Best Vpn Provider For Mac 2016

Posted By admin On 16.02.22

VPNs Keep You Safe Online?

A virtual private network, more commonly known as a VPN, allows you to perform any online activity without compromising your personal information and data. If you are looking for the best VPN in 2018, then you have come to the right place. Comparing the best VPN for iPhone to protect your mobile internet connection in 2016. We tested the best VPN providers so you don't have to.

When you access the internet over Wi-Fi, do you worry about who might be spying on your data—or even stealing it? If not, you're in the majority, and that's a serious problem. Everyone ought to be using a virtual private network, or VPN, whenever they're on a network they don't control. Yet when PCMag ran a survey on VPN usage in 2018, we found a surprising 71 percent of our 1,000 respondents had never used a VPN at all. Even among net neutrality supporters—who you might think would be better informed on security and privacy issues—55 percent had never used a VPN.

Editors' Note: IPVanish is owned by j2 Global, the parent company of PCMag's publisher, Ziff Davis.

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That attitude to the safety and privacy of personal data creates a tremendous risk when it comes to online security. Public Wi-Fi networks, which are ubiquitous and convenient, are unfortunately also extremely convenient for attackers who are looking to compromise your personal information. How do you know, for example, that 'starbucks_wifi_real' is actually the Wi-Fi network for the coffee shop? Anyone could have created that network, to lure victims into disclosing personal information. In fact, a popular security researcher prank is to create a network with the same name as a free, popular service and see how many devices will automatically connect. Yet, in a poll we conducted in 2019, only 15 percent of our 2,000 respondents use a VPN with public Wi-Fi.

Even if you're inclined to trust your fellow humans (which I do not recommend), you still shouldn't trust your internet service provider. In its infinite wisdom, Congress has decided that your ISP is allowed to sell your browsing history. In a recent poll, we found that a surprising 73 percent of respondents had no idea that their ISP was allowed to sell their browsing history.

Another government move definitely has motivated some VPN adoption however, and that, specifically, is the death of Obama-era Net Neutrality rules. ISPs are are now allowed to throttle or charge extra for different types of content (streaming video, for example) or for traffic from given companies (say, Netflix). If you're concerned about your ISP slowing down your content or charging more for it based on what it is, one way to prevent this might be to use a VPN. In one of our surveys, 52 percent of users said they were more likely to use a VPN post-Net Neutrality, and 26 percent said that Net Neutrality's repeal actually influenced them to purchase a VPN.

For many reason, then, using a VPN is a good idea. So we were interested to see how often people use VPNs, and under what circumstances. In our survey of 3,000 US consumers conducted between September 23 and 26, 2018, more than half of respondents (52 percent) said they do or would need a VPN for security purposes. Yet 48 percent said they have never used a VPN, and 23 percent have in the past but don't anymore. Just 29 percent—or almost one in three respondents—said they actually do use one. Of those who reported using a VPN, 18 percent said they do so on their laptop or desktop, while just 5 percent use one on their smartphone or tablet. A mere 6 percent said they use one on all of their devices.

Can You Be Tracked if You Use a VPN?

In the simplest terms, a VPN creates a secure, encrypted connection—which can be thought of as a tunnel—between your computer and a server operated by the VPN service. In a professional setting, this tunnel effectively makes you part of the company's network, as if you were physically sitting in the office.

While you're connected to a VPN, all your network traffic passes through this protected tunnel, and no one—not even your ISP—can see your traffic until it exits the tunnel from the VPN server and enters the public internet. If you make sure to only connect to websites secured with HTTPS, your data will continue to be encrypted even after it leaves the VPN.

Think about it this way: If your car pulls out of your driveway, someone can follow you and see where you are going, how long you are at your destination, and when you are coming back. They might even be able to peek inside your car and learn more about you. With a VPN service, you are essentially driving into a closed parking garage, switching to a different car, and driving out, so that no one who was originally following you knows where you went.

VPN services, while tremendously helpful, are not foolproof. There's no magic bullet (or magic armor) when it comes to security. A determined adversary can almost always breach your defenses in one way or another. Using a VPN can't help if you unwisely download ransomware on a visit to the Dark Web, or if you are tricked into giving up your data to a phishing attack.

What a VPN can do is to protect you against mass data collection and the casual criminal vacuuming up user data for later use. It can also protect your privacy by making it harder for advertisers to figure out who and where you are. That's why VPNs are important, even when you're browsing from the comfort and (relative) safety of your home.

Who Needs a VPN?

First and foremost, using a VPN prevents anyone on the same network access point (or anywhere else) from intercepting your web traffic in a man-in-the-middle attack. This is especially handy for travelers and for those using public Wi-Fi networks, such as web surfers at hotels, airports, and coffee shops. Someone on the same network, or the person in control of the network you're using, could conceivably intercept your information while you're connected. Our 2019 survey noted that just 19 percent of respondents use a VPN while traveling, which is a dismal result from a security standpoint.

VPNs also cloak your computer's actual IP address, hiding it behind the IP address of the VPN server you're connected to. IP addresses are distributed based on location, so you can estimate someone's location simply by looking at their IP address. And while IP addresses may change, it's possible to track someone across the internet by watching where the same IP address appears. Using a VPN makes it harder for advertisers (or spies, or hackers) to track you online.

Many VPN services also provide their own DNS resolution system. Think of DNS as a phone book that turns a text-based URL like 'pcmag.com' into a numeric IP address that computers can understand. Savvy snoops can monitor DNS requests and track your movements online. Greedy attackers can also use DNS poisoning to direct you to bogus phishing pages designed to steal your data. When you use a VPN's DNS system, it's another layer of protection.

VPNs are necessary for improving individual privacy, but there are also people for whom a VPN is essential for personal and professional safety. Some journalists and political activists rely on VPN services to circumvent government censorship and safely communicate with the outside world. Check the local laws before using a VPN in China, Russia, Turkey, or any country with with repressive internet policies.

