Best VPN for Windows 11
Windows 11 is the newest iteration of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, available for public use since the end of 2021. It comes with a new sleek design, ease-of-use improvements, and a noticeable boost in performance.
Despite having many long-awaited enhancements, Windows 11 isn’t excellent in all aspects, especially in terms of privacy. The company is known for collecting personal information – it’s even made easier in this version as it requires people to create a Microsoft account to access certain features.
You don’t have to let this OS breach your confidentiality – utilize a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt everything you do online. Plus, this technology helps combat user surveillance, breaks through geographical barriers, and decreases the threat of cyber attacks.
Shortlist of best VPNs for Windows 11
- NordVPN: the best VPN for Windows 11. It boasts an independently-audited no-logs policy, superb speeds, and user-friendly apps packed with robust security features.
- Surfshark VPN: an excellent Windows 11 VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections, a versatile tool roster, and anonymous payment options.
- Atlas VPN: one of the cheapest VPNs for Windows 11 with a great free version, SafeSwap servers that rotate your IP, and the MultiHop+ feature for maximum untraceability.
- IPVanish: a Windows 11 VPN with complimentary antivirus software, no device limit, and a verified no-logs policy.
- PrivateVPN: a suitable VPN for Windows 11 with great geo-block bypassing capabilities, High Quality Network for low latency, and affordable subscriptions.
How to download a Windows 11 VPN
- Subscribe to a Windows-11-compatible VPN service. NordVPN has a dedicated app for this OS with plenty of useful tools to ensure utmost privacy.
- Download the appropriate VPN client from the provider’s website. Alternatively, you can find official VPN software via the Microsoft Store app.
- Install the software on your computer and log into your VPN account. Before doing anything else, ensure the kill switch and other security features are turned on.
- Connect to a server closest to you. It ensures that you get the best performance possible. If you need to access geo-restricted content, feel free to connect to the appropriate country where it is available.
- Continue doing what you usually do online, but now with extra protection!
Why do you need a Windows 11 VPN?
VPN technology fills in the security and privacy gaps that the Windows 11 system doesn’t cover. It protects all internet activity by encrypting it with an unbreakable cipher, essentially making you invisible to all third parties.
The added benefits of high-quality VPNs for Windows 11 include but are not limited to:
- Avoiding cyber threats. Many VPNs have features for blocking dangerous websites, sniffs out malware, disables intrusive ads, etc., keeping your browsing efforts clean. Additionally, you’re less likely to find yourself in the crosshairs of hackers since they won’t be able to target someone they can’t see, all thanks to simply changing your IP address.
- Bypassing bandwidth throttling. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can see what you’re doing online and how it impacts the overall network. Some go as far as throttling your speeds to prevent congestion if you constantly engage in data-intensive activities. But they can’t do that when your actions are encrypted.
- Circumventing geo-restrictions. Almost everyone has run into websites they can’t access simply because they live in a certain region. Well, these pesky blocks will go away by connecting to a VPN server in a country where the content is freely available.
A VPN is beneficial for many activities, not just keeping yourself anonymous, so I’ve opted for versatile services. My other research criteria covered:
- Robust privacy & security ensuring features, boosted by a zero-logs policy
- Sizable server networks that provide adequate global coverage
- Excellent performance, so users aren’t bogged down by high latency
The providers I’ve listed below fulfill the above requirements to a T. You can expect exceptional speeds, whether you’re streaming, torrenting, or playing online games. Adding to that, these Windows 11 VPNs have no problem sneaking through regional restrictions, making internet censorship a thing of the past.
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line Windows 11 VPN, NordVPN is it. The provider is based in privacy-friendly Panama and operates under a strict zero-logs policy, meaning it doesn’t monitor your online activities. A subscription nets you industry-standard AES-256 encryption, IP and DNS leak protection, and internet and app-level kill switches.
There are plenty of servers to go around on every continent, so finding the best one for you won’t be a problem. All standard hardware is RAM-only and can’t store long-term data, increasing NordVPN’s reliability. Non-standard servers are also available for specific needs:
- Double VPN – routes traffic through two servers for double the encryption
- Obfuscated – masks VPN traces to avoid Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
- Onion over VPN – additionally routes traffic through the Onion network
- P2P-optimized – for better download and uploads speeds when torrenting
Other notable NordVPN features are Threat Protection for preventing malware infections. Then split tunneling for utilizing VPN encryption on select apps only, and dedicated IPs when you want a VPN IP address just for yourself. Plus, the service includes the nifty SmartPlay tool, which allows you to use the VPN on devices that don’t support it natively.
