Using a VPN on your PC can allow you to browse the web in private and unblock content that's restricted in your region. It's ideal for privacy buffs and TV lovers alike.
With VPN services costing from just a couple of pounds or dollars per month, there’s really no reason not to use one. And if your priority is to use it mainly on your PC or laptop, your choice is almost unlimited since every VPN provider supports Windows in one way or another.
For this reason choosing one can be difficult, but that’s why you’re here, right? So let’s get on with it: here are the best VPN services for PCs.
With apps for Android, iOS and macOS as well as Windows, NordVPN will work on all of your devices, including your PC.
The Windows app is simple and intuitive: you drag the map around and click on a country’s marker to begin a connection. If you prefer, you can browse the country list and also save your favourites for quicker access.
Security is one of NordVPN’s highlights. It also has some servers which offer double protection by routing your connection through two servers instead of one. It doesn’t keep logs, either.
With support for P2P traffic, a customisable kill switch and the option to use the Tor network for extra privacy, the slightly higher monthly cost over certain rivals will be worth it if you value privacy most: and that’s what a VPN service should be all about.
The three-year deal is the best value, costing US$107.64 – or £2.30 / $2.99 per month.
Read our full NordVPN review for more details
We like ExpressVPN for its easy-to-use app and the fact that you can use your subscription on so many devices – including an Amazon Fire Stick, Apple TV, PlayStation and more.
Performance is excellent, too, as is privacy. ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands and doesn’t keep any logs about your activity. Should the VPN connection drop for any reason, the Network Lock – a kill switch – stops all internet access to protect your privacy until the connection is restored.
As well as the main app, you can install browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. These allow you to restrict the VPN connection to just that browser rather than all internet traffic.
Should you require it, tech support is available 24/7 via email or live chat.
ExpressVPN is very good, but it also comes at a cost. At the moment you can get a 12-month plan for US$99.95 / £76. It comes with three months three, so for the 15 months it works out at $6.67 / £5.50. Fortunately, there’s a 30-day money-back offer so you can trial the service to see if you’re happy with it.
Read our full ExpressVPN review
3. Goose VPN
Goose VPN boasts that you can get up and running in less than a minute. It’s not quite that quick, but we can agree that Goose is a very easy service to install and use.
It’s aimed at those wanting to watch video content in other countries, allowing P2P traffic and supporting a huge range of devices and letting you use your subscription on all of them at the same time.
In Windows, you’ve the option of using the main app which encrypts all internet traffic or you can opt for the Chrome extension so only your activity in that browser is protected and routed via one of Goose’s servers in 27 countries.
There's a kill switch too, so you’re protected against any unexpected connection drops.
The best current deal is the one-year plan which makes it £2 / US$2.62 per month.
The cheapest option of £1.66 / £2.17 per month gives you only 50GB of data, which might be enough for you. There’s also a 30 day trial which offers your money back if you’re not totally happy.
Read our full Goose VPN review
We’re fans of PureVPN as it ticks all the boxes. Speed: check. Privacy: check. Headquartered outside the '14-eyes': check.
There are over 2,000 servers in 141 countries. And if that weren’t enough, PureVPN unblocks Netflix US and you’ll even find a video showing you how to do this on its website.
It's reasonably cheap at $3.33 / £2.55 per month for a year, but there are three month and one month options if you don't want to commit. You can sign up here.
The Windows app lets you choose between location or ‘purpose’. These modes including Steam (for video), Internet Freedom (for calling countries which dislike VoIP), Security / Privacy (prevents your ISP looking at your activity) and File-Sharing.
There’s a kill switch and split tunnelling. This useful feature lets you choose which apps use the VPN and which don’t.
You’re allowed to use the subscription with five devices simultaneously, which is plenty for most people.
Read our full PureVPN review
Best described as quirky, TunnelBear is many people’s first experience of a VPN simply because of its completely free tier which offers 500MB per month. That isn’t nearly enough for watching video, but if you travel frequently and want to stay safe on free public Wi-Fi then it can be enough.
For use on a PC, you’ll want the ‘Grizzly’ package with is billed yearly and works out at £3.80 / $5 per month. That gives you unlimited data with servers in 22 countries. That’s a smaller choice than some rivals, but there are servers in US and UK and Canada, where TunnelBear’s headquarters are located. That’s one of the 5-eyes countries which shares information, but TunnelBear doesn’t log any activity.
Two features which are turned off by default are ‘VigilantBear’ and ‘GhostBear’. The former is a handy kill switch, and the latter makes your activity look less like VPN traffic – useful if you wouldn’t want the government of a country knowing what you were up to.
If you don’t want all your traffic routed via the VPN, there are browser extensions for Chrome and – unusually – Opera.
Read our full TunnelBear review
CyberGhost is a well-known VPN which has been around for years. It is based in Romania, outside of the '14-eyes'.
Unlike some VPN providers, with CyberGhost you can pick the specific server you want, not just a country. So if you particularly want one on the East- rather than the West Coast of the USA, you can.
