The Best VPN Services of 2024

NordVPN is our overall recommendation as the best VPN because of its high levels of reliability, security, and privacy.
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Best Overall

4.9
Editorial Rating
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On NordVPN's website

NordVPN
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Best Value

4.9
Editorial Rating
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On Surfshark's website

Surfshark
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Based on our testing, experience, and research, we recommend NordVPN as the best virtual private network. It’s a reliable and fast service that supports streaming and torrenting. It’s also easy to use and offers high levels of encryption and privacy.

We picked Surfshark, ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and Proton VPN as our runner-up providers. We tested these and other VPNs and ranked them according to their price, speeds, no-logs policies, privacy, and other features.

Let’s see why these are the five best VPNs.

In this article
The best VPNs of 2024
How we tested the best VPNs
NordVPN: Best overall and most reliable
Surfshark: Best for unlimited devices
ExpressVPN: Best for device compatibility
Private Internet Access (PIA): Best for affordable privacy
Proton VPN: Best for internet speeds and free plan
Honorable mentions
What is a VPN and how does it work?
How to choose the best VPN
Free vs. paid VPNs: Which is better?
Bottom line: The best VPNs tested by our experts
FAQs

The best VPNs of 2024

Top 5 VPN services compared

VPN
Best Overall





Starting price Starts at $3.99/mo Starts at $2.29/mo Starts at $6.67/mo (billed annually) Starts at $2.19/mo Starts at $4.99/mo (Limited free plan available)
Number of devices 10 Unlimited 8 Unlimited 10
Server count 6,200+ servers in 111 countries 3,200+ servers in 100 countries Servers in 105 countries Servers in 91 countries + all 50 U.S. states 4,400+ servers in 91 countries
Streaming support
Torrenting support
Learn more Get NordVPN
Read Our NordVPN Review
Get Surfshark
Read Our Surfshark Review
Get ExpressVPN
Read Our ExpressVPN Review
Get PIA
Read Our PIA Review
Read Our Proton VPN Review

How we tested the best VPNs

We chose the five best VPNs in this article by comparing features we think are important to consider when choosing a VPN provider. We looked at and/or tested a variety of features and factors, including:

  • Price: Our top VPNs (other than ExpressVPN) cost around $5 or less per month.
  • Internet speeds: All five VPNs provided fast speeds during our tests.
  • Streaming support: We had no issues unblocking different streaming services with each VPN.
  • Leaks: There were no DNS or WebRTC leaks when we performed these tests with each VPN.
  • Additional features: These VPNs provide features such as split tunneling and kill switches.

NordVPN: Best overall and most reliable

Customizable Coverage That is Simple to Use
4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On NordVPN's website
VPN
NordVPN
Up to 66% off 2-year plans + 3 months extra
  • Ultra-secure, high-speed VPN complete with malware protection and automatic blocking of intrusive ads and third-party trackers
  • Other benefits include a premium password manager, dark web monitoring, and access to IP-restricted content
  • 3 plans to choose from for custom protection on up to 10 devices
  • Too many confusing plans

Who it’s best for

NordVPN is best for people who want a VPN that does just about everything right. This includes unblocking different streaming services, providing fast speeds, and having an easy-to-use interface that even beginners can feel comfortable with.

What we liked

Streaming: NordVPN (unofficially) allows you to watch Netflix and stream popular services, including Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. Nord is also extremely easy to use, as we found out when using its Windows app on our PC. Simply boot it up, quickly connect to a VPN server, and that’s about it for most users — there's no need to do anything fancy or complicated to make it work.

Performance: We put NordVPN to the test in three key areas: speed, privacy, and Netflix access. NordVPN performed well in our speed test. We tested it on a MacBook Pro in the U.S. and saw only a 9% drop in download speed when connecting to a U.S. server. 

While testing its speeds and security features, we found no glaring issues with NordVPN. Everything simply worked as intended, which is exactly what you want from a VPN service.

Privacy: Nord provides fast VPN speeds, has a strict no-logs policy with multiple independent audits, and offers a specialty server network to suit your internet connection needs. This includes P2P, double VPN (also known as multi-hop), and obfuscated servers.

What we didn’t like

Pricing: Unlike competitors ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and PIA, which offer three plans, NordVPN has nine. More plans don’t always equal better. You can only enjoy access to NordVPN, a password manager, a data breach scanner, and 1 TB of storage if you pick the most expensive plan, Complete. Inevitably, you’ll pay more money this way (even if it is cheaper in the long term).

