The concept behind virtual private networks (VPNs) is fairly simple – provide clients with trusted, secure network access regardless of their geographical location. With the increasing number of online threats that we face, as well as the complicated jurisdictional licensing requirements of many governments, ensuring that your VPN servers are hosted in a trusted and safe location is of paramount importance.
While the exact process for finding the “right” location may vary from case to case, there are a number of steps that you can follow to ensure that your VPN is as secure and trouble-free as possible.
Secure And Reliable
Before you dive into the nitty-gritty of where to host your VPN, it’s important to consider how trustworthy and reliable the location is. The best VPN services offer clients a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee if they meet these two criteria (among others), so you can rest assured that you’re not making a long-term financial commitment to a location that might not be the best fit. Even if you believe that the location you’ve chosen is totally safe and secure, you should still do your research before making a commitment.
Commercial Or Government Use
Another important factor to consider is the use of the server. You’ll want to make sure that the hosting provider is experienced and capable of supporting commercial users as well as government agencies. In some cases, your VPN can be used by commercial entities such as businesses to stay secure while conducting business over the internet. In other cases, you may want to use the service to avoid detection by the government (usually in politically unstable countries). Having the proper licensing and certification to operate a VPN server in your location could also be a way to remain legally anonymous if you’re operating within the country’s laws.
Another important consideration is the geographical reach of the location. You want to make sure that you’re as close to the end users as possible, so that you can provide the highest level of security without having to deal with slow or intermittent connection speeds. Depending on your needs, you might be better served by a location that provides highly-optimized performance for clients across the globe as opposed to one that’s optimized for domestic or regional users.
Backup And Disaster Recovery
It’s also important to consider the backup and disaster recovery options of the location. Many locations that provide VPN services offer redundant servers that can be switched on should the primary server become unavailable for any reason. Some also offer fully-managed hosting, which means that they’ll take care of any maintenance tasks so that your server is always running at its optimum capacity.
The cost of the service is also an important factor to consider. The price will vary depending on your chosen location, but you’ll usually need to commit to a yearly contract to secure the best pricing. The cost of the service will be worth it in terms of convenience and security, but only if it’s sufficiently discounted for your needs.
Another important factor to consider is the features that the location provides. Different VPN services offer different levels of functionality, so it’s important to consider what you need. Some of the more common features that you’ll need to consider are:
- Split-tunneling – this allows you to use a VPN on multiple devices simultaneously, so that everyone that you log in with has their own private, secure network connection.
- IPv6 Support – this is an important feature to have considering that IPv6 networks are becoming the standard, allowing for much more convenient internet access for users. Having IPv6 support allows you to have the option of connecting to a network that has a global scope (i.e. IPv6 network) or one that’s limited to a single country (i.e. IPv4 network). In the event that you choose the latter, you’ll have to restrict the applications that you use to only work with IPv4-enabled services (like HTTP, FTP, and DNS). If you have a mixture of IPv4 and IPv6 enabled services or applications, then you’ll want to consider a VPN that offers dual-stack support.
- Kill-switch – this is an important safety feature that allows you to quickly and easily terminate your VPN connection should you lose connectivity or the connection itself is interfered with in any way. If someone is physically tampering with or disrupting the connection in some way, then you’ll want to ensure that your data is protected and that you can terminate the connection without any problems.
- Log Files – this allows you to keep track of the activity that takes place on your VPN, so that you can keep track of what happened and report security incidents as needed. Most VPN services will allow you to set up daily or weekly backups of the logs, so that in the event of a disaster they can be restored quickly.
- Encrypted Data – this ensures that the data that you transmit while using the service is kept private and cannot be read by someone else. Most VPN services will offer some level of encryption to their customers (usually through the use of advanced industry-standard algorithms). While it’s important to consider the effectiveness of the encryption, you’ll also need to ensure that it is compliant with the laws of the country in which it is hosted.
- VPN Protocols – this is a list of the different protocols that the VPN service supports. You’ll need to make sure that the protocol that you choose is compatible with the other equipment and applications that you use (like email clients, web browsers, and gaming platforms). If you’re not sure which protocols are available at the time of installation, you can contact the provider’s support team for assistance.
- DNS Leaks – this allows you to avoid websites that you don’t want to access when you’re on the internet. By configuring your system to use a VPN, you’re ensuring that all DNS requests are routed through the VPN server to prevent anyone else from seeing what websites you’re trying to access (if they’re not allowed). If you have a mixture of private and public networks at home, then you might want to block certain websites from being accessed by others (especially children), while still being able to access the ones that you want.
- IPv4/IPv6 – this allows you to connect to either the IPv4 or the IPv6-enabled network (whichever is available where you connect). If you have a mixture of both public and private networks at home, then you might want to consider a VPN that can operate as either protocol (so that you can connect and avoid being routed to the public network whenever you’re on the private one).
As we’ve established above, the safety of your data is an important factor to consider when selecting a VPN. The best VPN services that we’ve reviewed take this factor very seriously, ensuring not only that your data is protected while on the road to you, but also that it is protected when it is actually transmitted over the internet. The majority of the VPN services that we’ve reviewed use secure encryption algorithms and protocols, as well as 2048-bit or greater RSA keys, ensuring that your privacy is always protected.
It’s also important to consider how accessible the customer service is. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for all of your VPN needs, then make sure that the company has a 24/7/365 live chat support option or something similar. Many of the VPN services that we’ve reviewed have relatively accessible customer support, with some even having fully-trained staff members that are available to help.
In this article, we discussed how to identify the best location for hosting your VPN service. You’ll usually want to opt for a commercial location that is dedicated to enterprise clients, providing secure and reliable internet access regardless of your geographical location. When choosing a VPN, it’s important to remember that safety and reliability are two of the most important factors that you need to consider, so that you don’t end up in a situation where your data is at risk. Using a VPN can also be quite the headache when it comes to connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, as you’ll usually have to enter the encryption key manually (or store it someplace insecure). For these reasons, and more, we recommend that you opt for a VPN that has a kill-switch, so that you can disconnect from the network if someone tries to hack into it or there’s any kind of network instability.