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Lists of VPNs for Your Consideration

First published: May 2019. Latest revision: March 2023.


This is the penultimate article presenting the findings of my search for a trustworthy VPN. We’ve laid all the groundwork, and now it is time to develop a list (or lists) of VPNs that merit consideration. With the list(s) as a starting point, you can then perform more complete investigations of the candidate VPNs and methodically winnow out those that do not satisfy your criteria as well as others do.

Although this is a rather lengthy and time-consuming article to read, I sincerely believe it is worthwhile.

Some lists from external sources

In developing a list of VPNs that merit consideration, a task that can be quite daunting, we’ll take a shortcut and try to find some lists on the web that others have compiled that actually appear to be unbiased, which is a rarity.

When looking for such lists, don’t even bother to perform an Internet search for “best VPN.” If you were to do so, 99% of the search results will be for websites that purport to recommend VPNs to you based on their “testing” of VPN services, yet the VPN review sites are really just trying to earn a commission by referring you to VPN services. (Re-read my first article, “Can VPN Review Sites Be Trusted?” if you need a refresher on how VPN review sites are essentially scamming you.)

Beware that, when comparing lists on different websites, not only will the criteria of the lists vary, but the definitions of items used to produce the criteria may vary. For example, the definition of “no logging” policy in one website’s criteria may be less strict than the definition used by another website. So, even when we look at multiple sources, the process of evaluating VPNs can unfortunately be unclear and confusing.

Nevertheless, it is possible to carefully extract some useful information from a few select VPN review websites. Using that information and, by sifting through some data resources about VPNs on the web, we should be able to combine what we find to produce a list of a reasonable number of VPNs that may satisfy our criteria. Actually, I used this method to produce a list of strict non-logging VPNs in the fourth article of this series, “Logging by VPNs.” The following is a repeat of that information…

Despite having some concerns about the accuracy of the first two logging policy lists that were presented above, I thought it would be useful to see which VPNs that are shown to have acceptable logging policies on both of those two lists also receive a “Green Flag” (equivalent to a “generally good” grade) for logging policies and practice on the unbiased “Simple VPN Comparison Chart” by “That One Privacy Guy.”

The resulting list that I compiled thus may be considered to comprise the “top-notch” VPNs relative to logging policies since they are considered to have acceptable logging policies by all three of the sources. Presented in alphabetical order, the 17 VPNs are:

  • AzireVPN
  • BlackVPN
  • BolehVPN
  • CactusVPN
  • CyberGhost
  • Doublehop
  • FrootVPN
  • IVPN
  • Mullvad
  • NordVPN
  • OVPN.com
  • Private Internet Access
  • ProXPN
  • PureVPN
  • SlickVPN
  • VPNSecure
  • VPNTunnel

Thus, the above list would be a good starting point if one of the your important requirements for a VPN is tthat is has a strict non-logging policy.

With about 200 VPNs available to you, it would be expedient to begin with a previously published list available elsewhere that meshes well with your criteria. A list that was a fair match of several of my personal preferences for a VPN was available (in mid-2019) at https://www.privacytools.io/providers/vpn/.

The list consisted of 18 VPNs that are “outside the US, use encryption, accept Bitcoin, support OpenVPN, and have a no logging policy.”

“VPN providers with extra layers of privacy”

  • AirVPN
  • AzireVPN
  • blackVPN
  • Cryptostorm
  • ExpressVPN
  • FrootVPN
  • Hide.me
  • IVPN
  • Mullvad
  • NordVPN
  • OVPN
  • Perfect-Privacy
  • ProtonVPN
  • Proxy.sh
  • Trust.Zone
  • VPN.ht
  • VPNArea
  • VPNTunnel

So, this second list would be useful if the criteria that were used to produce the list happened to match your criteria for a VPN.

Note: The above list is no longer available at the current privacytools.io website. Prior to late 2021, the PrivacyTools website had been a source of unbiased and reliable information about Internet privacy and security. Unfortunately, the originator of PrivacyTools has changed PrivacyTools into a site that participates in the “affiliate” programs of VPN service companies, accepting kickbacks for referring customers to these companies. As with almost all VPN review websites, due to the scourge of “conflict of interest,” the current information provided by PrivacyTools is no longer considered to be trustworthy.

However, the main contributors to the old creditable version of the PrivacyTools website split away from PrivacyTools and formed their own non-profit organization, PrivacyGuides. The new PrivacyGuides organization is principled and is an unbiased and trustworthy source of Internet privacy and security information.

