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The 10 Best VPN according to Reddit users (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / November 2022

Why do you need a VPN? Although there are many reasons, most users buy a Virtual Private Network (VPN) out of privacy concerns.

  • Identity theft. Cybercriminals can easily steal your credit card details, passport number, and passwords on public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Advertiser surveillance. Advertisers monitor all web users. Whatever you download, stream or search is used to show you targeted advertisements.
  • Blocked movies. Many streaming services block TV shows in particular countries. By using a VPN, you can unlock these.

Installing the best VPN, according to Reddit users, is the fastest way to restore your digital anonymity.

CyberGhost VPN - The best VPN

CyberGhost VPN

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  • Security and Privacy 100% 100%
  • Speed 100% 100%

CyberGhost is the best affordable VPN of 2023. It’s ultra-fast, private, and secure. And it temporarily offers deep discounts.

✓ Stream: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and more
✓ Torrent: Optimized P2P servers
✓ Return: 45-day money-back guarantee
✓ Privacy: Maximum (no logs)
✓ Servers: 91 countries
✓ Protect: 7 devices

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 45-day return policy.

NordVPN - The most advanced VPN

NordVPN

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  • Security and Privacy 100% 100%
  • Speed 100% 100%

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN of 2023. It has the best privacy technology (RAM-Servers and Double VPN) and a beautiful design.

✓ Stream: Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and more
✓ Torrent: Optimized P2P servers
✓ Return: 30-day money-back guarantee
✓ Privacy: Maximum (no logs)
✓ Servers: 59 countries
✓ Protect: 6 devices

Try it risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Ranking of the best VPN services of 2023

We have tested cybersecurity software since 2014. Below, we have selected the top 4 from 30 paid and free VPN services (Virtual Private Networks).

Click the links or scroll down for more.

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost VPN Review

Ranked #1 out of 30 VPNs

CyberGhost VPN Review

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CyberGhost VPN Review

CyberGhost is the fastest VPN in our test. It also has the lowest price and the biggest server network. It's one of the best VPN services you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix US, Disney, Amazon, HBO Max, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on P2P servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 9,000 Servers in 91 countries
  • Connections: 7
  • 1-Year Price: € 47.64
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 45 days

Streaming

CyberGhost has dedicated streaming servers for Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, and more.

Torrenting

CyberGhost has optimized P2P servers. It is an excellent VPN for torrenting, thanks to its kill switch, IP- and DNS-leak protection, and no logs policy.

Privacy

CyberGhost has a strict no-logs policy: It does not monitor or record what you do online, and it does not store your IP address. Therefore, you are completely anonymous when using CyberGhost.

Ownership

CyberGhost is owned and operated by CyberGhost S.A. from Romania. Its parent company is Kape Technologies from the UK, which also owns ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and ZenMate.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN services:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

CyberGhost applies the most important security and privacy features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling (on Windows and Android)
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP

But it lacks RAM-only servers and Double VPN, which NordVPN does offer.

Censorship

CyberGhost does not use obfuscation technology, which hides your VPN usage. Therefore, it is not the right VPN for high-censorship countries like China, Russia, Iran, Turkey, or the UAE.

Servers

CyberGhost has a huge number of servers: 9,000 in 91 countries.

60 Countries have physical servers within their borders, while the other 31 are virtual servers. Although virtual servers are not located within the indicated country, they will give you a local IP address from that country.

It also offers specialized servers:

  • Servers optimized for P2P
  • Servers optimized for streaming
  • Servers with static IP addresses
  • Servers with dedicated IP addresses
  • Fully owned NoSpy servers

Devices

You can install CyberGhost on 7 devices at the same time. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and a range of routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Prices

CyberGhost has the lowest 1-year price in the industry.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is CyberGhost VPN the best VPN software of 2023?

CyberGhost is the fastest VPN in our test and has the most affordable 1-year contract. On top of that, it is secure, private, and has one of the largest server networks. It's excellent.

You can try CyberGhost risk-free, thanks to its 45-day return policy.

