All VPNs Personally
Tested & Reviewed

Welcome! I'm Erwin, the Chief Editor of VPN Thrive.

Throughout 10 years of building my own websites, I've been using VPNs regularly. And I thought, why not review and compare all the VPNs that I've personally used? And so VPN Thrive was born. I hope our team helps you choose the best VPN service for your needs!


vpn thrive erwin

All VPNs Personally
Tested & Reviewed

Welcome! I'm Erwin, the Chief Editor of VPN Thrive.

vpn thrive erwin

Throughout 10 years of building my own websites, I've been using VPNs regularly. And I thought, why not review and compare all the VPNs that I've personally used? And so VPN Thrive was born. I hope our team helps you choose the best VPN service for your needs!


Best VPN Reviews & Comparisons In 2020

All the VPNs that we review here - we use them all ourselves. We compare them against one another based on 10+ criteria. We pick a winner for each comparison and rank them accordingly.

This is why I'm very confident about our recommendations.

The VPN industry changes very quickly...

  • Products change their offerings and prices.
  • Some VPN companies get involved in leaking scandals.
  • New companies get started, while others close.
  • And so much more.

Because of these, there are lots of outdated info about VPNs online. Unlike other websites, we strive to keep in the know about all these changes. And as we test more and more VPNs, our recommendations will also change. We adjust and update our content to the best of our ability.

The Best VPN Services in 2020

In our humble opinion, these are the best VPNs right now:

1. Surfshark

logo surfshark

Credit: surfshark.com

Surfshark is our top pick because of the sheer quality that it offers. Despite being relatively new, the service has managed to overcome all of its competitors mainly thanks to the full adaptation of a RAM-based network, great features, and user-friendly apps.

While it doesn’t have the largest server network, it has proven that it can bypass the geoblocks of almost any streaming website with ease. It can also mask your IP address when you’re browsing and torrenting. Moreover, the VPN works in China with consistency.

Few other service providers can match Surfshark’s speed. It has performed wonderfully during all our tests, showing that it’s blazingly fast. This makes it a prime choice for gamers, content creators, and anyone else that needs fast internet and complete digital protection.

Surfshark’s easy-to-use apps are available on every mainstream platform. Additionally, the VPN also has browser extensions for Google Chrome and Firefox. On top of that, it allows for unlimited simultaneous connections. As such, you’ll be able to safeguard your entire business and family with just one account.

Though Surfshark is not the most affordable, it is certainly worth every cent that it costs. We’re confident that you won’t have any regrets with it. Still, in case you do, you’ll be glad to know that the VPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. ExpressVPN

logo expressvpn

Credit: expressvpn.com

ExpressVPN is a standard favorite of many long-time VPN users. The reason why is because it’s serious about security. It boasts an array of security features that makes it stand out, even among its closest competitors. Prime examples of which include a 100% RAM-based network and Lightway Protocol support.

Although it does not have support for WireGuard, ExpressVPN has announced that it soon will. Sad to say, the same can’t be said when it comes to an ad and malware blocker. The company hasn’t divulged any plans to incorporate one into any of its apps.

Speed, torrenting, and streaming are ExpressVPN’s strong suits. It did wonderfully during all of our tests, proving that it’s capable of maintaining good internet speeds and working around the geoblocks of almost every streaming platform. All its servers are also P2P-enabled, making it a no-brainer for users that torrent frequently.

One of its flaws is this… It only allows for a maximum of 5 simultaneous device pairings. It’s a shame that this VPN only lets you connect such few gadgets using a single account since it has all-encompassing compatibility. You may install it on every major operating system and browser extension. It’s even available on some smart TVs and streaming devices.

One other downside of ExpressVPN is its price. The VPN is significantly more expensive than most of its rivals. Fortunately, it has a 30-day refund policy that lets you get your money back or try it without risks.

