There are many different reasons why we should all be using a VPN. From online privacy and encrypted communications to risk-free online streaming and accessing geo-restricted content, whatever your main purpose for using one, the case for VPNs is beyond doubt.
But in this article, we are going help you understand how to go about choosing one?
The VPN market is a hugely congested and complicated one, with hundreds of different providers vying for your custom. The question is how do you go about finding the right one for you.
Based on our many years of testing VPNs and the feedback we regularly receive from VPN users, we have found that for most users, the answer boils down to finding one which can meet 5 core criteria.
It is these five qualities that just about everyone is looking for from their VPN provider. So, to help you make up your mind, here is our rundown of what you should be looking out for:
1) Fast Connection Speeds
A fast connection speed is vital for modern internet users. Whether you are streaming video content, online gaming, or merely browsing social media, a slow connection speed can be buffering and connection breaks which are hugely frustrating.
Because a VPN works by redirecting all your online traffic via a proxy server, there is always going to be an impact on your connection speeds when using one. But with the best VPNs, this impact is barely noticeable.
IPVanish is a great example of a VPN whose speeds are so fast that any impact on your connection is negligible. We have used IPVanish all over the world and no matter where you are, or which of their servers you connect to, their speeds have always been good enough for even the most data-intensive of tasks.
The main security feature offered by a VPN is its encryption. When using a VPN, all of your online traffic should be encrypted between your device and the VPN server. This means it is safe from the prying eyes of hackers, your ISP, and Government snoops.
But some encryption protocols are stronger than others and not all VPNs offer the same level. It is therefore strongly advisable to seek out a provider which offers the most effective encryption to keep your data safe.
Of the main providers available at the moment, Proxy.sh has the best encryption provisions at the moment.
Their OpenVPN uses a standard 256-bit AES but with a 4096-bit RSA key, while they also have a variety of other encryption options including Tor, ECC or XOR. Few other providers come close to Proxy.sh’s encryption options right now, but of course, a competitive market means the bar is regularly being raised higher.
3) Server Locations
There are a number of different reasons why having a wide variety of different server locations is desirable.
For those who like to use a VPN to access geo-restricted content and watch TV from popular locations such as the USA, UK, or Australia, multiple servers in such locations make this easier. Equally, many VPN users like to connect via countries which have extra online privacy protections, such as Iceland or Switzerland.
A wider range of servers can also mean fewer users per server which in turn increases connection speeds. But for some VPN users, a smaller range of servers can better suit their needs, especially if they want to be able to connect to a server in a specific country not catered by every provider.
ExpressVPN is an example of one provider which offer plenty of servers across multiple locations and which caters to the needs of almost every user. With more than 1,500 servers available in no fewer than 94 countries and 145 cities around the world, the chances of them not having a server where you need it is pretty slim.
4) VPN company registered location
This is not something that many users would think of when choosing their VPN, but where your provider is headquartered is actually vital to the level of online privacy they are able to deliver. This is because different countries have different laws about what data a VPN has to keep on its users.
For example, in the USA there are currently no mandatory data logging requirements on VPN companies. But in Australia, most people acknowledge that there are. But providers in all of the so-called ‘Five Eyes’ countries (USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada) have to be looked upon cautiously because of their respective governments growing desire to snoop on everyone’s online activity.
As a result, most VPN users will want to go with a provider that is located somewhere which allows them to deliver comprehensive privacy protections, such as Proxy.sh, which is registered in the Seychelles or NordVPN, which is registered in Panama.
5) Provider Openness
Again, not a criteria that immediately leaps to mind, but you can tell so much about a provider by the level of transparency they operate within their own business.
A good VPN will almost always be open about its registered office address and corporate details, its privacy policies, and will detail any information which they do log or retain about their users.
Those that do this almost always deliver a service that you can trust. With those that don’t, this can be much more debatable. VPN.ac is a good example of a provider which offers a range of policies and corporate information in a clear and honest fashion which endears them to their users.