I’ve tested more than 30 VPNs and listed the top 5 overall, as well as created easy-to-follow installation guides for multiple devices so you can get set up in just a few minutes. The best VPN choice in 2023 is ExpressVPN. With ExpressVPN, you get easy-to-use apps for all of your devices, blazing-fast connection speeds, and a huge server network — you can test ExpressVPN out completely risk-free as it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee — if you don’t like it, you can easily get a full refund. Secure your devices with ExpressVPN

Why You Need a VPN

The need for data security and privacy is constantly growing as we spend more time online, and the risks to our personal information are rising. A VPN is designed to add a layer of security and anonymity to your connection by creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the internet. This means no one can see what you’re doing — not your ISP, third-party advertisers, hackers, spies, or the VPN itself. There are plenty of reasons to connect with a VPN, including:

Connecting to streaming accounts when traveling: A VPN spoofs your online location so you can appear to be in your home country when abroad, allowing access to your streaming accounts. Torrenting safely: When you download torrents, your IP address is exposed to other users (or seeders). The VPN connection masks your true location, keeping you anonymous. Overcoming content restrictions: Countries like China, Turkey, and Iran have strict network regulations, making it very difficult to access content and apps like YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook, and more. With a VPN, you can get around network restrictions when traveling to these locations. However, you must ensure you’re not breaking any local laws before using a VPN in these countries. Avoid bandwidth throttling: Throttling can result in slow speeds, lag, and high ping. By masking your online activity with a VPN, your ISP can’t see what you’re doing and will no longer throttle your connection. Securely using public WiFi: You can use a VPN with your smartphone, tablet, or laptop and connect to public WiFi through an encrypted tunnel to avoid hackers. Gaming online: A VPN protects you from online threats such as DDoS and SWAT attacks by keeping your true identity and location hidden from other players.

You only get top-tier protection with a premium VPN, and ExpressVPN is the best of all the VPNs I’ve tested. With ExpressVPN, you get high-level security and privacy features, fast speeds across its global server network, and 24/7 customer support to resolve any questions or issues. Plus, you can try ExpressVPN risk-free — if you’re not fully satisfied, you can get a refund within 30 days.

How to Install and Set Up a VPN

When you’re using a premium VPN service, you’ll find installation is easy. Most devices have native VPN app support that takes a couple of minutes to install and set up, letting you get connected quickly. If the device you’re using doesn’t support a VPN app, you can configure a VPN with a compatible router or set up a WiFi hotspot from a computer, smartphone, or other devices.

Install a VPN on Windows & MacOS

Secure your devices with ExpressVPN

Install a VPN on Android & iOS

For the following guide, I’ll be using an iPhone XS to show the steps — these steps are basically the same for Android devices, too. Make sure you subscribe to your VPN through the official website rather than the Apple or Google Play stores. Otherwise, you have to deal with the app store if you need a refund or have any issues, and this can take weeks to resolve.

Install a VPN on Chrome & Firefox

Top VPNs provide a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox, so you can quickly connect when you’re browsing online. It’s important to note that these extensions are usually proxy connections that don’t offer the full encryption of a VPN — but they’re a good choice for fast, smooth streaming and secure browsing. Plus, the browser extension will only secure your browser, not your entire device.

Install a VPN on smart TVs

If you have a newer smart TV or a Samsung smart TV that doesn’t use Tizen OS, you can download a native VPN app directly to your device. If your smart TV doesn’t support VPNs, you’ll need to use the router method — click here to access the guide. Connect your smart TV with ExpressVPN

Install a VPN on Game Consoles

While game consoles can’t natively support a VPN app, devices like your PlayStation and Xbox can be configured with a VPN’s DNS servers. This will make your game console appear to be in a different location so you can stream on your local accounts without issue. However, it’s important to note that changing DNS settings won’t provide connection encryption, so it’s a good option for streaming but not sending or receiving sensitive data.If you want to encrypt your connection, I recommend using the router method as shown here.

Install a VPN on Routers

Using a compatible router is a great way to set up a VPN connection with your smart TV, game console (like PlayStation or Xbox), Roku, and other devices that don’t natively support a VPN app. Router configuration varies considerably between different models, so this is a very basic guide to using a VPN with your router. Your VPN will have more detailed setup guides available on the help website. Secure your router with ExpressVPN

The Best VPNs to Use in 2023

1. ExpressVPN — Top VPN for Speed, Security, and Privacy in 2023

Key Features: ExpressVPN is the top service in 2023 for its fast speeds and premium features. I found ExpressVPN is the fastest service I’ve tested, even when connecting to servers thousands of miles away. The proprietary Lightway protocol ensures fast speeds across the entire server network, ideal for streaming, torrenting, online gaming, and more. My speeds didn’t drop more than 18% on average, so my connections were reliable, smooth, and lag-free worldwide. Alongside these top speeds, ExpressVPN provides a range of top-tier security and privacy features to protect your data. These include:

Military-grade encryption – makes your data unreadable to hackers Data leak protection – Prevents your IP address and browsing history from being seen Kill switch (not on iOS) – Cuts the internet if the VPN should fail Split tunneling – Allows you to keep a local connection for banking apps etc Obfuscation on every server – Makes your VPN traffic appear to be regular traffic TrustedServer Technology (RAM-based servers that cannot store user data) – Your data is wiped at every reboot Audited zero-log policy – Proves that your data is not stored and so cannot be released, even at the request of the authorities.

To ensure ExpressVPN really does keep all data secure, I ran multiple tests while connected to various servers worldwide. I was pleased to find that every test showed ExpressVPN keeps all data secure within its encrypted tunnel — I didn’t experience a single IP, DNS, or any other data leak. This top-tier protection is partly the reason ExpressVPN is so good at connecting to restricted content, including your local streaming accounts when you’re traveling.  ExpressVPN could access local streaming accounts for the following services: I was pleased to find ExpressVPN is compatible with popular device platforms like Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as routers, streaming boxes, and more. Its intuitive apps are easy to use and it’s simple to switch from one device to another. You can also configure the VPN with your smart TV, game console, and more with ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS feature, MediaStreamer. This changes your DNS settings to give you access to your streaming accounts, but it isn’t encrypted, so this method isn’t as secure as the VPN apps. The only downside to ExpressVPN is that it’s a little more expensive than its competitors, with plans starting at $6.67/month for a 1-year + 3 months subscription. However, I think it’s well worth the price for consistently fast speeds, top-tier security and privacy, and a global network of more than 3000 servers. You don’t have to take my word for it — you can try ExpressVPN for yourself risk-free. If you don’t like it for any reason, ExpressVPN is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. I tested the refund process myself and found it was very easy — I spoke to an agent over the 24/7 live chat and had my refund arranged in a couple of minutes. Best of all, I had my money back in just 5 days. Try ExpressVPN risk-free

2. CyberGhost — Optimized Servers Provide Guaranteed Connections for Fast Streaming and Torrenting

Key Features: CyberGhost’s optimized servers guarantee a reliable connection for streaming services, fast torrenting, and secure gaming (optimized gaming servers on Windows only). These servers are frequently tested by CyberGhost’s staff so you know you’ll always get a working connection — I didn’t have to waste time testing multiple servers before streaming on Netflix or file-sharing with friends. Plus, these servers are super easy to find and connect to, thanks to CyberGhost’s intuitive interface. My team and I were pleased to find that CyberGhost’s optimized servers were easily able to access streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, and more. CyberGhost’s regular servers could stream local accounts with the following: During my tests, I found CyberGhost’s optimized servers are significantly faster than its standard servers. By connecting only to the optimized servers, my speeds were around 30% faster than the regular servers, giving me more than enough for lag-free streaming and torrenting. I recommend using the optimized servers wherever possible, plus connecting with the WireGuard protocol, to ensure you get the best speeds. You can choose your protocol in the Settings area. To ensure your data and devices are secure when connected, CyberGhost has the following security and privacy features:

AES-256-bit encryption on all servers – It would take a hacker 100 years to decipher your data Data leak protection – Stops your IP address and other information from being seen Automatic kill switch – Prevents leaks by shutting off the internet if the VPN cuts out Malicious ad blocker – Protects your device from trackers and malware Audited zero-log policy – So your information is not stored RAM-based servers that cannot store data – Wiped clean at each reboot so your information isn’t accessible.

You can easily secure all of your devices as CyberGhost supports popular platforms and up to 7 simultaneous connections. Its intuitive apps are almost identical across devices, so it’s simple to switch between computers, smartphones, smart TVs, and more. If you have a device that doesn’t support a VPN, CyberGhost has a Smart DNS feature. I found it easy to configure the DNS settings with my PlayStation and start streaming. Unfortunately, CyberGhost has some issues maintaining fast speeds over long-distance connections — a server 15,000km away dropped my speed by 60%. While my speeds were consistently fast enough for lag-free connections, you’ll notice a difference if your regular speeds are slow (around 20Mbps or less). However, CyberGhost has more than 9633 global servers, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a local connection for better speeds. If you’d like to try CyberGhost for yourself, you’ll find it’s an affordable choice. Its plans start at just $2.19/month for a 2-year + 2 months subscription, and every plan is backed by a 45-day money-back guarantee if you change your mind. I contacted the live chat to get a refund and it was arranged in a couple of minutes. My money was back in my account within a week. Try CyberGhost risk-free

3. Private Internet Access — Huge Server Network Provides Reliable Global Connections

Key Features: Private Internet Access (PIA) has an enormous network of more than 35000 servers, so you’ll always find a nearby connection. With so many servers, the risk of congestion is significantly reduced — I never had trouble establishing or maintaining a connection, and it only took a couple of seconds to securely join my chosen server. To ensure you always get the fastest connection, PIA displays the ping for every server. By choosing a connection with low ping, you can guarantee a smooth, lag-free experience. I chose my servers manually rather than using the “Choose Automatically” option and my speeds were faster this way — averaging just a 28% drop from my regular speed. If your baseline speeds are slow (around 20Mbps or lower), you can reduce speed loss with PIA’s customizable encryption levels. Lowering encryption from AES-256-bit to AES-128-bit won’t put your security or privacy at risk, but it can give your speeds a much-needed boost. PIA also has the following features to protect your data:

Kill switch – If the VPN malfunctions, the internet is cut, preventing IP leaks Data leak protection – Your personal data is never seen by prying eyes or your ISP MACE ad and malware blocker – Stops malware and trackers in pop-up ads Split tunneling – Allows you to keep a local connection for multiple activities Audited zero-log policy – So your information is never logged or revealed.

I was pleased to find PIA has dedicated streaming servers in 7 locations, including Japan, the UK, and the US. During my tests, I found these were the most reliable for connecting to streaming services like Netflix, while sometimes the regular servers had issues making a connection. The streaming-optimized servers don’t have their own menu, but you can find them easily by typing “Streaming” in the server search. PIA could access local streaming accounts in multiple regions on the following services: However, PIA isn’t the best option for streaming, as it won’t access every service. I couldn’t connect to BBC iPlayer (despite being in the UK and using a London server), and my colleague had to try multiple servers before accessing their account on Netflix US. If you’re struggling to connect, I recommend contacting PIA’s 24/7 customer support, as they can suggest a working server for you. You can try PIA risk-free and for a low price — it’s one of the best monthly VPNs available, and you can get an even better deal on its long-term plans with subscriptions starting at $2.19/month. Plus, it’s backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can get a full refund if you change your mind. Simply open live chat and speak to an advisor and request your money back — I did, and it only took a few minutes to explain that I no longer needed the VPN. The money was refunded to me 4 days later. Try PIA risk-free

How to Choose the Best VPN

When you’re choosing the best VPN for you, I recommend considering the following criteria to ensure you pick a service that works for your specific needs:

Troubleshoot – What to do if the VPN Isn’t Working

Once you’ve established your VPN connection, I recommend you use an IP address checker tool to make sure the service is working correctly — this will let you know your VPN is effectively masking your true location and securing your connection. If you find your true IP address is exposed, you’re having issues making a connection, or can’t access the content you want, your VPN might not be working properly. Here are a few ways you can troubleshoot the software and fix the problem.

Update Your VPN: Check to see if there are any software updates available, as this will help mend or patch any vulnerabilities and known issues with the VPN. Switch to A Different Server: Simply switching to a different server in the same location is a quick fix that often results in a working connection. Check Firewall Settings: Take a look at your firewall settings and make sure it’s set to allow your VPN to access the internet. Clear Cookies and Cache: Try clearing your cache and cookies in your browser to wipe your stored location data. You’ll find this in your security and privacy settings. Contact the VPN’s Support Team: The best VPNs have 24/7 help to assist you with servers, configuring settings, or suggesting a different connection for you to try. Pick a Better VPN: If you’re not using a top-tier VPN, you’re likely to encounter multiple issues. I suggest you try a service like ExpressVPN as it provides excellent security and privacy features and is regularly updated and maintained, so you can avoid connection problems.

Protect your data with ExpressVPN

Do I really need a VPN?

Yes, you really do need a VPN. VPNs are rapidly becoming necessary for our security and privacy as we spend more time online, providing protection from hackers, spies, and shady third-party advertisers. Without a VPN encrypting your connection, your data and devices are vulnerable and visible to others online. This includes your ISP, torrenting peers, and hackers targeting public WiFi connections. If you’re invested in maintaining privacy and data security when using the internet, a VPN is the best way to protect yourself.

Do I have to set up my VPN manually?

Typically, no. When you subscribe to a premium VPN service, you’ll find it has a range of apps for different devices. Once you’ve downloaded the app to your compatible device, you won’t have to make any manual configurations to install the VPN or make a secure connection.

What is the best VPN?

After rigorous research and testing, ExpressVPN takes the top spot for the best VPN in 2023. ExpressVPN provides top-tier security and privacy features, like military-grade encryption, data leak protection, and an audited zero-log policy. Plus, with ExpressVPN’s Lightway connection protocol, you get fast speeds across its entire 3000+ server network — ideal for smooth streaming, torrenting, gaming, and browsing online.

Why is my internet slower after I’ve set up my VPN?

The encryption provided by a VPN connection often results in a slight slowdown to your internet speeds. The best VPNs use high-level encryption, the same kind used by financial institutions and the US military, to ensure your connection is secure and anonymous. This encryption, plus the extra step of your data traveling through the VPN server rather than directly to your online destination, causes a small reduction in speed. Fortunately, the VPNs mentioned in this article are excellent at mitigating this slowdown, with fast and secure connection protocols, and large server networks designed for speedy connections.

Should I get a dedicated VPN IP address?

It depends — if you use a VPN for your work or business purposes, a dedicated IP is a great addition to your subscription. Unlike a usual VPN connection that is shared with multiple users, you are the only user that can access that specific dedicated IP address. This ensures you get the same IP for every connection you make, which is ideal if you need to log into your bank account when abroad, or want to avoid 2-Factor Authentication when traveling. Plus, with a dedicated IP address you can allow access to IP-restricted networks and you won’t experience blocks due to other users. Best of all, the dedicated IP cannot be traced back to you as your VPN provider won’t link it to your account in any way — maintaining your data security and online privacy.

Is it illegal to use a VPN?

In most places, no — it’s not illegal to use a VPN to protect your data and devices or access your local accounts when you’re traveling. You may find using a VPN goes against the Terms of Use for some streaming services and location-restricted accounts, so make sure you check before connecting with a VPN. What matters the most is your physical location, as there are some countries in which the use of non-government-approved VPNs is banned or heavily restricted, including China, Turkey, and Iran. While you’re unlikely to be penalized for using a VPN as a tourist, you could potentially face a fine or prosecution if you use a VPN to access restricted online content. My team and I don’t condone any illegal or banned behaviors, so please be aware of local laws and regulations before using a VPN.

