7 Best VPN Services Review: Pros and Cons

Jeffree Biliger

Jeffree Biliger | Updated: February 25, 2020

Cyber security analyst and researcher

The VPN market is overwhelming. Every VPN thinks that it has the best VPN service for the price. Every VPN will tell you that the others don’t stand up against its encryption, server speeds, or server locations. 

But you don’t have time to sift through all the dodgy, scammy services to find the best VPN’s. No one wants to spend hours and hours researching, scanning through websites, and working through free trials just to be disappointed with every prospect. 

That’s why you’re here, isn’t it? You want us to help you sort out which popular VPN’s will give you the service you want for the right price. We have looked through the best of the VPN’s to come up with a list that we’re confident will all be strong contenders in your search for the best VPN’s. 

We look at the most popular VPN’s to find which ones have great service at a decent price. To make it on our list, a VPN has to have

  • Kill switch to prevent leaking your traffic
  • Strong encryption protocols to protect your data
  • Support for fast streaming and torrenting
  • Multiple simultaneous connections to cover all your devices
  • Support for popular computers, mobile devices, and tablets
  • User-friendly apps for the tech novice
  • Multiple server options in locations all over the world

Here’s the list:
  • ExpressVPN: Supports a vast variety of devices
  • NordVPN: One of the most popular VPN’s
  • IPVanish: Flexible security options to optimize speed
  • Surfshark: Unlimited simultaneous devices
  • PrivateVPN: Specialized Netflix servers
  • CyberGhost: Streaming all-star
  • Hotspot Shield: A free option to test the service


1. ExpressVPN

Features:
  • Kill switch: Yes
  • Bandwidth: Unlimited
  • Devices: 5 simultaneous devices
  • No logging policy: Yes
  • Torrenting: Yes
  • Streaming sites: ESPN, Youtube, fuboTV, Sling TV, DAZN, DirectTV/AT&T Now, Hulu, Netflix, Playstation Vue, Sky Go, HBO, Showtime, BBC, ITV, Amazon Prime, BeIN Sports, Hotstar, ABC, French TV
  • Servers and locations: 3,000+ servers, 160 locations, 98 countries
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox
  • Protocol: OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, IKEv2
  • Price: Between $6.67 and $12.95 a month

ExpressVPN Review

ExpressVPN is a very popular VPN that is most famous for its blazing fast speeds server speeds. Many users report that ExpressVPN beats out other VPN services, make it truly a VPN express (get it?). If you’re looking for top speeds, this is the one for you. VPN express indeed. 

Servers and Locations

ExpressVPN offers an exceedingly broad list of servers, locations, and countries. They have 98 countries including multiple options in places other VPN’s don’t, especially in Africa, China, India, and the Middle East. Few VPN’s offer as many options in China or Africa, especially. If those locations are important to you, ExpressVPN stands out. 

Streaming Support

ExpressVPN supports an extensive list of streaming services, some of which I didn’t know before going to their website. It offers more and more ways to find the content you want that you can’t get without a VPN. Combine that with the huge list of server locations, and you can get around any geoblock access any country’s content. 

Devices

It’s disappointing that ExpressVPN only offers 5 simultaneous connections. While it supports all the major OS’s, 5 connections just isn’t enough for a connected world. As every person’s device list grows, we’re going to run out of connections fast if this is the limit. That’s especially important if a VPN expects a long-term commitment.

Cost

At the time of this writing, there is no ExpressVPN free trial, but they do offer a 30-day, money-back guarantee, no questions asked. The yearly (+3 months) cost is $6.67 a month. That’s still higher than many of the VPN’s on the list. I would really like to see an ExpressVPN free trial, no credit card, but it’s not likely.

ExpressVPN Review: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Tons of streaming options
  • Fast servers
  • Flexible location and country options

Cons

  • High price
  • No free trial


2. NordVPN

Features: 
  • Kill switch: Yes
  • Bandwidth: Unlimited
  • Devices: 6 simultaneous devices
  • No logging policy: Yes
  • Torrenting: Yes, on specialized servers
  • Streaming sites: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, Disney Plus, and Dazn
  • Servers and Locations: 5,359 servers in 58 countries– Mostly in Europe and North America
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, Router
  • Protocol: OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, Socks5 proxy
  • Price: Between $3.45 and $11.95 a month

NordVPN Review

NordVPN may be the most popular VPN on the internet for a good reason. It’s reliable and secure, supporting multiple devices and fast, secure streaming.

