In this guide:
- What is a VPN
- Why do I need a VPN?
- What is the best VPN provider?
- How to choose a VPN provider
- Final thoughts on online security
What is a VPN
Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a super simple, yet highly effective way to encrypt your internet connection. By ensuring that your internet content is encrypted you can improve your online security. You are essentially redirecting your internet traffic through a specific server in a specific location. The traffic between your computer and the server will be encrypted. And the website you are visited will think the VPN server you connected through is your physical location. This way you can also pretend as if you are in another country and thus access content that is otherwise restricted to you.
To find the best VPN provider you have to consider factors such as the price, number of servers, server locations, encryption protocols and compatibility. This guide aims to make the decision easier for you by providing an overview of all available options. The best VPN service right now is, in our opinion, PureVPN. Our experts have found that PureVPN offers the best combination of product quality and price.
Why do I need a VPN?
There are a number of good reasons to use a VPN. Here are the main reasons to why you should always use a VPN connection:
Secured and private internet connection
It doesn’t matter where you are or what time you are surfing the web, as long as your internet is secured via a VPN service, you don’t have to worry about any sorts of cyber threats anymore. Free public Wi-Fi hotspots are one of the most dangerous places to connect to the internet. But if you are connected through a reliable VPN service, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy free internet accesses.
Anonymously surf the web
Fact, invisibility is not possible in real life. But in the cyber world, you can pretty much become invisible. Simply connect to a VPN server and you can already surf the internet without being detected or monitored by hackers, your ISP provider or even the government people. You can also hide your actual IP address and represent a totally new one. If you’re from the US, you can use a British IP address, a European IP address or anything you wish to mask your real IP address with.
Access restricted websites and bypass internet censorship
Have you ever been denied access to a website simply because you don’t reside in a certain part of the world? There are a bunch of geographically restricted websites out there that only grant accesses to people who are residing in the same area as the websites’ base of operations. However, if you wish to access all the pages or websites on the World Wide Web, even the restricted ones, all you need is a VPN service.
Encrypts all data (outgoing and incoming)
All data that are transmitted over the internet are prone to risks. If you want to secure all data which contain personal and sensitive information that is being transmitted or received by your computer, make sure that your system is VPN-protected. With a VPN secured connection, all your data will be encrypted. Meaning, only the authorized recipients can access the information.
Quality services for affordable subscription Fees
$5 will go a long way in the VPN world. Getting your system or internet secured with a VPN technology isn’t that expensive. With only $5 to $20 a month (depending on which VPN provider you are subscribed to), you can already have encrypted data, secured internet connection, hidden IP address and private browsing experiences. Get amazing internet protections for affordable subscription fees.
What is the best VPN provider?
New VPN companies are springing up around us all the time. Various established names in the industry are finding it hard to compete with these new entrants, and this is because new companies now come with attractive features and VPN offerings at affordable prices.
It is only a matter of time before VPN becomes mainstream, especially due to the interference from Government agencies in the form of spying and unlawful surveillance.
During the early days, it was sufficient to understand the underlying popularity of a VPN company before signing up. And HideMyAss Pro VPN was always a priority and the first choice of VPN for almost all VPN users.
Now things have changed, and recent revelations about different VPN service providers and their data logging policies have put the users at risk.
There are various considerations on how to choose a VPN, and in this VPN guide, we attempt to understand the necessary requirements of a VPN user.
When you are comparing VPN providers, these are the factors to consider: Price, network, protocols, features, and ratings. Let’s go through each factor, one by one.
If you are still in doubt, we have handpicked our own top 5 favorite VPN providers. Each of them excels in different areas, and all five are excellent all-around VPN providers. Our general advice is to choose a well-established VPN provider with a significant footprint and feedback from real users. Don’t pick a small, shady VPN provider nobody has ever heard of. And a final tip: Take a close look at the user feedback on our VPN reviews. Read the comments and feedback on the individual VPN review pages and join the discussion on which is the best VPN.
