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When you're connecting to Wi-Fi in an airport, at a hotel, in a school, or at a coffee shop, you don't want your data running over a public hotspot that could be corrupted in any of a thousand different ways. And using a VPN at your home or office also makes sense because it will secure your internet traffic.
There is no shortage of top-tier VPN services. But a provider may have a great product for an iPhone or Mac, but come up short in other areas. With that in mind, we're looking at some of the best VPNs for Windows. Not only have these all been put to the test in various reviews, but we also have average benchmark data from our fastest VPNs testing that we're applying to our recommendations.
NordVPN distinguished itself as one of the fastest VPNs, as well as the one that turned in the most consistent Windows performance results from testers across the world. That said, ping speeds were slow enough that I wouldn't want to play a multiplayer first-person shooter game over the VPN. To be fair, this isn't a weakness unique to NordVPN and most services have sub-par ping speeds.
Further reading: Our NordVPN review
NordVPN also has solid capabilities beyond basic VPN. Its P2P sharing functionality makes it an excellent VPN for torrenting. It also comes with options for a dedicated IP address, double VPN, and Onion over VPN. There are add-on services you can purchase, including a password manager and encrypted cloud storage.
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Beyond Windows, NordVPN supports all the most popular platforms, so it's a good option for securing a variety of devices. With a 30-day money-back guarantee you can test it out yourself for a month and get a full refund if it doesn't work for you.
ExpressVPN has server locations in 94 countries, which is a considerably larger network than many of the other top VPN providers. In ZDNET's aggregate speed tests, we found that ExpressVPN for Windows came in just after NordVPN in overall performance, but the performance was predictably consistent with servers located across the world.
ExpressVPN isn't one of the most widely used VPN providers for no reason. It supports a wide range of platforms and protocols, and ExpressVPN is easy to set up and use on just about any device. In addition to Windows, ExpressVPN supports macOS, Linux, iOS, Android, Chromebook, Amazon Fire Tablet, an array of routers, LG and Samsung smart TVs, and various streaming media consoles. Gamers will be happy to know that ExpressVPN works with PlayStation, Xbox, and the Nintendo Switch.
Further reading: Our ExpressVPN review
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Surfshark VPN specifications
Surfshark users will like that, in addition to great VPN functionality, it offers an inexpensive add-on package ($1.49/mo) called Surfshark One. This bundle includes anti-virus software, a non-logging tracker-free search engine, and a data breach list scanner. This is in addition to standard features such as an ad blocker, kill switch, static IP, MultiHop, and split tunneling.
Exclusive offer: Get three free months with a two-year subscription
In our tests, we found no DNS leaks, and to protect against WebRTC leaks there are browser plugins for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge. While connected to Surfshark VPN our transfer speed was only reduced by about 28%, the same performance as NordVPN. Although download speeds were solid in our testing, we did notice that connection times were a bit slower.
Best of all, a Surfshark VPN subscription won't break the bank. ZDNET readers can grab an extra three months free on a two-year subscription. This brings the average monthly cost down to only $2.21.
IPVanish VPN specifications
IPVanish is a solid, highly-flexible product with a useful user interface and fast connection times. It's compatible with Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11. However, the latest version of the app only supports Windows 10 and 11, so you'll have to download the legacy app if you're running Windows 7 or 8.
Also: Our IPVanish review
Windows users will appreciate how highly configurable IPVanish is. Its app makes choosing the optimal server for your VPN connection a breeze by providing ping times and server load information. While the connection times were excellent with IPVanish, the transfer speed lagged behind the other competitors. We also found the VPN connection to be secure, but we weren't able to obscure the fact that we were connecting via a VPN.
ZDNET's best VPN for Windows is NordVPN because it has an excellent combination of speed, performance, and features. Plus, NordVPN has slick, easy-to-use apps for a variety of other platforms, so it'll be able to protect your internet connection from just about any device.
|Best VPN for Windows||Price||Kill switch||Windows support||Simultaneous connections|
|ExpressVPN||$6.67/mo w/1-year plan + 3 free months||Yes||Windows 7 or later||5|
|Surfshark||$2.21/mo w/2-year plan + 3 free months||Yes||Windows 7 or later||unlimited|
|NordVPN||$3.09/mo w/2-year plan + 3 free months||Yes||Windows 7 or later||6|
|IPVanish VPN||$3.33/mo w/1-year plan||Yes||Windows 7 or later||Unlimited|
Given how many factors can influence a VPN's performance, it's unlikely that our testing will accurately reflect a service's performance in your situation. Add to that the fact that everyone's needs are different, and you'll want to test drive a VPN before committing to it for the long-haul. Thankfully, every VPN provider on this list gives you at least 30 days to try out the full service and receive a complete refund if it's not for you.
|Choose this VPN for Windows||If you want...|
|NordVPN||Excellent performance and lots of features|
|ExpressVPN||A massive server network|
|Surfshark||The most affordable option|
|IPVanish or Surfshark||Unlimited connections|
Our list of best VPNs for Windows was created by looking not only at speed and performance, but a number of other factors. The VPN provider had to meet certain minimum standards with its Windows app, such as having essential features like a kill switch. In addition, we also considered the following:
Yes, and no. Windows 10 includes a VPN client. But to run your data through the internet, you need an endpoint. If you're connecting to your corporate VPN server, then you can use Windows' built-in client. But if you want to connect elsewhere, you need a separate VPN service. Plus, the base client is pretty barebones. If you want more advanced features, you'll want to use one of the more premium clients included with the services we're spotlighting.
Not explicitly. My testing of Windows 11 for Arm running on an M1 Mac showed that Intel apps can run on Arm-based devices in emulation. But what does that do for performance? How reliable is it? No idea. It's not something I'd recommend at this early stage.
Yes -- as long as you're running iOS or Android on your phone. All of the VPNs we recommend support multiple simultaneous connections for just this reason. Once you sign up for a service, you can generally run the VPN client on five or more devices at once.
If the services we've profiled in our best Windows VPNs list don't quite do it for you, no problem. There are a number of other services with a level of security and performance to meet your needs.