Have you ever been to a public place where you found a Wi-Fi that you can connect and at the same time wondered that someone, somewhere might access and see your online activity? This is entirely reasonable, seeing the arrayed forces against your privacy. With the help of a VPN (Virtual Private Network), you can save yourself and your data from prying eyes.
What is a VPN?
Why and when you need a VPN? In simple words, a VPN is used through smartphones, personal computers, or tablets to another computer (a server). Connecting to that server allows you to use the internet through that computer’s internet connection.
If you have used a VPN, you may have seen countries option in them. It means you will appear as you are using the internet from that country. Doing this can help you access things that you may not be able to access normally.
A VPN is extensively used by different people and organizations looking for a supplementary level of internet privacy protection.
Here are some of the reasons why you’ll need a VPN and some features that make them useful.
To Protect Privacy While Using Public Wi-Fi
Often public places like coffee shops and airports have free Wi-Fi for visitors and they usually don’t encrypt their internet connection. This means tech-savvy criminals can prey on your cyber browsing while just knowing the password of the Wi-Fi.
If you want to ensure that your data is safe, all you have to do is to log in to the public Wi-Fi and then to encrypt your data connection to a personal VPN, it will help you hide most of your private web traffic from criminals.
To Access Content Anywhere
In case you are traveling and you cannot live without watching the latest episodes of your favorite series, a VPN can help you here. It will allow you to access your content as if you were in your own home.
However, before using it. Check for the laws of the country about fair use of VPN, terms, and conditions of your VPN and T&C of the streaming site to determine if your use presents a risk.
To Preserve Internet Privacy
VPNs offer online privacy to stop third-party applications and advertisers collect information about you without your permission. If you are using a no-log VPN, then the provider is unable to see or track your online activity which further decreases the risk and increases your online privacy.
To Bypass Restricted Networks
The many U.S based and even in other countries, schools and businesses have an internet connection with some specified rule applied. There are some internet-browsing rules that employees and students have to follow like they cannot access certain websites or platforms.
If you want to use some of the blocked content you can use a VPN to bypass the restricted network. Before using VPN make sure you’ve read all the policies of school and companies to avoid any mishap. Make sure you don’t violate these policies or the law.
VPN for Gaming
There are certain uses of VPN but this thing can help you in games as well. If you are a professional gamer of competitive games like CS:GO, Dota 2, League of Legends or any other competitive esports games, a VPN can come handy. Here are some of the uses of VPN in gaming:
- Improve ping and reduce lag by using a faster server connection (varies for each game).
- Play multiplayer games and Surpass geo-blocking that might not be available in your country or while traveling.
- Access and download games that are not introduced in your country yet.
- Make sure your privacy is not affected while playing games.
- Stay unidentified (anonymous) while encrypting your gaming traffic.
- If you are a competitive esports player, protect yourself from DDoS attacks, especially when there is some tournament going on.
Is a VPN Safe and Legal to Use?
It depends on which country you are in. Particularly, using a VPN is legal in almost every country except Iran and North Korea. There is no such restriction about how you should use a VPN service.
Most of the VPN service providers guarantee and provide several methods to secure your data and identity while using the internet.
Simply using it for privacy concerns is perfectly legal, it varies if you are using a VPN for any illegal activity and committing a cybercrime.
For instance, as VPN covers your tracks and you stay anonymous from your internet provider, renting illegal copyrighted content using a VPN still won’t make it legal and you can get caught doing the act.
How to Choose the Best VPN Service?
There are several things that you need to look at while choosing the best VPN for yourself.
Here are some of the points that you should keep in mind:
Ask yourself, what you need a VPN for?
You go to a tech store, you need a laptop for gaming. You won’t pick up the laptop that you first see. You will try and check out some of them and choose the one that fulfills your demands. The same applies here.
If you are looking for a VPN that allows multiple simultaneous connections, a router-based VPN is what you should look for.
If you want to start streaming videos, movies, or live streams of games. You should look for a VPN with unlimited bandwidth, high speed, and a reliable connection.
Furthermore, if you are a person that travels a lot and uses public Wi-Fi more frequently. Look for a VPN that provides excellent security and provide servers situated all over the world.
Think first and know what you need in a VPN and make a list of features that you need. After when you know what you need, it will become easier for you to choose the best VPN according to your preference.
Find a VPN with an user-friendly interface
User-interface and the setup of most of the VPNs can become pretty complex. If you’re are not a tech guru or tech-savvy and not interested in trying to configure a VPN, find yourself a service provider that offers simple procedures and user-friendly platforms.
Look at each VPN’s qualities
Every company that offers VPN has its specialty. Some provide the best encryption, some offer the best speed, and some work best when it comes to anonymity. You have to see which one matches your priority.
For instance, if you want to stream your gameplay online, a VPN that has a reputation to provide the best speed is a priority.