In terms of entertainment, you’re hitting the jackpot. Besides torrenting, NordVPN excels at sneaking past various streaming platform blocks, granting you access to regional Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ content.
Another VPN for Windows 11 worth your money is Surfshark VPN. It ticks off all boxes regarding essential protection features and operates from the Netherlands, a country with no data retention laws. The provider’s most appealing aspect is the unlimited simultaneous connections, allowing you to secure more than just your computer.
Surfshark has the biggest global coverage out of the bunch, and all hardware runs on RAM modules instead of hard drives. Out of the available protocols, you’re better off picking WireGuard for the best performance. And while there are no specialized servers like with NordVPN, the numerous features packed into the software cover most needs:
- CleanWeb – does as the name suggests and ensures you don’t run into danger while browsing
- MultiHop – connects you to two VPN servers instead of one for extra encryption
- Bypasser – another name for the split tunneling tool which routes VPN traffic via select apps
- Camouflage and NoBorders modes – hide traces of VPN usage and allow you to use a VPN in countries where they are blocked
- Smart DNS – allows unblocking geo-restricted content on devices that don’t support this software
Sharing files via P2P is as smooth as butter no matter what server you pick since torrenting is enabled on the whole network. Want to tune into something foreign and exciting after a long day? No problem – Surfshark circumvents BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and Hulu restrictions with graceful ease.
3. Atlas VPN
Don’t pay more than you have to with Atlas VPN. This provider offers exceptionally cheap services for the excellent performance it delivers on Windows 11 and other operating systems. What’s more, there’s no limit to how many devices you can use it on besides your PC, making it great for households with lots of inhabitants.
Network-wise, Atlas VPN’s server list is pretty great, with numerous connection choices in major and minor regions. You also get to utilize the next-gen WireGuard tunneling protocol, so you’re unlikely to experience performance drops even during the busiest of hours. Plus, the hardware accommodates torrenting and streaming for all your entertainment needs.
This provider has some handy tricks up its sleeve regarding features, too:
- SafeBrowse – blocks user trackers, invasive ads, malware, and all kinds of malicious software
- MultiHop+ – tunnels your connection through multiple rotating servers without disconnecting you from the VPN
- Split tunneling – available on Android devices only, sadly
- SafeSwap servers – regularly switches the IP address internet traffic is routed through
Of course, Atlas VPN also boasts the best free VPN for Windows 11, but it comes with limitations, naturally. You get 3 connection locations (two in the US, the other in the Netherlands), a 10GB/month data cap, and 2 simultaneous connections. It’s not optimized for streaming, but at least P2P file sharing is allowed.
Malicious-software-weary folk will rest easier with an IPVanish subscription. It’s an excellent Windows 11 VPN that gives you the necessary tools to evade surveillance and doesn’t practice that itself (as Leviathan Security Group can attest). And the trusty VIPRE antivirus software, bundled with the annual plan, takes care of real-time threats.
The provider owns and operates the whole network, eliminating potential third-party tampering with the hardware. Adding to that, the servers are physically located in their respective regions, and WireGuard powers the software – both aspects improve speed and latency.
VIPRE isn’t the only tool you’re getting with IPVanish:
- Split tunneling – only available on Android and FireOS devices
- OpenVPN Scramble – hides VPN usage traces so that you can use this technology in censorship-heavy countries
- SOCKS5 proxies – works the same as split tunneling but is meant for torrent clients and browsers, minus encryption
Torrenting enthusiasts can share files without limits as P2P is enabled on all servers. On the streaming side, the service is not as powerful as its counterparts.
You’ll be able to access foreign Netflix libraries, but IPVanish struggles with bypassing blocks of other platforms.
Read our full IPVanish review here
PrivateVPN is a nice all-rounder VPN for Windows 11 with features useful for P2P. The provider upholds its end of the bargain by not logging user data and including the basic VPN tools. I’m talking about military-grade encryption, leak prevention, and a kill switch.
The server scope is modest, especially compared to others on this list, but it gets the job done nicely. And while the lack of the WireGuard tunneling protocol is concerning, PrivateVPN delivers optimal performance despite it. This feat is primarily attributed to buying internet capacity straight from the source instead of intermediaries.
