The Independent’s journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. Why trust us?

The best VPN services in 2024

In this guide

Our best overall VPN is NordVPN, the best value VPN is Surfshark and best allrounder is ExpressVPN.

‘Best’ to our experts means the VPN best performance, best security, and best site unblocking features, all for a reasonable price.

A free VPN can be helpful in a pinch but it won’t have the same site-unblocking features as paid VPNs and you won’t get anywhere near the amount of data you’d need to stream video.

Aiming to find out about the best VPN services in 2024? We’ve looked at over 70 VPNs to determine which provider is optimal for the average user

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) help to protect your online identity by masking your IP address, keeping your connection secure, and hiding your personal information away from third-party sites. This is the case for many cheap VPN services – and even some free VPNs

The best VPNs go even further, equipping you with multiple tools to ensure a high level of online protection. Solid encryption, kill switches and split tunnelling are just some of the features offered by many VPN services, with other key advantages including secure online transactions, the ability to sidestep geographical restrictions, and safer connections to public wifi

How we wrote this guide

We’ve spent hundreds of hours reviewing and testing over 70 VPN services in terms of their speed, performance, security, privacy features, and affordability. We also detail what you should look out for when signing up for a VPN, and all the latest VPN news, so you can stay up to date and pick the best VPN for your needs. To find out more about the process, read our article on how we review VPNs.

200+
hours performance testing
750+
customer reviews read
200+
hours comparing products
70+
providers compared
4
VPN experts consulted

Our pick of the top three best VPNs

1 February 2024 update notes

This week we’ve updated the deals on offer from our best VPNs and updated our testing data to give you the latest details on the speeds you can expect from the most popular providers.

This week's best VPN deals

These top VPN providers are offering some fantastic deals to start the year – enjoy premium services for less.

  • Subscribe to NordVPN’s two-year plan and get a free £10 Uber Eats voucher, with plans starting at £2.79 per month with a 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s our best overall VPN, with secure, fast, optimised servers and Double VPN encryption   
  • Our best value VPN, Surfshark, is offering its two-year plan for just £1.79 with a 30-day money-back guarantee. That’s a saving of 82 per cent, plus you can get two months free
  • ExpressVPN has lowered its 12-month plan by 35 per cent. Sign up now for just £6.79 per month with a 30-day money-back guarantee 
  • Our best VPN for gaming, CyberGhost’s two-year plan is currently 82 per cent off at £1.92 per month and comes with an extra two months free. The plan covers seven devices with optimised servers for gaming and streaming  
  • Install Atlas VPN on an unlimited number of devices for as little as £1.34 per month with a whopping six months extra when you subscribe to its two-year plan
  • Private Internet Access offers impressive performance and allows for an unlimited number of device connections. Subscribe now for £1.57 per month for a two-year plan with four months free and a 30-day money-back guarantee

The best VPNs compared

Provider Best for Price Rating Servers Server locations Devices Supported Review Streaming Independent audit Where to buy
Visit NordVPN
Best overall From £2.79/m ★★★★½ 6,000+ 61 6 NordVPN review Visit Site
Visit Surfshark
Best value From £1.79/m ★★★★½ 3,200+ 100+ Unlimited Surfshark review Visit Site
Visit ExpressVPN
Best all-rounder From £6.79/m ★★★★½ 3,000+ 105 8 ExpressVPN review Visit Site
Visit CyberGhost
Best for gaming From £1.92/m ★★★★ 10,000+ 1000 7 CyberGhost review Visit Site
Visit Proton VPN
Best for torrenting From £4.25/m ★★★★ 3,000+ 70 10 Proton VPN review Visit Site
Table definitions – why are these the most relevant criteria to measure a VPN by?
  • Servers: The network of servers gives an indication of the size and scale of the VPN service
  • Server locations: The total number of countries where you can get a new IP address with a VPN
  • Devices supported: How many devices the system supports with native apps
  • Independent audit: Has the provider had a recent independent security audit to assess its security protocols, and its logging policy?

The best VPN providers right now

We’ve spent hundreds of hours testing the best VPNs to assess the quality of their service in terms of privacy and security, performance, ease of use, cost, and value for money. Here are our recommendations for the best VPN providers right now.

Editor's Choice – NordVPN: Best overall VPN ★★★★½

nordvpn app on multiple devices

Specifications

  • Number of servers: 6,000+
  • Server locations: 61
  • Number of devices supported: Six
  • Operating systems and browsers supported: Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, iOS, tvOS, Chrome, Firefox, Edge
  • Cancellation policy: 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Pricing:
  • NordVPN 2 year
    £2.79
    /month
    NordVPN 1 year
    £3.99
    /month
    NordVPN 1 month
    £10.49
    /month
Pros AES-256 encryption and double VPN Independently audited security features Effective kill switch
Cons Monthly price is above average for Plus and Complete plans Automatic subscription renewal is enabled by default Basic browser extensions
Best VPN NordVPN on researcher's laptop

Our researchers spent several hours extensively testing NordVPN (Independent Advisor)

EXCLUSIVE OFFER: Grab our Editor’s Choice with up to 67% per cent off the total price and get a Uber Eats voucher

NordVPN is one of the most popular providers among those who value privacy and performance above all else. It enables users to securely connect to the internet by encrypting their connection, masking their IP address in the process. The company offers a range of extra features with its upper-level subscriptions that enhance the level of online security. This makes it ideal for anyone who wants to protect their online privacy, bypass internet censorship, or access content that is restricted in their region. 

With a wide-ranging set of features, NordVPN is suitable for everyone from individuals to businesses and organisations of all sizes. Among its key features are AES-256 encryption, an independently verified no-logs policy, an automatic kill switch, unlimited bandwidth, and the option to connect up to six devices simultaneously with a single account. What’s more, NordVPN offers a large network of more than 6,000 RAM-only VPN servers across 61 countries, making it easy for users to find a fast and reliable connection. 

For the security-conscious, its Double VPN encryption adds more privacy to your browsing, while private DNS protection means no threat of hijacking and no log of your online activities.

NordVPN is also a great choice for streaming thanks to its SmartPlay feature, which combines smart DNS technology with your base VPN connection, meaning it will change your DNS server to access blocked content while cloaking your IP address – allowing you to access streaming content without compromising privacy. The custom NordLynx protocol helps to improve speeds with no security issues to speak of.

NordVPN is one of the best VPN services you can subscribe to because it offers a comprehensive range of privacy features aimed at protecting your security online, alongside a large fleet of high-speed servers. NordVPN uses some of the strongest encryption protocols to protect your data and browsing history from snooping and other cyber threats, and is also incredibly easy to set up and use.

Security

NordVPN  offers privacy features such as AES-256 encryption, an automatic kill switch, double data encryption and support for private DNS. It also has a strict no-logs policy, meaning that it does not collect or store user data. What’s more, NordVPN regularly invites auditors to check its no-log policy and scrutinise its security protocols, which to date it has passed with flying colours.

The kill switch feature is available in the Windows, Linux, Android, iOS and MacOS versions of the app. Aimed at activists, journalists and political bloggers, the kill switch is constantly scanning your connection to NordVPN’s server, and if there’s a disconnection it will immediately block your device or designated apps on your device from accessing the internet until a connection is restored.

NordVPN also offers its unique Meshnet feature, which allows users to create a private network for up to 60 devices (10 on your account, plus 50 external devices). Rather than being routed through a VPN server, Meshnet allows devices to communicate directly for safe file sharing, work collaboration, and multiplayer gaming. Surprisingly, Meshnet is available free of charge, even without a NordVPN subscription.

Onion Over VPN is another helpful feature that gives users all the benefits of The Onion Router (Tor) and combines them with a secure VPN tunnel. To access Tor securely, it’s always best to connect with a VPN – Onion Over VPN servers allow access to the Onion network without using the Tor browser. By using a dedicated VPN server, your online activities will be safe from your Internet Service Provider (ISP), third parties and whoever set up the Onion server you’re using (they’re volunteer-operated, so anyone can set them up).

User experience

The easiest way to use NordVPN is to download and install the relevant companion app on your device. The NordVPN app is available for both desktop and mobile devices, and is compatible with both Linux and ChromeOS devices. In fact, we believe it has the best mobile VPN app, naming it the best VPN for iPhone and the best VPN for Android, as well as the best VPN for PC and a top-performer on MacOS. Once you have installed the app, you can connect to one of the NordVPN servers located in over 61 countries to get a relevant IP address. 

NordVPN also lets you set up the service directly on your router. This means that any device that is connected to your wifi network is also connected to the VPN. These users can then access NordVPN without having to install the app. 

On Trustpilot, NordVPN gets overwhelmingly positive reviews. Just under three-quarters of its reviews are five-star, with another 8 per cent awarding four stars. Most people praise how easy it is to set up and the depth of the security protocols. The trade-off, however, is that users report it can sometimes be slower than other VPNs.

Performance 

In our latest tests, NordVPN maintained its position as a top-tier VPN provider, ensuring impeccable privacy and security combined with robust performance, especially for UK-based connections, which saw a minimal speed loss of roughly 17 per cent. Upload speeds dipped to 42 per cent while connected to the VPN. 

When the connection extended to the US, both download and upload speeds saw a noticeable decrease, maintaining 70 and 13 per cent of the baseline speeds, respectively. Thus, NordVPN can handle transatlantic data traffic satisfactorily, except for particularly demanding data uploads. The connection to Australia presented a more challenging scenario, with download speeds almost halving,and uploads suffering a dramatic slowdown to 7 per cent of the baseline, accompanied by increased latency. 

Of course, results will vary depending on where you’re currently located, and the server location in question. For example, Australian users will see faster speeds from servers in Sydney, with more slowdown expected if they decide to connect to a server location in London or Manchester. 

Altogether, NordVPN delivers a reasonable balance of speed and security and remains a strong option for users looking for a reliable VPN service for both local and international connections.

