Top Best VPN Service Providers in 2019
As data security and overreaching governments become more of a concern, web users are increasingly worried about keeping their online information safe. This – coupled with a rise in geography-locked content and websites – has created the perfect storm for a boom in the VPN industry. And just like any boom, the VPN marketplace is currently experiencing an influx of providers competing for consumer attention.
But choosing a VPN provider is difficult. All VPN companies make large claims about their services, but few deliver an exceptional product. It's essential to do further digging if you want to ensure your provider offers you security and performance.
So, with so many options to choose from, what are the best VPNs on the market? My best VPN reviews take a look at the most exceptional providers in the industry. Below are my top seven VPNs currently available to web users:
- NordVPN Premium features, affordable pricing
- Private Internet Access (PIA) Extensive feature list, affordable price
- ExpressVPN Extensive sever locations, high-end performance
- ProtonVPN Focus on data-security, free option for users
- CyberGhost Extensive feature list, excellent performance
- TorGuard Extensive torrent support, multiple encryption options
- Hotspot Shield Fastest download speeds in the industry
Recommended for: Premium VPN features at an affordable price
If you've spent much time looking for a VPN, NordVPN has probably made quite a few appearances in your research. This giant VPN provider is currently headquartered in Panama – a jurisdiction that helps users avoid the controls of intrusive Western nations. NordVPN is packed with some of the most premium features in the industry.
NordVPN ensures its users have access to a secure platform when connected to its various servers. Encryption at NordVPN is certainly up-to-par. In fact, it uses AES 256-bit encryption to secure all of its users' web traffic. If you haven't heard of this encryption standard before, it's the same encryption standard previously employed by the NSA and other US Government institutions to secure sensitive information.
NordVPN also provides an extra level of encryption security via DoubleVPN – a service that encrypts your data twice for added security. DoubleVPN is available with all NordVPN subscriptions.
But NordVPN's security protocols don't stop there. The company also provides one of the few genuine no-logging policies in the industry. It doesn't record any of your IP address data or browsing history. Therefore, in practice, if a government or hacker was able to get hold of NordVPN's information, they still wouldn't be able to find out anything about your web activity.
Access Your Favorite Online Media
Accessing foreign content is one of the various benefits you may receive from using a VPN provider. But, most VPN providers don't actually bypass the world's best geo-locking methods. NordVPN, though, when tested on both Netflix and Hulu, didn't have any issues connecting to their servers. You can also access torrents using NordVPN's servers, as the company openly supports P2P usage.
Plenty of Performance Under the Hood
While NordVPN does offer access to overseas content, it's a worthless feature if your VPN speed is too slow. While every VPN reduces your speed to some extent, the best providers retain as much performance as possible. I put NordVPN's servers to the test – and what did I find?
NordVPN does an excellent job of keeping your internet up to speed. My normal download speeds clocks in at around 70 Mbps – after connecting to NordVPN's servers, my download speed clocked in at just over 52 Mbps – that's considerably over 70% speed retention!
Extensive Server Options
If you want to access a variety of different servers, NordVPN is definitely a potential option. With over 5,000 servers in around 60 different countries , you're never short of a server to connect to on this VPN platform. While its server list provides users with the ability to pick and choose, it also has a more functional benefit. If one server isn't performing the way you want to, you can simply switch to another option in the same country.
Prices Almost Anyone Can Afford
Lastly, NordVPN is truly one of the most affordable VPN products available. You won't have to think twice about signing up for their services. If you're someone who is willing to pay upfront for a long-term subscription, you'll be able to take advantage of a $2.99 per month price point (for the three-year plan). You'll be hard pressed to find a deal like this anywhere else.
- Extremely fast internet retention speeds
- Bypasses foreign content locks
- Offers AES 256-bit encryption
- Extra security with DoubleVPN
- A true no-logging policy
- Over 5,000 servers to choose from
- Affordable prices for any budget
- The three-year plan required for best price points
2. Private Internet Access (PIA)
Recommended for: An affordable VPN with various encryption choices
Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the most popular US-based VPN providers on the market. While its location in the United States is slightly concerning, the rest of its features ensure this is one of the best options available. The company provides extensive security and performance related benefits that you don't find in many other VPN options.
