If you want to make sure your online activities are undetectable and untraceable, you need a VPN.
All those hours you’ve spent searching for the perfect reaction GIF or drooling over recipes on YouTube seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things — but to Google, hackers, your internet service provider (ISP), and even certain government agencies, that browsing history is a valuable commodity.
And guess what? They’re probably tracking and logging every digital move you make. Like, right now. The best thing you can do to make sure your online activities are undetectable and untraceable is to invest in a VPN.
A VPN is a service that makes your web presence more difficult to track and trace, and if someone can’t track or trace your web presence, they can’t collect your personal data and do suspect things with it — like sell it to advertisers or use it to incriminate you in nefarious activities.
Best VPN deals this week
If you’ve ever looked into using a VPN before, you’ve probably noticed that some of them are free, while others require paid subscription plans. So why would anyone choose to pay for a VPN if free ones exist? It’s tempting to give free VPNs a shot, but if your budget allows it, you should always opt for a paid provider.
A VPN keeps you anonymous online by masking your IP address and encrypting your traffic through its secure servers, and while it would be nice of providers to give away and maintain this technology for free, they have to make money somehow. So, if they’re not charging you a monthly or annual fee to use their service, they’re likely logging and selling your data in order to pay their bills. Some even have the audacity to seed their products with spyware. In the best-case scenario, that data will be used to generate eerily specific ads based on your browsing history. At worst, your privacy will be compromised.
On the plus side, we’ve found that many paid VPN providers are willing to offer their services for cheap so long as you commit to a long-term subscription. We have looked at everything on offer to line up a short selection of your best options, including popular providers like NordVPN and CyberGhost VPN.
These are the best and cheapest VPNs in 2020.
Supports an unlimited number of devices • No-logging policy • Split tunneling • Unblocks Netflix • All servers can be used for torrenting • Unlimited bandwidth
Relatively small server network • Young company that’s still getting established
A budding VPN with a small-but-mighty network of servers.
SurfsharkThis up-and-comer outshines its more established (and expensive) peers in terms of both value and functionality.
It’s capable of handling even high-bandwidth activities like torrenting, offering a fleet of P2P-friendly servers and split tunneling for fast speeds. Moreover, the company is located in the British Virgin Islands — a country where there are zero data retention laws — so you can rest assured that your data will never fall into the wrong hands.
Surfshark has a small server network compared to the other VPNs on this list with just over 1,700 of them spread throughout 63 countries. The only other downside we see to Surfshark is that it’s a really, really young company that’s still solidifying a reputation among users. Based what we’ve read in preliminary reviews, we think it’s more than capable of competing with older VPN services like PureVPN and NordVPN, which have been around since 2007 and 2008, respectively.
Supports up to seven simultaneous connections • Helpful support site • Dedicated servers for torrenting • No-logging policy • Dedicated streaming servers • Split tunnelling
Customer service can be very slow to respond • Only supports one form of cryptocurrency payments
The best way to get your streaming fix abroad.
CyberGhost VPNThis widespread VPN offers dedicated streaming servers and friendly support resources that won’t intimidate VPN newbies.
CyberGhost’s massive global network of more than 6,300 servers includes dedicated streaming servers that have been optimised for speed and stability. These servers can also help you bypass geo-restrictions on movies and shows on platforms like Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, NBC, Hulu, and the BBC.
CyberGhost users have access to a split tunnelling tool that keeps their connections fast, as well as a robust support site with step-by-step tutorials on how to connect to its Netflix servers on almost any device — an amazing resource for VPN newbies.
Unlimited bandwidth • Diverse server locations • Split tunnelling • Dedicated Netflix servers • Customer support
Doesn’t support cryptocurrency payments • Dealt with privacy issues in the past, but they seem to have been resolved • Doesn’t support torrenting
PureVPNA basic but competent VPN with an impressive amount of servers in Africa — a rarity among its peers.
Most impressively, its 150 servers in Africa are spread throughout 18 different countries there, which is basically unheard of as far as VPNs go; most of the other VPNs on this list have only one or two server locations on the whole continent. The only catch is that some of PureVPN’s African servers are virtual, not physical, which sometimes (but not always) results in slower speeds.
Overall, though, PureVPN is a highly qualified provider, offering a split tunnelling feature to conserve bandwidth, a kill switch, multiple logins for up to five devices, DNS leak protection, 256-bit encryption, and support for all security protocols.
Blocks ads and malware • No-logging policy • Unlimited bandwidth • Kill switch • Supports cryptocurrency payments
Users may encounter a trade-off between security and speed
Sign up for its three-year plan to snag P2P protection for cheap.
NordVPNNordVPN is a P2P beast, but be sure to play with its security settings to keep things speedy.
Offering up to six simultaneous connections with apps for Android, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android TV, and Linux as well as browser extensions, NordVPN keeps your connection secure with double AES 256-bit encryption, an automatic kill switch, and DNS leak protection on all your devices. It’s also 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 and makes your online activities super difficult to track.
The downside to enabling all of these privacy features while you’re torrenting on a NordVPN server is that they can seriously slow down your connection — but if you’re comfortable sacrificing a little security for speed, you can always tinker with your settings and temporarily disable certain tools.
Highly customisable • No-logging policy • Supports up to 10 simultaneous connections • Includes an ad/malware blocker • Kill switch
Not great for Netflix or torrenting • No split tunnelling
A respectable VPN for users who know exactly what they want.
Private Internet AccessDo as much (or as little) fiddling as you want with this highly flexible VPN.
Boasting more than 3,300 servers in 46 countries, PIA (as it’s commonly known) is a simple yet powerful VPN with a moddable interface. Among other adjustable settings, it also lets you customise your data encryption and authentication algorithms and change the configuration of its ports.
Just like the other VPNs on this list, PIA upholds a no-logging policy and offers unlimited bandwidth on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android devices. Plus, it can support an impressive 10 connections at once — that’s double what most of its peers can handle.
But for all the perks PIA affords its users, it appears to be lacking reliable support for both Netflix and torrenting. According to reviews, its service is very hit or miss in those departments.
Supports torrenting • App available for lots of platforms • 24/7 support • Unlimited bandwidth • Supports simultaneous connections on up to five devices • Split tunnelling
Only supports one form of cryptocurrency payments • On the slow side
Such a great service for so little money. What’s the catch?
IvacyVPNThis cheap provider is supported on basically every platform.
Its app is extremely easy to navigate thanks to its Smart Purpose Selection feature, which chooses the right server for you based on your VPN needs (secure download, streaming, or unblocking). Better yet, it’s supported on basically every platform you can think of — even Kodi, Raspberry Pi, Xbox, Playstation, Roku, and Blackberry — and maintains a sizable network of more than 1,000 servers in over 100 locations.
If you’re still floating the idea of a VPN, Ivacy’s price tag might be the thing that wins you over. Yet despite its low price, it doesn’t skimp on security features like 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection.