Top 10 VPN Services for Best Security and Privacy Online
Did you know that whenever you go online, you are giving away your personal information, a lot of it?
That might scare you a bit but it is actually true. You are not as safe as you may think you might be unless you use a serious VPN (Virtual Private Network) whenever you go online. A VPN reduces how much of your personal data/information you give away.
When you browse the internet through a VPN app or proxies like NordVPN, Atlas, Tunnel Bear, Cyberghost, Express VPN, Hotspot Shield, name it, your computer/device will contact the website through your VPN server’s encrypted connection.
FYI — Review the last post to get familiar with internet jargon like ISP, IP, etc.
What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) routes all of your internet activity through a secure, encrypted connection before it’s out on the internet or to your browser. Encrypted means that it prevents other people from seeing what you’re doing online from your work projects to bank account login information. Basically, a VPN app or software provides an extra layer of security and privacy for all of your online activities.
How Does a VPN Work?
A VPN hides your real physical location from your ISP and potential hackers, IP, even your browser history. It is an easy way to protect your privacy online, and for circumventing unwanted internet restrictions.
A VPN is a piece of software that you can download to your computer, phone, and other devices to help you stay more private online. They encrypt all the data that you send and receive on the internet.
It does not matter what device you use, in this article, you will learn about VPN for PC, PlayStation, Xbox, iMac (Mac OS), Linux, VPN mobile apps (Android Google Playstore, Apple Store) for Smartphones (iPhones, iPads), even for smart TVs, your online security should be a priority.
You will find that there are various levels of data encryption and today we look at the VPN services with military-grade encryption (one of the best security protocols), and a range of other security protocols (OpenVPN, L2TP, IKEv2, and more), DNS leak protection, and a kill-switch.
We will be talking about the best VPN services you can use based on quality or service, the number of servers and locations, VPN speed among other factors.
This guide explains everything you need to know about VPNs — from how they work, to the multitudes of uses they offer. There are more than 300 VPNs but today, we only have room for the best 10.
Types of VPN and Protocols
You might already be wondering how many types of VPNs there are, understanding the types of VPNs might be helpful before we actually jump into the list of the top 10 VPNs. Below you will also find VPN protocols. VPN protocols determine exactly how data is routed through a connection.
- Remote Access— Allows access to VPN from a distance via the internet
2. Site-to-Site VPN — Involves Intranet and Extranet-based connections. Intranet-based is when several offices of the same company are connected while Extranet based means — Yap, you guessed it, different companies or offices connected to other offices or companies. Not to be confused with Amazon AWS site-to-site VPN.
3. Internet Protocol Security (IPSec )— For encrypting sensitive data, authentication data. Mostly used for protection against data confidentiality.
4. Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) — enables the secure transfer of data from a remote client to a private enterprise server.
5. Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) — For tunneling network traffic between two peers over an existing network (usually the Internet). It is an extension of the Point-to-Point tunneling protocol
6. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) —For ensuring privacy, authentication, and data integrity in Internet communications. First developed by Netscape in 1995. TLS ensures that sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers are safe.
7. OpenVPN — Open-source connection protocol used to make sure any data sent over the internet is encrypted and private. It has a strong encryption algorithm because of the collaborative open-source community and it is a highly configurable protocol for that matter. It is one of the most secure VPN protocols available. It runs better on a (UDP) User Datagram Protocol.
User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is a communications protocol that is primarily used to establish low-latency and loss tolerating connections between applications on the internet.
8. Secure Shell (SSH) —A network communication protocol used to transfer hypertext such as web pages) and share data.
What Information do I need to protect with a VPN?
If you did not know, your ISP (Internet Service Provider/s), as well as the government, can track your behavior on the internet. For example, they see:-
- Your IP address, your device, and location (where you are browsing from)
- Sites you visit and how much time you spend on each
- What content you are downloading and a lot more
That is one of the reasons it is not recommended to use a Free VPN service. I have a friend who always says, “There is nothing like free lunch”.
