In an age where data not only defines but also drives the world, any technology that enables safety and privacy of your data is exceptionally important. A key tool that can enable you to achieve various levels of online privacy is a virtual private network (VPN).
- What is a VPN Service?
- How to Select a VPN Service
- Proton VPN
- Private Internet Access VPN
- VPN Provider Comparison Table
Simply put, a VPN is a service that encrypts the data connection between the devices of users and the internet to enhance their security and privacy. This encryption protects data from being freely accessed, misused, sold, or stolen by entities such as internet service providers, corporations, governments, and hackers.
VPNs provide security on public networks, and privacy from the apps and services used today. They also offer users the ability to access geographically-limited content.
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With so many choices available, it may be a bit overwhelming to choose a VPN service. Here are some factors to simplify the choice:
- Server Locations. Server locations determine the regions with which you can connect. Your prospective choice should include servers in your desired locations. If disclosed, you should be aware of where the service’s servers are based to understand what kind of laws regulate the service.
- Encryption and Protocols. A VPN’s quality of security is determined by the encryption standards and security protocols it implements. Ensuring that your prospective choice employs relevant and industry-standard encryption and protocols is a valuable step.
- Performance. It is important to ensure your desired VPN is capable of delivering the performance you seek. Performance includes general speed, feature functionality, and customer support.
- Ease of Use and Compatibility. Your desired VPN service should be compatible with your desired purpose. It should also be able to conveniently and easily cover all of your devices and operating systems.
- Price. Depending on the features you seek, you should be able to understand what you are willing to pay for or whether you need a premium VPN altogether.
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Top VPN Services 2022
NordVPN stands as one of the best VPNs for privacy, as it boasts top security features such as AES-256 encryption and the OpenVPN protocol. It also offers rarer features like access to Tor over VPN as well as multi-hop connections.
In addition, Nord is a popular choice for users seeking to access geographically limited streaming content thanks to its vast selection of servers. It also offers services such as an encrypted password and password manager.
NordLynx. NordLynx is a technology developed by NordVPN, built around the WireGuard protocol that leverages the speed of WireGuard without compromising user privacy. It enables users to connect to NordVPN servers faster and to enjoy faster connection speeds.
Threat Protection and Strict Logging Policy. As one of NordVPN’s newest features, Threat Protection protects users from ads, trackers, and malware to offer smoother, faster, and safer browsing. Furthermore, NordVPN has a strict logging policy outside the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes surveillance areas.
NordVPN’s pricing is above the industry average.
The Complete plan comes in at $13.99 per month while the Standard plan costs $11.99 per month. NordVPN also offers an annual and a two-year plan.
Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for security as proven by its security suite Surfshark One alongside the main VPN offering. The provider also supports the WireGuard protocol and multi-hop connections; although, the connections are limited ones that are premade by Surfshark.
Surfshark also shows its real value by allowing users to have unlimited devices per subscription. Unlike with most VPNs, users can protect all their devices with a single subscription.
Bypasser. Surfshark delivers a split tunneling tool that lets users choose which applications and websites use the VPN connection since some applications and websites block VPNs from accessing them.
Camouflage Mode. Surfshark offers Camouflage Mode, which masks users’ traffic metadata to cause VPN traffic to look like regular web activity. This enables users to bypass content filters, enhance their security, and spoof their geolocation.
Surfshark One. To unify Surfshark’s VPN product with antivirus protection, Surfshark offers Surfshark One. This provides users with a security suite at an additional cost to the base subscription cost.
Surfshark has a higher monthly cost than the average of most of its competitors.
Surfshark’s monthly package costs $12.95, and it offers a one-year and two-year plan.
With about 160 server locations stretching across 94 countries, ExpressVPN provides an excellent balance between virtual and hardware servers. ExpressVPN offers great geographic diversity by setting up many servers in Africa as well as providing outstanding coverage in South America, which are often overlooked and underserved by other VPN services.
Aside from its numerous server locations, one of ExpressVPN’s strengths is its encryption. It uses a cryptographic key scheme that makes it difficult for threat actors to impersonate ExpressVPN servers.