Best VPN Nord no VPN Jan 2024

Speed test result without activating NordVPN. This is the baseline against which we measure the impact of the VPN on speed and latency. Below the readings of the download and the upload speeds are the ping (latency) in milliseconds and the amount of data downloaded (green) and uploaded (purple) during the test (in megabytes) (Independent Advisor)

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN521.51309.085
UK to UK434.98131.193583%42%
UK to US365.0440.6712470%13%
UK to Aus283.122.0323154%7%

Date tested: 02/01/24. Protocol: NordLynx

Customer service

NordVPN has an informative customer support page that’s equipped with tutorials on how to use and troubleshoot its products. Of all the best VPNs for the UK mentioned in this guide, NordVPN produces the most comprehensive tutorial content. If you need that human touch, there’s an option to live chat with the support team 24/7, send them an email, or even reach out to their support communities on social media. 

Cost

NordVPN offers three levels of service: its Standard, Plus and Complete plans. Each plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and can be paid monthly, annually, or on a two-year basis. The longer you subscribe for, the cheaper it becomes if you break it down by monthly cost.

For those wondering, the Complete option includes 1TB of encrypted cloud storage, NordVPN’s Data Breach Scanner and cross-platform password manager. The Plus plan doesn’t include cloud storage, and the Standard plan further excludes the Data Breach Scanner or password manager. However, these aren’t necessary if you just want a sturdy VPN connection.

Subscription Term Standard plan Plus plan Complete plan
Monthly £10.49 ($13.26) / month £11.29 ($14.28) / month £13.39 ($16.93) / month
12 months £3.99 ($5.05) / month (£47.88/$60.55 up front) £4.79 ($6.06) / month (£57.48/$72.70 up front) £6.89 ($8.71) / month (£82.63/$104.50 up front)
24 months £2.79 ($3.53) / month (£66.96/$84.69 up front) £3.59 ($4.54) / month (£86.16/$108.97 up front) £5.69 ($7.20) / month (£136.66/$172.83 up front)

Verdict

NordVPN may not be the cheapest option on our list, but it has some great privacy features, along with plenty of server options and excellent support. Its use of AES-256 encryption paired with multi-layered privacy options such as Double VPN make it ideal for those who are aiming to protect their online activity. Its no-logs policy is regularly audited by independent third parties, backing up all of its security and privacy claims.

The provider’s range of extra features help it stand out from the crowd, such as Meshnet, Dark Web Monitoring, the NordLynx protocol, and Threat Protection. Meanwhile, more than 6,000 servers in 61 countries, including a selection of speciality servers, give users plenty of options for connecting to a server that’s best for the task at hand.

The main downside we found with NordVPN is its complicated pricing structure, which can make it difficult for users to determine which subscription level is right for them. However, by offering various options, NordVPN is able to appeal to a wider range of potential customers depending on their budget.

★★★★½

Read our full NordVPN review.

icons8-check-mark-96

Who’s it right for?

Those who are looking to protect themselves online with access to advanced features.

icons8-cross-mark-96

Who’s it not for?

Users who require a diverse range of server locations – it offers 60, whereas ExpressVPN has 105 and Surfshark has 100.

Today's best NordVPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.79 /Month
£2.79 /Month
NordVPN 1 year £3.99 /Month
£3.99 /Month
NordVPN 1 month £10.49 /Month
£10.49 /Month

 

Surfshark: Best value VPN ★★★★½

surfshark vpn app on multiple devices

Specifications

  • Number of servers: 3,200+
  • Server locations: 100
  • Number of devices supported: Unlimited
  • Operating systems and browsers supported: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Fire TV, Chrome, Firefox, Safari
  • Cancellation policy: 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Pricing:
  • Surfshark 24 month
    £1.79
    /month
    Surfshark 12 month
    £3.29
    /month
    Surfshark 1 month
    £8.69
    /month
Pros Unlimited simultaneous connections Large global server presence Multi-hop and split tunnelling tools
Cons Some Windows kill switch issues Doesn’t notify users if connection drops No split tunnelling on iOS Renews annually after initial subscription at a higher price
Best VPN Surfshark on researcher's laptop

Surfshark performed well in our tests and our researchers were impressed with its app (Independent Advisor)

Surfshark is one of the more popular VPN services due to its all-rounder mix of features, security, privacy, customer support, and a user-friendly interface. Surfshark promises to keep your data safe and secure while you browse the internet, and it offers a wide range of features to help you do so. 

The service appeals to a wide user base, with a feature set designed for individuals, families and businesses of all sizes who are looking to secure their online activities and protect their personal information from prying eyes. Surfshark offers AES 256-bit encryption, a no-log policy, multi-hop VPN, an automatic kill switch, unlimited simultaneous connections and a large network of more than 3,200 servers in 100 countries.  CleanWeb works to block ads, trackers, and malware, while Camouflage Mode and NoBorders allow secure access to the internet from anywhere on the planet. 

Its user-friendly interface and affordable pricing make it a popular choice for people who want to enjoy a secure and unrestricted internet experience without breaking the bank, which is why we named it the best cheap VPN on the market. Additionally, Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 customer support, making it a reliable VPN service for those looking for peace of mind.

It’s particularly useful for people who want to bypass geo-restrictions, access censored websites, or protect themselves from hackers and trackers.

Surfshark allows for an unlimited number of simultaneous device connections, which means you could stream on your Mac, Smart TV and mobile phone devices – all simultaneously, under one subscription plan.

In 2023, Surfshark merged with NordVPN, but both will continue to operate as autonomous companies relying on separate infrastructures and different product development plans.

Security

Surfshark offers a number of security and privacy features to keep your data safe. Its Multihop option, for example, is essentially a double VPN browsing mode that lets you encrypt your connection via two VPN servers for added security. 

Other security features include 256-bit encryption, a no-logs policy and, like others, a kill switch to help protect your data in the event of a connection drop. It also offers a variety of VPN protocols, including OpenVPN, IKEv2 and WireGuard, giving users a choice of split tunnelling protocols to enhance security.

Surfshark’s headquarters used to be based in the British Virgin Islands but moved to the Netherlands in 2021. The Netherlands has a liberal political environment and legal system which allows the company to retain its no-logs policy. However, one concern is that the Netherlands is a part of Nine Eyes – a covert intelligence-sharing network that includes the US and the UK.

Surshark has acknowledged such issues and has been independently audited on numerous occasions. Surfshark recently passed its first independent audit of its no-logs policy, and regularly has its server infrastructure independently assessed.

User experience

Surfshark VPN is incredibly easy to use, and its simple interface is designed to be intuitive.  

All you need to do is download the app to your device, sign in and click your country of choice and connect to a server. Once you’re connected, you can start browsing the internet securely and anonymously. 

Surfshark is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android devices, as well as Chrome and Firefox web browsers. You can even use Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch gaming consoles, along with Fire TV and Apple TV.

If you don’t want to use the app, there’s also the option to install Surfshark on your router. This means that any device connected to your wifi network can use the VPN to surf or stream anonymously. And because Surfshark supports unlimited devices, you don’t need to place limits on who is using it at any one time. 

Over 70 per cent of Trustpilot users have given it a five-star rating, although some have reported difficulties with obtaining a refund, while others have noted that ‘unlimited connections’ are eventually capped at 20+ devices.  

Performance

Our most recent Surfshark speed tests indicated its robust performance, especially for users in the UK. With download speeds maintaining most of the baseline and uploads at just over half of our normal speeds, Surfshark supports a wide range of online activities, including streaming and browsing. 

The US connection showed a consistent download speed accompanied by a dramatic drop in uploads to only 7 per cent of the baseline, indicating some limitations for data-heavy tasks. Australian connections experienced more significant reductions, with download speeds maintaining a reasonable 59 per cent of the reference value and uploads just below 10 per cent, suggesting potential challenges for intensive online activities. 

Surfshark’s consistent performance in nearby regions, coupled with its extensive server network and privacy features, makes it a compelling choice for users seeking a blend of speed, security, and value.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN387.82266.163
UK to UK350.33140.341390%53%
UK to US344.9418.8314389%7%
UK to Aus226.9924.9830559%9%

Date tested: 02/01/24. Protocol: WireGuard

Customer service

Like the other best VPN providers, Surfshark goes all in on customer service, providing tutorials and troubleshooting guides, while also offering a 24/7 live chat service with its team and the option to email them directly. 

Surfshark typically receives favourable reviews on Trustpilot, where reviewers can comment on the provider’s security, apps and customer service. Customers praised the company for its helpful customer service personnel and their solutions to issues. While some reviews shared negative experiences surrounding refunds and difficulty downloading the app – Surfshark takes its customer service very seriously and replies to both positive and negative reviews.

Cost

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £8.69 ($10.99) / month
12 months £3.29 ($4.16) / month (£39.48/$40.91 up front)
24 months (+2 months free) £1.79 ($2.26) / month (£46.54/$58.84 up front for 26 months)

Verdict

Surfshark offers a brilliant service – it’s fast, accurate, secure and one of the cheapest if you go for a longer-term subscription. It’s hard to find many faults with what it offers. 

With that being said, monthly deals are pricey, while it’s based in the Netherlands, rather than a more privacy-friendly jurisdiction such as Panama.  

The issues with the kill switch alert on Windows could be another sticking point for some users. As well as this, extra features like Surfshark Alert, Antivirus and a private search engine, all look like brilliant tools – but they aren’t included in your normal subscription. They’re add-ons you must pay extra to use. This is fine in a vacuum, but other VPNs tested here offer similar tools as part of the overall package.

However, for the vast majority of people who just want a VPN for unblocking and some extra privacy online, which has been independently verified, Surfshark is a great choice.

★★★★½

Read our full Surfshark VPN review.

icons8-check-mark-96

Who’s it right for?

Those who want to spend less but still have access to a secure and private internet connection.

icons8-cross-mark-96

Who’s it not for?

Users looking for a torrenting VPN – Surfshark’s features are not the best for this.