What about using a VPN for BitTorrent? Some services allow peer-to-peer file sharing and the use of BitTorrent sharing. Others restrict such activity to specific servers. Be smart: Learn the company's terms of service—and the local laws on the subject. Only six percent of our respondents report ever having used a VPN with BitTorrent. While that's a low number, it may simply reflect the fact that not all respondents have ever used BitTorrent at all.

So what did our poll find when it comes to what sorts of online habits respondents actually use VPNs for? In our survey of 3,000 US consumers on VPN use and buying habits, we found that a majority—52 percent of respondents—said they need a VPN for security purposes. In related responses, 26 percent said they need a VPN to safely access public Wi-Fi, and 18 percent need a VPN to share data and files securely. Another marquee feature of VPNs is anonymous web browsing, yet only the most Big Brother–conscious 6 percent of respondents said they need a VPN to avoid government surveillance. Aside from privacy and security reasons, VPNs are also useful in accessing entertainment content not available in your region by switching to a server somewhere else in the world. A sizable 23 percent of respondents said they need a VPN to access streaming content such as Netflix or sports, while 4 percent of respondents use VPNs to access adult content.

How to Choose a VPN Service

The VPN services market has exploded in the past few years, and a small competition has turned into an all-out melee. Many providers are capitalizing on the general population's growing concerns about surveillance and cybercrime, which means it's getting hard to tell when a company is actually providing a secure service and when it's throwing out a lot of fancy words while selling snake oil. In fact, since VPN services have become so popular in the wake of Congress killing ISP privacy rules, there have even been fake VPNs popping up, so be careful. It's important to keep a few things in mind when evaluating which VPN service is right for you: reputation, performance, type of encryption used, transparency, ease of use, support, and extra features. Don't just focus on price or speed, though those are important factors.

Some VPN services provide a free trial, so take advantage of it. Make sure you are happy with what you signed up for, and take advantage of money-back guarantees if you're not. This is actually why we also recommend starting out with a short-term subscription—a week or a month—to really make sure you are happy. Yes, you may get a discount by signing up for a year, but that's more money at stake should you realize the service doesn't meet your performance needs.

Most users want a full graphical user interface for managing their VPN connection and settings, though a few would rather download a configuration file and import it into the OpenVPN client. Most VPN companies we have reviewed support all levels of technological savvy, and the best have robust customer support for when things go sideways.

Which Is the Best Free VPN?

Best Vpn Provider For Mac 2016

Not all VPN services require that you pay. There are, in fact, many excellent free VPNs. But all of the free VPNs we've tested have some kind of limitation. Some limit you to just a few simultaneous connections or devices on an account. Others restrict you to a few hundred MBs of data per day or per month. Others limit you to just a handful of servers. Still others do all of the above.

Finding the best free VPN is an exercise in balancing those restrictions. TunnelBear, for example, lets you use any server on its network but limits you to 500MB-1GB per month. Avira Phantom VPN lets you use as many devices as you like and any server you like, but also restricts you to 500MB per month. AnchorFree Hotspot Shield also places no limits on the number of devices, but restricts you to 500MB per day and only US-based servers. Kaspersky Secure Connection doesn't limit your devices but doesn't let you choose a VPN server—the app does it automatically.

Editors' Choice winner ProtonVPN has the unique distinction of placing no data restrictions on free users. You can browse as much as you want, as long as you want. You will be limited to just one device on the service at a time and can only choose between three server locations, but the unlimited data makes up for all that. It doesn't hurt that ProtonVPN, from the same people that brought you super-secure ProtonMail email, is very concerned about security and customer privacy.

As far as what our readers are actually willing to spend, we found in our poll that 65 percent of respondents expect VPNs to be free, whereas only 10 percent expect them to cost $10 or more. For those of you who are at least willing to put down some cash, we also have a roundup of the best cheap VPNs.

As far as what our readers are actually willing to spend, we found in our poll that 65 percent of respondents expect VPNs to be free, whereas only 10 percent expected them to cost $10 or more.

Can You Trust Your VPN Service?

If you're using a service to route all your internet traffic through its servers, you have to be able to trust the provider. It's easier to trust companies that have been around longer, simply because their reputation is likely to be known. The trouble is that the VPN industry is very young, and some VPN companies have been playing dirty. In this environment, figuring out who to trust is very difficult.

We're not cryptography experts, so we can't verify all of the encryption claims providers make. Instead, we focus on the features provided. Bonus features like ad blocking, firewalls, and kill switches that disconnect you from the web if your VPN connection drops, go a long way toward keeping you safe. We also prefer providers that support OpenVPN, since it's a standard that's known for its speed and reliability. It's also, as the name implies, open source, meaning it benefits from many developers' eyes looking for potential problems.

Since we last tested VPNs, we've given special attention to the privacy practices of VPN companies and not just the technology they provide. In our testing, we read through the privacy policies and discuss company practices with VPN service representatives. What we look for is a commitment to protect user information, and to take a hands-off approach to gathering user data.

As part of our research, we also make sure to find out where the company is based and under what legal framework it operates. Some countries don't have It's also useful to know under what circumstances a VPN company will hand over information to law enforcement and what information it would have to provide if that should happen.

The best VPN services have a privacy policy that clearly spells out what the service does, what information it collects, and what it does to protect that information. Some companies explain that they collect some information, but don't inform you about how they intend to use that information. Others are more transparent.

While a VPN can protect your privacy online, you might still want to take the additional step of avoiding paying for one using a credit card, for moral or security reasons. Several VPN services now accept anonymous payment methods such Bitcoin, and some even accept retailer gift cards. Both of these transactions is about as close as you can get to paying with cash for something online. That Starbucks gift card may be better spent on secure web browsing than a mediocre-at-best latte.

Understanding the Limitations of VPN Services

VPNs are great, but it's just as important to know what a VPN can and cannot do. A tool is only useful when it's used correctly, after all.

While it hides your IP address, a VPN is not a true anonymization service. For that, you'll want to access the Tor network, which will almost certainly slow down your connection. While a VPN tunnels your web traffic to a VPN server, Tor bounces around your traffic through several volunteer nodes making it much, much harder to track. Using Tor also grants access to hidden Dark Web sites, which a VPN simply cannot do. That said, some services, such as NordVPN, offer Tor access on specific servers.

