While most people use their phones for internet surfing, many of us work online or stream TV shows using laptops. Portable computers make it easy for people to work anywhere and connect to public wi-fi networks in coffee shops, airports, or hotels.
However, public wi-fi hotspots aren’t as safe as our home internet connections, which means laptop users could be at risk. Hackers access local networks to steal user data, and this can be damaging for you, as it can lead to passwords and credit details being stolen. With a VPN, your browsing data will always be encrypted even if you’re connected to public wi-fi.
VPNs aren’t just a good idea for safeguarding your online privacy, but they can also provide people with more digital freedom. If you travel a lot for work or want to access geo-blocked content, then you’ll need a VPN. VPNs connect users to servers worldwide, changing their IP addresses and enabling them to bypass geographical restrictions.
If you’ve been using your laptop without VPN software, then it’s time to learn about the benefits a VPN can bring to your computer.
When you’re searching for a VPN for your laptop computer, you need to make sure that you choose a provider that offers the following essential VPN services:
We’ve reviewed all of the major VPN providers to compile a list of the best VPNs for laptops in 2020. From security features to customer service options, we’ve looked at everything each VPN offers so that you can choose a VPN more easily.
NordVPN is one of our favorite providers at VPNSurfers, thanks to the great features it offers. It tops this list due to its easy-to-use Windows and macOS PC clients.
If you want a secure VPN, then look no further than NordVPN. Nord has a large server network and guarantees its customers that they will enjoy the highest security level when surfing the web. Nord uses various protocols including OpenVPN, and NordLynx, the provider’s very own open-source protocol that combines security and speed. Combined with state-of-the-art encryption, you’ll never be an easy target for hackers when online.
NordVPN is great for both Windows and macOS laptop users and offers dedicated clients for these systems. The client features a blue map with server locations dotted on it to help customers quickly connect to a VPN server in their country of choice. Users can also enjoy extra features such as the kill switch and split tunneling and activate these through the client settings.
If you want to access foreign versions of your favorite streaming services, you can do so with NordVPN. We tested out the VPN’s ability to access Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer with multiple servers and managed to get through to them all. This is because NordVPN uses obfuscated servers that hide the fact you’re using a VPN from websites.
NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy, which is very important if you don’t want the provider to store your laptop’s web traffic data. Nord is one of the best providers for user privacy and only stores your last connection time for 15 minutes. Nothing more is ever logged.
We love Nord’s customer support options. From an informative help section on the provider’s website to a 24/7 live chat option, customers will always receive help and solve issues should they arise.
With 6 simultaneous connections available with one NordVPN subscription, you can protect your Windows 10 laptop and use the VPN on your mobile phone. NordVPN is compatible with many devices, including Android, iOS, and Linux systems. If you download Nord and it doesn’t live up to your expectations, you can cancel your subscription thanks to the 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs on our list, allowing you to browse the web speedily and securely.
ExpressVPN is known for its fast servers. This is due to the Lightway protocol created by ExpressVPN. Lightway can be used on all major laptop systems and makes it faster for users to connect to a VPN server. The protocol will keep your device connected even if you switch wi-fi networks. However, users don’t have to use this protocol if they prefer not to, and ExpressVPN offers all other major protocols to its customers.
If you’re worried about your data traffic remaining private, you needn’t with Express. There is military-grade encryption and a kill switch activated upon download in the Windows and macOS apps. There’s also DNS protection on every single server, so your real location and identity will never be revealed to prying eyes.
Although ExpressVPN offers one less simultaneous connection than Nord, its five device limit is still enough for you to protect your laptop and other operating systems. Whether you have a Windows 7 laptop or a new Macbook, you can use the basic yet easy to navigate Express client to make sure your surfing is safe.
If you like using your laptop to watch online content from other territories, you can do so with Express. ExpressVPN is one of the few VPN providers that can get past the VPN firewall created by Netflix. We also managed to unblock foreign Amazon Prime Video and BBC iPlayer libraries.
Suppose you’re worried about your internet activity on your laptop being logged. With ExpressVPN, you can remove this fear from your mind as the provider has a no-logging policy and has never experienced a security breach on one of its servers. It also operates entirely on volatile RAM, which is much safer than hard drive memory storage.
