Whether you need a VPN for work or for personal use, it’s essential to use one that delivers fast speeds, offers sufficient security features, unblocks your favorite foreign content, and doesn’t erode your trust. Finding a good VPN can be difficult simply because there are too many for the casual user to test by themselves.
A good VPN will keep your online data safe and secure. Using advanced security tools and techniques, a VPN encrypts your online traffic and masks your IP address, so no third party can know your actual location.
In this article, we’ve rounded up the best VPN services of 2023 after testing them under different circumstances and making sure they perform well.
Here’s our lineup for the best VPNs in 2023:
- ExpressVPN – Best overall VPN
- NordVPN – Top security performer worldwide
- CyberGhost VPN - Most transparent VPN
- Surfshark – VPN with rich features at an affordable price
- Proton VPN – Best VPN for torrenting
What are the main reasons to use a VPN
There are many reasons why you should use a VPN. Here are a few of them:
- Security – Keeping your online data safe and secure is the biggest reason why you should use a VPN. It masks your IP address, preventing any third party from detecting your actual location.
- Traveling restrictions – If you’re an avid traveler, using a VPN can help you access content from your home country by spoofing your location.
- Identity protection – A good VPN will keep your data away from the prying eyes of greedy advertisers and your ISP. As long as you have a VPN enabled, you’ll always remain anonymous on the Internet.
- Security features – The unparalleled protection you get with VPNs is because of the security features they all come with. These features make sure you get the best protection possible.
- Bandwidth throttling – If you suspect your ISP has been throttling your connection, you can bypass it using a VPN.
Best VPNs in 2023 overview
After testing several VPNs under different circumstances, we found 7 that take the crown for being the best. Below, you’ll find the 7 best VPN services with details about where they’re based, what features they offer, the number of servers they have, and their price:
1. ExpressVPN – best VPN that excels in everything
- Located in the BVI
- Servers in 94 countries
- Consistent UI
- RAM-only servers
If you care about aesthetics along with good security features and a company you can trust, then ExpressVPN should be your go-to VPN service. Users often praise it for the consistent and sleek design of the app across all platforms and the high number of countries its RAM-only servers are located in.
|Number of servers||Over 3000 in 94 countries|
|Location||British Virgin Islands (BVI)|
|Simultaneous connections||5 devices|
|Price||1-year package costs $6.67 per month and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee|
Connecting to a VPN server is as easy as clicking or tapping a single button with ExpressVPN. With just one click, your IP address is altered and your data is encrypted. You can also enable other features such as a kill switch, split tunneling, and DNS leak protection to get extra protection.
ExpressVPN’s most recent audits took place earlier this year and the company is neatly tucked away outside of the jurisdiction of the 4 Eyes alliance. It’s safe to say that it’s one of the fastest and most secure VPN services out there. It gives you the option to choose between its proprietary protocol called Lightway and OpenVPN, the latter being one of the most popular protocols in the VPN community.
The VPN service has a 7-day trial version on both Android and iOS, and you can buy the yearly package for $6.67 per month with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
2. NordVPN – best VPN for keeping your online data secure
- RAM-based servers
- Based in Panama
- Built-in Onion over VPN connection
- Good customer service
- Connection may slow down sometimes
- Could have servers in more countries
NordVPN is one of the more affordable VPNs out there, and it comes packed with all the necessary features you need to protect your online identity. The desktop app may not be as minimalistic as ExpressVPN’s, but what it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in the features it comes with.
|Number of servers||Over 5000 in 59 countries|
|Simultaneous connections||6 devices|
|Price||Yearly plan costs $5.49 per month with a 30-day money-back guarantee|
With over 5000 servers in 59 countries and features such as built-in Onion over VPN connectivity, a kill switch, and split tunneling, you can rest assured that you’ll get the maximum security with NordVPN. It supports almost every major streaming platform and with its servers being in so many countries, you’ll have no trouble watching content from yours when you’re traveling.
NordVPN has had many audits and since it’s based in Panama, a non-4/9/14 Eyes country, it’s not answerable to any legal authority. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t keep any logs and all its servers are RAM-based, so it’ll never have anything to hand over to any third party.
