Anyone who takes security seriously can no longer ignore a VPN. Due to the increasing popularity of VPNs, new VPN providers are added almost daily. Is an expensive VPN better than a cheap one? And what should you pay attention to when you buy a VPN? We test 10 VPNs for usability, anonymity, speed and more.
Many VPN providers claim to offer the user more privacy, but in some cases this is not entirely true. There are even known cases where the VPN provider closely monitored and recorded the activities of consumers. Of course you want to avoid that. Especially if you pay for a VPN subscription, you can expect that the company does not record your internet behavior.
It is difficult to find a good VPN for streaming. Because streaming services such as Netflix often block VPNs, VPN providers do not guarantee that you can change the Netflix region of your account with their service. Dutch streaming services such as Ziggo Go, KPN ITV Online and NLZiet are also not very keen on VPNs. If you mainly purchase a VPN to circumvent streaming blocks, it is good to know how high the success rate is with the relevant provider.
Stricter enforcement of the download ban is another reason that more and more Dutch people are purchasing a VPN subscription. The Dutch film industry is increasingly fierce in taking legal action to tackle illegal downloaders.
Once you have found a VPN that guarantees your privacy and allows you to do what you want to do, it is also nice if it is easy to use or at least well designed. There is a big difference between providers in terms of ease of use.
And then you have the help desk. In general, VPN helpdesks are a lot faster than traditional companies such as energy suppliers or telecom companies. You usually have an answer to your question within 5 minutes. The difference is mainly in the technical knowledge and customer-friendliness of the employees.
And what if you want to cancel the VPN or want your money back: how easy is that via customer service? These are also things that you should know better before you enter into a three-year subscription.
For speed tests, we connect to the least busy and closest server. If a provider's VPN app offers the option to automatically connect to the best server, we make use of that. The basic result is 200 Mbit/s without VPN. It is to be expected that a VPN decreases the speed somewhat.
We test helpdesks for response and resolution time, substantive knowledge and contact method. For example, some providers promise 24/7 live chat support, while in practice this is often just a contact form.
We test usability for streaming by using all servers of certain regions with the relevant streaming service with the relevant VPN. We test American and Dutch Netflix, Ziggo Go, KPN ITV, NPO Start and NLZiet. If none of the VPN's servers are able to view the stream, we consider the attempt unsuccessful.
Prices are always per month. If Euro prices are not available, they will be converted from US Dollars to Euros based on the average exchange rate of the past 6 months.
CyberGhost is a real prize fighter. With a 3-year CyberGhost subscription you have a good VPN for 2.50 euros per month. Not the best, but a good one. Where many other providers offer a money-back guarantee of between 24 hours and 30 days, CyberGhost has one for no less than 45 days.
Speeds are good, especially in relation to the price. Great for streaming and torrenting. Both the American and Dutch Netflix regions work with CyberGhost. Unfortunately, only for the US region a preset has been created in the app. For the Dutch region you will have to try a number of Dutch servers yourself.
You can also pay relatively anonymously with cryptocurrency or a more common payment method such as iDeal. The latter of course does not contribute to anonymity, but does make CyberGhost accessible to a wider audience.
Support via the FAQ and knowledge base is fair to good and helpdesk employees help you quickly. Within a minute or two you can chat with an employee. Answers are clear; very handy because the faq/knowledge base is not so clear.
Cyber Ghost1 month: €12.99
1 year: €5.25
2 years: € 3.69
3 years: € 2.50
7 Score 70
- Value for money
- Great for streaming
- Long money back guarantee
- Knowledge base not always clear
- Price-quality only good with longer subscription
You will rarely come across ExpressVPN outside of the top 3. Partly due to the proven extreme privacy protection, this VPN from Panama is very popular. Even when the assassination attempt on a Russian ambassador led all traces to an ExpressVPN server, ExpressVPN did not hand over customer data to authorities.
Privacy and anonymity are central, but streaming fans are also in the right place here. Both American and Dutch Netflix work flawlessly if you connect to the right server. Dutch TV streaming services also work perfectly with ExpressVPN.
Every imaginable platform enjoys good support with ExpressVPN. There is even custom firmware available for routers. In addition to standard features such as a kill switch, ExpressVPN also has split tunneling. This allows you to indicate which applications should or should not use the VPN. Handy if you want to use the internet "normally" without a VPN, while your Torrent client does connect to the VPN.
For this test I tried the live chat anyway and was contacted with an employee within a minute each time. Technical knowledge of the helpdesk was perfectly fine, something that you can't say for every VPN.
You can pay "normally" via iDeal or anonymously with crypto. You can try this vpn through a 30 day money back guarantee. ExpressVPN is certainly not the cheapest, but it is the best.
ExpressVPN1 month: € 11.35
6 months: € 8.76
1 year: € 7.30
9 Score 90
- Privacy protection
- Apps very high quality
- Number of simultaneous connections (3)
- Not cheap
Freedome is part of F-Secure, best known for their antivirus and internet security. And that's how it feels. You can tell from everything that Freedome is part of a larger package.
Server locations are somewhat limited compared to other providers in this test and torrenting is also only allowed to a very limited extent. The speed is okay.
To a certain extent, Freedome is suitable for protecting your privacy. For example, on unsecured WiFi, Freedome protects you against hackers. But if there is more risk, such as firewalls and monitoring by hostile governments, I would ignore Freedome. You can also forget about Netflix with Freedome: all servers are blocked. Dutch streaming services, on the other hand, do work well with Freedome.
Like Hotspot Shield, Freedome only supports Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. You can only use Freedome through the apps. This makes manual settings on your router or other device impossible. Very limited and out of date.
That said, those apps work easily and require minimal configuration. And in the unlikely event that you cannot find a solution, Freedome is the only one to even have a telephone helpdesk. You can also reach customer service via live chat or email.
The desktop app is reminiscent of an outdated antivirus. If you rate Freedome as a standalone product rather than as a component in F-Secure Total, it's very poor. Freedome feels like a byproduct of F-Secure that doesn't get enough attention. Avoid.
freedome1 year: € 4.16 4 Score 40
- Telephone helpdesk
- App looks dated
- Shortest subscription period is 1 year
Goose VPN is a Dutch VPN provider. A big advantage for novice VPN users is that the helpdesk is largely Dutch. By this I mean that not every helpdesk employee speaks Dutch. So you just have to be lucky…
Speeds are moderate; keep in mind that you will lose a lot of speed. Only 34 of our 200 Mbit/s remained on average.
For streaming fans, Goose VPN has separate Netflix server locations with which the region of the Netflix subscription can be changed. Unfortunately, these often don't work. The idea is good, the execution less so.
The apps also cause mixed feelings. In general, they work fine, but they are a lot less well thought-out than, for example, ExpressVPN.
That wouldn't be a problem if Goose were dirt cheap, but the cheapest subscription without data limit already costs 4.99 euros per month. There is also a variant for 2.99 euros with a data limit of 50 GB.
A very big advantage of Goose compared to other providers is the unlimited number of simultaneous connections that are allowed. You can use one account on an unlimited number of devices at the same time.
Goose VPN1 month: €12.99
1 year: €4.99
2 years: €2.99
5 Score 50
- Dutch helpdesk
- Unlimited Simultaneous Connections
- Varying stories about helpdesk
- Moderate speed
- Obsolete data limit
Hotspot Shield is very user-friendly and works on all popular devices. That is, if that device is a PC or Mac or an iOS or Android device. On other operating systems it is impossible to use Hotspot Shield. That's because Hotspot Shield doesn't use a regular vpn protocol like OpenVPN or IKEV2: Hotspot Shield has internally developed a vpn protocol called Hydra.
Because the protocol is not open source like OpenVPN, it is impossible to check whether it contains backdoors. It is also impossible to install Hotspot Shield on another device such as a router or smart TV. Very limited compared to almost every other provider. Hotspot Shield has also been discredited several times because the VPN service would spy on its own users instead of protecting them.
