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Published Sep 20, 2022 11:00 AM

From smartphones to tablets to laptops and everything internet-connected in between, most of us rely on multiple devices every single day—all the more reason we should rely on a VPN. To stay online all the time, you may wind up relying on public Wi-Fi or a connection through work or school, which often isn’t as secure as you might think. If you’re tired of worrying about trackers and hackers potentially sifting through your data, you should consider using a virtual private network, or VPN, to hide your online presence and make it harder for companies and bad actors to find your data. Some VPNs specialize in phones or PCs, but the best VPNs for multiple devices can protect your entire tech arsenal.

What is a VPN?

When you surf the internet, you transmit certain information about yourself to the sites you visit, including your location. A virtual private network (VPN) is an online service that hides your digital identity from online utilities like Google or Facebook that wish to collect and sell your data, as well as from hackers and scammers. A VPN acts like a mask that your computer puts on before it walks into a party. Websites can tell that you’re there and that you’re wearing a mask, but they can’t see any of the personal information that they normally would.

Each of the following VPNs encrypts the data that you send, and most of them have a “no-log” policy, which means that they do not keep any record of your activity. Some even allow you to mask your identity from the VPN server itself. While you might not care if a random person knows about your online shopping habits, you certainly don’t want them to know the password to your bank account. 

VPNs also let you set a virtual location, allowing you to appear as if you are browsing from another country. This allows you to look at the many international versions of sites like Netflix, which may offer different content to other parts of the world.

When it comes to finding a VPN that supports many devices, the good news is that most VPNs have apps that allow you to easily modify your phone or tablet’s internet connection. However, the quality of those apps does vary somewhat, as we’ll go over in the next few sections.

For more information on how VPNs work and how to set one up, please check out our full-length guide on how to use a VPN.

How we picked the best VPNs for multiple devices

As a professional tech writer for almost a decade, I’ve personally tested many of the most popular VPNs for friends and my own personal use, and I know how they perform. To make these recommendations, we consulted online guides, reviews, specs, and spoke to several information security experts. Thanks to this research, we know which VPNs are worth your hard-earned cash, and which ones are better left in the bowels of Google.

Things to consider when buying a VPN for multiple devices

Choosing a VPN to protect every device you own can seem intimidating at first, especially if you aren’t the kind of person who spends hours and hours online. However, the competing services really boil down to a few factors that will determine which provider is best for you. Since the best VPN deals are often a multiyear commitment, it’s important to consider the following questions before clicking the buy button.

Why do I need a VPN?

When you access the internet from your phone, tablet, or computer, you’re transmitting information about yourself, whether you like it or not. Most companies collect this information and track your activity across the internet to help them sell you products. Some bad actors will try and use it to target you for identity theft scams, such as phishing schemes. 

If you use public Wi-Fi often for work, you should keep in mind that most public Wi-Fi networks are not secure. Whether you’re relaxing in your dorm or enjoying a cup of coffee at your favorite cafe, public Wi-Fi often leaves you unprotected against scammers who want the password to your Amazon account. Using a VPN in these situations makes it much harder for people to grab your data, even when it may be vulnerable.

How many connections do you really need?

In a perfect world, a VPN would provide perfect protection to every single internet-enabled device you own. Realistically, most services won’t allow that. Even if they did, you probably don’t really need that level of protection.

When picking your VPN, take a moment and think about which devices need extra security. Laptops, desktops, tablets, and phones are the most vulnerable because they connect to an internet browser, as well as email phishing scams. Game consoles like a PlayStation 5 or a Nintendo Switch are far less likely to fall victim to malware. Most VPNs that work across many kinds of computers do put a cap on the number of devices you can protect. Most popular services will have plans that can go up to 5-10 devices, though some services offer plans to protect an unlimited number of devices.

If you want a subscription package that supports you and your entire family’s massive constellation of tech toys at the same time, you will only have a couple of options. Alternatively, if you just need to protect your three primary devices—a PC, a phone, and tablet, for example—you can safely go with any of our picks.

Killer apps

VPNs designed for multidevice use should offer a free app that you use to mask your tablet or phone activity. Not all of them are easy to navigate, but they allow you to protect your mobile devices before you log on, not after.

Speed and cost

Using a VPN will always make your internet at least a little bit slower. When you use a VPN, you’re forcing your information to make a couple of stops on the way between you and whatever website you’re looking at. Since you’re routing your browsing through another server, the sheer fact of that distance means that it’ll take a little longer to load your sites. 

The best VPNs will only slow you down the slightest bit. Others may slow it down quite a bit. This is one of a few reasons why it’s always worth it to pay for a well-known VPN rather than use a sketchy “free” alternative.

Reputation is everything

While many VPNs like to vaunt their latest and greatest technology as a must-have innovation, the truth is that most of the big VPNs offer extremely similar services for very similar prices. 

When you connect to a VPN, you’re giving that provider an inside look at your browsing habits. As such, we only picked VPNs that are well-known, reliable brand names that have proven their worth over the years. The usual VPNs might be a little more expensive than the new kids on the block, but using a no-name provider could theoretically be worse than using none at all.

