Choosing a Windows VPN can be tricky, because there are hundreds of terrible, rip off VPN providers around. To help you, our experts have analyzed the market to find the best VPNs for Windows in 2021.
The best VPN software for Windows
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A VPN for your Windows PC stops your ISP, the government, and the sites you visit from tracking what you get up to online. VPNs conceal your true IP address and can give you access to geo-restricted videos on YouTube, or other streaming services like Netflix US or BBC iPlayer. And, because a VPN encrypts your traffic, you can access any website privately – to stream videos or download in secrecy.
Before we recommend a VPN for Windows, we look at...
- Privacy and security
- Speed and performance
- Server locations
- Ease of use and backwards compatibility with Windows
- Money-back guarantee
- Multiple simultaneous connections
With so many VPN software options available on Windows, we make sure that all our VPN recommendations meet the above criteria before we recommend using them on your PC. So, now that you know what we're looking for, let's take a close look at our top recommendations.
The Best VPNs for Windows 10, 8 & 7 in 2021
Below, we take an in-depth look at the providers that made our top 5. These VPNs all offer a great Windows client, as well as fast speeds and a user-friendly interface. If you'd like to read more about any of the services featured here, check out our detailed reviews!
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Which is the fastest VPN for Windows?
With a fast VPN, Windows users can enjoy the super-fast internet speeds they pay their ISP for. Unfortunately, 95% of consumer VPNs have sluggish servers that will slow your internet down considerably. That is why you must take care to pick the right VPN for Windows.
Our Windows VPN recommendations invest in fast Tier-1 server networks all over the world. So you can use them to stream in HD, for gaming, or for downloading torrents securely.
If you are looking for the fastest Windows VPN of all, you can use the table below. At ProPrivacy we test the world's leading VPNs three times a day across three global locations. This data allows you to see exactly which VPN is fastest in real-time.
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For more information about how we test VPNs, check out our VPN speed testing page.
My internet speeds are slow. Will a VPN help?
There are many websites claiming that a VPN will make your internet faster. In reality, this is a misunderstanding.
For a VPN to provide its service, it must route your traffic via a VPN server on its way to the final destination (the websites and online services you choose to use). VPNs also encrypt and decrypt your traffic, which also adds to latency.
For this reason, even the fastest VPNs will slow down your internet a little. The fastest VPNs make this slowing unnoticeable. So, why all the stories?
Some ISPs purposefully engage in bandwidth throttling to prevent congestion for their users during peak times. Under these circumstances, a VPN can help to speed up your internet.
A VPN prevents your ISP from knowing what you are doing online. This stops your ISP from tracking you when you are gaming, streaming in HD, or torrenting. As a result, the ISP is unable to throttle your speeds.
All of the VPNs we recommend in this article invest in Tier 1 server networks to ensure that the impact on your speeds is as negligible as possible. And if you believe you are being throttled, you should try a VPN to see if it speeds up your net.
Why do I need a VPN for Windows?
When we connect to the internet, we risk sacrificing our privacy. ISPs, Wi-Fi providers, websites, and government agencies all track our data against our wishes. A VPN encrypts your traffic to prevent this kind of tracking. As a result, you gain control over your digital footprint. This makes a VPN the best personal privacy tool available on the market.
A VPN is the best personal cybersecurity solution for keeping your data secure, your browsing history private, and all your Windows devices safe. But how does the Windows VPN client work?
- A VPN encrypts all internet traffic coming and going from your Windows PC.
This stops anybody from intercepting your data and tracking your browsing habits. It also stops your ISP and the government from collecting your communications metadata. Plus, VPN encryption lets you torrent with peace of mind; because nobody will know what you have downloaded.
- Connecting to a VPN server hides your real location from the websites you visit.
This stops websites from tracking your IP address and enables you to pretend to be in a different country to bypass local blocks and to access foreign geo-restricted content. Hiding your IP address also lets you torrent safely without exposing your real IP to other peers.
How we test a Windows VPN's performance
All of the VPNs we recommend using on a PC offer a money-back guarantee. You should always take advantage of this offer period (usually around 30 days) when you first sign up for a service to test your VPN and put it through its paces – to make sure it fits your needs. If it doesn't the guarantee means that you haven't risked your cash, and can try a different provider.
When we test a VPN service, we apply a number of different stress tests to it as a way of determining its effectiveness. These tests are:
Do all the advertised features work?
We test the provider’s Windows VPN client software to ensure that the security and privacy features all work. We also check to see what range of features it has and compare this to other services on the market.
Generally, a premium VPN will offer features such as a kill-switch, DNS leak protection, and OpenVPN encryption. And some have extra features such as obfuscation (cloaking), port selection, a choice of protocols, auto-connect, double-hop encryption, and even VPN into Tor.
How does the VPN perform?
We test a VPN's performance to ensure that it isn't leaking data, or doing anything else that might put your privacy at risk. We'll also check the VPN's connection speeds if it's secure. This is an important test, as it'll determine whether the service is quick enough to handle data-intensive tasks like streaming in HD, downloading via BitTorrent, or online gaming.
Is the VPN secure?
How compatible is the VPN with Windows?
There are several Windows operating systems in circulation, so we make sure our VPN recommendations cover them all. The VPN apps on our list have clients for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows. They also have software compatible with all recent versions from Windows 7, Windows 8, and, most importantly, Windows 10 compatibility.