Now the good news: Hotspot Shield apps are quite user-friendly and the servers are fast. Torrenting is allowed and various regional blockades such as those of Netflix and Dutch TV services can simply be circumvented with Hotspot Shield.
From a price point of view, only the subscription for 2 and 3 years is interesting. If you opt for an annual or monthly subscription, then the price-quality ratio is missing.
Can privacy be stolen from you and do you only need the vpn on your PC or Mac or on your iOS or Android device? Then Hotspot Shield is a reasonable choice.
Hotspot Shield1 month: €15.99
6 months: €10.99
1 year: € 6.99
2 years: € 3.99
3 years: €3.99
5 Score 50
- Easy to use
- Questionable reputation
- Limited platform choice
At first glance, NordVPN seems like a premium VPN provider like ExpressVPN. The website is clear and the apps are very user-friendly. Yet you pay a lot less. And you immediately notice this in the speed of the servers and the helpdesk. The helpdesk is mediocre and the speed too.
NordVPN is well put together in terms of privacy. Like ExpressVPN, NordVPN is governed by Panamanian law. Panama is known for its lenient data retention laws.
Streaming services such as Netflix work differently with NordVPN. American Netflix works fine, but other regions work differently. Dutch TV streaming services do work well.
Normally a kill switch blocks the internet connection when the VPN connection drops unexpectedly. NordVPN does things differently and closes predefined applications if the VPN connection is unexpectedly lost. Not very useful if you are just typing an email in your browser…
A big plus are the various special servers that NordVPN has, especially the 'obfuscated' servers that disguise the VPN protocol as random internet traffic. Because the connection is not recognizable as a VPN, government blockades can easily be circumvented.
In addition, NordVPN has 'Tor over VPN' servers that allow you to use Tor and VPN at the same time. This gives you quite a bit of speed, but you get a lot of privacy back.
Finally, NordVPN has 'Double VPN': two VPN connections at the same time. Other providers also call this 'multi hop'. In short, it means that you connect to a vpn in a vpn. NordVPN is recommended for privacy. In terms of streaming and speed a little less.
NordVPN1 month: € 10.50
1 year: €6.14
2 years: € 3.50
3 years: €2.62
7 Score 70
- User-friendly apps
- Good value for money
- Mediocre helpdesk
Private Internet Access
PIA was one of the first VPN providers to reach a large audience. The fact that the apps were not so user-friendly made little difference at the time. In the early days of VPN, it was mainly about good connections and strong privacy protection. Nowadays, as a VPN provider, you can only get away with a mediocre app if the rest of the service is excellent.
However, PIA is not necessarily a bad choice. Torrents can simply port forward at PIA, something that is not possible with any other provider in this test. Another distinguishing point is the absurd amount of anonymous payment methods at PIA. While some VPNs do not offer any anonymous payment method, at PIA you can even use vouchers from American stores as a payment method in addition to crypto.
Speeds are reasonable at best. A missed opportunity for a vpn that does facilitate port forwarding. The helpdesk is also nothing to write home about: a long wait for a scripted answer. The knowledge base is well organized. In addition to good support for popular consumer platforms, there is also very broad Linux support.
There is no Netflix support and none of the servers I tried worked with Netflix. This further confirms the image that PIA is mainly focused on privacy and torrenting. You should not expect much for less than 3 euros per month. Yet you still get a reasonable VPN for that amount: with a low price and reasonable quality, the price-quality ratio is good.
Private Internet Access1 month: € 6.10
1 year: € 2.92
2 years: € 2.55
6 Score 60
- Port forwarding
- Broad Linux Support
- Many anonymous payment methods
- Moderate speed
- Mediocre helpdesk
- No Netflix
For the privacy enthusiast, ProtonVPN has a feature that they call 'Secure Core'. In short, it means that you have a double VPN connection. The user connects to vpn server #1 which in turn establishes a vpn connection to vpn server #2. Because the traffic goes through multiple servers in different jurisdictions, it is more difficult to intercept. That may sound exaggerated, but if your safety depends on it, it is a handy feature to say the least.