Price

Most trustworthy VPN services charge between $10 and $15 per month to use their platforms. If you’re looking to get the best bang for your buck, we highly recommend paying up-front for a year or two of service, as that will significantly reduce the cost of admission. In picking the best VPNs, we weighed the cost of the service heavily, as well as whether or not those premium prices resulted in more simultaneous connections.

The best VPNs for multiple devices: Reviews & Recommendations

Hopefully, you now feel comfortable poking around and picking a VPN to keep your daily browsing data safe. If you’re looking for a VPN that can cover all your fun electronic toys without much of a hassle, our recommendations are a great place to start.

Best overall: NordVPN

NordVPN

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Why it made the cut: NordVPN delivers everything you would want from a VPN provider, including thousands of servers, six simultaneous connections, and ultra-reliable service.

Specs

  • Server count: Over 5,500 servers in 59 countries
  • Connection limit: Supports 6 device connections at once
  • Home country: Panama
  • Free/trial version: None
  • Standard plan price: $11.99 per month, $59.98 per year, or $126.96 every two years

Pros

  • Trusted brand name
  • Extremely reliable
  • Many, many servers
  • Fancy bells and whistles you actually want

Cons

  • Only six simultaneous connections
  • Fairly expensive

If you’re thinking about using a VPN, you’ve almost certainly heard of NordVPN, and that’s for good reason. Pound-for-pound, it’s arguably the best VPN provider on the market. Nord boasts thousands of servers in dozens of countries, as well as competitive speeds worldwide. NordVPN also offers dedicated IPs for an additional monthly fee, which is useful for users who want to hide the fact that they’re using a VPN at all.

Though the brand’s reputation took a hit after a 2018 server breach, it still remains one of the most trusted providers in the space. NordVPN’s mobile app is clean and intuitive, and it supports every device you have lying around the house. If you’re looking for more than just a basic VPN service, Nord also offers a data breach scanner, a password manager, and encrypted cloud storage for additional rates.

NordVPN plans support up to six simultaneous connections. That’s definitely enough for a well-connected person or an average household, but large families full of tech-heads may want to look at alternatives that can handle more bandwidth.

Best for unlimited connections: Surfshark

Surfshark

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Specs

  • Server count: 3,200 servers in 95 countries
  • Connection limit: Unlimited
  • Home country: The Netherlands
  • Free/trial version: None
  • Standard plan price: $12.95 per month, $47.88 per year, or $59.76 for two years 

Pros

  • Unlimited connections on one account
  • Competitive speeds
  • Extremely good value

Cons

  • Less well-known than alternatives
  • No extra bells and whistles

Surfshark is the new kid on the VPN block, but don’t let that fool you. Though it makes our list for offering unlimited simultaneous connections—making it an extremely good option for large households full of technophiles—it’s a very strong service across the board. Its $60, two-year subscription is one of the best deals you’ll find in the space, and Surfshark is consistently ranked high among the fastest VPN services out there. Its mobile app is also quite snazzy.

Surfshark’s major downside is its server network, which is significantly smaller than its well-known competition. That said, 3,000+ servers is nothing to sneeze at. Meanwhile, the ability to access servers in 95 countries gives you far more masking options than most providers. Surfshark is arguably the best deal in VPN-land and is definitely the best choice for users with more than six devices.

Best for dedicated IP: CyberGhost

Cyberghost

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Specs

  • Server count: 7,900 servers in 91 countries
  • Connection limit: Supports 7 device connections at once
  • Home country: Romania
  • Free/trial version: None
  • Price: $12.99 per month, $51.48 per year, or $78 every two years

Pros

  • More servers than almost any VPN
  • Seven simultaneous connections
  • Easy setup for advanced features

Cons

  • Visually underwhelming
  • No independent security audits since 2012

Some VPN users prefer to pay their provider a little extra for a dedicated IP address in order to fool websites into thinking that they aren’t using a VPN at all. If you don’t pay for a dedicated IP, your traffic will show up as a different IP every time you connect and many websites have filters for popular VPN server IPs. If you want to hide the fact that you’re hiding your info, we recommend CyberGhost, a fully featured VPN provider with all the bells and whistles you need to take control of your cybersecurity.

CyberGhost’s dedicated IP service costs about $4 a month, which is not insignificant. This service ensures that you will always show the same unique IP address when you’re using CyberGhost, which will likely be enough to fool streaming services like Netflix into unblocking you. No more Captchas when casually Googling, either. However, there is a small catch: CyberGhost will issue a unique access token that you use to log into your unique IP. The company keeps no record of this token, but that means you have to keep track of it yourself. If you lose it, you’ll have to purchase another subscription to get another dedicated IP.

Even if you don’t want a dedicated IP—or you’re afraid you’ll lose the token—CyberGhost is an extremely competitive VPN provider. It’s one of the fastest VPNs out there according to speed tests, and its plans are significantly less expensive than some of its competitors.

