Best VPN 2018: A Look at Free VPN and Paid VPN Services

What is a VPN? What is the best VPN to use? How can you find a free VPN to use? Find the answer to these questions and more in our VPN reviews page!

Our Favorite
Number of Servers1450+2982+720+
VPN Server Locations149+60+75+
Price15 months for $6.67/mo.12 months for $5.75/mo.12 months for $5/mo.
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Number of Servers
VPN Server Locations
Price
Our Favorite
1450+2982+720+
149+60+75+
15 months for $6.67/mo.12 months for $5.75/mo.12 months for $5/mo.
View PlansView PlansView Plans

Have you experienced that moment where you go to stream something, and you’re served the dreaded “This content is not available in your location” message? It’s 2018, and we should be able to stream what we want—don’t you think?

Thankfully VPNs exist, and you can watch what you want without worrying about regional restrictions. Let us save you the effort of researching—we’ve tested and collected a list of the best VPNs for streaming.

Our top VPNs for streaming

Number of serversVPN server locationsPriceTry Now
1450+149+● 1 month for $12.95
● 6 months for $9.99/mo.
● 15 months for $6.67/mo.
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2982+60+● 6 months for $7/mo.
● 12 months for $5.75/mo.
● 24 months for $3.29/mo.
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720+75+● 1 month for $9.95/mo.
● 12 months for $5/mo. or $6.67/mo. for a premium membership
View Plans

Let’s go into a bit more detail on what makes these VPNs stand out from the rest.

Best VPNs for streaming

There are tons of VPNs out there, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or in over your head when faced with all the options and their features. We’ve done the hard part for you and figured out the three best VPNs for streaming. Rest assured, all of these VPNs offer quality streaming speeds.

#1 Express VPN: The simplest way to stream stuff out of market

What we like about it: Streams easily on mobile and PC

Drawbacks: A little on the expensive side

Who it’s perfect for: Streamers looking for the easiest solution

For the streamers looking for the simplest solution, we recommend going with Express VPN. You can try out the VPN service for free with a 30-day trial.

Super easy to use

On the off chance you’re not super technologically savvy, no worries—ExpressVPN will be your best friend.

Express VPN is one of those just-a-click-of-the-button kind of services. Instead of having to track down the best servers to connect with in a certain area, Express VPN automatically hooks you up with the fastest speeds possible.

From what we experienced, most VPNs struggled on mobile devices. Either we had a hard time figuring out how to connect, or the connection we ended up with was super laggy. That’s why we were surprised that using Express VPN was just as easy on mobile as it was on computer. We literally started streaming as if we were in New York within a few minutes of downloading the app.

A little on the expensive side

Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll be paying for ExpressVPN.

  • 1 month for $12.95 a month
  • 6 months for $9.99 a month
  • 15 months for $6.67 a month

As you can see, the more time you sign up for, the cheaper your monthly price will be. Compare this to NordVPN, where you can pay as little as $3.29 a month, and you can see ExpressVPN isn’t the cheapest VPN on the market. But we think it’s worth the few extra bucks a month for its simplicity. Still, you might want another service if you’re looking for the absolute cheapest option out there.

Thankfully, ExpressVPN offers a free trial plus a 30-day, money-back guarantee. Try it out, enjoy a VPN free, and see what you think of the service.

Device compatibility

You can use ExpressVPN with your  desktop computer, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Android, and other mobile devices and tablets.

#2 NordVPN: Cheap VPN that works really well

What we like about it: Smart Play technology

Drawbacks: Blocked by some websites

Who it’s perfect for: Streamers looking for the best value

For the streamers on a budget, NordVPN does a good job making things simple. You can try out NordVPN for free with a trial.

The magic of smart play

What really impressed us right off the bat was NordVPN’s Smart Play feature. In a nutshell, Smart Play automatically sets you up with the right server to bypass any geo restrictions for what you want to watch. You don’t need to worry about selecting servers—Smart Play will do all the hard work for you.