Other VPNs — like CyberGhost, PIA, Surfshark, and ProtonVPN — provide more budget-friendly options. CyberGhost, for example, offers a two-year plan for $2.19/mo. PIA has a three-year plan for $2.19/mo.

NordVPN specs

Price range $3.99–$15.99/mo
Free version No
Number of servers 6,200+ in 111 countries
Number of connected devices 10
VPN protocol NordLynx, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec
No-logs policy No logs
Unblocks Netflix? Yes
Torrenting support Yes
Learn more Get NordVPN
Read Our NordVPN Review

Surfshark: Best value

Unlimited Device Protection and Large Server Network
4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Surfshark's website
VPN
Surfshark
79% off + 2 months free
  • All-in-one VPN app with 24/7 protection thanks to 3,200+ RAM-only servers in over 100 countries
  • Real-time malware defense, webcam protection, alternative ID creation, ad blocking, and more
  • One subscription covers unlimited devices for your entire household with access to 24/7 support
  • Headquarters in Nine Eyes Alliance

Who it’s best for

Money-wise, Surfshark is a pretty sweet deal. ExpressVPN’s lowest cost is $6.67/mo (billed annually), while NordVPN’s lowest cost is $3.99/mo. Surfshark's 24-month plan comes out at $2.29/mo, which is 70% cheaper than ExpressVPN's one-year plan and 33% cheaper than NordVPN's two-year plan. Talk about serious savings!

Another one of Surfshark's standout features is its unlimited device connections. NordVPN and ExpressVPN have caps on their device limits — NordVPN at six and ExpressVPN at eight. For the price, Surfshark is most suitable for families and individuals with a ton of devices needing VPN coverage. Even better, Surfshark doesn’t limit speed or bandwidth on its unlimited device connections, so you can surf the web without lag. 

What we liked

Pricing: One thing we appreciate about Surfshark is its affordability. The company understands that not everyone has the same needs, and that’s reflected in its plans and pricing structure.

Surfshark offers three pricing options:

  • Monthly plan: $4.49/mo
  • 1-year plan: $2.49/mo, billed annually
  • 24-month plan: $2.29/mo, billed every 24 months

Now, let's talk about what you get for this low price. Surfshark splits its features into three groups:

  • Surfshark Starter: This plan has three of the 12 features — a secure VPN, an ad and malware blocker, and a cookie pop-up blocker.
  • Surfshark One: With this plan, you get 10 out of 12 features, including real-time email and ID breach alerts, a private search engine, 24/7 antivirus protection, and webcam protection, in addition to what's in the Starter plan.
  • Surfshark One+: This is the full package, giving you all 12 features, including data removal from company databases and people search sites.

How to get the best deal: For the best deal on Surfshark, consider choosing the 24-month plan at $2.29/mo, as it offers the most savings. This way, you get comprehensive features to keep you safe online without breaking the bank. Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free and see if it suits your needs.

Devices: Of the providers on this list, Surfshark is one of only two VPNs that offer access to unlimited simultaneous VPN connections. That’s an important feature depending on your situation, which could include using a VPN on a phone, laptop, tablet, and desktop computer.

And if you’re sharing a VPN with other people, the device count quickly adds up. This could be an issue with any other VPN on this list, especially ExpressVPN (eight-device limit) and NordVPN (six-device limit).

Performance: We also like how we had no issues with speeds or using Surfshark with Netflix. 

What we didn’t like

Privacy: Surfshark is based in the Netherlands, which is associated with the Five Eyes Alliance. Countries within the Five, Nine, and Fourteen Eyes alliances are known to share global surveillance information with each other, including surveillance on their own citizens.

VPNs are legal in these countries and there are likely no issues with privacy concerns as long as Surfshark and other providers stick to their no-logs policies.

Surfshark specs

Price range $2.29–$21.99/mo
Free version No
Number of servers 3,200+ in 100 countries
Number of connected devices Unlimited
VPN protocol WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec
No-logs policy No logs
Unblocks Netflix? Yes
Torrenting support Yes
Learn more Get Surfshark
Read Our Surfshark Review

ExpressVPN: Best for device compatibility

Extensive Server Network Provides Protection Wherever You Go
4.6
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On ExpressVPN's website
VPN
ExpressVPN
Save 49% (3 months free)
  • Hides intrusive display ads when browsing the web, improving page speed and easing data usage on mobile
  • Privacy and safety benefits of a VPN with best-in-class encryption and innovative server technology in 105 countries
  • Enjoy no activity logs, malicious sites and trackers protection, and more on up to 8 devices
  • More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost

Who it’s best for

ExpressVPN is the way to go if you are device-agnostic yet have several device types. It works on the standard operating systems, Windows and macOS, as well as Linux and Chromebooks. For mobile devices, it works on Amazon Fire tablets, Android, and iOS, which covers most smartphones and tablets.

