We are on the search for the best VPN. And since every user, expert, and review site has their view on which VPNs are the best, we’ve decided to identify the best VPN providers based on a collective experience and knowledge of three of the leading VPN review sites of 2021 - CNET, TomsGuide, and TechRadar. Let’s look at the history of these three review sites and how they test and rate products.
Tom’s Guide is a US-based review site that has for years spent more than 4,000 hours a year testing and reviewing products to provide recommendations to consumers.
Tom’s Guide rates VPN products with two questions in mind: is this a good product for our readers? And if so, who should buy it? They also discuss and rate alternatives, identifying their weaknesses and strengths. They also find out what the users are saying about those VPN by digging into user reviews.
The publisher rates products on a scale of 1 to 5. The higher the rating, the better the product. Products may be awarded the Editors' Choice award, a designation to identify the best of the best. Any product rated as two and below is not recommended.
TechRadar is a British online publication focused on providing news and reviews for tech products, providing pricing and alternatives. Established in 2008, it has been the largest review site in the UK since 2013. Its review process includes vigorous tests that are designed to assess the quality and performance of the products.
TechRadar’s VPN ranking is based on the final scores each product receives. The scores, represented by stars on a scale of 1 to 5, are awarded based on different criteria such as speed, security, and pricing. A VPN that receives more than 4 stars is considered a very good pick, while those below 2 stars are not recommended.
CNET is among the leading sources of tech news and reviews about hardware, gaming consoles and software. Launched in 1994, the publisher generates over 4,000 product and software reviews a year.
CNET uses several factors to review and rate VPN services. Most important factors include features such as connection speeds, security, network coverage, and customer support. It rates VPN services on a scale of 1 to 5. The publisher conducts several phases of testing for each VPN service. VPN connection speed and security are mandatory tests. Any VPN services failing these two tests are excluded from the review list.
To determine the best VPN services according to CNET, TomsGuide, and TechRadar, we analyzed the 10 common VPNs found on those 3 review sites.
ExpressVPN comes on top as the best VPN provider in all three sites. Both CNET and Tom’s Guide give a rating of 5 over 5, while TechRadar gives the VPN service a five-star rating. All point to ExpressVPN's fast servers, wide network coverage, strong security, and exemplary customer support.
With over 3000 servers in over 90 countries, Tom’s Guide notes that ExpressVPN is among service providers with the widest network coverage. These servers are among the fastest in the market, making ExpressVPN the best choice for HD streaming and fast P2P sharing.
In terms of security, ExpressVPN runs its private, encrypted DNS in every server; this is in addition to the military-grade encryptions it employs and the zero-log policy it has. TechRadar and Tom's Guide also highlight the provider is highly responsive with a 24/7 instant live chat and email support.
NordVPN comes second according to TechRadar and Tom’s Guide that attributes the highest rates. CNET ranks it at position three with a 4.9 over 5. The VPN service is rated for its reliability and security.
NordVPN’s reliability is largely due to its global network coverage. The provider has over 5,000 servers in +60 countries to offer wide streaming options and a great user experience. NordVPN’s wide network incorporates as many dedicated P2P servers as possible to serve its torrenting users.
NordVPN’s security options play a big role in its high ratings. Apart from common encryption methods like AES and protocols like OpenVPN, NordVPN has an extra security feature known as CyberSec that blocks malicious websites and ads. And just like ExpressVPN, NordVPN has a zero-log policy.
Surfshark is marketed as the best-value VPN on the market. Tom’s Guide calls it a perfect VPN service for users after premium service for as little money as possible, while TechRadar recommends Surfshark to users looking for a bargain rather than going for the all-out best above. Tom’s Guide rates Surfshark with a 4.8 score, CNET 4.7, and TechRadar 4.5 stars.
While Surfshark’s network is smaller than some of the leading VPNs, it makes up for other features such as connection speeds. Surfshark offers unlimited device support. It also offers antimalware and ad-blocking as part of its additional security features.
CNET notes that with more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, Surfshark has among the fastest servers, even faster than ExpressVPN. To ensure a good security level, the VPN employs kill switch, split tunneling, and AES-256 encryption to manage user privacy.
ProtonVPN is a VPN service made by Proton, a company that also developed ProtonMail. Based on the three review sites tests and reviews, ProtonVPN has high-security standards at high speeds. For CNET, ProtonVPN had an impressively small speed loss of 10%. The review site ranks just below ExpressVPN in terms of connection speeds.
