Our Top 5 VPNs for Windows PCs in 2021

Person using Windows 11 on a laptop with a Trophy with a VPN icon on the desk next to it
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Summary: The Best VPN for Windows

Many people use their PCs on a daily basis to browse the internet, stream movies, or perform a million other tasks. However, going online unprotected can be very dangerous. It’s better to use a VPN to ensure your online privacy, security, and freedom. Here are the three best VPNs to use on Windows:

  1. ExpressVPN: the best VPN with the highest speed
  2. NordVPN: the best VPN for safely unblocking content
  3. CyberGhost the most user-friendly VPN

For users who’ve never tried a VPN before, we recommend CyberGhost. This VPN is very easy to install and incredibly user-friendly.

Would you like to learn more about the best Windows VPN? Are you looking for a guide on how to set up a VPN connection? You can find this and more in our full article below.

Windows 10 is the most popular operating system in the world and runs on nearly 1.3 billion devices. It’s also one of the most secure releases of Windows by Microsoft. This trend is likely to continue with Windows 11.

Computer without VPN software with a broken padlock on a shield iconHowever, that doesn’t mean that Windows 11 won’t collect personal data and information relating to its users. In a previous article, we covered at least 6 Windows 10 features that were concerning from a privacy perspective, including Cortana’s ability to track your keystrokes! These features are also likely to be present in Windows 11, which is now available.

Consumers across the world are becoming more aware of the risks to their privacy by operating systems like Windows and other third-party apps. This is pushing them to look for ways to protect their privacy.

Using a virtual private network (VPN) is one of the easiest and most effective options to secure your digital privacy across devices and operating systems.

Windows users are spoilt for choice when it comes to VPNs, as there are numerous Windows VPNs out there. But the sheer number of options can be confusing and intimidating, especially for new users. To resolve this confusion and make the process of choosing a VPN for Windows easier, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 best Windows VPNs.

The 5 Best VPNs for Windows PCs: Our Recommendations

Before we dive into the list of best VPNs for Windows, it’s important to understand the factors that influenced our rankings. Briefly, we considered speed, security, privacy, ease of use, price/quality, and server network as parameters in judging these VPNs. As we explain later in the article, these are the most important factors in picking a VPN. Now, here’s our list.


1. ExpressVPN: fast and secure connections on Windows 11

Express VPN homepage horizontal screenshot with logo

  • High-speed servers in 76 different locations
  • Based in the British Virgin Islands
  • Open VPN, IKEv2, and L2TP protocols are supported
  • The cheapest plan starts at $6.67, for 15 months
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Windows based on our tests. It scored well on the parameters we’ve listed above, though it is a tad bit expensive. For our readers’ convenience, we’ve broken down our assessment of all the VPNs into the different parameters we used.

FactorDetails
Speed
  •  Performed well on our speed test. Recorded speeds of 322 Mbps (download) and 171.11 Mbps (upload) on a 500 Mbps connection.
  • Streaming Netflix, Hulu, DisneyPlus, YouTube, and other similar services was a breeze.
  • No significant lag while gaming.
  • Offers an in-built speed test, which is not a common feature.
Security
  • Encrypts your internet activity using 256-bit encryption, which is very secure.
  • Utilizes the latest encryption protocols, such as OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and IKEv2.
  • Has an in-built kill switch that halts your internet activity in case your VPN connection falters.
Privacy
  • Based in the British Virgin Islands, a nation with stringent privacy laws.
  • Does not keep any logs of your internet activity.
  • Utilizes RAM-based memory systems – user data is never stored permanently.
Ease of use
  • Detailed on-screen instructions make the installation process simple.
  • App itself is simply laid out without any confusing features.
  • Offers split tunneling, using which you can choose which apps and services should be routed through the VPN.
  • Detailed FAQs and 24/7 customer support.
Price
  • ExpressVPN is on the premium side of paid VPNs.
  • Offers three plans, which are:
    • One-month plan for $12.95
    • Six-month plan for $9.99/month
    • 15-month plan for $6.67/month
  • Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Servers
  • 3000+ VPN servers in 94 different countries
  • Particularly strong network in Europe
  • Strong unblocking capabilities for streaming services like Netflix.

