Never put off the work till tomorrow what you can put off today.

9 of the best website builders for crafting an eye-catching internet presence — 06/19/2018

9 of the best website builders for crafting an eye-catching internet presence

Everyone’s got a brand to promote these days, even if that brand is just a showcase of blogged thoughts or a portfolio of various talents. And if you’ve got a business — no matter how big or small — you’ll definitely need a strong and compelling website to stand out from the crowd. 

So whether you’re just launching a business, setting up an online store, or sharing a message to help others, having a website is the easiest way to get it all out to the masses. After all, it’s your first introduction to potential customers and clients, so it’s vitally important to consider what your online presence is going to look like. Simply put, a website builder is the perfect tool for freelancers, start-ups, and more established firms alike. (And if you’re on a budget, you should check out our list of the best cheap web hosting services, too.)

That said, some site builder options are more friendly to beginners than others. For example, Squarespace is a popular website builder with tons of awesome templates that you can use to create a beautiful website with professional results (even if you don’t know your CSS from your HTML). On the other hand, a web builder like Weebly will give you a lot more freedom to play around with coding. So, though there are a lot of options for website builders out there, you’ll want to take some things into consideration before you can choose the best one for you. Fortunately, we’re here to show you the ropes, so let’s jump into the basics.

Why do you actually need a website?

It’s important to consider why you want an online presence before purchasing a website builder plan. Is it just to double-up as a form of online business card? Or, do you need advanced features, like e-commerce tools or a contact form, to keep you linked with consumers? Or, maybe you’re not running a business at all, and need to create an aesthetically pleasing portfolio of your work, or a more personal blog to keep people informed. The ultimate goal of your website is something that must be considered before you spend a single dime. You don’t want to invest in a website builder that might not be the right fit for your needs, or provides far more than you need when a free or low-cost plan option would suffice.

What should a good site builder cost?

There’s a common misconception that developing a website takes hundreds of hours or the work of a team of professionals. Back in the olden days of the internet, it’s true that you had to be a little bit of a tech wizard (or dole out the cash to hire one) in order to have your own website. But, today’s website builders don’t require you to know about HTML, FTP, servers, or even web hosting in order to create a robust home for yourself on the web. They offer plenty of resources to help you create an attention-grabbing site, even if you have zero web design experience. That said, you should expect this convenience to cost you a bit of coin depending on the services you need. 

Big companies can dole out thousands of bucks for custom sites, but small businesses or organizations should do just fine with a website builder in the realm of about $10 to $25 per month. If you need some extensive features, like extra storage or bandwidth, or you’re running an e-commerce operation, that cost may bump up closer to about $40 per month. 

If those prices are not in your budget, however, it’s totally possible to find a free website builder that’ll get the job done with great results. Just keep in mind that the website building provider’s logo and other ads will be prominent on your site, which could make it look a little less impressive. A free website builder is also likely to be limited in bandwidth and storage which could very well limit what you want to do with your site. In these cases, it’s best to carefully read the fine print to see just how generous the website builder is with its no-cost plan.

What can you expect a good website builder to provide?

All website builders will give you a web address with their domain (something like, but a custom domain name will cost you extra. Most paid plans will provide this for free for the first year, however. Many will also provide a free SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate to ensure your visitors that your site is safe to browse, and 24/7 customer service to guide you along and make sure your site is up and running at all times.

That said, you’ll also want to pay attention to how much storage your site builder plan includes, as you’ll need a good amount to host big files, like videos or photos showcasing your products or portfolio. Also, note how much bandwidth a plan offers to make sure it can handle your site’s expected traffic.

Most, if not all website builders offer a ton of pre-built website templates to get your site started, and some even designate which templates may best suit different needs, such as e-commerce, portfolios, or even restaurants. Many site builders also utilize a simple drag-and-drop interface that lets you place everything pretty much where you want it, along with the ability to tweak stuff like color schemes, fonts, and more to fit your personal brand. Some, but not all site builders will allow for varying levels of HTML or CSS coding on the backend to tweak things even further if that’s something you have knowledge of and want to dig into. You should also expect a good website builder to provide stock photos that you can use to make your website look better.

If your site acts as an online shop, make sure you choose a website builder or an advanced plan that is equipped with the e-commerce services and features you need to operate properly. Think cart and checkout pages, credit card processing, and services like email marketing, inventory, and shipping tools to make your business better and your life easier. If your site is primarily blog-based, on the other hand, consider a website builder that caters to easy WordPress integration.

