Best VPN for 2020

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Until 2018, net neutrality rules required internet service providers (ISPs) to provide access to all web content and applications without regard to the product or website. When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed these rules, ISPs began charging for or slowing down some forms of online content. As a result, many people turned to a virtual private network (VPN) to share data securely, access public WiFi safely, avoid government surveillance and increase their overall online security. 

What is a VPN and what is it used for?

A VPN is a useful tool for protecting your identity and your personal data online. Without one, all of your online movements, including Google searches, purchases, downloads, social media activity and much more can be traced back to your IP address (your network and geographical location). VPNs bypass IPS limitations by creating an encrypted connection between your device and the server, hiding your IP and making your device think it’s being used from another place. When connected to a VPN, your internet activity becomes anonymous and cannot be traced to a specific location, which means that no search engines, government agencies or hackers can track what you do online or misuse your data. VPNs also help you access geo-blocked websites and foreign web content and navigate the web safely.

How to find the best VPN for 2020

As of 2018, approximately 26% of global internet users have and use a VPN, and that number is only continuing to increase as VPNs begin to replace other methods of online security. Today, there are so many VPN services available that the options might make your head spin — and not all of them are safe and reliable like you’d expect. 

Fortunately, we have researched the best 2020 VPN services for you to help you make an informed decision when you’re ready to invest in online security. Take a look at the options we’ve listed below so you can easily choose one that fits best with your budget, internet usage needs, speed requirements and more.

Comparison chart of the Best VPNs for 2020

Amid all the reliable VPNs, fake ones are emerging every day. When choosing a VPN service provider, how do you know whether you’re buying a safe, effective service or not? 

The best way to find a good VPN service is to look into features beyond speed and price. While these are important, it’s worth your time to look into a provider’s reputation, ease of use, quality of customer service, encryption type, performance, and more. These are some of the features we’ve evaluated in each of the best VPN services listed below. Once you decide on one, consider starting with the free trial (if available) or the short-term subscription to make sure you like it before making a long-term commitment.

ExpressVPN

  • Starting Price: $8.32/month (one year)
  • Notable Features: Best-in-class encryption, 160 VPN locations, compatible with all your favorite browsers and devices, most advanced server technology in the industry, privacy safeguards (doesn’t log IP address, browsing, queries, traffic destination, etc.)
  • Best For: High speeds, reputation

Windscribe

  • Starting Price: $4.08/month (one year)
  • Notable Features: Blocks ads, trackers, malware, unlocks all locations in 63 countries and 110 cities, free plans for tight budgets
  • Best For: Unlimited connections, budget (unlimited free access)

Hotspot Shield

  • Starting Price: $7.99/month (one year)
  • Notable Features: Access to 3,200 premium servers, 24/7 live support chat, free access to secure password manager, spam call blocking, identity theft protection, 45-day money-back guarantee, military-grade encryption, simple one-click connection
  • Best For: Longest money-back guarantee (45 days)

NordVPN

  • Starting Price: $3.49/month (three years)
  • Notable Features: DNS leak protection, automatic kill switch, flexible VPN use anywhere you go, award-winning customer service
  • Best For: Streaming USA Netflix

Private Internet Access

  • Starting Price: $3.33/month (one year)
  • Notable Features: User-friendly applications for all major operating systems, advanced firewall and filtering capabilities (Netfilter Project), 3,295+ servers in 29 countries, anonymous pay options
  • Best For: Longest-standing positive reputation in the industry

Ivacy

  • Starting Price: $1.50/month (five years) 
  • Notable Features: Dedicated Kodi app, smart-connect feature, Fastest of 2019 in ProPrivacy Awards in Las Vegas, endorsed by industry experts as the best value
  • Best For: Budget, speed

Surfshark

  • Starting Price: $1.99/month (two years)
  • Notable Features: Whitelister, unlimited device connection, ad blocker, P2P-friendly, 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Best For: Many devices, budget

CyberGhost

  • Starting Price: $2.75/month (three years)
  • Notable Features: 6,000 servers in 88 countries, crystal-clear streaming, impressive download speeds, first to develop a transparency report, no chatbots — only humans for support
  • Best For: Number of servers (usage distribution)

IPVanish

  • Starting Price: $3.99/month (one year) 
  • Notable Features: Top-tier VPN service, expansive network of 40,000 IPs on 1,300 servers in 75+ locations, option to choose origin country to keep bills lower, access media from anywhere on the planet, prevents deep-packet inspection, unlimited bandwidth
  • Best For: High speed

Compare VPNs

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is widely recognized as the best VPN in terms of features and performance. It has 3,000+ servers in 94 countries with 160 server locations in almost every continent. While this VPN service is one of the priciest, it offers unlimited speeds for up to five devices and includes several bonus features. In addition to basic IP masking, anonymous browsing and unlimited content access, ExpressVPN also gives you zero-knowledge DNS, best-in-class encryption, VPN split tunneling, excellent customer service and a slew of educational resources.

