To save you time and money, I extensively tested over 25 popular VPNs and picked the best ones. Throughout my selection process, I considered speeds, server network, security, and privacy features. ExpressVPN delivered outstanding performance on all my tests. Besides lightning-fast speeds even on distant servers, it features military-grade encryption, split tunneling and a kill switch that together ensure unbreachable security. You can buy ExpressVPN in confidence as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. Protect yourself with ExpressVPN

Quick Guide: The Best VPNs You Can Choose in 2023

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What Do You Need a VPN For?

Not all VPNs are created equal — some focus on security while others concentrate on speeds. While most top-of-the-line VPNs offer a perfect mix of everything, you’ll still find subtle differences in their performances. The first thing you need to do is decide why you need a VPN in the first place. If you stream and torrent regularly, you need a VPN with an extensive, reliable server network and fast speeds. But if want to be well-protected while using public WiFi, a VPN with tight encryption and a no-logs policy would suit you. Fortunately, most top VPNs are excellent all-rounders. They have a large network of servers for better unblocking capabilities, provide fast speeds for streaming and torrenting, and offer excellent security features. Browse securely with ExpressVPN

How To Choose the Best VPN


Speed drops are the most common problem for VPN users. This happens because your internet data has to travel to the VPN server location and back. The farther the VPN server location, the more your speeds will drop. Reliable VPNs use technologically-advanced servers to stop speed drops over large distances. Some VPN providers manage their networks directly and resolve latency issues immediately to prevent server downtime. One of these VPNs, ExpressVPN, gave me blazing-fast speeds even on distant servers. Apart from the speed test results, you should look for the following 2 features to gauge a VPN’s performance on speeds:

VPN protocols — Check which protocols a VPN offers. Some protocols prioritize speeds while others focus on security. ExpressVPN uses its proprietary Lightway protocol that delivers fast speeds and excellent security Speed-boosting features — Check if a VPN has optimized servers for streaming and torrenting. All ExpressVPN’s servers are optimized for buffer-free streaming, gaming, and torrenting.


One of the main purposes of a VPN is to encrypt your browsing activities. Top VPNs use the AES 256-bit encryption protocol, which is used by government and military agencies worldwide. But that’s not all, the level of security a VPN provides also depends on the different VPN protocols it supports. I tested multiple top VPNs and recorded my results after using various protocols. I aggregated the data and took the average for better accuracy. Besides VPN protocols, you should also look for these extra security features:

Split tunneling — Lets you choose specific apps you want to connect with the VPN. For example, you can just encrypt your browser traffic if you want to access your bank statement. This way, your speeds won’t drop if you’re streaming content or gaming. Leak prevention — Ensures that the VPN is not leaking any data so that your IP address remains hidden from prying eyes on the web Kill switch — Disconnects your device from the internet if the VPN server drops for any reason, ensuring that your IP address is not exposed.


A VPN is supposed to protect your private data because whatever you do online is none of anyone’s business. A reliable VPN provider offers strict privacy with the following features:

No-logs policy — Top VPNs do not store logs, meaning whatever you do online isn’t visible nor saved in its database. ExpressVPN uses RAM-based servers so that whenever you hit the “disconnect” button, all your data is wiped out immediately. Country of operation — It’s important where a VPN’s head office is located. Some countries impose strict data retention policies for VPNs, which means VPNs are liable to provide user data upon government request. However, this shouldn’t be an issue if a VPN doesn’t store logs in the first place.

Server Network

Having a large server network at your disposal offers many advantages — the first being fast connection speeds. Having a small network means more user density per server, which often results in them being overcrowded and providing slower speeds. A large network won’t be overcrowded and will face less server downtime. A large server network like PIA’s is beneficial for accessing geo-restricted sites and content. It also gives you more flexibility in selecting servers rather than being bound to one. If a server in the UK has high latency or is down for maintenance, you can switch to another one that’s up and running. Lastly, a large server network is necessary for regular gamers because it will have more servers near your location. Closeby servers are a must-have because they provide lower ping and latency for lag-free gaming.

