NordVPN vs ProtonVPN vs Windscribe vs VPN.AC vs IVPN vs Mullvad vs SaferVPN
|Annual Price||Jurisdiction||Recommended Uses|
|NordVPN||$69.00 = $5.75/mo||Panama||fast offshore VPN, 5,550+ servers globally, quick support|
|ProtonVPN||$48.00 = $4.00/mo||Switzerland||unlimited free VPN, extra secure open source VPN|
|Windscribe||$49.00 = $4.08/mo||Canada||free & cheap VPN with ad-blocker, fast streaming|
|VPN.AC||$58.00 = $4.80/mo||Romania||strong tech, China-optimized, smaller brand|
|IVPN||$60.00 = $5.00/mo||Gibraltar||established offshore VPN with anti-tracker, P2P & all traffic allowed|
|Mullvad||€60.00 = €5.00/mo||Sweden||flat-rate price, no lock-in plans, anonymous use, VPN for torrenting|
|SaferVPN||$65.88 = $5.49/mo||Israel||simple VPN for everyday browsing, safety online|
Why Use a VPN?
VPN review sites tend to recommend one-size-fits-all VPNs (virtual private networks). Certainly, the main reason to use a VPN is to increase privacy and cybersecurity, particularly by:
- limiting ISP monitoring
- reducing online tracking
- securing your connection, especially on public networks
But most users, including website owners, have a plethora of various specific reasons to rely on a VPN:
- You may need a VPN to stream UHD videos (including on YouTube and Netflix) from a location blocked in your country.
- Alternatively, you may use a VPN for more secure P2P file sharing or torrenting.
- Or you may have no interest in either unblocking websites or peer-to-peer file sharing and need a VPN for a more private everyday browsing.
It is true that you can use one VPN for multiple reasons. Most notably, NordVPN is an all-purpose VPN that excels in every respect: it is no-logs, fast, innovative and user-friendly. But it is also not the cheapest VPN. Luckily there are several great and cheaper NordVPN alternatives. We have handpicked six VPNs that are cheaper than NordVPN and are equally good – or better – in at least one regard.
Instead of endorsing one best VPN, we list those few that, in our opinion, are thus best for particular uses. We have furthermore limited our recommendations only to those VPNs that meet all of the criteria below:
You may have seen ultra-cheap VPN plans based on a five-year or even lifetime subscription. The main reason not to buy such long-term subscriptions is because cheaper VPNs tend to cease to exist or be acquired by companies you may not be fond of. A one-year subscription is usually the best option: it ensures a good discount while also giving you the freedom to switch VPNs without regrets should their services deteriorate. If you do have confidence in a VPN company, a two- or three-year plan would be the best way to save on a VPN subscription long-term.
NordVPN is unrivaled as the fastest VPN both for 4K/UHD streaming and gaming. Wherever you are, NordVPN achieves high speeds thanks to the largest worldwide server network and the use of next-gen protocols, including IKEv2 and WireGuard (NordLynx).
NordVPN Alternative: Windscribe is a great NordVPN alternative if you are looking for a very fast VPN that is somewhat cheaper. Windscribe has been similarly implementing a variety of encryption protocols and creating more server locations around the world.
Why NordVPN: NordVPN is by far the most popular offshore VPN service with the largest number of VPN servers worldwide. An independently audited VPN, NordVPN does not collect or store any logs, including connection date, data transferred and servers used. Its thorough focus on privacy is further strengthened by a variety of specialty servers, including P2P servers, Double VPN (with your traffic encrypted twice), Onion over VPN (giving you a layer of anonymity) and Obfuscated servers (helping you bypass censorship). On top of it all, NordVPN includes a feature called CyberSec, a technology to block ads and malicious sites. NordVPN has the best price on a two-year plan – you get 68% off.
ProtonVPN is the best free VPN that does not compromise on privacy. Not only is ProtonVPN a no-logs VPN with zero advertising, it is also open-source and includes unlimited traffic. Like NordVPN, ProtonVPN furthermore offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on its paid plans.
Free ProtonVPN Alternative: Windscribe is a great ProtonVPN alternative if you need a free VPN occasionally. While Windscribe offers only 10 GB of bandwidth, its connection speed is reliably fast.
Why ProtonVPN: ProtonVPN is a subsidiary of Proton Technologies AG, the company that created ProtonMail, a hugely popular encrypted email service. Besides a free VPN, ProtonVPN offers three VPN plans: Basic, Plus and Visionary (ProtonVPN + ProtonMail). ProtonVPN is the only free open-source VPN with unlimited bandwidth, zero advertising and no logging. The free plan is, however, available in three locations only and is not as fast as ProtonVPN’s paid plans. The Basic plan unlocks all countries and includes high-speed P2P file sharing. Unless you need a VPN to use Tor or streaming services, we recommend starting with the Basic plan.
