If you own a firebox, then you need a VPN to keep your personal data secure while using public Wi-Fi. A VPN can also help you access content and apps on the platforms you use most often, even if you are on the move. We look at the best VPNs for a Firebox, comparing key features to help you choose the right subscription for you.
Features We Looked At
When choosing a VPN for a Firebox, you need to bear in mind that these devices have limited storage and run on low-powered processors. That being said, we still want to ensure that you get the best possible service so that you can enjoy your time using public Wi-Fi without worrying too much about security. Here are some of the key features we checked for:
You need a VPN that is up to date with the latest security protocols and offers a good level of security. Look for OpenVPN’s ‘Plus’ and ‘Pro’ offerings which are compatible with the OpenVPN Server and the IKEv2 protocol, respectively. ProtonVPN was also a key contender in our speed tests, due to the fact that it has developed its own, proprietary protocol called ‘ProtonVPN Connect’ which it calls “the world’s most advanced VPN protocol”. The developers claim that this protocol offers better speeds than OpenVPN and IKEv2.
Every now and then, your device will connect to a network even when you aren’t aware that it is happening. When that happens, your device can be putting your personal information at risk. To avoid that, you need to enable ‘kill switches’. When a VPN is enabled with kill switches, the device will disconnect from any open network whenever it senses that it is being mounted or updated due to a system file change (such as a software upgrade).
With OpenVPN, you can enable ‘client’ or ‘server’ kill switches on each device. A client switch only disconnects the device from the network, while the server switch shuts down all network access—including WiFi. You have the option of choosing whether to enable the server or client function of a kill switch.
Every VPN we tested had to maintain an encrypted connection with a server even when disconnected. This is called ‘full tunneling’ and it ensures that your data is always secure, even when unconnected. However, when you are using public Wi-Fi, maintaining a full tunnel can cause problems. To overcome this, many VPNs have developed a feature called ‘kill bits’. When enabled, kill bits will periodically disconnect your device from the VPN, thus creating a partial tunnel. This allows you to connect to a restricted area of the internet, such as certain websites or apps, while maintaining your private data secure. The frequency at which your device will disconnect from the VPN will depend on the plan you choose. One feature to look for is an ‘automatic’ mode, which will reconnect your device to the VPN whenever it disconnects from the internet.
While we want to make sure that you enjoy your time using public Wi-Fi, you need to be aware of how much data you are using. If you are regularly using a device to stream content or use apps that are constantly uploading data to the network, then you need a VPN that limits the amount of data you use. Most VPNs offer excellent bandwidth controls, limiting the amount of data you can use in monthly, weekly, or daily increments.
Every VPN we tested had to keep a log of your activity, which can be helpful in case you are ever asked to provide evidence of your activities. However, most VPNs also retain your personal data for as long as possible, which can become a privacy issue if you aren’t comfortable with that. Look for a VPN that keeps your data deleted as soon as possible and erases your entire log history whenever you reconnect to the service.
We also want to make sure that you are aware of the limitations of your device when using public Wi-Fi. If you are connecting via an Android device, for example, then you will most likely be connecting to a network that is shared with other devices. This means that everyone nearby will have access to your personal data. If you can, then you need to either choose a different location for your connection, or consider investing in a hardware firewall, such as a VPN Box. This way, even if your device is connecting to a public network, at least it will be connecting to a protected one.