Best VPN Services of 2022

We tested the top VPNs for protecting your privacy while shopping, browsing, and streaming.
Best overall
Nord VPN
NordVPN
  • pro
    6 devices
  • pro
    Fast speeds
  • pro
    Lowest latency
Best value
Surfshark
Surfshark
  • pro
    Unlimited devices
  • pro
    Fast speeds
  • pro
    Easy to use
Best for streaming
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
  • pro
    5 devices
  • pro
    Average speeds
  • pro
    94 countries
Best annual plan
Private Internet Access VPN
Private Internet Access
  • pro
    10 devices
  • pro
    Fast speeds
  • pro
    Low-cost annual plan
Best for antivirus
Ip Vanish
IPVanish
  • pro
    Unlimited devices
  • pro
    Average speeds
  • pro
    Antivirus with annual plan

A virtual private network (VPN) is one of the most effective ways to safeguard your privacy online. Essentially, it encrypts your data and IP address to prevent monitoring by third parties. NordVPN stands out for its speed and advanced security features, making it our pick for the best VPN provider.

We're big fans of NordVPN's advanced features like Double VPN (it encrypts your data twice) and its Domain Name System (DNS) leak protection. That means NordVPN detects if your computer reverts to its original DNS and reroutes your online traffic to a new server or cuts the internet connection to protect your data. We’ll explain how NordVPN compares to rival VPN services.


Best VPN services


Compare the best VPN services

Service
Best for
Monthly price
Annual price
Number of connections
Countries
Learn more
Best overall$99.48/yr.660+
Best value$59.76/yr.Unlimited65+
Best for streaming$99.95/yr.594
Best annual plan$56.94/yr.1078
Best for antivirus$89.99/yr.Unlimited75+

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Reviews: Best VPN service

1. NordVPN: Best overall

Best overall
Nord VPN
NordVPN
Starts at
$11.99
/mo

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

If privacy is your top concern, NordVPN offers the most privacy protection of any VPN we considered. This VPN service provides the standard security perks you expect along with a bunch of extras. From Double VPN protection to DNS leak protection and military-grade encryption, NordVPN is like having your own private Secret Service agent when you go online.

pro
Pros
pro Excellent privacy protection
pro Fast speeds with almost no latency impact
pro Easy to use
pro 30-day money-back guarantee
con
Cons
con Issues downloading content on some sites

There's also an automatic kill switch that instantly blocks access to the internet if you accidentally lose connection to the VPN tunnel. That means there's virtually no way you can inadvertently expose yourself online when NordVPN is on the job.

This VPN provider has a strict no-logging policy, so none of your data remains on the VPN when it's inactive. Plus, NordVPN's location in Panama ensures that surveillance agencies can't access your information, even if your data somehow leaves a trail.

NordVPN came in second for speed and streaming in our tests, but there was almost no impact on latency. This means that NordVPN will reduce your internet speeds—which all VPNs do—but there's practically no additional delay when communicating with servers.

While low latency isn't a big deal for most online activities, it's particularly helpful for gaming so your family can play online safely without as much lag. Still, although SurfShark and IPVanish show more latency, you probably won't notice any impact on gaming.

We ran into trouble viewing movies on Netflix, and some sites wouldn't load at all, including Amazon. That's a major bummer if you want a VPN for safer online shopping. Our tester also noted that NordVPN worked better on her Mac than on her PC, so it might fit Mac users better.

NordVPN is incredibly easy to use and is ready to use once you download the app. Still, its download speeds were lower than Surfshark's, and some websites weren't available. But overall, the affordable price and advanced features make NordVPN an ideal VPN for most folks.

Bell
2018 security breach

In March 2018, a hacker accessed a NordVPN server in Finland. The hacker stole an expired internal private key that granted access to a data center where the server was. Because of NordVPN's no-logging policy, there were no user activity logs or user data available to the hacker. There haven't been any incidents since, and we still recommend NordVPN.