Some site builders will optimize the way your website looks on mobile devices, but a few are much better at this than others (we’ve noted them in our roundup below). Also keep in mind that no matter which website builder you choose, it will likely be quite difficult to switch to another website builder or web host in the future. So it’s pretty crucial to make the right pick from the start, while carefully considering your website or business’ potential growth over several year’s time.

Because your website’s needs may vary, we’ve narrowed down the best website builders for many different situations. From budget-friendly options and minimalist sites to e-commerce picks and hands-on choices for coders, there’s sure to be the perfect web builder for you below. (We’ve also answered a bunch more of your website building questions at the bottom of this roundup, so be sure to scroll all the way down to learn about web hosts vs. website builders, picking the right templates, SEO, and more.)

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1597614%252ff6d138e1 fced 4d26 9eab de44e550bc99.png%252f480x0.png?signature=77sagjskb0iccnl emniqlsvrzu=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: squarespace

The Good

Attractive, flexible templates • Easy export to WordPress • 24/7 customer support

The Bad

Possibly intimidating for newbies • Comparatively pricey

The Bottom Line

Squarespace offers design flexibility that makes it popular with both newbies and experts, but it’s not the cheapest option on the market.


A popular choice of site builder thanks to its superior, aesthetically pleasing templates and flexible customization.

  • Personal:
  • Business:
  • Basic Commerce:
  • Advanced Commerce:
A well-established name in the website building business, Squarespace is basically the gold standard for a drag-and-drop site builder that’s approachable for all users. They offer noticeably better templates than their competitors (albeit fewer in number) but, regardless of whether or not you have coding experience, it’s possible to tweak and edit how they look so you’re not stuck with a cookie-cutter result. You also have the ability to easily change templates to switch things up, and you’ll get a free custom domain for a year, SSL security, unlimited bandwidth, and unlimited storage. Squarespace also goes the extra mile when it comes to SEO with options for maximizing search performance, as well as tracking your site’s performance via its own analytics dashboard. 

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1597616%252f718a1b3e 9058 4126 844e b943e60198a6.png%252f480x0.png?signature=k4mbkttk d8q08m jw7y0wux me=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: wix

The Good

Mobile editor • AI site builder • Free option

The Bad

Inflexible templates • No direct editing

The Bottom Line

Wix’s many templates, features, and mobile options are straightforward and easy to use, but the inability to switch up a site’s design could cause frustration.


A user-friendly choice with just enough customization options to satisfy (but not overwhelm) beginners.

  • Basic:
    Free (with ads)
  • Combo :
  • Unlimited:
  • Pro:
  • VIP:
Wix offers a mind-boggling array of different templates (we’re talking more than 500) aimed at every taste and industry possible, and its ad-based free option can’t be beat when it comes to tight budgets. You can effectively get a site up and running in under an hour, thanks to its incredibly user-friendly drag-and-drop website builder, or its artificial design intelligence feature which builds your site for you. There’s even a mobile editor that enables you to create a separate site optimized for mobile users, ensuring that your business won’t lose customers while people are browsing on-the-go. The only downside is that you can’t switch your website template at a later date without adding and customizing all your content again from scratch, and customization options may not be as extensive as users with some HTML or CSS coding will want. 

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1597626%252fe2eb1e8c 7b3e 4001 ae73 595f17037337.png%252f480x0.png?signature=7nclzxqjpc xnfs32bh6f irx w=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: godaddy

The Good

Easy-to-use interface • Lots of templates • Free option

The Bad

Limited mobile functionality • Inflexible templates • No code editing

The Bottom Line

GoDaddy is ideal for those who simply want an online presence — fast — without a lot of intimidating options.


A simple drag-and-drop website builder without a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles.

  • Basic:
  • Standard:
  • Premium:
  • Ecommerce:
A prominent name in the web hosting realm, GoDaddy also has its own website builder service that’s quite intuitive and ideal for speedy startups. They provide hundreds of professional-looking, ready-to-launch templates (including some guidance as to which themes would work best for certain purposes) alongside a fully drag-and-drop user interface that allows for easy insertion of images, slideshows, contact forms and whatever else you need in just seconds. Multiple backup points can be set up so there’s never any fear of losing valuable content along the way, but don’t expect to be able to do any code editing or change your website template without starting from scratch. On the plus side, you can start your start for free and keep it free forever, or upgrade to a paid plan if you need more features.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1597634%252fe09d5cc1 d779 4b34 9d89 a5ad43bb40c0.png%252f480x0.png?signature=q0qtfssutyiggl3lynhbqnsr0aa=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: IONOS

The Good

Fast basic setup • HTML and CSS customization available

The Bad
The Bottom Line

If you’re mainly looking for a landing page to share simple details about your business, IONOS could be the way to go.

