Best VPNs for Windows

Windows users have their pick of the litter when it comes to VPNs. As the most popular operating system in the world, almost every VPN service caters to Windows users. Most of their apps work on all recent versions of the operating system including Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

We’ll cover each VPN we recommend in detail. If you are looking for a quick recommendation, here is a summary list of the best VPNs for Windows:

  1. ExpressVPN Our #1 Choice! Fast and reliable with great privacy protection. Supports most streaming including Netflix. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. NordVPN Best budget option offering vast server selection, security and fast connections.
  3. Surfshark Privacy-oriented provider that offers decent speeds and excellent unblocking capabilities.
  4. CyberGhost Good value choice, over 5,700 servers, private and secure.
  5. VyprVPN Owns all its own servers for excellent speed and uptime.
  6. PrivateVPN Great up-and-coming VPN, good value for money.
  7. Hotspot Shield A fast and versatile service with strong security features built-in.

The wide range of VPNs makes it difficult to narrow down the criteria by which to judge the best Windows VPN. The best VPN for unblocking Netflix and Hulu on Windows, for example, might not be the best VPN for torrenting on Windows.

Because of that, we looked for the best VPNs for Windows with the best all-around performance, security, design, and customer support. Note that all of the VPNs on this list should also work with recent Microsoft Surface models, which run full Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 operating systems.

A VPN, at its core, is a privacy tool. Microsoft has built some known tracking and advertising features into Windows 10 that impose on users’ privacy. The company has a history of cooperating with the NSA in bulk data collection, as exposed by Edward Snowden. For these reasons, we prefer VPNs that keep no logs of user activity and are based outside of the United States.

The best VPN for Windows 7

Our criteria for choosing the best VPN for Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 include:

  • Logging policy
  • Security
  • Speed
  • App design
  • Customer support
  • Ability to unblock websites

Here is our 2020 list of the best VPNs for Windows 7, 8 & 10:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Nov 2020 Works with WindowsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, which is beyond the jurisdiction of both the USA and UK governments. It keeps no traffic logs and uses the strongest available security, including 256-bit AES encryption and perfect forward secrecy. Users can choose from over 3,000 servers located in 94 countries. Live chat support is available around the clock. ExpressVPN can unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO Now as at the time of writing.

Speeds are generally fast and reliable, ensuring fast downloads and high quality streaming video without buffering. A kill switch and leak protection come baked into the app.

Apps are also available for MacOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and certain wifi routers.

Pros:

  • Fast speeds
  • Works with all major streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Prime, BBC and others
  • Industry-leading security and privacy
  • Allows torrenting
  • 24/7 customer support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • Lack of advanced configurations

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR WINDOWS DEVICES:ExpressVPN is our top choice. Reliably unblocks all major streaming services with exceptional speeds for buffer-free HD viewing. Top-notch security and privacy. Try it risk-free with the 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

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2. NordVPN

NordVPN Works with WindowsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Panama-based NordVPN offers customers specialized servers such as anti-DDoS for super stable connections, ultra-fast streaming for high-quality video, double VPN for extra privacy, and Tor over VPN for extra anonymity. It stores neither traffic logs or metadata logs on users. NordVPN uses strong channel encryption and customer service responded quickly to support tickets in our testing. NordVPN can unblock Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and HBO Now as of the time of writing.

NordVPN operates more than 5,200 servers in over 60 countries. You can choose servers from a map or a list. Speeds are decent and in most cases should be enough to stream video in HD and quickly download files. Perfect for streaming on any Windows 7 or higher computer.

Pros:

  • Massive range of servers
  • Works well with streaming services
  • Low cost
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • The app can be slow to connect
  • Some servers can be slow

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST BUDGET CHOICE:NordVPN is a good value all-rounder. A great value option that works well with most streaming services, including Netflix. Great privacy and security credentials. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full NordVPN review.

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3. Surfshark

SurfShark VPN works with windowsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, and accordingly doesn’t log any personally identifiable information. It has over 1,700 servers in 60+ countries and is more than fast enough for streaming, torrenting, or general web browsing. This service secures your traffic with IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection, 256-bit AES encryption, and a kill switch (in all versions of the software).

This VPN is capable of unblocking platforms like Netflix and BBC iPlayer from abroad. It also blocks ads and malware automatically, so there should be nothing to distract you from your favorite shows. Finally, Surfshark includes a NoBorders feature that allows you to bypass country-wide internet blocking, and it even works in China. 24-hour support is available via live chat.

Surfshark provides apps for Windows 7, 8 & 10, Android, iOS, MacOS, and Linux systems. It can be manually configured for use with home routers too.

Pros:

  • Wide range of security features
  • Keeps no logs
  • Fast enough for HD live streaming

Cons:

  • Fairly small network
  • We found some slow speeds during testing

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

PROTECT EVERY DEVICE:Surfshark works great on Windows systems, but it also lets you secure every device you own. Strong privacy protections, great unblocking potential, and a 30-day money-back guarantee make this VPN well worth your time.

Read our full Surfshark review.

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4. CyberGhost

Cyberghost Works with WindowsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

Romania-based CyberGhost upped its game in the past year with a slew of new servers, features, and websites it can unblock. The company doesn’t keep any logs of user activity nor their real IP addresses. Connections are reliable and CyberGhost scored well in our speed tests. The tunnel to the VPN server is secured with 256-bit AES encryption. Live chat is available to help 24/7 and in 4 different languages.

The Windows app allows users to choose their server not only by location but according to what they want to use it for. Whether you want to bypass a firewall put in place by a country’s government or your office management, secure a public wifi connection, or unblock a specific streaming site, CyberGhost has you covered. You can even choose a server based on the specific streaming site you want to unblock, which at this time includes Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and more. Additional features include anti-tracking and adblocking.

Apps are also available for MacOS, iOS, and Android.

Pros:

  • Fast speeds
  • Works with Netflix
  • Keeps no logs
  • Strong security features
  • Low cost

Cons:

  • Doesn’t work in China or UAE

Our score:

4 out of 5

Beginner friendly:CyberGhost is simple to set up. Another value choice with good security features. Comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full CyberGhost review.

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5. VyprVPN

VyprVPN Works with WindowsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.VyprVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Switzerland-based VyprVPN is the only major provider to own and operate all of its own data centers around the world. That guarantees quick speeds and top-notch stability, not to mention airtight security. Excellent apps make installation and use a breeze, and monitoring usage is simple with real-time visualized feedback. Users can live chat with customer support should they encounter any problems or concerns. VyprVPN can unblock US Netflix as of time of writing.

VyprVPN is a favorite among users in China. It’s a veteran when it comes to bypassing the Great Firewall censorship system so you can access all your favorite news, social media, and entertainment while in China.

Pros:

  • Works in China
  • Fast speeds
  • Keeps no logs
  • Works with many streaming services

Cons:

  • A little expensive
  • Does not allow torrenting

Our score:

4 out of 5

User friendly:VyprVPN is reliable. Excellent speed and uptime as all servers are owned by VyprVPN. Not the cheapest option. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of VyprVPN.

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6. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN Works with WindowsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Sweden-based PrivateVPN is a relative newcomer in the VPN market, but it’s growing fast. Despite its smaller network of servers, speeds are excellent and it has been able to unblock almost everything we’ve thrown at it thus far. That includes Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and more. You use it on your Windows 7 computer plus you can connect up to five more devices at one time on a single plan. Live chat support is available during business hours.

PrivateVPN does not log users’ activity nor how they use the VPN. You can choose between TAP and TUN interfaces, which are protected with 128-bit and 256-bit AES encryption, respectively. A kill switch and leak protection come built-in.

Apps are also available for MacOS, iOS, and Android.

Pros:

  • Fast speeds
  • Works with all major streaming services
  • Good security features
  • Good value

Cons:

  • No 24/7 live chat support
  • Smaller range of servers than rival VPNs

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

Up to 6 Devices:PrivateVPN good family choice. Unblocks popular geo-blocked sites. Also good for browsing and torrenting. Could do with having more servers and lacks 24/7 support. 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of PrivateVPN.

