Watch my ultimate VPN comparison on Craylor Made

How do you find the best VPN in 2020? Finding the best VPN for your needs can be a daunting task with so many options. In this ultimate VPN comparison, I’m breaking down the best VPNs in each category out of the six that I vigorously tested.

NordVPN

NordVPN is perhaps the most popular VPN if you pay attention to sponsorship slots on YouTube. Major YouTubers are constantly plugging NordVPN at the end of their videos, so it must be good — right?

Kind of. NordVPN was pretty “middle-of-the-road” in my testing. The speeds were alright, and many users are wary of NordVPN after the recent hack scandal.

Breaches happen. They are going to happen. And while I’m not happy with how long NordVPN took to disclose the breach, I’m a firm believer in second chances. NordVPN has a lot going for it! They offer phenomenal value if streaming is a priority. While it’s not the fastest VPN, it’s the most affordable reliable VPN that supports streaming.

Nerd stats:

Streaming – Yes (see test results)

  • Hulu – Pass
  • Apple TV+ – Pass
  • Netflix – Pass
  • Disney+ – Pass

Speedtest results:

  • Speedtest 1: 31ms ping, 35Mbps down, 5Mbps up via iOS
  • Speedtest 2: 28ms ping, 88Mbps down, 23Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 3: 32ms ping, 105Mbps down, 22Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 4: 57ms ping, 113Mbps down, 22Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 5: 54ms ping, 88Mbps down, 7Mbps up via Mac

Private Internet Access

If you’re here to discover the cheapest VPN that is still reliable, Private Internet Access is for you. The speed is definitely mediocre in my testing, providing less-than-satisfactory performance.

If speed isn’t your top priority, PIA is a great way to secure your internet connection on the cheap. They are a reliable VPN provider that has been around for many years, and I used PIA as my personal VPN for a few months before this comparison.

The biggest downside to PIA is the lack of support for streaming. If you need a VPN that supports streaming, this isn’t for you.

Nerd stats:

Streaming – No (see test results)

  • Hulu – Fail
  • Apple TV+ – Pass
  • Netflix – Pass
  • Disney+ – Pass

Speedtest results:

  • Speedtest 1: 41ms ping, 31Mbps down, 14Mbps up via iOS
  • Speedtest 2: 32ms ping, 121Mbps down, 23Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 3: 163ms ping, 80Mbps down, 9Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 4: 36ms ping, 36Mbps down, 18Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 5: 39ms ping, 61mbps down, 18Mbps up via Mac

ExpressVPN

Want the best VPN that makes no compromises? ExpressVPN is for you. It’s blazing fast, supports streaming, has excellent support, and is simple and easy to use.

The biggest downside to ExpressVPN is the high price tag. $100/yr is a hard price to swallow for a VPN, but you get what you pay for.

There’s not much else to say about ExpressVPN! It’s simply the best option I tested, and I’m personally switching to ExpressVPN for my own use.

Nerd stats:

Streaming – Yes (see test results)

  • Hulu – Pass
  • Apple TV+ – Pass
  • Netflix – Pass
  • Disney+ – Pass

Speedtest results:

  • Speedtest 1: 40ms ping, 59Mbps down, 9Mbps up via iOS
  • Speedtest 2: 36ms ping, 148Mbps down, 22Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 3: 41ms ping, 183Mbps down, 22Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 4: 42ms ping, 171Mbps down, 22Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 5: 38ms ping, 150Mbps down, 22Mbps up via Mac

Hotspot Shield

Looking for a VPN with some added value? Check out Hotspot Shield.

While it’s still pricey, at $96 per year, it now includes a subscription to 1Password, Robo Shield, and Identity Guard. 1Password alone is worth $36 per year, so this VPN proves to be a great value if you already use 1Password as your password manager.

Hotspot shield is also ridiculously fast. My average speed was even faster than ExpressVPN, and most of the time I couldn’t tell I was connected.

Unfortunately, that’s where the benefits end for Hotspot Shield. It’s nearly impossible to get support, and I saw some funky wording in their privacy policy that says they keep logs (see video for more info).

Because of the “shady” privacy policy, I wouldn’t personally recommend Hotspot Shield. If you aren’t bothered by it and just want a really fast VPN, give it a shot!

