There are so many people who have been actively researching to find the Best VPN Services, these days. And we decided to dedicate this page to the world of virtual private networks (online VPN). If you are interested in gaining deeper understandings of what VPN-s are, who can benefit from them to the fullest, how to assess your VPN needs, which are the best servers, as well as what to keep in mind when using a VPN, then you are on the right page. We encourage you to take some minutes and read it our review from the beginning till the very end. It is full of precious pieces of information so that you won’t regret it! Enjoy!
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What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Let us first start by clarifying what a virtual private network is actually about. Unless you have experienced the need to deal with some corporate work from a distance, the chances are that you might still be in the process of getting to know the technology. To put it simply, what a VPN provides is access to a secure, encrypted connection between your computer and the VPN’s server. Thanks to this regard you become a member of the company’s network despite the fact that you are not physically there. As long as you are connected to the virtual private network, there is no need to worry about the possibility of someone seeing your traffic. You are fully protected.
It is pretty similar when it comes to the Best VPN Services. Also, in this case, a VPN would serve as a way of ensuring privacy enhancement, censorship avoidance, anonymous file sharing, etc. The only difference has to do with the fact that it is the public that you are protected from. However, you need to be clear about one thing. Even if VPN-s are considered to be extremely useful to stay protected against mass data collection and criminals who might be vacuuming up user data for later use, you need to be careful when downloading files, as well.
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Why & When to Use a Virtual Private Network
As we already mentioned, the Best VPN Services enable the creation of an online network between two physically separate networks. In this way, even if an IBM employee is working from home in San Francisco, he can deal with his work as effectively as he would be able to do if he were on the office’s network in New York. As far as consumers are concerned, they can use VPN-s to connect their laptops or mobile phones to their home computers so that they can have access to needed files. Apart from that, it is extremely important to raise awareness about the fact that using a VPN can help you protect your data (passwords, credit card numbers, etc.) whenever you join public Wi-Fi networks (coffee shops and airports). What is more, you also have the opportunity to make your traffic appear as if it came from another location than the one you are currently in. You can quickly review the site with our infographic.
For instance, the Best VPN Services can be helpful when you use sites like Netflix which tend to prevent you from seeing specific content if you are in a location where it is forbidden. Or in some cases, a VPN can also enable you to pay lower import taxes on software. Also, there are countries like China where there are extremely high levels of overt censorship and monitoring. So, you can benefit from the opportunity to get around censorship and monitoring by making use of a secure tunnel to appear as if you’re from another location. Last, but not least, if you happen to use an Internet Service Provider (ISP) which tracks your connection based on content, a VPN can help you hide what kind of traffic you have.
Having in mind the various advantages associated with using a VPN it might be kind of difficult to identify a target group that cannot find it useful. Whether you are looking for a way of preventing people intercept your traffic when you share a Wi-Fi spot, or you would like to minimize the number of advertisers and hackers who could track your virtual activities, VPNs come in handy. However, there are also people who do not simply place a lot of importance on security but need a VPN to get their job done. Take journalists and activists as an example. Whenever they are in a country with high levels of censoring and monitoring, they would not be able to keep in touch with the outer world unless they use a VPN (even if it is against the domestic laws).
How to Assess the Best VPN Services
Before we give you an overview of some other important aspects of VPNs, we need to stress on the fact that it is worth first identifying what you need. For example, it is not uncommon for people to realize that there are some router-based solutions that can meet their expectations. To support you in the process of getting clarity, we have come up with a couple of features you are encouraged to have a look at before buying a VPN. Even if it is possible to choose one single server that can satisfy all the needs, the purpose of breaking them down is to help you prioritize what is most important to you at the moment.
