The best VPNs in August 2022

We've lined up the best VPNs for every task, including popular services like ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and NordVPN.
By Mashable Team  on 
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Our Top 10 Picks

ExpressVPN (opens in a new tab)

Best For Streaming

ExpressVPN offers great connection speeds and a strong server network that really helps with streaming.

The Good

  • Connection speeds
  • Unblocking streaming sites
  • Attractive interface

The Bad

  • Pricey

The Bottom Line

If you're willing to spend a little more to get the best, ExpressVPN is an awesome all-round VPN.
Pros & Cons

CyberGhost VPN (opens in a new tab)

Best For Privacy

CyberGhost VPN has a strong stance on privacy, so you can rest assured that your data is safe.

The Good

  • Privacy policy
  • Split tunnelling
  • Simultaneous connections
  • Large server network

The Bad

  • Not the fastest service

The Bottom Line

CyberGhost VPN offers a wide range of advanced features with a privacy policy that safeguards your data.
Pros & Cons

NordVPN (opens in a new tab)

Best For Security

NordVPN is effective at protecting your online data thanks to a range of advanced security features.

The Good

  • Great server network
  • Easy to use
  • Rare security tools

The Bad

  • Not the cheapest

The Bottom Line

NordVPN is slick and secure, with some impressive security tools that protect your data and identity.
Pros & Cons

Private Internet Access (opens in a new tab)

Best For Server Network

Private Internet Access lets users connect to an absolutely massive network of servers.

The Good

  • Number of servers
  • Connection speeds
  • 10 simultaneous connections

The Bad

  • Does not offer much beyond VPN protection

The Bottom Line

This straightforward and powerful VPN keeps things simple.
Pros & Cons

Surfshark (opens in a new tab)

Best For Multiple Users

Surfshark offers an excellent set of features with an unlimited number of simultaneous connections.

The Good

  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Split tunnelling
  • Attractive and intuitive app

The Bad

  • Pricey unless you're willing to commit

The Bottom Line

One of the best VPNs for streaming and security, with a bunch of impressive features that should suit everyone.
Pros & Cons

PureVPN (opens in a new tab)

Best For Beginners

PureVPN is not the most advanced VPN, but its free trial makes this a good option for beginners.

The Good

  • Free trial
  • Ad blocker
  • Diverse servers
  • Privacy policy

The Bad

  • Not the fastest
  • Clunky process to get connected

The Bottom Line

Give PureVPN a try before committing with your cash.
Pros & Cons

ZenMate VPN (opens in a new tab)

Best For Tight Budgets

ZenMate VPN offers security and high-speed streaming for a lot less than many of its competitors.

The Good

  • Unlimited number of connections
  • Connection speeds
  • Strict no-logging policy

The Bad

  • Not the most advanced security features

The Bottom Line

Straightforward and cheap VPN that is well suited to beginners.
Pros & Cons

ProtonVPN (opens in a new tab)

Best For Free

ProtonVPN lays claim to being the best free VPN out there.

The Good

  • Impressive free version
  • Swiss privacy laws
  • Kill-switch

The Bad

  • Small network
  • Free version doesn't include the most advanced features

The Bottom Line

ProtonVPN is a stong option for any user who really doesn't want to spend on their cybersecurity.
Pros & Cons

Ivacy VPN (opens in a new tab)

Best For Torrenting

Ivacy VPN lets you connect to P2P optimised servers for high speeds and a impressive torrenting experience.

The Good

  • Cheap if you're willing to commit
  • 10 multi-logins
  • Over 3,000 servers located all around the world

The Bad

  • Monthly plan is expensive

The Bottom Line

An impressive VPN that makes streaming and torrenting quick and easy.
Pros & Cons

TunnelBear (opens in a new tab)

Best For Interface

VPNs can be intimidating, but TunnelBear is anything but that thanks to its user-friendly and approachable design.

