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The best Windows 10 VPN for PC in 2021

best Windows 10 VPN for PC
(Image credit: Future)

Windows remains overwhelmingly the most used computer operating system in the world. And an underrated perk of operating with Windows 10 on your PC is the sheer range of options when choosing a VPN - you're spoilt for choice.

Luckily, TechRadar is here to help you see the wood for the trees - we've picked out the five best Windows 10 VPNs that make the perfect privacy partner for your PC, as well as a service that will be help you to 'geo-spoof' your IP address and get around websites that are blocked on your laptop.

How to choose the best Windows 10 VPN for PC

Pretty much every VPN on the web caters to Windows users, which means you get your pick of options and features. Plus, you therefore have the luxury of choosing a PC VPN without needing to compromise on quality.

When picking a Windows 10 VPN for PC, you should look for good all-round performance with a little bit of everything – fast connection speeds, a friendly app, P2P support, clearly written and straightforward privacy policy, and so on - all assets shared by our number #1 pick.

Then there’s the matter of pricing as not every service is worth the money they’re asking. Sometimes paying a little bit extra ensures a superb experience, but other times a more affordable service still provides the optimal quality. But we’ve done all the legwork and selected our five favorite VPN options for Windows across various different categories. You won’t go wrong with any of these.

Today's top 3 best Windows 10 VPNs for PC:

1. ExpressVPN - #1 best Windows 10 VPN for PC
ExpressVPN takes the title of our best VPN overall, so it's no surprise that it's a fantastic fit for your Windows 10 PC. Offering speedy connections, servers in more than 90 countries and stellar 24/7 live chat support, it ticks all the boxes plus, you can now get it with 3 months extra free.
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2. NordVPN - a focus on Windows security
Nord's enormous reputation is largely staked around the security smarts it has on offer. Plenty of protocols (including its own NordLynx), Double VPN, 'Onion over' privacy and a no-logging policy audited yearly should give you the peace of mind you require when using the internet anonymously.
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3. Surfshark - goes big on usability and value
With unlimited connections per subscription and some of the very best long term pricing on the market, it's easy to see why Surfshark has become so popular. But it retains its usership by being really easy to use and unlocking pretty much every service going, including Netflix.
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The best Windows 10 VPN for PC in 2021:

(Image credit: ExpressVPN)

1. ExpressVPN

Best all-round VPN for PC bar none

Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | Also available on: Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Maximum connections: 5 | 24/7 support: Yes | Free trial?: 30-day money back guarantee

Easy to use Windows app
Handy dedicated features for Windows
Reliably fast speeds
Superb 24/7 support
Not the cheapest provider

Get 3 months free with an annual plan on TechRadar's #1 rated VPN for PC

ExpressVPN remains at the very top of the pile when it comes to our overall rankings of today's available VPNs. Just like it does on mobile, Mac and other devices, Express really impresses as a Windows 10 VPN - the reasons are many.

TechRadar's Editor's Choice pick

From the moment that you install ExpressVPN on to your PC, you feel in capable hands. It all starts with a very easy-to-understand interface and a big, welcoming On/Off and Choose Location buttons. You'll be up and away in no time at all, even if you're not that computer savvy.

But it doesn't end there. The Windows 10 client boasts an excellent UI packed with a bunch of features including smart server recommendations, multiple VPN protocols, and kill switch technology. A convenient bonus is the ability to control the VPN from browser extensions, and a special mention goes to the split tunneling feature, which is great for torrenting or restricting the VPN connection to a single browser.

A long list of features certainly helps, but you might just want to know whether ExpressVPN can help you watch foreign Netflix and overseas sports coverage. The simple answer is: yes. In our testing, it unlocked Netflix (and the likes of Amazon Prime Video and Disney+) every time.

There's no point in having a PC VPN running if it's just going to slow down your browsing, streaming, torrenting and gaming. Thankfully, with this provider we witnessed outstanding performance for local servers, with very decent results for long-distance connections as well. And it is only set to get better as the service now gives access to its proprietary Lightway protocol.

On the security front, ExpressVPN also delivers in terms of protocols and strong encryption, while the independently audited privacy policy clearly states there is no gathering or logging of traffic data, connection IPs, or online activities. Professional 24/7 customer support is provided via live chat or email for any problems the user might encounter.

Simply put, ExpressVPN has the lot and is an easy choice as our number one pick VPN for PCs.