Security

NordVPN has the best encryption and security protocols, giving you a choice between the top two, OpenVPN ad IKEv2/IPsec. Most users won’t have to worry about that. They can be sure that this best VPN uses secure encryption as the default setting. 

Every VPN balances speed and security. The more secure an encryption protocol, the more that protocol slows down the connection. If you’re not as concerned with security, NordVPN offers a Socks5 proxy for faster streaming and torrenting. 

Streaming and Devices

NordVPN supports a long list of streaming services, as many as any VPN on this list. It also supports all the major operating systems and browsers, except Safari. 

Servers

The VPN offers 5,359 servers in 58 countries, located on every continent except Antarctica. Unfortunately, nearly all of them are in the United States and in Europe. There are especially few options in China, Africa, the Middle East, and India. If you need connection options in those areas, this might not be the best VPN for you. 

Cost

NordVPN has a few options for subscriptions, ranging from $3.49 a month to $11.95 a month with a 30-day, money-back guarantee. The lowest plan is a great deal, but it takes a 3-year commitment. That’s a long time to commit to any internet service. I would love to see a NordVPN free trial that doesn’t take a credit card to show its commitment to privacy. 

NordVPN Review: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Extensive list of servers and locations
  • Strong streaming service
  • P2P support

Cons

  • No NordVPN free trial
  • Long commitment for the lowest price
  • Few options in the Middle East, Africa, India, and China
  • Only 6 simultaneous connections


3. IPVanish

Features:

  • Kill switch: Yes
  • Bandwidth: Unlimited
  • Devices: 10 simultaneous connections
  • No logging policy: Yes
  • Torrenting: Yes
  • Servers and locations: 1,300+ servers in 75+ locations
  • Streaming sites: Yes. 
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, Windows phone, iOS, Android, Fire TV, router
  • Protocol: OpenVPN, IKEv2, L2TP, IPSec, PPTP
  • Price: Between $4.55 and $7.00 a month

IPVanish Review

IPVanish is one of the most trusted VPN services. At the time of this writing, they have a TrustPilot score of 4.8 with over 4,500 reviews. Users love the intuitive app and that it covers all their VPN needs. 

Servers and Locations

The list of servers and locations isn’t as extensive as some on this list, but it covers all the major regions of the world. It does lack support in the Middle East, only one location in Israel, in Africa, only two locations, and no locations in China. Unless you need to put your location in one of those regions, that shouldn’t be a problem. 

Streaming

As far as I can tell, IPVanish doesn’t have a list of the streaming services it supports, but their easy-to-navigate help page mentions Netflix and Hulu. They also have several articles about watching live sports. IPVanish definitely works with streaming, but it would be wise to test it out if you have a smaller streaming service you like.

Connections

I really like the number of simultaneous connections IPVanish offers. While 10 isn’t as good as an unlimited number, it should be enough for most people to connect all their devices at one time. You probably won’t outgrow IPVanish as your devices accumulate.

Cost

There is no IPVanish free trial, unfortunately. So, you can’t test out the service without putting your money down. Plus, the money-back guarantee only lasts for 7 days when most VPN’s offer a whole month’s guarantee. With such a short period, it would be really nice to have an IPVanish free trial. If you want to test out IPVanish, make sure you have time in your week of guaranteed time. 

Subscription costs are the best or the worst. The month-to-month cost is $10.00, better than some and worse than others. The low-cost option is $4.12, again, better than some and worse than others. 

IPVanish Review: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • Support page is easy to use
  • Users love it

Cons

  • Short guarantee period
  • No free trial


4. Surfshark

Features:

  • Kill switch: Yes
  • Bandwidth: Unlimited
  • Devices: Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • No logging policy: Yes
  • Torrenting: Yes
  • Servers and locations: 1040 servers in 61+ countries
  • Streaming sites: Yes. 15 + streaming services including Netflix and BBC iPlayer. Specific sites depend on streaming site updates
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, Windows phone, iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox, PS 4, Xbox, FireTV
  • Protocol: OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec
  • Price: Between $1.77 and $11.95 a month

Surfshark Review

Surfshark is another of the best VPN services on the internet. If you want the TL;DR version: Surfshark offers a low price, extensives streaming options, and support for gaming consoles. 

