VPNs Tested Best VPN Service 2024

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VPNs Tested Best VPN Service 2024

What is a VPN?

A VPN, or virtual private network, is an online service that provides a mobile app, desktop app, or other software that encrypts your internet traffic to help boost your privacy online. A VPN also prevents your internet service provider from tracking which websites or apps you're using and stops most of those websites and apps from seeing your actual geographic location, allowing you to bypass content blocks in some countries to access critical news and educational information, while also opening up your streaming entertainment options. 

The best VPN delivers a strong level of privacy protection without compromising on performance. We strongly recommend using a good VPN for everyday use as well as for work, particularly if your work involves handling sensitive information.

we rigorously test each virtual private network across major platforms to find the ones that provide exceptional privacy, reliability, speed, and value. This list is constantly being updated as we actively test VPNs and look at the latest research, so expect this guide to change throughout the year as we put each VPN through its paces. We've recently retested Surfshark from the ground up, and we're continuing that process with ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Private Internet Access next.

What is the best VPN in 2024?

ExpressVPN retained Editors' Choice Award for the best overall VPN after its 2023 review. It maintains its position among other virtual private network services thanks to its dedication to privacy and strong speeds.

Surfshark is a close second among our picks. In 2022, it also earned a Editors' Choice Award as our VPN value pick, thanks to its low first-year price support for unlimited devices.

NordVPN, our third choice, is a die-hard heavy hitter. It costs more than Surfshark but less than Express, has an enormous network that's constantly getting faster and more secure, and is easily the most reliable service we've tested.

Each VPN service in the list below has excellent value for a specific use case, and we point out the ideal user for each one. The array of options available means there's a VPN service suited to your needs, whether your privacy needs are casual or critical. Also, consider jumping on one of these VPN deals, which many of our top picks are offering.

Other VPNs we've tested

Not every VPN can be a favorite. These are ones we reviewed, but they're not full-throated recommendations for one reason or another, including limited features and concerns over adequately hiding your identity.

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield VPN's TLS-based Hydra Catapult protocol, US jurisdiction, 128-bit AES encryption support, and a large percentage of virtual servers might strip away our trust in its ability to provide more privacy protections than its competitors -- but those are all key components to its ability to achieve the blazing speeds it delivered during its most recent speed tests.

  • Quick Take
    • Servers: 1,800-plus in 80-plus locations
    • Country/Jurisdiction: US (Five Eyes member)
    • Platforms: Windows, Android, MacOS, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV
    • Price: $8 per month or $95.88 billed annually. Month-to-month plan at $13


TunnelBear has gotten a lot of hype in the last couple of years. But when we looked under its hood and compared it with its VPN competitors, our excitement waned.

  • Quick Take
    • Average speed loss: 63%
    • Number of countries: 48-plus
    • Jurisdiction: Canada, with US parent company
    • Price: $3.33 per month, or $120, for a 3-year plan

CyberGhost VPN

previous coverage of virtual private networks, we've praised CyberGhost for its roster of competitive features. Our in-depth review of CyberGhost in 2019 included speed testing, security verification, and an analysis of its full suite of privacy tools. Since then, the VPN company has increased its number of servers and is prepared to roll out new privacy tools, all while remaining one of the cheapest VPNs we've reviewed -- at $2.03 per month for a two-year plan.

  • Quick Take
    • Number of servers: Over 8,000 worldwide in 91 countries
    • Number of server locations: 111
    • Jurisdiction: Romania, with UK parent company
    • Number of simultaneous connections: 7
    • $2.03 a month or $60 for a two-year plan (plus four free months). Month-to-month plan at $13.

Norton Secure VPN

NortonLifeLock, long known for excellence in security products, has a relatively limited offering in its VPN product. Norton Secure VPN does not support P2P or BitTorrent, Linux, routers, or set-top boxes. Its Netflix and streaming compatibility is somewhat limited. Even worse, during testing, we experienced privacy-compromising data leaks.

  • Quick Take
    • Number of countries: 30
    • Number of servers: 1,500 (1,200 virtual)
    • Number of server locations: 200 in 73 cities
    • Country/jurisdiction: US
    • $40 for the first 12 months for five devices


Mullvad is an independent and open-source VPN provider that is focused on building trust through transparency and its commitment to protecting the privacy and security of its users. Although there are other VPNs that are considerably more well-known in the industry, Mullvad's offering overall is just as polished and easy to use as many of the bigger players in the market.

  • Quick Take
    • Number of servers: 840
    • Server location: 68 locations in 38 countries
    • Number of simultaneous connections: 5
    • Jurisdiction: Sweden Price: $5 a month

Other VPNs our experts are reviewing

Below you'll find some additional VPNs. We're in the process of re-evaluating them in the coming months.


PureVPN says it doesn't log connection information. The company joined the "no log" movement in 2018 and underwent a third-party audit by Althius IT (albeit one commissioned and paid for by PureVPN).