Some VPNs like NordVPN are used to unblock geographically blocked content and this kind of VPNs are continuously succeeding in negotiating these kinds of hurdles.
If you are a politician, journalist, or any other person with privacy and anonymity concerns, a VPN that has secured encryption and doesn’t retain logs, should be your priority.
Additionally, some VPNs include a kill-switch so it is worth checking the security protocol.
Check which devices are compatible
However, almost every VPN supports all the main platforms like Mac, Windows, Linux, and iOS but some of them are not available in all of them.
For example, If you have an iPhone and your personal computer or laptop have windows operating system then you should look for the one that supports both of them.
Some VPNs allow users to connect as many devices as they want and some allow max three to four devices at a time. Choose one that suits your requirements.
Decide what payment plan you prefer
Price varies for each VPN, subscription length, and kind of service you are looking for, you should make payment an important factor while choosing a VPN.
It is also important “how you pay”. Some good VPNs offer systems that are completely anonymous like in Bitcoins and you don’t have to share any personal information. Some also allow you to buy gift cards so that you don’t have to use any of your credit information.
On the other hand, free VPNs are tempting and most people fall for them. It looks free but you have to pay through some other ways like watching ads, bad streaming quality, slow speed, and unreliable protection.
If a price is an issue for you, search for some service providers that offer coupons and discounts weekly or monthly.
Look for a VPN with reliable customer service
Another most overlooked and important factor is to check if the VPN provider has good customer service or not. Look for the one that offers 24/7 customer service.
As VPNs change all the time, good customer service is what you need when you face certain issues during the use.
Choose a VPN that responds quickly to your problem. A VPN that offers live-chat can be the best choice as sending emails and tickets can take hours to some days to respond.
Make sure it includes a money-back guarantee
If you are confused about a certain VPN and you cannot decide whether you should spend your money on it or not. A great way is to see if they offer a money-back guarantee, this is a great way to ensure you don’t get stuck with an unwanted product.
Getting out of the contract can be an issue with some VPNs, you should better check it thoroughly before spending your money on it.
Look for a VPN that promises and offer a flexible plan, this will ensure that you are not obligated to stay until the commitment is over.
Top 5 VPN Service Providers
If you are still worried about how you can choose the best VPN, here is a list of some best VPNs.
Supports: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux
NordVPN is one of the most famous among users and fame is for a reason. You can choose a server of your choice from a total of 5,000 servers which are located in roughly 60+ countries. You get 2048-bit encryption, strong DNS leak protection with a max 6 device support as standard.
They also offer to kill switches, both application-specific and system-wide, and support proxy extension for Chrome and Firefox browsers. NordVPN offers different payment options including credit cards, Bitcoins, and PayPal.
There is a fast and smart DNS-like SmartPlay feature that allows you to surpass geo-restrictions and unblocks a large number of sites, streaming platforms, and other similar services.
Supports: Windows, Mac, Linux, plus iOS, Android, BlackBerry
ExpressVPN offers access to 3,000+ servers across 94 countries in 160 locations. Another feature that makes ExpressVPN one of the best is the ease of using this VPN. No matter what device you have a laptop or even simple android phone. All you have to do is to just download, install it and it will become operational in no time.
Using ExpressVPN, you can use custom firmware for some routers, smart TVs, DNS content-unblocking for streaming devices. You can access any of the content that you want to watch. This provider also guarantees users to protect their data and allow them to stay anonymous while they are surfing the internet.
Supports: Windows, Mac, Linus, Android, iOS, Router Firmware
IPVanish is another VPN that allows access to more than 40,000+ shared IPs in 70+ countries with over 1500+ VPN servers. With unlimited P2P traffic and unlimited simultaneous connections and 24/7 support makes it a good choice. This VPN is friendly to ever device whether an android or an iOS.
You can access content that is blocked in your area while hiding your identity.
Private Internet Access VPN
Supports: Windows, macOS (64 bit), Linux
Private Internet Access VPN is one service provider that may not be the best, the fastest, the cheapest, or the most powerful but it has several features that catch the eyes of many people.
This VPN covers more than 60 locations in 40+ countries. This VPN is available for Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS, and android. Also, provides browser extensions for Firefox, Chrome, and Opera. Except these, detailed tutorials for other devices and routers are also available about how to use it on the, making it a VPN that can run almost anywhere.
Supports: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS
As most of the VPNs provide the same services, with barely any new feature if compared. If you are worried about your privacy more than other things, then this VPN is a good choice for you.
ProtonVPN doesn’t compromise when privacy and security are concerned, it doesn’t use any weak protocols like PPTP or any similar and instead supports only IKEv2 and OpenVPN which uses the best encryption. To save your privacy this VPN route your traffic through different servers and even uses the Tot network to maximize your privacy.