The 5 best VPN providers for 2018
|VPN Provider||Price||Our Score|
PureVPN is a fast VPN service that offers various astounding features. First launched in 2007, PureVPN has gradually improvised over the time to turn out to be the preferred choice for a large customer base globally. It is seamlessly compatible Windows and works well for iOS as well with fantastic speed. However, for Android, its speed is a bit variable.
Since PureVPN is based in Hong Kong, you can stay relaxed about your privacy. Hong Kong presently has no particular laws for retaining customers’ information. That is why PureVPN never stores your private and personal details, the browsing behavior. Moreover, PureVPN, unlike other VPNs, never floods its customers with ads. So, you will have an overall peaceful experience while browsing through this VPN. Besides, it also offers remarkable security to its customers while browsing.
Using PureVPN is not at all expensive, unlike most VPN services. Its yearly subscription package begins with as low as $1.94 per month. Whereas, the monthly package can be subscribed for merely $10.95 per month. Each of its pricing plans offers you 7-days money back guarantee. What else would anyone expect from a VPN packed with such great features!
Want to know more about PureVPN? Read our complete PureVPN review.
Our list of best VPN providers would remain incomplete without NordVPN. Based in Panama, NordVPN is one of the safest VPNs since its country of origin has no specific laws for data retention. NordVPN started off in 2008 and gradually took over the whole world owing to its best VPN services.
NordVPN has gained a vast customer base from around the world owing to its fantastic performance with different operating systems. It has proven efficiency with Windows, Android, iOS, Mac OS and Linux.
NordVPN has several diversified servers, which empower it to work efficiently for Torrenting. With this feature, it works best for all other procedures bypassing location restrictions on various websites including Netflix.
For some users, NordVPN may appear a bit expensive, with a monthly package offered for $11.95 per month. However, its yearly plans seem rather cheap, particularly its 3-year plan which is available for $2.75 per month for 3 years.
Want to know more about NordVPN? Read our complete NordVPN review.
PrivateInternetAccess is yet another amazing VPN service for anyone interested in anonymous browsing. PIA offers a plethora of robust features for secure browsing along with diversified servers that let you bypass geo-restrictions. Compared with some of the best VPNs providing superfast speed, Private Internet Access may appear slightly slow. But, upon comparing with a vast majority of VPNs, it indeed offers good speed. In other words, if you want to experience speed at a lower price, Private Internet Access indeed comes in as the best option.
Private Internet Access, like any other good VPN, takes care of its user’s privacy. It has a clear no logging policy. Hence, it will never record or monitor your traffic or communication logs. However, it does record a few essential details from your usages, such as your email address and payment information. Moreover, if you choose the optimal control panel, PIA may store a temporary cookie in your drive.
Private Internet Access outshines from most other VPNs owing to the number of add-ons it supports. BitTorrent, Kill Switch, and file sharing are just some of its prominent features.
The pricing plans of PIA have a moderate cost. The most attractive plan is its 2-years package for $2.91 per month. The monthly package is available at a rate of $6.95 a month, whereas, the yearly plan will cost you $3.33 a month. Though the rates are not as cheap as we expect, it offers a 7 days money back guarantee. It means they are confident to grab their user with their exceptional services. Giving it a try may not be a bad idea, what do you say?
Want to know more about PrivateInternetAccess? Read our complete PrivateInternetAccess review.
Another popular VPN, which you may usually see in many reviews online, is the ExpressVPN. Though it may appear a bit costlier, its range of enthralling features justifies its price. ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands and has multiple servers across 87 countries. Though the exact number of servers is not disclosed, its representatives are confident to claim that the servers can adequately handle a bulk of the users. It means that they have a large set up to cater the needs of a vast clientele base.
At first glance, the location of this VPN, that is, the tax-free zone of British Virgin Islands, and the lack of detailed information available the internet, may create an ambiance of skepticism. However, you should not confuse their concealment as their incompetency to protect you. ExpressVPN now declares openly about it on its official website. (Earlier, there was not much information available on their site.)
It also has stated a clear no logging policy – clearly, a feature of some top VPNs. Thus, you may use their services with full confidence about your security and anonymity.
Like any other good VPN provider, ExpressVPN also exhibits impressive performance across all major operating systems like Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux. Plus, it also works well for different web browsers as well as routers.
A quick look at the pricing plans of ExpressVPN might scare you for a while. But, if you take into account all the great features it offers, you will realize it doesn’t cost you a fortune. Presently, it provides its yearly subscription at the rate of $8.32 per month. Whereas, if you opt for a monthly subscription, you will have to pay $12.95 each month.
Want to know more about ExpressVPN? Read our complete ExpressVPN review.
We end up our brief reviews of best VPN providers by listing a VPN with a rather funny name “HideMyAss”. You may have heard its name. But, if you are curious to know more about it in detail, then here is our quick review.
HideMyAss has a rather interesting background. HMA was launched by Jack Cator – a 16 years old boy at that time. He was merely adventurous to create something for his classmates that could help them access the databases bypassing the location restrictions. Eventually, this small project grew into a massive global business. Recently, HMA has been acquired by the famous venture AVG.
The most distinct feature of HideMyAss is its range of servers that extends out across the world. Considering its large network, and the stats available online, it is a safe bet to believe that HMA certainly has at least one server in each country.
HMA performs splendidly well across all operating systems, such as Windows, Mac, iOS or the Android. It can even work well with routers. You can also purchase some HMA installed Flash routers as well, which merely require you to log in to continue using the services. If we talk about the anonymity and security of users’ information, then HideMyAss is certainly reliable. However, unlike all the VPN providers listed above, HMA do record some of your logs.
It clearly states in its policy about the tracking of your username, your connect and disconnect time on HMA, uploaded and downloaded data, your IP address with which you connect with the VPN, the IP address of the VPN server you use. It may also record some details to ensure the prevention of any fraud and abusive activities.
HideMyAss may not be the cheapest VPN service. You can undoubtedly get several other good VPNs in a much lower amount. Nonetheless, the range of servers HMA offers is clearly absent in all other top VPNs. Hence, it justifies its cost. You can subscribe to its yearly package by paying an amount of $6.99 per month for 12 months. Whereas, if you choose their monthly package, then you will have to pay $11.99 per month.
Want to know more about HideMyAss? Read our complete HideMyAss review.
How to choose a VPN provider (VPN FAQ)
Still in doubt of which VPN provider is best for you? Here are a list of factors to consider, when you are looknig to invest in a VPN service:
Jurisdiction & data logging policies
Typically, we used to consider the cost to features aspect of a VPN before signing up, but not anymore.
The first and foremost consideration before choosing a VPN is, of course, the jurisdiction of the VPN company, their data logging policies, and the response of the company to any and all legal notices.
For instance, it was a surprise when we found out that HideMyAss! revealed data about their users due to a Federal investigation (albeit, it was due to illegal activities).
But still, when we utilize a VPN service, we are paying for the anonymity of the service and the security it provides through their encryption protocols.
An important point here is that all VPN providers operate as a regular business and as such have to follow rules of law and respond to governmental inquiries.
Additionally, it’s naïve to think a simple VPN subscription is a free pass to conduct illegal activities. It’s not.
Contrary to popular belief, US is a great jurisdiction, since there aren’t any proper data retention laws, unlike the EU, but if the servers are installed in the US, the Government can access data.
Therefore, it is best to choose a company that operates out of the US, but hosts servers in different countries. Countries like Panama, Russia, and the Netherlands also offer greater privacy and security.
But most important of all, always choose a VPN provider that can offer 100% guarantee against data logging and retention. It is the only available safest bet against modern surveillance technologies.