3. NordVPN

logo nordvpn

Credit: nordvpn.com

NordVPN is one of the most famous VPN services due in large part to an extensive marketing campaign. It’s an excellent service equipped with many top-notch security features like AES 256-bit encryption, WireGuard support, and a kill switch. Aside from that, it boasts one of the largest server networks of any VPN provider, making it excel at maintaining your anonymity.

Like most other services, NordVPN has yet to upgrade to a RAM-disk network. Fortunately, it has already announced that it’ll be finished improving all its servers by 2021. As such, you’ll soon not need to worry about the VPN storing any logs.

No other VPN on the market can match NordVPN’s speed capabilities. It’s the fastest service that money can buy. It is excellent for gaming, torrenting, and just about any other task that requires fast internet speeds.

Streaming is another thing that NordVPN is great at. It can bypass the geoblocks of premier streaming websites like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Disney+. You should know, though, that we occasionally had problems with accessing some Netflix titles. Thankfully, moving over to another server was all that we needed to fix the issue.

An unfortunate thing about NordVPN is that it was hacked. A lone attacker infiltrated a single rented server in Finland. Despite not being able to steal any private user information, the public’s trust in NordVPN was tarnished. Because of that, it has been striving to rebuild its reputation by adopting advanced security features and implementing a bug bounty program.

4. Private Internet Access

logo pia vpn

Credit: privateinternetaccess.com

Private Internet Access (PIA) is one of the only top-tier VPNs based in the US. It, therefore, falls under the jurisdiction of the Five Eyes Alliance. Due to that, the service must follow privacy and copyright laws that can be restrictive to its operations.

Despite this disadvantage, the VPN continues to flourish. Over the years, its network has only gotten bigger. More and more security features have been adopted. An example is WireGuard support on all of its desktop and mobile apps (except iOS).

PIA cannot bypass Chinese censorship measures with consistency. It also isn’t capable of reliably providing users with access to streaming libraries. It is also slower than its competitors that are listed above. As such, it isn’t the best option for gamers and people that download torrents daily.

What’s nice about PIA is that it allows for up to 10 simultaneous connections, has many servers, wide compatibility, and simple apps that can be mastered by anyone. Moreover, it’s really affordable, making it perfect for those with the tightest budgets. You can also pay for a subscription in a variety of ways. Some of which let you remain anonymous.

If you’re not satisfied with PIA, you can always get your money back. It gives you a window of 30 days to avail of your refund. Because of that, you’ll have no second thoughts when subscribing.

5. CyberGhost

logo cyberghost

Credit: cyberghostvpn.com

CyberGhost shines by having the largest network of any service available. The VPN is massive, with more than 7000 servers across the globe. It even has a presence in countries that aren’t friendly towards virtual private networks like China and Turkey. Using it, you’ll surely get to connect to almost anywhere you wish to.

Another thing that makes it shine is its apps. On each of them, you can pick from a list of servers that specialize in torrenting, security, and streaming. Hence, there’s no need to trouble yourself with researching where you need to connect to do a specific task.

Gaining access to foreign streaming libraries isn’t difficult if you’re using CyberGhost. Even if it isn’t as competent as its higher-ranking competitors, it will definitely let you watch movies and TV shows on all major streaming platforms.

One troubling thing is that its speed varies significantly by the server. It can sometimes be really fast and sometimes be extremely sluggish. Besides that, this VPN isn’t capable of climbing the Great Firewall of China. Thus, it isn’t the best thing to have if you plan to go to the country, especially for business purposes.

Its pricing plans are decent. While it’s not the most budget-friendly VPN, the average consumer will most certainly be able to afford it. If ever you’re not satisfied with it, a refund policy has got you covered. You can get your money back within a 15 or 45-day period, depending on the plan that you availed.

6. IPVanish

logo ipvanish

Credit: ipvanish.com

IPVanish, like PIA, is also based in the United States. It, too, has to follow restrictive privacy and copyright laws that hinder its affairs. As a matter of fact, the VPN was once forced to give up user information to authorities. In doing so, it forever damaged its reputation.

