGhost has a board network and sophisticated security, which means fast and safe browsing. It is also simple and easy to use, but it doesn’t scrimp on additional features to provide maximum protection.
A relative newcomer on the market, they are also competitive on price. If you sign up for one-year, expect to pay a respectably affordable $72.00 per year. If you sign up for three years upfront, you can get it for as little as $36.00 per year. And this is a relatively low-risk commitment, as CyberGhost offers a 45-day satisfaction money-back guarantee.
With your single subscription, you can connect up to seven devices at a time, and CyberGhost has applications for all the most popular devices, including TV boxes, gaming systems, and even routers, which allows you to protect all of the devices on your network at the source.
Once you are connected, you have a lot of options, as CyberGhost has more than 6,500 servers in 90 different countries. This means you can appear to be wherever in the world you would like, and you can find low traffic servers that offer great speeds.
Overall, speeds while using CyberGhost’s servers are good. While all VPN services cut speeds, with CyberGhost, you can expect speeds of 65-75 MB per second, which is more than enough to stream 4K movies.
All of CyberGhost’s servers also support streaming and torrenting, though they do recommend certain servers for the best results. Unlike a lot of cheap VPN servers, tests show you can access Netflix in the US and BBC iPlayer in the UK using CyberGhost’s dedicated servers.
Of course, having a VPN is all about security, and this is another area where CyberGhost performs. CyberGhost offers the highest level of encryption with double 256-AES encryption, and OpenVPN with IKEv as default (plus WireGuard is available on Linux).
For those with extra security needs, CyberGhost also offers special No-Spy servers for an additional fee. This helps keep costs down for users who don’t need this extra layer of protection.
CyberGhost also has a no-logs policy, which means they are not collecting any data on their users to share with authorities. They do not collect IP addresses, DNS queries, browsing histories, connection and disconnection timestamps, sessions durations, or bandwidth.
CyberGhost is also based in Romania, where both the country’s and the European Union’s online privacy laws strongly support the right of the individual to digital privacy.
On top of this quality basic service, CyberGhost offers a lot of nice additional features for users. For example, it comes with a kill switch activated, which will automatically disconnect users if the VPN drops out to ensure that no data is leached.
There is also optional adblocking, malicious content blocking, and automatic redirect to the HTTPS version of websites if the site tries to push you to a less-secure mobile version of their site.
The only real issue we see with CyberGhost as a service is that it does not currently work in mainland China (though it does work in Hong Kong). You can access local Chinese content via CyberGhost’s servers, but you cannot punch out from mainland China into the rest of the world.
So, CyberGhost is not the ideal service for anyone who frequently travels to China (mainland). But aside from that, it is one of the best VPNs for personal use.
Overall, CyberGhost gets top marks from us for price, usability, features, network distribution, speed, and security. We recommend that anyone looking for a personal VPN service look at CyberGhost.
2. What Is The Best VPN For A Business?
Not only will your information be encrypted but you’ll be using an extremely fast and secure connection. I have chosen NordVPN as the VPN that will best fit your needs, not only because of it’s high-quality connection but also because of the maximum cap of devices you can connect.
This VPN allows you to use up to six different devices on one network. That’s right; you can set up your company’s laptops, desktops, and tablets all on one network. And all of these devices can hook up to the VPN for approximately $7 a month. So, this service is both cost-effective and secure.
NordVPN, like most companies, also have great discounted deals for two- and three-year plans. The best current deal is being billed $84 on a yearly business basic plan. While that might seem like a big commitment, they also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Depending on how many devices you’re hoping to connect, you could even purchase a few two- or three-year plans for a fraction of the cost, especially if you look at their offering for individuals (not NordVPNTeams).
That’s a lot of savings!
With 5,500 plus servers in nearly sixty locations, your security is guaranteed. They advertise they have a “double VPN” feature, which means that they encrypt their data not once, but twice. In addition to this, they have a no-logs policy that means none of your data will be tracked or collected. That means you’re leaving no digital footprint.
NordVPN also comes with an automatic kill switch.
This means that if, for some reason, your VPN connection is interrupted or drops out, they block your device from accessing the internet without the VPN encryption, so you don’t inadvertently reveal your data.
This way, even if there are technical difficulties, your security is still ensured.
NordVPN offers a dedicated IP address to its users rather than using a shared address with hundreds of other people. That makes your browsing, researching, sales, and transactions unique.
As a business, NordVPN will offer you support options as well. You will be assigned an account manager whose job is to be available to answer questions, work out any issues, and generally ensure that your VPN is serving your company to the fullest extent.
As a manager or CEO, you will also have administrative rights to manage multiple VPN lines on one account, as well as being billed for all accounts one time.
3. What Is The Best VPN For Kodi?
So, let’s start with the question on your mind…is Kodi illegal? You’ve been hearing a lot about how Kodi is specifically for streaming illegal material, and you probably haven’t really heard it used for much else.
Well, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to learn that Kodi is used a lot more often than you’d think and legally too!
You can follow the link here to our FAQ page, scroll to the bottom, and I’ll explain exactly why Kodi is not illegal and how to use it in compliance with the law.
Once you get past that, you’re going to LOVE Kodi and from there you’ll be determined to find what VPN works best for all of your devices. So, let’s get to that.
Because Kodi is often used for streaming music or movies, I’m going to suggest IPVanish, which offers some of the highest downloading and streaming speeds of any VPN on the market.
With unlimited bandwidth, over 1,400 servers in 75+ countries, your encrypted service is not only safe, but it’s incredibly fast too. Stream your online movies for marathons without an issue.
Don’t be afraid that you’ll miss out on the action in your favorite games when you stream ESPN or other sporting events directly to your living room.
You won’t experience choppy, slow, or searching service; instead, you just have a clear, clean picture. With 256-bit AES encryption, you’ll feel the added layer of safety as IPVanish operates on the most up-to-date, high-tech security system.
Zero-trafficking laws and completely anonymous when torrenting, you can access virtually anything without fear of retribution.
IPVanish ups your torrenting experience by allowing you unlimited person-to-person traffic. Share your favorite music, movies, shows, and games in seconds. There’s little wait time on this high-speed VPN service.
You are able to access censored sites while traveling abroad and to seek information in the States without fear of the government watching as well.
Maybe that sounds a bit extreme, but without a VPN, you are leaving your devices vulnerable to virtually anyone when you are on the internet.
With this VPN, you have the option to switch servers as often as you want. For example, if you’re traveling in Germany but want to access your favorite shows on Netflix, you can change your location to America.
But in the next moment, if you want to change your focus to searching for cheap flights to Buenos Aires, then you need to look for Airbnb or hotels from a different location. In this time, you can easily change your server fifteen times or more.
Hop from one county to the next to get access to everything you need at your fingertips. You can change your VPN location countless times more without a cap.
With IPVanish, you can have 10 connections going at one time on whatever devices you use. As we stated, Kodi is usually used for streaming, so that means you can have Kodi on your phone, laptop, tablet, and your streaming device or TV box.
Stream your favorite shows to your TV, surf the web on your laptop, and message your friends and family from your phone all through the same VPN provider.
Lastly, you’re wondering how to set it up. Like a lot of VPN sites, they offer downloadable apps for all your devices.
Just click to download and follow the instructions on their site to begin exploring your new freedoms with IPVanish.
4. What Is The Best VPN For Mac?
While ExpressVPN is not the cheapest option, it is the best bang for your buck. This company offers an easily downloadable app for Macs and for your iPhone, and an entire support section on their website to walk you through step-by-step instructions with videos.