Today's best Surfshark deals
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
Surfshark 12 month £3.29 /Month
£3.29 /Month
Surfshark 1 month £8.69 /Month
£8.69 /Month

 

ExpressVPN: Best all-rounder ★★★★½

expressvpn app on multiple devices

Specifications

  • Number of servers: 3,000+
  • Server locations: 105
  • Number of devices supported: Eight
  • Operating systems and browsers supported: Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, tvOS, Linux, routers
  • Cancellation policy: 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Pricing:
  • ExpressVPN 12 month
    £6.79
    /month
    ExpressVPN 6 month
    £8.15
    /month
    ExpressVPN 1 month
    £10.56
    /month
Pros Offers strong encryption Wide range of server locations Great customer service
Cons Expensive Speeds can vary quite a bit by server location and time of day
Best VPN ExpressVPN on researcher's laptop

ExpressVPN may be pricey, but its ability to bypass geo-restrictions impressed our researchers (Independent Advisor)

BEST PRICE: Get ExpressVPN for just £6.79

ExpressVPN is probably the best-known VPN service in this guide and for good reason: it’s an excellent all-rounder. It offers a good mix of features, from strong download and upload speeds to privacy protections such as a strict (audited) no-log policy, an automatic kill switch, unlimited bandwidth and simultaneous connections, and a large network of servers in over 100 countries.

Stable connection speeds and reliable performance make ExpressVPN a popular choice, and its customer support gets rave reviews online. As such, ExpressVPN is one of the most popular services on the market and is compatible with Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, Linux and routers, as well as other devices.

ExpressVPN’s ability to bypass geo-restrictions makes it a good choice of VPN for streaming – it’s also the best VPN to use in China thanks to its ability to bypass China’s robust firewall. 

The provider is suitable for anyone who is a casual internet user up to a business professional. It’s a trusted brand – one of the most well-known in the VPN market – and has a large customer service team available 24/7 to help with any query or unique need.

In September 2021, it was announced that ExpressVPN had been acquired by Kape Technologies in a deal worth £675m. The owner has a stable of competing providers on the market, including CyberGhost, PIA, and ZenMate. 

Security

ExpressVPN offers a range of core security and privacy features, including 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, and a no-logs policy. Additionally, it offers a kill switch (Network Lock), which will automatically disconnect you from the internet if your VPN connection fails. TrustedServer is a feature that ensures all data is wiped every time the VPN server is rebooted, while Threat Manager blocks malicious sites and trackers while enabled.

User experience

Using ExpressVPN is very easy. It offers both PC and Mac versions of its app (in fact, we named it the best VPN for Mac), as well as Android and iOS versions for your smart devices. It’s our pick as the best VPN for Chrome thanks to its slick browser extension, and it’s also the best Fire Stick VPN. ExpressVPN can also be installed directly onto your router so that all the devices on your network can use the service. 

What’s more, ExpressVPN sells its own router, called Aircove. Aircove has the VPN built into it, which allows all of the devices on your wifi network to benefit from the features of your ExpressVPN subscription. You can run up to five VPN locations at one time, and even block certain devices from the VPN or others from accessing the internet. 

The ExpressVPN desktop app interface is very intuitive. The window is very small and thin, in portrait orientation – almost like a smartphone screen.

From the main screen, simply click on the menu button, navigate to Locations and everything is organised by continent. A really nice ExpressVPN feature that we didn’t see elsewhere is the ability to run a speed test on your desired server before you connect. 

ExpressVPN gets very favourable reviews on sites like Trustpilot, where reviewers comment on the ease of setup and reliability of connections. Quite a few commenters point out that they live in countries ruled by oppressive regimes and ExpressVPN’s consistency has enabled them to publish and engage with other like-minded citizens. This is a testament to ExpressVPN’s commitment to privacy and security. 

Performance

In our latest speed tests, ExpressVPN retained its position as a reliable VPN choice, with consistent download speeds of around half the baseline across all the locations we tested with the Lightway protocol. A proprietary option, Lightway is designed to be faster than alternatives like OpenVPN, using less battery in the process.

Download speeds are sufficient to cater to most users’ needs. When connected locally, the service maintained 56 per cent of the baseline speeds, offering satisfactory performance for most online tasks. However, upload speeds were notably reduced to 25 per cent, which might limit certain high-bandwidth activities.

As the connection distance increased to the US, both download and upload speeds were impacted. This indicates potential constraints for activities demanding high data transfer rates, such as 4K streaming or gaming, but remained adequate for moderate and light online tasks. The most significant challenge was observed when connected to an Australian server, where download and upload speeds decreased to 40 and 15 per cent of the baseline, respectively, accompanied by a considerable increase in latency. 

These figures suggest that while ExpressVPN remains a strong choice for local connections, its long-distance performance might be less effective for users requiring consistent high-speed data transfers. Despite the expected performance drops, its robust security and extensive server network keep it in the higher ranks of VPN services.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN411.33242.744
UK to UK232.1961.585256%25%
UK to US183.7960.4612145%25%
UK to Aus162.9635.3147840%15%

Date tested: 02/01/24. Protocol: Lightway UDP

Customer service

ExpressVPN’s customer service is perhaps the best you can find amongst VPN providers. Its support page has a wealth of content, from set-up and troubleshooting guides to a Knowledge Hub with tips on how to make the most of the service. There’s also a live chat option where you can speak to real humans to resolve any issues – a real rarity these days. 

There’s also a very large and clear button to email the support team if you don’t want to have a chat. That doesn’t sound like much, but how many times have you needed to contact a company’s support team and had to scan through multiple pages or answer questions from a chatbot in order to get there? So many companies make it difficult to get in contact, but thankfully ExpressVPN is not one of those. 

Cost

All three ExpressVPN plan options include a 30-day money back guarantee, and each offers the same features and support for all devices.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.56 ($13.35) / month
6 months £8.15 ($10.30) / month (£48.89/$61.80 up front)
12 months £6.79 ($8.58) / month (£81.52/$103.05 up front)

Verdict

ExpressVPN boasts the highest level of security – AES-256, an encryption protocol that has never been hacked (and is highly unlikely ever to be).

Its desktop and mobile apps are easy to use and are available for all major platforms, including iOS/iPadOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and Linux, as well as devices such as Chromecast and Google TV. ExpressVPN also has robust router compatibility, so you can protect all devices on your network with just a few clicks.

With over 3,000 servers in 105 different countries, the service’s internet speed and usability for streaming content is best-in-class. For the privacy-conscious, ExpressVPN has a strict no-log policy, which has been tested via independent security audits.

The only real downside to ExpressVPN is its pricing when compared to other top VPN providers – better value can be found elsewhere, even if it is a polished service.

★★★★½

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

icons8-check-mark-96

Who’s it right for?

Frequent travellers – ExpressVPN is an excellent streaming VPN capable of unblocking geo-restricted content.

icons8-cross-mark-96

Who’s it not for?

People who are sticking to a budget.

Today's best ExpressVPN deals
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.79 /Month
£6.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 6 month £8.15 /Month
£8.15 /Month
ExpressVPN 1 month £10.56 /Month
£10.56 /Month

 

CyberGhost: Best for gaming ★★★★

cyberghost vpn on multiple devices

Specifications

  • Number of servers: 10,000+
  • Server locations: 91 countries
  • Number of devices supported: Up to seven
  • Operating systems and browsers supported: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox
  • Cancellation policy: Up to 45-day money-back guarantee depending on your plan
  • Pricing:
  • CyberGhost 27 month
    £1.92
    /month
    CyberGhost 6 month
    £6.19
    /month
    CyberGhost 1 month
    £10.89
    /month
Pros Large, well-distributed server fleet Several add-ons, including antivirus Newly completed third-party audit
Cons Parent company has a poor reputation No double VPN, Onion over VPN, or obfuscated servers Geo-restrictions in some countries
Best VPN CyberGhost on researcher's laptop

CyberGhost performed the best in our online gaming and streaming tests (Independent Advisor)

CyberGhost is another popular VPN designed for all manner of uses. It’s a good choice for anyone seeking to game online or download torrents, as well as families wishing to watch videos and businesses who are looking to protect their online activities.

The provider offers a range of privacy features, including AES 256-bit encryption, a strict no-log policy, an automatic kill switch, unlimited simultaneous connections and a large network of 10,000+ servers across 100 countries. It’s this server fleet that gives it a real advantage over rivals in terms of accuracy, as it can optimise certain servers to cater to specific activities, such as streaming, online gaming, or P2P file sharing (the provider is our recommendation  as the best VPN for torrenting).

CyberGhost’s user-friendly interface and affordable pricing make it a popular choice for people who want to enjoy a secure and unrestricted internet experience without compromising on speed or reliability. 

What’s more, it comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee for long-term plans, while the industry standard is 30 days. Backed by 24/7 customer support, it’s a reliable VPN service for just about anyone. It provides peace of mind both in its security and performance. 

CyberGhost is the best VPN for anyone who is not very tech savvy and prefers a simple, one-click method of getting online securely. The interface is the most user-friendly of those in this guide. For general browsing, simply click on any of the countries in the list and it will pair you with the best server in that location. If you want to stream or download large files, there are options in the side menu for these where you can choose the best server for your needs. 

As well as ease of use, CyberGhost stands out because of its vast server network. With more than 10,000 servers around the world, if one doesn’t do what you need, the next one is bound to. Keep trying and you’ll get there. This is what we found during testing; nothing was out of reach. 

CyberGhost is also suitable for anyone who wants to protect their online privacy and security, with a wealth of features to keep your data safe and anonymous.

Security

CyberGhost offers a range of core security and privacy features. These include 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, anti-malware protection, and IP leak protection. Its kill switch is available for iOS, macOS and Windows applications and users will receive an instant alert when the switch is actioned, ensuring the user’s privacy is maintained at all times. 

A choice of VPN protocols includes IKEv2, WireGuard and OpenVPN – all of which NordVPN, ExpressVPN and Surfshark also offer. Said protocols add a layer of safeguarding and have been proven to produce fast internet speeds.  