Devices and Support

Surfshark’s device support makes this VPN stand above the rest. If offers support for all the major operating systems, PS 4 and Xbox, Chrome and Firefox, and Fire TV. Many people use their gaming consoles for streaming to their TV, and this is one of the few VPN’s that will support that.

To ensure that all these devices work at the same time, Surfshark gives you unlimited simultaneous connections. You can run your phone, tablet, gaming console, and whatever else you want at the same time.  

Privacy

Surfshark also pays particular attention to privacy. They offer the standard features common among VPN’s, like ad blockers, secure encryption, and no logs. 

But, Surfshark also has two modes that give added privacy. First, camouflage mode disguises the VPN server, so even your ISP doesn’t know that you’re using a VPN. Second, they also offer a multi-hop service, so your VPN traffic can go through multiple servers and locations before going to the server you want.

Cost

Surfshark has one of the best prices on the list, going as low as $1.77 for a 24-month commitment. The lowest cost for many of the VPN’s on the list comes with a 36-month commitment, and it costs a little more. 

The site claims that there is a Surfshark VPN free trial, but that isn’t quite true. They offer a 30-day, money-back guarantee. You have to pay upfront, and then you can cancel to get a refund. A true Surfshark VPN free trial would include no money down. 

Surfshark Review: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Extra privacy options
  • Low-cost commitment is only 24 months
  • Extensive streaming support
  • Gaming console support

Cons

  • Fewer servers and locations than other options


5. PrivateVPN

Features:

  • Kill switch: Yes
  • Bandwidth: Unlimited
  • Devices: 6 simultaneous connections
  • No logging policy: Yes
  • Torrenting: Yes
  • Servers and locations: 150 server locations in 60 countries
  • Streaming sites: Yes. No list available
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Routers, Kodi 
  • Protocol: OpenVPN, IKEv2, PPTP, L2TP/IPsec
  • Price: Between $3.82 and $7.67 a month

PrivateVPN Review

To start, PrivateVPN’s website is really difficult to navigate. Keep this in mind when you do your research. We struggled to find all the details behind their server count, streaming support, and a variety of other options. It wasn’t until we started searching using terms like “private vpn streaming” until we started getting relevant pages. 

That tells me a lot about PrivateVPN’s customer service and design. While it is still among the best VPN’s, it’s difficult to navigate to the right guide, and I worry about how responsive their customer support will be. 

Streaming Support

PrivateVPN’s streaming support suffers from their poor website and app design. I didn’t test every streaming service out there, but their site only mentions two, Netflix and BBC iPlayer. It’s likely that they support most streaming services, but there isn’t a way to ensure your favorite is supported until you try it.

Server Locations

PrivateVPN says that they have 150 server locations in 60 countries. When we went to their server and locations page, they didn’t list that many. There were, indeed, 60 countries, but we counted only 85 server locations. Either they have server locations they don’t list, or the information suffers from poor design. 

Most of locations only include one listed server address, except for locations in the United States. If you want a lot of flexibility in server locations, either try a different VPN or test it out in with a 30-day, money-back guarantee period with a month-to-month subscription. 

Cost

PrivateVPN’s cost is the reason why this VPN makes the list. It has a very low month-to-month subscription at $7.67. Some of the other VPN’s on this list go almost twice the price for a monthly subscription.

Their lowest-cost option is only a 1-year commitment for $3.82. It doesn’t cost much, and it’s one of the most short-term commitments of all the VPN’s on the list. There is also a PrivateVPN free trial. The VPN offers a 7-day, PrivateVPN free trial so you don’t have to put any money down to test the service.

This is huge, because of all the questions about the service compared to their site. A 7-day trial will let you figure out whether PrivateVPN will work for the kinds of traffic you use without relying on the confusing information their site offers. 

