The best VPN services 2017

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best VPN services

A VPN or virtual private network will help you stay safe and secure online while above all keeping your private stuff private

A VPN (virtual private network) is a secure and private solution within the wider internet itself that allows users – whether they are individuals, or part of an organisation, or business – to send and receive data while maintaining the secrecy of a private network. best VPN services

That means you could use one to create a secure tunnel into your company network to enjoy access to private internal systems, but also means you could browse in complete privacy online and access content you might otherwise not be able to get such as Netflix.

All the traffic that passes through your VPN connection is secure and cannot, in theory, be intercepted by anyone else, making it the safest mainstream way to browse the web privately (but not always anonymously).

Just bear in mind though that VPN setups are only as secure as the weakest link in the entire ecosystem. So if your device has already been compromised with malware, using a VPN won’t save you from being spied upon, although a good antivirus could.

The best VPN services 2017

On this page, you’ll find our list of the very best VPN services currently as of July 2017. We’ve tested them all (and we’re in the processing of retesting a few of them) so you can be sure you’re getting the best recommendations from our experts.

Many VPN services – there are about 300 of them on mobile and desktop – offer different pros and cons, so if you’re looking to access Hulu or BBC iPlayer from a different region, dial into your office network or simply stay safe and secure online, you’ll find a service tailored precisely to your needs.

Such is the power of the VPN, it’s worth noting that in some cases the services are targeted for blocking by organisations or governments – or even banning in some countries, as we saw in China recently, which has said it will ban ‘unapproved’ VPNs.

And indeed Apple has become part of this crackdown, with the company banning VyprVPN and ExpressVPN from its App Store in China. This doesn’t affect these providers’ software elsewhere in the globe, and obviously only affects iOS users in China. CEO Tim Cook later defended his company’s move, stating that the involved apps flaunted Chinese regulations, and noting that Apple must ‘follow the law wherever we do business’.

It’s also interesting to note that while phishing remains a major danger online, a VPN can help protect you against malware or con tricks when web browsing. Although VPNs don’t always get wholly positive press when it comes to guarding users and maintaining their privacy – just witness the recent controversy over Kaspersky’s Android VPN app, which is accused of having intrusive permissions and trampling over privacy rights as a result.

Note that most of the best VPN sites below offer global services and thus charge in US Dollars, so we’ve listed pricing in Dollars. When you click through to the actual deals, you may find the prices automatically displayed in pounds, or whatever your native currency may be.

VPN

1. IPVanish

The best VPN for torrenting and other P2P traffic

Number of servers: 700 | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: 40000+ | Maximum devices supported: 5

12 months

$4.87
/mth

3 months

$6.74
/mth

1 month

$7.50
/mth
No traffic logs
Excellent download speeds
A tad more expensive than others
No free trial

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While many VPN providers try to stand out with their free plans and cheap commercial products, IPVanish talks more about service quality. It’s “the world’s fastest VPN” says the website, boasting 40,000+ shared IPs, 500+ VPN servers in 60+ countries, unlimited P2P traffic, five simultaneous connections, no log policy and more.

The price is still going to be an issue for some – it is more expensive than the average VPN, but IPVanish’s high speeds, choice of locations and excellent client are hard to beat. If you’re after quality, take the plunge with this VPN, and if somehow you end up unhappy with the service there’s a 7-day money-back guarantee.

IPVanish has three service options available and it is, unsurprisingly, its 1-year subscription that wins the day (note that you will be billed in US dollars). Other packages are available below:

  • [$4.87 a month] 1-year – $58.14
  • [$6.74 a month] 3-month – $20.24
  • [$7.50 a month] 1-month – $7.50

2. VyprVPN

The best VPN for performance and security

Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70+ | IP addresses: 200,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 3-5

12 months

$5
/mth

12 months

$6.67
/mth

1 month

$9.95
/mth
Very fast performance
Good value annual plans
No refunds
Monthly plans are dearer

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This VPN provider is based in Switzerland, where there are favourable privacy laws, and it’s a very well-specified service boasting 73 server locations and unlimited data usage.

