We use VPNs to protect our data and privacy online. Unfortunately, many of us are trusting providers who may not live up to their end of the bargain. And any VPN that logs your data, no matter how little of it, falls into that category.
When a VPN keeps logs, there’s no telling where that information may end up. Hackers could find a way to steal it. It could be sold to advertisers. It could even be turned over to government agencies on demand.
A no-log VPN, on the other hand, guarantees your privacy. They can’t lose, sell, or turn over data they don’t have in the first place.
So, if like me, you enjoy your privacy, here is everything you need to know about VPN logging and picking the best no-log VPN for your needs.
Overview of the Best No-Log VPNs
Time is money. If you’re in a rush and are only interested in a quick overview of the what are considered to be the best no-log VPNs, without going into much detail, here they are.
Best no-log VPN. A rock-solid zero logging policy confirmed by a late 2018 independent audit. Intuitive app with a ton of features, large server network, excellent speeds, great price.
A newer provider with a super strict zero logging policy. Excellent security and encryption options, fast servers, unlimited simultaneous connections, one of the lowest prices around.
Recently transitioned to zero logging and verified as such by an independent audit. Based in Switzerland, has great performance, strong security, P2P friendly, works in China.
Ironclad no-logging policy confirmed by Turkish datacenter raid and server seizure. Great reputation and customer service, excellent speeds, file sharing friendly, easy to use app.
Releases yearly transparency reports backing their logless policy. Simple to use, runs big server network, inexpensive, and offers a best in business 45-day money back guarantee.
What Is a No-Log VPN?
A no logging VPN is a provider that does not collect or store any of your information or activity as they pass through the VPN network. This includes:
- Your ISP assigned IP address
- The IP address of the VPN server you’re using
- The IP addresses or any other information about the websites or services you’re using
- The location from which you connect
- When you connect and when you disconnect from the VPN
- How much bandwidth you use
- Specifics of your device like your client version or operating system
Basically, even if they wanted to, the VPN provider themselves should be unable to find out anything about how you use their service and what you do online. If they can’t do it, then you know that no one else will be able to either.
When that is the case, you have a true no-log VPN.
Why Do You Need a No-Log VPN?
Many of us use VPNs to protect our data and remain anonymous when using the internet. We all have our reason for doing so.
By using a VPN, you prevent your ISP, advertisers, websites or services your use, and sometimes even governments from collecting any information about you and what you do online.
The problem is that when you use a VPN for this purpose, you put your trust in the VPN provider not to do the very same type of data collection and activity logging you’re hoping to evade.
As long as your VPN logs, it doesn’t matter if they’re adamant about not sharing your information willingly. The logs are there. If the provider is ever compromised by anyone, your data is free for the taking.
Depending on the country out of which your VPN provider operates, they may also be legally required to turn over their logs to either that country’s government or spy agencies, or one of their allies.
Have you ever heard of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance (or Six Eyes, Nine Eyes, or Fourteen Eyes for that matter)? Once your data is out there, there’s no telling how far it can go.
The only way to make sure you and your online activities remain anonymous is by using a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs.
If there’s no information stored to begin with, there’s nothing to steal, sell, analyze, hand over to copyright trolls, or hand over to the authorities.
The Best No-Log VPNs
Clearly, if you want to keep your privacy and anonymity on the internet, using a no-log VPN service is important. If you’re on the hunt for one, to help out with your search, here is a short list of what I consider to be the top VPNs for this purpose.
Do note that for a provider to make my best no-log VPN list, they not only have to claim to be a logless service but, just as importantly, also live up to those claims. How can they do that? Either through independent audits or real-life situations (court cases, authorities breaking down doors, etc.)
Their VPN network is one of the largest around. NordVPN currently runs 5973 servers in 60 countries. There are few places in the world you could ever want to connect to that they don’t not cover. The server speeds are excellent too.
They also do an excellent job of unblocking geo-restricted streaming sites, like US Netflix or the BBC’s iPlayer, supports file sharing, and are even compatible with the Tor browser. In short, NordVPN does just about everything.
- Excellent download and upload speeds
- Large ever-expanding server network
- Great privacy with independently verified no logging policy
- Specialty servers (including double VPN, obfuscated, and Tor over VPN)
- Clean, easy to use client
- Works with Netflix and other streaming services
- Allows torrenting and P2P
- Offers dedicated IP addresses
- No split tunneling feature
- A bit pricey on shorter-term plans
Best no log VPN: NordVPN is the Swiss army knife of VPN providers. There’s almost nothing they can’t do. They also have strong proof to back up their zero logging claims. For privacy, security, and real online freedom, NordVPN is a perfect choice (especially considering how affordable the service is).
