Would it be okay with you if someone leaked your entire Google history to the government? How about if your internet provider made it so that one episode of Arrested Development took an hour to load?
If you’ve had a mental breakdown about anything related to the above, you’ve probably given some thought to getting a VPN.
We know you’ve seen a ton of VPN reviews from experts across the board, including from our tech team at Mashable. But if you wanted a more raw opinion — or thousands of them — from people with absolutely no filter, there’s only one place to go: Reddit.
Because who better to ask about the best private networks than tons of people who experiment with them all day, every day?
Since December 2017, when the FCC decided to burn Net Neutrality to the ground, more and more people have become obsessed with online privacy (or lack thereof). Your internet provider can choose to slow down your internet if they want, and they could also go after sites like Netflix and demand money for offering high viewing speeds. And keeping your illegal stream or questionable search history private? Forget about it.
The easy solution is to get a VPN (virtual private network), an internet security subscription that can change your geolocation, take you off the company-owned server, and basically allow you to make up your own internet rules.
VPNs provide a way for people to get around internet roadblocks and censors, stream or download without worry, protect themselves from hackers, and keep their internet usage mostly private from third parties. They’ll especially come in handy if providers like Comcast do decide to stop playing nice with Netflix, or if you’re in a country where American Netflix is blocked.
VPNranks.com has a ranking of the VPN services that Reddit users have voted to be the best — or so it says. Here’s what we found when we actually dug through Reddit threads of users discussing their experiences with five of the top VPNs out there right now:
Reddit verdict: All-around good choice, especially for Netflix
Chosen as one of Mashable’s top three for staying anonymous online, NordVPN is a choice backed by much of Reddit. It’s made for fast streaming and torrenting, P2P and non P2P options, and is one VPN that can actually bypass the American Netflix block anywhere in the world. Plus, a single NordVPN login can be used on up to six devices simultaneously, so sharing the perks and splitting the price is a major bonus for savvier internet users.
Reddit user ambillop writes:
I haven’t had any issues with nordvpn (windows 10), mostly use it for netflix and torrenting, like how easy the UI is. I did not try PIA but I can say for sure that at least nord works with netflix and has a live chat.
Another appealing factor is its smooth, well-designed user interface and easy AF setup across all devices: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, and more. Reddit users put emphasis on how strong the Windows application is compared to competitors like PrivateInternetAccess. Mashable’s Ray Wong writes:
Connecting to Nord’s various servers is easy — just click on the country you want to connect with on the map. We also like that NordVPN comes with a built-in ad blocker called “CyberSec.” In addition to blocking ads, the company says CyberSec will shield your device from malware and phishing.
Reddit users give Nord praise because it actually seems trustworthy, especially compared to other VPNs that may hand over information to the wrong people. Nord is also equipped with the ability to connect to a Double VPN, which encrypts your traffic twice for double the protection. One NordVPN fan on Reddit, Sacredkeep, even mentioned that NordVPN solved the problems that PureVPN and PIA gave them. Plus if you have any issues, Nord offers a 24/7 live chat.
If you want a no frills, no worries situation, NordVPN is the simple, smooth operator that has your back. Get one month for $11.95, one year for $5.75/month, or two years for $3.29 per month.
Reddit verdict: Speedy and versatile, but shady
If you download and upload content, movies, and games on a daily basis, PureVPN is choice with notably fast downloading and uploading speeds. Compared to other VPNs that get the same speed (like Astrill), it’s considerably more affordable.
PureVPN has more than 500 servers spanning across 140 countries and impeccable access in China — and may be the only option available in some places. Pure VPN is also extremely accessible when it comes to devices: It’s compatible with Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Chrome, and Firefox, as well as apps for media streaming devices like Android TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Kodi. So, if nothing else, it’s one of the most versatile of the bunch.
Though Mashable dubbed it one of the best due to its speed and how many things it can do, Reddit users insist that it is not a trustworthy choice. Multiple Redditors claim that PureVPN lies to users about not logging their information or search history when they really do. Some also believe that PureVPN uses spammers and claim that a lot of positive feedback about PureVPN on Reddit are from fake accounts.
Reddit user cloudhat writes:
“Yeah, I have lifetime subscription to PureVPN and it sucks. Does not hide my DNS despite me checking the box that says DNS leak. They spoof their servers as well. I connected to China servers (don’t ask me why) and my IP was in Brazil. Used for like 4 months and now I am using another VPN.”
Or, stated bluntly by Reddit user U/Siaisthefuture:
“Don’t fucking use Purevpn! I’m getting fucking targeted adds based on what I’m searching fuck pure vpn private my ass.”
As for the price, you can one month for $10.95, one year for $4.91/month, or two years for $2.87/month — so if you want to try it for a month to see if they’ve been trolling Reddit or not, it won’t cost a ton.
Reddit verdict: Pricey, but definitely worth the cost
We’re slightly surprised that ExpressVPN wasn’t #1 in the rankings, as Reddit users really seem to love it (or as close to love as you can get with the ultra picky Reddit community). If you do a Reddit search on any other VPN, someone in the comments will say Express is better. At first glance, it already looks a lot more user friendly and a lot more trustworthy than PureVPN.