If you’re interested in trying out ExpressVPN, take a look at their website by clicking on the button below:

ExpressVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
From
$6.67
9.5
  • Very easy to use VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

2. NordVPN: a secure Windows VPN with many unblocking options

NordVPN homepage horizontal screenshot with logo

  • Military-grade encryption of internet traffic
  • Supports the fast and secure WireGuard protocol through NordLynx
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Website and apps are easy to use
  • Responsive customer service
  • Starts at $3.30/month for a two-year subscription

Coming in at number two on our list of best VPNs for Windows is NordVPN. While it’s not as fast as ExpressVPN, it’s extremely secure and very user-friendly. NordVPN was established in 2008 and has gradually emerged as one of the best VPNs for users concerned about their privacy. A more thorough breakdown is provided below.

FactorDetails
Speed
  • More than respectable performance on our speed test: 256.20 Mbps (download) and 338.64 Mbps (upload)
  • Works well with P2P download servers
  • Smooth browsing, streaming, and gaming experience
Security
  • A VPN with a strong focus on security
  • Secures your internet traffic using military-grade encryption
  • The most up-to-date protocols, such as NordLynx (based on WireGuard) and IKEv2, are used.
Privacy
  • Based out of Panama, a privacy friendly nation
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Runs on diskless RAM servers
  • Supports obfsproxy, which helps prevent deep packet inspection
Ease of use
  • Map-based user interface which makes it easy to select servers in different locations
  • Split tunneling functionality is built-in
  • Live chat customer service and a large database of FAQs
Price
  • NordVPN is more affordable than ExpressVPN but remains on the higher side of the pricing spectrum.
  • Users can choose between one of these three plans:
      • One-month plan for $11.95
      • One-year plan for $4.92/month
    • Two-year plan for $3.30/month. You also get an additional three months free with this plan!
  • Use the 30-day money-back guarantee to try out NordVPN before buying it.
Servers
  • Their server network comprises 5900 servers in 54 different countries.
  • Offers dedicated servers that unblock Netflix and other similar streaming services
  • Some servers allow for a double VPN for added security

You can use the link below to head on over to the NordVPN website and get yourself a subscription!

NordVPN
Deal:
Only $3.30 a month for a 2-year subscription plus 3 free months!
From
$3.30
9.3
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

3. CyberGhost: simple yet effective VPN for Windows

CyberGhost VPN homepage horizontal screenshot with logo

  • 7400 + servers; significant presence in the USA
  • Great upload speeds on the speed test
  • Clean and simple user interface
  • 14 and 45-day money-back guarantees

Are you looking for a VPN for Windows that’s easy to work with? Then we recommend CyberGhost, which has slowly become one of the most user-friendly and affordable VPNs for Windows. CyberGhost is owned by Kape Technologies, which is an avid supporter of human rights and online privacy. So let’s look at how CyberGhost fares on our parameters for the best Windows VPN.

FactorDetails
Speed
  •  Performed exceptionally well on our speed test (500Mbps connection) – 441 Mbps (download) and 214 Mbps (upload)
  • Offers dedicated servers, like US Netflix, which are faster than regular servers
Security
  • Above-average security features for Windows users
  • AES 256 military-grade encryption is used to secure your information
  • Supports multiple protocols like OpenVPN, IKEv2, and WireGuard.
Privacy
  • Based out of Romania, a member of the European Union. Compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Collects minimal user information for tracking use and performance
Ease of use
  • Extremely user-friendly website and app interface
  • Demarcates separate servers for streaming downloading content. Allows for faster streaming of content on Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, and other platforms.
Price
  • One of the most pocket-friendly VPNs on the market. Very cheap long-term subscription plan.
  • CyberGhost offers three different plans:
    • One-month plan – $12.99
    • Six-month plan – $6.39/month
    • Two-year plan – $2.25/month plus two months free
  • Utilize the 14 or 45 days money-back guarantee to try out CyberGhost.
Servers
  • Large network of 7400 servers
  • Strong presence in the US with more than 1100 servers

Get more information on CyberGhost’s feature by visiting its site using the link below:

CyberGhost
Deal:
Try CyberGhost for $2.25 per month!
From
$2.25
8.8
  • Very user-friendly
  • High quality for a low price
  • Torrents and Netflix possible
Visit CyberGhost

