In recent years, remote working is becoming a trend in the workplace. It allows people to work from any location and at any time, as long as they have access to the internet. The ability to work remotely has many benefits for workers and employers alike. Obviously, the remote working trend has also paved the way for freelancers to get working opportunities worldwide.
It’s no secret that the global COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021 has made remote working a necessity and has forced many companies to resort to freelancers.
Since then, many companies have started to return to the office, but many still allow their workers to work from home or adopt a hybrid work model.
Simply put, today’s working environments require employees to access the company network frequently—whether from home or other remote locations—and thus, data privacy and cybersecurity are increasingly becoming major issues.
This is where the VPN (Virtual Private Network) service comes in to facilitate convenient and secure network access, but with so many different VPN products available, choosing the right VPN solution for you can be a challenge.
In this guide, we will share our recommendations for the best VPN solutions you can try, as well as a VPN buying guide covering what VPN is, how it works, and the factors you should look for when choosing a VPN solution.
Let us begin right away.
Best VPNs for remote workers and freelancers
While most VPNs offer a fairly simple core feature: encrypting your data, different VPN products may offer their own unique supportive features and perks. Not to mention, they are offered at vastly different price ranges: some are offered for free, but there are also premium solutions that will cost you more than $100/month in subscription fees.
After considering the different prices and features offered by various solutions available in the market, below are our top 7 VPN products for remote workers and freelancers in 2023:
Quick overview – the best VPN for remote working in 2023
- ExpressVPN: a top VPN solution offering a rich set of features and impressive security protocols. A very large number of server locations to choose from, fast and reliable.
- Surfshark: a cost-effective option, affordable but not cheap, with extensive security features and a pretty decent number of server locations.
- NordVPN: a massive server network choice with powerful encryption and other security features. No-logs policy and a DNS leak protection as an extra. An impressive option for remote workers.
- Private Internet Access: another budget-friendly option but still offers top-notch security and privacy protocols, including dedicated IPs. Reliable and fast, one of the best in terms of upload speeds.
- Atlas VPN: high-speed VPN solution that also offers the ability to simultaneously secure multiple devices. True no-logs policy and very fast.
- CyberGhost: reliable with over 7,100 server options in 90 countries. Great security and privacy features, and consistently fast with zero logs.
- PrivateVPN: a great option with advanced privacy features, including support in rarely supported countries like China. Also offers impressive speed and military-grade encryption with zero logs.
How we made our choices
As discussed, while most VPNs offer pretty similar core features, they come in a broad range in terms of price, performance, customer service, quality of features, and more.
Thus, admittedly making our choice for these best VPN recommendations hasn’t been easy.
After careful consideration and thoroughly reviewing a vast number of VPN solutions, we used the following criteria when making our recommendations:
- Bandwidth: whether the solution offers unlimited bandwidth or whether it will throttle your connection after a specific bandwidth limit.
- Speed: in VPNs, speed typically correlates with the number of server selections offered. A VPN solution that offers an extensive network of servers is also more likely to offer reliable speeds.
- Reliability: fast connection alone won’t matter if the connection isn’t reliable; the VPN solution must offer very low downtime and stable speed
- Security: our recommended VPN services must offer strong encryption and other security features. The best VPNs use 2048-bit keys and AES 256-bit encryption.
- Zero logs: we prioritize VPN products that don’t log user data, so your information remains private even when requested by a court of law.
- Customer support: the quality of customer support can make or break a VPN service. We’d prioritize VPN services that offer 24/7 customer support.
- Ease of use: there’s no use in offering a wide variety of advanced features in the VPN product if no one can use it. We prioritize VPN solutions that are easy to set up and use.
VPN for remote working and freelancing: buying guide
What is a VPN
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and as the name suggests, it’s a software program that provides its users with a private, virtualized network so that they can access the internet in a safe and secure way.
When it comes to network access, a VPN solution can help companies in:
- Providing fast, reliable, and secure access to resources and information that is required by the remote worker or freelancer to finish their job
- Protecting data security and privacy of the company, customer, and remote worker/freelancer
VPNs provide an end-to-end encrypted connection between the remote worker/freelancer and the company’s network.
When properly established, VPN can allow employees to connect to the company’s network through a secure tunnel into the VPN’s private server rather than the remote worker’s or freelancer’s ISP (Internet Service Provider.)
This means that when any data is transmitted to the Internet from the company’s server to the employee—or the other way around—data comes from the VPN rather than your computer. This condition allows two things:
- Hiding the IP addresses of everyone involved in the data transmission, therefore, protects their identity.
- When the data is somehow intercepted, it will be unreadable (encrypted) unless it reaches the destination that possesses the decryption key
VPN encryption: How it works
Encryption is a process of transforming a piece of information into something unreadable (known as ciphertext), and only authorized parties owning the decryption key can decipher the ciphertext back to the original, readable form.
In the case of VPN usage, only the sender and recipient’s devices and the VPN server possesses the decryption key, capable of performing a process called decryption to decode the data back to the readable form.
