Searching for a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service can be a time-consuming experience, let alone finding the ‘best'.
With so VPNs and so much outdated information, it can be impossible to weed out the excellent recommendations from the poor ones.
Thankfully, after more than eight years of testing VPN services, we've learnt a trick or two about how to spot a reliable VPN service, so we've been scouring the web for the very top VPN services for this year.
We discovered there are some good newcomers, a host of reliable old names and some that have dropped in quality since last year.
But which VPN should you choose this year?
While there is a lot of Virtual Private Network options, one sure thing is you can get more for your money and there are VPN services that are a whole lot better than others.
Without question, our favourite VPN for 2021 is ExpressVPN. If you've got time to make some comparison, there are other exciting options.
Below we've listed the 21 Best VPN services for 2021 giving you plenty of options for securing your online privacy, unblocking TV services, bypassing censorship and more.
The Top VPNs for 2021:
Below are our top 21 choices of VPN services you should be using this year.
ExpressVPN is one of the oldest Virtual Private Network services in existence and they've cemented their reign at the top of the pack over the years.
This has been tested in an extremely high-profile case and verified with an audit. And with the VPN provider being based in the British Virgin Islands, you can rest assured that their privacy policies are as strong as they claim.
ExpressVPN will also provide you with AES 256 encryption on each server and a kill switch to keep your web traffic secure, preventing your actual IP address being revealed.
If you've got plenty of devices, then ExpressVPN has an unbeaten range of easy to use apps that will tick that box.
There's a VPN app for most devices such as Apple iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS, Amazon Fire TV / Stick, Linux and some select routers. There are even web-browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
You can have 5 simultaneous connections connected to their VPN servers at once, each connected to a different server with a different IP address.
One of the standout features is how well they work to unblock streaming services. Everything from Netflix to BBC iPlayer and more.
ExpressVPN offers prices as low as $6.49 (£5.09) per month which is a steal for what you're getting.
If you need any questions answering during your subscription, they offer a 24/7 support.
If all that VPN-goodness wasn't enough on its own there's a whopping 30-day money-back guarantee allowing you to take the service for a spin risk-free. Plus if you sign up now, you can save 49% off exclusively for our readers.
ExpressVPN is the top VPN service for 2021, you can't go wrong with this VPN provider.
Our #1 Recommended VPN
30-day money back guarantee
2. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN is a provider that's been in the game for years and throughout 2020 and into 2021, they've been working hard to offer more than the competition.
Unlike other providers, they update their app in giant version steps. They recently released a significant update which made using their range of apps more uniform across all devices while making them even easier to connect and use and with an easy to use user interface.
Apps are available for all devices including Android and iOS, Windows and Mac OS, Linux, Routers and the Amazon Fire TV Stick. We really liked the Amazon app, which makes unblocking services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer and others a breeze.
In fact, for Netflix alone, CyberGhost VPN unblocks more regions than most, including the American, German & French Netflix sites. Plus their apps point you in the correct direction for unblocking other services.
They offer a large number of servers (over 6700+) with over 111 server locations, allowing you to bypass geo-restrictions all over the globe. They even offer a dedicated IP address service.
The service allows you to have 7 simultaneous connections, and they have what they call a ‘strict' no-logging policy plus there's an unbeaten 45-day money-back guarantee.
CyberGhost's two-year plan and three-year plan will provide you with the best bang for your buck.
All of the above makes them one of the best VPNs for 2021.
The NordVPN name is everywhere these days and you'll see their logo sponsoring tons of different services, Youtubers and more. NordVPN has become a behemoth of a VPN service.
Like all good Virtual Private Network services, NordVPN has a no-log policy and in late 2018 they had this audited by the PricewaterhouseCoopers company, one of the largest auditor companies in the world.
NordVPN did have a security blip in 2019 which you may want to consider but moving into 2021 they've recommitted themselves to improving their security.
NordVPN's service offers an extensive range of apps covering all the most popular devices including Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS and the Amazon Fire TV Stick. There's also a Debian Linux app and browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
The NordVPN apps are some of the best we've used with a simple interface with advanced features such as leak protection, a multihop VPN (double IP address change), a dedicated IP address, and a kill switch. Their Amazon Fire TV VPN app especially stands out for ease-of-use and quick interaction.
American Netflix is unblocked on all NordVPN servers so you can connect to your local server and access the US catalogue. Other unblocked services include BBC iPlayer, NBC Sports, ITV Hub and many more.