It also offers a no-logs policy, which means that it does not keep any logs of your online activities. The company invites auditors, such as Deloitte, to verify its no-logs policy and security controls.

CyberGhost is based in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, and operates under Romanian law. According to its website, in 2011, the Romanian Senate unanimously rejected the European Union’s Data Retention Directive, enabling the provider to strictly enforce its no-log policy. Its VPN servers are RAM-only, wiping any files upon being rebooted. 

User experience

Using CyberGhost couldn’t be easier. Simply download and install the app to your device of choice, log in with your username and password, and then select a server from the list of countries or presets for different activities (e.g. Streaming and Downloading). You can then start browsing the web securely. It’s no more complicated than that.

Like other VPNs tested here, CyberGhost lets you install it directly onto your wifi router so that any device connected to your network can browse the web securely. CyberGhost’s support page has a number of handy tutorials for installing the VPN on different types of routers.

CyberGhost is so simple to use that you will get to grips with the software within minutes even if you don’t consider yourself tech-savvy. The app is intuitive and very simple to navigate. It is also compatible with a wide range of operating systems and browsers, making it ideal for users of all skill levels.

Online reviews note the overall easy experience of using CyberGhost and its accuracy thanks to the wealth of servers available. The only complaints are that sometimes connection speeds aren’t as fast as other VPN services.

Performance

Our latest tests indicated the relatively strong performance of CyberGhost, which catered to a great range of online activities, particularly within the UK. Here, it maintained 63 per cent of the baseline download speed, suitable for general browsing and streaming. However, the upload speed significantly dropped to a third, potentially affecting data-heavy activities. 

Long-distance connections experienced more pronounced speed drops. When connecting to a US VPN server, download and upload speeds decreased to 43 and 7 per cent of the baseline, respectively, indicating constraints for upload-intensive tasks. The most dramatic decline was seen in the UK-to-Australia scenario, which imposed noticeable challenges to establishing a stable connection, even after several attempts. We saw download speeds plummeting to as low as 2 per cent of the base speed, although uploads unexpectedly increased to 40 per cent of the baseline. While CyberGhost remains a reliable choice for basic tasks, these inconsistencies in performance might pose challenges for users requiring stable, high-speed connections over long distances.

Speed test result

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN393.63185.524
UK to UK249.4962.51363%34%
UK to US170.112.0913243%7%
UK to Aus9.674.892952%40%

Date tested: 02/01/24. Protocol: OpenVPN

Customer service

Users love CyberGhost, judging by the fact that a whopping 96 per cent of CyberGhost’s reviews on Trustpilot are four and five stars. Many customers mention the service’s affordability, smooth-running apps, and privacy features.

Some users do report that customer service response times are slow, but as you can see from the ratings, these complaints are few and far between.

CyberGhost also has a customer support page packed with all kinds of content, from guides to FAQs and troubleshooting. Support content is also specific to your device or operating system. The company also offers a live chat service with its support team. 

The only negative is that it’s a little hard to find the option for live chat support. It would make sense, as the other VPNs tested here have done, to put the live chat and email contact for the support team on the customer support page. Instead, you have to navigate to the site’s footer and find this in the Contact page.

Cost

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.89 ($13.77) / month
6 months £6.19 ($7.82) / month (£37.14/$46.95 up front)
24 months (+2 months free) £1.92 ($2.43) / month (£49.92/$63.10 up front for 26 months)

Verdict

CyberGhost is a complete service, offering the best mix of access to sites and services, security, privacy, and customer service, and all at the cheapest price of any other VPN provider tested here, should you choose to invest in the longer subscription plan.

We’re confident that users can use the VPN without encountering lag or buffering. Its level of privacy and security is also comparable to other providers and its no-log policy had been independently verified. 

CyberGhost offers the largest server network, and its standard features are of good use, although it doesn’t offer as many privacy features as some other providers., It’s an excellent choice for gamers and those wishing to stay protected.

★★★★

Read our full CyberGhost VPN review.

icons8-check-mark-96

Who’s it right for?

For users who are frequent gamers, it has gaming-optimised servers and a reliable connection.

icons8-cross-mark-96

Who’s it not for?

Those who want to install the VPN on more than seven devices.

Today's best CyberGhost deals
CyberGhost 2 year £1.92 /Month
£1.92 /Month
CyberGhost 1 year £6.19 /Month
£6.19 /Month
CyberGhost 1 month £10.89 /Month
£10.89 /Month

 

Proton VPN: Best for torrenting ★★★★

proton vpn app on multiple devices

Specifications

  • Number of servers: 3,055
  • Server locations: 70
  • Number of devices supported: 10
  • Operating systems and browsers supported: Windows, Linux, MacOS, android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox
  • Cancellation policy: 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Pricing:
  • Proton VPN 2 years
    £4.25
    /month
    Proton VPN 12 months
    £5.10
    /month
    Proton VPN 1 month
    £8.50
    /month
Pros Numerous advanced privacy tools Unlimited data for free and paid plans AES-256 encryption
Cons Slow customer support email response Premium pricing compared with other providers
Best VPN Proton VPN on researcher's laptop

Proton VPN’s superior privacy credentials nudged it into our top five VPNs (Independent Advisor)

Proton VPN is a good provider for a number of use cases, one of those being torrenting. It’s an excellent choice for anyone aiming to share files using a secure and fast connection. The company takes its users’ privacy seriously, adhering to a strict no-logs policy, and is headquartered in Switzerland – a country that has strict data protection laws and is not part of any intelligence-sharing alliance. 

Proton VPN offers a range of security features, including AES-256 encryption, split tunnelling, a kill switch and its NetShield ad-blocker, which protects users from ads and stops trackers from monitoring any browsing history. Its VPN Accelerator feature claims it has  the ability to boost your connection speed by up to 400 per cent, smoothing out buffering time when streaming and improving connection stability.

Offering both a paid and free plan (in fact, we’ve named it the best free VPN), Proton began as a crowdfunded project but continues to be supported by its community, and its free plan is subsidised by its paid users. With that being said, its paid subscription is reasonably priced and good value for money, considering the extra privacy and security features that come with the plan as standard.

Security

Proton VPN offers a range of security and privacy features, including military-grade encryption – AES-256 – as well as ChaCha20, an encryption type that is faster than AES-256. It also allows users to choose between three different protocols – WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2 – all of which offer a great level of security for users who are seeking to stay protected. Stealth is a custom obfuscation VPN protocol that can be used to evade censorship in more restrictive regions.

Apps are open-source, while Secure Core servers work as a form of MultiHop, ensuring that the first server is located in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction before connecting to your preferred destination.

What’s more, Proton VPN has a no-logs policy that has been independently audited, and the company is based in Switzerland, which has strict data protection laws. Switzerland is also not part of any intelligence-sharing alliance like some of the other VPN providers we have reviewed. 

User experience

Proton VPN offers apps for Android, Mac, iOS and PC, and its sleek black and purple design is aesthetically pleasing. There is also a Chrome browser extension, as well as options to install it straight onto your router, providing it’s compatible. 

Proton VPN is very user-friendly for both beginner and advanced VPN users; its app has a sleek interface and all of its mod-cons are easy to locate. Once the app is loaded, you can see which server you’re connected to and where it’s located on a map of the world. Changing server locations can be done in just a few clicks. 

In the settings menu, you’ll find you’re able to toggle on the in-built ad-blocker, kill switch and split tunnelling features. There is also an option to create profiles, which save your preferred settings so you can use them over and over. 

The service receives mixed reviews on Trustpilot, with some reviewers complaining about pricing and the VPN connection dropping out. However, five-star reviews praise its customer service and privacy features.  

Performance

Proton VPN demonstrated exceptional performance during testing, particularly with domestic connections. Within the UK, it maintained most of the base download and upload speeds, ensuring seamless streaming and browsing experiences. 

The US connection also showed remarkable consistency in downloads, retaining 95 per cent of the baseline, though uploads were limited to 15 per cent of our normal speeds, potentially affecting heavy data transfer activities. Long-distance connections to Australia, however, experienced a notable decrease, with download speeds dropping to 57 per cent of the baseline, impacting streaming or high-bandwidth tasks. However, upload speeds remained functional at 12 per cent of the reference values. 

Proton VPN continues to excel with local connections, providing robust and reliable services, although users might encounter some constraints in long-distance connectivity.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN337.94216.289
UK to UK323.62198.231296%92%
UK to US319.7832.414195%15%
UK to Aus192.8525.8724157%12%

Date tested: 02/01/24. Protocol: WireGuard

Customer service

There are several ways to contact Proton VPN’s customer support team, including a 24/7 live chat service available for paid users, an email address and an online support form. 

Live chat puts you straight through to a member of the customer service team without needing to answer a chatbot’s questions. The provider also has an email address for less urgent requests – contact@protonvpn.com – though the company clearly states it will take them longer to reply to this service. 

For customers who need to report a specific issue, the online support form allows users to report on their specific operating system and describe their issues. 

Cost 

All of Proton VPN’s paid-for plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee, and each offers the same level of support and features. There is also a scaled-back free version of Proton VPN, which only allows one device connection and 22 servers in three locations.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly €9.99 (£8.50) / month
12 months €5.99 (£5.10) / month (€71.88/£61.19 up front)
24 months €4.99 (£4.25) / month (€119.76/£101.95 up front)

Verdict

Proton VPN is one of the newer providers on the market, and it has achieved a lot of credibility since starting out in 2014. Its no-log policy has been independently audited, and it was put to the test in 2019 when the company was ordered to share a user’s data but was unable to comply because no data had been logged. The company is also headquartered in Switzerland, which has some of the strongest privacy laws in the world. 

Proton VPN is perfect for torrenting and when we tested the provider, we found our speed tests were above average across all of the servers tested. What’s more, the provider offers an excellent level of online privacy without compromising on user experience.

★★★★

Read our full Proton VPN review.

icons8-check-mark-96

Who’s it right for?

