When it comes to accessing the Internet, we want privacy, security, and the ability to view content without location-based restrictions. To ensure this, IT companies came up with the concept of VPNs.
A VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, gives users an increased level of anonymity when they are online and even allows them to change their locations. As this technology becomes increasingly popular, users are realizing that there is more to VPNs than the idea of privacy. For starters, a VPN helps you secure sensitive information from malicious individuals. In addition, you can use it to access content restricted in your location, such as videos on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and sports streaming websites.
Just as there are numerous Internet Service Providers (ISP), there are lots of VPN services with varying levels of security, speed, and efficiency. If you are the gaming type, you want to know the best VPN for gaming. As a corporate individual, you might be more interested in learning how to choose a VPN for business.
In this article, we will review the best VPNs of 2021 to help you decide which VPN service is faster, more secure, and offers better stability.
What Is a VPN?
VPNs are tools that help users to achieve anonymity. Some individuals use them to unblock restricted sites, especially on school and workplace networks. People living in countries with government censorship sometimes use them to access blocked sites without risking their identity.
A VPN works by tunneling your traffic, encrypting it, and then sending it out through the other end of the tunnel. This makes it difficult for your ISP to figure out what you are up to and prevents anyone from tracking your activities.
However, one of the most popular uses of VPNs is streaming content on location-restricted sites, such as Netflix. If you travel to a new location, you want a way to continue enjoying your favorite shows without limitations. Therefore, you need an answer to the question “What is the best VPN service of 2021?”
What Are the Top 5 VPNs for 2021?
The best VPN should have high connection speeds, offer top-notch security, and allow users access to restricted content for downloading and streaming.
Let’s take a look at the top 5 VPNs for 2021. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. We will look at them in detail to help you choose what is best for you.
1. ExpressVPN – The most balanced
ExpressVPN makes it to the top of this list as a perfect balance of speed, security, and pricing. With access to more than 3,000 servers placed across the globe, you have an abundance of options to choose from. This ensures the servers are not overloaded or slow. There is no speed limit, and you can connect as many as 5 devices to a single account.
ExpressVPN has great apps with lovely UI designs, which are easy to use and understand. Users have access to 24/7 support, and the VPN is compatible with the most popular operating systems, such as macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, and Linux. You can even use it on your game console and home router.
ExpressVPN comes with lots of features, including a kill switch, military-grade encryption, DNS leak protection, and split tunneling. The tool’s no-logging policy ensures that you do not have to worry about your data leaking or getting sold, giving you a high level of anonymity. Its advanced features and easy-to-use design make it a great fit for tech experts and newbies alike. You can launch a connection with a single click, or you can tweak the settings to suit your specific needs.
If you are abroad and want to watch your favorite shows on US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Sky Go, and HBO Go, among many others, it is as easy as pie.
The major drawback of this tool is its pricey plans starting at $12.95 per month for 1 month. And here are some long-term options:
- 6 months at $9.99/month
- 12 months at $6.67/month
- Provides the best balance of speed, security, and advanced settings
- Support for all popular operating systems
- Gives users access to a 30-day free trial
- 24/7 support service
- Expensive plans
- Limited to only 5 simultaneous devices per account
2. NordVPN – The best in security features
When it comes to security, NordVPN prides itself on making it a point of focus. With more than 5,000 servers in about 59 countries, it allows up to 6 devices to connect simultaneously to the same account and offers impressive 24/7 customer support.
While it cannot boast the level of balance you find on ExpressVPN, this tool takes the lead when it comes to privacy and security. It has military-grade encryption and allows users to choose from different protocols depending on their need at the time – speed or safety.
The app supports various devices; however, it has a drawback: the user interface can be clumsy, especially on handheld devices, but we are leaving this for you to decide. After all, it is not much of an issue if privacy and security are your primary concern.
The company behind NordVPN has a no-log policy and carries out regular audits to ensure the app’s functions are in order. This makes it a great tool for individuals concerned about their sensitive data.
The tool’s plans are as follows:
- 1 month at $11.95/month
- 1 year at $4.92/month
- 2 years at $3.30/month
- Focuses on security
- Regular security audits
- High connection speeds
- Lots of servers across the globe
- Mobile apps can be clumsy
3. Surfshark – The best in pricing
If you are looking for the best cheap VPN, Surfshark is the tool for you. With more than 3,000 servers in about 65 countries, it allows you to connect an unlimited number of devices to the same account simultaneously.
This BVI-based VPN delivers powerful functionality at half the price of its top competitors. While you will not find all the fancy features available in the apps mentioned above in Surfshark, it gives you reliable connections with impressive speeds for smooth streaming and gaming.
Surfshark has an easy-to-use design and is compatible with Linux, Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS. This allows you to protect all your devices with a single subscription. It is worth mentioning that this tool does not slack in the security department either. Its AES-256 encryption protocol, split tunneling, and kill switch are impressive considering its cheap pricing plans.