NordVPN

NordVPN Review

Ranked #2 out of 30 VPNs

NordVPN Review

NordVPN Review

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN service you can buy. It uses the latest privacy technology, like RAM servers and double VPN, and works in China. It's one of the best VPN providers you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on 80% of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 5,600 Servers in 59 countries
  • Connections: 6
  • 1-Year Price: € 52.68
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

NordVPN unblocks Netflix in 10 countries, including the United States. It also works with Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.

Torrenting

NordVPN allows torrenting on most of its servers. On top of that, it has optimized P2P servers for extra high download speeds.

Thanks to its no-logs policy, kill switch, DNS- and IP-leak blocking, it is a safe choice for torrenting.

Privacy

NordVPN has a strict no-log policy. So it does not record your IP address or online activities. It was the first VPN company to subject its privacy policy to an independent audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Ownership

NordVPN is owned and operated by NordVPN S.A. from Panama. Its parent company, Nord Security, merged with the parent company of SurfShark to form Cyberspace BV in the Netherlands.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN providers:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN in our comparison. It includes both the mainstream security features and the highly advanced ones:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers
  • Meshnet (on Windows and Linux)

NordVPN is also available in a bundle, including NordLocker (encrypted cloud storage) and NordPass (password manager and data breach scanner).

Censorship

NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that work in highly censored countries like China, the UAE, Iran, Russia, and Turkey. This is thanks to its obfuscation technology that hides your VPN traffic.

Servers

NordVPN has an extensive VPN server network, with 5,600 servers in 59 countries. They are all physical servers, meaning every server is located within the country's borders.

It also offers specialty servers:

  • P2P servers
  • Streaming servers
  • Static IP address servers
  • Double VPN servers
  • Onion over VPN servers
  • Obfuscated servers

Devices

You can install NordVPN on 6 devices at the same time. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Prices

Considering that NordVPN is the most advanced VPN, it is a bargain.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is NordVPN the best VPN service of 2023?

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN software you can buy, thanks to its RAM servers, double VPN, Onion over VPN, and obfuscated servers.

You can try NordVPN risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

SurfShark VPN

Surfshark VPN Review

Ranked #3 out of 30 VPNs

SurfShark VPN Review

Surfshark VPN Review

Surfshark offers the best value for money. It is fast, secure, and affordable. And it allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices. It's one of the best VPN programs you can buy.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more
  • Torrenting: Allowed on all of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 3,200 Servers in 95 countries
  • Connections: Unlimited
  • 1-Year Price: € 47.88
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

Surfshark can stream Netflix in 10 countries, including the United States. It also works with Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Max, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu.

Torrenting

Surfshark allows P2P file-sharing on all of its servers and offers optimized P2P servers for higher download speeds. Due to its kill-switch, no-logs policy, and leak-blocking, Surfshark is a safe choice for torrenting.

Privacy

Surfshark has a clear no-logs policy. It does not track what you do online and does not store your IP address. In 2021, Surfshark underwent an independent server audit by Cure53, a German cybersecurity firm.

Ownership

Surfshark BV from the Netherlands owns Surfshark. In 2022, its parent company merged with Nord Security, creating the holding company Cyberspace BV, also located in the Netherlands.

Speed

We test all VPN services on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the best VPN programs:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

After NordVPN, Surfshark is the most advanced VPN in our comparison. It covers all mainstream and advanced features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling
  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers
  • Rotating IP
  • Override GPS Location on Android

Next to its VPN service, Surfshark also offers antivirus software, personal data breach alert, and a private search engine. These features are sold separately or together with the VPN in SurfShark One.

Censorship

Thanks to its Camouflage and NoBorders Mode, Surfshark works well in censored countries like Russia, the UAE, Turkey, and Iran. However, it does not consistently work in China.

Servers

Surfshark has an extensive network, with 3,200 servers in 95 countries. However, some of these servers are virtual. That means that although you get a local IP address from the country of your choice, the physical server is located in a different country.

Surfshark also offers specialized servers, including:

  • P2P servers
  • Static IP address servers
  • Double VPN servers (Multihop servers)

Devices

Surfshark allows unlimited simultaneous connections. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Prices

Surfshark's price is excellent. Especially considering that you can install it on an unlimited number of devices.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is Surfshark the best VPN service of 2023?

Surfshark offers the best value for money in the VPN industry. It is advanced, affordable, and allows you to protect an unlimited number of devices. It is one of the best VPN deals out there.

