For millions of VPN users, privacy is one of the most desirable aspects of a VPN service, if not the most prized benefit of all. And given that, the amount of logs – details recorded on the user and their online activity – kept by a VPN provider is a crucial consideration. And not all VPNs are equal in this respect – far from it.

Almost all VPNs will trot out some manner of blanket ‘we keep no logs’ statement on their website, but the truth is that the various providers’ policies regarding keeping logs can vary quite widely.

The first thing you need to bear in mind is that there are two main categories of logs: connection logs, and usage logs.

Connection or metadata logs include your incoming and outgoing IP address, as well as data like connection duration, amount of data transferred, VPN servers you’ve connected to, and so on.

This information isn’t such a big deal, and is often required to keep tabs on things like data allowances – how else will a provider know that you exceeded your allowance, if it hasn’t recorded the amount of data you have transferred? Because of this and other reasons, some VPN services will log this information, although hopefully they will only store it for a certain period of time (that length of time should be made clear in the company’s privacy policy, with any luck).

Usage or activity logs, on the other hand, are deemed much more important and more invasive in privacy terms, as they essentially cover all of the data beyond those basic connection logs. So we’re talking about information on the exact websites you visited online, the files you downloaded, and so forth.

The good news is that any provider worth its salt doesn’t keep usage logs. The bad news is that not only can it sometimes be difficult to find out what sort of logs a VPN provider keeps, you also need to bear in mind that you’ve only got the firm’s word that it actually sticks to any relevant policies. In other words, whatever might be written on the website, you’ll never really know what actually happens behind the scenes.

Even if a provider says it keeps no logs whatsoever, the chances are that some are stored, although it might only be the barest of connection logs.

The long and short of it is: scouting out the VPN services which provide you with the best levels of privacy and anonymity online is something of a tricky task. Which is exactly why we’ve researched the best VPNs for watertight privacy, and we’re presenting our results in this article.

Here are our top five recommendations for privacy-conscious VPNs that uphold their ‘no logs’ policy with the most unswerving veracity as far as we’re concerned.

1. IPVanish

Best all-round VPN for privacy

Number of servers: 1000+ | Server locations: 60+ | IP addresses: 40000+ | Maximum devices supported: 5

Speedy performance

Configurable software

Windows client could be better

No free trial

[57% Off] IPVanish (Official Promotion)Get up to 57% Off TechRadar’s #1 Rated VPN Service  with IPVanish’s top-tier network delivering some of the fastest speeds in our tests. Zero logs gives you total privacy.

If you’re looking for power and performance from your VPN, while still enjoying privacy at the highest levels, IPVanish is just the ticket. This service ticks all the right boxes – it offers fast performance, configurable mobile and desktop clients, tight security, and a clear and commendable ‘no logs’ policy. 

The native clients are crammed with features and they’re highly configurable too, with a mode for VPN novices who aren’t keen on messing around with fancy settings. One small downside is that in our testing, we found that the Windows client can be prone to the odd network issue in certain situations – mainly when other VPNs are installed. But your mileage may well vary.

The provider doesn’t keep any logs, as mentioned, and clearly states that it doesn’t log any session data (unlike many other VPN services). The wide range of payment methods such as Bitcoin, Giropay, and more, only adds to the superb effort on the privacy front.

IPVanish doesn’t offer a free trial and prices are slightly more expensive than the norm (unless you sign up through TechRadar’s special discount, that is). You definitely pay for performance here, and choosing an annual subscription is the best value-for-money. The packages available are:

2. ExpressVPN

Number of servers: 1500+ | Server locations: 148 | IP addresses: 30000 | Maximum devices supported: 3

Excellent server coverage

Fast speeds

Only 3 simultaneous connections

Not the cheapest service

For those looking to mesh the fastest speeds with privacy, ExpressVPN is the premium choice. There are some seriously fast servers in this firm’s broad network which spans 94 countries, while on the software front, you get apps for all major platforms (and a few browser extensions too). The native clients are fairly intuitive and user-friendly, featuring both basic and advanced options to satisfy all kinds of…

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