The most private VPN in 2021

If you want the, there’s no doubt that you’re on the lookout for the most private VPN as well. While VPNs can do all sorts of interesting things, at their core they need to be effective pieces of privacy software – if they’re not, everything else is worthless.

If you make sure to use the most private VPN you can find, you’ll be able to surf the web confidently, knowing that no hackers, data collectors or advertisers can follow you around, picking up your trail of personal information – and, in the unlikely event that the authorities do want to snoop and see what you’ve been browsing, they won’t be able to find a thing.

What makes the most private VPN?

like ProtonMail, you can keep that private and unidentifiable, too.

When considering all of those points and more, we’ve namedas the most private VPN available today – there are no sacrifices made in terms of privacy or usability, and it has an audited no-logging policy that’s been proven in practice. However, there are some other strong contenders, so read on to find out the five most private VPNs available today.

1.
If you want to keep your data and browsing away from the prying eyes of Google’s trackers, Facebook’s algorithms and data harvesters, ExpressVPN is the perfect choice. You’ll have a 30-day money-back guarantee, and you can also claim three free months through Tom’s Guide.

2.
Privacy is NordVPN’s whole shtick, and it’s a seriously effective way of keeping your private data truly private. You’ll have great apps for tons of devices, a huge amount of servers to choose from, and best of all it’s not all that pricey, either.

3.
If the two above are a little pricey, Surfshark offers a cheap alternative. While not as customizable as Express, Surfshark delivers all the basics and then some – and for less than $2.50 a month, there’s not much more you could ask for.

The most private VPNs available today

1. ExpressVPN

The most private VPN on the market

Audited no-logging policy: Yes | Crypto payments: Bitcoin | Based in: British Virgin Islands | Real name needed: No | Money back guarantee: 30 days

Verified no logging
BVI-based
RAM-only servers
Excellent speeds
A little expensive

Topping this list is ExpressVPN, and that’s because it not only provides a great suite of privacy features, but also delivers an incredibly simple yet fully-featured user experience.

From the off it’s good news, as Express is based in the British Virgin Islands, a jurisdiction that does not have mandatory data retention laws – and it’s not a member of the five, nine or 14-eyes alliances. Express also delivers on the no-logging front, having undertaken an independent audit fairly recently with positive results. 

This is bolstered by ExpressVPN’s use of only RAM-based servers, known as TrustedServer. In a nutshell, that means that these servers do not use hard drives, and cannot store any data after powering off. Express is one of the few VPNs to make this move, and it’s an important step towards being truly zero-logging.

You can also avoid handing over any identifying information when signing up. ExpressVPN has full Bitcoin support – but unfortunately not Ethereum, Monero, Ripple or others – and although you do need an email, it’s not hard to get a free account with a decent privacy-focused provider.

So, Express ticks all the privacy boxes, but what really puts it ahead of the pack is the fact it’s all wrapped up in such a slick package. You’ll get class-leading speeds, some of the best content unblocking power available, excellent customer support and, unlike some of its competitors, it even works to unblock restricted content in authoritarian regimes such as China and the UAE.

If we had any issue with Express, it’d be that it’s a little more expensive than some other options, but in this case you really do get what you pay for, and you’ll also get a 30-day money-back guarantee to make sure you like the service before you commit.


Tom’s Guide readers can claim a mega three months free of ExpressVPN, working out at 15 months for the price of 12. You can pay via credit card, PayPal or Bitcoin, and if you’re not happy with the service you’ll be able to get a no-quibble refund within 30 days.

2. NordVPN

Well-established private VPN with a huge following

Audited no-logging policy: Yes | Crypto payments: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple | Based in: Panama | Real name needed: No | Money back guarantee: 30 days

Excellent encryption
Fresh audit 
Over 5,000 servers
Great cryptocurrency support
2018 hack still memorable

An absolute stalwart of the privacy industry, NordVPN has made a name for itself as one of the go-to providers for those seeking a private VPN, and quite predictably, in out freshestthe service truly impressed.

Some may remember the 2018 server hack – and yes, it does leave a bitter taste – but since then NordVPN has undertaken twoof its servers and policies, which has certainly helped us regain some trust in the provider.

These audits are incredibly invasive, and Nord allowed the firm PwC access to its Standard VPN, Double VPN, Obfuscated (XOR) VPN, and P2P servers, as well as its central infrastructure. The tests undertaken demonstrated Nord’s no-logging policy was upheld in its entirety, and out of all the VPNs on this list, NordVPN’s audit is the most recent.

What’s also great is Nord’s Panama-based status – just like the BVI, Panama does not require companies registered there to retain the data of its users, which is perfect for those who want true privacy from their VPN.

