We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
Advertising Disclosure

vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

5 Best VPNs You’ve Never Heard Of in 2024 — Hidden Gems

Lawrence Wachira Updated on 26th December 2023 Fact-checked by Kate Veale Senior Writer

There are many underrated VPNs that are fast, safe, and reliable. These often go unnoticed because they don't have the budget for flashy ads. Some top VPNs are popular simply because they can invest in ads and sponsored spots on influencer sites.

After my team tested 53 lesser-known VPNs, we shortlisted the best secret VPNs with features almost on par with our top 5. Whether you need a VPN for safe torrenting, high-quality streaming, or accessing websites securely without breaking the bank, you'll find your ideal choice in this list.

Proton VPN came out on top. It uses military-grade (AES 256-bit) encryption, has intuitive apps, and offers impressive speeds for UHD streaming. Plus, you can try Proton VPN free for 30 days since it’s backed by a money-back guarantee.

Try Proton VPN Risk-Free >>

Short on Time? Here Are the Best Unknown VPNs in 2024

  1. Editor's Choice
    Proton VPN
    Proton VPN
    High-grade security with smooth 4K streaming; a risk-free trial with money-back guarantee.
  2. Hotspot Shield
    Hotspot Shield
    Rapid speeds for seamless torrenting, browsing, and streaming, effective on distant servers.
  3. Windscribe VPN
    Windscribe
    Includes custom adblocker to halt ads, trackers, and reduce infection risk.
  4. Mullvad VPN
    Mullvad
    Stay anonymous online with a no-logs policy and cash-payment option.
  5. VPN Unlimited
    VPN Unlimited
    Huge network to reliably access your accounts wherever you are.

Best Underrated VPNs — Full Analysis (Updated in 2024)

1. ProtonVPN — Powerful Security Features Keep You Safe Online

Best Feature No one can see what you're doing online, thanks to military-grade encryption
Server Network 3,217 servers in 71 countries to access your favorite shows and movies from anywhere
Security & Privacy Netshield blocks annoying ads, malware, and trackers
Works with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Max, Kodi, and more

Proton VPN makes it difficult for third parties to access your data. It uses the same level of encryption (AES 256-bit ) the US government employs to secure state secrets. Plus, your encryption key is continually changed with perfect forward secrecy. On top of that, its kill switch ensures your information stays private by blocking internet traffic should the VPN drop, like when switching servers.

I also tested Proton VPN for IP and DNS leaks and detected none — your online identity and activity remain hidden. For additional protection, you can use its Secure Core, which routes your traffic through 2 locations. However, it did slow my speed a lot.

A screenshot showing Proton VPN's Secure Core feature and serversYour app displays a pathway once you're connected to a Secure Core server

Using the lightweight WireGuard protocol, you can stream movies and shows in UHD uninterrupted. Testing servers in the UK, the US, and France, I got an average download speed of 103.2Mbps against a baseline connection of 108Mbps. That's just a 4.4% reduction and far exceeds the 25Mbps required for 4K streaming. I could also download large files in minutes.

A con is that you need to sign up for a paid account before getting access to live support. However, its website is packed with FAQs, setup guides, and troubleshooting. Plus, it has a support form that you can fill out to communicate with its team, or you can reach out through its official subreddit.

With its long-term plan, you can get the VPN for $4.99/month, although a limited free plan is also available. Plus, all subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can test Proton VPN risk-ree and request a refund if you’re unhappy. You also get up to 10 simultaneous connections.