ProtonVPN is less suitable for streaming. Only American Netflix works, and also only on your desktop. On other devices, no Netflix region works with ProtonVPN. Dutch streaming services work moderately with ProtonVPN.
The apps are very easy to use and work smoothly. If you still need an explanation, there is a limited knowledge base on the ProtonVPN website. For additional assistance, you can reach customer service via live chat and email. The customer service has a good level of knowledge and is quick to respond.
You get the best price-quality ratio with the Plus subscription. Basic is too basic for a paid vpn and the Visionary subscription of more than 20 euros per month is too expensive for a vpn & email.
ProtonVPN1 month: € 8.77
1 year: €7.02 8 Score 80
- Free version is suitable for daily use
- Secure Core
- User friendly
- Less suitable for streaming
SaferVPN is a lesser known player in the VPN landscape. Unjustly, because the company provides a better service than some established names. The speeds are average, the server network very extensive. I found apps very user-friendly, for Netflixers a number of servers are even marked as streaming servers. The advantage of this is that you do not have to try all servers to watch American Netflix. Dutch Netflix is one of the few streaming services that does not work with SaferVPN. American Netflix and the majority of Dutch streaming services work excellently with the Dutch servers.
Torrents are welcome at SaferVPN. Thanks to its legal establishment in Israel, this provider takes advantage of the favorable privacy and data retention legislation in that country. So you don't have to worry if you accidentally download a movie or series illegally with SaferVPN.
Helpdesk employees respond quickly and have a reasonable level of knowledge. It is good to notice that SaferVPN is really aimed at consumers. For example, the faq contains little information about Linux applications.
In terms of price, SaferVPN is a bit on the high side; especially if you choose an annual or monthly subscription, the price-quality ratio is not optimal. Fortunately, the trial period is long enough to find out if SaferVPN meets your requirements. If you want to try SaferVPN for 30 days, they already want your payment details; In this respect, this provider does not differ from most others. But with only an email address you get SaferVPN for free for 24 hours, something you see with few providers.
SaferVPN1 month: € 9.64
1 year: €4.82
2 years: € 2.89
3 years: € 2.19
7 Score 70
- 100% free trial without entering payment details
- Very user-friendly
VyprVPN is similar to ExpressVPN in many ways: very user-friendly apps, fast connections and you can also use this VPN in 'difficult areas' such as China and the United Arab Emirates. Legally, the American-originated company is based in Switzerland, a country known for its favorable privacy laws.
An important difference is that torrents were not allowed with VyprVPN until recently. Too bad, because with the speeds of VyprVPN (down 134/26 up) you'll have a movie in no time. At the end of last year, VyprVPN changed course and became a no-logging VPN.
In addition to carefree torrenting, VyprVPN is also very suitable for streaming. Both the Dutch and American Netflix work flawlessly if you choose the right server location. Other Dutch streaming services also work well with VyprVPN.
Apps on all platforms are very user-friendly, although the Dutch translations do not always come out well. For routers, there is even custom firmware from VyprVPN. As a result, you no longer have to manually set up the VPN on the router or use an app at all. Every device connected to the router automatically uses the vpn.
The customer service responds somewhat robotic: you get the feeling that you are a number. The Dutch version of VyprVPN's website appears to have been copied directly from Google Translate. If you can condone the broken Dutch translation, have a top-quality VPN for just over 3 euros per month.
VyprVPN1 month: € 10.52
1 year: €5.11
2 years: € 3.29
9 Score 90
- User-friendly apps
- Suitable for streaming fans
- Broke Dutch translation
Usually a price says nothing about the quality of a VPN. Both the most expensive and one of the cheapest VPNs turned out to provide the best service. In general, ExpressVPN is the best choice, but for a considerably lower amount you have almost the same quality with VyprVPN. The best way to find out if a VPN fits your needs is to take advantage of a free trial or the money-back guarantee.