Updated on: March 1, 2023
Short on time? Here’s the best VPN for Windows in 2023:
- 🥇 ExpressVPN: Easy-to-use Windows app that has excellent security features (and that’s also been independently audited). Also provides blazing-fast internet speeds, excellent streaming and P2P support, and useful extras like split-tunneling. ExpressVPN has flexible payment plans and backs each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
I tested the top VPNs on the market to find the best ones for Windows, but it wasn’t easy. A lot of VPNs either don’t have Windows apps or require you to perform a manual setup on your Windows device. And out of the ones that have Windows apps, many are buggy or are hard to use, lack essential security features, can’t access streaming sites, or have slow speeds.
But the VPNs that made it to this list are the best of the best. They don’t only have user-friendly Windows apps, but they also come with high-level security and privacy features, are able to access many different streaming apps, and maintain fast connection speeds.
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Quick summary of the best VPNs for Windows:
- 1.🥇 ExpressVPN — Best overall VPN for Windows users in 2023. Its Windows app comes with high-end security features and useful extras like split-tunneling, and it’s also extremely easy to use. You also get blazing-fast speeds, excellent streaming and P2P support, and more.
- 2.🥈 Private Internet Access — Customizable Windows app with excellent P2P support. The Windows app provides you with tons of ways to customize your VPN connection, and you also get very good P2P support and access to strong privacy and security features.
- 3.🥉 Proton VPN — Best free VPN for Windows. One of the only free VPNs with unlimited data. You get an open-source and audited Windows app, advanced security features like full leak protection, and split-tunneling.
- 4. NordVPN — Reliable with great security & fast speeds on all servers.
- 5. Surfshark — Good for large families (with cheap plans).
- Comparison of the Best VPNs for Windows in 2023.
🥇 1. ExpressVPN — Best VPN for Windows in 2023
ExpressVPN has the best Windows app in 2023 — it has industry-leading security and privacy features, comes with tons of useful features, and is extremely simple to use.
You also get access to the following high-end security features via the Windows app:
- Lightway — This is the provider’s proprietary protocol, which is designed to provide excellent security and very fast speeds. It’s also open-source, which means anyone can inspect the code for issues.
- Full leak protection — The Windows app provides built-in protection against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks. I ran leak tests on servers in 10+ countries, and I never experienced any leaks.
- RAM-only servers — All of the provider’s servers run on RAM, meaning every server reset wipes all data.
- Perfect forward secrecy — This security feature changes the encryption key for each VPN session to prevent hackers from using compromised past or future keys to spy on your traffic.
I also really like how ExpressVPN’s Windows app underwent an independent security audit in 2021 and a retest in 2022 — on both occasions, only minor issues were found, which were quickly fixed. Plus, the provider’s no-logs policy has been independently audited several times, and it has also been proven true in a server seizure.
It’s also great that the provider’s Windows app has split-tunneling, which lets you choose which apps use the VPN connection, and which apps use your local internet connection. I tested this feature by only routing traffic from Steam through the VPN, and this increased my gaming speeds by about 10%.
I’m also a big fan of the Shortcuts feature, which lets you create 1-click shortcuts for specific apps and sites that show up on your screen after you connect to a server — I always use it to get instant access to Netflix and my bank’s site after I connect to ExpressVPN. Plus, the provider’s Windows app is also very intuitive and has a quick-connect feature that automatically connects you to the fastest server.
ExpressVPN provided me with the fastest speeds on this list, which is not surprising considering this is the fastest VPN on the market — all sites loaded instantly, HD and 4K videos loaded instantly and didn’t buffer, and I downloaded a 20 GB file in only 10 minutes.
You also get other excellent perks with this provider — it’s the best VPN for streaming in 2023, it comes with 3,000+ servers in 90+ countries, and it’s also the best P2P VPN out there, as it allows torrenting on all of its servers.
ExpressVPN allows 5 connections and comes with several paid plans that start at $6.67 / month — it’s one of the more expensive Windows VPNs on the market, but it’s worth it since it provides excellent value. It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee for all plans.
ExpressVPN is my favorite Windows VPN on the market — it includes excellent security and privacy, has useful features, and is very easy to use. The Windows app has been independently audited, and it also comes with advanced security features like full leak protection and perfect forward secrecy. You also get useful extras like split-tunneling and 1-click shortcuts. ExpressVPN has the fastest speeds out there, excellent streaming and P2P support, and a 30-day-money back guarantee on all plans.
