5 Best VPNs for (ANY) Windows PC – Updated January 2021Last Updated by Chase Williams on January 11, 2021
Even worse, cybersecurity audits have found that Windows is particularly vulnerable to hackers and malware.
With so many safety concerns, I was relieved to discover that the right VPN can protect you online. That’s why my team and I tested 157 VPNs to shortlist the top Windows VPNs for 2021 — and the best all-round option is NordVPN. Despite the low price, it’s easy to use on all Windows versions and comes with top-notch security features. You can even try it risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantee.
Quick Guide: Best VPNs to Use on Windows in 2021
- NordVPN — #1 VPN for Windows with fast speeds and military-grade encryption on its global server network. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- ExpressVPN — Strong privacy and security features for Windows, but a bit pricier than NordVPN.
- Surfshark — Unlimited device connections for Windows and more devices, but less servers to choose from worldwide.
- CyberGhost — Ultra-secure NoSpy Servers protect your Windows data, but speeds are slightly slower than other VPNs.
- Private Internet Access (PIA) — Fast server connections provide buffer-free streaming on Windows, but can’t always unblock Netflix.
5 Best VPNs for Windows (Tested January 2021)
- 5,600+ servers in 59+ countries around the world
- Unlimited bandwidth for limitless streaming and downloading
- Protects up to 6 devices at once with military-grade encryption
- 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it without paying a cent
- 24/7 customer support and live chat support to help you troubleshoot
- Windows client is perfectly compatible with Windows 7, 8, and 10 and apps for Android, iOS, and other devices are available
NordVPN easily ranks as the top VPN for Windows with its easy-to-use app, robust privacy features, and fast speeds on a huge number of secure servers.
Since Windows compatibility can be a problem with many VPNs, this was the most important factor when making my choice. I wasn’t disappointed — NordVPN delivered on its compatibility promises. I was happy that I was able to easily download NordVPN for Windows directly from the website and install it without any issues. The customer service chat even helped with the installation process. Since you can buy it directly from the vendor, NordVPN’s purchase and refund processes are easy.
Once installed, I found that the NordVPN Windows client has the same features as the Mac OS app — and they all work just as well. I was relieved because some other VPNs don’t work as well on Windows as they do on Mac. This wasn’t the case for NordVPN. With the Windows client, I was happy that I could still use features like QuickConnect, which automatically pairs you with the fastest server available.
During my tests, NordVPN also had the fastest speeds out of all of the VPNs on this list. Since I was in Central Europe when I tested it, I thought I might experience some buffering when I connected to US servers — I was wrong. I was able to stream US Netflix in HD without buffering even though I was thousands of kilometers away.
If you want to stream using a Windows device, NordVPN’s SmartPlay technology also unblocks other popular streaming services like Prime Video, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. Many VPNs aren’t able to bypass these platforms’ geo-restrictions, so I was excited that NordVPN gave me fast access to content libraries from around the world.
For extra peace of mind, I also completed independent DNS leak testing of NordVPN. I found that my true location was never exposed, so I knew that NordVPN would keep me safe. This level of security reassured me that I could access my online banking using public WiFi networks without fear of having my information stolen.
If you want to try these features out for yourself, I recommend you try NordVPN with the 30-day money-back guarantee. You can get your money back if you request a refund within 30 days. When I tested this myself, the process was really easy and took only a couple of minutes. The money returned to my account after only 4 days — much faster than other services I’ve tried.
NordVPN unblocks: Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Vudu, SkyTV, HBO Go, HBO Now, Sky, SHOWTIME, ESPN, and YouTube.
NordVPN works on: Windows 7 and higher, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Chromebook, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, and Blackberry.
2. ExpressVPN — Keeps Your Data Private on Windows With Military-Grade Encryption and Leak Protection
- 3,000+ servers around the world in 90+ countries
- Unlimited bandwidth for uninterrupted, fast streaming
- Protects up to 5 devices at once
- 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free
- 24/7 live chat and email support to help you fix any problems
- App works great on Windows 10, 8, and 7
ExpressVPN is one of the safest and fastest Windows VPNs on the market. I successfully hid my internet activities and private data, although I had to pay a bit more for it than I did with NordVPN. Despite the price difference, ExpressVPN delivers security features that no other VPN on the market offers (as well as industry-standard protections).