You can try Surfshark risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

IPVanish VPN

IPVanish Review

Ranked #4 out of 30 VPNs

IPVanish VPN Review

IPVanish: Temporarily get 61% OFF  🔥

IPVanish VPN Review

IPVanish is an excellent VPN. It's fast, secure, and affordable. And it allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices. However, it's not as advanced as the others in this list and has a smaller server network.

Specifications

  • Streaming: Works with Netflix USA, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu
  • Torrenting: Allowed on all of its servers
  • Logging: No Logs
  • Servers & Countries: 2,000 Servers in 50 countries
  • Connections: Unlimited
  • 1-Year Price: $ 47.89
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 days

Streaming

IPVanish is not the best VPN service for streaming. Although it works with Netflix in the United States, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, it has problems with streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and HBO Max.

Torrenting

IPVanish allows torrenting on all its servers. And thanks to its no-log policy, kill switch, and no DNS leaks, it is a safe option to do so. The kill switch is necessary because it will block the internet traffic if the VPN connection drops.

Privacy

IPVanish has a clear no-logs policy. However, in 2018, it handed user data to the US government. Data it wasn't supposed to have, according to its log policy. Since then, it has changed owners twice, but the reputation remains.

Speed

We test every VPN service on a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) internet connection, with the VPN connection set to the WireGuard protocol, which is the fastest. These are the test results of the fastest VPN connections:

VPN WireGuard
CyberGhost 825-850 Mbps
NordVPN 725-800 Mbps
Surfshark 700-800 Mbps
IPVanish 700-725 Mbps

Security

IPVanish is the only VPN in our comparison that owns all of its servers and doesn't rely on third-party server parks, which is excellent. That said, it is not the most advanced VPN in our test.

It includes the following mainstream features:

  • AES-256 encryption
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN (TCP and UDP)
  • Kill switch
  • Split tunneling

But it misses many of the advanced features:

  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker
  • Dedicated IP
  • RAM-only servers
  • Double VPN
  • Onion over VPN
  • Obfuscated servers

Censorship

IPVanish does not work in censored countries like China, the UAE, Iran, Turkey, or Russia.

Servers

IPVanish has 2,000 VPN servers in 50 countries. All servers are physically located within the country and entirely owned by IPVanish. Because it doesn't rely on third-party server providers, it has complete control over the hardware and software, which theoretically should increase its security.

Devices

IPVanish allows an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. It works with Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, and some routers. But it has no browser extensions.

Prices

IPVanish has a very attractive price, especially as you can install it on an unlimited number of devices.

VPN 1-Year Price
CyberGhost € 47.64
Surfshark € 47.88
IPVanish $ 47.89
NordVPN € 52.68
ExpressVPN € 99.84

Is IPVanish the best VPN provider of 2023?

IPVanish is fast, secure, and affordable. It owns its entire server network and allows you to install the software on unlimited devices. But it's not the most advanced VPN in our test and not the best option for streaming.

You can try IPVanish risk-free, thanks to its 30-day return policy.

Comparison table of the best VPN services 

CyberGhost
NordVPN
Surfshark
IPVanish
Icon
CyberGhost VPN Icon
NordVPN Icon
Surfshark VPN Icon
IPVanish VPN Icon
Ranking
#1 / 30
#2 / 30
#3 / 30
#4 / 30
Logging Policy
No Logs
No Logs
No Logs
No Logs
Operating Company
CyberGhost S.A. (Romania)
NordVPN S.A. (Panama)
Surfshark BV (Netherlands)
Ziff Davis, Inc (USA)
Holding Company
Kape Technologies PLC (UK)
Cyberspace BV (Netherlands)
Cyberspace BV (Netherlands)
Ziff Davis, Inc (USA)
VPN Protocols
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, NordLynx (WireGuard)
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
IKEv2/IPSec, OpenVPN, WireGuard
Encryption
AES-256
AES-256
AES-256
AES-256
US Netflix