For users who need a torrenting VPN, Proton’s VPN Accelerator provides a fast and stable connection.

icons8-cross-mark-96

Who’s it not for?

Those who only require a basic VPN with no premium features.

Today's best Proton VPN deals
Proton 2 year £4.25 /Month
£4.25 /Month
Proton 1 year £5.10 /Month
£5.10 /Month
Proton 1 month £8.50 /Month
£8.50 /Month

 

Best of the rest VPNs

These providers didn’t quite make our top five, but our researchers still believe they’re worth considering on your search for a VPN.

Private Internet Access ★★★★

private internet access app on multiple devices

Specifications

  • Number of servers: 1,000+
  • Server locations: 91
  • Number of devices supported: Unlimited
  • Operating systems and browsers supported: Android, MacOS, iOS, Windows, Linux, Chromebook, routers
  • Cancellation policy: 30-day money-back guarantee 
  • Pricing:
  • PIA 2 years
    £1.57
    /month
    PIA 6 months
    £5.39
    /month
    PIA 1 month
    £10.99
    /month
Pros Unlimited number of connected devices No-logs policy independently audited AES-256 encryption
Cons Headquartered in the United States No free version
Best VPN Private Internet Access on laptop

Private Internet Access offers a few extra privacy features our researchers liked (Independent Advisor)

Private Internet Access (PIA) was founded in 2010 and was acquired by Kape Technologies, which also owns ExpressVPN, CyberGhost and ZenMate, in 2019. With 1,000+ VPN servers located in 91 different countries worldwide, PIA offers its users a good level of privacy and security. The provider is headquartered in the United States, which is part of Five Eyes – an intelligence-sharing alliance. This could be problematic for the privacy-conscious, given the proximity to agencies such as the NSA. 

However, PIA follows a no-logs policy which has been independently audited, which means its user’s data and IP addresses are never stored or logged. 

Security 

When it comes to security, PIA takes its user’s privacy very seriously and all of its subscribers benefit from lots of features. 

Private Internet Access’s VPN comes with a choice of two ciphers – 128-bit or 256-bit AES encryption. Both of these have been proven to hide users’ IP addresses and protect all sensitive data. The provider also offers a choice of three protocols – OpenVPN, IKEv2 and Wireguard. 

Another layer of protection that PIA has is its proxy servers, ShadowSocks and SOCKS5 – these allow users to route their VPN connection through an additional server location, which further protects the origin of your connection. This is sometimes referred to as a multi-hop VPN. 

PIA’s split tunnelling has two variations – standard or inverse. With standard split tunnelling, users can choose which apps, websites and IP addresses to run inside or outside the VPN. Inverse split tunnelling allows users to run all traffic through the VPN, and choose what to run outside of it. 

The kill switch offers complete protection at all times no matter what happens with your internet connection. PIA’s kill switch disconnects you from the internet when your VPN connection drops.

User experience 

Private Internet Access has downloadable apps for both desktop and mobile devices, and we found that both were user-friendly and come armed with many features. PIA’s app is compact, has a sleek black background and can be opened in front of your browser tab, which makes it incredibly user-friendly. 

PIA can also be installed directly onto your router, providing that it’s compatible. PIA’s VPN is also compatible with numerous game consoles including Xbox, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation. 

With PIA, users have access to a number of different privacy and security features including a kill switch, split tunnelling and a no-logs policy. PIA can also be used on an unlimited number of devices simultaneously, which is more than some of its top competitors like ExpressVPN and NordVPN.  

Private Internet Access’s desktop and mobile apps are sleek in design and the desktop app is an ideal size to not cause too much disruption. Changing server location is a breeze with a handy search bar to find your preferred server, as well as showing the latency for each one. 

All of PIA’s privacy features including the kill switch, split tunnelling and protocols were easy to locate within its settings. From there, you have options to turn features on or off. Overall, we were impressed by how streamlined PIA’s apps were. 

Performance

In our latest tests, Private Internet Access (PIA) delivered moderate performance, with noticeable speed degradation across all server locations. Local UK connections maintained just 30 and 17 per cent of the base download and upload speeds, respectively. This indicates a substantial slowdown for UK-based users, especially for activities requiring higher bandwidth. 

The US server connections achieved slightly better results in uploads but still lagged in terms of downloads, retaining only 23 per cent of the baseline speed. Surprisingly, the Australian server outperformed the US in downloads but fell short in uploads, suggesting uneven performance across longer distances. 

While PIA offers reasonable protection and privacy, its speed limitations may impede particularly demanding tasks like HD streaming or fast-paced online gaming, making it more suitable for users with basic browsing needs.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN370.35243.036
UK to UK111.4840.655430%17%
UK to US86.3747.4513823%20%
UK to Aus113.9534.7526131%14%

Date tested: 02/01/24. Protocol: OpenVPN

Customer service 

Private Internet Access generally receives favourable customer reviews on Trustpilot, with 69 per cent of those reviews being five-star rated reviews. The provider has been praised by users for retaining similar speeds to non-VPN connections, fair pricing and working on a variety of computers and devices. Customers can contact PIA via its live chat service for any urgent enquiries or make use of its support centre, where users can ask and ask questions within PIA’s community.

Cost 

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.99 ($13.89) / month
12 months £5.39 ($6.81) / month (£32.34/$40.87 up front)
24 months (+4 months free) £1.57 ($1.98) / month (£43.94/$55.54 up front for 28 months)

Verdict 

Private Internet Access has more than 1,000 servers in 91 different countries, including coverage in all 50 US states. It doesn’t offer the highest number of locations, but it does offer connections to an unlimited number of devices simultaneously. 

The provider’s privacy and security features are notable, with a choice of three VPN protocols, AES-256 bit encryption and a no-logs policy that has been independently verified. 

PIA’s speed tests were decent and would be well-suited to anyone who is considering a VPN for gaming. PIA offers an advanced level of privacy and security while retaining great internet speeds, there aren’t many downsides with this VPN service.

★★★★

Read our full Private Internet Access VPN review.

Today's best Private Internet Access deals
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
PIA 6 month £5.39 /Month
£5.39 /Month
PIA 1 month £10.99 /Month
£10.99 /Month

 

Atlas VPN ★★★½

atlasvpn on devices

Specifications

  • Number of servers: 1,000+
  • Server locations: 49 countries
  • Number of devices supported: Unlimited
  • Operating systems and browsers supported: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and Chrome
  • Cancellation policy: Up to 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Pricing:
  • Atlas VPN 2 years
    £1.34
    /month
    Atlas VPN 12 months
    £2.69
    /month
    Atlas VPN 1 month
    £9.83
    /month
Pros Unlimited simultaneous connections IP-swapping servers Multi-hop connections
Cons No privacy audits Poor functionality in Windows app Small number of server locations
Best VPN Atlas VPN on laptop

Atlas VPN may be lacking a privacy audit, but it performed well in our tests (Independent Advisor)

Atlas VPN was founded in 2019 and offers both free and paid subscriptions. In 2021, it joined Nord Security with the aim of making online privacy and security accessible for everyone, irrespective of their budget or technical ability. 

Atlas VPN offers more than 1,000 servers in 45 locations, as well as various protocols and AES-256 bit encryption. Atlas also follows a no-logs policy, however this has not been independently audited, and the company is headquartered in the US – a part of the Five Eyes, an intelligence-sharing alliance. 

Security

Atlas VPN offers a good level of privacy and security for its users. There is a choice of two protocols – WireGuard and IKEv2 – but this is less than some other providers we have reviewed, which offer three or more protocols. 

Its protocols are encrypted by AES-256 encryption, which is the highest level of security available. As well as this, Atlas VPN also uses ChaCha20 for symmetric encryption, Poly1305 for verifying data integrity and authenticity, BLAKE2s to add another security layer, and SHA-384 for message authentication. These extra security measures are not provided by competitors like Surfshark and NordVPN. 

Atlas VPN claims to adhere to a strict no-logs policy, which means none of its users’ IP addresses, web sessions, or personal information is stored. However, this policy is yet to be independently verified. 

User experience

Atlas VPN has downloadable apps for PC and mobile devices. Logging into its apps is slightly different from other VPNs we have used, as the service sends a one-time log-in link to your email address. We had to repeat the process as many as eight times, with the emailed link not working each time, before finally achieving a successful login. This also means you can’t use a dummy email address for increased privacy.

Unlike other VPNs we’ve tested, Atlas VPN is not compatible with router configurations – while this may not be an issue for some, it’s something to bear in mind when choosing the right VPN for you. 

As previously mentioned, Atlas sends a log-in link to your email address when you try to log in to its apps. Its apps are clean and straightforward, and navigating your way around is easy. Its server location list could be improved by adding each location’s distance from you and its latency rate, as is the case with NordVPN. Another downside is that some servers carry the exact same name. For example, the three New York servers are all labelled the same, and the ability to rename them would make finding a particular server easier. 

In terms of protocols and other security features, the process for changing these in the settings was straightforward and we’re confident beginners would find the app user-friendly. 

Performance

In our most recent tests, Atlas VPN retained relatively strong download speeds, whereas uploads suffered significant slowdown, which increased with distance. Such performance inconsistency suggests limitations in high-bandwidth activities. In the UK, the VPN service managed to retain half of the base download speed and around a quarter of our normal upload speeds, which is still suitable for most internet uses. 

When connected to the US, the download speed remained consistent, with a negligible further drop of 2 per cent. The upload speed showed a dramatic decrease to 6 per cent, indicating potential issues with tasks requiring significant upload bandwidth. Connections to Australia showed a more pronounced decline, maintaining a third of the download speed and minimal upload capacity of just 2 per cent of the reference value. This considerable degradation accompanied by substantial ping spikes suggests challenges for users prioritising high-demand activities like HD streaming or fast-paced gaming. 

