Written by: Bogdan Patru
Windows machines are the de-facto working stations of most internet users today, and they are also among the most vulnerable to hackers. Data can be stolen, information can be destroyed, your device can be hijacked.
Many such attacks take place on the internet, where your personal data is in no way safe or protected. Even when visiting SSL-protected websites. What’s more, most of the streaming services today block out access to certain parts of their program. If you’re not from the US, for example, you can kiss the US Netflix goodbye.
The same goes for users who live under an oppressive regime, and they can’t rightly manifest their freedom of speech. They find it next to impossible to use the internet or access most of it either way.
For these kinds of Windows users and not only, but the solution is also simple – VPN services that offer assistance in any of the three cases:
Let’s get on with it and talk about the best VPNs for Windows.
See what they’re saying there? The number 1 trusted leader in VPN. Whether that’s true or not, we’ll be seeing in a few moments. All in all, our experiences with ExpressVPN have been more than satisfactory.
On Windows, the ExpressVPN app looks like this:
The on/off button in the middle is self-explanatory, while the locations list on the right show you all the servers that you can connect to.
You have a recommended list of servers that is based on certain algorithms working to find the most suitable servers for you.
It takes no time to boot it, search for a server, and connect to it. The interface is simplistic enough and intuitive so you will not have to use any guides in this sense. Moreover, the settings are very accessible and simple to understand.
You will become a master of this app in no time.
After a couple of tests made on some of the servers, we can say that ExpressVPN has the most constant and reliable speeds out of all the VPNs we have tested until now.
These were the control benchmark results before using the VPN:
Let’s have a look at a server from the US:
Now, one from the UK:
The last one is a German server in Frankfurt:
This is simply what we expect from premium brand VPNs with high standards, and ExpressVPN delivered splendidly. It had the best overall speed results of all three VPNs on this list.
On the official website, ExpressVPN clearly states that they will never collect:
We have all reasons to believe that they have always upheld this zero-logging policy because there are no bad reviews on this front.
As for further reasons and assurances were given to support their privacy and logging policies, take a look at the official claims:
The company itself is based in the British Virgin Isles, a remote location outside the clutches of the 14-Eyes, where no data-retention laws are in place. Moreover, ExpressVPN has always been fighting for digital rights, and they’re also supporting various non-profit, privacy advocate groups around the world.
All in all, the most important aspect of a premium VPN is its level of encryption. That is what ultimately dictates its worth.
So, how secure is ExpressVPN?
One sentence – absolutely reliable and trustworthy. Encryption level – phenomenal.
Just like NordVPN, ExpressVPN makes brilliant use of the AES cryptographic technology alongside OpenVPN with TCP and UDP, using an SSL encryption on the website, an HMAC authentication, and both their control and data channels are secured by the AES protocols.
The Network lock is a nifty nice trick that guarantees you will never lose your VPN connection because it locks your internet connection to only function when the VPN is on.
What’s more, they also implement Perfect Forward Secrecy that acts as a safety net just in case someone manages to bypass all that encryption. If they do, they will only have access to a 60-minute worth of traffic from your connection.
The rest goes down the drain into oblivion because ExpressVPN changes the access keys every 60 minutes.
They also work with TrustedServer technology, an innovative method to store data on a volatile memory, RAM. This ensures that there will be no residual data left on the servers for hackers to steal, if and when they manage to hack through.
Every time the server is powered on or off, the data on the server is eliminated completely, with nothing left.
In fact, TrustedServer is one of the biggest reasons why ExpressVPN’s security is much above most other VPNs in the industry. It is truly a deal-breaker and a game-changer in the industry.
Now take a look at how much you’re going to pay for the protection and ultimate server speeds of ExpressVPN:
For all three subscriptions, you are allowed to ask for a refund for the first 30 days, no questions asked. We personally tested things out, and there was no issue with the refund policy.
As for payment methods, they are the usual plus Bitcoin, so you can step up the anonymity game by paying with cryptocurrencies. It feels a little bit safer now.
NordVPN offers to provide its users with “The internet with no borders”, and based on all the positive reviews they’ve received over the years, we’re inclined to believe them. There are advantages and downsides to this online security provider, so let’s see what they are.
After subscribing and downloading the app itself from the official website, you’ll be prompted by this screen.
As you can see, the Windows NordVPN interface is simple enough for anyone to understand.
You have a list of normal servers cataloged based on countries as well as a mini-map with the geographical spread of the server locations. You can use both functions to choose and connect to a server.
There are also the specialty servers which are equally, if not more important:
In the settings menu, you can and should activate the kill-switch. Moreover, you can switch between the TCP and UDP protocols, change the encryption level, and much more. It’s varied enough to allow you some manner of control but also not complex enough to confuse you.
Unarguably, speed is among the top three most important aspects when it comes to VPN providers. That’s how it should be, after all.
With NordVPN, we tested a number of servers just to make sure that the results are relevant and informative.
The control benchmark we started from was this one:
First, we went ahead and tested a US server, the one in Chicago to be more precise:
Secondly, we gave the UK server in London a shot:
Thirdly, the Netherlands server was our last testing experiment:
As you can see, the results are fluctuating between servers, with the Netherlands one being the fastest out of all of them.