With the ability to have 6 simultaneous connections, you can connect to any VPN server on all your devices.
Nord offers a 30-day money-back guarantee to giving you plenty of time to test the service. NordVPN is definitely up there with the best VPN services.
IPVanish has upped their game through 2020 leading into 2021 locking down what has been a reliable and reputable service for many years.
After some confusion in 2018 over a historical law-enforcement case, they reaffirmed their commitment to their no-logging policy which claims not to store any details of your usage or connection information.
They have a modest VPN server list, a built-in kill switch, leak protection, and other excellent features.
IPVanish increased their concurrently connected device limit to an unlimited number of simultaneous connections making this one of the most generous in the industry. If you've got plenty of family members or a large selection of devices you need securing, then they're pretty much unbeaten on this score.
They rely on shared IP addresses over using a dedicated IP address. This can be a good and a bad thing depending on what you're after.
A broad range of apps is available for Windows and Mac OS, Android and Apple iOS and the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
There's now a 24/7 live customer support service, so if you get stuck you can get assistance regardless of the time of day (or night). They now also offer the standard 30-day money-back guarantee. IPVanish is one of the great VPN services for 2021.
VyprVPN is another big industry name and a service that has been built on reliability.
One area that always let VyprVPN down was their rather lengthy logging policy but in 2019 that all changed. At the end of 2018, it was announced that VyprVPN is now a fully no-log VPN service.
They even went one step further and published a full audit of this carried out by a third party.
This is excellent news because it means it's a VPN service that is not only one of the best VPNs, it's now as secure as the competition in terms of privacy protection, they also use AES 256 encryption to ensure your internet connection is secure.
With a good-sized server list containing 600+ servers, you'll have no trouble finding a reliable server to connect to. However, this is a much smaller server list when compared to other providers.
VPN apps are available for major devices including Windows, Mac OS, Android and iOS. Sadly there's no Amazon VPN app, so if you're a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick user you'll need to look elsewhere.
The three-day trial was retired a few years back but for 2021 they have a 30-day money-back guarantee matching other VPN providers.
If you want a craft-VPN made by security professionals without the fancy advertising bells and whistles, then VPN.ac is the service for you.
They don't shout too much about their service so you may not have heard of them but putting their lack of marketing aside, there's an exceptional VPN service underneath. Even with a small server list of 130, they hold their own.
What sets them aside is their additional features such as high levels of encryption and specific modes and assistance for users in repressive regimes like China.
VPN apps are available for all major devices allowing you to use this security-professional quality service without needing a degree in computer science.
One area that lets the VPN's service down is lack of server locations. VPN servers are strategically placed across the world so should be suitable for most but you may need to check they've got servers near your location before signing up. The servers they do offer are faster than most.
Surfshark VPN made a huge entrance into the VPN market in 2019.
They've become one of the top providers recommended across the industry which is mainly down to the fact the company has done almost everything correctly from the get-go. With a server list of over 3200+, you'll love them.
Surfshark VPN has robust security (AES 256) and an easy to use VPN app that works on almost all devices including iOS, Android, and many others. They'll keep your internet traffic secure regardless of what devices you use.
With a handful of useful features such as a built-in kill switch, split tunnelling, and DNS leak protection, you'll have everything you need from this VPN service provider.
Surfshark VPN allow you to have an unlimited number of simultaneous connections at once, so you can have a secure VPN internet connection on any of your devices.
The company also offer a Whitelister feature that uses split tunnelling to allow certain apps to bypass the Virtual Private Networks connection. This is useful for apps that require a local IP address such as banking apps or betting apps.
Not only are Surfshark VPN strong on security but they're great for unblocking content from across the world and work with a huge range of different Netflix regions – more than most.
To top it off Surfshark offers 24/7 support, a 30-day money-back guarantee and they have ultra-low prices on their extended subscription periods. Surfshark VPN is definitely one to consider this year.
Everyone loves Private Internet Access, or so it seems. They're one of the largest VPN services in the industry and most attractive is their low price. In fact, they have one of the largest number of servers available (server list of nearly 24,000), so you'll never struggle to find a secure VPN server.
If cost is an issue for you when choosing a VPN then Private Internet Access is where you should look this year. While their monthly package is priced similarly to many other providers, it's their 1-year packages where you can really make a saving.
At just $2.91 per month respectively, which is £2.19 at current rates, it makes them one of the cheapest VPN services available.
User reviews are good from this budget provider and in our tests, we also found them to offer a great service for the price. The number of countries available continues to grow rapidly.
The company were also bought out by Kape Technologies at the end of 2019 (which acts as a parent company) owners of CyberGhost, our #2 choice.
One of their standout features is the ability to pay using gift cards which means you don't need to enter any personal details when signing up. Couple this with their no-log policy and you've got a secure service.
They also allow 10 simultaneous connections so you can connect to their large number of servers on all of your devices.
PIA now offer a 24/7 live chat, which is great news for anyone who wants to use a VPN service. Not only will you have a secure VPN connection, but you'll have expert help only a click away.
They recently upped their guarantee from 7 days to 30 days. It is still short of CyberGhost's 45 day money back guarantee, but 30 days is more than enough to put the VPN connection through its paces.
PIA are up there with the best VPN service providers, I'm sure you'll be happy.
ProtonVPN is a name that may sound familiar if you have an interest in online privacy products.
They're a Swiss team behind the famous ProtonMail. Renowned for operating one of the top secure email services, the team behind ProtonMail branched out into VPN services a few years back.
There is a limited free service but it is extremely minimal so you'll probably want to opt for one of their subscription services. These start from €4 but for more features, you'll want to check out their €8 package.
The service claims to be a no-log VPN service and is registered in Switzerland meaning they're under no requirements to retain data on what you do while connected.
The VPNs' server locations are a little thin on the ground and they do have a fewer number of servers overall in comparison to the competition but they're still one to be on your radar this year.
VPNCity is a relative newcomer to the VPN industry but they've proven they can hold themselves against the bigboys.
There is nothing that particularly stands out about the service, however, it is a service that can compete with all other good providers out there.
We found their server speeds to be excellent and while we aren't too keen on the layout of their apps there is nothing inherently bad with them either.
Couple all that with a 30-day money-back guarantee and all the security features you would expect and you've got a decent service to consider.
StrongVPN had a complete overhaul in 2018 which makes them all the more useful moving forward into 2021.
They've got apps for all the most popular devices and their redesigned interface not only makes them easier to use but also better served to get you protected quicker.
Standout features include their 12 concurrent connected device limit and their 30-day money-back guarantee. StrongVPN now allows you to connect more devices than any other provider with a limit at the same time with just one account.
While you're unlikely to need a 12-device limit any time soon, it does future-proof the service as IoT devices are ever more prevalent.
If you're a Netflix fan, then StrongVPN has you covered. They've been one of the most reliable for unblocking American Netflix over the past few years so if you're planning on cutting the cord in 2021a or you just want extra movies and TV the service has you covered.
Apps are available for Windows, Mac OS, Android, Apple iOS and a neat Amazon Fire TV Stick app.
VPNHub is a relative newcomer to the VPN industry bursting onto the scene in 2018. They have however got some interesting features that make them stand out from the competition.
One of the most surprising facts behind the service is adult-industry giants, PornHub owns them. There's no need to panic though because apart from ownership there's little to link the two services together.
What it does mean though is the service is supported by a company with deep pockets which hopefully means they'll be able to expand and offer features with higher speed and resources than other services.
We like their extended 7-day free trial. You're able to test the service without paying. You will need to enter some payment details but then you get a completely free unrestricted 7-day trial.
Apps are available for Android, Apple iOS, Windows and Mac allowing you to get secure on any device.
AirVPN's website is like a throwback to the late '90s but don't let the weird exterior put you off.
It's a VPN service that favours technical users so if you're new to VPN use, then it's probably not somewhere you want to start.
However, if you like to delve under the hood and extended security measures are on your radar then it's a service you should be checking out to secure you in 2021.
A number of servers are available in just 20 countries. Hence, they're not quite as widespread as some of the other options, however, user reviews are favourable for the VPN servers they do offer and speeds are above average.
There are some requirements for getting a refund such as not using it more than three days or transferring over 5 Gb of data. So test wisely if you're unsure it's the service for you.
WeVPN is a relatively new VPN service, so if you haven't heard of them, don't be surprised.
A standout feature is they're active at working with almost all the popular streaming services. So whether you want to access BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Disney+ or many other services, you'll be covered here. They also have apps for most devices.
Locations are offered in 31 countries although they are currently a little light on the number of servers. This is to be expected from a new service and we would expect to see them expand as their userbase increases.
