5 Best VPN Services for Windows
In today’s world of eroding online privacy, content restrictions, and increasing data security risks, every Windows user needs a VPN (virtual private network). And with more people working from home and streaming content online, VPN usage continues to grow worldwide.
But there are hundreds of VPN services available, almost all of them offering support for computers running Microsoft Windows. So how do you find the best VPN for Windows that meets your particular needs?
We took the guesswork out of the equation by testing dozens of popular VPNs for Windows and ranking the top providers.
This guide highlights the 5 best VPN services for Windows. While each of them offers a unique mix of features and performance, they are all reliable, secure, and private. You can’t go wrong choosing any one of them.
Note: All the information you will find here is relevant to PCs running Windows 10. Windows 7 is no longer supported by Microsoft, and Windows 8, well, it is better we all forget about Windows 8. If you are not yet running Windows 10 on your PC, these VPNs should still work just fine, but you should consider upgrading or switching to a different operating system.
What is the best VPN for Windows?
Based on the latest test results, the best all-around VPN for Windows is ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN is consistently one of the fastest VPNs we have tested, while also being very secure and full of great features. The ExpressVPN Windows client stands out for the best user interface. We’ll examine it closely below, along with the other VPNs that made the cut.
Before we examine each of the VPNs in detail, let’s first cover the criteria we used for ranking. All of our recommended Windows VPN services meet these criteria:
- Passed all tests with no data leaks found (no IP address leaks or DNS leaks)
- Good performance throughout the server network (speed and reliability)
- High-quality Windows VPN apps with all features working correctly (including a kill switch)
- Supports the OpenVPN protocol and strong encryption standards
- Offers a money-back guarantee
- Trustworthy and well-established VPN provider with a good track record
- Located in a safe privacy jurisdiction (outside of Five Eyes countries, such as the US and UK) to keep your data safe
Now let’s check out the top performers.
Here are the best VPNs for Windows:
1. ExpressVPN – Best all-around VPN for Windows
|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
Our pick as the best VPN for Windows users is ExpressVPN. The service is based in the British Virgin Islands, a great privacy jurisdiction with no mandatory data retention laws. ExpressVPN is a verified no logs VPN provider that has passed independent security and privacy audits. It offers strong encryption and secure applications for your Windows PC and numerous other devices. ExpressVPN apps have built-in leak protection, split tunneling, and a kill switch feature Network Lock feature.
If you are looking to access international media, such as sports, movies, or TV shows, ExpressVPN is a great choice. It works well for accessing home-country media if you are living abroad, with support for many streaming services. ExpressVPN is currently ranked as the best VPN for Netflix and consistently works well without issues. It is also a great VPN for BBC iPlayer.
In the real of security and encryption, ExpressVPN raises the bar. All their servers run in volatile RAM-disk mode with the TrustedServer feature. This improves server security as their are no physical hard drives to be hacked or confiscated. Their Windows VPN app secures your data with an AES-256 cipher and together with the OpenVPN and IPSec VPN protocols.
Need support? ExpressVPN offers 24/7 live chat assistance directly through their website. All ExpressVPN subscription plans come with a 30 day no-questions-asked money back guarantee.
- User-friendly apps for all devices and operating systems
- Highest security standards and encryption
- Great speeds throughout the server network
- Split tunneling feature for Windows, Mac OS, and routers
- Works with Netflix and many other streaming services
- Verified no logs VPN service (audited)
- Located in a safe privacy jurisdiction
- 24/7 live chat support + 30 day money-back guarantee
- More expensive than some competing VPNs (but see coupon below)
See our ExpressVPN review for more information and analysis.
2. NordVPN – Reliable, low-cost, offshore VPN for Windows PCs
|Logs||No logs (audited)|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
Another Windows VPN that turned in strong test results is NordVPN. Based in Panama, NordVPN has a great Windows application packed with features. Tap the Quick Connect button to instantly connect to the best VPN server available. You can also set NordVPN to launch when you start your Windows device, or to launch whenever you connect to a WiFi hotspot, shielding you from the dangers of public WiFi services.