Overall, Atlas VPN could be a reasonable choice for casual browsing but may struggle with more intensive online activities like torrenting large files, especially over longer distances.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN402.94215.756
UK to UK198.7448.871249%23%
UK to US189.3413.4413647%6%
UK to Aus138.02436734%2%

Date tested: 4/12/23

Customer service

Atlas VPN receives good customer reviews on Trustpilot, with 78 per cent of reviews awarding it four or five stars. Many users mention its affordability, functionality, and good customer service.  

The provider offers 24/7 live chat support for all of its paid subscribers, and this is the quickest way to contact the provider. There are also various troubleshooting articles, which are a great tool to have for setting up the app on various devices and for figuring out how to use different security features.

Cost

In addition to its paid subscriptions, there is a free version of Atlas VPN, but this is limited to 5GB of data per month and only offers three servers in three locations. As you might have guessed, a 5GB data cap will run out quickly, but it’s a simple way to test the service for yourself. If you’re in desperate need of a free VPN, we’d opt for the unpaid tier of Proton VPN instead, as it comes with an audited no-logs policy and unlimited bandwidth.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £9.83 ($12.43) / month
12 months £2.69 ($3.40) / month (£32.32/$40.85 up front)
24 months (+6 months free) £1.34 ($1.69) / month (£40.34/$50.98 up front for 30 months)

Verdict

Atlas VPN offers a user-friendly experience. We found the speeds were comparable with some other providers we’ve reviewed, but by no means are they the best on the market. 

The provider also offers good levels of security for its users, including sturdy AES-256 encryption, SafeSwap servers, and features like MultiHop+. It also comes with a kill switch, and split tunnelling, however the latter is currently only available on Android. 

The company says it follows a strict no-logs policy, but this is yet to be independently audited and it is headquartered in the US, which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. Overall, Atlas VPN delivers a good service, offering online security, unlimited device connections, and a range of privacy features.

Overall score: ★★★½ 

Read our full Atlas VPN review.

Today's best AtlasVPN deals
AtlasVPN 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
AtlasVPN 1 year £2.69 /Month
£2.69 /Month
AtlasVPN 1 month £9.83 /Month
£9.83 /Month

 

Windscribe ★★★½

windscribe vpn app on multiple devices

Specifications

  • Number of servers: 480
  • Server locations: 69 countries
  • Number of devices supported: Unlimited
  • Operating systems and browsers supported: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox
  • Cancellation policy: 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Pricing:
  • Windscribe 12 months
    £4.55
    /month
    Windscribe 1 month
    £7.12
    /month
Pros Lots of features included with Windscribe Pro Ad block and malware blocker Reasonably priced
Cons Not independently audited Headquartered in Canada
Best VPN Windscribe on laptop

Relative newcomer Windscribe held its own in our performance tests (Independent Advisor)

Windscribe is a relatively new VPN, having been founded in 2016 in Canada. The provider offers three different plans; free, Build a Plan and Pro. The company offers options for users to not hand over any personal information by signing up without providing an email address and paying via Crypto. 

Windscribe says it follows a strict no-logs policy – although this has not been independently verified – and its VPN is encrypted by AES-256. However, the company is headquartered in Canada – part of Five Eyes, an intelligence-sharing alliance. 

The provider offers both Mac and PC versions of its app, as well as Android and iOS versions. It can also be installed directly onto your router, providing it’s compatible. Windscribe is also compatible with FireTV and Amazon Fire Stick devices. 

The company offers various privacy and security features, such as a kill switch and split tunnelling, both of which can be toggled on for PC and mobile app versions.  

Security

Windscribe offers a range of privacy and security features, including AES-256 encryption and a no-logs policy. While the company is yet to be independently audited to verify its infrastructure or logging policies, some of its apps have passed independent security audits. 

Windscribe’s kill switch automatically disconnects users in the event their internet connection is interrupted. Its split tunnelling feature allows users to route selected traffic and apps through the encrypted VPN tunnel, and choose what routes outside. 

With Windscribe, users have a choice of three VPN protocols: OpenVPN, WireGuard and IKEv2 – all of which are encrypted and offer a high level of privacy. 

The provider’s R.O.B.E.R.T. feature, available for Pro plan users, blocks ads, stops tracking, has a customisable block list and improves browsing speeds. It is customisable and users can choose which block lists they would like to include, from malware and ad trackers to gambling and social networks.

User experience

Windscribe’s pocket-size app is compact and user-friendly. We liked how the app is non-intrusive and is so small it can appear in front of your web browser without too much interruption. 

The window is small, yet you’ll find all the settings you need on the pop-up window. On the main screen, there is an option to connect to a server, change location and toggle on the firewall option – which acts as Windscribe’s kill switch. 

Performance

Our most recent Windscribe speed tests indicated its relatively strong performance, except for the furthest server distances, which offered great challenges for both download and upload-focused activities. Locally, within the UK, download speeds were halved, showing a considerable drop but still satisfactory for most online activities. However, a dramatic decline in the upload speed to just 12 per cent could significantly hinder activities reliant on uploads. 

Surprisingly, transatlantic connections to the US saw an improvement in download speeds, maintaining a robust 84 per cent of the baseline, though uploads remained low at 10 per cent. The most significant slowdown was observed in the connection to an Australian server, where download speeds plummeted to a mere 3 per cent of the baseline, making it impractical for most online activities. Upload speeds also dropped, though less significantly. 

While Windscribe offers strong security features, its inconsistent speed performance, particularly over longer distances, could be a concern for users requiring excessively stable and high-speed connections, especially for activities like streaming or gaming.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN367.7245.444
UK to UK356.0273.443697%30%
UK to US295.2444.712880%18%
UK to Aus143.7621.2729139%9%

Date tested: 02/01/24. Protocol: WireGuard

Customer service

Eighty-six per cent of Trustpilot user reviews give Windscribe a five-star rating. Customers praise the provider for its reasonable pricing, stable VPN connection and decent free tier. 

There are multiple channels of support available to users, including 24/7 live chat, a subreddit, and a Discord community. For non-urgent queries, users can post questions in its subreddit as well as engage with community members on its Discord server.

Cost

Subscription Term Price
Monthly $9 (£7.12) / month
12 months $5.75 (£4.55) / month ($69/£54.59 up front)
Build a plan From $3 (£2.37) / month

Verdict

Windscribe is a newcomer in the VPN market, but in its short time in business has gained good customer reviews and offers a wide range of security features. 

The company advertises a no-log policy, but this is yet to be audited, and it’s headquartered in Canada – part of Five Eyes. Privacy-conscious users might feel this is a good reason not to choose Windscribe for their VPN needs. 

However, its security features are of a good standard, and it offers AES-256 encryption, ad and malware blocking and a kill switch. 

Windscribe is reasonably priced and good value for money, but for the privacy-conscious, you may want to choose a VPN that has been audited for peace of mind.

★★★½

Read our full Windscribe VPN review.

Today's best Windscribe deals
Windscribe 12 month £4.55 /Month
£4.55 /Month
Windscribe 1 month £7.12 /Month
£7.12 /Month

 

PrivadoVPN ★★★½

privadovpn app on multiple devices

Specifications

  • Number of servers: 330
  • Server locations: 48
  • Number of devices supported: 10
  • Operating systems and browsers supported: Windows, Linux, MacOS, android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox
  • Cancellation policy: 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Pricing:
    PrivadoVPN 2 year
    £1.99
    /month
    PrivadoVPN 12 month
    £2.50
    /month
    PrivadoVPN 1 month
    £10.99
    /month
Pros Headquartered in Switzerland Reasonably priced AES-256 encryption
Cons Not independently audited No split tunnelling for iOS and MacOS devices
Best VPN PrivadoVPN on laptop

Our researchers liked PrivadoVPN’s uncluttered app interface (Independent Advisor)

Founded in 2019, PrivadoVPN is another relative newcomer to the VPN industry – despite this, the provider has gained excellent customer reviews and has steadily grown its user base in its few short years in business. Headquartered in Switzerland, PrivadoVPN benefits from some of the best data privacy protection laws in the world. 

PrivadoVPN offers both a free and paid plan – with the latter providing 300+ servers in 47 different countries and 61 different cities. With a paid plan, customers can use an unlimited amount of data and connect up to 10 devices simultaneously.

Security 

PrivadoVPN has a lot to offer its customers in terms of privacy features. All of its data is transmitted through servers encrypted with AES-256. As well as this, Privado has three protocols to choose from  – WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2 – all of which add an extra layer of security. 

PrivadoVPN is headquartered in Switzerland, which benefits from some of the best data privacy protection laws in the world. The provider also has a no-logs policy, which states the service never stores or logs its customer’s data. However, this policy is yet to be independently audited. 

User experience

PrivadoVPN’s apps are downloadable for Android, MacOS, iOS, PC and Amazon Fire TV devices. Once downloaded, Privado prompts you to log in with your username and password and then you’re able to select a server from the list provided – top tip: customise the service by adding servers to your favourites list.

PrivadoVPN’s desktop and mobile apps follow a polished design that is straightforward, and beginners will find it easy to use. One feature that is a nice touch: users can choose how the app appears on their screen – docked or window style. 

Customising the PrivadoVPN apps is simple. Changing servers can be done from the app’s interface and there’s also an option to add any server to your favourites, which will all then be stored under the relevant tab for easy access. Within the settings, you’ll find all of its privacy features, from VPN protocols to the kill switch and an option to auto-connect. 

Performance

PrivadoVPN delivered remarkably consistent performance in our most recent speed tests, particularly in maintaining download speeds fast enough to support most internet uses, such as streaming, data downloads, and browsing. Within the UK, the service retained most of the baseline download speed, suggesting an almost uninterrupted browsing and streaming experience. The uploads also performed well at 75 per cent of the baseline, supporting various online activities. 

Transatlantic connections to the US saw a slight decrease in download speed to 89 per cent, accompanied by a more substantial drop in upload speed to 17 per cent of the baseline, which might affect high-bandwidth upload tasks. Although the Australian connection imposed the most significant challenge, with upload speeds dropping to 7 per cent, the download speed was still robust at 72 per cent. 

