Secure your online world with all the best VPNs in May 2021
Welcome to the wonderful world of VPNs. These popular security tools protect your data and identity, bypass online restrictions, and much more.
If this is all very new to you, you’ve probably got a lot of questions. This is where we can help, because we’ve done the hard work for you and researched these services to provide the information that matters. We’re nice like that.
This is the definitive breakdown of everything you need to know about VPNs.
What is a VPN?
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) provide protection for your data and identity when you’re online. They offer this online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network that hides your real IP address. This means that all of your activity is untraceable and secure.
If this all sounds a little complicated, try thinking about VPNs as encrypted tunnels through which all of your online traffic passes through. Nobody can see into the tunnel, and everything inside the tunnel is protected against online threats like viruses, hackers, and malware.
Why do you need a VPN?
Any sort of activity on an unsecured WiFi network leaves your private information and browsing habits exposed to the world, unless you’re using a VPN. There’s no need to panic, because whether you’re sending important emails, doing some online shopping, or paying essential bills, VPNs make sure that everything remains private and anonymous.
VPNs are primarily designed to provide online security, but there is another reason that millions of people use these services: streaming more content from around the world. By hiding your real IP address and connecting you to a server in another location, you can trick leading streaming services into thinking that you are based in a different country. This means that you can watch all of the shows and films from global libraries, like all the extra content on American Netflix. This is the quickest and easiest way of boosting your content options.
So there are two key reasons to subscribe to a VPN, but what are the most important things to consider before investing in a VPN?
What are the most important VPN features?
There are plenty of things that you should care about when it comes to VPNs, but we don’t have all day. Instead of listing off every feature offered by the best VPNs, we have highlighted a selection of the most important things to consider to get you started.
Before you make any sort of decision, you should look out for connection speed, server network, number of logins, and more important features:
Connection speed: Using a VPN is going to produce a drop in your connection speed, but you shouldn’t accept a significant drop that is going to result in buffering. Be sure to select a VPN that doesn’t negatively impact your connection speed to the point that you can’t watch a film or download a file without frustration.
Number of connections: Some VPNs let you connect an unlimited number of devices with the same account. Others limit you to just a single device. You should look out for a service that offers multiple simultaneous connections, so you can stay protected on all your devices at the same time.
Server network: The very best VPNs provide access to literally thousands of geographically diverse servers. It’s useful if a VPN has a lot of servers in key locations, because you should always be able to find a stable and speedy connection for streaming, shopping, or browsing anonymously. It’s not a straightforward case of more is better, but it’s always good to have options.
Encryption: There are different levels of encryption, and whilst it’s important to take note of the grade provided by your VPN, the best options will all offer powerful protection for your data. You are likely to come across terms like “military-grade” and “enterprise-grade,” which just means that you can rely on it to do its job.
Bandwidth: There are some VPNs out there that place monthly caps on network bandwidth, meaning you can only download a certain amount of data. You should avoid these services, unless you’re on a free trial. If you’re paying for a VPN, you should be able to download and upload as much as you want.
Should you pay for a VPN?
The good news is that there are free versions of popular VPNs, plus free trials of VPNs with full access to everything you get with a premium plan. Alternatively, you can pay for a VPN. So which option is best for you?
Unfortunately, there is always a catch with free versions, and it’s normally in the form of limited data usage. If you’re just an occasional user, these plans will work fine. But if you’re going to be streaming or downloading, this isn’t going to work. Free trials are a little bit different: they come with everything you get in a paid plan, but obviously they don’t tend to last very long. Trials are great for testing out a service before committing, but this isn’t a long-term solution.
What we’re saying is that the best option for streaming securely and accessing the online world without restrictions is with a paid subscription to a VPN. To gain access to advanced security features without limitations on usage, you need to pay up. The best VPNs are generally the most expensive, but there are plenty of cheap plans out there, especially if you’re willing to commit to a lengthy contract.
What is the best VPN?
There are lots of VPN providers out there all offering different sets of features, with different pricing structures. We recommend taking some time to carefully access your options, and decide on what you really need from your provider. Once you have established your priorities, you can check out this roundup of the best VPNs.
We have tracked down everything on offer and lined up a selection of the very best VPNs for streaming, shopping, and everything else. We have tried to find something for everyone and every budget, and you can find popular services like ExpressVPN and CyberGhost VPN in this list. All you need to do is weigh up these options against your own set of priorities, and then pick a favourite from the bunch.
These are the best VPNs in 2021.
Connection speeds • Unblocking streaming sites • Attractive interface
If you’re willing to spend a little more to get the best, ExpressVPN is an awesome all-round VPN.
ExpressVPNExpressVPN offers great connection speeds and a strong server network that really helps with streaming.
It is one of the most expensive VPNs out there, but it makes sense when you consider everything that ExpressVPN offers. Users get strong connection speeds, powerful encryption, and access to a diverse network of servers located all around the world.
What sets ExpressVPN apart from the competition is its ability to unblock sites like Netflix. If you’re investing in a VPN for streaming, ExpressVPN should be at the top of your list.
CyberGhost VPNCyberGhost VPN has a strong stance on privacy, so you can rest assured that your data is safe.
Users also get strong server distribution, split tunnelling for a security boost, multiple simultaneous connections, and much more. Connection speeds could be better, but they are still decent.
As an added bonus, CyberGhost VPN is really easy to install and use, with an attractive and intuitive interface that should suit everyone.
Number of servers • Connection speeds • 10 simultaneous connections
Does not offer much beyond VPN protection
This straightforward and powerful VPN keeps things simple.
Private Internet AccessPrivate Internet Access lets users connect to an absolutely massive network of servers.
Users don’t get much beyond VPN protection, but what more do you need? If you’re looking for a straightforward service that delivers where it counts, Private Internet Access should be something to seriously consider.
You also get 10 simultaneous connections with Private Internet Access, meaning it’s a great option for large households.
Great server network • Easy to use • Rare security tools
NordVPN is slick and secure, with some impressive security tools that protect your data and identity.
NordVPNNordVPN is effective at protecting your online data thanks to a range of advanced security features.
All users get access to over 5,500 servers located all over the world, with the option of connecting six devices at the same time. NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that lets you route your traffic between its own secure VPN servers and the Tor network, which creates an extra secure connection.
NordVPN doesn’t offer the fastest speeds and it’s on the pricey side, but that shouldn’t stop you from investing in this secure VPN.
Unlimited simultaneous connections • Split tunnelling • Attractive and intuitive app
Pricey unless you’re willing to commit
One of the best VPNs for streaming and security, with a bunch of impressive features that should suit everyone.
SurfsharkSurfshark offers an excellent set of features with an unlimited number of simultaneous connections.
That’s not all though, because Surfshark offers a wide range of impressive features including split tunnelling and enterprise-grade infrastructure. It’s also one of the best services for streaming.
Surfshark is not the cheapest provider, but if you’re willing to commit to a longer contract, the monthly rate comes down sharply.
Not the fastest • Clunky process to get connected
Give PureVPN a try before committing with your cash.
PureVPNPureVPN is not the most advanced VPN, but its free trial makes this a good option for beginners.
The process of connecting to PureVPN can be frustrating, and it doesn’t have as many servers as other options on this list, but that should’t put you off. PureVPN still provides add-on features like Firewall protection and dedicated IP addresses, and it allows P2P and BitTorrent support.
Unlimited number of connections • Connection speeds • Strict no-logging policy
Not the most advanced security features
Straightforward and cheap VPN that is well suited to beginners.
ZenMate VPNZenMate VPN offers security and high-speed streaming for a lot less than many of its competitors.
Users get a wide range of apps for all leading operating systems, unlimited simultaneous connections, streaming servers, P2P torrent support, and much more. There are also some really cheap subscription plans on offer.
If you’re dipping your toe into the world of VPNs or you just want something to unlock American Netflix, ZenMate VPN might be the best option for you.