The best VPNs for torrenting, gaming, and private streaming.
The title of “best virtual private network” is one that we at CNET take seriously.
Expert academic and business researchers’ most recent real-world research serves as the basis for our meticulous evaluation technique, which is carried out by seasoned journalists under the strictest of editorial independence.
A VPN must outperform its rivals in our assessments of its speed, privacy and security capabilities, and overall customer value in order to receive this special honor.
Our Editors’ Choice for the best VPN right now is ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN most recently passed its most current round of independent audits, adding to an expanding portfolio of industry-leading transparency initiatives.
An essential tool for safeguarding your online privacy and maximizing the benefits of your online gaming and streaming is a tried-and-true VPN.
By encrypting the connection between your device and the internet after it is turned on, a VPN service prevents your internet service provider from knowing which websites or mobile apps you are accessing.
Additionally, it stops the majority of those websites and apps from determining where in the world you are connecting from.
VPNs can prevent your internet service provider from slowing down your connection if they are set up properly.
Do you wish to enhance your cybersecurity?
We’ll explain the significance of keeping your identity and data safe.
Additionally, you can get advice on VPNs, password managers, and antivirus software.
Even though they pose a far lower security risk than they did in the past, a VPN can give you an additional layer of protection when using public Wi-Fi networks.
It’s also a good time to mention that VPNs can be used to fix incorrectly implemented league blackouts and regional restriction errors as the football season is currently in full swing.
A VPN service also enables you to get around content restrictions that exist in some nations so that you may access important news and academic material while also expanding your streaming entertainment options.
While ExpressVPN is, in our opinion, the greatest VPN overall, we’re also eager to identify the best VPNs for other applications.
For those who are conscious about their budget, we also suggest Surfshark VPN as the best inexpensive VPN.
We identify the ideal user for each VPN in the list below because they are all fantastic choices for particular use cases.
In the upcoming months, we will revise our recommendations depending on the results of our reevaluation of ProtonVPN.
Watch out for holiday discounts that have already begun on some providers, such as NordVPN, in the interim.
Continue reading: When Choosing a VPN Is a Matter of Life or Death, Here’s How to Do It
What VPN will be the best in 2022?
The CNET Editors’ Choice Award for best all-around VPN went to ExpressVPN.
We rate VPNs according on how well they perform overall in three key areas: speed, security, and cost.
Express isn’t the cheapest option, but it is one of the fastest and, as of now, the safest.
Among our choices, Surfshark is a close second.
Due to its affordable first-year price and compatibility for unlimited devices, it also received the CNET Editors’ Choice Award in 2022 for being our VPN value option.
Our third option, NordVPN, is a steadfast strong hitter.
It is by far the most dependable service we’ve tried, costs more than Surfshark but less than Express, and has a vast network that’s always becoming faster and more secure.
Numerous VPN companies have flooded the market in recent years, which offers both advantages and disadvantages.
On the one hand, the variety of reasonably priced VPN solutions now available means that, regardless of how urgent or minimal your privacy demands are, a VPN service is suitable for your needs.
However, it also means that users would have to sift through more hyped-up VPN advertising.
how we examine VPNs
Our practical testing and assessment procedure is meant to dispel that hype.
When we examine each VPN service, we don’t simply seek for technological flaws; we also carefully consider each provider’s unique performance strengths.
We’re curious about the strengths of each service.
We evaluate each VPN according to over 20 different criteria, and we’re always tweaking our process as we gain more knowledge.
We assess VPNs’ streaming and browsing speeds across different nations, as well as the consistency of their connections and even the tiniest potential privacy leaks.
We can determine which VPNs are ideal for gaming versus those that are best for streaming, torrenting, or sharing sensitive information by testing them across a variety of platforms and devices.
Most importantly, we put a lot of effort into conducting the in-depth analysis required to examine each VPN’s past reliability and ownership in a notoriously opaque business.
The VPNs on our list deserve our recommendation for more reasons than just enhancing digital privacy; they also make it simple to stream content to bypass geo-restricted content, have servers that are conducive to torrenting, and are quick enough to support online gaming everywhere.