Like any decent VPN service, they offer a lengthy 30-day money-back guarantee so you've got plenty of time to test the VPN.
TunnelBear is the service with the terrible bear puns but behind the cutesy character, there's a worthy VPN service.
You can try the service using their free-trial but it's hugely restricted and with just 500 MB of transfer, unless you're visiting websites designed in 1995 and that alone it won't be enough for most needs.
Their monthly service isn't overly expensive but the best savings can be made when signing up for a year. The service is excellent if you're a beginner who wants to protect your privacy or unblocking a few streaming services without being bogged down by technical terms.
Sadly it doesn't work with Netflix but for all other uses, it's a reliable service. While we won't be writing home to rave about it, there are some neat features that are worth checking out.
ibVPN is no longer in operating after selling to J2 Global, Inc owners of VPN providers such as IPVanish, Encrypt.me and StrongVPN.
The service has now been rolled into the StrongVPN service.
If you're after trying some experimental modes then IVPN is a good place to get started. They introduced WireGuard and became one of the first providers to do so.
Outside of experimental modes, apps are covering the major devices such as Android, Apple iOS, Windows and Mac but that's about the limit to the dedicated apps selection.
While server locations across North America and Europe are widely available, they are more sparse across the rest of the world and apart from one or two locations in Asia and Australia, you may need to pass if you're on that side of the world.
The VPNs' prices are a little on the high side so if you're going to sign up, you're going to need to take their annual service because anything else is just too highly-priced.
Not many VPNs offer different package choices in 2021 so if you're after some options when you subscribe then CactusVPN's array of different options should be right up your street.
If you're just after a couple of servers in the UK or US you can make some huge savings meaning you don't need to pay for features you're not going to use.
For just a few dollars more you can get access to their entire service which spans 22 countries although if you're a P2P user then it's worth noting that only some of their locations allow P2P usage.
Apps are available for all major devices plus they offer an Amazon app for the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick which is an excellent bonus.
SnowHaze is somewhat of a newcomer to the VPN industry launching in 2018 which is why we haven't ranked them any higher. However, they're an interesting VPN provider and definitely one to watch to see what they bring this year.
Registered in Switzerland this small privacy offering has entered the market in a big way.
At the time of writing an app for Apple iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad is the only one available which is a big negative but we would expect more apps to become available as they flourish.
We really like the security provisions behind the service which include high levels of encryption and an industry-first offering the same login credentials for every user. In theory, this should make individual usage and sessions indistinguishable.
SnowHaze haven't yet proven themselves so exercise a little caution, however, as we say, one to watch this year.
LiquidVPN is one of the longest-running VPN services that you've probably never heard of.
A small VPN services operating out of America they've been offering a more personalised service to customers across the globe for many years. If you're tired of the big VPN services with an impersonal outlook then head to LiquidVPN.
The company is staffed by a few security professionals your tickets and help request queries will be answered by one of them in human form, rather than a simple cut and paste robotic type response.
If you like to unblock streaming services then you may have better luck with LiquidVPN. Their servers have been less hammered by users trying to unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer and the likes so it's more likely those services do not block them.
There's no app for Apple iOS devices so look elsewhere if this is a requirement but Android, Windows and Mac OS are covered.
IronSocket is another VPN provider which has been around a long time and built up a reputation over the years.
While they're not quite as well-known as some of the more prominent names they've continued to offer a respectable VPN service to users across the globe.
One of the standout features of IronSocket is less the VPN service but more the SmartDNS that comes with it.
The SmartDNS service lets you unblock most online streaming services with next to no speed loss. It doesn't offer the security of the VPN but if you're a streaming-fiend then you'll appreciate the speed benefit.
One area which lets down the IronSocket service is a lack of apps. They have some but for many devices, you'll need to set it up manually. If you're uncomfortable doing this then we recommend you stick with the likes of ExpressVPN, our #1 VPN service.
How to choose a VPN?
Before you start looking at individual virtual private network services and using a VPN, it's essential to consider some factors.
If you take these into account when searching for a VPN service, you'll end up getting a much stronger service in the long run.
Remembering to consider these when picking VPNs can save you a lot of wasted time and effort and ensure you're getting the most for your money.
- Range of apps: The days of needing to set up a VPN manually have long gone. Look for a provider that offers apps for your devices. At the bare minimum this should be Android, iOS, Windows and Mac but more commonly the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Linux devices are being supported.
