Windows 10 is the latest release of Microsoft’s venerable operating system and is a member of the Windows NT family of operating systems. The OS, which succeeded Windows 8.1, was first released on July 29, 2015.
While the Windows 10 operating system is more secure than previous Windows versions, the operating system is still an attractive target for hackers and crooks looking to steal your valuable personal and business-related information.
Users of Windows laptops and mobile devices are particularly attractive targets due to the use of the devices on the road, connecting via unprotected Wi-Fi hotspots in coffee shops, hotels and other public areas.
By using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), a Windows 10 user can protect their internet connection from prying eyes, keeping their personal and business information, credit card and banking info, and much more safe from misuse.
A VPN provides an encrypted tunnel that wraps your internet connection in a layer of protection. This keeps outside parties, such as hackers, the government and even your own Internet Service Provider (ISP) from monitoring your online activities. (Did you know that your U.S.-based ISP can sell info about your online travels to advertisers? Yup, it’s legal.)
A VPN can also make it appear as if your device is located in another area of the world, which can be across the state or around the globe. This enables you to access blocked content from other parts of the world, including streaming services, gaming servers and other types of services, sites and content.
In this article, I’ll be sharing the top 5 VPN providers for use with your Windows 10 device, as well as the most important features to look for in any VPN service.
How to Use Your VPN With a Windows 10 Device
To protect your Windows 10 PC or tablet with a VPN, do the following:
- Subscribe to the VPN provider that best fits your needs.
- Install the provider’s Windows app. Browser extensions are also available from many providers to enable protection for your browsing sessions.
- Log into the VPN’s network.
- Select a VPN server and connect to it.
- Enjoy your newly enhanced and protected online activities.
Best VPNs for Windows 10
After running numerous top VPN services through rounds of rigorous testing, I ranked them to come up with a top 5 list of the best providers for use with Windows 10.
The 5 providers listed below perform the best with Windows 10. For those of you in a hurry, here’s a TL;DR summary:
- ExpressVPN: The top provider in this list of 5, ExpressVPN delivers fast download speeds, numerous layers of privacy and security protection, and some of the widest global server coverage around.
- NordVPN: This provider is bargain-priced, which makes it the best choice for budget-minded users, as NordVPN provides excellent protection for your online activities without breaking the bank.
- CyberGhost: This is another low-priced alternative, offering speedy connections and top-notch connection protection via easy-to-use apps that provide one-click protection.
- IPVanish: This provider is one of only two VPN providers that I’m aware of that owns and operates its entire server network, which keeps third-party contractors well away from your personal info.
- PrivateVPN: This provider delivers above-average connection speeds, which are well protected using government-grade encryption. Their server numbers could use a bump up (or three).
I evaluated and ranked the top Windows 10 VPNs using the following criteria:
- Windows 10 availability (Yeah, DUH!)
- Security and privacy protections
- Connection speeds
- Size of global server network
- Customer support
- Bonus points for allowing P2P activity
Here’s my top 5 picks for the best VPNs to use with Windows 10.
ExpressVPN provides the absolute best VPN protection for your Windows 10 computer or tablet, with an easy-to-use app that provides top-notch protected access to a large global server network.
The provider’s native Windows app is both easy to install and easy to use, and it offers a handy “Smart Location” option that provides fast, one-click access to the best-performing VPN server in your country. The provider also offers Chrome and Firefox browser extensions. Apps are also available for other popular device platforms.
ExpressVPN delivers speedy download speeds (the fastest in this lineup), which are encrypted using banking-grade encryption, and additionally protected using a kill switch, as well as IPv6 leak and DNS leak protection. The provider never restricts your usage with data caps or bandwidth limitations.
Privacy is never a concern with ExpressVPN, as the British Virgin Islands-based provider never keeps any logs of your online activities. A Bitcoin payment option offers complete account anonymity if used with a throwaway email address.
With over 3,000 servers located in 94 countries around the globe, ExpressVPN provides optimal access to geo-blocked content nearly anywhere in the world. Peer-to-peer file-sharing fans will be pleased to learn that the provider allows P2P on every server in their network.
ExpressVPN limits concurrent connections to 5 on a single set of login credentials. However, you can make use of the service’s comprehensive router compatibility to protect all of your connected devices via a single access point.
Customer service is also well-handled at ExpressVPN, with 24/7 live support chat, a trouble ticket tracking system, email support, and a comprehensive troubleshooting and support knowledge base.
- Windows app and browser extensions
- P2P file sharing allowed on all servers
- Best download speeds on this list
- Comprehensive security and privacy protections
- Wide-ranging global server coverage
- A bit more expensive than other providers on this list
BEST VPN FOR WINDOWS 10:Easy-to-use apps, excellent download speeds, high-level encryption and top-notch privacy protections add up to the best option for protecting your Windows 10 online activities. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN snagged 2nd place in this roundup due to a high level of protection and service that’s delivered at a low price.
NordVPN obviously offers a Windows 10 app (although I honestly can’t think of any provider that doesn’t). The app offers the ability to block ads and malware, as well as obfuscate your server usage. (That makes it tougher for snoopy folks to detect your VPN usage.)
Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are available. Apps are also available for other popular device platforms.
NordVPN’s download speeds aren’t as fast as the speeds of the other providers in this roundup, but they can still handle most any online task you wish. Their connections are never restricted by bandwidth limitations or data caps.
The provider’s connections are protected by military-grade encryption, kill switch protection, and the ability to block ads and malware. Users can also choose to use custom DNS servers to help protect against DNS leaks.
No worries when it comes to the privacy of your past online antics, as the provider never keeps records of your online travels while connected to their servers. Plus, their Bitcoin payment option ensures your payment info is kept incognito.
NordVPN is well represented in the global server count column thanks to over 5,600 servers stationed in 60 countries.
While the provider allows P2P activity, it limits it to certain servers. However, don’t fret about the search for a P2P server, because if you initiate P2P activity while connected to a non-P2P server, the service will automatically transfer your connection to a P2P-compatible server in either Canada or the Netherlands.
Customer support is available night or day thanks to 24/7 support chat, email support and a searchable support library.
You can connect up to 6 devices simultaneously to the NordVPN server network on a single username. If that isn’t sufficient, you can connect to NordVPN’s servers with numerous makes and models of routers.
- Windows 10 app and browser extensions
- 5,600+ servers in 60 countries
- Blocks ads and malware
- Kill switch protection applied on an app-by-app basis
BEST LOW PRICE VPN OPTION:NordVPN offers high-level connection protection at a low-level price. Windows users who are working to keep expenses down but still want optimal VPN protection should take a closer look at this provider. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
CyberGhost is an attractive VPN choice for Windows 10 users who are new to VPNs. The provider’s app is easy to use, yet provides top-level protection.
The provider’s Windows 10 app offers excellent connection protection. The app provides a built-in ad blocker, the ability to force websites to serve up HTTPS versions of their pages if available, and much more. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available, and apps are available for other popular device platforms.
CyberGhost offers swift connections, delivering more than enough power to deliver smooth HD and 4K streaming, fast downloads and more. No data caps or bandwidth limitations found here.
Those fast connections are protected by government-level encryption and optional kill switch protection.
Privacy is also held in high regard at CyberGhost, as the provider follows a strict no-logs-ever policy, and a Bitcoin payment option means you can keep your subscription payment info undercover.
CyberGhost’s global server network is over 5,900 strong, located in 90 countries around the world. While CyberGhost allows P2P activity on its network, it limits it to a select number of servers.
Keep in mind that CyberGhost doesn’t work from inside some particularly restrictive countries, like China and the United Arab Emirates, so check with CyberGhost to make sure the service works inside your country.
While CyberGhost’s apps are easy to use, you may have some questions from time to time, which you can get the answers to via a live support chat option, a searchable support library or a trouble ticket submission system.
A generous 7 simultaneous connections are allowed. If that’s not enough, you can make use of the VPN’s comprehensive router compatibility.
- Native Windows 10 app, Chrome and Firefox browser extensions
- Fast connections
- Excellent security and privacy protection
- Easy to use
- Doesn’t work from inside some countries
BEST VPN FOR BEGINNERS:CyberGhost offers top-notch protected connections and its speeds are some of the best around. Meanwhile, their Windows app is one of the easiest to use in the industry. A 45-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
IPVanish makes a good option for Windows 10 users who are looking for an extra level of privacy and security protection.
The provider’s Windows 10 app protects your internet connection by using kill switch protection, auto reconnect, the ability to use 3rd-party DNS servers and more. While no browser extensions are available, the provider does offer apps for popular device platforms
Windows users will find that the provider’s connection speeds can easily handle any of their online activities. No data caps or bandwidth limitations are ever imposed on IPVanish’s users.
Security is a strong point at IPVanish, as the provider uses banking-grade encryption, auto-reconnect, IPv6 leak protection and a “scramble” feature.
IPVanish keeps no records of your online travels thanks to a no-logs policy. However, no cryptocurrency subscription payment option is available.
The IPVanish global server network is made up of over 1,300 servers stationed in more than 50 countries. P2P file sharing is allowed on all 1,300+ servers.
Remember the “extra level of privacy protection” I mentioned earlier? That comes via IPVanish’s self-owned and -operated server farms, which provide additional privacy and security by preventing third parties from having access to your information.
IPVanish offers around-the-clock customer aid thanks to 24/7 support chat, a searchable knowledge base and email support.
While the provider offers a generous 10 concurrent connections allowance, that might not be enough for some users, so extensive router compatibility is also available.
- Owns and operates entire server network
- P2P file sharing allowed on all servers
- Up to 10 devices can connect at once
- 7-day money-back guarantee is a bit short
- No cryptocurrency payment option
EXTRA-SECURE AND PRIVATE SERVERS:IPVanish provides an extra layer of privacy and security by owning and operating their entire server network, with no third parties involved. Fast, well-protected connections are the rule here. Their 7-day money-back guarantee should really be extended to the usual 30-day period.
Read my full review of IPVanish.
PrivateVPN makes it into this roundup thanks to its reliable and speedy connections, as well as its strong privacy and security protections.