Unlike ExpressVPN, NordVPN only has a 7-day free trial version on Android, but you can get the yearly package for just $5.49 per month with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
3. CyberGhost VPN – VPN that’s most committed to being transparent
- Based in Romania
- 9000 RAM-based servers
- Audited by Deloitte
- Built-in tracker and ad blockers
- No yearly package
- App is too simple
CyberGhost VPN has the distinction of being the only VPN service on this list that’s had an external audit done by one of the Big Four global firms Deloitte. It’s an excellent VPN that gives you access to a large number of RAM-based servers in 91 countries and features that’ll make sure your data is never leaked.
|Number of servers||Over 9000 in 91 countries|
|Simultaneous connections||7 devices|
|Price||2-year plan for $2.03 per month with 45-day money-back guarantee (no yearly plan)|
It lacks the customization options that ExpressVPN and NordVPN offer, but that also means the app is extremely user-friendly and ideal for beginners. It comes with all the essentials – military-grade encryption, DNS leak protection, a kill switch, 7 simultaneous connections, and more. It’s based in Romania, which isn’t a member of the 4/9/14 Eyes alliances and is therefore, not obligated to share any data with any third party.
The VPN service also has the ability to remove any malicious content that might be tracking you. You also get an ad blocker with the VPN so there is little to no chance of any advertiser stealing your data for profit.
CyberGhost VPN offers a 45-day money-back guarantee. You can get the 2-year package for $2.03 per month. Unfortunately, there’s no yearly package.
4. Surfshark – VPN that offers full protection online and offline
- 3200+ RAM servers
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Multiple external audits
- Based in the Netherlands
Surfshark is another great VPN that comes packed with tons of advanced security features. It comes with unlimited simultaneous connections, so you can use your Surfshark account on as many devices as you want.
|Number of servers||Over 3200 servers in 100 countries|
|Simultaneous connections||Unlimited devices|
|Price||Yearly subscription costs $3.99 per month|
Despite being based in the Netherlands, a 9 Eyes member, Surfshark has a strict no-log policy and its RAM-only servers don’t retain any information. It’s had multiple external audits to prove its no-log claims. It uses WireGuard tunneling protocol to give you the best speeds and you get loads of other features to make your browsing experience as anonymous and smooth as possible.
For example, with Multi-Hop routing, your online data will be encrypted twice, which might slow down your connection speed a little, but you’ll get more protection in return. You can also use Surfshark’s “Camouflage Mode” to make it appear as if you’re not using a VPN.
Surfshark offers full protection with its “Surfshark One” bundle. The bundle contains the VPN, Surfshark antivirus, Surfshark Alert, and Surfshark Search. When used together, these tools can be extremely powerful in protecting your data not just online, but offline as well.
Surfshark’s yearly package is available for $3.99 per month and it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
5. Proton VPN – VPN with dedicated servers for torrenting
- 1816 RAM-based servers
- Based in Switzerland
- Dedicated torrenting servers
- Free version available
- Doesn’t bypass firewalls
Based in Switzerland, a non-14 Eyes member, Proton VPN is one of the most secure VPN services you can use in 2022. The high price tag it comes with might deter some people, but the security features it offers are too good to pass up.
|Number of servers||1816 servers in 64 countries|
|Simultaneous connections||10 devices|
|Price||Yearly subscription costs around $6 per month|
It has dedicated servers for torrenting which work with almost every torrenting client like BitTorrent and uTorrent. It also comes with built-in Tor over VPN, a VPN accelerator to boost your speeds when you’re connected to distant servers, an ad and tracker blocker called “NetShield”, split tunneling, and more.
The VPN service will give you full protection from IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. All of its servers are RAM-based so all information is erased once you disconnect from the VPN and it’s had external audits. Unfortunately, Proton VPN doesn’t circumvent firewalls, so it’s not the perfect VPN for people living in countries where the Internet is heavily restricted. A better option would be ExpressVPN.
You can get Proton VPN’s yearly package for around $6 per month with a 30-day money-back guarantee. The VPN service also has a free version.