Using a VPN will prevent most kinds of DNS attacks that would redirect you to a phishing page, but a regular old page made to look like a legit one in order to trick you into entering your data can still work. Some VPNs, and most browsers, are pretty good about blocking phishing pages, but this attack still claims too many victims to be ignored. Use common sense and be sure to verify that websites are what they say they are by looking carefully at the URL and always visiting HTTPS sites.

In addition to blocking malicious sites and ads, some VPNs also claim to block malware. We don't test the efficacy of these protections, but most appear to be blacklists of sites known to host malicious software. That's great, but don't assume it's anywhere near as good as standalone antivirus. Perhaps troublingly, 20 percent of those who answered said that they thought VPNs could protect them against viruses. It's important to note that whatever ability a VPN might have to protect you from malware, you should use this feature to complement, not replace, your antivirus.

Lastly, keep in mind that some security conscious companies like banks may be confused by your VPN. If your bank sees you logging in from what appears to be another US state or even another country, it can raise red flags. Expect to see captchas and more frequent multifactor requests when your VPN is on.

VPNs by the Numbers

Some important things to look for when shopping for a VPN are the number of licenses for simultaneous connections that come with your fee, the number of servers available, and the number of locations in which the company has servers.

Most VPN services allow you to connect up to five devices with a single account. Any service that offers fewer connections is outside the mainstream. Keep in mind that you'll need to connect every device in your home individually to the VPN service, so just two or three licenses won't be enough for the average nested pair. Note that many VPN services offer native apps for both Android and iOS, but that such devices count toward your total number of connections.

Of course, there are more than just phones and computers in a home. Game systems, tablets, and smart home devices such as light bulbs and fridges all need to connect to the internet. Many of these things can't run VPN software on their own, nor can they be configured to connect to a VPN through their individual settings. In these cases, you may be better off configuring your router to connect with the VPN of your choice. By adding VPN protection to your router, you secure the traffic of every gadget connected to that router. And the router—and everything protected by it—uses just one of your licenses. Nearly all of the companies we have reviewed offer software for most consumer routers and even routers with preinstalled VPN software, making it even easier to add this level of protection.

The number and distribution of those servers is a key consideration. The more places a VPN has to offer, the more options you have to spoof your location! More importantly, having numerous servers in diverse locales means that no matter where you go on Earth you'll be able to find a nearby VPN server. The closer the VPN server, the better the speed and reliability of the connection it can offer you. Remember, you don't need to connect to a far-flung VPN server in order to gain security benefits. Depending on where you live, a server down the street is as safe as one across the globe.

The number of servers a VPN company provides is at least partly a function of how many subscribers it supports. But more is almost always better, and more servers mean that you're less likely to be shunted into a VPN server that is already filled to the brim with other users. NordVPN is at the forefront with over 5,200 servers, followed by CyberGhost, ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and TorGuard all of which have 3,000 servers or more each. But the competition is beginning to heat up. Last year, only a handful of companies offered more than 500 servers, now it's becoming unusual to find a company offering fewer than 1,000 servers.

In the most recent round of testing, we've also looked at how many virtual servers a given VPN company uses. A virtual server is just what it sounds like—a software-defined server running on server hardware that might have several virtual servers onboard. The thing about virtual servers is that they can be configured to appear as if they are in one country when they are actually being hosted somewhere else. That's an issue if you're especially concerned about where you web traffic is traveling. It's a bit worrisome to choose one location and discover you're actually connected somewhere else entirely. Some VPN companies take a smart view to virtual servers, using them to provide VPN support for regions where it might be too risky to physically house a server. When VPNs use virtual servers, we prefer that they are transparent about it and share those locations with customers.

See How We Test VPNs

What's the Fastest VPN?

We have often said that having to choose between security and convenience is a false dichotomy, but it is at least somewhat true in the case of VPN services. When a VPN is active, your web traffic is taking a more circuitous route than usual, often resulting in sluggish download and upload speeds as well as increased latency. The good news is that using a VPN probably isn't going to remind you of the dial-up days of yore. That's important, because in our 2018 survey, 45 percent of respondents said that speed was the most important factor.

Most services provide perfectly adequate internet speed when in use, and can even handle streaming HD video. However, 4K video and other>

Our testing shows that HideIPVPN has the least impact on performance and is therefore the fastest VPN. While speed is always a consideration, we maintain that value, features, and dedication to privacy is far more important. We discourage readers from choosing a VPN solely on its speed test results.

Can a VPN Be Blocked by Netflix?

Netflix and similar video streaming services are getting wise to people accessing streaming content in other countries by spoofing their location with a VPN. In our testing, we found that Netflix blocks streaming more often than not when we were using a VPN. There are a few exceptions, but Netflix is actively working to protect its content deals. VPNs that work with Netflix today may not work tomorrow.

Netflix blocking paying customers might seem odd, but it's all about regions and not people. Just because you paid for Netflix in one place does not mean you're entitled to the content available on the same service but in a different location. Media distribution and rights are messy and complicated. While this use of VPNs gets a lot of press, however, our 2019 survey found that only eight percent of respondents use a VPN to unblock Netflix or a similar streaming service.

Using a VPN With Windows 10, Chrome, and Linux

When we test VPNs, we generally start with the Windows client. This is often the most complete review, covering several different platforms as well as the service's features and pricing in depth. That's purely out of necessity, since most of our readers use Windows (although this writer is currently using a MacBook Air). We currently use a Lenovo ThinkPad T460s laptop running the latest version of Windows 10. We periodically upgrade to a newer machine, in order to simulate what most users experience.

Best Vpn For Mac Free

But as you can see from the chart at the top, however, Windows is not the only platform for VPNs. The Android mobile operating system, for example, is the most widely used OS on the planet. So it makes sense that we also test VPNs for Android.

That's not to ignore Apple users. We also review VPN clients for macOS and iOS.

Using a VPN is a little weird for ChromeOS users. If you're on a Chromebook or Chromebox, your best bet is to use an Android VPN app. See our guide to how to set up a VPN on a Chromebook for more.

Finally, we have lately begun to review the best Linux VPN apps, too.

Using a Mobile VPN

We used to advise people to do banking and other important business over their cellular connection when using a mobile device, since it is generally safer than connecting with a public Wi-Fi network. But even that isn't always a safe bet. Researchers have demonstrated how a portable cell tower, such as a femtocell, can be used for malicious ends. The attack hinges on jamming the LTE and 3G bands, which are secured with strong encryption, and forcing devices to connect with a phony tower over the less-secure 2G band. Because the attacker controls the fake tower, they can carry out a man-in-the-middle attack and see all the data passing over the cellular connection. Admittedly, this is an exotic attack, but it's far from impossible.

Wi-Fi attacks, on the other hand, are probably far more common than we'd like to believe. While attending the Black Hat convention, researchers saw thousands of devices connecting to a rogue access point. It had been configured to mimic networks that victim's devices had previously connected to, since many devices will automatically reconnect to a known network without checking with the user. That's why we recommend getting a VPN app for your mobile device to protect all your mobile communications. Even if you don't have it on all the time, using a mobile VPN is a smart way to protect your personal information.

Most VPN services offer both Android and iOS VPN apps, saving you the trouble of configuring your phone's VPN settings yourself. VPN providers typically allow up to five devices to be connected simultaneously under a single account. Also, while there are free VPN services available, many require that mobile users sign up for a paid subscription.

Not all mobile VPN apps are created equal. In fact, most VPN providers offer different services (and sometimes, different servers) for their mobile offerings than they do for their desktop counterparts.

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.

Thankfully, there's a workaround for this problem. Instead of using the VPN app from the company from which you've purchased a subscription, you can download the standalone OpenVPN app. Open it, and you can enter your subscription information from the VPN company you've decided to work with. The OpenVPN app will then connect to the VPN company's servers using our preferred protocol.

Get Yourself a VPN

Computer and software providers work hard to make sure that the devices you buy are safe right out of the box, but they don't provide everything you'll need. Antivirus software, for example, consistently outperforms the built-in protections. In the same vein, VPN software lets you use the web and Wi-Fi with confidence that your information will remain secure. It's critically important and often overlooked.

Even if you don't use it every moment of every day, a VPN is a fundamental tool that everyone should have at their disposal—like a password manager or an online backup service. A VPN is also a service that will only become more important as our more of our devices become connected. So stay safe, and get a VPN.

Click through the review links of the best VPN services below for detailed analysis and performance results, and feel free to chime in on the comments section below them. Once you've picked, be sure to read our feature on how to set up and use a VPN to get the most from your chosen service.

Best VPN Services Featured in This Roundup:

  • NordVPN Review


    MSRP: $11.95

    Pros: More than 5,200 servers in diverse locations worldwide. Unique, specialized servers. Six simultaneous connections. P2P allowed. Browser apps. Blocks ads, other web threats. Strong customer privacy stance.

    Cons: Expensive. Cannot purchase additional simultaneous connections.

    Bottom Line: NordVPN wraps a slick client around a strong collection of features for securing your online activities and an enormous network of servers. Earning a rare 5-star rating, it's our top pick for VPNs.

    Read Review
  • Private Internet Access VPN Review


    MSRP: $9.95

    Pros: Well designed app. Allows ten simultaneous connections. Above average number of available servers. Advanced security settings. Ad blocking. Supports P2P file sharing and BitTorrent. Multiplatform support. Strong stance on customer privacy.

    Cons: No free version. No specialized servers.

    Bottom Line: Private Internet Access offers a robust VPN service with an excellent new app interface and up to 10 simultaneous connections. It's a strong choice for large families or people with many devices in need of VPN protection.

    Read Review
  • TunnelBear VPN Review


    MSRP: $9.99

    Pros: Affordable. Excellent privacy policies. Annual independent audits. Friendly, approachable design. Browser extensions, including stand-alone ad blocker. Good speed test results. Bears.

    Cons: Lack of geographic diversity in server locations.

    Bottom Line: If you're tired of edgy security products, let the strong-but-cute bears of TunnelBear VPN defend your web traffic. Easy to use and easily affordable, it's an Editors' Choice winner.

    Read Review
  • CyberGhost VPN Review


    MSRP: $12.99

    Pros: Offers seven licenses with a subscription. Good server distribution. Strong privacy policy. Excellent and unique features.

    Cons: Expensive.

    Bottom Line: CyberGhost offers an excellent VPN product with strong, unique features not found elsewhere, along with a generous number of simultaneous connections. It's expensive, however.

    Read Review
  • TorGuard VPN Review


    MSRP: $9.99

    Pros: Affordable. Numerous servers spread across the globe. Lets you easily add simultaneous connections. Many add-ons. Good speed test scores.

    Cons: Clunky client. No free subscription.

    Bottom Line: TorGuard VPN is the best bet for BitTorrent seeders and leechers looking to secure their web traffic. It's packed with features sure to appeal to security wonks, though its client is clunky.

    Read Review
  • IPVanish VPN Review


    MSRP: $11.99

    Pros: 10 simultaneous connections. Good geographic diversity of servers. Allows BitTorrenting. Automatic IP address cycling.

    Cons: Unwelcoming interface. Limited global server presence.

    Bottom Line: VPN service IPVanish secures your web traffic from prying eyes. It packs powerful features veteran VPN users will appreciate, and presents a good value overall, although its interface may intimidate the less experienced.

    Read Review
  • ExpressVPN Review


    MSRP: $12.95

    Pros: Large, diversely distributed fleet of servers. Strong privacy policy. Supports OpenVPN protocol across all platforms. Allows P2P and BitTorrent. Simple interface. Greatly improved performance.

    Cons: Expensive. Few simultaneous connections allowed.

    Bottom Line: ExpressVPN is a comprehensive VPN service with an impressive server fleet and excellent features. But, compared with the competition, it allows for fewer simultaneous connections, and it's more expensive.

