Best VPN for Windows

Windows VPN

tl;dr

Below we’ll guide you to select the best and most reliable VPN services for Windows, helping you navigate through the numerous options available, avoid subpar services, and make a sound decision for your online security needs. We cover the most important features to look for and the most popular providers such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost VPN and more.

While mobile and tablet use has exploded over the years, there’s still one type of system we still use a lot. That’s our desktop and laptop computers.

If you’re a computer user, the likelihood is that you’re one of the 74% who are using a Windows device. We certainly are.

Because Windows is so popular, it’s the system you need to secure the most, and that means VPN software is now an essential tool in that security arsenal.

Finding the best VPN for Windows is a difficult task. With well over 500 VPN providers out there, it’s tough to weed out the bad from the good and identify a quality VPN for Windows that is right for you.

In our personal experience, a lot of time and, more importantly, money can be wasted if you end up signing up for a poor VPN service.

That’s why we’ve done the research you need, and in this guide, you’ll learn not only which is the best VPN for Windows but also the most reliable, fastest, and most secure VPN for Windows too.

So which Virtual Private Network should you choose for Windows? What is the best VPN for Windows?

It’s a difficult question to answer and one we’ve been heavily testing and researching in recent months.

Below we’ve rounded up the top 7 VPNs for your Windows devices that you should be using to enhance your online security.

Top 7 Windows VPN apps

Now let’s take a look at the top 7 VPN services for Windows PC.

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN apps on multiple types of devices

Pros
  • Easy-to-use Windows app
  • Registered off-shore
  • Audited no log policy
  • Servers in 90+ countries
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Superb download speeds
Cons
  • Monthly package expensive
  • Owns VPN ‘review’ sites

ExpressVPN couples one of the best all-around VPN services with a feature-rich app alongside an extensive range of VPN clients, making them our top choice for the best VPN for Windows.

Connection on the Windows client is quick and effortless. By merely pressing their ‘Selected Location’ option, you’re presented with a whole range of VPN servers in more than 94 countries.

With a quick click and you’re connected to their server network, and your internet connection is secure. It’s really easy, and we found it great for high-pressure situations at work. You can enjoy five simultaneous connections too.

We like the simplicity from opening the ExpressVPN apps to making a connection which took just seconds and provided fast speeds when connecting to a nearby VPN server and even when hooking up further afield.

If you’re looking for added security features, then the Kill Switch, split tunneling, IPv6 and DNS leak protection options, plus the ability to choose between multiple VPN protocols, will keep you busy and help to boost your internet security.

Unblocking content around the world

We also found in our testing that it works in places like China and can unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other streaming services too. The consistently fast VPN speeds we found when testing ExpressVPN make it ideal for use with streaming services to watch shows like Stranger Things.

The service stands out for its strict no-logs policy, which means what you do while connected and your user data stays secure, and this has been audited to prove it’s true.

It is also aided by being based in the British Virgin Islands, which have strict no logs policy and data retention laws. This means not only are your VPN connections secure, but your data protection is guaranteed too.

If you need further reassurance, then the fact this was tested in a high-profile court case should put your mind at rest, and if you get stuck, they have live chat to get you sorted.

ExpressVPN is one of the best PC VPN services around. In fact, it is our view that it is one of the best VPNs on the market, full stop.

Our #1 Recommended Windows VPN

30-day money back guarantee

2. IPVanish

IPVanish Deal

Pros
  • Straightforward Windows app
  • Audited no log policy
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Reliable connections
  • Servers in 75+ regions
Cons
  • Registered in the US
  • Not the fastest

IPVanish has offered a dedicated Microsoft app for as long as we can remember, and they still make protecting Windows users a breeze with a host of great security features built on a terrific core service that makes them on of the best VPNs around.

Countries, cities and even specific server locations can be selected from the main screen of the app and with the tap of the Connect button, you’re protected within seconds. No messing about. We found it so simple even our kids could do it.

If you’re a beginner, then that’s all you need to do. If you’re after more options, then their Kill Switch, DNS and IPv6 leak protection help to protect you if your VPN connection fails.

They offer the Wireguard and OpenVPN protocol as standard alongside a range of other protocols and an obfuscate traffic option, plus more features, like split tunneling, that help to deliver a secure connection that can be found tucked away in the Settings area.

Download speeds are some of the best we’ve seen, and connections through the Windows operating system are reliable with no random disconnects experienced. We loved the reliability of their service and had almost no dropouts during our tests.

If you want to unblock Netflix or a similar streaming service like Amazon Prime Video, IPVanish is not great, however, as this VPN fails to unblock these and many other streaming services.