NordVPN has a strong no logs policy which has been verified by a third-party audit. Their ongoing security audit partnership with Versprite and a public Bug Bounty program to help ensure that they maintain the strongest security standards for your protection.
If your concern is privacy while using your Windows computer, NordVPN has lots to offer:
- Double-VPN servers – Encrypting your traffic across two separate VPN servers provides an extra layer of security for your data. (Our multi-hop VPN guide breaks down all the benefits of this powerful feature.)
- Tor-over-VPN servers – The Tor network provides a layer of anonymity for its users. NordVPN’s Tor-over-VPN servers exit onto the Tor network allowing you to benefit from Tor’s anonymity.
- CyberSec – Ads, trackers, and malware domains are all security risks that also slow down your browsing and waste bandwidth. NordVPN’s CyberSec blocks them all, making your Windows PC VPN connection faster and safer.
- WireGuard – NordLynx is NordVPN’s custom implementation of the WireGuard VPN protocol. Available for Windows PCs, NordLynx offers excellent security and makes for extremely fast Windows PC VPN connections.
- Obfuscated servers – Find yourself in a place where normal access to VPN services is blocked? NordVPN’s obfuscated servers disguise your VPN traffic to make it invisible to censors.
Are you a streaming media fan? If so, NordVPN is a great choice. It unblocks many Netflix libraries around the world (US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, and more). With great connection speeds in our latest testing, NordVPN won the top spot as the best VPN for torrenting, making it a great choice for any filesharing action.
NordVPN offers a full 30-day money back guarantee and 24/7 live chat support directly through their website. NordVPN is one of the best values in the world of Windows PC VPNs, costing only $3.71 per month when you use this 68% off coupon.
Below I’m testing the NordVPN Windows client while connected to a double-VPN server configuration:
- User-friendly and reliable apps
- 30 day money-back guarantee
- Double-hop VPN servers; Tor-over-VPN servers
- 24/7 live chat support
- Verified no logs VPN
- Works with Netflix and other streaming services
- Competitive price at $3.71/month
- CyberSec ad-blocking feature
- Large server network around the world
- Big discounts only available for long-term subscriptions
See the NordVPN review for test results and more info.
3. Surfshark – An inexpensive, polished Windows VPN
|Based in||British Virgin Islands|
|Support||24/7 Live chat|
Surfshark is another secure, fully-featured Windows VPN based in the British Virgin Islands that you should consider. One outstanding feature is the price: coming in at only $2.49 per month with this 81% discounted rate. While it performs almost as well as our top two picks, Surfshark is one of the cheapest VPN services on the market.
This young service launched in 2018. It offers strong security and a no-logs privacy. Other privacy-focused features you find in this polished Windows VPN include:
- Double-VPN servers – Encrypting your traffic across two separate VPN servers provides an extra layer of security for your data.
- CleanWeb – Surfshark’s feature that blocks ads, trackers, and malicious domains (similar to NordVPN’s CyberSec).
- Camouflage mode – Surfshark’s version of obfuscated servers that conceals VPN traffic as regular HTTPS encryption
- WhiteLister – Gives you control over which Internet traffic passes through the VPN tunnel (also known as split tunneling)
- Browser extensions for Chrome, Chromium-based browsers, and Firefox
Surfshark is a friendly place for anyone who likes streaming video or torrenting. They support all major streaming services, including ten different Netflix libraries. It is also a great VPN for Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and many other streaming options. Torrenting is allowed on all Surfshark servers and Surfshark offers a dedicated Amazon app if you want to use a VPN on Firestick.
Surfshark offers pretty good speeds on most servers. However, it’s not quite as fast as NordVPN or ExpressVPN. On the other hand, Surfshark supports an unlimited number of simultaneous connections, meaning you will never have to worry about who else is online in your family with Surfshark.
The Surfshark Windows client I tested was simple, user-friendly, and did not give me any bugs, errors, or problems.
