Most people know that using a VPN is a great way to be able to watch videos that are otherwise blocked in your region. And if that’s why you want a VPN, feel free to scroll down to our recommendations below.
But if you’re new to VPNs, they do need a little more explanation. Virtual Private Networks encrypt the connection between your laptop, PC or any device and the internet. When you use a VPN, your connection is routed via a VPN server first, and it’s the location of that server that can make it appear you’re in a different region, which is how they can overcome such blocks.
As well as working on Windows, you can use a VPN on a Mac, iPhone, Android phone and even many smart TVs, including Amazon Fire TV and Android TV.
But since you’re looking for a VPN for Windows, we’ll focus on this here. The good news is that each provider’s Windows app tends to have more features than any other. Whether or not you need or will use these depends on what you’re going to use the VPN for.
And they don’t only unblock stuff: the encryption means your online activity is more private and prevents your internet service provider (and others) from seeing what you’re up to.
It also means better security when you’re in a restaurant, airport lounge or hotel with free Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi often lets you connect without a password, and that’s risky from a security point of view.
VPNs are subscription services, but if you sign up for a year or longer it’s much better value than paying for one month at a time. In fact, they’ll cost just a few pounds or dollars per month.
The big question is which VPN to choose.
So without further ado: here are the best VPN services for Windows.
- Fantastic all-round VPN
- Fast connection speeds
- Price hike when subscription renews
- Limit on number of devices
With apps for Android, iOS, macOS, Fire TV as well as Windows, NordVPN won’t just be useful on your laptop and PC.
But even if you only want it for Windows, NordVPN’s app is simple and intuitive to use. A world map makes it easy to connect to server in the country or region you want.
There are lots of reasons to pick Nord, but the primary one is that it is one of the fastest VPN services around. It’s also audited which means you can be sure it sticks by its no-logs policy and won’t keep any records of how and when you use its service.
If you really care about privacy, there’s also Double VPN, a feature that routes your connection through two servers instead of one.
NordVPN is great at unblocking both popular and more obscure streaming services, too.
The only reason you might not go for NordVPN is the price: it’s a bit more expensive than some of the other services here. However, we think the two-year subscription deal is good value, and you just need to be aware that it’s worse value if you let the subscription renew, which you can avoid.
- Audited no-logs policy
- Good range of features
- Price doubles when subscription renews
Surfshark is cheaper than NordVPN and for this reason alone could persuade you to pick it instead.
Speeds are almost on a par with NordVPN (we saw between 500 and 730Mbps when we tested a variety of different servers) and there are loads to choose between.
Surfshark successfully unblocks streaming services including Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max and BBC iPlayer.
And unlike NordVPN, Surfshark doesn’t put a limit on how many device you can connect at one time. Besides Windows, there are apps for macOS, iOS, Android, Fire TV and others.
One nice feature – if you care about privacy – is ‘MultiHop’ which runs your connection through two servers. But here you can choose which servers those are: most VPNs have a small set of pre-defined routes which might not be in the countries you want.
Like NordVPN Surfshark offers support using live chat, meaning you can help almost instantly if you ever have a problem.
Best of all, the company has now had an audit of its no-logs policy. This showed that it isn’t merely words on a web page: it doesn’t record your activity.
- Great for unblocking video streaming services
- Independently audited
- Price doubles subscription renews
CyberGhost is a well-known VPN which has been around for years. It is based in Romania, which has favourable privacy laws. And recently, it underwent an audit to prove it doesn’t log user data.
There are thousands of servers in 90 countries to pick from, plus NoSpy servers, all in Romania, which offer extra privacy.
Those servers offer fast internet connections, so even if you have fast home broadband, CyberGhost won’t slow it down when you’re downloading files, streaming in 4K and gaming.
Talking of streaming CyberGhost’s Windows app has an ‘For Streaming’ section: you just choose the country you want and it will pick the best server to use so you can watch Netflix, Disney Plus, BBC iPlayer and lots more.
Best of all, CyberGhost is very affordable when you sign up for a couple of years. Just beware that as with Nord and Surfshark, renewal prices jump steeply after that.
4. Private Internet Access
- Cheap two-year subscription
- Audited no-logs policy
- Price doubles after two years
- Inconsistent speeds
Private Internet Access ticks a lot of boxes. It has a huge network of servers, unblocks a variety of streaming services and has good privacy credentials including an audited no-logs policy.
The only snags, and the reason why PIA (as its users fondly call it) doesn’t rank higher on this list, are that speeds aren’t the best and it’s based in the US.
The location isn’t ideal because the US is far from privacy friendly, though the audit certainly adds much reassurance.
When we last tested PIA, some servers offered great speeds, such as 660Mbps from the local Silicon Valley server. But switching to London chopped that speed to only 80Mbps, and we got a miserable 25Mbps when connected to the server in Japan. Those are using WireGuard, and we know rivals do a lot better with the same protocol.
If you pay extra, there’s also the option of a dedicated IP address.
The highlight, though, is that PureVPN has servers in 141 countries, which is more than its rivals. Sure, some are virtual locations (and not physically present in those countries) but they behave as if they were, which is really all you need.
Plus, if you sign up for two years, PIA is one of the cheapest options here, and it lets you connect 10 devices at the same time.
- Good for privacy
- Unblocks masses of streaming services
ExpressVPN, as you can see by the price, is more expensive than its rivals. That’s because it positions itself as the premium choice and doesn’t do crazy discounts for multi-year subscriptions.
This means you don’t have a shock when your subscription renews: it’s just always expensive.
There are reasons to choose ExpressVPN, naturally. One is if you really care about privacy. It uses what it calls TrustedServer technology that helps to ensure your data (and your identity) is protected. It’s based in the British Virgin Islands with favourable privacy laws and has many third-party audits for its no-logs policy as well as the security of its apps.
It’s one of the fastest VPNs, using its own proprietary encryption protocol, and offers 24/7 live chat customer support for times when you have a problem.
The team behind ExpressVPN constantly monitors over 200 streaming services and tries to ensure it unblocks all of them, all the time. It also includes MediaStreamer, a DNS-based unblocking option which you can use if the VPN fails to unblock what you want to watch.
Though you won’t find 80%-off deals, you can get a 12-month plan for US$99.95/£85.47 ($8.33/£7.12 per month) with three free months on top, so you won’t have to renew for 15 months.