There are also some great extras such as auto-connect options to make things easy for you, a kill switch, and you get bolstered security courtesy of the firm’s proprietary Chameleon protocol and VyprDNS.

VyprVPN also offers a commendably wide range of clients and its Windows software benefits from an easy-to-use interface. Perhaps the best news, though, comes on the performance front: in our tests, we found that, rather incredibly, our download speeds improved by a factor of 2.5x compared to our normal rates with the VPN turned off.

One point you should be aware of is that VyprVPN doesn’t do refunds at all, but there is a 3-day trial, and a free 500MB/month plan you can try out the service with. In terms of what’s on offer here, you can subscribe either monthly or annually to a Basic or Premium plan (you get three connections with the former, and five with the latter). The packages available are:

  • [$5 a month] Basic plan, 1-year – $60
  • [$9.95 a month] Basic plan, 1-month – $9.95
  • [$6.67 a month] Premium plan, 1-year – $80
  • [$12.95 a month] Premium plan, 1-month – $12.95

3. ExpressVPN

The best offshore VPN for privacy and unblocking

Number of servers: 1000+ | Server locations: 136 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 3

15 months

$6.66
/mth

6 months

$9.99
/mth

1 month

$12.95
/mth
Impressive selection of quality apps
Excellent help and support
Not cheap
Only supports 3 connections

ExpressVPN offers 145 locations across 94 countries, alongside an excellent range of tailored clients, with some great efforts for mobile and desktop on the software front. You get native clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, plus iOS, Android and even BlackBerry on the mobile front.

What’s also really helpful is that there are loads of web-based tutorials which are easy to follow to help you get up and running with the service. The tech support ExpressVPN provides is certainly of a high quality.

You also get P2P support here, a kill switch (to help your IP stay concealed if the service falls over), and very solid overall performance levels.

Downsides? ExpressVPN only supports three simultaneous connections, and it’s far from the cheapest offering in town. Also, there’s no free trial option – but on the plus side, there is a ‘no hassle’ 30-day money-back guarantee if you aren’t happy with the service. The packages available are:

  • [$6.66 a month] 15-month – $99.95
  • [$9.99 a month] 6-month – $59.95
  • [$12.95 a month] 1-month – $12.95

4. NordVPN

An ultra-secure VPN provider

Number of servers: 1015 | Server locations: 59 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 6

24 months

$3.20
/mth

12 months

$5.79
/mth

6 months

$7
/mth
Quality mobile and desktop clients
Up to six devices
Monthly plan isn’t cheap
Free trial is tricky to find on website

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Despite being based in a country located in Central America – hardly a tech hub – NordVPN’s current products match or beat the competition in just about every area.

1015 servers in 59 countries, 2048-bit encryption, 6-device support as standard, strong DNS leak protection, automatic kill switch, handy security extras, optional dedicated IP addresses, and payment options including Bitcoin, PayPal and credit cards.

Performance was good, too, with impressive speeds on short connections, and some very palatable results with longer distances, too – although we did find the occasional exception. However, even when latency did rise with longer hops, browsing still felt very snappy and responsive.

NordVPN has three service options available and its most popular and by far best value plan is the 1-year subscription (aside from the aforementioned 2-year special offer, that is). The packages available are:

  • [$3.29 a month] 2-year – $79
  • [$5.75 a month] 12-month – $69
  • [$7 a month] 6-month – $42
  • [$11.95 a month] 1-month – $11.95

5. TunnelBear

If you want an easy-to-use VPN, you got it

Number of servers: ~1,000 | Server locations: 20+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5

12 months

$4.99
/mth

1 month

$9.99
/mth
Extremely user-friendly
Wide range of client software
Not many settings to play with
Long-distance connections can be slower

This Canadian-based VPN provider is notable for a number of reasons, perhaps the foremost of which is its emphasis on ease-of-use. You get a wide range of clients, covering both desktop and mobile devices thoroughly, and the software is highly user-friendly.