  • Quick Take
    • Number of servers: 6,500-plus
    • Number of countries: 78-plus
    • Country/jurisdiction: Hong Kong
    • $3.24 a month for a one-year plan, $1.99 a month for a two-year plan (plus three free months)


StrongVPN blasts onto our list with excellent infrastructure and a decent price. StrongVPN has a strong no-logging policy and picks up kudos for its large base of IP addresses. It has a solid collection of servers and worldwide locations. For those of you who need a dedicated IP, you can get one from the company but you'll need to contact customer support to get help setting it up.

  • Quick Take
    • Number of servers: 950-plus
    • Number of server locations: 59 locations in 30 countries
    • $3.66 a month (67% discount) for a one-year plan


Do I need a VPN?

Anyone who accesses the internet from a computer, tablet, or smartphone can benefit from using a VPN. You don't have to be an activist, government dissident, or journalist to need a VPN; the rise of third-party data brokers, cross-site advertising trackers, IP address collection, and mobile geo-targeting have all combined to create an online browsing environment that poses significant threats to everyday users' basic privacy. 

Because a VPN encrypts your connection, your browsing data is protected from your internet service provider (and any government entities who request your ISP data), and your network administrator in most cases. A VPN can also shield your private information -- like passwords, usernames, and bank or shopping details -- from anyone snooping on your network.

What is the best free VPN?

Proton VPN's free tier is the only free VPN we've come across so far that's worth using. It costs a lot of money to operate a VPN, and free VPN services usually make up for the lack of subscription revenue by selling user data. And in addition to being limited in usability and light on security, many free VPNs are fronts for malware distribution, which is why it's generally best to avoid them. However, Proton VPN's unlimited free tier is fast, secure, and can be used for most online activities, including streaming Netflix.

What is a mobile VPN?

A mobile VPN is simply a VPN you can use on your mobile device like your iPhone or Android phone. All of the providers we recommend have mobile versions of their desktop clients. You can use a mobile-focused VPN app to ensure greater data privacy designed for your whole device. Mobile VPNs also generally have a smaller memory footprint, and require less processing power than desktop VPNs, so they tend to yield faster connection speeds and don't eat up your battery as quickly. 

Keep in mind, however, that most mobile VPN clients will use a lighter form of encryption than a desktop client to achieve those smartphone speeds. So be sure to check your VPN apps' settings to ensure you're using the apps' strongest encryption if your privacy needs are heightened. Our top three VPN picks all have excellent, easy-to-use mobile VPN app options for their services.

Are VPNs legal?

VPNs are perfectly legal to use in most countries. There's nothing wrong with taking steps to protect your privacy online, and you shouldn't have to worry that using a VPN as part of that process will get you in any kind of legal trouble.

How do I use a VPN for Netflix?

If you live in a country that censors its media or are traveling to one, georestricted content is a pain. You can use a VPN to circumvent censorship or access your home country's normal media content for an online streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, or Disney Plus. Pick a VPN that lets you manually select which country you want to connect through and has something called . (Our top three picks offer this.) You don't always need to use the obfuscation feature to unblock Netflix, but since streaming services actively try to block VPN connections, obfuscation can help because it disguises your VPN traffic as regular internet traffic.

How do I know if my VPN is working?

Your first and most apparent indication that your VPN is working is that your IP address will change and your location will be registered as that of the VPN server you're connecting through. You can check this on a site like

What is a remote-access VPN?

A remote-access VPN uses public infrastructure like the internet to provide remote users secure access to their network. This is particularly important for organizations and their corporate networks. It's crucial when employees connect to a public hotspot and use the internet for sending work-related emails. A VPN client on the user's computer or mobile device connects to a VPN gateway on the company's network. This gateway will typically require the device to authenticate its identity. It will then create a network link back to the device that allows it to reach internal network resources such as file servers, printers, and intranets, as if it were on the same local network.

What is a site-to-site VPN?

This is when the VPN technology uses a gateway device to connect the entire network in one location to a network in another location. The majority of site-to-site VPNs that connect over the internet use IPsec. IPsec-based encryption protocols are often considered by VPN specialists to be less secure against modern surveillance. Rather than using the public internet, it is also normal to use multiprotocol label switching clouds as the main transport for site-to-site VPNs.

What's the best VPN?

The best VPN for you depends on your needs when using a VPN.

VPNs for crucial privacy and security If you're a journalist, a lawyer, or a professional in any other privacy-sensitive field, forget about speed and price when choosing a VPN. Focus, instead, entirely on security. Your VPN may be somewhat slower but, for both VPNs and presidential motorcades, speed is always the trade-off for privacy. Avoid free VPNs and . 

If you're concerned with government monitoring in your current country, choose a VPN headquartered outside of the country you're currently in, and avoid choosing a VPN with a jurisdiction in an allied country. For example, US journalists should avoid VPNs with a jurisdiction in . Keep an eye on encryption: Your VPN should offer a protocol called OpenVPN TCP (for its mobile apps, IKEv2 is fine). Right now, the VPN we recommend most for critical privacy is .


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