The best VPNs 2022

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are a great way to ensure you’re safe and protected online. They’re also a great way to bypass geo-blocked content so you can browse the internet without borders.

VPNs allow you to surf the web anonymously. As surveillance capitalism continues to grow, there’s never been a better time to ensure you can’t be tracked over the web and that your online activity remains private.

That’s not all, though. VPNs allow you to access content in places where it was previously unavailable. Ever wanted to watch US Netflix outside the US? Now you can.

This is an ever-growing business. It’s estimated that one in three internet users use a VPN, and by 2027 the market for VPNs is expected to exceed $92 billion.

Unfortunately, though, with massive growth comes an influx of opportunists, and not all VPNs are created equal.

VPNs aren’t regulated harshly, and it can be hard to tell which ones are worth your time and which aren’t. Don’t panic, though, we’re here to help. 

Our expert team has tested and reviewed several VPNs. This guide will explain the best VPN services for 2023. And hopefully will help you pick the right service for you. 

How do we test VPNs?

We test VPNs over multiple criteria:

  1. We test how secure the VPN is: We do this by running it through DNS leak tests. If the VPN has a DNS leak issue, it has an issue with its security, as internet service providers (ISPs) can still potentially see your online data. The best VPNs don’t come across these sorts of issues.
  2. The number of servers: The best VPNs have thousands of servers around the world. The more servers, the better. Lesser VPNs, especially free VPNs, don’t have many servers meaning there’s less opportunity for you to surf the web anonymously.
  3. Speed: We measure the speed of a VPN by doing speed tests for multiple servers worldwide. We then compare this to our base internet speed with a VPN turned off.
  4. Compatibility with streaming services: A critical use case for VPNs is the ability to access geo-blocked streaming services. Unfortunately, these services try and prevent VPNs from accessing their platforms. The best VPNs have measures in place to get around these blocks. When testing a VPN, we try it with several geo-blocked streaming services. The best VPNs will allow you to watch all the leading streaming services worldwide.
  5. Price: Based on our research, the average cost of the top 20 VPNs is $4.33/month. We use this as a comparison when looking for the best-value VPNs.
  6. Devices: VPNs are usually compatible with more than one device simultaneously. Obviously, the more the better.

The Best VPNs 2023

1. ExpressVPN 🥇

Why You Should Use ExpressVPN? It’s the fastest and MOST reliable VPN of 2023

ExpressVPN UK screenshot

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 10-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • ❌ Expensive
Best VPN list - ExpressVPN

Special Offer for you!

Get 3 extra months free when you sign up for a 12-month ExpressVPN plan. That’s 15 months in total for the price of 12.

Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 160 in 94 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $6.66/month for 15 months
  • $9.99/month for 6 months
  • $12.95/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) is still the best VPN. And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+, Amazon Prime Video, etc.

ExpressVPN is usually very good at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites. Meaning, whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one – giving its users a constant stream of servers that aren’t blocked. Needless to say, this is a valuable attribute if you’re looking for a VPN to unblock streaming sites.

Its app is easy-to-use and free to download on pretty much any device you can think of. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireStick, Android TV, Roku, PS4, Xbox, Linux, even Apple TV (with a workaround). It’s got it all covered.

The app is another main reason this VPN is so good at unblocking TV streaming sites (that claim they block VPNs) is that its software takes a pragmatic approach to user management. While other VPNs tempt customers by promising them access to hundreds/thousands of servers in multiple countries, ExpressVPN does things differently.

With ExpressVPN you only have a handful of server locations to choose from. Once you select your location the app takes care of the rest. Assigning you to the fastest available server that’s not oversubscribed. This simple technique is so important, as it keeps ExpressVPN’s servers operating at lightning-fast speeds and prevents its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.

Check out our full ExpressVPN review.

Special Offer for you

(30-day money-back guarantee)


2. NordVPN 🥈

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

NordVPN US screenshot mobile

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ No logs
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 6-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • ❌ No refunds for purchases from iTunes/App store
Best VPN list - NordVPN

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for a 3-year plan with Private Internet Access and save 83% + 3 months free. That works out at $2.03/month.

Number of servers: 5,000+ | Speeds: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 62 countries | Devices supported: 6 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $3.49/month for 2 years
  • $6.99/month for 1 year
  • $11.95/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon
  • ITV Hub icon
  • Spark Sport icon
  • CBC Gem icon

NordVPN is the most widely-used VPN in the world. And it’s easy to see why. It’s a polished app that delivers fast connections (more on this later) to a massive network of VPN servers.

It’s the most reliable at unblocking popular streaming services too – US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. This is because NordVPN hired a full-time technical team (that’s responsible for monitoring its servers’ connections with popular TV streaming services) and has been aggressively investing in its network of IP addresses in key locations.

Another interesting thing to note is that NordVPN is an industry leader in its development of Nordlynx technology. Nordlynx is built using the WireGuard, a new VPN tunneling protocol designed to outperform current standards (OpenVPN and IPSec). The benefits, according to NordVPN, are dramatically faster transfer speeds while connected to a VPN. My tests – New Zealand to London – confirm that Nordlynx is currently the fastest VPN on the market. However, the difference isn’t dramatic, a few Mbps is all.