One of the standout features is you can have unlimited simultaneous connections, which means that you can connect unlimited devices to the service at the same time.

This can include web traffic from multiple devices, and there are other great apps, such as the iOS app, that you can use alongside your Windows systems. We used the unlimited simultaneous connections to connect over two dozen devices and all enjoyed terrific VPN protection.

There’s also a 30-day money back guarantee. IPVanish truly is one of the best VPNs for Windows users.

3. NordVPN

NordVPN Deal

Pros
  • Easy-to-use Windows app
  • Wireguard protocol
  • Registered off-shore
  • Audited no log policy
  • 30-day money back guarantee
Cons
  • Sometimes not the fastest

NordVPN is a superb VPN and offers up some of the best PC VPN software for Windows we’ve seen. If simplicity is what you’re after, as well as a huge range of VPN for PC options, then you’ll find it here in one of the best VPN services around.

Connection on your Windows device can be made from the main app window using a world map. Simply click on the country you want to connect to, and the app does the rest to give you instant access. Everyone we got to try this out loved it.

If you need a little more customisation, then you can choose specific servers from the sizeable server network that is available or some ‘Speciality Servers’. NordVPN offers obfuscated servers, and there are unlimited server switches available too.

Connections on NordVPN are consistent, and connection speeds are good for the most part. It’s a great VPN if you want to access Netflix, BBC iPlayer or other streaming services, thanks to its streaming-optimised servers.

In fact, when it comes to streaming, we would go so far as say NordVPN is one of the best VPNs for Windows out there. It never failed to unblock anything in all our tests.

NordVPN provides servers for P2P, Onion over VPN, Double VPN and Dedicated IP, which all help to hide your real IP Address. There’s also a Kill Switch built-in and their proprietary ‘CyberSec’ feature that protects your internet traffic and devices from malware, phishing and other online threats on top of their robust VPN encryption.

The service is one of the cheapest VPN services on this list and has a lengthy 30-day money back guarantee, which gives you plenty of time to test it on your Windows device.

You can also use the one service on up to 6 devices at the same time across any device type, which we found was more than enough for us, and they have regular VPN offers ideal for grabbing a bargain.

4. CyberGhost VPN

Cyberghost Website

Pros
  • Great for Streaming
  • Good download speeds
  • 45-day money back guarantee
  • Registered in Romania
Cons
  • Windows application a little big
  • Parent company owns ‘VPN review’ websites

CyberGhost VPN is the go-to service if the idea of virtual private networks scares you. It is probably the best Windows VPN service provider for newbies.

With their recently updated app for Windows, you can either use it in a basic mode which you can simply click to connect or expand the window and get a little more help. When it comes to VPNs for Windows, it doesn’t get more simple.

The Windows application has multiple servers in groups ‘for Torrenting‘, ‘for Streaming‘ plus ‘Connection features‘.

In the ‘Streaming’ section, for example, it tells you what server to connect to for what service making it easy to pick the correct VPN server and get the fastest IP addresses. There is a really good number of streaming-optimized servers to choose from.

If you need to unblock BBC iPlayer or Netflix, for example, it points you in the right direction. There are loads of other options, too, and we found them the easiest of all providers for unblocking streaming services.

Behind the scenes, you can choose a VPN protocol, enable DNS and IPv6 leak protection and a whole host of other more advanced features like choosing private IP Addresses or split tunneling. The service even offers an unbeaten 45-day money back guarantee, and customer support is on hand to resolve any issues.

CyberGhost may not be top of our list of best Windows VPNs, but if you are a beginner, it is one of the best VPN services you can choose, while there is plenty for more advanced users as well.

5. VyprVPN

VyprVPN

Pros
  • Very good Windows application
  • Audited no-log policy
  • Reliable connections
Cons
  • Not the best for streaming
  • Little server expansion in years
  • Recently switched to US jurisdiction

VyprVPN is one of the oldest names in the VPN industry, and their Windows application has been one of the best for the longest time.

Their Windows app looks fantastic, and it does everything you need from a Windows VPN. The core settings are great, and there is a large server network available to all users.

Advanced features include a Kill Switch, DNS Leak protection and the option to switch between VPN protocols. This includes their special Chameleon mode, which can smash through even the most restrictive internet firewalls (such as in China).

This VPN company recently became a fully audited no-log provider, so what you do while connected remains private. VyprVPN allows you to transfer unlimited data and they are also great for unblocking streaming services like BBC iPlayer.

Sadly, there is no more free trial which we used to love, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee to give you plenty of time to try the service and see if this is the VPN for PC you need.

