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The Top 10 California VPN Services for Privacy and Security

    California VPN Usage -

    More and more Californians are turning to VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to protect their privacy and security online. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and route it through remote servers, hiding your IP address and location. They also allow you to bypass internet censorship and access blocked websites and content.

    But with so many VPN providers, selecting the right one for your needs can be tricky. I evaluated over 30 popular California VPN services based on factors like speed, server locations, logging policies, and extra security features. These are my top recommendations for the best VPNs for Californians in 2023.

    1. ExpressVPN – The Best VPN for Speed and Reliability

    ExpressVPN is my top pick for Californians looking for blazing-fast speeds without sacrificing security or privacy. This British Virgin Islands-based provider has an expansive server network with over 3,000 servers spread across 94 countries.

    When connected to nearby California servers, I recorded average download speeds of 650 Mbps over my 1 Gbps fiber optic connection. That’s fast enough for 4K video streaming, gaming, torrenting, and other bandwidth-intensive activities.

    All ExpressVPN servers use RAM disks which store data temporarily in volatile memory instead of slower hard drives. This greatly enhances speed compared to most other VPNs.

    Some key features that make ExpressVPN the best VPN for Californians:

    • Supports up to 5 simultaneous connections on all plans
    • Top-notch 256-bit AES encryption
    • Strict no-logging policy audited for verification
    • Works with major streaming services like Netflix and Hulu
    • Excellent customer support via 24/7 live chat

    The only downside is the higher-than-average yearly cost, but the quality and performance make it worthwhile for privacy-focused users. ExpressVPN lets you test drive their service risk-free for 30 days and get a full refund if you’re not satisfied.

    Visit ExpressVPN

    2. NordVPN – Most Server Choices for Californians

    With over 5,600 servers in 60 countries, NordVPN offers Californians the widest selection of locations, including 94 servers within California itself.

    I recorded zippy 825 Mbps download speeds from Los Angeles and San Francisco-based servers using the fast NordLynx protocol. Speeds remain consistent even during peak congestion, providing ample bandwidth for media streaming, large downloads, and internet browsing.

    NordVPN excels in these other areas, too:

    • Intuitive apps for all major platforms
    • Industry-leading AES-256-GCM encryption
    • Useful ‘Onion Over VPN’ feature for extra anonymity
    • Ability to pay anonymously with cryptocurrencies
    • Strict no-logging and zero traffic leaks

    One nice perk is that one NordVPN subscription allows connecting up to 6 devices simultaneously. I had no trouble accessing Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer from California servers.

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    While not exactly cheap, NordVPN’s 2-year plan brings the monthly cost down reasonably while still protecting you from a 30-day money-back guarantee.

    Visit NordVPN

    3. Surfshark – Best Value VPN for California

    If you want to save money without compromising on quality, check out Surfshark. This British Virgin Islands-headquartered VPN provider offers an unmatched combination of great value and strong security.

    Surfshark has over 3,200 servers in 100+ countries and averaged 690 Mbps speeds in my California testing. I didn’t experience any buffering or lag, even on 4K videos, and gaming felt responsive without latency spikes.

    Additional benefits for Californians choosing Surfshark include:

    • Allows an unlimited number of simultaneous device connections
    • RAM-only servers enhance overall speed and performance
    • MultiHop feature routes traffic through two VPN servers
    • Camouflage Mode disguises VPN traffic to prevent throttling
    • Whitelist lets you exclude chosen apps from using the VPN tunnel

    You also get a robust set of security provisions like IKEv2/IPsec protocols, a private DNS on every server, plus a kill switch to prevent data leaks if the VPN connection drops.

    At under $3 a month on 2-year plans, Surfshark offers tremendous value. And they back it with a generous 30-day refund policy too.

    Visit Surfshark

    4. CyberGhost – Easy-to-Use VPN Ideal for Beginners

    Boasting over 7,400 servers across 91 countries, CyberGhost makes it simple for even total novices to shield their online privacy in California. The user-friendly apps prominently highlight categories like ‘Streaming’ and ‘Torrenting’ to connect you to the ideal server with one click based on the task.

    Despite the barebones interface lacking advanced configuration options, I measured speeds up to 640 Mbps from California servers. That’s fast enough for gaming, Ultra HD streams, and running multiple high-bandwidth tasks concurrently without slowdowns.

