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10 Best VPN Services in 2021

Last Updated on May 13th, 2021

Published on November 14th, 2019

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We expect a high level of privacy in our lives. Sadly, we often fail to notice that we are letting our guard down when we use the internet. A VPN can address that situation. This article looks at the best VPN services available in 2021 that can help protect you online.

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It basically ‘hides’ your internet identity by creating a private network when using a public internet connection. The result is you almost become anonymous online, and encrypted connections give you considerably more privacy. Your data is no longer easily accessible to casual virtual eavesdroppers.

When using a VPN, your IP address is masked, so virtually everything you do online becomes untraceable. That means advertisers, hackers, and other snoops will have a hard time following you and tracking your browsing habits. Even your location appears to change, as servers get fooled into thinking you are somewhere else. You’re probably wondering why you’d need that. Well, it means you can access web content that would be otherwise inaccessible to you due to geographic restrictions and local censoring. That will allow you to view videos or news articles normally blocked or censored in your country.

Before we continue, there is one caveat. While a VPN will make your data considerably more secure, it cannot guarantee breaches won’t happen. Just as a determined thief could break into the world’s strongest safe, a determined hacker could hack into the securest data – a VPN just makes it much more difficult, so they move on to easier targets.

Choosing a VPN

VPN technology has been around for well over two decades. However, our rapidly increasing reliance on the internet for everyday tasks has led to a corresponding increase in cybercrime. Correspondingly, the demand for more sophisticated VPNs has also skyrocketed.

The problem with such rapid growth is that there are even fraudsters in the VPN market. Would you believe some people are actually selling fake VPNs? So it pays to be cautious and taking a little time to research what is available when hunting for the best VPN service for you.

There are many reviews and articles available, so read those. Just watch out for affiliate marketers trying to secure a commission for promoting a particular VPN service. It’s best to find unbiased VPN reviews and ratings, and magazines are often good sources for those.

When people look for anything internet-related, they think that speed should be the primary consideration. However, when choosing a VPN, bear in mind that the provider has little control over speed. In fact, given most VPN providers use similar technology, the difference in speed between them will be barely noticeable.

Each VPN provider will peddle various features surrounded by technical jargon to entice you to buy their product. But the basic offerings will be the same whichever you choose, so it is the extras that will sway you. You might not need multi-hop connections or split-tunneling now, but like many things in life, you might be grateful you have them in the future.

There are free VPN services available. Of course, these are often feature-starved versions of paid plans, but they may be perfect for you if you are a light internet user. Paid plans sometimes come with free trials or money-back guarantees, so you can try them out to see if they work for you. Alternatively, you could take a short-term subscription to try it out before committing to a longer one.

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10 Best VPN Services

To make your job simpler, we have listed below ten of the most popular VPN services currently available in 2021. Please note these are not listed in any particular order of preference.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is regarded by the press as one of the best paid VPNs thanks to its high speeds, reliable service, and broad server network.

Unfortunately, excellence comes at a premium, and the ExpressVPN plans are pretty pricey, starting at $8.32 per month for an annual subscription, rising to $12.95 if you pay month-by-month. You do, however, get an awful lot for your money:

  • Connect up to 5 devices
  • No data limit
  • High speeds
  • Apps for different operating systems
  • Apps for different devices such as routers, games consoles, TV streaming devices, etc.
  • Browser extensions
  • Over 3,000 servers across 94 countries
  • Split tunneling
  • Private DNS on every server
  • Whitelist (allow specific apps and websites to bypass the VPN)
  • Access blocked content and streaming services from anywhere
  • No logs policy
  • 24/7 customer support

ExpressVPN could be a good option if you are a heavy surfer. If the price is holding you back, all plans have a 30-day money-back guarantee. That means you can try it, and you don’t like it, you can ask for a refund.

Get ExpressVPN

NordVPN

NordVPN - best VPN service

NordVPN is another company industry experts regard as offering one of the best VPNs, and in all honesty, we cannot disagree with that.

For starters, NordVPN has a very favorable pricing structure. Their two-year plan works out at only $2.97 per month, while the annual one is $3.93 per month. If you pay month-by-month, it’ll cost you $9.56. Then, there is the range of features those plans include:

  • Connect up to 6 devices
  • No data limit
  • High speeds
  • Apps for different operating systems
  • Apps for different devices
  • Browser extensions
  • Over 5,300 servers across 59 countries
  • Split tunneling
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Access blocked content and streaming services from anywhere
  • Malware and ads blocker
  • No logs policy
  • 24/7 customer support

The main criticism of NordVPN relates to the app interface on handheld devices, which some find awkward to use. But overall, people are showering it with high praise.