2. Surfshark: Best value

Best value
Surfshark
Surfshark
Starts at
$12.95
/mo

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Surfshark is our value pick because it's the only VPN service on our list that offers unlimited connections for less than $60 a year. It's also one of the fastest VPN options we looked at, with impressive download speeds and excellent performance nearly on par with NordVPN.

pro
Pros
pro Unlimited devices
pro Fast speeds
pro Simple user experience
pro 30-day money-back guarantee
con
Cons
con Pricey monthly plan when using fewer devices
con Lower-rated Android app

While IPVanish technically covers unlimited devices for a lower monthly fee, Surfshark's annual plan costs about $30 less. Surfshark's lead is even more impressive when you factor in price jumps after the first-year promotional pricing ends. Surfshark's standard rate adds around $12 versus the $40 jump on IPVanish.

Unfortunately, Surfshark's monthly price ties ExpressVPN as the highest on our list. Sure, the difference is only a buck or two a month, but using Surfshark with a single device means ignoring the economies of scale with unlimited connections.

Surfshark is as easy to use as other brands on our lineup. All it takes is downloading the app, logging in, and choosing your server. We like that Surfshark's customer support website provides guides for using your new VPN with your favorite browsers and antivirus programs.

Currently, the Surfshark Android app earns a rating of 4.3 on Google Play, which is lower than the 4.5 average among our other top picks. Many of the critical reviews cite frustration with slow speeds and unstable connections over the past couple of months. But it’s possible these are just linked to a recent update.

Overall, the Surfshark VPN boasts some of the lowest annual costs around. We think it's a great option for families with multiple devices on a budget.

3. ExpressVPN: Best for streaming

Best for streaming
ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN
Starts at
$12.95
/mo

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

ExpressVPN is the winner when it comes to easy VPN setup (under two minutes) and the number of streaming services it works with. But even though there's a hefty discount if you opt for the annual plan—it works out to about four months free—it's still the most expensive VPN on our list.

pro
Pros
pro Quality streaming experience
pro Easy setup
pro Educational privacy tutorials
pro 30-day money-back guarantee
con
Cons
con Smaller number of servers
con Only 5 devices

ExpressVPN stands out for its educational tutorials. The ExpressVPN website provides security tips, online privacy news, and step-by-step guides about basics—like how to delete your search history. Our testers reported no lag or diminished video or audio quality when streaming—and download speeds were quick. We didn't have any problems accessing websites either.

We like that ExpressVPN hails from the British Virgin Islands, another jurisdiction that isn't subject to international surveillance agreements, so you can trust that its no-logging policy is legit.

Our testers dinged it for higher monthly pricing and limited simultaneous connections. You can use only five device connections at a time, which is less than the other VPNs in our top five. It also has the fewest VPN server locations of any paid service on our list. Even so, ExpressVPN offers servers in 94 countries, much more than its closest rivals—Private Internet Access and IPVanish.

Overall, ExpressVPN deftly handles multiple streaming service options, and its solid tutorials make it a great choice for VPN newbies. The connection and server options aren't the best, but at least it keeps things simple, so you don't need to scroll through an endless server list to find what you need.

4. Private Internet Access: Best annual plan

Best annual plan
Private Internet Access VPN
Private Internet Access
Starts at
$11.99
/mo

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Private Internet Access (PIA) may not support as many devices as Surfshark, but its annual plan is better. It also has consistently fast upload speeds and is second only to NordVPN in keeping latency impacts low. It also accepts more cryptocurrencies than other brands we looked at, so you can keep your payments anonymous.

pro
Pros
pro Most affordable annual plan on our list
pro Fast upload speeds
pro 10 devices
pro 30-day money-back guarantee
con
Cons
con Based in United States
con Average download speeds

We love that Private Internet Access includes two years and two bonus months (26 months) for new subscribers. You'll pay about $57 for the first two years and yearly after that. Still, that's an impressive savings of over 50% off your first 26 months.

Private Internet Access tops out at 10 simultaneous connections—about double that of NordVPN and ExpressVPN. Still, the PIA VPN  is a far cry from the unlimited devices on Surfshark and IPVanish. But the low annual fees help make up for it.