PrivateVPN Review: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Low cost
  • Free trial
  • 30-day, money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Confusing website and support


6. CyberGhost

Features:

  • Kill switch: Yes
  • Bandwidth: Unlimited
  • Devices: 7 simultaneous connections
  • No logging policy: Yes
  • Torrenting: Yes
  • Servers and Locations: 6,130 servers, 112 locations in 90 countries
  • Streaming sites: Yes, 38 tested sites
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome OS, Windows phone, iOS, Android, Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Firestick TV, Android TV 
  • Protocol: L2TP, IPSec, PPTP, OpenVPN 
  • Price: Between $2.75 and $12.99 a month

CyberGhost Review

One of the reasons you go to a site like this is to see which VPN’s experts trust. Sometimes, though, it’s nice to know what regular users think. CyberGhost in 2020 has an excellent rating on Trustpilot with a 4.8 out of 5. People love how this VPN works. 

Servers And Locations

CyberGhost in 2020 has a long list of servers and locations, though most of them are in the standard spots. Their server list is quite small in India, Africa, and the Middle East. One exception: CyberGhost has a location in mainland China, something many VPN’s don’t. Just be careful with servers in China. It’s likely that the Chinese government can track your traffic through it. 

Long List Of Streaming Sites

CyberGhost in 2020 has a very, very long list of streaming sites it has tested and supports, 38 in all, longer than any other VPN we’ve reviewed. While the other VPN’s may work on that many, CyberGhost posts their list on their website. They support everything from the big players, like Netflix, to Mediasetespaña.

In the opinion of this CyberGhost review, guaranteed support and variety of streaming sites makes this the best service for streaming. 

Cost

A CyberGhost subscription costs between $2.75, for a 3-year commitment, and $12.99 month-to-month. While a 3-year term is a long time if you’re just starting, the 1-year price is pretty good, only $5.99. 

Even better, you can get a CyberGhost free trial without entering any credit card or other payment information. The CyberGhost free trial offers the full experience, but it is only for 1 day. Still, a Cyberghost free trial is better than most of the VPN’s on the list. 

CyberGhost Review: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Extensive list of streaming services
  • Free trial with no credit card
  • Servers in places like China and India

Cons

  • Doesn’t work reliably in China or UAE
  • High month-to-month cost


7. Hotspot Shield

Features:

  • Kill switch: Yes
  • Bandwidth: Unlimited
  • Devices: 5 simultaneous connections
  • No logging policy: Yes
  • Torrenting: Yes
  • Servers and locations: 3,200+ servers in 80+ countries
  • Streaming sites: Yes. 
  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Chrome OS, iOS, Android
  • Protocol: Hydra proprietary protocol
  • Price: Between $7.99 and $12.99 a month

Hotspot Shield Review

Hotspot Shield stands out for a few unique features which we will expand on below. The unique features also make Hotspot Shield one of the more expensive VPN’s on the list. You’ll have to decide if the excellent features are worth the moderate cost increase.

Speed

Most VPN’s will claim to have the best, or at least really fast, speeds. Hotspot Shield is actually tested and rated by Ookla Speed Test as the fastest VPN in the world. That’s right, if you need the most blazing-fast VPN on the planet, Hotspot Shield is the one for you.

Speed matters most when you need to download large files, stream HD content from far-away locations, and play games using a VPN. If primarily do these things through a VPN, Hotspot Shield might be the best way to be secure without sacrificing speed. 

Security 

Hotspot Shield also uses only one security protocol, their own proprietary system, called Hydra. Hotspot says that they decided to develop Hyrda after they were frustrated with the current industry standard, OpenVPN, because they noticed latency issues. Hydra is secure, like OpenVPN, but it is faster, too. 

This VPN service also offers transparent security reviews. They publish an annual transparency report to offer the world a look at their internal security and logging. They are committed to privacy and security, and they spend the money to show you how secure they are. 

Cost

Hotspot Shield is the only VPN on this list to offer a free version of their service. You can use it without entering any payment information, though you do need to open an account. The free service comes with limits, only 500MB a day, ads, fewer locations, and no streaming. The free version was fast enough to use for streaming with only the data limits to hold me back. 

There is a hotspot free trial, which lasts for 7 days. Unfortunately, you have to put down a credit card to join the free trial, so they will charge you the monthly cost if you don’t cancel before the end of the hotspot free trial period. 

Hotspot Shield Review: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Fastest VPN
  • Proprietary Protocol
  • Free version

Cons

  • Higher cost
  • Short free trial

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