Best VPN 2021

Why you need a VPN may differ depending on who you are, but basically the increase in available options is due to a constantly growing surveillance society. It’s also the case that international web magazines, TV broadcasts and other types of media channels are blocking access to the offer geographically. Some broadband providers are also disclosing information to third parties, while the privacy of the internet is declining with each passing year.

By purchasing one of the subscriptions below, you can bypass censorship, geo-blocking and other online interference – and remain anonymous and safe while surfing. Modern services can also offer dedicated IP addresses, torrent-friendly servers, and audited no-logs policies.

If you want to know more about the different providers, you will find all the necessary information in this thorough review, but also which of them are best suited for different kinds of tasks. This could include streaming foreign Netflix libraries, file sharing, or mobile use. Other desirable niceties might include multiple concurrent connections, split-tunneling, high speeds, or the ability to bypass the Chinese firewall.

1. Express VPN

ExpressVPN is one of the biggest and best-known VPNs on the market, but that’s because of its high level of security, proprietary DNS servers, and world-class encryption. They have also developed their own protocol called Lightway, which also competes with NordLynx used by NordVPN.

In addition to this, it also includes several features such as split-tunneling, enhanced security by running their servers directly in RAM, and the ability to make payments using Bitcoin. The number of servers is 3,000+ and you can also connect from 94 countries which is really impressive.

What we liked

+ High-quality VPN with tons of features to offer

+ Easily unlock blocked content on Netflix, Amazon Prime or Disney+

+ Registered in the British Virgin Islands to bypass surveillance and data retention

What was less good

– More expensive than many other VPNs

– Support for only 5 devices simultaneously

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the largest VPNs by far, boasting over 14 million users, which also makes it the market leader in the industry. Their NordLynx protocol is also one of the fastest encrypted connections you’ll find, while privacy is top notch thanks to the company being registered in Panama.

What stands out about this particular provider is their dedication to online privacy, which is evident through their business description. Another plus is the speeds and number of servers, while being able to unblock Netflix in the US and UK without any problems. 

At the time of writing, it has over 5,000 servers in 59 countries, but also a host of extra features such as reserved IP addresses, double protection by sending information through two VPN servers, browser extensions, and a Kill Switch. Customer support is also open 24/7, and with broad support for multiple devices, you’ll always find an app to suit.

The prices are also reasonable, but especially if you take out a longer subscription. At the moment, for example, you can get a 2-year plan for just €2.93 a month. If you’re not satisfied, you’re also covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

What we liked

+ Multiple servers and fast speeds

+ Apps for every conceivable device

+ Rewards hackers who find weaknesses in their systems

+ Unlock geo-blocked libraries on Netflix, Disney+ or Amazon Prime

+ Can be ordered with cryptocurrencies

+ NordLynx protocol for the fastest speeds

What was less good

– Dedicated IP addresses are a security risk

– Does not give out free periods

– Expensive if you pay monthly

– Only 6 simultaneous connections

3. Surfshark

Surfshark is a high-quality challenger that gives you the opportunity for a “try it out” period, while supporting an unlimited number of devices. For those who need to connect a larger number of computers, mobile phones and tablets, this is a golden opportunity.

Other benefits include additional services that protect against malware, phishing and identity theft while you’re connected. We also liked that speeds were high while latency was low, especially on the Swedish servers. With over 63 countries to connect from, you also have plenty of options to choose from, whether you’re abroad, or if you want to unblock content.

What we liked

+ Extended malware protection beyond VPN functionality

+ All servers are P2P-friendly

+ Support for an unlimited number of connections 

+ Offers WireGuard for even faster speeds

+ Multihop servers for those who need extra security

What was less good

– Missing 1-year subscriptions

– Free period offered only for iOS, Android or Mac

4. Cyberghost

With a massive number of servers, Cyberghost can give you access to over 90 countries worldwide, but also a 24-hour trial period where you can evaluate the service for free. To top it all off, they also have a longer money back guarantee than their challengers, as well as being registered in Romania where data retention laws are non-existent.

What sets Cyberghost apart is that they have over 7,300 servers to boast, but also several custom-made ones to give you better conditions for streaming, downloading and safe surfing.

What we liked

+ Many servers for various purposes such as streaming, P2P, etc.