Although ExpressVPN has higher pricing than other providers on this list, we feel it reflects the quality of the VPN services that customers receive. On top of all of the above, there is 24/7 customer support in the form of a live chat and an email ticketing system. With the 30-day money-back guarantee, users can try out ExpressVPN for a month and cancel their subscription at no extra cost.
Surfshark is a relatively new VPN that is compatible with Windows and Mac laptops but can also be used on Android, iOS, and multiple other systems. It offers one of the most efficient VPN services for laptop users.
There is no limit to the number of devices you can connect your Surfshark VPN to, which means that your laptop and mobile can enjoy the VPN services offered by Surfshark. There are dedicated Windows and Mac clients that are user-friendly, easy to use, and provide seamless ease of use on your laptop. Surfshark is a great VPN for novices who don’t want anything too complex but still want to enjoy great features.
Surfshark uses industry-standard encryption and has essential features like a kill switch. There is private DNS on all of its servers, and Surfshark has a no-logs policy. Surfshark’s headquarters are based in the British Virgin Islands, a jurisdiction that enjoys great data privacy laws that extend to Surfshark users. Your data traffic will be private when you’re using this VPN provider.
Users have unlimited data, which means you can enjoy as much streaming as you want. The server locations give users access to many foreign Netflix libraries, which Surfshark assures it can unblock. Another positive aspect of this VPN provider is that all of Surfshark’s servers are P2P friendly, which is great for torrenting fans. There’s also a split tunneling option, which means you can encrypt some online activity and tunnel the rest of your data through your ISP.
If you’ve spent a lot of money on a laptop computer, then you might not want to continue spending large amounts on software. Fortunately, Surfshark has a well-priced two-year plan that offers its VPN service for just $2.21 a month. This is incredible pricing since the quality of service you get for this amount of money is very high.
We really like Surfshark, and it’s a cheaper alternative to the likes of NordVPN and ExpressVPN. Like these two VPN giants, it has great customer support options and a 30-day money-back guarantee. What’s more, Surfshark is constantly offering great deals on its VPN service throughout the year, so you may be able to buy the VPN for even less.
Private is a smaller VPN provider but is also one of the most reliable VPNs for laptops. With the highest level of encryption, your data traffic will be safe from spies and ISPs.
Although Private can’t rival the number of servers offered by VPN providers like Nord and Express (not yet anyway), it holds its own ground thanks to the incredible VPN service it provides. Firstly, it offers the best security and speed protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP, IKEv2, and IPSec. There is IPv6 leak protection, which means your IP address will never be revealed.
Private has high-speed servers and unlimited bandwidth for customers. If you want to use a VPN that allows P2P networking, you can rely on Private as it supports torrenting. Private is also one of the best VPN services for unblocking Netflix libraries as it regularly updates its IP addresses, so Netflix doesn’t recognize them. We connected to several Private servers and were able to access not only Netflix but Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer.
There are 6 simultaneous connections with one PrivateVPN subscription so that you can use the VPN on your other devices. There is a user-friendly mobile app that we really like, which complements Private’s computer clients’ simple navigation.
PrivateVPN claims to offer some of the best customer services since Private puts users directly in touch with developers instead of customer representatives. We like the fact that remote help is free, and there is also a 30-day money-back guarantee. Private states on its website that it treats its customers like family, and it definitely seems like it does!
Private Internet Access (PIA) has one of the largest VPN server networks in the VPN software business. If you want more digital freedom and to ensure your data remains private, you can use PIA.
PIA is one of the best VPN providers if you want a wide choice of server locations. With an incredible number of more than 20,000 servers, PIA tops the biggest server network list. If you use your personal computer for work and are often traveling or connecting to public wi-fi networks, you will always be able to connect to a PIA server and get a new IP address.
With industry-standard encryption, your data traffic will always be safe from third parties, and there is a kill switch in case your VPN connection drops. PIA uses the new and dynamic open-source WireGuard protocol. This protocol provides better speeds, which, when coupled with the unlimited data that PIA offers, means you can enjoy buffer-free Netflix and Amazon Prime Video streaming.
