10 best VPNs for Windows in 2021 (both free and paid options)

Last updated by   Ruheni Mathenge
Disclosure
0 Comments
You badly need a Windows VPN today for multiple pressing reasons. This guide helps you pick only the best option for your PC, laptop, and tablet.

Windows is perhaps the most commonly used computer operating system in the world. Like most people, you might not be aware of the privacy risks associated with it. If you look closer at Microsoft’s privacy policy, you will see that it tracks your private information.

In fact, several cybersecurity audits have found out that Windows is vulnerable to malware and hackers. Although the company has worked hard to improve its latest Windows 10, there are still some safety concerns. That is why it’s recommended to use a virtual private network (VPN). It will encrypt your traffic and pass it through encrypted tunnels for safety.

In this guide, we list the top ten best Windows VPNs, why you need a VPN for Windows, factors to consider when choosing a VPN, and much more.

A quick summary of the top 10 VPNs for Windows

  1. ExpressVPN – Our top recommendation for Windows users. It boasts high speeds, incredible unblocking capabilities, a wide range of security and privacy features.
  2. NordVPN –  Offers fast speeds with watertight security and a zero-logs policy.
  3. SurfShark – Low-cost option for Windows, unblocks major streaming sites, unlimited simultaneous connections.
  4. CyberGhost – Extremely easy to use, massive server network, optimized servers for streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
  5. IPVanish – Strong security, unlimited simultaneous connections, unrestricted bandwidth, a transparent no-logs policy.
  6. Windscribe – 10GB free monthly data, in-built malware protection, military-grade security, R.O.B.E.R.T. adblocker.
  7. Tunnelbear – Windows TCP Override, 500MB free monthly data, robust security, bypasses censorship.
  8. Hotspot Shield – Free Windows app, great speeds, 500MB free data per day, works with Kodi and offers advanced security.
  9. ProtonVPN – Unlimited free data, zero-logs policy, perfect forward secrecy, automatic protection, unblocks Netflix.
  10. Hide.me –Unrestricted bandwidth, military-grade encryption, support torrenting, 10 G.B. free monthly data.

In-depth analysis of the best Windows VPNs

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN-Best-VPNs-600x300-1

Key features

  • Excellent Windows client
  • 3,000 servers in 94 countries
  • Fast speeds
  • TrustedServer technology
  • Smart Location feature
  • Unblocks websites and services in one click
  • P2P sharing
  • A.E.S. 256-bit encryption
  • Five simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
ExpressVPN Review: A fast and furious solution to your internet privacy
ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Windows and our top recommendation. It is the fastest VPN for Windows. This is a jack of all trades; you can use it to bypass geo-restrictions, stream, torrent, and play games securely.

Its Windows desktop client is feature-filled and intuitive, with some features not found in the mobile apps. It also has a macOS client as well as Android and iOS apps. On top of that, the VPN is compatible with a wide variety of router firmware. This will help you protect all the internet-enabled devices in your household, including P.C., laptops, consoles, and T.V.s.

ExpressVPN operates over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. The majority of the servers are in the U.S. and the U.K., although other locations have multiple servers as well. This means you are likely to get a closer server for better speeds.

According to our recent speed tests of top VPNs, ExpressVPN came second after NordVPN. We connected to a server closer to our office, and our speeds dropped by only 4%. The Smart Location feature will automatically connect you to the most optimal server available. You will still get consistent speeds even when you connect to international servers.

Accessing Netflix U.S. will be easy as it has multiple servers there. It can also circumvent geo-restrictions of other popular streaming sites such as Amazon Prime Video, Disney, Hulu, and more. You’ll watch in full H.D. without buffering as most of the servers offer sufficient speeds.

ExpressVPN allows P2P sharing across its entire server network. The provider doesn’t cap bandwidth and data, so you’ll torrent unrestricted. It is compatible with uTorrent and other torrenting clients to offer complete anonymity.

We have seen that ExpressVPN caused only a 4% drop in our internet connection speed. Although many factors can affect your speeds, this is a high-quality service that will handle any game. Try using servers closer to your location for better gaming speeds. This means you’ll play in ultra H.D. as if you are not using a VPN.

The VPN will maintain your security with A.E.S. 256-bit encryption alongside SHA-512 HMAC authentication, AES-256 cipher, and a 4096-bit R.S.A. key. There is also perfect forward secrecy that will assign you a new encryption key each time you start a session for anonymity.