IONOS by 1&1

A solid choice if you’re just looking for an online business card that can get set up super-quick.

  • MyWebsite Now:
  • MyWebsite Creator:
  • MyWebsite Online Store:
With a speedy setup process, IONOS ensures that you can at least get a simple, yet professional landing page up and running right out of the box. They utilize a drag-and-drop interface with pre-set styles to make it easy for anyone to adapt their many templates as needed. If you step up to the next tier in their trio of plans, you’ll also have the option of customizing things further with HTML or CSS, if you please. No matter which plan you choose, however, you’ll get your first month free, along with a free domain for a year and a free SSL certificate.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1597653%252fd7ed97f7 de28 4c09 9e8f da93869e6545.png%252f480x0.png?signature=9n4lwz 1oovpjadiazshzm0lnpo=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: shopify

The Good

Specially made for e-commerce • Lots of plug-ins • 24/7 support

The Bad

Costly transaction fees • Not coder-friendly

The Bottom Line

Shopify will help you minimize the hassle of running an e-commerce site, but be prepared to pay handsomely for that convenience.


The clear leader for setting up online shops, but it’s pricier than a regular website builder and has more of a learning curve, too.

  • Basic Shopify:
  • Standard Shopify:
  • Advanced Shopify:
If your main purpose for an online presence is to have an online store, then Shopify is hands down your best bet as they’ll get you set up with professional designs that ensure your products will appeal to prospective buyers. Where Shopify differs from the rest of the website building pack is its extensive array of apps that can be plugged into your store including accounting, customer service, inventory management, marketing, and basically every other feature necessary for running a successful online shop. However, it can be trickier to code and customize as it uses its own coding language, and costs can rack up quickly as each Shopify transaction incurs a relatively high fee.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1597741%252f9579a86d f17d 4ecf 906a 01541803860a.png%252f480x0.png?signature=irrd03epy558mrsxr7dko1 4iya=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: weebly

The Good

Easy to switch themes • HTML and CSS customization • Free option

The Bad

No mobile customization

The Bottom Line

If you’re keen to design your own site and know how to code (but also want a little helping hand along the way), Weebly covers all the right bases.


With the convenience of templates and the flexibility to code, this is an ideal option for users who know exactly what they want.

  • Basic:
    Free (with ads)
  • Personal:
  • Professional:
  • Performance:
Weebly is a kind of middle ground for those who want to code and design their site, blog, or online store, but also want the flexibility and convenience of pre-built website templates and simple tools. Possibly their biggest plus is that, unlike other services, you can easily switch between themes and even download the site’s code as standard HTML/CSS for future reference. The drag-and-drop interface is a bit limited, however, and you can make customizations specifically for mobile sites. But, even with the free basic plan, you’ll be backed by free SSL security for safe browsing, a slew of free e-commerce tools, and no limit on the number of items you can sell on your site.


Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1597744%252fd6c8bd4d 78c4 42e0 87b6 80e7265e3aa1.png%252f480x0.png?signature=00nkrq y5olqz0 59md0cesjlru=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: strikingly

The Good

Easy to use • Free option

The Bad

Bare bones features • Not really scalable

The Bottom Line

If all you need is an eye-catching landing page to get the word out about your biz, Strikingly is an excellent choice.


The perfect choice for creating a one-page site that’s fast, easy, and aesthetically pleasing.

  • Limited:
    as low as $7/month
  • Pro:
    as low as $11.20/month
  • VIP:
    as low as $34.40/month
Strikingly is a website builder that realizes not all sites need to be made of multiple pages. It’s perfect for creating a simple, one-page portfolio or a catchy landing page for a small business, either of which can easily look fantastic with absolutely no coding or design skills required. When it comes to plans, the free one is free forever and gives you unlimited sites, but you’ll only get 5 GB of monthly bandwidth and 500 MB of storage, and you can only sell one product per site. You’ll get a little more with a paid plan, but you’ll have to sign on to longer terms to score the best price.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1597746%252f97952766 ae02 4563 81c7 e6abfa203d62.png%252f480x0.png?signature=zdjt3fmcueqqvatg6awiuwzsczu=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: duda

The Good

No transaction fees for shops • Unlimited bandwidth and storage • Coding customization

The Bad

Can’t change template

The Bottom Line

Duda offers all the features you need for a robust, mobile-friendly site, including e-commerce.


