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Choosing a VPN Service Provider

What attributes define a VPN provider? Other factors in the choosing of a VPN can be a little hazy, aside from the most obvious consideration, a reasonable price that fits within your budget. Let’s examine some of the factors you should think about.

You should review the paperwork offered by the VPN service provider before registering for the service in order to find the answers to these queries. To make sure that even if they say they don’t do X, Y, or Z, users aren’t claiming that they are in fact doing precisely that, read their documentation and then look for complaints about the service.

What Protocols Are Supported by Them

Not every VPN protocol is the same (not by a long shot). OpenVPN is without a doubt the protocol you should choose if you wish to achieve excellent security standards with minimal processing overhead.

PPTP should be avoided if at all possible. Due to security concerns, the outdated protocol, which also uses shoddy encryption, should be regarded as compromised. It may be sufficient to protect your non-essential web browsing while you’re at a coffee shop (for example, to prevent the shopkeeper’s son from sniffing your passwords), but it is insufficient for real security. Although L2TP/IPsec significantly outperforms PPTP, it lacks OpenVPN’s speed and open security assessments.

To cut a long tale short, you should use OpenVPN, Wireguard, or a contemporary proprietary like Lightway. Who you want is (and you should accept no substitutions until something even better comes along).

How Many and Where Are the Servers

A VPN service with the majority of its nodes in Africa and Asia is of very little help to you if you want to unblock U.S. media sites like Netflix and YouTube. Accept nothing less than a broad fleet of servers located in several different nations. Expecting hundreds, if not thousands, of servers throughout the world is realistic given how powerful and popular VPN services have grown to be.

It’s a good idea to look into the company’s base of operations to see if it meets your needs in addition to finding out how many servers they have and where they are located (if you’re using a VPN to avoid government retaliation, you should avoid a VPN provider in a nation with close ties to your country).

How many simultaneous connections are permitted

You may be asking yourself, “I only need one connection, right?” What if you wish to configure VPN access for many family members, multiple devices, your home router, or something similar? Multiple concurrent connections to the service are required. Or, if you’re very concerned about security, you could want to set up several devices to use a variety of exit nodes so that all of your household’s or your own traffic isn’t combined.

You need a service that supports at least two connections at once, but in practice the more connections (to cover all of your PCs and mobile devices) and the option to connect your router to the VPN network, the better.

Do They Restrict Services, Throttle Connections, or Limit Bandwidth

One of the primary motivations for using VPN networks is ISP throttling; therefore, paying more for a VPN service on top of your broadband bill only to experience ISP throttling once more is a horrible idea. It helps to do a little research on Google because this is one of those subjects about which some VPNs aren’t entirely transparent.

Prior to the era of streaming, bandwidth limitations may not have been a major issue, but now that everyone is streaming movies, music, and other content, the bandwidth is quickly depleted. Unless the bandwidth restrictions are obviously very severe and primarily meant to allow the provider to police anyone abusing the service, stay away from VPNs that apply them.

In that vein, unless you just use a commercial VPN service occasionally for basic browsing, limiting your data usage to GB’s is absurd. Although it is normal for a service’s fine print to limit you to a certain amount of TBS of data, truly unrestricted bandwidth should be expected.

Check the small print to discover whether any protocols or services you want to use the service for are restricted. Read the small print to make sure your file sharing service isn’t blocked if you want to utilize the service for file sharing. Again, while it was usual for VPN providers to impose restrictions on services in the past (in an effort to reduce bandwidth and computing overhead), it is more common to find VPNs with an open-door policy these days.

What Sort of Logs Do They Keep, If Any

The majority of VPNs don’t maintain any user activity logs. This is not only advantageous to their clients (and a strong selling feature), but it is also very advantageous to them (as detailed logging can quickly consume disk after disk worth of resources). Many of the biggest VPN providers will confirm this: they not only have no interest in maintaining logs, but also are unable to do so due to the size of their business and lack of available disk space.

There is really no justification for settling for anything less than zero recording, even while some VPNs will mention that they keep logs for very brief windows (such as only a few hours) to facilitate maintenance and guarantee their network is functioning properly.

What Forms of Payment Do They Accept

Anonymous payment methods are probably not a top priority for you if you’re buying a VPN to protect your traffic from prying Wi-Fi nodes while travelling or to safely route your traffic back to the U.S. 

You’ll be much more interested in VPN services that accept payments from anonymous sources like bitcoin or gift cards if you’re buying one to avoid political persecution or to remain as anonymous as possible.

Several VPN providers have systems in place that allow them to take gift cards from well-known merchants (wholly unrelated to their business) like Walmart or Target in exchange for VPN credit. You heard us correctly on that last one. You might spend cash on a gift card to one of the many large box retailers, use it to get VPN credit instead of using your own credit card or banking information.

Has a kill switch been installed

You need some assurance that the VPN won’t abruptly shut down and spew all of your traffic out onto the open internet if you rely on it to keep your actions even marginally anonymous. What you need is a “kill switch system,” a device. Good VPN companies have a kill switch system in place so that if the VPN connection drops for whatever reason, it automatically locks down the connection to prevent the computer from automatically switching to the open and unsecure internet connection.

Recommendations from Us

With so much study still to do, it’s understandable if your head is spinning at this point. We are aware that choosing a VPN provider can be difficult, and even with the help of the questions we posed above, you might not know where to start.

To that end, we’ve chosen our best VPN service providers that we have direct personal experience with and that fulfil our VPN selection criteria. We’re more than happy to help cut through all the jargon and marketing text to help get to the bottom of things. All of our recommendations below have been in service for years and have continued to receive excellent ratings and recommendations over that period, in addition to satisfying our described criteria (and beyond our expectations for quality of service and ease of use).

There is no substitute for a securely constructed Virtual Private Network, whether you’re sick of your ISP slowing down your connection, want to safeguard your browser sessions when travelling, or simply want to download whatever the hell you want without the man on your back. It’s time to permanently safeguard your internet traffic now that you have the knowledge required to choose a reputable VPN.