Useful Features

  • Device compatibility. Proton VPN works on all popular operating systems, with mobile and desktop apps having the same intuitive design. There's also a full GUI with its Linux app. You can even use the VPN on your router and protect all your network devices.
  • Privacy protection. The VPN is located in Switzerland, a country with favorable privacy-protection laws. Plus, it follows a strict no-logs policy that’s regularly audited by external experts, so you know your personal information won't be collected or shared.
  • Obfuscation. Its Stealth protocol hides your VPN usage, making avoiding network restrictions and VPN blocks easy.
  • Split tunneling. I use this feature to access local and international content by choosing which websites and apps use the VPN and which use your regular internet connection.
  • VPN Accelerator. This feature can boost your speed on far-away servers by up to 400% by addressing protocol-specific issues that can lead to delays. However, it's only beneficial when connecting to a server that's geographically far from you.

2. Hotspot Shield (HSS) — Impressive Speeds to Stream in UHD and Torrent Without Slowdowns

Best Feature The fastest unknown VPN I tested
Server Network 1,800 servers in 80 countries to avoid delays due to server overcrowding
Security & Privacy Malware protection warns you about spam, malware, phishing, and infected sites
Works With Netflix, ITVX, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Max, Kodi, and more

Hotspot Shield's speeds are on par with better-known, top VPNs like ExpressVPN. Using its proprietary protocol (Catapult Hydra), I tested UK, Ukraine, and German servers and averaged 107.7Mbps — a mere 1% decrease from my non-VPN speed of 108.6Mbps. With these speeds and unlimited bandwidth, I watched Netflix in picture-perfect quality without delays.

A screenshot showing Hotspot Shield fast Canadian serverI experienced only a 3% speed drop connected to a Canadian server

Besides its global network, it offers specialized US servers for streaming, gaming, and general browsing. There's even a server optimized for social networks and chat (like TikTok and WeChat), which is particularly useful when accessing your accounts in countries like China and the UAE, where VOIP services are limited.

On the downside, the VPN is based in the US, which is at the heart of the 5 Eyes Alliance — a group of countries that shares its citizens' data. However, like Proton VPN Hotspot Shield uses AES 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and DNS/IP leak protection to keep your data private. Your browsing history and downloads also stay anonymous since it doesn't keep logs.

The VPN offers one of the best free plans available but has restrictions. On the other hand, a long-term subscription only sets you back $2.99/month. You can use Hotspot Shield free for 45 days with its money-back guarantee. Getting a refund is easy. I canceled via 24/7 live chat and got my money back in my PayPal wallet within 3 days.

Useful Features

  • Easy to use. Finding and connecting to a server in the clutter-free Hotspot Shield apps available for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, smart TVs, and FireStick is simple.
  • Split tunneling. You can use its split tunneling feature to decide which apps or websites bypass the secure tunnel and which should use it.
  • 5 simultaneous connections. Even with multiple devices connected, I didn't experience any drop in performance.
  • Choice of fast protocols. WireGuard uses less code for faster speeds, but Hydra was a bit quicker in my tests. Both consume less battery as they're less resource-intensive, so they are ideal for use on mobile.

3. Windscribe — Customize Your Block List to Tailor Your Online Experience

Best Feature Block ads, trackers, clickbait, gambling, porn, social networks, and more
Server Network 177 servers in 69 countries with 112 city-level servers
Security & Privacy For a small fee, you can get a dedicated IP to avoid CAPTCHAs and VPN blocks
Works With Netflix, Disney+, Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Kodi and More

With Windscribe’s domain and IP blocking tool, you can easily avoid sites you don’t want to accidentally visit. I activated the gambling, porn, and social media blocks, which denied me access each time I tested it, even with a lesser-known social media site, like 7 Cups. It’s great if you’re easily distracted from your work or if you want to put a filter on your family PC.

A screenshot showing Windscribe's blocklist is effectiveYou can also tailor your blocklist to specific domains

Your data is protected with AES 256-bit encryption and a built-in kill switch (Firewall). Windscribe offers several security protocols, too. WireGuard gave me the fastest connection, whereas OpenVPN is my go-to when banking online. You can even switch to the Stealth protocol that makes your encrypted connection look like regular internet traffic to avoid network restrictions. Plus, Windscribe passed all my IP/DNS leak tests.

One drawback is the lack of 24/7 live chat, but the email support team is well-informed and responsive. Plus, its chatbot can answer most questions — it responded to my question about its no-logs policy within 30 seconds.

A long-term subscription starts at only $0/month. The money-back guarantee only lasts 3 days, and to be eligible for a refund, you must have used less than 10GB. But Windscribe offers a totally free account for you to try it out first.

Useful Features

  • Fast speed. I averaged a 10.8% speed drop (from 107Mbps to 96.2Mbps) when connected to servers in France and the UK — fast enough for UHD streaming.
  • Zero-logs policy. Windscribe has an audited no-logs policy to protect your data from third parties.
  • Unlimited device connections. You can connect Windscribe on all your devices at once without worrying about logging in and out.
  • P2P-friendly. Windscribe supports torrenting on the majority of its servers. It even offers port forwarding that you can use to quicken your download speeds.

4. Mullvad VPN — Robust Privacy Features to Stay Anonymous Online

Best Feature Pay with cryptocurrencies for an extra layer of privacy
Server Network 885 servers in 39 countries to quickly find one closest to you for the best speed
Security & Privacy An audited no-logs policy ensures your dara won't be collected or shared
Works With Netflix, Max, Kodi, and more

Mullvad VPN helps you maintain your privacy by reducing your online money trail. When you transfer money via mail, not even the VPN is privy to your identity. I recommend this mode of payment if you really want to avoid any direct link between your personal information and the VPN subscription.

Screenshot of Mullvad's privacy policyYou can find your payment token by going to the billing details of your subscription

It further ensures your privacy by using AES 256-bit encryption and DNS/IP leak protection. Plus, Mullvad VPN's kill switch disconnected me from the internet when switching servers in my tests, so my IP stayed hidden. Secure protocols like Wireguard and OpenVPN are available, too. I prefer WireGuard when I want to maintain excellent speed for UHD streaming.

Unfortunately, it’s based in Sweden, with mandatory data-sharing laws. However, the VPN doesn’t log sensitive information, meaning your online activity won’t be recorded.

Each plan comes with additional features like split tunneling, obfuscation, and ad blocking. You can get a long-term subscription for only $5.53/month, and Mullvad makes it easy to get a refund within 30 days if you change your mind. You can also connect up to 5 devices on a single account.

Useful Features

  • Tor compatibility. The VPN provides an extra layer of privacy by allowing you to set up an OpenVPN connection to use the Tor network.
  • Double VPN. Enabling this feature will encrypt your traffic twice, making it more difficult for third parties to intercept your data. However, it might slow you down.
  • RAM-based servers. These servers erase your information with every reboot, preventing the VPN from storing any data.

5. VPN Unlimited — Large Network to Access Local and International Content Anywhere

Best Feature Global network and optimized servers for unblocking your favorite streaming platforms
Server Network 3,000 servers in 56 countries to access your subscriptions wherever you are
Security & Privacy Blogger Mode prevents the display of your real IP in the app interface
Works With Netflix, Hulu, Max, BBC iPlayer, Disney+ Hotstar, ESPN, and more

VPN Unlimited's huge network makes finding a server that can access the content you need easy. More servers also mean you're likely to avoid congestion due to overcrowding. I tested VPN Unlimited servers across the US and Italy, and they all provided me with stable connections while streaming.

A screenshot showing VPN Unlimited has streaming-optimized serversSelect 'Optimal' for auto-connection to the fastest server if you have no server preferences

Thanks to the VPN's no-logs policy, you can have peace of mind that your data won't be shared with anyone. Plus, it uses AES 256-bit encryption and secure protocols like WireGuard, IKEv2, and OpenVPN. Like Proton VPNa and Hotspot Shield, VPN Unlimited also includes a kill switch and IP/DNS leak protection to prevent accidental data exposure.

I was disappointed that its P2P-optimized servers for fast and safe file sharing are available only in Canada, France, and Romania. However, it works with the most popular BitTorrent clients and is available on its 7-day free trial.

Prices start $4/month, and you can pay in cryptocurrencies if you prefer not to disclose personal information. VPN Unlimited has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free.

Useful Features

  • Unlimited simultaneous connection. I liked the convenient option to add more slots for additional devices.
  • Reliable customer support. You can reach out to its support team via live chat.
  • Obfuscation. Using its unique KeepSolid Wise protocol (which disguises encrypted traffic as regular HTTPS traffic), you can effortlessly avoid ISP restrictions during bandwidth-intensive activities like torrenting.

Pros and Cons of Unknown VPNs

Opting for a non-popular VPN comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Although renowned VPNs are typically reliable and ensure your online security, lesser-known counterparts can offer similar quality at a lower price or even for free. Here are the key benefits and drawbacks of using an unfamiliar VPN:

Advantages

  • Affordability. Lesser-known VPNs often offer more competitive pricing, making them budget-friendly options.
  • Less targeted. As they are less popular, they might not be as heavily targeted by cybercriminals.
  • Free versions. Unlike many bigger players, some secret VPNs offer free or even unlimited versions of their services.
  • Less-crowded servers. Smaller user bases mean that their servers are often less congested, resulting in potentially better performance.
  • Comparable features. They often provide similar essential features as their larger, more expensive counterparts.
  • Basic services. Many unpopular VPNs still offer fundamental services like a no-logs policy, a money-back guarantee, and robust security features.

Disadvantages

  • Unproven track record. Unpopular VPNs might not have extensive track records or reviews, making it harder to assess their reliability.
  • Streaming and geo-blocks. These VPNs are more likely to face challenges in accessing streaming services.
  • Customer support. Smaller VPN providers usually don't have 24/7 support, and live chat is operated by a bot.
  • Compatibility issues. These VPNs might not work seamlessly with all operating systems and devices.

Now You've Seen Some Lesser-known VPNs, Here’s Our Trusted Recommendation

ExpressVPN consistently comes out on top for speed, streaming, and security. It's easy to use and compatible with all major operating systems. It even has custom router firmware, so you can protect every device connected to your home network with a click of a button.

Its impressive speeds are credited to its proprietary Lightway protocol, which uses fewer lines of code for faster connections without sacrificing online privacy. You won’t notice you’re using a VPN even when connected to its faraway servers, which is ideal for streaming without buffering.

Accessing your streaming services while overseas is a breeze. ExpressVPN has 3,000 servers in 105 countries. It also constantly rotates its IP addresses and uses obfuscation to remain undetected. During my tests, I unblocked various platforms within seconds, including Netflix US, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and Max.

On top of that, its commitment to privacy is unparalleled. It uses a verified no-logs policy, RAM-only servers, and high-end encryption to protect your data from prying eyes. Plus, it’s headquartered in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands. It passed all my leak tests, and its kill switch (Network Lock) is automatically enabled.

Even though it's pricier, starting at $6.67/month, ExpressVPN regularly offers deals and discounts to help you save. I got 49% off on the long-term plan and 3 months of service for free. There’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee with all subscriptions, so you can try it without risk.

Quick Comparison Table: Lesser-Known VPN Features

The table below offers a quick overview of the key features offered by the best unknown VPNs. This includes their lowest prices, speed, server network, and money-back guarantee.

