6 Things to Consider Before Choosing a VPN Service
If you’re looking to incorporate an extra layer of security when browsing the internet, VPNs are a fantastic solution. In comparison to proxies, which were very popular until VPNs stole their spotlight, virtual private networks are much faster, stronger, and more reliable.
But not all companies offer the same quality of service. When you also consider the fact that there are hundreds of different providers, sometimes it can be challenging to make a final choice. Here is a cheat sheet that will go in-depth about which factors you should consider when choosing the perfect VPN service for you.
- Free vs. Paid
A lot of software solutions come in both free and paid versions. Usually, the free version has enough basic features to cover the users’ needs, and it’s more cost-effective. But when it comes to VPN, you should think twice before using a free version.
VPNs fall under the category of security software solutions, which is why you need to be careful with it. Using a VPN free trial to see whether the UI/UX works for you is fine. But if you’re considering to use a free version only, here’s something to keep in mind:
- Free VPN is usually slower
- It has fewer server locations
- Some free VPN providers harvest user data
- The security is weaker
Paid versions tend to be much more secure and have top-notch encryption. It is especially important if you plan on using VPN services on your work computer.
- Beware of Unethical VPN Providers
It is essential to take into consideration the reputation of the company in question. There is a wide variety of VPN service providers on the market. And not all operate ethically nor have the customers’ best interest at heart.
What makes the matter even worse is that such companies often seem as though they’re legit. So it’s easy to be fooled by them. It is imperative to conduct thorough research before making the final decision. With so many review websites available, it should be easy to distinguish reputable companies from unreputable ones.
- Server Locations
Some people use a VPN for watching geo-restricted content. Others want an extra security layer. Either way, having a wide variety of servers to choose from is crucial. It is preferable to connect to a server that’s near the user’s original location, to achieve maximum connection speed and stability.
Paid VPN options usually offer more server locations, while free VPNs often provide only a couple. Some companies offer many connection points from a single country. That’s another great feature to keep an eye on.
- Additional Features
Even though VPN’s primary function is to act as a simple security blanket when browsing the web, many solutions have plenty of great additional features, for example:
- Integrated killswitch
- Split Tunneling
Integrated killswitch is one of the key elements that every high-quality VPN service should offer. An integrated killswitch is a feature that allows the user to cut off the internet if the VPN somehow gets disconnected. It is an especially important feature for users who often use public wi-fi networks.
SmartDNS allows the user to access geo-restricted content without losing internet speed. Although regular VPN does the same, SmartDNS doesn’t encrypt the traffic, which makes the connection much better. Though it’s also less secure, so it should be used only for streaming.
Split tunneling is another advanced feature. It allows the user to select which apps to connect via regular internet, and which should go through the VPN encryption protocol. Although this feature isn’t necessary, it is an excellent addition that can save you a lot of time.
When you use a VPN, you are trusting someone with your online anonymity. So it is vital to seek out companies that follow all the latest industry standards and have the best security protocols in place. Like any other type of software, different VPN companies use different protocols, some of which are very outdated.
Currently, the most secure protocols are L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, SSTP, and IKEv2. Many companies still use PPTP, which used to be among the finest protocols. But today it is insecure, so it might be best to avoid it.
- Data Logging
The whole point of using a VPN is to browse the internet and keep your anonymity and privacy intact. But selling customer data is a huge money-maker, so many companies choose to save traffic logs and make a profit.
It all might seem a bit complicated at first. But it is crucial to understand why some features and aspects mentioned above are necessary. It is easy to perform a quick google search and download the first thing that shows up. But you should be aware that many companies are looking for a quick buck, so they’re offering low-quality software. That is exactly why you should always perform thorough research before installing anything. Better safe than sorry.