How many devices can I connect to a VPN?

It depends on the VPN you choose. Most VPNs support at least 5 simultaneous connections, so you can comfortably secure most (if not all) of your devices. If you have a lot of devices, you can consider a VPN with more connections or a service with router compatibility. ExpressVPN has an easy-to-use app for compatible routers that makes connections easy. When you configure ExpressVPN with your router, you can secure every device that connects to your WiFi — potentially providing an unlimited number of device connections.

Do I need a VPN on my iOS and Android phone?

Yes, it’s a good idea to get a VPN for your iOS and Android phones. A VPN enhances your online security and privacy, protecting you from hackers and spies — especially if you use public WiFi, which is notoriously insecure. With a VPN on your phone, you can take that extra layer of security with you wherever you go and maintain the highest level of protection. The best VPNs in 2023 all have dedicated apps that are quick and easy to download and set up on your Android and iOS phones. The apps feature 1-click connections and can be configured to automatically connect when you use public or unknown WiFi networks, so you can rest assured your device is always secure.

Can I use a VPN to watch Netflix and other streaming sites?

Yes, a VPN is a great way to watch Netflix, HBO Max, Disney+, and more — especially when you’re traveling. Typically, streaming services restrict content to specific geographic areas due to copyright and broadcasting regulations. This means you can’t always access your account or the content you’ve rightfully paid for when you’re away from home. With a VPN, you can spoof your location to appear as though you’re in your home country when you travel. The streaming service only detects the VPN’s IP address (not your true location) and lets you access the service — so you can enjoy your favorite shows and movies from anywhere in the world.

Can I use a VPN on Chromecast, smart TVs, and game consoles?

Yes, you can use a VPN on many devices like Chromecast, smart TVs, and game consoles. These kinds of devices don’t typically support a native VPN app, so you won’t be able to download your VPN directly to the device. Instead, there are a couple of different ways you can connect your device with your VPN:

Use a VPN with router compatibility, then connect your device to your router using WiFi — this way, every device you connect to the WiFi will be protected by the VPN’s encryption. Set up a WiFi hotspot from a computer or smartphone, then connect your device to the hotspot.

Stay connected to the VPN while you’re using your devices, and simply disconnect when you’re finished to return to your regular internet connection.

Can I use a free VPN?

You can, but I don’t usually recommend using free VPNs. Only a premium VPN can provide high-level security and privacy with fast speeds, unlimited data, and a global server network. Free VPNs are extremely restrictive, so you can’t use them as much as you want or how you want to — you get slower speeds, limited server choices, and low data caps. Some free VPNs claim to be completely unlimited, but these shady services log and store your data to sell to third-party advertisers as revenue. This compromises your security, potentially putting you at risk of identity theft and fraud. Even the best free VPNs available are only suitable for casual browsing, light streaming, and secure online banking or shopping — you’ll find it hard to stream, torrent, or game online. Instead of a risky or frustrating experience, I suggest you try a premium VPN with a long money-back guarantee, like CyberGhost. You can test the service to see if it’s right for you, and if you change your mind it’s easy to get a full refund. All it took for me to get a refund was a couple of minutes using the 24/7 live chat. The agent processed my request without issue, and I had my money back within a week.

Start Using a VPN

Setting up a VPN on your devices doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating. When you choose a premium VPN service, you get a quick and easy setup so you can securely connect your device within minutes. This way, you get fuss-free data security and privacy online without any hassle and at a reasonable price. Of all the services tested, I recommend you try ExpressVPN when you start using a VPN. It’s intuitive and simple to use, with fast connection speeds, a global server network, and top-tier features to protect your connections. Plus, ExpressVPN is backed by a money-back guarantee, so if you’re not satisfied you can get a full refund with no questions asked. Try ExpressVPN risk-free today

To summarize, the best VPNs are…