1. Secure Access To Your Home Network
If you happen only to be looking for a way of getting a secure access to your homework, then investing in a VPN would not be appropriate not only regarding costs but also as far as the purpose itself is considered. It is not your home network that a remote VPN server can connect you with. In fact, it is about accessing a remote one. What you need to be capable of accessing your home network, is to provide yourself with a VPN server that will run on your router or an attached device such as an always-on desktop computer or a Raspberry Pi. If you would like to benefit from best security, as well as limiting the power consumption to the minimum, we encourage you to run the VPN server at the router level. One way of doing so is flashing your router to DD-WRT. Another alternative includes buying routers such Netgear Nighthawk and Nighthawk X6 routers which have a built in VPN server.
2. Secure Casual Browsing
Whether you place much importance on security or not, it might be helpful to take the Best VPN Services into consideration if you happen to use public Wi-Fi networks on a frequent basis. Even if you might think it is secure to use Wi-Fi at coffee, in a hotel or while waiting for your flight at the airport, do not underestimate the potential risks that go hand in hand with it. First, it is not uncommon to come across a router which is running outdated and compromised firmware. What is more, it might be possible that it is actively sniffing packets and logging your data. Second, it would be no surprise if the router turns out to be improperly configured which could result in other users on the network being able to sniff your data or probe your laptop or phone. There are a lot of people who believe that a system is secure when they have to enter a password. However, pay attention to the fact that this assumption is simply not valid.
So, coming back to the need of secure casual browsing, if it applies to your case, you can follow the same steps that were underlined in the previous section. Unless you need to watch massive volumes of streaming video or have another high-bandwidth need, we will encourage you first to go for unpaid solutions.
3. Geo-Shifting Of Your Location
If you are aiming at accessing content that is only available for people living in a certain region, notice that it will be necessary for you to provide yourself with the Best VPN Services whose servers are located in the geographic area you would like to exit the online network in. For instance, you would need to find a provider with UK exit nodes to be able to gain access to a BBC Olympic coverage. If on the other hand, you search for ways of enjoying YouTube videos to the fullest, then it might be worth considering a provider with US servers.
All in all, the most important criterion is to focus on VPN providers that can enable you to access an IP address in the geographic region you are interested in.
4. Anonymity And Plausible Deniability
Even if most VPNs claim to provide you with anonymity, take a note of the fact that you likely want something more like Tor, whenever you have more serious purposes in mind. Even if there are some drawbacks to taking into consideration also when it comes to this solution, it might still be preferable to go for it.
On the other hand, VPN-s can help you get some plausible deniability if you happen to share files on BitTorrent. This is how it works: thanks to the VPN it seems as if your traffic comes from another IP address, thanks to which you can add one more file. If you are willing to use the Best VPN Services for such a purpose, look for a provider that doesn’t keep logs and has a very large user base. The reason for that is that bigger service is associated with more people pouring through every exit node which makes the process of isolating a single user from the crowd more challenging.
One of the factors that have contributed to so many people not using VPN providers based out of the United States was related to the US law, according to which those providers are considered to need to log all VPN activity. However, we must inform you that there are no requirements for US-based providers to log data or even keep it. Apart from logging, what can also raise concerns has to do with the type of VPN protocol and encryption. There are more chances of a malicious third party siphoning up your traffic to be able to analyze it later rather than of reverse engineering it as a way of locating you. So, keep in mind to check out logging, protocol, and encryption standards when you inform yourself about the capabilities of the VPN providers.
How to Choose Your Perfect VPN Fit
Having in mind how popular the Best VPN services became in the past few years, it is no wonder that there are so many providers on the market. Some of them ensure high-quality services. Others, however, only misuse the increasing concern more and more people have regarding surveillance and cyber-crime. If you are also wondering what to focus on when choosing your VPN service provider, have a look at the following aspects: reputation, performance, type of encryption used, transparency, ease of use, support, as well as extra features. As you can see, there is so much more to pay attention to apart from price, right?