The best deal is for the yearly plan, though for the first-time buyer there is a sale for the first fifteen months, and they offer a 90-day free trial run with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN is a good choice for every device, but when looking at Apple products, we see that ExpressVPN has thought extensively about how to create an easy-to-set-up app and system for the Mac specifically.
You are able to choose which of your apps will use the VPN connection and which do not need to go through the extra encryption. ExpressVPN also offers an app for the iOS on your phone and works with a variety of Mac iOS software.
Another great feature is the automatic kill switch. As we discussed before, this will stop your browsing/surfing/purchasing in its tracks if the connection should drop out.
You can choose to continue without the VPN service, but you’ll be immediately notified if your security has been compromised for even just a second.
ExpressVPN also offers 24-hour support and a person to live chat with about any and all of your issues and concerns.
With over 3,000 servers in 160 locations and 94 countries, this service has one of the most accessible and secure systems in the business.
Because ExpressVPN is based in the Virgin Islands, it is subject to relatively light restrictions in regards to data.
This VPN is also free from activity logs and will not tap your connection or collect data from your searches.
This VPN does come with a cap on how many devices can be in use. While it isn’t many, you can still hook up three devices to one VPN connection.
That’s great for your Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Perfect for a small household to share, or for one person to ensure safe surfing across all of your devices.
5. What Is The Best VPN For Windows 10?
This network is not US-based, but actually is located in Switzerland, which is often considered to be a huge step in the right direction as many people do not have faith or trust in the U.S. government.
Switzerland is also known for having some of the best privacy protection laws. Being non-US based gives an added security boost not only to US residents but to everyone.
But regardless of where it is based, you still have the option of connecting to 700+ servers in 70+ different locations worldwide. You also can choose from a wide variety of IP addresses – actually, 200,000 different IP addresses to be exact.
With a special app for Windows, you have a personalized network optimized for your web browser.
24-hour support is also available to troubleshoot any issues you specifically have as a Windows 10 user. For Windows 10, VyprVPN also offers what is called Chameleon technology. As you can imagine from the name, this technology acts as a chameleon in camouflaging your location.
This is specific for when there is a VPN blocker present. That’s right, when they developed VPNs, someone else decided they needed to develop technology to block VPN users altogether.
Unlike most networks, VyprVPN has found a way for Windows 10 users to overcome this problem.
Torrenting and bandwidth are also unlimited with this network, meaning that you have the freedom in the palm of your hand.
While most networks limit your torrenting experience or put caps on your data and bandwidth usage, VyprVPN understands that the whole point of having a VPN is to be able to access and use these features.
Person-to-person sharing is also supported and still on the fastest network, without lags in the connection.
This VPN also provides you with the kill switch feature that stops your surfing and streaming in the event of a dropped connection.
Without being able to use limitless bandwidth and torrenting, you have to ask yourself if it is really worth paying for privacy encryption.
Speaking of prices, the basic plan starts monthly at $5, but for just $12.50 if you want to be billed monthly, but you pay less if you choose longer billing periods. (For example, a two-year billing plan will cost you $60).
The major negative of this plan is that it does not support gaming. For this, you would have to opt for a different, better, streaming service.
Overall for the cost, however, VyprVNP will ensure that you are protected when you web surf.
Can VPN Providers Be Trusted?
It is very important that you trust your VPN provider. You need to trust that when they say your IP exit appears like it is in Germany, it is, in fact, in Germany. Also, while they protect your data from third parties, they can see everything that you do online. They could easily sell that data or pass it on to government organizations if sufficient pressure is applied.
This is why it matters where your VPN service provider is based, as they will be subject to the data protection and reporting laws of that particular country. So, for example, you are unlikely to want to use a service that is based in China, where the government has a lot of power to demand companies to turn over data, or the United States. Europe has relatively strong privacy laws, so VPN providers here are often a good choice.
When looking for a trustworthy VPN, start with relatively well-known companies. They have usually risen to the top of the market for a reason. You can also look at online reviews. Many people take their online security very seriously and will have done all the research, and they aren’t shy about sharing it online. It is easy to find reviews and complaints, to help guide you.
