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The 10 Best VPN for Windows 11 (2022 Update)

By Tibor Moes / September 2022

Why do you need a VPN? Your privacy is in danger. Surveillance and advertising are the business models of the internet. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can restore your privacy and protect your data.

  • Identity theft is a big problem: When you surf the web on public Wi-Fi networks, hackers can steal your data, including passwords, credit card details, and passport numbers.
  • Advertisers are watching you: Your Internet Service Provider, Facebook, and Google track what you search, stream, and download. All in the name of advertising.
  • TV Shows are blocked in your country: Netflix doesn’t stream every show in each country. However, when you log into a foreign VPN server, you can watch their TV shows.

When you buy the best VPN for Windows 11, you will protect your data from hackers and advertisers, and unblock foreign TV shows. You will again be able to surf the web safely and anonymously.

CyberGhost VPN - The best VPN for Windows 11 of 2022

CyberGhost VPN

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

CyberGhost is the best affordable VPN of 2022. 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 for Windows 11 of 2022

NordVPN

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

NordVPN is the most advanced VPN of 2022. 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 2022

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 2022?

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 2022?

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 2022?

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 2022?

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 Windows 11

We tested 30 paid and free VPN services on Windows 11, Windows 10, macOS, iOS, and Android. For each of the services, we ran through the following tests:

> Test 1: Logging Policy

What is a logging policy?

When you surf the web using a VPN, you assume your privacy is guaranteed. However, that depends on the VPN provider you are using. As all your data is routed through their VPN servers, they can track you, just like your Internet Service Provider.

For instance, a VPN service could track the following:

  • What you do online, like the websites you visit and the files you download.
  • Where you approximately live via your public IP address.

Many free VPNs, like Hola VPN, actively track the websites you visit and how you engage with those websites. That information is then sold to advertisers and data brokers. That’s how they can offer their service for free. As the saying goes: “If the product is free, you are the product.”

Our research shows that roughly 30% of all VPN services store your originating IP address, and around 5% track your browsing behavior.

Whether or not a VPN provider tracks you should be written in their logging policy. Sadly, these statements are often purposefully written in complicated and vague language.

What do we test for?

We read each VPN service’s privacy and logging policies to study what information they are tracking. Some data logging, like aggregated bandwidth usage and server load data, helps the VPN provider improve their service and doesn’t say anything about you. So we don’t mind it.

However, collecting the following information is not acceptable:

  • Browsing activity: We analyze whether the VPN provider tracks what you do online. We don’t like it even when the data is directly deleted at the end of your VPN session. This should never be monitored and stored.
  • IP Address: We analyze whether the VPN provider tracks your originating IP address, which shows where you approximately live and what Internet Service Provider you are using. This should never be monitored and stored.

> Test 2: Ownership

What do we mean by ownership?

A VPN service is owned and operated by a company, which is frequently owned by another company. This is called a corporate holding structure and is very common. Both these companies can, theoretically, access your data.

Moreover, these companies are registered in countries, like the United States or the Netherlands, which will have unique Data Retention Laws.

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

At first glance, it might seem that there are many VPN services. However, when you dig deeper, it turns out that a few companies own the vast majority of the popular VPN services:

  • Kape Technologies, from the United Kingdom, owns ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, Private Internet Access, and ZenMate.
  • Ziff Davis, from the United States, owns IPVanish, Buffered VPN, StrongVPN, SaferVPN, Encrypt.me, Perimeter 81, and more.
  • Aura (or Pango), from the United States, owns Hotspot Shield, JustVPN, TouchVPN, and provides the VPN technology for many other VPN services like Bitdefender, Kaspersky, Panda, and more.
  • CyberSpace, from the Netherlands, owns NordVPN, Surfshark, and Atlas VPN.
  • Gaditek, from Pakistan, owns PureVPN, Ivacy VPN, and Unblock VPN.

What do we test for?

We analyze the owner of the VPN service, the jurisdiction in which they are registered, and the data retention laws of that jurisdiction. We also check the company’s history to find out whether there have been scandals.

For instance:

  • Kape Technologies was called Crossrider until 2018. Crossrider created a development platform for browser extensions. Unfortunately, this platform was used by ad injectors and malware creators, which hurt the company’s reputation.
  • IPVanish handed over data to Homeland Security in 2016. According to its logging and privacy policy, it wasn’t supposed to have this data. Even though IPVanish has changed owners twice since the incident, the privacy industry remains apprehensive.

> Test 3: Independent Audit

What is an independent audit?

