Best VPNs for Windows

Windows users searching for a VPN are in luck because almost every VPN service on the market features an app for Windows. Whether your system is running Windows 7, 8, or 10, you will be able to find a top-of-the-line VPN for Windows that runs smoothly on the operating system.

I get into the fine details of each VPN further down in this article, but if you just want a quick summary, here are my top seven choices of the best VPNs for Windows:

  1. NordVPN: My #1 choice of VPN for Windows devices! Offers fast connections and top-notch security. Includes a wide selection of servers, tremendous unblocking power, and stores no logs. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Surfshark: My top budget option for Windows. Provides unbreakable security and reliable connection speeds for an affordable price. Great for accessing geo-restricted content as well.
  3. ExpressVPN: Fast and reliable servers make it great for online streaming on Windows devices. Works with most streaming platforms including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.
  4. CyberGhost: Offers more than 7,200 servers in 91 countries. Easy-to-use Window app make it a suitable option for first-time VPN users.
  5. VyprVPN: Owns all its own server locations. Reliable connection speeds and no logs. Even works in China, so it’s a great all-around Windows VPN.
  6. PrivateVPN: This newcomer VPN’s impressive speeds makes up for its small server network. Has a Windows app and a great security features.
  7. Hotspot Shield: A fast and user-friendly service with strong security features. Includes its proprietary Hydra protocol.

The best VPN for Windows

As I made my top selections for this list, I searched for the best all-around VPNs that meet high standards of performance, security, and value, taking into account criteria such as:

  • Compatibility with Windows
  • Minimal or no logs
  • High standards of security
  • Fast and reliable connection speeds
  • Unblocking geo-restricted content
  • User-friendly app design
  • Good customer support

Here’s a list of the best VPNs for Windows:

1. NordVPN

NordVPN

NordVPN is my top choice of VPN for Windows. This experienced provider has delivered a high quality of performance and security since its launch in 2012. Its server network includes over 5,300 servers in 60 countries around the world that are capable of accessing geo-restricted content on some of the most stubborn streaming platforms including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. Many of its servers are specialized for anti-DDoS, streaming, downloading, double VPN usage, and Tor over VPN for an additional layer of anonymity.

Your internet connection is encrypted with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption and protected against DNS, IPv6, WebRTC, and port forwarding leaks. NordVPN follows a strict no-logs policy to keep your online activities hidden from snooping third parties, including the company itself. Furthermore, the company is headquartered in Panama where it is not subject to any data retention laws.

NordVPN apps are available for Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. Linux and supported routers require manual configuration. NordVPN users can protect up to six devices at once with a single subscription. Customer support is available 24/7.

Pros:

  • High connection speeds
  • Wide selection of servers around the world
  • Works with most streaming services
  • Zero logs
  • 24/7 customer support

Cons:

  • The desktop app can be slow at times

BEST VPN FOR WINDOWS DEVICES:I recommend NordVPN above all else. Its servers provide fast and secure connections perfect for streaming stream HD video with little buffering, if any. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. Surfshark

Surfshark

Surfshark is my number one budget choice for Windows users. Its low price point doesn’t indicate any compromises on speed, security, and ease of use, so it will meet the needs of all VPN users. Its server network includes more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries that provide fast and secure connections for browsing the web privately, streaming, and downloading.

Your traffic is protected with 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch in all versions of the app, and protection against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. Surfshark also includes an automatic ad and malware blocker and a NoBorders feature that can bypass country-wide internet blocking in places with strict internet regulations like China. Surfshark records none of your personally identifiable information so none of your online activities can be traced back to you. Customer support is available 24/7 over live chat.

Apps are available for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. Linux systems and supported routers need to be manually configured. Surfshark users get great value with its generous allowance of unlimited simultaneous connections so you will be able to protect all of your devices at once.

Pros:

  • Powerful encryption standards
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • No-logs policy
  • Fast server speeds for HD streaming
  • Works in China

Cons:

  • A few of its servers can be slow
  • Customer support could be better

BEST BUDGET CHOICE:Secure every device Secure every device you own with Surfshark, Windows or otherwise. Strong security, fast speeds for streaming, and unblocks most streaming platforms. Try it out first with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is great for streaming-focused users as it works perfectly with platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime and BBC iPlayer. Its server network includes over 3,000 servers to choose from in 94 countries for a wide range of international content. First-time users will find ExpressVPN’s interface very easy to use.

It uses 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy to keep the contents of your internet traffic secure from your ISP and malicious third parties. A feature called Network Lock is ExpressVPN’s kill switch that will block all of your internet traffic in case of a sudden loss of connection to the VPN. This feature will prevent you from browsing the web without protection. ExpressVPN also features protection against DNS, WebRTC, and IPv6 leaks.