- Concurrent connections: VPNs let you use their service on anywhere between 5 and an unlimited number of different devices at the same time. We've all got more internet-connected devices than ever so ensuring you can use the VPN service on them all is critical.
- Money-back guarantee: Without question, aim to be using a VPNs that offers a money-back guarantee. Some services only provide 7-day guarantees but opting for one with a 30-day money-back guarantee will give you an entire month to see the service working in different situations.
Now you know a few of the crucial factors to consider when choosing a VPN, check out the options above.
Which VPN is right for you?
There's a lot of options when it comes to using a VPN service and it can be overwhelming.
One of the easiest ways to reduce that is to look at your main types of usage.
There is no ‘one-size fits all' approach when it comes to choosing a VPN. With that in mind, we've listed a few of the most common types of VPN use to help you make a decision which of the best VPN services should you sign up for.
If you want strong privacy protection, choose ExpressVPN. Being registered off-shore and having a tested no-log policy gives you a higher level of protection than most. Couple that with industry-standard encryption, a built in kill switch, and other security features, there aren't many providers that come close.
If you want a large range of apps, choose NordVPN. With apps for more devices than most, it's easy to get connected quickly. They're also really well designed which makes using them as a beginner a breeze.
If you want to secure a large range of devices, choose IPVanish. With an unlimited device limit, they offer more connections than 99% of other VPNs. If you've got an incredibly connected household or small office then these are the go-to guys.
If you want to unblock Netflix and more, choose ExpressVPN or NordVPN. Both these services unblock more TV services than most, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and others all work well plus they can be streamed on most devices.
If you want to test without commitment, choose VPNHub. With a completely free 7 day trial you don't need to part with any cash to test their service.
If you want a beginner-friendly VPN, choose CyberGhost VPN. With helpful apps that show you where to connect for what purpose it's difficult to go wrong with these.
If you're a bit of a pro and want something extra, choose VPN.ac. If you know what you're doing and want those extra security features then the additional VPN security features provided here will satisfy your needs.
What's the best free VPN?
After so many scare stories in 2019 and 2020, it's definitely not recommended to use a free VPN service.
Not only are free VPN apps painfully slow but they also put the safety of your devices at risk.
Many free VPN apps inject adverts into your browsing sessions, have low data transfer limits and some are just downright dangerous either installing viruses and trojans onto your device or passing your data back to questionable locations such as China.
If that wasn't enough to put you off using a free VPN, you'll also struggle to find a reliable server with plenty of IP addresses to use.
There aren't many VPN services that offer free trials these days so it's worth taking advantage of the money-back guarantees on offer which allows you to test risk-free up to 30-days or sometimes more.
Is a VPN necessary in 2021?
VPN usage is no longer reserved for the tech geeks and those downloading movies from questionable sources.
2019 become the year where ordinary folk started to take more of an interest in their online security and privacy by using a VPN and 2021 is the year where mass uptake of VPN services has become commonplace.
Not only are they great apps to protect your online life but they're also a sweet way to open up your online entertainment catalogue too.
Unblocking the likes of Netflix and watching BBC iPlayer from any country has become a big part of VPN usage.
If you use public Wi-Fi then you will 100% need to use a VPN. Unlike your home Wi-Fi connection, public Wi-Fi isn't as secure and can cause privacy issues for yourself.
Without question this year will see more security breaches and privacy issues and with so much extra content to stream throughout the year, 2021 is the year you need to use a VPN.
In Summary: Let's wrap this up
In 2021 you need a VPN to protect your private information such as your email address, browsing history, IP addresses, etc. However, it's important to use a VPN that is from a reputable company who respects your privacy.
Out of all the best VPN providers, the best VPN service for 2021 is definitely ExpressVPN as they've proven themselves consistently over the years.
The company has been providing a rock-solid VPN service for the past few years and the security features they offer and the ability to unblock more content than most there's little reason to look elsewhere.
ExpressVPN sets the bar high for all other VPN companies, so if you're looking for a secure VPN connection then I highly recommend you check out their service as they are the best VPN in my opinion.
With server locations around the world, thousands of IP addresses, your privacy is ExpressVPN's number 1 priority.
We understand though that VPNs aren't a one-size-fits-all service which is why we've rounded up 20 other VPNs you'll want to look at this year.
If you can't make your mind up then take a look at ExpressVPN, if you don't agree with our assessment, then the company offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
If you've got a little more time to do research, then take a look at some of the other 20 best VPN services as there's little reason to look elsewhere.