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7. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield works with windowsTested Nov 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Hotspotshield.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

Hotspot Shield is based in the US, but don’t worry: it doesn’t log any personally identifiable information once your session ends. With over 3,200 high-speed servers across 70+ countries and powerful security features including 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks, this VPN lets you stream and torrent almost completely anonymously.

This VPN offers automatic wifi protection and partial split tunneling support (allowing websites but not apps to bypass the VPN). It’s capable of unblocking a wide range of geo-blocked services including some major Netflix libraries along with Hulu, BBC iPlayerAmazon Prime Video and AT&T TV Now from abroad. The apps are minimalistic and very easy to use but if you need help, live chat-based support is on-hand 24/7.

Hotspot Shield comes with apps for Windows, iOS, Android, and MacOS.

Pros:

  • Unblocks many major geo-blocked platforms
  • Takes your security seriously
  • Consistently high speeds

Cons:

  • Spotty record on privacy
  • Split tunneling only works for specific websites, not apps

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

VERY HIGH SPEEDS:Hotspot Shield is ideal for Windows users thanks to its high speeds, strong security focus, and exceptional unblocking ability. Its plans even include a 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full Hotspot Shield review.

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How to set up a VPN on Windows 7, 8 & 10

All of the VPN providers we recommend above make their own apps for Windows. Windows has built-in support for VPNs, but it requires manually configuring a connection for each server you wish to connect to. This can get tedious quickly, plus you won’t be able to take advantage of all the features built into the providers’ apps. These include kill switches, leak protection, auto-reconnect, etc.

Furthermore, the baked-in support for VPNs in Windows is limited when it comes to protocols. Windows doesn’t support OpenVPN by default, which is open-source and generally considered the most secure.

Here’s how to set up a VPN on Windows 7, 8 or 10:

  1. Sign up for an account with the provider of your choice, ExpressVPN is our preferred option.
  2. Download the app for your version of Windows from the provider’s website.
  3. Click on the downloaded file to install the app and follow the instructions in the setup wizard
  4. Once installed, run the app
  5. (Optional) Select a server. Most VPN apps will connect you to the nearest server if you don’t choose one. If you want to unblock content that’s restricted to a certain country, for example, select a server in that country.
  6. Hit Connect and wait for the connection to establish.

And that’s it! Most VPN apps will notify you when the connection is ready. It typically takes less than 30 seconds. Any internet traffic going to or from your computer will first be encrypted and travel through the VPN server.

Disable IPv6 for better security

In more recent versions of Windows, the operating system sends DNS requests for web pages using both the IPv4 and IPv6 protocols, simultaneously. Whichever one comes back first is used to establish a connection with a web server. This helps web pages load faster–often by only a few milliseconds–but it can cause problems when you’re trying to unblock a geographically restricted website like Netflix or Hulu.

Most commercial VPNs are only equipped to handle IPv4 requests. Those IPv4 requests go through the VPN tunnel and are resolved by the VPN provider’s DNS servers. But if the IPv6 request bypasses the tunnel and is sent over the normal non-encrypted network, it will go to the nearest public or ISP-run DNS server, revealing the user’s true location. The DNS server mismatch is a dead giveaway for websites like Hulu and apps like Netflix, which will return an error saying the user must first disable the proxy before watching a video. It also lets your ISP snoop on your activity, although to a lesser degree than if you were not using a VPN at all.

Here’s how to disable IPv6 in Windows:

  1. Right-click the network icon (usually a wifi symbol) in your system tray and select Open network and sharing centerdisable ipv6 windows 1
  2. In the window that appears, click the link with the name of your network. If you’re on wifi, it will have (Wi-Fi) in parenthesesdisable ipv6 windows 2
  3. In the next window that pops up, click Propertiesdisable ipv6 windows 3
  4. Uncheck the entry for Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)disable ipv6 windows 4
  5. Click OK to save your changes and restart your computer

Windows VPN FAQ

Can I use a free VPN for Windows 7, 8 or 10?