6. IPVanish – VPN that offers security at an affordable price
- No-log VPN
- Has had external audits
- Ideal for casual users
- Based in the USA
- No RAM-based servers
IPVanish has a large server count (75 countries) and it owns most of its data centers, which makes your data safer with them than with most other VPN services that lease their servers from other companies. Since its servers are spread out in so many countries, you’re less likely to encounter traffic congestion or slow speeds.
|Number of servers||Over 2000 servers in 75 countries|
|Simultaneous connections||Unlimited devices|
|Price||Yearly subscription available for $3.19 per month|
The company claims to be the fastest VPN, but our tests have shown that ExpressVPN and NordVPN perform much better. That’s not to say that IPVanish is slow, though. It offers consistent speeds across all of its servers.
One thing we don’t like about IPVanish is that it doesn’t have RAM-based servers, which isn’t a deal breaker because the VPN service does have a no-log policy and it’s had external audits so we know it doesn’t keep any record, other than your billing information.
It’s based in the USA, a member of the 4 Eyes alliance, but again, it doesn’t keep any logs so that shouldn’t be a problem. It has all the necessary features you need to keep your data secure. A kill switch, unlimited simultaneous connections, AES-256 encryption, OpenVPN protocol, and more.
You can get the yearly package for $3.19 per month. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
7. Private Internet Access – VPN with over 10000 servers
- Free trial version
- Cryptocurrency payments
- No-log VPN
- Dedicated IP address
- Based in the USA
- No RAM-based servers
For many people, Private Internet Access’s huge server count will be enough to convince them to get a subscription. While it doesn’t offer the fastest speeds, it does give you access to content in 84 countries. With Private Internet Access, your IP address is always hidden so no third party can steal your data and the WireGuard tunneling ensures your data remains safe and secure.
|Number of servers||Over 10,000 in 84 countries|
|Simultaneous connections||10 devices|
|Price||Yearly package costs $3.33 per month|
Private Internet Access comes with a kill switch, an ad and tracker blocker, split tunneling, and more. You can buy a dedicated IP address for an additional fee, giving you even more protection. It’s located in the USA, but it’s a no-log VPN and it doesn’t even store your billing information as you can pay through cryptocurrency.
If you’re a Google Chrome user, you can install the Private Internet Access browser extension to get more features like choosing specific websites to connect to the VPN and blocking third-party cookies. The VPN service has been independently audited in the past.
Private Internet Access has a free 7-day trial version and you can get the yearly subscription for $3.33 per month with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Best VPN services compared
If you’re short on time, we’ve come up with a table that summarizes the differences between the VPNs above:
|ExpressVPN||NordVPN||CyberGhost VPN||Surfshark||Proton VPN||IPVanish||Private Internet Access (PIA)|
|Number of servers||Over 3000 in 94 countries||Over 5000 in 59 countries||Over 9000 in 91 countries||Over 3200 servers in 100 countries||1816 servers in 64 countries||Over 2000 servers in 75 countries||Over 10,000 in 84 countries|
|Location||British Virgin Islands (Non-4/9/14 Eyes member)||Panama (Non-4/9/14 Eyes member)||Romania (Non-4/9/14 Eyes member)||The Netherlands (14 Eyes member)||Switzerland (Non-4/9/14 Eyes member)||Florida, USA (4 Eyes member)||Colorado, USA (4 Eyes member)|
|Number of devices||5||6||7||Unlimited||10||Unlimited||10|
|Money-back guarantee||30 days||30 days||45 days||30 days||30 days||30 days||30 days|
How to use a VPN
Using a VPN is as easy as pressing a single button. All you have to do is download and install your preferred VPN from the list above. If you’re downloading it on your phone, then the VPN service may have a free 7-day trial version.
Depending on which VPN you’ve downloaded and purchased, you’ll have to press a button that says “Connect” or something similar to connect to a VPN server. This will connect you to the nearest server available. If you want to connect to a server in a specific country, simply use the search feature to look for one.
To connect to a VPN server on NordVPN, you have to press Quick Connect.
Are VPNs safe to use?
