Looking for the best VPN in 2022? If you want to add an extra layer of protection while being online, or just want to watch content that’s blocked outside of your country, there’s never been a better time to get one.
We’ve rounded up our top picks for the best overall VPN, in addition to budget and free options. You’ve probably seen them at the front and end of various Youtube videos and Twitch streams sponsored by them. VPNs were once a niche utility that has now spanned outwards to encompass everyday life online.
However, with so many different choices, what is the best VPN in 2022? Also, what even is a VPN and how can it help? All this and more are answered below.
The best VPNs in 2022: NordVPN
NordVPN and SurfShark are owned by the same company. Both provide very similar services and performance, with very few differences.
It’ll mostly come down to your preference, and NordVPN is our preferred VPN of choice here.
On our Three 5G Hub connection, we were able to get a solid 150-180 Mbps while connected to both services, with an upload speed of 43 Mbps. This was in the Netherlands, US, and Japan – the same as Proton.
There’s no free option here, but you do get additional features depending on what you subscribe to. NordVPN offers a $13.99 a month option that comes with 1TB of storage. SurfShark competes at the mid-tier level with Nord, offering a $12.95 service that offers a simpler selection.
We’re bundling NordVPN and SurfShark together, as you might get a good deal on one, while the other is full price.
At the time of writing, both NordVPN and Surfshark are on sale. These deals usually tie you into a two-year contract but are massively discounted. For instance, a 24-month contract goes from around $250 to around $95. You shouldn’t miss out on this deal, as it’s likely to not come back around for a little while.
The best budget VPN in 2022: Proton
It’s lucky we’re writing this article today, as Proton – behind security-conscious email services – has released a free version of their VPN service.
This free VPN service allows you to connect to Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States. In our testing of the service, we saw no discernable difference between it and our paid-for VPNs from NordVPN and SurfShark.
The caveat to getting a full VPN for free is that there are, obviously, limitations to encourage you to sign up. Aside from ‘medium speeds’, Proton VPN’s free version does not allow you access to torrenting, Tor private browsing, and worldwide streaming services.
This means you won’t be able to access different libraries or geo-blocked content, but you will have that additional layer of protection wherever you browse.
The free version does come with 1GB of Proton Storage, an email with 150 message-a-day limitations, and a calendar for you to use.
When comparing this to other ‘free’ VPNs, Proton is providing you with anonymity across three relatively fast servers without any data caps. Other brands who offer free VPNs will regularly put data caps of around 10GB to prevent you from overusing it without paying. This can quickly deplete if you even just watch a few hours of YouTube.
Proton is also the best priced per month, at just 9.99, with savings of 5 dollars a month if you pay upfront for 24 months, and their ‘Unlimited’ plan that gives you:
- 500GB of storage
- 15 email addresses and 3 custom email domains
- 20 calendars
- 10 high-speed VPN connections and no restrictions
This costs 7.99 a month if 24 months are paid upfront, while only costing 11.99 a month if paid monthly, still putting it well below the others in terms of what you get out of it.
Best free VPN in 2022: OpenVPN
OpenVPN is a FOSS (Free Open Source Software) VPN client, that allows you to import profiles made and provided online or use ones provided by your workplace and other VPN services.
While it can be tempting to get a completely free, open-source VPN service over the subscription models, there’s a massive catch: it’s a lot of work.
Accessing and getting free VPN profiles is very easy, but finding one that works and keeping on top of the passwords that might be included and refreshed each week can be pretty difficult.
OpenVPN is an incredible piece of software and those people hosting services for free online are legends. But making them free and actively available also makes them very difficult to keep uncluttered of various users trying to access them.
Once you do find one though, OpenVPN provides a lot of the same services as the others and better yet, can host multiple profiles for you to use. There are no payments needed and it’s a lightweight piece of software to have running in the background, with plenty of information about where you’re connecting to.
What is a VPN?
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a method of rerouting your internet traffic to another location and when anyone looks in on you, they see the virtual network instead of your home or office.
If you were to say, choose the Netherlands, only you and the VPN provider would know where you were really from. YouTube will begin to display ads from the Netherlands in this case, or you might be able to access Netherlands streaming services.
As things become more restrictive, they can be utilized to spoof your location, allowing you access to live streams of sporting events and even different libraries on things like Netflix.
In office or security environments, this allows a private, secure network to be accessed without it actually being directly connected to it. This uses a VPN tunnel.
Are VPNs worth it? Why get a VPN?
A major sticking point in today’s world is that everyone who provides you with a service knows where and who you are. While this is fine for apps like WhatsApp or Google Maps, certain apps and usage of the internet just don’t really need to be privy to this information.
Let’s use YouTube as an example. Certain videos on YouTube are now geo-blocked. When you see that ‘not available in your country’, a VPN can help you get around that. By sending your traffic to a server over to another country where the footage isn’t blocked, you’ll be able to get around this restriction.
For those with certain filters set up on your network, this should allow you to get around those too. On our 5G hub network, it wouldn’t allow us to browse particular websites. Turning on the VPN curtailed that by effectively side-hopping the barrier and walking straight on.
Is a VPN illegal?
No, a VPN is not illegal. It is however used frequently for pirates to access torrent sites anonymously and download via P2P networks.
What you do with it is up to you, but the act of having a VPN is not illegal.