Damn, choosing the best VPN is hard!

At first glance (and even at second), all VPNs look equally awesome and full of features. And that is more or less true…

On paper.

In reality, there are important differences that can only be observed by using a VPN for a long time, or uncovered by digging into its legal documents 🤓

This is exactly what we’ve been doing, for many years (no, we do have personal lives as well).

The result is the guide you are now reading.

To save you time, we are not going to talk about features that most top VPNs have by default, like high levels of security, simultaneous connections, and apps for all possible devices.

Instead, we’ve hand-picked just 3 VPN providers, all excellent in terms of safety, privacy, speed, and features – yet each with its own unique advantage. Behold our ultimate top-3 best VPNs:

VPN provider brand Biggest advantages Registration country Most notable feature Best available deal
NordVPN priceprivacysecurity Republic of Panama 3-year plan at 70% discount -70% (check)
ExpressVPN streamingtorrents British Virgin Islands 3000+ servers in 94 countries -35% (check)
Astrill unblockingspeedprivacy Republic of Seychelles It still works in China! -50% (check)

In the following sections we will discuss each usage scenario in more detail and explain why we’ve chosen that specific VPN provider as the winner.

💰 Best Value for Money VPN

The way we define “value for money” in this case is when a provider ticks all of the boxes for essentials like privacy and speed – while also offering the best bargains.

Finding the winner in this category was actually quite easy – out of our top VPN picks, there is only one that clearly competes on prices:

Best VPN: NordVPN

While it’s not the cheapest VPN in existence, NordVPN is definitely the most attractive option among providers with a stable reputation and a long track record (i.e. the ones we like to use and recommend).

Not only is Nord significantly cheaper than most large VPNs when comparing yearly or 2-year billing cycles, it also offers a 3-year plan with even higher discounts, up to 70%.

To top that up, you get a 30-day full refund guarantee for any plan, even the shortest (monthly) billing cycle:

Get up to 70% off at NordVPN

Now, you might have a (legitimate) question at this point: does it make sense to pay 3 years in advance for something that you haven’t tried yet?

In fact it does, because a). those savings accumulate over the years into large sums of money in your pocket and b). with a 30-day money-back guarantee Nord is offering, you’re not really facing any risks.

To sum up, when it comes to value for money, NordVPN has the best offer among top providers, which makes it an attractive option for those seeking maximum quality for minimum money.

📺 Best VPN for Streaming

If, like the rest of us, you watch TV shows and movies on a regular basis, you will especially like our next pick – the safest, fastest, and most convenient VPN for streaming and P2P (peer-to-peer).

Yes, you heard it right – we are also including torrents here, for a couple of reasons:

  • The torrent protocol (and its use) is not illegal in itself – it is just another technology for sharing data.
  • There are certain countries where the government thinks that downloading and uploading torrents is perfectly fine, as long as you don’t profit from them. This includes e.g. Spain, Poland, and Switzerland.

In any case, there’s one provider that has consistently shown outstanding results in our streaming and torrenting tests:

Best VPN for streaming: ExpressVPN

Whenever streaming services like Netflix introduce new regional filters and stricter blocking policies, ExpressVPN is among the first providers to come up with stable solutions.

If you live outside the US, ExpressVPN will allow you to watch all Netflix, HBO, and Disney+ shows without limitations.

If you’re in the States, on the other hand, you will be able to see your favourite series such as Friends (which left Netflix in January 2020, but only in the US) by switching your IP location.

Try ExpressVPN risk-free

ExpressVPN uses 3000+ servers around the world to provide unbeatable connection speed from any location, as well as advanced security protocols to bypass even the most sophisticated filters.

So, if you’re a TV show fan or just want to relax and watch some good-old Friends episodes (remember that one where Ross ate all the maple candy?), this is our VPN of choice.

🥡 Best VPN for China

The Middle Kingdom probably has one of the most sophisticated country-wide firewalls in the world, and things have gotten even tighter since the recent troubles in Hong Kong.

In 2020, even if you register a VPN service before going to China you have absolutely no guarantee that it will be of any use once you’re actually inside the country.

Even if you just need to perform some really basic task, like checking your email or googling something during your trip, the Chinese internet will go

Nope!

*nope, not gonna happen!

And block you from accessing your favorite website. Even Wikipedia is not available, despite it supposedly being based on facts rather than political ideologies!

In any case:

In order to avoid frustrating scenarios like that, here’s our tried and tested VPN provider that still works smoothly in Mainland China:

Best VPN for China: Astrill

And yes, we’ve personally tested it in the largest cities in China, including Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou –

Astrill’s China-optimized servers consistently function when most other VPNs fail to break through the Great Firewall.

Get clever in China with Astrill

When it comes to pricing, Astrill is on the expensive side – so choosing it for your everyday home use might not be the best idea; however, if you do find yourself visiting some of the most internet-restricted countries, be sure to have Astrill ready.

***

Alright, this concludes our top-3! Before we wrap up, here’s some advice on testing your chosen VPN, presented in a slightly inside-out manner:

How NOT to Choose a VPN

There are a lot of guides all over the web on this topic, so we will not repeat the same “privacy-security-speed” mantra (all VPNs we recommend definitely excel at those), and instead look at some of the less obvious things you should take into account.

(We’ll be using negative statements, yes)

DON’T: Try a VPN on just one device. You probably have more than a single gadget in your household, so why not protect all of them – for the same price! Every major VPN allows using the same account on several devices, offering specialized apps for PCs, smartphones, TVs, routers. Make the most out of your subscription!

DON’T: Go for the cheapest (free) option straight away. There are some free VPNs out there, but like with any free stuff, it’s more of a trick to get you hooked on the platform and then start charging you money once you (inevitably) exceed the usage limits.

DON’T: Measure VPN speed during a single test, in one location. All major VPNs offer thousands of servers, often dozens in the same country – so do try 4-5 alternatives to your default server. Also, try measuring your speed during peak hours (i.e. evenings) to make sure your connection is consistently fast.

The two most trustworthy testing tools are Speedtest.net and Fast.com, make sure they produce similar results.

Final Words

That wasn’t so difficult, right? Choosing from 3 distinct VPNs is much better than sifting through 10 or 20 similar-looking options.

Let’s recap:

  • If you want the best package (quality, security, speed) at the lowest price, NordVPN is the best value for money provider on the market.
  • If you want a VPN that works with any streaming service (including Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, Spotify, etc), we recommend ExpressVPN.
  • If your travel destination or place of residence is a country with internet censorship, most notably China (but also Turkey, Russia, Singapore) – Astrill is the best VPN for unblocking restricted websites.

By now you should have all you need to make a smart, informed choice regarding a VPN provider.

Any questions left unanswered? Leave your comment in the discussion section below, let’s help each other choose the best VPN!

Disclosure: if you found this guide helpful, please consider using links on this page to purchase VPN subscriptions – this will not affect your price in any way, but we (Satori Webmaster Academy) might receive commissions that help us keep this project going.

Leave a Reply to Koffer Cancel reply

1 comment

I appreciate for the 70% off for NordVPN, I’m one week into the subscription and I’m pretty sure that I’ll keep it