ProtonVPN is also rated for its top security. The VPN service encrypts user traffic using AES-256 encryption standard, RSA to perform key exchange, and HMAC to authenticate messages. In addition, ProtonVPN has a Secure Core that gives subscribers a direct connection to its data centers, which are protected by very strong security solutions.
CNET acknowledges ProtonVPN's reliability. During their tests, they did not experience any reliability or downtime issues. Switching between servers may sometimes take time, but for the most part, they were able to route their traffic without any issues.
Hotspot Shield is highly rated by the three review sites with its 1,800+ servers in more than 80 countries. The provider offers to connect up to five devices, has responsive 24/7 customer support and absolutely zero ads. In addition, Tom’s Guide rates it over its top speeds.
Performance is a big highlight in TechRadar tests, with Hotspot Shield's proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol delivering among the fastest and stable download speeds. According to TechRadar tests, Hotspot Shield returned an average of 370 Mbps when using US and UK servers.
With servers in more than 80 countries, Hotspot Shield has among the largest VPN networks. But not all Hotspot Shield VPN users can access these servers. Only users who subscribe to Hotspot Shield Premium are allowed to pick and choose from among these servers. With the free version, you only have access to one server in the United States.
IPVanish has been a great VPN performer for TechRadar, CNET, and Tom’s Guide tests for years. The VPN has some impressive features: 1,600 servers in more than 70 countries, unlimited P2P connections, and unlimited simultaneous connections. The service also has 24/7 customer support. IPVanish is appraised for employing the industry’s leading standards such as AES-256 encryption, kill switch, DNS, and IPv6 leak protection when it comes to security.
However, TechRadar faults IPVanish for its inability to work well with some of the leading streaming services. Based on their tests, IPVanish couldn’t unblock Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and a large portion of Netflix libraries. But for VPN users in need of unlimited simultaneous access, TechRadar recommends IPVanish. The VPN service also offers multiplatform support for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux.
Laws concerning the use of this software vary from country to country. We do not encourage or condone the use of this program if it is in violation of these laws. The regulation about the use of VPN services varies per country; If the Law of your country forbids or limits its usage, don’t download. Any unlawful behaviour of this software is not permitted. You are solely responsible for any use of the service.
CyberGhost is another VPN service that appears on the three review lists. TechRadar gives it a stellar 4.5 out of 5 stars for its feature-packed clients and impressive configurability. CNET rates it at 3 over 5 for its roster of competitive features, including speed testing, security verification, and a suite of privacy tools. Rating it at 3.5 over 5, Tom’s Guide points out CyberGhost's feature-loaded and user-friendly interface.
With over 6,000 servers in around 90 countries globally, there is always a great selection for users to choose from. The VPN service offers P2P torrenting and also has a kill switch that kills off the connection in case of a connection issue. CyberGhost employs AES military-grade encryption to protect user data.
According to TechRadar, Private Internet Access is a reliable VPN service that keeps improving. Tom’s Guide is impressed with Private Internet Access’s performance, putting it in the sixth spot on its best VPN list and CNET recommends it for its pricing.
With more than 35,000 next-gen servers in 78 Countries, Private Internet Access is among the leading VPN services with the largest network. In terms of security, Private Internet Access offers a mix of privacy and security protocols, including WireGuard.
Whether you intend to use Private Internet Access on Windows, Android, or Mac, they are all reliable, easy to use, with effective features. It is also available as a Chrome, Firefox, and Opera extension. To top it off, the VPN service offers simultaneous connections of up to 10 devices.
HideMyAss is a quality VPN developed by antivirus vendor Avast. With more than 1,000 servers in 290+ server locations in more than 200 countries, HideMyAss tops the VPN list when it comes to server location numbers.
Tom’s Guide highly rates HideMyAss VPN for its wide network coverage, strong privacy features that include zero-log policy, and reliability in unblocking leading streaming services. While the VPN service finds its way into TechRadar’s list for its huge number of server locations, fair pricing plans, and reliable customer support that is available via 24/7 live chat and email. CNET ranks HideMyAss for its dependability in streaming and P2P sharing.
VyprVPN works on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS. The VPN service offers to connect up to 5 devices simultaneously.
CNET, TechRadar, and Tom’s Guide are among the best review sites globally. For decades, they have been testing and reviewing all sorts of tech products to help their readers make informed decisions on what to buy. Every year, each of them releases a list of the top VPN services in the market. We went through their 2021 catalog of best VPN providers and came up with the above list. Each review site rates VPN services based on features like connection speeds and security protocols, with ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark occupying the top positions.