4. Surfshark: A premium Windows VPN at an affordable price

Surfshark VPN homepage horizontal screenshot with logo

  • 3200 servers
  • Blazing fast speeds on servers located close-by and far away
  • Supports OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols
  • Utilizes RAM-based servers; no permanent storage of user data
  • A 2-year subscription starts at a very reasonable $2.49

Surfshark was established only in 2018 but has quickly acquired a reputation as one of the best VPNs for Windows. In fact, it got the AV-test’s seal of approval in 2019, which is quite impressive for a new VPN. So let’s see how it fairs on the individual parameters:

FactorDetails
Speed
  • One of our fastest ranked VPNs for servers located nearby and further away.
  • Download speed of 381 Mbps and an upload speed of 265.15 Mbps on a 500 Mbps connection.
  • Consistent high speeds make it a great option for streaming BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.
Security
  • Security is an important consideration for Surshark’s creators.
  • Boasts 256-bit military-grade encryption.
  • Supported protocols include OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec.
  • Built-in kill switch.
Privacy
  • Operates out of the British Virgin Islands, a progressive country when it comes to privacy rights
  • No-logs policy that matches highest conventional standards
  • Recently shifted to RAM-based servers
Ease of use
  • Possibly the best Windows VPN in terms of simplicity and usability.
  • Connecting to the desired server takes less than a minute after installation.
  • Its ‘Whitelister’ provides you split tunneling functionality, which can help boost your connection speed when using a VPN.
Pricing
  • Offers premium features at a much-reduced price.
  • The two-year plan costs $2.49 a month. Other options available to customers include:
    • One-month plan – $12.95
    • Six-month plan – $6.49/month
    • Two-year plan – $2.49/month
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • The 30-day money-back guarantee is a good way to try out Surshark’s blazing speeds for yourself
Servers
  • A massive network of 7400 servers
  • Strong presence in the US with more than 1100 servers

Use the link below to check out the latest offers on Surfshark:

Surfshark
Deal:
Safe and anonymous internet for only $2.49 a month
From
$2.49
9.0
  • Very user-friendly and works with Netflix and torrents
  • 30-day money-back guarantee. No questions asked!
  • Cheap with many extra options
Visit Surfshark

5. Private Internet Access: a hassle-free Windows VPN

Private Internet Access VPN homepage horizontal screenshot with logo

  • 33,000 servers; strong presence in Europe and the Middle East
  • Supports all major encryption protocols
  • Offers an affordable monthly plan that starts at $9.95
  • Clean interface that’s easy to use
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

As the name suggests, Private Internet Access is a VPN for Windows that is specifically geared towards privacy. It’s owned by Kape Technologies, which also owns CyberGhost and has a strong focus on user security and privacy. But how does PIA fare on other factors like speed and usability? Let’s find out

FactorDetails
Speed
  • Not the fastest VPN on our list by any means.
  • Considerable drop-off with servers located far away, with speeds of 131 Mbps (download) and 202 (upload).
  • Streams content smoothly on Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, Disney Plus, and Netflix despite slow speeds.
Security
  • PIA features very secure end-to-end encryption for all user internet activity.
  • It supports an extensive range of protocols, such as OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, and WireGuard.
Privacy
  • Privacy is an important focus area for PIA, as suggested by its name.
  • Maintains no logs of user activity
  • Based in the United States, which does raise concerns about data sharing with law enforcement.
  • No recorded instances of user traffic data or IP addresses having been shared in the past.
Ease of use
  • Subscription plans and account information can be easily managed from the website.
  • Minimalist Windows app with a big ‘On/Off’ button for quick and simple use.
  • The “Help” section on the PIA website is informative and should have solutions for most of your problems.
  • Customer support through email; no live-chat functionality.
Pricing
  • One of the most affordable month-by-month subscriptions.
  • There are three plans to choose from:
    • One-month plan – $9.95
    • One-year plan – $3.33/month
    • Two-year plan – $2.69/month with an additional two months for free
  • 10 simultaneous connections.
  • Use PIA’s 30-day money-back guarantee to get a feel for its features before purchasing a subscription.
Servers
  • A huge network of servers that comprises 33,000 servers across 73 nations.
  • Plenty of servers located in the Middle East and Europe.
  • Dedicated servers with fixed IP addresses are also available on PIA.