Despite fast performance with uploads and latency, we noticed that the Private Internet Access VPN's download speeds were slightly on the sluggish end. Still, we don't think it's enough of a drawback if you just need a simple VPN to protect your browsing activities.

This is a US-based company, which is a two-edged sword in VPN circles. On the one hand, Americans might appreciate supporting a "local" company with robust customer support resources. But PIA's location in the US means it falls under the jurisdiction of US surveillance laws.

Still, we like that the company enforces a strong no-logging policy and even stated in court that it doesn't keep user data. Overall, Private Internet Access is a great choice for folks wanting low annual prices with more devices than a typical VPN app.

5. IPVanish: Best for antivirus

Best for antivirus
Ip Vanish
IPVanish
Starts at
$10.99
/mo

Info current as of post date. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

IPVanish surprised us in a few ways during testing. The easy user experience makes a big difference in helping the non-tech-savvy among us to navigate a feature-rich landscape without feeling overwhelmed. We're also big fans of the IPVanish annual plan, which throws in free access to Vipre Antivirus, so you don't need to pay extra for anti-malware protection.

pro
Pros
pro Fast speeds
pro Unlimited devices
pro Annual plan comes with free antivirus
pro 30-day money-back guarantee
con
Cons
con Laggy on iPhone
con Based in United States

We love the intuitiveness of its VPN apps and how it works with nearly every OS and device out there. IPVanish is one of only two VPN services on our list that supports unlimited devices. This means you can use IPVanish on every device in your home, making it great for protecting the whole family. (Vipre Antivirus on the annual plan supports only 10 devices.)

Even though IPVanish performed well in our connection speed tests, our tester noticed some lag on their iPhone. While it won't fix everything, we love that there's an IPVanish guide to increasing speeds on iOS. It walks you through choosing the best server for maximum speeds.

IPVanish is a US company, unlike our top three picks. The company argues that its US base means more transparency about how it handles data. Still, the US can request any data IPVanish has, which means a no-logging policy is the only thing standing between your data and government agencies.

Overall, IPVanish is a great option for combining your VPN client and antivirus program into a single subscription. It even supports unlimited devices so you can share VPN perks with your family.

More VPNs we considered

ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN offers a free version—a rarity among VPNs—most competitors don't even provide a free trial. While it limits you to a single VPN connection, ProtonVPN doesn't restrict the amount of data you can use on the free plan. (Other free VPNs use data caps—including TunnelBear and Hotspot Shield VPN.) We also like that ProtonVPN's paid plans are cheaper than our top picks.

Still, it reserves its best features and highest speeds for the ProtonVPN Plus plan, meaning you won't save as much compared to brands without tiered pricing. Even with the discounted annual plan, you'll pay more than Surfshark, PIA, and IPVanish.

TorGuard VPN

TorGuard VPN is a technological challenge to set up and navigate. Still, we like that it offers advanced security features, like DNS leak protection and a kill switch to turn off your internet connection when TorGuard isn't running. We think TorGuard will do the job to protect your privacy online, but we recommend it only for diehard techies. If you want a simple VPN solution, this isn't it.

Glossary of VPN terms to know

Let's face it—VPNs are pretty technical. Here's a quick list of VPN lingo you need to know:

  • A virtual private network (VPN) is like a secret tunnel from your home network or mobile device to the internet. It hides your connection and everything you do while online (shopping, browsing, binging on Netflix), so hackers, advertisers, and internet providers can't collect your data.
  • The Domain Name System (DNS) is the internet's GPS. It takes the words we use to find a website—e.g., SafeWise.com—and translates it into a language your computer understands: numerical IP addresses. Although DNS servers are vital for getting to your internet destination, they're also trackable—giving hackers information about how you spend your time online.
  • A DNS leak is a momentary blip in your VPN connection caused by a glitchy Wi-Fi connection or a software error. However brief they are, leaks can expose your internet browsing activities. Many VPNs offer DNS leak protection as a security feature that blocks internet access—even for a second—if the VPN isn't active.
  • Encryption translates data into a code that's unreadable without a specific key, even if there is a security breach.
  • A no-logging policy means the VPN servers keep no record of what you do on the internet when you're using the VPN. Most VPNs advertise a no-logging policy, but some are more reliable than others. If the VPN provider is in a 14 Eyes jurisdiction, then any records (like your account information) are vulnerable to government and law enforcement agencies.