Torrenting




VPN Kill Switch




Split Tunneling




Ad & Tracker Blocker



No
Smart DNS



No
First-Party DNS


No

Dedicated IP


No
No
Double VPN
No


No
RAM Servers
No


No
Works in China
No


No
Countries
91
59
95
50
Servers
9,000+
5,600+
3,200+
2,000+
Speed on WireGuard or proprietary protocol
825-850 Mbps
725-800 Mbps
700-800 Mbps
700-725 Mbps
Comptatible Devices
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Router
Number of Connections
7
6
Unlimited
Unlimited
1-Month Price
€ 12.65
€ 10.49
€ 12.95
$ 10.99
1-Year Price
€ 47.64
€ 52.68
€ 47.88
$ 47.89
2-Year Price
€ 74.88
€ 69.36
€ 59.76
-
3-Year Price
€ 82.29
-
-
-
Customer Support
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
24/7 Live Chat & Email
Free Trial
1 Day
7 Days
7 Days
No
Money Back Guarantee
45 Days
30 Days
30 Days
30 Days

How we test the best VPN according to Reddit

We considered 30 free and paid VPN providers on different platforms, including Android, iOS, macOS, Windows 10, and Windows 11. Each service was tested for the following features:

> Test 1: Logging policy

What is a logging policy?

A VPN is designed to guarantee privacy when surfing the internet. However, some providers fail to ensure their users’ anonymity. As your information travels through the servers, the company can monitor you.

For example, a VPN can keep an eye on the following activity:

  • Your location – Some platforms can use your browsing activity to determine your whereabouts.
  • Your habits – Your downloaded files and platforms visited can attract prying eyes, including your VPN provider.

Hola VPN and some other companies track your website and online behavior. Upon analyzing your activity, they sell the information to various brokers and advertisers, allowing them to sell their services for free. That’s why you might want to consider paid VPNs only.

Furthermore, our tests show that about one-third of all providers keep your originating IP address. Another 5% monitor your online behavior. The amount of data they access and track should be clearly stated in their logging policies, but they often contain complicated language. Consequently, you may not be able to determine whether your VPN has safe logging policies.

What do we test for?

We looked at the logging and privacy policies of each VPN to determine the information they track. Some monitoring (e.g., server loading data and bandwidth usage) is no reason for concern. They help the provider streamline their services and rarely reveal personal information. So, we disregard these habits.

That said, collecting some other information is unacceptable such as the browsing activities of users. As previously discussed, even if they remove the information after your session, your provider shouldn’t keep track of your internet activities.

Tracking IP addresses is another sign of a low-security VPN. They shouldn’t store any data about your local IP address. Otherwise, cybercriminals would be able to reveal your actual location and identity.

A VPN service provider shouldn’t be able to monitor and record your web browsing and IP address.

> Test 2: Ownership

What do we mean by ownership?

When choosing your VPN provider, you need to consider who owns your platform and where they register their company.

The owners of VPN services are companies that are usually owned by other businesses. This corporate structure is common, but it raises some privacy concerns. Namely, all organizations within the corporation might be able to access your information.

Additionally, they’re often registered in the Netherlands, USA, or other countries with special Data Retention Laws.

So, it matters who owns your VPN service and where they are registered.

There’s a huge number of VPNs out there. So, you may think there are numerous owners, too. However, that’s not the case.

Only a handful of corporations own the most popular VPNs. Here’s a list of companies, their country of origin, and the VPN services they own:

  • CyberSpace (from the Netherlands) – Surfshark, Atlas VPN, and NordVPN
  • Gaditek (Pakistan) – Ivacy VPN, Unblock VPN, and PureVPN
  • Ziff Davis (United States) – JustVPN, Hotspot Shield, ToucnVPN, and technology of other services (e.g., Panda, Kaspersky, and Bitdefender)
  • Pango/ Aura (United States) – StrongVPN, Encrypt.me, IPVanish, Perimeter 81, and Buffered VPN
  • Kape Technologies (United Kingdom) – CyberGhost VPN, ZenMate, Private Internet Access, and ExpressVPN

What do we test for?

We look at several details when discussing VPN ownership:

  • Jurisdiction where they’re registered
  • Ownership structure
  • Data Retention Laws
  • Company history

We focus on this aspect to uncover whether the company has been involved in scandals.

