If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, Variety may receive an affiliate commission.
When it comes to watching international content, VPNs are a must. Streamers such as Netflix have region-specific catalogues, that can make it difficult to access specific titles depending on where you are in the world. BBC One’s “A Suitable Boy” isn’t available to U.S markets, while popular shows such as “Better Call Saul” and “Black Mirror” are only accessible in select territories.
Thankfully, a VPN allows user to legally log into other counties’ services, lifting up these guardrails to a plethora of content that can be streamed anywhere in the world. So, what exactly is a VPN? Basically, a Virtual Private Network creates an encrypted tunnel for your data that works to protect your online identity by hiding your IP address.
So, aside from opening the door to more entertainment, a VPN is also a great way to keep your data secure. They’ve long been used by governments and businesses but it’s become a wise choice for personal use, too, as hacking becomes more ubiquitous.
Signing up for a VPN online is a seamless process that doesn’t require any external hardware or intensive installation. And with the right plan, it doesn’t have to burn a hole in your pocket either. Below are the best two options on the market for speed, functionality, security and compatibility.
ExpressVPN is one of the most respected VPN services on the market, boasting an easy installation process, affordable monthly subscription cost and an outstanding audit-approved encryption. Express is great for VPN beginners since the set-up just takes a few minutes. With their connected apps, it’s easier than ever to connect it to your router and add up to five devices for simultaneous use.
Express is also arguably the speediest and most secure VPN: its unique Lightway Tunneling protocol can connect up to 2.5 times faster than earlier networks, and its AES 256 encryption was ioX certified for password protection, cryptography strength and other necessary security features. Their network also uses RAM-only servers instead of hard drives, which store data temporarily and are regularly wiped clean. Plus, their services are currently 35% off for a limited time, bringing down the cost to $8.32 per month.
NordVPN might be the better option for those looking to exclusively use the network for streaming. Nord’s SmartPlay allows users to stream content on both restricted and public WiFi, but Express’s Media Streamer is also great because it can be used on platforms that don’t normally support VPNs such as Apple TV.
Nord is also packed with security features aimed at keeping your personal information protected. In addition to masking your IP address, they also have a “No-Logs” rule which promises to not collect or share your data, and a multi-authentication factor log-in ensures that no one but yourself can access your information. At only $3.49 a month, Nord is one of the most affordable VPN options out there.