VPN providers make a lot of claims, especially in their marketing material. “Zero-Log Policy” and “Military Grade Encryption” are just some of the buzzwords flying around. But how do we know if any of this is true?

That’s where the independent audit comes in. A VPN company can hire an auditor to analyze a specific element of its operation or infrastructure. Often this is the server infrastructure or the privacy policy.

Examples include:

  • ExpressVPN’s audit by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) in 2019 analyzed whether ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology wiped all data each time the server was rebooted.
  • NordVPN’s audit by PwC in 2020 investigated the server infrastructure, configuration, and technical logs. It also interviewed NordVPN’s employees.
  • Surfshark’s audit by Cure53 in 2021 investigated Surfshark’s server infrastructure for flaws.
  • Private Internet Access (PIA) audit by Deloitte in 2022 investigated the server environment in relation to PIA’s privacy policy.

What do we test for?

We analyze whether the VPN providers underwent an independent audit, what the audit investigated and what flaws it uncovered. 

> Test 4: Available VPN Protocols

What is a VPN protocol?

A VPN protocol sets the communication rules between a VPN server and a VPN app. It determines how the two identify each other, how the app logs into the server, how the data is sent, how the encryption works, and more.

Switching VPN protocols can dramatically impact the time it takes to connect to a VPN server, the download speeds, and the overall security.

The most common protocols are:

  • OpenVPN: The most popular and versatile open-source VPN protocol. It is fast, secure, and very customizable. It works with nearly all operating software and is used by almost every VPN service.
  • WireGuard: The next-generation open-source VPN protocol, designed to improve OpenVPN and IPsec. It has far fewer lines of code and allows for considerably higher download speeds than the other two.
  • IKEv2: A very secure VPN protocol designed by Cisco and Microsoft. Although it should also be fast, our tests show it to be considerably slower than both OpenVPN and WireGuard.
  • L2TP/IPSec: A simpler, older, and slower VPN protocol.
  • PPTP: One of the oldest VPN protocols, with several vulnerabilities.

Some VPN providers, like NordVPN, Hotspot Shield, and ExpressVPN, have designed their proprietary VPN protocols. Of the three, only ExpressVPN’s protocol is open source, allowing others to inspect its code.

  • NordVPN has developed NordLynx, based on WireGuard.
  • ExpressVPN has developed Lightway from scratch.
  • Hotspot Shield has developed Catapult Hydra from scratch.

There isn’t a best VPN protocol. Most VPN software use OpenVPN as the default option, while offering WireGuard or IKEv2 as alternative options.

What do we test for?

We test which VPN protocols are offered by the various VPN providers. We also check whether these protocols are available on all devices or limited to specific operating systems. 

> Test 5: Supported Encryption Standard

What is an encryption standard?

An encryption standard specifies how digital data is encrypted. In 1977, the Data Encryption Standard (DES) was released as the first symmetric key algorithm. This means that the same encryption key is used for encrypting and decrypting the data.

In 2002, the United States government replaced DES with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). AES is a version of the Rijndael block cipher. It uses a block size of 128 bits, with a key size of 128, 192, or 256 bits.

Most VPN protocols use AES-128 or 256 in the GCM or CBC version. GCM is faster than CBC because it can be written in parallel rather than in a series, which increases its throughput. It is also more secure because each block can be encrypted independently.

What do we test for?

We check the default encryption standard of the VPN service and what alternatives are offered. If AES-128 is the default, we expect it to be AES-128 (GCM). Otherwise, we prefer AES-256.

> Test 6: Basic Security Features

What are basic security features?

There are several basic security features that each VPN should offer:

  • AES-256 encryption: The most secure encryption standard. With modern computing technology, it is virtually unhackable via brute-force methods.
  • OpenVPN and WireGuard: OpenVPN is the gold standard of open-source VPN protocols, and WireGuard is the modern challenger for the title.
  • Split tunneling: The ability to allow specific programs to bypass the VPN tunnel and directly connect to the internet.
  • Kill switch: The automatic blocking of the internet connection if the encrypted VPN tunnel fails.

What do we test for?

We test whether the VPN provider offers each of these features and, in the case of the kill switch feature and split tunneling feature, whether they work as promised.

> Test 7: Advanced Security Features

What are advanced security features?