Like ExpressVPN, both NordVPN and Surfshark have now implemented full RAM-disk servers for a higher level of security. And similar to NordVPN, Surfshark will soon support the WireGuard protocol directly in their apps. In our WireGuard vs OpenVPN speed tests, we found WireGuard to be about 58% faster than OpenVPN.
- Unlimited connections
- User-friendly apps for all devices and operating systems
- CleanWeb feature to block ads, trackers, and malware domains
- Works great with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and other streaming services
- 24/7 live chat support
- Split tunneling feature
- Strong encryption and good leak protection features
- Variable speeds with some servers
Check out our Surfshark review for more info and test results.
4. VPN.ac for Windows
VPN.ac is another fast, secure Windows VPN. Created by a team of network security professionals, our extensive testing found the service to perform exceptionally well in terms of speed and security. VPN.ac is based in Romania, a good privacy jurisdiction.
VPN.ac features double-VPN servers, numerous encryption protocols, built-in leak protection, and a secure browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Chromium browsers. Like our other top picks, VPN.ac has a lineup of obfuscated servers to conceal your VPN traffic and get through VPN blocks. This makes it particularly useful anywhere VPNs may be blocked, from school or work networks, or even if you need a VPN for UAE (United Arab Emirates). VPN.ac runs only bare-metal VPN servers, ensuring better performance and security.
VPN.ac isn’t as good as our other Windows VPN recommendations when it comes to unblocking streaming services, but at last check it did work fine with US Netflix.
One thing that keeps VPN.ac from moving higher on our list is that they maintain 24 hour connection logs (but not usage logs). They use the information for network security and support. All connection data is deleted daily and there is nothing stored on any VPN server, which minimizes the privacy risks.
Whether you are using a VPN on Windows or you need a VPN for Mac OS, VPN.ac offers polished, secure, and reliable clients. Below is the Windows VPN app I tested.
- Dedicated bare-metal servers with high-bandwidth channels
- Good speeds throughout server network
- Double-VPN servers
- Great obfuscation features to evade VPN blocks
- Many encryption options and VPN protocols to use (including WireGuard)
- Professional and prompt tech support
- Secure browser extensions
- Minimal connection logs (no activity, erased daily)
- Limited support for streaming media services
Discounted trial: You can get a discounted one week trial for only $2.00 (see the FAQ page).
See the VPN.ac review for detailed test results and analysis.
5. ProtonVPN for Windows
ProtonVPN is a quality no-logs VPN that offers a range of capabilities at a range of price points. Created by the team that behind ProtonMail (encrypted email service), ProtonVPN delivers a secure, privacy-focused VPN. It is based in Switzerland and is another no-logs VPN service.
As you move up through the ProtonVPN price tiers, you gain access to more servers and more features, including multi-hop VPN servers, a kill switch feature, and Tor-over-VPN connectivity. Not surprisingly for a product built by scientists at CERN, this Windows PC VPN passed all our leak tests and exhibited no glitches or problems throughout.
If you can find the features you need at a price point you can handle, ProtonVPN could be an excellent choice for your Windows PC. ProtonVPN also offers a good Android VPN client as well.
- Useful privacy features with no leaks
- Secure server network with double-VPN servers (Secure Core)
- Good privacy jurisdiction and data protection policies
- Works with some Netflix regions
- Responsive email support
- Transparent company with a good track record
- Variable speeds with some servers
- Above average price for plans with advanced features
- Basic plan limits servers, features, and speeds
See our ProtonVPN review here.
Why Windows 10 users need a reliable VPN
If you have a quality PC running Windows 10 and the latest antivirus / anti-malware software, you may be wondering why you would even need a VPN. You do need one, for several reasons.
While your computer may be well protected, its connection to the rest of the world through the Internet is not well protected at all. The Internet protocols (communication rules) that the world still relies on were not designed to protect us from hackers, spy rings, and similar problems. A lot has been done in recent years to improve the situation, but the Internet remains vulnerable. That’s where a strong VPN service comes into the picture.
