VPNs are amazing – that’s a cold hard fact.
Not only can they protect your privacy online, they also allow you to access geo-restricted content from websites and services. Plus, a VPN can actually help you gain a competitive advantage in blogging.
More on that later.
For now, allow me to introduce you to the top VPN service providers in the market.
Let’s get going.
What is a VPN?
A VPN, short for “Virtual Private Network,” provides a secure network to users via a group of remote servers worldwide. This allows users to bypass content restrictions and stay hidden from advertisers, ISP tracking, and potential cybercriminals.
Here Are Top 7 VPN Service Providers:
NordVPN is my personal VPN of choice. Not only is it fast and reliable, it also has features like dark web monitoring, split tunneling, and dedicated IPs.
I really like what they did to their app’s design. After firing up the NordVPN app, simply click ‘Quick connect’ or choose from the available connections on the left panel.
The NordVPN server list includes 5,249 servers across 59 countries. This makes them among the top VPN companies with the widest network coverage.
You can install NordVPN on an unlimited number of devices. However, you can only use their VPN on up to six devices at the same time.
NordVPN key features
- Presets – Upon installing NordVPN, you are given the option to include connection presets. These are pre-configured with the ideal settings for specific tasks like downloads, browsing, and streaming.
- Multi-platform support – NordVPN is compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. Each platform has a unique version of NordVPN with features optimized for maximum user experience.
- Advanced security features – NordVPN is one of the few VPN services with advanced security features. The Dark Web Monitor, for example, proactively scans the deep web for information that may be tied to your account.
- Obfuscated servers – Certain websites can detect if you’re using a VPN. NordVPN’s obfuscated servers allow you to bypass restrictions that are meant to block VPN traffic.
- Block ads and malware – You can use NordVPN to enjoy a clean and safe browsing experience – thanks to the “CyberSec” feature. This works by blocking ads and websites that could infect you with malware.
You can read my NordVPN review to learn more about these features.
|Feature||1-month plan||1-year plan||2-year plan|
|Price||$11.95 per month||$4.92 per month, paid annually||$3.67 per month, paid annually|
|Devices||Unlimited, up to 6 connected at the same time||Unlimited, up to 6 connected at the same time||Unlimited, up to 6 connected at the same time|
Tip: You can get three free months on your 2-year plan with NordVPN.
Click here to get started with NordVPN.
ExpressVPN is another popular VPN service provider with wide coverage. They operate over 3,000 remote VPN servers in 160 locations across 94 countries.
You can check their website for a complete list of their VPN server locations. If you find one in your country, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a good experience.
ExpressVPN’s app design is consistent across all platforms. Just like NordVPN, there is a “quick connect” feature, but you can also pick a specific server location.
I gave their free trial a shot and I’m thoroughly impressed by their service’s performance. You’re welcome to try it too, just don’t forget to let me know about your experience in the comments.
ExpressVPN key features
- Fast and reliable connections – Using ExpressVPN didn’t affect my internet connection’s speed in any perceivable way. I also never experienced having my VPN connection dropped during my 30-day trial.
- Super wide coverage – To be completely honest, ExpressVPN beats NordVPN in terms of covered countries. This is a major plus, especially if other VPN services don’t have a server location near you.
- Create custom shortcuts – Using a VPN for specific apps, websites, and services? ExpressVPN allows you to create custom shortcuts to safely and securely access your favorites.
- Support a variety of devices – ExpressVPN is a highly versatile solution that can be used on a range of devices and gadgets. This includes your smart TV, game console, and even your WiFi router.
- Lots of learning resources – ExpressVPN offers tons of learning resources for users who want to make the most out of their service. You can browse their library of privacy guides, sports guides, educational blog posts, and more.
|Feature||1-month plan||6-month plan||15-month plan|
|Price||$12.95 per month||$9.99 per month, billed every 6 months||$6.67 per month, billed every 12 months after the first 15 months|
|Devices||Unlimited, up to 5 connected at the same time||Unlimited, up to 5 connected at the same time||Unlimited, up to 5 connected at the same time|
Click here to get started with ExpressVPN.
SurfShark is a security-focused VPN service that is designed to provide you with absolute anonymity.
In addition to stable connections and fast speeds, it comes with a handful of useful tools for everyday tasks. My personal favorite is the “CleanWeb” feature, which I’ll discuss in just a second.
