5 Best VPN 2018
Best VPN services can hide your online activity from prying eyes, help you access global content without pesky region locks, and improve your internet privacy and security. Take your pick from our list of the best VPN services out there today.
The Best VPN Services for 2018
Top 5 Best VPNs Summary
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Using a Best VPN service is arguably the single most effective measure you can take to improve your online privacy and security. In addition to making our pick of the best VPN services 2018 out there, this article explains why you need a Best VPN.
It also aims to give you a clear idea of the limitations of using a VPN. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are powerful and important tools, but there is no such thing as a one-stop-shop when it comes to protecting your privacy and staying secure when using the internet. VPNs should, therefore, be regarded as a vital tool in your internet toolbox.
So What Are VPN Services Good For?
- Privacy – a VPN will hide your internet activity from your ISP. This also makes it very effective at preventing blanket surveillance of the kind carried out by the NSA and GCHQ.
- Security – a VPN encrypts all your data as it travels between your device and the VPN server. This means that you can use public WiFi networks and hotspots safely, because even if these have been compromised in some way, your data remains securely encrypted.
- Hiding your real IP address – when you visit a website, that website will see the IP address of the VPN server you are connected to, not your real IP address. This provides privacy when visiting websites, and can help prevent you being tracked as you surf the internet.
- Geo-spoofing – a side-effect of this is that with VPNs you can access geo-restricted services such as US Netflix and BBC iPlayer simply by connecting to a VPN server in the relevant country.
- Related to both hiding your real IP address and that your ISP can’t see what you get up to on the internet, is that using a VPN makes it possible to P2P torrent download safely (as long as you use a VPN service that permits this).
As you can see, VPNs are very useful for a number of things. This means that VPN users look for different things in a VPN service, and there is consequently no one-size-fits-all VPN. Our job at BestVPN.com, therefore, is to help you find the VPN service that best matches your needs…
ExpressVPN hits our number one spot thanks to offering a feature-filled service that is readily accessible to the more casual user. Its headline act is probably its ridiculously fast speed performance, but fantastic 24/7 customer support and a generous 30-day, no-quibble, money-back guarantee certainly don’t hurt! Robust encryption, no usage logs (but some connection logs), and servers located in a whopping 94 countries around the world are also big draws.
Users in China will appreciate ExpressVPN’s special “stealth” servers located in Hong Kong, and users everywhere will appreciate the new free Smart DNS service that is included with all VPN accounts. Of particular note is ExpressVPN’s easy-to-use desktop software for Windows and Mac OS X, and its funky apps for Android and iOS.
Additional features: three simultaneous connections, P2P: yes.
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If you are located in the US and privacy is of great importance to you, NordVPN might just be the best pick for you. NordVPN has a reputation for taking encryption very seriously, as evidenced by its “DoubleVPN” encryption system. This system allows NordVPN to encrypt inbound and outbound data with AES-256-CBC encryption not once, but twice!
NordVPN is also based in Panama, and it emerged from the recent Panama Papers scandal unscathed – erasing any doubts regarding logging policies. Tor users will also be happy to see NordVPN’s support for Tor over VPN.
NordVPN does have slightly higher prices and slower speeds (due to heavy encryption), although a nice touch is that a three-day trial to test out the service before purchasing. Check out the third best America VPN using the link below.
Try the Best VPN Service Today!
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- Protects your data – no logs at all
- Protects your privacy – VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection
- Supports multiple devices – up to five simultaneous connections
- Smooth streaming – smart DNS included
- Accepts bitcoin
- Based in US
- So-so support
Our next pick for best VPN of 2017 is IPVanish—a high-profile company known for its excellent privacy credentials.
IPVanish keeps no logs (at all), which means that even if the government comes knocking they can’t get your data, and accepts payment in bitcoin, allowing you to buy and browse anonymously.
The service also permits torrenting and throws in a free Smart DNS service for all customers.
The biggest downside is that it’s based in the US—not an ideal location since the NSA is notorious for its intensive and often illegal surveillance. To combat this, IPVanish doesn’t keep logs and does provide DNS leak protection.
Despite being a little stripped-down, works very well.
Additional features: P2P allowed, mobile apps for all operating systems, seven-day money-back guarantee.
PureVPN is a VPN service that was born in 2007 in Hong Kong. It would be impossible to perform a PureVPN review without first mentioning the huge number of complaints BestVPNReviewz.com has received about this VPN service. Please see the comments section at the end of this review to read some of these.
In addition to running servers in 141 countries,PureVPN offers a unique port discovery feature that lets you bypass login requirements when using Wi-Fi at airports, hotels, and other public spaces by searching for open ports in the local area network (LAN) neighborhood.
A 30-day money-back guarantee is available, but do read the terms of service, as important conditions apply.
Additional features: six simultaneous connections.
VyprVPN is notable for being one of the rare VPN services to own and control its entire network infrastructure. The result is fantastically fast connection speeds around the world. Dedicated IP servers are available, but only on the premium package. A free Smart DNS service is also included and customer support is outstanding.
VyprVPN offers “Chameleon” stealth technology specifically designed to defeat the Great Firewall of China. In addition, it uses UDP ports in its apps to help defeat port blocking and other throttling issues. Its mobile apps are also very smart, and with a 30-day money-back guarantee (and three-day free trial), there is little reason not to give this service a go. Do please note, though, that VyprVPN does not permit torrenting.