Best 10 VPN Service Providers
You must protect yourself with a trustworthy VPN to be safe online. If you are looking for a Free VPN, you had better use the trial versions of the most secure and Best VPN with Premium Services. See the list below:-
1. Nord VPN
Your Online security is just a click away. Nord VPN strives to make the internet better than it is today. It is one of the most trusted internet security providers in the market, serving over 14 million users worldwide. NordVPN is recognized by influential tech sites and IT security specialists.
- Over 5100 servers in 60 countries
- Securely store, organize, and access your passwords from anywhere.
- 10 GB private cloud storage
- Back up your data automatically
- One account, 6 devices (Protect yourself, friends, and family)
- Get NordVPN for your phone, tablet, laptop. Don’t forget your smart TV, Mac, and router.
- Worldwide access with No bandwidth limits.
- Kill Switch blocks your device from accessing the web if a VPN connection accidentally drops,
- With CyberSecurity technology that protects you from accessing dangerous websites that host malicious software (virus, malware)
- 30 Day 100% money-back guarantee.
Monthly subscriptions cost between $8 and $13 per month, while yearly plans most often go for $6 — $7/month. Feel free to use the online payment service of your choice, credit/debit cards, and even some cryptocurrencies to buy a NordVPN subscription.
2. Express VPN
The Editor’s choice at Techradar. The software is marketed as a privacy and security tool that encrypts users’ web traffic and masks their IP addresses. Express VPN is one of the World’s most trusted VPN providers. The setup is instant and it works on any device. ExpressVPN collects no activity or connection logs.
- Network of high-speed servers across 94 countries, 160 locations.
- Secure access, worldwide, connect reliably from anywhere.
- Single ExpressVPN subscription covers VPN for PC, Router, Android, Mac, Amazon Fire TV, Apple iPhone, tablet, and your computer/laptop.
- Lightning-quick connectivity powered by next-generation technology.
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Best-in-class security & encryption
- No activity logs & no connection logs
- Network Lock stops traffic from entering or leaving your device when the connection is interrupted.
- 30-day money-back guarantee (Get a refund. No hassle, no risk.)
You can get started at $12.95 per month and you might also consider taking advantage of the deals and offers of up to $9.9 per month when purchasing yearly plans and subscriptions.
Get a risk-free VPN trial with all the features of ExpressVPN.
3. Surfshark VPN
Top-rated VPN on CNET and Techradar. Surfshark has long been an excellent VPN service. Its goal is to humanize digital security to make it accessible to all. Their story begins in 2018, the same year they introduced browser extensions, apps for Android, iOS, Windows macOS, Android TV & Fire TV.
Since then Surfshark has been recognized by a number of globally acknowledged independent organizations. Seeks trust by delivering high-quality, working innovations in the cybersecurity sphere.
- A single subscription covers an unlimited number of devices (phones (Apple and Android, laptops (Windows PC and Mac OS, tablets (iPads, etc), browser extensions, TVs, consoles, and Wi-Fi routers).
- 3200+ servers in 65 countries
- Contains Antivirus to help remove harmful files.
- Checks for data breaches and with a strict no-logs policy.
- Two-factor authentication
- Shield yourself from malware & phishing attempts.
- Use the switch to make sure your data is not exposed in case a connection with a VPN server is lost.
100% money-back guarantee for your first 30 days. Surfshark premium subscriptions start at $12.95 per month and go as low as $2.21 — $6.49 on promotions.
You need a Sufshark VPN account login or sign up to access your account. Read more about the features it offers.
4. Atlas VPN
Explore the internet with more freedom and security using Atlas VPN as your shield against threats and online snooping, be it hackers, governments, or ISPs. Atlas VPN has a mission to support your decision to stand up for the right to privacy and control over your digital life.
- Does not limit the number of simultaneous connections you make.
- Ultra-fast 4k streaming with 45+ servers
- No geo-restrictions, censorship, or tracking.