P2P Friendly

VPNs with P2P-optimized servers provide fast speeds for torrenting on uTorrent, qBittorrent, Vuze, and more. The catch is that many VPNs may not support torrenting due to legal restrictions, so make sure you pick one that does. Some VPNs like CyberGhost have a specific list of P2P-optimized servers, but I prefer ExpressVPN because all its servers are optimized for torrenting. It also includes port forwarding, which increases your download speeds by letting you connect with more peers. I also suggest using a VPN with a SOCKS5 proxy server. Unlike a regular VPN server, SOCKS5 hides your IP address without encrypting it. Since higher encryption dampens connection speeds, bypassing the encryption step results in much faster torrenting.

Device Compatibility

Another factor to consider is the number of devices a VPN supports and the platforms it’s compatible with. Top VPNs allow at least 5 simultaneous device connections and work on all major platforms like Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. They also often have browser extensions on Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.


While it’s important to have a VPN that works on all your devices, it’s equally important for it to be easy to set up and use. I always check if a VPN’s user interface is consistent and user-friendly across all its apps. I prefer having access to advanced configurations like changing VPN protocols, but this can be overwhelming for beginner users if it’s right at the front of the dashboard. It’s better to have these advanced settings in the “Preferences” menu so that the main dashboard looks neat and tidy.

Customer Support

Reliable customer support is another key feature when choosing a VPN. You might have technical problems or trouble setting the VPN up on your router. In that case, you need a VPN support team to be available on the fly to help you out. I prefer a VPN with a 24/7 live chat because it’s easier to reach out to the support team anytime and get an instant response. Most premium VPNs include multiple support options, including live chat, phone support, email support, and a knowledge base with troubleshooting guides.


You should pick a VPN that offers the best value for your money, but keep in mind that monthly plans are often quite expensive. VPN providers offer a much lower monthly price on their long-term plans, hoping you stick with them in the long run. Ensure your VPN accepts multiple payment methods, such as credit cards, PayPal, Venmo, and more. Top VPNs like ExpressVPN support more payment methods such as Alipay, UnionPay, IDeAL, WebMoney, Interac Online, and more. If you’re concerned about privacy, it even lets you pay in cryptocurrency via BitPay.

Money-Back Guarantee

Even the most expensive VPNs on the market include a money-back guarantee, so it’s a good way to test them out risk-free before making a commitment. The refund period depends on each provider, but the standard practice is 30 days. Some VPNs include a free trial on top of a refund guarantee. For instance, CyberGhost provides a 7-day trial on iOS and Android. A free trial is a great way to test a VPN before buying it, but you may not be able to access all the features. They may limit the VPN protocols you can use or not give you access to their entire server network. Even so, you can get a good idea about the capabilities of that VPN. Browse securely with ExpressVPN

Best VPNs in January 2023

1. ExpressVPN — #1 VPN With TrustedServer Technology That Offers Fast Speeds for Secure Browsing

Key Features: ExpressVPN is my #1 choice because of its outstanding performance on all my tests. It offers phenomenal security and privacy without compromising on speed. ExpressVPN’s most unique and powerful feature is its TrustedServer technology. It uses RAM-based servers instead of hard disks to ensure that your data isn’t logged, making your digital footprint uncompromisable from the start. To further test its security, I performed DNS, IP, and WebRTC leak tests to find any holes in ExpressVPN’s security. While ExpressVPN offers its own leak test, I ran them independently for better accuracy. I connected to a server in Washington DC and found that only my IPv4 address was visible while the IPv6 was blocked, meaning zero risk for any leaks whatsoever. Besides that, ExpressVPN has a host of other complementary security features that guarantee 100% anonymity while surfing the web. These include:

AES 256-bit encryption — This is the strongest encryption protocol available, used by military and government agencies worldwide to protect confidential data. ExpressVPN encrypts your data using this cipher, making it virtually impenetrable. Private DNS on every server — ExpressVPN’s perfect leak protection can be attributed to its private DNS on every server. This means only ExpressVPN can read your DNS requests and doesn’t share them with third parties, protecting you against leaks and preserving your anonymity. Kill switch — In case the VPN server drops, ExpressVPN will immediately disconnect you from the internet. This prevents websites and apps from reading your real IP address and location and, thus, keeps you anonymous. Split tunneling — This feature lets you choose apps you want to encrypt while letting other apps work without the VPN.