ExpressVPN also supports routers from brands like Asus, Linksys, and NETGEAR. If your router isn't on the list, you can manually configure it for use or grab ExpressVPN’s proprietary Aircove router with the VPN already installed — one of our top picks for the best VPN routers available right now.

When it comes to streaming, you're covered with options like Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, and Android TV. ExpressVPN even protects you with browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. And for those smart TVs that don't support ExpressVPN, you can still manually configure it on LG and Samsung smart TVs. 

What we liked

Streaming: We like that ExpressVPN offers Smart DNS, which it calls “MediaStreamer.” MediaStreamer lets you watch content on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer, even on devices that can't run a VPN. You can set it up on devices like Apple TV, Xbox, PlayStation, and more.

Using ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer, you can:

  • Watch shows and sites that are geo-blocked in certain places on any device that can connect to the internet.
  • Get access to websites with strict rules that can't be unlocked with a regular trick like changing your virtual location.
  • Avoid setting off security systems that check your IP address and mess up your browsing experience.

Performance: Regarding performance, we tested ExpressVPN in speed, privacy, and the ability to access Netflix. We ran speed tests on a MacBook Pro in the U.S. ExpressVPN signaled strong performance, with only a 39% reduction in download speed when connected to an Australian server.

ExpressVPN hides our IP address for privacy and keeps our online activity secure by routing it through its VPN servers. It also allows us to watch Netflix with content from the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia without any hiccups. 

Privacy: Overall, ExpressVPN is popular for a reason. It provides a strict no-logs policy backed up by an independent audit. You can also contact a live chat representative 24/7 with any questions.

What we didn’t like

Pricing: ExpressVPN is expensive, starting at $6.67/mo (billed annually). That’s more than four times the price of Private Internet Access ($2.19/mo) and twice the cost of NordVPN ($3.99/mo).

The cost is our main gripe with ExpressVPN, other than the fact it doesn’t officially publish a server count. We know that server counts can change frequently, but there’s got to be at least a rough estimate.

ExpressVPN specs

Price range $6.67–$12.95/mo
Free version No
Number of servers Servers in 105 countries
Number of connected devices 8
VPN protocol Lightway, OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP/IPsec
No-logs policy No logs
Unblocks Netflix? Yes
Torrenting support Yes
Learn more Get ExpressVPN
Read Our ExpressVPN Review

Private Internet Access (PIA): Best for affordable privacy

Save 82% on a 2-year subscription + 2 months free
5.0
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Private Internet Access's website
Private Internet Access
  • VPN offering fast internet speeds and strict no-logs policy
  • Unblocks Netflix and other streaming services
  • Antivirus and dedicated IP address cost extra

Who it’s best for

People who want an affordable VPN that doesn’t skimp on online privacy, security, or streaming support. Private Internet Access (PIA) provides fast speeds, has highly rated mobile VPN apps, and has a starting price of $2.19/mo that’s hard to beat.

What we liked

Pricing: None of the other VPNs on this list cost less than $2.19/mo, only Surfshark. PIA is one of the cheapest VPNs around.

Performance: Add to that the fact that PIA is an excellent service for the price point, having passed our streaming and speed tests with flying colors, and you’ve got quite the product on your hands.

This includes unblocking Netflix in multiple regions and giving us some of the best speed results for the different VPNs we tested. Throw in a strict no-logs policy with an independent audit and support for unlimited device connections, and you’re looking at a secure, fast, and affordable service.

What we didn’t like

Privacy: PIA is based in the U.S., which has its fair share of privacy concerns and issues. This might not mean anything to you as long as PIA sticks to its no-logs policy and protects users’ anonymity.

On a separate note, we’ve had a few chats with PIA customer support about different things. We like how the service is 24/7, but the chats haven’t been overly helpful.

Private Internet Access specs

Price range $2.03–$11.99/mo
Free version No
Number of servers 91 countries + all 50 U.S. states
Number of connected devices Unlimited
VPN protocol WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec
No-logs policy No logs
Unblocks Netflix? Yes
Torrenting support Yes
Learn more Get PIA
Read Our PIA Review

Proton VPN: Best internet speeds and free plan

4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Proton VPN's website
Proton VPN
  • Easy to use
  • A strict no-logs policy that’s been tested in court
  • More expensive than NordVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost

Who it’s best for

People who want a high-quality VPN that’s easy to use, has a free subscription plan, and unblocks different streaming services should consider Proton VPN. It was also one of the fastest VPNs in our speed tests, finishing with some of the best results among the VPNs we tested.

What we liked

Streaming: Proton VPN had no issues unblocking different streaming services, including Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Proton advertises that its VPN offers much more streaming support for services such as Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and more.

Performance: Proton VPN's Plus servers, exclusively for Plus plan users, offer some great perks. They let you stream content from services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, block ads and trackers to speed up browsing, support file sharing through BitTorrent, and provide a one-click option to route your internet traffic through the Tor network for added privacy.

In most places, these servers boast super-fast speeds, up to 10 Gbps, ensuring a smooth and secure online experience.

Features: Feature-wise, Proton VPN's free plan is a standout offering in the world of free VPNs. Unlike most free VPN services with usage caps and speed limitations, Proton VPN's free plan is unlimited. It doesn't impose any data caps or speed limits. 100 free servers in selected countries is an excellent value for a free VPN.

Privacy: We like that Proton VPN encrypts at a high level with AES-256 encryption and sticks to its no-logs policy. Fun fact: The Proton VPN no-logs policy was tested in a Swiss court in 2019 when data was requested from a foreign country. Proton couldn’t comply with the request because there wasn’t any information to give due to its no-logs policy.

What we didn’t like

Features: The free plan is obviously not as good as the paid options, considering you potentially get slower connection speeds, you’re limited to servers in three countries, and only paid subscribers get access to a live chat support feature. You can also only connect one device at a time and there’s limited functionality (no torrenting or streaming support).

Pricing: So depending on your needs, the Proton VPN Free option might not work for you at all. Proton VPN paid options are also a bit costlier than many other VPN providers. Starting at $4.99/mo, you’re skirting the edge of being affordable.

Proton VPN specs

Price range $4.99–$9.99/mo
Free version Yes — no data limit, but slower speeds and fewer servers
Number of servers 4,400+ in 91 countries
Number of connected devices 10
VPN protocol WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2, Stealth
No-logs policy No logs
Unblocks Netflix? Yes
Torrenting support Yes
Learn more Read Our Proton VPN Review

Honorable mentions

These VPNs may not be on our top recommendation list, but they're worth mentioning for users balancing budget and security features. Based on our testing, we'd also recommend:

  • CyberGhost: CyberGhost has over 11,700 servers in 100 countries and a strict no-logs policy. Standout features include a dedicated IP address, NoSpy servers, and servers optimized for torrenting, streaming, and gaming. While it unblocks Netflix just fine, the user experience gave us trouble. It's headquartered in Romania, which is a pro because Romania isn't part of any data-sharing alliances.

    Get CyberGhost | Read Our CyberGhost Review

  • PrivadoVPN: PrivadoVPN’s free plan offers 12 global servers, while the paid is supposed to have “hundreds” of servers across 28 Countries and 40 cities worldwide. PrivadoVPN is budget-friendly, allows up to 10 connections, and works well with Netflix. Although it hasn't completed an independent audit of its no-logs policy and has fewer servers, it's based in Switzerland, which is generally considered a pro for privacy.

    Get PrivadoVPN | Read Our PrivadoVPN Review

  • ClearVPN: ClearVPN has a user-friendly interface with clear, easy-to-understand settings. It's a great option for beginner VPN users or if you don't need all the bells and whistles. It also offers a free plan with servers in the U.S. and Ukraine that doesn't cap your bandwidth or data usage, so you can try it out risk-free as long as you like. There's always a risk with using a free VPN service, and ClearVPN is no exception. 

    Get ClearVPNRead Our ClearVPN Review

What is a VPN and how does it work?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a technology that is essential to have in your cybersecurity toolbelt today. Imagine a VPN as a secret passage on the internet. A VPN works to create a safe, hidden path between your device and a special server run by your VPN provider of choice.

When you use a VPN, all your internet data becomes secret code that no one can understand if they try to snoop on you. The VPN masks your IP address and provides you with a different one, so websites and surveillance can't figure out where you really are.

People use VPNs to stay safe online, especially on public Wi-Fi networks, and to avoid throttling by their internet service provider. VPNs can also help you visit websites that are off-limits in some places or watch shows from other countries. Other use cases are bypassing censorship laws and helping activists and journalists correspond with the rest of the world.