Get the best Windows VPN 2021: 49% off and 3 months FREE
You can tell that we really rate Express - it's the VPN we use in the TechRadar office! And it's hard to argue with the provider's 30-day money-back guarantee. Plus, our readers can get a little perk when you sign up, too, as ExpressVPN has agreed to give you three months extra FREE when you sign up for a year.
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(Image credit: NordVPN)

2. NordVPN

Windows security is the focus for NordVPN

Number of servers: 5,500+ | Server locations: 80+ | Also available on: Windows, Android, iOS, Linux | Maximum connections: 6 | 24/7 support: Yes | Free trial?: 30-day money back guarantee

Double data encryption
Very good performance
So many servers
Lacks a couple of handy features

NordVPN is a mainstay on many ‘best of’ lists for several good reasons. For starters, it boasts a server network in excess of 5,000, allows seven connections per subscription, has its no-logging policy audited yearly by PricewaterhouseCooper and has a fantastic track record of unblocking pretty much every streaming service out there.

That all said, the one factor that will matter most to many PC VPN users is its tight security. The service offers a certain number of ‘Double VPN’ servers which pass your data through two separate VPN servers, not just one, which makes things even more secure. The Windows kill switch works nicely, too.

And now all this is bolstered further by NordVPN's very own NordLynx protocol, which has catapulted NordVPN to one of the very fastest you can download right now.

The Windows client is easy-to-use and fast to set up, featuring a compact interface that has all the essentials and then some. However, we would like to see it add split tunnelling like it already has on its Android VPN app. And we rue its decision to get rid of the handy old 'Favorite' servers bookmarks.

But you can probably tell that we're straining to pick holes here, as the truth is that NordVPN is a quite superb all-round Windows 10 VPN. There's also a 30-day money back guarantee and it becomes rather affordable (aside from the monthly subscription), offering numerous plans with the best value option being the multi-year subscription.

Surfshark Windows 10 VPN for PC

(Image credit: Surfshark)

3. Surfshark

An excellent PC VPN on the cheap

Number of servers: 3,200+ | Server locations: 100+ | Also available on: Windows, Android, iOS, Linux | Maximum connections: Unlimited | 24/7 support: Yes | Free trial?: 30-day money back guarantee

Most affordable provider on the list
Covers as many PCs (and more) as you like
So easy to use
Less fast than others
Would welcome more support documents

If you worry that VPNs might be a bit complicated to use and understand, then Surfshark is here to put you right back into your comfort zone. Generally - but particularly on Windows 10 - it's a VPN that makes operating a virtual private network just feel like second nature. It's just so easy to use.

Getting started is a doddle and, once you're in, we love the way that the main interface adapts like a responsive website as you resize windows and navigate the app. It keeps things simple in its smallest form, but opens up more and more features as you expand it. Hey, we know this may sound pretty minor, but it just lets you know that your in the hands of a provider that has really thought about the user experience.

If your priority is more about getting a VPN for streaming, Surfshark boasts a long list of streaming service that it will get you access to (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ among them), turning your laptop into an all-firing multimedia center when you're out and about.

Underpinning all that is your choice of OpenVPN, IKEv2 and WireGuard security protocols, private DNS, AES-256 encryption, and a ready and waiting kill switch in case your connection drops. Although we'd like the latter to be a bit more clear in its messaging when your connection drops.

Ultimately, we're well aware that it's the Surfshark price if you're happy to commit to its services for a couple of years, that really stands out. No other provider touches it for value, especially when you also consider that a single subscription will cover as many devices as you can handle - so add your Mac, mobile, tablet, router, TV streaming device and many more to using it on your PC.

Hotspot Shield VPN running on an HP laptop

4. Hotspot Shield

The choice to consider when you just want the fastest speeds

Number of servers: 1,800+ | Server locations: 110+ | Also available on: Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Maximum connections: 5 | 24/7 support: Yes | Free trial?: 45-day money back guarantee

One of the very fastest VPNs
A pleasure to use
Strong on unblocking
Slightly limiting in scope

Hotspot Shield has been a big player in the Windows VPN game for some time now, and its unique Catapult Hydra protocol means that it's an easy pick for our top 5 here.

The effect of using its own protocol means that server connection speeds are fast. Really fast. So if you're particularly fond of streaming, torrenting or just not being kept waiting, then Hotspot Shield will have a worthy place on your PC VPN shortlist.