Highly capable and user-friendly, it’s a great choice for online shops that crave mobile optimization.

  • Basic:
  • Team:
  • Agency:
Duda could have been just another website builder, but it really shines when it comes to the speed and ease of creating a really attractive site from one of their nearly 100 business, portfolio, and restaurant templates. Even better, before you choose your design, you can see how each website template will look on desktop, smartphone, and tablet screens all at once. This is especially good since you can’t change templates later, though you can tweak your design to be optimized on mobile. They also offer way more site traffic statistics than most of their competitors.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1597759%252f2e8a426c d8f4 4940 95db df60efe65a5f.png%252f480x0.png?signature=1h5mmhbp6ersdp1in1pxfxo5dh8=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: voog

The Good

Multilingual capabilities • Easy e-commerce tools • Great for bloggers

The Bad

Limited pay options for shops • Must provide translations

The Bottom Line

If you’re going global, Voog offers great reach for newbie users and experienced developers alike.


A great service with language detection ideal for global businesses.

  • Standard:
    about $9.65/month
  • Plus:
    about $15.69/month
  • Premium:
    about $47.97/month
Many sites have multilingual support, but Voog offers the best package for start-ups and entrepreneurs who need to speak to a global market by automatically detecting the language from the visitor’s location. Typical of other website builders, it has a simple-to-use editor with drag and drop elements that make it easy to get started, and layouts can be tweaked to a certain extent so that sites have a more unique look. E-commerce features are also simple to implement with a great degree of flexibility, although there are limitations to PayPal and MakeCommerce when it comes to payment. Though visitors can choose their language, you will need to provide the translated copy yourself as there’s no automation for that here (not that such services are particularly accurate anyhow). 

What’s the difference between a web host and a website builder?

A web host provides its customers with space on a server to store their data and website information, essentially giving it the means to reach the public. Think of it as purchasing a plot of land, and your website is the house that will be built there for everyone to visit. Simply put, you must have a piece of this “land” on the web to have a functional website, and your domain name is the address you share to help people find your “house.”

A website builder, on the other hand, is a software tool that helps a user design and actually create their website from a visual standpoint. In the homebuilding metaphor, this can be equated to the array of construction materials needed to build a house, like wood and nails. Of course, you could build your home on the web with just your bare hands if you know your way around coding. However, it’s much easier to design your own website when you get a leg up from a construction crew (a.k.a. online website builders) in the form of pre-made website templates and easy drag-and-drop functions. You can think of them kind of like contractors: you get a say in how you want things to look and where you want them to go, but you don’t need to get your hands too dirty with all the confusing coding language on the backend.

When choosing the right website builder for you, your options can seem a little confusing because the line between web host and site builder gets a little muddied. Many web hosting services offer an integrated site builder to make it easier to get all your website-building tasks done in one place. And most, if not all, website builders will simply host your site on their servers as part of their whole package (even if you never encounter the words “web host” in the process — it’s sort of an unspoken thing). 

How can you use a site builder to create a website fit for your visitors?

Remember to put yourself into the shoes of someone who knows nothing about what your company does. Your site should be less about what you are and more about how you can help someone get what they need. 

A good website builder should offer you plenty of templates catered to your site’s needs. If you’re creating an online store, go with a template that shows your products up front. They’re the star of the show, after all, so potential customers shouldn’t have to dig to find them. If you offer a service, on the other hand, make sure your template has space to put customer testimonials on view to encourage trust and community. Furthermore, you may just need a minimalist landing page to act as a virtual business card for your company. A simple website builder template is ideal here for displaying your contact info, business hours, and other personal details front and center.

A great website should also be easy to navigate, with text distilled down to its most basic and direct form. When communicating on the web, shorter is definitely better. 

We’re also a highly visual species, so the value of good photos and art cannot be overstated. If your budget doesn’t allow you to hire a photographer and shoot custom photos for your site, then don’t fret! A great website builder will include a database of royalty-free stock photos that you can use to spice up your site and make it incredibly appealing to visitors.

What about SEO and landing high in web searches?

Having a website is one thing. Making sure people can find it across various search engines is another thing. 