Not only does ExpressVPN excel in security, but it also excels in performance. ExpressVPN gave me fast speeds on nearby, mid-range, and distant servers throughout my tests. Usually, the speed drops increase exponentially by distance, but this wasn’t the case with ExpressVPN — my speeds never fell below 10% of my baseline speeds, even when I connected to a faraway server in Australia. With barely any noticeable impact on my speeds, I tested ExpressVPN’s performance on torrenting and found that all its 3000 servers are P2P-optimized. I downloaded a 15GB torrent file in 23 minutes, about the same time it would’ve taken without a VPN. On the streaming front, having servers in over 94 countries is a considerable advantage for accessing Netflix US and other geo-blocked platforms while traveling. You can use ExpressVPN on up to 5 devices simultaneously. I really appreciate that as I travel frequently and often have to use my bank accounts on public WiFi. ExpressVPN is compatible with all major platforms, including Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. You can also set it up on your smart TV, routers, and some streaming media consoles. Furthermore, its DNS spoofing MediaStreamer feature is a significant convenience because it lets you stream content on incompatible devices like PS4. While ExpressVPN is undoubtedly the best VPN overall, it’s also one of the most pricey ones. This may make many budget-conscious users think twice about trying it out. However, you can get ExpressVPN for way cheaper if you sign up for its 1-year + 3 months plan and take advantage of its massive 49% discount. Being uncertain about subscribing to any long-term plan is justified. But the best part is that you can buy ExpressVPN in full confidence as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. If unsatisfied with its performance, you can claim a full refund. I tested its money-back guarantee, submitted my refund request via its 24/7 live chat, and got my refund 4 days after confirmation. Browse securely with ExpressVPN

2. CyberGhost — Includes an Anti-Tracker and Malware Blocker for 100% Secure Browsing

Key Features: CyberGhost is well-known for its fast speeds and robust security, but its most standout feature is the malware blocker. I’ve rarely seen a malware guard on a VPN, so I tested it thoroughly to see if it’s worth the hype. Not only did it block annoying pop-up ads on ad-heavy sites like Forbes, but it also detected and blocked trackers and viruses when I visited known malicious sites. Another useful feature is CyberGhost’s smart WiFi rules option. It lets you turn on CyberGhost automatically when you join a new open or encrypted network. Having this feature was a breath of fresh air as I frequently use my devices on public WiFi. CyberGhost turned on automatically as soon as I connected to an open network, and my data would be protected even if I forgot to turn it on manually. Besides that, CyberGhost offers the following security features:

Leak protection — I ran multiple DNS, IP, and WebRTC leak tests and didn’t find any leaks. NoSpy servers — CyberGhost offers VIP servers for its annual plan subscribers. These servers are based in CyberGhost’s private data centers, offering better security and less frequent downtime. Automatic kill switch — A kill switch shuts down your internet connection if the VPN server drops to protect your anonymity.

Next, I ran multiple speed tests and was happy with CyberGhost’s performance. I got excellent speeds on nearby servers, but the drops increased with distance. After I connected to a distant server in Australia, my speeds dropped by 18% from the baseline levels. Even so, I was able to stream Netflix in UHD without problems. Having a well-spread extensive network of over 9633 servers makes CyberGhost one of the best VPNs for accessing geo-blocked content. It also has a list of optimized servers for streaming and torrenting. Torrenting servers gave me 10% faster speeds on average, while the streaming servers are designed specifically for each platform, including: You can use CyberGhost on up to 7 devices at a time, which is more than enough for most users. If you run out of connections, I suggest you set it up on your router. Doing that will encrypt your entire internet, and no matter how many devices you use after that, it’ll only count as one device. CyberGhost works on most major platforms, such as Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. You can also use it on your browser, smart TV, and some gaming consoles. One downside of CyberGhost is that its speeds on distant servers may drop substantially, which is the major reason it ranks second on my list. This can especially be a problem if you have slow internet. However, using CyberGhost’s streaming- and torrenting-optimized servers will substantially boost your speeds. Whether you want to subscribe for 1 month or 3 years, CyberGhost offers both short- and long-term plans. I recommend the 2-year + 2 months plan, which offers a maximum discount of 83% and a low monthly price of $2.19. If you’re still unsure, you can take advantage of CyberGhost’s 45-day money-back guarantee and try the service risk-free. I was curious to see if it actually works, and it does. I submitted my refund request via email support and redeemed my refund within just 5 days of confirmation. Browse securely with CyberGhost

