We are still building our reviews page but if you are looking to privately browse the web, share files, and access streaming media, then these are the VPN providers you will want to consider.
This list of VPN providers is in random order.
Note on protocols: for most desktop users, choose OpenVPN over PPTP because OpenVPN's encryption is stronger and faster. H owever, L2TP may be a better option than OpenVPN in two circumstances: you want to use multiple mobile devices on your VPN; or if you live in a country with oppressive government rules on internet use (e.g. China, Egypt). In either case, L2TP can be a good alternative to OpenVPN, as L2TP is difficult for authorities to block, and it generally offers more support for mobile devices.
Cost: $17/month; $61.40/year. Supports OpenVPN and PPTP, with servers in 25 countries.
VPN4All is a crowd-pleasing service based in the Netherlands. Users comment that the software is very easy to install and use, and little features like instant IP-switching are very useful. They offer round-the-clock chat support, full refund policy, and promise of total privacy. VPN4All comes highly recommended by About.com users, so definitely give it a try if you are seeking to do private browsing and file sharing online.
Visit their site: http://www.vpn4all.com/
Cost: $6.00/month; $45.00/year. Servers are available in 10 countries, including Singapore, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, the USA, Canada, Israel, and Egypt. Supports L2TP and PPTP protocols.
Box Private Network yields some very fast speeds, especially when compared to other VPN's. Readers report getting over 7 megabits per second, which is very fast for a personal VPN. The parent company of BoxPN is in Turkey, which helps keep it away from the reach of the US PATRIOT Act. The company also pledges not to log any client activities, which is particularly comforting to people who participate in P2P file sharing.
Visit their site: https://www.boxpn.com/
NOTE: Unblock-US is not a dedicated VPN in the sense that it does not cloak your data, it only manipulates your source country location. Its focus is on swapping your DNS and source country location to be from the United States. Unblock-US is designed to be used by media players like Apple TV, Xbox 360, Boxee, Playstation 3, WDTV. Because your signal is not fully encrypted like a VPN, you will see much faster streaming speeds via Unblock-US.
If your objective is to watch American Hulu/Nextflix/iPlayer or listen to Pandora from outside the USA, then Unblock-US is definitely a good fast choice. However, if you are looking to share files and web-browse in private, then you will want to look elsewhere for full VPN services.
Visit their site: http://www.unblock-us.com/
Cost: $40/6 months; $70/year. Supports OpenVPN, L2TP and PPTP.
Witopia is a respected name in the VPN arena, although users do say that the software can be frustrating to install and configure. Speeds that you can expect on Witopia are similar to other VPN's: in the range of 2 Mbps to 9 Mbps (anything above 5 Mbps is good), depending on your proximity to the Witopia servers. As added reassurances for those of you seeking to cloak your browsing and file sharing habits: Witopia promises to never record, scan, disclose, or sell logs of your information. Witopia comes recommended by several readers who do serious file sharing, so if you're tech savvy enough to install and configure some sophisticated software, Witopia can be an excellent VPN choice.
Visit their site: https://www.witopia.net/
Cost: $11.52/month or $78.66/year. HMA has a tremendous server pool of over 260 servers in over 50 countries, which opens up access to geographically-restricted content in many countries. Supports PPTP, L2TP, IPSec and OpenVPN protocols.
HMA is a UK-based VPN service that is considered the king of private networking by some. While their reputation was somewhat marred by the 2011 FBI investigation of a Sony hacker (HMA disclosed logs of suspect Cody Kretsinger's online timeframes), thousands of users still continue to use HMA for their private browsing and file sharing.
HMA speeds can vary, from 10 megabits per second if you are near one of their servers, down to 1.4 Mbps if you choose a very remote server. The streaming of Netflix and Vudu is usually stutter-free on HMA. HideMyAss also provides some very slick extra features, like rotating IP addresses, speed guides, and an extremely convenient client tool (read: HMA is very easy for beginners to setup). At 12 dollars per month/79 per year, the price point for HidemyAss.com is in the middle of the pack. But the worldwide affection for this service is compelling. If you are shopping for a VPN, you must try HMA for yourself and see why people like it so much.
Visit their site: http://www.hidemyass.com
Cost: $5.00/month; $60/year. Supports OpenVPN and PPTP protocols, highspeed servers, and access points in 12 countries.