There are several advanced security features that can increase your privacy. The most important ones are:

  • Ad, tracker, and malicious website blocker: The automatic blocking of ads, tracking cookies, and dangerous URLs known for phishing attacks and malware.
  • Dedicated IP address: The ability to get a unique IP address. This helps when you need to access restricted servers that only authorized IP addresses can access. It can also help to avoid blacklists, captchas, and confusing your online bank with ever-changing IP addresses.
  • Double VPN: The ability to route your internet traffic through two VPN servers rather than one, known as VPN server chaining. This doubles your encryption, adds additional IP protection, and offers complete privacy.
  • Obfuscated servers: Specialized VPN servers that change your data to hide the fact that you use a VPN. This can help in highly censored countries like China or the UAE, which try to block VPN traffic.
  • Override GPS Location: A feature that allows you to set your GPS location to the location of the VPN server. This is also known as GPS spoofing and can stop apps like Google Maps or Facebook from knowing where you are.
  • RAM-only servers: Specialized VPN servers that don’t have classic hard drives. The advantage is that the information on the server’s Random Access Memory (RAM) is wiped automatically every time the server is restarted. So when a server is confiscated, there won’t be any data on it.

What do we test for?

We test whether the VPN provider offers these features and whether they work as promised.

> Test 8: IP Leak

What is an IP leak?

All your devices have a public and a private IP address. When your devices communicate with each other over the same network, they use the private IP address. When your devices communicate over the internet, they use the public IP address.

The public IP address is shared by all your devices and assigned by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). It is usually an IPv4 address, but it could also be an IPv6 address, which is slowly replacing IPv4.

Your IP address can be a privacy threat for two reasons:

  • It indicates your approximate location on a zipcode or neighborhood level.
  • Combined with your browsing history, it can identify you personally and grant a detailed overview of all your surfing habits.

A VPN is designed to combat this. Its core purpose is to encrypt your internet connection and replace your public IP address with the IP address of the VPN server. This has two benefits:

  • Your ISP only knows that you’re using a VPN but cannot see the websites you are visiting. So it cannot track your surfing habits.
  • The apps and websites you visit can only see the IP address of the VPN server, not yours. So they don’t know where and who you are.

An IP leak occurs when your originating public IP address is visible rather than the VPN server’s IP address.

What do we test for?

We connect to a VPN service and run an IP address lookup. We have an IP leak when the IP address is our own rather than that of the VPN server.

> Test 9: DNS Leak

What is a DNS leak?

A Domain Name System (DNS) translates human-friendly domain names into the actual IP address of a website. So, for instance, when you type SoftwareLab.org into your browser, it will automatically take you to 165.227.148.211, thanks to the DNS.

So if the DNS is the internet’s phonebook, then the DNS servers are the phone operators. They are the ones that translate the domain name to the IP address. In most cases, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) operates the DNS servers.

As you can imagine, this gives your ISP an overview of your entire browsing history. After all, each time you visit a website, its DNS servers are needed to get you there. That is why high-quality VPN services have their own DNS servers.

A DNS leak occurs when your DNS queries route via the ISP’s DNS server rather than through the VPN tunnel to the VPN’s DNS servers. For example, this can occur when you use a VPN that doesn’t have its own DNS servers or when you have made a mistake while manually adjusting your VPN settings.

What do we test for?

We connect to a VPN service and run a DNS server lookup. When the VPN service does not own the DNS servers, we know we have a DNS leak.

> Test 10: WebRTC Leak

WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) enables modern web browsers, like Firefox and Chrome, to create communication channels with websites in real time. This allows them to stream live video and audio feeds without requiring additional software. 

During this communication, the website and web browser exchange a range of data, including your public and local IP address. As this is part of the standard functionality of WebRTC, there is no quick fix. You can attempt to block WebRTC requests in your browser, but this is tricky.

Instead, the best way to solve the problem is by using one of the best VPN services. They will allow authorized WebRTC connections to continue, but make sure they send the VPN server’s IP address rather than your own.

What do we test for?

We connect to a VPN service and run a WebRTC lookup. When our original IP address is displayed, we have a WebRTC leak.

> Test 11: Download Speed via OpenVPN

What is OpenVPN?

OpenVPN is an open-source VPN protocol. Therefore, anyone can inspect and critique its source code. This has allowed the protocol to improve continuously since its introduction in 2001.

Today, it is often called one of the most secure VPN protocols. Most VPN services use it to provide reliable and secure connection speeds on multiple operating systems.

Within the OpenVPN protocol, there are two versions:

  • OpenVPN UDP (User Datagram Protocol): It is often the default option because it allows for the fastest download speed.
  • OpenVPN TCP (Transmission Control Protocol): It allows for greater control over data transmission at the cost of a slower download speed.

