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The 10 Best VPN for Streaming (2023 Update)

By Tibor Moes / November 2022

Why do you need a VPN? A Virtual Private Network (VPN) keeps your data safe on public Wi-Fi networks. By encrypting your internet connection, it lets you surf the internet securely.

  • Online privacy. A VPN makes you anonymous online. You can browse the web without the risk of cyberattacks, malicious sites, and privacy threats.
  • No more annoying ads. A VPN prevents third parties, like Google, Facebook, and your internet service provider, from tracking your online activities.
  • Access to geo-blocked content. A VPN lets you enjoy all TV shows and sports events without geographical restrictions.

The best VPN for streaming will maximize your online privacy and security.

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 for streaming

We tested a total of 30 free and paid VPNs on various devices and operating systems, including Windows 11, Windows 10, macOS, iOS, and Android. Here are all the tests we ran on the VPNs.

> Test 1: Logging policy

What is a logging policy?

The primary goal of a VPN is to keep your online activity safe and to prevent other websites from tracking your browsing history. However, when you’re using a VPN, its server routes your internet connection, which is provided by your ISP. In other words, VPN providers are able to track your online activity. Simply put, when you start using a VPN, you give it access to various online information, such as the websites you visit, the files you download, and your general browsing behavior. Not only that, but your VPN can even ascertain your location based on your IP address.

This is where logging policies come in. Logging policies state what type of activities an application or service is allowed to use. If a VPN is free, like Hola VPN, it’s more likely it will use your online data and sell it to advertisers. According to our research, approximately 5% of all VPN providers keep track of your online activity, while about 30% keep your IP address.

If you want to make sure you’re using a VPN that isn’t tracking your browsing behavior, you need to check its logging policy.

What do we test for?

Each of the VPNs we evaluated went through our logging policy test. We begin by checking each VPN’s logging and privacy policies on their websites. Our main area of focus is whether the VPN collects data about your online behavior and tracks your originating IP address.

VPNs that monitor and store your data are automatically eliminated from our list. What’s more, if the VPN collects your data and then deletes it at the end of each session, this type of data logging still isn’t acceptable.

On the other hand, data logging that doesn’t reveal any of your personal information is permitted. This includes server load data and aggregated bandwidth usage. This kind of data logging is necessary to improve the VPN provider’s service, so it’s not a red flag.

> Test 2: Ownership

What do we mean by ownership?

You may be wondering who is running the VPN you’re currently using. Every VPN is owned by a company, which can be owned by another company, and so on. One larger company can even own multiple VPNs that are operated in different regions. This is otherwise known as a corporate holding structure.

But why should a VPN’s ownership matter to you? Because each of these companies can access your personal information through your VPN. The more companies associated with one VPN provider, the more your online data is at risk of being accessed and tracked. Whether or not this can happen depends on where the larger company is registered, as different countries impose different data retention laws.

It doesn’t take much to figure out that only a handful of companies own most VPN providers. Here are the most important:

  • Kape Technologies (based in the UK) owns ExpressVPN, ZenMate, CyberGhost VPN, and Private Internet Access.
  • Aura or Pango (based in the U.S.) owns Hotspot Shield, JustVPN, and TouchVPN.
  • Ziff Davis (based in the U.S.) owns StrongVPN, Perimeter 81, Buffered VPN, IPVanish, Encrypt.me, SaferVPN, and others.
  • CyberSpace (based in the Netherlands) owns Atlas VPN, Surfshark, and NordVPN.
  • Gaditek (based in Pakistan) owns Unblock VPN, PureVPN, and Ivacy VPN.

What do we test for?

The VPN ownership test is more comprehensive than others. When we run this test, we’re interested in finding out who owns the VPN service, where they are registered, and the scope of their jurisdiction based on their data retention laws. Another important part of the VPN ownership test is to look into the company’s history. This will reveal whether the company has been involved in any scandals.

For example, our ownership test revealed that in 2016, IPVanish violated the terms of their logging policy by collecting data from their users. As a result, all the data had to be handed to Homeland Security. Ever since then, IPVanish has been sold to other VPN owner companies, but this incident permanently damaged their reputation.

> Test 3: Independent audit

What is an independent audit?

An independent audit is another assessment method used to determine the VPN provider’s credibility. Independent auditors are typically hired by VPN providers in order to evaluate a specific element of the VPN’s infrastructure or operation. Audits are also necessary to prove whether the VPN provider’s claims check out.

Here are some examples of independent audit tests:

  • ExpressVPN hired PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) in 2019 for an independent audit in order to prove that their TrustedServer technology deleted all the information every time the server was rebooted.
  • Surfshark hired Cure53 in 2021 to scan for flaws in its server infrastructure.
  • In 2020, PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) was hired by NordVPN to carry out an audit to assess its server infrastructure, technical logs, and configuration. As part of the independent audit, PwC interviewed NordVPN’s employees.
  • In 2022, Deloitte performed an audit for Private Internet Access (PIA) to investigate its server environment and privacy policy.

What do we test for?

Our job isn’t to run the audit, but to check whether the VPN provider has undergone this type of assessment. If the VPN provider did go through an independent audit, we look into the results and whether the audit uncovered any flaws.

> Test 4: Available VPN protocols

What is a VPN protocol?

A VPN protocol establishes a secure connection between the VPN server and the VPN app. It’s an encrypted connection that determines how the data travels between the server and the device, and how the two identify each other. The best VPN protocols will provide a fast, safe, and secure connection.

Here are some of the most common VPN protocols:

  • OpenVPN is an open-source protocol and the most popular VPN protocol. It employs modern security measures to protect your data. Almost all VPN providers use this type of VPN protocol because it’s secure, fast, and offers plenty of customization features.
  • WireGuard is a generally new VPN protocol that’s easy to set up and offers various technological advantages. It’s considered the improved version of OpenVPN.
  • IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange volume 2) is an extremely secure VPN protocol that was created by Microsoft and Cisco. Even though this VPN protocol is reliable, our research suggests it’s slower than the previous two VPN protocols.
  • PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) is one of the oldest VPN protocols ever developed. It lacks many safety features, so it’s not commonly used by VPN providers.
  • L2TP/IPSec (Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol) is an improved version of PPTP. Even though it’s more secure than PPTP, it’s too old and slow for modern VPNs.

Certain VPN providers have created their own VPN protocols. Here are a few examples:

  • ExpressVPN has created the Lightway protocol, which is the only open-source protocol out of the three.
  • NordVPN has designed NordLynx, which is based on WireGuard.
  • Hotspot Shield has developed the Catapult Hydra protocol.

The majority of VPN providers use OpenVPN, but they offer alternatives, such as WireGuard or IKEv2.

What do we test for?

We look at each VPN provider to see which protocols they use and offer. In addition, we check whether those protocols can be accessed on all devices and operating systems, or if they’re limited.

> Test 5: Supported encryption standard

What is an encryption standard?

Data encryption is a key part of how VPNs work, keeping your data safe from hackers and malicious sources. This is where encryption standards come in, as they are the basis for how data is encrypted. Encryption standards can be traced back to the Data Encryption Standard (DES), an outdated symmetric key method of data encryption that was developed in 1977.

DES had many flaws and security concerns, so it was replaced by the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) in 2002 by the United States government. This new encryption standard uses the Rijndael block cipher, which consists of 128-bit blocks.

Whether it’s in the GCM or CBC version, AES-128 and AES-256 are used by most VPN protocols. In general, GMC is a better option because it’s faster and can be written in parallel, as opposed to CBC, which is slower and can only be written in a series.

What do we test for?

We look at the type of encryption standard a VPN provider is using and whether it offers any other options. Even though AES-128 is the default encryption standard, we prefer the AES-128 (GCM) encryption standard because it’s faster and more secure.

> Test 6: Basic security features

What are basic security features?

Every VPN should have a set of basic security features. Here are some of the most important:

  • AES-256 encryption: the strongest and most secure encryption standard. With a key length of 256 bits, the AES-256 encryption is impervious to hacks and security threats.
  • OpenVPN and WireGuard: the two most secure open-source VPN protocols, which both offer ultra-fast connections and state-of-the-art security measures.
  • Split tunneling: this feature lets you choose selected apps and programs that can bypass the VPN tunnel and go through a separate tunnel on the open network.
  • Kill switch: this is an important VPN feature that automatically cuts off the internet connection if the encrypted VPN tunnel stops working for some reason.

What do we test for?

We check if the VPN providers have all of the basic features. In addition, we make sure some of the features, like the kill switch and the split tunneling feature, are functioning normally.

> Test 7: Advanced security features

What are advanced security features?