+ Clear and simple app

+ Fast speeds

+ Over 38 million users

+ Continuous transparency reports published directly on the website

+ Very low price for 3-year contracts

What was less good

– No support for Apple TV or Chrome TV

– Does not offer Multihop servers for enhanced security

– More expensive than many competitors if you sign up for a monthly subscription

ProtonVPN

One VPN service that takes security very seriously is ProtonVPN, a company that has placed its servers 1,000 metres below the earth’s surface. Every line of code in the software used is also publicly available, while they also provide a free version of the service. 

If you have high standards for security and privacy, ProtonVPN is an excellent choice, especially since it is registered in Switzerland and does not disclose information to a third party. You’ll also find TOR over VPN for complete privacy.

What we liked

+ High level of privacy with huge security measures

+ Protonmail is available as an option

+ 10 devices can connect simultaneously

+ Secure Core servers for enhanced anonymity

+ TOR over VPN for the paranoid user

+ Free version offered

What was less good

– WireGuard missing

– Access to fewer servers and countries compared to some competitors

– You have to pay more to get all the features

5. PrivateVPN

A distinct advantage of PrivateVPN is that it’s based in Sweden, but it also offers excellent support. If you need personal customer service, for example, you can get help via TeamViewer where the staff can better guide you to a solution. Another advantage is that the servers have an uptime of 99.8%, which is proof of a stable service, but you also get unlimited bandwidth and the ability to connect in over 60 countries.

We also appreciated the 30-day money-back guarantee, the high level of encryption (AES 256), and the no-logs policy. 

What we liked

+ Free period for 7 days

+ Many servers in Sweden

+ Very cheap if you buy a 2-year subscription

What was less good

– WireGuard missing

– 200+ servers only

– Not as good at bypassing the Chinese firewall as many other VPNs

– Does not have as many features and refinements as their competitors

Hidemyass

With more than 290 countries to connect from, Hidemyass is a service that covers the vast majority of geographical areas you can imagine, but they’ve also put a big focus on ease of use. You can benefit from apps for operating systems like Apple TV or Android TV, as well as the fact that they use something called “IP shuffling” which swaps out your IP continuously as an extra layer of protection.

What we liked

+ Ability to connect from almost anywhere in the world

+ Flexible subscriptions that support 5 or 10 devices simultaneously

+ Free “trial” period of 7 days

What was less good

– Smaller number of servers compared to some competitors

– High price if you choose a monthly subscription

– Registered in the UK which is automatically a security risk

Trust.Zone

If you are a technology enthusiast, Trust.Zone has a lot to offer, especially in terms of the number of encryption protocols and anonymous registration. In fact, all you need is an email address to create an account, and you get a 10% discount when you pay with Bitcoin.

Other benefits include a free 3-day trial and the availability of dedicated IP addresses at no extra cost. Unlimited bandwidth is also included, while file sharing and torrenting is allowed which we always appreciate.

What we liked

+ Registered in Seychelles where information is neither stored nor shared with other authorities

+ Very cheap price for 2-year subscriptions

+ Servers in 40 different countries

What was less good

– Does not offer round-the-clock support

– Not as good at unlocking geo-blocked content

– No money back guarantee

Private Internet Access

PIA is a VPN provider that impresses with completely anonymous registration, but also a proven no-logs policy. They have also testified in court cases that no logs were available, making them a very reliable option.

As they also have many in-depth and technical guides on their website, this service is preferable for those who are not very tech-savvy. The apps are also very easy to use and the support team welcomes questions and queries 24/7.

What we liked

+ Registered in Seychelles where information is neither stored nor shared with other authorities

+ Very cheap price for 2-year subscriptions

+ Servers in 40 different countries

What was less good

– Registered in the US where surveillance is frequent by both NSA and CIA

– Not as fast as NordVPN and Cyberghost

– The encryption level is automatically lower unless you adjust it manually

VYPR VPN

VYPR VPN is a very affordable option on the market, but especially if you sign up for a 3-year subscription. The company is also registered in Switzerland, which does not allow signals intelligence, but they are also not on the “Fourteen Eyes” list of countries that cooperate with US authorities.

One of the features of this particular service is the “Chameleon” protocol, which is designed to bypass the Chinese firewall, or other countries that have a habit of blocking VPN connections.

What we liked

+ Extremely low-priced 2-year subscription

+ Audited by an independent security company

+ Unlocks streaming services without problems

What was less good

– Only 700+ servers to offer

– Does not offer monthly subscriptions

– Does not accept payments with cryptocurrencies

Is VPN Secure?

