Best VPN for Windows
Windows is the most widely-used operating system in the world, powering the vast majority of desktop computers and laptops. Yet, in an age of widespread government surveillance and third party tracking of online activity, the need to take precautions while using a Windows system has never been greater. As a result, many people turn towards the privacy features offered by Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs.
Thankfully, the Windows operating system is supported by just about every VPN service on the market, offering a level of protection against surveillance and snooping, and providing a means of bypassing online censorship and other content restrictions. Usually, this support is provided in the form of software clients.
Ideally, Windows users should look to utilise the OpenVPN encryption protocol, as it is the most secure method available. In addition to providing software which offers OpenVPN support, various VPN providers advertise a number of extra features, in an attempt to convince customers that their service is the most reliable option.
So which one really is the best VPN for Windows users?
As with most other VPN providers, VyprVPN offers support for Windows primarily through its client software, which must first be installed onto a users computer. Their particular client software is notable for its user-friendly layout, with most of the important information and settings accessible from the main screen.
The software can be easily configured, so that it loads up automatically when Windows starts, or so that it automatically connects to a VPN server when the application starts. In addition, a kill switch function can be enabled, blocking internet traffic if VyprVPN disconnects for any reason, ensuring customers are always protected.
Numerous encryption protocols are supported, including 256-bit OpenVPN, while other software features include the ability to filter and sort server lists, the ability to create a Favourites list and a Fastest Server Selection function, which automatically connects to the quickest available server. Finally, the Windows software includes Chameleon proprietary technology, which prevents websites from automatically blocking VPN traffic.
HideMyAss Windows software has been designed to make connecting to VPN servers simple. Locations can be selected manually via a server map, at random, or based on connection speeds through the Speed Guide feature. Alternatively, the load balancing function automatically connects a customer to the server with the least users on it.
One major plus point is the Secure IP Bind feature, which allows users to select applications which will only run when connected to the VPN, meaning that those programs will stop if the user becomes disconnected for any reason. This is particularly useful for things like P2P and Torrent file sharing, making sure that such activity is never visible to an Internet Service Provider or other third party. It also offers greater customisation than standard kill switches.
Furthermore, the software contains a number of different IP address settings, such as the option to schedule IP address changes at set intervals, and the optional IP address history feature, which keeps a personal log of all of the IP addresses a customer has used while connected to the HideMyAss network.
IPVanishs Windows client software is perhaps more basic than some of the other products on the market, although all of the essential features are included and its simple nature makes it a great option for those without specialist knowledge. In addition, the website contains detailed instructions for manual setup, including both written and visual guides, giving customers the option of using the VPN without installing software.
Through the client software, servers can be selected in a number of different ways, such as by speed, or by location via a map view. Navigation is easy and customers can seek additional help through the support tab. The software also offers the ability to have basic control of VPN connections via the Windows task bar.
Various encryption protocols are provided, including 256-bit OpenVPN encryption. However, one downside to the software is a lack of support for simultaneous connections. Although customers can connect to the VPN on two devices at the same time, only one of those devices can use the most secure OpenVPN protocol.
PureVPNs software client for Windows is impressive right from the start, with a user-friendly design, the ability to connect quickly, as well as a huge amount of more advanced options to play around with. Amongst these advanced settings are a kill switch, an auto reconnect function and even split tunnelling, alleviating bandwidth issues.
One feature which stands out is the server selection tool, which advises users on which server to connect to, based on their intended purpose. For example, a customer can select media viewing or privacy and the software will suggest the best server to connect to for that particular use.
Previously, the PureVPN service had been let down by a lack of support for the OpenVPN encryption protocol. Yet, that has since been resolved. Indeed, Windows users can now benefit from this protocol with a simple add-on, which can be downloaded from the PureVPN website. As a result, PureVPN now ticks all of the boxes.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access provides VPN support for versions of Windows dating all the way back to Windows NT and Windows 2000. Again, like IPVanish, its software is fairly simple, with even the advanced options being on the basic side. Nonetheless, it is easy to understand and simple to operate, which can be viewed as a plus point.
There are settings which allow automatic connection to the fastest region, and to start up the application when Windows starts. Additionally, the software includes a kill switch and DNS leak protection, offering customers protection against disconnection, as well as from the operating system leaking DNS queries while connected.
The client software is downloaded via a link, which is sent to the email address a customer signs up with. For speedy access, clicking the link automatically fills in login credentials within the software. One aspect where the application is lacking, however, is information on server loads, which is a minor issue, but still worth noting.
All of the VPN providers listed are able to provide a good level of support for users of the Windows operating system, through their dedicated client software. IPVanishs package is sufficient for most users, although it is hurt slightly by its basic software and limited support for simultaneous connections.
Private Internet Access offers a solid Windows service, although the lack of server load information in the client software is a minor issue. Meanwhile, both VyprVPN and HideMyAss offer a very good all-round service, with a decent range of features to utilise.
However, it is PureVPN which emerges as the best VPN for Windows users. Its client software is impressive, catering to both casual and advanced users alike, and features a number of functions which are not found in the other providers software packages. Moreover, additional add-ons are available on the companys main website.