The Best VPN services for 2018

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The above nine vendors have been carefully selected for our best VPN directory. Not as fast as the first two options. The privacy that they afford can shield you from the prying eyes of government agencies as well as data-hungry marketers and their ISP allies. Netflix is perhaps the greatest and most popular streaming service that you can currently use. Do you want to binge your favorite TV shows this weekend, no matter where you are? You can use one of the best virtual private network services to unblock unlimited Chinese sites from anywhere in the world.

Desktop VPN application features

10 Best VPN Services for Privacy and Anonymity

One tool of many. You can head off the most common ways that websites and ad networks track you and gather information for marketing profiles by using browser extensions. Facebook collects, sells, and shares information too, and that info can be used for purposes beyond marketing. By changing your IP address with a VPN, and potentially mingling your activity with that of dozens or hundreds of other people using the same IP address, you make the marketing profile built from the collected data less likely to identify you.

And even with extra protection, unique features about your browser may be enough for other parties to collate data about you. Browser fingerprints—based on screen size, browser plugins, fonts, time zones, and more—can identify a single user even without cookies or IP addresses. How an Internet service provider ISP can monitor, log, or even modify your traffic—and how a VPN can prevent that—is more complicated than what any individual website can do. An ISP can technically and legally collect information about almost any site or service you use online, but what a particular ISP actually does collect is less clear.

At a minimum, your ISP keeps track of every IP address it has assigned you, often for six to 18 months. ISPs mostly use these records to respond to specific law enforcement requests, often to catch truly awful criminals. In , the US Department of Justice unsuccessfully demanded that a Web host hand over more than a million IP addresses , namely that of anyone who had accessed a website that helped organize protests during the presidential inauguration.

Compliance with that demand would have allowed the DOJ to request, in turn, identifying information from ISPs on anyone who visited the site—including journalists doing research, bored Twitter users clicking a link, or people against the protests who wanted a hate read. A good VPN would spare the innocent the trouble and the invasion of privacy in such a situation.

Unless otherwise noted, most of the points here address ISPs and law enforcement in the United States; situations are different in other countries. For instance, the European Union has specific rules on collecting and protecting customer data but also has a complicated history with laws requiring certain data be collected for law enforcement. Although the extent of the collection is unclear, you can be certain that your ISP will collect data on you, and it will use that data to sell you things or to help advertising partners sell you things.

Or Comcast could use your online behavior to figure out how to get you to watch more Hulu, which Comcast co-owns, instead of competitors like Netflix. But the other concern with huge troves of data being collected and locked away is how often they tend to be unlocked. If you were to use a VPN, those logs would show only a single, steady connection from your home to a VPN server, and nothing else.

But because the industry has little regulation, and a bad actor could easily turn your VPN connection into a huge log of personal information, a VPN must be trustworthy. The government tracking you Then a VPN is: Not necessarily capable of protecting you. Given the more immediate threats to security and privacy from other avenues, none of our experts highlighted government data collection as the foremost reason for most people to get a VPN. So they just make excess work for themselves.

Using a VPN service may help keep your data from being captured by some types of passive data collection, and in countries with less-sophisticated and less-well-funded intelligence agencies, a trustworthy VPN service is better than nothing. He outlined three ways that VPN traffic could be vulnerable:. Revelations from information leaked by Edward Snowden , and related reporting, claim that even low-level analysts at the NSA have had access to massive databases of information.

The NSA has sought to weaken some security standards during their development and has found exploits of others, such as the initial exchange of encryption keys , that allow the security agency to analyze otherwise secure traffic.

The NSA can also siphon off a huge amount of Internet traffic to be stored and later analyzed. Geoshifting to access international streaming sites Then a VPN is: Not a reliable tool. Aside from its potential to violate terms of service and possibly local laws, we also found that geoshifting to access streaming services was unreliable at best. Services and servers that work one day can be blocked the next, until VPN administrators find another workaround and the cycle repeats.

Not likely to be any better. In all our research, we came across a lot of gray areas when it came to trusting a VPN, and only two hard rules: Some VPNs offer great service or pricing but little to no insight into who exactly is handling them.

Given the explosion of companies offering VPN services and the trivial nature of setting one up as a scam , having a public-facing leadership team—especially one with a long history of actively fighting for online privacy and security—is the most concrete way a company can build trust. Covering the service, Gizmodo sums it up well: If you penny-pinch on privacy and security services, you may end up without privacy or security.

If it does, that puts your privacy at risk should someone access or even release those logs without authorization. Providers can also log less-specific data about when or how often you connect to your VPN service. In some cases, these logs are a routine part of server or account management, and can be responsibly separated and scrubbed.

In other cases, VPN providers take note of every connection and use that information to actively police individual customers. Some VPN companies we spoke with explained how a log might note your current connection for authentication purposes, but that log is deleted as soon as you disconnect. Ideally, every VPN service provider would subject itself to independent audits to verify that it logs and operates as it claims.

In other industries, conflicts of interest have led auditors and rating agencies PDF to miss or ignore major problems. In the US, companies making false claims about their products are policed by the Federal Trade Commission, and to some extent state attorneys general.

For example, privacy and confidentiality of communications are fundamental rights in the European Union. Data protection authorities in EU-member states are empowered to handle complaints brought by individuals and then provide users with information about the outcome of any investigation.

But it is unclear how effective any of these remedies will be. Even if a company is at fault for deceptive marketing practices, it still has to comply with legal requests for whatever information it does have. VPN providers are not required to keep records just in case law enforcement might need them some day.