ExpressVPN uses the toughest security technology to keep your data private with leak protection and an automatic kill switch to protect you even in case of connection interruptions. Features like this make sure that hackers, your ISP, websites, government authorities, and others can’t see personal information that could connect your identity, browsing history, and true location. To test these security promises for myself, I ran a DNS leak test — and ExpressVPN kept my real IP address secret.
Aside from these standard features, ExpressVPN is the only VPN that uses TrustedServer Technology, which erases your data every time the server reboots. Since it doesn’t keep any records of your data, prying eyes aren’t able to spy on you. During international legal investigations, ExpressVPN has famously demonstrated that it really doesn’t keep user data. When law enforcement tried to obligate the service to hand over user records, ExpressVPN was unable to comply because the records really didn’t exist.
I thought all of these security features might make its connection speeds slower — but ExpressVPN proved me wrong. During my ExpressVPN testing, I tried it at peak use times using different servers from all over the world and I never experienced slow speeds. I was able to surf the web, video chat, and game without experiencing delays.
ExpressVPN is also one of the best VPNs for streaming — it can unblock tough geo-restrictions on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and many others. It can even bypass censorship and reliably unblock content in China. To me, nothing is worse than a service that slows down streaming, so I was happy that ExpressVPN let me watch my favorite Hulu content and soccer matches on DAZN Italy with no buffering.
The only minor con I experienced with ExpressVPN was that it was a little more expensive than NordVPN. However, all of its premium features still make it a great choice for Windows users. Plus ExpressVPN lets you try a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test the service with zero risk. If you don’t like it, you can get a full refund, no questions asked. I even tested this guarantee to see if it was truly “no questions asked” — and I’m impressed to say that it was. The ExpressVPN representative immediately approved my refund and the money arrived in my bank account in under 5 days.
ExpressVPN unblocks: Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, SkyTV, HBO Go, HBO Now, Sky, SHOWTIME, ESPN, YouTube, and Spotify.
ExpressVPN works on: Windows 7 and higher, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Chromebook, Linux, PS4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and Blackberry.
- 1,700+ global servers in 60+ countries
- Unlimited bandwidth for uninterrupted connections
- Protects unlimited number of devices at once
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Live chat available 24/7
- App works well on different versions of Windows
Since my whole family uses Windows, I thought that protecting everyone would be expensive. That’s why I was excited that Surfshark allows you to protect an unlimited number of devices at the same time with one subscription. This is the only VPN on this list that offers this level of affordability.
At such a reasonable price, I was worried that Surfshark might not offer the same quality of protection for Windows users — but that wasn’t the case at all. It offers industry-standard security like 256-bit encryption, an automatic kill switch, and a no-logging policy. In addition to these features, Surfshark also has a two-factor authentication (2FA) option for additional security. This technology requires you to sign in with a temporary code sent to your mobile device in order to prevent others from logging into your device if your password becomes exposed.
One slight issue I found was that Surfshark doesn’t have as many servers as other VPNs on this list. However, when I tested Surfshark, I didn’t experience slow speeds or other issues that you might expect with a smaller selection of servers. I was even able to stream Top Gear in HD on BBC iPlayer with minimal buffering.
To see how it works on your Windows device, I recommend you take advantage of Surfshark’s 30-day money-back guarantee. It’s completely risk free if you change your mind — you can easily request a refund over 24/7 live chat with the customer support team. When I tested the process myself, a Surfshark representative canceled my subscription in 3 minutes and I had the full refund credited to my account in 7 days!
Surfshark unblocks: Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Go, HBO Now, ESPN.
Surfshark works on: Windows 7 and higher, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
- 5,500+ global servers in 90+ countries
- Unlimited bandwidth for smooth streaming
- Secure up to 7 devices at once
- 45-day money-back guarantee — the longest of any VPN on this list
- Customer service support through email and chat
- App works well on many versions of Windows 10, 8, and 7
Although it hasn’t been on the market as long as ExpressVPN or NordVPN, CyberGhost offers premium security and other competitive features. Since government internet surveillance is a big issue in the countries to which I travel, I was excited to learn that CyberGhost uses NoSpy servers to guarantee its no-logs policy. This unique technology means that CyberGhost owns and operates its own servers, so they control who has access to them.