Apart from the basic features, a VPN provider should also have some important advanced security features:

  • Ad trackers and malicious website blockers: these two features make sure ads, tracking cookies, and malicious websites are automatically blocked.
  • Dedicated IP address: some VPNs assign you a dedicated IP address to avoid online blocks and captchas. Not only does this hide your real IP address, but it can also grant you access to geo-blocked content or websites that require authorized IP addresses.
  • Double VPN: also known as multi-hop servers or VPN server chaining, double VPNs route your internet traffic through two VPN servers. Double VPNs maximize your online privacy by doubling your encryption and increasing your IP protection.
  • Obfuscated servers: this feature is extremely useful in counties where VPN services are illegal, such as China or the UAE. Obfuscated servers are special VPN servers that conceal any VPN activity.
  • Override GPS Location: also known as GPS spoofing, the override GPS location feature matches your location to the VPN’s server. Doing so prevents GPS tracking apps like Facebook and Google Maps from detecting your current location.
  • RAM-only servers: RAM-based servers aren’t connected to traditional hard drives, so they can’t store user data. Every time the server is restarted, all the data from the server’s Random Access Memory (RAM) is automatically deleted. On the off-chance the server gets confiscated, there will be no information on it.

What do we test for?

We check each VPN provider for these advanced features and make sure they really work.

> Test 8: IP leak

What is an IP leak?

Each device connected to the internet has a private and public IP address. A public IP address is assigned to your device by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and can be accessed directly over the internet. Public IP addresses can either be IPv4 or IPv6 addresses, which are gradually becoming more prominent. On the other hand, your private IP address is used when your device communicates with another device on the same network.

The problem is that a public IP address isn’t exactly safe. There are two main ways your IP address can cause a privacy threat:

  • Your public IP address can reveal your geographical location because it can be traced back to your ISP. While it won’t reveal your exact address, it might be able to be linked to your neighborhood or zip code.
  • It can reveal your online behavior through your browsing history.

This is where a VPN can help you. The primary goal of a VPN is to hide your real IP address, and use the IP address of the VPN server to replace your public IP address. Here’s why it’s important:

  • Your ISP won’t be able to track your online activity. While it will know that you’re using a VPN, it won’t be able to find out what you’re using the VPN for.
  • If you visit a website or use an app, they will be able to see the IP address of the VPN server. In other words, they won’t know your online identity and real-life location.

This takes us to VPN leaks, which happen when your internet activity is traced back to your IP address, not the VPN server’s IP address.

What do we test for?

For this test, we use a VPN service and try to figure out which IP address will come up when we search for it. If the real IP address is revealed, and not the VPN server’s IP address, we’re dealing with an IP leak, which compromises the user’s online privacy and safety.

> Test 9: DNS leak

What is a DNS leak?

DNS refers to Domain Name System, which is an internet protocol that converts website addresses into IP addresses. This helps devices communicate with each other and allows them to identify the location you need to access. DNS servers are mainly operated by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). In doing so, this internet protocol shares your entire browsing history with your ISP.

Think of it this way. Every time you click on a website you want to visit, you’re using a DNS server to access it. Since you’re using your ISP’s DNS servers, your surfing activity will be available to them. That’s why VPNs provide their users with their own DNS servers. However, DNS leaks can occur.

A DNS leak happens when a VPN malfunctions and doesn’t route your traffic through the encrypted tunnel, but directly through your DNS server. This can also happen if you make a mistake while manually adjusting the VPN’s settings.

What do we test for?

We test for a DNS leak for every VPN service through a DNS server lookup. If the results reveal the VPN provider doesn’t own the DNS servers, we’re dealing with a DNS leak.

> Test 10: WebRTC leak

What is a WebRTC leak?

Browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge use WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) for audio and video chats. Without WebRTC, you wouldn’t be able to stream live videos, listen to an audio file, or play video games without having to install additional software.

When WebRTC technology is employed, it exchanges data with your browser, including your local and public IP addresses. While it’s possible to block WebRTC requests, this process is challenging, and it can cause your browser to lose some of its functionalities.

There is a better way to solve this issue – using a VPN server – which will send its own IP address through WebRTC connections. However, sometimes, a WebRTC leak can occur. This happens if the VPN shows your IP address for WebRTC transmissions instead of its own.

What do we test for?

In this test, we connect to a VPN service and run a WebRTC lookup. If our IP address is revealed, this points to a WebRTC leak.