ExpressVPN also offers multiple security protocols such as OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP. OpenVPN is the default protocol, but the VPN will automatically choose the best protocol depending on your connection. With it, you can rest assure you have a secure VPN for Windows 7, 8, and 10 by your side.

One of the most striking features is the split tunneling. It allows you to select the part of your traffic you’d like to encrypt and leave the rest intact. This means you will be browsing locally and through the VPN simultaneously. For example, you can access your online bank locally and encrypt your torrent traffic.

In terms of privacy, the provider claims to keep your activities private. We took a closer look at the privacy policy and found out that it does not collect any logs. The VPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Island, which sits outside the 5/9/14 Eye countries. The provider offers a 30 days money-back guarantee, which we tested to be a truly no-questions-asked one, meaning you can try the service risk-free.

Pros

  • Excellent Windows client
  • Top-notch security and privacy
  • User-friendly and swift installation

Cons

  • It does not offer an ad blocker

2. NordVPN

NordVPN General compressed

Key features

  • Windows client
  • 5,510 servers in 59 countries
  • P2P support
  • SmartPlay feature
  • A.E.S. 256-bit encryption
  • Double VPN
  • Obfuscated servers
  • Six simultaneous connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
NordVPN Review: Offers Good Speed and Security But Has a Minor Snag
NordVPN

Next on our list of top Windows VPNs is NordVPN. It has a robust and user-friendly Windows client, and its service has impressive unblocking capabilities. It also offers superfast speeds and competitive plans.

The VPN is compatible with Windows and other operating systems such as Android, macOS, iOS, and Linux. Although it allows you to connect six devices, you can install it on your router to add more devices. This is an excellent way to add gadgets that don’t support VPN, like smart T.V.s and PS4 consoles.

NordVPN is one of the most extensive networks in the VPN industry, with over 5,510 servers worldwide. Although the majority of the servers are in the U.S., other countries have multiple servers as well. The company has servers in heavily restricted regions like the U.A.E. and Turkey.

There are also plenty of servers close to China, like Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The obfuscation feature will enable you to use a VPN in these countries unrestricted.

The downside is that NordVPN still uses hard drive storage on its servers. As a result, your traffic data is stored on a physical hard drive until deleted manually. On the bright side, the provider follows a strict zero-logs policy, so you will still remain anonymous. Besides, the company has started adopting RAM on its servers for greater privacy.

NordVPN offers blazing-fast speeds. The Quick Connect feature will identify and connect you to the fastest server available based on your latency and distance. If you still cannot get enough speeds, you can connect to nearby servers for improved speeds. Ours speeds dropped by only 2% when we connected to a server a few kilometers away.

The VPN can unblock geo-restrictions of popular streaming services. It has a SmartPlay feature that will easily bypass even the toughest geo-blocks while keeping your privacy and security.

We tested it and easily accessed sites such as Netflix, ESPN, Hotstar, B.B.C. iPlayer, among others. Most of the servers maintain consistent speeds, so your streaming quality will be in high definition. The VPN can also unblock YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other websites commonly blocked in schools and workplaces.

NordVPN has several P2P-optimised servers to improve your torrenting experience. You can easily access these servers from the app’s sidebar to save time. The VPN offers unlimited bandwidth and data, so you’ll download and share large files. It also works well with all the major torrent clients, including Vuze, uTorrent, and BitTorrent.

This is a formidable VPN service and will handle any online game. We tested it with superfast games such as Doom Eternal and multiplayer games like Call of Duty. The VPN maintained excellent speeds and didn’t leave any room for slow speeds while gaming.

It uses AES 256-bit encryption to safeguard your internet connection and ultimately data and activities online. This is high-level encryption with infinite possible codes so that no one will get their hands on your information. The provider combines the encryption with other security features such as perfect forward secrecy, SHA-2 authentication, and 2048-bit D.H. key.

While like ExpressVPN, NordVPN does not offer any free trial but it boasts very competitive plans. The two-year plan offers the best value for money with a 68% discount. Take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee to test the service before committing to a plan.

