Best VPN in 2023: Free, budget and more

Joel Loynds
Best VPN in 2023

The Best VPN in 2023 isn’t the one that makes geo-locked content accessible to you. These recommended VPN services protect your privacy and offer faster browsing and download speeds. Check out our suggestions below. 

In the past, VPNs have been among the most sought-after software. VPN or Virtual Private Networks are considered the safest bet to protect your online privacy.

VPNs aren’t just software that can be seen promoted by your favorite tech YouTuber or streamer. In fact, it was a niche software by people who loved to access content that wasn’t available in their country.

However, in reality it is way more than just that. We’ll walk you through what a VPN actually is. What are some of the best VPNs, and Why should you use VPNs, too.

What is a VPN?

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a method of rerouting your internet traffic to another location, and when anyone looks in on you, they see the virtual network instead of your home or office.

Consider it a network of tunnels on a highway, and while someone could easily track you while you were driving on an open highway, however, once you enter these tunnels, no one knows where you’re heading or how fast you are driving or if you’re driving at all.

As things become more restrictive, VPNs can be utilized to spoof your location, allowing you access to live streams of sporting events and even different libraries on things like Netflix.

In office or security environments, this allows a private, secure network to be accessed without it being directly connected to it. This is called a VPN tunnel.

Why do you need a VPN?

As mentioned above, VPN is about accessing restricted content and your online privacy. Government agencies and big tech companies, including e-commerce giants, are interested in your browsing habits and content habits.

This allows them to create an online persona and could help them control your content consumption, online shopping, and more. A VPN will keep this log hidden from most prying eyes and won’t even let your internet service provider know about your internet history.

Besides, as VPNs encrypt all your data, they can be ideal for people who want to keep their banking details or professional communication discreet from interlopers.

However, remember that your employer or the country you’re traveling to might not allow the use of a VPN. So while you might need a VPN at all costs, be sure to follow the rule of land before worrying about hiding your data log.

Best VPN deals

Best VPNs

While many VPN services are available on the market, ranging from almost free, to ones that charge a fortune. We’re listing a handful of them that we have either reviewed or feel are the absolute best.

The best VPN in 2023: NordVPN


NordVPN and SurfShark VPN belong to the same parent organisations, and their services are similar. However, we choose NordVPN as a preferred service, which is really splitting hairs at this point. Our review also states that it’s one of the best VPN services you can get today.

NordVPN has an excellent user interface that is easy for beginners and gives enough information for those who are more technically aware. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re just a starter or a pro user; NordVPN offers just enough controls for everyone.

During our testing on a Three 5G Hub, which averages 180Mbps to 200Mbps, we saw no noticeable difference in speeds. The further we connected, the lower our rates got, but it was never ridiculous. Even when connecting to places like South Korea or Japan, we rarely saw any issues with the speed.

Regarding cost, NordVPN doesn’t have a free tier, but you get additional features depending on your subscription. It starts at $12.99 for a month, going up to $15.69 – a plan which offers a free password manager, a data breach scanner, 1 TB of cloud storage, and advanced file encryption apart from a few other services.

It goes without saying that if you buy a yearly or a bi-annual package, the same subscription will be available at a fraction of the cost.

The best budget VPN in 2023: Proton


Proton VPN is a service by the folks behind the Proton secure email service. You’re mistaken if you thought that’s the best thing about this service. It is among the few good VPN services that offer a free version.

This free VPN service lets you connect to Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States. In our testing of the service, we saw no discernable difference between it and our paid-for VPNs from NordVPN and SurfShark.

The caveat to getting a full VPN for free is that there are limitations to encouraging you to sign up. Aside from ‘medium speeds,’ Proton VPN’s free version does not allow access to torrenting, Tor private browsing, or worldwide streaming services.

This means you won’t be able to access different libraries or geo-blocked content, but you will have that additional layer of protection wherever you browse. The paid version includes services like Proton mail, calendar, drive, ad-blocker, multiple device support, and more.

When comparing this to other ‘free’ VPNs, Proton provides anonymity across three relatively fast servers without any data caps.

Best free VPN in 2023: OpenVPN


OpenVPN is a FOSS (Free Open Source Software) VPN client that allows you to import profiles made and provided online or use ones provided by your workplace and other VPN services.

While getting a completely free, open-source VPN service over the subscription models can be tempting, there’s a massive catch: it’s a lot of work.

Accessing and getting free VPN profiles is very easy, but finding one that works and keeping on top of the passwords that might be included and refreshed each week can be difficult.

OpenVPN is an incredible piece of software, and those people hosting services for free online are legends. But making them free and actively available also makes it very difficult to keep uncluttered from various users trying to access them.

Once you find one, though, OpenVPN provides many of the same services as the others and can host multiple profiles for you to use. No payments are needed, and it’s a lightweight piece of software to have running in the background, with plenty of information about where you’re connecting.

Which VPNs work with Netflix?

Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services that are available globally. Unfortunately, much of its content is geo-locked, which means that the shows available for the US audience might not be the same as the ones available for someone in the European or Asian continent.

Using a VPN to spoof your location might not unblock this content, as the folks behind Netflix have made their application smart enough to identify this. However, based on various hit and trial attempts, the list of VPNs you can still use for different locations is below.

  • ExpressVPN: UK, US, Australia, Canada
  • Proton VPN: UK, US, Australia (mixed results), Canada
  • Surfshark: US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan
  • NordVPN: US, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan
  • IPVanish: US

Is it illegal to use VPN?

No, it’s not illegal to use VPNs. It is just a way to spoof your location; however, what you do after connecting to a VPN may be illegal in different countries.

So until and unless you’re using VPN for any illegal activity, downloading content wherever it’s not allowed to, or accessing pornographic content, you’re safe. 

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About The Author

E-Commerce Editor. You can get in touch with him over email: He's written extensively about video games and tech for over a decade for various sites. Previously seen on Scan, WePC, PCGuide, Eurogamer, Digital Foundry and A deep love for old tech, bad games and even jankier MTG decks.