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We review the features, speed and prices of the Top 7 VPNs
Choosing the right VPN to give your private data and hard-earned money to is no small decision. You’re going to want to do your research and know what you’re getting yourself into.
Thankfully, we did the hard work for you. In this article you will find all the information everything you need to know about the best VPNs in 2021 and hopefully find the one that suits you best.
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a digital network comprised of many physical servers that can be located anywhere in the world. They allow you to change your IP address to a secure server and access any type of online content with an extra layer (or layers) of protection and encryption.
VPNs work by sending your data over tunneling protocols. This means that they route your activity and connection through a server located somewhere else in the world. This hides your online activity and, with the best VPNs, keeps your data private.
To put it simply: with no VPN, your data is sent straight to the websites you’re trying to access. This means your information is out in the open and any third party could take a peek if they wanted to. That could mean hackers, spying governments, or your internet service provider (ISP).
When you activate a VPN, it will appear as if you are accessing the website from another part of the world — shielding your identity and protecting your privacy.
If you’re looking for a VPN, it’s likely that you are trying to access a streaming site like Netflix in another country, download torrent files, or protect your private data from nosy third parties.
VPNs can be used for all of these things and more. Of course, as time goes on, premium streaming services get better at combating the use of VPNs.
It’s likely you understand some of the uses of VPNs. However, it’s even more likely that you don’t yet know the true potential a VPN can unlock:
Now that you understand VPNs a little better, let’s take a look at the best VPNs on the market.
ExpressVPN prides itself on its servers’ speeds — and it deserves to! ExpressVPN’s claims to speed are consistently tested and confirmed by multiple sources.
To us, though, the fact that it offers servers in over 90 countries is even better. This is by far the largest number of countries offered by any of the VPNs on this list. More countries and servers means ExpressVPN is more likely to be able to unlock premium services such as Netflix and Hulu from other countries.
The biggest drawback of ExpressVPN is that you can only use three simultaneous devices, which is remarkably the lowest number of devices offered by any of the VPNs on our list. Honestly, it’s barely enough for a single person. This was ultimately why ExpressVPN failed to reach the top spot on our list.
Despite the low number of devices allowed, ExpressVPN impressed in other areas. It offers a wide array of functionality for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, smart TVs, and even Blackberry.
ExpressVPN’s website is also filled with guides, articles, and tutorials to help you navigate the product and keep you up-to-date on any new features.
IPVanish is near the top of our list because of its tested lightning-fast speeds. It even outperformed the speed-driven ExpressVPN. Typically, you will see a hit in download speed when using a VPN because your data has to be routed to another server somewhere else in the world. However, with IPVanish’s fastest server, we saw no more than a 5mbps hit to a baseline 100mbps connection — which is spectacular.
Another game-changing perk with IPVanish is that it supports a whopping 10 devices to be used simultaneously, one of the most generous offerings of the VPNs on this list.
Of course, as our top-rated VPN, IPVanish can consistently unblock Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
We like that IPVanish offers split tunneling, which lets you use the VPN for some apps and “whitelist” other apps to access with your local network. However, we don’t like that split tunneling isn’t offered for every operating system.
NordVPN offers a premium VPN service with lots of perks, but some of the downsides kept it from beating our top two contenders.
The standout feature of NordVPN is that it boasts an alarming amount of servers. With over 5000 servers, NordVPN has more servers than any other VPN in the world — certainly an awesome achievement. As stated earlier, the more servers the better. This gives you the best chance of finding a server that will unblock Netflix in the country you want.
With a SmartPlay/Smart DNS feature that sneaks around geo-restrictions, NordVPN is hands-down the best VPN for unblocking streaming services.
Another area that NordVPN asserts its strengths is the sphere of security. Offering 2048-bit encryption, kill switches, and DNS leak protection, you can rest assured that your data is safe.
Where many users have been complaining lately is in speed performance and reliability. NordVPN users have complained that, as of late, the service has tanked when it comes to speed. Happy users who have been with NordVPN for years are suddenly feeling the need to switch services following complaints of overselling, over-advertising, and inconsistent speeds.
We like HotSpot Shield because it’s a VPN with a hefty number of servers in different locations — and it performs extraordinarily. HotSpot Shield doesn’t use typical protocols that most VPNs use. It has its own proprietary protocol called “Catapult Hydra” which helps it deliver top-tier speeds as well as security.
Depending on the type of user, Catapult Hydra might be a benefit or a drawback. On one hand it offers unbreakable security and fast speeds, but on the other hand, it doesn’t support industry standard protocols such as OpenVPN. That means you can’t manually set it up on other devices if you happen to be a VPN pro.
Another thing we like about HotSpot Shield is its transparent and generous 45-day money-back guarantee. With most hosts, you have either a slim 7-day or a 30-day guarantee. HotSpot Shield offers the longest guarantee on our list.
The price sits right where you might expect it. Not too high, not too low. The good news is that they offer a sturdy discount for their 3-year plan.
TunnelBear prides itself on its ease-of-use, transparency, and trust. TunnelBear is fun to look at, but it’s also really easy to use. If you are a VPN beginner, you might fall in love with TunnelBear.
One of the standout features of this VPN is that it’s the only one on the market that to release consistent, yearly, third-party audits of its service. You certainly have no room to call the guys at TunnelBear shady. Their flaws are out there in the open, as exposed by third-party auditor Cure53. This is a major strength for TunnelBear, because it allows the company to inspect and fix its errors while building trust with its users.