Pros

  • Compatible with Windows
  • Fast-speed servers
  • Robust security and privacy

Cons

  • Uses hard drives on servers

3. Surfshark

SurfShark Best VPNs 600x300

Key feature

  • Windows client
  • 3,200 servers in 65 countries
  • P2P sharing
  • CleanWeb feature
  • A.E.S. 256-bit encryption
  • Automatic kill switch
  • Camouflage mode
  • MultiHop mode
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
Ultimate Surfshark Review: Affordable But Does It Provide Enough Value?
Surfshark

Surfshark is the best budget-friendly VPN for Windows systems. It is a powerful VPN with a wide range of advanced features and works well in many locations worldwide.

The VPN offers a feature-rich Windows client as well as apps for Android, iOS, and macOS. Use the SmartDNS feature to connect devices that aren’t compatible with VPNs such as Xbox, PS4 consoles, smart T.V., etc. Fortunately, it supports unlimited simultaneous connection, so you can add as many devices as you want.

Surfshark has recently added more servers to its network beating even more established services like ExpressVPN. With over 3,200 servers in 65 countries, you will be able to unblock content and services from many locations. In addition, more servers mean you’ll get better connections because there is less congestion.

Our base speed was 41.71 Mbps but dropped to 39.64 Mbps after connecting to the VPN. This is only a 6% speed drop, which is impressive. You can manually connect to the servers or use the Quick Connect feature to connect to the fastest server automatically. Nonetheless, you’ll get reasonably consistent speeds even when you connect to international servers.

The good news is that Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for streaming. It unblocks many streaming sites such as Hotstar India outside it, C.B.S., ESPN, Netflix, and more. The high-speed servers mean you are going to stream in high definition. Switch on the CleanWeb ad blocker to eliminate the annoying ads that might impede your streaming experience. It will also block malicious trackers and malware.

Surfshark is a reliable torrenting VPN. It allows P2P sharing on its entire server network, and even some of its servers are P2P optimized. In addition, it’s compatible with torrent clients such as uTorrent and BitTorrent. The provider offers unlimited bandwidth and data, so you’ll be able to torrent unhindered.

It will protect your activities with a series of high-end security features. First, there is the A.E.S. 256-bit encryption, military-grade encryption used even by the government. Second, the MultiHop mode (double VPN) will pass your traffic through two servers rather than one. This feature adds an extra encryption layer but might slightly lower your speeds.

Third, you can use the HackLock feature to monitor your passwords and emails for breaches. You will receive a message informing you that you are at risk if it finds your information in a leaked database.

The provider has a transparent privacy policy. It follows a strict no-logs policy and does not collect any identifiable information. It is also registered in the British Virgin Islands, which is not part of the 5/9/14 Eye Alliance. Other features that will help you maintain your anonymity include an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, and camouflage mode.

Surfshark is an affordable service with competitive plans. The monthly plan is slightly pricier, but you can go for the 6-months plan that cuts the price by 50%. Choose the 2-year plan if you want the best value for your money with its 80% discount. You can try the plans risk-free as they come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Effective ad blocker
  • Accepts cryptocurrency payments
  • Strong encryption

Cons

  • Slower connections on some servers

4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost

Key features

  • Easy-to-use Windows client
  • 6,600 servers in 88 countries
  • Gaming/streaming/torrenting optimized servers
  • A.E.S. 256-bit encryption
  • Wi-Fi protection
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

CyberGhost is a well-established VPN with a compelling yet intuitive Windows client. It has fast-speed servers and airtight security, making it an excellent option for many activities.

Besides Windows, CyberGhost provides compatibility across all major operating systems, including Android, macOS, and iOS. It also offers Firefox and Chrome browser extensions. You will have to install it on your router to connect devices such as Wii U, Xbox, and PlayStation. It supports seven simultaneous connections with a single subscription.

This is the biggest network on this list, with over 6,600 servers in 88 countries. The US, France, and the U.K. have the biggest concentration though other countries have multiple servers as well. As a result, you can always switch to another server if you experience slow speeds on one of your connections. The VPN uses RAM-based servers, so your data will be wiped clean after every session.

It is usual for a VPN to affect your speeds because of the encryption process. CyberGhost dropped our initial speeds by only 1%. We found out that the VPN is fast when you connect to nearby servers instead of international ones. Our upload and download speeds were sufficient for streaming, torrenting, and gaming.