You’ll notice a few bullet points on each VPN item in our list, outlining its advantages and the applications we suggest it for most frequently, based on those ongoing analyses.
You’ll also see that the rankings of each VPN service fluctuate as we gain more knowledge and conduct new tests since we work hard to stay on top of a market that is rapidly evolving.
Top VPN providers for 2022
Let’s take a closer look at each of our VPN providers listed below.
Remember that this list is updated frequently.
Expect this guide to alter throughout the course of the year as we put each VPN through its paces because we are actively working on further VPN testing and research.
We’ve compiled a list of our top picks for 2022 so far.
When a certain quality makes for a superior choice in a more focused review, we’ll point it out.
In 2022, ExpressVPN was the fastest VPN we tested, resulting in a loss of less than 2% of our overall internet speeds.
Its iOS and Android apps are made with a minimalist design that aims to connect users quickly and painlessly.
On its main page, there is only one button that instructs you to connect quickly, and the only other choice is a drop-down server location selection that has your fastest neighboring city already picked by default.
The other of ExpressVPN’s features, including its account and settings options, security and privacy tools, and support page, are all conveniently hidden under a standard three-bar icon in the top left corner of the screen.
They are also worth looking into.
A password generator, two leak testers, and an IP address checker are all built into ExpressVPN.
In the previous year, ExpressVPN raised the number of independent third-party audits, revealed information on the deployment of its TrustedServer, joined the i2Coalition to demand enhanced ethics in the VPN sector, and launched an open source Lightway encryption protocol.
All of our top-rated VPNs are very compatible with a variety of devices and operating systems, but ExpressVPN has a distinct advantage over the competition thanks to its setup manuals, comprehensive FAQs, and troubleshooting articles.
Additionally, it offers a 30-day, no-questions-asked money return guarantee and 24-hour customer service.
Since its founding in 2009, ExpressVPN has grown to have a sizable network of over 3,000 RAM-only servers dispersed across 160 sites in 94 countries.
For $100 a year, ExpressVPN’s top subscription provides five simultaneous connections (which includes three extra months, for a limited-time deal totaling 15 months of service).
Additionally, you have the choice of a $13 monthly plan or a $60 six-month payment.
Surfshark has a robust set of privacy and security protections, a vast global network, limitless simultaneous connections, and an intuitive user interface.
And it’s still far less expensive than the majority of its rivals.
Surfshark received CNET’s Editors’ Choice for Best Value VPN in 2022 as a result of this.
Some of the more significant Surfshark features include split-tunneling, NoBorders mode, camouflage mode (which masks the fact that you’re using a VPN), and multihop VPN connections. These capabilities are in addition to traditional VPN features like a kill switch and DNS leak prevention.
Additionally, you’ll have access to Surfshark’s CleanWeb technology, which guards against phishing scams and prevents advertisements and viruses.
The Nexus network, which joins the VPN’s whole network of servers and lets you select different servers to route your connection via, is one advancement we’re eager to see Surfshark introduce over the course of the upcoming year.
Although Tor’s functionality is fairly comparable, Surfshark claims to be faster.
The Nexus network can provide you with a few more layers of security when you use the VPN thanks to its Dynamic MultiHop, IP Randomizer, and IP Rotator functionalities. This can be very useful for users with important privacy requirements.
According to Surfshark, no user activity is logged.
Despite the fact that it is nearly difficult to show with absolute confidence that no data is logged, German cybersecurity company Cure53 rated Surfshark’s security as “solid” in its 2021 VPN security audit.
By the end of this year, a fresh audit, according to Surfshark, will be released.
Although Tesonet, the parent company of both Surfshark and NordVPN as of February 2022, is the same corporate entity, Surfshark asserted that it is legally obligated not to transfer any information between the parties that would contravene its privacy statement or terms of service.
No wording that would suggest Surfshark has any responsibility to share user information with its parent firm or any of its siblings, which includes NordVPN, could be found in either document.
One of the fastest VPNs on the market is routinely rated as Surfshark.
Therefore, we were taken aback when one of the few problems we encountered with Surfshark occurred during our speed test.
