Skip to main content
The Best VPNs Credit: Getty / Oksana Sazhnieva

The Best VPN Service of 2022

Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

The Best VPNs Credit: Getty / Oksana Sazhnieva

Why trust Reviewed?

Reviewed's mission is to help you buy the best stuff and get the most out of what you already own. Our team of product experts thoroughly vet every product we recommend to help you cut through the clutter and find what you need.

Learn more about our product testing
1
Editor's Choice Product image of ExpressVPN
Best Overall

ExpressVPN

Our favorite VPN service offered the most reliable—and verifiably private—internet speeds, plus top-notch customer service. Read More

Pros

  • Consistent
  • 24/7 customer service
  • 3rd-party audited

Cons

  • Basic plan only allows 5 devices to stream at once
  • No ad blocker
2
Product image of NordVPN

NordVPN

The popular VPN service has a robust set of features and excellent privacy policies, but some speed inconsistencies held it back a little. Read More

Pros

  • Fast upload speeds
  • Ad blocker
  • 3rd-party audited

Cons

  • Inconsistent speeds
3
Product image of CyberGhost

CyberGhost

CyberGhost's points for lightning-fast speeds and allowance for up to 7 devices were hampered by Netflix inconsistency and no 3rd-party audits. Read More

Pros

  • Many streaming options
  • 7 connections allowed

Cons

  • Netflix connectivity issues
  • No 3rd-party audits
4
Product image of Surfshark

Surfshark

Unlimited devices, great features, and an affordable price make Surfshark an appealing option. Torrenting speeds and lack of outside audits need to improve. Read More

Pros

  • Unlimited connections
  • Money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Cloggy torrenting
  • Limited 3rd-party audits
5
Product image of HMA

HMA

HMA is plenty fast, but with no month-to-month contract option and less-than-airtight assurances against surveillance, we don't recommend it. Read More

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • 3rd-party audited

Cons

  • Few configuration options

If you're concerned about keeping prying eyes away from your data and search activity as you browse the web, it might be time to get a VPN. There’s no easy way to tell you this: That “secure” internet service provider (ISP) you’re paying for every month can legally sell your browsing history, throttle your speeds (no matter how fast your router is), alert authorities to any search activity they deem nefarious, and set limits on your data usage. So much for having private internet access in your own home.

And while public WiFi hotspots don’t present the same threats they used to thanks to modern web security like https, you still want to be protective of your data and your laptop or smartphone. People are constantly using passwords, credit card numbers, and other incredibly personal information online. Even if hackers have more productive uses of their time nowadays than trawling public wi-fi, it’s still better to be safe than sorry.

A virtual private network, or VPN, can help you avoid all of those problems, and more. They aren’t just useful for thwarting snoopers. They can help sidestep data throttling, help you stream content from other countries, and more.

They install in mere moments and—when used properly—offer formidable protection. We waded through a list of some 200+ VPNs, read all the VPN reviews we could find, then tested the most popular VPNs ourselves to help with your buying decision. Our top pick is ExpressVPN (available at ExpressVPN).

Choosing the right VPN is important. You don’t want your ISP snooping on you, but at the end of the day, someone out there is going to have the opportunity to look at your web traffic. That means that you need to choose a VPN company that you trust not to spy. The good news is that VPN companies compete on security, whereas ISPs know you don’t have many options and can do whatever they want.

Whether it’s public WiFi privacy you’re after, or you’re just tired of having your data sold to the highest bidder, it’s a jungle out there. Protect yourself with the right VPN for your needs and budget.

Here are the best VPNs we tested ranked, in order:

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. CyberGhost
  4. SurfShark
  5. HMA
  6. TunnelBear
Express VPN logo
Credit: Express VPN
Best Overall
ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN commands the top spot in our roundup of VPNs, scoring strongly in nearly every attribute we measured. There wasn’t anything that we could do to make ExpressVPN fail, and we tried. It downloaded easily to all our test devices, including a clunky 2nd-generation iPad.

During three weeks of testing, ExpressVPN's connection rarely even hiccupped. We streamed Netflix from the U.K., allowing us to binge “Modern Family.” Before we knew it, Manny’s voice had changed and Lilly could talk. The BBC iPlayer worked flawlessly even when utilizing a slow as mud personal hotspot.

Torrenting speeds, while not the fastest in the roundup, never dropped. Gamers will love the steady speed, while the international business set say it is a must-have for penetrating the Great Firewall of China. We especially like ExpressVPN’s “split tunneling” feature, which allows you to choose what tasks use the VPN and what stays in house. For example, you may want to use your home network printer while web surfing in France.