CyberGhost is a reliable choice for streaming. It offers optimized servers for streaming and can bypass geo-restrictions of major streaming sites. Use the servers in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles to access Netflix U.S.

It also has gaming optimized servers that are supposed to provide quicker speeds and a low ping rate. However, this did not work during our test. We were forced to connect to nearby servers manually, where the ping rate and speeds improved significantly.

The provider uses A.E.S. 256-bit encryption to protect your data and activities. This is a state-of-the-art encryption level, and even if hackers manage to intercept your traffic, they cannot read it. There is also OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard to safeguard your connections.

You can set your Windows client and mobile apps to automatically launch when you are using public WiFi. This is a great feature as public WiFi hotspots host malicious actors that can easily hijack your activities. The VPN also offers HTTPS protection to redirect your connections to HTTPS-enabled sites for safety.

This is a solid choice for torrenting. It has P2P optimized servers for high-speed while maintaining your torrenting security and anonymity. You can easily access these servers under the ‘For Torrenting’ button in the app.

The provider keeps a strict zero-logs policy and is based in Romania, a privacy-friendly country. This means it does not store any indefinable information to keep you private. You can use the Bitcoin method if you would like to make anonymous payments.

CyberGhost offers four main plans. The monthly plan is on the higher side and offers only a 14-day money-back guarantee. Both the one and 2-year plans are almost similar with a slight price difference. The best value for money is on the 3-year plan with an 83% discount plus 3 free months.

Pros

  • Powerful Windows client
  • Makes it easy to unblock geo-blocked content
  • Live chat support

Cons

  • The adblocker does not block trackers and malware.

5. IPVanish

IPVanish

Key features

  • Windows client
  • 1,600 servers in 75 countries
  • P2P sharing
  • 250GB SugarSync Storage
  • A.E.S. 256-bit encryption
  • DNS leak protection
  • Automatic kill switch
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

IPVanish is the most affordable VPN for Windows on this list. The provider emphasizes security, privacy, and speed.

The VPN is compatible with Windows and other operating systems such as macOS, Android, and iOS. It allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices on a single subscription. This is great news for households with multiple devices and small businesses.

You wouldn’t want to waste time staring at a screen waiting for a video to load. Your speed may slightly drop when you connect to IPVanish servers, but the change will be barely noticeable. We experienced only a 7% drop from our initial speeds during our testing. In fact, it will help to improve your speeds if your I.S.P. was throttling your speeds.

IPVanish can bypass geo-restrictions and VPN blocks of streaming sites. Since mostbeen the of its servers are in the U.S., you will be able to unblock Netflix U.S. easily. It is also able to unblock Vudu, D.A.Z.N., ESPN, HBO Go, and more.

The VPN supports P2P sharing so that you can torrent securely and anonymously. Nearby servers will offer better torrenting speeds because of low latency. What’s more, IPvanish has partnered with SugarSync to provide 250GB free secure cloud storage where you can store your downloaded files.

It will safeguard your data and activities with military-grade A.E.S. 256-bit encryption. This is practically unbreakable, and even if government spies and hackers intercept your traffic, they cannot read your data. It will just look like random letters and numbers.

Although IPVanish is based in the US, a member of the 5 Eye Alliance, it observes a strict zero-logs policy. According to its privacy policy, it does not keep a record of your traffic, connection, or activity data.

The help section is extensive, and you’ll get solutions to the most common issues. You can also get in touch with the customer support agents through the 24/7 live chat or the email method. The live chat is the quickest way to get help.

Pros

  • Decent speeds
  • Unblocks streaming sites
  • Strong encryption

Cons

  • Does not have an ad blocker

6. Windscribe

Windscribe VPN Best Free VPNs 600x300

Key features

  • 179 servers in 63 countries
  • Windows client
  • 10 G.B. free data
  • R.O.B.E.R.T. ad blocker
  • DNS/IPv6 leak protection

Windscribe is the best free VPN for Windows. The interface is simple, yet the VPN is capable of handling your VPN needs.

The VPN is compatible with all Windows devices. It also offers apps for other platforms such as Android, macOS, iOS, and Linux. There are also Firefox and Chrome browser extensions that come with phishing and malware blockers. The provider also sells pre-configured routers that make it easy to cover your entire network.