Many people wonder if it’s really safe to surf online via a VPN, but the short answer is obviously yes. To explain the technology a little more thoroughly, the connection is an encrypted tunnel between you and the server on the other side, which means that no one can see what’s being sent between you and the VPN you’re using.

You’ll also get a different IP address as soon as you connect, and the DNS servers used are supplied by the company that owns the VPN provider. These are called name servers and translate IP addresses to, for example, google.se, aftonbladet.se and sweclockers.se. 

Why security is extra high with a VPN depends on the level of encryption itself, i.e. how strong the key used to secure the “tunnel” itself is. Today’s modern algorithms use something called AES 256, or Advanced Encryption Standard in 256 bits. So it would take 2^256 combination attempts to try to crack it, which is not even possible with today’s supercomputers.

When information is sent between you and your ISP, they can always see which websites you visit, or in the worst case, which passwords are sent between you and different sites. This is usually not a problem as your ISP does not care about this kind of information, but it does mean that a third party can intercept what kind of data is passing through the routers you use. So with a VPN turned on, you prevent unauthorised people from snooping on what you’re doing when you’re using a public WiFi, or when you’re online in a place you don’t trust.

A VPN is also a way for journalists and security-minded people to protect their information when they are in countries that monitor their citizens, or when they are reporting from totalitarian governments. The no-logs policy also protects your online activities as a VPN leaves no trace.

Finally, it is also extremely important that independent parties audit VPN providers, something most agree to voluntarily. This applies first and foremost to logs, or not keeping them at all. For example, some provide the time of the actual connection, but nothing more. This is only done for the purpose of troubleshooting problems when contacting support.

In order to remain as anonymous as possible, it is also desirable that you can register an account without any personal data requirements, and that you can pay with cryptocurrencies. The internet is also becoming increasingly restricted, which VPN providers want to combat by allowing you to bypass censorship, firewalls and the like. You also have to remember that the missing link is usually the human factor and not the security of the connection itself.

What can a VPN be used for?

There are a lot of things you can do with a VPN, but one of the most important aspects is of course the anonymity that comes with surfing. Some others might be to increase the safety of you and your loved ones when using the internet, or to access content that is not available in the UK.

We’ve created a small bulleted list of VPN benefits below to provide a slightly broader overview for those who are still in doubt about the reasons:

  • Secure internet connection when using a public WiFi (Cafés, airports, etc.)
  • Prevent your information from being sold or tracked
  • Bypass firewalls
  • Download files anonymously (P2P, torrents, etc.)
  • Unblock foreign content on Netflix and other streaming media
  • Countering bandwidth restrictions used by some ISPs
  • Book cheaper hotels and airline tickets by connecting to a local IP address in the same country
  • Contributing to a freer internet
  • Access Swedish websites when you are abroad
  • Visit sites in Norway, Denmark or Finland that do not accept Swedish IP addresses
  • Avoid being hacked as your IP address is not visible to the outside world 

Customer support

The vast majority of VPNs we reviewed offered accessible customer support that was open 24/7, both via live chat and email. Some went a step further by offering help via TeamViewer, while others had thorough guides and manuals available on the website.

Some also contributed forms where you can fill in specific information to address different problems, a great advantage that can speed up the process a lot. The red toe with the support was that helpful staff who addressed issues right away, even if some couldn’t offer it 24/7.

Can you trust the different VPNs?

Even though the information is encrypted between you and the VPN servers, they are still companies looking to make money, which may lead some to speculate about security. This is also why independent auditing, where the company is registered, and what encryption algorithms are used are so important.

Some criteria used to assess the degree of reliability include:

  • Registered address: where the company behind the VPN is geographically located plays a crucial role when it comes to trust. As many governments are members of alliances like “Five Eyes”, “Nine Eyes” and “14 Eyes”, they also share your data with countries like the US.
  • Privacy policy: what guarantees are in place regarding the logging policy is always important to consider. It’s also very common for a VPN service to claim that they don’t keep any logs, when in fact they may keep connection times, IP addresses and how much data is sent. Some even require more information about you as a user, in addition to email and payment method. 
  • Encryption method: how new and advanced algorithms are used to secure your connection is very important, especially outdated ones can contain security holes or be cracked by hackers. AES-128 is an example of an outdated algorithm while PPTP is an insecure protocol that should not be used. 
  • Independent review: has the VPN provider been independently audited? Did they share logs or not? Questions like these are extremely important to ask, but it’s also a kind of quality stamp on a really good service. 