With a 19% reduction in internet speed, it remains one of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested, but we were dissatisfied with the variable performance results we received in some areas.
Rates to Singapore and Europe fluctuated (dipping as low as 9 Mbps), while New York speeds were slower than those to the UK and even Australia.
Surfhark now offers more than 3,200 servers in 99 countries, but is actively working to greatly expand its server network.
The VPN’s speeds might become more consistent if its server network is allowed to continue growing.
In our tests, Surfshark was able to unblock Netflix and Amazon Prime Video material without any issues, although we experienced some difficulty using Disney Plus.
We tried several servers in the US and other countries where Disney Plus is accessible before connecting to a server in Boston, where we were able to access the content.
Before using Surfshark to access Disney Plus material, you might need to try a few servers yourself.
Initiation prices at Surfshark are lower but increase after the first billing cycle.
Nevertheless, Surfshark keeps its costs lower than the majority of other VPNs, which helped it win CNET’s Editors’ Choice for Best Value.
The annual plan initially costs $48; but, after the first year, it increases to $60.
If you choose the two-year plan, you will pay an upfront fee of $53 for the first two years plus two free months, followed by an annual fee of $60 for any further years.
The monthly rate for Surfshark remains $13 per month.
Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with the service for any reason.
One of the most well-known names in the VPN industry is NordVPN.
In contrast to practically all other providers, it provides six simultaneous connections across its network, which is a generous simultaneous connection count.
For those seeking a stronger VPN connection, NordVPN additionally provides a dedicated IP option and the option to connect over Tor.
The majority of Nord’s 5,000+ servers are set up for peer-to-peer sharing, however the company has restricted torrenting in 14 nations.
In our most recent testing, we found a few glitches in Nord’s killswitch when using its iOS app, which torrenters might find troublesome.
On its website, Nord does, however, offer a sideloaded iOS that it suggests consumers use.
In our most recent speed testing, NordVPN’s performance improved from average speed scores of 2021 and soared back into the list of the fastest VPNs we’ve tested, with just a 13% loss in base internet speeds.
Although NordVPN does not accept PayPal, you can subscribe with any significant credit or debit card, AmazonPay, Google Pay, or ACH transfer.
You can use a number of cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, and Dogecoin, to make an anonymous payment.
Additionally, NordVPN has partnered with a few physical retailers, including Staples, BestBuy, and Walmart, where you can even pay cash for your VPN.
ProtonVPN demonstrated an astonishingly little 9.6% performance reduction when compared to average speeds measured without a VPN.
It is one of the fastest VPNs we’ve ever tested because of this.
Proton’s ability to achieve those speeds despite having a very modest network of 1,759 servers spread across 63 nations is even more amazing.
In the upcoming months, we want to share updated speed testing results across the board after improving our methodology.
Because of its peer-to-peer traffic encryption and dependable killswitch, Proton is a good option for torrenting. However, torrenters should be aware that Proton has far fewer peer-to-peer friendly servers than other VPNs on this list and that its free version doesn’t support torrenting traffic to the same extent.
Proton is more pricey than some of the other VPNs we’ve examined, though not quite as expensive as ExpressVPN.
Nevertheless, the strong security standards and reputation for transparency of ProtonVPN may make this VPN alternative worthwhile.
The cost of the two-year plan is $120 per two years.
However, if you obviously don’t want to sign up for a lengthy subscription period, you can get the annual plan for $72 or the monthly plan for $10, both of which are less expensive than the monthly plans offered by the majority of VPN providers.
A good free package is also available from ProtonVPN.
The free plan is constrained to three server locations (US, NL, and JP) and only one concurrent connection; it also operates more slowly than the premium plan. However, it is not constrained by monthly data restrictions, unlike other free VPNs.
We adore ProtonVPN’s openness practices along with its options to route your traffic through a safe fortress of private servers:
It has a built-in VPN route into Tor servers and is entirely open-source with regular audits provided.
Since it no longer employs several VPNs’ inferior security protocols, such PPTP and L2TP, we feel confident in recommending its mobile app.