Following is the introductory statement from the new PrivacyGuides organization regarding their evaluation of VPN services:

Our Criteria

Please note we are not affiliated with any of the providers we recommend. This allows us to provide completely objective recommendations. We have developed a clear set of requirements for any VPN provider wishing to be recommended, including strong encryption, independent security audits, modern technology, and more. We suggest you familiarize yourself with this list before choosing a VPN provider, and conduct your own research to ensure the VPN provider you choose is as trustworthy as possible.

(from https://www.privacyguides.org/vpn/#criteria)

If you are truly serious about finding a trustworthy VPN, it is imperative that you not only read but actually study the VPN Provider Criteria on the PrivacyGuides VPN Services web page.

Using their updated VPN criteria that are not only more comprehensive but also more strict than on the previous website, PrivacyGuides recommends a mere three VPNs that fully satisfy the PrivacyGuides requirements for recommendation:

PrivacyGuides Recommended VPN Providers:

  • Proton VPN (in operation since 2016, based in Switzerland)

  • IVPN (in operation since 2009, based in Gibraltar)

  • Mullvad (in operation since 2009, based in Sweden)

The great utility of the PrivacyGuides VPN Provider Criteria is that the requirements are well-considered and strictly defined.

One could do quite well by relying on PrivacyGuides’ exclusive Recommended VPN Providers list to serve as a base for one’s further investigations into finding a trustworthy VPN.

A more extensive list of pre-screened VPNs can be extracted from the comprehensive “VPN White Paper” report of the non-biased testing of VPN servies that Consumer Reports performed in late 2021. (See more about this thorough study from a well-respected source in the “Consumer Reports security and privacy testing of VPNs” section of the “VPN Series Appendices” page.)

Whereas the aforementioned PrivacyGuides VPN Provider Criteria provides a useful outline of the criteria for a trustworthy VPN, the Consumer Reports “VPN White Paper” serves as an encyclopedic source of information about the evaluation of VPN services. Reading and studying the Consumer Reports “VPN White Paper” will be well worth the effort.

Based on various criteria, the Consumer Reports VPN study pared a list of over 200 VPNs down to 51 VPNs to undergo further screening. That further screening resulted in 16 VPNs that were then subjected to extensive testing.

The 16 VPNs that survived the Consumer Reports winnowing process and were selected for final testing were:

  • Betternet
  • CyberGhost
  • ExpressVPN
  • F-Secure Freedome VPN
  • Hotspot Shield
  • IPVanish
  • IVPN
  • Kaspersky VPN
  • Mozilla VPN
  • Mullvad
  • NordVPN
  • Private Internet Access (PIA)
  • Private Tunnel
  • ProtonVPN
  • Surfshark
  • TunnelBear

At first glance, this list would seem to be an excellent starting point for your own investigations of VPNs. However, the selection process that Consumer Reports used of “choosing VPNs with larger market share and others that had markers of quality” implies that there are VPNs on that list of 16 that were included mainly for their prominent “market share” as opposed to their quality.

Unfortunately, the “VPN White Paper” report does not specify how each VPN qualified for that final list of 16 VPNs. Therefore, using of this list comes with a caveat: some of the VPNs on that list are merely popular and do not necessarily offer a high quality of VPN service to the consumer.

Nevertheless, the Consumer Reports “VPN White Paper” study is of such high quality that, with the above-noted caveat in mind, combining your own investigations with the results of the Consumer Reports’ tests of the 16 VPNs on their list should be very useful.

Customizing lists

A comprehensive listing of scores of VPNs that shows several parameters for each VPN can be an excellent resource if one is willing to invest some time and effort into extracting data from the list to more easily reveal the information that is most important to you. We’ll do this with a comprehensive VPN listing that had been on the web. Although the modification of the list is labor-intensive, the results should be worthwhile.

Creating a list based on a comprehensive and reliable source

The basic source we will use to create a list of VPNs that merit further consideration is the previously noted “Simple + Detailed VPN Comparison Chart web page” by “That One Privacy Guy.”

It is important to note that the “VPN Comparison Chart” appears to be non-biased. I scoured the original website and could find no links to VPN affiliate program commissions. Thus, there was no indication of a monetary incentive that might bias the information presented in the “Detailed Comparison Chart.” Furthermore, several other sites refer their users to the “Detailed Comparison Chart.” Hence, this VPN information source commands the respect of its peers. In my examination of the website, I found no reason to doubt the trustworthiness or accuracy of the information about VPNs that was presented there.