It’s no secret that Google basically runs the show in the land of search engines, so do some work to find out how people are searching for the type of content or services you offer. Then make sure those keywords show up prominently on your site and are also built into your site’s metadata. Mastering a few key search engine optimization tips will take you surprisingly far when it comes to driving up your site’s viewership, and many website builders include some built-in SEO tools to give you a leg up.

It’s also a good idea to create service-oriented content that speaks to your expertise. If you’re a dog walker looking to use your site to find new clients, for example, consider adding a blog section to your site to offer dog training tips and advice. This fosters a greater connection between you and your customers, and offers them greater service. When it comes down to it, this is all about creating opportunities to showcase that you are the ideal person for the job, and your website makes the very first impression in that process.

Best VPNs for Kodi: How to safely stream TV and movies from anywhere — 06/05/2018

Best VPNs for Kodi: How to safely stream TV and movies from anywhere

We need to talk about Kodi

No, not the younger member of the mischievous twin duo that lived a Suite life in the Tipton Hotel. (That’s Cody Martin.) Not the wide-eyed, goateed patriarch of the polygamist family on TLC’s Sister Wives, either. (That’s Kody Brown.) Not even the 19th-century cowpoke-slash-bison hunter who became an icon of the American West under the moniker “Buffalo Bill.” (That’s William Frederick Cody.) 

Nope — the Kodi in question isn’t a person at all, but a free, open-source media player that lets you manage and stream your locally stored music and videos on almost any device (no separate streaming subscription required). And if you’re not using it with a virtual private network, or VPN… well, you probably should be.

Kodi 101: Your one-stop entertainment shop

Formerly known as the Xbox Media Center (XBMC), Kodi was introduced in 2002 as a media player for the very first Xbox console and renamed in 2014 when a nonprofit called the XBMC Foundation took over its operations. It’s since been made available as a cross-platform app for macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, Linux, and even Raspberry Pi, serving an all-in-one entertainment hub that makes all of the files in one’s existing media collection available on different devices.

One of the reasons why Kodi has enjoyed such longevity is because its volunteer developers (“Team Kodi“) have created a huge repository of add-ons (“repo”) with which users can customize their Kodi experiences. It describes this catalog as being “like an ‘App Store’ for Kodi” where you can download all sorts of different plugins, scripts, and themes to tweak the way your Kodi interface looks and works — and best of all, everything is free. Cool, right?

Kodi’s long-term popularity can also be credited to the fact that it supports third-party add-ons in addition to Team Kodi’s official repo. In other words, anyone with a little coding experience can use the Kodi framework to write and publish their own add-ons for other users to install and use. 

Kodi itself is totally legal to use, FYI, but it’s often associated with piracy due to the fact that some of these unsanctioned, unofficial add-ons let users illegally stream movies, music, TV shows, and other copyrighted content. As a result, platforms like Amazon, ebay, and Facebook have banned the sale of “Kodi boxes,” which are modified devices (often Fire TV Sticks) that come pre-installed with the Kodi app. (Note: Team Kodi itself doesn’t condone piracy — and neither do we, for that matter.) 

Why should you use a VPN with Kodi?

For the uninitiated, a VPN is a service that redirects your internet connection through its own private servers to create a secure network over a public one — a technology that both masks your internet protocol (IP) address, which hides your IRL location, and encrypts your data to keep you anonymous online. (Here’s a more detailed explainer, if you’re interested.)

Kodi itself is totally legal to use, but it’s often associated with piracy.

Using a VPN is crucial if you frequently use public WiFi, dabble in torrenting, need access geo-blocked content in countries like China (where the internet is heavily censored), or simply want protection from the prying eyes of your Internet Service Provider (ISP). 

As far as Kodi is concerned, you probably don’t need to run a VPN if you’re using the software for its intended purpose (i.e., as a media management tool) and steering clear of unofficial add-ons that use your network connection. But let’s face it: Some of the best add-ons for Kodi have been made by third-party developers, and Kodi’s official repo is rather limited, so you’re bound to use one at some point. When that time comes, a VPN can hide your traffic from your ISP — many will throttle your bandwidth if they catch you using Kodi — and help you overcome geo-restrictions on add-ons that are unavailable (or censored) in certain areas.

It’s worth mentioning that while a VPN will protect you from snoopers and spies, it won’t flag phishing sites or malware that’s disguised as a third-party Kodi add-on. To protect yourself against those kinds of threats, you should avoid add-ons with poor reviews, stay away from Kodi boxes (especially “fully loaded” ones), and consider either running an antivirus on Kodi-equipped devices or sandboxing the app away from other programs. 

Is there a VPN add-on for Kodi?

Kodi’s official repo does not include any VPN add-ons, so you need to boot up a separate VPN on any device that runs the app — ideally, one that doesn’t do a number on your connection speed while still offering enough security features to keep you protected. (One provider has made its own third-party add-on for Kodi, but we’ll get to that later.) 

We’re partial to VPNs in privacy-friendly countries that maintain verified no-logs policies; decent-sized server networks to avoid geo-blocking; and intuitive, easy-to-use apps — Kodi’s learning curve is pretty steep as it is, so it’s best to avoid mucking around with a clunky VPN interface.

What’s the best VPN for Kodi?

After poring over expert and customer reviews, here are the six VPN providers we think you’ll like best for your Kodi devices:

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1626739%252f2f15fb80 0dcb 4262 8fc1 04f35dc02fef.png%252f480x0.png?signature=qmqvzulx8ztfo6vb8dv8zr8tvd0=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: expressvpn

The Good

Kill switch • Great support resources • Split tunneling • Torrenting allowed on all servers • 30-day money-back guarantee • No-logging policy • Supports up to five simultaneous connections • Over 3,000 servers in 94 countries • Based in the BVI • Accepts Bitcoin

The Bad

Expensive • No ad blocker

The Bottom Line

You get what you pay for — and in this case, you’re getting best-in-class protection for your Kodi-enabled devices.


It’s the priciest VPN on this list, but its top-notch security, premier support, and reliable, speedy servers are worth every single penny.

  • Monthly plan:
  • Six-month plan:
    $9.99/month (billed $59.95 every six months)
  • 12-month plan:
    $6.67/month (billed $99.95 every 12 months) + 3 months free for your first year
ExpressVPN is our favorite VPN for torrenting, Windows 10 systems, Macs, staying logless, and accessing geo-blocked content in China — and in what should be a shock to literally no one, it was a shoo-in for the top spot on this list, too. 
Out of all the features offered by ExpressVPN, we especially like its advanced “split tunneling” tool, which gives you the option of sending only some of your device traffic through the VPN’s private servers. (Logically speaking, this would be the traffic you want to protect the most — i.e., your Kodi traffic.) The rest of your web traffic is then routed through your local network to prevent bottlenecks that might otherwise clog up your bandwidth.
If you’re worried that ExpressVPN might log your activity while you’re connected to its servers, don’t be: It proudly stands by (recently audited) no-logging policy, which is bolstered by the fact that it’s based in the British Virgin Islands, where there are no data retention laws. And as far as security features go, ExpressVPN users also have access to military-grade 256-bit encryption and a “Network Lock” kill switch that protects your data in case the VPN connection drops.
Available apps: Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, Chrome OS, Kindle Fire, Playstation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Apple TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, Nvidia Shield, and routers, plus browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1058463%252f0d431e02 aa57 4518 a0b1 000eeec4989a.png%252f480x0.png?signature=on0tzfnyionx4mw85kqru9p7mvc=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: nordvpn

The Good

30-day money-back guarantee • No-logging policy • Kill switch • Dedicated IP addresses available • Ad blocker • Unlimited bandwidth • Up to 6 simultaneous connections • 5,300+ servers across almost 60 countries • Based in Panama • Accepts cryptocurrency

The Bad

“Onion over VPN” feature can take a toll on speeds • Split tunneling only available for Android and Windows • Can get expensive with add-ons

The Bottom Line

This one’s got a huge toolset of security features with a bonus ad blocker to boot.


With options for double encryption and Onion over VPN, this heavyweight VPN provider doesn’t skimp in the security department.

  • Monthly plan:
  • One-year plan:
    $5.75/month (billed $69 for your first year)
  • Two-year plan:
    $4.13/month (billed $99 for your first two years)
Slick and super easy to set up, NordVPN is widely considered to be one of the most robust VPNs for the Kodi platform security-wise, offering its users a sizable roster of privacy features that includes double encryption, a kill switch, DNS leak protection, dedicated IPs ($5/month), and cloud storage (also $5/month). Plus, every plan comes with a built-in ad blocker that gets rid of annoying pop-ups while protecting you from malware.
Oh, and this is all on top of a verified zero-logs policy and a Panama headquarters — that’s another country without data retention laws.
If you feel comfortable noodling around with your VPN’s settings, you can also take advantage of a premium security tool that NordVPN calls “Onion over VPN,” which routes your traffic through the Onion network to make it even more difficult to track. If you’re running Kodi somewhere with iron-fisted censorship laws, this feature will come in clutch — but bear in mind that it’s likely to decrease your connection speed.
Available apps: Android, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android TV, Linux, and Raspberry Pi, plus browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.
Note: NordVPN suffered a minor security breach in March 2018 when a hacker exploited an insecure remote management system at a Finnish data center where the company was renting servers. However, we still think it’s a strong contender in the VPN space. Click here to learn more.
Click here to read Mashable’s in-depth review of NordVPN.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1058465%252fe3970eb0 855f 4486 b4a8 7c8ba2c76021.png%252f480x0.png?signature=azymx55vs6ynsj0ebmy5bharyqw=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: ivacy vpn

The Good

Kodi add-on available for OpenAELEC devices • 1-day trial for free, 7-day trial for 99 cents • 30-day money-back guarantee • Add-ons (dedicated IP, port forwarding) are inexpensive) • Split tunneling • 24/7 support • Up to 10 simultaneous connections • 3,600+ servers in 77 countries • Plans include 2TB of secure cloud storage • Accepts Bitcoin

The Bad

On the slow side • No-logs policy hasn’t been verified by a third-party audit • Based in Singapore (iffy on censorship)

The Bottom Line

An affordable VPN with its own Kodi add-on.

Ivacy VPN

Super cheap with a long-term plan, Ivacy is the rare VPN provider that maintains its own Kodi add-on.

  • Monthly plan:
  • One-year plan:
    $3.66/month (billed $44 every year)
  • Two-year plan:
    $2.45/month (billed $59 every two year) + 2TB of free cloud storage space
When you’re using Kodi, you should be most concerned about missing an episode of your favorite TV show, not how you’re going to afford your VPN subscription. Enter: Ivacy VPN, a well-established provider founded way back in 2007 that charges as little as $2.45 a month, depending on the plan. (Note: At the time of writing, you’d get a whopping 2TB of secure cloud storage for free with a two-year subscription — that’s an incredible deal.)
Out of all the things Ivacy has to offer, we’re probably most impressed by the fact that it has its own Kodi add-on for devices that support the OpenELEC (“Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center”) operating system. As far as we can tell, it’s the only VPN provider that offers its own add-on on any platform. 
An Ivacy subscription also gets you access to its entire suite of features, which includes 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, DDoS protection, and split tunneling. Moreover, you add an additional port forwarding tool or a dedicated IP address to your plan for just $1 or $1.99 a month, respectively. (For comparison’s sake, NordVPN charges $5 a month for dedicated IPs.)
Available apps: Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Android TV, Xbox, Playstation, Huawei, and routers, plus browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1059799%252fb21b5359 ad5d 4595 9ae6 2a89f6b40022.png%252f480x0.png?signature=36zkzwh2pa8g6k9ewawpwol4dvy=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: surfshark

The Good

30-day money-back guarantee • All servers are P2P-friendly • No-logging policy • Split tunneling • Over 3,200 servers in 65 countries • Security infrastructure has passed a third-party audit • Affordable upgrades (data breach detection and private search mode) • Based in the BVI • Accepts cryptocurrency

The Bad

No dedicated IPs • Still too new to completely trust • Kill switch only available for Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS

The Bottom Line

A newer VPN that’s showing a ton of promise.


Ideal for families (or people with a whole fleet of Kodi devices that need protecting), this up-and-coming VPN is already quite well-rounded.

  • Monthly plan:
  • Six-month plan:
    $6.49/month (billed $38.94 every six months)
  • 24-month plan:
    $2.49/month with code surfsharkdeal (billed $59.76 upfront, then annually after the first 24 months)
It’s only three years old, but the British Virgin Islands-based Surfshark is already an industry standout as one of the only full-featured VPNs with unlimited connections on a wide range of devices.
One thing we love about Surfshark is that its blog is filled with tons of thoughtful support resources and tutorials, including a detailed article on how to use its service with Kodi. Once you’ve got it installed, you can take advantage of handy security features like split tunneling, DNS and leak protection, an ad blocker, and 256-bit encryption. 
For even more protection, you can add two additional privacy tools to your Surfshark plan — one that’ll alert you if your email address leaks, and another that lets you conduct ad-free internet searches anonymously — for just 99 cents a month.
Available apps: macOS, iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, Roku, Chromecast, Nvidia Shield, Xbox, Playstation, and Trust DNS, plus browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1058469%252f53808867 35bb 4a0c 8006 2bcf7ca97031.png%252f480x0.png?signature=yhlbm61hd6fbuhbdlrkkv44qb6m=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: CyberGhost vpn