Until the introduction of the WireGuard VPN protocol, OpenVPN was the gold standard. All of the best VPNs still use it, although some have started to prefer WireGuard for the higher download speeds.

What do we test for?

We test the download speed of each of the top VPN services while setting the Windows app to the OpenVPN protocol. We test the speed on a 1 Gbps (1.000 Mbps) internet connection to push the VPN to the limit.

> Test 12: Supported Speed via WireGuard

What is WireGuard?

WireGuard is an open-source VPN protocol. It was designed to be simpler, faster, and leaner than OpenVPN and IPsec. Where these two VPN protocols have close to 500.000 lines of code, WireGuard only has 4.000. This makes security audits and debugging considerably faster and easier.

Although it was initially designed for Linux kernel, it now runs on all major operating systems, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.

In our tests, spread across a wide range of VPN services and servers, we found WireGuard to be roughly 60% faster than OpenVPN.

What do we test for?

We test the download speed of each of the top VPN services while setting the Windows app to the WireGuard protocol. We test the speed on a 1 Gbps (1.000 Mbps) internet connection to push the VPN to the limit.

> Test 13: (Virtual) VPN Servers and Locations

What are (virtual) VPN servers?

A VPN server is a server that hosts specialized VPN software, which allows it to create an encrypted VPN tunnel with VPN clients. In some cases, it will also have specialized VPN hardware. For instance, the RAM-only servers of NordVPN and Surfshark are purposely designed to host VPN services.

Most VPN servers are physical VPN servers. That means the server is located in the country indicated in the VPN app. So when you connect to one of these servers, your internet traffic is routed via the physical server in that country, which gives you a local IP address.

However, not all countries have local server infrastructure. Smaller or less developed countries usually don’t have server parks. For instance, the tiny mountainous country of Andorra does not have any physical VPN servers. Yet some VPN providers still offer a VPN server in Andorra.

That is what we call virtual VPN servers. They will give you a local IP address, even though the actual server is located elsewhere. So, for instance, you will get a local IP address from Andorra, even though the server is located in neighboring Spain or France.

Most VPN providers with an extensive server network have servers in roughly 60 countries. If they have servers in more countries, the rest is usually made up of virtual servers. 

What do we test for?

We analyze the number of servers and locations a VPN provider offers. We also examine whether servers can be selected on a country or city level and whether these servers are physical or virtual.

> Test 14: Streaming Compatibility

What is compatibility with a streaming service?

Streaming services don’t always show you all their series and movies. Some shows are limited to specific countries. For instance, Netflix has particular shows that are available in the United States but not abroad.

A VPN service is a great way to unlock these shows. Because when you log into a VPN server in the United States, you will get a local IP address. In theory, this means that you should be able to see all local shows.

In practice, however, this is not always the case. Netflix tries to know whether its users are connecting via a VPN server. And if that is the case, it will block access to Netflix until the VPN is turned off.

Therefore, there is a constant cat-and-mouse game between streaming services and VPN providers. And only some VPN providers can stay consistently one step ahead of the streaming services.

What do we test for?

We test whether a VPN provider can unblock Netflix, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer in the United States. In the case of Netflix, we also check other countries, like Australia, the UK, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and Germany.

> Test 15: Torrenting Compatibility

What is compatibility with a torrent network?

Torrenting is a form of peer-to-peer (P2P) downloading. This means that users make files available for other users to download. So there is no centralized server or service. Instead, the users download from each other.

Users must use a torrent client like μTorrent or BitTorrent to make it work. But in some instances, it can also work as a streaming service, as with Popcorn Time.

Torrenting is not illegal. It is simply the sharing of files. However, the shared files are often copyrighted material like movies and music. This is why torrenting is so often associated with piracy.

What do we test for?

We test whether VPN services allow downloading files via peer-to-peer networks on some or all of their servers.

> Test 16: Annual Price and Price per Device

What is the annual price and price per device?

VPN services usually state their price per month, with a single-month subscription being the most expensive and the price falling with the duration of the contract.

To compare apples to apples, we look at the annual price for a one-year contract and the price per device. It then quickly becomes apparent that most VPN services are priced similarly, except for ExpressVPN, which is far too expensive.

Some VPN providers, like Surfshark and IPVanish, allow you to install their service on unlimited devices. That makes their price-per-device very small. So these are excellent services to share with a friend.

What do we test for?

We calculate the annual price in a one-year contract for each VPN provider. We also look at the price per connection by dividing this price by the number of simultaneous connections allowed.

What VPNs for Windows 11 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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