4 best VPN services (2021): for routers, computer, iPhone, Android, etc.

Tor is free.

How we chose

VPN providers like to claim that they do not keep log files, which means that they know nothing about what you are doing using their services. There are various reasons to be skeptical about this statement, namely because they must have some kind of user ID associated with a payment method, which means that there is potential to associate your credit card number (and thus your identity) with your browsing activity.

For this reason, I mainly limited my testing to vendors who were called for user data in the US or Europe and failed to submit log files or underwent a third-party security audit. Although these criteria cannot guarantee that providers do not retain credentials, this selection method gives us a starting point for filtering through hundreds of VPN providers.

Using these criteria, I narrowed the field to the most popular, reputable VPN providers and started testing them on various networks (4G, cable, FiOS and very painfully slow networks for cafes) over the last nine months. I tested the speed of the network and the ease of use (how you connect) and also took into account the available payment methods, how often the connections were interrupted and any delays I encountered.

What happened to ExpressVPN?

ExpressVPN, which used to be one of our best choices, was purchased by Kape Technologies earlier this year. The sale of any VPN service is a cause for some concern, but in this case it is more worrying than usual. Kape Technologies, once known as Crossrider, has been accused of distributing malware and fraud. It also has the once reliable private Internet access (better known as PIA), which we also do not recommend, and a number of VPN review sites.

Given the history of Kape and its board, which includes links with both British and Israeli government agencies, we no longer recommend the use of ExpressVPN or PIA. If you want more details about the company’s history, see this article at Restore privacy.

Why you may not need a VPN

It is important to understand not only what a VPN can do, but also what it cannot do. As noted above, VPNs act as a security tunnel. A VPN protects you from people trying to track your traffic while it’s on the move between your computer and the website you’re browsing or the service you’re using.

Public networks that anyone can join – even if they need to use a password to connect – are easy hunting grounds for attackers who want to see your network data. If your data is sent unencrypted – for example, if the website you’re linking to doesn’t use the secure HTTPS method – the amount of information an attacker might collect from you could be catastrophic. Web browsers make it easy to know when your connection is secure. Just look for the green lock icon at the top of the screen next to the web address. Nowadays, most websites connect via HTTPS, so you’re probably fine. But if that green lock icon isn’t there, as it’s sometimes not on school, library, and small business websites, anyone can see whatever data you’re sending. Unless you use a VPN that hides all your activity, even on unencrypted websites.

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