Windscribe will protect your connections with A.E.S. 256-bit encryption fortified with a 4096-bit R.S.A. key and AES-256 cipher. It also has perfect forward secrecy (PFS) that will regularly generate new encryption keys for your sessions. The IKEv2 is the default protocol, but you can choose between TCP or U.D.P. OpenVPN. Other security features include an automatic kill switch, DNS/IPv6 leak protection, and WebRTC leak protection.

You can start with the free version if you are on a budget. The only issue with the free version is capped data and limited server connections. You will be allowed to use 10 G.B. per month and access servers in only 11 countries. On the bright side, the free version comes with unlimited connections and utmost security. You can choose between the monthly and the annual plan if you would like to upgrade.

Windscribe is based in Canada, a member of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance. However, the provider does not collect data, so you shouldn’t worry about your privacy. According to its privacy policy, the transferred bytes and your last session’s timestamp are the only information it collects.

R.O.B.E.R.T. is a proprietary ad blocker that will protect you from invasive and malicious content. It will also block ads, trackers, malware, and cryprominers to keep you safe. Fortunately, it is available on the free version, although on a limited capacity.

Pros

  • Compatible with Windows
  • Effective ad blocker
  • Free Version

Cons

  • Limited free version

7. TunnelBear

TunnelBear Best VPNs 600x300

Key features

  • 2,600 servers in 26 countries
  • P2P connections
  • 5 simultaneous devices
  • A.E.S. 256-bit encryption
  • GhostBear mode
  • VigilantBear

TunnelBear is another reliable free VPN for Windows. It is Canadian-based and owned by a recognized cybersecurity company McAfee.

The VPN has apps for Windows and other operating systems such as macOS, Android, and iOS. There is also a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. It allows you to connect up to 5 simultaneous devices, but you can install it on your router for more connections.

TunnelBear operates more than 2,600 servers in over 26 countries. The majority of the servers are located in Canada, the U.K., and the U.S. You are likely to get better speeds in these locations because there would be less congestion. The company recently dropped the Hong Kong servers after China introduced new security laws.

Unfortunately, TunnelBear is unable to unblock some popular streaming services like Netflix. Nonetheless, you will still access sites such as HBO Go, Hulu, Disney+, and C.B.S. So, you need a prolific VPN like ExpressVPN or NordVPN to bypass the tough geo-blocks.

The provider supports P2P sharing on its servers. It also offers unlimited bandwidth so you can torrent without worrying about data caps.

It uses A.E.S. 256-bit encryption and high-end protocols to safeguard your information. In addition, the provider publishes independent security audits to give insights into its security tools and policies.

The GhostBear mode works like the obfuscation feature to turn your VPN activities into regular traffic. This is useful in countries with heavy internet censorship and restricts VPN usage. On the other hand, the VigilantBear acts as a kill switch to prevent unprotected data from leaving the encrypted tunnel.

It’s better than having a free trial, take advantage of the free version if you are on a budget. Although it has a few limitations, you will get the same privacy and security as the paid version.

Pros

  • Beginner-friendly
  • Decent speeds
  • Compatible with Windows

Cons

  • Short on features

8. Hotspot Shield

HotSpot Shield Best VPNs 600x300

Key features

  • 1,800 servers in 80+ countries
  • Compatible with Windows
  • Catapult Hydra protocol
  • P2P sharing
  • Anchorfree adapter
  • A.E.S. 256-bit encryption
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

Hotspot Shield is a fast, secure, and dependable Windows VPN. In fact, it allows you to download the Windows app free without signing up or registering with email.

The provider operates a network of over 1,800 servers in 80 countries. Interestingly, it has more than 20 U.S. server locations. This makes it an excellent option to access geo-blocked content and services in the U.S. The proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol is designed to reduce latency issues on OpenVPN and IPsec protocols. This helps to improve the connection speeds significantly.

Does Hotspot Shield VPN unblock Netflix? Yes. Using this VPN, we were able to unblock Netflix alongside other streaming services such as DAZN, B.B.C. iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, among others. You can always switch to another server if you encounter issues with your connections.

Hotspot Shield allows P2P sharing on all its servers, making it a good VPN for torrenting. It will hide your I.P. address and torrenting traffic from your I.S.P. to prevent throttling. The provider also promises to deliver outstanding download and upload speeds for a smooth torrenting experience.

