Windows has been the most popular operating system in the world for decades. With popularity, come many advantages, one of which is having a wide selection of software options to choose from.
This applies to VPNs too. Just about every provider out there (and there are a lot) supports not only Windows 10 but also many of the previous versions.
Because of how big that market is, all services strive to be the absolute best VPN for Windows first and worry about the other operating systems and platforms second.
There are, however, downsides to everything. The problem with having too much choice is… having too much choice. Picking just a single provider can be daunting.
But, that’s what I’m here to help you with. I’ll walk you over a list of what, in my humble opinion, are the best Windows VPNs and hopefully, through that process, help you pick the one that exactly meets your needs.
Top 5 Best VPNs for Windows
It all starts with privacy and security. Yes, NordVPN offers the same secure protocols and strong encryption that every other VPN worth its salt does these days. They also don’t leak DNS information.
But, where they stands out is by offering several specialized types of servers, any of which can take your anonymity and privacy to a whole new level.
There are double VPN servers, which pass your data not through one, but two servers for an extra layer of protection. There are Onion over VPN servers which also add an extra level of anonymity by combining a VPN server with the Tor network. And then there are obfuscated servers which hide the fact you’re using a VPN at all (an important feature in countries where governments frown upon VPN use).
There is also one more type of server NordVPN runs, and that’s a dedicated IP server. For an additional few dollars per month, you’re able to lock in an IP address you will use each and every time you connect to the VPN (and that no one else will have access to).
Depending on what you’re trying to do, dedicated IPs may be preferred over shared IPs (which all VPNs give you by default).
The NordVPN Windows client is and always has been one of the cleanest and easiest to use. All the essentials are there, intuitively hidden away in the menus for when you need them, but not getting in the way during day-to-day use.
Based out of Panama and adhering to a strict no-logging policy, NordVPN is also an excellent choice for complete online privacy. And with over 5000 fast servers in 61 countries, you can really take advantage.
NordVPN falls somewhere in the middle of the pack cost wise. They’re not the cheapest Windows VPN around, but certainly, are affordable – especially if you take advantage of any discounts they may currently be offering. This is a robust VPN service that is more than worth the price of entry.
- 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
Let’s start with their server network. With over 800 servers in 50 countries, there are plenty of more established VPNs (none of which are on this list) that Surfshark puts to shame. Performance is excellent too, rivaling some of the fastest VPNs out there.
P2P is allowed and unblocking US Netflix works like a charm every time.
Privacy-wise, Surfshark is a strictly no-logging service based out of the British Virgin Islands. Both things are great news for anonymity.
There is also a double VPN feature which will send your traffic through two servers for an extra layer of abstraction that maximizes your privacy.
In terms of security, Surfshark delivers too with military grade encryption on all your connections, a good choice of VPN protocols (including the very secure OpenVPN) and even an ad blocker which will stop malware in its tracks.
The service also prevents DNS leaks by automatically switching to its own DNS servers at connection time.
As I mention in my review of Surfshark, they’re the only provider I know of that allows unlimited simultaneous connections. It’s nice to have the option to install the client on every Windows PC in the house and not worry about running out of connections if we use the service on our phone too.
And, if you’re looking for the best deal on your Windows VPN, this is it.
Perhaps the company feels that because they’re relatively new, they need to undercut their competition. Whatever the reason, Surfshark is hands down the best VPN deal on the market right now.
- 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
For starters, they offer a very impressive geographical server coverage with nearly 3500 servers in 59 countries. Every major country I could ever think of wanting to connect to makes the cut, and then some.
Performance is top notch as well. Whether I use my closest server or one that’s thousands of miles away, speeds are consistently high and easily usable even for bandwidth-heavy applications like 4K video streaming.
The client software has undergone a major update towards the end of 2018 and is now better than ever. It’s intuitive and shows you everything you need and nothing more. It’s perfect for those of us who have a little less experience with VPNs.
But, if tweaking your connection is what you’re after, there are plenty of advanced settings too. They’re all neatly tucked away and only a click or two away.
You can pick from multiple connection protocols, choose to use TCP instead of UDP, and disable IPv6. There is also a kill switch, Wi-Fi protection, as well as split-tunneling functionality.
Every feature you would expect from a top tier VPN, CyberGhost delivers. DNS leaks are also taken care of.
They’re also based out of online privacy friendly Romania, meaning no internet surveillance or government imposed rules on intelligence sharing with other countries. With CyberGhost, you’re as anonymous as it gets.
And then there is the price.
Despite offering a broad and well performing global server network and having just about every security and privacy feature under the sun, CyberGhost is more affordable than most of the competition. The cherry on top? They offer a best-in-business 45-day money-back guarantee too!
- Zero logging for maximum privacy
- Excellent server distribution with over 6600 servers in 90 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
Another constant on my best VPN providers for Windows list is ExpressVPN. Year in and year out, they’re a well reviewed service that is more than worth your investment.
Based out of the British Virgin Islands (which is good news for privacy), ExpressVPN has an extensive network of 2000+ servers in 94 countries. The speeds of those servers are excellent and can handle pretty much anything you throw at them.
Going back to privacy, ExpressVPN does well there too. Their terms of service contain a clear zero logging policy of anything that could uniquely identify you, including connection IPs or traffic data.
ExpressVPN’s client is simple to use for even the most novice of users, but powerful enough for any VPN veteran.
For the latter, features like protocol selection, a kill switch, and split tunneling are, of course, all there. DNS leak protection is enabled for everyone by default.
P2P traffic is welcome on ExpressVPN’s servers, and the service does a good job of working with US Netflix.
