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Best VPN for Privacy

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Introduction

A virtual private network (VPN) encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a remote server, hiding your online activities and identity. Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your privacy online.

Without a VPN, your internet service provider (ISP) can see every website you visit. They sell browsing data to advertisers, who create targeted ads based on your interests. Hackers on public Wi-Fi can spy on data you send over the internet.

A quality VPN masks your IP address and encrypts data, making it much harder for ISPs, advertisers, and hackers to track you. It establishes an encrypted tunnel between your device and a VPN server, funneling all traffic through this tunnel where it cannot be monitored.

This article explains the key factors to evaluate when choosing a privacy-focused VPN. We compare several top-rated VPNs for privacy based on features, benefits, downsides and pricing. Other privacy VPN candidates are also covered briefly.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a VPN for Privacy

Not all VPN services are equally focused on protecting user privacy. When researching options, keep these essential criteria in mind:

No-Logs Policy

The VPN should never log activity data like browsing history and IP addresses assigned to users. Audits by independent firms help validate no-logging claims.

Strong Encryption

Look for use of AES-256 bit encryption or greater to fully secure data flowing through the VPN tunnels. This military-grade protection cannot reasonably be cracked.

Kill Switch

A kill switch blocks internet access if the VPN connection drops unexpectedly, forcing no data to ever bypass the encrypted tunnel and leak identifying details.

DNS Leak Protection

This feature prevents IP address, location and DNS data from leaking outside the VPN tunnel and exposing private information.

Jurisdiction

VPN companies based outside surveillance-friendly countries like the 14-Eyes alliance inspire more trust in protecting anonymity without folding to data demands.

Server Locations

Many server locations worldwide provides more options to choose paths through least monitored countries when prioritizing privacy.

Speed & Performance

While speed is secondary to privacy, the best VPNs balance both successfully through well-run network infrastructure despite the encryption overhead.

Top VPNs for Privacy

Independent testing and verification of the criteria above yields these top 4 privacy-focused VPN recommendations:

A. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has a long reputation as a leading privacy VPN thanks to type-A server security, use of RAM disks that never touch storage devices and enough server locations to route through less monitored countries like the British Virgin Islands where the company is legally headquartered far from surveillance alliances.

Features

  • RAM disk servers (no logs)
  • British Virgin Islands HQ
  • 160 server locations in 94 countries
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • 3,000+ servers
  • No speed/bandwidth caps
  • 5 simultaneous connections

Pros

  • Fast performance despite strong encryption
  • Simple interface with 1-click quick connect
  • Reliably unblocks Netflix & streaming sites
  • Works smoothly across all major platforms
  • Outstanding 24/7 live chat support

Cons

  • Priced higher than some competitors
  • Refund only within 30 days

Pricing

  • $8.32/month billed yearly
  • 6 month sub for $9.99/month
  • 15 month plan for $6.67/month

B. NordVPN

Panama-based NordVPN has a strict zero-logging policy validated through independent audits. Using specialty servers like Double VPN or Onion Over VPN boosts privacy even further with multi-hop connections encrypted multiple times across different locations before data egresses the final endpoint abroad.

Features

  • Based in Panama (no data retention laws)
  • Independent audit confirmation of no logs policy
  • Double VPN and Onion Over VPN routing
  • Obfuscated servers to bypass censorship
  • 5,100+ servers across 60 countries
  • 6 device connections allowed

Pros

  • “NordLynx” modified WireGuard protocol available
  • RAM-only servers to process data
  • Rapid speed performance for all servers
  • Tor over VPN servers
  • Full DNS leak protection

Cons

  • No live chat support, just tickets
  • Fewer server locations than ExpressVPN

Pricing

  • $3.29/month billed 2 years
  • $4.92/month on 1 year plan
  • $11.95 if paying monthly

C. CyberGhost

Another privacy fav operating completely outside surveillance-friendly countries, CyberGhost is based in Romania and Germany — both safely outside the EU data retention directives. 20 million users trust this VPN provider with securing their web activities from prying eyes and those user numbers keep growing.

Features

  • Headquarters in Romania & Germany
  • RAM & diskless servers
  • 7400+ servers across 91 countries
  • 45-day money back guarantee
  • 7 device connections
  • Apps for Windows, Mac, iOS & Android

Pros

  • Very fast downloading & streaming throughput
  • Auto-selection of best servers for specific sites
  • Adblocker built into desktop apps
  • Affordable long-term pricing

Cons

  • Mobile app UIs less polished than website and desktop
  • No built-in SOCKS5 proxy option

Pricing

  • $2.25/month on 3 year plan
  • $3.99/month on 2 year plan
  • $12.99/month month to month

D. Private Internet Access (PIA)

Operated by privacy advocates since 2010 with a clearly defined mission statement promising “no tracking, no logging, no BS”, Private Internet Access walks the walk by accepting payment only via privacy coins like Monero & Zcash while living true to its no logs policy year after year.

Features

  • 35,000+ shared IPs available
  • Based in the United States
  • 10 device connections allowed
  • Socks5 proxy included for all connections
  • 3595+ servers across 78 countries

Pros

  • Tor integration to boost traffic obfuscation
  • Very affordably priced, often on sale
  • Excellent speeds with WireGuard now supported

Cons

  • Desktop & mobile clients less refined looking vs rivals
  • Smaller server network than other top players

Pricing

  • $2.19/month billed yearly on current promo
  • $2.69/month via 2 year sub
  • $9.95/month if paying month to month

Other VPNs to Consider

While the major players ranked above are clear standouts, a few other privacy focused VPNs deserve an honorable mention:

Surfshark – This British Virgin Islands VPN newcomer already fields over 3200 servers globally across 65 countries. Package deals that cover unlimited device connections on cheap 2 year plans make them most ideal for families and power users on a budget.

ProtonVPN – Developed by the team behind encrypted email provider ProtonMail, Proton obviously has hardcore privacy DNA engrained as a founding mantra. Free and paid tiers of service cater to various budgets and all paid plans are reasonably affordable.

Mullvad – Sweden may not lead assumptions for privacy havens, but this super secure open source VPN option based there accepts cash payments by mail to provision numbered accounts bypasses any and all dependence on identifiable credentials in a truly ingenious way.

Perfect Privacy – One of the pioneers in VPN space founded on promoting digital privacy online when public awareness was far lower. Based in Switzerland far outside data retention mandates. Accepts mailed cash and altcoins like Monero if Bitcoin doesn’t suffice anonymously.

Conclusion

Safeguarding your personal information and web surfing activities online requires a quality VPN service prioritizing user privacy through leading encryption, a proven zero logging policy and servers located only in jurisdictions placing high importance on digital rights.

The best recommendations meeting all criteria for anonymity protection include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, CyberGhost and Private Internet Access thanks to features like RAM powered server infrastructure, diskless networks, support for obfuscated multi-hop connections, and long term presence fighting the good fight for upholding civil liberties prioritized too little by most companies just recently pivoting to market privacy services strictly as a convenient business model to profit from rather than standing behind any driving principles.

When selecting any VPN, carefully scrutinize their actual implementations backing up advertised promises to weed out brand new options simply claiming privacy merits because it sells while possibly taking invisible shortcuts out of sight from most users. Stick to established players Pacific Internet Access to maximize trust in your VPN provider.

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