How to choose the best VPN

Consider these questions to choose the best VPN for you:

  • How much does it cost? Look for a VPN that costs around $5 or as a good starting point for an affordable service.
  • Does it keep logs of user data? Make sure a VPN has a strict no-logs policy you can review online and that an independent audit by a trusted company has been conducted.
  • Does it offer a large number of servers? Check to see if there are enough servers to support loads of users. Around 2,000 or more in at least 50 countries is roughly the average.
  • How secure is it? Verify if a VPN encryption uses AES-256 or equivalent and secure VPN protocols, such as WireGuard, OpenVPN, or something similar.
  • Does it slow down your internet speed? Run speed tests during free trials or if you have a 30-day money-back guarantee. A small drop in speed is expected with VPNs, but anything that might affect your everyday online activities is likely too much. Keep in mind that more distant servers typically slow down your speeds more.

Free vs. paid VPNs: Which is better?

Trying a free VPN might seem like a money-saving idea, but it often leads to slow, unreliable connections and a higher risk of data leaks. Even the best free VPNs can't match the quality and security of paid ones, which offer faster speeds and better protection for your online activities.

Also, paid VPNs are more likely to unblock streaming services like Netflix, making them a safer and more reliable choice in the long run. Lastly, free VPNs are notorious for capturing your data and selling it to advertisers or even injecting spyware into your activity. If you value privacy and your personal data being left alone, the majority of free VPNs aren’t going to cut it.

Thankfully, there are ways to save money on VPN services. From choosing a low-cost VPN app with lots of value, like Surfshark, to waiting for holiday deals, there are multiple hacks to fit a VPN’s extra security into your budget.

Bottom line: The best VPNs tested by our experts

NordVPN is the best VPN service according to our testing, research, and personal experience. Nord provides fast speeds, unblocks popular streaming services, and prioritizes user security and privacy. Following Nord, we have Surfshark, ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and Proton VPN rounding out our top five list, in that order.

5 best VPNs of 2024

Starting price Best for Learn more


Starts at $3.99/mo Best overall Get NordVPN
Read NordVPN Review

Starts at $2.29/mo Best value Get Surfshark
Read Surfshark VPN Review

Starts at $6.67/mo (billed annually) Best device compatibility Get ExpressVPN
Read ExpressVPN Review

Starts at $2.19/mo Best for affordable privacy Get Private Internet Access
Read Private Internet Access VPN Review


Starts at $4.99/mo (Limited free plan available) Best internet speeds and free option Read Proton VPN Review

FAQs


+

What is the number 1 best VPN?

NordVPN is our top pick because of its high reliability, fast speeds, and emphasis on user privacy. Nord is the total package because you get an affordable price starting at $3.99/mo, streaming support for many popular services, and an easy-to-use interface. NordVPN also has a strict no-logs policy and provides servers that are optimized for torrenting.


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What is the safest VPN?

NordVPN is the safest VPN we've tested. In addition to strong encryption protocols, an independently verified no-logs policy, and a stellar reputation, NordVPN offers Threat Protection and a ton of advanced security features, such as malware protection, tracker and ad blocker, password manager, dark web scanning, encrypted cloud storage, identity theft recovery, cyber extortion protection, and more.


+

What is the best free VPN?

Proton VPN and Windscribe are two of our recommended choices for the best free VPNs. Proton VPN Free provides unlimited bandwidth at the cost of slower speeds and limited servers. Free Windscribe accounts get unlimited device access and don’t have their speeds throttled. But you’re limited to 10 GB of data per month and can only access servers in 10 countries.


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What is the best VPN for Linux?

Some of the most popular VPNs that work with Linux include NordVPN, Surfshark, and ExpressVPN.

Note that each of these VPN services might only work with certain Linux distributions (distros), such as Ubuntu, Debian, Mint, or Arch. Be sure to align your VPN choice with the Linux distro you use.

Customizable Coverage That is Simple to Use
4.9
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On NordVPN's website
VPN
NordVPN
Up to 66% off 2-year plans + 3 months extra
  • Ultra-secure, high-speed VPN complete with malware protection and automatic blocking of intrusive ads and third-party trackers
  • Other benefits include a premium password manager, dark web monitoring, and access to IP-restricted content
  • 3 plans to choose from for custom protection on up to 10 devices
  • Too many confusing plans
Author Details
Ben Walker is a writer at All About Cookies with a passion for all things internet and technology, whether it's using VPNs while away from home or organizing his life with password managers.
Cheyenne Lightfoot is a freelance content writer specializing in the intersection between identity and access management and user privacy. As an account executive, she has helped small-to-medium-sized businesses prevent data breaches, safeguard sensitive information, and achieve compliance with passwordless multi-factor authentication software.