By encrypting all the traffic from your home or mobile device to a server you manage, you deprive your ISP and a potentially villainous VPN of all your juicy traffic logs. But most people lack the skills, patience, or energy—or some combination of the three—to do this.

Lastly, though you remove one threat from the equation by cutting out a VPN service provider, you also lose the extra layer of privacy that comes from your traffic mixing in with that of hundreds or thousands of other customers. To narrow the hundreds of VPN providers down to a manageable list, we first looked at reviews from dedicated sites like vpnMentor and TorrentFreak , research and recommendations from noncommercial sources such as That One Privacy Site and privacytools.

We settled on 32 VPNs that were repeatedly recommended. From there, we dug into the details of how each one handled issues from technology to subscriptions:. Public-facing leadership and an active role in privacy and security advocacy The best: In conjunction with information security experts at The New York Times parent company of Wirecutter , we reached out to our finalists with questions about their internal security practices.

We asked how they handled internal security access, how they communicated securely with customers, in what ways they collected reports on security bugs, and of course whether their statements on logging policies matched their marketing and privacy policies.

We also considered which companies had public-facing leadership or ownership, and which ones openly supported projects and organizations that promoted Internet security and privacy. For a full breakdown of trust and VPNs, check out the section above. No bandwidth limits, no traffic filtering, no traffic logs The best: We looked carefully at the privacy policies and marketing claims for each company we considered.

In some cases, companies we considered had sworn in court filings that requests for data were impossible to fulfill. In other cases, we asked companies about their internal security and privacy standards to gauge the trustworthiness of their statements on logging.

Locations on six continents, with multiple cities or regions in populous areas. The more locations a VPN provider houses servers, the more flexible it is when you want to choose a server in a less-congested part of the world or geoshift your location. And the more servers it has at each location, the less likely they are to be slow when lots of people are using the service at the same time.

Of course, limited bandwidth in and out of an area may still cause connections to lag at peak times even on the most robust networks. Experienced users may consider IKEv2, but because it has its own debated pros and cons , we ruled it out. Though AES bit encryption is fine for most purposes , we prefer services that default to the more-secure bit encryption and still offer good performance.

DNS servers are a bit like the phone books of the Internet: Required; must be effective and one-click-easy to activate The best: Customizable rules to activate kill switches on startup or certain networks.

We considered kill switches to be mandatory. And although we looked for apps that made it easy to add rules about when to activate kill switches, we considered special config files or manual firewall tweaks to be too complex. Native apps for Windows, Mac, and Android The best: Additional operating systems, plus router, set-top box, and game console support.

For more-advanced users, adding VPN connections to Wi-Fi routers can help secure all connections on a home network without having to manage devices individually.

We reached out to Apple to confirm the details of these limitations, and will update this guide if we hear back. Three simultaneous connections The best: Five or more simultaneous connections. A three-connection limit is probably enough for most individuals, as well as some couples who each want a connection.

But five connections is more flexible, especially for families or households with many devices. Multiple payment methods, including cash or cryptocurrency, are nice, but we doubt most people will take advantage of them. If you want to disconnect your VPN account from your billing information, you can pay with a prepaid debit card purchased in a local shop. On networks that block anything that looks like VPN traffic, such as campus or corporate Wi-Fi, a stealth mode can help secure a connection without being detected.

Custom ad blockers or browser extensions from VPN providers can make managing connections easier, or can add privacy features not found in standard extensions like AdBlock Plus. Multilayer and multihop technologies can add an extra layer of encryption by routing your traffic through multiple, separate servers. For example, you might want to send your Web traffic through your VPN but stream Netflix on your fast, domestic connection.

The EFF supports this legal position , though other highly regarded companies and organizations think warrant canaries are helpful only for informing you after the damage has been done. Login to Client Area. Would you like to order multiple business accounts? With our mission to have a new fan everyday, we accomplished some great things!

With few options to set, and a very simple interface, this is a winner. Everyone can become a victim of hackers who want to steal your personal data and use for illegal purposes. Despite the fact that you probably feel safe while online, this is often not the case. Hackers are more active than ever, which means that your risk of being damaged in your online freedom or privacy is higher. Why run an unnecessary risk if there is an easy and fast way to limit it? This is when the VPN uses a gateway device to connect to the entire network in one location to a network in another location.

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. 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. 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. There's a vast range of VPN servers on the internet.

Some are free, but the best ones require a monthly subscription. Cost - VPNs aren't too pricey, but they vary from vendor to vendor. 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.

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: Are there any bandwidth limits?

This can often be linked to price; paying more will generally provide more bandwidth with faster internet access. Are apps for Android, iOS phones and tablets available? 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. 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. This can often be available for an additional fee.

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? Be respectful, keep it clean and stay on topic. We delete comments that violate our policy , which we encourage you to read. Discussion threads can be closed at any time at our discretion.

Don't show this again. Let's look at each of our vendors below in a little more depth. Hong Kong There is only one reason the company got a 4. United Kingdom We'd give these folks an extra point, if we could, just for the name of their service. Number of server locations: United States Even though the company doesn't release the number of IP addresses it supports, TorGuard still earned a full five out of five.

VPN FAQ Since we're living in a connected world, security and privacy are critical to ensure our personal safety from nefarious hacks. What Is a VPN?

What is a remote-access VPN? What is a site-to-site VPN? What is a mobile VPN?

Why buy cheap VPN service from LimeVPN?