It will protect your information with A.E.S. 256-bit encryption as well as DNS leak and malware protection. Fortunately, the automatic kill switch is only available on the Windows app. It will keep your data safe even if the VPN connection is compromised.

The provider offers both paid and free services. On the downside, the free version is limited to only 500MB of data per day. This is only enough for light browsing and not heavy tasks such as torrenting or streaming. However, you can upgrade to the monthly plan or the Premium Family plan to save 38% and 48%, respectively. Luckily, both plans come with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Works well with Windows
  • Great value for money
  • Reliable customer support

Cons

  • Annoying ads on the free version

9. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN-Best-VPNs-600x300-1

Key features

  • 1,232 servers in 54 countries
  • P2P support
  • No-logs policy
  • Free plan
  • DNS leak protection
  • A.E.S. 256-bit encryption
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

ProtonVPN is an extremely easy-to-use Windows VPN. There is a ‘Start’ button that will help you connect to a server quickly. The great news is that all its apps are open source and have undergone an independent audit. Besides, it is also compatible with other operating systems and platforms, including Android, iOS, macOS, and Linux.

The provider has recently expanded its network by adding more servers. Now it operates more than 1232 secure core and standard servers in 54 countries. The secure-core servers prevent attacks and other vulnerabilities that other VPNs cannot defend against. Most of these servers are located in Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden.

We tried the Fast Connection feature to see whether we will get better speeds. Unfortunately, it does not work well, so you will have to connect to nearby servers for fast speeds. Generally, the VPN’s speeds are reliable and functional for most activities.

Does ProtonVPN unblock geo-blocked content? Yes. In fact, we were able to bypass geo-restrictions of major streaming sites such as D.A.Z.N., Hulu, Vudu, ESPN, and more. All its servers have high bandwidth connections, so you’ll stream in high definition, especially if you connect to nearby servers.

ProtonVPN allows P2P connections on its entire server network. It will keep your torrenting activities private with the strict zero-logs policy. The provider offers a guide on how to use BitTorrent with ProtonVPN on its website.

It is packed with advanced security features to protect your connections. Firstly, it uses A.E.S. 256-bit encryption together with a 4096-bit R.S.A. key exchange. Secondly, there is perfect forward secrecy to generate unique encryption each time you start a VPN session. Thirdly, OpenVPN is the default protocol, but you can also switch to IKEv2/IPsec.

The provider offers a free version alongside 3 paid plans. Unfortunately, the free version is limited to only one VPN connection at a time, medium speeds, and 3 server locations. If you upgrade, you will get features such as more simultaneous connections, 54 server locations, high speeds, adblocker, and more.

Pros

  • Functional Windows client
  • Wallet-friendly plans
  • Robust security

Cons

  • Does not have live chat support

10. Hide.me

HideMe Best Free VPNs 600x300

Key features

  • 1,900 servers in 75 countries
  • Windows app
  • 10 G.B. free monthly data
  • Stealth Guard
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Hide.me is a top VPN for Windows mobile. It boasts of decent speeds and fares well when it comes to privacy. The only thing you may find disappointing is the lack of quick customer support.

The Windows client interface is minimalist and easy to navigate. You will only need to press the connect button to establish a connection. The mobile app is also well designed and easy to connect to servers. It is compatible with other operating systems, including Android, macOS, and iOS.

It has a network of over 1,800 servers in 72 countries. Most of the server locations are based in Europe, although the U.S. and Australia have 10 and 6 servers, respectively. Switching servers is pretty straightforward. You will only have to open the master list and tap to the server you want to connect to.

The Stealth Guard is a new feature recently added on hide.me’s apps. It allows you to select the apps that cannot operate unless they are on an encrypted tunnel. As a result, you will never accidentally open a page or app that could compromise your privacy and security.

Hide.me offers a free version with 10 G.B. free monthly data. This is only enough for a few hours on YouTube in high definition but not heavy usage like torrenting. However, you will still get a kill switch to protect your connections. You can upgrade to the monthly plan that comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Pros

  • Decent speeds
  • Multiple protocols
  • Effortless to use

Cons

  • Limited features

Why do I need a VPN for Windows?

VPN for Windows
(123RF)

While Microsoft keeps improving its security by investing in inbuilt security tools such Windows Defender, there still remain many reasons why you need to use a Windows VPN.