Let us start with reputation. It is for sure crucial to find a reliable partner, taking into consideration that we talk about routing all your Internet traffic through its servers. What makes this challenging, has to do with the fact that most of us place importance ongoing for established security company. However, we need to mention that the majority of the Best VPN Services are standalone companies (Spotflux, AnchorFree, etc.), because of which it is not that easy to make a difference between those who deserve to be trusted and those who don’t. Another factor that is usually considered to reveal how trustworthy a provider is related to how many years a company has been on the market. In spite of this, take a note that in the case of VPN Services established companies like F-Secure had been founded recently. Therefore, they haven’t managed to build up a reputation based on years of operations which does not mean that they do not provide qualitative services. Still, another challenging aspect refers to the fact that there is absolutely no guarantee that companies and products that are considered to be unreliable today might not turn into a source of golden opportunities tomorrow. Who knows? Only time will tell…
The second criterion we would like to stress on when it comes to choosing the Best VPN Services is performance. Having in mind how many providers you have access to, there is no room for technical drawbacks. Both security and an excellent virtual experience are a must! One way to check if a provider offers the necessary quality you are looking for is only to choose from services with a free trial. Trying everything out before you sign up and pay is very helpful since most providers do not give refunds. Another piece of advice related to starting out with a week or a month subscription. Even if discounts go hand in hand with longer periods, it is more important to make sure the service meets your expectations and performance needs, right?
Apart from reputation and performance, what also count are the encryption, as well as additional features. The more protection is offered, the better. In the same time, it helps to get ad-blocking, firewalls and kill switches that disconnect you from the Web whenever your VPN connection drops. Last, but not least, you might be willing to consider looking for providers that use the OpenVPN standard rather than the older, more widespread PPTP standard.
One aspect you need to pay attention to before you jump to purchasing anything, has to do with the transparency and policies of the Best VPN Services. After all, it is worth having an idea about the provided services, the collected information, as well as the responsibilities of the server, right? For instance, there are companies which state that they might gather some information without clarifying what they are going to use it for. On the other hand, companies like TorGuard deliver a precise explanation of the way it keeps track of payment card information without maintaining any logging information. Checking out where a provider is based is another clue you can have a look at. If it is situated in a country where there are no data-retention laws, then it is more likely that the company does not keep any logs, indeed.
Graphic User Interface
Apart from the points listed above, it is quite common for users to look for a full graphic user interface to manage their VPN connection and settings. In spite of this, there are also people who prefer downloading a configuration file and importing it into the OpenVPN client. You can choose what suits you best. Regarding additional steps you can undertake to protect yourself when dealing with online payments, you can check if a respective VPN provider accepts PayPal, Bitcoin, and other alternate payment methods.
Although it is not widespread, it would not be surprising if it even accepts retailer gift cards. For those of you who might be wondering whether the Best VPN Services always require a financial investment, let us clarify that there are also free VPN services. Still, we encourage you to keep in mind that features are associated with the fee so that this free option might be most suitable for users with really basic needs.
Selecting a VPN server in another country can help you cross some borders on the Web you might not be familiar with. For instance, if you happen to be in the US you might not be able to watch the Olympics before the evening coverage unless you have a cable subscription. However, this is not the case when it comes to Canada or England. This is how you can also join such streams as long as you can make your computer have a nonUS-IP address. Also, it is not that free to gain access to Netflix wherever you are, neither. Having in mind that people outside of US can easily enjoy premium shows like Game of Thrones or new major-release films, it is no wonder that so many US users go for VPN to be able to do the same. Still, if you are willing to try out the same, take notice that Netflix and similar streaming services look for ways to protect its content deals as a result of which foreign servers are more likely to be blocked. So, make sure you are aware of the existence of laws and terms of service surrounding media streaming due to which trying to get around them might be associated with a significant risk.
What to Keep in Mind About Virtual Private Networks
This last section of today’s article is devoted to giving you some additional pieces of information and advice that can help you in the process of searching for or using a VPN. The first thing we would like to encourage you to do is checking out the terms of service. The reason for that has to do with the fact that some sites allow you to use the service for file sharing (TorGuard) while others do not (HideIPVPN). It wouldn’t be nice to get your subscription canceled due to not having informed yourself in advance about that, right?
What is more, keep in mind that it takes much more steps to get your traffic processed when you use a VPN, so this might mean that you need to sacrifice convenience to benefit from full security. Even if you are less likely to experience extremely low speed, still be prepared to be patient when you stream videos. Good news is that the Best VPN Services are already in the process of rolling out specialty servers for high-bandwidth activities.
Despite the benefits that go hand in hand with using an antivirus tool for protecting your computer and data, it is recommendable to provide yourself with a VPN if you happen to value your privacy. Whether you will use it all the time or not, the more connected our devices get, the more we will need the Best VPN Services (like a password manager or online backup service). However, it helps to take some time and get clear about the functionality of the technology, as well as what you can realistically expect from it. As we already mentioned, what VPNs do is connecting a device to a VPN server that is run by a VPN company. As a result of this, the data that gets transferred between them is securely encrypted. Keep in mind that you still need an ISP but apart from connecting you to the server, it doesn’t have access to information related to your virtual activities. This is how you can get around censorship measures in specific countries or restrictions, because of which you are not provided with access to some services such as the US version of Netflix and BBC iPlayer. In addition to this, you have your real IP hidden from any websites you visit, and you are therefore protected when P2P is torrenting or using public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Other Points to Take Into Consideration
The first one is related to logs and privacy. While it may be true that your data cannot be seen or monitored by your ISP, do not forget that the VPN server has access to it. Therefore, it is not surprising that VPN-s are considered to be enabling you to enjoy your privacy, not anonymity. If you happen to place a lot of importance on the latter, use Tor instead. In addition to this, make sure you are clear about what providers mean by keeping no logs. In most cases, this means that there are no usage logs or virtual records of the activity. However, providers usually keep a tremendous amount of connection logs which consist of metadata. So, do not get confused by the fact that the majority of VPN servers share IP addresses and that it seems as if no data were kept. In the same time, it is also true that sometimes providers are forced to keep logs on a named individual due to court or subpoena requirements.
IP leaks are also quite common, and you need to have in mind that you might end up having one. Even if being part of the Best VPN Services is supposed to ensure that nobody is capable of identifying your actual IP address, this is not always the case. Therefore we encourage you to check IPLeak.net before you use a new service. You can be sure you have a leak if you can see your IP address there. More about causes and ways to fix this issue you can find here: Complete Guide to IP Leaks.
Whoever has already used a VPN, knows that it is not uncommon to experience VPN dropouts. What makes this irritating and potentially risky has to do with the fact that when a connection drops, your IP address stays exposed. This can turn out to be an issue having in mind how often people leave their devices unattended when they share torrents. To protect yourself, you are encouraged to use a kill switch. In the best case, go for firewall-based kill switches since they do not allow any traffic to leave your computer outside the VPN. So, even if your VPN provider doesn’t offer a kill switch as part of their custom software, you can always check other solutions and build one by using Firewall rules. For instance, VPNetMon is a nice alternative that can help you shut down your internet connection when it detects a VPN disconnect.
Based on everything we have had a look at above, we believe that the advantages of using a VPN are quite obvious. It makes no difference whether you are interested in downloading torrents, accessing the full spectrum of Netflix content, or keeping your data safe and private. Having in mind how connected and contemporary mobile people are and how connected our devices are becoming, it is not surprising that more and more VPN providers show up on the market. As a result of this, users have quite a big choice. What we need to keep in mind is that it is worth considering reputation, performance, features, transparency and policies when we make up our minds which provider to go for. It is pretty clear that all of us a looking for the best VPN services, when we are about to protect ourselves online. However, it is important to realize that there are multiple qualities that can contribute to considering a provider the top option. As we already saw, even if most providers can satisfy multiple expectations, it matters what kind of primary need you are focused on.
We hope that we have managed to help you in the process of getting an overview of what virtual private networks (VPN-s) are about, how to assess your needs, what kind of benefits are associated with using the service, as well as what to keep in mind when choosing a provider. Now, it is only up to you to pick up the best VPN services for you and to experience security first-hand.
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