Keeping on top of your digital security is more crucial than ever. Picking one of the best VPN services of 2023 will help you stay safe.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) safeguard your anonymity and data online. They shroud your IP address, letting you change it to different locations. On the one hand, this lets you access content that would otherwise be barred to you. On the other, it also makes your own data harder to breach, especially on public networks.
VPN usage has also been driven by the rise in remote work since the start of the pandemic. Back in March 2020, numbers jumped by 124% in just two weeks.
No matter if you’re using a VPN to access work servers during telecommuting, or if you want to circumvent censorship, one factor is crucial: Which VPN provider you choose.
The quality of the services available on the market varies widely with respect to security and speed. Similarly, there are huge variations in which operating systems are supported, how many device licenses are included in a single subscription, and what pricing looks like.
To help you navigate the extensive offer, here are our top 8 picks for the best VPN services in 2023.
1 – ExpressVPN
Heading the list is ExpressVPN. With over 3,000 servers in more than 100 countries, this provider is blazing fast and highly secure. The company itself is located in the British Virgin Islands.
Generally, ExpressVPN convinces through its flexibility. It’s available as an app for all major OS, including Linux, as well as a browser extension and for routers. It also allows you to connect as many as 8 devices at once.
What’s more, ExpressVPN has a strict no-logs policy. Their “Trusted Server” technology runs entirely in RAM. None of your data ever gets written to a hard drive, not even temporarily.
In addition, this provider also offers functionalities like a kill switch and its own Lightways protocol. The kill switch prevents data leaking from a VPN tunnel if it fails. Lightways is faster than the standard OpenVPN and IPsec protocols.
Finally, a big plus for ExpressVPN is that it’s very good at unblocking streaming sites like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.
If you run into any trouble, you have access to 24/7 live support.
Overall, ExpressVPN is undoubtedly the best VPN service of 2023.
Pricing starts from $8.32 per month (paid annually).
2 – NordVPN
Based in Panama, NordVPN can boast over 5800 servers in over 60 countries. It scores points with its fast connection and extensive security protocols.
You can pick a dedicated IP, and have up to 6 simultaneous connections running.
Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN also provides a zero-log policy. This policy was actually put to the test back in 2018, when one of the company’s servers was breached. The result? Nothing happened. Security was maintained. Still, NordVPN now has annual security and policy audits.
In addition to a kill switch, NordVPN also features DNS leak protection and several other additional protocols. Generally, it uses the AES-256 encryption standard, and can even encrypt connections twice. NordVPN also makes it possible to VPN into Tor networks. Plus, it can run a custom, faster VPN protocol, NordLynx.
NordVPN also unblocks streaming sites like Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.
Pricing starts at $2.99 per month if you opt for the 2-year plan.
3 – Surfshark
Coming in third, Surfshark relies on over 3,200 servers in more than 140 locations. Located in the British Virgin Islands, this provider lets you harness IPs in over 100 countries.
In some ways, Surfshark has a smaller network than ExpressVPN and NordVPN. However, it convinces through extensive features and plenty of speed.
Surfshark works as an app on all major operating systems, on Fire TVs, and routers. Browser extensions are also available. A definitive plus: There is no limit on the number of devices you can connect.
Like ExpressVPN and NordVPN, Surfshark also has a kill switch to protect your data in case a connection fails.
In addition, it features three distinct modes to help you get around restrictions and hide your online activities: Camouflage, Multi-hop, and NoBorders. These help you mask your VPN activity, jump your connection through multiple countries, and use the service even in restrictive regions.
For fans of streaming, Surfshark unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.
Pricing starts at $2.21 per month for the 2-year plan, making Surfshark’s offer one of the most competitive among the best VPN services in 2023.
4 – ProtonVPN
Next up, Proton VPN is based in Geneva, Switzerland. This provider offers just over 3,000 servers in 69 countries, with a core network of 100 servers that are fully owned and operated by the company. Proton VPN is known for having very high security standards, even on its free offer.
Proton VPN has a strict no-logging policy. Additionally, it publishes annual transparency reports. The aim? To keep data absolutely untraceable and secure.
Like other services on this list, Proton VPN features a kill switch and DNS leak protection. It also offers split tunneling, letting you use multiple network connections at the same time.
In terms of streaming, Proton VPN allows you to access Disney+, HBO Now, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video.
Proton VPN offers a free limited version, the only one among the best VPN services in 2023. To unlock its full power – including streaming – opt for the Plus plan at $8 per month.
5 – IPVanish
Next up, IPVanish can count on 2,200 servers in over 75 locations for its high speeds. The country selection is a little more limited, at 52. The company itself is based in the US.
IPVanish works on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and even Amazon Fire TV. It includes a wide range of features, from DNS leak protection to a kill switch. Plus, it unblocks Netflix and Disney+.
A slight downside is that connection speeds, while fast at their peaks, are somewhat inconsistent. And updates to the app have not been overly frequent in the past.
Pricing starts at $3.33 per month.
6 – FastVPN
FastVPN can boast over 1,000 servers in 53 countries. It’s run by Namecheap, the US-based domain registrar and DNS provider, which means that its server infrastructure is excellent.
Like others on this list, FastVPN utilizes the high-grade AES-256 encryption standard, runs on all major operating systems, and features a kill switch and DNS leak protection.
Big plus points in favor of FastVPN are that it provides unlimited connections, devices, and bandwidth. In addition, it prides itself on its user-friendliness and simplicity.
Similar to Surfshark’s Camouflage mode, FastVPN offers a Scramble mode, which helps users evade VPN-detecting and -blocking filters.
When it comes to streaming, FastVPN unblocks Netflix and Disney+.
A slight negative point is that while FastVPN’s speeds are solid, they are not outstanding. It offers no custom VPN protocols, just the standard OpenVPN and IKEv2.
Pricing, however, is extremely competitive, at $1.57 per month for the first year.
Unlocator is a relative newcomer to the VPN world, which is reflected in a fairly small server network – about 40 servers in as many countries.
Other than how young the company is, there is another reason for this: While Unlocator can be used as a general-purpose VPN, its real mission is to get around geoblocking, especially for fast, effortless streaming.
Thanks to the SmartDNS feature, Unlocator can often circumvent geoblocking without sending your entire traffic through its servers. This requires less computing power, hence the smaller network.
Pricing is mid-range at $4.99 monthly in the 2-year plan.
A final heads-up: Unlocator does keep usage logs, though it deletes them daily.
Malwarebytes Privacy VPN
Malwarebytes, makers of the popular malware scanner, have expanded into offering a more comprehensive security solution. One part of this bundle is a VPN, which you can also use as a standalone service.
Clearly coming at it from the security angle, Malwarebytes Privacy VPN is a solid midrange service. The key features are 500 servers in 40 countries, a strict no-logs policy, torrenting support and good performance at unblocking most services. It supports the most common platforms: macOS, iOS, Windows, and Android. It’s less suitable for gaming, as latency can be high, and it occasionally struggles with Netflix.
For a standalone VPN with some limitations, it’s not exactly a budget pick: Malwarebytes Privacy VPN starts at $3.33 monthly for a single device on the annual plan. For $5/month, you get up to 5 devices. In a bundle with the rest of Malwarebytes’ offer, of course, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck.
At the end of the day, a VPN is an invaluable tool to safeguard your digital security. From keeping you safe on public Wi-Fi, to establishing encrypted connections to business apps during work-from-home, a VPN is crucial.
By going through these 8 best VPN services in 2023 and pinpointing which best suits your needs, you’ll be able to boost your digital security.