Despite the increased latency for distant servers, PrivadoVPN remains a strong choice for those seeking a blend of speed and security, especially for activities like streaming and secure browsing, both locally and internationally.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN422.39239.974
UK to UK412.59179.861198%75%
UK to US375.2941.812789%17%
UK to Aus303.0917.3927772%7%

Date tested: 02/01/24. Protocol: WireGuard

Customer service

PrivadoVPN is well-liked by its customers and has an average of  four out of five stars on Trustpilot from over 2,000 customer reviews. The provider has been praised for its user-friendly apps, affordable subscription price and retaining similar speeds to a non-VPN connection.

There are multiple ways to access PrivadoVPN’s customer support – via an online support form, utilising installation guides, or contact through the live chat – with the latter providing an instant response and in our opinion the best channel of communication for any urgent issues or requests.  

Cost

Privado offers both a free and paid plan, though the free version of PrivadoVPN limits users to one connection, 12 servers located in 10 countries, and just 10GB of data per month. 

Paid subscriptions can be taken monthly, annually, or every two years – with longer deals  working out the most cost-effective when broken down per month. Customers can also try the service before committing to a paid plan with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.99 ($13.89) / month
12 months £2.50 ($3.16) / month (£30/$37.92 up front)
24 months £1.99 ($2.52) / month (£47.76/$60.37 up front)

Verdict

PrivadoVPN offers 300+ servers in 47 countries and 61 cities, along with a capable free tier. When compared with some of its top competitors, it falls short in terms of  additional features, as well as a smaller server count. 

It advertises a no-logs policy, but unfortunately, this is yet to be independently audited. We did find that Privado’s apps were easy to use but not all of its features were available for all devices. 

PrivadoVPN is ideal for beginners thanks to easy-to-use apps and simple privacy features. For any users looking for the best VPN service, this provider might not be a good fit, despite the impressive speeds on offer.

★★★½

Read our full PrivadoVPN review.

Today's best PrivadoVPN deals
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
PrivadoVPN 12 month £2.50 /Month
£2.50 /Month
PrivadoVPN 1 month £10.99 /Month
£10.99 /Month

 

IPVanish ★★★½

ipvanish app on multiple devices

Specifications

  • Number of servers: 2,200+
  • Server locations: 75
  • Number of devices supported: Unlimited
  • Operating systems and browsers supported: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Amazon Firestick, android TVand Kodi
  • Cancellation policy: 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Pricing:
    IPVanish 24 months: £3.58/month
    IPVanish 12 months: £3.58/month
    IPVanish 1 month: £10.49/month
Pros Audited no-logs policy Unlimited simultaneous device connections Uses AES-256 encryption
Cons Split tunnelling only available for Android and Amazon Firestick Slow internet speeds
Best VPN IPVanish on laptop

IPVanish was slow in our performance tests, but its app is very easy to use (Independent Advisor)

IPVanish has changed hands numerous times since being founded in 2012 by Mudhook Media – part of Highwinds Network Group. More recently, the provider was acquired by J2 Global – now known as Ziff Davis – in 2019. Ziff Davis also owns additional VPN services including StrongVPN and encrypt.me. 

IPVanish has more than 2,200 servers located in 75 different countries, which is less than our top recommendations, and it’s headquartered in the US – a part of Five Eyes, an intelligence-sharing alliance. However, this shouldn’t deter the privacy conscious, as IPVanish has a no-logs policy that has been independently audited. 

Security

IPVanish’s 2,200+ servers are encrypted with AES-256 and it offers four VPN protocols – WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2 and IPSec – all of which add an extra layer of protection, and the average number of protocols offered by VPN providers is three, according to our extensive research. 

The company is headquartered in the US, and while the country is part of Five Eyes, the provider has a strict no-logs policy, which has been independently audited. 

Like most other providers, IPVanish offers privacy features such as a kill switch and split tunnelling. Its kill switch feature blocks all internet traffic from your device if your VPN connection drops, while split tunnelling allows you to choose which apps or internet traffic is routed through the VPN – currently, this is only available for Android and Amazon Fire Stick, which is a downside for the provider. 

User experience

IPVanish has a variety of downloadable PC and mobile apps, as well as support for Amazon Fire Stick, Android TV and Kodi. 

During testing, we found both the desktop and mobile apps were easy to download and the login process was straightforward. Once logged in, you’re able to change server location and customise privacy features – it should be noted that for MacOS (one of the devices we tested on) to change the protocol you’ll need to click on IPVanish’s logo in the menu bar rather than inside the app. 

IPVanish’s desktop and mobile apps were easy to download and set up. However, it’s desktop app for MacOS caused some confusion, as to change protocols you’ll need to right-click on the app’s logo in the menu bar. With other providers, this is usually actioned within the app’s privacy settings. 

Aside from the above, connecting to server locations was user-friendly and customising privacy features is easy and clearly located within the app’s settings.  

Performance

In our latest speed tests, IPVanish continued to impress with its strong performance across various distances and regions, particularly when it comes to  download speeds. The service excelled with a UK-to-UK VPN connection, maintaining 90 per cent of the baseline download speed, which is highly efficient for streaming and fast browsing. The upload speed, however, was limited to only a quarter of the baseline, suggesting potential restrictions for tasks requiring significant upload capacity. 

Connections to a US IPVanish server maintained robust download speeds at 84 per cent of the baseline, which catered effectively to most users’ needs despite the significant drop in upload speeds. Connecting to servers in Australia saw a more significant impact, with download and upload speeds at 65 and 12 per cent of the baseline, respectively. Irrespective of the distance, IPVanish managed to sustain a decent level of performance, sufficient for various online activities that don’t require excessive upload speeds.

Speed test results

Download speed (Mbps)Upload speed (Mbps)Latency (ping)Percentage of base download speedPercentage of base upload speed
No VPN485.85278.864
UK to UK436.6572.485390%26%
UK to US409.6851.512384%18%
UK to Aus315.3434.4723665%12%

Date tested: 02/01/24. Protocol: WireGuard

Customer service

Customers appear to be impressed with IPVanish, giving the provider an average of four out of five stars on Trustpilot from over 8,000 customer reviews. Many users have commented on the commendable privacy features and stable connection. 

IPVanish’s customer support is of a high standard, and customers can contact the provider via 24/7 live chat – where customers can speak to a human within a few clicks – and email, for non-urgent enquiries. There are also set-up guides for customers to utilise when setting up various IPVanish apps.

Cost

Subscription Term Price
Monthly £10.49 ($13.26) / month
12 months £3.58 ($4.53) / month (£42.99/$54.35 up front)
24 months £3.58 ($4.53) / month (£61.49/$77.74 up front)

Verdict

IPVanish, when compared with other VPNs, offers advantageous privacy features and a no-logs policy that has been independently audited. 

Download speeds are impressive, apps are relatively straightforward, bar the MacOS protocol issue, and the service is reasonably priced for the features it offers.

★★★½

Read our full IPVanish review.

Today's best IPVanish deals
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month
IPVanish 12 month £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month
IPVanish 1 month £10.49 /Month
£10.49 /Month

 

Other VPN providers to consider

VPN Provider Summary
StrongVPN StrongVPN provides a decent service and an easy-to-use app but has limited privacy features and lacks an independent audit.
HMA HMA is a fairly basic VPN with a handful of privacy features, which is suitable for users who simply need to conceal their online identity.
TunnelBear TunnelBear offers a decent level of privacy and security, with an audited no-logs policy. It has a larger server base, but these servers are only located in 47 different countries. Based in Canada.
VPNSecure VPNSecure offers a low server count and its customer reviews leave a lot to be desired. The service has not been independently audited and its subscription price is not good value for money.
ZoogVPN ZoogVPN boasts fast connection speeds and affordable subscription plans. The service also supports torrenting and file sharing.
Ultra VPN UltraVPN’s subscription plans are reasonably priced and allow for up to 10 device connections. It doesn’t offer the same level of protocols as its competitors and its no-logs policy is yet to be audited.
PureVPN PureVPN offers an impressive 6,000+ servers across 65 countries. It’s a safe and secure VPN with an audited no-logs policy and a reliable kill switch.
TorGuard With TorGuard, users can connect up to 12 devices and choose to route traffic through one of 3,000 servers. TorGuard has a no-logs policy, but this has not been independently audited.
VPN Area VPN Area supports up to eight device connections and comes with two VPN protocols. Its service is reasonably priced, and it has a no-logs policy, though this has not been audited.

What is a VPN and how does a VPN work?

A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your device and the internet by encrypting your data and routing it through a remote server. This means your online activities are kept private, as your data is not visible to anyone monitoring your connection. When you connect to a website, your data is sent through the VPN’s server, hiding your real IP address and location while also protecting your data from being intercepted. This will help to keep any interested parties such as your ISP at bay, as they will only be able to see that you’ve connected to a VPN server. 

As such, VPN encryption is especially important, ensuring that there are no data leaks to worry about. The same is true for no-logs policies, as the VPN itself could still have access to your data, and needs to get rid of it accordingly. Rather than taking logging claims at face value, look for a provider with an audited no-logs policy to remove the need for guesswork.

How to choose the best VPN for you

Identify your needs

Work out why you want a VPN in the first place: are you aiming to access content from another country, or do you need improved security for connecting to public wifi? Do you want to connect a lot of different devices, and is connection speed important?

Level of security

A good VPN should use strong encryption protocols and have a clear privacy policy. Typically, this will be outlined in an FAQ – or similar – page on their website. If it’s not, then you might want to consider an alternative. Consider any privacy features on offer, such as MultiHop, obfuscation, and tracker blocking. 

Audited ‘no-logs’ privacy policy

A ‘no-log’ privacy policy means the VPN provider won’t collect (or log) your browsing data. You can know this claim is true if it has recently been audited by a respected third party to confirm this. As for why this is important, VPNs have access to your online movements, and unscrupulous companies have been known to sell user data to advertisers in the past. It’s never a good idea to trust a random company with your personal data, while free VPNs have been found wanting on multiple occasions.