Nerd stats:

Streaming – Yes (see test results)

  • Hulu – Pass
  • Apple TV+ – Pass
  • Netflix – Pass
  • Disney+ – Pass

Speedtest results:

  • Speedtest 1: 74ms ping, 154Mbps down, 24Mbps up via iOS
  • Speedtest 2: 105ms ping, 13Mbps down, 13Mbps up via Mac (this was a bad server I was connected to – didn’t figure it into the average)
  • Speedtest 3: 104ms ping, 9Mbps down, 17bps up via Mac (this was a bad server I was connected to – didn’t figure it into the average)
  • Speedtest 4: 33ms ping, 214Mbps down, 24Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 5: 31ms ping, 287Mbps down, 24Mbps up via Mac

TunnelBear

If you are looking for a reasonably fast VPN that is still affordable, TunnelBear is a great option! As long as you don’t require streaming over a VPN, TunnelBear is fast, easy to use, and has outstanding support.

There was a recent controversy with TunnelBear when they got acquired by McAfee. While I don’t like McAfee at all, I’m happy to report that TunnelBear is still functioning as an independent company, and I see no signs of McAfee negatively affecting them in any way. So long as things stay that way, I can happily recommend TunnelBear.

I see TunnelBear as a “happy medium” between Private Internet Access. You get much faster speeds, and while it isn’t as fast as ExpressVPN, it’s noticeably faster than PIA and worth the extra $20/year in my opinion.

As mentioned earlier, TunnelBear doesn’t support streaming, so keep that in mind when making your decision.

Nerd stats:

Streaming – No (see test results)

  • Hulu – Fail
  • Apple TV+ – Pass
  • Netflix – Fail
  • Disney+ – Pass

Speedtest results:

  • Speedtest 1: 46ms ping, 40Mbps down, 9Mbps up via iOS
  • Speedtest 2: 40ms ping, 115Mbps down, 23Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 3: 39ms ping, 200Mbps down, 20Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 4: 39ms ping, 74Mbps down, 7Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 5: 44ms ping, 116Mbps down, 8Mbps up via Mac

Namecheap

If you don’t follow my content, you might be surprised to see Namecheap included on a VPN comparison list. What can I say, I love Namecheap!

The Namecheap VPN is scary fast. I averaged speeds of 200Mbps down, and I got 338Mbps down in one speedtest – the same speed I get over ethernet with no VPN connection! The price is also cheaper than PIA, making it the cheapest option on this list.

Sadly, that’s the only strength of the Namecheap VPN. It doesn’t support streaming, it’s very difficult to find the support chat, and the VPN does not support auto-connect.

My phone would disconnect from the VPN each time my phone changed from my 2.4GHz to 5GHz network at my house, and each time I transitioned from WiFi to cellular. I was told by Namecheap support that auto-connect is not a “feature” of the VPN….

I don’t know who thought it was ok to omit this feature, but auto-connect is absolutely essential to any VPN. Period. I really wanted to like the Namecheap VPN, but that’s a deal-breaker.

Nerd stats:

Streaming – No (see test results)

  • Hulu – Fail
  • Apple TV+ – Pass
  • Netflix – Fail
  • Disney+ – Pass

Speedtest results:

  • Speedtest 1: 50ms ping, 337Mbps down, 23Mbps up via iOS
  • Speedtest 2: 49ms ping, 231Mbps down, 23Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 3: 44ms ping, 338Mbps down, 22Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 4: 48ms ping, 66Mbps down, 6Mbps up via Mac
  • Speedtest 5: 68ms ping, 165Mbps down, 4Mbps up via Mac

TL;DR – Which VPN should I get?

Ah, so you don’t like to read? I get it. You’re not hurting my feelings. Here’s the rundown.

Want the best VPN, regardless of the price? ExpressVPN is the way to go.

Do you need a VPN for streaming, and you don’t want to cough up for ExpressVPN? NordVPN is a great alternative, giving you decent speeds and a 3-year subscription for $125.

Want the cheapest reliable VPN? Go with Private Internet Access. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t support streaming.

Want a happy medium between PIA and ExpressVPN? TunnelBear will give you noticeably faster speeds than PIA for $20/year extra. TunnelBear doesn’t support streaming, but it will give you a great experience if you don’t care about streaming.

A note about Apple TV+ and Disney+

You may notice that all of the VPNs I tested worked with Apple TV+ and Disney+. Since these are brand new streaming services, it’s not surprising that they don’t seem to be blocking any VPNs yet. I would expect this to change, so I would stick with ExpressVPN or NordVPN if it’s important for you to use Apple TV+ and Disney+. Since ExpressVPN and NordVPN have shown a clear commitment to supporting streaming on their website, I would imagine they will adapt and find workarounds as Apple and Disney build out their filters.

Affiliate link disclosure: most of my content includes affiliate links. When you click an affiliate link, I may receive a commission for any products or services you purchase through that link. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and in some cases, you may receive a discount through my links. All my opinions are 100% honest, and you are welcome to purchase things by finding them on your browser instead of my links. Thank you for supporting the channel!

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