This UK-based service is definitely worth looking at. While Overplay does not have the server pool size of Witopia or HideMyAss, the performance is strong, and readers comment that they average over 6 megabits-per-second speeds. The basic service is very reasonably priced at $5.00/month. Premium service is $10/month.
Visit their site: https://www.overplay.net/
Cost: $20/month; $85/year. Good support for users in Asia. Offers L2TP and PPTP protocols.
Strong VPN is one of the more-expensive choices out there, but readers in Asia and the Pacific Rim say that Strong performs very well for them when compared to its competitors. The price point varies with your part of the world, but expect in the range of $20USD per month. The Strong VPN owners promise that there is no logging or scanning of their customers' data, and many readers recommend Strong. Try it for a month and let us know if Strong VPN works for you.
Visit their site: http://www.strongvpn.com/
Cost: $18.00/month; $160/year. Does not support OpenVPN yet, but does offer SSTP, L2TP, and PPTP protocols. The servers are in 18 different countries, no bandwidth limitations for premium subscribers.
PureVPN has won the affection of many users because of its very friendly software client. You can split the tunneling, which is helpful for having encryption on specific parts of your web habits, while still using your regular network connection for others (gamers and downloaders will like this splitting feature). While OpenVPN protocol is not supported by Pure, there are arguments that users don't need stronger encryption that the PPTP and L2TP protocols of Pure. PureVPN does log bandwidth usage and your login durations, but deletes that information every 5 days. Speeds on Pure are in the 4 Mbps to 7 Mbps range, which is good.
Visit their site: http://www.purevpn.com
Cost: $20/month; $240/year. Supports OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, and PPTP protocols. Good support for mobile devices like iPhones and Android tablets.
VyprVPN is a strong-quality VPN service. People who use their iPads and Android devices regularly will definitely appreciate the mobile VPN apps that Vypr offers. Unfortunately, those of you seeking strong privacy will not be happy that this service is a US company that is governed by US law (i.e. the PATRIOT Act can be applied to Vypr, should the government wish to examine its users habits). If you are not doing file sharing, and are looking to access Netflix/ Pandora/ Hulu/ iPlayer and watch sports on your mobile device, then Vypr is an excellent VPN choice.
Visit their site: http://www.goldenfrog.com/vyprvpn
Cost: $9.50/month; $20 for 3 months. Supports OpenVPN protocol. Servers in 10 countries.
AirVPN is very recommended by About.com readers. While the software install and setup isn't as straightforward and simple as most would, AirVPN performance is solid, and there are no bandwidth limits on the users. Sophisticated users will appreciate that remote port forwarding is possible, and AirVPN promises to never log data usage and customer habits. The leadership of the company are very pro-privacy and claim to support Net Neutrality is a company ethic. For philosophical reasons alone, AirVPN is a service worth looking at if you are seeking online privacy for your browsing and file downloading habits.
Visit their site: https://airvpn.org/
Cost: free option with limited features; $6.25/month for premium. Supports PPTP and L2TP.
This Dutch service gets mixed reviews. The free option is the perfect price, but it is very slow for most users at 100 kilobits-per-second, and 'nagware' will pester you to upgrade. The premium version has been reported to have moderate speeds over 2 Mbps/. The system is easy to setup, so definitely give it a try and see if you get decent free speeds at your geographical location.
Visit their site: http://proxpn.com/
Cost: $7.00/month; $40/year
Visit their site: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com
Cost: $10/month; $78/year. Servers in 16 different countries make IPVanish an international presence. This service supports OpenVPN, PPTP, and L2TP (L2TP is harder for authorities to block, so it's a good protocol for people in countries where the government restricts internet use, like China and Egypt).
IPVanish is recommended by multiple readers at About.com. Not only does it have L2TP protocol for people in oppressive countries, the speeds for IPVanish are often over 10 Mbps. This service also supports simultaneous connections across multiple devices, so your Windows PC and your iPad can be encrypted at the same time.
While IPVanish does promise not to log any of its customers' data or online activity, the company does have offices in the USA. This makes them, unfortunately, open to PATRIOT Act investigation. Nonetheless, the service provides excellent speeds in a very user-friendly manner. Do consider evaluating IPVanish as you shop for a VPN service.
Visit their site: http://www.ipvanish.com
Cost: $13.00/month; $100/year
Visit their site: https://www.express-vpn.com
Cost: $11.00/month; $83/year
Visit their site: http://www.ibvpn.com/