A virtual private network, also known as VPN, is a great tool that allows users to browse the Internet securely, stream videos from anywhere in the world, and protect your identities. In order to help you sift through the hundreds of VPN services, we evaluated and reviewed the most recognized top VPN providers on the market. Below, you can find our rankings chart, along with the individual VPN reviews, to help you select the right VPN provider based on your needs.
Like all of the reviews on CloudWedge, the research and analysis on leading VPN services was carried out by an extremely knowledgeable review team with decades of combined experience in the VPN field. The team made a concentrated effort in delivering the most unbiased reviews to help you along your way. The VPN reviews go into great detail about every imaginable facet of the service. Unlike other review sites, our reviews give you a unique in depth breakdown and explanation of all aspects within each review category. The team also understands that many people have different uses for VPN. Some users put more weight on security. Others look for more features or speed. Many potential customers just want an easy to use service. All of this has been taken into account by the review team within our VPN reviews. We truly hope these reviews will help you determine the right VPN service for you.
How to Choose a VPN Service
Web hosting and cloud storage are often considered two of the hardest industries in deciding which service is best for you. Filtering through each element of these services can be a daunting task. However, in our opinion, VPN is by far the hardest industry to make a decision in. There are so many variables at play – features, privacy, pricing, speed, ease of use, and customer support. Each of these sections contains features within them – subcategories within a subcategory, if you will. So, with all of this information, how can you make an informed decision? Luckily for you, we have weighted each section accordingly in each VPN review we cover. We let you know which service is stronger in which category. Consequently, you should determine first and foremost why you will be using a VPN. Is it for streaming music and video sites? If that’s the case, you will need a VPN service that provides phenomenal speed. Are you trying to protect your online identity? If so, security should play a large role before making your choice. What if you are just looking to get the most out of a VPN service because your access is blocked? The range of features will be a great factor for you. Once you have figured out which categories are the most important for you, you can compare each service, based on the review itself and the number of stars they received in the reviews, for each category. This should alleviate some of the stress you could encounter if you chose to completely do the research yourself.
Comparing VPN Services
There are hundreds of VPN services on the market. How could you possibly compare even the top VPN providers? A task like this would take quite literally hundreds of hours. Here at CloudWedge, we have you covered. We have compared all of the top VPN services on the market so you don’t need to (though we strongly recommend you conduct your own due diligence in conjunction with our VPN reviews). We have done so by taking a comprehensive look at every characteristic of each VPN service. In no particular order: the first thing to evaluate in a VPN provider are their features. Are they gimmicky or do they offer innovative and helpful tools? The next thing to look at is privacy. After all, chances are you look to purchase a VPN plan in order to protect your identity. We consider these two categories among the most important ones you should consider. After that, take a look at pricing, speed, ease of use, and customer support options before choosing a service that best suits your needs.
VPN for Netflix, Hulu or Other Media Content
If you are looking to stream your media content (Netflix, Hulu, etc.) online from outside the United States, you will need to use a VPN. Several years ago, both the VPN and streaming industries such as Netflix were considered to be relatively new services. The VPN providers saw massive potential as tens of millions of people were unable to access their Netflix accounts from overseas. Because of this, VPN providers changed their key selling strategies from that of online privacy to complete unfiltered Internet access, specifically for people who reside outside the United States.
When dealing with a new service, there is generally a bit of a learning curve for the companies offering these services. Companies are figuring out their software, their users, and many other factors. However, this is where the streaming services and VPN industries differed greatly. One industry was a slow learner while the other was quick on its feet. In their emergence, streaming services such as Netflix, chose to block access to their online content to people living outside the USA. This blockage remains in place (for most countries outside the USA) to date – a blockage that is close to 15 years old already. However, VPN providers were much smarter. The learning curve was not steep at all for these VPN services. They understood that they could offer people a USA IP address in order to help users gain access to their Netflix or Hulu accounts. Due to this offering and the usability that comes with it, millions of people started using a VPN.
Streaming Services Now Blocking Many VPN IPs
VPN providers were essentially running wild. Thousands of people per day were flocking to buy a VPN service. But, 15 years is a long time and eventually the streaming companies would catch on. That seems to be the case as of now, as the aforementioned learning curve has dwindled down for Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services. Most of these services have learned many of the primary VPNs on the market, and have subsequently blocked many, if not all, of their IP addresses. For example, users who signed up for IPVanish several years ago had unfettered access to their Netflix accounts when they used their IPVanish VPN software. This has since changed as Netflix and other media services have blocked most of IPVanish’s IP addresses, among many others.
Why This is Happening
Many users are furious, and rightly so. A VPN service should unblock any website or service on the Internet. However, each service custom tailors its offering, and that’s exactly what Netflix did. After over a decade and a half, they realized that VPN providers were offering their users shared IP addresses. So in response, Netflix started blocking many (but not all) shared IPs. Now, you may be wondering: why don’t these VPN providers just create dedicated IP addresses for their clientele? Unfortunately, implementing dedicated IP addresses into the software is costly. Most VPN providers put their business first and their customers second. Only a very small handful truly put their users first, even at the expense of their business.
Choosing the Right VPN for Netflix and Others
Naturally, VPN providers who are blocked by Netflix, Hulu and other media services have been scrambling to find a workaround to the iron fist that Netflix has come down with. Unfortunately, many of these VPNs still don’t have an answer, even after months of testing various countermeasures. Such VPNs with problems include Hide My Ass, VyprVPN, the aforementioned IPVanish, Private Internet Access, and several other small VPN providers. Some users who signed up to our top rated ExpressVPN in early 2016 initially noted a problem. However, this turned out to be a false alarm. ExpressVPN does in fact work if you need to access your Netflix account. ExpressVPN is a fast and easy to use VPN, and we believe this is the gold standard in the VPN market. Choosing the right VPN for Netflix is relatively simple: though more established VPNs are, on the surface, likely the safer route, but many of them are blocked as mentioned above. Thus, you should look at newer VPN services on the market (TotalVPN, SurfEasy, Buffered, etc.); their IPs have yet to be blocked. The only downside is that most of these companies likely will not be able to find a workaround should streaming services like Netflix block these newer VPNs IP addresses.
CloudWedge VPN Recommendation for Streaming Media
Though we are sure that many VPNs who are currently ‘blocked’ from Netflix are working on a solution, the only VPNs in question that seem to be taking this seriously are ExpressVPN and TotalVPN. They are constantly evolving and work 24 hours a day to make sure their users can access any part of the web they so choose. They continue to implement new shared IPs while creating dedicated IP addresses as well as a backup. While we do recommend ExpressVPN for Netflix, you could easily choose SurfEasy, or Buffered VPN as a safe bet. However, we are unsure how well both of these companies will be able to cope with a blockage from Netflix should that happen in the future. Will they have the resources to expand their IP addresses or create dedicated IPs? Only time will tell, so it is a bit of a gamble. The safe bet here, in our recommendation, is ExpressVPN.