This article will review the best VPNs for Windows 10, serve as a guide on setting up a Virtual Private Network connection, and explain why you should use a Windows 10 VPN to browse, stream, and download. We will also point out some VPNs with poor track records that should be avoided.
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“We will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to protect our customers or enforce the terms governing the use of the services.”
Most of these trackers and telemetry services can be disabled, but they can also be switched back on without your knowledge during an update. Some cannot be turned off at all.
So how can you protect your privacy and keep using Windows 10? First off, check out our giant list of privacy tools; there’s a section just for Windows 10 users.
Next, get a VPN. VPN software encrypts and anonymizes all your online activity. This is important for P2P filesharing so your internet access provider can’t snoop on torrents and other downloads. It also protects you on unprotected public wi-fi networks and even unlocks geo-locked websites and services like Netflix. It does this by issuing a local IP address near the streaming servers you wish to connect to.
We’ll discuss VPNs in detail, but if you don’t want to read the full article, below are the best VPNs for Windows 10 PCs.
Best VPNs for Windows 10:
- NordVPN The best all-around VPN for Windows 10. Faster than its rivals, with solid security and a no-logging policy. Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark A fantastic low-cost option that boasts high speeds and an impressive range of security and privacy features. No VPN connection limit.
- ExpressVPN Easy to set up and use, fast speeds, and airtight security. Unblocks all major streaming sites including Netflix.
- CyberGhost Great security, very fast, and makes it easy to unblock streaming sites like Netflix.
- IPVanish Strong security paired with fast speeds. No logs.
- VyprVPN Strong security, easy to use, and unblocks US Netflix.
We’ve listed our top 5 favorite VPNs for Windows 10 PC users emphasizing the following criteria:
- App quality
- Supports OpenVPN protocol
- DNS leak protection
- Speed and performance
- Ability to unblock streaming services such as Netflix
App quality is pretty self-explanatory. Setup and use of the native Windows client should be easy and intuitive.
The OpenVPN protocol is open-source and audited. It’s relatively fast and widely regarded as the most secure and trusted protocol available. It doesn’t come built into Windows 10 like SSTP, L2TP, and PPTP, so these VPN providers must provide the user with an app that makes setting up OpenVPN easy.
DNS leaks are a known Windows 10 vulnerability, so VPNs that can suppress this are a must. A DNS leak nullifies a user’s anonymity by sending a web page request to their internet service provider instead of to a private DNS server through the VPN service. This allows your ISP and possibly Windows to track your web browsing.
Because Microsoft is based in the US and is known to have complied with the NSA’s bulk surveillance program, we prefer VPN providers based outside of the US to avoid any further conflicts of interest.
Top 6 Best VPNs for Windows 10 PCs
Here are the top 6 best VPNs for Windows 10 users:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Panama-based NordVPN has a true logless policy, meaning it keeps neither connection nor usage logs. Extra features include double-hop encryption, Tor over VPN, and a kill switch. Those plus DNS leak protection can all be switched on in the app settings.
The Windows VPN service client is detailed but not overwhelming for new users. The server list is categorized by recommended use–TV streaming, dedicated IP, Tor over VPN, etc–and each server is pinged so you can see which location offers the least latency. NordVPN can unblock Netflix.
- Windows 10 app works well
- Vast server location network is very capable at unblocking most geo-restricted content
- Faster than any other major provider
- Excellent security tools
- Zero-logs policy
- Sometimes takes desktop apps a little longer to connect
BEST VPN FOR WINDOWS 10:NordVPN is our first choice. A real contender in all categories, with strong security features and the fastest speeds we’ve seen. It even has a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our review of NordVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is a younger VPN provider that excels at unblocking region-locked content like Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video from abroad. The service employs strong encryption and keeps zero logs. Torrenting is allowed, and kill switches prevent data leaks on both mobile and desktop apps.
Live chat support is available around the clock. Best of all, Surfshark doesn’t put restrictions on how many devices you can connect at once, making it a great budget option for a family or group of housemates.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Linux.
- Unblocks Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video
- No limit on number of devices connected
- Fast enough for almost any purpose
- Impressive security offering
- Keeps no logs and accepts a variety of cryptocurrencies
- A relatively small server network
- Some slow speeds
BEST BUDGET VPN:Secure your Windows PC as well as all your other gadgets without worrying about hitting a device limit. Surfshark is inexpensive and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Surfshark review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Ever among the top 5 in almost any category, ExpressVPN makes this list for its superb app. The Windows VPN software is the simplest option for those who want something that just works without fuss, and it boasts the fastest average download speed of any VPN we’ve tested so far—great for P2P filesharing and streaming.