Different VPN solutions use different types of encryption processes but typically follow these steps:
- A user connects to a VPN solution.
- The VPN solution receives the data from the user (sender) and then encodes the data. The encrypted data is then sent through a secure tunnel between the user’s computer and the VPN’s secure server.
- The user’s computer now has the same IP address as one of the VPN provider’s servers. From the outside world, it is seen as being on the same local network as the VPN solution.
How secure and efficiently the data is encrypted would depend on the VPN provider’s encryption protocol and technology (we will discuss this again further below.)
7 best VPNs for remote workers and freelancers
Here is our list for the top 7 VPNs for remote workers and freelancers available in the market today:
ExpressVPN offers an all-in-one VPN package for remote workers and freelancers: it’s fast with reliable connections, thanks to the extensive network of more than 3,000 server selections encompassing 94 countries.
Meaning, wherever you are currently working from home, chances are you’ll be able to find an optimal nearby server location with ExpressVPN.
Starting at $8.32/month (paid annually), ExpressVPN is not the most affordable option available, but it does offer one of the most complete sets of features: no-logs policy, 24/7 live chat support, and strong security features like military-grade encryption.
If need be, you can also use ExpressVPN to bypass censorship in countries like China that block sites like Instagram or Google.
ExpressVPN is also versatile and easy to use. You can easily set up ExpressVPN on your home router with its intuitive custom firmware or configure the VPN manually with compatible firmware, and ExpressVPN allows connections of up to five devices at a time.
Pros and cons
- Fast and reliable connection speed
- Large (3000+) server selection to choose from
- True zero logs policy from a trustworthy vendor
- Impressive and complete security/encryption features
- Reliable 247 customer support
- Not the cheapest option
- Doesn’t offer dedicated/static IP
Verdict: ExpressVPN is an ideal choice for remote workers and freelancers with its complete package. It’s fast, very reliable, and has comprehensive security features. Not the most affordable, but it comes with a 30-day guarantee.
We’d recommend Surfshark as the best budget option in this list, with prices starting at only $2.05/month.
Despite being affordable, however, Surfshark still offers a pretty decent set of features with excellent speed and strong security features, including 256-bit encryption. With Surfshark, you can choose from over 3,200 servers in 60+ countries.
Surfshark is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, and you can easily configure Surfshark in popular home routers. A major plus with Surfshark is that you have the ability to connect to an unlimited number of devices at any given time.
Other notable security features include automatic WiFi protection, split tunneling, leak protection, a true zero-logs policy, and perfect forward secrecy. For its affordable price, it also offers 24/7 customer support over email and live chat.
Pros and cons
- Affordable, cost-effective option considering its features
- Great speed with reliable connectivity
- Unlimited number of devices at any given time
- Excellent security features with AES 256-bit encryption
- Fairly limited enterprise support and features
- Some features mentioned require an additional in-app payment
NordVPN is another solid option for remote workers and freelancers, having been around with solid performance for quite some time.
A key highlight of NordVPN’s offerings is its massive selection of network servers, with offer 5,500 server selections in 60 countries. With its large selection of servers, NordVPN works in countries like China and others where VPNs are normally blocked.
NordVPN’s subscription starts at $6/month. While it’s not as expensive as ExpressVPn, it’s also not the most affordable option. Yet, for its price, it offers one of the most complete features out of its competitors: a true zero-logs policy, powerful encryption, comprehensive security protocols, DNS leak protection, and so on.
NordVPN also offers a wide selection of obfuscated servers, allowing you to use it to avoid various advanced web filtering techniques. In practice, this allows you to use NordVPN in China and other countries using these filtering techniques.
Unfortunately, with NordVPN you are only limited to six devices at any given time.
Pros and cons
- One of the biggest network server selections (over 5,550 servers, 60 countries)
- True no-logs policy
- Comprehensive security features
- Dedicated/static IP address included
- Reliable 24/7 customer support
- You can’t select a specific server, only the location of the server
- Not the most affordable option
Private Internet Access, or PIA is another budget option, with prices starting at only $2.03/month, making it a decent option for those with a tight budget.
Yet, despite its affordable price, PIA offers a pretty decent set of features: a large selection of network servers in 84 countries, extensive security, and data privacy features like bank-grade encryption protocols (AES-256, PPTP, or L2TP), DNS leak protection, internet kill switch, and so on. It’s not the most secure VPN option compared to others In this list, but it still offers a pretty decent security level.
Compatible with Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android, and you can connect up to 10 devices at any given time.
Pros and cons
- One of the most affordable options available
- Intuitive, easy-to-use interface
- Great number of server selections, 2000+ servers in over 80 countries
- Up to 10 simultaneous devices at any given time
- 24/7 live customer support from real experts
- Pretty decent security features, but not the most secure option
- No dedicated/static IP support
- Not the fastest VPN option
Atlas VPN’s plans start at only $1.64/month, making it the most affordable option on this list.