ExpressVPN has not only upped the ante on privacy, but also on customer service. Not only were they available via chat 24/7, but they are also 100% committed to their no-logs policy (meaning they do not keep records about users' personal details or where they go online).

At first glance, ExpressVPN's $12.99 per month price tag can be a little shocking compared to some other services, but they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and, if you sign up for a one-year plan, their $99.95 price tag averages out to around $8.32/month.

ExpressVPN boasts more server locations (160 countries) than any other VPN. While many VPNs rely on large numbers of “virtual” servers, ExpressVPN claims to utilize only 3%, with the rest being actual, physical servers. In addition to protection on your end, they can also help you program your router to encrypt all devices pinging your network. They also offer plug-and-play encrypted routers if the thought of programming something gives you hives.

What's more, ExpressVPN is committed to assisting users in underserved countries such as Chile. as well as nations with restrictive internet policies like Turkey and Vietnam. All that’s great, but what ultimately won us over was ExpressVPN’s consistency. Their reliability provides the peace of mind that you want in a VPN.

Pros

  • Consistent

  • 24/7 customer service

  • 3rd-party audited

Cons

  • Basic plan only allows 5 devices to stream at once

  • No ad blocker

How Does a VPN Work?

A VPN hides your information by encrypting your data through the VPN provider’s servers. VPN service providers have a vast number of servers and IP addresses to adequately protect their customers' information and encrypt their data.

What You Should Know About VPNs

VPNs, while simple to use, can be fairly technical to explain. Here's some useful terminology:

  • Kill switch: A feature on most VPNs that shuts off internet traffic the instant the VPN connection stops working. Ideally, this happens automatically, but not every VPN operates that way.
  • Log policy: A VPN service may choose to retain logs of its customers and their internet traffic, or they may have a "no logs" policy. Often this is dictated by the laws of the country in which the company is based. If you’re concerned about privacy, look for a “no logs” policy.
  • Encryption: Within the context of VPNs, encryption refers to the type of security algorithms (ciphers) that hide your personal information. Generally speaking, AES-256 is the strongest commonly-used encryption and is standard on most VPNs. Still, as with anything cybersecurity related, there is debate among experts as to how much security you're actually getting and which options are best.
  • Protocol: The protocol is the set of rules that determine how your computer connects to the internet and transmits data, which dictates encryption, port access, and other things. Common options with good security include OpenVPN, IKEv2, and Wireguard. Some VPNs can be set to automatically determine the best protocol for your device, while others (like NordVPN) have you choose.

In addition to safe surfing, a VPN is particularly helpful for those who telecommute for work. Any one of the VPNs featured here is an easy fix to some of the more common data privacy issues. A personal VPN can also hide your online activity from your boss, stream geo-blocked content, or improve online speeds.

ExpressVPN on laptop
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Our winner, ExpressVPN, won us over with its ease of use, reliability, and commitment to privacy.

Netflix and BBC iPlayer are just two streaming services in which your global location determines the content that you can see. Since a VPN spoofs your location, it can help you appear to be watching from another country. This can unlock a whole new world of shows and news.

Perhaps you’ve settled in for movie night only to have your screen freeze over and over. This may be happening because your ISP is allowed to throttle your connection speed whenever it likes. Connecting to a server via a VPN in a different time zone may increase your home internet speeds for content viewing and gaming alike.

Lastly, your web surfing habits, ad clicking and/or purchasing history could make you the victim of price gouging. Some shopping sites charge based on geographic location, perhaps to offset free shipping. Utilizing a good VPN service—while it takes more time—could potentially save you a lot of money on travel and other goods and services.


Other VPNs We Tested

Product image of NordVPN
NordVPN

Since our review, NordVPN and Surfhark announced a merger. However, they still plan to operate independently. Future updates will address any changes in service.

When it came to upload speeds in both the U.S. and the U.K., NordVPN outpaced most of the competition, bested only by SurfShark in U.S. uploads. Unfortunately, our torrenting speeds were some of the lowest in the bunch. As internet traffic varies, we were mindful that our speed tests could depend on the time of day and, therefore, performed them on multiple devices at different times.

While not as sexy and dynamic as ExpressVPN, NordVPN gets a lot of points for providing ad blocking and extra malware protection. They also offer the ability to customize your DNS settings and kill switches. These can prevent DNS leaks (where other companies spy on what websites you’re visiting) and can warn you if your protection stops.

Like Express, NordVPN unblocks the big streaming services with no hitches. If you have problems, they offer 24/7 customer support via chat.

NordVPN probably has the most name recognition in the roundup. It was also the victim of a hacking in March of 2018. No usernames or passwords were compromised, but their clients’ browsing data was reportedly accessed.