Windscribe allows its users to easily block malware, trackers and ads through a feature called R.O.B.E.R.T., similar to NordVPN’s CyberSec feature. You can choose to block an entire list of websites (such as gambling and social media) or individual domains via custom rules.
Windscribe Alternative: IVPN is another ad-blocking VPN as it offers an advanced feature called AntiTracker. It blocks malware, ads and trackers by using a specially configured DNS server. This feature works across devices and with OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols.
Why Windscribe: Windscribe is cheap, fast and feature-rich. It has a free VPN plan with a generous limit of 10 GB of monthly data and access to 10 server locations. You can also build your own plan starting at $2/month (e.g. one additional location and unlimited data). The standard premium plan includes unlimited data, all locations and a tool to block ads and reduce tracking. The main issue with Windscribe is its perceived lack of professionalism when it comes to interaction with customers. Many love this informality, others will find it unnecessary.
VPN.AC has some of the best tools to bypass surveillance and combat online censorship. Despite a smaller network, VPN.AC operates both VPN and proxy servers, offers several double-hop locations and implements multiple encryption and obfuscation methods.
VPN.AC Alternative: ProtonVPN is a great alternative if you are looking for a bigger company with a track record of online activism. ProtonVPN also has a larger network, including its Secure Core Servers (wholly owned and provisioned by ProtonVPN).
Why VPN.AC: VPN.AC is one of the smaller VPN services that we have used. It keeps a low profile and maintains a fairly small network, with VPN servers in 21 countries and proxy servers in 32. VPN.AC focuses instead on the quality of its service: it uses dedicated servers with gigabit ports, operates several double-hop locations with better connectivity and runs over a dozen of China-optimized servers specifically for those in censorship-heavy locations. Although VPN.AC does not advertise servers for media streaming, it can be used for streaming as well. Besides 7-day refunds, VPN.AC also offers a 7-day trial for $2.
IVPN is the best offshore VPN with ad-blocker based in Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory. Unlike many VPNs located in offshore privacy jurisdictions, IVPN has transparent ownership and has undergone a third-part audit. In this regard, it is the best NordVPN alternative, an offshore VPN based in Panama.
Why IVPN: IVPN is one of most established VPN services dating back to 2009. It was also one of the first VPNs to have its servers independently audited. IVPN allows using its service anonymously in that it requires no email address on signup and accepts cash or bitcoin. IVPN offers two plans: Standard for two devices ($60/year) and Pro for seven devices and such extras as port-forwarding and multi-hop ($100/year). While it has some advanced features (such as AntiTracker and WireGuard Privacy Control), IVPN has a relatively small server network globally.
Mullvad is great for peer-to-peer file-sharing because it treats all traffic equally. While Mullvad does block certain ports (e.g. 25 and 445) due to spam and security issues, it also offers much flexibility, for example in managing port forwarding on any operating system. You can furthermore use Mullvad without providing any personal information whatsoever.
Mullvad Alternative: IVPN is also one of the best VPNs for torrenting or P2P. While most VPNs allow torrenting in certain locations, IVPN does not block any traffic and any ports on any servers. It provides port-forwarding only on its Pro Plan.
Why Mullvad: Mullvad stands out thanks to its focus on transparency and sustainable business model. Unlike other VPN services, Mullvad has no discounts or long-term plans. It offers its service at a flat rate of €5/month. You can use Mullvad without providing any personal information, including email. Rather than implement a variety of advanced features, Mullvad focuses on delivering a quality VPN service that securely encrypts the traffic to and from any device.
SaferVPN prioritizes simplicity and offers professional customer support, similar to that of NordVPN. SaferVPN is one of the best VPNs for those who need to easily make their browsing and streaming experience safer and more private. Compared to SaferVPN, NordVPN offers more tools for more demanding users and its server network is unparalleled. SaferVPN is nonetheless a cheaper NordVPN alternative, especially on its three-year plan.
Why SaferVPN: SaferVPN, a NetProtect brand, is probably best suited for anyone who just wishes to browse safely in their everyday activities. If your priority is to easily connect to the closest server or let your VPN app automatically connect you to the fastest server, SaferVPN will work for you. From billing and invoicing practices to customer support, SaferVPN offers a pretty smooth and transparent experience. You can still use peer-to-peer servers in a few select locations, but there are honestly better VPNs for that purpose.