The Good

  • Friendly and approachable interface
  • Affordable plans
  • Strong privacy policy

The Bad

  • Lacking some of the most advanced features

The Bottom Line

TunnelBear might not offer the most advanced features, but it's a good choice for beginners looking for a friendly introduction to VPNs.
Pros & Cons

Welcome to the wonderful world of VPNs.

These popular security tools protect your identity and data, bypass online restrictions to access content, and much more. If this is all very new to you, you've probably got a lot of questions. Don't worry, because we can help. We've done all the hard work for you and researched these services to provide the information that matters. We're nice like that.

Here's everything you need to know about VPNs.

What is a VPN?

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) provide important protection for your data and identity when you're online. They offer this online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network that hides your real IP address. This means that all of your activity is untraceable and secure.

Basically, you can think about VPNs as encrypted tunnels through which all of your online traffic passes through. Nobody can see into the tunnel, and everything inside the tunnel is protected against online threats like viruses, hackers, and malware.

Do you need a VPN?

Any sort of activity on an unsecured WiFi network leaves your private information and browsing habits exposed to the world, unless you're using a VPN. There's no need to panic, because whether you're sending important emails, doing some online shopping, or paying essential bills, VPNs make sure that everything remains private and anonymous.

First and foremost, VPNs are designed to provide online security, but there is another reason that millions of people use these services: streaming more content from around the world. By hiding your real IP address and connecting you to a server in another location, you can trick your favourite streaming services into thinking that you are based in a different country. This means that you can watch all of the shows and films from global libraries, like all the extra content on American Netflix. This is the quickest and easiest way of boosting your content options, without the need to rely on a dodgy stream.

What should you consider before investing in a VPN?

There are plenty of things that you should consider when it comes to VPNs, but we don't have all day. Instead of listing off every feature offered by the best VPNs, we have highlighted a selection of the most important things to think about.

Before you make any sort of decision, you should look out for connection speed, server network, number of logins, and more important features:

Connection speed: Using a VPN is going to produce a drop in your connection speed, but you shouldn't accept a significant drop that is going to result in buffering. Be sure to select a VPN that doesn't negatively impact your connection speed to the point that you can't watch a film or download a file without frustration.

Number of connections: Some VPNs let you connect an unlimited number of devices with the same account. Others limit you to just a single device. You should look out for a service that offers multiple simultaneous connections, so you can stay protected on all your devices at the same time.

Server network: The very best VPNs provide access to literally thousands of geographically diverse servers. It's useful if a VPN has a lot of servers in key locations, because you should always be able to find a stable and speedy connection for streaming, shopping, or browsing anonymously. It's not a straightforward case of more is better, but it's always good to have options.

Privacy policy: It's worth paying special attention to the data-handling, storage, and usage practices of the VPN you are planning on using. These practices should be laid out in a privacy policy, and if they aren't clear, it's best to avoid. Most VPNs require access to your IP address, online transactions, and browsing history, plus your personal details when you sign up. If privacy is the objective, it's absolutely essential that your VPN is not going to store these details. If it does, the whole thing is kind of pointless.

Encryption: There are different levels of encryption, and whilst it's important to take note of the grade provided by your VPN, the best options will all offer powerful protection for your data. You are likely to come across terms like "military-grade" and "enterprise-grade," which just means that you can rely on it to do its job.

Bandwidth: There are some VPNs out there that place monthly caps on network bandwidth, meaning you can only download a certain amount of data. You should avoid these services, unless you're on a free trial. If you're paying for a VPN, you should be able to download and upload as much as you want.

There are other things to consider, like price and subscription plans, but these features are a good place to start.

Do you need to pay for VPNs?

The good news is that there are plenty of free versions of popular VPNs, plus free trials of VPNs with full access to everything you get with a premium plan. Alternatively, you can pay for a VPN. So which option is best for you and your lifestyle?