- 750+ high-speed VPN servers
- Network kill switch — no information leaking due to connection drops.
- Safe Browse mode prevents you from entering potentially dangerous websites.
- 30-day money-back guarantee
Get started from $9.99 per month, or save on yearly plans and VPN deals.
5. TunnelBear VPN
Featured on Techradar, Forbes, Lifehacker among other top authority websites, Tunnelbear is one of the best virtual private networks (VPNs). A more secure way to browse the web, with servers from over 49 countries. It is a public VPN service based in Toronto, Canada. It encrypts your internet connection to keep your online activity private on any network.
- 175,000 combined 5-star ratings on different app stores
- 500MB of free monthly data.
- Secure up to five devices with one paid TunnelBear account.
- Respects your privacy — will never monitor, log, or sell any of your browsing activity.
- Uses strong AES 256-bit encryption by default.
- Optimized for fast web surfing and streaming, no buffering.
- Stop IP-based tracking, passwords, and data theft.
- Bears are super adorable.
For 5 connected devices and priority customer support, check out the TunnelBear pro or premium plans, you could get the Unlimited with a promotion coupon code starting at $3.33 per month and in addition to a dedicated account manager at $5.57 per month.
Once the Tunnelbear VPN download is done and the app installed on your new device, get a free TunnelBear account or simply log in to your existing one and connect to a server of your choice, Kenya is my favorite.
Try TunnelBear Free No Credit card required.
6. CyberGhost VPN
Powered by 15 years of expertise, CyberGhost is one of the world’s most reliable privacy and security solutions in the world. It will give your digital life one extra layer of protection. Founded in 2011 in Bucharest, Romani also with employees in Germany. One of the first VPNs I used back in 2013 when I was still learning how to get a business online.
- Fast and reliable VPN with Unlimited bandwidth and traffic.
- Over 7500 VPN servers worldwide
- Automatic kill switch
- Over 36 million users across the globe.
- Enjoy a secure VPN connection on up to 7 devices simultaneously.
- Dedicated servers for streaming, torrenting, and ultimate privacy.
- Connect a variety of devices (Apple TV, Smart TV, Playstation, etc)
Starting with a trial of the premium level features completely free (no credit card required), Or paid subscriptions at $12.99 per month going as low as $2.17 for promotions and $6.39 per month if you are purchasing a yearly CyberGhost VPN Subscription.
Note: The free version lacks Wi-Fi protection, Kill switch, data anonymity. You can read more about the free trial here. It includes the CyberGhost browser extension for chrome and other supported browsers.
45-day money-back guarantee. Get CyberGhost VPN today.
7. Hotspot Shield VPN
World’s fastest VPN by Speedtest. Also, a private, efficient, and secure VPN provider that allows access to all your favorite sites and apps. Hotspot Shield is a public VPN service operated by AnchorFree, Inc. The service protects its users’ Internet traffic from eavesdropping. It doesn’t log any data that could be tied to you, shielding your identity and info from hackers and cyber predators.
- Enjoy your favorite movies and shows worldwide on Netflix, YouTube, Prime, Disney+, and more at blazing-fast speeds.
- With servers across 80+ countries and 35+ cities. Unlock worldwide content with over 115+ virtual locations.
- Secure 5 devices with one Hotspot Shield account, from laptops, phones, Smart TVs, and devices, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, routers, and more.
- Block dangerous and potentially harmful sites.
- Access and unlock content and sites and hide your IP from online snoops.
- Optimized for online streaming websites/services.
Start by creating an account, download, and Installing Hotspot Shield to surf the web privately and securely today. Hotspot Shield VPN has a trial version (free download for Windows 7 or 10 and browser extension) limited to 500MBs per day and speeds of only 2MBs. It also offers a free proxy allowing you to unblock sites such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter.
For unlimited bandwidth and premium server locations, consider upgrading or Try Hotspot Shield risk-free for 45 days
8. Mozilla VPN
Mozilla VPN is an open-source virtual private network with a web browser extension, desktop application, and mobile application developed by Mozilla. It runs on a global network of servers using the most advanced WireGuard protocol. For more than 20 years, Mozilla has had a track record of putting people first and fighting for online privacy. Backed by a non-profit, committed to building a better and healthier internet for all people.
- Option to connect up to 5 devices
- 400+ servers in 30+ countries
- No logging, tracking, or sharing of your network data.
- No bandwidth restrictions
- Surf, stream, game, while maintaining your privacy online.
Mozilla VPN is Currently offered in Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, the UK, and the US.
9. Open VPN
OpenVPN is a virtual private network system that implements techniques to create secure point-to-point or site-to-site connections in routed or bridged configurations and remote access facilities. The OpenVPN Cloud is a next-generation private networking solution provided by OpenVPN, a leading global private networking and cybersecurity company.
- No Servers Required. Free to Connect.
- Connect to various devices and operating systems (Windows, macOS, Android iOs, and Linux)
- Two-Factor Authentication for an extra layer of security.
- Worldwide secure access, with constant protection against cyber threats.
- Securely Access Remote Desktop, File, and Web Servers
Open VPN is available for free with 3 main connection plans. Open VPN supports a variety of payment methods. Including digital wallets like PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, among other payment options. You start by creating a free Open VPN Cloud account and follow the steps to set up your VPN or download the PC (Windows) version and use the client.
10. Kaspersky VPN
Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection is made for both mobile and desktop apps and delivers impressive speeds. Kaspersky Lab is a big name in the cybersecurity industry as they are also anti-virus providers. The tech giant was co-founded in 1997 by billionaire Eugene Kaspersky.
One very important thing you need to know, however, is the logging policy with Kaspersky's ‘secure’ VPN.
- More than 2,000 servers span 49 countries including Hong Kong and Japan.
- Protect your privacy and data online without compromising on speed.
- Kill Switches on All Paid Plans
- Torrenting Access
- 256-bit encryption (your data passes through an encrypted VPN tunnel).
Get started with a free version of the Kaspersky ‘secure’ VPN that offers 200MBs daily, only free for one device. If you want to upgrade to a premium account with no limit to bandwidth and other Kaspersky VPN premium subscription benefits, it's between $2.25 and $4.99 per month.
Why Use a VPN? Benefits of Using a Virtual Private Network.
There are many reasons you may want to use a VPN. While online, you never know what risks you and your organization are open to. If data brokers, or even your internet service provider does not sell your data to advertisers, your passwords or other personal data may be hacked by someone on a public unprotected Wi-Fi network, such as what’s offered in coffee shops, airports, restaurants, and bars, or worse.
Some of the reasons you need a VPN include:-
- Protect yourself from Credit card fraud.
- Unblock restricted sites and apps at your organization/company to access content that is not available in your location including educational materials and e-books.
- Use it on streaming services (HBO, Hulu, ESPN, NETFLIX, YouTube, Prime Video, Spotify, BBC Player, and more)
- Stay anonymous by changing your IP address every time you go online, whether you’re doing your project research, Live streaming on YouTube, Gaming on Twitch, just scrolling through your favorite social media channel, on Twitter catching up on the latest news and trends, torrenting files, or doing your online shopping.
- Protect your personal data from hackers, advertisers, or other third parties
- Mask your online activity from government surveillance (When you use a VPN in Uganda you get to choose a server from another country of your choice and you appear to be browsing from the server location)
What happens if a VPN is disconnected? (Kill Switch)
When your VPN is disconnected you go back to a public IP which again exposes you to hackers and all sorts of security risks. However, you can use a Kill switch to avoid that. A kill switch is a functionality in some VPNs that disconnects you from the internet once a VPN connection fails.
Benefits of Paying for a VPN Subscription
As we have seen, some VPN services are not clear enough on how much privacy they provide for their clients/customers. For example, some free VPNs collect sensitive data from users and store it in their databases. Again, one of the main reasons to pay for a VPN subscription. Other benefits include:-
- Speed — I am sure you have seen your internet slow down a little when you connect to your VPN service.