Beyond sheer speed, Hotspot Shield offers a Windows client that is ridiculously easy to set up and use - even for VPN newbies. Hit the big, fat On/Off button and you'll be connected to the server of your choice (or it will guide you to your most local server, if that's what you want) in a matter of moments. There's a Smart VPN feature that helps you connect to the ideal server dependent on your location and activity, a fully-functioned kill switch and a bonus feature that automatically connects Hotspot Shield when you access unsafe Wi-Fi hotspots. Ideal for the cybersecurity concious.

Unblocking YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ in our tests was a breeze. And there's P2P support on every single server, making it a handy torrenting VPN, too.

The one issue that crops up for Hotspot these days is that the aforementioned Catapult Hydra protocol prevents you from manually setting up the VPN on certain devices like Smart TVs and games consoles. But then again, this is an article about 'best Windows 10 VPNs'...

(Image credit: Future)

5. IPVanish

A really nicely designed VPN for Windows PCs

Number of servers: 1,600+ | Server locations: 75 | Also available for: Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Maximum connections: Unlimited | 24/7 support: Yes | Free trial?: 30-day money back guarantee

Excellent client
Tonnes of features and functionality
Great performance
Lacks the speeds of others

This VPN features a well-designed client, which really seems to have given proper thought on how to best cater to PC users and offers a wide array of both basic and advanced settings, with enough options to satisfy even expert tinkerers. IPVanish is one of the best for torrenting and other P2P traffic, as well.

You really get the feeling that IPVanish's designers wanted to give Windows 10 users even more, with natty download speed graphs and a Quick Connect starting menu that gives you loads of neat features at your fingertips. There's an excellent kill switch, too - just so as you remember to turn it on, as it's off by default.

The Windows client is also available in multiple languages, including Spanish, Russian and Hindi. 

In our testing, we witnessed a significant increase in download speeds (close to 20%) which is fantastic, obviously. That said, the provider does now lag behind the likes of ExpressVPN, NordVPN and others that either offer their own faster protocols or, at least, WireGuard.

IPVanish has a firm no logs policy in place (albeit it unaudited), and more than adequate protection with 256-bit encryption over OpenVPN, SSTP, PPTP, and L2TP protocols.

Windows 10 VPN FAQ

What is the best Windows 10 VPN for PC?

Right now, we rate ExpressVPN as the best PC VPN that you can get for Windows 10.

It's an absolute dream to use on desktops and laptops (as well as mobiles and pretty much everything else, for that matter) and supplies fast, reliable server connections. It's got a proven track record of unblocking Netflix and loads of other streaming services, while also having the security smarts to give you peace of mind that your online activities will always be anonymous when it's switched on.

What can I do with a VPN on my PC?

Although VPNs started life as a way to share data securely, they have become a lot more broad in their usage. If you use your Windows 10 laptop as a portable multi-media device, for example, you can geo-spoof your PC's IP address to other regions of the world to make sure your don't miss out on your favorite content when abroad - or even catch films, TV and sport that is shown in other countries but not yours.

Virtual private networks have also become a key tool in unlocking restricted websites on PCs (just one of the reasons why VPNs in China have become so popular, with the likes of Google, Facebook, BBC, CNN and more being blocked there).

There are plenty more ancillary VPN uses you can explore, too - you can discover more by clicking the link.

How do I set up a VPN on my PC computer?

Once you've chosen the ideal VPN for your PC, getting started is ridiculously easy. We've gone into it in some detail in our dedicated guide to how to set up a VPN, but anybody - from inexperienced Windows 10 users to absolute pros - can get going with ease. Head to the website of your chosen provider and it will guide you to the download page for Windows. Once downloaded and installed, most VPN clients have a big fat 'On' button that you just can't miss and will give you a long list of countries from which to choose your server.

Does Windows 10 have a built in VPN?

Windows 10 does indeed have a VPN built-in with point-to-point tunneling protocol to give your PC an extra layer of security.

But it can't hep you with all the other use cases that we've described above and has limited features. What's more, it's rather complicated to get set up and requires a deep dive into your network settings and probably even some tinkering with your router. In contrast, the VPNs listed above can get you protected within seconds, are supremely easy to use and only cost a few dollars a month.

How safe is Windows 10

Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 10, is a significant improvement in terms of security and protection over previous incarnations (some people even argue that you don't really need a Windows 10 antivirus any longer). Even so, there are some widely discussed, controversial privacy issues pertaining to the OS, and what’s more you can never be ‘too’ secure, let’s face it.

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