As with most things in life, you get what you pay for with VPNs. There tends to always be a catch with free versions, and it's normally in the form of limited data usage. If you're just an occasional user, these plans will work fine. But if you're going to be streaming or downloading, this isn't going to work. Free trials are a little bit different: they come with everything you get in a paid plan, but obviously they don't tend to last very long. Trials are great for testing out a service before committing, but this isn't a long-term solution.

What we're saying is that the best option for streaming securely and accessing the online world without restrictions is with a paid subscription to a VPN. To gain access to advanced security features without limitations on usage, you need to pay up. The best VPNs are generally the most expensive, but there are plenty of cheap plans out there, especially if you're willing to commit to a lengthy contract.

What is the best VPN?

There are a lot of VPN providers out there all offering different sets of features, with different pricing structures. We recommend taking some time to carefully access your options, and decide on what you really need from a VPN. Once you have established your priorities, you can check out this definitive list of the best VPNs this month.

We have tracked down everything on offer and lined up a selection of the very best VPNs for streaming, shopping, and everything else. We have tried to find something for everyone and every budget, and you can find popular services like ExpressVPN(opens in a new tab), NordVPN(opens in a new tab), and CyberGhost VPN(opens in a new tab) in this list. All you need to do is weigh up these options against your own set of priorities, and then pick a favourite from the bunch.

These are the best VPNs in 2022.

Best For Streaming
Credit: ExpressVPN
  • Monthly: £9.80/month
  • Six-month plan: £7.56/month
  • 15-month plan: £5.05/month

ExpressVPN(opens in a new tab) always seems to be found near the top of VPN roundups, and it's clear why. It's one of the best services for speed, security, and streaming, with a wide range of advanced features that should suit almost every user.

It is one of the most expensive VPNs out there, but it makes sense when you consider everything that ExpressVPN offers. Users get strong connection speeds, powerful encryption, and access to a diverse network of servers located all around the world.

What sets ExpressVPN apart from the competition is its ability to unblock sites like Netflix. If you're investing in a VPN for streaming, ExpressVPN should be at the top of your list.

Best For Privacy
Credit: cyberghost vpn
  • Monthly: £10.89/month
  • One-year plan: £3.45/month
  • Two-year plan: £2.89/month
  • Three-year plan: £1.99/month

CyberGhost VPN(opens in a new tab) offers a seriously comprehensive product, but its strong stance on privacy sets it apart from the competition. CyberGhost VPN does not store information on your IP address, DNS queries, browsing history, or session duration, which is reassuring.

Users also get strong server distribution, split tunnelling for a security boost, multiple simultaneous connections, and much more. Connection speeds could be better, but they are still decent.

As an added bonus, CyberGhost VPN is really easy to install and use, with an attractive and intuitive interface that should suit everyone.

Best For Security
Credit: nordvpn
  • Monthly: £9.20/month
  • One-year plan: £3.79/month
  • Two-year plan: £2.86/month

NordVPN(opens in a new tab) is one of the most secure VPNs on offer, with a large and diverse collection of servers and a strong set of rarely seen tools like WireGuard technology. 

All users get access to over 5,500 servers located all over the world, with the option of connecting six devices at the same time. NordVPN is one of the few VPNs that lets you route your traffic between its own secure VPN servers and the Tor network, which creates an extra secure connection.

NordVPN doesn't offer the fastest speeds and it's on the pricey side, but that shouldn't stop you from investing in this secure VPN.

Best For Server Network
  • Monthly: £9.99/month
  • One-year plan: £2.71/month
  • Two-year plan: £2.19/month

Private Internet Access(opens in a new tab) keeps things simple with powerful encryption, strong connection speeds, and a massive server network. Basically, it covers all of the essentials.

Users don't get much beyond VPN protection, but what more do you need? If you're looking for a straightforward service that delivers where it counts, Private Internet Access should be something to seriously consider.

You also get 10 simultaneous connections with Private Internet Access, meaning it's a great option for large households.

