Best VPNs in 2020

Best VPNs in 2020

Given many benefits of using a VPN service, the question is which VPN to choose from among the alternatives?

In this article, we survey best VPNs in 2020 to help you decide on a suitable VPN product according to your needs.

What is a VPN?

A VPN or Virtual Private Network connects a computer to another computer (a server) somewhere on the Internet, allowing the connecting computer to communicate (such as browsing) securely. The encryption helps ensure that sensitive data is securely transmitted over an unsecured channel, that is the Internet. It prevents unauthorized parties from eavesdropping and making unauthorized modifications on the traffic communicated.

VPNs also serve to hide the IP address of a computer by replacing it with the address of the connected computer that could be located even in another country. In this sense, VPNs not only ensure confidentiality and integrity of a communication, they also protect the privacy by hiding the source IP of each packet transmitted over the Internet.

VPN technology is widely used in corporate environments to enable the employees to connect to the corporate servers securely or to secure traffic exchanged between servers located at different corporate sites. Though VPNs were originally created for this corporate use case, they are also popular for personal use, such as to secure browsing activity from prying eyes on a public Wi-Fi.

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How Does a VPN Work?

When a computer (such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone) is connected to a remote server over VPN (Remote Access VPN), the computer acts as if it is on the same local network as the connected server (thus the name Virtual Private Network). After establishing a VPN connection, all the network traffic of the connecting computer is sent over a secure connection to the remote server.

Are There Any Downsides to Using a VPN?

For the downside, the benefit of confidentiality, integrity and privacy on a VPN connection does not come free. The underlying mechanism of encryption that provides these features could also add a bit of load on the computer processor, resulting in a little bit slow down on the connection. However, thanks to the improvements in both computers and VPN technology, this negative impact is almost unnoticeable today.

Common Uses for Personal VPNs

  • Accessing a Corporate Network from a Remote Location: Employees can connect to corporate resources through VPNs in remote access mode while working from home or while traveling.
  • Accessing a Home Network from a Remote Location: Similar to accessing to the corporate network, it is possible to set up a VPN connection to a home network while traveling.
  • Hiding Your Activity from Your Local Network or ISP: Your traffic is visible to the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) or to the eavesdroppers on a network (local network or Internet) if it is not encrypted. For instance, web browsing activity can be seen by anyone on a local network (as in the case of using a public Wi-Fi connection) when connecting to non-HTTPS websites. In such cases, VPNs can help individuals hide their traffic from preying eyes.
  • Access Region Restricted Services: VPNs can help to access the same services offered at your home location when traveling. It could also be the case that you would like to access a service or content offered at a different location than your home location. This is possible via a VPN service, because a computer connected to a remote server over VPN can use the Internet as if it were present at the remote server’s location.
  • Bypass Internet Censorship: VPNs can also be used to get around the restrictions or censorships imposed on your local area network or ISP (restrictions by governments).
  • Prevent Price Discrimination: Price discrimination is offering different prices to different people based on their perceived ability to pay and this discrimination is usually made according to the location of the customers. A user can check if they are subject to a price discrimination by reconnecting to the same site, but this time using a VPN connection.
  • Bypass Download Restrictions from Certain Sources: Similar to the above use case, ISPs or local network administrators can prevent users from downloading from certain sites or deny using certain applications/protocols like BitTorrent. Or, they can throttle your download speed when using certain application/protocols. Such restrictions and regulations can be bypassed by using VPNs.
  • Bypass Download Count Restrictions: Last but not least, some sites may limit downloads per user based on download counts. Such sites usually check the IP addresses of the users to track the download counts. It is possible to get around this limitation by establishing a VPN connection after reaching a download limit. Since the new connection will have the source IP of the VPN server rather than the connecting computer itself, the user’s download limit shall reset instantly.
Quote by Clay Shirky
Quote by Clay Shirky

It used to be expensive to make things public and cheap to make them private. Now it’s expensive to make things private and cheap to make them public.

Clay Shirky

Read more educational and inspirational cyber quotes at our page 100+ Best Cyber Security & Hacker Quotes.

Best VPN Services in 2020

Given many benefits of using a VPN, the question is which one to choose from among a number of VPN providers? For the remainder of this article, we survey top VPNs for you to help you decide on a suitable VPN product according to your needs.

For comparing the alternative VPN products, we use the following criteria:

  • Platforms Supported: Though this a very important criterion to evaluate VPNs, today all the top products support a wide range platforms, including all major operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS), browsers and routers. In this sense, we will not be discussing this factor for comparing the VPN products to prevent repeated statements.
  • Security: The main reason for using a VPN product is the security and privacy service it delivers. Mainly, a VPN product is expected to keep your communication secret, ensure the integrity of the communication and hide your IP to protect your privacy. In providing these features, the technologies and algorithms being used should ensure a reasonable level of security. In addition to that, some products offer additional features to increase the security and privacy of its users.
  • Logging: While keeping your communication secure and private for the third parties, a VPN service itself is also expected not to be an exception about this matter.
  • Open Source: Open source software and technologies are more secure than proprietary ones in general since they are evaluated by more people to discover any vulnerabilities on them. Thus, this feature is highly critical for any VPN product that offer a high level of security.
  • Performance: In establishing a high level of security through strong encryption, performance should not be sacrificed in a way rendering your communication lagging. Rather, any decrease in the performance should be minimal and unnoticeable by implementing modern technologies and powerful servers.
  • Simultaneous Connections: VPN products usually limit the number of VPN connections that can be established simultaneously. The higher the number of connections that can be made simultaneously, the better.
  • Kill Switch: Kill switch is the mechanism to prevent your connection from accidental exposure. This happens when your connection drops and and the computer defaults back to a non-VPN connection. This feature is highly critical and should be supported by any top quality VPN products.
  • Countries and Servers: Providing a VPN service with a high number of servers on many countries simply means there are more alternatives for a user to choose from to connect to a server.

1. Proton VPN

Best VPN Services in 2020: 1. Proton VPN
  • Security: Excellent
  • Logging: None
  • Open Source: Yes
  • Performance: Very Good
  • Simultaneous Connections: Varies on Plan
  • Kill Switch: Yes
  • Countries: 54
  • Servers: 1,077
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 Days

Proton VPN has been established with the goal of protecting the communication of journalists and activists. Moreover, it is located in Switzerland, where strong privacy laws are enforced. In this regard, Proton VPN values total anonymity, meaning no logs are kept and shared with third parties. One distinctive feature of Proton VPN is its applications are open source and can be audited by anyone. Regarding the security, it offers strong encryption (AES-256 encryption, 4096-bit RSA key exchange and SHA-384 HMAC authentication), Perfect Forward Secrecy (PFS), Split Tunneling, TOR over VPN, and an additional feature that is called as Secure Code (Automatically routing your traffic among several different servers). It is also worth noting that its free plan generously only limits the connection to a medium speed and restricts the number of servers to be connected. To add to the cons, it does not support AdBlocking.

2. NordVPN

Best VPN Services in 2020: 2. NordVPN
  • Security: Excellent
  • Logging: None
  • Open Source: No
  • Performance: Very Good
  • Simultaneous Connections: 6 Devices
  • Kill Switch: Yes
  • Countries: 59
  • Servers: 5,517
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 Days

NordVPN is one of the most popular VPNs in the market, especially due to providing its services with high security (though it had a security breach in 2019) and performance. For the security, it offers strong encryption (AES-256 encryption, 4096-bit Diffie-Hellman key exchange and SHA-512 HMAC authentication). Additionally, it offers PFS and a second layer of encryption, that is called Double VPN. TOR over VPN capability is also a great security and privacy feature provided. AdBlocking and extra malware protection are some extra security features of the product.

3. ExpressVPN

Best VPN Services in 2020: 3. ExpressVPN
  • Security: Very Good
  • Logging: Some Connection Logs (No Browsing Logs)
  • Open Source: No
  • Performance: Excellent
  • Simultaneous Connections: 5 Devices
  • Kill Switch: Yes
  • Countries: 94
  • Servers: 3000+
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 Days

ExpressVPN is another top-notch VPN product that is especially renowned for its high speed connection. According to the performance test results, connection over VPN is less than 2% slower than a normal connection. Regarding the security, it offers strong encryption (AES-256 encryption, 4096-bit RSA key exchange and SHA-512 HMAC authentication) and PFS. For the downside, though no browsing logs are kept, some logs such as VPN connection dates, amount of data transferred etc. are stored. To add to the cons, it does not support AdBlocking.

4. Surfshark

Best VPN Services in 2020: 4. Surfshark
  • Security: Very Good
  • Logging: None
  • Open Source: No
  • Performance: Very Good
  • Simultaneous Connections: Unlimited
  • Kill Switch: Yes
  • Countries: 61
  • Servers: 1041
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 30 Days

Surfshark is another popular VPN product that is considered to be very secure and affordable. For the security, it offers strong encryption (AES-256 encryption, 2048-bit RSA key exchange and SHA-512 HMAC authentication) together with the additional features of PFS, double encryption and Split Tunneling. As a distinctive feature, Surfshark has no restriction on the number of devices that can use the VPN service simultaneously.

5. CyberGhost VPN

Best VPN Services in 2020: 5. CyberGhost
  • Security: Very Good
  • Logging: None
  • Open Source: No
  • Performance: Good
  • Simultaneous Connections: 7 Devices
  • Kill Switch: Yes
  • Countries: 90
  • Servers: 6,381
  • Money-Back Guarantee: 45 Days

CyberGhost is a VPN service with an impressive number of servers, a total of 6,100 servers in 90 countries. It also provides a good level of security (AES-256 encryption, 2048-bit RSA key exchange and SHA-256 HMAC authentication) with features such as PFS, AdBlocking and malicious website blocking. Split Tunneling is also supported. For the downside, its speed is slightly slower than the aforementioned alternatives.

To learn more about VPNs, you could also read our articles What Is a VPN? or Best Free VPN Services.