That being said, we did run into a few instances of being blocked. For whatever reason, some services are wary of NordVPN and might block you from watching something out of market. For example, we were trying to test the watch ABC app in our area (which doesn’t offer ABC streaming coverage) with NordVPN, and we were prevented access.

Great value for a VPN provider

Here’s a breakdown of what you’d be paying for NordVPN.

  • 6 months for $7 a month
  • 12 months for $5.75 a month
  • 24 months for $3.29 a month

Just like ExpressVPN, the longer you sign up for, the cheaper the price per month. So, you’ll need to make a decision based on how long you think you’ll be using the VPN service. For example, if you’re mostly using the VPN to watch sports, you can go for the 6-month subscription that covers the majority of a season. If you love NBC shows but can’t stream them in your area, you may just want to opt in to the 24-month subscription.

No matter what subscription you choose, you’re getting a good deal. Don’t stress about it too much—you can always back out during your trial period for a full refund.

Device compatibility

You can use NordVPN with your computer, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Android, and other mobile devices and tablets.

#3 VyprVPN: Best streaming quality

What we like about it: Pulls off 4K streaming

Drawbacks: Not as many servers

Who it’s perfect for: Streamers looking for the fastest speeds

VyprVPN’s calling card is super fast download speeds that allow you to stream in 4K. You can try out VyprVPN for free with a 3-day trial.

Fastest download speeds around

Where other VPNs go through third-party servers, VyprVPN controls its own network, which makes for speeds capable of streaming in 4K. No other VPN we tested matched the speeds that VyprVPN throws down. VyprVPN doesn’t have quite as many servers as the other VPN services, but with over 720 servers to choose from, you shouldn’t have a problem finding the right location to stream from.

A bit of warning here—just because VyprVPN offers fast download speeds doesn’t mean your internet connection will magically become much better (even though that would be amazing). Think of a VPN as wearing a mask. You may look different with a mask on (and fool people into thinking you’re somebody different), but you’re still the same person underneath the mask. Likewise, your internet speed is still the driving force behind the VPN. So, you’ll want a strong internet speed to get the most out of VyprVPN.

Short “get to know you” period

First impressions can be a bit misleading, and three days is a short time to figure out if you want to commit to a service in the long term. If you don’t cancel before that cut-off point, you’ll be locked into whatever plan you picked.

Speaking of pricing plans, let’s run through those.

  • 1 month for $9.95 a month
  • 12 months for $5 or $6.67 a month (depending on if you get the premium subscription or not)

If you’re weighing your options between a basic and premium subscription, the major difference is that a premium subscription gives you more simultaneous connections, and helps you bypass any VPN restrictions.

You’re seeing that right—VyprVPN offers only two options for contract lengths. If you’re willing to lock into a year, your monthly subscription fee gets pretty cheap, but then again, year-long commitments can be scary. If you decide to give the free trial a go, take advantage of those three days and really figure out if VyprVPN fits your needs.

Device compatibility

You can use VyprVPN with your computer, laptop, iPhone, iPad, Android, and other mobile devices and tablets.

A few other VPN providers we’d recommend

If none of these VPNs are doing it for you, you may try a few other services we’ve tested and liked (not enough to put them in our top three, but worth mentioning). Here are a few other VPNs to consider.

IPVanish VPN

A lot of people swear by IPVanish, and for good reason. It’s a solid VPN with fast speeds and pretty good prices. For whatever reason, IPVanish VPN does struggle with upload speeds, but if you’re not planning on hosting anything, this shouldn’t deter you.

TorGuard VPN

For the technically savvy users, TorGuard gives you far more customization options than other VPNs. If you’re looking for anonymous proxy and VPN service in one bundle, you’ve come to the right VPN. If that last sentence didn’t make any sense, you might be better off with a more basic VPN.

TunnelBear VPN

Our favorite thing about TunnelBear? You can use it for free. You’ll have to deal with the service being a little slower than others, and it does collect information on how you use it, but if that doesn’t bother you, you’re getting away with a free VPN. You can also sign up for a paid subscription with TunnelBear VPN, but we think your money would be better spent elsewhere.