Lightway Protocol. Unlike the aforementioned pair of VPNs, ExpressVPN does not offer WireGuard but uses OpenVPN and its own protocol, known as Lightway. It leverages the open-source wolfSSL cryptography library to optimize reliability and connection speed, yielding improved user experience.
Split Tunneling. ExpressVPN’s split tunneling allows users to designate what traffic should go through the VPN’s encrypted connection and what should go outside of it. This is particularly suitable for streaming media or gaming.
ExpressVPN does not offer multi-hop connections. Each subscription is also limited to five simultaneous connections.
In addition to a monthly plan, which costs $12.95, ExpressVPN offers a 6-month and a 12-month plan.
Proton VPN is a high-speed Swiss VPN created to safeguard user privacy. In addition to the standard VPN features, Proton VPN has access to Tor network via VPN, multi-hop connections, and an impressive free subscription.
Its hundreds of servers all around the globe, including many free VPN servers, ensure that a high bandwidth server is always available nearby, regardless of where the connection request originates. The Proton VPN tool offers great speeds, as its VPN connections are low latency. Its premium subscription includes secure email, storage, and calendar tools.
Secure Core Architecture. Through its Secure Core architecture, Proton VPN’s secure VPN service offers protection against network-based attacks. Furthermore, Secure Core servers are located in hardened data centers in Switzerland, Sweden, and Iceland, and they are protected by strong privacy laws.
VPN Accelerator. Proton VPN uses advanced networking techniques and a set of unique technologies to reduce latency and redesign VPN protocols to offer increased VPN speeds of up to 400%.
Free version. Proton VPN’s free version works with Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and Linux, with no speed and data limits. However, it is limited to one device per subscription, and the free servers are located only in the U.S., the Netherlands, and Japan.
Customer support is restricted to tickets. The absence of live support makes support inefficient.
Proton VPN comes at a monthly cost of $9.99, with one- and two-year plans also available.
Popularly known as PIA, Private Internet Access VPN has extensive coverage, with 35,000+ servers spread across 84 countries. These servers are optimized for P2P and streaming activities, making PIA a popular VPN among users.
PIA allows users to connect up to 10 devices simultaneously per subscription and provides routers pre-configured to work with PIA, allowing VPN coverage on every device in a user’s network.
MACE. PIA offers built-in ad blocking through its MACE feature. It also blocks trackers and malicious sites at DNS level on Android and desktop.
Antivirus by PIA. PIA prioritizes privacy through its antivirus software, which gets rid of malware without user logging or tracking to offer users total control over both their data and their digital privacy.
No Logs Policy. Through a no-logs policy, PIA ensures that users’ VPN data is neither collected nor stored. As privacy is their value proposition, PIA does not store data such as bandwidth usage, IP addresses, and browsing history.
Split tunneling is unavailable for iPhones.
Private Internet Access VPN has three plans. The monthly plan costs $11.95. The other two plans are a one-year plan and a plan that spans three years plus three months.
IPVanish is a VPN service that delivers top-class features such as encrypted web browsing, great speeds, and split tunneling as well as an independently verified no-logs policy and more than 2,000 servers in 52 countries.
IPVanish’s customer service stands out, as it is one of the few top VPNs to offer 24/7 support. IPVanish transparently acknowledges that its applications create local logs but that the company cannot access them. It also provides a vast list of third-party analytics tools and cookies.
Unmetered Connections. IPVanish ensures user privacy is always maintained by offering an unmetered number of connections per IPVanish subscription. Users can connect as many devices as they like.
Kill Switch. IPVanish has a kill switch to save users’ real addresses from being exposed when VPN connections fail. The kill switch cuts off all internet traffic on user devices in the event of failure.
Shared IP Addresses. With more than 40,000 IPVanish IP addresses, users can more effectively mask their real online identities and locations. These addresses are shared among subscribers, making it more difficult to trace activity to individual users.
IPVanish is based in the United States, hence it is within the jurisdiction of the Five, Nine and Fourteen Eyes alliances, which could be a limiting factor.
IPVanish costs $10.99 per month. It also provides quarterly and annual billing options.
