How to Choose a VPN: Everything You Need to Know

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So, you’re searching for a VPN service? That’s a brilliant idea, as these tools offer a plethora of advantages, ranging from IP address masking and bank-grade encryption. Nonetheless, you may have seen that there are tons of VPN services to choose from, making it difficult to find the right one for your specific needs.

The industry has gone through rapid growth in the past several years, and the competition has become fierce with new options popping up almost every day. Yet, you shouldn’t fear even with all these options. We have covered everything you need to know to ensure you enlist in the right VPN service. Continue reading to find out more.

Why Use a VPN? 

A VPN (or Virtual Private Network) consists of a piece of software (or hardware in some cases) that generates a virtual tunnel leading to a remote VPN server. From here, you can connect to the internet.

Although the technology was originally established for larger businesses to provide access to employees (from everywhere they work) and ensure the security of sensitive data, VPNs have become wildly popular for individuals as well. Since using a VPN encrypts your internet connection, no one can see the data you’re transferring.

Your internet traffic can’t be intercepted, which ensures your personal information remains secure. Such data might include your credit card details. This VPN connection tool is especially useful when using open WI-FI, like the ones found in a coffee shop.

When you use a VPN, you can trick third parties (like websites) into thinking you’re located elsewhere. This is because your IP address is masked with another one from a VPN server. Hence, using a VPN allows you to access the internet privately and freely.

Determining What You Need These VPN Services For:

Like most purchases, you aren’t going to buy the first VPN you see. Everyone uses these VPN services for different reasons. So, the best way to pick from the various VPN providers is to determine your needs before choosing.

Are You Looking for a Secure Browsing Experience? 

Even if you aren’t worried about your security and privacy, you should choose a VPN if you’re regularly connecting to public WI-FI like the ones typically found in a coffee shop. This is vital as unsecured networks allow any nearby hackers to interpret the data transmitted from your device and take advantage of this information.

In these instances, you want a VPN service offering military-grade encryption. This safeguards your online activities like conducting transactions and checking emails. The best VPN services secure your information through AES 256-bit encryption, which is used by governments and top agencies in many countries.

Are You Looking for Online Anonymity? 

Do you want to hide your browsing history from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and snooping governments? Although VPN providers can’t offer a complete anonymity solution, these systems can make it almost impossible to trace your online actions back to you.

This is because your traffic appears to be coming from another IP address that’s shared with several users. If you’re searching for this anonymity, you want a VPN service that doesn’t store any logs and is equipped with an extensive customer base. This large customer base ensures it’s more challenging to be singled out, as more people are using these servers.

Are You Looking to Switch Geolocation? 

You require a VPN with thousands of servers in different countries if you want to access content unavailable in your country. For example, US servers are needed if you want to watch US Netflix when based outside of the country.

When choosing a VPN service, ensure you look for a VPN with a number of servers in your required countries. Remember that there’s no point signing up for a VPN if you can’t access an IP address in the country you desire.

How to Choose a VPN

How to Choose a VPN Provider:

Now that you’ve identified why you need a VPN, you might be asking what makes a good VPN service. Although having a selection of plans for clients at a reasonable price, there are other essential elements included when choosing a VPN service. Here are the features you need to consider before you spend your money on a VPN provider:

User-Friendly Interface

You want a server that’s easy to understand and use. Clients should avoid any confusing interfaces, as this can be time-consuming and inconvenient. Investing in VPNs with easy-to-understand interfaces makes your experience more enjoyable. Luckily, the most popular VPNs available are well-liked for including a suitable interface with polished, organized, and intuitive apps.

Customer Support 

The technology included in these VPNs is constantly changing. This might lead to you hitting a snag when you try to connect a server to your network. That’s why you should invest in VPNs providing 24/7 customer service. This ensures you’re free to contact the team at any time and get your problems solved rapidly.

Simultaneous Connections

You might plan to use VPNs on your desktop or laptop. That’s great but you might also want to consider setting up this connection on all devices in your home. You’re free to do this if you find the right service offering simultaneous connections. A network that supports this is available from various providers. In some instances, you can have up to 10 concurrent connections. However, you should identify what devices you want to connect to ensure you purchase a plan that supports this.

Advanced Features

If you depend on a VPN to keep your personal online logs entirely private, you can invest in a leak-proof service. Individuals and companies can keep their logs and locations private with premium VPNs. These packages come with a wide array of advanced features. These include an internet kill switch, IPv6 leak protection, WebRTC leak protection, and more. Having this kill switch on your device is crucial if you intend to use your VPN for torrenting. This is because you don’t want to risk your network connection going down and ISP seeing your web data and logs.

Connection Speed 

When a user invests in secure VPN software, connection speed can slow down to an extent. This is because of the encryption process taking place, which can be a deal-breaker if you want to stream your downloaded files without any interruptions. Nonetheless, the best VPNs are equipped with workarounds to ensure your connection speeds are quick at all times, no matter your location.