Your Encryption, Your Choice
One of my favorite features at PIA is its custom encryption standards. While many VPN providers offer you one encryption standard on their VPN portals, PIA goes above and beyond to allow you to easily choose which level of encryption you prefer. PIA offers both AES 256-bit encryption and AES-128 encryption; these are some of the strongest encryption standards on the market.
If you're looking to keep your data extra secure, AES 256-bit encryption is your ideal choice. While those who value extra performance are likely to benefit more from AES 128-bit.
As with most top VPN providers, PIA offers more than just encryption for its customers. It also has a genuine no-log policy that prevents your data being stored by its servers. Considering this VPN is located in the United States, this policy provides an extra level of comfort.
Choose Your Server
PIA is another VPN provider that offers its clients access to plenty of different servers. While the company doesn't have as many country locations as NordVPN (PIA has only 33), you still have access to over 3,000 worldwide servers. That way, if one is not acting right, you can choose another!
No International Streams, But Plenty of Torrents
I tested PIA on Netflix and Hulu to find out how capable it was of bypassing country restrictions. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to gain access to either site on a consistent basis. While this is disappointing, PIA does support torrents on its platform, meaning you can access as much P2P content as you want.
Speed That Backs Up Its Reputation
If you're planning on downloading large files or torrenting with your VPN, PIA provides excellent performance capabilities for its clients. I tested its various servers to see what type of speed retention PIA had to offer. My speed on PIA servers was reduced from 70 Mbps to just over 54 Mbps – this provided me with a speed retention rate of over 77%. It's hard to fault this level of performance as, in truth, you won't notice much difference between your normal connection and PIA.
- Fast server speeds for clients
- Two strong encryption choices
- Access to torrents
- Over 3,000 servers to choose from
- No-logging of your online activity
- Affordable price points (starting from just $2.91 per month with long subscription)
- No international streaming capabilities
- Only 33 server countries
- Need a long plan to take advantage of cheap prices
- Located in the United States
Recommended for: International VPN servers and high-end performance
ExpressVPN is another big-shot in the modern VPN world. It's part of a growing list of VPN providers locating their operations offshore. It's currently headquartered in the British Virgin Islands. But there's much more on offer with this VPN than just jurisdiction. In fact, its feature list is truly overwhelming.
Encryption That's Impossible to Hack
ExpressVPN is another provider on my list that offers true military-grade encryption standards. With AES 256-bit encryption, you'll rest assured that your online traffic is safe on unsecured networks and hidden from your ISP. Considerable encryption research suggests the only current way to hack this level of encryption is to have knowledge of the secure keys. There are simply too many combinations on offer to bypass this level of security.
And, as you may expect, ExpressVPN does not hold any of your data on its servers. Its rigid no-log policy prevents your information from exposure to outside sources, hackers, and government requests.
Speed and Online Content
With strong encryption already in play, does ExpressVPN really offer speed retention that keeps your online downloads moving quickly? I connected to a few of ExpressVPN's top servers to check out what it had to offer. My normal download rate of 70 Mbps only suffered a small hit, while my new speed came in at over 58 Mbps! With over 80% speed retention , this is one of the quickest VPNs I've ever tested.
Naturally, I also tested ExpressVPN on different online media providers to see if it as up to the challenge. Both Hulu and Netflix were easily accessible using this provider. Content lovers can definitely use this service when they're traveling abroad! ExpressVPN is also very open to the use of torrents on its servers. You don't need to fear P2P restrictions on this platform.
A Truly International VPN
With so much speed at your disposal, it's important that you can use it around the world. ExpressVPN offers its clients access to a serious number of countries. With over 90 countries to choose from , you'll never feel restricted when you log into ExpressVPN. The firm also has over 2,000 servers spread throughout its locations.
Not a Budget VPN
Unfortunately, ExpressVPN is one of the most expensive options in the industry. But hey! All good things come at a price, right? Even if you sign up for one of its long-term plans, you'll have to pay a minimum of $8.32 per month. Make sure you can afford this VPN before you buy it – because when you do, you're not going to want to leave.