In addition to this unique feature, CyberGhost protects Windows users with 256-bit encryption and an automatic killswitch, making it unhackable even if your connection is dropped. Unlike some other VPNs, it also provides built-in protection against both malware and annoying popup ads. After reading about new malware vulnerabilities on Windows, these features reassured me that I would be safe online.
CyberGhost is also the only VPN on this list that gives you servers optimized for streaming. These servers are frequently updated with new IP addresses to ensure they can unblock your favorite content and stream high-quality video. When you use this function, CyberGhost lets you access your favorite shows on platforms like US Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others. I was impressed that CyberGhost let me stream Black Panther in HD on Netflix with no buffering.
The only slight issue I experienced with CyberGhost was that it was slightly slower than my top 2 choices when I connected to different servers in Europe. This wasn’t a problem at all though, because I didn’t experience any lag, slow connections, or download speeds — honestly, if I hadn’t run speed tests, I wouldn’t have noticed.
During my research, I was surprised that CyberGhost offers a 45-day money-back guarantee on subscriptions of at least 6 months. This is the longest money-back guarantee that I’ve seen on the market. If you want your money back during this period, you can contact customer service via live chat and process the refund easily. I even tested it myself — and it took less than 5 minutes to approve my refund and the money returned to my account in 6 days.
CyberGhost unblocks: Netflix, Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Vudu, SkyTV, HBO Go, HBO Now, SHOWTIME, ESPN, and Spotify.
CyberGhost works on: Windows 7 and higher, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Chromebook, Linux, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
- 23,662+ servers in 77 countries for quick global connections
- Connect up to 10 devices simultaneously
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- 24/7 customer service with live chat and email support
- Windows app works on versions 7, 8.1, and 10 as well as Windows Phone, Android, iOS, and more
Private Internet Access (PIA) is an impressively fast VPN, even when you’re connected to faraway servers. Its reliable speeds make it a good choice if you want to stream your favorite shows and movies on your Windows computer. However, it doesn’t always manage to get around tough restrictions like Netflix’s proxy technology.
I tested PIA’s speeds on my Windows laptop and connected to 10 different servers in locations including the US, Australia, Japan, and Greece. My average speed was just over 30Mbps, which meant that I could stream in HD and download torrents with zero lag or buffering.
While PIA allowed me to stream in HD, I was only able to connect to Netflix in the UK, Australia, France, and Japan consistently. Netflix US was hit-or-miss (I managed to connect using the Washington DC and New York City servers) so I ran some DNS leak tests to see if any of my data was escaping from the VPN connection. I was reassured that the results of the leak tests showed my IP address and data was secured by PIA’s strong encryption.
When I contacted customer service about connecting to Netflix US using the Windows app, they recommended clearing my browser cache. That worked for me!
You can test PIA for 30 days and get a full refund. Just make sure you cancel before the 30 days are up or you’ll be prompted to continue your subscription. I went through the refund process myself to confirm it works — and it does. I got my refund approved over 24/7 live chat in less than 5 minutes! It was completely hassle-free and I had my money back in 1 week.
PIA unblocks: Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, SHOWTIME, ESPN, YouTube TV, Kodi, Sky Go, and more.
PIA works on: Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 (32 and 64 bit), Android, Mac, iOS, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
How to Choose the Best VPN for Windows
If you’re new to VPNs, it can be overwhelming to understand all the technical jargon and make an informed decision. To make it easier for you to protect your Windows device, I made sure every VPN on this page offers the following key features:
- Dedicated Windows app for versions 7, 8 and 10
- Military-grade encryption (at least AES-256-bit)
- Unblocks streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, and more
- Torrenting support for popular peer-to-peer (P2P) clients like uTorrent and BitTorrent
- Fast speeds with unlimited bandwidth, so there’s no lag or buffering
- 24/7 customer support with proven money-back guarantees
3 Easy Steps to Install a VPN on Windows
- Get a Windows VPN. I recommend NordVPN as it has a fast and highly-secure custom Windows app. You can even try it for free for 30 days.