There are several subscription plans to choose from with ExpressVPN, including the one-month plan for $12.95 per month, the six-month plan for $9.99 per month and the one-year plan for $8.32 per month. 

Pros

  • ExpressVPN has a strict no-logging privacy. It collects certain information but is transparent about all the data it’s gathering.
  • Many speed tests have verified ExpressVPN’s high-speed efficiency. 
  • Users report a great experience with easy installation, activation, and app usage.
  • The company is located in the British Virgin Islands and operates on those laws with no obligation to share your data.

Cons

  • Customers report having many connection problems with Netflix streaming in several locations.
  • ExpressVPN costs significantly more than the other VPN services out there, but it offers more features and performs better.
  • The company does not offer a free trial.
  • Customer reviews include multiple mentions of additional connectivity issues.

Windscribe

Windscribe has 63 servers in 60 countries and 110 cities. With a free or paid account on Windscribe, you’ll be able to connect as many devices as you want to your VPN at once on a single account. This option is ideal for families and businesses. There are six different customer service options on the Windscribe website, including ticket submission, FAQs, knowledge bases, setup guides, subreddits and a chat feature that answers simple questions.

This VPN service can be purchased for $4.08 for an annual plan, $9 for a monthly plan, or you can build your own custom plan. 

Pros

  • Customers like Windscribe for its user-friendliness and intuitive app.
  • Windscribe has strong privacy and encryption features as well as a no-logging policy.
  • No leaks or viruses have been detected in this app.
  • Windscribe allows torrenting and offers tutorials for configuring Deluge, VUZE, qBittorrent, uTorrent, and more.

Cons

  • Windscribe uses chatbots for customer support, which tend to provide less-than-helpful answers to user inquiries.
  • This VPN is known for slowing connection speeds to less than 50% — even for the paid version. 
  • The company is based in Canada under Five Eyes surveillance.
  • The refund policy mentions that you won’t get your money back if you’ve used more than 10GB of bandwidth within three days of payment. If you have doubts about Windscribe, it’s safer not to sign up than it is to count on the refund.

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is an optimized VPN service that will automatically connect you to the best server for your intended purpose, whether it be browsing, gaming, streaming, downloading or something else. It uses Hydra technology that will configure your VPN for you, and with 3,200 servers in over 80 countries, you can use the internet like a local wherever you are.

Hotspot Shield can support up to five device connections at a time for a single account. Its pricing options include $7.99 for a year-long subscription or $12.99 for a monthly subscription. 

Pros

  • Users enjoy unlimited HD streaming and data.
  • This app is easy to install and provides an exceptional user experience. 
  • Torrenting is permitted.
  • This VPN is Netflix-compatible.

Cons

  • Hotspot Shield is located in the US, which means there is some data logging; the company has been under FTC investigation for privacy accusations.
  • There is no live chat support option, so users must submit help tickets, which tend to have slow response times.
  • VPN speeds are much slower in the US than anywhere else in the world.
  • Leak tests detected a DNS leak in the Chrome extension.

NordVPN

NordVPN is known for having one of the largest server parks of all VPN services with 5,300 unique and specialized servers across 59 countries. This makes it easier than ever to access restricted content and stream videos at your leisure. In several tests, Netflix worked on more than 95% of the servers tested. Being headquartered in Panama, you can also count on a high level of privacy from this company as well as knowledgeable customer support.

The company is currently offering high-speed service through four different plans. They start at $3.49 per month for three years of service, $4.99 for two years, $6.99 for one year and $11.95 for month-to-month service. 

Pros

  • Torrenting and P2P are supported on every server. 
  • Servers are secured by military-grade encryption.
  • The company provides the option to enable a second VPN for heightened privacy and security. 
  • You can connect up to six devices at once.

Cons

  • If you purchased NordVPN through the App Store, you cannot be refunded directly by NordVPN; you must submit a refund request through the App Store.
  • Discounts only apply to long-term subscriptions.
  • In March 2018, NordVPN experienced a third-party provider breach, which caused many users to question the company’s server security.
  • Users cannot pay for additional device connections. 

Private Internet Access

The reputation of a company can make or break a VPN customer’s decision. Private Internet Access is one of the oldest VPN service providers out there, and its name is attached to an excellent reputation. With 3,295+ servers in 29 countries and very affordable service, Private Internet Access has become one of the most popular VPNs of today. Users enjoy instant activation, an anonymous VPN, a kill switch, 10 simultaneous connections, freedom from traffic logs, DD-WRT VPN compatibility and much more.

For $3.33, you can get access to full VPN service for a full year. If you’re not ready to make a long-term commitment, you can also pay $5.99 a month for six months of service or go month-to-month for $9.95 each month. You can even try the service risk-free for seven days and get your money back — no questions asked.