How Do I Choose A VPN Provider?
In order to choose the right VPN provider, you first need to know what you need, and then find the safest and most cost-effective VPN service that meets these needs.
What countries would you like your IP address to appear in? What kind of online services do you want to access: just basic websites or more data-intensive streaming services? Or will you be doing person-to-person data transfers?
Will you be using it regularly, or just when you travel? What kind of devices will you use it on? And how many devices do you want to be able to connect to the service?
You can then look for VPN services that support your specific devices and needs. Other things worth considering are whether they retain data logs, use secure encryption, and whether they provide a kill switch to protect you if the connection drops off for some reason.
Then research the company online and see what other users have to say. There is a big community online that will share their honest thoughts on VPN services that they have tried.
Always go for a service that provides a free trial or a money-back guarantee. This is because you may find that the very service you want to use the VPN for, such as Netflix or HBO Now, has already identified and blocked your chosen VPN. In this case, you will need to choose a different service.
Is There A Free Unlimited VPN?
While you will find hundreds of free VPN services advertised online, very few are actually free, with no hidden costs, and that will successfully and safely let you access the services that you need.
Most free services have a very low daily data cap, for example 500 MB, before you need to start paying. Other services that offer unlimited data have a very limited number of servers, which means that speed is slow and options are limited. For example, ProtonVPN offers unlimited data, but only has three server locations.
Can VPN Steal Your Data?
While a good VP provider should encrypt all of your data to keep it safe from being seen and stolen, in theory, some of your personal data might be seen by the VPN company itself depending on the nature of the connection. But it is unlikely that a reliable VPN provider would spy on your personal data as it is not in their interest.
But yes, it is possible for a VPN service to engage in underhanded behavior such as to send malware to your devices, install hidden tracking on your devices, steal your private information, steal your bandwidth, and sell your data to third parties.
If you see a VPN with a deal that seems too good to be true, beware. It is not unknown for fake VPNs to be set up for the specific purpose of stealing your data by pretending to be a VPN service. This is why you should always research your selected VPN provider prior to signing up.
Which Country Server Is Best For VPN?
Which country server you should be using depends on what you want to do online. If you want to watch the best of Netflix, you probably want a U.S. server; to book cheap local flights in South America, you will probably want a local server there.
But when it comes to choosing where your VPN service provider is located for tax and legal purposes, you should choose a country with solid privacy laws. In some countries, companies are forced to gather data on their users and turn that data over to authorities in certain circumstances.
The best countries for your VPN to be based in include Switzerland, Iceland, Romania, Spain, and Malaysia.
Is VPN Legal?
Using VPN services is legal in most countries, including the United States. However, using a VPN to commit acts that would be illegal without a VPN is still illegal.
For example, while downloading movies without paying the official distributor for personal use is not illegal in all countries, it is illegal in the United States. So, doing this in the United States, using a VPN that makes you appear as though you are in a country where it is legal, is still illegal.
Can VPN Be Hacked?
While your data can still be hacked by the most skilled hackers, the challenges involved make it an unattractive task unless you are a high-value target. Random hackers are more likely to focus on easier targets.
Get Started With Your VPN Today
Which VPN is best for you depends on what kind of devices you are using and what kind of internet surfing you like to do. But my pick for best overall is ExpressVPN, as it ticks the most boxes for most users. But all of the VPN services on our list are safe and reliable.
Whatever service you decide to go with, make sure you take advantage of the trial period. Some of your favorite services, such as Netflix, commit quite significant resources to blocking VPN services and stopping people from circumnavigating their country-based restrictions. The trial period lets you see whether your selected VPN has been cracked yet by your favorite online services.
Good VPN services are constantly updating their configuration to work around VPN blocking, so while you may occasionally find yourself unable to access your selected service, the problem is usually rectified quickly.