This gives us pause, since it’s exactly the thing that VPNs are intended to prevent. Still, companies can learn valuable lessons from experience, and NordVPN seems to have learned theirs. They’ve created a bug bounty program and conducted multiple audits to try and win back customer trust.

NordVPN is registered in Panama and boasts a massive network of some 5,400 VPN servers spread over 55 countries.

The most intriguing feature unique to NordVPN is the Emergency VPN Assistance Program available to those facing oppressive “online censorship, targeted surveillance, or the threat of violence.” Anyone meeting these guidelines is encouraged to request immediate free emergency VPN service.

Pricing is currently on par with ExpressVPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Fast upload speeds

  • Ad blocker

  • 3rd-party audited

Cons

  • Inconsistent speeds

Product image of CyberGhost
CyberGhost

There’s a lot to like about CyberGhost, especially the lightning-fast download speeds we achieved – the fastest in the roundup. Torrenting speeds were consistently above average, as Cyberghost uses torrenting servers specifically designed for P2P sharing at high speed. It features auto kill switches, ad and malware blocking, and military-grade encryption.

CyberGhost sells itself as the ultimate VPN for streaming all forms of entertainment via a dropdown menu of dedicated servers. Indeed, it is by far the most varied of all the services, featuring Eurosport, ESPN+, and Globo should you fancy either kind of football.

We had no problems watching crystal-clear, commercial-free episodes of “Killing Eve” via the BBC iPlayer on our Microsoft Surface though connecting to U.K. Netflix gave us fits. The only devices that worked were iPhones. Though we experienced little to no buffering or lag time, we would’ve liked to have enjoyed “Monty Python” on a bigger screen.

Large families or device hoarders will appreciate a generous simultaneous connection plan: You can use seven screens at once. They also offer the ability to program your wireless router to encrypt all devices pinging that network.

We like the optimal data compression feature, which could save a bundle on your device’s data usage. For those seeking extra privacy, CyberGhost allows users to pay with gift cards, like Starbucks or Best Buy.

Pros

  • Many streaming options

  • 7 connections allowed

Cons

  • Netflix connectivity issues

  • No 3rd-party audits

Product image of Surfshark
Surfshark

Again, NordVPN and Surfhark announced that they were merging since our review took place. However, they still plan to operate independently. Future updates will address any changes in service.

SurfShark made a strong case for itself on features, but fell a bit short on speed. In addition to great functionality and security, it offers a money-back guarantee. SurfShark is also the only VPN in this roundup to allow for unlimited devices.

SurfShark achieved some of the fastest download speeds, except when it came to torrenting, where it took nearly double the time as ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

SurfShark worked well streaming U.K. Netflix and BBC iPlayer. We even watched HGTV dubbed in Italian, which is a great way to simultaneously learn a new language and how to install a toilet.

SurfShark offers 256-bit encryption. The kill switch is automatic, and it also features double protection in “MultiHop” mode, pinging two servers at once to add an additional layer of protection. It boasts 1,040+ servers in 61 countries and offers browser extensions for Chrome and Foxfire that we found useful, especially on our Microsoft Surface.

That said, only the browser extensions have been audited by a third party, unlike the more thorough audits of ExpressVPN and NordVPN.

A 24/7-support chat line makes SurfShark the best cheap VPN of 2020. Add-ons like HackLock will alert you of would-be hackers in real time for an additional $1 per month, which is cheap peace of mind for the uber-paranoid.

Pros

  • Unlimited connections

  • Money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Cloggy torrenting

  • Limited 3rd-party audits

Product image of HMA
HMA

HMA is a robust and quality VPN maintaining 1,000+ servers in 190+ countries. It boasted the fastest torrenting speeds in the roundup and skirted geo roadblocks set up by the streaming services. We connected to several streaming services, though there was a little effort involved.

We found HMA’s encryption methods and security features top-notch. The user interface is one of the easiest to use and we chuckled at the donkey animation going stealth every time.

It is reasonably priced, and plenty of available coupons can save even more on this VPN, which is already worth it at the full price. You can try it for 7 days for free, and a 30-day money-back guarantee gives you even more peace of mind.

HMA offers a month-to month plan, as well as 12 and 36 month subscriptions. HMA limits its single-license users to 5 devices at a time. However, if you sign up for a family plan, they bump you up to 10 devices.

HMA is based in the UK, which has poor data privacy protections. However, as of August 2020, HMA has been audited by a third-party as a "no-logs" VPN. That should alleviate some concerns.