Pros

  • No leaks have been detected in an extensive number of leak tests.
  • This VPN is protected with a solid encryption.
  • The company specializes in torrenting and rapid download speeds. 
  • Private Internet Access is one of the most established companies with a positive reputation.

Cons

  • Live chat capabilities are limited. 
  • Private Internet Access is located in the US, which means it falls under the Five Eyes and offers less privacy than companies headquartered in other countries. Rumors say that the NSA has been able to crack the encryption on certain US-based VPNs.
  • Limited coverage in countries around Asia, Oceania, South America, and Oceania.
  • Stingy return/refund policy.

Ivacy

Ivacy, a VPN service with headquarters in Singapore, has spent a decade in the industry keeping users secure online with 1,000 servers in more than 100 locations across the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, South America, Asia and Africa. The company has 12,000 IP addresses available and can support up to five devices at once. 

Users enjoy buffer-free streaming, 256-bit encryption, split tunneling for simultaneous viewing of foreign and local content, advanced security such as leak protection and much more. All of this is available for $1.50 per month for five years, $2.25 per month for two years, $3.50 a month for one year or month-by-month for $7.50.

Pros

  • This VPN is compatible with almost every device on the marketplace, including Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, Linux, smart TVs, routers and Xbox.
  • Ivacy provides decently fast speeds for the amount you pay. 
  • Unlike many VPN providers advertising a no-logging policy, Ivacy has been found to be true to its promises and does not collect data on customers.
  • The company has great customer service and 24/7 support via live chat. 

Cons

  • Ivacy is a known Five Eyes partner, which means that the government of the US, UK, Australia, Canada or New Zealand can spy on users anytime, anywhere.
  • There are many important stipulations and conditions listed in the terms of service that are not advertised as clearly as they should be. 
  • Netflix streaming is currently not working on any of the four Netflix servers offering this service.
  • Although the company has been in the marketplace for a while now, Ivacy operates under PMG Private Limited, so little is known about this brand. 

Surfshark

Surfshark VPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands and has been ranked number two of 78 VPNs by thebestvpn.com. It currently hosts over 1,040 servers in more than 61 countries and uses tunneling protocols such as IKEv2 and OpenVPN. With unlimited torrenting bandwidth and unlimited simultaneous device connection for users, it’s easy to see why customers are flocking to Surfshark. The company also offers live chat support 24/7 for any issues you may encounter with this VPN service.

Customers can subscribe to a two-year plan for just $1.99 per month, a one-year plan for $5.99 per month or a monthly plan for payment installments of $11.95 monthly. There’s also a free 30-day trial and a 30-day money-back guarantee under the two-year subscription.

Pros

  • Because Surfshark is located in the British Virgin Islands, it is not held to any data retention laws and is less likely to share your information.
  • Surfshark demonstrates transparency in using a warrant canary feature, which alerts its users to government subpoenas.
  • The company has a clean background so far in that it has stayed true to its no-logging promise.
  • No viruses or leaks have been detected.

Cons

  • There is a lack of information about the parent company and what it does.
  • VPN speeds are good but inconsistent.
  • Chat support responses can sometimes be unhelpful.
  • Customer service is very slow to respond through email.

CyberGhost

CyberGhost is a Romanian-based VPN provider that hosts 6,100 servers in more than 90 countries with dedicated IPs in the US, the UK, France, Germany and Canada. CyberGhost operates outside of the 14 Eyes intelligence group, which means that it will not sell your information to government agencies or collect surveillance data for its own gain. Romania refuses to abide by the EU Mandatory Data Retention Directive, so the service is better able to honor its no-logging policy. It’s no wonder that CyberGhost provides service to more than 15 million users worldwide. 

Users appreciate the service’s strict no-logging policy, anonymous pay option, live chat feature and overall easy and private user experience. It allows for connections on up to seven devices at once, which is more than many services are able to offer. CyberGhost is currently offering a three-year subscription for $2.75 per month, a one-year subscription for $5.99 per month and a monthly service for $12.99. 

Pros

  • If you sign up for the three-year plan, you’ll be entitled to a 45-day, money-back guarantee.
  • CyberGhost offers every essential feature you need to stay safe online, and these features are compatible across most devices.
  • This company is the first one to offer a transparency report, which is a release of information about all requests received from government and law enforcement agencies and more.
  • Some VPNs are prone to leaks upon reconnection, but CyberGhost has not been known to leak your IP address.

Cons

  • CyberGhost belongs to a questionable parent company called Kape Technologies, which is an Israeli ad tech company known for creating and distributing malware. 
  • This service is known for much lower VPN speeds.
  • Third-party reviews are negative, although the reasons behind these reviews are not consistent.
  • While unconfirmed, there is much controversy about whether CyberGhost actually upholds its no-logging policy or not. 