Users can opt to use ExpressVPN’s DNS servers whenever connected by toggling it in the advanced settings. ExpressVPN is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands beyond the reach of the GCHQ and NSA, and it keeps no usage logs. It’s also one of the few VPNs to work with Netflix.
- Blazing-fast servers for streaming and downloading
- High-grade encryption, security, and privacy throughout
- Great at unblocking most popular streaming sites from almost anywhere
- Live chat customer support has you covered
- Can only connect 5 devices concurrently
- Few customizable features
HIGHLY SECURE:ExpressVPN is a privacy-focused provider that offers high speeds, a ton of security features, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost VPN offers easy-to-use apps and a large network that spans more than 5,700 VPN servers in over 80 countries. CyberGhost’s premium tier stores no identifying logs and protects your data in transit with 256-bit AES military-grade encryption on the OpenVPN protocol. Live chat is available should you encounter any issues. Speeds are excellent and you can connect up to seven devices at the same time. CyberGhost can unblock US Netflix.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- Windows 10 app is beginner friendly and easy to setup
- Good security and they don’t store user activity logs
- Impressive streaming and downloading speeds
- Doesn’t work in China or the UAE
- May not be flexible enough for power users
VALUE AND PERFORMANCE:CyberGhost is easy to use. Another budget choice. Good on privacy. Streams HD video reliably. Can struggle with some popular streaming sites. 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
US-based IPVanish uses OpenVPN with strong encryption and features a true zero logs policy, meaning it records neither session nor traffic logs. It’s one of the only VPNs to sport a Tier 1 network, meaning it owns all of its own servers rather than renting physical or virtual space from someone else. Because of that, we’ve overlooked the fact that it’s based in the US.
IPVanish boasts a selection of almost 60 countries and all VPN connections are DNS leak protected.
- No issues using their Windows 10 app during testing
- Keep no logs on user activities and have solid security settings
- Good speeds for streaming
- Some servers don’t perform well with Netflix or Hulu
- Apps don’t work in China
LARGE NETWORK:IPVanish is great for families. Solid Windows 10 app. Good at unblocking most geo-restricted content. Recommend for their high standard of connection privacy. Could do with a live support option. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of IPVanish here.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Most of VyprVPN’s team is located in the US, but parent company Golden Frog is officially incorporated in Switzerland. The app gives a graphical readout of real-time data use and a transparent overview of your connection settings including IP address, protocol, and whether the NAT Firewall is enabled or not. DNS leak protection can be toggled in the settings.
The slick app comes at a bit higher cost than some competitors, but it’s within reason. One downside to consider is VyprVPN’s logging policy: your real IP address, VyprVPN address, and connection logs are stored for up to 30 days. VyprVPN can unblock American Netflix.
- Slick Windows 10 app
- Fast speeds are great for streaming and downloading
- Provides secure, private connections
- Not many user options for advanced configuration
- Cheaper providers above
- No cryptocurrency payment method
UNLIMITED DATA USAGE:VyprVPN is user friendly. Windows 10 app is easy to use and provides a lot of real-time data. Excellent speed and uptime but not the cheapest option. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of VyprVPN.
VPNs to avoid
When deciding which VPNs Windows 10 users should avoid, free options top the list. We listed a couple here that the typical person would likely find on Google, but the same goes for pretty much all free VPN services.
We passed on several paid VPNs as well because they either don’t protect against DNS leaks, are based in the US, or both.
If you Google “free VPN for Windows,” Betternet will be one of the top search results. Betternet doesn’t collect user logs, but the app itself is part of an ad platform that accesses your cookies to target you with advertisements, videos, and suggested apps. It also doesn’t protect users from DNS leaks. It’s not that Betternet is malicious–in fact, it’s quite transparent in how it operates. We might even recommend the mobile app as a decent free alternative. But for Windows, we have to say pass.
Hide.me is the other free VPN for Windows that ranks high on Google. While it has premium plans that aren’t so bad, the free version limits speed and data transfers to 3 Mbit/s and 2GB, respectively. It also doesn’t support OpenVPN, which is our recommended protocol for security. Free users are limited to three server locations, and port forwarding is not available (useful for torrenting). On the plus side, Hide.me is completely log-free.
Hola is a peer-to-peer proxy browser extension that works sort of like a free VPN but has no centralized servers. Instead, users route their internet traffic through other Hola users’ devices whenever idle bandwidth is available. Depending on your local laws and regulations, that could make you responsible for the activities of other users. Furthermore, Hola once hijacked the computing resources of its users, turning them into a botnet army, to carry out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on websites and distribute pirated materials.
Double-check for DNS leaks
If you want to double-check that your DNS leak protection is working, you can run a DNS leak test here. Run the test with your VPN enabled and then again with it disabled to get an instant readout of the test results.