Yes, VPNs are mostly safe to use. VPNs use military-grade encryption to protect your data from third parties. Even if your data is leaked, no one will be able to understand it thanks to the encryption. It’s important to mention, though, that they don’t function like an antivirus and they won’t protect you from any malicious content you download.
But your IP address will remain hidden as long as you have a VPN enabled and your data will be encrypted. You can easily stream geo-restricted content and avoid advertisers and other third parties from getting their hands on your data.
With features like kill switch, split tunneling, and Multi-Hop routing, you can get extra protection. A kill switch will immediately block your device from accessing the Internet when the VPN connection goes down and with split tunneling, you can choose which apps will connect to the VPN and which ones won’t. Multi-Hop routing will encrypt your data twice, giving you even more protection.
Cyber security tips to know
Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran VPN user who wants to increase protection for their online identity, we have come up with some tips that will keep you safe. Here are some things you should keep in mind when using a VPN:
- Always use a kill switch so if the VPN connection goes down, your data remains safe.
- Keep your VPN updated. Always check for updates and make sure you’re using the latest version of your VPN.
- If you’re using a free VPN, avoid browsing sites where you have to deal with sensitive information and transactions.
- Always pay with cryptocurrency if the VPN allows you to.
- Use split tunneling if you’re getting slow speeds. Split tunneling will allow you to choose specific apps that will connect to the VPN service. For example, if you’re getting slow speeds, you can choose to connect only your browser to the VPN.
A VPN will help keep your online data safe. (Source: nordvpn.com)
All in all, the best VPN services will protect your online data and hide your IP address, so third parties can’t recognize your online behavior. ExpressVPN and NordVPN are the two best VPN services in 2023 as they provide the highest security, speeds, and features that you can get in a VPN.
CyberGhost VPN, Surfshark, and Proton VPN are also great options for those who want an affordable VPN with advanced security features. Many people use a VPN to bypass ISP throttling and government censorship, access geo-restricted content, and keep their online identity anonymous.
Using a VPN is extremely simple. Just download the VPN client, press the “Connect” button, and you’re ready to start surfing the web anonymously!
Frequently asked questions
ExpressVPN is the best VPN in 2023 according to our tests and research. It’s based in the British Virgin Islands, a non-4/9/14 Eyes member and it’s well-known for providing fast connection speeds. You’ll get all the security features you need to protect your online data and your ISP will never know what websites you visit as long as you have the VPN activated.
The VPN service also has a minimalistic, consistent app design which many users will appreciate.
Yes, almost every VPN can be used for streaming geo-restricted content. ExpressVPN and NordVPN, for example, support streaming on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney Plus. If you’re in the USA and you want to watch Netflix content from Japan, all you have to do is connect to a VPN server from Japan. It’s that easy!
No, if you’re using a VPN in a country where it’s legal to use one, then you won’t be fined. It’s possible to be fined if you’re caught using a VPN in a country where it’s illegal. This is why it’s important to only use a trustworthy VPN like ExpressVPN or NordVPN as these services won’t leak your data to governments or other third parties.
Some countries where the use of VPNs is illegal include China, Russia, and Iran.
You can use a VPN to do things like stream geo-restricted content, download torrents, bypass ISP throttling, and access the dark web. If you’re traveling, you can stream content from your home country simply by connecting to a VPN server from there. Downloading P2P files using a VPN is easy, too, as your ISP won’t know what sites you’re visiting and some VPNs have dedicated servers for torrenting.
You can also use a VPN to stop your ISP from throttling your connection by hiding your activities from them. And finally, you can access the dark web with the help of a VPN, though you may also need the Tor browser for it.
Yes, there are many good free VPNs available. ProtonVPN has a free version that you can use. With that being said, we don’t recommend using a free VPN because there are too many risks associated with it. Most free VPNs make money by selling your data to advertisers and other third parties and they don’t give you access to advanced security features that you’d get in a premium VPN like NordVPN.
Yes, it’s legal to use a VPN in most countries and you won’t get into any trouble if you use them. There are some countries where VPNs are illegal, though. China and Russia don’t allow the use of VPNs and you can get fined and even go to prison for using one. Some countries where VPNs are legal include the USA, Canada, and the UK.