We’ve all thoughtlessly joined a public Wi-Fi network before, whether it’s standing in line for coffee and checking our emails, hopping onto the subway’s public network to see if it was still raining or logging into the library’s Wi-Fi to catch up on some work. But browsing the web on public Wi-Fi networks is not the safest practice when it comes to digital security. It actually makes it much easier for hackers to access your device, which could lead to some of your sensitive information being stolen, like usernames, passwords, bank account information, and so on. Fortunately, VPNs encrypt your web traffic in a tunnel and replace your IP address, making it safe to join public Wi-Fi networks. We’ve tested out dozens of VPNs for their speed and security, and here are our top recommendations.
The Best VPN Service for 2020
- ExpressVPN – Best VPN Overall
- NordVPN – Best Encryption
- Surfshark – Best VPN for Torrenting
- CyberGhost – Best VPN for Mac
- IPVanish – Best VPN for Android
- Private Internet Access – Best VPN for Windows
- Tunnelbear – Best Free VPN
- Windscribe – Best VPN with Double Hop
- Encrypt.me – Best VPN with Unlimited Devices
- Hotspot Shield – Best VPN for Netflix
1. Windscribe – Best VPN with Double Hop
Windscribe is one of the only VPNs we’ve reviewed with a double hop, which means that our web traffic was encrypted multiple times as opposed to once. It performed really well on our Vivobook, plus, there’s a free option in the United States, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, and other places. However, only servers in the U.S and U.K allow for Netflix use; well that worked for us, those outside of these countries shouldn’t choose Windscribe if they’re looking to Netflix and chill.
What We Like
- Multi-hop encryption
- Free subscriptions in certain countries
- Quick speeds on Windows
- Great app ratings
What We Dont Like
- Slow on Macs
- Netflix only available in the United States and the United Kingdom
- Logging policy isn’t as strict as it could be
Free and Affordable Options
They say the best things in life are free, and Windscribe is one of them. We could actually use their VPN without paying anything, so long as we connected to servers in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Romania, Norway, Switzerland, or Hong Kong. For the rest of their more than 40 countries, the cost starts at just $9 a month or $49 a year, which comes out to $4.08 a month. All in all, Windscribe won’t break the bank no matter which option you go with.
Digital Security Bonus Features
We paid for a subscription from Windscribe, which meant that we didn’t just get a VPN; we also got some other helpful digital security features, like a blocker for ads, trackers, and malware. We also got unlimited data and the ability to configure our generator to our needs. This was more than worth the $9 a month we paid!
Great Apps for iPhones and Androids
Windscribe’s apps for iOS and Android only took us a few seconds to download and connect. It was easy to choose our server, and we enjoyed the app’s clean interface. Clearly, we weren’t the only ones that were satisfied with Windscribe’s app
2. Encrypt.me – Best VPN with Unlimited Devices
One of the lesser-known VPNs, Encrypt.me’s subscriptions start at only $2.99 per month for 5 GB of data or $9.99 a month for unlimited data. No matter which plan you choose, you’ll be able to use as many devices as you want on your Encrypt.me subscription. For us, this meant testing it out on a Windows Vivobook, Macbook, iPhone, and Android with no issues. We also like that they have an option for week-long passes, which we haven’t seen from any other VPN. Encrypt.me’s drawbacks are mostly privacy-related; they’re U.S-based with a logging policy that keeps customer data for 16 days before deleting it. However, if privacy isn’t a huge concern and affordability is, Encrypt.me is a fantastic choice.
What We Like
- Unlimited devices per subscription
- User-friendly apps
- Plans for individuals and families
- Dynamic IP addresses
What We Dont Like
- No Netflix
- No torrenting
- Kill switch only on iOS, MacOS and Android
- United States-based
Mini Subscription Option
Sometimes people only need VPNs for a limited amount of time, and if that’s the case, you’ll appreciate Encrypt.me’s Mini subscription option. For only $2.99 a month, it would have given us up to five GB of data, which may be enough for some activities like doing a quick web search on a coffee shop’s network. Encrypt.me also offers a week-long pass, which costs $3.99, and options for families of up to five people, costing either $12.99 a month or $149.99 per year with unlimited data.
Solid Mobile Applications
We tested out the Encrpt.me app on our iPhones and Androids, although it also works on FireOS, Windows, and macOS. All we had to do to connect was to push a big button, so easy that even less tech-savvy people could do it. We weren’t the only ones who liked Encrypt.me’s app, as it has a 4.5 rating on the Apple store and a 3.9 on the Google Play store. Plus, we could sign up for a week, month, or year-long passes in the app itself as opposed to having to go onto the desktop or mobile site, which was convenient.
Encrypt.me uses the open-sourced VPN software OpenVPN on Macs and Androids. This created secure tunnels to hide our web traffic, combining speed with security and 256-bit encryption. Plus, we could configure Encrypt.me as we desired, choosing from the L2TP, PPTP, IKEv2/IPSec, or SSTP protocols.
10. Hotspot Shield – Best VPN for Netflix
- When it came to Netflix-watching parties, Hotspot Shield had us covered with fast speeds on our Mac and Windows computers. We also didn’t experience huge delays or lags on Netflix when we used the app on our Android devices, which came in handy during commutes. Plus, Hotspot Shield has a free option for those that don’t want to spend money on a VPN; however, you’ll be limited to a daily data cap of 500 MB, which may make watching movies and TV shows on Netflix and other streaming services a bit difficult. We went with the monthly plan, which cost us $12.99 a month, although there were cheaper options if we had signed up for one or two years.Money Saver: To get discounts, sign up for long term-lengths; typically, one or two-year subscriptions are cheaper than monthly plans.What We Like
- Fast speeds
- Free option
- Netflix access
- Torrenting accessWhat We Dont Like
- Five simultaneous connections
- Based in U.S.
- Unresponsive customer support
- Keeps IP addressRegular Transparency ReportsClearly, we don’t love the fact that Hotspot Shield is based in the United States. However, we were impressed that they have annual transparency reports to prove that they don’t hand over customer data, even when asked. In 2019, for example, they were asked to hand over users’ data 56 different times, refusing every time. Clearly, Hotspot Shield is dedicated to protecting users’ privacy, and their transparency reports prove that.Free VPN for AndroidThey say that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but with Hotspot Shield, there is a free option that works on Android. It has a bandwidth limit of 500 MB daily, which means it’s not ideal for watching Netflix or torrenting files, but for those quick Internet users searches, this option will work for many users. However, note that there will be ads, but they’re a small price to pay for a free VPN, in our opinion at least.Super-Fast SpeedsHotspot Shield was one of the fastest VPNs we tested on our Windows and Mac computers. Download speeds decreased by 30% and 18% while upload speeds decreased by 0.2% and 26% on Mac and Windows, respectively. Although the latency was a bit more than we would’ve liked, Hotspot Shield is a great option for torrenting files or watching Netflix.
Aside from our best VPNs list that you’re currently reading, we’ve also reviewed the best VPNs for gaming, iPhones, and Androids, plus the best free VPNs. Most of the above VPNs are on these lists, along with a few other options that we tested out and liked.