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Read the full ExpressVPN review >
🥈 2. Private Internet Access (PIA) — Customizable Windows App + Excellent P2P Support
Private Internet Access (PIA) has a highly customizable Windows app that’s also really simple to use — you can easily change tons of settings, including the encryption level, the kill switch type, and which ports you use. And it’s really great how all the features and VPN settings are spread across different tabs, so that you always know where to find what you need.
Plus, it’s great how the Windows app provides quick, helpful explanations for all settings and features. Also, I like the app’s Wi-Fi automation rules, which are really convenient — for example, you can make the VPN app automatically connect to a server when you connect to unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
PIA is also one of the best torrenting VPNs on the market. It allows P2P traffic across all of its servers and works with top P2P apps like uTorrent, qBittorrent, and Vuze. It also comes with port forwarding, which lets you connect to more peers for faster speeds — in my tests, this increased my download speeds by about 15%. I also like how port forwarding is very simple to use, as you only need to enable it inside the Windows app.
In addition, I really like how the provider’s Windows app is open-source, as this provides excellent transparency. The VPN’s no-logs policy has also been independently audited and proven true in court documents. All of this makes it very easy to trust Private Internet Access.
Also, the Widows app comes with PIA MACE, the best VPN ad blocker on the market — I tested the feature, and it got rid of all ads on different web pages, which made them load faster, and also prevented me from visiting shady sites. And like ExpressVPN, you also get access to split-tunneling and advanced security features like full leak protection, RAM-only servers, and perfect forward secrecy.
In my speed tests, PIA performed really well, but it wasn’t as fast as ExpressVPN — all sites loaded instantly, HD and 4K videos loaded instantly, and it took me 15 minutes to download a 20 GB file (the same file took 5 minutes less to download with ExpressVPN).
Private Internet Access allows 10 connections and offers plans that start at $2.19 / month — they’re very affordable and provide great value, as you also get excellent streaming support, servers in 80+ countries, and more. The VPN covers each purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Private Internet Access has a very intuitive and highly customizable Windows app that provides you with many ways to tweak your VPN connection. You also get really good P2P support, access to strong privacy since the Windows app is open-source, and great security via an excellent ad blocker. PIA also has fast speeds, excellent streaming support, very affordable plans, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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Read the full Private Internet Access review
🥉 3. Proton VPN — Best Free VPN for Windows
Proton VPN is a great pick if you want a free VPN for Windows. It’s actually the best free VPN in 2023 — that’s because this is one of the only VPNs that allows unlimited data on its free plan, so it’s really good for secure web browsing.
In addition, Proton VPN’s free plan provides strong privacy and security. For starters, its Windows app is open-source, and I really like that it has also been independently audited. What’s more, the provider’s no-logs policy has also passed an independent security audit. The free plan also comes with full leak protection, perfect forward secrecy, and full-disk encryption. There’s also split-tunneling (you can split-tunnel both apps and IP addresses).
And even though Proton VPN claims its free plan speeds are “medium,” it performed really well in my tests — sites loaded instantly, HD videos loaded in 2–3 seconds, and 4K videos took less than 5 seconds to load. Plus, I like how you get access to VPN Accelerator, which increases VPN speeds on distant servers. When I enabled that feature, it boosted my VPN speeds by about 30%.
However, the free plan does have limitations. You only get access to 100+ servers in the US, the Netherlands, and Japan, you can only connect 1 device, and you don’t get streaming and P2P support.
Upgrading to the paid version gives you access to all features, including 1,900+ servers in 60+ countries and access to streaming sites like Netflix and Disney+. You can also connect up to 10 devices and get access to NetShield, one of the best VPN ad blockers out there. Plus, you can torrent on dedicated P2P servers in 16+ countries.
Proton VPN’s paid plans start at $3.99 / month, so they’re really affordable. Also, each purchase is backed by a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.
Proton VPN has the best free plan on the market, as it comes with unlimited data. It also provides strong privacy and security via an open-source and audited Windows app, plus advanced features like full leak protection and perfect forward secrecy. The free plan also comes with split-tunneling on Windows and fast speeds. The paid plans add more servers and streaming and P2P support. All plans are backed by a prorated 30-day money-back guarantee.
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Read the full Proton VPN review
4. NordVPN — Reliable With Great Security Features & Fast Speeds
NordVPN provides access to multiple security features that keep your data safe online — like Threat Protection, which is one of the best VPN ad blockers on the market and which also gets rid of malicious ads, blocks connections to shady sites, and protects your device from malware-infected downloads. Even better, Threat Protection remains active even if you’re not connected to a VPN server, which is really convenient.
In addition, there’s Dark Web Monitor, which scans the dark web and alerts you if the login associated with your NordVPN account has been leaked. I’m happy to see this, as this is one of the only VPNs on the market that comes with a dark web monitoring feature.
On top of that, NordVPN also comes with other great security features — it has double VPN servers, which add an extra layer of encryption, and it also comes with obfuscation. Plus, the VPN has its own protocol called NordLynx, which is designed to provide strong security and really fast speeds.
NordVPN also has advanced security features, including full leak protection, RAM-only servers, and perfect forward secrecy. Its strict no-logs policy has been independently audited, and it’s also been proven true when one of the data centers that housed one of its servers suffered a data breach and no user data was compromised.
The provider is also great for streaming and torrenting — it works with multiple popular streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and has a whopping 4,500+ P2P servers. It also provides really good speeds for streaming, torrenting, and other online activities on all of its servers.
I also think NordVPN is a good gaming VPN thanks to its Meshnet feature, which lets you link up to 60 devices over encrypted VPN connections — this helps you host virtual LAN parties securely.
What’s more, this VPN has tons of other perks — it has 5,000+ servers in 55+ countries, comes with split-tunneling, and has really intuitive apps for all major platforms.
NordVPN has budget-friendly plans that start at $4.99 / month. All purchases are backed by a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
NordVPN is highly secure, comes with a ton of features, and maintains good speeds for all online activities. In addition to advanced security features like RAM-only servers and perfect forward secrecy, it also has an ad blocker and dark web monitor. It also works with all streaming services, supports torrenting on more than 4,500 servers, and is also an excellent choice for gaming. NordVPN backs all purchases with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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Read the full NordVPN review here
5. Surfshark — Great VPN for Large Families & Very Affordable
Surfshark allows unlimited connections, which means you can use it on as many devices as you want — so it’s a great option if everyone in your family needs a good VPN. I’m also happy to see this because very few VPNs support unlimited connections.
It comes with really good security features, including CleanWeb, which is one of the best VPN ad blockers out there. In addition, it provides obfuscation, double VPN connections for added security, and IP Rotator, which regularly changes your IP address to make it harder for someone to track your location. The provider also has advanced security features like RAM-only servers and perfect forward secrecy — however, it’s missing full leak protection (but I never experienced any leaks in my tests).
You also get pretty good streaming support, as the VPN can access top sites like Netflix, HBO Max, and BBC iPlayer — though it can’t access Disney+. It also supports P2P downloads across all of its servers.
There are 3,200+ servers in 90+ countries, which makes it simple to use nearby servers for fast speeds. Speaking of speeds, the provider has fast connections on most servers, but I did experience significant slowdowns on very distant servers.
Surfshark is also one of the most affordable VPNs on the market, with plans starting at only $2.30 / month — so it’s also a good pick if you’re on a tight budget. All plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Surfshark is one of the rare VPNs to allow unlimited simultaneous connections, so it’s great for multi-device households and large families. It’s also secure, fast, and works with popular streaming services like Netflix. It has affordable plans and provides a 30-day money-back guarantee for all purchases.
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Read the full Surfshark review here
6. CyberGhost VPN — Great Automation & Streaming on Windows
CyberGhost VPN has a very user-friendly Windows app that comes with convenient automation options. The app is simple to navigate, has a quick-connect feature, and comes with Smart Rules, which allow you to personalize your VPN connection — for example, you can set the VPN app to automatically launch and connect you to a specific VPN server when you open a certain app.
I also like how you get access to 100+ dedicated streaming servers in 20+ countries. These servers are optimized to work with 50+ streaming services, such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, DAZN, Rai Play, and more — basically, these servers refresh their IPs very fast, so it’s harder for streaming apps to detect and block them.
The provider’s Windows app also provides strong security — it comes with Privacy Guard, which lets you protect your privacy against Windows’s intrusive functionalities (like disabling Bluetooth ads or the advertising ID). Also, there’s Content Blocker, which keeps you safe from shady websites. That said, I think it’s a shame that CyberGhost VPN’s Windows app hasn’t been audited like ExpressVPN’s Windows app, or open-sourced like Private Internet Access and Proton VPN’s Windows apps. Unfortunately, there’s no split-tunneling.