Here are the tool’s pricing plans:
- 1 month for $12.95/month
- 6 months for $6.49/month
- 12 months for $2.49/month
- Supports unlimited devices simultaneously
- Stable and fast connections
- Cheap plans that offer great value for money
- Great streaming capability
- A simple app with almost zero advanced features
4. Hotspot Shield – The best in speed
Hotspot Shield is one of the best VPNs on the market when it comes to speed. While it has a free plan, its paid version gives you the best features available. It has more than 3,000 servers located in over 80 countries worldwide. However, it allows for just 5 devices to connect simultaneously to a single account. This limitation might be necessary to ensure it maintains fast connections.
It is important to note that Hotspot Shield’s high speeds come at a price. For one, you cannot manually set up its proprietary protocol, Catapult Hydra, on routers. However, the tool is constantly improving and has recently added support for Linux devices.
Hotspot Shield might not be for you if you have issues with logging because it logs data from time to time. It is worth noting that this does not put you at any major risk of your activities getting revealed to unauthorized third parties. For speeds of up to 400Mbps, many users are willing to ignore this log-keeping drawback.
Here are Hotspot Shield’s pricing plans:
- 1 month at $9.99/month
- 1 year at $7.99/month
- 3 years at $ 2.49/month
- A reasonably good free plan
- Really fast
- Great for streaming and gaming
- Logs user activity
- Does not allow manual setup on routers
5. Private Internet Access – The best in server choice
Private Internet Access offers an immense library of server choices with a mind-blowing 32,000+ servers located in about 78 countries, meaning it has the largest server collection among VPN providers. In addition, you can connect up to 10 devices simultaneously. In the US alone, the VPN has up to 17,000 servers waiting for you to utilize.
PIA’s desktop app has undergone several improvements over time, making it one of the best when it comes to privacy and performance. It also has Automation Rule, which safely changes your network whenever you are reconnecting. This tool is so well built that it has been certified by the ioXt Alliance next to NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
It doesn’t take the crown for speed and might have difficulties unblocking content in Japan and Australia. However, it is overall a decent VPN well worth a look.
The tool’s pricing plans include the following:
- 1 month at $11.95/month
- 1 year at $3.33/month
- 3 years at $2.08/month
- A huge library of servers
- Competitive plans
- Allows up to 10 devices to connect simultaneously
- Excellent mobile apps
- Speeds are not so impressive
How to Transfer Large Files Securely
If you are reading this article on VPNs, you probably want to learn how to securely send and receive large files and folders. While there are different tools that you can use to achieve this easily, they each have their limitations. For example, most file transfer platforms limit the amount of data you can send at one go. In addition, these apps often throttle upload speeds. This means that you can spend hours trying to transfer 10GB of data.
If you deal with sensitive data, you might also be concerned about security as data transfer apps do not always bother to encrypt your data while sending it. Besides, they often require that you pay a monthly or yearly subscription before you can use them. This poses a problem if you do not intend to send large files and folders regularly. Your subscription might end up being a waste of money.
Meet FileWhopper – a cloud-based platform that provides solutions to all these setbacks. This handy tool allows you to send a file or folder of any size with no limits whatsoever! You can send more than 100TB of data at high speeds with no capping or throttling. Therefore, you don’t have to alter the quality of your files by compressing them. You can send them in their original format and size. In addition, you don’t need to pay subscription fees before you can upload or download files on this app. All you have to do is select the file or folder you intend to transfer, and you will receive a one-time price quote based on its size.
FileWhopper allows users to share large amounts of data over secure servers and has military-grade encryption capabilities. To add an extra layer of security, you will receive a password as soon as you initiate a transfer. You can create a password for your transfer yourself if you like. You can share this password with whomever you want to grant access to your data. Unauthorized persons without this password will be unable to open, view, or download the information contained in the uploaded file or folder.
This tool has a unique feature that allows for simultaneous uploads and downloads. The moment you start sending a file or folder, you get a download link that you can send to the recipient. Using this link, they can begin downloading the data while it is still being uploaded at your end. In essence, they don’t need to waste time waiting for the transfer to complete before accessing the information. This is great in moments when you are short of time or have a poor internet connection.
In addition, you don’t have to start all over again even if your system battery runs out or your internet connection goes off unexpectedly. FileWhopper uses a tiny app to save your upload progress, resuming your transfer precisely from where it stopped after the connection has been restored. This app is uninstalled automatically once the transfer process is complete.
It is worth mentioning that FileWhopper takes security seriously. It has a zero-knowledge encryption policy, ensuring that your passwords and other sensitive details are not saved on its servers. No one will know your password or the name of your file or folder unless you share this information with them.
There you have it! The VPN services reviewed in this guide are among the best on the market. However, it is important to note that while they give you increased anonymity and privacy, it is up to you to keep yourself safe. For example, a VPN cannot protect you if you unwittingly download malware onto your computer. Be careful of the sites you visit and the content you download.
While in most countries, it is not against the law to use VPNs, using them to hide illegal activities, such as downloading copyrighted materials, can get you into trouble.
Finally, remember, if you want to send large files and folders securely without committing to long-term subscriptions, you can use FileWhopper.