Best VPN Service for Privacy Online

These VPNs offer the best protection for your connection.
  • PureVPN
    Monthly price
    $10.95/mo
    Logs policy
    Zero logs for incoming or outgoing traffic
  • Surfshark
    Monthly price
    $11.95/mo.
    Logs policy
    Strict no-logging policy
  • NordVPN
    Monthly price
    $11.95/mo.
    Logs policy
    Zero logging policy approved by auditors
  • ExpressVPN
    Monthly price
    $12.95/mo.
    Logs policy
    Logs minimal information, such as server location
  • CyberGhost
    Monthly price
    $12.99/mo.
    Logs policy
    Deletes logging data after 24 hours

When it comes to online security, there’s no better option than a VPN (virtual private network). We took a look at dozens of VPN services’ security protocols and logs policies to determine which VPN service provider was the best for privacy. Spoiler alert: it’s PureVPN.

When you connect using a VPN proxy server, you can trust that your IP address is secure, private, and anonymous. The websites you visit can’t tell who or where you are. And when you type in a credit card number at Amazon to buy that new smoothie machine, your connection is protected from hackers. Not every VPN is perfectly secure, however.

We picked the top five that offer the most security protocols according to an independent evaluation. These VPN services also make a claim about “zero logs,” which means they do not record any of your downloads, website visits, credit card number, or any other personal information. Even if a government agency requested access to your Internet logs, the VPN service claims they do not record any of your activity so they would not be able to provide it.

Each of these VPN providers offers protection from hacking, identity theft, and even the prying eyes of an employer, which makes them our picks for the best VPN services for privacy.

Best VPN services for privacy comparison
VPN providerPriceSecurity protocolsLogs policyDetails
PureVPN $10.95/mo.PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, OpenVPN and IKEv2 VPNZero logs for incoming or outgoing traffic View Plans
Surfshark$11.95/mo.IKEv2, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks, Wireguard, and L2TPStrict no-logging policy View Plans
NordVPN$11.95/mo.OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSecZero logging policy approved by auditors View Plans
ExpressVPN$12.95/mo.OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP and PPTPLogs minimal information, such as server location View Plans
CyberGhost $12.99/mo.OpenVPN (TCP / UDP), IKEv2 and L2TP/IPSecDeletes logging data after 24 hours View Plans

Data effective 5/26/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

1: PureVPN

PureVPN offers the highest number of security protocols we’ve found.

Reading through the security features for PureVPN is like trying to decipher an ancient code. That’s a good thing because you can enable just about any security protocol you want, including PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, OpenVPN, or IKEv2 VPN. Those protocols give you the flexibility to choose the protocol you want and then see how that encryption impacts the connection for your Internet activity. PureVPN is also clear about a no-log policy which protects you from any inquiry about your online activity.

PureVPN plans and prices
VPN providerPriceSecurity protocolsLogs policyDetails
PureVPN $10.95/mo.PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, OpenVPN and IKEv2 VPNZero logs for incoming or outgoing traffic View Plans

Data effective 5/26/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Who is PureVPN best for?

  • Five different security protocols to choose from
  • No logs policy is clear and emphatic
  • Excellent VPN overall
  • Works with a mobile device

Learn more about PureVPN in our full review.

2: Surfshark

Unusual security protocols to help protect your Internet connection.

Surfshark also offers five different security VPN protocol options, some of them a bit unusual. This VPN service offers IKEv2, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks, Wireguard, and L2TP. In case you’re curious, the oddly named Shadowsocks protocol was originally invented in China as a way to circumvent any censorship or website activity. Surfshark also has a clear no-logs policy that is intended to provide some added reassurances.

Surfshark VPN plans and prices
VPN providerPriceSecurity protocolsLogs policyDetails
Surfshark$11.95/mo.IKEv2, OpenVPN, Shadowsocks, Wireguard, and L2TPStrict no-logging policy View Plans

Data effective 5/26/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Who is Surfshark best for?

  • Unusual security protocols like Shadowsocks
  • No logs policy is clearly stated
  • Fun interface that’s not too serious or technical
  • Works with a mobile device

Learn more about Surfshark in our full review.

3: NordVPN

A strict no logs policy makes NordVPN a top pick for security.

NordVPN emphasizes its “zero logs” policy in a way that is more obvious and up-front than some VPN clients. The company has also told us they are moving to a “serverless” infrastructure, which means they won’t be able to keep logs on traffic even if they tried. NordVPN offers OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec protocols. You can try the one that offers the best encryption for your needs and see how it impacts bandwidth.

NordVPN plans and prices
VPN providerPriceSecurity protocolsLogs policyDetails
NordVPN$11.95/mo.OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSecZero logging policy approved by auditors View Plans

Data effective 5/26/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Who is NordVPN best for?

  • Strict zero log policy explained in great details
  • Highlights two security protocols, OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec
  • Best overall VPN that is highly ranked
  • Has mobile device app

Learn more about NordVPN in our full review.

4: ExpressVPN

Offers a robust selection of security protocols to match any need.