Now, for the tools you can find on the VPN app:
- Application Guard – terminates select apps if the VPN connection stops working
- Stealth VPN – masks your VPN usage from Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)
- SOCKS5 proxies – routes VPN traffic through apps that support proxy configuration, but without encryption
- Port forwarding – useful for torrenting as it balances the download/upload ratio
PrivateVPN allows torrenting on all locations, so your P2P efforts won’t be hindered. As for geo-blocks, the provider will get you access to restricted content, whether it's streaming services, websites, or other platforms.
Read our full PrivateVPN review here
How I tested and selected Windows 11 VPN
Not all VPNs are created equal, some being more suited for specific tasks than others. There were a lot of things to take into consideration when ranking the best Windows 11 VPNs – I’ve paid close attention to these aspects:
- Privacy stance. An exemplary service doesn’t only shield you from third-party surveillance but also doesn’t participate itself. Having a zero-logs policy indicates just that, and it’s even better if it has been tested and found to be accurate by a reputable independent entity.
- Toolkit. The mandatory Windows 11 VPN features include a kill switch, industry-standard AES-256 encryption, and IP, DNS, and WebRTC leak protection. Besides them, other tools like Stealth VPN, split tunneling, Multi-hop, malware blocker, etc., are nice extras to have.
- Server network scope. The more ‘ground’ the VPN covers, the better – it ensures you have more servers close to you, which is central for low latency. Plus, you get more options for accessing foreign content usually blocked in your country.
- Performance. Routing all internet traffic through a VPN naturally slows everything down a little. Unless your ISP is throttling you – in that case, you’ll actually see a boost. Nonetheless, the provider should have the latest tunneling protocols to mitigate this slight loss in performance.
- Versatility. VPNs for Windows 11 can be used for more than securing your device and encrypting everything you do online. I’ve looked into how well they are suited for things like unblocking streaming services and banned platforms in general, torrenting, and online gaming.
- Value. Not all services that cost an arm and a leg are great performance-wise. You’ll find that the options I’ve listed above are quite cheap for the tools and speeds you get.
VPN not connecting on Windows 11: how to fix it
Despite various improvements and new features, Windows 11 isn’t a perfect operating system. Many people have been reporting how their VPNs stopped working after the switch. There are a few things you can try to solve the problem:
- Update Windows 11. System updates are seemingly rolling out every other week, and they might be your golden ticket to fixing the bugs messing up the VPN. Check if any new updates are pending in the Windows Update section in the settings.
- Reinstall the network adapters. Open the Windows 11 menu, search for Device Manager, and select Network Adapters on the new screen. Uninstall WAN Miniport (IP), WAN Miniport (PPTP), and WAN Miniport (IPv6). Restart your computer, and the system will automatically reinstall these adapters.
- Flush your DNS. Open the Windows 11 menu, type in ‘cmd,’ and run the program as an administrator. A command prompt window will appear – type in these commands as follows and press Enter after each one: ipconfig /release, ipconfig /flushdns, ipconfig /renew, netsh int ip reset, netsh winsock reset. Once the commands are executed, restart your PC.
- Change firewall settings. It might be flagging the VPN client as suspicious, blocking it from working. Open the Windows 11 menu and type in Windows Security. Then go to Firewall & network protection, click Allow an app through firewall, and then Change settings. Select the VPN and press OK. If you have separate antivirus software, it can also be restricting VPN traffic – whitelist it in the settings.
- Turn off Internet Protocol Version 6. Open the Windows 11 menu and search for Network Connections. Find your VPN network adapter and open its Properties. Click on the Networking section, disable Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6), and press OK.
- Change registry settings. Open the Run dialogue box by pressing Windows + R, then type in ‘regedit’ and press Enter – this will open the Registry Editor. Copy-paste ‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\PolicyAgent’ in the address bar. Find PolicyAgent on the left panel where all the folders are, right-click it, and go to New > DWORD (32-bit). Rename the value to ‘AssumeUDPEncapsulationContextOnSendRule’ and double-click it. Change the value to ‘2’ in the Value data section and press OK. Restart your PC
- Reinstall your VPN. The problem might also lie with the VPN if the software is bugged out. Uninstall it entirely through the settings and download the latest version of the client from your provider’s website.
- Reset Windows 11. It’s the last resort that I only recommend doing if none of the steps above worked. Back up everything you have on your PC before resetting the system. To reset Windows 11, go to Start > Settings > Windows Update > Advanced options > Recovery. Find Recovery options and click Reset PC under it. Select Keep my files, but remember that it’s not a foolproof solution, and some files might get lost in the process. Continue following the instructions on the screen until the system resets.
You could also try contacting your Windows 11 VPN provider’s customer support. It might be an issue on their side; if it is, professionals could help you fix it.