Thus, the superlative and unrivaled value of the VPN comparison charts from the “That One Privacy Guy” website as compared to almost all of the other VPN review websites is based on the fact that the data presented in the charts is objective. The reported parameters of each VPN are not based on a reviewer’s opinions, but rather on the actual and verifiable characteristics of each VPN.

The “Detailed Comparison Chart” presents approximately 55 parameters for each of the almost 200 included VPNs. The useful color-coding of the chart was produced by gathering information about a VPN and then, for each parameter being assessed, assigning a pass, fail, or warning grade. Importantly, these grades (in the form of Green, Red, and Yellow “flags”) were assigned systematically by defined criteria that were applied equally and impartially to all VPNs.

The key to the color-coded cells of the chart is: Red indicates “something major of concern” or a severely problematic parameter, Yellow indicates “something of concern” or a cautionary parameter, and Green indicates “generally good” or a positive and desirable parameter.

The The Simple Comparison Chart (also color-coded) lumps together related parameters of the “Detailed Comparison Chart” and presents a summed score in nine categories. Thus the 55 parameters of the “Detailed Comparison Chart” are simplified into three broad categories that each have three summed parameters. The organization outline for the “Simple Comparison Chart” looks like this:

  • Privacy: Jurisdiction, Logging, Activism
  • Technical: Service Configuration, Security, Availability
  • Business: Website, Pricing, Ethics

My recommended approach to the nearly overwhelming amount of information in the “Detailed Comparison Chart” would be to start with the “Simple Comparison Chart” to produce a list of VPNs that qualify for your consideration. Then use the “Detailed Comparison Chart” to further examine the VPNs that made it to your list. Next, I would strongly recommend that you view the websites of the VPNs under consideration to carefully examine the information presented there.

Producing a basic list

OK, let’s get back to compiling our own list. Remember, the great advantage of creating one’s own list is that a non-biased source can be used for information about VPNs. I can’t emphasize this strongly enough!

So, let’s now use the The Simple Comparison Chartto produce a basic list. Assuming that every category on that chart is important to us for our own choice of a VPN, then we would not want to tolerate a failing (Red) grade in any of the nine sections that compose the “Simple Comparison Chart.”

Here is a list of the 10 VPNs (out of 190) from the “Simple Comparison Chart” that have no severely problematic (failing) red-flagged parameters:

VPN Red Yellow Green R, Y, G bar graph
blackVPN 0 3 6
BolehVPN 0 2 7
CryptoStorm 0 6 3
IVPN 0 2 7
Mullvad 0 1 8
My Private Network 0 6 3
nVpn 0 6 3
ProtonVPN 0 3 6
Surfshark 0 4 5
Trust.Zone 0 2 7

Red = “something major of concern” or a severely problematic parameter
Yellow = “something of concern” or a cautionary parameter
Green = “generally good” or a positive and desirable parameter.

For the purpose of creating our VPN list, of these ten VPNs, it may be wise to dismiss Cryptostorm, My Private Network, and nVpn from consideration because they have each received cautionary Yellow flags in six of the nine parameters.

With seven VPNs left on the list, one would start to look more closely at the parameters of each VPN that would seem to satisfy one’s own personal rankings of criteria for a VPN. Use both the “Simple Comparison Chart” and the “Detailed Comparison Chart” to do this.

For example, if your criteria places a great deal of importance on the technical options for configuring your VPN service, you may wish to eliminate blackVPN, Surfshark, and Trust.Zone from your consideration since they receive Yellow flags for that parameter on the The Simple Comparison Chart.” The other four VPNs (on our list of seven VPNs) receive a Green flag for that parameter.

By similarly applying your own criteria, you can probably winnow that list of seven VPNs down to a few final candidates. Next, invest some time in thoroughly examining the websites of each of those remaining VPNs. In doing so, you’ll probably develop a preference for one VPN or another: you’ll have found a trustworthy VPN that will likely suit your needs for Internet security and privacy!

Remember, this final step of performing a close examination of the VPN’s website is critical, so don’t skip it!


In this article, I’ve provided some information on how to produce lists of VPNs that one would use to qualify VPN services for further investigation, the goal being to find a trustworthy VPN service that meets personalized criteria while providing Internet secrecy and privacy. The example lists in this article could be used for your own use if your VPN requirements are similar to mine.

In the next (and final) article of this “Choosing a Trustworthy VPN” series, titled “My Personal Choice for a VPN,” I’ll reiterate the features of a VPN service that are important to me and comment on how the VPN that I have chosen for my own use fulfills those requirements.