For instance, IPVanish tarnished its reputation with several incidents. A few years ago, they gave Homeland Security some information it had no business keeping. Although the service has had multiple owners since giving up the data, the privacy this VPN offers remains questionable.

Another scandal involved Kape Technologies. The VPN provider was initially named Crossrider and created platforms for browsing extensions. Many users abandoned the company when it was discovered malware creators frequently relied on the service.

> Test 3: Independent audit

What is an independent audit?

Marketing is a powerful tool in all spheres, including VPN technology. Providers make boisterous claims about their services to attract more clients. For instance, you often encounter military-grade encryption, zero-logging policy, and other buzzwords.

The only way to verify their claims is to perform independent auditing.

A VPN provider can hire auditors to assess certain aspects of their infrastructure and operation. In most cases, they schedule checks of their privacy policy and server infrastructure.

Many VPNs have been independently audited:

  • PricewaterhouseCooper audited ExpressVPN in 2019. They analyzed whether their server wiped information upon every reboot.
  • Cure53 investigated the server infrastructure of Surfshark for various flaws in 2021.
  • Deloitte audited Private Internet Access in 2022. They scoured their servers to determine how well they honored the provider’s privacy policy.
  • PricewaterhouseCooper audited NordVPN in 2020. They looked at configurations, technical logs, and server infrastructure. Plus, they interviewed the employees to detect security flaws.

What do we test for?

We consider several details when analyzing the independent audit factor of each VPN service provider:

  • Whether a VPN has undergone independent auditing
  • Scope of the investigation
  • Any uncovered flaws of the audit

> Test 4: Available VPN protocols

What is a VPN protocol?

One of the most important parts of a VPN service is the protocol. This element dictates the communication between your app and the server. It allows both sides to recognize each other. It’s also responsible for many other processes:

  • How the VPN logs server data
  • Encryption
  • How data is transferred

Many switch between VPN protocols to find the most suitable one for their network. While this can optimize the experience, it can prevent your device from connecting to the server quickly. Plus, it can impact overall security and download speeds.

Here are some of the most popular VPN protocols:

  • OpenVPN – This is the most widely-used open-source protocol. It’s highly versatile, customizable, secure, and fast. Moreover, it complements practically any operating system, which is why it’s popular among private and corporate users.
  • WireGuard – WireGuard is a next-gen VPN protocol that can drastically improve the experience on many networks. It performs better than IPsec and OpenVPN, providing higher download speeds with less code.
  • L2TP/IPsec – This is a straightforward VPN protocol with basic code. However, it’s slow and prone to security vulnerabilities.
  • PPTP – PPTP is an outdated solution with numerous weaknesses. Few people still use it.
  • IKEv2 – Designed by Microsoft and Cisco, the IKEv2 VPN protocol is a relatively secure solution. It’s touted as a fast protocol, but our testing has shown that WireGuard and OpenVPN are considerably faster.

Besides these technologies, some providers have come up with proprietary protocols:

  • NordVPN – NordLynx protocol based on the WireGuard technology
  • ExpressVPN – Lightway protocol
  • Hotspot Shield – Catapult Hydra

It’s hard to say which protocol is the best. The choice mainly depends on people’s needs and the websites they want to visit.

In general, most VPNs run their traffic through OpenVPN and offer IKEv2 or WireGuard as an alternative.

What do we test for?

This is one of our simplest tests. We compared VPN providers by the VPN protocols they offer. We also determine whether the protocols are compatible with all systems and devices or limited to just a few platforms.

> Test 5: Supported encryption standard

What is an encryption standard?

As the name suggests, encryption standards control how your digital information is encrypted on your VPN network. The first version was released more than 40 years ago, in 1997, and was named Data Encryption Standard (DES). It used the symmetric key algorithm for coding and decoding data wherein the same encryption key is applied.

The standard was replaced at the turn of the century, 2022, by the government of United States with more reliable technology – the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES).

This is an instance of the so-called Rijndael block cipher version. It features 128-bit block sizes with 128, 192, or 256-bit keys.

The CBC or GCM versions of AES-256 or AES-128 are used in the majority of protocols. The GCM version can process data in parallel sequences as opposed to series, which speeds up the system’s throughput. Due to the ability to separately encrypt each block, it also offers more security.

What do we test for?