- Access to over 90 countries around the world
- Some of the fastest download speeds available
- Access to torrents and P2P sharing
- Netflix and Hulu work perfectly
- AES 256-bit encryption
- None of your data or web traffic is logged
- Much more expensive than many of its competitors
Recommended for: Strong data-security and solid performance
ProtonVPN is the only Switzerland-based VPN provider on my list. Its jurisdiction is conveniently located in a country that employs strict privacy laws. It's considered one of the safest European countries for VPN providers. And don't worry, there's plenty more that makes this an excellent choice.
Famous Founders: Best VPN for Privacy
One of the most notable aspects of ProtonVPN is its origin. The firm was recently started by the developers that opened ProtonMail around five years ago. ProtonMail has exploded in popularity around the world. It's one of the top encrypted email platforms available to web users. Most VPNs are secretive about their origins, so it's refreshing to find a provider that was started by titans in the data-security world.
Because of ProtonMail's strict loyalty to online data security, the firm uses the world-class AES 256-bit encryption standard. It also refuses to log any of your IP address information and web usage information. If you truly value privacy, it's nice to have a VPN provider that's just as committed to the cause.
Speed You Can Rely On
Sometimes VPNs require you to sacrifice performance for security – not ProtonVPN, though. This provider still has some of the best performance ratings in the industry. I did my own tests on its servers to confirm the rumors, and my normal internet speed of 70 Mbps clocked in at 53.4 Mbps after connecting to ProtonVPN. This is another VPN service on my list that's offering retention rates of around 75%.
ProtonVPN doesn't just offer speed and security, the platform also has a range of premium features that keep it competitive with the industry's major players. I tested its servers on Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube and had no problem accessing overseas portals. ProtonVPN also fully supports torrents. So, it's a great partner if you want to shield your torrent use from your ISP.
You'll also gain access to over 300 servers in 29 worldwide countries. While this is much less impressive than some other providers on this list, it's still a decent amount of access if you're looking for a VPN with international capabilities.
A Premium Free Option
It's rare to find a VPN that offers more than just a free trial. But ProtonVPN offers its customers a truly free option. You can access three servers on one device completely free of charge. While the free plan has reduced features and limited servers, it's still an awesome way to access high-end security without having to pay.
- Started by famous data-security experts
- AES 256-bit encryption for all users
- No-logging of your online activity
- Located in Switzerland
- Unlocked overseas content and streams
- Supports torrent use on servers
- Around 75% speed retention rate
- Customer support options still not on par with many competitors
- Not as many servers as other providers
- Free option doesn't include full features
Recommended for: Excellent overall features and performance
CyberGhost is most definitely one of the lesser-known VPN providers on my list. Fortunately, this Romanian-based VPN provider is a bit of a hidden gem. Its secretive location is just the start of its numerous benefits, earning a reputation on the same level as some of the industry's biggest providers.
Excellent Service for Online Media Users
If you're looking for access to streaming and torrents, you'll find plenty on offer at CyberGhost. This VPN provider had no problems accessing Netflix on a range of different country servers. It also fully supports torrent use on its platform.
Fortunately, CyberGhost also offers plenty of speed – the perfect match for downloading torrents or streaming your favorite TV shows. I tested its primary servers to get a gauge on what it was offering. Fortunately, around 79% of my download speed was retained. I went from 70 Mbps to 55.3 Mbps – you'll hardly notice the difference.
Strong Overall Security – With One Drawback
CyberGhost offers industry-leading AES 256-bit encryption for all its users – it's the perfect encryption standard to create a secure tunnel for your web traffic. The only problem with CyberGhost's security is allegations the company uses third-party resources that may access your data; an allegation that CyberGhost vehemently denies.
Other CyberGhost Features
With CyberGhost, you have access to over 3,000 servers in 60 different countries. This is a much more extensive list than many of the industry's leading providers. The firm also has an excellent online resource center that can help you solve VPN-related issues without the need of contacting a customer support team.
- Located in Romania
- Offers 3,000 servers in 60 countries
- A no-logging policy that keeps your data secure
- AES 256-bit encryption
- Netflix works perfectly
- Fully supportive of torrent use
- Fast download speeds
- Allegations that third-parties have access to data
- No live chat customer support
Recommended for: Torrent use and encryption options
TorGuard is definitely one of the more recognizable VPN companies in the industry. And fortunately, this US-based VPN provider has plenty of features on offer to back up its reputation. While its jurisdiction isn't ideal, there are some other features that make up for its location.
