VPN or Virtual Private Networking is one of the most valuable services available to Internet users. VPNs allow anonymity when you need it. They protect your data while accessing public networks such as Wi-Fi hotspots and the Internet.
Do Your Research
Price isn’t the only factor you should consider when choosing a VPN.
Reliability: No one has time for their VPN to crash frequently. Consider the amount of uptime a service provides.
Privacy: The whole reason you have a VPN is for the privacy and security, so why risk a subpar service? Your service should secure your Internet connection, guaranteeing all your data is encrypted and ensures safety when using a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Support: What are your avenues if something goes wrong? What quality are the support options via email, chat, or phone? Encountering issues with your VPN provider can be a pain, but having access to solid support can make the experience much easier.
Speed: If your Internet moves as molasses, the VPN isn’t worth your time. The speed should meet or exceed what is needed for your regular Internet usage.
Price: The quality and the number of services should be equal to what you pay.
P2P: If using BitTorrent is your goal, consider if the VPN service allows for P2P downloading.
Software: It should be easy to use and have added features such as VPN kill switches and DNS leak protections.
ExpressVPN offers balance between services and cost. Offering an easy-to-use Windows and OSX client, ExpressVPN doesn’t keep logs and performance is the best. They have servers in 78 countries and promise high speeds. Adding to all this they offer Android and iOS apps, which secure your mobile devices while you, are on the go. More pros include 5-star 24/7-customer service, P2P, and a 30-day money back guarantee. Being based in the US, being a bit pricey, and keeping connection logs seem to be their only cons. As you’ll find with all subscription plans, the longer the subscription you purchase, the more you save. Because it’s billed as the best, expect to pay for the best at $99.95 USD for 12 months of service.
This Italian provider promises one of the best security and anti-censorship technology available. AirVPN has some of the strongest encryption offered, which is a huge pro. More pros include accepting Bitcoin, no logs whatsoever, 3 simultaneous connections, and even offer a 3-day free trial. Points to consider would be their lacking customer support, it has the lowest number of servers on this list, and that it is primarily aimed at the tech savvy user. Prices range from 1 Euro ($1.08 USD) for a three-day trial to 54 Euro (about $58.50 USD) for a one-year subscription.
PIA or Private Internet Access offers something different: anonymous gift cards as payment. On it’s homepage you’ll notice the option to “Pay anonymously with many major brand gift cards.” Someone gave you a gift card for Starbucks but you don’t drink coffee? Perfect! Use it to get 3 months of PIA. On their site they boast unlimited bandwidth, no traffic logs, and instant set up. A plus is 3145+ servers in 24 countries, P2P and VoIP support, and 5 devices simultaneously. The cons seem to be limited to requiring manual setup on mobile devices. When subscribing for 12 months, the cost per month drops to $3.33 USD a month, or $39.95 USD a year.
BolehVPN is off the shore of Malaysia, and is another top pick for the tech savvy users. Coined as “barebones,” it seems over the head of the layman. It does boast of keeping no logs and accepting Bitcoin. P2P is also a boon adding to great connections speeds and top-notch encryption. On their site they point out their servers in 13 countries over Europe and North America and note their Live-Chat customer service. Prices range from $9.99 USD for 30 days, to $79.99 USD for 365 days. The longer the subscription, the better the price falling as low as $0.21 USD per day.
SaferVPN is a good choice for the user with basic knowledge of VPNs. With 150+ servers in 24+ locations, it is the smallest network on the list, but has redeeming qualities. All their plans include unlimited speed and bandwidth, apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android. They offer a no-questions-asked 14-day money back guarantee and 24/7 online tech support. While there is P2P, it is only on NL server, with only 3 simultaneous connections available on the Premium plan. Some connection logs are kept, also. The “Premium” subscription is available at $86.28 USD annually. They do offer a “Small Business” option, which ups the simultaneous connections to 7 at a time, which runs $191.88 USD a year.
Why You Need a VPN
VPNs encrypt your connection between your computer and the Internet. This means your ISP (internet service provider) and other entities cannot access your data. This does not mean that the VPN cannot view your activity, but choosing the right one may mean the VPN service does not keep logs of its client’s activity and has good OpenVPN encryption. When using a Wi-Fi hotspot you put yourself and your data in danger. Most public hotspots have little to no encryption for connections. This allows Wi-Fi packet snooping. VPNs encrypt all data leaving and entering your device.
VPNs are great to avoid censorship, allowing you to connect to a server located where censorship is little to none. Keep in mind that your workplace or school might not appreciate your use of a VPN. They are also wonderful for P2P or BitTorrent—VPNs only reveal the IP address of the current server connection. This prevents you from having to defend something that you might or might not have done.
Even if you don’t see your specific need listed, you likely have a mix of needs that a VPN fulfills. It’s all a matter of protecting yourself at home or away while using the Internet.