The best VPN service in 2024

Best VPN provider ExpressVPN on a range of devices

The best VPN of 2024 is an essential tool for staying safer online, no matter where you live. With the help of my team of experts, I've tested over 100 VPNs hands-on to work out exactly which ones truly prioritize your online privacy, and which ones promise the world but fail live up to their claims.

At Tom's Guide, we spend over 3,000 hours every year undertaking 28,000 speed tests and 2,800 streaming tests to make sure VPNs live up to their claims and genuinely protect you online. Privacy and security are my first priorities, but I also ensure the apps are easy to use, there's quality support available, and that you get genuine value for money.

If you just want quick access to the three best VPN services of 2024, simply pick from NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Surfshark below – I rate them as the very best products available. However, If you want more in-depth info, simply keep scrolling for my rundown of the 10 top VPNs available today, and details of how I test VPNs at the bottom of the page.

The 3 best VPNs at a glance

1.NordVPN: the best VPN overall

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From my in-depth testing, NordVPN has come out as the best VPN overall. It's fast, super secure, offers tons of extra tools and unblocks just about every streaming site around. It really is the full package.

You can choose to just sign up to the VPN, or upgrade your subscription to add a password manager, secure cloud storage, and cyber insurance. You'll also get a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, and at just $3.09 a month it's excellent value.

2. ExpressVPN: best VPN user experience

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ExpressVPN is runner up to NordVPN by a very slim margin. It's a little more expensive at $6.67 a month, but it's perfect for beginners. The apps are simpler to use, it offers great privacy, and it really excels on mobile devices.

All plans come with a free password manager, and Tom's Guide readers can claim a free year of Backblaze cloud storage. New subscribers will get three months free – which works out as a 49% discount – and you'll also get a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. Surfshark: the best cheap VPN on the market

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If you're looking for a premium VPN on a budget, Surfshark is well worth considering. With top-tier privacy and incredibly fast connections, it's snapping at the heels of pricier brands.

It's excellent for streaming and day-to-day privacy, and offers servers in 100 countries, so you'll never be far from a connection. Best of all, it's currently only $2.29 per month, which includes 2 months free.

Recent updates

NordVPN remains my top-rated provider, with ExpressVPN pushing it hard at #2. In my latest update, I've gone through all the details with a fine-toothed comb to ensure I'm giving you the most accurate information for making your decision.

The best VPNs in 2024

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

NordVPN: the best VPN overall

1. NordVPN

The very best VPN I've tested

Number of servers: 6,000+ | Server locations: 140 in 110+ countries | Maximum devices supported: 6 | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Excellent focus on security
Impeccable streaming performance
NordLynx delivers incredible speeds
Tons of servers
Interface is a little complex
Subscribe if:

✔️ You want the very best VPN service on the market. It's close, but if you're just interested having a class-leading VPN, NordVPN is it.

✔️ Netflix access is a priority. As my #1 rated VPN for Netflix, NordVPN unblocks more locations than any other provider I've tested.

✔️ You want more than just a VPN. NordVPN also offers malware detection and ad-blocking on a standard plan, with even more features available on higher tiers.

Avoid if:

❌ You like simple apps. Compared to the likes of ExpressVPN, Nord's map interface can be quite busy.

❌ You torrent often. Only some of Nord's servers are configured for P2P, and due to this I've found it can be somewhat slow to download torrented files.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

NordVPN offers everything you could realistically want from a VPN: privacy, speed, streaming service unblocking and very reasonable prices. Those looking for very simple apps might want to look elsewhere, but overall, Nord leads the market. You'll also have a 30-day money-back guarantee to make sure it's the right fit for you.

NordVPN is undoubtedly the biggest name in the VPN industry, and in my full NordVPN review I found that it has absolutely earned that reputation – it's quite simply the very best VPN you can buy.

With over 6,000 servers in over 110 countries, NordVPN practically guarantees a speedy server wherever you are. In fact, Nord has very recently upped the number of countries it's present in, which has addressed one of my few complaints about the service – it's now on par with its biggest rivals ExpressVPN and Surfshark in this area.

You'll likely be connecting to those servers with Nord's own NordLynx protocol, which is a reworked version of WireGuard. In short, it's stable, and delivered searing connection speeds of over 950 Mbps in my testing – one of the fastest VPNs in my testing. 

You'll get split tunneling, an effective kill switch, AES-256 encryption, and you'll even get some unusual options like Onion over VPN and Double VPN which are designed to keep you even safer when browsing the web. Another interesting feature is Threat Protection – although at this stage, it` should probably be used in tandem with dedicated software.