Read our NordVPN review.

SPECIAL OFFER – SAVE 70%!

(30-day money-back guarantee)


3. Private Internet Access

The BEST low-cost VPN for streaming!

Best VPN list - PIA

Pros

  • ✅ Fast and reliable servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 10-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • ❌ Only 48 server locations
Best VPN list - PIA

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for a 3-year plan with Private Internet Access and save 83% + 3 months free. That works out at $2.03/month.

Number of servers: 25,000+ | Speed: >75% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 70 in 74 countries | Devices supported: 10 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $2.03/month for 3 years
  • $7.50/month for 6 months
  • $11.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

Private Internet Access is one of the leading no-log VPN services with over 1-million paying customers.

This VPN is one of the best in the industry at beating streaming sites’ VPN bans. It provides reliable connections with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+ Amazon Prime Video, etc. It also allows 10 simultaneous devices to be connected to its servers at the same time, so you can share the account with your close friends.

If – for whatever reason – you’re not happy with Private Internet Access, there’s a 24/7 live chat support available to assist you with your problem. PIA also offers the industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee.

From my tests (from New Zealand) I was able to get download speeds of 70 Mbps while connected to a UK server using the Private Internet Access VPN (my non-VPN speed is 100 Mbps).

Special Offer – Save 83%

(30-day money-back guarantee)


4. Ivacy

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

Ivacy US screenshot mobile

Pros

  • ✅ Fast servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ Dedicated streaming servers
  • ✅ 5-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ 24/7 Live Chat

Cons

  • ❌ Only 5 devices
  • ❌ Sometimes runs slow
  • ❌ Occasionally block by streaming sites for several days
Best VPN - Ivacy on Mac

Special Offer for you!

Sign up for Ivacy and enjoy a 7-day trial with no strings attached

Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $1.16/month for 5 years
  • $3.50/month for 1 year
  • $9.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon
  • ITV Hub icon
  • Spark Sport icon
  • CBC Gem icon

If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy ($1.16/month) is a great option.

This VPN has all the features you need to stream BBC iPlayer, in HD, from any country in the world. I’ve been testing the app recently on Mac, PC, Android, iOS and FireStick and the results have been impressive – unlocking BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. with ease.

The Ivacy app is a little different in regards to its UX (user experience). Instead of just selecting a UK server, you need to select the specific BBC iPlayer server. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing – by connecting to a dedicated BBC iPlayer server, it simply means that you’re connecting to an IP address that Ivacy knows works with BBC iPlayer.

For an extra $1.99/month (£1.74) you can add-on a dedicated IP. This will buy you sole access to an IP address in a country of your choice, meaning you won’t have to share your IP (and speeds) with any other use. I don’t recommend this though, using the regular Ivacy servers is enough 95 per cent of the time.

Special Offer – 7-day FREE trial!

(30-day money-back guarantee)


5. CyberGhost

A very quick and trustworthy VPN

CyberGhost UK screenshot

Pros

  • ✅ 1-day free trial
  • ✅ Reliable servers
  • ✅ Thousands of IP addresses
  • ✅ 7-simultaneous connections
  • ✅ 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ✅ Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • ❌ Expensive
  • ❌ Average speed scores
CyberGhost
CyberGhost

SPECIAL OFFER – 1-DAY FREE TRIAL

Take advantage of CyberGhost’s 1-day FREE TRIAL!

Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes

  • $2.75/month for 3 years
  • $3.69/month for 2 years
  • $5.99/month for 1 year
  • $12.99/month for 1 month
  • Netflix icon
  • BBC iPlayer icon
  • ESPN icon
  • Hulu icon
  • HBO Max icon
  • Disney icon
  • Amazon Prime Video icon
  • YouTube TV icon
  • Apple TV Plus icon
  • FuboTV icon
  • ShowTime icon
  • Discovery Plus icon
  • ABC icon
  • All 4 icon
  • NowTV icon
  • CBS icon
  • NBC icon
  • Sky Sports icon
  • BT Sport icon

CyberGhost is one of the more established VPNs on the market. It has a well-established, and well-tested global network of servers that perform well.

From my tests over the past several months, CyberGhost has no trouble at unblocking major streaming services – US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max etc. This VPN performed well at maintaining download speeds, well above 65 per cent of my regular (non VPN) ISP speed.

That said, there’s nothing really unique about the service. Which forces you to look at its price-point. And there’s nothing special here. Its short-term $12.99/month price tag puts is well above the industry average of $10.10/month. Similarly, its long-term $2.75/month for 3 years deal isn’t much of a “deal” either.

Oddly, CyberGhost’s most unique feature is its a 1-day, no obligations, free trial. This is an appealing offer to customers who are new to VPNs. However, it’s important to remember that most reputable VPNs will offer customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so try not to be too seduced by the offer.

SPECIAL OFFER – 1-DAY FREE TRIAL

(30-day money-back guarantee)


What to look for in a VPN: VPN buyer’s guide

With so many VPNs on offer, choosing the right one for you can be tricky. 

We’ve compiled a list of what you should consider when purchasing a VPN.

Price

VPNs range in price. Some are free, and some cost as high as $30/month.

Based on out tests, if you want a VPN that works reliably, you’ll have to pay for it. 

Free VPNs can be very unreliable, and often they put limits on their use. They might have data caps, speed limits, or even worse, they might collect and store your data. 

Based on our research, the best VPNs, on average, cost around $4.33/month, the same price as a coffee.

Most VPNs utilise subscription models that you can sign up for. You can sign up for a VPN for as long as five years or as low as one month. It’s completely up to you. Be aware that signing up for an extended period usually requires an upfront cost, and there’s also no guarantee that the VPN will still be around for the length of the subscription.

Servers

It’s always best to look for a VPN that has a lot of servers all over the world. 

The more servers a VPN has, the more options you have to stay private. Also, look for a VPN that has servers in multiple countries. This will allow you to spoof your internet connection to look like it’s coming from even more locations.

The best VPNs will usually boast upwards of 2,500 servers around the world.

Protocols

VPN protocols determine how your data will be packaged and sent over the VPN’s private network.

There are several different protocols, and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. 

Some protocols provide less encryption which means your connection is less secure. However, this ensures your data can get to where it’s going quicker. 

Other protocols prioritise higher levels of encryption to ensure your data remains secure, however, they’re often a bit slower.

Many VPNs support multiple protocols, so try to look for one that serves all of your needs.

Money back guarantee

Most premium VPNs come with a money-back guarantee. 

This means you can try a VPN, and if it isn’t for you, you can get your money back. 

Always have a look to see if a VPN supports this, as it makes the investment less impactful if it’s not for you.

Chat support

VPNs are complicated software, and for most people, they’re probably a bit too technical to comprehend fully.

That’s not a problem. Most premium VPNs have online chat support to assist with any problems, questions or queries you may have. 

If you aren’t confident or technically savvy, look for a VPN with chat support to ensure you can get the most out of your VPN.

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a Virtual Private Network. To understand what that means, you need to understand what a private network is.

A private network is a private connection between two computers, “private” because it’s isolated from all other connections. This means no one else can see what’s happening on the network or access it.

A VPN is the same thing, except instead of the network being connected physically, it’s connected over the internet.

A VPN uses data encryption and private servers to make your connection inaccessible to outsiders. It’s essentially a private network but on a much larger scale.

The best VPNs 2022

What does a VPN do?

A VPN does two things.

First, it encrypts your online data. This means it turns your data into an unreadable code. If someone tries to figure out what you’re doing online or where you’re going, they won’t be able to read the code, so your online presence will be anonymous.

Second, a VPN reroutes this encrypted traffic through their VPN server. This will make it appear like you’re connecting from the location of your chosen server.

To wrap up, a VPN allows you to surf the internet anonymously, and it allows you to spoof the location where you’re connecting to the internet from.

How do VPNs work?

A VPN uses three main processes to allow you to surf the internet anonymously and spoof your location.

Before your online data gets sent across the web, a VPN will encrypt your online information into an unreadable code. It does this in case the info gets intercepted, in which case it will be unreadable. No one can tell where the information is going or came from.

This encrypted information is then sent to a VPN server via a network of tunnels. These tunnels don’t allow anyone outside to see what’s travelling through them. Turning on your VPN will split your online data into packages and send them through these tunnels. Again, keeping your online information anonymous and hidden.

All this data is sent (via the VPN’s tunnels) to a server in your chosen country. This acts like a layover point. It makes it look like your connection is coming from this server instead of your computer, phone or tablet. This again helps with maintaining an anonymous internet connection, and additionally, it makes it look like you’re connecting to the internet from the country the server is in.

The best VPNs 2022

Is using a VPN legal?

Yes, using a VPN is legal. VPNs are used to improve privacy and security, and they’re legal in 99% of countries around the world. 

Some countries don’t play nice with VPNs though. Countries like China and Russia control VPNs, forcing users to turn over data, defeating the purpose of a VPN in the first place. And others like Belarus, Iraq and North Korea ban VPNs completely.

Why do I need a VPN?

Most of the Western world’s internet is relatively free and unrestricted. You can visit the vast majority of websites without fear of prosecution and be served the same content as users in other countries – for no extra cost. 

Unfortunately, your internet freedom does not travel with your passport (and laptop). Travel to India for example, and you’re subject to Indian internet laws meaning you’ll only have access to restricted content.

Also, some services such as Netflix, Hulu and BBC iPlayer will be geo-blocked, meaning you’ll be served smaller libraries than you’re used to at home or worse, you won’t be able to access the streaming service at all. 

A VPN offers you a way around location-based internet. But that’s not all. A VPN also allows you to surf the web anonymously so corporations and governments can’t see or track your online activity.

Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like Stuff.co.nz, thebit.nz, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.

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