IPVanish

IPVanish is a top-tier VPN service that holds itself to a strict zero-policy log to ensure your anonymity online. The company’s network spans more than 40,000 shared IPs on over 1,300 servers in 75+ countries. IPVanish has 796 servers in North America, 464 in Europe, 65 in Asia, 77 in Oceania, 32 in South America and six in Africa. Features include unlimited bandwidth and P2P traffic, 256-bit encryption, anonymous torrenting, geo-locked content access, and SOCKS5 web proxy.

While most VPN services are only able to support about three connections at once, IPVanish allows 10 simultaneous connections across multiple devices. These features are available for as little as $3.99 per month for a one-year subscription. You can also opt for a three-month subscription for $8.99 per month or a month-by-month subscription for $10 per month.

Pros

  • If you aren’t satisfied with your service, IPVanish offers a seven-day money-back guarantee.
  • IPVanish speeds are fast — only 18% slower than if you weren’t using a VPN.
  • Use up to 10 devices at one time on the same account.
  • No IP leaks or malware have been identified with this VPN.

Cons

  • Customers report that, although IPVanish advertises 24/7 support, it takes days to get a response from customer service.
  • The Better Business Bureau has discovered over 17 customer complaints pertaining to the company’s lack of response to complaints.
  • While IPVanish has lower prices than reputable competitors, their rates aren’t the cheapest out there. 
  • Some compatibility issues have been identified.

FAQs

What is the best free VPN?

There are plenty of free VPN options out there, but be very wary of them. Free VPNs have fewer servers and more restrictions on the number of devices and data you can use per account, which makes them problematic for places of business with a large number of users. It’s also common for free VPNs to have ads, and they don’t offer customer service despite a large number of technical issues reported by customers. Overall, free service providers generally don’t value privacy or the customer experience as much as a paid subscription does.

If you’re not willing to pay for a quality VPN service or you don’t need the full capabilities of a paid service, Hotspot Shield Free is one of the best options out there. This free VPN is very basic, but it’s very user-friendly, and it provides you with everything you need to protect your personal information and browse the web anonymously. With 15GB of data for free every month, your basic web browsing needs should be covered.

Hotspot Shield Free requires a free trial of its premium service when you first sign up, but you can cancel it and revert to the free subscription once the premium trial has expired.

How much does a VPN cost?

VPN service costs vary from provider to provider. These companies work around a monthly fee-based subscription pricing model, which means that generally, the longer the subscription, the cheaper the cost. For example, Ivacy offers its services for less than $2 per month if you sign up for a five-year subscription, but the price increases to over $7 monthly for a one-year subscription. If you’re after a premium subscription for extra security or stronger encryption, you can expect an extra $20 or so on top of the annual price.

What is the best VPN for iPhone users?

Your iPhone is equipped with built-in software that protects it from malware, but iOS doesn’t have the capacity to hide your personal data as you browse the internet and navigate through various apps. With an iPhone VPN app, you can increase your security measures and keep your information secure even when you’re using an unsecured WiFi network. 

There are plenty of iOS-friendly VPNs out there that offer iPhone support, but you carefully compare each one to make sure you’re paying for something that offers everything your iPhone needs. The best iPhone VPN providers are Express VPN, NordVPN, IPVanish and Private Internet Access. Each of these services features tight security, transparent privacy policy and high service speeds. If you none of these have quite what you’re looking for, we’ve compiled a list of features to look for in an iPhone VPN service provider elsewhere:

  • Reasonable internet speed
  • A dependable customer service team
  • A clear-cut logging and privacy policy
  • A user-friendly interface
  • A selection of protocols to choose from
  • Reliable safety features
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Based in a country with sufficient data protection laws (Singapore, Sweden, Hong Kong, Romania, The Netherlands, etc.)

What is the best VPN for Android users?

Smartphones are generally pretty good at protecting themselves, but just like iPhones, Androids also can’t protect you from surveillance or data collection. Fortunately, AndroidCentral has looked into the best VPNs for Androids and has determined that ExpressVPN is the best for these phones. It isn’t the cheapest, but it’s the best-designed VPN for Androids with the best all-around speed and experience, so it may be worth the extra cost. 

If ExpressVPN isn’t realistic for your budget, VyprVPN, NordVPN, Private Internet Access and IPVanish are also recommended for Android users.

The bottom line

Based on the information above, the best VPN service options for the 2020 year are Surfshark and ExpressVPN in terms of speed and overall reliability. Realistically, though, any of the above service providers will get the job done. Ultimately, your decision comes down to what you’ll be using your VPN for, the device you intend to use it on, how many connections you require, and what your budget is. Each VPN provider has pros, cons and something unique to offer, so spend some time weighing your options to find the service that matches most of your needs.