Mullvad offers apps for every major platform, as well as routers. The applications are all open source, and you can check the code yourself on GitHub. The service has been independently audited as well. Advanced users can download configuration files and use them directly with OpenVPN or Wireguard.

In my testing, speeds were very good. I never encountered a situation where I couldn’t get a fast connection. Over the years Mullvad remains the VPN I rely on day-to-day.

Mullvad VPN costs 5 euros (around $6) per month, cash or charge.

Best Free VPN

Proton VPN is part of a suite of privacy tools from Proton, which is most famous for its encrypted email service, ProtonMail. The company is based in Switzerland, which has no data retention laws so Proton VPN can have a no-logs policy. It has been independently audited and maintains a warrant canary page. All the usual features of a good VPN are here, including support for multi-hop connections, a kill switch in the app, split tunneling support, pretty good geo evasion for making Netflix work, and support for torrents. There’s also support for ad-blocking, custom DNS, and high-speed streaming.

One thing Proton VPN offers that others do not is a free plan that gets you full access to all the regular plan’s features. But it is limited to a single device, and there are only three server locations (Japan, Netherlands, and the US). If your needs are limited and you want to keep costs down, this is a good option.

Proton’s pricing structure can be confusing, since you can combine it with other services to lower the rates. For purposes of testing I used a one-year Proton VPN Plus plan that’s $6 per month. If you use other Proton services, Proton Unlimited pricing is a better deal ($10 per month gets you access to all five Proton services).

Proton’s VPN app is open source and available for macOS, Linux, Windows, Android, and iOS. With the Plus plan, 10 devices can connect simultaneously. Proton VPN uses a mix of IKEv2, OpenVPN, and WireGuard for connections. By default the app chooses for you, but you can select yourself in the settings. I also like the Permanent Kill Switch, which prevents your device from reconnecting to the internet without a VPN even after a reboot.

In my testing over the past few months, speeds on Proton VPN vary considerably by server and time of day. Over all Proton VPN is very fast, dropping my speed by only around 7 to 8 percent versus unprotected speed. I also did not detect any DNS leaks through any of the servers I tried.

Proton VPN costs $5 per month if you buy two years upfront, $6 per month if you buy one year, and $10 per month if you pay monthly.

Best for Circumventing Geographic Restrictions

Surfshark wouldn’t be my top pick if my life depended on my VPN, but for most of us that’s not the case. If you just want a way to get around some geographical restrictions on content (aka access Netflix) and protect your traffic while using an open Wi-Fi hot spot, Surfshark is a good choice. It’s secure, and it provides a great value for the money if you pay for two years up front.

In my testing over the years, Surfshark has consistently had some of the best speeds of any VPN I’ve used. Yes, it is slower than not using a VPN, but I have never had any problem streaming HD content through Surfshark. It’s fast enough that in most cases you won’t notice any speed degradation at all.


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