So, you’re looking for a VPN? We’re not surprised as these tools offer a plethora of benefits, ranging from military-grade encryption to IP address masking. However, you might have noticed that there are TONS of VPNs to choose from.
The industry has witnessed exponential growth over the last few years, and competition is fierce with new options popping up from time to time. With more than 300 VPNs available, choosing the best one for your needs can be challenging.
Fret not though, as we’ve got your back! Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about choosing a VPN service. But before getting started, let’s revisit why so many Internet users are turning to VPNs.
Why Use a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is basically a piece of software – or sometimes hardware – that creates a virtual tunnel to a remote VPN server, through which you can connect to the Internet.
While the technology was originally developed for big businesses to guarantee security of sensitive data and provide remote access to employees from anywhere they work, VPNs have various use cases for individuals as well.
Since they encrypt your connection, nobody can see what data you’re transferring. This means that your traffic can’t be intercepted and analyzed to steal personal information such as credit card details, especially on public WiFi networks.
With your IP address masked with another one from a server in a different country, you can trick websites and other third-parties into thinking that you’re located elsewhere. As a result, you’re able to access the Internet freely and privately.
RELATED READ: What Are Some Common Uses of a VPN?
Determining What You Need a VPN For
If you’re in the market for a laptop, you aren’t going to buy the first one you see. The same concept applies when it comes to VPNs. Everyone uses them for different purposes, so the best way to select the ideal VPN service is to determine your needs before going shopping.
Do You Want a Secure Browsing Experience?
Even if you aren’t concerned about your privacy and security, you should have a VPN if you regularly connect to public WiFi. These networks are mostly unsecured, which means nearby hackers can sniff the data transmitted from your device and use it to their advantage.
In such a scenario, you want a VPN service that offers military-grade encryption to safeguard your online activities like checking emails or conducting transactions. The best VPNs secure your data with AES 256-bit encryption, which is used by top agencies and governments worldwide.
Do You Want to Switch Your Geolocation?
If you to access content otherwise unavailable in your country, you’ll need a VPN with servers in hundreds of locations globally. Want to watch Netflix US from outside the US? Make sure your VPN service has US servers.
Similarly, want a UK IP address to stream BBC iPlayer videos? Choose a VPN provider with plenty of UK exit nodes. Remember, there’s no point in signing up for a VPN if you can’t get an IP address from any location that you want.
Do You Want Online Anonymity?
Are you looking to hide your browsing history from snooping governments and Internet Service Providers (ISPs)? Though VPNs aren’t a complete anonymity solution, they can make it close to impossible for your online actions to be traced back to you.
After all, your traffic appears to be originating from another IP address shared between multiple users. Here, you want a VPN service that doesn’t store any logs and has an extensive customer base – the more people using their exit nodes, the more difficult is it for you to be singled out.
How to Choose a VPN – 10 Things to Look For in a Provider
Now that you’ve assessed your VPN needs, you might be wondering, “What makes a good VPN provider?” Besides having a selection of plans at a reasonable price point, other essential elements of choosing a VPN service that’s right for you include:
1. Supported Protocols
VPNs utilize a variety of security protocols to protect the data passing through the tunnel, but not all of them are created equally. Each protocol brings its own set of pros and cons to the table. As such, good VPN providers will always offer multiple protocols to choose from, such as PPTP, SSTP, L2TP, IKEv2, and OpenVPN.
2. Cross-Platform Compatibility
If you have a Windows-powered computer but use an Android phone, you’d want to ensure that your VPN is available on both platforms. The most popular VPN services will not only support mobile and desktop usage but also have manual configurations for Smart TVs, routers, set-top boxes, gaming consoles, etc.
3. Number of Servers & Locations
Interested in accessing US websites and services without geo-locks? Then, let’s face it – opting for a VPN provider with the vast majority of its servers in Asia and Africa will be of no use to you. Ideally, you should look for one with hundreds, if not thousands, of VPN servers in all the important locations across the world.
4. Simultaneous Connections
You’re using a VPN on your laptop, and that’s great. But what if you want to set up a VPN on all the devices in your household? You’ll need a VPN that supports multiple simultaneous connections, of course. You shouldn’t settle for anything less than 5 simultaneous connections at a time, but the more, the better.
5. Unlimited Bandwidth
One of the main reasons why people use VPNs is to get around ISP throttling, so paying for VPN service only to get throttled again is a terrible idea. A worthy VPN service will put no caps on bandwidth usage, which means that you can download, browse, and stream as much as you want with complete peace of mind.
6. Connection Speed
When you use a VPN, your connection speed slows down by some degree due to the encryption process that takes place. If you want to stream your preferred TV shows and movies online, this can be a deal-breaker. But the best VPN services have workarounds in place to ensure you get fast connection speeds at all times.
7. Payment Methods
How you pay is also another important factor. If you want to use a VPN but avoid using as much personal information as possible, you’ll be interested in anonymous payment methods. Luckily, some great VPN providers allow anonymous payments through methods such as gift cards or cryptocurrencies.
8. Money-Back Guarantee
You wouldn’t want to get stuck with a VPN that you don’t want, no? All the top VPNs offer a money-back guarantee ranging from anywhere between 7 to 31 days so that you can test out their services risk-free. If you’re unsatisfied, you can get your money back as long as you request a refund within the eligible period.
9. 24/7 Customer Service
The technology behind VPNs is changing continually, and you might often find yourself in a situation where you’ve hit a snag. Despite that, one of the most overlooked factors of picking a VPN is if the provider has 24/7 customer service. High-quality VPNs will offer live-chat where you can prompt answers to your queries.
10. Enhanced Features
If you depend on your VPN to keep your online activities completely private, you’ll want to sign up for an entirely leak-proof service. Fortunately, the most reliable VPNs will offer a wide range of features such as Internet Kill Switch, DNS Leak Protection, WebRTC Leak Protection, and IPv6 Leak Protection.
PureVPN to the Rescue!
By now, you’ve probably realized that you got hours of homework ahead of you. However, what if we were to tell you that PureVPN is the best all-around VPN out there?
Not only do we meet the criteria outlined above, but also we’ve been in the industry since 2007 and have remained highly recommended and highly rated during that time.
Unlike other players in the industry, we’re going to let the quality of our service speak for itself. Sign up today and take advantage of our 31-day money-back guarantee if not satisfied.
Wrapping Things Up
How to choose a VPN, you asked? Now, you finally have the answer! Never make the mistake of believing that you’ll get the same level of service from all VPNs. By following the criteria we’ve discussed above though, you can separate the best VPNs from the rest!