We check the standard of each VPN provider and any alternatives offered. In other words, if they operate under AES-128, it should be an AES-128 (GCM) platform. Otherwise, AES-256 is a better option.

> Test 6: Basic security features

What are basic security features?

Your VPN should come with essential security features that protect your anonymity and safeguard against data leaks. These include:

  • Split tunneling – Bypassing VPN tunnels and establishing a direct internet connection is made possible by split tunneling feature.
  • Kill switch – This feature automatically cuts off web connection if VPN tunnels fail.
  • AES-256 encryption – This is a virtually impenetrable encryption standard. Despite technological breakthroughs, it would take hackers forever to break the pattern and compromise the network with brute-force attacks.
  • WireGuard and OpenVPN – You don’t want to take a chance with subpar VPN protocols. You only want the safest and fastest options. WireGuard and OpenVPN are your best solution.

What do we test for?

What do we test for?

We do testing to see if VPN services deliver all these security functions. The features, split tunneling and kill switch, were highlighted in particular, which includes testing if they function well, and how effectively the VPN blocks attackers.

> Test 7: Advanced security features

What are advanced security features?

Apart from basic security features, you could use a few advanced technologies to further reduce the chances of data leaks. Here are the most valuable ones:

  • Double VPN – The other name for the double VPN feature is server chaining. It lets you reroute your traffic using two VPN servers. This reinforces your protection, encryption, and guarantees total privacy.
  • Malicious web page and ad blocker – The importance of having a reliable automatic blocker of cookies, dangerous URLs, malware, and phishing attacks cannot be underestimated. It prevents you from accessing traffic notorious for cybercriminals.
  • One-of-a-kind IP address – Unique IP addresses are also extremely useful, allowing you to access otherwise restricted content. Additionally, they can help you avoid captchas, blacklists, and bank account confusion caused by ever-changing addresses.
  • Obfuscated servers – These specialized servers change your information so effectively that third parties can’t even detect you’re using a VPN. This is perfect for China, the UAE, and other highly censored nations that block all VPN traffic.
  • RAM-only servers – These specialized servers don’t run on conventional hard drives. Instead, it wipes out information automatically using RAM whenever you restart a server. This way, even if a government confiscates the server, they won’t find any data.
  • Overriding your location – By overriding your GPS location with the VPN server location, you can keep anyone from discovering your actual location. The function is also known as GPS spoofing. It can prevent you from being discovered by Facebook, Google Maps, and other website location tracker.

What do we test for?

We check to see if the VPN service provider delivers these advanced security features and if they perform as advertised and work well.

> Test 8: IP leak

What is an IP leak?

All devices have private and public IP addresses. When platforms communicate with each other using a single network, they rely on their personal address. But when they use the internet, they need a public address.

All connected devices share public IP addresses assigned by the ISP. Most systems use IPv4 addresses, but more and more providers are switching to IPv6 technology.

Your IP address might be a gateway for data theft and other security issues for several reasons. First, they indicate approximate locations using zip codes. In other words, criminals can use them to detect your neighborhood relatively accurately.

And second, it can uncover your identity when combined with tools that detect your internet history. This gives third parties unlimited access to the websites you visit and other online habits.

The purpose of a VPN is to prevent this scenario. It encrypts internet connections, replacing your public address with the address of the provider’s servers.

Configured correctly, you can gain a lot from your VPN in terms of patching up address vulnerabilities. For example, the service allows your ISP to detect you’re running a VPN, but they can’t see the pages you’re visiting. This prevents them from monitoring your web habits.

Another great thing about VPNs is that they make your real address invisible to the pages and apps you use. They can only recognize the address of your VPN server. As a result, they have no information about your identity or true location.

This brings us to one of the most significant problems of poorly configured VPNs – IP leaks. These occur if the VPN doesn’t show the server’s address. Instead, they expose your actual public address.

What do we test for?

By connecting to a VPN and performing an address lookup, we check for leakage of IP. If the system shows our IP address rather than the VPN’s, we have an IP leak.

> Test 9: DNS leak

What is a DNS leak?

IP leaks aren’t the only type of leaks you should be concerned about. Your VPN might also put you at risk of a Domain Name System (DNS) leak.

A DNS translates your domains into website IP addresses. When you enter Facebook.com or YouTube.com, you’ll actually go to the IP address of the page you want to visit. It usually consists of 12 numbers.

Think of it this way – DNS is the internet’s phonebook, whereas DNS servers are your phone operators. They convert your domain name to websites.

In general, your ISP owns your DNS servers. This poses another threat because it grants your ISP access to your browsing history.

And this happens whenever you go to a web page. A DNS takes you there, and your ISP monitors the entire process.

DNS leaks occur when the DNS transports traffic using the ISP’s server and not the VPN tunnel. They normally happen with VPNs that lack their own servers. You can also trigger them by adjusting the service incorrectly.

What do we test for?

We establish a link to each VPN service and look up DNS servers. If the provider doesn’t have DNS servers, leaks are imminent.

> Test 10: WebRTC leak

What is a WebRTC leak?

WebRTC stands for web real-time communication. It allows Chrome, Opera, Firefox, and other browsers to create real-time website channels. This feature enables them to provide live audio and video feeds without additional software.

Problems can happen because browsers and websites exchange a certain amount of information while communicating. This includes your private and public IP addresses. Leaks can easily occur if the provider doesn’t have a secure network.

Since there’s no going around website-browser communication, fixing this problem isn’t easy. Some people try to disallow WebRTC requests manually, but this can be complicated.

You’re much better off installing a VPN. They maintain WebRTC connections, but rather than sending your IP address, they use the address of their server.

What do we test for?

Testing for WebRTC leaks is similar to identifying IP or DNS leaks. We launch a VPN and perform a lookup. If the network displays the original IP address, there’s a leak.

> Test 11: Download speed via OpenVPN

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is one of the most reliable open-source VPN protocols. Its open-source nature allows people to inspect and streamline its source codes. Through regular scrutiny, the protocol has dramatically optimized its service since it was introduced more than two decades ago. It’s also a highly secure VPN technology.

Most VPNs use the protocol to deliver excellent speeds on various operating systems. It comes in two versions.

The default version is OpenVPN User Diagram Protocol (UDP). It provides the highest download speeds. The alternative is OpenVPN Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). It gives you lower speeds, but you also get more control over your data transfer.

OpenVPN reigned supreme as the best VPN protocol until WireGuard showed up. Many providers have switched to WireGuard for faster downloads.

What do we test for?

The download speed of every popular VPN provider is tested when traffic goes through OpenVPN. The internet connection is set at 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) to test the download speed, pushing the capability of the VPN to its limits.

> Test 12: Supported speed via WireGuard

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard is another open-source protocol. Most people consider it an upgrade over IPsec and OpenVPN due to its speed and simplicity. It has considerably less code, making it easier to audit and debut.

Originally, the system was designed for the Linux kernel, but it now works on all major OS platforms, including iOS, Android, and macOS. It’s about 60% quicker than OpenVPN.

What do we test for?

Each top VPN provider was tested for speed through the WireGuard protocol and using Windows as the OS. The test is connected to the internet with 1Gbps (1,000 Mbps) for the download speed testing.

> Test 13: (Virtual) VPN servers and locations

What are (virtual) VPN servers?

VPN servers are specialized software that allow for the creation of VPN tunnels. They can also feature unique VPN hardware, such as the RAM-only solutions of Surfshark and NordVPN.

The servers are normally physical objects, meaning they’re located in countries indicated in your VPN app.

However, not every nation has server infrastructures. Smaller and less developed areas typically lack server parks, such as Andorra. Nevertheless, some apps offer their services in Andorra. This is known as a virtual VPN server. You get an IP address from this country despite the server’s actual location in France or Spain.

Most VPN companies have servers in around 60 countries. The rest of the network is normally comprised of virtual servers.

What do we test for?

We evaluate the number of locations and servers each VPN offers. We also analyze whether you can select servers on a city or country level and if they’re virtual or physical.

> Test 14: Streaming compatibility

What is compatibility with a streaming service?

You might not be able to see all movies and TV shows on your streaming platform because some countries restrict them. For example, certain Netflix content is only available in the USA. You can unlock the shows with a VPN by receiving an IP address that conceals your true location, giving you access to more content.