As for the app, SurfShark features a clean and sleek interface. You can connect to a recommended VPN server with one click or choose a connection from the list.
SurfShark has an impressive network with over 3,200 locations across 65 countries. Their “MultiHop” feature allows you to use two VPN servers simultaneously, significantly improving your privacy and security.
SurfShark key features
- CleanWeb – All SurfShark subscribers will be given access to CleanWeb – a built-in ad blocker. This is a must-have tool for users who hate ads and desire a clean, safe browsing experience.
- Whitelisting tool – SurfShark’s Whitelister allows you to use “split tunneling” to allow certain apps and websites to bypass the VPN. This is great if you’re trying to use access mobile banking apps or other local websites while enjoying anonymous browsing.
- MultiHop – SurfShark’s MultiHop feature essentially doubles your VPN connection. This makes your VPN twice as effective in hiding your real location and protecting your privacy.
- Unlimited devices – Even with the basic plan, SurfShark allows you to use the VPN on an unlimited number of devices. Yes – that means you can connect all of them to a VPN connection at the same time.
- Camouflage and NoBorders modes – SurfShark’s “Camouflage” mode prevents your ISP from detecting your VPN use. The “NoBorders” mode, on the other hand, allows you to access content even in highly restrictive countries.
|Feature||1-month plan||6-month plan||24-month plan|
|Price||$12.95 per month||$6.49 per month, billed every 6 months||$2.49 per month, billed annually after the first 24 months|
Click here to get started with SurfShark.
4. Private Internet Access
If you’re looking for an affordable VPN service, you should check out Private Internet Access or PIA.
Despite the low price tag, PIA can still provide you with decent speeds for streaming and downloads. It’s also no pushover when it comes to user security.
While they have server locations worldwide, their optimization efforts are focused on US-based servers only. This can be a major plus or drawback depending on where you live.
PIA’s user interface follows the footprints of ExpressVPN. There’s a quick connect button you can use, but you can also connect to the server location of your choice.
Private Internet Access key features
- Open source – PIA’s source code is open source and fully accessible to anyone online. This provides users with total peace of mind while also allowing the community to contribute to its development.
- WireGuard – WireGuard is a specialized PIA VPN protocol that’s fine-tuned and polished for efficiency. It also elevates the security of your VPN connection through advanced traffic encryption.
- Powerful encryption – With PIA VPN, your data will be secured by military-grade encryption algorithms. This, along with their strict “No Logs” policy, ensures that your online activities are only visible to you.
- Malware and ad blocking – All PIA VPN plans ship with built-in malware and ad-blocking features. You will also be fully protected against trackers that may sell or use your data for questionable purposes.
- Free dedicated IP – While other companies charge extra for a dedicated IP, you can create one with PIA for free. This is incredibly valuable, especially if you’re planning to use IP whitelisting to secure your blog’s backend.
Private Internet Access pricing
|Feature||1-month plan||1-year plan||2-year plan|
|Price||$9.95 per month||$2.69 per month, billed annually||$3.33 per month, build annually|
|Devices||Unlimited, up to 10 connected at the same time||Unlimited, up to 10 connected at the same time||Unlimited, up to 10 connected at the same time|
Click here to get started with PIA.
5. Hotspot Shield
Speaking of affordable VPN services, Hotspot Shield also manages to provide their budget-conscious customers with top-of-the-line performance.
They actually have a free version you can use to test out their services yourself. Unfortunately, the free VPN has a bandwidth cap of 500MB per day – nowhere near enough for a one-hour HD video.
Hotspot Shield’s VPN is powered by around 3,200 server locations in over 80 countries. And, like most top-tier VPNs, they also support multiple platforms, including Linux, macOS, Android, smart TVs, and routers.
Using Hotspot Shield is a pleasure regardless of which device you’re on. You can connect with one click, easily switch server locations, and track your usage – all in one place.
Hotspot Shield key features
- Gaming mode – With a few clicks, Hotspot Shield can tailor your VPN’s connection to gaming. It automatically connects you to a remote server with minimum latency, great for fast-paced multiplayer games.
- Streaming mode – Hotspot Shield knows its user base well, which is why it has a streaming mode. As the name suggests, it is built specifically for streaming services like Hulu, Disney+, YouTube, and Netflix.