A Variety of Encryption Standards
Like PIA, TorGuard lets you choose the type of encryption you want on its platform. Better yet, TorGuard has three different choices available: AES 256-bit, AES 128-bit, and Blowfish. The company also makes recommendations on which encryption standards are best for performance and security.
TorGuard understands that its location in the United States raises cause for concern. For this reason, the company has a legitimate no-logging policy that won't hoard your data on its servers. Keep in mind, though, that they do comply with government requests for information.
An Extensive Server Offering
If you want servers, you'll find them on offer at TorGuard. At present, you'll have access to over 3,000 different servers in around 50 countries. I highly recommend this service for people who plan on accessing the internet in every corner of the world.
Streaming and Torrent Friendly
While many people think the Tor in Torguard stands for the Tor browser, it's actually short for torrent. TorGuard is extremely open to torrenting on its platform – it's a great partner if you plan on using P2P networks extensively. I also made sure to test its servers with Netflix – there weren't any problems accessing overseas content lists.
- Three different encryption standards to choose from
- Over 3,000 servers in over 50 countries
- Access to overseas Netflix catalogs
- Torrents completely supported
- A true no-logging policy
- Speed not as fast as some providers
- Comply with government requests for data
7. Hotspot Shield
Recommended for: Incredible download speeds and media capabilities
Hotspot Shield is one of the other 'lesser-known' VPN providers on my list. It's a US-based VPN company that offers some of the most impressive performance features I've ever witnessed.
Hotspot Shield's primary benefit is its incredible download speeds. If you're already working with slow internet, and you need to retain as much speed as possible, this is by far the best option on the market. I tested its servers with my normal internet speed of 70 Mbps. The result? It only reduced to 64.75 Mbps. This the only VPN I've ever seen that retains over 90% of your online speed.
It's essential to note that Hotspot Shield does have some of the slowest upload speeds available. Bizarrely, my upload speed reduced to around 6 Mbps!
Encryption That Gets the Job Done
While many of the providers on this list offer the gold standard of encryption – AES 256-bit – Hotspot Shield uses AES 128-bit. While this isn't considered AS secure as its older brother, AES 128-bit encryption is a solid encryption standard that keeps your data secure. There's no need to worry about data leaks when using this service.
One downside of Hotspot Shield is the claims about its no-log policy. While its website claims to strictly avoid logging any of your data, there are rumors that this isn't the case. It is important to note that the validity of these rumors is unverified.
Hotspot Shield's primary additional features include easy access to overseas content providers and full support for torrents. I tested its servers and found no issues accessing Netflix, Hulu, or overseas news websites. This is an excellent feature when you combine it with the service's unreal download speeds.
- Incredibly fast download speeds
- Access to foreign content providers and servers
- AES 128-encryption for clients
- Full support of torrent use
- Really slow upload speeds
Which Best VPN On My List Is Right for You?
With seven awesome options to choose from, you might be having a few problems making up your mind. It's essential to choose the best VPN service for YOU. Everyone has different preferences, so make sure to keep yours in mind when you make your decision.
Below, I'll explore the primary details of each service on my list!
- NordVPN is best for those who want an affordable, offshore VPN that offers every feature and capability on the market
- PIA is best for those who want an affordable, US-based VPN packed with features
- ExpressVPN is best for those who want a premium VPN with an extensive country list
- ProtonVPN is best for those who want an industry-leader in data security and protocols
- CyberGhost is best for those who want a lesser-known VPN provider that offers overall functionality
- TorGuard is best for those who want a US-based VPN provider with extensive torrent support and encryption options
- Hotspot Shield is best for those who want a VPN provider with incredible download speeds
So, How Did I Choose the Top VPN Providers?
If you'd like some additional insight into how I determined the best VPNs in the industry, take a look at the comprehensive approach I used below:
- Downloaded the top VPNs available
- Tested for performance and speed
- Researched security protocols and encryption standards
- Tested Netflix and Hulu on servers
- Tested torrent support on servers
- Checked server locations and numbers
- Researched company reputation and related rumors
- Confirmed price points
If you use one of the VPNs on this list, let us know what you think of its services in the comment section below!