Lowest Price Speed Server network Money-back guarantee Free option Device connections
🥇Proton VPN $4.99/month Excellent speeds 3,217 servers in 71 countries 30 Yes 10
🥈Hotspot Shield $2.99/month The fastest unknown VPN I tested 1,800 servers in 80 countries 45 Yes 5
🥉Windscribe $0/month Fast 177 servers in 69 countries 3 Yes Unlimited
Mullvad VPN $5.53/month Fast 885 servers in 39 countries 30 Yes 5
VPN Unlimited $4/month Decent speeds 3,000 servers in 56 countries 30 Yes Unlimited

Tips on Choosing the Best Unknown VPN

I have outlined the factors I used to identify the best-underrated VPNs. Consider the features in this list to help you decide which VPN is right for you:

  • Impressive speed. Prioritize a VPN that doesn’t lower your speeds by more than 20% to stream in 4K, enjoy smooth gameplay, and maintain short download times. To achieve this, look for fast protocols like WireGuard.
  • Global network. Worldwide servers let you access your local and international subscriptions while traveling.  Consider one with optimized servers for torrenting and streaming, and that doesn’t cap bandwidth, so you can download large files and watch for hours without limitations.
  • Advanced security and privacy tools. At a minimum, any VPN should offer AES 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, a no-logs policy, and DNS/IP/WebRTC leak protection to keep your data secure.
  • Easy to use. Whether new to VPNs or an experienced user, a user-friendly app is always best. Plus, using the VPN on multiple devices simultaneously is a significant advantage.
  • Reliable money-back guarantee. Look for a VPN that allows you to try out its features and get a full refund if you're not 100% happy.
  • Excellent customer support. Ensure that the VPN offers easy contact options like live chat or email for quick assistance.

FAQs on the Best VPNs You’ve Never Heard Of

Are lesser-known VPNs as reliable as the mainstream ones?

Yes, underrated VPNs can be as reliable as mainstream ones. While popularity can imply better performance, it's not the only factor. Unknown VPNs can still offer strong privacy protection, fast speeds, and a large server network. The key is to thoroughly test a VPN, regardless of its popularity, to ensure it meets your needs and expectations.

How can I find a reliable VPN that isn't widely recognized?

An easy approach is to explore tech forums, subreddits, and reliable review sites. Look specifically for VPNs you have never heard of and scrutinize their features to ascertain if they align with your needs. Applying these strict criteria can assist in identifying the right VPN for you.

Why haven't I heard of under-the-radar VPNs before if they are so good?

This is mainly because they don't invest as much in marketing as mainstream VPNs. However, just because a VPN isn't widely known doesn't mean it isn't good. Conducting thorough research can help you discover reliable, less-known VPN options with excellent features.

Are these lesser-known VPNs more affordable than the popular ones?

Some obscure VPNs offer cheaper pricing to attract customers and gain a foothold in the market. However, many well-known VPNs, like CyberGhost and PIA, are just as competitively priced. Price is just one aspect you should be evaluating when comparing VPNs.

Can I use unknown VPNs for streaming services like Netflix or Hulu?

Using lesser-known VPNs for streaming can be a hit-or-miss. While some secret VPNs work well with platforms like Netflix and Hulu, many have difficulties reliably accessing accounts from abroad due to smaller server networks or getting detected by streaming services. A VPN known to work with the most popular streaming services is a better option.

Get the Best Unknown VPN

Less-known VPNs can be a great alternative, offering unique benefits at often more affordable pricing. While they may have some limitations, they could provide just the right features to fit your needs. The ones I've listed are nearly as good as the top VPNs.

Proton VPN is my number one choice because it uses robust security features to protect your online activity from third parties. Plus, it offers fast servers worldwide for uninterrupted streaming. It also has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it risk-free.

To summarize, these are the best VPNs you’ve never heard of...

Rank
Provider
Our Score
Discount
Visit Website
1
medal
9.9 /10
9.9 Our Score
Save 50%!
2
9.7 /10
9.7 Our Score
Save 77%!
3
9.5 /10
9.5 Our Score
Save 43%!
4
9.4 /10
9.4 Our Score
Save 0%!
5
9.3 /10
9.3 Our Score
Save 98%!
Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Lawrence Wachira, a Senior Writer at vpnMentor, is passionate about making the internet safer. Lawrence writes insightful product reviews, comparison pages, and blog posts to help readers protect their online privacy and choose the best VPNs.

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