The PrivateVPN Windows 10-compatible app delivers reliable protection for your PC or tablet, offering IPv6 leak and Stealth VPN protection, as well as the option to automatically start VPN protection on system startup. Additional app support is limited to iOS, Android and macOS.
PrivateVPN is the little provider that could thanks to its super-fast download speeds, which are an excellent asset for gamers, streamers and file sharers. No data caps or bandwidth limitations to be seen here.
Military encryption is the order of the day when it comes to connection protection.
Privacy is also at an optimal level, with a no-logs policy ensuring no evidence of your online antics are to be found. Plus, if you sign up using a disposable email address, you can use the Bitcoin payment option to keep your VPN subscription totally covert.
PrivateVPN calls itself “The Fastest Growing VPN Worldwide,” but it still has a bit of growing to do. The provider has 150+ servers, which are stretched a bit thin in 60 countries.
Things could slow down if the provider doesn’t add servers at the same rate they add users. But on the bright side, P2P file sharing activity is allowed on all servers.
PrivateVPN customer support can also be considered “thin.” Live chat support is available, but it’s not 24/7. A non-searchable FAQ and a “Contact Us” form are also available in your time of need. Help with setup and troubleshooting is also available via the service’s somewhat unique remote control help feature.
Up to 6 devices can connect to the service at once using the same login credentials. Router support is available for those who require more.
- Up to 6 concurrent connections
- P2P file sharing around the globe
- Impressive connection speeds
- Needs more servers
- Lacks 24/7 customer support
P2P USERS WELCOME:P2P users will appreciate PrivateVPN’s fast connections and approval of P2P file sharing on all of their servers. Plus, remote control support could come in quite handy. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of PrivateVPN.
Is a Free VPN a Good Option for Use With My Windows 10 Machines?
Sure, use a free VPN – if you don’t mind the possibility that the VPN service that’s supposed to be protecting your online information is actually selling some of that information to the highest bidder.
If a VPN provider isn’t charging you for their services, they’re making their money some other way. Many free VPNs make their money tracking and recording your online travels and then selling that information to advertisers and other nosy parties.
Still other times, freebie providers have been caught inserting ads into their users’ browsing sessions. Some even insert tracking cookies that stick around even after you’ve signed off from their network.
Inconvenience can also be a “feature” of a sans-charge VPN thanks to the restrictions many providers place on your VPN usage.
Some free VPNs will force you to wait in a queue before allowing you to connect to one of their servers. Once you’re allowed to connect, you’ll find that you’re forced to connect to a particular server, or find that your server selection is limited to a few servers.
Then, they may throttle your connection speeds, and you’ll likely face daily or monthly data caps.
VPNs are designed to free you from restrictions, not impose more restrictions on you.
A Note About Using VPN Browser Extensions
While using a browser extension offers you one-click protection for your internet browsing session, be sure to remember one important thing: When using a VPN browser extension, only your in-browser online activities are kept incognito. All of your other Windows apps’ online activities can be easily monitored.
This makes a browser extension an ideal solution for a quick online visit to your bank, or to buy something on Amazon. However, to protect all of your Windows-related online activities from prying eyes, be sure to use the provider’s app.
How To Manually Set Up a VPN Provider on Windows 10
While all of the providers in this top 5 offer a native Windows 10 app, you may find the need to manually set up a VPN connection on your Windows PC. Luckily, it only takes a few minutes to manually set up and test a VPN in Windows.
While I advise using the OpenVPN protocol whenever possible, OpenVPN is not available when manually setting up a VPN connection in Windows. (However, it is available in many providers’ apps.)
So, I recommend using either L2TP/IPSec, SSTP or IKEv2. Don’t use PPTP, as it has known security vulnerabilities.
You’ll need the following information from your VPN provider, which can vary according to the protocol you choose to use:
- Username and password
- The address of a server in the VPN provider’s global network
- A pre-shared secret (key) or certificate
The following instructions are for the most recent version of Windows 10 (Build 1903). However, earlier versions require similar steps, and you should still be able to follow along.
- Click your mouse in the Windows search bar, then type “VPN”.
- In the menu that appears, click the “Add a VPN connection” option.
- In the window that appears, click “Add a VPN connection”.
- Under the “VPN provider” section, click “Windows (built-in)”.
- Give the connection a name. In this case, we’ll call it “ExpressVPN L2TP-IPsec.”
- Fill in the required information, as mentioned above.
- Click “Save”.
- You should now see the VPN listed in the VPN menu. Click it and then click the “Connect” button that appears.
- In a few moments the connection will be completed. Your connection is now protected.
- In the future, you’ll have access to the VPN by simply clicking the Wi-Fi icon in your system tray.
I strongly recommend that Windows users searching for the most reliable and efficient way to protect and enhance their online activities purchase a subscription to a Virtual Private Network.
A VPN does an optimal job of keeping your online antics incognito, and it also opens up access to content and services that you might normally be blocked from in your part of the world.
My #1 VPN provider for use with Windows 10 is ExpressVPN. When I use Windows, I always have ExpressVPN installed on my machine. The provider delivers blazingly fast, reliable connections. Its global server network provides access to my favorite streaming providers and gaming servers around the world.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.