    Read Review
  • Symantec Norton Secure VPN Review


    MSRP: $7.99

    Pros: Affordable, flexible pricing. Robust server network. Integrated ad-tracker blocking. Good speed test scores.

    Cons: No P2P or BitTorrent support. Few server locations.

    Bottom Line: Norton Secure VPN offers VPN protection from a trusted name in security in addition to flexible pricing. That said, it lacks advanced security features and doesn't allow BitTorrent.

    Read Review
  • Surfshark VPN Review


    MSRP: $11.95

    Pros: Unlimited simultaneous connections. Unusual multihop and split-tunneling tools. Well-designed app.

    Cons: High price. Occasionally opaque privacy policy language. Geographic distribution of servers could improve. Mixed speed test results.

    Bottom Line: Surfshark VPN's comparatively high price is balanced against unlimited devices per account and an excellent set of features.

    Read Review
  • ProtonVPN Review


    MSRP: $10.00

    Pros: Excellent free version. Flexible, low-cost plans. Focus on physical security. Excellent privacy policies. Slick, accessible client. Multi-hop VPN to secure locations and Tor connections. P2P friendly. ProtonMail bundle available.

    Cons: Few servers and locations. Difficult to find fastest servers. Full access to servers and features only at highest pay level.

    Bottom Line: ProtonVPN doesn't have as many servers as much of the competition, but its focus on exacting security at an affordable price tag makes it a compelling choice. Plus, its free version is the best we've tested so far.

    Read Review

Welcome to the CNET 2019 Directory of VPN providers. In this directory, we're taking a look at a few of the very best commercial VPN service providers on the Internet like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, IPVanish, Hotspot Shield, Private Internet Access and others. Rather than looking at the wide range of free providers, which often have a lot of limits (and dubious loyalties), we are looking at those vendors who charge a few bucks a month, but put your interests first, rather than those of shadowy advertisers and sponsors. We've looked at more than 20 factors including number of server locations, client software, dedicated and dynamic IP, bandwidth caps, security, logging, customer support and price.

Read more:

Let's look at each of our vendors below in a little more depth.

Affiliate disclosure: CNET earns a commission from services featured below if you buy through the links on this page.

ExpressVPN

  • Number of IP addresses: 30,000
  • Number of servers: 3,000+
  • Number of server locations: 160
  • Number of simultaneous connections: 5
  • Country/Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands
  • 94+ countries
  • 3 months Free with 1-year plan

ExpressVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, and has impressive protocol support. While few will use PPTP (unless there are specific needs), the added support of SSTP and L2TP/IPSec may be welcome to some users.

ExpressVPN actively promotes their commitment to privacy. The company tells us their network is powered by TrustedServer technology, which ExpressVPN built to ensure that there are never any logs of users' online activities.

Best Vpn For Mac

We like the quality of their setup guides, and the detailed information in their FAQ. The ExpressVPN gained points from us for their support of Bitcoin as a payment method. They offer a useful kill switch feature which prevents network data from leaking outside of their secure VPN tunnel in the event the VPN connection fails.

The company has been in business since 2009, and has a substantial network of fast VPN servers spread across 94 countries. Their best plan is priced at just $6.67 per month for an annual package which includes 3 months free.

NordVPN

  • Number of IP addresses: 5,000
  • Number of servers: 5000+ servers
  • Number of server locations: 61
  • Country/Jurisdiction: Panama
  • 60+ countries
  • NordVPN in-depth review and hands-on testing

NordVPN is one of our top-performing VPN providers. They even offer a generous simultaneous connection count, with six simultaneous connections through their network, where nearly everyone else offers five or fewer.

NordVPN's network isn't as large as some of their competitors, so if you're trying to obfuscate your tracks, you might want a company with more servers. Otherwise, this company is clearly providing a winning offering.

Another popular plan is their 1-year subscription plan: for $6.99/mo ($83.88 billed at once). While their monthly price of $11.95 is at the high end of the spectrum, their yearly price of $83.88 is lower than most our contenders. And yes, they also have a full 30-day refund policy. NordVPN also offers a dedicated IP option, for those looking for a different level of VPN connection. Their best deal is $2.99/month (75% discount) for a 3-year plan.

IPVanish VPN

  • Number of IP addresses: 40,000+
  • Number of servers: 900
  • Number of server locations: 60
  • Country/Jurisdiction: United States
Best

A big win for IPVanish is the fact that the company keeps zero logs. Zero. We also like the company's stance towards privacy. They even provide support to EFF, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit at the front lines of protecting online privacy.

A unique feature of IPVanish, and one we're very intrigued by, is the VPN's support of Kodi, the open-source media streaming app that was once known as XBMC. Any serious media fan has used or built Kodi or XBMC into a media player, and the integrated IPVanish Kodi plugin provides access to media worldwide.

At $4.87/month and $58.49 for a year, they're obviously trying to move you towards their yearly program. We awarded the company kudos for Bitcoin support, and their money-back guarantee. We're a little disappointed that they only allow a 7-day trial, rather than a full 30-days. The company is generous, with five simultaneous connections. We also liked their connection kill switch feature, a must for anyone serious about remaining anonymous while surfing.

Norton Secure VPN

  • Number of countries: 29
  • Number of servers: 1500
  • Number of server locations: 200
  • Country/Jurisdiction: US

Symantec, long known for excellence in security products, has a relatively limited offering in its VPN product. It does not support P2P or BitTorrent, it does not have a kill switch feature, and it does not support Linux, routers or set top boxes.

On the other hand, it's a VPN product from Symantec, a publicly-traded company with a clearly documented management team. In most software categories, this might not be a notable advantage, but in the VPN world, where most companies have shadowy management and impossible-to-track-down ownership structures, it's refreshing to know exactly who we're dealing with and know through independent sources (the company's annual filing, the SEC, and analyst reports) that the company is trustworthy and accountable.

Norton Secure VPN also gets big points for its 24/7 live customer phone support and 60-day money back guarantee.

PureVPN

  • Number of IP addresses: 300,000
  • Number of servers: 2000
  • Number of server locations: 180
  • Country/Jurisdiction: Hong Kong

PureVPN does not log connection information. We like that they offer a 30-day refund policy. They got bonus points because, important for some of our readers, PureVPN supports bitcoin payments and you're going like their fast performance.

