Some people use a VPN primarily for unblocking video, but there are plenty who need the ultimate privacy. And privacy is one of the main pillars of most VPN services – at least that’s what they all claim.
To be truly private, you need a provider which doesn’t log information such as your real IP address, when you connected to the service, how long you used it for and which sites you visited.
Many VPN services which used to log such details now offer a ‘no logs’ policy: it’s one of the selling points you’ll find highlighted on their homepages. But how do you know that they keep their word? After all, when you choose a VPN provider, you’re doing it mainly based on trust: few people have the ability to really test out whether a company is logging information or not.
Recently, some VPNs have started providing transparency reports and inviting auditors to test their no-logging claims and, with positive results on the back of this, are even more trustworthy.
If none of our five picks is what you're after, you can find alternatives in our roundup of the best VPN services.
As well as being our favourite all-round VPN service, NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy. The company says, “We process only minimal user data – only as much as it is absolutely necessary to maintain our services.”
Specifically, “your activities using NordVPN Services are provided by automated technical process, are not monitored, recorded, logged, stored or passed to any third party. We do not store connection time stamps, session information, used bandwidth, traffic logs, IP addresses or other data.”
And to back this up, Nord instructed PriceWaterhouseCoopers to carry out a full audit which essentially concluded that the no-logs policy does what it says.
Based in Panama, a country which doesn’t require data storage, NordVPN also allows payment by cryptocurrency so the company doesn’t even have to know your real name, address or any bank or credit card details: you can be totally anonymous.
With load of servers, apps for all popular devices, great speeds, the capability to unblock your favourite streaming services and low monthly prices, NordVPN is easy to recommend.
Read our full NordVPN review
ExpressVPN positions itself as the premium VPN service and charges accordingly. That means you’ll have to need some of the extra features it provides to justify paying more per month to use it.
But there’s no doubt that it is an excellent choice, and now allows you to have five devices connected at the same time rather than the old restriction of three.
It offers thousands of servers in hundreds of locations around the world, and they proved speedy and reliable in our testing. It supports P2P and unblocks Netflix and other streaming services.
Crucially, it has a no logs policy which means no information is collected which could identify you or what you’re up to. Some data is logged, but this is line with the minimal information necessary to run and improve the service, such as whether you successfully connected to a server (but not when) and how much data you transferred (but not what). This is in order to ensure no-one is abusing the service and affecting quality of service for others.
You can read more about this ‘aggregate’ data collection.
ExpressVPN, like NordVPN, has now been audited by PWC to verify the no logging claims, and also that its new TrustedServer setup works as it should.
If you sign up for a whole year it’s cheaper than subscribing per month, but it remains one of the most expensive VPNs.
Read our full ExpressVPN review
One of the longest-running VPNs, VyprVPN has, like Nord, been audited to prove that its no-logs policy is legit. The company says it is committed to protecting its users and won’t sell any data to third parties.
It’s unusual in that it also owns all of its 700+ servers, so has tighter control over them than services which rent them. However, don’t let that put you off those services: it’s still possible to run custom software on rented servers and severely restrict who has access to them.
VyprVPN has all the apps you’d want including for Amazon FireTV, and we found it to be a speedy and reliable service. There’s also its proprietary Chameleon protocol which is meant to be less detectable than standard OpenVPN.
Read our full VyprVPN review
A relatively new VPN service, SurfShark is notable not just for its amazingly low prices but also for its no-logs policy and headquarters in the British Virgin Islands. It allows unlimited connections and features include an ad blocker and whitelister.
With all the key devices covered – including Fire TV Stick – SurfShark is a very tempting VPN.
Read our full Surfshark review
CyberGhost is one of the best-known VPN services, although it’s no longer run by the original owner in Germany. Now, it’s based in Romania which is outside of the “14-eyes” countries and which doesn’t have mandatory data retention.
What it does, again in common with competitors, is to log anonymous data about the general connection attempts and whether it was successful or not. And the reason is to ensure an optimal service and to identify any potential problems with it. The information is sent to a third party for analysis, but as it’s anonymous, that isn’t really an issue.
In terms of performance and coverage, CyberGhost has thousands in almost 60 countries. Commit for two or three years and the monthly prices become very affordable. With easy-to-use apps and an impressive Windows one, it’s a good choice if your top priority is privacy: you can also pay anonymously via BitPay.
Read our full CyberGhost review