A VPN or a Virtual Private Network is a service that secures and protects your connection when you surf the internet. A VPN ensures that you don’t fall victim to internet vulnerabilities such as; snooping and censorship. That’s, it ensures your privacy, security as well as enabling you to access blocked content.
There are a lot of VPNs these days, and you might not have some criteria to use when choosing one. The most basic approach is to determine what you want. But there’s more to VPNs that you should know before settling on one. Below are details on what you should look for when choosing a VPN service.
Company’s Location and Servers
When choosing a VPN provider, the company’s location is a great deal if you value privacy and confidentiality. This is because a company’s location determines what type of jurisdiction laws apply to it. The best VPN provider should be located in an area where;
- There are no data retention laws – this means your VPN provider won’t keep your data, even if the provider is compelled to give out your details, they have none to give.
- There’s a hard-legal process to which one can order the provider to submit your details and should be hard to determine under what circumstances.
The location of the VPN servers is also a factor as it determines the options you get and how long the VPN takes to connect. The more the servers, the better your options are.
Security is one of the main reasons why we use VPNs. A VPN ensures security by encrypting the data between your and the VPN server. Almost every VPN indicates it uses military-grade or bank-level encryption. Encryption is like a lock and only people with the key can open the lock. Encryption involves using different standards such as Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). The common most secure ones are AES-256 bit and AES-128-bit encryption. For a secure connection to occur, the VPN makes what is called a handshake. This handshake must also be protected. You’ll notice most VPNs indicating they use RSA-2048. RSA is also an encryption system and RSA-2048, or higher is secure. The best VPN should have AES-128 or AES-256 with RSA-2048 or higher.
A VPN protocol is a set of instructions that ensure the VPN connection is reliable and secure. There are a number of protocols that most VPN support. They include; OpenVPN, PPTP, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec and IKEv2. The best VPN should at least have the OpenVPN protocol. This is because it’s the industry standard and the most secure protocol around. Other protocols don’t do well but can be used at times of need. Here is a summary;
- PPTP – You should avoid this protocol unless it’s necessary, e., for compatibility.
- SSTP – Being a Microsoft Standard, it’s poorly supported by most VPNs. But still, offer the advantages of OpenVPN.
- L2TP/IPsec – Its regarded to be secure
- IKEv2 – Most smartphones prefer it over OpenVPN because it’s a secure and fast protocol. It also reconnects when your connection is interrupted.
Apart from security, speed determines the functionality of a VPN. A VPN with high blazing speeds is considered to be best suited for streaming, online gaming and torrents if it supports P2P clients. To accompany speed, the VPN should offer high-speed servers, unlimited bandwidth, remove download caps and avoid ISPs from throttling your internet speed.
A good VPN should at least practice the following;
No connection logs: the VPN should never log your source IP address, connection timestamps, and session duration.
No activity logs: the VPN should not in any way be able to record or determine which websites you visit and should not log the destination and the contents of your traffic.
This should be applied even when you decide to purchase the VPN. A point of note, when paying or registering for the VPN service, use a disposable email. For payments, use bitcoins if possible, popular VPNs offer it.
When choosing a VPN ensure that it works on most devices. That is, it can be supported by most mobile and computing platforms such as Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. If it offers browser extensions and can be used by other devices such as gaming accessories its perfect. It should also provide a simultaneous connection of up to 3 or more devices.
A good VPN offers extra features that make it stand out. A VPN should be able to offer around the clock customer support and should have a customer friendly policy. Additional features include more privacy tools, DNS leak protection and most importantly a kill switch. A kill switch ensures no traffic flows when your connection is not VPN protected or secure. Especially when an internet connection drops
Value for your money
Different VPN providers offer different pricing plans for their services. Usually monthly, half a year and yearly plans. There’s always one rule, the cheaper the price for a particular plan, the limited the services. But in the long run, it turns out to be expensive. For the best value, go for the yearly plan (the one with a long period) as it offers all the features at a reduced price. Often, the yearly plan is accompanied with huge discounts. Other providers offer free trials that vary from 24hrs to a whole month. You should also look for the money back guarantee, in case you’re not satisfied with the service.
The above details will help you choose the best VPN for your needs. In a nutshell, the safer the VPN, the more secure and private your online activities will be. A VPN with high speeds gives a better opportunity for streaming. An excellent choice means your privacy is protected, you get a faster connection, a wide selection of servers, and also a robust set of features.