Speed

Before choosing a suitable VPN, you should always take a look at the speeds they can offer, which is more important than ever today. With many Swedes sitting on fast fibre connections, VPN providers can’t always keep up, another reason why speed is a point to focus on.

When you’re connected with a VPN, there’s always a slight reduction in speed, which is explained by the encryption algorithm used. It also requires some of your hardware to encrypt the information in this way, whether you’re using a computer or a mobile device.

To ensure that you can download files as quickly as possible, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at the different protocols on offer. This is also something you need to consider when comparing prices between NordVPN, ExpressVPN and the other options.

Other factors that play a crucial role when you’re connected via a VPN are the distance to the server, the internet connection you use, and the amount of data that other users on your home network send and receive. If you are not connected via an Ethernet cable, you may also experience degraded levels of speed, especially if you have an old router with an older WiFi protocol.

To ensure fast connections, you should always go through the following checklist:

  1. Does the VPN have access to WireGuard or similar protocols?
  2. Are there any speed limits?
  3. How fast are the connections on the servers used?
  4. Do they offer nearby servers to me?

Should I choose a free or paid VPN?

We don’t recommend a VPN that is completely free as they rarely offer competitive features. However, you can try many of our reviewed VPNs for 30 days before deciding to purchase a subscription.

There are of course free versions available in today’s market, but these often have limitations on the number of connections and the amount of data you can use. You are also rarely allowed to file or use P2P applications such as Bittorrent.

Given the enormous price squeeze offered by most providers, there’s not much to skimp on either. You’ll always find the best VPN service by paying for it.

Best VPN for streaming

In our opinion, NordVPN, Cyberghost and ExpressVPN are the best for streaming, whether it’s Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Viaplay, HBO or other media services. The reason for this is that these three work the hardest at circumventing geo-blocks, something that’s diligently resisted all the time.

Given that it requires a huge amount of dedicated staff to bypass the blocks, the biggest VPNs are always preferable, but especially when it comes to streaming. Many of them also have dedicated servers for this purpose.

Unblocking blocked content is a full-time job, but also one that requires countless servers and dedicated staff. It’s also something you pay for when you choose a VPN, which can sometimes be overlooked. Time is money, as the saying goes, but this is especially true for VPNs that need to work hard to make sure you can always stream content even when you’re in another country, or on holiday.

For us Swedes, the most important thing is that we can access online newspapers, SVT Play, TV4 Play and other media. This applies first and foremost when we travel abroad, but also for a large number of Swedes living abroad who have moved to another country. 

Best VPN for Mac

We think ExpressVPN performs best on the Mac, largely due to its simple interface and software that is well optimised for this particular operating system. It’s common knowledge that Mac computers can suffer from slower speeds, especially if the VPN provider’s software isn’t as well developed.

For example, during our tests, we watched TV shows and movies on Netflix to assess how fast they buffer, even when we were connected to servers in the US. Other activities included browsing to websites we knew were blocked for Swedish users, but also ones we thought were optimised for Macs in the first place.

Best VPN for iPhone

Surfshark, NordVPN and ExpressVPN compete with each other on this point, but we found that all three perform very well on iOS and the iPhone in particular. The reasons for this are that the apps are clear and easy to use, but also contain plenty of fine-tuning and features.

What we liked about Surfshark is that you’ll find plenty of options to change servers to Multihop, P2P, as well as virtual or physical servers. You’ll also find a button to find the fastest server based on distance.

VPN for Android

In our opinion, Cyberghost is a clear winner for the Android app, thanks to its simple look and good functionality. You can also see what protocol is being used, how long you’ve been connected, and how much data has been sent back and forth.

VPN Router

A VPN Router can either be a custom-built one, or you can connect to a VPN directly through the router’s interface. The vast majority of VPN services offer guides for this as it does not require any separate software, only that the router has this functionality built into the operating system.

The advantages of connecting your router directly to a VPN are that it is usually on 24 hours a day, which minimises the risk of interruptions. It also protects all your other devices automatically, such as the computers, mobile phones and tablets that use your WiFi connection.

By using your router as a link between you and the VPN server you are using, you can also bypass restrictions on the number of connected devices. This is especially beneficial for those who only allow 5 or fewer at a time. Many of our reviewed VPNs also offer complete guides on how to go about this, such as NordVPN who have created a video explaining the whole process.

At present, there is a plethora of routers that are capable of being connected to a VPN, but some examples are AsusWRT, Edgerouter and Mikrotik. However, these are the ones you can buy off the shelf, while it is also possible to update a regular router with software such as Tomato, DD-WRT or pfSense.

