In the past, some VPN services would offer different pricing tiers, each of which offered a different set of features. One way to separate these pricing tiers was to limit the bandwidth (how much data you can transfer). With premium services, this practice is now almost unheard of, and all of the services we have listed do not limit their users' bandwidth. Bandwidth limits live on, however, in free VPN services.
If you're of the iPhone persuasion, there are a few other caveats to consider for a mobile VPN. Some iPhone VPN apps don't use OpenVPN, even if the VPN service that made the app supports the protocol. That's because Apple requires additional vetting if a company wants to include OpenVPN with its app. VPN app developers have slowly started jumping through those extra hoops and are bringing support for protocols such as OpenVPN to iOS.
Despite some of the drawbacks, ZorroVPN is an interesting service if you are looking for advanced online anonymity. With their OpenVPN file config generator, you can create unique VPN chains with the Tor network and proxies (up to four hops). Unlike with Perfect Privacy, however, these multi-hop configurations cannot be dynamically changed within the VPN client.
Borders still exist on the web, in the form of geographic restrictions for streaming content. The BBC iPlayer, for example, lets UK residents watch the Beeb to their heart's content. The rest of the world, not so much. But if you were to select a VPN server in the UK, your computer's IP address would appear to be the same as the server, allowing you to view the content.
Hide My Ass! is one of the more expensive VPN providers going. On a rolling monthly basis, you’ll be paying £7.99 a throw, while a £59.88 annual subscription is equivalent to paying £4.99 a month. As we said above, if you need a VPN service with a huge number of endpoints across the globe, then Hide My Ass! is the VPN for you. Otherwise, you might be better off looking elsewhere.
Aside from the highly practical, there are other benefits to using a VPN for gaming. Many video games offer country-exclusive content. Gamers hate this, as it essentially bars them from improving or upgrading their games with cool extras, but because these software’s can spoof your location, you can access all downloadable content, no matter where in the world you are.
Even though Tor is free, we don’t think it’s the best option for most people. If you aren’t familiar with Tor, this handy interactive graphic shows how it protects an Internet connection, and this series goes into more detail about how Tor works. Runa Sandvik, a former researcher with The Tor Project who is now part of the information security team at The New York Times (parent company of Wirecutter), described it as “a tool that allows users to remain anonymous and uncensored.” When we asked expert Alec Muffett about whether he personally used a VPN, he told us he actually spent most of his work time using Tor. But Tor has a reputation for slow connections, can be blocked by some websites, and isn’t suitable for some peer-to-peer applications like BitTorrent.
ExpressVPN’s iOS app is extremely easy to set up and use, and their website has a huge collection of how-to guides and manuals explaining in detail the installation and use of their clients. The iOS client has a user-friendly interface allowing you to connect with a single tap and select servers according to various filters. It supports iOS 8 and higher, so you might have access to better support for the iPhone than with other providers.
Some VPNs have tools that are particularly useful for torrenting. NordVPN is one of several companies that offer static IP addresses for purchase, which can desirable in some circumstances. TorGuard VPN has built its entire reputation around protecting torrenters. In addition to the usual VPN protection, TorGuard also offers static IP addresses and access to special high-bandwidth connections, for an additional fee.
Given the aggressive pricing and marketing of other services that don’t measure up to our picks, IVPN’s most obvious downside may look like its price: At the time of this writing, the regular price for an annual IVPN subscription is $100 (about $8 per month). Promotions regularly bringing that down to $70 to $80 per year, but some services have regular pricing of half that. But you shouldn’t pay for a VPN you can’t trust, or one so slow or confusing that you avoid using it at all. We think IVPN’s combination of trust, security, and performance is worth the price. But if it’s too expensive for your needs, consider our budget pick instead.
Some virtual networks use tunneling protocols without encryption for protecting the privacy of data. While VPNs often do provide security, an unencrypted overlay network does not neatly fit within the secure or trusted categorization. For example, a tunnel set up between two hosts with Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) is a virtual private network, but neither secure nor trusted.
Although many wrongly consider it an entry-level provider, Vypr is a leading virtual networking client that suits even advanced user needs. Once prone to issues with slow loading times and limited connectivity in certain parts of the world, Vypr is constantly upgrading and improving – so much so that they have found their way back to the top of many lists. The client is very affordable but can be frustrating during peak hours.
If you’re not so keen to download a dedicated free VPN app, why not try the Opera browser? Since mid-2016 it has shipped with its own VPN, enabling users to easily bypass region blocking and keep their online transactions secure. It may not be the fastest VPN — and it’s unsuitable for streaming Netflix or torrenting — but Opera VPN is a very popular free choice. Indeed, we’re expecting other browsers to follow suit quite soon.
Overplay is easy to install and even easier to use. Its simple user interface is suitable for those who do not want complex features. All one needs to do is run the app and choose the country you want to connect to. It offers a very good speed, with any speed reduction hardly noticeable. As the software has server locations in 48 countries and over 14,000 IP addresses, anonymity is assured.
CyberGhost has been around since 2011 and has come out strongly as a supporter of "civil rights, a free society, and an uncensored Internet culture." We really liked how the company specifically showcases, on their Web site, how folks normally prevented from accessing such important services as Facebook and YouTube can bring those services into their lives via a VPN.