Then there is the client support which, in my opinion, ranks as the best in the business. They’re knowledgeable and helpful (both of which aren’t always a given), and available 24/7, 365 days a year via either email or live chat.
The price for ExpressVPN is a little higher than for the other providers on this list but is worth it for anyone looking for a well-established and well-rounded Windows VPN. This is especially true if you take advantage of ExpressVPN’s special discount.
When you subscribe, you also get a no questions asked 30-day money back guarantee, giving you plenty of time to kick the proverbial tires.
- 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
With servers in 133 countries, no other VPN provider does better. And, as evidenced by the results of my speeds tests, PureVPN is quite the speed demon (thanks, in no small part, to some recent infrastructure upgrades).
The PureVPN client includes many of the same features other providers do, including a kill switch, split tunneling, and DNS leak protection. But, there are several unique options too, like ad blocking or the ability to create your own VPN hotspot.
By no means are these necessary for a great VPN experience, but definitely nice to haves.
The client also supports over 50 other operating systems and platforms, in case you’re looking to use your VPN on something other than Windows.
The good folks at PureVPN understand that many of us use VPNs to stream otherwise geo-blocked content, which is why they chose to include special streaming servers for all popular services and channels. Needless to say, PureVPN works very well with the likes of Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime and Hulu.
Torrenting is allowed on every PureVPN server, and you can make up to 5 simultaneous connections. And for a few extra dollars per month, you can even get your own static server IP address.
On the subject of dollars per month, PureVPN does well when compared against the competition and is priced on the lower end of the scale. Considering their huge server network, and the feature upon feature packed into the Windows client, you get excellent bang for your buck.
- Huge server network (129 countries)
- Fast speeds
- Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, and over 70 other streaming services
- Compatible with over 50 devices and platforms
- Independently verified zero log VPN provider
- Dedicated IP option
- Great value
- Apps could use a bit more polish
- Some intermittent connection problems
What to Look for in a Windows VPN
Analyzing every detail of every potential Windows VPN provider can make your head spin. The good news is you don’t need to do that.
There are only a handful of features you really need to pay attention to when picking a VPN for your PC or other Windows-based device. Some of these will be more important than others depending on what you want to use a VPN for.
If you’re running Windows 10, you’ll be fine no matter who you go with. Every VPN provider will support your system. The same goes for Windows 7.
If, however, you’re the 2% of Windows users who refuse to let go of Windows XP, definitely double check if your computer is supported before getting a subscription.
Simple, powerful, stable. That, in three words, is how I like my VPN clients. Every VPN likes to do things a little differently. Unless a client is intuitively laid out and easy to understand, that can hinder your experience.
You also don’t want your Windows client crashing of freezing on you, something that, unfortunately, not every VPN provider in the market has yet mastered.
If online privacy and anonymity is your primary concern, without a doubt, you will want to pick a zero-logging VPN. Look for a provider that doesn’t keep track of anything – no websites visited, no bandwidth usage, not even the dates on which you connected to a server.
Going hand-in-hand with the logging policy, if you’re looking for the best privacy, choose a VPN operating out of an online privacy friendly country. Good options include Romania, Panama, Switzerland, and the British Virgin Islands.
Avoid services out of the US, the UK or any other 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes surveillance countries. Though again, this only really matters is privacy is super important to you.
Performance should be top of your list regardless of what you want to use your VPN for. You want a fast service. If the VPN you pick is so painfully slow that you end up avoiding using it, what’s the point of getting it in the first place.
Unblocking Streaming Services
Many of us use VPNs to get around geo-blocked content like that on US Netflix, Hulu, or the BBC iPlayer.
If you fall into that category, you obviously want to pick a provider that works with your favorite streaming service. Depending on what that is, some VPNs will work better than others.
Protection Against DNS Leaks
If you’re running Windows 10, DNS leak protection is a must. It’s a know operating system vulnerability that, when not handled properly by the VPN service, may expose what you’re doing online (something a VPN is supposed to prevent).
DNS leaks may also prevent you from unblocking geo-restricted material.
Some providers restrict how many VPN connections you can run at the same time. Others don’t allow P2P or Torrenting traffic. Double check what those restrictions are and that they won’t be a problem for you.
If you would like a good starting point on your quest to find a good VPN for Windows, all providers I list on this page check every box on the above checklist.
Why Do I Need a VPN on Windows
Running a VPN on your Windows PC allows you to stay anonymous online, secure on public Wi-Fi networks, and helps you access censored or geo-restricted content.
When you connect to a VPN, the installed client software creates an encrypted tunnel between your Windows device and the VPN server. All information you send becomes unreadable to anyone trying to listen in (like your internet service provider, the hacker sitting next to you at a coffee shop, or, in some countries, the government).
Your online activities are kept secure and private.
Once your data gets as far as the VPN server, it will replace your IP address with its own. Then, when your data reaches its ultimate destination on the internet, it will be seen as coming from the VPN server you connected to and its geographical location, not from your computer. This IP swap has two benefits.
First, it helps you stay anonymous. It’s the server’s IP, not yours, that is visible to anyone past the VPN server. All actions will be attributed to it.
The IP swap can also get you access to geo-blocked material. The request to view the content is seen as coming from the VPN server. As long as the server is located in a part of the world where the content is available, you’ll be able to view it.
The services I recommended above are all great potential choices and excellent starting points. But, in the end, the best VPN for Windows 10 (or whatever other version of the OS you’re running) is the one that works for you and your needs.
If a service doesn’t have a server in a location where you need to connect to, skip it. If a VPN you’re trying out is too slow, make use of the money back guarantee and go with someone else. All providers on this page give you at least a 30-day refund window, giving you lots of time to fine-tune your selection with no risk.
Best Windows VPN Summary