So-called “free VPNs” are best avoided. While they don’t require payment like those on this list, they can actually reduce your privacy by injecting tracking cookies and advertisements into your web browser. Furthermore, they typically have data caps and bandwidth limits, not to mention a far more restricted range of servers.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re not buying the product, then you are the product.

Which is the best VPN for Windows mobile?

While VPN apps are practically omnipresent for desktop versions of Windows, the opposite is true when it comes to Microsoft’s unpopular mobile operating systems. Therefore, the criteria by which to judge a VPN provider on Windows Phone 8.1 and Windows 10 Mobile deviate from the desktop criteria.

For this reason, we’ve written a separate article detailing the best VPNs for Windows Phone and Windows 10 Mobile here. Likewise, we have another list made specifically for Windows 10 VPN recommendations.

Will a VPN help when Windows 7 is not updated anymore?

It's possible that a VPN could prevent a future vulnerability found in Windows 7 from being exploited. Hackers scanning for vulnerable IP addresses wouldn't be able to find or launch attacks against your device while you're connected to the VPN, for example.

But there could also well be future vulnerabilities that a VPN can't help with. Comparitech always urges readers to keep operating systems and software up to date for the best security possible. A VPN is not a replacement for antivirus and system security updates.

How do I create a PPTP VPN connection on Windows 7?

First, we do not recommend using PPTP if you want a secure VPN connection. PPTP has known security flaws that make it vulnerable to attack.

If you insist on setting up a PPTP VPN connection on Windows 7, you first need to ensure that your VPN provider and server support it. You'll need the server address, your username, and your password.

With that information in hand, here's how to set up a PPTP connection on Windows 7:

  1. Right click the network icon in the system tray (bottom right) and select Open Network and Sharing Center
  2. Click Set up a new connection or network > Connect to a workplace > Use my Internet connection (VPN)
  3. When asked if you want to use a connection that you already have, choose No, create a new connection and hit Next
  4. In the Internet address field, enter the server address. Enter whatever you want in the Destination name field.
  5. Check Don't connect now, just set it up so I can connect later and hit Next
  6. Enter your VPN User name and Password. If your VPN provider gave you a domain to enter, do so here. Hit Create.
  7. Click Close
  8. Back in the Network and Sharing Center, click Change adapter settings
  9. Find the connection you just set up. Right-click it and select Properties
  10. Click the Security tab...
    1. Under Type of VPN choose Point to Point Tunneling Protool (PPTP)
    2. Adjust the remaining options according to your VPN provider's instructions.
    3. Click OK
  11. Back in Network Connections, double click the connection you set up
  12. Click Connect

After a few moments, the VPN should establish a connection.

How do I create a VPN server on a Windows 10 computer?

If you want your Windows 10 computer to act as the VPN server instead of the client, then you won't necessarily need to pay for a VPN provider. This setup allows you to route other devices' internet connections through your Windows 10 PC. Note, however, that this won't protect your privacy from your ISP or anyone lurking on the server's network.

Here's how to set up a VPN server on Windows 10:

  1. Open Control Panel and click Network and Sharing Center
  2. In the left sidebar, click **Change adapter settings
  3. In the Network Connections window, click File > New Incoming Connection
  4. Check which users you want to have VPN access to on your computer, or click Add someone and set them up with a new user name and password. Click Next
  5. Check Through the internet and click Next
  6. Check Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click Properties
  7. Check Allow callers to access my local area network
  8. Under IP address assignment, you can choose to assign IPs automatically using DHCP or specifying an IP address range. The latter is preferable but if you're unsure of what IP range to use, you can check your router's DHCP settings. Click OK.
  9. Click Allow access
  10. Click Close

Next, you'll need to allow VPN connections through your Firewall.

  1. Click the Start button and search "Allow an app through Windows Firewall". Choose the top result.
  2. Click Change settings
  3. Next to Routing and Remote Access, check Private and Public
  4. Click OK
  5. Your Windows 10 VPN server is now configured and ready to go. To connect to it from another device, you'll need your server's IP address (just search "what's my IP address?), along with the username and password you created in step four above.