- Antivirus – Hotspot Shield has a pretty robust antivirus feature that can protect you against a range of cyber threats. This includes viruses, trojans, malware, and ransomware.
- Spam-call blocker – If you like to use VPNs on your mobile device, Hotspot Shield can automatically protect you against spam callers. Furthermore, you can escalate spam calls to the FTC and identify the phone number’s owner.
- Free password manager – Hotspot Shield encourages good password hygiene through their built-in password manager. The tool can also help you generate strong passwords and sync them across your devices.
Hotspot Shield pricing
|Price||$0||$12.99 per month or $7.99 per month with annual billing||$19.99 per month or $11.99 per month with annual billing|
|Devices||1||Up to 5 devices||Up to 25 devices|
|Bandwidth limit||500MB per day||Unlimited||Unlimited|
Click here to get started with Hotspot Shield.
Other than the cute name, TunnelBear has a lot of other interesting things under the hood.
The first thing that stands out is their commitment to user data protection. While they offer very affordable plans, they regularly publish the results of security audits carried out by a third party.
Perhaps the weakest aspect of TunnelBear is its limited coverage.
Sure, they have servers in over 41 countries. But it pales in comparison to the rest of the VPNs on this list.
TunnelBear key features
- VigilantBear – When connected to a VPN server, TunnelBear will automatically block unsecured traffic in case you suddenly lose connection. This makes sure your data remains safe and private until you reestablish your VPN connection.
- GhostBear – GhostBear is the equivalent to SurfShark’s NoBorders mode and NordVPN’s obfuscated servers. It’s configured to help hide your identity to ISPs, businesses, and governments in highly restrictive countries.
- Auto-connect to trusted networks – TunnelBear lets you whitelist the networks you trust. Whenever you connect to an “untrusted” network, TunnelBear automatically kicks in to keep you safe.
- TunnelBear Blocker for Chrome – While TunnelBear doesn’t have a built-in ad blocker, they do have an ad-blocking extension for Chrome. It’s free and effective in blocking unwanted advertisements for a cleaner browsing experience.
- RememBear – The RememBear app is TunnelBear’s homebrewed password management tool. It makes it easier to generate, use, and remember strong passwords for your online accounts.
|Price||$0||$3.33 per month||$5.75 per month|
|Devices||Up to 5 devices||Up to 5 devices||5 devices per user|
|Bandwidth limit||500MB per day||Unlimited||Unlimited|
Click here to get started with TunnelBear.
CyberGhost is a robust VPN service with the widest coverage among the companies on this list.
They operate over 6,900 server locations in 89 countries. That’s twice the number of servers as high-end VPN brands like ExpressVPN.
Moving on to the app itself, CyberGhost uses a streamlined interface that lets you do everything in one window. You can tweak your VPN settings, connect to a server, set up “Smart Rules,” and more.
CyberGhost key features
- Smart Rules – Smart Rules allow you to automate how CyberGhost behaves based on your daily tasks. For example, you can create a rule that automatically launches an app as soon as you connect.
- Multi-platform – CyberGhost also works on multiple platforms, including smart TVs, game consoles, and routers. VPN connections are optimized to complement the normal function of your device.
- Dedicated streaming servers – CyberGhost runs dedicated servers specifically for streaming services. Supported services include Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and BBC iPlayer.
- NoSpy servers – If you’re worried about ISPs and government surveillance monitoring your online activities, use CyberGhost’s NoSpy servers. These are specialized servers located in Romania where absolutely no one can spy on your data.
- Very fast VPN connection speeds – Out of all the VPNs I tested, CyberGhost – along with NordVPN and ExpressVPN – performed extremely well. In some tests, connecting to CyberGhost even exceeded my original download and upload speeds.
|Feature||1-month plan||1-year plan||2-year plan||3-year plan|
|Price||$12.99 per month||$3.99 per month, billed annually||$3.49 per month, billed every 2 years||$2.25 per month, billed every 3 years|
|Devices||Up to 7 devices||Up to 7 devices||Up to 7 devices||Up to 7 devices|
Click here to get started with CyberGhost.
What To Look For in a VPN?
There are four things to consider when picking a VPN service provider: performance, security, features, and price.
I have personally tested the VPNs above and ran speed tests using Speedtest. All of them did not have any discernible impact on my download and upload speeds.
However, that doesn’t mean you’ll get the same experience as me.
