Working on your laptop over an unsecured connection can leave you vulnerable to hackers and other agencies that spy on your activity. This is especially true if you connect to public WiFi.
Hackers rely on unsecured connections to intercept the data you send and receive to steal your personal information. When you’re busy working on your laptop, security may be your last concern.
The good news is that you don’t have to put yourself, your identity, your credit card details or your personal browsing habits at risk of being accessed by hackers or government agencies.
You can stay secure by connecting through a Virtual Private Network service that keeps the data you send and receive anonymous and encrypted.
A VPN service will also allow you to hide your original location, bypass network firewalls, access restricted websites and content networks and share files and data privately.
Why You Should Trust Us
At SecureThoughts, our writing and research team has been featured by numerous industry leading organizations. Our writers have years of experience in the VPN and internet security industries.
Each VPN service has been thoroughly reviewed, requiring hours of extensive testing to determine the best VPN service for laptop users.
Table of Contents
Before you rush to get the first VPN service you find, you should know something important: not all VPN services are created equal. Some are a waste of money, while others are hidden gems.
Some provide high levels of encryption and security, while others track what you’re doing on their servers or provide poor encryption, putting you at risk when you think you’re secure.
How We Tested Each VPN Service
To ensure that your laptop is protected while you’re on unsecured networks, we’ve reviewed 172 different VPN services using a three-stage process to narrow down eligible candidates.
To skip the methodology and go straight to our recommendations, click here now.
To start, we immediately eliminated any service that is based in a country where the government can force them to record your sensitive information and turn it over to government officials.
Next, we reviewed details of the remaining VPN services and removed any that did not meet our minimum standard for specifications and features.
We then read reviews of any remaining VPNs and removed those services that scored less than 60 percent (3 out of 5, or 6 out of 10 stars) to weed out low-quality providers.
Finally, we tested the remaining services using five criteria to determine which service is the best VPN for laptop users who want to secure their internet connection.
Those criteria are:
Price – Price is an important factor, and one that we considered for every VPN service we reviewed.
Setup Process – We sign up for the service, download and install the software and determine which is the easiest process to follow.
Ease of Use – We then test each service to determine how easy it is to use, and how intuitively the software functions.
Speed – We run three different speed tests from servers in the U.S.A., U.K. and Australia to see how they perform.
Customer Service – We contact customer service three different times. Once before the sale, once with a technical difficulty and again with a payment difficulty.
These are the results of our investigation.
VPN Services You Should Avoid
We’ve tested 172 different VPN services that are currently available to find the best service possible for laptop users looking to secure their connection and remain anonymous online.
To start, we eliminated any VPN service that is based in one of the “14 Eyes” countries. If you’re not familiar with 14 Eyes, it’s a cooperative between governments that puts you at risk.
Countries that participate in the 14 Eyes agreement are forced to track what you’re doing while you are connected to their servers, putting your sensitive information at risk.
These VPN services can also be approached by the government and forced to turn over the logs they have that contain your usage history, sites you visit and information you send and receive.
Out of the original 172 VPN services we began testing, 123 are based in countries that participate in the 14 Eyes agreement, and were immediately eliminated.
To give you an example, five of the services that were eliminated due to participation in the 14 Eyes agreement are 3Monkey, ChillGlobal, FrootVPN, GoVPN and IPPredator.
VPNs Disqualified Due to Missing Features
During our testing process, we verified that each of the remaining services offers ten different features that laptop users will need while connected to a VPN.
As we move through the review process, we’ll break down each of those features, and recommend VPN services that do offer them as part of your subscription.
Criteria #1: OpenVPN Support
VPN servers utilize many different protocols to handle your connection, including PPTP, IPSec (and its variations) and OpenVPN. Some services utilize multiple protocols.
Because OpenVPN is generally regarded as the most secure of the current protocols, we only recommend services that offer OpenVPN, at least as an option.
AnonVPN and Betternet were both disqualified due to a lack of OpenVPN support.
Criteria #2: Unlimited Bandwidth and Data Transfer
If you’re already paying for a broadband connection through your cellular provider, the last thing you want to deal with is paying for a VPN service that charges for the bandwidth you consume.
VPN services that offer truly unlimited bandwidth and do not throttle your connection speeds because of excessive use were ranked higher during our review process.
CryptoHippie and Freedome were both disqualified due to their bandwidth and data transfer practices.
Criteria #3: No Data Logging Policies
While VPN usage logs allow the VPN service to troubleshoot issues they’re having, logging your activity while connected to their servers puts your sensitive information at risk.