There is little to talk about when it comes to IPVanish’s security features. While it has a kill switch and uses AES 256-bit military-grade encryption, it has yet to support WireGuard and other special types of encryption. It also doesn’t have its own ad and malware blocker.

You can torrent on each of IPVanish’s 1400+ servers. The problem is that you won’t be able to finish quickly as it nearly always makes your internet speeds slow. Besides that, the VPN can’t overcome the geoblocks of almost all streaming platforms. Lastly, it also doesn’t work in China.

One redeeming quality is its excellent customer service. We have nothing but praise for the representatives that we were in contact with. All of them were well-educated and cordial. Their response times were very quick, even in the middle of the night.

In addition, it lets you connect an unlimited number of devices under one account. Only Surfshark matches this offering. Hence, the two services are somewhat unique in the industry as they both provide great value for money, and are suitable for safeguarding entire families and businesses.

Our VPN Reviews

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VPN Comparison Table

Refer to the table below to get a general overview of each VPN service.

VPN Provider

Our Rating

Speed

Torrenting

Netflix

Simultaneous Connections

Price

logo surfshark

4.9

Fast

Allowed, on specific servers

15 Libraries

Unlimited

$12.95/mo (Regular);

$2.49/mo (Lowest)

logo expressvpn

4.8

Fast

Allowed, on all servers

13 Libraries

5

$12.95/mo (Regular);

$6.67/mo (Lowest)

logo nordvpn

4.7

Fast

Allowed, optimized P2P servers

7 Libraries

6

$11.99/mo (Regular);

$3.49/mo (Lowest)

logo pia vpn

4.6

Fast

Allowed, on all servers

No claims made

10

$9.95/mo (Regular);

$2.69/mo (Lowest)

logo cyberghost

4.5

Fast

Allowed, optimized P2P servers

5 Libraries

7

$12.99/mo (Regular);

$2.76/mo (Lowest)

logo ipvanish

4.4

Average

Allowed, on all servers

1 Library

Unlimited

$8.99/mo (Regular);

$4.87/mo (Lowest)

As seen above, there are a lot of similarities between each service. Because of this, it’s not easy for average users to determine which one is best for them.

Luckily, we’re here to help and have published reviews and comparisons. You’re guaranteed to find out what service is best for you. After all, it’s not good to just pick the cheapest VPN as it might not give you everything that you need.

More Comparisons

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How We Rank VPNs

We take pride in the work that we do here. Every single member of our team used and meticulously tested each service provider to know what they’re all about. This was necessary as we couldn’t just randomly come up with our rankings.

Below is an explanation of how we did our tests:

1. Privacy & Security

To discover which VPN provides the best privacy and security, we researched the history of each service, checking if they’ve been embroiled in any leaking scandals. After that, we used them on a daily basis. One by one, we tested them for leaks using IPLeak.net.

Then, we publish our findings on this website.

In our view, privacy and security are actually the most important attributes of a VPN. If a VPN can’t protect you, it’s worthless. But most people don’t realize that.

2. Speed

speed test

We know that speed is a very important thing to consider when using a VPN. Hence, we ran speed tests with Ookla while using each service provider in every scenario possible. We also tested out multiple servers, making sure that consistency is present.

3. Torrenting Capabilities

Apart from checking if every VPN has a completely P2P-enabled network, we also torrented multiple times using them. To be sure that each VPN could provide full leak protection during torrenting sessions, we tested them with IPLeak.net.

4. Streaming Capabilities

Most people use VPNs solely for streaming purposes. Because of that, we really took our time in testing out if a service worked with Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Firestick. As required, we used different servers to access libraries in different countries.

streaming

Of course, we know that bypassing geoblocks is only part of the equation. We also assessed how well a given service performed when streaming. If there was buffering or issues with quality, its ranking would be pushed back.

