For a long time, a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, was only used by big corporations that wanted to protect their data and ensure that their employees could gain remote access to company networks. Although corporate VPNs are still very much a thing of today, VPNs are now being employed for personal use by people around the world.
There are a few ways how you can use a personal VPN to improve your internet experience. The most popular and easiest way is to purchase a personal VPN subscription from a reputable provider. However, people can also create their own VPNs for private use, although this is a complicated process that brings with it some issues.
To help you navigate the world of personal VPNs, we’ve devised a helpful guide and compiled a list of what exactly a personal VPN is, why you should be using one, and which are the best VPN providers for individual use.
A personal VPN is a Virtual Private Network that is created for an internet user’s private use. A personal VPN gives you more internet freedom and also extra privacy and security when surfing the web. Usually, personal VPNs can be used on a few devices simultaneously, which means you can protect all of your devices, including your cell phone and computer.
A personal VPN is straightforward in the way that it works. You connect to a VPN server, changing your IP address, and sending your data to the server via an encrypted tunnel. All data you receive comes back via the same secure connection. This means that your internet activity is hidden from prying eyes that may want to view it.
Personal VPNs have evolved in the past few years to meet the modern-day needs of internet users, and many providers now offer VPNs for Smart TVs or gaming console purposes. A lot of users configure their personal VPN to their home internet router to give all of their Internet of Things (IoT) objects VPN protection.
If you’re concerned about your online privacy whatsoever, then you should use a VPN. A personal Virtual Private Network can help you and improve your internet experience in several ways:
Virtual Private Networks encrypt your internet activity, hiding it from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Since ISPs can store and sell our browsing data, a VPN acts as a good barrier to prevent this from occurring.
As well as ISPs, government agencies can see what we get up to online without the protection of a VPN. To make sure that your internet activity stays private, you need a personal VPN on your devices.
Do you often connect to public wi-fi networks, maybe at a coffee shop or the airport? These public networks actually pose a greater risk to your internet security than you may think. Hackers often frequent wi-fi network hotspots, and without VPN encryption, they can easily see your data.
Once a hacker has access to your online movements, they can steal anything from social media log-ins to banking details. To make sure you always have privacy regardless of the network you’re connected to, you need VPN encryption.
Another prominent reason why a personal VPN for your devices is a good idea is that it gives you more online freedom. Users can take advantage of being able to connect to different servers around the world and change their IP addresses. This means that you can access content on foreign streaming libraries or view new websites in restricted regions.
Your ISP can throttle your bandwidth if you are consuming too much bandwidth. This can slow down your internet connection, which can be a pain if you’re streaming or trying to game. A VPN hides your internet activity, preventing bandwidth throttling.
Websites know your location from your IP address. This can affect the prices you are shown online for services and goods. By using a VPN, you’ll be able to find the best deals online and save yourself a lot of money.
Depending on whether you purchase a personal VPN service through a VPN company or set up your own VPN at home, the prices can vary. Setting up a VPN at home by renting your own Virtual Private Server (VPS) can cost you anywhere between $5 to $100. Alternatively, you can set up a VPN server by using OpenVPN and using a cloud-based platform or configuring the server to your home router.
We recommend that you go with a VPN service provider if you need a VPN, as there it is a less complicated process, and there are many benefits to doing so, one of which is the price. There are free VPNs, but we recommend avoiding these as the security level and services they offer are less than average.
Paid VPN services can range from as little as $2 per month up to $25. The price you pay depends on a couple of factors; the service provider’s reputation, security and privacy features, additional features, and the number of servers.
If the price is a deciding factor for you, make sure that the service you choose offers a money-back guarantee. Most VPN companies have a good refund policy, and these are important as they give you time to try out the VPN service and make sure it’s the best personal VPN for you.
If you want to purchase a personal VPN service, we recommend choosing from one of the providers below. We have reviewed countless VPNs and have compiled a list of the best VPN services for personal use.
NordVPN is a reputable service that continues to impress us with its advanced security features and fast speeds.
With NordVPN, users get access to a large server network and thousands of IP address options. If you want a VPN to unblock streaming content in other countries, then Nord is a great option as it uses obfuscated servers to allow you to access content restricted by geo-blocks.