All things considered, you will have no issues watching movies in HD or 4K, no stutters, no freezes, no glitches at all.
There isn’t much to be said here other than quoting what the official NordVPN Terms of Service page says.
About the logging policy, this is what they say:
NordVPN’s cybersecurity systems are varied and multifaceted, with many methods of countermanding any external infiltration attempt.
By military-grade encryption, they refer to the AES-256-bit protocol that protects against the all-time trifecta that wants to infiltrate your system – hackers, Internet Service Providers, and the government itself.
As for VPN protocols, they use two:
The latter is actually recognized for how tough it is to crack, being protected by a 2048-bit DH key. That is literally the golden standard in cryptography today.
CyberSec is a tool that blocks any ads, malware, adware, and all intrusive online gizmos that might interfere with your activities.
If you plan on testing things out with a 1-month subscription, bear in mind that you have a 30-day money-back guarantee that you can fall back on should the need arise.
In any case, let’s go over the four subscription plans:
The longer you subscribe for, the lesser you pay per month, overall speaking. Excluding that, the 1-month subscription is a bit expensive, truth be told.
Our number 3 best VPN for Windows, SurfShark is a new player in the industry, and yet it’s already in the big boys league. This quick ascension in ranks doesn’t come from nothing.
There are plenty of good tricks that it does perfectly, and many innovative features we can talk about.
Incredibly easy to download and install. Once you have it on your computer, it’s time to see what it’s all about.
This is the main interface:
Connect to any server using the list provided, and disconnect at any time using the button at the bottom-right corner of the screen.
Using the optimal location option, the app will choose the most appropriate server for you based on geographical data.
As for the options on the right, they are:
Other interesting options that you should know of are:
SurfShark might be in third place on our list but this doesn’t mean that its speeds are on the level of the common VPN. It has premium standards in this department, just as we’d expect.
Let’s take a look at the few speed tests we conducted on a couple of servers. This is the benchmark speed:
Ping – 14ms
Download speed – 91.44 Mbps
Upload speed – 93.54 Mbps
First, a server from the US, New York:
Seeing as though we got off on the wrong foot, let’s get this show on the road with one of the servers in Germany:
The server from Turkey was another wild shot:
While the speed might be fluctuating between servers, there is still no problem with running Netflix, the US one. From what we experimented with, two servers in the US, one in the UK, one in Canada, and two, each in South Africa, and one in South Korea can access Netflix.
They clearly state that they collect no information related to a user’s identity or traffic, his or her activities on the internet or other types of privacy-related information.
As for the data they do collect, it’s mainly related to the subscription itself, as well as the email address and the encrypted password.
Those are not in any way tied to your identity of confidential information.
There have currently been no user complaints about problems with the authorities resulted from leaked data from SurfShark’s servers. This is further supported by the Warrant Canary they keep on the website, detailing all the major issues that they’ve had with the authorities.
Currently, they have had zero issues so far.
The main security features we previously talked about are: NoBorders, CleanWeb, Whitelister, and MultiHop. The kill-switch is something you always want to have turned on.
After checking the app itself through a complete virus screening, there were no alarms at all, which was to be expected from a premium VPN.
We also checked for leaks on the following websites:
The Windows app functions with the IKEv2 by default but you can switch to OpenVPN whenever you want to, both TCP or UDP.
Freely use the Tor Network combined with the VPN server to dish out even more encryption power and privacy insurances.
The last ace in the hole is the independent security audit conducted by Cure53 on SurfSharks’s security systems. The results were more than satisfactory. They gave their thumbs up on this VPN.
All in all, after trying it ourselves, we can safely say that SurfShark meets the standards of a premium online security provider in terms of security. Moreover, they have plans for other privacy features to implement this year, in June.
Like we said before, SurfShark has incredible prices for such premium services. We’re talking about discounts up to 83% for the 2-year plan that goes up to $47.76 charged every 2 years. That’s only $1.99 per month.
With the 1-year plan, you have a 50% discount, paying $71.88 for the whole subscription, equal to $5.99 per month.
Last but not least, the 1-month subscription is $11.95 per month, just like NordVPN’s 1-month plan.
Mind you, all of these plans include the CleanWeb, Whitelister, MultiHop, and Kill-Switch features.
Plus, you are eligible for a 30-day refund on all subscriptions, no questions asked.
There is no free trial for Windows. Those are only available for iOS, macOS, and Android users.
As for payment methods, you can use all the common ones plus cryptocurrencies, just because SurfShark wants you to be as anonymous as possible.
Taken from Trustpilot.com, these reviews reflect just why this VPN fully deserves its spot on this list, and the premium quality we have attributed to it.
Here’s another one:
And another one:
Most of the reviews are 5-star ones but there are also 1-star ones and other problematic reviews like this one.
Or like this one:
There are a couple of principles we are adamant about, which we believe are the golden standards in the VPN industry.
To conclude, these are our top three picks for Best VPNs for Windows. For any suggestions or experiences with any of these online security providers, we are more than welcome to receive them.