Even the website steers clear of using jargon, and talks about how a VPN works in simple layman’s terms. As you might guess, though, expert users might find the lack of details rather off-putting – and more importantly, there aren’t many low-level options to tweak your connection either. So this is really designed with beginners in mind.

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In terms of coverage, TunnelBear offers servers in 20 different countries across the globe, and gives you up to five simultaneous connections. This provider is strong on the privacy front, as well, clearly and concisely explaining its policies, and again not drowning you in jargon (of the legal variety in this case, rather than the technical kind).

Performance is also impressive over shorter hops and solid to the US, although really long-distance connections such as Singapore can see speeds drop considerably (that’s not unusual for VPNs, though).

TunnelBear even offers a free plan, and while that normally limits you to just 500MB of traffic per month, with TechRadar’s special offer you can up that to a far more useful 5GB. Paid plans give you unlimited data and start at a reasonable $5 (£4) per month. The packages available are:

  • [$4.99 a month] 12-month – $59.88
  • [$9.99 a month] 1-month – $9.99

6. Windscribe

A VPN which gives you unlimited connections

Number of servers: N/A | Server locations: 40+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited

1 month

$4.50
/mth

12 months

$45
/mth
Unlimited device connections
Free plan that offers 10GB of monthly data
No Android client
Long-range connections can be flaky

Windscribe is a quality VPN which has native Windows, Mac and iOS clients – but it doesn’t have an Android app, although the firm promises this is coming soon. What you do also get is a range of browser add-ons, mind, which come highly rated (and also block ads).

One of the main attractions here is the fact that Windscribe’s commercial plan allows for unlimited connections, so no matter how many family members or devices you’ve got, you’ll be covered.

This VPN provider also has a commendably clear privacy policy, and the Windows client is easy enough to use. We found that short-range performance was impressive, although things were a bit more variable over longer distance connections (UK to US).

There’s a free plan available and it gives you a generous 10GB of monthly data, although you can only use one device with it, and there are limits on the amount of data you can download.

The paid-for Pro plan gives you unlimited data and devices as mentioned, and you can subscribe either monthly, or annually for a cheaper rate – namely $9 or $7.50 a month respectively. However, with TechRadar’s current special deal, you can get these plans for half price The packages available are:

  • [$3.75 a month] 12-month – $45
  • [$4.50 a month] 1-month – $4.50

VPN

7. Hotspot Shield

The best VPN for browsing online privately

Number of servers: 2000 | Server locations: 20 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5

1 month

$11.99
/mth
Low price
Great download speeds
Few server locations
Limited configuration options

AnchorFree’s Hotspot Shield Elite manages to provide all the necessary VPN features at an attractive price with the option of getting a lifetime license. It supports private browsing, virtual locations, allows “access all content”, and supports up to five devices.

Performance results in our tests were excellent, with latency showing only a marginal increase, and both upload and download speeds were a little faster once connected.

We’d like more configurability and a wider range of locations, but Hotspot Shield Elite’s high speeds and low prices have a lot of appeal, and the 7-day trial makes it easy to test the service for yourself.

As usual, the best value-for-money is the 1-year subscription (note that you will be billed in US dollars), unless you want to commit to the lifetime plan. Note that of late the free version of Hotspot Shield has been dogged by controversy over redirecting traffic to partner sites including online advertising firms, but the Center for Democracy & Technology didn’t level these accusations at the paid product (and the provider has denied the allegations anyway).

The packages available are:

  • [$0.01 a month] Forever – $139.99
  • [$3.99 a month] 1-year – $47.88
  • [$4.99 a month] 6-month – $29.94
  • [$11.99 a month] 1-month – $11.99

8. ZenMate

Another highly user-friendly VPN

Number of servers: N/A | Server locations: 30+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: N/A

12 months

$3.10
/mth

6 months

$7
/mth

1 month

$7.70
/mth
Really easy-to-use
14-day money-back guarantee
Not much in the way of settings
Only average performance

ZenMate is another of the VPN services which try to pitch to novices, with the website avoiding any technical jargon and explaining everything in clear and simple terms.

