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Worried about your online privacy? Here are the best VPN services

Considering the commonality of freely available Wi-Fi signals in coffee shops, airports, and elsewhere, odds are good that you may at some point end up on a seemingly innocent network that hides prying eyes who want to hijack your personal information and files. A Virtual Private Network — or VPN for short — allows you to safely encrypt your information when using public networks via a group of networked computers and faraway servers.

Related: How to set up a VPN to speed up Netflix and bypass regional restrictions

VPNs have seen a hectic amount of growth in the past years as many competitors have entered the market and VPN services have begun to converge with general privacy and unblocking services. That’s good news for you, because it means you get more features at lower prices: Let’s take a look at the best! Here are our seven favorite VPN services.

Norton Wi-Fi Privacy ($30 annually)

Norton Wi-Fi Privacy iOS

Norton is a notable mainstay among antivirus software, but the California-based company does more than just protect your machine from potential malware — it also offers a robust “bank-level” security option for your mobile devices when using public networks. This includes ad tracking removal, tech support, international support, and a money-back guarantee. Note that downloads are free, but you’ll have to pay for the service itself.

It’s also important to note this is a scaled-down version of the original software, which covered a variety of devices. Norton decided to change the service to cover only iOS and Android devices, because, well, that’s what most people use on the go. On the plus side, this change in focus led to a massive decrease in price. If you mostly work on Apple or Android devices, this could be the best solution for you.

Download now for:

iOS  Android

Private Internet Access ($7 a month, or $40 annually)

If the happy family on the homepage isn’t enough to convince you, maybe the fact that it’s one of the most reliable VPN services on the market will. It does everything you could want from a good VPN: hides your IP address, encrypts your information, and scrambles your browsing activity using a variety of encryption methods.

Moreover, you don’t have to download anything given the software will automatically start when you register — meaning you can quickly set up protection without taking up space on your hard drive — and the service is available on nearly every mobile device and desktop platform at your disposal.

The program creates a tunnel that filters your information and browsing history through an encrypted space, thus scrambling everything and making you anonymous. The service is also incredibly quick, regardless if you’re connecting to a server overseas or within your region, and the customer support and technical assistance is also unparalleled in the field. As an added bonus, PIA will even unblock Facebook so you can mock your friend’s baby at work.

Download now for:

iOS  Android

TorGuard ($6 to $12 a month)

Tor ScreenWith a name like TorGuard, the software better offer strong protection — or at least some sort generic floor cleaning. The software’s hallmarks lie in its ability to connect to a melange of services for different activities, with four different packages available based on various needs.

Like most VPN services, the program will prevent websites from viewing your personal IP address, thus preventing others from identifying you or your geographic location. A number of stealth and proxy services also make your privacy a bit more proactive, if you prefer to hide as much of your identity as possible.

From offshore email to unlimited server switching between 1,600 servers across the globe, TorGuard offers some pretty impressive scaling. Skilled geeks and professionals alike should take a look at the service, along with the discount bundles that come packaged with hardware.

Download now for:

iOS Android

VyprVPN ($7 to $9 a month)

VyprVPN offers a full-service solution that’s divided into Pro and Premier packages. The company’s Chameleon technology utilizes an unmodified, open VPN protocol to scramble your metadata, preventing VPN blocking and unwanted throttling known to slow your streaming speeds when using popular services like Netflix.

Developer Golden Frog even owns and manages the VPN servers instead of having another third-party company host its severs, ensuring reliable speeds and quick maintenance should a server go down.

You can have up to five simultaneous connections with VyprVPN, so it’s suitable for both families and small businesses. There are no price hikes based on data usage either, and nearly every platform is supported, including routers, Blackberry devices, TVs, and Linux hardware. The service is focused primarily on the United States and Europe, with only 50 servers worldwide.

Download now for:

iOS Android

NordVPN ($6 to $8 a month)

461351-nordvpn-servers

With double, 2048-bit SSL encryption, it’s easy to see that NordVPN values your privacy. But the company has also worked hard to build up its server network to include 561 server locations in 49 countries around the world. The service also comes with a variety of security tools for encrypted chat and proxy extensions, and you can use up to six devices simultaneously, which is higher than many companies are willing to go.

The theme running throughout this service is personal security. From protected DNS queries to automatic kill switches, NordVPN wants you to know that your information won’t fall into the wrong hands. It makes sense, then, that the company also accepts Bitcoin for payments. However, compatibility may be a bit of an issue — iOS and Android compatibility are in the works but not yet available.

Download now for:

iOS Android

ExpressVPN ($8 to $13 a month)

Price: $8 to $13 per month, based on length of contract

ExpressVPN’s “Fastest VPN on Earth” claim may be a bit difficult to prove, but the service offers a compelling list of features nonetheless. It also constantly tries to make consistent improvements in speed and simultaneous streaming capabilities, and with support for all major platforms (Windows, Mac OS X, Android, etc.), you won’t need to worry about compatibility.

With a presence in 136 cities in 87 countries, you also won’t need to worry about international travel. There aren’t thousands of servers, but the existing servers are all well placed throughout common travel destinations and urban centers. Any package will land you unlimited bandwidth and speed, a guaranteed 99.9-percent uptime, 24-hour customer service, and simultaneous connections for up to three devices. With so many guaranteed features, it’s no wonder this vendor is considered among the best.

Download now for:

iOS Android

CyberGhost (free, or $6 to $9 a month)

cyberghost-serverlistCyberGhost is a long-standing favorite. The software has been on the market since 2004, providing a simple solution for anonymizing your location and encrypting any data you send or receive through your internet connection.

The company offers six different services for customizing your experience, whether you need to unblock a website or choose your specific VPN server. There are no bandwidth or traffic limits either, and there is a free version of the software available for Windows, Mac, and Android. However, to bump up network speeds and get support for iOS, you’re going to need to pay. Fortunately, for just around $6, you get 600 servers in 30 countries. An additional $3 nets allows you to five devices at the same time. All in all, it’s a versatile service with a clear focus on millennials, flexible work situations, and the modern tech world — a surprising but welcome evolution.

Download now for:

iOS Android

SafetyIP ($10 a month, or $90 annually)

SafetyIP is one of the more expensive VPN services on the market, sure, but that doesn’t mean you should write it off. The service offers connections from a wide variety of protocols — SSH tunnels, PPTP, OpenVPN, etc. — along with servers in more than 45 countries. The current package also allows for up to three simultaneous connections and unlimited data transfer, and because the service uses obfuscated servers, they cannot be detected and blocked as a traditional VPN connection.

SafetyIP doesn’t seem to take any shortcuts when it comes to customer support, either. The service comes paired with 24/7 support, meaning you can get in touch with a knowledgeable staffer any time you need. Moreover, the software comes with a so-called “kill switch,” which automatically disconnects you from the internet if the VPN should ever disconnect. Additional facets, namely the mobile support and the software’s ability to bypass restrictions on video conferencing, just add to the list of hallmarks.

Download now for:

Windows Mac OS X