5. Gaming

Finding out which VPN was best for gaming was fun. We played matches on Call of Duty Mobile and other smartphone games while paired to every service. Following that, we checked whether they worked with mainstream consoles like the PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

6. Device Compatibility

To tell which service had the best compatibility, we simply researched what platform each service had an app and browser extension for. We also contacted the customer service representatives of the VPNs to know if they worked on obsolete operating systems like Windows Phone.

7. Simultaneous Connections

Every VPN lists down how many simultaneous connections they allow their users to have using one account. We simply compared them and ranked one another by who allows more concurrent device pairings.

8. Servers

vpn servers

No two service providers have an identically sized network. For that reason, coming up with rankings for this category was easy. We just ranked the services with more servers higher.

9. China

We recruited a group of testers to see which VPN could overcome the Great Firewall of China. They checked each service and reported to us what worked in the country. Besides that, our testers also gave us an insight regarding the consistency of connections.

10. Interface & Usability

Since everyone has different preferences, we came up with a poll to see which service has the best apps. Our top picks were then chosen from the results of the poll we created.

11. Additional Features

We ranked the VPNs in this category according to how many additional features they have and how useful those features are. The lowest-ranking services either had gimmicky unique features that were useless or had none at all.

12. Customer Support

To properly determine which VPN had the best customer support, we contacted each one and judged them based on how fast, concise, and well-mannered their representatives were. In addition, we also compared what each VPN offered in terms of customer support.

13. Prices

Selecting which VPN was best in this category didn’t just involve finding out which was the cheapest. We also took value for money into heavy consideration.

Our Guides

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Why Use a VPN?

You’re probably wondering why it’s important to use a VPN. After all, you’ve most probably been utilizing the internet without one for your entire life. As such, it may be difficult to come up with a justification for spending extra just to browse the web.

why vpn

Here are some key reasons why you might want to use a VPN service:

  1. Keep your online activity hidden when your browsing in public or private
  2. Get around government censorship and freely use the world wide web
  3. Download torrents safely without speed throttling
  4. Unblock the restricted libraries of streaming websites
  5. Access foreign gaming servers
  6. Download geo-restricted content like games and movies
  7. Watch live sports events that are unavailable in your current location

Besides what’s mentioned, there are a plethora of other reasons to use a VPN. The bottom line is that with the right service, your internet experience will be taken to the next level. It’s certain that once you’ve used the right service, you’ll never want to access the internet without it again.

What Is a VPN?

For those that don’t know, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) gives you a secure internet connection. It maintains your anonymity while also providing protection from people that may want to track your online activities. Besides that, the right service also lets you do everything that’s stated above.

You don’t need to be a technical expert to use a VPN. In fact, you don’t even have to be tech-savvy. All that’s necessary is basic computer know-how to subscribe, download, install, and use it.

How Does a VPN Work?

To put it simply, a VPN works by routing your internet connection through a private server rather than one that’s operated by your ISP (internet service provider). In doing so, your data doesn’t come from your base connection but rather from the VPN’s server when it’s transmitted through the internet.

how vpn

You may consider a VPN to be an intermediary when you connect to the web while hiding your IP address, and therefore, also protecting your identity.

Can your data still be intercepted? Yes, albeit this would be very difficult. Even when someone does manage to intercept your data, the VPN’s encryption will make it unreadable until it reaches its final destination. Because of that, it’s very important to consider what encryption a VPN is using before you use it.

Summary

Again, here are the top VPN service providers in 2020:

VPN Provider

Our Rating

Price

Link

logo surfshark

4.9

$12.95/mo (Regular);

$2.49/mo (Lowest)

logo expressvpn

4.8

$12.95/mo (Regular);

$6.67/mo (Lowest)

logo nordvpn

4.7

$11.99/mo (Regular);

$3.49/mo (Lowest)

logo pia vpn

4.6

$9.95/mo (Regular);

$2.69/mo (Lowest)

logo cyberghost

4.5

$12.99/mo (Regular);

$2.76/mo (Lowest)

logo ipvanish

4.4

$8.99/mo (Regular);

$4.87/mo (Lowest)

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