VPN providers that offer a strict no-logging policy were moved to the top of our list, while companies that log activities and store the logs for long periods of time were disqualified.
Hola!VPN and Seed4me were both disqualified due to their data logging practices.
Criteria #4: Support for Multiple Operating Systems
The number of operating systems available today means VPN services need to provide support for each different platform or risk alienating many of their customers.
Companies that offer support for all operating systems, from Windows to Mac, iOS, Android and even Linux were ranked higher during our review process.
SurfEasy and Unseen Online were both disqualified due to their lack of support for multiple operating systems.
Criteria #5: Support Multiple Concurrent Connections
If you’re anything like us, you may have more than one device that you use to connect to the internet, and you’re going to want to keep them all safe and secure.
VPN services that offer support for multiple active connections without losing connection speeds or becoming unreliable were ranked higher during our review process.
Unblock VPN and VPN4All were both disqualified due to their lack of support for multiple simultaneous connections.
Criteria #6: First-Party DNS Servers
Some VPN services outsource their DNS to another company, which puts you at risk of that third-party company keeping records of your internet activities.
Because protecting your sensitive information is paramount when connecting to a VPN, services that rely on third-party companies to manage their DNS were disqualified from our review.
SwitchVPN, VPNGate and VikingVPN were all disqualified because they outsource their DNS to third-party services.
Criteria #7: No Peer2Peer Blocking
VPN services are often used to download files, music, movies and other documents through Peer2Peer file sharing networks like BitTorrent.
If the VPN service we tested reduced our bandwidth or connection speeds due to P2P usage, they were disqualified from ranking during our review process.
TunnelBear and UnoTelly were both disqualified as they block P2P services like BitTorrent.
Criteria #8: Free Trials, Refunds and Money-Back Guarantees
With the VPN industry being so competitive, there is no reason for you to test a service that doesn’t offer a free trial, a refund period or a money-back guarantee.
To prevent you getting frustrated after spending your money, we only recommend VPN services that offer a full money-back guarantee and stand behind their refund policy.
TigerVPN and VPNArea both refuse to offer free trials and refund policies, disqualifying them from our review process.
Criteria #9: Minimum of One U.S. Exit Node
VPN services that maintain at least one exit node inside of the United States make your life easier when it comes to purchasing online and maintaining a high-speed connection.
U.S. based exit-nodes help bypass security measures that may stop your purchase from going through if the site you’re buying from thinks you’re connecting from a different country.
Neither GoTrusted or Unlocator have exit nodes based in the United States, disqualifying them from our review process.
Criteria #10: No Mandatory SMTP Blocking
It’s no secret that spammers use VPN services to subscribe and send huge numbers of unwanted emails. This practice causes most VPN services to block SMTP ports from being accessed.
To ensure you can send and receive emails while connected to the VPN, we only recommend services that will allow you to utilize the SMTP protocol while connected to their servers.
TorVPN and TunnelBear both block SMTP usage, and were disqualified from our review process.
VPNs Eliminated Due to Poor Reviews
While poor reviews from other customers may not be the most accurate indicator of quality, the number of VPNs still available means we needed another way to weed out the non-performers.
After sifting through reviews across more than 100 different websites, we managed to knock down our list of remaining VPN services to just three.
Top Three VPNs for Securing Your Laptop
After eliminating 169 of the 172 available VPNs due to missing features, poor service or lack of support for multiple operating systems, we have reviewed the remaining three VPN services.
Each of the remaining three services will be reviewed based on five criteria:
- Setup Process
- Ease of Use
- Customer Service
After completing an extensive review process, we found a clear winner for securing your laptop and keeping you safe and secure while you’re connected to the internet and working on the go.
#1: ExpressVPN – (9.5 / 10) – The Best VPN Service for Laptops
ExpressVPN is, by far, the best VPN service currently available for laptop users. During testing, they provided fast speeds, competitive pricing and were easy to set up and use.
In terms of pricing, ExpressVPN falls in the middle of the pack at $12.95 per month when paid month-to-month and only $8.32 when 12 months are paid in advance.
Installing and configuring ExpressVPN’s software to begin connecting to their servers was a breeze. Just download the software, click install and it’s ready to connect.
Using ExpressVPN’s service is super straightforward. You can tell they dedicate a lot of resources to ensuring that their user-experience is seamless.
ExpressVPN also provided the fastest download and upload speeds, and did not show signs of throttling speeds due to excessive bandwidth consumption.
