Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are becoming increasingly popular amongst hardcore web users, paranoid torrent abusers, and general internet users who want to feel a little bit safer online. There are plenty of VPN providers out there, all offering something a little different, so it’s important to know exactly what you need for your typical internet use.
Every user will have different requirements when it comes to choosing a VPN. If you’re accessing highly sensitive corporate data then you’ll need a different VPN to someone who simply wants to access a streaming service that blocks access from their physical location.
The 5 questions you should be asking
Do you need to access your home network securely?
If this is your only reason for a VPN then you don’t need to invest in a VPN subscription. A VPN provides secure access to a remote network (somewhere public for example), not your home network.
Do you need to shift your apparent location to access restricted websites?
If you’re trying to access content that isn’t made available in the country that you live in (think Netflix or Spotify), then you’ll need a VPN service with servers located in a geographical region where it is accessible. VPN providers usually have numerous servers located in countries around the globe. So, if you wanted to access UK TV from abroad then you would need to check that the VPN provider has UK servers.
Do you just want to browse the web more securely?
This is the main reason why users are opting for VPNs. In today’s digital age, it’s not a bad thing to be a little bit security conscience when it comes to accessing the web. VPNs will afford you both greater security and anonymity. When you’re using a public Wi-Fi connection, there’s no way of knowing if the network is secure, and there’s no guarantee that someone isn’t snooping into your private information.
All VPNs should offer a secure remote connection, but you should make sure to choose one with decent bandwidth if you intend on using it to stream video, or for gaming.
Do you need complete and utter anonymity?
If you have a serious need to remain completely anonymous on the internet, then you’ll need a VPN provider that doesn’t keep logs and has a very large user base. The bigger the VPN service, the more users and the harder it is to isolate one user from the crowd. You should make sure you know what VPN protocol and encryption used, as not all VPN protocols are equal in this regard.
What else do I consider when selecting a VPN?
There are a few other things you should consider when it comes to deciding on the right VPN service, besides the price. Make sure you know what protocols they support, how many servers they have, and where those servers are located. You may want to use the VPN across a number of devices, so check how many concurrent connections are allowed, and whether there is a smartphone app. You don’t want to compromise bandwidth or connections or be restricted from services. You may need to read a little deeper to find out these factors – but these are what separates the good VPN providers from the great VPN providers.
Check out our VPN reviews for all the information you need to make an informed decision about which VPN service best suits your needs.