> Test 11: Download speed via OpenVPN

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is one of the most secure VPN protocols, which is why it’s used by the majority of VPN providers. It’s an open-source tunneling protocol that creates secure connections over the internet. The fact that it’s an open-source protocol means that anybody can evaluate its source code and suggest improvements.

You can use two versions of OpenVPN:

  • OpenVPN UDP (User Datagram Protocol): This version of OpenVPN is usually the preferred choice for many VPN providers because it offers the fastest download speeds.
  • OpenVPN TCP (Transmission Control Protocol): This OpenVPN version sacrifices download speed to gain more control over data transmission.

Although most VPN providers prefer OpenVPN, this protocol is currently competing with WireGuard, which offers higher download speeds. That being said, even those who use WireGuard as the default protocol still offer OpenVPN as an alternative.

What do we test for?

Each of the VPN services we evaluate goes through a download speed test while setting the OpenVPN protocol on the Windows app. In order to see what the maximum limit is for the VPN, we test the speed on a 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps) internet connection.

> Test 12: Supported speed via WireGuard

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard is another open-source VPN protocol, which was designed as an improved version of OpenVPN. It’s supposed to be faster and easier to use than OpenVPN. To put that in perspective, while OpenVPN has over 50,000 lines of code, WireGuard only has 4,000.

WireGuard works on all major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. According to our assessment, WireGuard is 60% faster than OpenVPN.

What do we test for?

We test all VPN services that use the WireGuard protocol using an internet connection with a speed of 1 Gbps (1000 Mbps).

> Test 13: (Virtual) VPN servers and locations

What are (virtual) VPN servers?

In order to generate encrypted VPN tunnels, a VPN provider needs to use a server to host the software. In most cases, VPN providers use physical servers, which are located in the same country that’s chosen on your VPN app. In other words, when you use a VPN, it will assign a local IP address to your device, which belongs to a physical server in that same country.

However, since some countries don’t offer physical server infrastructure, VPNs have to use virtual servers. These types of servers will provide you with a local IP address regardless of the real location of the server.

Most VPN providers offer physical servers in up to 60 countries. If the VPN claims they have servers in more than 60 countries, the rest are virtual servers.

What do we test for?

We test each VPN provider for the number of physical and virtual servers. In addition, we ascertain whether you can choose a server on a country or city level.

> Test 14: Streaming compatibility

What is compatibility with a streaming service?

One of the most convenient reasons to use a VPN is to access geo-blocked content. Many online streaming platforms, like Netflix, HBO Max, and Disney+, offer TV shows and movies to certain countries. For example, while one TV show is available in the U.S., you may not be able to watch it in another country. This is where VPNs come in. In this case, you would use a VPN to connect to a server in the U.S. and jump over the geo-blocks.

As some platforms, like Netflix, use special software that detects VPNs, you still won’t be able to access it. That’s why we look for streaming providers that regularly update their software so they can overcome those obstacles.

What do we test for?

We look for servers that can provide you with access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. When it comes to Netflix, we make sure users can check out other versions of this platform, like the Mexican, Australian, Japanese, Brazilian, German, and UK versions.

> Test 15: Torrenting compatibility

What is compatibility with a torrent network?

Torrenting is a type of peer-to-peer (P2P) downloading. In other words, users upload content so other users can download it, which doesn’t require the use of servers. This is usually done through apps like μTorrent or BitTorrent.

Technically speaking, torrenting isn’t illegal, but downloading copyrighted materials is considered a crime. For this reason, torrenting is often associated with piracy.

What do we test for?

Our tests include checking whether VPN providers let their users download files via peer-to-peer networks on some of their servers or all of them.

> Test 16: Annual price and price per device

What is the annual price and price per device?

Different VPN providers offer different pricing plans. Some VPNs are free, but the best options require a monthly subscription. What they have in common is that the longest plans are the most affordable and the shortest are the most expensive. In other words, it would be better to subscribe to a six-month plan than a one-month plan.

To determine how much VPN providers charge per device, we look at their one-year contracts. Most VPNs offer similarly priced subscriptions, apart from ExpressVPN, which is one of the most expensive plans.

Surfshark and IPVanish offer their users the option to install the VPN app on unlimited devices. Not only does this make their price-per-device worthwhile, but it also allows you to share the expenses with a friend.

What do we test for?

We look at each VPN provider and their one-year contracts to calculate the annual price. Then, we divide the cost by the total number of allowed simultaneous connections to find out the price per device.

What VPNs for streaming 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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