Pros

  • Easy to use

  • 3rd-party audited

Cons

  • Few configuration options

Product image of TunnelBear
TunnelBear

TunnelBear VPN is beloved by so many for its ease of use and, no doubt, its adorable hibernating mascot. In addition to the approachable aesthetic, TunnelBear also offers a free version of the plan for up to 500MB per month. You'll hit that data cap quickly if you're doing any serious video streaming or torrenting, but it's the only free VPN option we can currently get behind. The price for the paid version is on par with its competitors, and you have 30 days to test it out.

TunnelBear boasts a respectable 4,000 servers in 20 different locations and features 256-bit AES encryption, the same as the big dogs in this roundup. The security is routinely audited by 3rd parties, making it a good choice for sensitive communications in countries with intrusive surveillance policies.

Some environments and networks have measures in place to throttle or thwart VPN traffic. In response to that, TunnelBear offers GhostBear mode, which spoofs VPN traffic to appear as normal traffic and elude deep packet inspection. It’s not necessary by default, but in certain circumstances it can be very useful. There’s also a kill switch, called VigilantBear.

Both of these modes are not automatic and must be downloaded via a browser extension. Call us lazy, but we’d rather see that as a built-in. Every time the connection is dropped, which for us was fairly often, TunnelBear roars (literally) and alerts you that you are reconnected. Unfortunately, that leaves you wondering how long you were unprotected.

As a general use VPN service, TunnelBear comes up short for a number of reasons. It won’t work with Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Pandora, or a host of other streaming services. There's no live chat for troubleshooting. TunnelBear also has a strict no refund policy, putting it at odds with ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and others.

Also, it did not work with our older iPad, and specifically states that it has limited support for Linux. Unless you have an up-to-date Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS device, make sure you try the free version to check for compatibility before committing to a contract you can't get out of.

Pros

  • Easy

  • 3rd-party audited

  • Free version for up to 500MB/month

Cons

  • No cancellation policy

  • No Netflix support

  • Dropped connections

How We Tested VPNs

The Tester

My name is Holly Aguirre. I have years of experience torture-testing hardware peripherals at the PC Magazine labs, as well as all things home office, including cyber security. As of late, I’ve been covering the ongoing Jeffrey Epstein saga for Vanity Fair and Lifetime Networks, and consequently found myself in need of a reliable VPN. One good hacking will do that to you.

The Tests

A good VPN has a number of elements, some of which we considered essential and some we considered as nice-to-haves. Data security is, of course, the chief priority. It’s also the most difficult to verify in any absolute sense.

We established some minimum requirements for consideration to our list—256-bit encryption, kill switches, and compatibility with Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Linux. But there’s no getting around the fact that your data has to pass through servers somewhere in the world that you don’t have control over. If you want to use the Internet, you have to trust somebody, somewhere,with your information.

Therefore, we looked for VPN apps and services based in countries with strong privacy laws, that make commitments to transparency, and that allow third-party audits to verify their security.

Secondly, we considered the various use cases for a VPN and created tests to evaluate them. VPNs with more servers and more features went to the head of the class, even if they were more expensive.

Speed is another vital ingredient in a good VPN. Faster connections are valuable for gaming, torrenting, streaming and much more. We used download, upload, and ping times to gauge speed.

However, any number of other factors, such as location, time of day, and network capacity can impact the speed in your home. For a better understanding of other people's experiences with the VPNs we tested, we also looked at other consumer reviews.

Finally, we took a hard look at customer service, payment options, cancellation policy, the number of devices allowed per account, ease of use, the number and location of servers, and more.

Each VPN was installed and tested on five or more devices. We tested a blend of Windows and Mac OS devices, including laptops, iPads, and smartphones.

Why We Didn’t Test Free VPNs

While there are free VPN options from a handful of reputable companies, this is one category where a little money goes a long way. The free plan options tend to be very slow or severely limited in the number of options they offer. And since you’re not a paying customer, you’re also subject to the very ads that you’re trying to avoid being tracked by. The one exception here is TunnelBear, which offers a free and robustly-featured version of its VPN capped at 500MB per month.

Meet the tester

Holly Aguirre

Holly Aguirre

Contributor

@wrath_o_aguirre

Holly Aguirre stared her career as a rock journalist and found herself smack dab in the PC Magazine labs where she torture tested hardware peripherals. That led to a stint covering all things home office, including cybersecurity. As of late, she’s been covering the ongoing Jeffrey Epstein saga for Vanity Fair and Lifetime Networks, and consequently found herself in need of a reliable VPN. One good hacking will do that to you.

See all of Holly Aguirre's reviews

Checking our work.

Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.

Shoot us an email