- Connect to a server. I suggest choosing a server location close by for the fastest speeds.
- Start browsing! That’s it — now you can use the internet safely on your Windows phone or computer.
FAQ: Using a VPN on Your Windows PC
🤓 Can I use a Windows VPN on my Android, iPhone, Mac, or other device?
Yes! In my tests, the 5 best Windows VPNs for 2021 all work well on Android, iPhone, and Mac. I especially like NordVPN as it has native apps for Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon Fire TV, and Android TV. You can even install it on your router, which allows you to protect every device connected to your WiFi network.
😥 Should I use a VPN on my Windows PC for torrenting?
Without a doubt. A good VPN encrypts your torrenting traffic, which stops people (including Windows!) from spying on what you’re downloading and seeding. This is important because torrenting is never 100% safe or anonymous — even if it’s legal where you live.
Without a VPN, your IP address is exposed and it can be used to track down your identity and physical location. You might accidentally download illegal or copyrighted material, which could result in a hefty fine in the mail. Even your fellow torrenters can see your IP address — not ideal if you’re privacy-conscious or want to protect yourself from potential cyberattacks. There are benefits to using a VPN for torrenting too, like access to blocked torrent sites and avoiding speed throttling from your ISP.
😎 What is the best VPN for Microsoft Surface?
Based on my tests, NordVPN is the #1 VPN for Microsoft Surface. However, all the recommended VPNs on this list work well with Windows 7, 8, 8.1, or 10 on Microsoft Surface devices. You can simply download the Windows .exe file and install it with the same process as a desktop.
🤑 Can I use a free VPN on Windows?
Some free VPNs work on Windows — but I would recommend you avoid them. Most free services don’t work well. They have few servers and data limitations, causing slow speeds and limiting your streaming. Even the best free VPNs only let you watch a maximum of about 10 hours of Netflix per month (that is, if they can even access the platform). In fact, most free VPNs can’t get around the geo-blocking used by Netflix or other strict sites.
Aside from poor service, many free VPNs also put your security at serious risk. Because free services don’t charge you to download their product, they often monetize your data. In other words, they sell information about you to third parties. Other services have been shown to install malware on user devices. Some free VPNs are even involved in financial fraud and identity theft. Even though you might save a little on the subscription price, you might end up losing even more money because of these threats.
You can avoid these unnecessary risks if you use a secure service like NordVPN. If you only need a free VPN for a few weeks while traveling, take advantage of NordVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee. You can get a refund by email or live chat in a few minutes.
🤔 Is the built-in Windows 10 VPN any good?
It’s okay for a free option, but it’s not great. There are multiple reasons why I didn’t include the Windows built-in VPN in the list of top VPNs for Windows in 2021:
- Microsoft doesn’t have its own server network. This means you’ll still need to find and connect to a third-party server, which could be confusing if you’re new to VPNs.
- It only works on Windows. You probably have an Android or iOS smartphone, which you won’t be able to protect.
- No OpenVPN or WireGuard protocols. Windows doesn’t natively support either of these advanced protocols. You can only choose between IKEv2 (the next best thing) or less secure protocols like L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, and PPTP.
While the Windows built-in VPN does encrypt your traffic and hide your IP address, that’s pretty much all it does. This is fine for basic protection if you’re tech-savvy enough to set it up — but for most people, the better option is to use a paid VPN. Paid VPNs offer dedicated apps for all popular devices and operating systems, making it easy to connect to and switch between servers.
Keep Your Privacy Secure on Windows With a Top Quality VPN
In addition to keeping you safe, VPNs can give you greater freedom online. Premium VPNs can bypass geo-blocks, thus giving you access to location-restricted sites like Netflix, online banking, and other platforms.
Out of all of the VPNs I tested, I recommend you try NordVPN because of its secure high-speed servers and Windows-compatible apps that are ideal for browsing, streaming, and downloading. It also lets you try it with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test the service totally risk-free.