The need for VPNs is universally acknowledged given the amount of snooping by governmental agencies around the world. For users of Windows operating system, the most prevalent in the world, a VPN is vital.
Introduced in 1985, Microsoft quickly took over dominance over the marketplace from Mac. It soon had more than 90% share of the market. And while competitors have eaten into this market share, it is still the preeminent player and has expanded into other areas such as mobile devices. As of October, 2013 the most recent versions of Windows for personal computers, mobile devices, servers and embedded devices are respectively Windows 8.1, Windows phone 8, Windows server 2012 R2 and Windows embedded 8.
With this kind of market penetration and dominance it is critical for users of the systems to have protection. Below is our review of 5 VPN providers. We have striven to give the most unbiased, unvarnished, in depth treatment of the providers covering all aspects of their service including price and presentation.
Open VPN is very secure against the likes of the NSA and its ilk especially when combined with a strong cipher. The fact that it is an open source protocol, and thus its code is open to public examination, helps to ensure that no backdoors or other nasty surprises are hidden within it. We strongly recommend that unless you have reason to do otherwise, Windows users should always use Open VPN.
It is common though for VPN providers to build custom Open VPN (or multi-protocol) clients for Windows. They range from simply making set up easier, to providing extra functionality such as an internet kill switch, per-program shutdown, DNS leak protection, Ipv6 leak protection, port forwarding, advanced encryption options and more. For the most part we favor companies who provide fully featured software. Because some of code in such custom clients is proprietary, they cannot be considered as secure as the open source option. But we don’t have too much of a problem with this as VPN providers can see your internet traffic anyway.
In spite of the advances made by OSX and Linux and mobile phone and tablet platforms iOS and Android, Windows remains the most popular global Operating System. As a result it is by far the best supported platform by VPN providers, who invariably supply full Windows set guides for PPTP, L2TP, and SSTP.
Discussed in detail in this article, PPTP is insecure. L2TP is more secure but has very likely been compromised by the NSA. SSTP is considered secure but its proprietary nature and ongoing suspicions about Microsoft collaboration with the NSA means it should preferably be avoided. It is not supported by most VPN providers anyway.
So with the technicalities out of the way, let’s look at our pick of VPNs for Windows. Note that we also have full set up guides for most VPN protocols for Windows 7 and Windows 8.