- Customer Support (enjoy high priority, exclusive care, and support)
- More servers around the globe (Some Free VPNs offer limited servers)
- Reliability — To avoid a potential breach of security and uninterrupted internet usage (freedom), you will want to use a paid VPN. Free VPNs tend to be unstable sometimes given the number of people connecting to them.
Tor Network vs VPN
As you have noticed, we have been talking about data and privacy a lot.
If you want complete anonymity you might want to download a Tor browser or even explore the dark web. A Tor Browser keeps on changing your IP address to avoid hackers from tracking your behavior. Plus it automatically clears all third-party tracking cookies as soon as you are done browsing.
How to Choose the Right VPN Service.
Choosing the right VPN depends on many factors, for example, what do you want the VPN for? Some of these VPNs are good for gaming, some are best known for accessing streaming websites like youtube.com, movie sites, or other documentary hosting websites like NetFlix. Of course, not leaving out the reliability, how many servers, and other personal needs. Other things to consider include:-
- Pricing and premium subscription plans or options
- Check the bandwidth cap
- Customer care and support
- Dedicated and dynamic IP
- Speed and performance
- Ease of remote access
How do I Download, Install and Use a VPN?
Three questions in one. But no a problem, because it’s straightforward to download anything from the internet, or is it?
Well, to download a VPN, you simply visit the appropriate website like TunnelBear, Atlas, or NordVPN and register a free or purchase a premium account with your email and password, some VPN websites do not require registering, you simply click on the Download link and Run the download app to install it.
On Smartphones, you simply visit the Google Playstore or the Apple store for iPhone and iPad users to search and complete your VPN download. For PlayStation and Xbox, use a VPN router for a faster connection.
Using a VPN does not require a user manual or a Cybersecurity Udacity nano degree, nor does it require becoming an IT Security Specialist, most of the VPNs come already configured so you do not have to mess with any settings. It starts automatically as soon as the installation is done.
Some VPNs have browser extensions. For example, express vpn chrome extension, Nordvpn chrome extension or other free VPN chrome extensions, or Mozilla Firefox VPN extensions like Dot VPN chrome extension best know to be 100% free from Spain to Saudi Arabia even Uganda. Free VPN browser extensions are installed the same way as any other extensions. While the Opera browser comes with in-built free VPN. Paid VPNs are the best option.
Are VPNs actually Safe?
One of the goals of a VPN is to provide security and online safety. Most of them are military-grade encryption software. However, they are not to be confused with Antivirus software, you might still catch malware if you are visiting phishing websites and non-secure websites or downloading compromised files and torrents. Do not forget to keep the lookout for trojans, viruses, malware, spyware, and bots.
“Military-grade” refers to AES-256 encryption. A standard established in order to be in compliance with the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) that governs the handling of sensitive data. It offers 128-bit block encryption via the use of cryptographic keys.
Most VPNs also have a no-logs policy, which means your browser history and personal data are not stored on the VPN’s servers. Even though some VPN companies violate this policy and sell customer data.
If you have been looking for VPNs offering the highest online security and anonymity levels, you can keep referring to this post as we will keep updating it as we test more VPNs to help you protect the online privacy of your organization, family, or your business from hackers and data brokers.
Not forgetting huge sums of unwanted data leaks or third-parties spying on your online behaviors, recording your search history and interfering with your browser with ads.
If you want to learn some tech skills online, or access geo-restricted content and go streaming on websites like NetFlix, YouTube, Hulu, ESPN, and the like, you now know some of the VPN options you can rely on or not.
Protecting your privacy whenever you are online for shopping or any other business without having to worry about Credit/Debit card fraud, is very vital and when you are using a free public Wi-Fi network, you will never know what lies at the other end. So, a VPN could help with what goes on online.
What is your favorite VPN? Which one do you think should be on this list?