Also, you can grow with them. If after some time, you need to scale up to business-level plans, the company has offerings for growth. They're even offering a $1.92/mo plan if you sign up for five years.

Finally, we like that PureVPN has both Kodi and a Chromebook solution called out right on their Web page. In addition, PureVPN earns the distinction of being the first VPN service we've seen to fully implement the GDPR.

Surfshark

  • Number of servers: 800+
  • Number of server locations: 50
  • Country/Jurisdiction: British Virgin Islands

While Surfshark's network is smaller than some, they make it up on features. Let's start off with the biggest win they offer: unlimited device support. If you want to run your entire home or office on Surfshark's VPN, you don't have to worry about how many devices you have on or connected. They also offer anti-malware, ad blocking and tracker blocking as part of their software.

The company has a solid range of app support, running on Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireTV, and through routers. We particularly like the feature that allows you to whitelist certain apps and websites to automatically bypass the VPN. For some business use, this can be critically important.

Surfshark also offers three special modes designed for those who want to get around restrictions and more carefully hide their online footsteps. Camouflage Mode masks your VPN activity so your ISP doesn't know you're using a VPN. MultiHop jumps your connection through multiple countries to hide your trail. Finally, NoBorders Mode 'allows [you] to successfully use Surfshark in restrictive regions.' Just be careful. Doing any of these three things could be illegal in your country and could result in very severe penalties.

For a year plan, Surfshark comes in very close to many of the other full-featured VPN providers, at $71.88 for the first year. Be careful, because it looks like that will jump to $143.40 after your first year is up. Month-by-month plans are $11.95. Their best offer is $1.99 a month, for their 24 month plan (you pay $47.76 up front). Definitely take advantage of their generous 30-day trial to decide if you like this service (and maybe set a reminder in 23 months to see if you can talk them into a continued discount rate).

CyberGhost VPN

  • Number of IP addresses: 2,800
  • Number of servers: over 3,700 worldwide
  • Number of server locations: 115
  • 24/7 support response
  • CyberGhost in-depth review and hands-on testing

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.

The company has solid Linux support, supports VPN via routers, and has a solution for the popular Kodi media player. They check off all the boxes on protocol support and get kudos for offering a connection kill switch feature, along with supporting P2P and BitTorrent in most countries.

Still, the few extra dollars are worth it. We liked how the company offers custom app protection, IPV5 support and DNS, IP, and WebRTC leak prevention. CyberGhost also picked up points for preserving anonymity by not logging connection data.

StrongVPN

  • Number of IP addresses: 59,500
  • Number of servers: 650+
  • Number of server locations: 26 countries and 46 cities

StrongVPN blasts onto our favorites list with excellent infrastructure and decent price performance. As with our other favorites, StrongVPN has a strong no-logging policy. Since VPN is all about protecting your privacy, that's a place the savvy VPN providers can pick up points.

Strong also picks up kudos for its large base of IP addresses, which also helps protect your anonymity. They have 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 support to get help setting it up.

One of StrongVPN's strongest strengths is the company's network. They own and operate their entire network infrastructure, which means they have no externally-dictated limits on bandwidth or the type of traffic allowed on the network. This gives you the confidence that you'll be able to power through your work.

StrongVPN's regular monthly price of $10 is in the middle of the pack, but their yearly price of $69.99 is among the lowest of our contenders.

Private Internet Access

  • Number of IP addresses: N/A
  • Number of servers: 3,252
  • Number of server locations: 37
  • Country/Jurisdiction: United States

Speaking of price, if you want a solid VPN provider, Private Internet Access is the place to go.

The key to getting the most savings with this vendor is buying their two year plan for $83.87. That works out to $3.49 per month. They also offer a one-year plan for $71.88, but as you can see, you can get an entire additional year for less than ten bucks if you sign up for their two-year plan.

The company does not release information on the number of IP addresses available, but at 3,252, their server count is more than any of our other picks.

These folks have been around since 2010, and don't log anything. They provide a generous five connections, a connection kill switch feature, and some good online documentation and security guidance. Our one disappointment is that their refund policy is 7-days instead of 30, but you can certainly get a feel for their excellent performance in the space of a week.

Hotspot Shield

  • Number of IP addresses: 50,000
  • Number of servers: 2500
  • Number of server countries: 70+
  • Hotspot Shield in-depth review and hands-on testing

HotSpot Shield is a product that has had some ups and downs in terms of our editorial coverage. Back in 2016, they picked up some very positive coverage based on founder David Gorodyansky comments about protecting user privacy. Then, in 2017, a privacy group accused the company of spying on user traffic, an accusation the company flatly denies. Finally, just this year, ZDNet uncovered a flaw in the company's software that exposed users. Fortunately, that was fixed immediately.

So what are we to make of HotSpot Shield? Frankly, the controversy caused us to drop them from our directory for a while. But they approached us, made a strong case for their ongoing dedication to privacy, and we decided to give them another chance.

Here's the good news. They offer one of the best money-back guarantee we've seen for VPN services, a full 45-days. They support Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android, along with plugins for Chrome and Firefox. They also support routers and media players (but not Linux). And, as a bonus, they have a connection kill switch feature.

The company does not support P2P or BitTorrent – and they also don't support the OpenVPN. Every other vendor does, but HotSpot Shield limits its protocol support to L2TP/IPSec and something they call Hydra, an enhancement of the transport protocol.

Overall, the company did impress us with their attention to privacy. They have a published privacy canary. They also told us, 'We have built in malware, phishing and spam protection. Our commitment to our users is that Hotspot Shield will never store, log, or share your true IP address.'

OTHER VPN SERVICE PROVIDERS

Webroot WiFi Security

  • Country/Jurisdiction: United States
  • Starting price: $39.99

As VPN services go, Webroot WiFi Security is relatively bare-bones -- but it's also cheap. Starting at $39.99 for a year of VPN service, you can get a bundle with both VPN and Webroot's antivirus software for $69.98 for your first year. Unfortunately, both of these prices bump up after the first year. VPN protection jumps to $59.99 and the bundle jumps to $119.98.