Enthusiasts and computer-savvy users often convert their old and unused routers into ones that can be connected to a VPN, mainly to distribute an encrypted and secure internet connection to all users in the home.

How we evaluate security and privacy

You might think it is as easy as just masking the IP to be secure but there is much more to it then that. It is also important to understand cookies, which information the web browser shares and things like DNS leaks. 

When we evaluate the security of a VPN service we look for DNS, WebRTC and IP leaks

We also check if the VPN is using a “Perfect Forward Secrecy”, split tunneling and ad blocking features. 

We use tools like IPV6 Test and IPLeak to check if there is any sensitive information being shared. Then we download a torrent file through the above tools to see if the IP address is being shared there. 

Another important thing is to find out where physically and legally a VPN is incorporated. If it is located in the U.S or in EU countries there is an obvious risk that authorities can monitor the information. That might not be a problem in many countries but in countries where the governments want to have full control this is a way to limit this. A lot of VPN companies has therefore incorporated in for example the British Virgin Islands. 

Does the VPN save logs?

It is not super easy to get hold of this information but we do the best we can. The problem is that some VPN companies say that they do not save logs but it has later been revealed that they actually do. If we find out that they do, we would never recommend that service.

How we evaluate usability 

User interface

We test the VPN in different environments. Android, Iphone, Mac and PC. We wanna make sure that it’s easy to use and change settings. It’s not too uncommon that one app has gotten less love than the other and then we wanna take that into consideration for the final score.

Where can you use the VPN?

If you live in a country where the government blocks websites and doesn’t let you access all of the internet then you might wanna use a VPN for that. However, all VPNs does not have global support and have blocked usage in countries like China and Thailand. So it’s important to investigate further into this matter. 

How about torrents?

Some VPNs block the use of torrents with their service. We do not recommend using torrents for something illegal but it’s good to know if the VPN is open for that or not. 

Does the VPN work with Netflix, HBO, Disney Plus, Hulu and other streaming services?

If you travel a lot some of your services might only work in your home country. But if your VPN supports streaming services then do not need to worry. Just jump in to the pool and watch good ol HBO from Thailand or wherever you are. We test if the biggest streaming services work with the VPN and also read reports online from other users. 


This is also good if you wanna try movies from different countries than your own. Just imagine getting cozy in front of the fire watching a nice Italian movie back in Canada. 

How we evaluate the speed

Vrooom! This is a big one. We dont wanna have bad flashbacks from the 56.6kbit modem era when it took 10 minutes to download a song from Napster. Whops. Hypothetically speaking, of course. Hypothetically speaking. We’ve never done that.

Anyways, here we bring out the big guns. We wanna make sure that the VPN service is super duper fast.

We start with testing the internet connection to get a benchmark. Then we turn on the VPN and try different servers to compare the speed. We use Ookla speedtest for this.

We also try everyday use like:

-Surf the web
-Watch Youtube movies in 1080p

-Upload and download files to Google Drive

But we do not stop there. Speed is not everything. We also look at ping and jitter. 

Ping is the time it takes for a small data set to be transmitted from your device to a server on the Internet and back to you again. The ping time is measured in milliseconds (ms).

Jitter is when there is a time delay in the sending of these data packets over your network connection. 

Prices and subscription terms

Does the VPN have money back guarantees? Trial periods? Do you have to subscribe for a long time to get an OK price? Can you use crypto, Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Paypal? These are some of the things we look at. For every VPN we review we list the prices, terms and payment options.

How are our tests different from others?

All of us over at MakeITSecure use VPN all the time. If we have a problem we discuss if it should affect the grade. This way we find bugs that others do not find. Like this one from ExpressVPN when the server says “Thailand” but Google recognizes it as Indonesia. 

Deal breakers

We call them “The Deadly 4”™.  They are deal breakers for us. They are so important that we would not even consider reviewing the VPN finding out about them.

The first of The Deadly 4 is the “kill switch. This basically means that if the VPN goes down it automatically blocks all internet traffic. If it doesnt then your IP will leak out during the time the VPN is down. 

The second one is encryption. The VPN needs to use at least a AES-256 encryption.
The third of The Deadly 4 is something we already have mentioned is the big L word. “Logs.” 

That is a big no.

The fourth one is regarding connectivity problems. If you need to try 5-6 to connect to a server that just make things annoying and we don’t want that.