The world is changing. Governments everywhere are impeding internet use and collecting data from their citizens. With this increasing threat to our online freedom, VPN use has become essential. We tested industry leaders to find the best VPN service for 2018 and chose ExpressVPN as our top 2018 VPN provider. Here’s how we went about selecting and ranking each service.
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The VPN industry has exploded in recent years, as an increasing number of web users turn to the software. Whether it’s bypassing geo-blocking international media platforms – such as Netflix – or protecting from increased government surveillance, VPNs have become integral for many.
Each VPN provider offers a plethora of features and varying levels of internal customization. While these different ports and protocols make sense for the tech savvy, it can become immediately overwhelming for the less experienced.
Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you! Our tech experts have scoped the market for the best VPN services of 2018. They broke down the elements of what makes a good VPN and tested each provider on these critical factors.
VPN Reviews 2018 – How we Selected our Providers
It can be difficult to tell which VPN is the right one for your personal needs.
We all have different reasons for using the internet: while some use it for streaming and torrenting, others use it to get around restrictions placed by their job, school, or even the government. After all, a student trying to get past school-imposed filters will look for different features in a School VPN than someone in China who wants to surf various sites and remain outside the watchful eye of the government. The following best VPN services reviews are based on key features which answer the most common and important consumer demands:
- Bypassing geo-restrictions
- Access to restricted/censored content
- Streaming / torrenting / other P2P services
- Connection quality
- Data Protection and Privacy
- Online anonymity
VPN Reviews 2018 – How we Ranked the Services
There are many elements involved in defining a top provider. While many excel in one area, they often lack in another. We looked for the service with the best overall score on the following factors, to determine the best VPN of 2018.
- Ease of Use. A good VPN requires a streamlined set-up and installation process, to ensure accessibility for all.
- Bypass Geo-Restrictions. Establishing server numbers and location dictates potential to bypass restrictions. We also considered VPN bans.
- Access Restricted and Censored Content. Testing the ability to access heavily restricted content determined which providers could be used in highly censored countries, such as China.
- Streaming and Torrenting. We searched for providers who still gained access to top streaming services – despite the recent Netflix ban – as well as those who allowed, and optimized for, P2P sharing.
- Connection Quality and Speed. Poor quality can result in lagging, dropped connections and poor video playback.
- Bandwidth and Data Allowances. Some VPNs impose annoying data restrictions which significantly reduces the overall quality of service.
- Online Anonymity. Uptime guarantees and double VPN features both help to ensure complete anonymity online.
- Data Protection and Privacy. We looked at the VPN protocols, encryption grade, and additional security features to determine protection levels.
- Customer Service. As all technology is liable to bugs, a fast tech support service is essential. Ideally, an instant customer service with quick response time.
- Price. More expensive does not always equate best quality. We searched for the top pricing deals that still offered premium service features.
Best VPN Service Reviews 2018
Our top pick for best VPN services ticks all of the right boxes, scoring highly in nearly every aspect is ExpressVPN. It’s the best VPN for us, and here’s why.
Ease of use: Incredibly easy to use, with an intuitive client and excellent speeds. It’ll only take a few clicks to get started after downloading their software, with numerous servers to choose from.
Features: Above all, their incredible speeds set them apart from the rest on the list. They have over 145 server locations worldwide, with dedicated apps for a range of mobile and desktop systems. You can use the VPN on three devices at the same time.
Reliability: With so many VPNs to choose from, ExpressVPN have wisely focused on providing a reliable service. Network Lock is their version of a kill switch, so you’ll never be caught out while using a P2P application.
Customer Support: They have some of the best customer support available. Response times of 30 minutes are great considering others can take at least a few hours to get back to you.
Streaming: US Netflix is currently accessible via some of their server locations, although the streaming service is trying to block all access.
Pricing: All price plans above 1 month include a 30-day money-back guarantee:
NordVPN is a cheaper option, but it’s definitely worth checking out for a number of reasons.
Ease of use: They have dedicated and cheap VPN clients for almost every platform imaginable, and it’s simple to navigate their server map to get started. Their app is sleek and responsive on both mobile and desktop devices.
Features: Security is the predominant concern, with high levels of encryption and no user logs stored. It’s still reasonably fast, although it isn’t their major selling point. They have over 1000 server locations to choose from in 60+ countries. NordVPN supports P2P activities, and their CyberSec feature can be enabled to block suspicious websites.
