A VPN, or virtual private network, is a small tool that masks your Internet identity inside a virtual tunnel, hiding your IP address from your Internet service provider, websites, and prying eyes. When you use one, an encrypted connection is established between your device and a server somewhere in the world, tricking everyone into thinking you’re browsing from a different location.
Best VPN usage has grown astronomically since the pandemic began, especially among organizations. “Enterprises use VPNs to remotely grant network access, as well as to protect their data across multiple networks and borders on the Internet,” explains Rick McElroy, principal cybersecurity specialist at cloud computing company VMware. “For people who are concerned about governments around the world violating their privacy and security, VPNs are a great way to prevent this behavior.”
But the adoption rate is also growing because people have more free time. After finishing each season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, twice, people searched for content they couldn’t get on their streaming service of choice and turned to international versions. It’s one of the most common reasons people use free VPNs these days, though keep in mind that accessing streaming services this way typically violates the content provider’s terms.
The world of VPNs free can be a confusing and messy place. There are hundreds of free and paid VPNs out there, and not all of them are created equal. Many free VPNs are ad-supported, while others claim to protect your privacy while selling data collected from your browsing history.
Fortunately, there are some reputable and reliable best VPN providers out there. Most of the best VPNs charge for their services, but they also have free trials. To help you get around the virtual private network glut, we’ve rounded up the best VPNs for Android, iPhone, PC, and more.
How We Tested Which Is Best VPN
We tested these VPNs on an iPhone 12 Pro, a Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, and a MacBook pro laptop. In each case, we tested how fast each VPN free was when it went up against its competitors, examined how secure it was and whether it kept logs of our browsing data, and investigated what features each had, such as support for split tunneling or the inclusion of an off switch. To see how well these free VPNs performed when it came to bypassing geo-blocks, we took them on a tour of the US Netflix library as well as Amazon Prime Video in the US on our devices. Android, iOS and Mac.
The Best VPNs For Windows in 2022
NordVPN is one of the easiest VPNs to use as it has a simple design accompanied by a search service that makes everything even easier than you thought. Being located in Panama, it becomes an ideal service to take care of your privacy. It also includes a kill switch that will stop your Internet connection in case the VPN stops working, so your privacy is guaranteed at all times.
NordVPN allows you to connect to the US version of Netflix and also has more than 1,095 servers in 61 different countries, which will definitely help you find the server that best suits your needs. The service is accompanied by a new ad-blocker and a malware protector that will also be very useful for you.
It’s not the cheapest VPN out of all the options, but its premium interface, large number of servers, and wide variety of features make that little extra price worth it.
Relatively new to the VPN space, Surfshark’s subscriber base is growing rapidly, and it’s not hard to see why. With a simple interface, very competitive prices and a good range of features, it is an option to consider despite the low speeds.
- 800 servers in 50 countries
- Works with Netflix and other streaming services
- off switch
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Mobile apps and browser extensions available
Located in the British Virgin Islands with a strict no-logs policy and a Multichip feature, it is ideal for those concerned about privacy as well as avoiding geo-restricted streaming services. You’ll also find an ad blocker available, plus Chrome and Firefox browser extensions and a Fire TV app. On Windows and Android, the Whitelisted feature allows you to choose which apps you want to bypass the VPN on, which can be useful for mobile banking apps.
VyprVPN gives you a VPN connection for multiple devices simultaneously. That is why it becomes an ideal offer for families. It allows you to watch American Netflix content and other content blocked in your country. There are two plans available with VyprVPN depending on the number of simultaneous connections you need:
- You can pay €3.96 per month for a year for 3 simultaneous connections (€7.95 if you pay for a single month).
- Or €5.42 for 5 simultaneous connections plus a cloud storage service (Cloud VyprVPN) and a service to break VPN blocking and bypass censorship restrictions (Chameleon Protocol).
It has more than 700 servers available worldwide, in addition, its connection is fast and easy to use. It has a kill switch to ensure that your connection is always secure and applications to be able to use the VPN connection from your mobile as well.
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Ivacy may not have as many servers as NordVPN or ExpressVPN, but it does tick a lot of boxes. It allows five devices to use its service from a single account, and allows you to download Torrent files.
- Based in Singapore
- 1000+ servers
- 5 simultaneous connections
- torrenting is allowed
- Apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV
- Browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox
It offers a good range of apps and some of them have a good set of features, including a kill switch. There are some drawbacks, like no auto-connection when phone or laptop connects to unreliable Wi-Fi network, or any way to save favorite servers, or see how busy a particular server is. But this five-year deal is excellent value at just $0.99 a month.
PureVPN offers you a great all-round VPN connection. In addition to being super fast and having a more than reasonable price, it is located outside the reach of the 14 Eyes area (although its location in China may make you wary if you are looking for a totally anonymous connection and unable to locate). It has more than 750 servers in 141 countries, and its registry only files the hours in which the connection has been made.
It is easy to install, has a variety of features and also offers access to streaming and blocked websites including Netflix US. At PCWorld we had problems trying to install PureVPN on an older computer, a problem that not everyone will see, but the live chat that PureVPN has is fantastic and this will not cause problems for everyone.
Hide.me lets you try its service before you buy with a completely free version, but while it now unblocks Netflix and other streaming services, it’s still more expensive than certain rivals at $4.99 a month at its cheapest offering (that’s around £3.99). It has recently rolled out support for WireGuard, and has doubled the number of concurrent devices to 10.
- the free version
- 1700+ servers in 70 locations in 45 countries
- 30 day money back guarantee
- Mobile apps and browser extensions
- Live chat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- 10 simultaneous connections
Hidden24 directs traffic to its own server in the UK using the VPN capabilities of its own operating system. This means that it will work on any device: Android, Mac, iPhone, Linux or Windows. It’s ideal for someone looking for a VPN solution designed for people who want or need to communicate anonymously.
It’s easy to use, but the lack of an app or interface may not make it suitable for beginners. At the same time, not having to install an extra app on your computer, phone, or tablet in order to use your VPN can also become one more way to protect your privacy, since no one will be able to see the app installed on your devices. You are not allowed to access Netflix US, but you are allowed to access Netflix UK or BBC iPlayer even if you are outside the UK. It is also one of the cheapest VPNs available.