Best app: ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

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Specs

  • Server count: Over 3,000 servers in 94 countries
  • Connection limit: Supports 5 device connections at once
  • Home country: British Virgin Islands
  • Free/trial version: None
  • Standard plan price: $12.95 per month, or $99.95 per year

Pros

  • Best app UI and usability
  • Very reliable
  • Trusted name

Cons

  • Only five connections at once
  • Expensive

NordVPN and ExpressVPN are effectively the Coke and Pepsi of the VPN world. Like its counterpart, ExpressVPN is a well-established brand that gives you everything you expect from a premium VPN, including fast speeds, a widespread network, and a variety of extra services that you tack on.

ExpressVPN’s key advantage for those of us with a lot of gear is its excellent mobile app. It’s visually appealing, works on every platform, and makes tweaking your settings easy. ExpressVPN’s speeds have also tested well over the years. However, it does not offer some of the popular extras that Nord users might like, such as dedicated IP services. 

Express offers only five simultaneous connections, which is significantly less than some of our other picks. However, if you tend to stick with only two or three devices, ExpressVPN is a premium provider that covers the basics quite well for everyday people who don’t want to be burdened with overly technical details.

Best for families: Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

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Specs

  • Server count: Over 28,000 servers in 84 countries
  • Connection limit: Supports 10 device connections at once
  • Home country: United States
  • Free/trial version: None
  • Standard plan price: $12.00 per month, $90 per year, or $56 for two years

Pros

  • 10 simultaneous connections
  • Ridiculous server count
  • Good UI
  • Very reasonable price

Cons

  • Not the fastest
  • Doesn’t stand out in any category

Private Internet Access is one of the most popular VPNs out there thanks to its compelling price point and feature set. For one thing, PIA boasts a truly absurd server count—over 28,000 worldwide—as well as a simultaneous connection cap that’s more than double some of its competitors. PIA is also regularly discounted for price points that you rarely see in the VPN space, making it a good option for families who want to make every dollar count.

While PIA is certainly a good VPN, it doesn’t necessarily excel in any particular way. Its dedicated IP services aren’t as well-regarded as CyberGhost and NordVPN. Its speed doesn’t compete with many of the major platforms, either. It has standard VPN features like split tunneling, a killswitch, and optional antivirus software, but nothing that sets it apart. 

All in all, Private Internet Access is an extremely respectable VPN that doesn’t quite have the brand recognition of its bigger competitors. However, it’s a reliable alternative that costs less than most of our other picks and will protect a lot of devices simultaneously.

Best budget: ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN

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Specs

  • Server count: Over 1,700 servers in 63 countries (premium)
  • Connection limit: Supports 10 device connections at once (premium)
  • Home country: Switzerland
  • Free/trial version: Yes, speed-capped
  • Standard plan price: $10.52 per month, $75.69 per year, or $126.10 every two years (billed in Euro)

Pros

  • A decent free tier that actually works
  • Supports 10 simultaneous connections
  • Easy to upgrade to premium

Cons

  • Limited feature-set
  • Premium is expensive for what it is

You can’t go very far online without being bombarded with ads for free VPN services these days. While most of these services are unreliable, data-capped, or possibly even scams, ProtonVPN is the real deal. It offers a free tier that can actually serve as a decent VPN in a pinch. It doesn’t have a data cap, so you don’t have to tediously count every megabyte you transmit to use it.

As you might expect, ProtonVPN’s free plan is quite limited compared to its premium competitors. You can only choose from three servers, it’s limited to one device at a time, and Proton blocks popular VPN use cases like torrenting and streaming. As such, if you really want a VPN that supports multiple devices, you’ll need to shell out for its premium services.

The good news is that ProtonVPN makes it very easy to upgrade from its free plan to a paid option. It offers 10 simultaneous connections, which is more than enough for even large households. However, it does falter when compared to other premium competitors like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. It also lacks premium features that power users might expect, such as support for dedicated IP addresses.

The truth is that there is no good free option if you want to use a VPN across many devices. ProtonVPN gives the closest thing: A free taste of its services before you invest.

FAQs

Q: How many devices can use one VPN?

Generally speaking, the number of devices you can use on one VPN account is determined by the VPN provider itself. Most VPN providers have a cap of between 5-10 devices allowed on a single account simultaneously, though some allow an unlimited number.

Q: Do I need a separate VPN for each device?

No. All of the VPN services on our list allow you to protect at least five devices with a single account.

Q: Can the police track a VPN?

In most circumstances, neither law enforcement nor private companies can track live VPN traffic—this is why people use them. However, if you commit a crime and a law enforcement agency requests data from the VPN provider, some providers may give the data that they request. Some VPN providers have a strict “no logs” policy, which means they don’t store any information on their users. In that situation, the VPN service wouldn’t have any information to give law enforcement, even if they were legally compelled to do so.

Final thoughts on the best VPNs for multiple devices

Whether you command a fleet of devices or simply want to protect your laptop and your phone, it makes sense to sign up for a VPN service to protect gear on unsecured networks. While our VPN picks vary in price, number of connections, and advanced features, the bottom line is that they all keep your private information safe.