Since we’re probably from different locations, certain VPNs may not perform as well for you. That’s why I suggest you run speed tests and pick a VPN with servers in your area.
Security and privacy are very important to a lot of VPN users.
- Email address
- Hardware model
- Operating system
- Real IP address (which is deleted immediately after closing the VPN connection)
After the controversy, their parent company released an updated privacy notice, which addressed the concerns their customers had.
Today, they’re still a popular VPN service provider – known for their network’s performance, stability, and multi-platform support.
Additional features make VPN services unique and valuable.
They can also help you decide which one to buy.
For example, if you’re concerned about your information floating around the deep web, NordVPN’s “Dark Web Monitor” would be great. But if you want to use a VPN with your gaming device, go with ExpressVPN or CyberGhost instead.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to VPNs.
There are, however, “perfect matches.”
I recommend identifying the main problems you’re trying to solve with a VPN first. Then, look at the list above to find the one with a feature set that suits your needs.
Of course, you can’t forget about your budget when picking a VPN service provider.
The list above includes VPNs that can fit everybody’s budget. If cash is tight, consider getting a free VPN from TunnelBear or Hotspot Shield first.
But if security is essential to your business, don’t be afraid to spend extra on a premium solution like NordVPN or ExpressVPN.
10 Things You Can Do With a VPN
By now, you might be wondering:
“What exactly can a full-time blogger do with a VPN?”
Lots of things, actually.
Allow me to show you how I use a VPN in my day-to-day life:
1. Access country-locked Google content
In case you didn’t know, Google locks certain content away from users depending on their country of residence.
Take a look at how fast NordVPN can overcome this:
You can tell that the VPN is working if Google is showing you different Autocomplete suggestions.
How is this useful?
Two words: keyword research.
Referring to Autocomplete suggestions is perhaps the cheapest and fastest way to find lucrative keyword ideas. They tell you exactly what users are searching for, helping you come up with content ideas that will generate clicks.
Other than Google Search results, you can also use a VPN to unlock content in other Google-owned services. YouTube, for example, also has region-locked content that you can access with a VPN.
2. Access other geo-blocked websites
Google isn’t the only company blocking countries from accessing certain pieces of content.
There are also websites that won’t provide you with any content at all if you’re not from a specific country.
This can hinder the research of bloggers who target an international audience.
Remember, country-specific websites can provide you with fresh and relevant product or content ideas for your blog. They can also help you stay “in the know” when it comes to recent trends and events.
Personally, I came across several websites, blogs, and online communities that block my IP. At the same time, there may be certain sites blocked by your government for specific reasons.
Either way, geo-blocking can be a major roadblock that will cripple your research efforts.
It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to access a streaming service, forum, or a local publication. With NordVPN, you can tune into the digital space of any local market as if you actually live there.
3. Use dedicated IPs to secure your WordPress dashboard
Here’s something for all you WordPress users out there.
Some VPN services allow you to use or purchase a dedicated IP that only you can use. You can then whitelist this IP either manually or with a plugin like Secure Admin IP.
Don’t know how IP whitelisting works?
Basically, a snippet of code will restrict access to your WordPress login page and dashboard.
Whenever someone tries to access these pages, WordPress will first check their IP.
If it’s listed, they will be allowed to proceed. Otherwise, they will be blocked.
With a dedicated IP, coupled with IP whitelisting, only you can access your backend.
That’s what I call security.
If you want, you can take your WordPress security further with two-factor authentication (2FA). This works by requesting a one-time password with each login.
Security plugins like Wordfence allow you to integrate 2FA apps like Google Authenticator and FreeOTP to secure your website.
Of course, 2FA is not mandatory, especially if you already use whitelisting.
But if we’re talking about my own blog, I won’t take any chances.
4. Stay secured while using public WiFi networks
A lot of bloggers like to work in public places like libraries, coffee shops, and malls.
In some cases, bloggers even had to rely on a hotel’s WiFi network – mostly when attending seminars or speaking engagements.
Whatever the reason, you can’t just go around and accessing your important accounts on a public WiFi network.
This could leave you vulnerable to hackers who utilize fake hotspots, “man-in-the-middle” attacks, and malware to steal information.
While encryption has made the web significantly safer in recent years, skilled hackers can still bypass it. And connecting to unsecured hotspots while going about your daily blogging tasks won’t help, either.
Unless, of course, if you use a secured VPN service.