CyberGhost VPN allows 7 connections and offers plans that start at only $2.11 / month. It backs the longest plans with a 45-day money-back guarantee, and the shortest plan with a 14-day money-back guarantee.
CyberGhost VPN’s Windows app is really easy to use and provides convenient automation settings. You also get access to dedicated streaming servers that are optimized to consistently work with tons of streaming services. Plus, the app protects you from intrusive Windows functionalities and malicious sites. CyberGhost VPN has affordable pricing, and the long-term plans are backed by a 45-day money-back guarantee.
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Read the full CyberGhost VPN review
7. PrivateVPN — Easy-To-Use Windows VPN With Good Security
PrivateVPN has a very user-friendly Windows app with 2 different viewing modes — Simple View and Advanced View. The Simple View is great if you want to quickly connect to a server and forget about the VPN app, as it only displays the connect button and provides quick access to the server list to manually connect to a server. On the other hand, the Advanced View lets you quickly change different settings, so it’s great to use if you need to tweak your VPN connection before you connect to a server.
I also like how PivateVPN’s Windows app tells you what all features and settings do — you never feel lost while using it. It’s also great that it displays the server ping (how long it takes for your device to communicate with a server), which helps you find the fastest servers.
In addition, you also get strong security via PrivateVPN’s Windows app, as it comes with Stealth VPN (provides obfuscation to hide your VPN traffic), perfect forward secrecy, and Application Guard, which shuts down selected apps if the VPN disconnects. The Windows app also comes with IPv6 and DNS leak protection, but it’s a shame it’s missing WebRTC leak protection, which all of my previous picks include.
PrivateVPN allows 10 simultaneous connections and has flexible payment options, which start at $2.00 / month. All of PrivateVPN’s payment plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.
PrivateVPN provides a very simple Windows app and good security features. It has a Simple View that’s ideal for beginners looking for a minimalistic VPN and an Advanced View that provides access to all of PrivateVPN’s features and functions. PrivateVPN also provides strong security features, including an app-based kill switch and obfuscation. All of its payment plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
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Read the full PrivateVPN review
8. TunnelBear — Great Windows VPN for Large Families
TunnelBear allows unlimited connections, meaning you can use it on as many devices as you want — so it’s a great pick if everyone in your family needs a VPN for their Windows device.
Plus, its Windows app is really easy and fun to use. The design is intuitive, there’s a quick-connect feature, and you can also use a digital map to connect to servers — and when you do, a cute digital bear starts digging a tunnel to the VPN server’s location!
I also like how TunnelBear’s Windows app undergoes regular security audits — plus, the VPN comes with full leak protection and obfuscation. But it’s a shame its Windows app lacks split-tunneling (ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, and Proton VPN have it on their Windows apps).
There’s a free plan, but it’s not as good as Proton VPN’s free plan — it limits you to 500 MB per day, which is only enough for 1–2 hours of web browsing, so you should only use the free plan to test the provider’s Windows app.
TunnelBear’s paid plans start at $4.16 / month, so they’re pretty affordable. Unfortunately, there’s no money-back guarantee.
TunnelBear allows unlimited connections, which makes it a good option for large families who mainly use Windows devices. Its Windows app is very simple to use, and it’s also entertaining because it features cute, animated bears! TunnelBear also comes with good security and privacy features. It has affordable paid plans, but it lacks a money-back guarantee.
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Read the full TunnelBear review
Comparison of the Best VPNs for Windows in 2023
|VPN||Starting Price||Quick-Connect Feature||Split-Tunneling||Number of Connections||Free Plan||Money-Back Guarantee|
|1.🥇ExpressVPN||$6.67 / month||✅||✅||5||❌||30 days|
|2.🥈Private Internet Access||$2.19 / month||✅||✅||10||❌||30 days|
|3.🥉Proton VPN||$3.99 / month||✅||✅||10||✅||30 days
|4. NordVPN||$4.99 / month||✅||✅||6||❌||30 days|
|5. Surfshark||$2.30 / month||✅||✅||Unlimited||❌||30 days|
|6. CyberGhost VPN||$2.11 / month||✅||❌||7||❌||45 days
(long-term plans only)
|7. PrivateVPN||$2.00 / month||❌||❌||10||❌||30 days|
|8. TunnelBear||$4.16 / month||✅||❌||Unlimited||✅||❌|
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How to Choose the Best VPNs for Windows in 2023
- Dedicated Windows app. I only recommend getting a VPN that has a dedicated Windows app, which you can easily install on your device — VPNs that require you to manually set up a VPN connection on your Windows device are extremely inconvenient. All of the VPNs on this list come with dedicated Windows apps that you can quickly install in just 1–2 minutes.