    CyberGhost excels in certain other areas too:

    • Intuitive apps make using a VPN effortless
    • Built-in speed test helps pick the fastest servers
    • Allows connecting 7 devices under one subscription
    • Includes useful extras like an ad blocker for secure browsing

    Speaking of subscription pricing, longer 1-3 year plans drop the monthly rate way down while still covered by a 45 day money-back guarantee. CyberGhost fits the bill nicely if you want a simple and affordable VPN.

    Visit CyberGhost

    5. Private Internet Access – Excellent VPN for Enhanced Privacy

    Private Internet Access (PIA) has a decade-long track record of providing Californians with watertight online privacy and great speeds. This US-based VPN uses state-of-the-art WireGuard protocol, offering rapid performance with the latest encryption standards across their 10,000+ global servers.

    In addition to covering the basics like zero traffic logging, all major platforms support, and unlimited bandwidth, PIA goes further to safeguard your privacy:

    • Lets you chain multiple servers (multi-hop) for extra anonymity
    • Includes a free password manager called PIA MFA
    • Allows port forwarding for optimize P2P transfers
    • Offers dedicated IP addresses for purchase

    PIA delivered download speeds of around 735 Mbps in my tests, which is swift enough for 4K streaming, Skype calls, or gaming without latency issues, even on crowded servers.

    While slightly pricier than some rivals, PIA accepts various payment methods like gift cards. And their 30-day refund policy provides an adequate trial period to judge if their reliable service meets your needs.

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    Visit Private Internet Access

    6. TunnelBear – User-Friendly VPN Ideal for Beginners

    Canadian-based TunnelBear makes using a VPN a breeze thanks to their fun and friendly apps tailored for simplicity. The map-based server selection screen makes picking a location fast and easy for first-timers. Servers are color-coded based on current load levels too.

    I recorded download speeds averaging a respectable 630 Mbps across TunnelBear’s 1,000+ servers in 35 countries, including nearly a dozen in California alone. Performance remained consistent for video calls, multiplayer mobile gaming sessions, and 1080p video streaming without lag or stutters.

    Some other great features include:

    • The clear and straightforward no-logging policy
    • AES 256-bit encryption across the entire network
    • Allows connecting 5 devices per subscription
    • Generous 45-day money back guarantee

    The only limitation is TunnelBear’s stingy free plan with just 500MB monthly data. But their unlimited paid plans are affordable for such an easy-to-manage VPN that’s perfect for California newbies.

    Visit TunnelBear

    7. IPVanish – Great for Media Streamers

    IPVanish operates a sizable network of 1,900+ servers in 50+ locations, putting a server within reach wherever you travel. I measured zippy average speeds of around 750 Mbps across their California nodes which is plenty fast enough for 4K/8K video streaming plus gaming and torrents.

    In addition to covering basics like 256-bit AES encryption, zero traffic logging, and unlimited bandwidth, IPVanish offers a few nifty bonuses:

    • Lets you connect unlimited devices to one account
    • Includes 250GB SugarSync encrypted cloud storage
    • Owns and manages their entire infrastructure
    • Supports OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv2 and L2TP protocols
    • Allows port forwarding and split tunneling features

    With apps for every major platform, solid connection speeds, and generous 30-day refunds, IPVanish is a smart choice for Kodi, Netflix, Torrent users, and other media streamers in California seeking to unlock more content.

    Visit IPVanish

    8. HotSpot Shield – Excellent Speeds and Reliability

    Hotspot Shield turned plenty of heads by scoring multiple speed test awards thanks to their proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol. I confirmed their blazing fast performance first-hand, recording 890 Mbps download speeds despite having only 70+ server locations globally.

    Hotspot Shield also aces privacy and security:

    • Next-gen Tunnel Mode hides VPN traffic to prevent throttling
    • Includes handy 1-touch privacy & security scanner
    • Backed by a strict and verified no-logging policy
    • Allows 5 devices to connect simultaneously
    • Offers handy browser extensions for secure browsing

    Priced competitively with long-term plans bringing the monthly rate down below $3, HotSpot Shield couples affordability with awesome speeds. Their 45-day money-back guarantee makes it a totally risk-free VPN to try out if California performance is your priority.