CyberGhost VPN is a service that boasts more than 7,500 servers in 91 different countries. It is based in Romania, meaning it is not a member of the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes alliances. Its value proposition for privacy also includes a no-logs policy. The VPN allows users to connect up to seven devices simultaneously per subscription and offers 24/7 support.
NoSpy Servers. CyberGhost’s NoSpy servers are specially tuned servers located in Romania, operated by CyberGhost. Aside from being outside the reach of the 14 Eyes alliance, Romania does not employ mass surveillance and data collection approaches used by most countries.
AES-256 Encryption. CyberGhost employs industry-standard encryption protocols to ensure users enjoy military-grade encryption of their internet traffic and location.
With the exception of Android, CyberGhost does not offer split tunneling.
CyberGhost costs $12.99 per month. It also provides billing options for one, two and three years, with the three-year option including three extra months for free.
With over 6,500 servers in more than 78 countries, PureVPN proves to be among the best VPNs for travel. PureVPN describes its protection of users’ online avatars as iron-clad and achieves this through the use of secure VPN servers, encryption, and Wi-Fi security. PureVPN also provides users with complete internet freedom through dedicated servers for P2P file sharing and optimized servers for streaming.
Dedicated IP Addresses. PureVPN provides dedicated IP addresses to ensure users are not blocked by websites that recognize shared IP addresses and that these websites remember users, as each uses a unique IP address. This however comes at an additional monthly cost.
Secure Wi-Fi. PureVPN’s Secure Wi-Fi is equipped with 256-bit bank-grade security protocols to keep users’ Wi-Fi connections safe from potential threats to their wireless networks.
The VPN does not provide multi-hop connections and only provides a handful of privacy tools.
PureVPN has monthly, yearly, and two-year plans. The two-year plan comes with three additional months for free. The monthly plan costs $10.95.
TunnelBear is a VPN service that silently works in the background to protect the devices of its users. With its simplicity and ease of use, it proves to be a great option for users who need a general-purpose VPN or users who are not too familiar with VPNs. When it comes to user privacy, TunnelBear declares that it does not log, monitor, or sell any of its users’ browsing activity.
Independent Security Audits. TunnelBear faces an annual public review process that covers its whole stack, including VPN clients, VPN servers, and TunnelBear servers. As a matter of fact, TunnelBear has completed four independent security audits.
Limited Free Subscription. TunnelBear offers a legitimately free VPN service, but restricts users to 500MB of data monthly, with an option to obtain more data by tweeting about the company.
TunnelBear does not yet support the WireGuard protocol and offers only a few advanced features.
TunnelBear has three plans; Free, Unlimited, and Teams. Unlimited starts from $3.33 monthly while the Teams plan costs $5.75 per user per month.
Mullvad is one of the most cost-effective VPNs, as it strikes a balance between its provision of solid basic VPN features at a fraction of the cost of other premium VPN services. This makes it worth using even though it may not have a lot of features and an extensive global server network. Furthermore, Mullvad’s stance on user security and privacy makes it impressively transparent, which goes a long way in terms of consumer confidence.
Anonymous Account. Mullvad does not ask users for any personal information, including their email addresses, and the company encourages anonymous payments with cryptocurrency or cash.
Integrated Kill Switch. The built-in kill switch by Mullvad halts all network traffic automatically in the event of connectivity issues while the VPN is on.
Externally Audited. Mullvad requests independent audits of their application and infrastructure to maintain transparency and identify areas of improvement in their security practices.
Mullvad does not have as extensive a server network as its competitors.
Mullvad interestingly offers one flat monthly rate of €5 ($5.11), regardless of the duration of user subscriptions, to provide its users with ultimate flexibility.
|Service||Free Version||Free Version Data Limit||>500 Servers||Server Locations||Ad Block||Split Tunneling|
|NordVPN||⨯||⨯||✔||59 countries||✔||✔ on Windows, Android, and Android TV|
|Proton VPN||✔||No limit||✔||63 countries||✔||✔|
|Private Access VPN||⨯||⨯||✔||84 countries||✔||✔|
|TunnelBear||✔||0.5 – 1.5 GB Monthly||✔||48 countries||✔||⨯|