Best VPN for Windows PC (2022) | ZDNet

Why I think VPNs are important

If you are going to use a VPN, you will most likely do so outside of your home and office. Sure, if you’re in a dorm or have roommates (or your ISP is intrusive), you can use a VPN in your home base. But most of the time you will use a VPN because you are at an airport, in a hotel, in a school, in a café and you do not want your data to be run over a public Wi-Fi hotspot that can be damaged on a thousand different way.

And if you use a VPN outside of your home base, you will probably do so with a laptop. Yes, you may put a VPN on your phone or tablet, but if you do a real job, you will almost certainly do so on a laptop. And if you’re using a laptop, you’re more likely not to run Windows. Yes, Chromebooks and Macs are commonplace too, but PCs are still the clear winner.

My analysis and top choice

In this context, we collect some of the best VPNs for Windows in this article. Not only have all of these been tested in various reviews, but we also have aggregate benchmark data that we apply to our recommendations. Below we recommend four VPNs and let you know how they performed in Windows performance testing against each other.

NordVPN review

Best VPN for Windows PC

  • Simultaneous connections: 6
  • Kill Switch: Yes
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Android TV, Chrome, Firefox
  • Logging: None, except billing data
  • Countries: 59
  • Servers: 5517
  • Test version / MBG: 30 days

Also: How does NordVPN work? Plus how to set it up and use it on Windows

NordVPN stood out as one of the fastest overall VPNs, as well as the one that provided the most consistent Windows performance results from testers worldwide. That said, the ping speeds were low enough that I would not want to play a multiplayer first person shooter over VPN. To be fair, most VPNs have pretty awful ping speeds, so this is not a weakness unique to Nord.

Also: My in-depth review of NordVPN

In our review, we liked that it offered features in addition to basic VPN, including support for P2P sharing, a service it calls Double VPN that does a second layer of encryption, Onion over VPN that allows TOR features over its VPN, and even with a dedicated IP if you are trying to run a VPN that also acts as a server.

Also: My interview with the NordVPN management about how they run their service

It supports all common platforms and a bunch of home network platforms as well. The company also offers NordVPN Teams, which provides centralized management and invoicing for a mobile workforce. Overall, a solid choice, and with a 30-day money-back guarantee, worth a try.

ExpressVPN review

A little slower and a little less consistent than NordVPN on Windows

ExpressVPN

  • Simultaneous connections: 5 or unlimited with the router app
  • Kill Switch: Yes
  • Platforms: A lot (see the full list here)
  • Logging: No surf logs, no connection logs
  • Countries: 94
  • Places: 160
  • Trial period / MBG: 30 days

ExpressVPN has burned up the headlines with not the best news. We have chosen to leave ExpressVPN in this recommendation, and I would not necessarily dismiss ExpressVPN directly because of these reports, but it is up to you to assess your level of risk. The best way to do that is to read our in-depth analysis:

With 160 server locations in 94 countries, ExpressVPN has a significant VPN network over the Internet. IN CNET: s review of the service, staff writer Rae Hodge reported that ExpressVPN lost less than 2% of performance with VPN enabled and with the OpenVPN protocol versus a direct connection. In ZDNet’s overall speed tests, we found that ExpressVPN for Windows came in just after NordVPN and Hotspot Shield in overall performance, but the performance was more predictably consistent than Hotspot Shield worldwide.

ExpressVPN is one of the most popular VPN providers out there, offering a wide range of platforms and protocols. In addition to Windows, ExpressVPN offers clients for Mac, Linux, routers, iOS, Android, Chromebook, Kindle Fire and even the Nook device. There are also browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox. Plus, ExpressVPN works with PlayStation, Apple TV, Xbox, Amazon Fire TV and Nintendo Switch. There is even a manual setting option for Chromecast, Roku and Nvidia Switch.

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Even if the company does not log web history or traffic destinations, it logs the date associated with the VPN service, the amount transferred and the VPN server location. We would like to commend ExpressVPN for creating this information very clear and easily accessible.

Exclusive offer: Get 3 extra months for free.

Surfshark review

Best Email Tracking VPN for Windows

Surfshark

  • Simultaneous connections: Unlimited
  • Kill Switch: Yes
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Fire TV, Firefox, Chrome
  • Logging: None, except billing data
  • Trial period / MBG: 30 days

For two dollars a month for a two-year plan (billed in one piece), Surfshark offers a great price for a solid offer. Windows users will like it, in addition to VPN functionality, Surfshark offers some inexpensive additional features including ad blocking, anti-tracking, antivirus, access to a non-logging search engine and a tool that tracks your email address against lists of data breaches.

IN CNET: s testing no leaks were found (and given that much bigger names leaked connection information, it’s a big win). The company seems to have a very strong security focus and offers AES-256-GCM, RSA-2048 and Perfect Forward Secrecy encryption. To prevent WebRTC leaks, Surfshark offers a special-purpose browser plug-in specifically designed to combat these leaks.

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Surfshark also offers a multi-hop option that allows you to route connections through two VPN servers over Surfshark’s private network.

IPVanish review

Consistently slowest of our tested Windows VPNs, but still useful

IPVanish

  • Simultaneous connections: Unlimited
  • Kill Switch: Yes
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Chrome, plus routers, Fire Stick and Kodi
  • Logging: None, except billing data
  • Servers: 1 500
  • Places: 75
  • Trial period / MBG: 30 days

Windows users will appreciate that IPVanish is a deep and highly configurable product that presents itself as a click-and-go solution. Its interface provides a wide range of server selection options, including some great performance graphics. It also has a wide range of protocols, so no matter what you connect to, you can know what to expect. The company also provides an excellent server list with good current status information. There are also a number of configuration options for the app itself.

Also: My in-depth review of IPVanish

In terms of performance, the connection speed was insanely fast. Overall transfer performance was adequate, but slower overall than our other challengers. But from a security perspective, it could not hide that I connect via a VPN – even if the transmitted data was secure. Overall, a solid product with a good user experience that is good for home connections as long as you do not try to hide the fact that you are on a VPN.

The company also has a partnership with SugarSync and provides 250 GB of encrypted cloud storage with each plan.

Doesn’t Windows 10 come with a VPN?

Yes and no. Windows 10 includes a VPN client. But to run your data over the internet, you need an endpoint. If you connect to your company’s VPN server, you can use Windows’ built-in client. But if you want to connect elsewhere, you still need one of the services we have profiled. Also, the base client is pretty barebones. If you want more advanced features, you want to use one of the more premium clients included in the services we highlight.

Do these VPN clients support Windows 11 on Arm?

Absolutely not explicitly. My latest tests of Windows 11 for Arm running on an M1 Mac showed that Intel apps can run on Arm-based devices in emulation. But what does it do for performance? How reliable is it? No clue. It is not something I would recommend at this early stage.

If I run these VPNs on my laptop, can I also run them on my phone?

Yes – as long as you run iOS or Android on your phone. All VPNs that we recommend support multiple simultaneous connections for this very reason. Once you have registered for a service, you can usually run the VPN client on five or more devices at the same time.


You can follow my daily project updates on social media. Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidGewirtzon Facebook at Facebook.com/DavidGewirtzon Instagram at Instagram.com/DavidGewirtzand on YouTube at YouTube.com/DavidGewirtzTV.

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