Reliability: The service itself is stable and reliable thanks to the emphasis on security. If your connection does drop, the VPN can be set to automatically shut down any programs or websites of your choosing instantly.
Customer Support: While their VPN is reliable, they don’t have the best overall customer support, with infrequent user complaints found online.
Streaming: US Netflix is available, thanks in part to the sheer number of servers they have to offer.
Pricing: All price plans allow for 30-day money back guarantee:
SaferVPN is a smaller provider and relatively new in the VPN market whose service is already primed for speed.
Ease of use: SaferVPN is simple to download and set-up. It offers apps for most platforms, including a Chrome extension – meaning even Linux users get instant access without the complicated manual installation.
Features: The wide range of available protocols offered will become invaluable as more authorities try to impose VPN bans. The SaferVPN automatic location selection algorithm selects the appropriate encryption for your connection, so you don’t have to be a tech expert to benefit. The company support torrenting from its Netherland servers and the Wi-Fi protection feature ensures the VPN is active whenever you’re online.
Reliability: Although theirs isn’t the biggest server network, the 700+ available are all equally impressive in speed and reliability. Out of eight server tests, none showed a subpar service.
Customer Support: SaferVPN offers both email and 24/7 instant chat, which surpasses the tech support of many of its competitors. However, they could provide more information via online documentation.
Streaming: As a relatively new service, SaferVPN has been able to bypass the Netflix VPN ban so far, which is a major plus for any VPN provider.
Pricing: All price plans give a 30-day money back guarantee.
HideMyAss is a well-known provider whose service lives up to the hype.
Ease of use: The VPN is easy to download and install, with a compact user interface. The windows client, in particular, is incredibly streamlined and functional.
Features: Alongside automatically connecting to encrypt all your traffic, HideMyAss also offers unsecured network notifications. There are multiple protocols available, but the manual control over this is limited. Torrenters will be glad to know the VPN supports unrestricted P2P sharing. The company also offers a dedicated business service with a plethora of unique features.
Reliability: As well-known VPN provider for quite some time, HideMyAss has shown incredible resilience in adapting to changes in law, VPN bans, and a growing cyber-scape. Their impressive server network spans 190 countries and, although some locations saw speed drops, the company provides a stable and reliable server that will be around for years to come.
Customer Support: There is extensive customer support, including online guides, a ticketed system and instant chat. Despite some reports of delays during peak times, the service is comprehensive.
Streaming: HideMyAss have adapted to the Netflix ban in a pretty impressive way. It offers Netflix-specific servers and, if the streaming site flags your IP, the VPN will switch you to a new one automatically.
Pricing: All price plans offer a 30-day money back guarantee.
While PrivateVPN might not be the most well-known provider, they have a decent overall service. The Swedish provider has vastly improved over the last few years, and they’re a viable option if you’re looking for a cheap VPN, which is why it makes our list of best VPN services. Even so, it’s tough to find a reason to pick it ahead of others on the list.
Ease of use: PrivateVPN has dedicated apps for mobile devices, computers and routers. Each are reasonably streamlined, and we had no problems during testing. You can access their servers with a couple of clicks, and you’ll be ready to start. That being said, it is pretty basic.
Features: Excellent levels of encryption and zero logs, as well as numerous worldwide servers. They also allow P2P sharing with up to six simultaneous connections. They don’t have the most features, instead focusing on the core aspects of their service.
Reliability: They’re a smaller provider, but they’re honest and open about their location and their service. You can expect little to no downtime during use, but it’s slower than the majority of the competition. It also features a kill switch, just in case.
Customer Support: They offer 24/7 support, although the Live Chat feature can sometimes be offline. (They’ll respond via the ticketing system if so.)
Streaming: It can be used to unblock Netflix in multiple countries, including the US.
Pricing: All price plans offer a 30-day money back guarantee.
Marketed as one of the fastest VPNs available, how does PureVPN shape up compared to the others on this list? We believe that eventhough a lack of Netflix will be a deal breaker for some, PureVPN makes the best VPN services list thanks to its robust features and the price.
Ease of use: You can login to multiple phones, tablets and computers with a single account, and PureVPN have dedicated apps for each one which are easy to use. We checked out their Mac client, and found a capable service with lots of functionality.
Features: Speed is key, but it’s not the only perk. You’ll also be able to use their built-in antivirus software and their content filter, along with more traditional features. Their App Blocker can be used to control apps and websites with the VPN, and it can be used for P2P file sharing.