ExpressVPN lies outside the reach of US and UK data retention laws from its headquarters in the British Virgin Islands. It keeps no traffic logs and only stores non-identifying data such as the date (but not the time) of your connection to the server network and the amount of bandwidth consumed. You can protect up to five devices at once with a single subscription and customer support is available around the clock.

Pros:

  • Incredible speeds for streaming, downloading, and gaming
  • Lifts geo-restrictions on all major streaming platforms
  • Powerful security features
  • Allows torrenting

Cons:

  • One of the more expensive VPNs on this list
  • Streaming servers can be hard to find

GREAT STREAMING CHOICE:ExpressVPN combines strong security with high speeds for streaming HD video with no interruptions. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.

4. CyberGhost

CyberGhost

CyberGhost offers the largest server network on this list with over 7,000 servers in 88 countries around the world for a wide range of streaming options. This VPN’s easy-to-use interface makes it my top recommendation for VPN beginners as it will match you with a specialized server based on your activities. Some of its servers are optimized for using specific streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu while others are dedicated for security purposes.

CyberGhost uses 256-bit AES encryption and includes anti-tracking and ad-blocking features. CyberGhost keeps no logs of user data and is headquartered in Romania, a country with no mandatory data retention laws. It was recently acquired by an Israeli firm registered in the UK, however, so I will keep a close eye on their privacy policy in case the new management makes any changes.

Protect up to seven devices with a single subscription. Apps are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.

Pros:

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Excellent speeds
  • Works with Netflix and other major streaming services
  • Strong encryption and security features

Cons:

  • Blocked in China and the UAE
  • Recent acquisition may or may not affect privacy policy

BEGINNER FRIENDLY:First-time VPN users should consider trying out CyberGhost. A great value choice that doesn’t compromise on security or performance. Includes a 45-day money-back guarantee.

5. VyprVPN

VyprVPN

VyprVPN is one of the few VPN providers that owns its entire network of servers instead of rents from third parties, so you will get stable connections and strong security. Its server network spans more than 700 servers in 70+ locations around the world and features bypassing capabilities strong enough to work in China.

Your traffic is secured with industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption. VyprVPN offers additional protection through its proprietary Chameleon protocol, which is a tool for preventing deep packet inspection and bandwidth throttling. VyprVPN is capable of streaming HD video on major streaming services such as Netflix.

Apps are provided for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and some routers.

Pros:

  • Works in China
  • Independently-owned server network
  • Excellent uptime and connection speeds
  • No logs policy

Cons:

  • Not the cheapest option
  • Relatively small server network

INDEPENDENT SERVER NETWORK:VyprVPN is a reliable choice for consistent speeds and use in censorship-heavy countries such as China. Fairly expensive. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

6. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN has around 200 servers in 63 countries that work with just about every major streaming platform including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and more. PrivateVPN grants subscribers an allowance of six simultaneous connections with unique IP addresses for each one. Your data is secure with this Sweden-based company because there are no data retention laws there.

PrivateVPN offers options for both 128-bit and 256-bit AES encryption, in addition to leak protections and a kill switch. Their customer service team can remotely control your device to configure your VPN for you and troubleshoot problems with your permission. Customer support is only available during Swedish business hours, however.

In addition to Windows, PrivateVPN apps are available for MacOS, iOS, and Android devices.

Pros:

  • Impressive server speeds
  • Works with the top streaming websites
  • Strong encryption, leak protections, and a kill switch
  • Six simultaneous connections

Cons:

  • Customer support only available during Swedish business hours
  • Small server network

PROTECT 6 DEVICES AT ONCE:PrivateVPN works with popular geo-blocked sites and streams at high speeds. Provides strong security protections for general use. Lacks 24/7 customer support and doesn’t have a very large server network. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.

7. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield lets you browse the web anonymously on its 1,800+ servers in more than 80 countries. Some of its security features include Hotspot Shield’s proprietary Hydra protocol, 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, split tunneling functionality, and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks. Hotspot Shield stores none of your personal data once your session ends, and can automatically connect to your device when using an unfamiliar or unsecured wifi network.

You can effortlessly stream HD content on streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and AT&T TV Now from abroad. Hotspot Shield’s apps include Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Linux. Five simultaneous connections come with a single account.

Pros:

  • Lifts restrictions on most major streaming services
  • Wide range of security features
  • Fast, reliable connection speeds

Cons:

  • Had some past security issues
  • Relatively small selection of servers

GREAT PERFORMANCE:Windows users will enjoy Hotspot Shield for its well-rounded performance and security. Try it out with its 45-day money-back guarantee.