The Windows app also has an ‘Unblock Streaming’ section with a list of services: pick one and it will suggest the best server to use. These include Netflix, but be warned that – as with all other VPN services – Netflix is hot on blocking VPN servers so it may or may not work from one week to the next.
CyberGhost isn’t the cheapest but offers more than 2,700 servers worldwide and lets you connect up to seven devices at the same time. It also gives you extras such as Home Wi-Fi protection which protects you against malicious websites, blocks ads and tries to use HTTPS connections wherever possible.
App Protection is the service’s kill switch and allows you to specify which apps should be terminated if the connection ever drops.
The best current deal is a three year plan which works out at £1.90 / US$2.50 per month.
Read our full CyberGhost review
With over 700 servers worldwide and the ability to pick the one you want based on ping, VyprVPN offers more choice than some of its competitors.
It isn’t based in one of the '14-eyes', but does keep logs of things such as connection times, IP addresses and bytes transferred for 30 days for purposes including “crimes performed over the service”.
Fortunately, that doesn’t include watching US Netflix which isn’t a criminal offence. It’s merely against Netflix’s terms and conditions. And when we checked, VyprVPN did allow us to unblock US Netflix from the UK.
Vypr offers a kill switch, but this is turned off by default. Handily the app has an option to play a sound when the VPN connects or disconnects so you’ll get audible confirmation of when this happens.
We also like how the Windows app displays the bandwidth used, even if you’re not using the VPN, because you can see immediately if your connection speed drops.
And talking of speed, VyprVPN’s performance was excellent in our tests. If you want to test it yourself, there’s a three-day trial – a little short for our liking, and stingier than other services.
Still, at £3.63 / US$4.76 per month for a 1-year plan allowing three simultaneous connections, it isn’t overly expensive.
Read our full VyprVPN review.
8. Private Internet Access
PIA, as it’s known, is a US-based VPN service. Interestingly it allows you to pay with gift cards from Starbucks, Walmart and other stores.
Click on the link and you’ll get a list of example cards from your country. In the UK, a £25 Arcadia card will give you 132 days of access. But a Topshop card with £32 of credit on it will give you 307 days. Clearly, then, there’s more value in certain cards.
The advantage is that you don’t have to provide any payment details – such as your credit card number and billing address. That makes you even more anonymous.
You can of course pay using the more usual methods if you'd prefer to. The cheapest package is a two-year deal which works out at £2.05 / US$2.91 per month and allows you to connect up to five devices at the same time.
The Windows app sits in the Notification area. You have to right-click on the icon to see the interface and choose a server to connect to.
There are lots: over 3,200 in 33 countries. We found picking a west-coast US server unblocked US Netflix, and connection times were very quick, as were transfer speeds.
Advanced options include a kill switch plus advert, malware and tracker blockers. The kill switch isn’t customisable though and will simply stop all internet traffic if the VPN connection drops.
Read our full PIA review.
Hidden24 is unlike most other VPN services. Instead of an app, you simply use your device’s own settings to key in your login details and the server to use.
This means you don’t need to install an app, and you don’t use up any of your computer or phone’s resources running an extra app. It is therefore a little more involved to set up, but there are plenty of step-by-step configuration guides on Hidden24’s website which can be downloaded as handy PDFs.
For Windows, it’s easy to add a VPN connection in the Settings app and then connect to the server when you need to.
There are a couple of downsides to this pared-down approach: you get only the VPN tools and options the operating system provides. So there’s no kill switch in Windows to terminate apps if the connection drops.
Fortunately, in our testing Hidden24 was both fast and reliable. No doubt the latter is partly down to the fact it uses Windows’ built-in support for a VPN.
The company uses its own proprietary software on its own servers, logs nothing at all and uses 2048-bit encryption for the ultimate privacy.
It now has a server in the US as well as UK and Sweden, so you can unblock US Netflix as well as other streaming services.
It’s not the very cheapest option, but at £3.33 / US$4.37 per month for a 12-month plan it’s still decent value for the service you’re getting.
Read our full Hidden24 review
A mainstay of just about any VPN roundup, IPVanish is a fine choice for first-time VPN users as it’s simple to install and get running. It also gives you a tutorial to show how to select a country or server, which is very useful if it’s your first time.
You can put the interface in ‘Simple’ mode if you want to make it even easier to use, which is much like other VPN services’ standard mode where you can’t pick a server: you just click on a country, then connect.
IPVanish has more than 1000 servers in 60 countries, but even though it keeps no logs, it’s based in the US which is one of the ’14-eyes’ group of countries so it may not be your first choice if you want the best-possible privacy.
The good news is that connection speeds are very good and you get valuable features such as a kill switch and an ever-changing IP address.
Not all US servers will unblock Netflix, but as you can choose from a list, you can soon find one that does, and we found that the support team was quick to answer questions.
You’ll pay slightly more than IPVanish than some of its rivals, but at £4.95 / US$6.49 per month for the one-year plan it isn’t unaffordable. Though the 7-day money-back trial is shorter than rivals’ it does at least allow you to get a feel for the service before committing.
Read our full IPVanish review.