For those who are new to using VPNs, choosing the right provider might seem a bit overwhelming.
There are countless options to choose from, and they’re all marketed to make themselves seem to look like they’re the best VPN provider on the market. And what’s worse is that the more you look, the more confusing it gets, as you scroll through seemingly endless lists of benefits and features.
However, there’s no need to feel intimidated. In fact, choosing a VPN provider isn’t very difficult, as long as you take some time to think about what you need a VPN for.
It’s also important to choose a high-quality provider, since using a low-quality VPN service could potentially leave your personal data vulnerable and open to the public.
So, to help you choose a VPN provider, we’ve put together this handy list of the 6 most important factors to consider.
Number of Servers
One important factor to consider when looking for VPN providers is the number of servers that they own. For example, NordVPN, which is one of the leading VPN providers on the market, has a total of 4,400 servers, spread across 62 different countries. Read a review of it here: vpnpro.com/vpn-reviews/nordvpn-review/
Having a more extensive network of servers means that there’s a much better chance of finding a fast and reliable local connection when using the service. This also means that you’re able to route your traffic through a variety of different locations, allowing you to work around geo-blockers from practically anywhere in the world.
Security and Encryption
When using a VPN, safety and security should always be your main priority. That being said, encryption is absolutely necessary to ensure that you’re safe while browsing the internet.
Encryption creates a secure “tunnel”, which your data passes through when it leaves your computer or device. But, if this “tunnel” isn’t made out of solid materials, it can be easy for hackers to crack, giving them unprecedented access to whatever information you transmit from your computer.
Therefore, it’s best to look for VPN providers who offer 256-bit AES encryption, as opposed to the less secure 128-bit alternatives.
It’s also a good idea to check which encryption protocols are being used. While some VPNs provide high encryption, they might still be using old and outdated IPSec protocols, which are less secure. Instead, opt for providers that use either OpenVPN or IKEv2/IPSec protocols.
When you’re looking at VPN providers, you’ll often see connection speeds measured in Megabits per second, or Mbps, with both down and upload speeds in the figure. However, this can be slightly misleading, since uploads speeds vary wildly depending on your connection and actual geographic location.
Therefore, keep in mind that VPN speeds are usually based on how much the service will slow down your connection. And while it’s not uncommon to experience a minor reduction in speeds, anything more than a 10% slowdown is unacceptable.
Unblocking Sites and Services
Another common reason for using a VPN is to unblock services such as Netflix or YouTube. However, not all VPN providers are able to work around the geo-restrictions used by these services to enforce their copyrights.
The problem is that services such as Netflix or YouTube are constantly updating their blockers, and some VPN providers just can’t keep up with them.
So, if you’re looking to keep your options open as much as possible, it’s important to choose a provider that’s known for being able to unblock the services you use. Many well-known providers such as NordVPN and ExpressVPN have an excellent track record when it comes to unblocking geo-restricted sites and services.
Naturally, downloading torrents and using a VPN go hand in hand. However, there are a relatively small number of VPN providers that their services optimised for torrenting.
Some providers avoid peer-2-peer traffic because they’re afraid that their servers simply won’t be able to cope with the download volumes. Whereas, other providers are hesitant due to legal regulations, especially in countries such as the U.S. and Canada.
Therefore, if you’re looking to use a VPN for torrenting, it’s important to choose carefully and find a provider that offers high-quality DNS leak protection, high speeds, as well as an explicit statement that peer-2-peer traffic is welcomed.
Price is the final factor to consider when choosing a VPN provider. Ideally, you’ll want to find the right balance between cost and features. With that said, we recommend that you avoid using any free VPN services.
Many free services depend on ad revenue; therefore, their platforms are usually littered with annoying ads, and they’re also known for using tracking cookies, which means that there’s no way actually to guarantee your safety.
However, that doesn’t mean that you need to go out and pay for the most expensive VPN package on the market. Remember that you might not need many of the premium services provided by some services.
So, if you just want a basic level of online protection, features such as email protection, NAT firewalls, or malware filters aren’t always necessary.
In the end, just make sure the provider you choose has good encryption protection, an explicit zero-logging policy, competitive speeds, as well as a good customer support team to help you out when you’re having an issue with their service.