Being relatively new, Surfshark may not be the best known no-log VPN provider (yet). But, they certainly have built their service from the ground up with your privacy and security in mind. The email tied to your account is the single piece of information they store.
All of Surfshark’s servers (over 3200 in 99 countries) offer 256-bit encryption over OpenVPN or IKEv2 with SHA512 authentication and a 2048-bit DHE-RSA key exchange with PFS. In plain English, security doesn’t get any better.
Server speeds are blazing fast and, combined with Surfshark’s ability to get around geographical content restrictions, make this zero logging VPN a video streamer’s dream.
The client is simple and very intuitive. That said, there are still plenty of advanced features neatly tucked away if you’re feeling adventurous. These incude multi-hop connection options, a kill switch, private DNS settings, DNS leak protection, and even protocol camouflage.
When you connect to Surfshark’s network, you’re also protected by their built-in ad, malware, and phishing blocking solutions for all-around security.
There’s a lot like about Surfshark, and they just seem to keep getting better every time I look. And did I mention you can also connect an unlimited number of devices at the same time?
Oh, and they’re the least expensive top-tier VPN too.
- Excellent privacy and security with no logging
- Great server performance
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC, and many others
- Easy to use client
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Torrenting support network-wide
- Very inexpensive
- Inconsistent speeds at a few locations
- Fairly slow customer support
Best budget no-log VPN: Surfshark is a no-logging VPN provider that offers terrific value. From airtight privacy and fast servers to a long list of features and unlimited connections, you really get a lot for very little. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee, so there’s little risk in taking them for a spin.
Located in Switzerland, VyprVPN wasn’t always a logless VPN service. In mid-2018, however, they decide to change that. After months of work, followed by a comprehensive independent audit, they have turned themselves into one of the best reviewed zero log VPNs in the market.
VyprVPN runs over 700 servers in 73 locations, and unlike many other providers, they own each and every one of them. That means no middleman hosting providers for even better data security, as well as top-notch performance.
Their excellent client application works with a variety of devices, including several popular home internet routers. Up to five simultaneous connections are allowed for multi-device protection.
Throw in 256-bit encryption over OpenVPN, their proprietary Chameleon protocol which lets you bypass restrictive networks (including the Great Firewall of China), P2P support, and the ability to stream geo-blocked content, and you’ve got a recipe for one excellent no-log VPN provider.
- Verified no logging for complete privacy
- Excellent selection of protocols and encryption settings
- Hundreds of servers with great location diversity
- Intuitive, easy to use multi-platform client
- Unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and others
- Allows P2P and torrent traffic
- Hosts own servers (no 3rd parties)
- No way to pay anonymously
- VPN obfuscation not available on the Basic plan
Excellent reliability: When you own all your servers, it’s a lot easier to be a true zero log VPN, and VyprVPN does precisely that. With exceptional performance, a well-supported client, and a 30-day money-back guarantee, this is one privacy-minded VPN you can’t go wrong with.
If you’re looking for a no-log VPN provider with a presence just about everywhere in the world, ExpressVPN is an excellent choice. At last count, their network included 3000+ servers in 106 countries, making their connection options as good as it gets for a logless service.
Server performance, as can be expected for a well-established provider, is excellent. They also offer 256-bit encryption, so you’re not sacrificing speed for security.
ExpressVPN’s no-logging claims were verified in late 2017 when Turkish authorities hunting for user activity data and not satisfied with a “We keep no logs” answer seized several of their servers. On those servers, the authorities found exactly nothing: zero logs, no user data. Here is ExpressVPN’s statement on this matter.
Besides excellent privacy and anonymity, ExpressVPN’s also offers plenty of features, including an easy to use app, kill switch functionality, private DNS servers, and even split-tunneling to let you control your internet traffic how you see fit. They, of course, unblock geo-restricted content too.
- A feature-rich and intuitive client
- Strong back-end technology
- Plenty of servers and server locations
- Fast and consistent connection speeds
- Works with US Netflix
- Top-notch customer support
- Some aggregated logging
- Not the cheapest
Robust all-rounder: A top-rated VPN provider, ExpressVPN is a near-perfect combination of speed, reliability, and privacy. They’re backed by a 30-day money back guarantee and have the best 24/7 customer support in the business.
As proof of their zero-logging status, CyberGhost releases annual transparency reports. They have been doing so going back all the way to 2011.