You can try NordVPN risk-free thanks to their 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get NordVPN

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Surfshark

Surfshark - best VPN services

Another very well-respected VPN provider is Surfshark. They are renowned for their highly competitive prices and the fact that unlimited devices can be connected, meaning (in theory at least) your friends and family can freeload off you.

No free option is available, and the paid subscriptions are €2.06 per month for a 2-year subscription, €5.37 per month for 6-months, or €10.72 if you pay monthly.

With Surfshark, you can expect to get the following:

  • Connect unlimited devices
  • No data limit
  • Apps for different operating systems
  • Browser extensions
  • Over 3,200 servers across 65 countries
  • Whitelist
  • Access blocked content and streaming services from anywhere
  • Malware and ads blocker
  • Private DNS on each server
  • No logs policy
  • 24/7 customer support

The main criticisms of Surfshark relate to speed, which many say is a little lower than some of their competitors. However, the differences will, in most cases, be unnoticeable to the majority of users.

Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, plus they give a 30-day free trial on their iOS, macOS, and Android apps, so they are worth a look.

Get Surfshark

ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN - best vpn services Another good option is ProtonVPN, which offers both free and paid plans.

Most free plans are funded by annoying ads or the sale of browsing histories. ProtonVPN’s is different; the paid subscriptions subsidize their free plan. Of course, functionality is minimal, but it might be enough to give you a flavor of what they provide before you decided to upgrade to a paid plan.

The free version offers:

  • One device connection
  • No data limit
  • Servers located in 3 countries
  • Medium speed
  • No logs policy (no data shared with third parties)

The paid plans cost between $4 and $24 per month, and depending on which you choose, add features like:

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  • Connect up to 10 devices
  • Over 1,200 servers located across 55 countries
  • Speeds of up to 10 Gbps
  • Support for P2P/BitTorrent
  • Access blocked content regardless of where you are.
  • NetShield ads blocker
  • Secure Core VPN
  • TOR over VPN
  • Access streaming services (e.g., NetFlix, Prime Video, etc.) wherever you are
  • ProtonMail Visionary account

If you are an expatriate and miss the TV shows from your home country, the ability to access streaming services offered by the paid plans is a real bonus.

Based in Switzerland, a country renowned for its strict privacy laws, ProtonVPN house their data servers in an old military bunker buried deep below the Alps. Therefore, your data should be pretty damn secure.

Get ProtonVPN

TunnelBear

TunnelBear -  best VPN services

TunnelBear also offers a free subscription alongside their paid plans. However, unlike ProtonVPN, TunnelBear has a data cap – 500MB per month, to be exact, which won’t get you very far. Mercifully, their paid plans are pretty cheap, costing $3.33/$4.99/$9.99 per month depending on whether you subscribe for three years, one year, or one month, respectively.

All the paid plans boast a ton of features, like:

  • Connect up to 5 devices
  • No data limit
  • High speeds
  • Apps for different operating systems
  • Browser extensions
  • Over 3,000 (estimated) servers located in over 23 countries
  • Ads blocker
  • Priority customer service
  • Support for P2P/BitTorrent
  • Access blocked content and streaming services wherever you are.
  • No logs policy

TunnelBear is a Canadian company now owned by American internet security giant McAfee. Neither the US nor Canada has mandatory data retention laws, and the company keeps no data that can pinpoint a customer to data usage.

TunnelBear is simple to configure and use, meaning it could be an ideal choice for novices or people who don’t want to mess around in the backend too often.

Get TunnelBear

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield

As with TunnelBear, Hotspot Shield offers a free subscription as well as paid plans. Unfortunately, like TunnelBear’s free offering, this one is pretty restricted too. That said, it can be a great starting point, particularly if you don’t do much surfing.

The free version includes these features:

  • Connect one device
  • Apps for different operating systems
  • Military-grade encryption
  • 500MB per day data limit (as opposed to TunnelBear’s 500MB per month)
  • Up to 2Mbps connection speed
  • No logs policy

If you need full features, an upgrade to a paid plan will be required. These cost $2.99 per month with a three-year commitment, $7.99 per month for an annual one, or $12.99 if you wish to pay monthly. For that, you get things like:

  • Connect up to 5 devices
  • No data limit
  • Up to 1Gbps connection speed
  • No ads
  • High speeds
  • Apps for different operating systems
  • 3,200+ Servers located spread over 70 countries
  • Malware and virus protection
  • Ads blocker
  • Password manager
  • Support for P2P/BitTorrent
  • Access blocked content and streaming services wherever you are.
  • 24/7 customer support

Hotspot Shield plans come with a generous 45-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out to see if it is right for you, safe in the knowledge that you will get your money back if it isn’t.

