You can’t help but admire how things have changed in terms of technological advancement, and the human race has advanced beyond people’s wildest dreams 50 years ago.
Of all the remarkable progress made all over the years, the internet has got to be the most fascinating. It changed how we do everything, no matter how big or small, and for that, people are doing so much better in every walk of life. Still, with the internet came a few problems that were just unavoidable, like privacy for starters. It’s an unfortunate side-effect of using the global web that your privacy is often compromised, and you don’t control how much of your data is shared with the big companies like Facebook or Google. But for every problem there is a solution, and this is where VPNs come in.
VPNs are Virtual Private Networks, and people have been using them for years now for a variety of reasons. They can help you stay anonymous online and maintain your privacy, and they’re also used by people where there’s heavy censorship on the internet –– VPNs can help you bypass that censorship. In any case, their myriad of uses aside, there are plenty of VPN services out there, so how do you go about choosing which one to use? These are 15 tips to help you find that one VPN service you need.
Find the best protocols
The first thing you need to consider before getting your hands on a VPN is what protocols they’re using. At the end of the day, the main reason why people use virtual private networks is for security and added encryption, and for that you need to find a provider that gives you the best encryption protocols out there. It doesn’t matter if you’re not particularly cautious about your privacy and online security; getting a VPN is always a good idea because you never know just how safe the open networks you’re using in cafés or hotels are. The last thing you need is for someone to start stealing your data just because you’re using an unsafe connection, and those can do much more than that and might even download malicious malware to your devices.
So, to be safe, get a VPN that has a very good encryption, which is usually going to be an OpenVPN. It’s considered by many to be the best encryption for VPNs out there as it balances between a very high level of security and excellent speed. There are definitely others out there, but this is recommended by most experts.
Consider the compatibility of devices
This is one thing you’ll have to take into consideration before buying a VPN, because the last thing you need is to buy one only to find that it doesn’t work with your operating system. Yes, most VPNs support different operating systems like Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS, and others, but some simply don’t. You should ensure that the VPN you’re getting supports different devices since not all you have at home will be the same.
Find out the maximum number of connections
Speaking of connections, not all VPNs have the same number of devices that can connect at the same time. So, you have to make sure that the one you’re getting will accommodate the maximum number of devices that will be available wherever you’re getting it, whether that’s at home or at work. You don’t want to get a separate VPN for your mobile and another for your laptop, so don’t forget to check whether or not the VPN you’re getting allows multiple connections because chances are you’ll definitely be needing them.
Learn the location of servers
You need your VPN service provider to have multiple servers all around the world. One of the most common uses for VPNs is to open websites that are restricted based on your location –– like trying to watch Bleacher Report videos from anywhere outside of the US, basically. So, if the VPN you’re dealing with having servers in Asia and Europe, for example, then it won’t do you much good, would it? This is why the location of the servers is something you have to check because it’ll definitely make a difference in your final decision.
Learn the number of servers
The number of VPN servers is as important and their locations. It’s pretty normal these days with how popular virtual private networks are to find hundreds or even thousands of servers around the world, and that is exactly what you need from your service provider. The more there are, the better your service will be and the easier it’s going to be accessing all sorts of sites you want. Location and number usually go side by side actually. If the VPN service has servers around the world, then you can rest assured that there's plenty of them, too.
Ask about the features
Different VPNs come with various features, and you’ll want one that provides as many as possible, especially those you know you will need. For instance, some VPNs don’t retain logs and provide a secure connection for your browsing experience, which will come in handy for a journalist, for example, that does not want their internet activity tracked by the government. Another very cool feature is a VPN kill switch, which means your server will automatically disconnect your session –– whether it’s on the mobile or the laptop –– if the VPN connection is down for any reason. It will remain disconnected until the service is up. It is features like these that people get VPNs for, and you’ll want to ask which are available with the service you’re going to because they’ll definitely make a lot of difference for you in the long run.