ExpressVPN is one of the best and most common VPN services around. The interface and attention to detail with this professional client is second-to-none. In terms of security offerings, ExpressVPN lets you pick from OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, and PPTP— you can activate the one you want and then monitor your connection speed. Like NordVPN, ExpressVPN also goes to great lengths to ensure you know they have a zero logs policy. The VPN won’t record any of your Internet activity.

ExpressVPN plans and prices
VPN providerPriceSecurity protocolsLogs policyDetails
ExpressVPN$12.95/mo.OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP and PPTPLogs minimal information, such as server location View Plans

Data effective 5/26/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Who is ExpressVPN best for?

  • One of our top VPN picks
  • Several options for choosing a security protocol
  • Fast and secure VPN with military-grade security enabled

Learn more about ExpressVPN in our full review.

5: CyberGhost

A top pick overall with a wide selection of security protocols

CyberGhost—known for a high number of VPN servers available worldwide— is also a top pick for security. CyberGhost VPN offers OpenVPN (TCP / UDP), IKEv2, and L2TP/IPSec so you can add the level of encryption desired. As usual, picking the highest military grade protocol will impact connection speed.

CyberGhost plans and prices
VPN providerPriceSecurity protocolsLogs policyDetails
CyberGhost$12.99/mo.OpenVPN (TCP / UDP), IKEv2 and L2TP/IPSecDeletes logging data after 24 hours View Plans

Data effective 5/26/2020. Offers and availability vary by location and are subject to change.

Who is CyberGhost best for?

  • High number of VPN servers
  • Variety of security protocols include OpenVPN (TCP / UDP), IKEv2, and L2TP/IPSec
  • Fastest VPN for gaming

Learn more about CyberGhost in our full review.

Why you need a VPN for online privacy

They know how to find you.

Who’s they?

Whether you call them criminals, bored hackers, or anarchy-prone, hackers are incredibly active when it comes to stealing personally identifiable information from unsuspecting consumers. Some seek to compromise your bank accounts, steal driver’s license information, or capture data like a home address or phone number. There are thousands of hackers who steal data and then sell it on the Dark Web, all for nefarious reasons. And, it’s getting easier. There are entire websites dedicated to showing hackers how to break into Netflix accounts, work around the normal account security provided, and monitor activity on public Wi-Fi networks.

That’s the bad news.

The good news for anyone who cares about their personal privacy on the Internet is that a VPN is ever vigilant. Once you install one of the VPN services we picked as the best for privacy, you can expect the software to protect everything you do online— starting with Netflix logins but covering you as you surf on Amazon for new clothes, play a video game with friends, or download a massive movie file.

Security tends to fall into two broad camps. There is persistent security that protects you at all times and then there’s security for each app or service you use. This double-layer of protection helps you with every app you use, every website you visit, and every media streaming site. For example, if you log in at Netflix.com using the Chrome browser, there is security involved to protect your account and make sure it’s really you. However, the persistent security of a VPN also protects the transmissions as they occur in real-time.

A VPN connection provides online security

A quick summary of how a VPN works might help when it comes to understanding how they protect your privacy online. First and foremost, a VPN is all about encryption. When you use the unprotected Internet, you are typically transmitting data that is easy to capture and compromise if a hacker gains access to the network. On a public wireless network, for example, you might log in to a website and transmit your credit card over the connection. With a VPN, encryption makes it extremely difficult to capture this information. Military-grade encryption obscures the data and makes it impossible to capture, store, and analyze. In fact, it’s nearly impenetrable.

A VPN connection provides online privacy

Privacy is important for several reasons. We’ve mentioned the hackers who routinely capture personal information and sell it on the Dark Web. However, there is also another category of privacy and protection related to your personal identity. Hackers are not the only ones trying to impersonate you or steal your data. There is another group of anarchy-prone individuals and users intent on causing chaos. They might try to steal your identity merely because it’s fun and causes embarrassment.

This threat is sometimes overlooked, but for those who have experienced identity theft, it can be a grueling experience. One example is if someone steals your social media login. They might not be interested in selling a credit card number, but they might use your account to spread hatred or impersonate you in other ways.

In terms of making the best VPN comparisons, the one specification to look for is the security protocol used for encryption. They are not all the same. Some can protect you in ways that mimic the military yet add too much overhead to the connection and slow down your access. We picked the best VPN services that provide the most security protocols to choose from.

Recap: What’s the best VPN for privacy online?

PureVPN has the highest number of security protocols and a zero-logs policy. This means you have flexibility to choose your preferred security protocol and with the zero-logs policy, you’ll know your online activity is not being tracked.

The number of security protocols available is a leading indicator of security prowess. All of the VPN services on our list provide a wide selection of encryption options and also claim not to record any of your Internet activity.

  • PureVPN: Highest number of security protocols we’ve found.
  • Surfshark: Several protocols available and zero logs policy.
  • NordVPN: Very strict no-log policy and overall top pick.
  • ExpressVPN: Highly ranked VPN client with military-grade encryption.
  • CyberGhost: Highest number of servers available.

Additional contributors

Chyelle Dvorak

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