6. Surfshark

Surfshark Website screengrab

Pros
  • Very good prices
  • Suitable Windows application
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • Excellent for streaming
  • Registered off-shore
Cons
  • Unaudited no-log policy

Another VPN worthy of a place on the list of best VPN for PC is Surfshark VPN.

Based in the British Virgin Islands, Surfshark does not record its users’ browsing activities or other data and offers an exceptional combination of fast connection speeds and security features to help you stay safe online and protect you from things like DNS leaks.

Surfshark offers a strict privacy policy, double VPN servers, split tunneling, a kill switch, strong encryption and security protocols, a whitelister, and much more. It also allows multiple simultaneous connections through its policy of unlimited device connections.

Those connection speeds and the number of servers they offer make Surfshark perfect for unblocking any streaming service, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and more.

Good Windows VPNs are hard to come by, but we found that Surfshark is an ideal VPN for Windows.

It will secure your internet connection, and the unlimited simultaneous connections and combination of excellent apps, browser extensions, and an exceptional Windows client make Surfshark another great option.

7. Private Internet Access VPN

PrivateInternetAccess Website

Pros
  • Good prices
  • Download speeds good
  • Lots of servers
  • Plenty of server locations
  • 30-day money back guarantee
Cons
  • Registered in the US
  • Parent company owns ‘VPN Review’ websites

Private Internet Access’s Windows client is not one for beginners, but it does still offer decent online security.

Private Internet Access VPN boasts lots of features such as selecting the remote port to connect to, which DNS servers and data encryption to use, what authentication, handshaking, unlimited bandwidth, and more.

You can get a static IP address, a kill switch, split tunneling, and there is a decent Private Internet Access privacy policy too.

Private Internet Access comes with a good number of servers on offer in a wide range of server locations, it is not bad at unblocking streaming sites like the BBC iPlayer, and there are hundreds of different IP Addresses available too.

Connection speeds are impressive without it being the fastest VPN on the market, but obviously, this will depend on your own internet speed too. We found them more than sufficient for all our needs when we tested PIA out.

Prices for Private Internet Access start from just $2.49 per month – a small price compared to many VPN companies for a very solid VPN for PC.

How we selected the above options

When we chose the listed providers above, we made sure to do so based on a list of important criteria.

These were:

1. Windows app

Obviously, the VPN has to offer a dedicated app for Windows PC. Thankfully the majority do, although there are still some VPNs on the market that don’t.

Without a dedicated app, you would need to manually set up your connection. This isn’t a problem if you’re tech-savvy, but if you’re a beginner, it could be beyond your ability.

However, since user-friendliness is one of the main goals of pretty much all VPNs, they’ve been produced for this very reason.

As a result, all of the mentioned services have an app for Windows OS, and while some are better than others, we have no hesitation in recommending them all based on our testing.

2. Ease-of-use

As mentioned, user-friendliness is of great importance, so even if you’re a user that doesn’t automatically recognise how the app works, you can still receive the added protection.

Being safe online is the number one priority in this day and age, so an app that is easy to understand, navigate, and use, in general, is critical.

We looked at which PC VPN providers could easily facilitate common online activity like secure private internet access, working and streaming on a Windows laptop by being able to unblock BBC iPlayer etc.

All of our recommendations are easy to use, and we have detailed which apps particularly stood out.

3. Leak protection

Next, you need a dedicated app that will be able to guarantee your safety and online privacy.

Otherwise, there would not be much point in using one in the first place.

While basic VPN features, such as secure protocols, are important, they can sometimes leak data and when they do, we want to know about it.

Systems like Windows especially often have quirks that could let some of your data leak outside the connection or give away identifying information.

Errors happen, and you don’t want to have your data exposed, which is why leak protections, such as DNS Leak Protection and an automatic Kill Switch, are features that we considered a must-have for any app that we recommend. Based on user feedback, we also prioritised transparency too.

4. No-log policy

Of course, it was also important for us to recommend a service that would respect user privacy on its own end.

This is why services that don’t keep logs of users’ browsing activity are the only ones that entered the top choices. You can be sure that none of the mentioned ones will do such a thing.

Many of the seven options have also been audited by third parties or even tested in a court of law to prove this to be true.

5. Price

Lastly, we considered the price of services we would recommend.

Now, this is a lesser consideration, especially since the best services are pretty much all within the same price range, but we still didn’t want to recommend something that is more expensive if there are more reasonable VPN deals for the same quality of service elsewhere.

How to choose a VPN service

Using a VPN on a Windows computer has its own considerations.

What’s suitable for a mobile VPN may not be great for a Windows VPN, for example.

When choosing a VPN for your Windows device, you should consider these four core factors. Considering these will ensure you get the best VPN for your desktop.