The client is uniform across every device I have used (Windows, Android, and Amazon FireOS). I would like to say I was quite happy that ExpressVPN is one of the few VPNs (that seem trustworthy) that actually had a client in the Amazon App Store for the Fire tablets. No more need for sideloading, manual updates, or sketchy OpenVPN clone clients. At first the speeds weren’t the greatest on the “Smart Location” server (New York). These speeds capped at about 12Mbps down and 10Mbps up. I have 150Mbps/15Mbps service. After hunting for other servers I found a few that provide roughly 60Mbps/15Mbps service throughout the US and Canada. DNS Leak tests were successful in that I am not leaking.
As of now, I am very happy with the service. I would still love to see them up the speed of their connections.
Another user, icurate, joins the thread:
I am about to renew after my first year with them and have had zero issues. Speed is consistent and when I switch to a different continent there is minimal lag. I do leak tests sporadically and have not found one. They aren’t the cheapest, but in my book they are among the best.
It’s also notable that ExpressVPN is able to gain access to Netflix, which some (like PureVPN) are not able to do. Like PureVPN, ExpressVPN is one of the best for getting around roadblocks in China (though there are only servers in 94 countries), and has up to 256 bit encryption.
Get one month for $12.95, six months for $9.99/month, or a one-year subscription for $8.32/month. You would be paying around $10 more per month compared to any other VPN, but the quality is definitely there — and if you’re really not happy, you can get your money back within the first 30 days. Another cool thing: You can pay with Bitcoin.
Reddit verdict: Not the thing to get for torrenting
Another VPN with a money-back guarantee is CyberGhost. The theme we were seeing here was that when servers are good, they’re really good, but when they’re bad, they’re really bad. However, after looking through Reddit threads, we’re not really sure how this ranked in the top three.
The biggest thing: This is not the VPN to get if you’re looking to torrent or stream, as it’s known to be pretty slow. Reddit user NewWorld98 writes:
I was trying to torrent a UFC event that I happened to miss recently, 500+ seeders and 200+ leechers for a 720p recording. Not the best ratio, but certainly doable considering. The download wouldn’t even start. CyberGhost does have an option for torrenting servers specifically, but they’re always “busy” and they use the term “too popular” as if that’s some sort of excuse. I’ve used the program for a few days and I’m going to get a refund as soon as humanly possible.
Complete joke and a complete waste if you were looking to torrent using this specific VPN.
However, if you want to just surf the good ole’ web, it works well enough. But if you need something to torrent with, this program is not for you.
Another user, privacycaringweirdo, had a similar experience:
I supported them on their starts but it was a mistake, they are running vpn traffic through your computer, even if you have premium this is what they does. I always got slow speed, they always had [REDACTED] support making excuses worst service ever, not speaking of leaking your dns, crashdowns without any warnings so your entire traffic is unprotected. complete bs service
Dang, “complete BS service” is pretty harsh. We did see some positive comments from users mentioning that they didn’t have these problems. Others also mentioned that it’s a good idea to test out every VPN service with a money-back guarantee just to see how they work, because why not? Unless you’re in China — CyberGhost servers are apparently not the greatest there.
Get one month for $11.99, one year for $4.99/month, two years for $3.79/month, or three years for $2.75/month. (There is a free version, but Reddit users warn to not even think about it.)
Reddit verdict: Not good looking, but good quality
This was technically #8 in the ranking, but after we saw it mentioned positively so many times in Reddit discussions, we decided to bump it up. Private Internet Access VPN, otherwise known as PIA, attempts to give off reliability vibes with its home page (children on bikes was an interesting choice), which some might feel conned by. However, we’ve gathered that Redditors believe that this wasn’t a farce, and that it’s actually a super trustworthy option.
It was Mashable’s top choice too, due to the fact that it comes with a ton of user-friendly features and doesn’t kill your device to install. However, it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing interface of the bunch, and some users mention that they had to switch VPNs simply because of that. But if you don’t care about the looks so much as server reliability, variety of features, and speed, it’s a good choice.
Reddit user KaiForceOne writes:
I’ve had PIA for over 2 years now. Speeds have been amazing, only 2 or 3 times have I had to drop and switch to a different server when speeds were acting up on one of them. I’ve been able to access pretty much every site I need, only one I found to be wonky while on VPN is the bank of america site. Other than that it really is worth the money.
Reddit user cspjohn writes:
I have been using PIA for two years now. Actually, I was really skeptic when I first went to the website. It had a stock photo of a family, shady “we are the best” text all around. But hey, I subscribed to give it a try. And it worked wonderful. PIA has been an incredibly solid, fast and reliable VPN provider for me through 2 years. Never had an issue with them whatsoever.
Mashable’s Ray Wong (who chose PIA as number one for staying anonymous online) writes:
You get your standard secure VPN account, encrypted Wi-Fi, P2P, IPv6 leak protection, a VPN kill switch, and a whole lot more. Private Internet Access VPN sure as hell isn’t a sexy app you want to open all the time (so just set it to automatically open when you log in), but what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up for with a long list of features. It also has a solid backbone, claiming over 3,100 servers in 28 countries worldwide.
For all of the good reviews it gets, it’s surprising that subscriptions are so affordable (but we’re not complaining). Get it monthly for $6.95/month, yearly for $3.33/month, and two years for $2.91/month. It also takes Bitcoin as a form of payment.