It’s a high risk if you don’t have a VPN yet. So to protect your privacy and safety, not only yours but also your home network and family or friends, choose a VPN.
Please read our article to find out why it’s so important to use a VPN and what features and functions to search for while picking the best VPN to protect your online activity.
Another critical factor of transparency is the presence of easily accessible and professional customer support operated by real humans. It’s very common to get bots, but only with top VPNs, you can expect a 24/7 life chat that will solve your problems ASAP.
Jurisdiction of the VPN company
Defines the laws and regulations in a given country that govern how VPN vendor handles your data. VPNs, in general, are legally allowed to be used in most countries, but the headquarter location defines what type of regulations VPN provider has to follow. Therefore, the jurisdiction establishes the level of control over your data.
VPN connection speed
VPN is an encrypted tunnel between you and the server you choose to connect. As you might already know, more devices between you and the destination will slow down the connection because additional devices introduce latency. Fortunately, that is not always the case for VPN because the tunnel can virtually shorten the distance avoiding some of the routers in the path, eventually increasing the speed. Therefore, the location of the VPN server can impact the connection speed.
Number of servers and locations
The number of offered servers and their locations are essential for three reasons:
- More servers mean that you have more virtual locations to choose from, and potentially it will lower the possibility of server overloads if there is a large number of users of the specific VPN.
- More servers in different locations can shorten the distance between you and a service you are trying to use — streaming, website server, gaming server, etc.
- Using a local VPN server closest to your actual location can significantly speed up the connection. Therefore, for travelers or nomads (remote workers), it might have a significant meaning to have the possibility to connect to several servers from multiple locations, regardless of the destination they travel to.
Operating systems and devices supported by the VPN
You should definitely check if your chosen VPN supports your devices and operating systems. In some cases, VPN vendors might not support mobile devices or have a limited number of security protocols you can choose, for example, on iOS. In addition, it’s helpful if the VPN supports network devices like routers or streaming devices like Amazon Fire TV Stick. At some point, the number of devices and operating systems might define the level of quality of the VPN vendor.
Number of simultaneous connections
This factor defines how many devices you can protect with your single account. The number of connections and router support can help to protect your home network, the whole family, or even your friends.
Additional features offered by VPNs
Sometimes you might overlook additional features, but they define the level of service.
First, a Kill Switch that protects you from network glitches is one of the most important. If the VPN service stops working, it cuts your internet connection and protects your traffic from accidental exposures.
Second, a dedicated IP might be something you look for if you want to use a VPN for remote work or have a secure connection to your bank. Static IP helps you look like a regular user because your IP is dedicated to you. Usually, VPN servers share their IP among the connected users, which might also impact you. For example, if multiple users try to connect to the same bank, it will look suspicious to the bank and, in the worst case, might lock your account, requiring additional actions to get access.
Third, Split Tunneling allows you to decide what data should go through a VPN and which should be routed through a regular ISP Connection. This helps improve the quality of the VPN connection by relieving the application and server that do not have to support all network services but only the ones you choose.
There are numerous additional features that VPN vendors offer and sometimes are available only from a specific one. Therefore, you need to check the VPN reviews to find out which one you might need.
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How to choose a VPN
Follow the steps to choose the best VPN for you
Step 1 - VPN server locations
Create a list describing how you would like to use VPN — what is important to you. Based on that list, try to define the server locations you need the most because VPNs present long lists of locations, countries, and regions or only a total number of servers. Then, find a VPN service that offers servers in locations you plan to use or travel to.
It’s good to choose a vendor that supports a vast number of servers, to avoid servers with a considerable number of users, and be able to switch to the closest one while you travel long or even short distances.
Step 2 - Fast and stable connection
This is very individual because many factors might impact the speed.
To name some of them:
- server location,
- server load,
- traffic routing mode,
- VPN protocol,
- data encryption level,
- the speed limit from ISP,
- anti-virus software and firewall environment,
We test VPNs and networking devices, and we know how difficult it is to achieve good speed measurements.
Therefore, try to find an offer where you can try the preferred product for a short time for free or for a small amount. We suggest the paid option to test the full potential of the VPN. Free options are often limited. For example, you can read about the PureVPN $0.99 deal.
If you have it installed and configured, test the VPN at different times, each day of the week, with as many locations as possible. Also, don’t forget to try it on multiple devices with all available protocols you would like to use because the device, protocol, and native application significantly impact the connection speed.
NOTE: locations like China, Russia, India, Iran, Syria, etc., have strict internet censorship, and real-time censoring can significantly impact VPN’s performance, or even some servers may not work anymore.
Step 3 - Smart devices support
Confirm that VPN software supports your device with protocols you would like to use. Some VPNs do not offer all of the commonly available protocols, for example, a Wireguard or additional features like a kill switch on all systems. Theoretically, you can expect a wide range of supported devices from a high-quality VPN provider. Sometimes, you might even find a long list looking like this: computers, notebooks, tablets, mobile phones, gaming consoles, smart TVs, routers, Windows, macOS, Linux, ChromeOS, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, etc.
For privacy protection, we advise picking a VPN vendor that offers browser plug-ins. Those plug-ins might be essential to unblock some streaming services and watch channels from different countries.
Step 4 - The maximum simultaneous connections
Verify how many connections VPN allows you to have at the same time. With multiple connections, you will save money by using the same service for your devices like mobile phones, notebooks, or smart TV. Additionally, you will be able to share the service with members of your family or friends.
Check also if the chosen VPN service supports installation on VPN routers. A router with an installed VPN can protect your complete home network or all your devices while traveling. This is the best solution for tourists and nomads changing their location without the hassle of configuring multiple devices in new places.
Step 5 - Encryption
Check what type of protocols are supported by the desired VPN because they define the level of encryption of your data going through the VPN tunnel. The encryption level differs a lot based on the used protocol. Therefore, as mentioned in a previous step, test the VPN with all available protocols to see what level of encryption and speed satisfies your needs.
We suggest using open-source protocols, which can be audited officially to verify their performance.
Step 6 - No-logs policy and jurisdiction
We strongly advise using a VPN that explicitly declares to have a no-logs or zero-logs policy implemented. Moreover, they have to have an official, 3rd party audits that go along with that policy. Those are the significant factors you need to check to ensure that your privacy is not at risk while using that VPN service.
No-logs policy defines if any of your sensitive data is collected and provided to governments or sold on the market.
To find out if you can trust declarations of no-logs policy is the locations of the company — registration of the VPN vendor. The country or region of registration is also called jurisdiction.
Jurisdiction defines if the law of the registration country/region requires a VPN company to collect and share any of their users’ information.
While choosing a VPN, please check if the place is among the five-eye, nine-eye, or fourteen-eye alliance.
Those are the alliances that share your data:
- Five-eyes Countries: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia.
- Nine-eyes Country: Five Eyes countries + Denmark, France, Netherlands, Norway
- Fourteen-eye countries: Nine-eye countries + Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Spain
If the VPN is located in one of the countries that are part of the alliance, your online activity, and private data are monitored and shared.
Therefore, you should pick a VPN located in a specific country, for example, The British Virgin Islands or Panama, where censorship still doesn’t exist or doesn’t impact VPN service providers.
Step 7 - Additional features
You should search for the most important, a kill switch, split tunneling, and VPN server speed tester, among other features available from different VPN providers. Remember that the more functions, the more development effort, so the offer might be more expensive.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but you will have to compare VPN reviews to find out which offer has a reasonable price and features.
Step 8 - Customer support
Get a VPN that offers 24/7 human Chat support. First, it means that this is a professional VPN vendor with the full potential to maintain its infrastructure. Still, what is more important, you can expect tech customer support anytime and anywhere.
Customer service is crucial for users living in a censored location where firewall and network environments are changing rapidly, and VPN services are often slow or disconnected suddenly. Therefore, most beginners complain about bad VPN service because they don’t even get good tech support and have no idea what happened and how to fix it.
Step 9 - User-oriented interface
Choose a simple, straightforward, and intuitive user interface design that makes it easy to start quickly. You are looking for a one-button-press solution and clear information on the connection status. Additionally, a clear list of server locations supported protocols and connection speed is critical. You should be able to find the best server with the lowest PING without any problems.
Step 10 - Plan, price, payment, and refunds
Different users have a different strategies. For example, some take monthly payments, and others choose 2-years or longer plans. Nevertheless, both options are good if they work for you, but picking a long time plan can lower the cost significantly.
You can choose a VPN that offers cryptocurrency payments for higher privacy.
Usual payment methods of VPNs:
- credit cards,
Regarding refunds, choose a VPN that offers a 30-day or longer money-back guarantee, test it for a month, and decide if you like it. If you don’t like some features or performance of the particular VPN, then request a refund and get another one to find the best VPN for you.