PIA has an extremely easy-to-use client and offers instant setup, but it also has advanced features such as offering P2P support and multiple VPN gateways. PIA is both a great VPN for beginners who are new to the world of Virtual Private Networks but will satisfy VPN enthusiasts who want to have an array of exceptional features on offer.
Like the other providers on this list, we were mightily impressed with PIA’s customer service. There is a 24/7 live chat on the PIA website and an email service for users that need extra support. We really like the detailed tutorials that PIA offers that explain everything from what VPNs are to how to make the most out of PIA’s features.
There are two types of VPNs, free and paid-for. Free VPNs are notorious for using weaker protocols such as PPTP, which, while it provides fast speeds, makes it easier for hackers to break through the encryption. Free VPNs can also log and sell user data, which is how they make their money.
However, that doesn’t mean you should discount all free VPN services. Several reputable providers offer free VPNs alongside their subscription plans. We’ve compiled a list of the best free VPN providers for laptops.
Proton has several price plans for its customers, and it has one of the best free VPN services on the market. For no cost whatsoever, free VPN plan users can enjoy:
Users can try to access streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer, but the speeds on ProtonVPN free are quite slow.
Hotspot Shield offers fast speeds on both its paid and free VPN subscription plans, but the data limit is drastically reduced on the free VPN plan. If you want to test out the free plan on your laptop before signing up for a paid subscription, you’ll be able to enjoy:
TunnelBear is owned by McAfee, which indicates the level of service it provides. Although the paid plan is undoubtedly better than TunnelBear’s free VPN version, it’s still a good taste of what the provider can offer and works well on laptops. With the free TunnelBear VPN, users get:
While we really like TunnelBear, and especially appreciate its kitschy bear design, the minuscule monthly bandwidth limit is too small for people to carry out many online tasks on their laptops.
Using a VPN on your laptop means installing computer software onto your device. Many people are wary about installing unknown software onto their mobiles and computers, and rightly so. However, if you install a trustworthy VPN, then your laptop should be completely safe.
VPNs encrypt your browsing data so that no third parties such as your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or spies can see what you’re doing online. It makes tasks such as banking and working a lot safer as you can rest assured that no one is watching what you’re doing online.
If you’re worried about a VPN storing your personal data and internet activity and then selling it on to third parties, you don’t have to. The majority of decent VPN providers have a no-logging policy to reassure users they will never sell their customers’ personal information.
To ensure that your laptop remains secure, we recommend avoiding a free VPN service. Free VPNs use weaker protocols like PPTP, making it easier for hackers to decipher the encryption and view user activity. Likewise, it’s common for a free VPN to contain malware, the majority of it being adware.
Ensure that you download a reputable VPN, and you won’t need to worry about your laptop’s safety.
Installing any software can cause a computer system to slow down, but a VPN shouldn’t affect your laptop’s performance too much. Although all software apps consume many operating systems’ memory, so long as you have enough memory available, you shouldn’t worry about your laptop running slower than normal.
When it comes to internet connection speeds, VPNs can either slow them down or improve them. VPNs are great for avoiding bandwidth throttling from your ISP. Bandwidth throttling occurs when your ISP tries to restrict your data consumption, particularly if you’re accessing one website more than others. Since a VPN hides your virtual activity, your ISP won’t be able to slow down your internet.
However, VPNs can slow down your internet connection for several reasons. If you’re based in the USA and connect to a server in Europe, your speeds may be slower. Likewise, if the VPN server you’re using has a heavy user load, then your speeds could drastically reduce.
It’s best to connect to servers as close to your physical location as possible to avoid this happening and pick a VPN provider that offers fast speeds and a wide choice of servers.
So, while it is entirely possible that a VPN could slow down laptops or an internet connection, providing that you use a decent VPN, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about this becoming a real issue.
Downloading and installing a VPN onto your laptop system is simple, and most providers have dedicated clients for laptops. After purchasing a VPN from your provider of choice’s website, there will be instructions on setting up the VPN on your personal computer.
Fortunately, most VPN providers have very clean and easy-to-use laptop PC clients, making it easier for new customers to get to grips with the VPN.
Many VPN providers offer ‘how-to’ guides or video tutorials on how you can get started with your VPN once the software has been installed onto your laptop. Although it may seem like a daunting and confusing task, adding a VPN to your laptop is straightforward.