Not only is NordVPN great for people who want to bypass geo-restrictions, but it is also one of the best services when it comes to security. Your internet traffic will always be secure, thanks to Nord’s AES-256 bit encryption. NordVPN uses the most secure tunneling protocols, including its own NordLynx, which also helps create a super-fast connection.
Nord has a strict zero-logs policy and uses RAM-based servers, which means your browsing data is wiped after every reboot. To give yourself more anonymity and cover your real IP address with a further layer of security, you can use the Double VPN feature, which tunnels your VPN connection through two of the provider’s servers. If online privacy is what you’re looking for, this NordVPN is a great option.
Aside from excellent security and privacy, this VPN provider offers features such as split tunneling so that you can encrypt only certain online activity and send the rest through your regular network. NordVPN supports torrenting and has dedicated P2P servers for users who want to share and download files. It also has in-built malware protection thanks to CyberSec, a feature that stops you from visiting risky websites and blocks ads.
NordVPN has fantastic customer support across all of its subscription plans, including 24/7 live chat support on its website. Users get 6 simultaneous connections and can enjoy the VPN service on their Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS devices. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee, and prices start from $3.71 a month.
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs for private use as it provides a secure connection while allowing you to surf the web more freely.
If you want a super-fast VPN, then ExpressVPN is a clear choice. Express provides one of the fastest VPN services and has created the speedy Lightway protocol, giving users a high-speed and secure connection, making it great for torrenting, streaming, and gaming.
ExpressVPN uses obfuscated servers to bypass geo-restrictions in countries where censorship is rife, including places such as China. This also enables users to access streaming services such as Netflix that often have VPN blocks. ExpressVPN even offers a MediaStreamer service that you can use on your SmartTV to enjoy unblocked content on your television.
Security is great with ExpressVPN. The combination of the strict no-logging policy and ExpressVPN’s TrustedServer technology ensures users that their browsing data is never revealed. Like Nord, Express uses RAM on its servers and has a good track record when it comes to security breaches on its network. Moreover, users enjoy military-grade encryption, and there is private DNS on every server to protect your true IP address from being revealed.
If your server connection goes down, then ExpressVPN’s Network Lock will kick in and cut off your internet completely so that your data and IP address isn’t accidentally revealed. This kill switch feature is automatically enabled on all of ExpressVPN’s apps upon download.
There is a split tunneling feature that users can employ if they only want to use the VPN on certain apps or websites, and users can take advantage of the VPN service on up to 5 devices at the same time. Customer support is first-rate with ExpressVPN, and the provider offers an abundance of tutorials on its website to help users use the VPN.
The 30-day money-back guarantee provides users with a free trial and a chance to try out the VPN service with no risks attached. Although ExpressVPN is more expensive than other providers, with prices starting from $8.32, the price is fair considering the excellent VPN services you get in exchange for it.
CyberGhost is a super user-friendly VPN that has customizable settings, which makes it perfect for personal use.
One of the best VPN services is, without a doubt, CyberGhost. This VPN is perfect for users who want to access blocked content from around the world, thanks to its high number of server locations. CyberGhost can successfully unblock numerous streaming sites, including Netflix and BBC iPlayer, and can bypass many virtual restrictions. This makes it great for private use in the home, but also, if you find your work office or school blocks you from visiting certain websites while on its network.
If you want to protect your internet traffic from any third party companies that may want to see it, including your ISP, then CyberGhost’s AES-256 bit encryption will ensure that your VPN connection is always secure. CyberGhost also gives users the option to choose which secure tunneling protocol they want to use from OpenVPN, IKEv2, WireGuard, and L2TP/IPSec.
Aside from being able to customize their VPN connection based on what protocol they are using, CyberGhost also has a Smart Rules feature that is accessible in the settings. This allows users to completely customize their VPN use, allowing them to select a server to connect to automatically upon launch or when connecting to a new wi-fi network. The dedicated apps for computer and mobile devices are easy to use and great for VPN novices unfamiliar with personal VPNs.
Since CyberGhost is based in Romania, it’s worth mentioning that it enjoys great data retention laws and extends this privilege to its users. CyberGhost offers customers the opportunity to connect to its NoSpy servers, which are based in Romania and controlled solely by CyberGhost with no third party rented servers.