While we applaud the combination of VPN and antivirus in one package, Webroot has had a troubled few years. In 2017, it mistakenly flagged Windows' system files as malicious. In 2018, a kernel exploit was found in the company's Mac antivirus client. In 2019, the company was acquired by backup firm Carbonite.

If you're only protecting a few devices and want to save money, Webroot's VPN might be for you. That $39.99 price is for up to three devices. If you want to protect five devices, you'll need to pay $59.99 for a year and $79.99 after that. Frankly, once you enter that price range, there are products with more capabilities available.

Webroot's VPN is also light on protocols. While they do connect using IKEv2 by default, they also offer L2TP and the very old and very insecure PPTP protocol (although they do warn that it's not 'as' secure. Another concern for those of you who need deep protection is that the company does log both which VPN server location you connect to and the country you connect from.

So who is Webroot's VPN for? If all you want to do is protect your Wi-Fi connection while surfing in your local coffee shop or at a hotel, you only need to connect a few devices, and you want to save money, this is a workable option. But if you're in need of a serious VPN with deep capabilities, you'll want to look elsewhere in this directory. Also, we didn't find any reference to a money back guarantee, so check with their pre-sales and support before buying.

Goose VPN

I had to know why Goose VPN was so named. My first order of business was to reach out to the company's co-founder and ask. Geese, I was told, make excellent guard animals. There are records of guard geese giving the alarm in ancient Rome when the Gauls attacked. Geese have been used to guard a US Air Defense Command base in Germany and a brewery in Scotland.

It's clear that the goose is an ideal mascot for a service that's meant to guard your digital communications. And so, we have Goose VPN.

Goose VPN has a couple of standout features. First, you can have an unlimited number of simultaneous connections (or devices) using the VPN at once. Second, if your bandwidth needs are 50 GB or less per month, you can sign up for $2.99/month, the cheapest monthly rate we've seen.

If you want unlimited bandwidth, the company definitely is pushing you towards buying a year at a time. Their monthly fee for unlimited bandwidth is a middle-of-the-road $12.99/month, but if you spend $59.88 for a year's service, you'll find it's the second lowest by-the-year price of the services we've reviewed.

Goose provides all the usual clients, including iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows, and adds support for routers, Android TV, and Linux. They are working on a kill switch feature, which may even be up and running by the time you read this review. The company also offers 24/7 ticket-based support.

Ducks quack, geese honk, and swans whoop (we know, because we looked it up). Overall, especially given the unlimited connections and low yearly price, we think Goose VPN is something to honk about.

Buffered VPN

  • Number of IP addresses: 11,000
  • Number of servers: 800
  • Number of server locations: 46
  • Country/Jurisdiction: Gibraltar

Buffered VPN doesn't disclose much about the size of its network, but the 30-day money back guarantee means that you can take their service for a test drive and really get a feel for how well it performs for you. The company saddened us because they do keep some connection information. They cheered us up, though, due to their client support, unlimited bandwidth, and generous number of simultaneous sessions allowed.

The company is relatively new, founded in 2013. It's based in Europe, so those who prefer an EU-based company might prefer Buffered. We like how Buffered has made a strong commitment to Internet freedom, and an equally strong commitment to providing quality customer support.

At $12.99 per month and $79.00 for a year of service, they don't offer the least expensive plan, but we do recommend giving them a try.

TorGuard

  • Number of IP addresses: N/A
  • Number of servers: 1,600
  • Number of server locations: 50
  • Country/Jurisdiction: United States

Even though the company doesn't release the number of IP addresses it supports, TorGuard didn't disappoint. In addition to basic VPN services, TorGuard offers a wide variety of additional services, depending on your privacy needs.

As with our other favorites, TorGuard keeps no logs whatsoever. They have a full suite of protocol support, so no matter how you want to connect, you can have your preference. We also like the active blog the company maintains. It's relevant and interesting to anyone with Internet security concerns.

While TorGuard only offers a 7-day return policy, it's enough time for you to be able to decide if you're satisfied. The monthly price of $9.99 is pretty much at the middle of the range, but the yearly fee of $59.99 is a bargain compared to some of all our other contenders.

VyprVPN Services

  • Number of IP addresses: 200,000+
  • Number of servers: 700+
  • Number of server locations: 70+
  • Country/Jurisdiction: Switzerland
  • 30-Day Money Back Guarantee

VyprVPN has the largest bank of IP addresses of any of the services we've examined. The company offers a wide range of protocols, including its own high-performance Chameleon connection protocol.

We like that the company offers a connection kill switch feature and, for those who need it, there's an option to get a dedicated IP address. VyprVPN is a standout in their effort to provide privacy, and thwart censorship. When China began its program of deep packet VPN inspection, Golden Frog's VyperVPN service added scrambled OpenVPN packets to keep the traffic flowing.

You can get a limited plan supporting only three devices for $45 for the first year and $60 after that. A premium plan supporting five devices is $60 for the first year and $80 after that.

Hide My Ass

  • Number of IP addresses: 3,106
  • Number of servers: 830
  • Number of server locations: 280
  • Country/Jurisdiction: United Kingdom

We have to give these folks an extra shout-out just for the name of their service. The firm has a strong network with a good selection of protocols supported. While they have an extensive (and very clearly written set of policy documents), the company explicitly allows P2P and torrents.

We like how HMA offers support on a wide range of devices including game consoles. We gave them kudos for bitcoin support, and their excellent money-back guarantee. They did make us frown a bit because they do log connection data. They also offer five simultaneous connections.

While their monthly pricing of $11.52 is at the high end of the spectrum, their yearly pricing is competitive at $83.88 for a full year.

VPN FAQ

Since we're living in a connected world, security and privacy are critical to ensure our personal safety from nefarious hacks. From online banking to communicating with coworkers on a daily basis, we're now frequently transferring data on our computers and smartphones. It's extremely important to find ways of securing our digital life and for this reason, VPNs have become increasingly common.

What Is a VPN?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a technology that allows you to create a secure connection over a less-secure network between your computer and the internet. It protects your privacy by allowing you to anonymously appear to be anywhere you choose.

A VPN is beneficial because it guarantees an appropriate level of security and privacy to the connected systems. This is extremely useful when the existing network infrastructure alone cannot support it.

For example, when your computer is connected to a VPN, the computer acts as if it's also on the same network as the VPN. All of your online traffic is transferred over a secure connection to the VPN. The computer will then behave as if it's on that network, allowing you to securely gain access to local network resources. Regardless of your location, you'll be given permission to use the internet as if you were present at the VPN's location. This can be extremely beneficial for individuals using a public Wi-Fi.

Therefore, when you browse the internet while on a VPN, your computer will contact the website through an encrypted VPN service connection. The VPN will then forward the request for you and forward the response from the website back through a secure connection.

VPNs are really easy to use, and they're considered to be highly effective tools. They can be used to do a wide range of things. The most popular types of VPNs are remote-access VPNs and site-to-site VPNs.

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.

It usually relies on either Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to secure the connection. However, SSL VPNs can also be used to supply secure access to a single application, rather than an entire internal network. Some VPNs also provide Layer 2 access to the target network; these will require a tunneling protocol like PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) or L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) running across the base IPsec connection.

What is a site-to-site VPN?

This is when the VPN uses a gateway device to connect to 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. Rather than using the public internet, it is also normal to use career multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) clouds as the main transport for site-to-site VPNs.

VPNs are often defined between specific computers, and in most cases, they are servers in separate data centers. However, new hybrid-access situations have now transformed the VPN gateway in the cloud, typically with a secure link from the cloud service provider into the internal network.

What is a mobile VPN?

A traditional VPN can affect the user experience when applied to wireless devices. It's best to use a mobile VPN to avoid slower speeds and data loss. A mobile VPN offers you a high level of security for the challenges of wireless communication. It can provide mobile devices with secure access to network resources and software applications on their wireless networks. It's good to use when you're facing coverage gaps, inter-network roaming, bandwidth issues, or limited battery life, memory or processing power.

Mobile VPNs are designed and optimized to ensure a seamless user experience when devices are switching networks or moving out of coverage. It generally has a smaller memory footprint, and because of that, it also requires less processing power than a traditional VPN. Therefore, it enables your applications to run faster while the battery pack is able to last longer.

A Mobile VPN is a worthwhile tool to have since it increases privacy, user satisfaction and productivity, while also reducing unforeseen support issues caused by wireless connectivity problems. The increasing usage of mobile devices and wireless connectivity make it more important to ensure that your data is being transferred through a secure network. It will allow you to access the internet, while staying safe behind a firewall that protects your privileged information.

Who needs a VPN?

Individuals that access the internet from a computer, tablet or smartphone will benefit from using a VPN. A VPN service will always boost your security by encrypting and anonymizing all of your online activity. Therefore, both private and business users can benefit from using a VPN. Communications that happen between the VPN server and your device are encrypted, so a hacker or website spying on you wouldn't know which web pages you access. They also won't be able to see private information like passwords, usernames and bank or shopping details and so on. Anyone that wants to protect their privacy and security online should use a VPN.

How to choose a VPN Service?

There's a vast range of VPN servers on the internet. Some are free, but the best ones require a monthly subscription. Before you decide to download a VPN, make sure you consider these factors for understanding a VPN:

10 Best Vpn Providers

Cost - VPNs aren't too pricey, but they vary from vendor to vendor. If your main concern is price, then go with something inexpensive, or free - like Spotflux Premium VPN or AnchorFree HotSpot Shield Elite. By all means, try a free server but they do have a few drawbacks since they attract a lot of users. Free servers are often slower, and since most are ad-supported, they place adverts on the online pages you access. Others can even limit the speed of your connection, as well as your online time or amount of data transferred.

It's also important to note that leading VPN providers such as NordVPN and Privacy Internet Access offer stronger security features to ensure you're digitally safe. When selecting a paid VPN service, always be sure to check which countries it operates servers in.

Reliability - Select a VPN that is reliable and read the reviews to make sure that it's capable of protecting you by providing you with sufficient online privacy.

High security - An effective VPN will have the following security features: 128-bit encryption, anonymous DNS servers and an absence of connection logs.

Are there any bandwidth limits? This can often be linked to price; paying more will generally provide more bandwidth with faster internet access.

Best Vpn Provider For Mac 2016 Release

Are apps for Android, iOS phones and tablets available? Apps for Android and iOS devices are also vulnerable, so make sure your VPN server can support them.

To ensure privacy, you want to make sure you have a VPN that doesn't store online logs. Some servers provide virus and spyware protection, and features like that can significantly increase your online safety.

Using a no-logs VPN service will provide you with a higher degree of security. It can protect you from blanket government surveillance and prevent your internet service provider from knowing your online activity.

Using a VPN for Netflix and other forbidden treasures

Online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have been making it difficult for foreign users to access their content in other countries. Many people can get around region restrictions by using a VPN service to route your traffic through another country.

It can be quite simple to watch Netflix and other restricted goodies. You'll have to use a VPN service that allows you to get a unique IP address. This can often be available for an additional fee. Look for VPN services that offer a 'dedicated IP address', 'dedicated IP', or 'static IP.' Additional features like these will always allow you to access content from Netflix through a VPN service.

This is by far the easiest way to access your forbidden apps since there's no specific way to block VPN traffic.

A lot of people started using a VPN to evade geo-restrictions. But despite its forbidden benefits to users outside the US, a VPN is a great tool that can protect you and enhance your online experience over the internet by providing you with sufficient security and privacy. When it comes to selecting the best VPN, you have plenty of choices. There are many cost-effective VPN options, and all of them will vary in monthly offerings. Choosing the best VPN is easier once you narrow down the competition. The best indication of a good VPN service provider is that they have the right security and the right support in place for you.

Got a question for our Security community? Head over to the CNET Forums and join the conversation.

Best Vpn Providers Free

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