- Strong security. You should only pick a Windows VPN that comes with industry-standard security features, such as 256-bit AES encryption, a no-logs policy to prevent the VPN from spying on your traffic, protection against IPv6, DNS, or WebRTC leaks, and a kill switch to protect your from data leaks if the VPN disconnects.
- Fast speeds. All VPNs slow down your speeds due to the encryption-decryption process, but the best providers minimize the speed loss. All of my top picks provide fast speeds for web browsing, streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
- Ease of use. The VPN should come with a Windows app that’s intuitive and simple to navigate, so that it won’t take you more than a few seconds to find and connect to a server. Most top VPNs also have a quick-connect feature, which conveniently connects you to the fastest server for your location.
- Extra features. I recommend getting a VPN that has a feature-rich Windows app — for example, ExpressVPN’s Windows app comes with split-tunneling (lets you pick which apps use the VPN and which apps use your local network), and Private Internet Access’s Windows app has an excellent VPN ad blocker.
- Good pricing. A good VPN should come with affordable plans and a free plan or a generous money-back guarantee that lets you test its Windows app risk-free.
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Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- BolehVPN. This provider has good speeds, strong security, and decent P2P support, but its Windows app isn’t intuitive at all. Also, it says it might turn on logs temporarily if it detects “suspicious activity,” which I think is terrible for your privacy.
- Perfect Privacy. This VPN provides very strong security features and good speeds, but its Windows app has a very confusing design, and it’s also pretty buggy. What’s more, it has a really small server network, it can’t access top sites like Netflix, and it’s way too expensive.
- SlickVPN. SlickVPN is secure and allows P2P traffic on all servers, but its Windows app is really difficult to use. Also, I don’t like how its server network is small. It also has slow speeds on distant servers.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best VPN for Windows?
ExpressVPN is my favorite VPN for Windows in 2023. Its Windows app is very easy to use, has excellent security, maintains the fastest speeds on the market, works with Netflix and other streaming services, supports torrenting, and backs each payment plan with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
While ExpressVPN is my top VPN for Windows, there are a lot of other great options available. Private Internet Access (PIA) allows Windows users to customize the VPN in a lot of different ways, and Proton VPN has the best free plan for Windows users. Also, CyberGhost VPN provides convenient automation on its Windows app, and PrivateVPN has a very user-friendly Windows app.
Are there any free VPNs for Windows?
Yes, there are free VPNs available for Windows. But free VPNs usually lack standard security features, have slow speeds, may log your personal data, and set a limit on the amount of data you can use.
But if you’re looking for a reliable free VPN, Proton VPN is my top choice — you get unlimited data, a really user-friendly Windows app, strong security, and good speeds. However, you’re limited to servers in the US, the Netherlands, and Japan, can only connect 1 device, and don’t get streaming and P2P support.
That said, I still recommend purchasing a reasonably-priced VPN like ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, or one of Proton VPN’s premium payment plans. They’re all secure, fast, good for streaming and torrenting, and come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Is it safe to use a VPN on my Windows device?
Yes, it’s very safe to use a VPN on your Windows desktop computer, laptop, or tablet. All of the VPNs on this list protect your data with 256-bit AES encryption, a kill switch, secure protocols, and a strict no-logs policy. Most of them also include advanced security features like RAM-only servers (every reset wipes all data), protection against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks, and perfect forward secrecy, which changes the encryption key for each VPN session.
Does Windows have a built-in VPN?
Yes, Windows has a built-in VPN desktop client, but it’s not the same thing as a VPN service provider like ExpressVPN or Private Internet Access. The Windows VPN client is designed to use your device as a VPN server, but setting it up is a very technical process (and you still need to subscribe to a third-party VPN provider for the Windows VPN client to work).
I recommend that you keep things simple and purchase a trustworthy VPN service to be able to connect to one of their multiple VPN servers.