  • Dedicated Windows app: To make set-up quick and painless, you should ensure the service actually has a Windows app. Most do, but there are some that only cater for mobile. In this day and age, there’s no need to be setting any VPN up manually – well, not unless you really want to, but this is very much for advanced and experienced users only.
  • Advanced features: Looking for features such as a kill switch, split tunneling, DNS leak protection, RAM-only servers, a malware blocker, and IPv6 leak protection can enhance your online security. While some apps are thin on features, others add critical security options that come as an added benefit, not an added cost.
  • Money back guarantee: It’s not Windows-specific, but it’s well worth having. VPN use can be affected by so many different things. Ensuring you can get your money back if it doesn’t live up to your expectations is critical.
  • Suitable for your usage: It’s no good having a VPN if it doesn’t do what you need it to. If you’re simply after unblocking Netflix, for example, then ensure this is possible, and the download and upload speeds are sufficient. If security is your primary need, then make sure they have a high level of encryption. And so on.

Which Windows VPN is right for you?

Even though we’ve whittled down the choice to just 7 different providers, it can still feel like a really hard choice deciding between them. With a raft of different sounding features, it’s easy to be confused.

If you still can’t make your mind up, then we’ve listed the most common uses for a VPN on Windows to help you make a decision based on our testing.

If you want to protect your privacy, choose ExpressVPN. Privacy protection is a critical purpose of VPN usage. So grab ExpressVPN and make use of their high-level encryption and added features to keep yourself safe and private online whether you’re transferring P2P traffic or simply browsing the web.

If you want the easiest to use Windows VPN app, get NordVPN. With a straightforward VPN client and a 1-click connection, even the newest VPN users will be able to connect easily.

If you want to try before you buy, opt for CyberGhost VPN. CyberGhost VPN offers a 45-day money back guarantee allowing you to test without risk, and its VPN app is great to use as well.

If you want to unblock and stream media, take ExpressVPN. They work with more services than most, including all the popular services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Sky and more. If streaming content from overseas is your main use, then they have you covered.

If you want to use a VPN on many devices, choose IPVanish. The service allows you to use it on an unlimited number of devices at the same time. This isn’t just limited to your Windows computers but includes Mac OS, Android, iOS and even the Amazon Fire TV Stick devices.

Does Windows version make a difference?

VPN applications are extremely backwards compatible, and while you should definitely be using Windows 11 by now, it won’t make much difference if you’re using Windows 10 or some of the earlier editions of the same operating systems or system.

Windows style logo

Of course, if you’re using something like Windows 95 or XP you’ll probably run into compatibility issues (we did), and you really should be thinking about upgrading before anything else, not least because versions that date back this far will have their own inherent security issues.

Are there any free VPN apps?

We, like most others, highly recommend against using free VPNs such as Hotspot Shield and others over a paid VPN.

Not only are free VPNs slow, but a free VPN for Windows devices is also extremely dangerous. This is something we know many readers have found out to their cost.

Free VPN providers have been proven time and again to put your device at risk. This can be from injecting sketchy adverts into your browsing session or even utilising your network to power their paid service.

Quote

David Gewirtz of ZDNet says free services fund themselves through “advertising, data gathering, or some nastier reason”, scary indeed! [1]

It has even been discovered that many free VPN services use zero encryption which puts the data you transfer when using them at even greater risk. A lot of free VPNs will also log and sell your data to hackers, governments and even your own internet service provider. There are also well-documented links to Communist China and other deeply unpleasant regimes.

In other words, there is no such thing as a best free VPN. The best Windows VPNs are providers such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN or CyberGhost VPN, which offer you 30, 30 and 45-day money-back guarantees.

If you dislike the service, then you can get a full refund. No provider on a credible best VPNs for Windows list will ever be available for free.

If you really cannot afford a premium VPN, which all typically cost just a few dollars a month, then Proton VPN is worth a look.

Proton VPN is a well-known name and offers a decent premium VPN service. But the Proton VPN free service, while limited in scope, will give you the basic protections you need, and while we are reluctant to use the phrase best free VPN, you can at least be confident there is nothing malicious going on here and your data will be safe and secure.

How to manually set up a VPN

While it’s much easier to use one of the dedicated Windows apps provided by the above services, there may be instances where you prefer or need to do a manual set-up.

To set up your protections manually, you will need to follow a few short steps. Below we’ve listed instructions for the three most common VPN protocols.