The 14 Eyes

If the 14 Eyes makes you think of James Bond or Killing Eve, you're on the right track. The 14 Eyes is an international surveillance alliance for collecting and sharing data. It's called the 14 Eyes because there are 14 countries involved, including the US. A VPN company based in one of these countries can be forced to share any data it collects—even if it has a no-logging policy:

  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Final word

VPNs are all about privacy, so when you use one, you don't want to leave a record of your online activities. We think NordVPN is up to the task with advanced features, fast performance, and Panama-based operations away from "The 14 Eyes." That means its no-logging policies are more legitimate than VPNs operating in countries with surveillance agreements (like the US).

While its monthly fees are pretty affordable, it doesn't offer as big a discount as some competitors when you switch to the annual plan. Still, we think it's worth the cost. But if you want a cheaper option, we feel Surfshark is a good alternative.

Check out our review of the best free VPNs to see if they're good alternatives to paid services.

FAQ

Why should I use a VPN?

A secure VPN is one of the fiercest protectors for online privacy—it creates a private connection no matter where you are. While we recommend always using a VPN on public Wi-Fi networks, it's smart to use one at home too. Here are some of our top reasons to use a VPN:

  • Hide your dedicated IP address and location
  • Encrypt all of the data that moves through your internet connection
  • Access websites that are available only in certain countries and bypass censorship restrictions
  • Prevent hackers, governments, businesses, and your internet service provider from accessing your personal data
  • Shop online safely
  • Identity theft protection

What devices can I use with a VPN?

You can use a VPN with any device that connects over the internet:

  • Computers: PC, Mac, and Linux
  • Smartphones and tablets: iOS and Android
  • Home Wi-Fi routers
  • Smart TVs
  • Smart home devices

Will a VPN slow down my internet connection?

Probably. Most VPN software impacts download and upload speeds and latency (server response times). Still, you might not notice much lag unless outside of high-bandwidth activities like gaming and streaming high-resolution videos.

Choosing a VPN server location that's closer to your physical location can help when experiencing poor internet performance. But you may need to contact customer service if the problem persists.

Are free VPN services as good as paid ones?

A free VPN is great for occasional web browsing but lags behind paid services in two key areas:

  • Data: Free VPNs often cap the amount of data they'll transfer for free.
  • Connections: Many free VPNs limit you to a single connected device and a handful of servers. You might have access to servers in other countries, but not as much as with a paid service.

That's not to say you're better off with no VPN over one that's free, but when it comes to protecting your information from online threats, it's worth a little investment. Still, if you're always online—we recommend going with a paid VPN service provider.

How we reviewed the best VPN services

It was all hands on deck to find the best VPN service provider. We started with in-depth online research—including expert and customer reviews—and examined all the ins and outs of the most popular VPNs on the market. We also looked at reports from two independent cybersecurity testing organizations: AV-Comparatives and AV-Test.

To round out our research, we conducted our hands-on tests. Four members of our team tried out six different VPNs, looking for how well each performs in these specific areas:

  • Setup and installation
  • Performance
  • Speed
  • Mobile app functions
  • Features

Learn more about how we rank, test, and review services in our full methodology.

John Carlsen
Written by
John Carlsen
John is a technology journalist specializing in smart home devices, security cameras, and home security systems. He has over nine years of experience researching, testing, and reviewing the latest tech—he was the Smart Home Editor for Top Ten Reviews and wrote for ASecureLife before joining SafeWise as a Staff Writer in 2020. John holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications, Journalism emphasis from Utah Valley University. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, photography, cooking, and starting countless DIY projects he has yet to complete.

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