Visit pia’s website and check out the latest offers using the link provided below:

PIA
Deal:
PIA is always well-priced with a 30-day money-back guarantee
From
$2.69
8.5
  • Strong focus on privacy and security
  • Good price
  • Fast and stable servers
Visit PIA

What to Look For When Choosing a VPN for Your Windows PC

If you’re looking for the best VPN for your Windows device, it’s important to identify exactly what you want to use the service for. What do you want out of your VPN? Here are the factors that we used in our assessment of the best Windows VPNs listed above.

  • Security: if you want guaranteed security and privacy, choose a VPN with strong encryption and the latest protocols. Some security features you should look out for include kill switch functionality and split tunneling.
  • Speed: do you stream a lot? Then it’s best to pick a VPN that offers fast speeds and minimal lag. Be sure to check if the VPN you’re choosing unblocks Netflix and any other streaming services you use.
  • Ease of use: if you are new to the world of VPNs, it might be best to start with a simple but well-functioning VPN to get used to it. You should also find out about how responsive the VPN’s customer support service is in case you ever need any assistance.
  • Price: a cheap VPN sounds great, but always make sure the service still offers decent quality, so you don’t compromise your online safety for the sake of a couple of dollars.  The number of simultaneous connections a VPN offers is also an important factor to consider while selecting the best Windows VPN.
  • Server network: a VPN’s server network determines which parts of the internet you can access. If you want to watch German television abroad, for example, the VPN you choose needs to have German servers.

Any VPN you might choose will have its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to these different aspects. We’ve given our own evaluation of many VPN providers in separate detailed reviews already.

Note: Most VPNs these days offer 30-day money-back guarantees, so always make sure to use the offer to try out a VPN before getting a subscription.

Free VPNs vs. Paid VPNs

Hands holding VPN shield icons, free vs paid VPN with white background

In your search for the best VPNs for Windows, you’ll probably come across several free VPNs. While free VPNs can seem like a very good choice, they are far from perfect for the following reasons:

  1. Many free VPNs for Windows don’t provide safety and anonymity at all. They have questionable logging policies, can sell your personal information, or install malware, such as a computer virus, on your device. Their security features are also either suspect or absent entirely.
  2.  Free VPNs for PC usually have a data or speed limit. A data limit means you’ll only be able to use the VPN for a set number of MBs, so only part of your internet traffic will be protected. Speed limits can dramatically lower your connection speed. This is a huge issue if you regularly stream content on Netflix, Hulu, or BBC iPlayer.
  3. The server network of free VPN for Windows is usually pretty limited, which means that users will have only be able to choose from VPN servers in a couple of countries.

If you don’t mind working with these limits, we recommend any of the services in our top list of best free VPNs. If you use one of these, you can be sure they won’t compromise your online security. We’ve given our recommendation for the best free VPN for Windows below.

The Best Free VPN for Windows

Not everyone can shell out a couple of dollars each month to secure their online activity and privacy. To cater to such users, our team tried out several free VPNs for Windows to determine which one is the best.

We used the same parameters that informed our rankings of the best premium VPNs for Windows. And so, the best free VPN for Windows is:


PrivadoVPN

PrivadoVPN homepage horizontal screenshot with logo

PrivadoVPN is our top choice when it comes to free Windows VPNs. For a free VPN, PrivadoVPN offers great speeds and can unblock Netflix, which is a considerable achievement for a VPN that doesn’t cost a penny.

Of course, there is a 10GB cap on data that can be used in a month. As a result, Privado may not be the best option for people who game and stream quite heavily. But if you’re just looking to add a layer of security to your daily browsing and downloading, then there are few better options than PrivadoVPN.

Get PrivadoVPN for free!

Why Choose a VPN for Windows 11?

There are several reasons why Windows users might choose to get a VPN. If you want to know about all the advantages in more detail, you can read our full article about the benefits of a VPN connection.

Why use a VPN software infographic

We’ll briefly explain the three biggest benefits here.

  • Increased online security: VPNs encrypt your online data so it can’t be read and abused by others. There are many parties who’d like to see what you do online: from websites, companies, and governments to malicious hackers. Without protection, the risk of strangers gaining access to your personal information is very big, especially when your Windows device often uses public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN protects you and keeps your information safe.
  • Increased online privacy: a VPN anonymizes your IP address and ensures your internet traffic can’t be traced back to you. As a result, you’ll be able to enjoy a higher level of online privacy. You can, for example, safely and anonymously download torrents, although we strongly recommend you adhere to your local laws when downloading to avoid download fines.
  • Access to more streams and websites: not all parts of the internet are accessible worldwide. Some countries engage in internet censorship by blocking certain social media and news websites. Some services, such as Hulu, are only available in specific areas. A VPN removes these restrictions and unblocks Netflix and other similar services. A VPN can also help you access YouTube from China and other countries where it’s blocked.