Data retention policies alone are insufficient for securing your online data. You need proper encryption between your computer and the VPN server, or the ISP or interfering Government bots can decipher your online conversations. It is best to have at least 256-bit encryption over OpenVPN, PPTP or L2TP/IPSec VPN protocols.
Most modern VPN companies that work with massive resources usually offer more than 256-bit encryption and all of the modern VPN protocols to ensure that their users enjoy greater online security.
Number of servers for speed & bandwidth
We can’t stress the point enough, but more extensive the infrastructure, better the services. A large number of servers in a diversified set of locations will improve speed, bandwidth, and reliability, and this is a proven fact.
Dedicated and knowledgeable VPN service providers understand this fact, which is why mainstream VPN service providers always strive to increase their server count at every opportunity.
We give priority to customer service, as we believe that a company that is dedicated to their customers will always listen to their customers.
A good customer service is generally indicative of the capabilities of the company. Only a VPN company confident of their services will be able to take criticisms and complaints positively.
Cost vs features
Generally, conventional advice is to go for the cheapest VPN service, but we would advise you to carefully consider the VPN services offered before choosing the most affordable VPN service provider.
Of course, the cost is an essential factor, but we wouldn’t want to choose a low-quality VPN for $2 a month or choose a $20/month VPN service that offers not-so-reliable VPN services.
We would consider anywhere between $5-$12/month to be quite nominal, provided we receive the features for the money that we pay.
Therefore, if we require more features (such as unlimited bandwidth, P2P capability, et al), we need to pay more. But $10-$12/ is the absolute maximum.
We have reviewed VPN service providers on VPN Creative that didn’t even provide a proper VPN platform for Windows.
This is not at all acceptable, and a good quality VPN service provider should offer support for all major desktop as well as mobile operating systems. We are looking at compatibility for at least Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.
The considerations mentioned above offer a detailed VPN guide on how to choose a VPN.
You should analyze a VPN provider by reading through reviews and customer feedback before signing up. It is always in your best interests to fully utilize a free trial, as most honest and trusted VPN service providers always offer a free trial.
In essence, you get what you pay for. To maintain a high-performance VPN infrastructure requires resources and workforce.
Expect to pay between $5.00-10.00 per month for a high-quality VPN service, anything higher, and you should expect some unique features.
Usually, you can get a better deal by signing up for a year at a time. Don’t get fooled by “free VPN”? because there will always be a catch.
Make sure the VPN provider has proprietary VPN servers in your own country. The longer the distance to the server, the more latency in your connection.
Depending on what you need the VPN for, specific server locations may be of priority.
But as a minimum, the VPN provider should offer servers close to your own location as well as servers in the United States.
To learn more about VPN networks, read our guide on better VPN performance.
The most common VPN encryption protocols include OpenVPN, PPTP, SSTP, and L2TP. PPTP is widespread, but a bit outdated.
OpenVPN is an open-source protocol that is performing quite well. Make sure the VPN provider you choose has at least a few VPN protocol options and offers some alternatives to standard PPTP.
Does the VPN provider log user activity? Does it offer mobile apps, unlimited download speed? Which features are included in the subscription?
You may also want to choose a VPN provider that accepts Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as a payment option?
Privacy is one of the biggest selling points for a VPN. If the provider keeps logs, that will defeat the purpose.
Secondly, Bitcoin and other digital currencies will allow you an extra layer of anonymity in your purchasing.
Best VPN service provides of 2018: Final thoughts
Here we reach the end of our comprehensive list of the best VPN providers for 2018. We have carefully picked up the top 5 VPNs that clearly fulfill the requirements that should necessarily be present in an ideal VPN.
You may undoubtedly find online some other VPN service providers as well. However, the top 5 VPN listed here are all distinct from the others owing to their remarkable features. We hope this page will help you select the best VPN for you, finally!
VPNs can be used in a plethora of situations, like ensuring online privacy, unblocking websites and secure torrenting. To find the best VPN for each usecase, take a look at our guide on finding the best VPN service for every situation.