By creating an encrypted connection (called a tunnel) between your Windows PC and resources on the Internet (your favorite websites, Netflix, and so on), a strong VPN service provides both security and privacy. Security, because the encryption prevents outsiders from reading the messages that flow back and forth through the VPN tunnel. Privacy, because the VPN masks both the identity of your Windows PC and its location, preventing outsiders from tracking what you are doing online.
The result is that the hacker at your local coffee shop can’t snoop on your info, and no one can tell it is you viewing the posts on that controversial COVID-19 website.
VPNs can also make it look like you are physically located somewhere else in the world, potentially giving you access to resources that are not available in your actual location.
What can your ISP see if you don’t use a VPN on your Windows machine?
If you are not using a good VPN service, internet service providers and mobile carriers can easily record your data and see every website you visit. What they do with that user data depends on which country you are in. For example, in Australia (and many other countries), your ISP will record connection data and hold it for at least 2 years in case someone from the government wants access to it for some reason.
In the United States, ISPs can legally collect your data and sell it to whoever they wish, without your permission. This has been legal since 2017, but probably in practice for much longer.
To see which websites you visit, ISPs monitor your DNS requests. Whenever you want to visit a website, your Windows PC will send a request to translate the URL (the human-readable form of the address) into an IP address (the computer-readable form). Normally, these DNS requests are translated by your ISP and also logged.
With most Windows VPNs, DNS requests are completely encrypted (making them unreadable to your internet service provider) and handled by the VPN’s DNS servers. This way, the ISP can only see that you are using a VPN service. They have no way of knowing what you are up to beyond that.
The Windows VPNs we recommend all have their own DNS servers and encrypt DNS requests in the VPN tunnel. Additionally, the VPN replaces your IP address and location with the VPN server’s IP address and location before sending your request out to the Internet at large. This way, even if someone was watching all the VPN’s servers, they still wouldn’t be able to tell what you are up to.
This diagram shows basically how a VPN protects your data from nosy third parties:
As you can see in the diagram, the strong encryption applied to your internet traffic and online activities by the VPN service makes them unreadable to third parties.
Are Windows VPNs legal?
First off, we are not lawyers, so do not consider what follows as legal advice. If you are really worried about violating the law by using a VPN for your Windows PC, your best bet is to contact your lawyer for personalized advice.
In general, the answer is yes, it is perfectly legal (and normal!) to use virtual private networks (VPNs), even if you are in a place like China where VPNs are restricted. VPNs are used every day by businesses and individuals throughout the world for basic privacy and security purposes. Businesses rely on VPN technology and encryption for security reasons and it would not make sense for this to ever become illegal.
That being said, China currently has a “ban” on non-approved VPN services that do not go along with state censorship requirements, as explained in the China VPN guide. The United Arab Emirates and a few other Gulf State countries have laws against people using VPNs to evade state censorship. Fortunately this is not really an issue in the Western world, where VPNs remain a safe, legal, and popular tool.
Is it safe to use a VPN for Windows 10?
If you are using a good, reputable VPN service that effectively secures your traffic like the ones we review here, then yes, a Windows PC VPN is safe to use. That said, even the best VPN service has its limits. If you are up to something that will annoy a powerful opponent like the CIA or other national intelligence agency, all bets are off. See our guide on how to be anonymous online.
Why you should not use a VPN based in your own country
Under normal circumstances, using a VPN based in another country is safer than using one based in your own country. Every VPN services is bound by the laws of the country they are based in. This is the key.
Imagine that you are a US citizen and are using a US-based VPN. That VPN is bound by the laws of the United States. Now suppose some US lawyer wants to see what you have been doing online. The US lawyer gets a judgment against you in a US court. Using that, the US lawyer can apply US law to force the US VPN to turn over any information it has about you.