Firstly, you risk compromising your privacy when connected to the internet. Your internet service provider (I.S.P.), government agencies, and other malicious actors can easily track your activities. This is where a Windows VPN comes in handy. It will encrypt your traffic and route it through secure servers so that no one can track your activities.

Furthermore, a VPN will help you to access geo-blocked content and services. All you need to do is to connect to a server in the country where what you want is available. For instance, you will have to connect to U.S. servers to access US version of ESPN while abroad. If you have good base speeds and use a reliable VPN like ExpressVPN, you will have a smooth streaming experience.

Torrenting involves peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing and is often linked with copyright infringement. Some countries have strict copyright laws, and you can get into trouble for accidentally downloading or sharing copyrighted material.

In addition, you I.S.P. can throttle your speeds if it notices you are exceeding the set threshold. Moreover, your I.P. address is visible to other peers in the P2P network. A VPN is the only way you can avoid all these issues. By encrypting your traffic, government agencies, your I.S.P., and hackers cannot see your torrenting traffic.

Easy steps to install a VPN app on Windows

All the VPNs we have featured in this guide have a Windows app. The process of installing a VPN on Windows is straightforward. Just use the following steps.

  1. Choose and subscribe to any of the VPNs above. Our top pick is ExpressVPN because of its watertight security and exceptional speeds. It also has an affordable long-term plan and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Download and install the VPN app on your Windows device
  3. Sign in and activate any necessary security feature
  4. Connect to any server

What is the best VPN protocol for Windows?  

Nowadays, many VPNs are providing multiple protocols. In most cases, you are required to choose the appropriate protocol based on your connection. These protocols can be confusing, and it is good to know what each means before changing your settings. The table below shows some of the most widely known and used protocols.

VPN protocolSpeedSecurity
OpenVPNFastStrong
Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)FastWeak
Internet Key Exchange v2 (IKEv2)Fast Average
Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)/Internet Protocol Security (IPSec)AverageAverage
WireGuardFastStrong

Why we recommend OpenVPN for Windows 

OpenVPN is the fastest and most secure VPN for Windows devices. Which is the best between TCP and U.D.P. OpenVPN connections? This will mainly depend on your usage and security needs.

TCP has better reliability and bypasses firewalls, although it lowers the speeds due to high encryption methods. On the other, U.D.P. offers greater speeds but can be less reliable occasionally.

Note: Please try to change the ports if you face connection issues before changing the protocol. In most cases, connection issues may be caused by your I.S.P. blocking the port used by the VPN.

How to choose the best Windows VPN?

Choosing the best VPN for Windows can be a daunting task. This is because of the vast number of VPNs claiming to offer high-quality services. Here are the things you need to pay particular attention to when looking for a VPN with Microsoft Windows support.

Compatibility

The first thing you need to consider is compatibility. Does the VPN work well with your Windows and other devices? Fortunately, many premium VPNs offer a Windows app along with other operating systems such as macOS, Android, and iOS.

More importantly, look at the features offered on the Windows app. It is common to find the Windows app deprived of some necessary features. For example, NordVPN does not have split tunneling on the desktop client like its competitors like ExpressVPN and Surfshark. So, check whether the Windows app has the features you need.

Security

One of the primary uses of a VPN is online protection. Therefore, a reliable VPN should have the necessary features to make it harder for malicious actors to track your activities. This will give you the freedom to conduct your online activities safely.

Most reputable VPNs are using A.E.S. 256-bit encryption. Some like NordVPN strengthen it with additional features such as double VPN, perfect forward secrecy (PFS), SHA-2 authentication, etc. However, remember the extra security features may impede your speeds.

Server network

It is essential to consider the number of servers offered before committing to a subscription. If the VPN has few servers, you might experience slow connections due to congestion. A VPN with an extensive server network gives you many options to get a reliable connection. You can always switch to another server if your connection is blocked or slows down.

Server location is also a critical factor to consider. Choose a VPN close to your location if you want better speeds to torrent or play games. Conversely, if you’re going to unblock content, select a VPN with servers distributed worldwide. For example, if you want to stream Netflix USA, go for the VPN with more servers in the U.S.

Jurisdiction

Where is the provider headquartered? This is another critical factor to consider if you are concerned with your privacy. The protection of your identity will mainly depend on where the provider is located.