Cross-Platform Compatibility 

Most VPN providers offer support for all major platforms including Mac, iOS, Windows, and Android. However, some VPN connections don’t. If you use an Android phone and a Windows-powered computer, you want to ensure your VPN has apps for both of these device types.

Additionally, you should check the number of devices a user can connect simultaneously. The best VPN services don’t only provide clients with desktop and client platforms. You also have manual configurations for routers, SmartTVs, gaming consoles, set-top boxes, and other devices you’re regularly connecting to the internet.

Payment Methods 

How you pay for these VPNs is another vital factor. If you wish to purchase this service to use public WI-FI safely when moving locations, paying through anonymous methods isn’t essential. In contrast, you’re likely interested in paying anonymously if you want to purchase a VPN to strengthen your online anonymity traffic or prevent political oppression. Luckily, many excellent VPN service providers offer anonymous payment methods, like cryptocurrencies or gift cards. By doing this, nobody can find out you paid for this service or your location.

Supported Protocols

VPNs are equipped to utilize various security protocols to ensure your activity remains anonymous and your information is protected. Nonetheless, not all VPN providers employ the same protocol. Each protocol brings unique advantages and disadvantages to the client.

Unless you’re streaming, you should avoid utilizing PPTP. This is an outdated protocol using weak encryption. While PPTP may be an excellent option for a client to protect non-sensitive browsing and access a location-locked website, you can’t rely on this VPN for serious web security.

An upgrade from PPTP is L2TP/IPSec, which offers enhanced security to protect your sensitive information. However, it’s lacking in speed. SSTP is known as one of the safest protocols out there but it offers limited support to non-Windows devices. Although this VPN protocol is relatively fast, the high encryption level can slow down speeds.

IKEv2/IPSec is well-liked for being the most secure and fastest protocols. However, it’s more suitable for mobile devices that switch from data to WI-FI. Finally, the best all-around option is OpenVPN. This is because OpenVPN provides robust protection without compromising on connection speeds. Nonetheless, you should remember good VPN providers allow you to choose from all of these options.

The Number of Locations and VPN Servers

Are you interested in accessing streaming services like Netflix without any geographical restrictions? In most cases, you’re wanting to access US-based streaming sites. If this is what you’re searching for, VPN servers in Africa and Asia aren’t helpful. Hence, you should choose a VPN provider that has servers in the countries you would like to stream from. When it comes to selecting the best VPN company, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than a wide range of servers in various countries. The more servers this VPN company has, the more options you gain when switching from different types of geo-restricted content.

Unlimited Bandwidth

One of the primary reasons users invest in OpenVPN is to get around ISP throttling. That’s why paying for a VPN only to get throttled again is a horrible idea. Bandwidth limitations might not have been a problem before the streaming era. However, the increased popularity of video and music streaming has made the bandwidth available insufficient for many users. That’s why you shouldn’t purchase any VPNs that enforce these bandwidth restrictions.

A worthy option features no caps on the amount of bandwidth you use. Users can enjoy the convenience of unlimited downloading, streaming, and browsing with no quotas to worry about.

Money-Back Guarantee

You want to avoid getting stuck with a VPN that isn’t useful when you eventually connect to its server and begin browsing. That’s why VPNs that offer a money-back guarantee are an excellent option. This is because you can always get out of your contract hassle-free if you end up selecting an unsuitable service.

All top VPNs provide return policies that range from seven to 31 days, so you can test out how this VPN network supports your connections and web traffic risk-free. If you’re dissatisfied with this network, you’re free to end this contract and get your money back. However, you should ensure this refund is requested within the eligible number of days outlined in the company’s policy.

WHY USE A VPN?

Wrapping It Up 

You asked and we answered! Now you have everything you need to know when choosing from the vast array of VPNs available. Remember that you’re never going to receive the same level of service from all VPNs. Nonetheless, following the criteria we have laid out above can help you separate the best VPNs from the mediocre ones.

Frequently Asked Questions 

When is the Best Time to Buy a VPN? 

If you’re searching for a premium VPN connection for less, October to December is when VPN companies offer the best deals. This is because these services are typically discounted for events like Black Friday, Halloween, Christmas, and Cyber Monday, allowing you to purchase a top-tier VPN service at an affordable price.

Is VPN Illegal? 

No, using VPN services is legal in many countries across the globe. However, there are a few exceptions. Russia and China are the two countries where VPNs are illegal to use. Nonetheless, it also comes down to how you choose to use this VPN connection. You shouldn’t expect to get away with illegal activities when you’re using a VPN provider.

Should I Keep My VPN on All the Time? 

This entirely depends on your specific circumstances. You should leave your VPN software on when you’re streaming geo-restricted content. This is because your actual IP address is exposed when you’re disconnected from this VPN, causing you to lose access to the content you’re watching. Additionally, you should leave your VPN provider running each time you’re connected to the internet if security is your main concern.

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