How to pick the Best VPN for your needs
So much stuff is happening online nowadays. The internet has become part and parcel of our day-to-day life. While this has significantly helped in making our life more convenient, it has also come with some serious concerns. Every time you go online, be it for some random research or just to stream some videos, you always leave traces of your activities. This may not seem like a big issue to you until you learn that this information can be used to monitor your online activities. It doesn’t matter whether you are checking out usual legal stuff or if you are doing some not-so-legal stuff, but no one wants to have people checking out their every step. This is where VPN or Virtual Private Network comes in.
VPN masks your identity whenever you go online. This gives you the freedom of conducting your online business with the privacy you deserve. How does this happen? Well, when you are using a VPN, your connection usually goes through many servers located in different parts of the world before your device is finally connected. Since your connection is bounced to various locations in the world, it becomes difficult for the government or anyone for that matter to pinpoint your location. This results in two key benefits; First, you are assured of privacy. Second, it gives you access to content that you could have otherwise been unable to access due to geo-restrictions.
Here is the thing though, if your gadget already has a malware leaking your data, then a VPN is in no position to shield you from online creeps. What you need is an antivirus to get rid of the malware for your VPN to theoretically guarantee your privacy.
The good news if you are shopping for a VPN is that you are not limited in terms of options. There are so many VPNs out there each one of them claiming to be better than the rest. Needless to say that a significant majority of them are just terrible. It’s also in the public domain that VPN is available both for free and at a price.
So, why would anyone spend their hard-earned cash on a VPN when there’s an alternative that comes at no cost at all? Here is my question to you; where do you think the companies offering free VPN get their financing from? There are so many issues attached to free VPN service providers that should never be ignored. Some of these providers rely on adverts to stay in business. We can all agree that ads are very annoying, and some of us are even forced to pay for services that can make our online experience ad-free. Secondly, some free VPN providers are believed to stay afloat by selling users data. Are you sure you still want to source your protection from free-VPN providers? There are a few companies that are known to deliver decent free VPN services with no strings attached. These are great, but unfortunately, they usually cap your limit to maybe 500mb, 2gb or 5gb per month. Also, they may limit your online experience as some of them do not support various streaming services, and they may also block torrenting. All in all, I’d always prefer going for a paid VPN where privacy is almost 100% assured. After all, that’s the whole purpose of getting a VPN in the first place.
Top 3 VPN
NordVPN comes at the top of our list for good reasons. To begin with, NordVPN, which is based in Panama, has over 5300 servers located in more than 60 countries across the world. In our research, we could barely come across any other VPN that had more servers than NordVPN. The vast number of servers does not just boost privacy and options to you as a user, but it also helps you to get around geo-restrictions. To lift geographical limitations, NordVPN also comes with a SmartPlay feature. This should help you access all types of content from across the world. You can also do some torrenting with NordVPN. A good number of their servers also managed to unblock Netflix.
NordVPN is designed with 2048-bit encryption and strong DNS leak protection. The double encryption puts together two servers to come up with an ultra-secure connection. They also offer various kill switches that are system-wide and application-specific. These switches significantly reduce the risk of your data ending up with the wrong people. Speaking of data, it’s important to note that NordVPN does not maintain any logs from its users.
Using NordVPN is also quite easy. They have user-friendly applications that virtually anyone can navigate with ease. The company also offers proxy extensions for both Firefox browsers and Chrome.
With NordVPN, you can connect 6 devices simultaneously. The VPN also runs on different platforms, including iOS, Android, ChromeOS, Linux, Windows, Mac, and routers.
NordVPN has different subscription packages. You can get a one-month plan for $11.95 per month or a 1-year plan charged at $6.99 per month. The best deal you can get here is from their 3-year plan, which is charged at $2.99 per month. If you are a new user, you can take advantage of the 30-day money-back guarantee and try the VPN for a month to see whether it suits your needs. Payments can be made through PayPal, Credit Cards, or Bitcoin.
2. Express VPN
Express VPN is another incredible VPN service that offers excellent performance both in terms of speed and privacy. They have over 3000 servers located in more than 160 locations across 94 countries. They also boast of having over 30,000 IP addresses.
With Express VPN you’ll receive top of the line encryption (AES-256) and DNS/IPv6 leak protection, split tunneling and a kill switch to deliver ultimate privacy. The VPN also comes with various protocols, including IKEv2, IPSec, and OpenVPN. These allow the VPN to work with different platforms such as Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, and Android. The VPN also worked with Blackberry devices. It also has a custom firmware that allows it to work with routers.
Streaming via Express VPN is enhanced through the DNS content-unblocking feature that works well with smart TVs and other media streaming devices. You can easily access content from Netflix, Prime Video, HBO, Hulu, VUDU, BBC, Spotify, and many other media outlets.
One major downside with Express VPN is that it can only connect to 3 devices simultaneously.
On subscriptions, Express VPN charges $12.95 per month for their one-month plan, $9.99 per month for their 6-month plan and $6.67 per month for their annual plan. They also have a hassle-free 30-day money back guarantee that should help you get your money back should you find their services, not at par with your expectations. Payments can be made in various ways, including Bitcoin.
IPVanish has over 1200 servers across 60 countries in the world with over 40,000 shared IP addresses. They offer incredible protection supported by AES-256 encryption. You will also receive unlimited P2P traffic and OpenVPN, L2TP/EPsec, and IKEv2 protocols.
The VPN supports up to 10 simultaneous connections. It can be used with devices running on Windows, Android, iOS, and Mac. It can also be used with Fire TV. The IPVanish applications on these devices are also very user-friendly.
Another brilliant thing with IPVanish is their incredible unlocking abilities. The VPN can be used to unblock US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and many other streaming platforms. They also allow for anonymous torrenting.
A one-month plan is charged at $7.5 per month, which is really high as compared to other VPNs. You could also subscribe to their 3-month plan that costs $6.75. The first three months are charged as $20.24. They also have an annual plan that offers better value at just $4.87 per month. Their 7-day money-back guarantee is really short compared to the competitors that provide a cover of up to 30 days.
Unfortunately, IPVanish belongs to a US-based company. This means that they can be ordered to release user’s personal information, which could then be shared not just in the US but also in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Also, there aren’t any kill switches on the mobile applications.
Factors to Consider when Buying a VPN
- How many connections can it support simultaneously – Most VPN providers will allow you to connect between 3 to 5 gadgets. The exact figure here will vary depending on the specific service provider involved. Typically, providers will charge you slightly more to have more gadgets connected. It should be noted that the ability to connect several devices simultaneous does not mean that a single VPN account can be used by different users. Sharing a VPN account can easily lead you to trouble.
- How many servers are available and how well are they spread out – The more the servers, the more the options for you as a user. However, having hundreds of servers does not necessarily translate to better performance. Also, when the servers are well-spread out to different regions in the world, you should be able to go beyond geographical limits and enjoy more shows and services across the globe.
- Does the service provider keep logs on your online activities – In the last couple of years, we’ve seen VPN service providers get into trouble due to retaining logs on users’ online activities. You need to read through Terms of Service of a provider to understand the policies regarding the logs collected by the provider. Ideally, the right VPN provider should collect as little logs as possible, and they should be disposed of as soon as possible, i.e. when you end your session.
- Price – Make sure that you are fully aware of the pricing policy of your provider. Don’t go for a company with a low initial cost after which they will charge you hefty fees that you weren’t aware of. Also, avoid extremely cheap providers because there’s always a catch.
- Ease of Use – The ideal VPN should give you a smooth experience. Get a VPN with user-friendly apps. Little things such as creating a fav list of servers will also come in very handy.