> NordVPN is my #1 VPN – get it from $3.09 a month

Nord's apps are powerful and pleasant to use, but while the map-based interface works well on larger screen such as PCs and tablets, on smartphones it can be more of a hindrance than a benefit – simpler interfaces like ExpressVPN's tend to work better here – but this is, of course, subjective.

Despite that, though, the apps are very capable, and you'll be able to install them on a huge range of devices.

One of Nord's most interesting features is Meshnet. This allows users to link devices anywhere around the world via encrypted NordVPN connections, creating its own secure network. This has real power, and while Nord hasn't quite worked out how to make the feature clear to users yet, I'm very excited to see where it goes.

When it comes to streaming, NordVPN really impresses. You'll be able to unblock tons of Netflix locations, iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and more – and in recent months Nord and the related Surfshark have proved to be the most reliable streaming VPNs available.

On the basic plan you'll get unlimited access to the VPN, malware protection, but blockers for ads and trackers, as well as the Meshnet feature. Sign up to higher tiers, though, and you'll get access to a password manager, data breach scanning, encrypted cloud storage and even cyber insurance. 

Of course, I wish these were included in the base plan, but seeing as Nord starts at such a reasonable price, it's nice to be able to configure what you pay for rather than paying over the odds and never using half the features available

With a 30-day money-back guarantee and some attractive deals running throughout the year, NordVPN is an elite service that has well and truly earned itself the top spot on this guide. It's not perfect, but it's closer than any of its rivals.

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NordVPN test results
DesignFun interface but might seem a little crowded for some users ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useThough simple to use, the map-like design might not work for everyone ⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceOne of the fastest with an average speed of 950 Mbps⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingEffortlessly unblocks most content streaming platforms⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyStrong encryption with additional features like Threat Protection for safe streaming⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportReliable 24/7 customer support⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceProvides ample value for the price.⭐⭐⭐⭐

ExpressVPN: the best VPN user experience

2. ExpressVPN

One of the very best, and a pleasure to use

Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: Up to 750 Mbps | VPN locations: 160 in 105 countries | Maximum devices supported: 8 | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Rock-solid privacy features
Apps are incredibly easy to use
Superb for torrenting
Class-leading 24/7 support
Premium pricing, but well worth it
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're looking for a simple, streamlined experience. ExpressVPN is powerful, but has a super simple interface that makes getting protected a breeze for beginners and experts alike.

✔️ You want to stream global content. From Netflix to Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer, ExpressVPN is super reliable.

✔️ You value your privacy. Whether you're in the US, Europe, or even China, ExpressVPN's countless audits and history of protecting its users should inspire confidence.

Avoid if:

❌ You're on a strict budget. ExpressVPN certainly isn't the cheapest on the market. Those looking for a better price may want to consider NordVPN or Surfshark.

❌ You want a fuller suite of software. Despite the introduction of the password manager Keys, other VPNs like NordVPN offer a wider range of additional features.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

All things considered, ExpressVPN is one of the very best VPN I've tested. Its privacy features are excellent, it delivers good speeds, unblocks a whole host of global streaming sites, and is very accessible in terms of design and device support. If you're looking for a simpler alternative to NordVPN, it's your best choice – and you can try it out with its 30-day money-back guarantee.

ExpressVPN pushes NordVPN to the limit, and really impresses with its easy-to-use apps that take the complexity out of setting up a VPN and leave the difficult stuff to the experts. My ExpressVPN review showed that it unblocked anything and everything I threw at it with ease, and its privacy features are rock-solid.

On paper, ExpressVPN looks excellent: over 3,000 servers in 160 locations spread across 105 countries around the world, a kill switch, split tunneling and obfuscated servers. While some providers have more servers in total, very few have such a wide spread – meaning that wherever you're based, you'll get swift, reliable connections. It has an especially impressive range in Asia, which is often neglected by other providers.

All apps use super-secure, industry-standard AES-256 encryption, paired with OpenVPN and Lightway protocols. Lightway is the standout here, and the in-house, open-source protocol delivers excellent speeds – although this is an area where Express is just outdone by close rivals Surfshark and NordVPN. However, unless you're using a 1Gbps+ connection you won't notice a difference.

ExpressVPN also uses its own TrustedServer technology, which ensures its RAM-only DNS servers retain no information about you or your activity. In short, ExpressVPN is fast and secure – and a recent update has added a well-needed kill switch to iOS. Combined with the 3 months free Tom's Guide readers can claim, you get a lot for your money.

> Tom's Guide readers get 3 months of ExpressVPN FREE 

Its apps are a pleasure to use and almost identical across the board – once you've used one, you've used them all – and the range of devices is huge. Not only can you cover your PC, Mac, iPhone, or Android, but your router, Chromebook, Linux PC, Fire TV Stick, and a ton more can also enjoy the same protection. This is probably ExpressVPN's biggest selling point, as quite literally anyone can get up and running immediately.

What's more, ExpressVPN can now be used on 8 devices at once, up from the previous 5. This is great news for those who have tons of devices, and addresses one of ExpressVPN's few downsides – although rivals Surfshark and PIA offer unlimited connections on a single plan.

One of the most common reasons to download a VPN is to access geo-blocked streaming content. Here, ExpressVPN really delivers. In my testing, it reliably unblocked a number of Netflix locations, BBC iPlayer, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and works impeccably for regional TV channels around the world. Only a few other providers like NordVPN and Surfshark can match this.

Of course, improvements can be made with any service, and the same is true here. For example, if you need a dedicated IP or port forwarding, a provider like PIA might be a better fit. 

ExpressVPN also doesn't have quite the breadth of additional privacy tools compared to rivals like NordVPN. ExpressVPN Keys – a password manager, free forever – is a very nice addition, but when you consider Nord offers things like Meshnet, a data breach scanner and even cyber insurance, Express looks a little limited. That said, though, there are no extra charges for what you do get from Express.

Finally, a word on customer support. If anything doesn't work as it should – perhaps you're having issues unblocking UK Netflix from the US, for example – the 24/7 live chat support is always on hand. In my experience, they have been quick and knowledgeable and in general much better than most other VPN providers' live chat teams. Plus, the on-site help articles are excellent, too.

When everything is tallied up, it all comes together to make an excellent package that's well suited to experts and newbies alike – and I think that premium price is well worth what you get.

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ExpressVPN test results
DesignSimple, navigable design that’s easy on your eyes and straightforward to understand⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useBeginner-friendly, little to no expertise needed⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceReliable and very fast, although some others deliver higher peak speeds.⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingServers in 160 locations and 90 countries ensure limitless content⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyTop-notch security with 256-bit AES encryption⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportExpert assistance is available 24/7⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceSlightly more expensive than other options ⭐⭐⭐

Surfshark: the best cheap VPN

3. Surfshark

The best cheap VPN available today

Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 160+ in 100+ countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Unlimited devices supported
Recent update to over 100 countries
Great value considering the features
Excellent for streaming
Steep price hikes after first term
Support is slightly lacking
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're looking for quality on a budget. Surfshark is an absolute bargain, and I'm consistently amazed that it can offer such a good product for the price.

✔️ You have a need for speed. Surfshark is as quick as NordVPN, topping out at 950 Mbps.

✔️ You have tons of devices. Surfshark's unlimited simultaneous connections policy means you can use one plans on as many devices as you like.

Avoid if:

❌ You truly rely on your kill switch. While it's very unlikely to happen in real life, my testing was able break Surfshark's kill switch. This didn't happen to ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

❌ You're a hardcore torrenter. Surfshark is more than capable of torrenting effectively, but if your main use case is sharing P2P, try ExpressVPN or PIA.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Surfshark is one of those rare examples of a product combining genuinely premium features with an incredibly low price. While it's not quite as powerful as the leading two providers, it's super secure, can be installed on unlimited devices, and also offers a 30-day refund period. 

If you're looking for a cheap VPN that outperforms products twice its price, look no further than Surfshark. The services in this guide are ranked by quality, not price, so to see a VPN that's so affordable sitting at #3 is seriously impressive.

In my Surfshark review, I found its apps great to use, and offer all the privacy and security essentials such as AES-256 encryption, a kill switch, split tunneling, and the superfast WireGuard protocol. 

Surfshark's been hard at work on extra features like MultiHop, and Nexus – the latter of which is not currently fully formed, but looks promising. According to the company, "connecting to Nexus means that your traffic gets routed through a whole network of servers rather than a single VPN tunnel." Decentralizing your connection is a very interesting innovation, and it's great that Surfshark is exploring new ways to improve VPNs as a whole.

Currently, Nexus offers an IP Rotator – your IP address will be changed every 15 minutes or so – and an IP Randomizer feature is coming soon. This will change your IP address every time you visit a new website

If you're a hardware hoarder, Surfshark's unlimited simultaneous connections policy may put it above my #1 and #2 picks. You can install one plan on any number of devices – great for complete protection, or even sharing with those in your home. And, as a Linux VPN, Surfshark is one of the few providers to offer a full GUI – most others are only command line. Very impressive for a VPN that costs well under $2.50 a month.