Like Express, NordVPN accepts cryptocurrency payments, but you’ll also be able to use Ethereum and Ripple alongside Bitcoin. Again, this is great if you want to stay absolutely anonymous end-to-end, from purchase to use.

Unfortunately, we’re still yet to wholly get over the 2019 incident – as we know a number of pr
ospective users are, too. However, its practice of regular audits alongside a clear no-logging policy instils more trust than ever in NordVPN. And, if you’re not sure, Nord offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you’ll be able to test out the service without committing to make sure it’s the one for you.

3. Surfshark

Affordable yet very private VPN

Audited no-logging policy: No | Crypto payments: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple | Based in: British Virgin Islands | Real name needed: No | Money back guarantee: 30 days

The cheapest way to privacy
Unlimited connections
Really easy to use
Great additional features
Not fully audited

While Surfshark is one of the cheapest, it’s also one of the most private VPN providers out there. Like Express, it’s based in the British Virgin Islands, so that’s a great start, and you’ll also be able to pay in Bitcoin, Ethereum or Ripple – check out ourfor more.

Surfshark has also recently introduced a couple of interesting privacy features that can help you protect your identity online.

The first is HackLock. If you’re happy to hand over your important email addresses to Surfshark, it will monitor the web and notify you if your details have been compromised in recent data leaks. If it has you’ll be notified, and you can immediately change your passwords for any affected sites.

Surfshark’s BlindSearch is a ‘bare-bones, ad-free, zero-log private search service.’ If you’re searching for things you’d rather not broadcast, then it’s a great option for staying private. HackLock and BlindSearch do come at a premium – you’ll have to shell out a whole dollar more a month to get access. Not too bad, then.

However, Surfshark’s not higher on this list because it hasn’t undertaken the sort of comprehensive independent audits Express and Nord have – while it’s had its browser extensions verified, we’d love to see Surfshark’s servers and apps fully verified as zero-logging.

But, if you’re looking for a quick, private VPN for less than $2.50 a month, Surfshark is your best option.

4. CyberGhost

Private VPN with tons of servers

Audited no-logging policy: No | Crypto payments: Bitcoin | Based in: Romania | Real name needed: No | Money back guarantee: 14/45 days

Great for private torrenting
Huge amount of servers
45-day guarantee
Not verified zero-logging
Apps need a little work

Often thought of as a VPN that specializes in streaming and torrenting – and it is – in ourwe found it also has some pretty powerful privacy credentials to match. It’s one of the few VPNs to publish a quarterly transparency report, which details how many requests from the DMCA and police the company gets.

Thankfully, CyberGhost’s claims of zero-logging seem to be true, but just like Surfshark we’d love to see the firm undergo an audit to prove this. While being based in Romania is a good start (favorable data retention laws), we’d love to see the policy and servers verified.

Other than that, it’s pretty much good news. You’ll be able to pay with Bitcoin (although not Ethereum, Ripple, or any other cryptos), and as a specializedyou can access P2P sharing without worrying about being busted if you accidentally get hold of copyrighted material.

If you’re happy with CyberGhost’s no-logging policy and not worried about the lack of an audit, it’s a great-value VPN with a huge amount of servers all over the world. True privacy nuts, though, will probably go with one of the above.

5. ProtonVPN

Swiss privacy in a usable package

Audited no-logging policy: Yes | Crypto payments: Bitcoin (and cash too) | Based in: Switzerland | Real name needed: No | Money back guarantee: 30 days

Secure Core is seriously impressive
Accepts cash
Audited and open-source
Great for streaming
Fairly expensive

You may well have used ProtonMail to keep your paper trail anonymous when signing up to other services, so why not go the whole hog and get ProtonVPN too? Our most recent ProtonVPN review showed plenty of improvements, and it’s fast becoming a serious contender.

With its Secure Core tech, no matter where you are you’ll be safe in the knowledge that your activity is fully obfuscated and untraceable back to you, and what’s more, ProtonVPN has the audited credentials and open-source bragging rights to prove its trustworthiness. Its also great as a, and it’s able to access Netflix, Amazon Prime, iPlayer and more. 

One of our only real complaints is that on balance, it’s quite expensive even compared to the very premium ExpressVPN, but if you’ve been taken in by the green and black interface and Swiss privacy, we certainly don’t blame you.

Most private VPN FAQ

The most private VPNs at a glance

1.– The most private VPN on the market

2.– Fully audited and great for streaming

3. – One of the best-value private VPNs

4.– Combines privacy with great torrenting ability

5.– Cash payments and Swiss privacy are appealing

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