Now imagine the same situation, but this time you are using another VPN, which is based in some other country, not the United States. The US lawyer gets a judgment against you in a US court. But the offshore VPN is not bound by US law. They have no reason to respond to the US lawyer. Depending on the circumstances, it may even be illegal in their own country to give the US lawyer anything. To get anything out of this VPN, the US lawyer will have to file and win a lawsuit in the country that the VPN is based in before the VPN can be forced to turn over information about you.
In most situations, this just isn’t practical, making you safer when you don’t use a VPN based in your own country.
How do I set up a VPN on Windows?
The exact steps for setting up a Windows PC VPN will vary from vendor to vendor, but at the most basic level, the process looks like this:
- Download the VPN services Windows app.
- Find the VPN app file in your Downloads folder and double-click it.
- Run the installer, replying to any questions it may ask you along the way.
- Launch the Windows PC VPN app.
- In the app window, choose the VPN server you want to use and click Connect. The NordVPN app gives you a Quick Connect button that handles the choosing a server end of things for you automatically. Most VPN apps have something similar.
- After a moment, the app will indicate that you are connected to the server and your Internet connection is now protected.
You can find a more detailed set of instructions for out top pick, NordVPN here.
Using a VPN to stream international TV and sports on Windows
For various commercial and legal reasons, many international TV and sports sources that are available on the Internet are geoblocked. That is, they are restricted to only be viewed in certain geographical areas. When you try to connect to one of these sources, their servers check the IP address of your computer to decide whether you are located in a geographical area that is allowed access to the content you want to view.
VPN services have servers located all around the world. Each of these servers has an IP address that corresponds to its physical location. By connecting to a VPN server that is located in an unblocked physical location, you can get access to content that would otherwise be off limits. Of course, you may still need an account to log into a service, but there are still lots of legitimate situations where this capability can come in handy. Imagine that you are going to be on a vacation or business trip when “The Big Game” is scheduled. You have a subscription to your favorite streaming sports channel, but the area where you will be is geoblocked for marketing purposes.
If you are using ExpressVPN or one of our other recommended Windows PC VPNs, the odds are excellent you will still be able to view the game. How? Log into a VPN server in a region that isn’t geo-blocked, then log into the streaming service as you would normally. In all likelihood you will be able to view the game as if you were home on your own sofa. It you can’t log in using the VPN server you selected, keep trying different ones until you can log on.
You can also use this capability to watch TV and sports (and news, and anything else) that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to from your normal location. Say you are in the USA and want to learn Spanish. Why not connect to a VPN server in Spain or Mexico and watch the news or a soap opera in Spanish? Or connect to a server in the land down under and get the Australian perspective on the US/China trade talks? A VPN lets you become a virtual world traveler, something more valuable than ever in this virus-ridden world.
There you have it. Five excellent Windows PC VPNs that can boost your online security and privacy, while giving you access to the best Internet resources from around the world. But the information we’ve provided here only summarizes what each of these great products can do. We urge you to read the descriptions here, then follow the included links to get our detailed reviews of the VPNs that look most interesting to you, or go right on to the website.
Everyone VPN we recommend offers a money-back guarantee between 7 and 30 days.
We’re confident that one of these five will turn out to be the best Windows VPN service for you.
Windows VPN Comparison Table
Final Disclaimer and Instructions from NetTodays
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A VPN is a service that both encrypts your data and hides your IP address by bouncing your network activity through a secure chain to another server miles away. This obscures your online identity, even on public Wi-Fi networks, so you can browse the internet safely, securely, and anonymously.
NetTodays gives you answers to all questions which are in your mind about VPN.
NetTodays also suggest continually utilizing Best VPN when you are using a newer Wi-Fi Network. Here is a decent dependable guideline: If you’re away from the workplace or home, and you’re utilizing another person’s Wi-Fi (even that of a relative or a companion, since you can’t be sure whether they’ve been compromised), utilize a VPN. It’s especially significant in case you’re getting to help that has specifically distinguishing data. Keep in mind, a great deal goes on in the background, and you never truly know whether at least one of your applications is verifying behind the scenes and putting your data in danger.