Additional features: no usage logs.
Best VPN Services: Considerations
Understanding VPN Services – an Encrypted Connection
When using a commercial VPN service, you connect to the internet via a VPN server. The VPN server is operated by a VPN provider, and the connection between your computer (or smartphone, tablet, or similar) and the VPN server is encrypted.
- You still need an ISP to provide your internet connection, and that ISP can still see how much data you consume.
- Your ISP cannot see what data you consume, however. This is because it is securely encrypted.
- It also cannot see which websites you visit on the internet, as the VPN server acts as a proxy. Your ISP can only see that you have connected to an IP address belonging to a VPN provider. It cannot see which websites you visit after that.
- Because governments rely on ISPs to gather surveillance data for them, using a VPN is a very effective way to prevent blanket government surveillance. They will not help you, however, if your government individually singles you out for targeted surveillance.
The big proviso here is that your VPN provider can see what you get up to on the internet. Please see my notes regarding privacy and logging below for further discussion on this issue.
The connection between your device and the VPN server is encrypted. Not only does this hide your data from your ISP, but it protects it from criminal hackers.
- Private WiFi networks are almost always securely encrypted, but using public ones is a major liability.
- The most common dangers are packet sniffers that can read your data on unencrypted networks, and “evil twin” hotspots. These have names such as “Free airport WiFi” in order to fool you into connecting to them.
- Using a VPN means that even if hackers can access your data, they will not be able to read it.
VPNs Act as Proxy Servers
Because the VPN server acts as a proxy, from the internet it looks as if you are accessing the internet from the IP address and location of that server. This means that web pages cannot see your real IP address, only that of the VPN server.
VPN providers usually operate servers located in strategic locations around the world. By connecting to one of these, you can pretend to access the internet from that location. This is known as geo-spoofing, and is very useful for accessing online services that are restricted to those living in a certain country.
Tracking the IP address of torrent downloaders is trivially easy. But when using a VPN, anyone doing this will only see the IP address of the VPN server. Assuming your VPN provider does not hand over your details to copyright holders, this means that VPNs are great for protecting you when torrenting. It is vital, however, to choose a provider that will not hand over your details (some will!). For a full discussion on this topic, please see here.
It is worth noting that many online streaming services are currently trying to block VPN users. This takes the form of blocking IP ranges known to belong to VPN providers. These blocks do not affect all services, and others have found ways around them. But it remains an issue.
I therefore strongly recommend taking advantage of any VPN’s with free trials and/or money-back guarantees on offer. This allows you to check that any given service works with the content you wish to access.
VPN Services and Privacy
If privacy is important to you then it is important to understand that your VPN provider knows who you are, and can see what you do on the internet. Privacy-focused VPN services mitigate this issue by using shared IP addresses and keeping no logs. Some even accept (potentially) anonymous payments methods such as Bitcoins, store cards, or (in the case of Mullvad) cash sent by post.
- Your VPN provider will always know your real IP address. The only exception to this rule is if your provider offers VPN through Tor.
- Even services that keep usually no logs can monitor your activity in real-time.
- They can also be forced (for example by a court order or subpoena) to start keeping logs.
In general, many VPN services’ business model is to protect their customers’ privacy. And they can be relied on to do this much better than your ISP will. If you are doing something highly criminal, however, using a VPN is unlikely to protect you.
Please see 5 Best Logless VPNs for a more thorough discussion on this subject.
In theory, when you visit a website using a VPN, the website will only see the IP address of your VPN server, not your real IP. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
- When first you start using a new VPN service, visit ipleak.net. It is always worth checking now and again thereafter to make sure that nothing has changed.
- If you see your real IP address or one that belongs to your ISP, then you have an IP leak.
- If you detect an IP leak, then consult my Complete Guide to IP Leaks. This covers every known reason why your IP might be leaking, together with solutions.
Using a Kill Switch
Sometimes your VPN connection will just drop. There are many possible reasons for this, but it happens when using even the best VPN services. This is dangerous, because it means that you may surf the internet thinking that you are protected by a VPN, when you are not.
Torrenters who leave their downloads unattended for long periods of time are in particular danger from this problem. The solution is to use a kill switch. This prevents you from accessing the internet unless your VPN is turned on and is active. Firewall-based kill switches are best, but any kill switch is better than none at all!
ExpressVPN’s custom vlinet included a dandy kill switch.
Many VPN providers’ custom VPN clients include a kill switch. It is also possible to build your own using firewall rules, or use third party software. For more information on kill switches, please see here.
- If you would like to learn more about the ins and outs of VPNs, a number of guides are available on this website. VPNs for Beginners – What you need to know covers all the basics, and should give you a firm grasp of what VPNs can and cannot do.
- If you would like a greater technical understanding of the various terms that VPN websites bombard you with, then I recommend also checking out PPTP vs L2TP vs OpenVPN vs SSTP vs IKEv2, and VPN encryption terms explained (AES vs RSA vs SHA etc.).
Best VPN Services: Conclusion
VPN services are fantastic tools, and should be routinely used by every serious internet user. Free VPN services do exist, but they are generally either rubbish, or are actively hostile to your privacy. After all, running VPN servers is expensive, and no-one is going to do it out the kindness of their heart.
If viewed in the context of being one (very powerful) tool among many, using a VPN will greatly improve your online security and privacy.