The theory sounds great, but the practice is slightly different. Sometimes, Netflix wants to verify whether you’re using a VPN. If so, you’ll be blocked from accessing the app or website until you deactivate your VPN.

Some providers offer robust features to unlock Netflix despite these attempts.

What do we test for?

We determine whether VPN providers can unblock the following platforms in the USA:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • BBC iPlayer
  • HBOMax
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • Disney Plus

We also analyze whether you can use Netflix in other countries with a VPN, including Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and the UK.

> Test 15: Torrenting compatibility

What is compatibility with a torrent network?

The most common type of peer-to-peer (P2P) download is torrenting. It enables users to download virtually any file.

The service isn’t provided through a centralized server. Instead, you download files from other users with BitTorrent, uTorrent, or other clients. Sometimes, torrenting via Popcorn Time also emulates streaming services.

Torrenting isn’t illegal because it comes down to sharing files. However, the files are usually copyrighted content, like music and movies. That’s why people normally associate it with piracy.

What do we test for?

We examine whether VPNs allow for torrent downloads via P2P networks and their services.

> Test 16: Annual price and price per device

What is the annual price and price per device?

VPNs generally state how much they charge per month. Single-month subscriptions are the priciest, and the price drops if you sign a longer contract.

The best way to compare the cost of VPN providers is to look at the cost of one-year contracts and prices per device. This tells us that most apps have similar prices. The only exception is ExpressVPN, which is unaffordable for many people.

IPVanish, Surfshark, and some other providers let you install the app on as many devices as you want, making their price per device minimal.

What do we test for?

We calculate annual prices for a one-year contract for all major VPN providers. Our team also examines the price per connection.

What VPN have we tested?

We have tested 30 paid and free VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). Proton VPN is the best free VPN service. But if you have the money, we recommend getting a paid VPN service.

In the best case, the free version allows you to protect only one device and doesn’t offer you unlimited bandwidth / unlimited data. And in the worst case, the free VPN providers show you ads or secretly sell your browsing history to advertisers and your internet service provider.

And should you be strapped for cash, don’t opt for an expensive VPN like ExpressVPN. Instead, get a cheap VPN, like Surfshark, that allows you to install it on an unlimited number of devices and share the cost with a friend.

  • Astrill VPN
  • Atlas VPN
  • Avast SecureLine VPN
  • Betternet VPN
  • Bitdefender VPN
  • CactusVPN
  • CyberGhost VPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • HideME VPN
  • HMA VPN (HideMyAss VPN)
  • Hola VPN
  • Hotspot Shield VPN
  • IPVanish VPN
  • Ivacy VPN
  • IVPN
  • Kaspersky VPN Secure Connection
  • McAfee Safe Connect VPN
  • Mozilla VPN
  • MullVad VPN
  • NordVPN
  • Norton Secure VPN
  • Private Internet Access VPN
  • PrivateVPN
  • Proton VPN
  • PureVPN
  • StrongVPN
  • Surfshark VPN
  • Tunnelbear VPN
  • VyprVPN
  • Windscribe VPN

The best are: CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark.

Frequently asked questions

What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) protects your online privacy. It creates an encrypted VPN tunnel between your device and a VPN server. This tunnel hides your IP address, restores your anonymity online and makes you safe on public Wi-Fi networks.

Why do you need a VPN?

You need a VPN to restore your online privacy and security. Without a VPN, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and advertisers can track everything you read, watch and download online. On top of that, if you don’t use a VPN, hackers will be able to steal your data on public Wi-Fi networks, which can lead to identity theft.

How does a VPN work?

A VPN creates an encrypted connection, called a VPN tunnel, between your devices and a VPN server. This hides your IP address and what you do online. As a result, your ISP won’t be able to see what websites you visit, and advertisers won’t be able to know what your IP address is.

What is the best VPN?

CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark are the best VPN services of 2022. NordVPN is the most advanced VPN service. CyberGhost has the highest download speeds and the lowest one-year price. And Surfshark allows you to install the software on unlimited devices.

What is the fastest VPN?

CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark are the fastest VPN services of 2022. Although CyberGhost is slightly faster than the other two, the difference is not noticeable for most users.

About the author

Tibor Moes

Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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