You’re looking for a VPN?
VPN stands for ‘virtual private network’ and is a piece of software that that helps to make you more anonymous online, encrypts all of your internet traffic, and let’s you effectively trick your laptop or mobile device into thinking it’s in another location.
The best VPN services are increasingly being used as a replacement for or in addition to traditional online security, but have plenty of other uses, too.
Install the best VPN possible and you’ll have a tool that not only helps keep you secure online, but also get around blocked websites, access the freshest TV shows and much more.
The industry has witnessed exponential growth over the last few years, and competition is fierce with new options popping up from time to time. With more than 300 VPNs available, choosing the best one for your needs can be challenging.
Fret not though, as we’ve got your back! Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to choose a VPN service.
1. Supported Protocols
VPNs utilize a variety of security protocols to protect the data as it passes through the tunnel, but not all of them are created equally. Each protocol brings its own set of advantages and disadvantages to the table.
Unless you’re into streaming, you should avoid using PPTP at all costs. It’s an outdated protocol that uses weak encryption and has many known security vulnerabilities. While PPTP might be an excellent option to access location-locked websites and protect your non-sensitive browsing, it can’t be relied on for serious security.
L2TP/IPSec is considered an upgraded and better version of PPTP. It provides much better security than its predecessor but lacks in the speed department. SSTP is one of the safest protocols available but has limited support for non-Windows devices. Though it’s somewhat fast, the high level of encryption can slow it down to some degree.
IKEv2/IPSec is among the fastest and most secure protocols out there, but it’s better suited for mobile devices that switch between Wi-Fi and data. The best all-round protocol is OpenVPN, as it offers robust security without compromising greatly on speeds. Remember, good VPN providers will allow you to choose from all these options.
2. Cross-Platform Compatibility
Although most VPNs support the main platforms of Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, and iOS, some VPNs are not available on all platforms.
If you have a Windows computer but use an iPhone, then you want to ensure your VPN has a platform and app for both.
It’s also a good idea to see how many devices you can connect to at once. Some VPNs allow unlimited devices, while others only let you connect up to three.
3. Number of Servers & Locations
Interested in accessing US streaming services like Netflix without geo-locks? Then, let’s face it – choosing a VPN provider with the vast majority of its servers in Asia and Africa will be of no use to you. Don’t settle for anything less than a vast array of servers in multiple countries.
Ideally, you should look for one with hundreds, if not thousands, of VPN servers in all the important locations across the world. The more servers you have, the better as you can switch between them freely to access different types of geo-restricted content.
4. Simultaneous Connections
You’re using a VPN on your laptop or desktop, and that’s great. But what if you want to set up a VPN connection on all the devices in your household? What you’ll need is a VPN service that supports multiple sessions at a time, of course.
You should go for a VPN provider that offers up to five concurrent connections, at least. Also, the ability to connect your router to the VPN is preferred. It allows you to secure all your devices in one go without exhausting all your simultaneous logins.
5. Unlimited Bandwidth
One of the main reasons why people use VPNs is to get around ISP throttling, so paying for VPN service only to get throttled again is a terrible idea. Bandwidth limitations may not have been a problem before the dawn of the streaming era.
Due to the increasing popularity of music and video streaming, though, the bandwidth available isn’t sufficient. As such, you should steer clear from VPNs that enforce bandwidth restrictions – unless they’re intended to prevent the risk of service abuse.
Nonetheless, a worthy VPN service will put no caps on the amount of bandwidth you can use. With no quotas to worry about, you can enjoy the convenience of downloading, browsing and streaming as much as you want.
6. Connection Speed
When you use a VPN, your connection speed slows down to some extent because of the encryption process that takes place. If you want to stream your favorite content or download files without any interruptions, this can be a deal-breaker.
The most popular VPNs have workarounds in place to ensure you get speedy connection speeds at all times, no matter where you’re located. Take, for instance, dedicated servers optimized for streaming and P2P file sharing.
7 .User-Friendly Interface
The setup and user-interface on a lot of VPNs can be quite complex. So, if you’re not tech savvy and do not want to trouble yourself trying to configure a VPN, it’s important to find one that offers simple procedures and a user-friendly platform.
Some VPNs offer a virtual setup, so you never have to lift a finger.
8. Payment Methods
Payment is always important to consider when looking for a VPN. Prices differ depending on a VPN’s features and subscription length.
How you pay is also important. Some VPNs offer completely anonymous payment systems, like BitCoin, while others allow you to buy gift cards to avoid using personal information.
While free VPNs are tempting, we do not recommend you use one. Even if you don’t pay for it with money, you will be paying for it another way, whether that’s with ads, unreliable protection, or bad quality streaming.
If the price is an issue, consider using one that offers great discounts and coupons.
9. Money-Back Guarantee
A money-back guarantee is a great way to ensure you don’t get stuck with a product you do not want.
If you happen to choose a VPN but decide it is not the right one for you, getting out of your contract can be a big issue.
Look for a VPN that promises your money back within a specific amount of time, so you are not obligated to stay with one until your contract is up.
10. reliable customer service
One of the most overlooked but super important factors of a VPN is if the provider offers 24/7 customer service.
VPNs change all the time, and it’s important you can easily contact someone who will help you with whatever snag you hit.
We prefer VPNs who offer live-chat because emails and tickets can take hours – if not days – to answer.
To summarize, here are the best VPNs in 2020…
The best all-round VPN service for speed, privacy and unblocking
Works on: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux | Streaming sites unblocked: Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Amazon, Hulu | 24/7 support: Yes | Trial period: 30 days | Number of servers: 3,000+ | Server locations: 160 | Countries: 94 | Maximum devices supported: 5