Best VPN Services for Security

A VPN is as important an online tool as antivirus and antimalware these days. Here’s a handful of the best VPN picks for security.

Best VPN overall
Nord VPN
NordVPN
4.8 out of 5 stars
4.75
US
$11.99
/mo
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Military-grade encryption
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Enhanced privacy
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Easy to use
Best budget VPN
ProtonVPN
ProtonVPN
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starts at
$0
/mo
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Military-grade encryption
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Inbuilt anti-malware
  • Icon Pros  Light
    10 simultaneous connections
Best global VPN
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
US
$12.95
/mo
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Military-grade encryption
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Lots of countries, locations
  • Icon Pros  Light
    User-friendly guides
Best versatile VPN
Cyberghost
CyberGhost VPN
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
AU
$17.99
/mo
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Military-grade encryption
  • Icon Pros  Light
    7,000+ servers
  • Icon Pros  Light
    45-day money-back trial
Best family VPN
Surfshark
Surfshark VPN
4 out of 5 stars
4
US
$12.95
/mo
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Military-grade encryption
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Icon Pros  Light
    Easy-to-use software/apps

For a dependable virtual private network (VPN), prices range from around $15 a month to closer to $20 a month in Australian dollars. Unfortunately, the trend is towards charging in US dollars, so keep an eye out for conversion fees. Premium VPNs are better than free VPNs, and you can safely expect thousands of servers, military-grade encryption, and at least five simultaneous connections per account.

NordVPN is our pick as the best overall VPN because it ticks all of the main boxes. It’s a reasonably priced VPN that boasts military-grade encryption to ensure your connection is both secure and private. NordVPN has a strict no-log policy, is based in a country with privacy-friendly laws, and is open to third-party security audits.

Whether you’re using NordVPN as a device app or computer software, it has a user-friendly interface that’s easy for first-time VPN users. Confident VPN users can tap into specialty servers for additional protection, while more advanced features like antimalware, a kill switch, and split tunnelling are a few clicks away.

Compare the best VPNs

Service
Monthly price
Annual price
ServersIcon Tooltip  Dark
CountriesIcon Tooltip  Dark
LocationsIcon Tooltip  Dark
DevicesIcon Tooltip  Dark
LoggingIcon Tooltip  Dark
AuditableIcon Tooltip  Dark
Anti-malware
Antivirus
Split tunnellingIcon Tooltip  Dark
Kill switchIcon Tooltip  Dark
EncryptionIcon Tooltip  Dark
RSA keysIcon Tooltip  Dark
Trial period
Nord VPNNordVPN
540460836ZeroYesYesNoYesYesAES 256-bit4096-bit30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPNExpressVPN
3000+941605ZeroYesNoNoYesYesAES 256-bit4096-bit30-day money-back guarantee
SurfsharkSurfshark VPN
3200+65111UnlimitedZeroYesNoYesYesYesAES 256-bit2048-bit30-day money-back guarantee
CyberghostCyberGhost VPN
7618911137ZeroNoNoYesYesYesAES 256-bit4096-bit45-day money-back guarantee
ProtonVPNProtonVPN*
1625638910ZeroYesYesNoYesYesAES 256-bit4096-bit30-day money-back guarantee

Prices are accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

*ProtonVPN Plus plan used for comparison. Cheaper plans are available, but offer limited servers, connections, speed, and more.

Notepad
What is a VPN?

VPN is short for ‘virtual private network’, which is a technical description for an installable software/app barrier that, when enabled, enhances security and adds anonymity to the internet connection of a specific device (or all devices on a network if configured at a router level).

1. NordVPN: Best VPN overall

Best VPN overall
Nord VPN
NordVPN
Our Rating
4.8 out of 5 stars
4.75
US $11.99
/mo

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

There’s a reason NordVPN is the VPN service by which all others are measured. It’s got a great mix when it comes to the all-important numbers: from monthly, annual, and biennial pricing to the healthy server, country, and location counts.

The six simultaneous connections bit isn’t as good as some of NordVPN’s closest peers, but it’s enough to protect all of your compatible devices (and maybe some others in your home). While privacy and security are paramount—NordVPN has a strict no-log policy and is open to external audits—we also appreciate how easy it is to use for first-time VPN-ers.

For more advanced users, NordVPN has some great depth. Connecting to servers is automated, straightforward, or you can dive into individual servers on a per-country basis. Plus, dig beneath the hood for antimalware, split tunnelling, and kill-switch features.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Top-tier data/channel encryption
Pro Bullet Incredibly easy to use
Pro Bullet Accessible feature-rich depth
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Six device limit
Con Bullet Comparatively low counts for countries, locations
Con Bullet Charged in US dollars

Despite being the VPN standard, NordVPN still offers competitive pricing compared to its closest peers. If you’re not sure that you want to commit, NordVPN’s monthly pricing is second only to ProtonVPN for our top picks, and there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee if you want to trial it.

While the numbers for NordVPN’s countries and locations aren’t as high as others, the main popular international locations are covered, and there are heaps of servers in Australia. NordVPN is quick to connect and has top-tier encryption, and it didn’t mess with the other online apps we use every day during testing.

For first-time VPN users, NordVPN is incredibly easy to use, but we also appreciate that the service continues to evolve for more advanced users. Inbuilt antimalware is in beta form, adding an extra layer of online protection, plus there’s a configurable kill switch, split tunnelling, and other advanced features if you feel confident enough to tweak your VPN experience.

To learn more, read our full NordVPN review.

2. ProtonVPN: Best budget VPN

Best budget VPN
ProtonVPN
ProtonVPN
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starts at
$0
/mo

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Even though ProtonVPN uses US pricing, meaning how much you pay depends on the exchange rate, it’s still the cheapest monthly pricing you’ll find on this page. While the value does drop compared to its peers on longer-duration plans, ProtonVPN has cheap ongoing monthly pricing and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Better still, ProtonVPN is the only VPN on this page that has a truly free version, which also takes out the top spot on our best free VPNs picks. Admittedly, while ProtonVPN has some of the lowest server, country, and location counts for its service, it offers an impressive number of simultaneous streams.

Beyond this, ProtonVPN matches the other picks on this page for data and channel encryption, while also maintaining a no-log policy that’s auditable. The user interface may take some getting used to, particularly on computers, but we appreciate the at-a-glance metrics and like how easy it is to activate advanced features.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Top-tier data/channel encryption
Pro Bullet 10 simultaneous connections
Pro Bullet Viable free version
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Low counts for servers, countries, locations
Con Bullet Comparatively expensive annual/biennial pricing
Con Bullet Sizeable hit to download speeds

ProtonVPN is so peerless on this page as a budget-friendly pick that it’s the only VPN service to offer a free trial. While understandably limited in some respects, the free version of ProtonVPN maintains its strict no-log policy and doesn’t have any data limits (unlike other free VPNs). For US $5 a month, ProtonVPN Basic ups the server and country count (including servers in Australia), plus it adds peer-to-peer support and the NetShield adblocker.

Even if you pay US $10 a month for ProtonVPN Plus, it’s still the cheapest regular monthly pricing you’ll find on this page, and comes with even better features, including 1,600+ servers in 63 countries. Admittedly, those numbers aren’t as big as some of ProtonVPN’s peers, but the VPN provider does have servers where it counts.

More impressive is the 10 simultaneous connections that come with ProtonVPN Plus, which means you can viably protect most or all of the compatible devices in your home. Despite the cheap month-to-month pricing, ProtonVPN doesn’t compromise on all-important encryption nor on privacy, which translates to a service that’s auditable and keeps zero logs of your internet activities.

To learn more, read our full ProtonVPN review.

3. ExpressVPN: Best global VPN

Best global VPN
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
Our Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
US $12.95
/mo

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

If you’re looking to weigh up NordVPN against its closest competitor, look no further than ExpressVPN. The two VPN juggernauts compete closely on price (NordVPN wins), simultaneous connections (ExpressVPN has the edge), as well as the number of servers (NordVPN), countries (ExpressVPN), and locations (ExpressVPN). Those last two wins are why ExpressVPN takes this category.

ExpressVPN has the same 30-day money-back guarantee in lieu of a proper free trial, alongside the same top-tier data and channel encryption. Like NordVPN, ExpressVPN has a strict no-logging policy and is open to audits.

Both services are incredibly easy to use, but ExpressVPN has the edge in this regard, thanks in part to the guided installation process and extensive library of video guides for additional configuration on the ExpressVPN website.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Top-tier data/channel encryption
Pro Bullet Lots of server locations
Pro Bullet User-friendly video guides
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Only five simultaneous connections
Con Bullet Pricey compared to peers
Con Bullet Comparatively low server count

Whether you’re in Australia or travelling abroad, ExpressVPN gives you lots of options despite a lowish overall server count. ExpressVPN’s 3,000+ servers are found in 94 countries around the globe, separated into 160 locations, which is great for a VPN you can confidently travel with.

To make it more accessible, ExpressVPN recommends smart locations and remembers your recent connection locations. Outside of this, the intimidating scroll of the full list of server locations is tamed by categorisation into Asia Pacific, Americas, Europe, or Middle East and Africa. Alternatively, you can manually search for a specific supported country or city.

From installation through to diving into advanced features, we like how ExpressVPN holds your hand, making it the best pick for first-time VPN users. That shouldn’t turn off advanced users, though, because ExpressVPN still has straightforward tweaks for its inbuilt kill switch and split-tunnelling features.

To learn more, read our full ExpressVPN review.

4. CyberGhost VPN: Best versatile VPN

Best versatile VPN
Cyberghost
CyberGhost VPN
Our Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5
AU $17.99
/mo

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

A versatile VPN is one that gives you lots of options. Admittedly, CyberGhost has lousy monthly pricing, but it has great annual pricing and even better triennial pricing if you don’t mind paying upfront. Opt for either of those longer-duration plans, and you can take advantage of a generous 45-day trial to see if CyberGhost VPN is for you.

