Best VPN in 2022: Free, Budget and More
Looking for the best VPN in 2022? If you want to add an extra layer of protection when online, or just want to watch blocked content outside of your country, there’s never been a better time to get one..
We’ve rounded up our top picks for the best overall VPN, in addition to budget and free options. You’ve probably seen them at the beginning and end of various Youtube videos and Twitch streams sponsored by them. VPNs were once a niche utility that has now expanded outside to encompass everyday life online.
However, with so many different choices, which is the best VPN in 2022? Also, what is a VPN and how can it help? All of this and more is answered below.
Best VPNs in 2022: NordVPN
NordVPN and SurfShark are owned by the same company. Both offer very similar services and performance, with very few differences.
This will mostly come down to your preferences, and NordVPN is our favorite VPN here.
On our Three 5G Hub connection, we were able to get a solid 150-180 Mbps while connected to both services, with a download speed of 43 Mbps. It was in the Netherlands, the United States and Japan – like Proton.
There’s no free option here, but you get additional features depending on what you subscribe to. NordVPN offers a $13.99 per month option that comes with 1TB of storage. SurfShark competes mid-tier with Nord, offering a $12.95 service that offers easier selection.
We’re grouping NordVPN and SurfShark together because you might get a great deal on one, while the other is full price.
As of this writing, NordVPN and Surfshark are on sale. These deals usually tie you to a two-year contract, but are massively discounted. For example, a 24 month contract goes from around $250 to around $95. You shouldn’t miss this offer, as it probably won’t be back for a while.
Get NordVPN for $13.99 per month with 1TB of additional cloud storage
Get SurfShark for $12.95 per month
The Best Budget VPN in 2022: Proton
It’s lucky we’re writing this article today, because Proton – behind security-conscious messaging services – has released a free version of its VPN service.
This free VPN service lets you connect to Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States. In our testing of the service, we saw no noticeable difference between it and our paid VPNs from NordVPN and SurfShark.
The caveat to getting a full VPN for free is that there are, obviously, limitations to encourage you to sign up. Aside from “average speeds”, the free version of Proton VPN does not allow you to access torrenting, Tor private browsing, and global streaming services.
This means you won’t be able to access different libraries or geo-blocked content, but you’ll have that extra layer of protection wherever you browse.
The free version comes with 1GB of Proton storage, email with limitations of 150 messages per day, and a calendar to use.
Comparing this to other “free” VPNs, Proton gives you anonymity on three relatively fast servers with no data caps. Other brands that offer free VPNs will routinely put data caps of around 10GB to prevent you from overusing it without paying. This can quickly run out if you only watch a few hours on YouTube.
Proton is also the best price per month, at just 9.99, with savings of $5 per month if you prepay for 24 months, and their “Unlimited” plan which gives you:
- 500 GB of storage
- 15 email addresses and 3 custom email domains
- 20 calendars
- 10 high-speed VPN connections and no restrictions
It costs $7.99 per month if 24 months is prepaid, while only costing $11.99 per month if paid monthly, which still puts it way below the others in terms of what you get remove.
Get ProtonVPN for a starting price of $9.99 per month
Best Free VPN 2022: OpenVPN
OpenVPN is a FOSS (Free Open Source Software) VPN client, which allows you to import profiles created and provided online or use those provided by your workplace and other VPN services.
While it might be tempting to get a completely free, open-source VPN service on subscription models, there’s a huge catch: it’s a lot of work.
Accessing and getting free VPN profiles is very easy, but finding one that works and keeping track of passwords that might be included and updated weekly can be quite difficult.
OpenVPN is amazing software and those people who host online services for free are legends. But making them free and actively available also makes them very difficult to keep safe from various users trying to access them.
Once you find one, OpenVPN provides many of the same services as the others and, even better, can host multiple profiles that you can use. No payment is needed and it’s lightweight software to run in the background, with plenty of information about where you’re connecting.
Get OpenVPN for free
What is a VPN?
A VPN, or virtual private network, is a method of rerouting your internet traffic to another location and when someone looks at you, they see the virtual network instead of your home or office.
If you had to choose the Netherlands, only you and the VPN provider would know where you’re really from. In this case, YouTube will start showing ads from the Netherlands, or you may be able to access Dutch streaming services.
As things get more restrictive, they can be used to spoof your location, giving you access to live streams of sporting events and even different libraries on things like Netflix.
In office or security environments, this allows access to a private and secure network without being directly connected to it. This uses a VPN tunnel.
Are VPNs Worth It? Why get a VPN?
A major sticking point in today’s world is that everyone who provides service to you knows where you are and who you are. While this is fine for apps like WhatsApp or Google Maps, some apps and internet usage simply don’t need to be aware of this information.
Take YouTube as an example. Some videos on YouTube are now geo-blocked. When you see that “not available in your country”, a VPN can help you get around this problem. By sending your traffic to a server in another country where images are not blocked, you will be able to circumvent this restriction.
For those who have some filters set up on your network, this should allow you to bypass them as well. On our 5G hub network, this would not allow us to browse particular websites. Enabling the VPN reduced this by effectively jumping the barrier and walking straight.
Is a VPN illegal?
No, a VPN is not illegal. It is, however, frequently used by hackers to anonymously access torrent sites and download them through P2P networks.
What you do with it is up to you, but having a VPN is not illegal.