Free VPN for Windows 11
I understand the appeal of free VPNs (no one wants to pay for something if they don’t have to), but I strongly advise against them. The core issue with Windows 11 is its privacy and security gaps; unfortunately, most costless services only exacerbate it. I’m specifically referring to some of the more shameful practices free VPNs tend to partake in:
- Extensive user surveillance – every step you take, every click you make, the provider will be watching and logging all information. Naturally, everything collected is sold off to third parties down the line, allowing the free VPN to operate for another month.
- Offering little to no security tools – you’ll be lucky to get any form of traffic encryption, and it will be spotty at best. It’s very common for free VPNs to be abysmal at hiding their users while leaving IP and DNS leaks abound.
- Injecting malware into VPN clients – some providers even go as far as sneaking malicious software into their VPNs. These range from classic viruses to spyware, keyloggers, and trojans meant to track unsuspecting users and wreak havoc upon their computers.
Throw minimal server choice and stringent data caps into the mix, and you’re worse off than before. If you still want to go this route, I advise looking into the best free VPNs for Windows 11 that come from reputable providers. The top choices are:
- Atlas VPN – has servers in the Netherlands and the US (New York and Los Angeles). Allows torrenting but isn’t optimized for streaming. You get slightly slower speeds, a 10GB/month data cap, and 2 simultaneous connections.
- Proton VPN – has servers in the Netherlands, Japan, and the US. No torrenting or streaming. You get VPN Accelerator, unlimited data, and 1 simultaneous connection.
- Hide Me VPN – has servers in Canada, Germany, and the US (East & West). Allows torrenting (offers split tunneling and SOCKS5 proxies) but isn’t optimized for streaming. You get a 10GB/month data cap, Stealth Guard, and 1 simultaneous connection.
Don’t want to be held down by limitations? Utilizing free trial versions of premium VPNs is also an option, even though you’re getting access to the full feature and server list for a short period. Once the trial ends, simply switch providers – rinse and repeat.
What about the built-in Windows 11 VPN?
For those unaware, Windows 11 comes with a built-in VPN option first introduced with Windows 10. Users must configure it themselves and create a VPN profile in the process to be able to use it in the first place. The service is very bare-bones and includes only these tunneling protocols:
It’s alarming to see L2TP and PPTP on the list since they are outdated in terms of security, and many experts advise against using them. On top of that, there’s not much happening in terms of functionality. Sure, your traffic gets encrypted, but other than that, you can’t change your IP address or do anything else.
And I don’t want to throw shade on Microsoft, but they’re known for tracking user activities. Even if the person has opted out of this in the settings. What’s stopping them from continuing to do this via the built-in VPN?
No matter how I look at it, getting a separate Windows 11 VPN is the only option here. You’ll get valuable features and actually be shielded against surveillance.
Windows 11 has much to offer in terms of capabilities and performance. And yet, the operating system still has a couple of hiccups when it comes to ensuring its users retain utmost privacy and security.
You can quickly solve this by snatching a subscription to one of the best Windows 11 VPNs I’ve listed above. NordVPN and the other providers include robust security features that will keep you under wraps no matter what you’re up to on the interwebs.
Besides protection, you’ll also benefit from more online freedom. This technology allows your internet persona to switch locations in a couple of clicks, granting access to restricted content and various platforms.
How do you like Windows 11 so far? If you ever ran into issues using a VPN, what happened, and how did you resolve it in the end? Share your story below.
You may also like to read:
Does Windows 11 have a VPN?
Yes, Windows 11 has a built-in VPN you can activate in the settings. But it’s not the most secure option out there and doesn’t come with various benefits like separate VPN clients do. Plus, it’s run by Microsoft, and no one is stopping them from potentially monitoring you via the built-in VPN. You’re better off trying one of the best Windows 11 VPNs.
Is NordVPN compatible with Windows 11?
Yes, NordVPN is compatible with Windows 11 and is the perfect VPN for this OS. You get access to an expansive server network, some of the best speeds in the industry, and versatile tools great for protection and other online activities.
How do I install NordVPN on Windows 11?
First, you have to subscribe to NordVPN and download the client from the provider’s website. Then, run the installation software, follow the instructions on the screen, and you’ll be done in a few minutes. After it’s finished, simply run NordVPN, log into your account, and voila.
Does Surfshark work with Windows 11?
Yes, Surfshark is compatible with Windows 11 and is an excellent VPN for this OS. Subscribers get access to loads of security features and can use it on an unlimited number of devices, not just their PCs.