Customer Support: PureVPN have 24/7 support through Live Chat and ticketing.
Streaming: PureVPN appear to have given up with Netflix. Expect access to be denied.
Pricing: Price plans come with a 7-day money back guarantee.
IPVanish has a plethora of useful features for privacy and performance. Overall, if Netflix doesn’t matter to you, the choice of servers and high speeds make IPVanish an excellent option.
Ease of use: IPVanish have a range of user friendly apps across every device imaginable. We tested their Mac client and were impressed with the overall design. They also have API load balancing, which will suggest the best server for you to use.
Features: With over 800 servers in 60+ countries, speeds are quite good. Encryption is tight and they keep no logs of user data, so you’ll be free to browse every server in safety. You can also set your IP address to automatically switch after a period of time, to keep any lurkers guessing.
Reliability: With so many to choose from, you’re always likely to find a working server. It helps that they’re also happy to suggest which one is best. They have a kill switch just in case you lose connection.
Customer Support: They offer standard levels of customer support via 24/7 Live Chat.
Streaming: Another VPN to give up the fight, you’ll no longer be able to access Netflix with their service.
Pricing: All prices come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
We chose CyberGhostVPN as this service stands out in terms of intuitive mobile app and torrenting.
Ease of use: Their mobile app is intuitive, with instant feedback to alert you to any potential dangers. There are four profiles to choose from for users with different levels of experience. They also have dedicated clients for desktop computers.
Features: They offer simultaneous protection on up to five devices, additional security features, and access to 800 servers worldwide. You’ll be able to download torrents safely with CyberGhost VPN, and it’s a highly customizable experience.
Reliability: The Romanian company is noted for their reliability and their accessibility. They’ve banked on their app being their USP, and it has numerous glowing reviews on the App Store. The service itself is reasonably solid, hence the high ratings.
Customer Support: Live Chat wasn’t working during testing, so we used a contact form. It’s likely they have 24/7 support staff, but the Chat feature won’t be available at all times.
Streaming: They openly advertise that Netflix can be accessed with their service. We had no issues doing so.
Pricing: All prices come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
VyprVPN stands out on our list of best VPN services for its streaming capabilities on desktop and security.
Ease of use: VyprVPN has the typical range of clients and apps you’d expect after making it this far down the list. VyprVPN supports desktop and mobile devices and their software is easy to navigate. Connecting to a server won’t take long, and it’s easy to choose your preferred location.
Features: There’s 700+ servers to choose from, and their custom built Chameleon technology can be used to access restricted content. It’s a great combo for streaming, but that’s not all. It’ll integrate with a number of additional apps, and they have solid encryption protocols.
Reliability: They own and manage their own network to ensure better control and user satisfaction. It should translate to a smoother service, with no chance of a random drop while you’re online. Speeds are decent, but not as snappy as ExpressVPN.
Customer Support: Their customer support consists of a ticketing system, which is staffed 24/7.
Streaming: Despite a few issues in the past, VyprVPN can help you access US Netflix on desktop computers. However, the same can’t be said for phones or tablets.
Pricing: VyprVPN have split pricing into two tiers. While the regular price package is a bit lower, we recommend to opt for the Premium plan. All price plans come with a 3-day free trial.
VyprVPN Premium pricing:
Lastly, we have BufferedVPN. BufferedVPN offer good P2P services and uninterrupted connection.
Ease of use: Their client is easy to navigate on desktop devices. Once you’ve selected your server and logged in, you’ll be good to go. Mobile users will have to install the VPN manually, which is a pain compared to VPNs with dedicated clients on the App Store.
Features: They have servers located in 40 countries across the globe, and allow access for five devices simultaneously. BufferedVPN doesn’t have many additional features, but it does allow for the use of P2P services.
Reliability: We experienced no downtime during use. However, some users have reported infrequent disconnections during use, as well as further problems. There’s no kill switch, so it could be a risk if you need to keep apps, programs and websites discreet.
Customer Support: Unlike the rest on the list, they offer no form of Live Chat support. It’s infuriating if you do run into problems along the way.
Can it access US Netflix? Users have reported problems when accessing Netflix via mobile, but we had no problems with the desktop version.
Pricing: All prices come with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Whether you need to access US Netflix, bypass government restrictions, or want to increase your privacy and security while browsing online, a VPN is a must-have tool to have in your arsenal. This 2018 VPN review aims to provide you with all the details you need to make an informed decision regarding which VPN best suits your personal needs. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.