Find an easy interface
Contrary to popular belief, not only tech geniuses and hackers use VPNs, and they’re not the only ones that could use its features. A lot of ordinary people use them, and that’s why you need to take the VPN’s interface into consideration, because they can get really complicated and you’ll probably have a very hard time using it if that is the case, especially if it’s your first time. So, always look for simple interface and easy to follow procedures that will help you set the whole thing up without getting a migraine. There are even some VPNs that give you the option of a virtual setup, which means you won’t do anything basically.
Like any other service in the world, pricing is something you’ll have to factor in your priorities while looking for a VPN. As the features and the level of security vary, so will the pricing of the virtual private network. Finland is one of the countries where you can find excellent VPNs for some great prices per month, which is what you want at the end of the day. But to find the Best VPN in Finland, you’ll need to do a little research because there are plenty of options. There are even free VPNs that you can get without paying any money! They’re definitely not perfect, and they come with some problems, but they do the trick and get the job done if security isn’t your number one concern.
Know that privacy agreement you blindly agree to without reading in basically everything online? Well, with VPNs, you’re going to have to read the privacy agreement, mostly because of a very important clause that would make a lot of difference in your security measures. You should look for a text saying ‘no logging’ in the privacy agreement, which means the VPN won’t store your data during your time using it, from visited websites to payment information, which some VPNs will do. You’re basically using a VPN to protect your privacy and data, so remember to look for this one to ensure your data is encrypted and never stored or shared.
Find a VPN with good customer service
Customer care is the basis on which any successful or competent service is built, and VPNs are no exception to that rule, and it’s even more important here. You need to find a VPN service that has reliable customer service that is available around the clock. It’s very easy to face a lot of technical difficulties while navigating your way through dealing with a VPN, and it’s imperative that you have someone to walk you through any problems so you could find a fast and efficient solution. So, always remember to ask what customer care looks like for the service provider you’re considering, and look for options that provide instant response like live chats or phone numbers.
You’d do well to remember that the VPN’s speed is something important to consider, because you’ll hate your life if you got stuck with a slow VPN that takes ages to load web pages. This is actually why a lot of people warn against using free VPN services, since you’ll probably be sacrificing speed in order not to pay any money –– if not your privacy as well. So, always ask about the speed limitations and make free options your last.
Look for VPNs with free trial
What’s the best way to know if this VPN service is for you? You go for the free trial. Always look for VPN services that provide this option, because this is your chance to get to know the server and just how good it is and how much it’d suit your needs. Most VPNs provide the option to take it for a free trial, but you have to just make sure it’s there because you’ll definitely be using it before you upgrade to whatever package they have.
Look for money-back options
Free trials can be deceiving, and in time, you might be faced with obstacles that didn’t show while you were giving the product a test run. So, you should look for VPN services that have a money-back guarantee, because that way you ensure that you’ll never get stuck with a product that’s not really good or isn’t doing what you need it to do. That way you can get out of your contract at any time If you’re not satisfied with the service.
Ask about bandwidth restrictions
One of the reasons people escape to VPNs is to avoid ISP throttling and bandwidth restrictions, so it’s not really smart to go get a VPN that has the same issues. Stay away from virtual private networks that impose any forms of restrictions on bandwidth, because this could mess up your video streaming or browsing experience in general. You’re using the VPN to avoid having a download limit, among many other reasons, so also stay from any maximum download limit because you’ll find that the data burns out real quick.
Inquire about payment methods
VPNs offer a variety of payment methods for users wanting to use the service, but your needs might be just a little bit more than variety. Some people want anonymous payment methods so that their activity cannot be tracked in any way possible by governments –– which is usually the case in countries with crackdown on the opposition and freedom of speech. In this case the user will want a payment method that would not compromise their anonymity, and those can be cryptocurrency, prepaid cards, gift cards, and others. So, if that kind of thing is important for you, don’t forget to ask if the VPN service provides this kind of payment method or not.
Virtual private networks have definitely changed the internet, and more people are resorting to them with each passing day for more privacy and to access sites they usually cannot –– it doesn’t even have to be political; Netflix is banned in some countries! So, it’s important that you first identify why you want the VPN service, because this will help you narrow down the search. The kind of provider you’ll be dealing with will drastically vary based on what you want out of a VPN, so start by figuring this one out.