Setting Up a VPN on Windows 11

Setting up a VPN on Windows is quite easy. There are two different ways to do this: via your VPN software or via your Windows settings. If you’d like all your devices to be protected in one go, it’s also possible to set up a VPN on your router.

Setting up the VPN via the installer

Many VPNs provide software that you can easily download from their website. Once you’ve installed this software, all you have to do is log in with your account and activate the VPN. You can install a VPN on Windows following these steps:

How to install VPN software on your desktop, 6 steps infographic

Do you need a little more help when setting up your VPN connection? Check out our detailed review page and click on your chosen provider. The review will help you through the installation process step-by-step.

Setup within Windows 11

Some VPNs don’t offer accompanying software. If your boss has set up a VPN network in the office so employees are able to work from home, for instance, you’ll likely have to set up this connection manually using the Window’s built-in VPN settings.

If your VPN does offer software but you prefer not to download this onto your computer, you can also choose to use this method. To make this work, you’ll have to adjust your network settings:

  1. Make sure you have the correct login details. This can be done by purchasing a VPN and creating an account. If you wish to use a corporate network, for example for working from home, you’ll have to ask the owner of the network (e.g. your boss) for the login details.
  2. Open the built-in VPN settings in Windows. Go to “Settings”, then to “Network and Internet” and finally to “VPN”.
  3. Add a VPN connection by filling in the data from step 1.
  4. Activate the VPN by clicking and connecting to it. The screenshot below indicates what this might look like.

VPN connection in Windows Settings

For more detailed information about setting up a VPN on Windows, please read our complete step-by-step plan right here.

Conclusion: The Best VPN for Windows 11

Using a VPN on your Windows computer will enhance your online experience. If you’d like a fast VPN with plenty of options, ExpressVPN might just be the right choice for you. If you prefer a VPN that is focused on online security and unblocking, then we’d recommend NordVPN or Private Internet Access. Finally, CyberGhost is the perfect option if you prefer a low-cost VPN that’s also very easy to use.

If these VPNs don’t quite fit your needs, you can check out our complete list of best VPNs on this page.

The 5 Best VPNs for Windows in 2021 - FAQ

Do you have a question about the best VPNs for Windows? Click on one of the frequently asked questions below to read the corresponding answer.

ExpressVPN is currently the best VPN for Windows because it offers fast connections and has numerous options that’ll satisfy any VPN user.

CyberGhost is a great pocket-friendly alternative to ExpressVPN for Windows users.

For more information on how we determined the best Windows VPNs, check out this article!

There are several good free VPNs that work on Windows. We recommend PrivadoVPN as the best free Windows VPN. It offers good speeds, a decent monthly data limit, and unblock Netflix and other streaming sites as well!

Check out our rankings of the best free VPNs for alternatives to PrivadoVPN.

A good VPN allows you to browse the internet safely and anonymously without negatively affecting your speed too much. Some factors you should look out for while picking a VPN for Windows are:

  1. Speed
  2. Security
  3. Privacy
  4. Ease of Use
  5. Price
  6. Server Network

For more info on why these factors are important, check out our article on the best VPNs for Windows. 

A VPN protects your internet connection and allows you to surf the web more securely, anonymously, and freely. A VPN might allow you to easily access your work network from your Windows computer at home, for example.

Windows does offer an in-built service that you can use to connect to a VPN server. Of course, you will need to know your login and serer details to use this functionality.

We’ve put together this guide to help you through the process of installing a VPN on Windows 10.

Windows 11 has launched, and you can choose any of the VPNs mentioned in our article. There were a few hiccups with NordVPN, but those have been resolved. The VPNs that work with Windows 11 include:

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. CyberGhost
  4. SurfShark
  5. PIA
Cybersecurity analyst
David is a cybersecurity analyst and one of the founders of VPNoverview.com. Since 2014 he has been gaining international experience working with governments, NGOs, and the private sector as a cybersecurity and VPN expert and advisor.