Can’t unblock Netflix and Hulu? Try disabling IPv6
Even if a VPN advertises DNS leak protection, websites like Hulu and Netflix can sometimes still force a request to leak out over the IPv6 protocol. By default, most VPNs force all DNS requests onto IPv4 and avoid IPv6 altogether. But if IPv6 is enabled on your device, this might not stop an IPv6 DNS leak on Windows 10.
First off, make sure you ask your VPN provider’s customer support if they have servers that unblock US Netflix and Hulu. If it does and you are connected to one of those servers, but the site still detects you are using a VPN service, then you may need to disable IPv6.
To do so, follow these instructions:
- Right-click the wifi or LAN icon in your system tray and click “Open Network and Sharing Center”
- On the Window that appears, click the link for your network next to “Connections”
- Click Properties
- Uncheck the entry for “Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)”
- Press “OK” to save changes, then restart your computer
IPv6 is now disabled, and you should no longer leak IPv6 DNS requests.
How to manually set up a VPN on Windows 10
With all of the above providers, you need only download and install software to get up and running with a VPN on Windows. Connecting is as simple as logging in, choosing a location, and hitting the Connect button.
But if an app doesn’t suit you, Windows 10 has built-in VPN support that can be manually configured. The OS doesn’t support OpenVPN however, so we recommend choosing from L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, or IKEv2. Avoid PPTP; even though it can be faster and is slightly easier to set up, it has known security vulnerabilities.
To get started, you’ll need to get the following information from your VPN provider according to your chosen protocol:
- VPN server address
- Pre-shared secret or certificate
- In the search bar, type “VPN” and click the menu cog at the top of the search results.
- On the menu that pops up, click Add a VPN connection
- Under VPN provider, choose Windows (built-in). Fill in all of the other information mentioned above accordingly.
- Hit Save
- The VPN should now be listed in the VPN menu. Click it and then hit Connect
- Wait a moment for the VPN connection to be completed, and that’s it! You’re connected.
- After you set your VPN up the first time, you can access it more quickly by clicking the wifi icon in your system tray. It should be listed near the top.
Find the best VPN for Windows 10 that suits you
Ultimately, the best VPN for Windows 10 is the VPN you use. If you find the VPN service unreliable, slow, or unintuitive to use, go with something else. If it’s too cumbersome to turn on when you connect to public wi-fi, then there’s no point in having it. All of the providers we recommend offer money-back guarantees, so you can try them with no risk.
VPN for Windows 10 FAQ
Does Windows 10 have a built-in VPN?
Windows 10 actually comes with a VPN service client pre-installed. This can be found by navigating to Settings > Network and Internet > VPN. However, you’ll have to manually configure it to connect to a server, similar to if you were installing a VPN on a Linux system. Additionally, the Windows VPN has a very limited feature set, without a kill switch or many of the customizable features that its paid rivals offer.
Why do my VPN connections disconnect on sleep mode?
When your device goes to sleep, it shuts off all kinds of services to conserve power. Unfortunately, this often means that your networking abilities are disabled, which leads to your downloads being interrupted and your VPN disconnected. Luckily, this is an easy problem to fix:
- Navigate to Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Change adapter settings
- Next, right-click the network you’re using and select Properties
- Click the Configure button
- Open the Power Management tab on the right and make sure the Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power option is unchecked.
Do I need to disable IPv6 in Windows 10 for my VPN to work?
You don’t technically have to disable IPv6 but most VPN providers don’t support it yet, and as such, personal information can become visible to anyone monitoring the network. For this reason, it’s a good idea to disable IPv6, assuming your VPN doesn’t offer IPv6 leak protection. Here’s how to do this in Windows 10:
- Go to Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center
- Click on Change adapter settings in the menu on the left
- Find your network in the list, right-click it, and select Properties
- Now, simply untick the box labeled Internet Protocol version 6 (TCP/IPv6)
Does Windows Defender have a VPN?
No, Windows Defender, Microsoft’s built-in antivirus, does not include a VPN.
Can you run multiple VPNs at the same time on Windows 10?
Generally speaking, no, you cannot run more than one VPN at a time on Windows 10. Most VPN clients will conflict with one another.
It might be possible to set up split tunneling so that some applications use one VPN and other applications use another VPN.
Another option would be to combine a VPN app for Windows, a VPN plugin or extension for your web browser, and/or a VPN on your wi-fi router.
Stacking VPNs could have a serious impact on performance and speed. If you’re using two VPNs simultaneously, for example, your data will have to be encrypted and decrypted twice over, and it will have to travel through both VPN servers to reach its destination.
How do I turn off VPN on my PC?
Open your VPN app and click the Disconnect button. If you’ve manually configured your VPN, you can turn it off from the network icon in your system tray. This will be either a wi-fi icon or a LAN icon in the bottom right of your screen.