So you want to get a VPN. That’s great!
A good VPN service will keep you protected as you surf the world wide web, while at the same time letting you access content that could otherwise be outside of your reach.
Even if you live in the West where everything is allowed, a local network at your work or in your school may have some limitations. And today, there is no good reason to accept limitations of any kind.
Before spending a single dime of your hard-earned money, you should know there are many, many options out there and selecting the right service for your unique needs isn’t necessarily easy. But it’s also not that hard as long as you know what you need a VPN for.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are 7 tips that will help you select the right VPN:
1. Understand your needs
You need to ask yourself a few questions, like:
- Do you need a VPN to access some content (i.e. Netflix or social networks) from your country, office, school?
- Do you need a VPN to anonymously download files via BitTorrent?
- Perhaps you need a VPN to beat your country’s censors? Or you may be traveling to a high censorship country and would like to keep your access to Facebook and other services that may be blocked there?
- Are you frequently work from bars and cafes or connecting to public WiFi networks, and would like to stay private?
- Do you need a VPN for online gaming?
- Or you just want to keep your web whereabouts under the radar? Privacy is your right, after all.
Providing answers to these questions will help you get a service that is best suited for your needs. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle…
2. You need VPN on all your devices
Today, most of us use at least two devices — a smartphone and a computer — and you’ll want to have both of them protected with a VPN. In fact, you may have additional devices and those too could be “covered” with a good VPN service.
Top VPNs can work with your router thus protecting the entire network in your home or office. Once that feature is turned on, all devices connected to a router get to benefit from an extra layer of privacy.
Speaking of devices, in addition to computers, phones, and tablets — once your router is set up to work with a VPN — smart TVs, gaming console and streaming boxes/sticks could connect to the internet through a secure network, as well.
3. Make sure a VPN has servers in locations you need
What’s good a fast VPN if it doesn’t have servers in locations where you need it to work the most? This could be especially important for folks looking to use a VPN for work. They need to know that a VPN could be their trusty companion, one that will never let them down.
Casual users, on the other hand, typically get a VPN for accessing video streaming websites like Netflix, which has a different content offering in the U.S. and other parts of the world. This has nothing to do with Netflix (and other streaming services for that matter), and everything to do with how the content rights are bought and sold on the market.
Most users would want to access Netflix’s US catalog so they opt for a VPN with a strong network in the U.S. — which, I’m pleased to say, is what all top VPN providers have.
Then again, not all users are the same. Based on what you do, you may require some other locations to be available, so make sure to read the fine print before getting into any contract with a VPN provider.
4. Go for an easy-to-use VPN
Setting up a VPN isn’t necessarily easy. In fact, it used to be something only the really tech-savvy could do.
These days, the situation is very different with newer VPN services making it easy for just about anyone to connect to servers on the other side of the planet. Simple select the location of the server, click “connect” in you’re good to go.
This is how it works with most VPN services on computers, and that’s also how it should work on mobile. Again, top VPNs offer great mobile clients that are equally easy to use.
However, even with the best VPNs, you may experience some problems, which leads to the next section…
5. Get a VPN that offers 24/7 support
What happens when you stumble on a problem? Whom are you going to call? Chances are you won’t be able to call anyone from a VPN service but a tech-savvy friend or neighbor.
What you’ll want to do, however, is contact your VPN service provider to get assistance as soon as possible. In some cases, you will have to send them an email, but that way getting the right answer could take a few days.
There is no need to wait that long. Instead, you should get a VPN that offers round the clock (24/7) customer support. That support tends to come in the form of online chat which, in our tests, proven to work just as well — or even better — than a phone call.
The reason is simple – a person on the other end of the line could send you a screenshot or point you to the web page with the solution to your problem. That, as you would imagine, is not as easy when you’re on a phone call.
6. Is there a money-back guarantee?
Ideally, you’ll want to try out the service before signing up for it. However, most VPNs don’t offer a free trial and even if they do – that trial tends to last for a short period of time that is often not enough to determine whether it’s the service you’ll want to hold on to for a long run or not.
What top VPNs do offer is a money-back guarantee that typically lasts 30 days. During this period, you should be able to determine whether a VPN ticks all the right boxes for you — like whether it’s reliable for streaming, torrenting, your work and so on.
If you can’t get it to work correctly — you know what needs to be done next: contact their support, and ask for your money back. Otherwise, it’s time to “push the button”… which leads us to our final point…
7. What are the payment options?
Generally speaking, most VPN service providers will let you save a ton when you commit on longer periods of use. In fact, the savings could go up to 70% with two- and three-year contracts, presuming those are available. So if you have found some VPN to work for you, the best option is to get it with a long-term commitment.
Another thing that could be important are payment options. For instance, you may have some cryptocurrencies that you want to spend or some money on your PayPal account that could be used to pay for a VPN service? Not all VPNs accept these payment options so you better check them out before paying with your credit card — which are accepted by all services.
Not all VPNs are created equal and shopping around could prove beneficial. Go through this article a few times and only then see what’s being offered.
We suggest starting with our list of Top 5 VPNs that (obviously) includes only the best services. You can’t go wrong with any VPN on that list, but for the best experience — get the one at the top and forget about it. Let it do its magic in the background, while you safely surf the web. Or do whatever you want to do. Good luck. 😉