Keeping on top of your digital security is more crucial than ever. Picking one of the best VPN services of 2021 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.
In the US, VPN usage has surged since the start of the pandemic. At the beginning of March alone it increased by 124%.
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 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 licenses are included, and what pricing looks like.
To help you navigate the extensive offer, here are our top 6 picks for the best VPN services in 2021.
1 – ExpressVPN
Heading the list is ExpressVPN. With over 3,000 servers in 94 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 maintain as many as 5 simultaneous connections.
What’s more, ExpressVPN has a zero-log policy. Their “Trusted Server” technology runs entirely in RAM. None of your data ever gets written to a hard drive, even temporarily.
In addition, this provider also offers functionalities like a kill switch and its own Lightways protocol. The kill switch prevents data leaks 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 unblocks 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 2021.
Pricing starts from $8.32 per month (paid annually).
2 – NordVPN
Based in Panama, NordVPN can boast over 5000 servers in over 62 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 $3.71 per month if you opt for the 2-year plan.
3 – Surfshark
Coming in third, Surfshark relies on over 3,200 servers in over 100 locations. Located in the British Virgin Islands, this provider lets you harness IPs in over 65 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 in restrictive regions.
For fans of streaming, Surfshark unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.
Pricing starts at $2.49 per month for the 2-year plan, making Surfshark’s offer on of the most competitive among the best VPN services in 2021
4 – ProtonVPN
Next up, ProtonVPN is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Even though this provider offers a smaller network of servers (just over 560 in 54 countries), it can still boast impressive speeds and high security standards.
ProtonVPN 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, ProtonVPN 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, ProtonVPN allows you to access Disney+, HBO Now, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video.
ProtonVPN offers a free limited version, the only one among the best VPN services in 2021. To unlock its full power, though, opt for the Plus plan at $8 per month.
5 – IPVanish
IPVanish, finally, can count on 1,300 servers in 55 countries for its high speeds. 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 are not exactly frequent.
Pricing starts at $4.99 per month.
6 – Namecheap VPN
Namecheap VPN can boast over 1000 servers in 53 countries. At its core, the US-based company is a domain registrar and DNS provider, which means that its server infrastructure is excellent.
Like others on this list, Namecheap 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 Namecheap 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, Namecheap offers a Scramble mode, which helps users evade VPN-detecting and -blocking filters.
When it comes to streaming, Namecheap unblocks Netflix and Disney+.
A slight negative point is that while Namecheap VPN’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 $1.53 per month for the 3-year plan.
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 5 best VPN services in 2021 and pinpointing which best suits your needs, you’ll be able to boost your digital security.