Best VPNs for remote workers and freelancers

With high-speed internet, advanced device technology, and a wide range of online tools at our disposal, many of us can work from virtually anywhere. The ease of working remotely means that a whopping 83 percent of businesses already have or are planning to roll out a flexible workspace policy. What’s more, the number of freelancers and workers who work fully remotely is constantly on the rise. And in some cases, circumstances beyond our control force people to work from home. Take the recent coronavirus pandemic, for instance.

While working remotely can be relatively straightforward, it does come with risks, including those related to online security and privacy. Thankfully, plenty of great tools are at your disposal, the most important one being a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This will encrypt all of the traffic going to and from your device, keeping it safe from prying eyes. As a bonus, a VPN routes your traffic through an intermediary server. This means you can use it to spoof your location and access region-locked or censored content.

We’ll go into more detail about these below, but here’s our list of the best VPNs for remote workers.

Best VPNs for remote workers and freelancers:

  1. ExpressVPN: Our first choice for remote workers. ExpressVPN boasts excellent speeds and is extremely reliable. It comes with a no-fuss 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. NordVPN: This provider packs a suite of security extras and has a huge server network.
  3. CyberGhost: This VPN offers strong security features and great speeds.
  4. Hotspot Shield: Another provider with top speeds and excellent security features, Hotspot Shield is another solid choice for a work-from-home VPN.
  5. IPVanish: If you’re looking for speed, privacy, and reliability, this could be another great pick.
  6. Surfshark: This provider allows you to customize security and has plenty of server locations.
  7. PrivateVPN: Known for its strong privacy features, PrivateVPN is a small but powerful VPN.

A simple web search for VPNs will deliver a ton of results. However, they come in a broad range in terms of quality, performing differently in areas such as speed, security, customer service, and more. We used the following criteria when making our selections:

  • Has excellent speeds
  • Provides reliable connections
  • Uses strong encryption and other security features
  • Offers servers across the globe
  • Doesn’t log user data
  • Provides solid customer support

Best VPNs for remote workers

Here is our list of the best VPNs for remote workers:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN Apr 2020

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.ExpressVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

ExpressVPN is our top pick for remote workers and freelancers. It offers blazing-fast speeds, and reliable connections, so you don’t have to worry about a choppy conference call. This provider has an extensive network of more than 3,000 servers in 94 countries, so you can usually find a location that’s close by.

If you do get some downtime while working from home, ExpressVPN has you covered on the entertainment front. It unblocks multiple Netflix libraries, as well as Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer. It can also bypass censorship in countries like China, enabling access to sites like Facebook, Skype, Instagram, and more.

Security is a strong focus of ExpressVPN and you can expect military-grade encryption with perfect forward secrecy, protection against leaks, split tunneling, and a kill switch in the desktop apps. ExpressVPN doesn’t keep logs of any user-identifying data.

Need a VPN on multiple devices? ExpressVPN allows up to five connections at a time and has apps for Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire TV. If you’d prefer to set up the VPN on your home router, you’re in luck, as ExpressVPN has easy-to-use custom firmware that works with select routers. You can also configure the VPN manually on certain routers with compatible firmware. ExpressVPN offers prompt and knowledgeable support via 24/7 live chat, so you can troubleshoot quickly should you run into issues.

Pros:

  • Incredibly fast speeds
  • Large server network
  • Doesn’t keep logs of personal data
  • Strong suite of security features
  • Knowledgeable customer support

Cons:

  • Priced a bit higher than some competitors

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST VPN FOR REMOTE WORKERS:ExpressVPN is our first choice for a freelancer VPN. It’s super-fast, very reliable, and highly secure. It comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee making it a risk-free deal.

Read our in-depth review of ExpressVPN.

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2. NordVPN

NordVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.NordVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

NordVPN has been a mainstay in the industry for many years and continues to provide solid performance across its large network of servers. It currently operates around 5,500 servers in 58 countries. It works in China and other countries where VPNs are normally blocked. Plus, it’s excellent at unblocking streaming sites, including several Netflix libraries, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

NordVPN has one of the largest selections of security options out there. Features include strong encryption, perfect forward secrecy, a kill switch in all apps except Android, protection against leaks, and automatic wifi protection. It also provides a wide selection of obfuscated servers that can help you avoid web filtering techniques such as deep packet inspection (used in China). NordVPN has a policy of keeping no logs whatsoever.

You can use the VPN on up to six devices under one subscription. Apps are provided for Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. There’s support for some home routers too.