Best For Multiple Users
Credit: surfshark
  • Monthly: £9.48/month
  • Six-month plan: £4.75/month
  • Two-year plan: £1.82/month

Surfshark(opens in a new tab) is probably the best VPN for large households, as you can connect an unlimited number of devices simultaneously with the same plan.

That's not all though, because Surfshark offers a wide range of impressive features including split tunnelling and enterprise-grade infrastructure. It's also one of the best services for streaming.

Surfshark is not the cheapest provider, but if you're willing to commit to a longer contract, the monthly rate comes down sharply.

Best For Beginners
Credit: purevpn
  • Monthly: £8.63/month
  • One-year plan: £4.26/month
  • Two-year plan: £2.44/month

PureVPN(opens in a new tab) is not the best VPN out there, so why does it make this list? PureVPN might be lacking in some departments, but it's one of the few services to offer a free trial. This means you can try it out before committing with your cash.

The process of connecting to PureVPN can be frustrating, and it doesn't have as many servers as other options on this list, but that should't put you off. PureVPN still provides add-on features like Firewall protection and dedicated IP addresses, and it allows P2P and BitTorrent support.

PureVPN also has a strong privacy policy, so your data should be hidden from prying eyes.

Best For Tight Budgets
Credit: zenmate
  • Monthly: £9.49/month
  • One-year plan: £3.89/month
  • Three-year plan: £1.44/month

ZenMate VPN(opens in a new tab) is not packed full of the most advanced features, but it is an effective and slick option that is well suited to beginners.

Users get a wide range of apps for all leading operating systems, unlimited simultaneous connections, streaming servers, P2P torrent support, and much more. There are also some really cheap subscription plans on offer.

If you're dipping your toe into the world of VPNs or you just want something to unlock American Netflix, ZenMate VPN might be the best option for you.

Best For Free
Credit: protonvpn
  • Monthly: £4.27/month
  • One-year plan: £3.42/month
  • Two-year plan: £2.81/month

ProtonVPN(opens in a new tab) offers users the choice of services, with Basic, Plus, and Visionary plans available. Each one offers a different package of features, so it really depends on your expected usage.

ProtonVPN is Switzerland-based, meaning your data is shielded by Swiss privacy laws, which are some of the strongest in the world. ProtonVPN also has a strict no logging policy that means none of your data can be revealed to third parties. Users also get a kill-switch, DNS leak prevention, and much more.

What sets ProtonVPN apart from the competition is its free version. No, this doesn't include the most advanced features, but it still offers enough for most users.

Best For Torrenting
Credit: ivacy vpn
  • Monthly: £8/month
  • One-year plan: £2.75/month
  • Five-year plan: £0.73/month

There are a number of VPN providers that claim to be able to unlock streaming services, but few can unlock seven major Netflix regions like Ivacy VPN. All Ivacy VPN(opens in a new tab) plans can also unblock BBC iPlayer, Disney+, and Hulu.

Ivacy VPN is one of the best services for streaming and torrenting, with P2P optimised servers for high speeds and an intuitive experience. Plus, if you're willing to commit, you can subscribe for less than the other best service for streaming — ExpressVPN. 

Subscribers can also connect up to 10 devices simultaneously with Ivacy VPN, so you can securely stream and torrent with all of your devices at the same time.

Best For Interface
Credit: TunnelBear
  • One-year plan: £4.08/month
  • Two-year plan: £3.41/month

TunnelBear(opens in a new tab) wins if your priority is finding a service that doesn't intimidate. Users get a slick and friendly interface with reliable customer support for troubleshooting any issues. It's not the most advanced service on this list, but users still get plenty of features for protecting their data and hiding their identity when online.

TunnelBear also offers one of the best free versions. You are restricted to only 500MB of data per month and you won't get the best connection speeds, but this might be all you need if you'll only need to stream from time to time. Upgrading to a paid plan removes the restrictions associated with the free plan. You won't get download limits, and you'll be able to connect to a greater number of servers and connect more devices simultaneously. 

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