For that price, it only offers 750 server selections in 40 countries, which is admittedly fairly limited compared to others, but it’s still capable of performing at a very high speed consistently.
It does, however, offer pretty complete security features from 256-bit encryption, IPv6 and DNS leak protection, an internet kill switch, and the SafeSwap feature that will regularly change your IP address to further mask your identity. Atlas VPN also offers a true no-logs policy, so you wouldn’t need to worry about your privacy.
Available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android, Atlas VPN also offers 24/7 customer support over live chat and a 30-day money-back guarantee. A minor downside is that Atlas VPN (at least at the moment.)
Pros and cons
- The most affordable option on this list, but it offers a decent overall value
- Impressive security and data privacy features, especially considering its price
- Fast and consistent, overall reliable connectivity
- Unlimited number of device connections
- No Linux support at the moment and no router support
- Fewer locations to choose from than other VPN products
CyberGhost is another solid option for remote workers and freelancers looking for a cost-effective VPN solution. Its cheapest plan is ‘only’ $2.03/month, but you’ll need to pay for two years upfront (with a 4 months bonus.) The normal monthly plan, however, is $12.99/month, so there’s a huge discrepancy in price.
For that price, however, you get a very solid VPN service with a huge network selection of more than 7,700 servers located in more than 80 countries, so you can be sure you’ll get a fast and reliable connection anywhere.
CyberGhost also offers excellent security features with a true zero logs policy, leak protection, and a kill switch for all applications. Additional security features you can consider are automated WiFi protection while recognizing familiar networks and perfect forward secrecy.
Available for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux, and it also supports some home routers. Can connect up to seven devices simultaneously.
Pros and cons
- Great speed and reliable connectivity
- Expansive server selection with over 7,700 servers from 90 countries
- True zero-logs policy
- Solid security features like leak protection, app kill switch, 256-bit encryption, WiFi protection, and more
- 24/7 customer support
- 45-days money-back guarantee
- Not too versatile when it comes to configuration
- The cheapest plan requires a 2-year commitment
PrivateVPN’s prices start from $2/month, making it one of the most affordable options on this list. However, that particular plan requires a 3-year (36-month) commitment.
As a VPN solution for remote working, PrivateVPN is often overlooked due to its smaller server selection size (just over 200 servers in 63 countries.) However, despite its small server selection, PrivateVPN offers consistent and reliable connection speed, and is also pretty reliable in bypassing country-wide censorship in China and other countries.
In the security department, PrivateVPN is also pretty decent, with security features such as military-grade 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, kill switch functionality (Windows only), and leak protection, among others. PrivateVPN also offers a true zero-logs policy.
PrivateVPN is available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android with a 10-device simultaneous connection limit. 24/7 customer support is available via live chat.
Pros and cons
- Solid speeds for virtually any activity
- Zero logs policy, keeps no logs at all
- Military-grade encryption and other security features
- Reliable 24-7 customer support via live chat
- Relatively small network server selection (only over 200 servers)
- Kill switch functionality is Windows-only
VPN for remote working and freelancing: FAQ
Why should I use a VPN when working from home?
When working from home, it’s likely your home network is not very secure and is lacking many of the security features you’d otherwise get in an enterprise network.
Meaning, your home network can potentially be a vulnerability that can be exploited by hackers and cybercriminals. Once they’ve gained access to your network, they can intercept any data/information sent and received from every connected device, including sensitive information like your passwords or credit card numbers.
A VPN can protect your internet connection by encrypting all traffic to and from your network. This means even when anyone successfully intercepts your traffic, they won’t be able to read and use any data.
VPN also offers other benefits. For example, if you are in a country where there are a lot of censorships, the VPN can help you bypass these government censorships to access websites and apps that are otherwise blocked.
VDI vs. VPN for remote work
Both VPN and VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) are common applications in the remote work environment and are often confused with each other.
However, they are actually pretty different in terms of cost, use cases, management, and performance.
A VDI is a technology that refers to a virtualized computer that you can access over the cloud. With a VDI you can access a full desktop experience from any device (including an affordable thin client or a smartphone/tablet) as long as you have an internet connection.
Thus, it has a very different use case from a VPN, although they can be used together. It’s also worth noting that, typically, a VPN service is much more affordable than a VDI service.
If you are a remote worker only looking for a simple and secure way to connect to your employer’s network, then you should get a VPN.
However, if your work requires high-performance CPU and/or graphic processing, then getting a VDI might be a better option.
V2 Cloud is a secure and flexible virtual desktop solution for all remote workers and freelancers. You can easily set up your cloud environment in a matter of minutes with the help of V2 Cloud’s support team.
Now that we’ve reached the end of this guide, hopefully, by now, you have a better idea of how a VPN works and how it can benefit you as a remote worker or freelancer.The VPN solutions we’ve recommended above should give you solid options to choose from, depending on your needs. We also recommend against using free VPNs since these services tend to have a lot of performance issues, and some of them are not secure.