 

Methodology: How I find the best VPNs for Windows

Although there are many VPNs that work on Windows, some are much better than others. My VPN testing methodology involves thoroughly assessing each VPN service to identify which is the most suitable. Here are some of the things I looked for in Windows VPNs:

  • Compatibility – The VPN, must, of course, work seamlessly with Windows before making it on to this list. But it’s not just working with that matters, I also assess the quality of the app and how easy it is to use. It should be user-friendly but also have additional configuration options for advanced VPN users.
  • Servers – A wide range of worldwide servers is important because it means that you can always connect even when the network is busy. It’s also great for accessing geo-blocked content while traveling. I only recommend Windows VPNs that have plenty of server options.
  • Security – There are many online threats to be aware of when connecting to the internet, and a VPN can help to combat them. While compiling this list, I looked for some premium security tools including 256-bit encryption, a network kill switch and a no-logs policy.
  • Speeds – A fast VPN means it can handle all activities, including streaming HD content or file sharing. I conduct my own speed tests to ensure that I’m only recommending the fastest VPNs on the market.

How to set up a VPN on Windows 7, 8 & 10+

Windows systems come with built-in support for VPNs, but manual configuration for each individual server is a time consuming process. VPN support in Windows provides only a limited selection of supported protocols as well, excluding widely-used open-source protocols such as OpenVPN. Nearly every VPN service provides apps for Windows systems and they usually come with a suite of useful security features like kill switches and leak protections.

Here’s how to set up a VPN for Windows systems:

  1. Choose a VPN that matches your preferences. My top recommendation is NordVPN.
  2. Navigate to your provider’s website and download the Windows app.
  3. Click on the downloaded file to install the app. The setup wizard will provide a set of instructions.
  4. Run the app when installation finishes.
  5. Select a server, press connect and begin using the internet once the connection is established.
  6. If you encounter any connection issues, try clearing your cookies and cache.

Windows VPN FAQs

Can I use a free VPN for Windows?

While you will find hundreds of well-reviewed free VPNs online, these services have a reputation for compromising their users’ privacy instead of protecting it. Sometimes I want to switch to a free VPN to save money, but they are rife with security hazards and deliver poor performance. I recommend staying away from free services instead of learning the hard way.

First of all, free VPNs rarely provide a quality service. Their lack of upfront costs usually attracts a large volume of users that the infrastructure is unable to accommodate since free providers lack the resources necessary to own more than a handful of servers. This combination results in slow and inconsistent speeds that often drop out and make streaming HD video impossible. Even tasks as simple as opening your email can be a chore. If you manage to find a VPN server that performs well, your connection will eventually be put to an end by data caps and bandwidth limits.

Furthermore, free providers have been known to make their profits through questionable means that can result in serious breaches of privacy. Free VPNs track everything you do online and sell profiles of user data to third-party advertisers without informing you or asking for your permission first. Simply signing up for a free VPN is your “consent” to having your data tracked. Users are bombarded with obnoxious ads and sometimes suffer malware infections spread by the VPN itself.

Will a VPN help when Windows 7 is not updated anymore?

Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 on January 14, 2020. Windows 7 desktops stopped receiving security updates by that date and are therefore vulnerable to cyberthreats that have emerged since then. While it is possible a VPN connection might protect your system from some threats—like hackers scanning for vulnerable IP addresses—this protection is incidental. I strongly recommend switching to an operating system currently supported by its manufacturer.

How do I create a VPN server on a Windows 10 computer?

If you want to create a VPN server by using your Windows 10 computer, follow the steps below to route the traffic of other devices through your PC. Note that this method will not hide your online activities from your ISP or any other entities monitoring the server’s network.

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Click Network and Sharing Center.
  3. In the left sidebar, click Change adapter settings.
  4. In the Network Connections window, click File > New Incoming Connection.
  5. Select the users allowed to have VPN access to your computer, or click Add someone and create a new username and password for them. Click Next.
  6. Check Through the internet and click Next.
  7. Check Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click Properties.
  8. Check Allow callers to access my local area network.
  9. Under IP address assignment, you can choose to assign IPs automatically using DHCP or specifying an IP address range. The latter is preferable but if you're unsure of what IP range to use, you can check your router's DHCP settings. Click OK.
  10. Click Allow access.
  11. Click Close.

Now you will need to configure your firewall to allow VPN connections.

  1. Click the Start button and search Allow an app through Windows Firewall. Choose the option with that title, it should be the top result.
  2. Click Change settings.
  3. Next to Routing and Remote Access, check Private and Public.
  4. Click OK.
  5. Your Windows 10 VPN server is now configured. You will need your server’s IP address to connect to it with another device. You will also need the username and password you created in step five in the above instructions.

Does Windows Defender have a VPN?

No, Windows Defender is an antivirus and firewall software that does not include VPN functionality.

Does Windows 10 have a VPN?

No, Windows 10 does not come with a VPN service, although it does have built-in support for some types of VPN connections that can be manually configured with a VPN. These connections include L2TP, SSTP, and IKEv2 protocols.