Private internet access VPN

If you’re looking for the bargain-basement VPN, you might want to think about Private Internet Access. You’re getting what you pay for with slower internet speeds and a low VPN server count, but if that’s all you need, you can get a great deal.

PureVPN

If you’re looking for something super simple, you may like PureVPN, but in our opinion the service was just too slow. In fact, it was the slowest of all the VPNs we tested—although we did think it was interesting that you can pay with bitcoin.

For those of us who aren’t super familiar on how VPNs work, read below and figure out how you can bypass geo restrictions with a VPN.

What are VPN services?

Have you heard of an IP address? It’s like your home address but for your computer or mobile device. A VPN (virtual private network) service changes your IP address to appear as if you are accessing the internet from a different geographic location.

For example—let’s say I live in Houston and want to watch the Astros using the MLB app. Usually, I would be blacked out because I’m living in a local market, but with a VPN, I could trick the app into thinking I live in Cleveland. Then, I could watch all the Astros games I want.

As another example, let’s say that I want to watch The Bachelor, but my streaming service doesn’t carry ABC in my area. I can use a VPN to change my location to a market that does carry ABC. See where we’re going with this?

In addition to bypassing geographic restrictions, a VPN adds an additional layer of internet security. Hackers can’t access your devices if they can’t get on the same internet connection. Remember what the P stands for in VPN? Private. No one else can get access to your VPN.

Are VPN services legal? Are they safe?

Let’s cut to the chase—yes, VPNs are completely legal. Don’t feel like you’re starting a life of crime because you downloaded a VPN client. However, be aware, if you do anything illegal on your VPN, that will probably end up being a problem. A VPN may help cover your tracks, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get away with doing whatever you want.

In terms of safety, VPNs are perfectly safe—as long as you sign up with a reputable VPN service. All of the VPNs we recommend below are verifiably safe, so you won’t need to worry about your information being stolen or your devices being attacked.

How do VPN services work?

The process of using a VPN will depend on what service you end up using, but the overall gist should be the same. Essentially, all you need to do is choose what location you want to stream from, hit a button, and you’re VPNing. Don’t worry—we’ll run through the process step by step.

Getting a VPN on your desktop

Once you sign up for a VPN and create an account, it’s going to ask you to download the program. Do that, and after the download finishes, you can start it up and log in, and you’ll be greeted with something that looks like this:

The first thing you want to do is choose your location. So, if you want to stream a local sports game, you’ll want to connect to a different city in the US. Or if you want to watch a British network, you’ll want to connect to servers in Great Britain.

After you select a server, just hit the button power button in the middle and let it connect, and you’re golden. Go ahead and stream what you want.

Using a VPN on your mobile device

First things first, you need to download the app for whatever VPN you decide to go with. Check out your App Store on your device, search for the VPN, and hit the download button. Once that finishes, open up the app and create an account.

With the app downloaded and your account created, you should see something like this about logging in:

Next, before doing anything else, you’ll want to hit the Choose Location button.

Once you’ve chosen a location you want to stream from, hit that power button, let it connect, and you’ll be good to go.

Streaming with a VPN on your TV

Currently, you can’t easily download a VPN service directly on a streaming device. But never fear! We have ways of making VPNs still work on your TV.

First, you’ll need to operate your VPN primarily from your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Once you’re running your VPN and streaming something on your device, cast the feed to your Apple TV, Chromecast, or similar device. Yes, you will need a streaming device to cast from your device to your TV. Chances are you already have one, but if you don’t, it’s definitely time to think about buying one.

You can check out our favorite streaming devices here.

If you’re not interested in picking up a streaming device, you can also connect an HDMI cord between your desktop or laptop computer and your TV. Just make sure that both your computer and your TV have HDMI ports.

Choose the best VPN provider for you

Each of these VPNs will work just fine—you just need to decide which is the best fit for you. Whether you value 4K streaming, overall simplicity, or mobile accessibility, there’s a VPN for you.

Do you have any questions about VPNs that we didn’t answer here? Let us know in the comments.

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