Get Hotspot Shield

 IPVanish

IPVanish - best VPN services

IPVanish offers only paid plans to which you have the option of adding 500GB of cloud storage.

If you pay monthly, the cost for the VPN alone is $9.99 per month, and if you choose to add the storage option, the price increases by a dollar to $10.99 per month. If you pay annually, the VPN costs $89.99 per year, with the storage option adding another $10 to that.

The first term of each plan is heavily discounted in much the same way as internet service providers cut their prices for the first month or year but then bump them to full price for subsequent renewals.

All of their plans give you:

  • Connect unlimited devices
  • No data limit
  • High speeds
  • Apps for different operating systems
  • Over 1,600 servers across 75 cities
  • Access blocked content and streaming services from anywhere
  • Ads blocker
  • No logs policy
  • 24/7 customer support

IPVanish has an excellent reputation for having powerful, user-friendly apps, and the main criticism they seem to draw relates to erratic performance with some streaming services.

Annual plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try them out before fully committing.

Get IPVanish

Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access - best VPN services

What sets Private Internet Access apart from others on this list is the sheer number of servers they have – almost 35,000 scattered across 78 countries! That’s a lot of computing power, all of which helps with speed, reliability, and of course, security.

Standard features you will get with Private Internet Access include:

  • Connect up to 10 devices
  • No data limit
  • Apps for different operating systems
  • Browser extensions
  • Over 34,000 servers across 78 countries
  • Access blocked content and streaming services from anywhere
  • Malware and ads blocker
  • P2P support
  • No logs policy
  • 24/7 customer support

Plans cost €2.50 per month for a two-year subscription and €3.10 per month for an annual one. If you prefer to pay monthly, then it will cost you €9.29. Incidentally, an extra two months is currently being thrown into the two-year subscription for free, as is a Boxcryptor Cloud Security License.

In common with most other VPNs we have suggested, Private Internet Access comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get Private Internet Access

IVPN

IVPN - best VPN services

IVPN is unique in that it offers plans ranging from one week up to three years. Their Standard plan starts at $2 for a week, but if you sign up for three years, it will cost you $140, which equates to a remarkable $3.89 per month. For that, you get:

  • Anonymous registration – no email required
  • Connect up to 2 devices
  • No data limit
  • Open-source apps for different operating systems
  • 77 servers across 31 countries
  • Access blocked content and streaming services from anywhere
  • Malware and ads blocker
  • P2P support
  • Private DNS servers
  • No logs policy

IVPN also offers a Pro plan. This starts at $4 for a week, through o $220 for three years (which works out at $6.11 per month). Pro allows you to connect up to 7 devices simultaneously, and it also adds port-forwarding and multi-hop.

The biggest negative of IVPN is its limited server coverage. Most of the other VPNs we have listed have thousands of servers spread across dozens of locations. IVPN only has 77 servers across 31 countries. However, on the plus side, their prices are excellent, and their approach to privacy and transparency is well respected.

And yes, IVPN also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get IVPN

CyberGhost

CyberGhost

Last but not least on our list is CyberGhost, who is known for having full-featured apps and excellent performance. That is, no doubt, courtesy of their extensive network of almost 7,000 servers spread across 89 countries.

With CyberGhost, you will get:

  • Connect up to 7 devices
  • No data limit
  • Apps for different operating systems
  • 6,900 servers across 89 countries
  • Military-grade encryption
  • Access blocked content and streaming services from anywhere
  • Torrent support
  • No logs policy
  • 24/7 customer support

CyberGhost has really competitive prices: $2/$3.19/$3.75/$11.99 per month for 3 year/2 year/1 year/1 month commitment, respectively.  Moreover, if you buy the three-year plan, they are currently adding an extra three months free. The one-month pan has a 14-day money-back guarantee, while the others enjoy a full 45 days.

The main criticism of CyberGhost relates to the iOS app, which according to some, is not on par with the iOS apps offered by competitors. That said, there are no complaints about the apps for other operating systems.

Get CyberGhost

Please note that prices and other data in this article were correct at the time of writing.

What’s Your Favorite VPN Service?

“So, what is the best VPN in 2021?” we hear you cry! That’s a tricky question to answer, as all of the ones listed have considerable merits, and we’d happily use any of them. If we had to pick one outright winner, ExpressVPN would clinch the top spot by a very narrow margin. They offer a superb balance between price, performance, reliability, and security. Close contenders would be NordVPN and SurfShark for pretty similar reasons.

Do you use a VPN? If so, which one are you using, and what do you like or dislike about it? And why did you decide to use a VPN? If you are not using one already, will you in the future? We would love to hear your feedback in the comments section below.

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