Take note that services like NordVPN work by patching you through an encrypted network “tunnel” when connecting to the internet.
This will make it nearly impossible for hackers to spy on your sensitive information, like your:
- Email account credentials
- Bank details
- Social media login details
- WordPress blog admin credentials
5. Get product ideas from foreign ads
I bet you haven’t thought about VPNs as tools for PPC research.
With VPNs, you can easily switch your IP to receive ads meant for users in a different country. In turn, you will get profitable product ideas by browsing websites and services relevant to your niche.
This is incredibly helpful if you’re running a blog that targets foreign users.
Here’s a tip: use a VPN with a non-premium account on streaming services.
My personal strategy is to connect using a US or UK IP address while listening to podcasts on Spotify. This way, I can get product ideas I’ve never heard before that are being promoted to those markets.
6. Take advantage of special deals in specific countries
Ever felt excited about a special offer, only to find out that it’s only available in certain countries?
You’ll never feel that disappointment again with a VPN.
Since you can use IP addresses from other countries, you can take advantage of country-specific discounts and deals. You literally only need to click a couple of times, depending on your VPN of choice.
You can also use this technique to cash in country-specific gift cards and coupon codes. The same can be said for services and certain marketplaces.
7. Don’t pay taxes for purchases
I have a confession to make:
When making digital purchases online, I sometimes use NordVPN to set my location to Delaware.
That’s because Delaware has a zero percent sales tax.
Just be extra cautious when doing this.
Some countries impose fines for consumers who use VPNs to avoid paying goods and services tax (GST). New Zealand, for example, fines violators a whopping $25,000.
8. You’re a travel blogger
As a travel blogger, your workflow is sometimes disrupted because of government-mandated internet censorship.
Traveling to China, for example, means you won’t be able to access important sites like Google, Facebook, and Skype.
A lot of popular travel bloggers recommend using a VPN.
Among my favorites would be Matthew Kepnes of Nomadic Matt, who published a great VPN guide for travel.
9. You want to blog anonymously
In a previous post, I talked about the ins and outs of blogging anonymously.
It is definitely not the perfect way to blog. But it is ideal for some people who lead certain lifestyles.
Anyway, blogging anonymously means you don’t want anyone discovering who you are.
While some anonymous bloggers reveal their own identities eventually, you can’t afford to have someone expose it for you.
That’s where a VPN comes in.
No matter how skilled or crafty hackers or stalkers are, your identity is protected behind a VPN’s veil of privacy. You just have to make sure your VPN service provider uses top-tier encryption.
10. Have fun without limits
Finally, don’t forget about the fun side of VPNs.
Like most people, I also use VPNs to enjoy the content that isn’t available in my country.
For the most part, I watch movies and shows on Netflix that are only available in certain regions. I’ve also used a VPN to check out US-only streaming services like Vudu and BBC iPlayer.
If you’re getting a VPN, here is a checklist of the things you absolutely need to try:
- Save money on hotel bookings – Some hotel booking websites offer different prices to users depending on their IP. VPNs can help you switch IPs to find the best price – look for country-specific deals while you’re at it!
- Watch foreign sports – If you’re ever interested in foreign sports like cricket, you can use geo-blocked, online streaming services with a VPN. With a VPN, you can even buy game passes and subscriptions from organizations like the NFL and MLB.
- Stay hidden from advertisers – Never assume that “incognito” can protect you against websites and advertisers that track your online activities. Only a premium VPN can offer that protection to people who care about their privacy.
- Use unlimited free trials – If you ever come across a website that offers a one-time-only free trial, you’ll find a VPN extremely handy. Since you can easily change your IP in a snap, you can enjoy unlimited free trials.
- Get more optimized browsing and download speeds – In some cases, using a VPN and connecting to a server near you can improve your browsing and download speeds. Some VPN providers like NordVPN have preset connections for these purposes so you won’t have to guess.
VPNs not only unlock geo-restricted content. They can also give you bulletproof protection against potential hackers, businesses, and governments who are after your data.
In the right hands, a VPN can also become a powerful blogging tool.
Just be sure to take your time, weigh your options carefully, and go after free trials if they’re available.
I put a lot of effort into compiling reputable brands that the VPN community trusts. However, it’s impossible for me to tell if every user will have a positive experience with them.
In the meantime, you can keep reading more posts about VPNs and blogging using the links below.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments!