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Texans are denied adult sites — a good VPN is the answer

VPN hubImage: IDG

This March, in response to Texas’s age-verification law being upheld, the ultra-popular PornHub and numerous other adult sites operated by parent company Aylo went dark in the state. Replacing the NSFW videos you’d normally expect to see, a message decrying government overreach and proposed compromises has been posted.

It’s a similar chain of events to what happened last year when Utah enacted a law requiring websites to verify the ages of users.

Editor’s note: Updated May 2, 2024 with new information about Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case against governmental overreach.

Sam Singleton

And as with Utah, Texas’s actions prompted an increased interest in virtual private networks, or VPNs. Google searches for “VPN” immediately skyrocketed in Texas as folks looked to circumvent the ban. I checked Google Trends myself and, yep, Texas now shows 100 percent interest for “VPN.”

Sam Singleton

Now, to add further dismay to the NSFW crowd, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case in April brought by the Free Speech Coalition, a pornography industry trade group. The Coalition, as well as several other companies, petitioned the Court on the grounds of free speech. Unfortunately, the justices turned down the request, further cementing the government’s commitment to abstinence…whoops, I meant safety.

We might not be experts on law, but we sure know VPNs here at PCWorld! While we would never encourage circumventing any laws, if you’re a resident of Texas who just so happens to be looking for a VPN for totally legal reasons, here are some especially choice picks, culled from our roundup of the best VPN services.

Happy surfing, y’all! (But not too happy).

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPNRead our reviewPrice When Reviewed:$6.67 per monthBest Prices Today:$6.67 at ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is our best overall pick for VPNs and for good reason. You’ll get a ton of features for your money including wide-device support, ad- and tracker-blocking, and plenty of servers located both domestically and internationally to choose from.

It’s also one of the fastest VPNs we’ve ever tested, meaning you won’t have to downgrade your video quality to something that makes it look like the important bits were blurred on purpose—we’re talking about those fine special effect details in the latest Avatar: The Last Airbender series, of course.

NordVPN

NordVPN

NordVPNRead our reviewPrice When Reviewed:$3.49 per monthBest Prices Today:$3.49 at NordVPN

If you’re looking for a VPN that doesn’t log the sites you visit and provides fairly anonymous payment methods, NordVPN is a fine choice. It’s loaded with features and offers fast servers perfect for streaming videos. The one downside? While it only costs $4.19 per month if you commit to a two-year plan, it costs $12.99 monthly if you don’t want to sign up for a long term contract.

Mullvad

Mullvad

MullvadRead our reviewPrice When Reviewed:$5.37 per month

This might be a better option, however. Mullvad isn’t just in our top five VPNs for overall speeds, it more importantly earns top marks for privacy, taking seemingly every effort to know as little as possible about its users. From our roundup:

“We’ve never seen another VPN that actively resists knowing who you are the way Mullvad does. Mullvad doesn’t ask for your email address, name, or anything else. Instead it assigns a random account number that acts as your identifier and login. Mullvad accepts payments using standard methods such as credit cards and PayPal, but you can also mail your payment in cash to remain as private as possible. Mullvad has a no-logging policy and doesn’t collect any identifying metadata from your usage.”

Better yet, it costs just $5 per month regardless of the plan you choose.

Windscribe Pro

Windscribe Pro

Windscribe ProRead our reviewPrice When Reviewed:$9.00 per monthBest Prices Today:$9 at Windscribe

Windscribe VPN has a totally free-to-use version with 11 worldwide locations to choose from including a U.S. server conveniently located outside of Texas. It also offers up to 10GB of bandwidth per month, which should be enough to do your business, whatever that business may be.

The service is also extremely easy to use with a simple setup and solid performance for a free VPN. Plus, if you find that you like the service’s free version you can always upgrade to premium with more features to expand your, um, horizons outside of just the local content.

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