3. Private Internet Access — Extensive Server Network Provides Easy Access to Geo-Blocked Content

Key Features: Private Internet Access has the largest network among premium VPNs with 35000+ servers and excellent unblocking capabilities. I like having more server options because I can connect to an alternate server if one suffers downtime. PIA can unblock nearly all global geo-blocked platforms, including: While I could stream content on YouTube and Netflix in UHD with PIA, I wanted to see how much its speeds dropped with distance while using different protocols. PIA performed well on my speed tests with drops of up to 10% on nearby and mid-range servers. However, my speeds fell significantly by 28% when I connected to a faraway server in Australia. Like CyberGhost, PIA packs an ad and malware blocker called MACE. MACE intercepts and blocks pop-up ads on websites before they can load. It does this by using its server database that hosts malware and trackers. After using it extensively, I’m happy to report that MACE blocked all ads like clockwork. Besides MACE, PIA has a range of security features to keep you safe from prying eyes. Some of these include:

Strong encryption — Unlike other VPNs, PIA lets you choose between 128-bit and 256-bit encryption. I suggest the latter because it’s more secure, but if you want faster speeds, 128-bit is secure enough too. Excellent leak protection — I ran several leak tests, and PIA passed all of them. It didn’t give me any DNS, IP, or WebRTC leaks on both virtual and geolocated servers. SOCKS5 and Shadowsocks proxy — By activating the “multi-hop” feature, you can use the SOCKS5 or Shadowsocks proxy to add an unencrypted proxy location before your VPN connection, allowing you to use it in particularly restrictive countries.

Not only does PIA have the largest network among the VPNs on my list, but it also supports a high number of simultaneous device connections. You can use it on up to 10 devices at a time with a single subscription. It works on all major platforms, such as Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. The only concern I had with PIA is that it’s located in the US, a core member of the Five Eyes Alliance. However, that’s not a problem because PIA has a strict no-logs policy, which means it doesn’t store users’ data. Deloitte recently audited the company and found that its server configurations aren’t designed to identify users or pinpoint their activities. Even though PIA is more affordable than the other VPNs on my list, its monthly plan isn’t good value for money. Instead, PIA’s 2-year + 2 months plan offers a maximum discount of 82% and a very affordable monthly price of $2.19. You can try PIA completely risk-free because it provides a 30-day money-back guarantee on all its plans. If you’re unsatisfied with its performance, you can easily get a full refund. I claimed my refund via its email support and got my money back in a week. Browse securely with PIA

Yes, it’s perfectly legal to use a VPN in most countries, but it can land you in trouble in restrictive countries like China and the UAE. Only some VPNs like ExpressVPN can work in these high-censorship countries can work in these high-censorship countries due to their state-of-the-art obfuscation server technology. I don’t condone the use of VPNs where they’re banned, so you should always check out and follow the rules and regulations of the country you’re in.

Can I use a free VPN?

Yes, but most free VPNs don’t offer good performance — some aren’t even safe to use. I recommend using premium VPNs, and I’ve picked out the top VPNs that provide excellent security, fast speeds, and superb unblocking capabilities. While there are some reliable free VPNs on the market, most of them aren’t reliable. They either have a small server network, provide slow speeds, lack security features, or worse, can infect your computer with malware.

Are VPNs safe?

Depends on which VPN you’re using. You must research your VPN of interest and see how it performs across several criteria I’ve outlined above. You can’t assume that if a VPN is well-renowned and popular, it’ll be safe to use. For instance, UFO VPN is a popular name, but it was caught selling its users’ data to third parties. I recommend using these best VPNs that provide excellent performance and security. Most free VPNs have questionable privacy policies and crowded servers that provide slow speeds. They may also have a small server network, incapable of unblocking most geo-restricted content. But most importantly, they may carry viruses and infect your computer as soon as you install them. Browse securely with ExpressVPN

Choose the Best VPN Now in 2023

With so many VPNs claiming to be the best, it can be challenging to pick reliable ones. Even popular VPNs may lack the proper security features or server infrastructure to keep you 100% safe. After testing dozens of VPNs across multiple categories, I found ExpressVPN to be the best choice. It excelled in all areas, from speeds and security to server networks, unblocking abilities, and privacy features. You can buy ExpressVPN in confidence as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee — if you’re not satisfied with its performance, you can claim a full refund.

Summary: The Best VPNs for 2023