For instance, some countries such as Panama and the British Virgin Islands are considered privacy-friendly because of their data retention laws. However, you should be wary of VPNs based in the 5/9/14 Eye Alliance countries. Some of these countries include the US, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Belgium, etc.

Speed

The encryption process will make any VPN impact your speeds. However, you wouldn’t want a VPN that will reduce your speeds to a crawl. So, choose a VPN that can maintain consistent speeds as much as possible.

That is important if you’ll use the VPN with data-intensive activities like gaming, torrenting, and streaming. However, many other factors can impede your speeds, such as your I.S.P. data plan, your location, etc.

Reasons why you should avoid completely free VPNs for Windows

(123RF)

Is there a reliable, utterly free VPN for Windows? We doubt that. A study by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (C.S.I.R.O.) found out that most free VPNs have vulnerabilities. Here are some of the disadvantages of using free VPNs:

Collect and sell your data

A VPN should protect you from digital threats. That is why premium VPNs use strong encryption to secure your data from third parties.

However, the situation is different with free VPNs. First, they don’t have the necessary security features to secure your data. Second, others make money by collecting and selling your data to the highest bidder.

Tracking your activities

A VPN should protect your online privacy. However, the study by C.S.I.R.O. found out that most free VPNs implant trackers in their software. These trackers are used to collect information on your online activities for targeted ads.

Most free VPNs do not admit that they track users’ activities. However, others like Psiphon VPN clearly state that it tracks your activities and even allows advertisers access to your data.

Notably, some premium VPNs also contain trackers. Nonetheless, others like NordVPN have a feature to block the trackers to maintain your online privacy.

Cannot bypass geo-restrictions

Many popular streaming services such as Netflix use two main strategies to prevent access outside the designated geographical area. First, they use advanced anti-VPN technology that blocks VPN connections. Second, they have a database of known VPN IP addresses. Your connection will be blocked if your I.P. address matches any in the database.

Premium VPNs use the latest technology to bypass these restrictions and give you access to whichever streaming service you want. In addition, they have thousands of I.P. addresses that are recycled frequently. This means your connection is less likely to get blocked.

Currently, there is no free VPN that can get past the tough geo-blocks. Even though sometimes you can manage to get a connection, it is not guaranteed to work. In most cases, you will be hit with an error message that your connection is blocked.

Slow speeds

As mentioned before, free VPNs have fewer servers. Since they attract many users, these servers are mostly congested, leading to slow speeds. Other providers are known to deliberately throttle the speeds so you can upgrade to their paid plans.

Slow speeds are not an issue you will find with many premium VPNs. Some like NordVPN have a massive server network that is less likely to get congested. 

Annoying ads

The main way free VPNs make money is through advertisements. Since you are not paying anything, you become the milking cow to fund their activities. As a result, you will be bombarded with ads that will impact your browsing and streaming experience. 

These ads may slow your speeds or even contain malware. Top premium VPNs such as NordVPN use ad blockers that block malware and trackers to maintain your security and privacy.

Note: Instead of risking your privacy with entirely free VPNs, we recommend using the free versions of paid premium VPNs. Although they may limit some features, they will still protect your data and activities. Also, VPNs’ cost has recently reduced significantly, and you can get a high-quality service at an affordable price.

Conclusion

Like other operating systems, Windows has vulnerabilities that can put you at risk. In addition, your I.S.P., government surveillance, and hackers are on your heels to see what you are doing online. So, a VPN is an essential tool to keep you safe online if you are a Windows user.

Besides maintaining your online security and privacy, a VPN will also enable you to bypass geo-restrictions. By assigning you a new I.P. address, you can unblock content and services from anywhere. Our top pick VPN is ExpressVPN because of its feature-filled Windows app, unlocking capabilities, and top-notch security.

Best Windows VPN FAQs

What are the best VPNs for Windows systems?
Is it illegal to use a VPN with Windows?
Is the in-built VPN on Windows 10 reliable?
How will a VPN help me change I.P. address on Windows P.C.?
Should I use a VPN when torrenting with a Windows P.C.?
Is it safe to use a free VPN with Windows?
Share this article

About the author

Ruheni Mathenge
Ruheni Mathenge

Tech researcher and writer with a passion for cybersecurity. Alex is a strong advocate of digital freedom and online privacy.

Comments

No comments.

Got Something to Say?

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.