The seven simultaneous connections are enough to cover all of your supported devices, but it’s the epic server count, as well as generous country and locations numbers, that makes CyberGhost a truly versatile VPN. It also helps that CyberGhost’s server infrastructure lends itself to great speeds.

You can star your favourite servers for easy reference, or dig into dedicated options for streaming, gaming, and torrenting. More advanced features are a few clicks or taps away from enabling, while configurable smart rules let you personalise and automate your CyberGhost VPN experience.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Top-tier data/channel encryption
Pro Bullet Huge 7,000+ server count
Pro Bullet Fast speeds
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet No third-party auditing
Con Bullet Expensive monthly pricing
Con Bullet Split tunnelling limited to Android

CyberGhost’s versatility wins start with pricing which, admittedly, deters you from opting for the basic monthly option. If you’re willing to buy in for a year or three, CyberGhost VPN has great ongoing monthly value and a generous 45-day money-back guarantee in lieu of a trial.

The biggest versatility plus, though, is the 7,000+ servers which, given the solid-but-not-extreme country and location counts for these servers, means better chances of uninterrupted uptime and better ways for CyberGhost to spread its users for better speeds. It also translates to servers that are optimised for gaming, torrenting, and streaming, plus you can pay extra for a dedicated IP address.

Importantly, CyberGhost’s focus on server count hasn’t made it lax in other key areas. Seven simultaneous connections is still enough to cover the compatible devices for a single user (likely with a few spares), while CyberGhost VPN still boasts AES 256-bit and 4096-bit encryption. The VPN software also has an effective kill switch and prevents IP/DNS leaks, plus there are additional tweaks you can make beneath the hood or with configurable privacy triggers via the VPN’s ‘Smart Rules’ feature.

To learn more, read our full CyberGhost VPN review.

5. Surfshark VPN: Best family VPN

Best family VPN
Surfshark
Surfshark VPN
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
US $12.95
/mo

Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

The standard number of simultaneous connections for VPNs starts at five, which is what ExpressVPN offers. NordVPN steps that up to six, CyberGhost inches ahead with seven, and ProtonVPN impresses with 10 simultaneous connections. Surfshark, on the other hand, blows them all out of the water by offering unlimited simultaneous connections.

On top of this, the company readily encourages you to use a single account to protect all of the compatible devices for everyone in your home. This makes Surfshark a VPN that you can pay for and not worry about juggling additional accounts to protect all of your family’s compatible devices.

If that sounds like your jam, we’d recommend ignoring the admittedly decent monthly pricing and opting for either annual or biennial pricing, both of which offer killer value compared to Surfshark’s VPN peers. We also like that Surfshark VPN boasts some great advanced features.

Pro Heading
Pros
Pro Bullet Unlimited simultaneous connections
Pro Bullet Easy-to-use software and apps
Pro Bullet No-logs, independently audited
Con Heading
Cons
Con Bullet Half the channel encryption of its peers
Con Bullet No manual server switching
Con Bullet Sometimes slow to connect

Certain VPN providers force you to manage installations on a fixed number of devices, while most others cap the number of simultaneous connections from a single account. Surfshark VPN lets you dodge all of this device management via unlimited simultaneous connections.

If Surfshark VPN supports the device in your home—and it supports a decent range of gadgets—you can and should absolutely install it on that device. Without having to worry about simultaneous connections, you’re free to take advantage of military-grade data encryption (though channel encryption isn’t as flash as its peers) in an easy-to-use VPN app that works without tweaking.

For those who do want to tweak, though, Surfshark VPN has multi-hop servers, plus the option to enable CleanWeb (ad, tracker, malware blocking) and a kill switch if Surfshark drops its connection. That’s just the shortlist of advanced features, too. If you really like Surfshark, you can bundle the VPN with antivirus, search, and breach alerts in the reasonably priced Surfshark One package.

To learn more, read our full Surfshark VPN review.

Final word

Whether you’re a first-time VPN user or a more advanced practitioner, it’s hard to go past the inherent value of NordVPN. Still, for a close competitor that has much the same offering, albeit with more countries and locations to choose from, ExpressVPN is worth a look.

Given how key VPN features tend to be the same where it matters, most notably for privacy and security, you can save money by opting for a cheap VPN with plenty of simultaneous connections in ProtonVPN. If you’d rather not worry about simultaneous connections, Surfshark removes the limit entirely. Alternatively, for versatility you don’t mind investing in, consider the massive server count and extended features of CyberGhost VPN.

How we choose the best VPNs

To make the cut on this page, the best VPNs have to have high levels of data and channel encryption, to ensure your connection is private and secure. To boost privacy, we also favour VPNs that have strict no-log policies and those open to third-party audits.

Price is important but not the be-all and end-all, though we do like it when a VPN provider has a reasonable money-back trial or, even better, an actual free version of the software. The numbers for servers, countries, locations and devices all matter here: the bigger the number, the greater the versatility.

User-friendliness is also an important consideration because we appreciate that not every VPN user is necessarily tech-savvy, which is why easier-to-use VPNs are our preference. That said, we also love a VPN that offers advanced features—split tunnelling, kill switches, and even antimalware—for users who want more than just the basics.


Disclaimer

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.

Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence

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