How do I choose a VPN provider

Welcome to one of the most confusing questions of any new comer to the VPN industry. Just how do I choose a VPN provider? There are now hundreds if not thousands of providers out there from all corners of the globe, some are local, some are distant, some are big, some small, there are just so many factors to consider and lets face it, no one wants to part with hard earned cash for something that turns out to provide a poor service.

Even the most seasoned VPN user can have doubts about signing up to a new provider. Many of us have hit the same stage at some point when a provider we originally signed up to which was excellent starts a slow decline. This can happen for numerous reasons, too many subscribers, not updating the infrastructure quickly enough, the list is endless. When we realise our needs as users just aren’t being met anymore even us more long term VPN users start to search around and wonder if there is a provider out there who might be better than our current solution. Stepping out in to this strange new world for beginners and a massive sea of providers for old timers is a scary thought.

We all know user review sites can easily be manipulated and even some of the independent “review” websites have been paid handsomely to review in favour of a provider or leave out details that may reflect badly, it is one of the reasons in which we ourselves published a full disclosure of our websites royalties so you, the reader can be confident in the fact that what we write is the truth and an honest and unbiased opinion. Lets face it, how many “review” sites have you seen that have no negative reviews? Personally I’d find that rather odd. There have been a handful of occasions where we have seen providers services not live up to the standards you would expect and made a point of making this known, luckily any respectable provider will acknowledge these issues and want to address them, a sign of a good provider no doubt.

A good way to select a decent provider is word of mouth from someone you know personally. Avoiding recommendations from strangers on the internet is a good place to start, sure they might be telling the truth, they may actually be recommending a very good provider but in reality how can you know this person isn’t employed by the provider to make such “recommendations” when people ask. It is a constant theme played out on social media sites such as Reddit. A user asks for opinions of providers for a specific purpose to receive a barrage of responses all recommending different providers. Now a handful of these could be genuine users honestly recommending what they see fit for the purpose but the simple fact is we really don’t know if they are or they aren’t.

Another factor to consider is in general it is human nature to want to be seen using “the best” provider, people have a great attachment to what they know and if their service is half decent they are unlikely to rock the boat to try a provider who may be even better or even more suitable in certain instances so they go on recommending what they know, in essence, protecting their opinion and reaffirming to themselves that the choice they made was the correct one… no one likes to be wrong.

So now we know some of the pitfalls to avoid, the question remains – how do we choose a good VPN provider?

A good place to start is looking for independent and fully disclosed review sites such as our own, there are plenty of other good sites similar to ours too, look out for disclosures and make sure they have negative reviews too, it will give a good indication that they truly are unbiased. Our VPN review section is literally teaming with reviews of providers, some good, some bad, some indifferent. They’re rather detailed so if you already have your mind on a specific provider and we’ve done a review of it then you can get quite a good in-depth insight in to their service and of course some of their more positive and negative features.

Once you’ve convinced yourself that the reviews you’ve seen are more than not genuine the next area to put thought in to is what you want to use a VPN provider for. There are some basic standards when it comes to VPN use and you’ll no doubt fall in to one of the following categories, you may even find yourself falling in to more than one which makes your decision even more critical.

  • The Privacy Buff
  • The Traveller
  • The Content Streamer
  • The Downloader

In general those who consider Privacy their main concern will be happy with any decent provider. You’re more than likely want to use the connection full time meaning your whole internet use will go through the connection for the majority of the time. This means you need a reliable provider with a server close to your location. Putting your everyday use through the VPN server means it is of utmost importance that the server is reliable and fast. Your main consideration should be providers with servers close to your physical location. For those extra concerned about privacy you should consider providers that have servers in countries that are close or border your own.

Users who heavily Travel need access to plenty of different locations. Your main consideration is going to be wi-fi access be it in airports, hotels or other non-home locations. You’re likely to be making connection on a variety of mobile devices so two considerations are, 1) as already stated a range of worldwide locations that are suitable for your travelling needs and 2) a provider that has custom software or the ability to be easily set up on the types of devices you wish to make connection on. Making quick connection on your phone or tablet is essential for those always on the move and I highly recommend you look for a large provider with plenty of servers who has software for your specific device, this will save you time and allow you to get on with your busy lifestyle without wasting time on messy set up procedures.

One of the biggest areas of interest we receive is from those who wish to stream Content that wouldn’t otherwise be available in your country. Mostly this relates to services such as BBC iPlayer, Hulu and the like but there are plenty of other content streamers who show specific events such as Cricket, Cycling and Formula 1. One resounding requirement that I can not emphasise enough is when streaming content you definitely require a more premium provider, as video and definitely quality video require a good speed and through put it is essential that the provider can handle this otherwise you will get poor playback and an annoying stream. A provider we highly recommend for the majority of streaming services is VyprVPN solely due to their consistency and ability to provide fast content with no pauses, stuttering or buffering.

Downloading especially when it concerns torrents, P2P or what is considered “less legal” downloading is a tricky area and users should be very careful what provider they opt to sign up for. Some providers are clear they allow downloading on specific servers, others ban it completely. For a more in-depth article on the subject with the best recommended providers for this cause you should see our dedicated torrent article.

I hope I’ve given you some things to consider and think about before choosing a provider best suited for your needs, should you have any other needs not discussed or have a specific requirement please feel free to post in the comments section and we’ll do our best to help you out.

Christopher Seward

Author: Christopher Seward

After 25 years of using the internet, Christopher launched one of the very first VPN comparison websites in 2013. An expert in the field his reviews, testing and knowledge have helped thousands of users get the correct VPN for their needs.

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