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How to install and set up a VPN for Windows
Each and every one of the VPNs we've mentioned in this guide have custom VPN apps for Windows 10. This makes setup simple – so simple, in fact, that you'll just need to:
- Subscribe to one of the best VPNs for Windows – don't forget to take advantage of their money-back guarantees and test them out without risking your cash.
- Download and install the VPN software by following the on-screen instructions.
- Log in to your VPN, and activate any privacy settings you might need.
- Connect to a server – choose the nearest physical location for the best speeds.
That's all there is to it!
There is no real reason to experiment with the settings of your VPN, unless you really want to. All services in our list run OpenVPN as standard, which is the gold standard of VPN encryption for PCs. However, if you want to test some other types of VPN encryption, we cover some alternatives below.
Compare VPN protocols for Windows
After installing your VPN software, you will find several options inside the settings to change which protocol you are using. These VPN encryption protocol options can be confusing, and it's useful to know what each one offers before you change your VPN settings.
To help you out, here is a list of the protocols and how they stack up:
|Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)||Fast||Weak|
|Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol(L2TP)/Internet Protocol Security (IPSec)||Average||Average|
|Internet Key Exchange v2 (IKEv2)||Fast||Average|
We recommend using OpenVPN for Windows PCs
OpenVPN is by far the fastest and most secure VPN protocol for PC users. However, please be aware that OpenVPN can be implemented in various ways, and many of those implementation methods are not actually secure – so it's important to configure your VPN properly.
We would strongly recommend implementing OpenVPN using your VPN's app and controlling it within the settings.
If you require some help in getting set up, we cover the installation process in more detail in our how to install a VPN on Windows guide.
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Can I get a free VPN for Windows?
There are trustworthy free VPNs out there, yes! Unfortunately, 99% of these free services are not reliable. They can be malicious, designed to steal user data to sell for a profit – and some have even been known to contain spyware.
Running a VPN service isn't cheap – so it's impossible to offer a truly free subscription. The recommendations we've hand-picked provide a taste of what a VPN can do – but it'll be a limited trial, best suited for users wanting to access a VPN in an emergency or trial a provider without risk.
A legitimate free VPN will often come with restrictions galore, seeing as they exist primarily to advertise the full, premium subscription. Expect fewer server locations, monthly download limits, and connection speed restrictions.
If you have never used one before, a free VPN for Windows is a fun way to get a sense of how a VPN works, and what it can do for you. However, don't be put off if the free VPN seems a little limited; this is by design.
To test an unrestricted VPN for free, we recommend trialing a full premium Windows VPN from this article.
All of our hand-picked VPNs come with money-back guarantees that allow you to put all of their features to the test without limitations – and still get your money back. This will let you compare all our recommended VPNs before settling on your favorite! So, don’t be shy and try a few.
Top-tip: Get ExpressVPN for Free!
Did you know you can experience ExpressVPN's fully featured service without limitations… for free!
If you're finding free VPNs too restrictive, why not test ExpressVPN's premium service? Simply purchase a subscription using the button below and take advantage of the no-nonsense money-back-guarantee. Enjoy the service for up to 30-days, and when you cancel, you will receive a complete refund!
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Here we answer some frequently asked Windows VPN questions, sourced from places such as Reddit.
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Is the Windows 10-built VPN good?" answer="All of the VPN provider's we've recommended in this guide are fully compatible, and work perfectly with, Windows 10 systems. Our experts have thoroughly tested numerous VPNs on multiple Windows versions and found that our top 5 worked best on Windows systems – including Windows 10. If a VPN didn't work properly on all Windows systems, rest assured that it wouldn't make it into our article!" /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Is a VPN really safe for windows users?" answer="In short, yes. A VPN will prevent hackers on public WiFi from accessing your data and cloak your online activity from your ISP. This is all done with minimal impact on your regular internet experience. VPNs also mask your real IP address from the websites you visit. However, these sites can often use a variety of sneaky tactics to track what you do on the web through other means." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Are VPNs illegal?" answer="Not in more places, no. Most countries provide citizens with a right to legal privacy, and just using a VPN is legal almost everywhere. Check out our <a href='/guides/are-vpns-legal'>Are VPNs legal?</a> guide for a list of places where the legality of VPNs is an issue." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Will a VPN work on my Windows Laptop?" answer="Windows is an operating system (OS) – the software which underlies all the other programs you run on your laptop. Most laptops run Windows – so if you're not sure, there's a good chance that yours does, too. The information in this guide deals with the best VPNs for Windows – be it Windows running on a desktop PC or a laptop (although it does not cover VPNs on the, now defunct, Windows Phone). Check out our <a href='/vpn/comparison/best-vpns-for-laptops'>best VPNs for Laptops</a> page for a list of the best services for your laptop." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Should I use a VPN on my PC for torrenting?" answer="When you use BitTorrent, you're actually sharing small pieces of the files you download with everyone else downloading that same file. The download is complete as soon as you have all the pieces needed to reassemble the file. We'd recommend using a VPN whilst torrenting, to prevent your ISP and P2P peers from checking out what you're downloading – but visit our <a href='/vpn/comparison/best-vpn-torrenting'>Best VPNs for Torrenting</a> for more information." /]]
[[post-object type="accordion" question="Will a VPN work in all countries?" answers="The VPNs in this article will work regardless of where you like. However, we'd suggest checking out a provider's server list to make sure that they have servers in the locations you like to access before you subscribe." /]]