The customer service team at ExpressVPN responded quickly to all our requests, taking less than an hour to answer. They solved all our problems within two to three emails.
While ExpressVPN is the clear winner, their pricing could be slightly more competitive, in our opinion. In this case, you get what you pay for, and the service ExpressVPN provides is top-notch.
The speeds ranked #1 for both the USA and the UK, but #2 in Australia. The Australian speeds were 5 percent slower than the next fastest service. It could be due to the time of day we did our testing.
It would be nice for the customer support team at ExpressVPN to respond faster, but we know that they must get very busy, so their response times are understandable.
Summary: When it comes to protecting your laptop while you’re working on the go or connecting to public WiFi networks, few services can compete with ExpressVPN.
There were no services that provided the same customer support response times, and their upload and download speeds and connection reliability were unmatched.
To protect your laptop with ExpressVPN, click here now.
#2: IPVanish – (7.5 / 10) – Suitable if ExpressVPN isn’t Available for You
There may be times when you find that ExpressVPN isn’t available. If you’re in a country that ExpressVPN doesn’t service, IPVanish may be a suitable alternative.
IPVanish is currently one of the cheapest VPN services on the market, ranging from $7.50 for a single-month subscription to as low as $4.87 per month when you pay 12 months in advance.
Their setup process is fast and easy. It works the way you expect it to work, coming from an established corporation that has provided VPN services for years.
In terms of ease of use, IPVanish was comparable to ExpressVPN, though most services didn’t cause us many problems where usability is concerned.
IPVanish ranked #2 in the US and the UK in terms of speed and connection reliability, while ranking #3 in Australia. It was roughly 15 percent slower than ExpressVPN in the US and the UK.
The customer support team at ExpressVPN responded quickly before the sale. However, after the sale, they took more than 24 hours to respond to the requests we submitted.
Summary: While IPVanish is comparable to ExpressVPN in some areas, ExpressVPN provides substantially faster upload and download speeds, as well as customer service response times.
For laptop users who are unable to get an account with ExpressVPN, IPVanish may be a suitable alternative that’s capable of providing comparable service.
If you would like to know more about IPVanish, you can visit their site by clicking here.
#3: HideMyAss – (5.5 / 10) – Not Recommended
HideMyAss was the final VPN to make it onto our list. After testing, it’s hard to recommend their service, but they did manage to separate themselves from the remaining 169 VPN providers.
We did not encounter any issues during the signup and setup process. We made our payment, downloaded the software and were connected to their servers.
Their service is easy to use and intuitive, showing that they devote plenty of resources to ensuring you have a seamless experience without facing too many technical hurdles.
HideMyAss ranked #3 in both the US and the UK, but #1 in Australia.
HideMyAss did manage to rank #1 for the fastest speeds in Australia, but the speeds were slow enough to cause frustrations while streaming high-definition video content.
They are among the most expensive VPN services we’ve looked at, coming in at $16.99 per month for a single-month subscription and $9.29 for a 12-month subscription.
Their customer support response times were more than three hours in all three areas, from our pre-sale messages to messages sent after we made the purchase.
Summary: Connection speeds and customer service were both substantially better with ExpressVPN and IPVanish. HideMyAss had issues with connection reliability and customer service.
If you want to learn more about HideMyAss, you can do your own research by clicking here.
NOTE: Hackers rely on your laptop’s connection being unsecured, especially when you are connected to public WiFi networks or are sending and receiving sensitive information.
By connecting to a Virtual Private Network, you can prevent hackers from gaining access to your personal data and make sure that your laptop is secure.
Virtual Private Network services encrypt the information you send and receive while connected to the internet, and help keep your original location anonymous so it’s harder for hackers to hijack your connection.
ExpressVPN is, by far, the best VPN service available for helping you protect your laptop, ranking highest in terms of connection speeds and reliability, customer service and competitive pricing.
To protect your laptop while it’s connected to the internet, click here to get ExpressVPN now.
Wrapping It Up
Connecting to the internet without giving a second thought to the security of your connection can cause all sorts of problems. If you take your laptop with you to work, or connect to public WiFi networks, you need to implement an additional layer of security.
Virtual Private Networks keep your laptop safe by encrypting the information you send and receive while connected to their service, and keeping you anonymous while you’re surfing the internet.
After extensively testing three of the top 172 VPN services, we came to the resounding conclusion that ExpressVPN is the best VPN service available for laptop users.
To learn more about ExpressVPN and protect your laptop, click here now.