Pros:

  • Expansive server network
  • Lots of security features
  • Great for streaming
  • No-logs provider

Cons:

  • The desktop app can be slow

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

BEST BUDGET VPN:NordVPN offers a reliable service, user-friendly apps, and the ability to access all content. Packages come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full NordVPN review.

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3. CyberGhost

Cyberghost

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Cyberghost.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

CyberGhost is another solid VPN worthy of consideration. This provider operates a huge network comprising more than 5,700 servers spanning 89 countries. It has great speeds, so you won’t have to wait forever for that huge project file to download, and it’s very beginner-friendly. If you’re looking to unblock streaming sites, CyberGhost is able to bypass restrictions imposed by a ton of services including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.

You’re covered on the privacy front as CyberGhost keeps no logs, deploys leak protection, and includes a kill switch in all of its apps. Additional security features include 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, and automatic wifi protection on familiar networks.

Apps are available for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, and Android. You can connect up to seven devices simultaneously. Some home routers can be manually configured with the VPN. Customer support is available around the clock.

Pros:

  • Great speeds
  • Expansive server network
  • No-logs provider
  • Solid security

Cons:

  • Lacks some configuration options

Our score:

4 out of 5

SPEEDY AND SECURE:CyberGhost offers a large network, solid speeds, and strong security. Plans include a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full review of CyberGhost.

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4. Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android

Website:  www.Hotspotshield.com

Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS

Hotspot Shield has been busy improving its image in the past few years. It has a growing network of over 3,200 servers in more than 80 countries. It pegs some very fast speeds and enables you to unblock censored and geo-restricted content from all over the globe, including in China.

Hotspot Shield’s proprietary “Catapult Hydra” protocol is reportedly responsible for its high-speed connections. It’s also highly secure and has been endorsed by several highly-reputable cybersecurity firms. You get 256-bit encryption with perfect forward secrecy and a kill switch in all apps. There’s also protection against leaks and automatic wifi protection. Hotspot Shield does keep minimal logs while you’re connected, including your IP address, but deletes them as soon as you disconnect.

Apps may be downloaded for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, and Android. As of recently, you can manually configure the VPN to your home router. Hotspot Shield allows up to five simultaneous connections.

Pros:

  • Extremely fast speeds
  • Proprietary protocol
  • Won’t log user data
  • 45-day refund policy

Cons:

  • Customer support could be better

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

QUICK AND RELIABLE:Hotspot Shield has servers across the globe and offers solid speeds. This company offers a generous 45-day money-back guarantee.

Dive into our Hotspot Shield review.

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5. IPVanish

IPVanish

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.IPVanish.com

Money-back guarantee: 7 DAYS

IPVanish is another great choice for freelancers or others working from home. With great speeds and reliable connections, this VPN is suitable for a host of reasons. It’s especially useful for Kodi users and torrenters as its Android APK can be downloaded directly to your device and is remote control friendly. IPVanish has more than 1,300 servers in over 75 countries. It doesn’t unblock as many streaming sites as rivals, but it does help you unblock Netflix US and UK, among others. It doesn’t currently work in China.

This provider has always hung its hat on offering private and secure service. It has a strict no-logs policy and encrypts your connection with 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, leak protection, and a kill switch in the desktop apps.

Desktop clients are available for Windows and MacOS, and mobile apps can be installed on iOS and Android devices. The VPN is compatible with select home routers. You can connect up to 10 devices at a time under one plan. IPVanish offers 24/7 live chat customer support.

Pros:

  • Solid speeds for browsing and downloading
  • Tight security
  • Reliable customer support

Cons:

  • Not the best for unblocking streaming sites

Our score:

4 out of 5

NO-LOGS VPN:IPVanish is highly secure and has strict no-logs policy. Plans come with a 7-day money-back guarantee.

Discover more from our full review of IPVanish.

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6. Surfshark

SurfShark VPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.Surfshark.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

Surfshark hasn’t been around for long but it proved a worthy contender in the industry right from the outset, with solid speeds, excellent streaming capabilities, and strong security. It has around 1,000 servers in over 60 countries and can unblock all the content you like, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video.

This provider keeps adding to its security suite with existing features including 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, automatic wifi protection, split tunneling, a kill switch in all apps, and leak protection. Surfshark never logs user data.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android, and Surfshark can be manually configured on some home routers. A huge plus is that you can connect an unlimited number of devices at any given time. Surfshark offers 24/7 customer support via live chat.