CyberGhost has a long server list, boasting nearly 10300 in 100 countries. Those numbers make their network one of the largest around. Operating on that scale allows CyberGhost to offer excellent speed and reliability no matter what location you connect to.
With CyberGhost’s easy to use client, you can connect up to seven devices at the same time and have them all be protected by military grade 256-bit AES encryption over the OpenVPN protocol. If you like to tweak things, there are plenty of useful features you can take advantage of too.
One of CyberGhost’s advertised strengths is their ability to get around geo-blocks on streaming content, and they definitely deliver. They run several specialized servers with precisely that purpose in mind. Netflix and the BBC iPlayer VPN blocking efforts don’t stand a chance.
- Zero logging for maximum privacy
- Excellent server distribution with nearly 10300 servers in 100 countries
- Very fast connection speeds
- Works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer
- Allows P2P torrenting
- Long 45-day money-back guarantee
- Parent company with a questionable reputation
- Convoluted manual OpenVPN setup
- Doesn't work from China
Great performance: CyberGhost is a fast and reliable VPN service that will let you stream content from anywhere in the world. They keep no logs and aren’t shy about providing proof of their efforts. To top it off, if you take advantage of their current promo, they’re also one of the least expensive VPNs on this list.
Which VPNs Keep Logs?
For every VPN that does not keep logs, there are a half dozen that do. What type of data they store varies, but they all track something.
Going with a VPN provider that keeps logs doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world. But, if you do, know that there will be data out there that can potentially be used to tie you to your online activities.
So, if it’s complete privacy you’re after, these VPNs should be avoided.
|Ace VPN||Astrill||Avast Secureline|
|Hide My IP||HideMyAss!||Hola|
|HotSpot Shield||Hoxx VPN||McAfee Safe Connect VPN|
|Unlocator||VPN 360||VPN Gate|
|VPN In Touch||VPN Unlimited||VPN.AC|
What Type of Information Can VPNs Log?
There are four types of information that a VPN without a strict zero logging policy may store.
These could include anything from a detailed list of which sites you visit to servers you connected to, and even any passwords you submit on insecure web forms (though these days, that’s extremely rare).
They’re rarely kept, but usage logs are the kinds of records a VPN provider may be compelled to collect if they are ordered to do so by a court and are in a jurisdiction that requires them to.
Less detailed than a usage log, a connection log may include your real IP address, the time your connection started, when you disconnected, and the bandwidth you consumed (or some combination thereof).
With connection logs, an interested party can play connect-the-dots with the information taken from websites and online services you used and trace all of your activity right back to you.
All VPN services, even no-log services, have real-time logs. They’re just a by-product of the way VPN servers work and help providers troubleshoot connections and maintain quality of service.
A no-log VPN provider won’t keep these logs for long (we’re talking minutes or hours) nor will they write them out to storage. In any event, real-time logs shouldn’t contain any user-identifiable information.
Even if a VPN provider keeps no logs, the server hardware they use as part of their network most likely does. These types of records should only contain data relevant to the operation of the equipment, and not about how it’s being used.
For no-log providers that own their servers, it’s not an issue either way. For the others, it’s something to be aware of (but not to fret over).
Can I Trust a VPN?
As with all other types of service, you’re relying on whichever VPN provider you choose to keep its’ word and follow their own policies. There’s no direct way you can know if a provider is violating their no-logging guarantee, and once you find out, it’s probably too late.
The good news is that no-log VPN providers have a few reasons to keep their word. They could face catastrophic damage to their reputations if they’re caught violating their own policy. It also costs money to log data and manage it, and it’s money they’d rather not spend.
If a VPN has been proven not to log, either via an independent audit, in court, through server seizures, or any number of other ways in which that could be done, that is also a very positive sign.
If you’re worried that a VPN provider may not adhere to their no-logging policy, look out for the following red flags:
- Users reporting receiving copyright strikes and DMCA notices despite using the VPN
- The VPN provider operates in a jurisdiction that can compel data collection
- A provider that relies on virtualized servers rather than physical ones
If you discover any of the above regarding your VPN provider, the safest bet is to move on to another service.
Keep Your Online Privacy With a Zero Log VPN
The bottom line is using logless VPNs is the best way to make sure that nobody collects data about what you do online. And any of the providers on the best no-log VPN list above will serve you very well.
That’s not to say, of course, that all other providers should be avoided. You just need to do your due diligence before fully trusting them.
If you are interested in any of the VPNs I mention here, don’t forget that no matter the time of year, one or more of these providers may be offering some excellent discounts. Internet privacy and anonymity at a great price? I’ll take that any day.