Laptops aren’t nearly as popular as they once were, and have mainly been taken over by the booming mobile device industry. In fact, more people make Google searches from their smartphones and tablets than they do with desktop computers and laptops. Nevertheless, laptops remain an essential part of our digital lives, and provide benefits that mobile devices can’t hope to achieve.
But before we take a close look at the best VPNs for laptops, we first need to discuss why it’s so critical to use a VPN.
Wireless Security Issues
Wireless hotspots are notoriously insecure, and could result in your laptop and data being taken advantage of without your knowledge. Laptops suffer from the same convenience flaw that most mobile devices suffer from: mobility. After all, who hasn’t connected their laptop to free and public Wi-Fi, such as the wireless networks found at local coffee shops, hotels, and at the airport?
The problem with public wireless networks is that you never know who else is sharing the connection with you. As such, public Wi-Fi networks are rife with security threats from hackers. They can intercept your data or hijack a session with a server in a matter of minutes, and you’d be none the wiser. When you use a VPN tunnel, however, criminals aren’t able to steal your data or hijack web sessions, because your data is encrypted – making it impossible for them to decipher the messages and transmissions.
They used to say that there weren’t any geographic boundaries on the Internet, but that’s not strictly true in our modern world. Countries and businesses censor and block all sorts of web content for a variety of reasons concerning religion, foreign policy, trade agreements, licensing issues, copyright law, politically offensive messages…the list goes on.
And though I certainly don’t advocate breaking the law, what if all you want to do is log into your HBO subscription to catch up on the latest episode of Game of Thrones, but HBO misakenly thinks you are a citizen of a country that doesn’t have the right to access their content? What if you simply want to stream a sports game while you’re abroad on vacation? Or what if you simply want to read the latest news stories, but find a news outlet blocked online?
Believe it or not, some countries have blocked access to some of the most popular (and arguably essential) web resources such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and others. In these cases, a VPN tunnel will allow you to unblock geo-restricted content by masking your IP address. Furthermore, it won’t be possible to trace your online activity as long as your VPN provider doesn’t keep any logs.
Evading Big Brother
No one wants to feel like the government is constantly looking over their shoulders as they browse the web. But governmental surveillance is a harsh reality in the digital age. The good news is that you have a right to privacy, and can easily make your Internet connection exponentially anonymous with a VPN tunnel.
The VPN tunnel not only provides encryption, making it impossible for others to read your data, but it also provides anonymity through IP address masking. You see, the VPN server acts as a sort of middle-man. It will make web requests on behalf of your laptop, so governmental organizations can’t track your IP address. In addition, it also helps block online tracking from other organizations, such as advertising agencies and targeted online advertising.
And because the VPN server’s address is shared with other VPN users, it’s even harder to trace users’ real IP addresses. Furthermore, the best VPN services don’t keep logs, making it virually impossible to see where the laptop’s transmissions originate from.
With that understanding, let’s go ahead and take a closer look at the best VPNs for laptops.
Private Internet Access – Complete Review
In my opinion, there are two massive advantages of PIA’s VPN service, with exception to strong encryption. First of all, they are one of the cheapest providers (that still provides a fast and reliable service). Their prices are as low as $3.33 per month with an annual subscription. Secondly, they permit up to 5 simultaneous connections per account, meaning you can easily secure your mobile devices as well as your laptop.
One thing I dislike about their service, however, is that they only have servers in 26 countries – though they do place them strategically in the most popular areas like the US, UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, Europe, and other select locations.
ExpressVPN – Complete Review
ExpressVPN is our second viable alternative for laptops. Though they don’t have a free trial, they do provide a generously lengthy 30-day money back guarantee. And with a 1-year subscription, the monthly cost is only $8.32. Naturally, ExpressVPN offers 24/7 customer support and a well fleshed out knowledgebase, complete with high quality configuration and troubleshooting guides.
I do wish they offered more simultaneous connections, but the 3 they offer will accommodate most users’ needs. Last but not least, ExpressVPN has above average global coverage with servers in 87 countries, and they offer server connections using PPTP, SSTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN.
VPNArea is our third pick for laptop users, and they already have servers in 60 countries at this time – though they are always expanding into new territories. They do allow P2P traffic through their servers, which makes them a good choice for Bit Torrent downloaders. Also, they’re based in Bulgaria, which gives them the power to avoid strict and harsh data retention laws and involvement from the US NSA.
Monthly plans start a just under $10, but a yearly plan cuts the cost down to less than $5 per month. Additionally, each account allows up to 5 connections to be used at the same time, making it a very affordable service in the long run.
NordVPN – Complete Review
NordVPN starts at only $4.00 per month, and they have a 30-day money back guarantee. Not only are they a good fit for laptops, but they can also secure just about all of your other devices since they allow 6 simultaneous connections. Plus, they offer stronger security than most providers because they have a double encryption feature, and users can use Tor in conjunction with their VPN.
Other notable features of their service include a VPN kill-switch, per application tunnel routing, a DNS leak resolver, encrypted chat and messaging features, and web proxy extension. Lastly, they’re also a good fit for Bit Torrent downloads since they permit P2P traffic on their network.
VyprVPN – Complete Review
Our last provider is VyprVPN, which also offers a free trial, though it is encumbered by data limits. The Pro version of their service starts at $6.25 per month, and they too have kill-switch and split tunneling features.
The largest drawback to their service, however, is only permitting 2 simultaneous connections with the Pro service. But they do have moderate global coverage with servers in 50 countries, and package their VPN with online storage using Dump Truck. It should also be noted that this US based service does not allow copyright infringement usage on P2P networks.
Using a laptop without a VPN is like riding a motorcycle without a helmet. You really can’t afford to let your guard down, or you’re leaving the door wide open for a hacker or governmental agency. The easiest way to add security, encryption, privacy, and anonymity to your Internet connection is by using a VPN tunnel.
At the very least, take advantage of a free service. I’d recommend opting for the longer term subscriptions since they make the monthly price much more affordable. PIA VPN only costs $3.33 per month, which is less than the cost of a greasy fast food meal. Lastly, if you’re curious about another provider, feel free to browse through our VPN service reviews.