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April 14, 2021, 11:33 a.m. EDT

The best VPN service of 2021

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By Home Media

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When you surf the web, manage your online accounts, and make virtual bill payments, are you using a VPN? A virtual privacy network (VPN) privatizes your connection to a public Wi-Fi connection by providing you with your own personal “tunnel” that you can use to keep your IP address hidden from other users on the network. A VPN is a handy piece of software that can keep your personal information safe while you’re surfing on public networks. This can be especially important if you work remotely or travel often for work.

With so many VPN options available, how can you be sure which VPN is the best choice for your needs? Our guide to the best VPN services will help you decide which option is right for you. We’ve spent hours researching different VPN providers and scoring them across five different criteria: Reputation and Credibility, Privacy and Stability, Features, Plan Options, and Customer Experience. Our ratings are unbiased and data driven, in order to ensure that you are able to get all the information you need to make an informed decision.

The best VPNs of 2021: quick review

  • Best for top-level security: ExpressVPN (8.6/10)

  • Best for affordability: SurfShark (8.3/10)

  • Best for consumer experience: CyberGhost (8.9/10)

  • Best for business travelers: Private Internet Access (8.1/10)

  • Best for general use: NordVPN (8.3/10)

Best for top-level security: ExpressVPN (8.6/10)

Pros Cons
Large number of unique server locations Doesn’t offer unlimited connections like some other VPN providers
Simple setup and interface is ideal for beginners
High-level encryption provides superior data safety

If you’re looking for the best possible blend of privacy, speed, and security, ExpressVPN can be an excellent choice for you. With a massive range of 160 VPN locations, you’ll never have a problem accessing the content that you’re looking for—no matter where it’s hosted. You can even check out ExpressVPN’s list of VPN locations , which also details the protocols used to protect your data in each location. This can be an exceptionally beneficial feature for business travelers who frequently need to access data hosted in their home country.  

In addition to a comprehensive range of locations, some of the biggest benefits of ExpressVPN include:

  • Expert-grade encryption: ExpressVPN uses some of the most advanced encryption security we’ve seen to protect your data. ExpressVPN uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with 256-bit keys, which is the same level of encryption that the U.S. government uses to protect its data. ExpressVPN has even introduced lightway protocols, which add another layer of protection to your data encryption while also improving speeds.

  • Split tunneling: VPN split tunneling allows you to route some of your device or app traffic through your VPN while also allowing you to connect to the internet directly through some apps. Split tunneling can be especially useful for those who use their personal laptop or device on company Wi-Fi, and who want to balance speed and functionality. ExpressVPN offers both split tunneling and inverse split tunneling, which allows you to individually select apps and traffic that doesn’t go through the VPN.

If you have a larger number of devices, ExpressVPN might not be the best choice for your needs. Unlike many other VPN providers (which allow you to connect unlimited devices through a single account), ExpressVPN only supports a maximum of five devices on a single account.

Best for affordability: SurfShark (8.3/10)

Pros Cons
Exceptionally affordable pricing on two-year plans Doesn’t offer as extensive a server network as compared to other VPNs
Unlimited connectable devices
Allows users to select apps that are able to automatically bypass VPN via split tunneling

If you’re looking for the most affordable VPN available, SurfShark can be an excellent option. If you invest in a two-year plan, you’ll pay just $2.49 each month, which means that you can secure a two-year subscription for a little less than $60. You can also add protections for your search history and account usage monitoring for as little as $0.99 per month.

SurfShark offers the following features in addition to low pricing:

  • Unlimited device connections: SurfShark is one of only a few VPNs we’ve reviewed that allows all plan holders to connect an unlimited number of devices through a single account. When combined with its affordable pricing, this can make SurfShark an ideal choice for families or business travelers who use multiple devices to surf the web.

  • Easy whitelisting: When you use a VPN, your IP address is obscured, which means that any websites you log in to might associate your traffic with a different region of the world. Though this adds a layer of privacy to your browsing, it can also be a major hassle when you need to access your credit card or banking information. SurfShark allows you to whitelist specific apps and websites with just a few clicks.

Though SurfShark didn’t earn top marks when it comes to server location and speed, it does provide an affordable choice for anyone looking for bulk pricing and availability on an unlimited number of desktop and mobile devices.

Best for consumer reviews: CyberGhost (8.9/10)

Pros Cons
4.8 star average review score from more than 11,000 Trustpilot users Maximum of seven devices supported on a single account
Three extra months free when you enroll in a two-year plan
Extensive 45-day money-back guarantee
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