A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a technology that allows users to create private networks on the internet. Using a VPN allows users to log onto a server in a different location than their own, and access resources on the server that are not easily accessible from the internet at large. VPN technology is not a stand-alone product, and is typically combined with other technologies such as a Firewall and Anti-Virus product to form a complete security solution.
When choosing a VPN provider, or any internet service for that matter, it’s important to take into account a number of factors. To that end, we’ve put together a list of everything to consider when picking a VPN for your needs.
From the type of encryption employed by the VPN to the degree of privacy it provides, features play a major role in determining which VPN is the best fit for your needs. Different VPNs offer vastly different features, making it important to do your research before making a purchase decision. Some of the more common features people look for when choosing a VPN are:
- Encrypted connections
- IEEE 802.11
- Anonymous surfing
- Server location change
- Kill switch
- Dedicated IP addresses (optional)
When choosing a VPN for your home network, it’s important to keep in mind that security is a major factor. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to look for a VPN that offers military-grade encryption (AES256+), as well as an unbreakable digital fingerprint that can be used to identify users. Most AES-256 VPNs offer perfect forward secrecy (PFS) so that data that is exchanged is totally unreadable by anyone else. This makes AES-256+ VPNs excellent options for high-security home networks. Keep in mind that not all AES-256+ VPNs are created equal, so it’s important to do your research before making a purchase decision.
Just like with any other type of internet connection, the quality of the bandwidth your device uses to connect to the VPN plays a huge role in how you will experience using the connection. The more bandwidth the better when it comes to smooth, lag-free internet usage. Fortunately, most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) have a habit of downgrading their customers’ performance once their annual plans are exceeded, so it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your ISP’s internet usage limits. If you usually go over your limit, it might be a good idea to look for a VPN that offers dedicated IP addresses, as most ISPs block specific IP addresses that are associated with piracy or other types of illegal activity. This can lead to severe slowing down of your speed, especially if you exceed your limit a lot. Keep in mind that the best VPNs are extremely light on resources, which can lead to faster speeds when compared to other VPNs.
A good VPN should be completely transparent about its data collection activities, and you should have the ability to easily opt-out of any type of logging. If logging is a concern for you, it’s best to choose a VPN that is designed with your privacy and security first and foremost in mind. Some VPNs will automatically log your internet activity, while others will only log certain types of information (e.g., the amount of data you’ve transferred or the country you are connected to). Ideally, you would like to find a VPN that offers both perfect privacy and security, as well as the ability to easily opt-out of any and all logging.
Just like with any other type of product sold online, the price of a VPN plays a huge role in its desirability. You would like to find a VPN that is not too expensive, as that would leave you vulnerable to price-gouging by scam artists and other unscrupulous actors. In today’s world, where product prices can vary from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars, it’s imperative to do your research before purchasing any type of VPN.
User Interface (UI)
An easy-to-use UI is extremely important, especially if you are not familiar with using VPNs or other types of secure connections. When choosing a VPN, you are mostly concerned with the security and privacy of your data while using the connection. That being said, ensuring you have an easy-to-use and intuitive UI is paramount to having a pleasant experience. It would be best to find a VPN that is as easy-to-use as possible, and makes it as easy as possible for you to navigate through all the settings. Some of the more popular UIs for VPNs are:
- Avira Phantom
- Private Internet Access
- Hotspot Shield
- Zoom VPN
All of these UIs are extremely easy-to-use, offer a ton of features, and are completely free. That being said, it’s imperative to do your research before purchasing any of these products, as the quality of the UI can vary dramatically from good to bad. If you need an easy-to-use and reliable UI, it’s best to choose one of the above-listed VPNs.
One of the best things about the internet is the wide array of apps available for all types of devices. That being said, when it comes to picking a VPN app, it’s important to keep in mind your primary device used to access the internet. If you have multiple devices, you can check out the apps available for all of them. Some of the more popular apps available for VPNs are:
- Amazon Kindle App
- Apple TV App
- Chromecast App
- Xbox One App
- PlayStation App
- Windows 10 Mobile App
Kindle allows users to purchase and read books directly from the cloud, which is connected to vast internet resources. It’s a great option for people who frequently travel, as you can download all the books you need without having to worry about running out of reading material. The Amazon App is also completely free, which makes it an even better option for people who are budget-conscious.
Depending on your needs, other factors, such as the number of devices you’ll use the connection from, may play a role in dictating which VPN is the best fit for you. For example, if you mainly use your laptop while traveling, it may be best to choose a VPN that has a dedicated server for laptops.
- Hotspot Shield
- Zen Private Network
Last but not least, if you need a VPN for your home network, it’s best to choose a reputable brand. As a general rule, it’s never a good idea to purchase or use illegal or counterfeit products, especially when it comes to technology. If you are concerned about the security of your home network and devices, it’s best to choose a VPN that has a good reputation and is widely trusted by reputable security companies.
In summary, choosing the right VPN depends on your needs. In order to do that, it’s important to take a few things into consideration. Do you need a VPN for your home network or are you just looking for a convenient way to secure your data while traveling? Are you mainly concerned about privacy or security issues? Are you looking for a free or paid service? To answer those questions, simply follow our lead and do your research before purchasing any type of VPN.