In the most recent testing, connection speeds rose considerably, and on my 1 Gbps connection, it maxed out at a staggering 950 Mbps. That makes Surfshark one of the fastest providers I've ever tested – beating out the likes of ExpressVPN, PIA, and CyberGhost. Plus, it's currently proving to be very reliable for streaming. I've had some issues before, but almost every provider has at some point.

However, when I put Surfshark's kill switch through my rigorous testing procedure, we did manage to catch it out and get it to reveal us very briefly. However, the situation in which this happened is unlikely to happen in the real world. And, unfortunately, Surfshark's support isn't quite as good as ExpressVPN's or NordVPN's.

Overall, Surfshark is an excellent budget option, and when you consider its price, what small sacrifices you may need to make seem really quite insignificant.

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Surfshark test results
DesignMinimalistic, clean, and intuitive design ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useBeginner-friendly and easy to understand⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceSeriously quick and almost on par with NordVPN⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
UnblockingGreat at unblocking streaming apps and getting around censorship⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyKill switch isn’t the best, but everything else is excellent⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportDecent 24/7 customer support and tons of help articles⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceCheap VPN with excellent value for money⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The best VPN for Linux

4. Private Internet Access

Excellent value, and very useful for torrenting

Number of servers: 20,000+ | Server locations: 84 countries | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited | 24/7 live chat: Yes | 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Excellent value
Unblocks US Netflix
Reliable apps and kill switch
Passed no-log audit
Apps are powerful, but complex
Full app audit still in the works
Subscribe if:

✔️ You're a Linux user. PIA is an excellent VPN for Linux users, and is one of the few providers to offer a native GUI (Surfshark being another).

✔️ You want proof of a no-logs policy. PIA has had its claim of no logging proven in court twice. That's just about as reliable proof as you're going to get.

✔️ You want a server in every US state. This is perfect for getting around things like sporting blackouts and shopping restrictions, or doing research on medical procedures banned in your state.

Avoid if:

❌ You prioritize connection speed. With peak speeds of around 360 Mbps in my testing, PIA certainly isn't slow – but there are much faster out there. 

You value simplicity. PIA definitely presents as more of an 'expert' option, meaning that newbies could be intimidated by the additional functionality and settings.

Bottom line: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

Private Internet Access is an excellent VPN that offers deep customization, rock-solid privacy, as well as a proven zero-logging policy. It slightly lags behind the top three in terms of streaming and connection speeds – but some users will definitely find value here, especially due to the bargain price.

Private Internet Access has been around for a long, long time, but unlike other dinosaurs of the VPN game, it's stayed on an upward trajectory rather than falling to the new guard. 

In fact, it's risen another place to #4 since my last Private Internet Access review.

While PIA doesn't disclose its server network size, I believe it to sit at around 20,000 servers, which makes it by far the most server-rich provider on the market. Combine that with 84 available countries and you've got yourself quite the spread. 

PIA really stands out when you get under the surface a little. Its desktop apps offer port forwarding – a relative rarity – and its kill switch is super reliable. 

Also, its proxy browser extensions are also very good, with updated tech that allows for faster browsing. For newbies and those looking for a simpler experience, though, this could very well be a little annoying or intimidating.

It's great for streaming, with access to Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, and BBC iPlayer. I have expanded my streaming testing even further this time round, and as an improvement on last time, PIA was able to unblock every single service.

What's more, Private Internet Access also offers all subscribers unlimited simultaneous connections, just like Surfshark.

This means that you can keep as many devices as you like protected – and potentially share your details with your family and friends if you're feeling generous. For some, this might not be a huge selling point, but for gadget obsessives, it's a must-have feature.

We're also still waiting for PIA to complete a full independent security audit, but the good news is that it's started the process. The zero-logging policy has been audited and confirmed as true, so now I'm just waiting on the full shebang.

For those looking for a highly featured, reliable service that's keenly priced, I'd recommend giving PIA a go – it has a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can test it out risk-free.

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Private Internet Access test results
DesignLoads of customization options, can be a bit overwhelming⭐⭐⭐
Ease of useGreat for tech-savvy users, not too beginner-friendly⭐⭐⭐
PerformanceDecent speeds but falls behind the industry heavyweights like NordVPN and Surfshark⭐⭐⭐
Unblocking20,000+ servers in 84 countries for smooth and fast content unblocking⭐⭐⭐⭐
Security and privacyBest-in-class encryption with a proven no-log policy⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Customer supportAdequate resources, plenty of guides, and a contact form to reach the team⭐⭐⭐⭐
PriceOne of the cheapest VPNs, all the more ideal for the long term.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