Running a VPN on your computer is no longer optional — it is something everyone should do. In fact, we think you should have a VPN on all of your devices, including smartphones, tablets and more.
But where to start? How to find the right VPN for yourself? It’s not that easy but it’s also not rocket science. You need to know what to look for… and that’s the point of this article, to demystify the process of choosing the right VPN provider for you. Here are 5 tips to help you out:
1. Logging policy
What you want from a VPN provider is a firm no-logs commitment. There is no reason why you should let anyone know what you’re doing online and since VPN routes all your internet traffic, it by default knows every step you make online. You don’t want them to store that data, period. Cause someone — i.e. a government agency — could ask for it at some point in the future. However, if a VPN provider doesn’t store a single point of information, said government authority wouldn’t be able to get any data about you.
As an end-user, you would like to know that some reputable third party has checked VPN provider’s claims that they operate in a true “zero-logs fashion.” Luckily, virtually all of the best VPNs did third party audits, which is one of the reasons we’ve placed them in that (best) category.
We should add that some information is needed for a VPN provider to work, such as your username and/or email address, and payment information — otherwise how would you be able to buy their service. Here too, you can be more anonymous by paying with cryptocurrencies.
2. Encryption level
Considering that strong encryption comes included with all of the best VPNs, you shouldn’t settle for less. What you want is 256-bit encryption which is impossible to break, and which — in case you wonder — is also used by major corporations and governments all around the world.
Such encryption will make sure no one can decrypt digital packets that are flowing between your device and some server on the other end of the planet. Also, this will also make it impossible for your own ISP to know what you’re doing online. And that extra anonymity one of the key points of using a VPN.
3. Server network
Generally speaking, the more servers a VPN operates the better service you get. More servers mean a VPN will be able to bypass more obstacles, such as those imposed by governments in high-censorship countries, video streaming services, schools & universities, workplaces and so on.
However, there is one exception – Hotspot Shield, which has a relatively small network of servers but since it uses a proprietary technology, it is able to deliver equally fast results — sometimes even faster. For what it matters — and it’s actually a big deal — the technology Hotspot Shield relies on is also used by other security firms.
If you want some other VPN — other than Hotspot Shield — make sure that it has a network of at least 500 servers. Or 1,000. Also, see how all those servers are spread across the world, cause sometimes the sheer number of servers is not enough — you’ll want them to be placed in as many places as possible.
Related to the previous point, the more servers a VPN operates, the faster connection it can deliver.
But… it’s not that easy, it all depends on what you need a VPN for in the first place. For instance, if you need it to access US Netflix, many VPNs can get you a buffer-free experience. And the same goes for torrenting – you can get decent download and upload speeds with many VPNs.
On the other hand, if you need it for online gaming, you’ll want a VPN with as little latency as possible… Or, you may need to connect to far-off servers from time to time.
Your best bet is to find a VPN that offers either a money-back guarantee or some kind of free trial period. In our experience, both options get the job done allowing you to test the service in a risk-free manner.
Then, once you try out the service and see that it works for you (or not) — decide to either keep using it or try a new one. You don’t want to commit to a VPN that won’t get the job done for you.
5. Additional features
Again, it is crucial to determine your needs before spending your hard-earned cash on a VPN service. You should come up with a list of features you must have and those that are nice to have. Among those in the latter group could be things like:
- Torrenting support – dedicated servers for peer-to-peer (P2P) traffic.
- Does it work in China and other high-censorship countries? Could be important if you frequently travel to such places.
- How well does it play with popular streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu.
Once you have a list of all the features you need, we suggest you proceed to our page with Best of the Best VPNs. We’d like to think all of them are rock-solid and you won’t go wrong by picking any one of them. So what are you waiting for? Grab a VPN today and thank us later. 😉