If you’re on the hunt for the best VPN service for online privacy, bypassing geographical restrictions or censorship. You’re up for some head-scratching.
With the VPN market saturated, you’ll be spoilt for choice and brimming with even more questions than you started out with. You may wan a VPN company that offers perfect privacy, smart location, VPN app, Smart DNS, ad-blocker, not cause slow internet, and finally gives money back guarantee if you are still not happy with the VPN usage.
So, how do you choose which VPN provider is best for you?
We’ve rounded up some of the most important things you need to keep an eye out for before deciding to settle down with the best VPN service.
Features to Choose Best VPN Provider
Before you can even begin considering buying something, you need to know what you need and, most of all, why you need it.
And since every user has varying VPN needs, you’ll have to pick one that ticks all the boxes.
For example, if you’re looking to get a VPN connection that multiple users can use under one roof, you’ll want to explore router-based option that allows simultaneous connection.
Or, if your primary concern is governments snooping on your online activities, and you want full privacy, it’s a good idea to opt for a VPN server that provides you with 265-bit encryption offering perfect privacy solution.
Internet Throttles & Limited Bandwidths
If you’re turning to VPN networks, chances are, you’re fed up with your internet service provider throttling your connections and restricting your bandwidth.
However, unfortunately, not all VPN servers are entirely transparent regarding their restrictions. So, before paying extra and possibly getting throttled again, it’s better to do a little research and pick a VPN provider which does not cause slow internet.
Integrated Kill Switch
Let’s be honest; no cybersecurity system can promise you complete security. In fact, even the best paid VPN services fall short when overloaded, which leads to IP leaks, which is why it’s so important to have multiple protective layers on your system.
That’s where looking out for VPNs that offer integrated kill switches comes in. Any time the server is overloaded, and there’s a possibility of an IP leak, the kill switch will cut off the network access. This prevents your browsing device from making vulnerable connections and keeps all your unencrypted data safe.
VPN protocol determines the route your data takes when forming a connection.
The market’s filled with several different kinds of protocols, but the ones you’re most likely to run into include OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, SSTP, IKEv2 and WireGuard. There are some proprietary protocols as well which are developed by VPN service providers such as ExpressVPN’s Lightway, NordVPN’s NordLynx, VyprVPN’s Chameleon etc. They all have different specifications based on the level of security they provide and the speed they form connections.
It’s always best to opt for a VPN that offers its users multiple protocols for greater flexibility and online security.
Advertisements usually have two functions. Either to sell you something or track your browsing activities, the latter being a big threat to your privacy.
This is why finding a VPN that comes with an ad blocker is a good way to ensure that no third-party domain can track your device, giving you added peace of mind. SurfShark is one such VPN service.
Word to the wise, not many provide this.
User Log Policy
You’ll come across several VPN providers claiming they don’t log your user activity, but they’re not being sincere.
All VPNs tend to log specific data, whether that’s your IP address, session times, the websites you visit, or even the files you download.
Before making up your mind, make sure to read the data logging policy thoroughly to find out precisely what data they’re logging that can be traced back to you.
Multiple Server Location
Tired of missing out on all those international shows and movies your friends are always raving about?
It’s time to get a VPN provider that works with all your favorite streaming platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus and HBO Max etc. and supports several devices such as Mac, Windows, iOS, and Android, and covers several server locations to have the freedom to browse through global catalogs.
Some VPNs even go the extra mile and offer users over 3,000 servers located in more than 350 locations around the globe!
Paid VPN Vs. Free VPN
You may be tempted to fall for a free VPN service. Still, while you may save a couple of bucks, you might actually just be giving your personal information away.
Without charging customers a fee, VPNs make use of advertisements to manage their software expenses. Advertisements are pesky and irritating, and they also collect your data and usually infect your device with malware.
So, at the end of the day, are free VPNs really free?
If you do end up going down the paid VPN route, you’ll come across several different payment plans, for which you’ll need to do some assessing. You’ll need to consider how much you’re likely to consume. If you see yourself using it for the next year or two, you might want to opt for a yearly plan to get the best bang for your buck. Take a look at our article on some good VPN services.
If you’re purchasing a VPN to access movies from the other side of the world or doing some homework, anonymous payment methods might not concern you. In that case, you can simply pay for services via PayPal, Credit, or Debit card.
But, if they do, some VPN providers offer discrete payment methods that are great for staying anonymous, for example, through Cryptocurrency or even Amazon and Target gift cards!
While we’re on the topic of money, make sure the VPN service you’re setting out to purchase gives a money-back guarantee.
This allows you to test the waters for a certain period of time without being bound by a contract.
Money back guarantees are generally 30-days. Also look for a VPN provider that gives 7-day free trial as minimum (without giving any payment information)
Intelligent Customer Support
With VPN technology continuously being upgraded, you might frequently find yourself hitting a dead end, especially if computers aren’t your forte.
This is why one crucial factor to consider is whether or not your cherry-picked VPN network provides reliable, intelligent 24/7 customer service or not.
Ideally, this support should come in the form of live chats, quick replies, phone number and intelligent reps so you can contact them and get help without having to wait hours on end.
Sitting on the Fence?
With online privacy threats becoming a norm, finding secure ways to connect with your provider is now a necessity. VPNs are a cost-effective cybersecurity solution that offers powerful protection.
However, don’t be fooled into believing all VPNs provide the same sort of anonymity and security. This is why, before settling for one, you need to evaluate your needs.
We covered some great VPN providers in a round-up article. It’ll give you insight into the top vendors in the market, their key features, and who it’s best fit for.