Pros:

  • Unblocks most content
  • Fast speeds
  • Unlimited connections

Cons:

  • Server network is smaller than that of many rivals
  • Some servers can be slow

Our score:

4 out of 5

NO CONNECTION LIMIT:Surfshark is fast and reliable, and a great unblocker. Plus, you can use it on all devices. Packages include a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Learn more from our in-depth review of Surfshark.

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7. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN

Apps Available:

  • PC
  • Mac
  • IOS
  • Android
  • Linux

Website:  www.PrivateVPN.com

Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS

PrivateVPN is often overlooked due to its small size (it has just over 150 servers in 60 countries). However, it consistently delivers in all other areas including speed, security, streaming, and more. It provides fast, reliable connections and can bypass the toughest blocks. It evades government censorship in China and can unblock Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and more.

PrivateVPN won’t record any of your traffic or connection data and employs 256-bit encryption. This is in conjunction with perfect forward secrecy, a kill switch (in the Windows app), and protection against leaks.

Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.The VPN is compatible with select home routers. PrivateVPN imposes a six-device limit. You can contact customer support via live chat, although it’s unavailable for several hours per day.

Pros:

  • Great speeds
  • Keeps no logs whatsoever
  • Military-grade encryption

Cons:

  • Kill switch is Windows-only
  • Server network is small

Our score:

4.5 out of 5

MALL BUT HIGH-PERFORMANCES:PrivateVPN might be smaller than competitors, but it’s fast, secure, and great at unblocking. The company extends a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Read our full PrivateVPN review.

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Can I use a free VPN for remote working?

When searching for VPNs, you’ll find that there’s an overwhelming number of choices available, including many free options. However, we recommend against using free VPNs. These services tend to come riddled with issues and provide a poor user experience.

Free VPNs operate using a variety of business models, but in most cases, the user is the product. You’ll likely be served a slew of annoying ads while using the VPN, and there’s the likelihood that the provider will track your internet activity to create a user profile that can be sold to third parties.

What’s more, free VPNs usually don’t employ the same encryption standards that paid providers do, and lack features like leak protection and kill switches. Some even carry malware, which is clearly not what you expect when you sign up.

On the practical side, free VPNs have low data caps, so you’re extremely limited on what you can do with them in a day. They’re also slow and prone to dropped connections, not ideal when you’re in the middle of a video chat.

Clearly, when working from home, you need to avoid all of the above issues. Paying a few dollars per month for a reputable paid provider can save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

How do I set up a VPN for remote working?

If you’re new to VPNs, they can sound a bit intimidating. However, they really are very simple to set up. Below are the basic steps.

Here’s how to set up a VPN for remote workers:

  1. Select a suitable provider and pay for your chosen subscription period. We recommend ExpressVPN.
  2. Download the native app for your device. Desktop apps can be found on the provider website and mobile apps in their respective app stores.
  3. Launch the app and log in using your new username and password.
  4. Select a server in a location of your choice. Choose a geographically close server for the fastest speeds, or select one in the appropriate country for unblocking content.

That’s it. You’re now protected and can browse, download, and stream with peace of mind. Note that if you run into any issues, all of the above providers have troubleshooting advice on their websites, or you can contact a support representative.

Why should I use a VPN when working remotely?

When working from home, it’s likely your network will lack many of the security features that are built into networks run by employers. If a hacker is able to access your home network, they can potentially see all information that’s traveling to and from every connected device, including communications, passwords, downloads, and more.

A VPN can protect your home internet connection and prevent exposure to cyberattacks. It encrypts all traffic flowing to and from any device it’s running on. This means that anyone who intercepts that traffic will be unable to read it without the decryption key. A VPN also prevents snooping by other parties, such as government agencies and your internet service provider.

Chances are you’ll have to connect to a public wifi hotspot at some point, such as those in hotels, libraries, coffee shops, and airports. These are usually unsecured and offer prime spots for hackers to attempt to steal your personal information. A VPN will protect your device while you connect to these networks.

VPNs have other benefits too. If you’re in a country where the government censors certain content, then a VPN is your solution. By changing your location to one outside your current country, you can bypass these restrictions and access apps and websites that might otherwise be blocked. This is particularly handy for accessing communication apps like Skype and WhatsApp that you may need in order to work productively.

As a bonus, a VPN can help you unblock other content too. Many streaming, gaming, and other sites restrict their content based on your geographic location. Using a VPN, you can spoof your location and make it appear that you’re in the appropriate country to access content.

Related: Best VPN for businesses in 2020 and some to avoid

Related: 13 cybersecurity tips for staff working remotely