And naturally that carries through to the software. ZenMate’s Windows client is supremely easy-to-use, and it’s highly streamlined – just click a couple of buttons and you’re off. It’s also dead easy to set up, which never hurts.

But as ever, where software is designed to be as simple as possible, expert users may be slightly frustrated at the lack of controls available. For example, you can’t choose your own security protocol if you want to, or indeed specify a particular city for a server location; you can only pick by country.

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Still, if you can accept the limitations here – and that won’t be a problem if you aren’t very tech-savvy and are new to the world of VPNs – ZenMate offers solid, if not spectacular, performance levels.

It’s also worth noting there’s a 14-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the service, and ZenMate has a free offering although that only operates via browser add-ons (and it restricts speeds and choice of servers).

There are three subscription plans offering monthly, 6-monthly or yearly billing – but note that TechRadar readers can currently benefit from a special offer for a yearly plan charged at $3.20 per month for the first year (reverting to the normal price of $5.38 per month thereafter):

  • [$3.20 a month] 12-month – $38.40
  • [$7.08 a month] 6-month – $42.50
  • [$7.70 a month] 1-month – $7.70

VPN

9. PureVPN

The best VPN for maximum speeds

Number of servers: 500 | Server locations: 180 | IP addresses: 95000 | Maximum devices supported: 5

12 months

$5.75
/mth

6 months

$9
/mth

1 month

$11
/mth
Huge choice of servers
Two-year plan
No free trial
Failed DNS leak check

PureVPN’s PC client stands out immediately for the sheer volume of connection options and tools it makes available. Its policy on logging is unusually clear: the company records the time you connect to a server and the total bandwidth used, but otherwise there are no logs of the websites you visit, the files you download or anything else.

PureVPN did well on our performance tests, where amazingly it managed to improve most of our download speeds. Latency was a mere 5% higher than normal, upload speeds actually increased by 4%, while downloads were a very surprising 80% up on our normal speeds.

The provider offers three service plans but its one-year package represents the best value. Note that the company offers a 5% discount if you pay by credit card. Other packages are available below:

  • [$2.95 a month] 24-month – $70.80
  • [$8.95 a month] 6-month – $53.70
  • [$10.95 a month] 1-month – $10.95

10. Buffered VPN

The best VPN for responsive browsing and low latency

Number of servers: N/A | Server locations: 37 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5

12 months

$8.25
/mth

6 months

$9.99
/mth

1 month

$12.99
/mth
Impressive speeds and low latency
Generous refund policy
One of the pricier VPNs
No mobile clients

This provider has a couple of core strengths when it comes to the VPN fundamentals: privacy and performance. In the former category, Buffered VPN’s privacy policy and terms of service are very clearly written (refreshingly so), and no logs are kept.

As for performance, in our tests over short hops, we saw excellent upload speeds and low latency which made for very responsive browsing, and longer-distance connections also saw excellent performance (with download speeds being 95% of our normal rates).

One thing to bear in mind with this VPN is that it only offers desktop clients, so less tech-savvy folks who are planning on mobile use may want to steer clear. There are setup instructions provided for mobile devices, but they take a little working through.

Also, Buffered VPN is far from the cheapest service out there, even if you sign up for a full year. However, there’s a good refund policy to benefit those who want to try this VPN out, and you can get your money back as long as you haven’t used more than 10 hours of time, 100 sessions or 10GB of bandwidth (whichever comes first). The packages available are:

  • [$8.25 a month] 12-month – $99.00
  • [$9.99 a month] 6-month – $59.94

[$12.99 a month] 1-month – $12.99

Source: TechRadar