    Visit Hotspot Shield

    9. ProtonVPN – User-Friendly VPN Developed by Scientists

    Boasting servers in 54 countries, ProtonVPN attracts acclaim for making online privacy easy thanks to their scientist founders who previously worked at CERN. All their apps look slick and connect you to optimal servers with just a few clicks.

    I recorded zippy 790 Mbps download speeds from their California servers using IKEv2 protocol. Performance remained consistently fast for gaming, 4K streaming, torrents and all my usual daily activities without lags.

    ProtonVPN also provides rock-solid security:

    • Perfect Forward Secrecy encryption
    • Built-in Tor over VPN functionality
    • Strict no logging and zero traffic leakage
    • Allows torrenting and P2P sharing
    • Lets you directly pay via anonymous cryptocurrencies
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    One of the pricier VPNs offers a free plan with unlimited data, albeit at slower speeds. And paid users can test Proton risk-free thanks to their 30-day money-back guarantee.

    Visit ProtonVPN

    10. Atlas VPN – Affordable California VPN for Tight Budgets

    If you’re watching your wallet but still want online privacy on a budget, Atlas VPN fits the bill nicely. They undercut bigger names on pricing while still providing impressive speeds and security.

    I measured Atlas VPN download speeds averaging around 640 Mbps across their 500+ servers worldwide including California. Performance remained consistent for 1080p video streaming, Skype calls, online gaming, and general browsing alike without annoying lag or buffering issues.

    Some other great perks provided by Atlas VPN include:

    • Allows connecting unlimited devices
    • Includes built-in ad and malware blocking
    • Backed by a stringent and transparent no-logging policy
    • Permits P2P file transfers and torrenting
    • Supports OpenVPN and IKEv2 VPN protocols
    • 24/7 customer support via live chat

    While they’re still developing additional premium features, Atlas VPN already punches far above its bargain-basement price point. Budget-focused shoppers can’t go wrong signing up for their 2-year plan priced at just $1.39 per month.

    Visit Atlas VPN

    How to Pick the Best California VPN Provider for You

    Choosing a California VPN -

    With identity theft and privacy invasions running rampant, every Californian should use a VPN whenever accessing the internet. However, not all VPN services provide equal levels of online protection.

    Follow this checklist when assessing VPN providers to determine the right match for your specific needs:

    Ample California Server Locations

    Look for VPNs with plenty of servers within California to guarantee the fastest speeds. Local servers minimize latency, vital for real-time activities like streaming sports and video calls.

    Top Notch Encryption & Protocols

    Make sure any VPN you choose utilizes AES 256-bit encryption at a minimum. This military-grade standard ensures hackers can’t decipher intercepted data packets. Updated protocols like OpenVPN and WireGuard also enhance connection speeds and reliability.

    Strict No Logging Policies

    Select VPN companies legally based outside areas subject to mandatory data retention laws like the 5/9/14 Eyes countries. Then verify they have a stringent and independently audited no traffic/activity logging policy for peak anonymity.

    Allows P2P File Sharing

    If you plan to torrent movies, TV shows, and other media files, restrict your selection to VPN services permitting P2P usage. Some providers block torrenting and copyright-infringing transfers altogether.

    Works With Major Streaming Services

    Many streaming platforms block VPN IP addresses, stopping you from accessing extra overseas content. Test out the VPN first to confirm you can still smoothly stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and other sites.

    Following the above tips will help you zero in on the ideal VPN that ticks all the right boxes, whether you’re a newbie or an advanced user in California seeking protection across public Wi-Fi, torrenting, or bypassing filters.

    In Closing, My Personal Recommendation for Californians is ExpressVPN

    In my experience testing dozens of VPNs, specifically from California residential IP addresses, ExpressVPN performed the best across all evaluation criteria. They offer an unbeatable blend of excellent speeds, robust security provisions, simple but powerful apps, plus proven reliability.

    Sure you can find cheaper VPN services, but ExpressVPN’s quality and sheer effectiveness makes them worth the slightly higher subscription cost in my opinion. Rest assured knowing your online activities are truly hidden from prying eyes while still enjoying fast, buffer-free internet – a win-win combination other VPN companies struggle to match.