With the emerging rise of technological advancements, applications and consumer involvement online i.e. from businesses, advertisers, banking, immigration etc., more and more people have been awakened to the state of their personal privacy and security while using the internet on their devices. Many because of this, have been led to using a VPN in order to try and respond to this obstacle.
The critical question is: is the VPN provider you chose good?
A good VPN avails you with top notch security, but a bad one may not have the ability or capability to protect your personally identifiable information. In fact, some VPNs (especially the free ones) track your user data as their business model. They store information about you, which they allegedly sell to advertisers or hand over to government agencies. A case in point is the leak uncovered by researchers at VPN Mentor who uncovered that 7 VPN services leaked data of over 20 million users, as listed in their report.
What an irony it would be if the VPN you turned to for privacy actually did the opposite. It’s no wonder the final circle of hell is betrayal in Dante’s Inferno (and I don’t think this is being over-dramatic).
In this article, we examine the best VPNs and gather information on how they perform, from a privacy, security and functionality standpoint. This will help equip you with the right information before you take the step in choosing a VPN for yourself. We believe that it will lead you to a better and peaceful secure space, not only online but also in mind.The top priority is protecting your private information from prying eyes. So how should you go about getting a VPN this year?
VPN Buying Guide
The first step is to gauge the trustworthiness of the VPN provider. Are they reputable? Do they have a proven track record of no-logging and keeping your personal information secure?
The third step is to do some research on how fast the provider is. Some VPNs will decrease your speed by a large margin, and that’s just something nobody wants.
The final step is to check for the features that you are using it for. If you want to access Netflix titles from a different country, make sure your VPN provider has unblocking features that allow you to do so. Not all VPNs have this feature as Netflix and other streaming services are constantly updating their technology to prevent unblocking.
Other features you may want include an easy-to-use user interface, or access to servers in specific countries.
Once you’ve figured out these things, don’t hesitate to commit to a VPN subscription.
Top VPNs 2023
I’ll put the conclusion first – a list of my top choices. If you want to do a deep dive into VPNs with me, be sure to keep on reading.
The top 3 choices are:
These three companies stand out when it comes to offering the best VPN Services.When it comes to price and features they are able to avail a majority of options for you. Their rates also cover a number of duration options; where you can use them from a month all the way to 24 months as seen below.
|1 Year||$4.92 or $3.71 with this discount (new tab)||$8.32||$2.21(for 2 years with 3 months free)|
Their price not only reflects their need to provide you with the quality service, but they make sure to cover everything you need when it comes to privacy and security. Step and take a look at our in depth review of how they made their way to our top list.
Ranking the VPNs
I’ll use 3 criteria to evaluate the VPNs are ranked, highlighted below:
|Privacy and Security||No-logging policy: |
This states activities that give the VPN authority to track or log in your account to trace potential fraud, inappropriate use, etc.Securing information : Encryption StrengthInternational intelligence sharing agreement: Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, 14 Eyes jurisdiction.Anti-leak kill switch: Automatic disconnection feature from devices preventing data leaks.
|Speed||Speed-test using the service|
|Functionality||Ability to bypass geo-restrictions: VPN access areasDevice count: How many devices can use the VPN at a given time/subscription|
The core features of a good VPN should include a no-logging policy. As seen above this is set to reassure you that your data isn’t simply being collected by the VPN instead of another 3rd party. This data may include: photos, contacts, chats or messages,statements, location or whereabouts, etc.
It should also have a strong encryption, and automatic kill switch for if you lose access to the VPN so you’re not accidentally browsing unsecured. Encryption is the ability to protect data by transforming it to codes.
The jurisdiction of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and 14 Eyes (as confusing or weird as it may sound) is a name given to the countries who have an intelligence sharing agreement, and who can potentially strong-arm VPN companies inside those countries to hand over information.
- Five Eyes: US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand
- Nine Eyes: Five Eyes + Denmark, France, Holland, Norway
- Fourteen Eyes: Nine Eyes + Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Spain
Knowing it’s secure, the next important quality should be the speed when it comes to functioning. VPNs affect overall internet performance when carrying out their tasks. How well they are able to do so without interfering with your internet speed is a major factor to consider.
Lastly, additional functionality, where you can choose from different servers. For example, if your favorite show is only on a different country’s Netflix catalog, it might be the deciding factor to choose a VPN that allows circumventing their geo-restriction measures.
NordVPN goes above and beyond a no-logging policy. Policies can potentially be broken, as it’s simply a promise the company is making. That’s why finding a trusted, reputable VPN is so important. NordVPN goes above and beyond with real evidence. They have been audited twice by one of the ‘Big 4’ independent audit firms PricewaterhouseCoopers AG (PwC), and it was found that NordVPN keeps no logs whatsoever.
NordVPN is based in Panama, which is outside the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, 14 Eyes jurisdiction.
Their apps have a kill switch in all except the Android version.
Additional functionality-wise, NordVPN is also rocking it, giving access to a number of websites. It’s an advantage if you are able to choose from 5600 servers in 60 countries, with the ability to access and unblock most streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu. The show you love won’t elude you, wherever you may go. NordVPN also works reliably in China.
HQ: British Virgin Islands
ExpressVPN performs excellently on privacy and security, and is a very reputable VPN provider. It’s a close second.
They have a strict no-logging policy, which was proven to the fullest degree when in 2017 they were embroiled in an investigation to the assassination of Andrei Korlov, Russia’s Turkish ambassador. Turkish authorities seized one of ExpressVPN’s servers, and came up empty handed, cementing ExpressVPN’s no-logs reputation.
The company is based in the British Virgin Islands. Despite the UK being a Five Eyes nation, the British Virgin Islands is a separate legal jurisdiction with no data retention laws. Because of this they are in privacy-friendly jurisdiction.
The encryption ExpressVPN supports Perfect Forward Secrecy. Desktop ExpessVPN comes with “Network Lock”, which is their term for a kill switch.
Additional functionality for ExpressVPN is top tier. It works great in China, as well as for unblocking geo-restrictions. This is whereby some applications limit certain information to people of a certain area based on the location rules and regulations. Some might be entirely inaccessible to use especially streaming services e.g. sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
HQ: British Virgin Islands
Surfshark is the young hotshot new to the scene, but has the chops to back it up.
It has the core features of a secure VPN: comparable to all the other VPNs in the market.
Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, like ExpressVPN. As such, they’re under the same privacy-friendly legal jurisdiction.
Surfshark has a network of 800 servers in over 50 countries. Although that’s not as many as the heavy hitters in the VPN industry, it’s growing. This is important because having a server close to a users location guarantees better speeds whenever the VPN is activated to use. They do boast fresher features like an adblocker they’ve coined CleanWeb and a split tunneling option named Whitelister.
With a good VPN server, we no longer have to rely on defunct instincts, instead we can be fully confident that our backs are covered. With the security provided to us, we can get down to what we really want to do, which is to peacefully enjoy our time visiting and using the World Wide Web.
It is important to choose a VPN that is reputable for their privacy and security, who help you stay anonymous rather than expose, steal and sell your data. We hope with our review you are able to confidently pick a VPN that suits your needs.