Download/upload speed and latency (ping)

A VPN should provide fast speeds to ensure a smooth browsing experience. There will be some drop-off in speed to be expected when using a VPN, particularly to access international servers. If you want to use a VPN while gaming then you’ll need to choose one with low latency, otherwise game response time will be negatively impacted. We’ve put together a handy guide for achieving faster speeds when using a VPN.

Time in the market

The VPN market is a lucrative one, which tends to attract new providers all the time. It’s not that new services are necessarily worse than existing ones, but there’s a lot to be said for experience and providers who have stood the test of time. Even so, an independent audit is more important, unless the VPN has proven its logging policy in court.

What devices you want to protect

Most VPNs will support PC, Mac, iOS, and Android, while only some will work with specific devices and operating systems such as Smart TVs and Linux. Check that the device you want to protect is supported. Alternatively, a lot of VPNs can simply encrypt your router, so that every device that connects to it via wifi will be secured.

Where the company is located

A VPN provider will have to comply with the data laws of the country in which it is registered, so this can affect the data it does and does not collect, which can have an impact on your privacy. Consider any jurisdictional issues before picking a VPN. More privacy-conscious users may decide to skip regions like the US and the UK entirely, given their proclivity for collecting user data.

Payment options

If you commit to a long-term contract with a provider you’ll usually get a much better price when compared to a monthly recurring plan. With long-term contracts, it’s important to note that the advertised price will be per month, but the period of the contract must be paid upfront.

Free VPNs aren’t free

While you may not pay for a free VPN in the traditional sense, the provider might still make money from you through advertising or by selling your data. If you’re tired of intrusive ads, but don’t wish to pay a hefty price tag, you could consider a cheap VPN. Cheaper VPNs can be just as effective as premium ones, so long as they offer a good level of security and have an audited no-logs policy to protect your data.

phil-png

Why I use a VPN – Dr Phil Legg, Professor of Cyber Security at UWE

A VPN gives an additional level of assurance when connecting to unknown wireless networks, for instance in cafes, hotels and shops. It means that I know my traffic is encrypted as it passes over their network to my trusted VPN provider, so that other users of the same network are not able to access or intercept any of my activity. By also hosting my own VPN server at home or at work, I can remotely connect to devices within either my home or work networks when needed, such as a file server, that would not be accessible over a typical public facing network.

Latest VPN news 1 February 2024

  • Ivanti VPN appliances hacked
    As of 23 January 2024, 1.5 per cent of Ivanti VPN appliances tested by Censys have been exploited, giving hackers full control over vulnerable servers. The hack would allow attackers to bypass two-factor authentication.
  • Turkey blocks VPN users
    The Financial Times reports that Turkey’s Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) ‘told internet service providers a month ago to curtail access to more than a dozen popular virtual private network services.’ Municipal elections are due to take place in March.

Which is the fastest VPN?

Although Proton VPN and IPVanish both delivered above-average performance in local and transatlantic connections during our latest tests, PrivadoVPN stands out as an excellent choice this month, ensuring the strongest overall performance across all the distances and locations tested.

Download and upload speed degradation per cent compared

Retained UK to UK Download speedRetained UK to UK Upload speedRetained UK to US Download speedRetained UK to US Upload speedRetained UK to Aus Download speedRetained UK to Aus Upload speedAverage retained download speedAverage retained upload speed
PrivadoVPN98%75%89%17%72%7%86.30%33%
Proton VPN96%92%95%15%57%12%82.70%39.70%
IPVanish90%26%84%18%65%12%79.70%18.70%
Surfshark90%53%89%7%59%9%79.30%23%
NordVPN83%42%70%13%54%7%69%20.70%
ExpressVPN56%25%45%25%40%15%47%21.70%
Windscribe49%12%84%10%3%6%45.30%9.30%
Atlas VPN49%23%47%6%34%2%43.30%10.30%
CyberGhost63%34%43%7%2%40%36%27%
PIA30%17%23%20%31%14%28%17%

Download and upload speeds compared

No VPN Download speed (Mbps)No VPN Upload speed (Mbps)UK to UK Download speed (Mbps)UK to UK Upload speed (Mbps)UK to US Download speed (Mbps)UK to US Upload speed (Mbps)UK to Aus Download speed (Mbps)UK to Aus Upload speed (Mbps)
NordVPN521.51309.08434.98131.19365.0440.67283.122.03
Surfshark387.82266.16350.33140.34344.9418.83226.9924.98
ExpressVPN411.33242.74232.1961.58183.7960.46162.9635.31
CyberGhost393.63185.52249.4962.5170.112.099.674.89
Proton VPN337.94216.28323.62198.23319.7832.4192.8525.87
PIA370.35243.03111.4840.6586.3747.45113.9534.75
Atlas VPN402.94215.75198.7448.87189.3413.44138.024
Windscribe344.7202.79167.4623.7290.3220.3211.6812.19
PrivadoVPN422.39239.97412.59179.86375.2941.8303.0917.39
IPVanish485.85278.86436.6572.48409.6851.5315.3434.47
phil-png

What are the key factors people should consider when deciding what VPN to get? – Dr Phil Legg, Professor of Cyber Security at UWE

If you are thinking of using a VPN service provider then choose a brand you can trust. Many will advertise the encryption scheme that they use, such as AES-256 (Advanced Encryption Scheme with 256 bits), which is considered as “military-grade” due to its approval by the NSA. Do bear in mind that you are entrusting that company with your internet activity in favour of not trusting the public hotspot or wifi that you are connecting to. You therefore want to have confidence that they will look after the data that they hold on you. As with all things there is risk, however, the risk of an attack on your VPN provider, or risk of them inadvertently leaking your data, is likely lower than somebody snooping on an insecure hotspot. 

Also, think about what devices you want to use the VPN service on. Are you securing a laptop, a mobile phone, or both? Some VPN tools come with mobile apps to help easily configure them for iOS and Android devices. VPN settings can be configured manually on such devices, however, for many, having an app makes this process easier. Furthermore, an app may offer further configuration, such as setting your VPN country if the provider has multiple servers globally. Some people favour VPNs as a way of concealing their location by connecting to a VPN and having their traffic appear as if they are based in another country.

Best VPNs Frequently Asked Questions

Round up of today's best VPN deals
NordVPN 2 year £2.79 /Month
£2.79 /Month
Surfshark 24 month £1.79 /Month
£1.79 /Month
ExpressVPN 12 month £6.79 /Month
£6.79 /Month
CyberGhost 2 year £1.92 /Month
£1.92 /Month
Proton 2 year £4.25 /Month
£4.25 /Month
PIA 2 year £1.57 /Month
£1.57 /Month
Atlas 2 year £1.34 /Month
£1.34 /Month
PrivadoVPN 2 year £1.99 /Month
£1.99 /Month
Windscribe 12 month £4.55 /Month
£4.55 /Month
IPVanish 2 year £3.58 /Month
£3.58 /Month

How we research and rate VPNs

We are dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and up-to-date information so you can make an informed decision when it comes to buying a VPN. We will only recommend a VPN after hours of testing, head-to-head feature comparisons, and after taking into account verified customer feedback and reviews and the opinions of industry experts.

Our review scores are determined the following categories:

  • Privacy and performance (30%)
  • Features and functionality (30%)
  • Reputation and credibility (20% of the overall score)
  • Plans and pricing/value (10%)
  • Customer experience (10%)

We research and test a total of 25 elements within these categories including:

  • Number and location of servers
  • Streaming service accessibility
  • Security features such as AES-256
  • Performance (upload, download, latency)
  • Value for money, guarantees, and customer service
  • Independent server-site security audits

All of our VPN articles are fact-checked and verified by our in-house team, so you can be assured that our content is as accurate and up to date as possible.

Disclaimer

The data in this review is reported from a neutral stance and should be used for informational purposes only. We review VPN services from the perspective of:

  • The quality of the product based on the security and privacy it affords the user
  • User experience of the application(s)
  • Connection speeds, and overall performance in terms of reliability
  • Level and quality of customer service

Independent Advisor does not endorse the streaming of content from regions other than where the subscription is held, nor does it endorse the downloading or consumption of illegally pirated content.

James Milin-Ashmore square

James Milin-Ashmore

VPN writer

James Milin-Ashmore has covered cybersecurity and VPNs since the mid-2010s, writing for industry publications and services such as VPN Mentor, Liquid VPN, Comparitech, Bleeping Computer, ProPrivacy, AlwaysVPN, and more.

With a focus on ethics and digital privacy, his work has been featured in a range of publications, including the Activist Handbook and Reader’s Digest. In his spare time, he’s likely to be watching sports, or taking his dog for a walk around Hertfordshire.

Find the best [category]

Today's Best VPN Deals

NordVPN £2.79 /Month
£2.79 /Month
Surfshark £1.75 /Month
£1.75 /Month
ExpressVPN £5.25 /Month
£5.25 /Month
CyberGhost £1.92 /Month
£1.92 /Month
Overall Score: 4.5/5
Overall Score: 4.5/5

Our award for the best overall VPN goes to NordVPN, which costs just £2.79 per month and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. It has a great balance between the best-in-class security and price, so you’re looking to protect your privacy over everything else, then NordVPN is the best option, bar none. Performance is top-notch too, and it boasts a huge number of servers located in pretty much any country you’d need.

Surfshark: Best value
Overall Score: 4.5/5
Surfshark: Best value
Overall Score: 4.5/5

Surfshark is our choice of the best value VPN and can be had for as little as £1.79 per month with our exclusive deal and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Its security is also top-notch with AES 256-bit encryption, an audited no-log policy, and an automatic kill switch. Performance is impressive too..

ExpressVPN: Best all-rounder
Overall Score: 4.5/5
ExpressVPN: Best all-rounder
Overall Score: 4.5/5

If you’re looking for a great all-round option, which is very easy to use, then this is the VPN for you. ExpressVPN has all the features you could want from a premium VPN: top security, a fast, stable connection, and it’s a great option for streaming.