You can use CyberGhost on all of the most popular operating systems, including Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android. There is a 7 device limit, but you can configure the VPN to your router if you want to curtail this cap on connections. This then allows you to protect all of your home devices with VPN encryption.
In terms of customer support, CyberGhost is one of the best VPN providers. Users can chat to customer service representative via the live chat option on the website or get in touch with the team directly on one of their social media handles. There is a 45-day money-back guarantee, one of the longest refund policies we’ve seen, and prices start from as low as $2.25 per month.
Using a VPN for personal enjoyment has never been easier, thanks to Surfshark’s simple apps that create a great user experience.
If you need a VPN not only for yourself but for all of your family members, then it is worth taking a look at Surfshark. This VPN service offers unlimited simultaneous connections, which means you can give you and your family’s TV, computer, and mobile devices VPN encryption.
Surfshark employs the industry-standard AES-256 bit encryption, ensuring that your data is secure and hidden from third parties. There is Private DNS on every server, and our tests showed that Surfshark is DNS leak-proof, which indicates your true IP address will never be revealed.
For an extra layer of privacy when surfing the web, you can employ Surfshark’s MultiHop feature, which tunnels your connection through multiple countries at once to mask your digital footprint. There is also the Camouflage mode, which hides your VPN usage from websites and even your ISP so that your VPN use stays as private as possible.
Surfshark has loads of excellent extras that users can take advantage of: CyberSec, its in-built malware protection, the WhiteLister mode, which lets you decide which apps and websites you don’t want to have VPN protection, and the NoBorders mode, which lets you use the VPN even if you’re visiting or based in a country with internet restrictions. Moreover, Surfshark can get past VPN blocks on the most popular websites, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.
This VPN service has subscription plans that start from $2.49 per month, and there is a no strings attached 30-day money-back guarantee, giving you time to test out the services offered. If you have issues with the VPN at any time, you can take advantage of Surfshark’s great customer support, which includes a live chat and help center on its website and a ticketed email request system.
If the ability to have access to thousands of shared IP addresses around the world is important to you, then Private Internet Access (PIA) can deliver with its vast number of servers.
If accessing censored content in foreign countries is why you want a VPN, then PIA is the best VPN choice since it has an incredible number of servers in its network. It has server locations in 77 countries, which is good if you want to enjoy many streaming service libraries and access online shops in other countries. For example, if you’re based in New York and want to access content in the UK, you can do so with ease by connecting to one of PIA’s many UK server locations.
PIA has great speeds and unlimited bandwidth, which makes it an optimal choice for activities such as torrenting. It has P2P support on its server network and includes a SOCKS5 proxy for users who want a faster torrenting experience.
In terms of privacy and security, users can enjoy both to an extremely high standard. PIA employs the highest grade encryption and uses VPN protocols such as WireGuard and OpenVPN to ensure that users’ connection is always secure. It is also DNS and IPv6 leakproof, ensuring that no one can see your real IP address and location at any time.
It’s worth mentioning that PIA is based in the USA, which is worrying for some users when it comes to privacy. The USA is known for its strict data policies, and many companies are obligated to hand over user data. However, PIA has a strict zero-logs policy; it doesn’t store any kind of user data. Even if it were forced to hand over information from its servers, it wouldn’t have anything to give to government agencies since it doesn’t store any browsing data.
Using a VPN doesn’t have to be hard, and PIA ensures that its VPN service is easy to use. Its client software is simple to navigate and creates a positive user experience, especially for people who have never used VPNs before. You can use PIA’s services on 10 devices simultaneously, which far exceeds the industry standard. It supports all of the most popular operating systems and has dedicated iOS and Android apps for your mobile devices.
Customer support is good, with a live chat option and support portal on the website full of tutorials and FAQs. There is a no-risk 30-day money-back guarantee, and prices start from $2.19 per month on the 3-year plan, which makes this the best value for money VPN service on our list.
Hotspot Shield is undoubtedly one of the fastest VPNs, which makes it great for users who want to access foreign streaming site libraries on their devices and enjoy HD quality video.
Hotspot Shield is one of the fastest VPNs, offering connection speeds up to 1Gbps. This is thanks to Hotspot Shield’s ultra-fast protocol, Catapult Hydra. Not only does this protocol increase download speeds, even when connecting to server locations on the other side of the world, but it also provides you with great security.