1. OpenVPN

OpenVPN is one of the best security protocols on the market right now, and in order to set it up, you need to:

  1. Download the most recent version of the OpenVPN installer from the OpenVPN community downloads page.
  2. Install OpenVPN.
  3. Go to your VPN of choice and download the OpenVPN configuration files. If you cannot find them, ask customer support to help you out.
  4. Extract the zip file that you just downloaded and copy the extracted contents to the configuration folder in the OpenVPN installation directory.
  5. After that, go to your desktop and find the OpenVPN shortcut. Right-click on it and choose Properties. Then, go to Compatibility, check the ‘Run this program as Administrator’ box, and click OK.
  6. Launch OpenVPN GUI by double-clicking on the desktop shortcut, and once you are in, you will see an OpenVPN system tray icon in the bottom-right corner. Right-click on that, select a server to connect to and hit Connect.
  7. If the tray icon is green at this point, you have connected successfully to one of the many new IP Addresses available, and you are ready to browse the web.

2. IKEv2

To set up IKEv2, you need to follow these steps:

  1. On your Windows desktop, click the Start button and press the Settings cog on the left-hand side.
  2. Select Network & Internet in the newly-opened window
  3. On the left sidebar, select the option called ‘VPN.’
  4. Click on the Add a VPN connection.
  5. You will now have to fill out a form. For VPN provider, select Windows (built-in). For Connection name, call it whatever you want. For Server name or address, enter the address of the server that you wish to connect to. You can get it from your provider. Lastly, for VPN type, select IKEv2.
  6. You will also have to enter Username and Password for your VPN.
  7. Check the ‘Remember my sign-in info’ and hit Save.
  8. At this point, your connection to one of your VPNs new IP Addresses should be created. Click on it, click Connect, and once it connects, you are done.

Windows IKEv2 connection settings

3. L2TP

First follow steps 1-4 from IKEv2 above, as they’re the same. Then continue with the following steps:

  1. VPN provider select Windows (built-in). Connection name give a name that you will remember. For Server name or address enter the address of the VPN server you’re connecting to.
  2. For VPN type choose ‘L2TP/IPSec with pre-shared key‘.
  3. Get the key from your VPN provider and enter it in the Pre-shared key box.
  4. Fill in your username and password as required.
  5. Press Save.
  6. Click Connect from the connections area.

How to disable IPv6 on Windows

You may wish to disable IPv6, and in many cases, it would be recommended.

The reason for this is that it has been troublesome in the past, and it can cause numerous issues, with leaks being one of them.

To do this, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Start by right-clicking on your Wi-Fi icon on the bottom-right side of the screen.
  2. Select ‘Open Network and Internet Settings‘.
  3. Within, once again, go to ‘Change Adapter Options‘. Once the list of adapters opens, right-click on the active network adapter (Wi-Fi or Ethernet), and select Properties.
  4. In the newly-opened window, you will see a list. Scroll down the list until you find Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6).
  5. Uncheck the box next to this, and save the change by clicking OK.
  6. Restart your PC, and you’re done.

IPv6 setting being disabled

In Summary

Recap of Top 7 VPNs for Windows

In this guide, we have outlined the top 7 VPNs based on our extensive testing.

ExpressVPN came top of the pile thanks to its terrific overall service and excellent Windows VPN app, which blew us away in testing.

IPVanish’s recent service improvements mean it deservedly holds onto second place overall, while NordVPN’s extensive range of features and low prices means it again scores a place in the top three.

Of the other providers we have recommended, CyberGhost VPN is great for beginners, VyprVPN offers an exceptional Windows app, Surfshark is cheap and does the core stuff well, and even Private Internet Access is worthy of a place on the list.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a VPN for Windows

As we have discussed in more detail above, the key thing is to find a VPN that works on Windows and which does the things you need well.

If you are a streamer or a gamer, you need to prioritise speed, beginners need to look at app usability, and security and privacy-conscious users need to look at how well they will be protected.

Our list ranks the best overall VPNs for Windows, but as we have detailed, the best VPN for you may not be top of our list.

Our Top Pick for the Best VPN for Windows.

Having said that, the best overall VPN for Windows is head and shoulders above the rest and continues to set the standards by which other VPNs are measured.

In our testing and our personal use, ExpressVPN remains the top VPN for Windows users. It has the apps, the speeds, the security, the server network, the features, and everything else you need.

If you want a VPN that can do everything for everyone, it has to be ExpressVPN: the best Windows VPN.

Our #1 Recommended Windows VPN

30-day money back guarantee

References

  1. ZDNet | How to find the best VPN service

Other articles you may like

Illustration © haris mustofa | Dreamstime.com

Author: Christopher Seward

Having used the internet since 1994, Christopher launched one of the very first VPN comparison websites in 2013. An expert in the field his reviews, testing and knowledge have helped thousands of users get the correct VPN for their needs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *