If you’re reading this it probably means that you’re searching for a VPN (virtual private network) for gaming. Or perhaps you’re even considering purchasing one for your own entertainment. Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about VPNs for gaming.
One of the first things that you’ll want to consider is the feature set of the VPN service. Some VPNs are focused more on security and privacy while others are designed to provide the best possible speeds. In general, though, you’ll want to make sure that the VPN you’re looking at offers what you need (and more) without being overly restrictive. Typically, you’ll find that the more features you need, the more you’ll have to pay for. So it’s important to weigh up what you need and how much you’re willing to spend.
No matter what, nothing is more frustrating than trying to use a product or service that isn’t designed to work with your particular device or software. That’s why it’s so important to do research before you buy. Find out what customer support systems the company offers and how easy they are to use. Ideally, you want a VPN that offers a live chat function or email support. So if you do run into trouble, at least you’ll have somebody to help you out rather than having to dig through online forums or phone trees.
Location Based Blocking
If you’re a gamer, then you’ll most probably travel for gaming or use services that are based abroad. This can cause problems as services like VPNs will block your IP address from being recorded when you’re traveling abroad. Especially if you’re using a public Wi-Fi connection while traveling, your identity could be exposed. So if you’re traveling or live abroad, make sure that the service you’re considering uses secure and encrypted protocols to keep your personal data safe. If you’re not located abroad, most VPNs will allow you to easily whitelist (allow) or blacklist (forbid) specific locations to help you connect when you travel or use public Wi-Fi connections.
This refers to the source code of the application. Typically, you won’t have to pay for the application itself, but you will have to pay for the subscription or one-time fee. If the source code is available (under a free or open-source license), then you’ll be able to download and modify it as you see fit. Some open-source VPNs are actually quite good. But you must keep in mind that if you modify the code, you could potentially introduce a security risk. So use your best judgement when deciding whether or not to download and install an open-source VPN.
A kill switch is a feature that essentially turns off all traffic from a device that’s connected to it. This could prove useful in the event of a ransomware attack or other situations where you fear your personal data could be at risk. Some VPNs offer this feature, but it’s usually only activated when the device is physically disconnected from the network (e.g. if you power cycle the device or switch it off and then on again). When activated, the kill switch will prevent further data being sent to or received from the device. So in the event of such an attack, the kill switch will help prevent further damage. If the device is still connected when the kill switch is activated, then all network traffic will be blocked and the user will have to reset the device before they can use it again.
Just because you have a fast connection at home doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to game at the same speeds on a VPN. Most VPNs cap the bandwidth that you’re allowed to use. The cap could either be based on your payment plan or on a free trial basis (or some combination of the two). As a general rule, the more data you use (up to a point), the cheaper the service will be. So if you’re looking for a bargain, be sure to limit the amount of data you use while on the service. This will help you avoid any caps being placed on your bandwidth.
PPTP vs L2TP vs IKEv2 vs IKEv1
These are all different kinds of VPNs. Let’s take a look at what they are and what makes them different.
- Private-Private Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
- Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)
PPTP stands for Private-Private Tunneling Protocol. When you connect to a PPTP-secured network, you are creating what is essentially a private tunnel between your device and the server. Your device and the PPTP server will communicate via a secure and encrypted connection.
L2TP stands for Layer Two Tunneling Protocol. When you’re using L2TP, your device will create a tunnel to the server, which is then extended to another device (which can be either a computer or a mobile phone). Like with PPTP, the communication is secured and encrypted.
IKEv2 is the successor to IKEv1. IKEv2 offers advanced security features (e.g. authentication, compression, and encryption) as well as the ability to establish multiple simultaneous tunnels between two or more devices (e.g. if you’re sharing a network connection with your console, you can set up another tunnel to send data to a second device). One of the unique things about IKEv2 is that it’s based on asymmetric cryptography, meaning that only the server has access to the encrypted data and only the user has access to the decrypted data. This makes it much harder for hackers or intruders to decrypt and obtain your personal information. Unfortunately, IKEv2 is only available on some platforms (e.g. Windows 7 and up; macOS 10.10 and up; and Linux distributions that support the OpenSSL library).
IKEv1 is the original version of what is now known as IKEv2. It uses what’s known as symmetric cryptography, which allows anyone with access to the encryption key to decrypt and obtain your data. However, in order to set up a VPN with IKEv1, you’ll need an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate.
Types of VPN Connection
You’ll most likely be offered a variety of different VPN connections (also known as ‘credentials’) when you sign up for a VPN. The most common are:
- L2TP over IPSec (IPSec)
- L2TP over OpenVPN (OpenVPN)
- IPsec over OpenVPN (IPsec/OpenVPN)
- DNS leak protection (No Logging)
These are all different ways to connect to your VPN. Let’s dive into what they mean.
Stand-Alone vs. Client-Only
One of the most distinguishing factors of a VPN is whether or not it is a ‘stand-alone’ product. A stand-alone product will connect to a VPN server (usually located in a different country) and maintain the connection even when the user is not online. A client-only product will connect to a VPN server when you sign up for the service and will then disconnect you once you’re done using it. The major advantage of a stand-alone product is that you won’t have to worry about maintaining a connection if you temporarily lose your internet connection (e.g. if you switch off your router). The disadvantage is that you’ll need to set up and manage the VPN server yourself (e.g. if you want to switch it on and off as needed).