It isn’t just Hotspot’s proprietary protocol that offers users better security when connecting to a VPN server. Hotspot Shield, like the other VPN services on this list, employs AES-256 bit, military-grade encryption. This guarantees your internet privacy and ensures that no third parties will see what you’re getting up to online. A great security feature is the automatic kill switch that will kick into action and cut off your connection to the internet to protect your browsing if your VPN servers go down.
If you want to use a VPN for unblocking content around the globe, such as streaming service libraries, then Hotspot is a great choice. There are no bandwidth limits on its paid subscription plan, and its decent number of servers gives you access to sites in many different countries worldwide.
When using a VPN, you want to know that your privacy is not at risk, and Hotspot guarantees users that their data will not be logged. Although the VPN company is US-based, it doesn’t log browsing data on the paid VPN service and deletes your IP address after each session. However, users of the free VPN service may be put off since Hotspot may store and share information such as your city-level location, wireless carrier, and unique advertising ID.
When it comes to the free VPN service, it is a great way for users to test out the provider without signing up for a paid subscription. However, it has some limitations to its services, which makes it a little less effective as a personal VPN. Firstly, you can only use it on 1 device, and there is a data limit of 500MB per day. Users also don’t get access to all of Hotspot’s server locations and can only connect to one VPN server in the USA.
If you want to use Hotspot Shield’s VPN services, we recommend trying out the paid plan as the features are better. Users get access to 24/7 customer support and can enjoy a 45-day money-back guarantee, giving them time to try out the service and see if they like it.
ProtonVPN is an excellent VPN service that takes its users’ online security and privacy seriously.
From the creators of ProtonMail, the famous encrypted email service comes one of the best VPNs to give you guaranteed security and privacy online. ProtonVPN is based in Switzerland and makes the most of the country’s great data retention laws; it has a strict zero-logs policy and offers users the opportunity to route their internet traffic through the Secure Core Network, which is made up of VPN servers based in privacy-friendly Switzerland and Iceland.
Along with AES-256 bit encryption, ProtonVPN offers an internet kill switch that can be enabled in user-friendly client software. ProtonVPN has dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux, and can also be configured to home routers. Its client is extremely easy to use and allows users to make the most out of its VPN services, which include split tunneling and the option to route all of your traffic through the Tor network.
ProtonVPN offers three paid plans as well as a free version. Depending on which plan you choose, the VPN services you get differ. The best value for money is the Plus plan, which gives users access to all server locations, P2P support for torrenting fans, and ultra-fast speeds. It also helps users to bypass geo-restrictions, making it a great choice for people who want a VPN for streaming.
If you want a VPN but don’t want to pay anything, then ProtonVPN’s free version is one of the best choices. While users on the free plan get limited VPN services, they still get access to servers in 3 countries (the US, Japan, and the Netherlands), unlimited bandwidth, and can use features such as the kill switch and split tunneling. Unlike Hotspot Shield, free plan users also still enjoy complete privacy and none of their information is logged or shared with third party companies.
If you decide to purchase one of the paid ProtonVPN subscriptions, you’ll enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee. However, there is a catch with this refund policy, as customers only get money back for the days they haven’t used. If you try out the service for 20 days and decide you don’t want to commit long-term, you’ll be refunded for the 10 remaining days on the policy. It may seem unfair, but since Proton offers a decent free version to try out its VPN services, it makes sense.
If you want to create your own VPN, it’s entirely possible to do so. There are many ways to do so, with some more complicated than others.
However, there are definite drawbacks to creating your own VPN. It is a complex process and a lot more time-consuming than purchasing a VPN subscription from a provider and installing the software onto your device. You’ll need to wrap your head around VPN technology, which, while it could be a great learning curve, may prove to be challenging.
Moreover, creating your own VPN won’t give you more internet freedom. Although you’ll enjoy encryption and privacy, you won’t be able to connect to servers in different locations around the world. This means you’ll be unable to bypass geo-restrictions and access blocked content or take advantage of lower online prices in other locations.
Finally, creating your own VPN poses a risk to your privacy. You won’t benefit from shared IP addresses offered by VPN providers, which means you could be identified if anyone links the IP address on your VPN server to you. Using a VPN provider that a large network of servers in many locations actually gives you more anonymity online.