The Good

One-day free trial (hey, it’s better than nothing) • Supports up to seven simultaneous connections • 45-day money-back guarantee on long-term plans • Kill switch • Dedicated IP and password manager available as add-ons • 24/7 live customer support • Based in Romania • 7,500+ servers in 91 countries • Accepts Bitcoin

The Bad

No split tunneling on Mac or iOS apps • No-logs policy hasn’t been verified by a third-party audit

The Bottom Line

A user-friendly VPN with excellent support resources.

CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost makes it easy to navigate the world of VPNs with a top-rated support team and a user-friendly interface.

  • Monthly plan:
  • One-year plan:
    $3.99/month (billed $47.88 every year)
  • Two-year plan:
    $3.49/month (billed $83.76 every two years)
  • Three-year plan:
    $2.25/month (billed $87.75 every three years) + 3 months free
Technology is hard — and if you’re (rightfully) intimidated by the idea of setting up and running a VPN with Kodi, CyberGhost VPN is your best option. Its app sports a clean, simple interface and uses easy-to-understand terminology. Plus, connecting to one of its servers is as simple as pushing a single button; it doesn’t make you endure some complicated rigamarole to make sure your connection is properly protected. 
If you *do* happen to run across any issues with CyberGhost, don’t fret: It offers a friendly, fleshed-out support website and keeps its in-house customer service team on hand 24/7. (Fun fact: It currently boasts the highest TrustPilot score of any VPN provider on the market — NBD.)
CyberGhost is on par with other VPNs on this list in the security department, offering a kill switch, 256-bit encryption, and DNS and IP leak protection. (You can also add a dedicated IP address to your plan for an extra $3.75 a month.) Its server network, however, is in a league of its own with more than 7,500 servers across 91 countries — and many of them are specially optimized for torrenting.
Available apps: Windows, Android macOS, iOS, Linux, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Android TV, and routers, plus browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox.

Uploads%252fcard%252fimage%252f1058461%252f4d5e5e59 1bfa 45aa bd27 e3778a722bcf.png%252f480x0.png?signature=wntjlpxvhas ijbpp2wc n6wlni=&source=https%3a%2f%2fblueprint api production.s3.amazonaws

Image: IPvanish

The Good

30-day money-back guarantee with annual plan • 24/7 live support • P2P friendly • Unlimited simultaneous connections

The Bad

Based in the United States (a Five Eyes country) • Split tunneling only available for Android and FireOS • Kill switch only available for macOS, Windows, and Android • No-logs policy hasn’t been verified by a third-party audit • Doesn’t accept cryptocurrency • Small server network (1,600+ servers in 75+ countries)

The Bottom Line

A good pick for casual Kodi users that doesn’t make you mess around with tons of settings.


It’s nothing special, but this super-simple VPN with ultra-affordable annual plans does what it needs to do well.

  • Monthly plan (just VPN):
    $3.49 for your first month, then $9.99/month
  • Monthly plan (VPN + storage):
    $3.84 for your first month, then $10.99/month
  • Annual plan (just VPN):
    $31.49 for your first year, then $89.99/year
  • Annual plan (VPN + storage):
    $34.99 for your first year, then $99.99/year
Kodi can be pretty convoluted in its own right, so a bare-bones VPN might be the move if you’re eager to get your movie night started without a hitch. Among the better minimalist options out there is IPVanish, a 9-year-old provider with excellent customer service, unlimited simultaneous connections, and subscriptions that bundle 500GB of data with your VPN. (Its annual plans are an amazing deal, by the way — all of the other providers on this list with yearlong offerings charge anywhere from $12 to $37 more.)
While it doesn’t offer a whole lot in the realm of security features — the ones it does have are limited to certain platforms —  IPVanish’s lightweight, bare-bones interface with drop-down menus and country flags takes any sort of hassle out of booting up your connection. (And a small-ish network is offset by decent global diversity spanning more than 75 countries.)
Available apps: Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, Linux, Chrome OS, and routers.
Click here to read Mashable’s in-depth review of IPVanish.

Editor’s Note: IPVanish is owned by J2 Global, the parent company of Ziff Davis, Mashable’s publisher. Any J2 products featured on Mashable are covered independently by our content team.