While TunnelBear’s speeds can’t match those of our top two contenders, the easy-to-use interface is certainly captivating, and it’s built on a VPN service that works.
The biggest drawback of TunnelBear’s VPN is their stance on torrents and P2P. They used to outright restrict torrents, but now they seem to have no stance at all on the matter. The company is based in Canada, which may require them to record your usage of torrents. Bottom line: if you are looking for a VPN for torrents or P2P, avoid TunnelBear.
Surfshark is relatively new on the market compared to the other VPNs on our list of best VPNs in 2021, but it has quickly made a name for itself in this sector.
Surfshark offers a number of features that you would expect from a premium VPN, including an adblocker, whitelister, killswitch, DNS leak protection, and super secure OpenVPN protocols.
The special kick? Surfshark offers an unlimited number of devices — something that sets them apart from every other VPN on this list. It does all of this for the lowest price, too, making it the cheapest VPN of 2021.
A downside to Surfshark is that users report that the speeds just don’t match up when compared to other premium VPNs. While speed is important, if you have a fast base internet speed you might not even notice a difference.
Something to note is that the number of servers to choose from is lacking. Surfshark might be safe from Netflix for now since they are little-known, but a low number of servers will make it easier for Netflix to block this VPN service if it doesn’t expand.
VyprVPN doesn’t steal the show, so to speak, when it comes to its number of servers. The number of simultaneous devices allowed isn’t remarkably generous, either.
Thankfully, VyprVPN makes up for these things with top-notch security. Their proprietary security protocol, “Chameleon”, provides unparalleled security that lets you access to restricted content even in countries like China and Iran that block VPNs.
VyprVPNs is a tier-one VPN provider, which means the company owns all of its server equipment. That means no third parties and less chances of an info leak.
With a strict no-log policy, a super-secure proprietary protocol, reasonable prices, and good speeds, VyprVPN earns a place on our list of the best VPNs in 2021.
Premium VPNs generally offer the best speeds and protection, but they aren’t for everyone.
If you only need a VPN for one small task then it might not be necessary. On the other hand, if you want consistent protection, unlimited bandwidth, and fast speeds, you will probably have to opt for a paid service.
Of course, there are free VPNs available that we like. TunnelBear, a VPN on our list, offers 500mb a month on their free version that can be extended to a total of 1GB per month of free usage. Another VPN that almost made it to our list, ProtonVPN, offers a free VPN service with no ads or data limits. The drawbacks, however, are that they support only three locations, allow only one device, and admit that their free service is not as fast as their paid versions.
Whether or not a premium VPN is right for you largely depends on how you will use it.
If you have even the slightest feeling that your personal data isn’t secure with a specific VPN, then it isn’t a good choice. Any VPN that is worth your money should pride itself on the security of its user data.
When you use a VPN, you are relying on them to securely encrypt your connection, keep it encrypted, and to protect your identity from anyone who might be looking.
We’ve established that trust and security is everything when it comes to a VPN. Now let’s consider some specific things to look for in a trustworthy VPN:
VPN protocols define how your data is handled and transferred between servers. Many VPNs let you choose from the protocols that they offer. However, they vary in security and should be evaluated carefully. Here are the primary protocols offered by most VPNs:
Without a killswitch feature, your data and activities will become exposed if the connection to your VPN is interrupted for some reason.
A killswitch will lock your data transfers until the connection to your VPN is restored. This way, your activities are never exposed to any third party.
A killswitch should be considered a basic feature when it comes to security. However, many users have no need for it. Especially if you are just using your VPN for Netflix.
A DNS leak is most common with Windows OS. If you have a leak, it appears as if you are connected properly to your VPN, but your data is in fact unprotected and could still be viewed by your ISP (and potentially other more harmful parties.)
Top-tier VPNs implement DNS leak protection to keep this from happening. If you suspect that you have a DNS leak, you can run a DNS leak test.
Which of the best VPNs of 2021 is right for you? It depends on your preferences and priorities.
If you’re looking for the cheapest overall option and you’re willing to buy in bulk, there’s really no better deal than Surfshark’s $1.99/month deal on the 2-year plan.
NordVPN comes in pretty close with their 3-year plan for $2.99/month, but you might not want to commit to three years right off the bat.
If you don’t need years’ worth of VPN, you can opt for a free VPN or one with a low monthly price. In this case, you might want to consider Tunnelbear or IPVanish.
If you’re looking to connect a family’s worth of devices or more, you want a VPN service that allows the maximum number of simultaneously-connected devices.
Surfshark allows unlimited devices, so that’s your best bet for quantity. If you factor in top-tier quality, IPVanish has you covered with 10 maximum devices.
When it comes to unparalleled security, you want a VPN that has a state-of-the-art proprietary protocol. Our favorite for this is VyprVPN, because on top of having a super-secure protocol, they also own all of their servers.
A close runner-up would be HotSpot Shield, which combines security with speed.
When it comes to ease-of-use, our favorite is Tunnelbear. It’s not complicated in the slightest, it’s fun to look at, and it works. If you need something simple and easy, Tunnelbear is our choice.
Each one of the above-mentioned best VPNs on our list is a solid choice, depending on what you need it for. Take your time and perhaps try out a few different services. If you aren’t happy, cancel before the trial period ends and try out another one. What’s most important is that your data stays safe and your web usage remains uninterrupted.