When virtual private networks first appeared, they were meant to secure the connection of employees working remotely. Microsoft was the first corporation to start using them. A few protocols which VPNs utilize to secure your data are also a product of the IT giant.
Today, the service is available to a broader audience, and people take advantage of it to protect themselves when being online.
So, what is a VPN? It is a technology which creates a secure connection (tunnel) over traditional networks by encrypting users’ data and routing it through remote servers. Therefore, a reliable VPN protects users’ security and privacy.
Do You Need a VPN?
At first sight, there is nothing to worry about. If you use the Internet to stream videos or read the news only, there is no big deal when anybody sees that (if you don’t mind someone watching you though). However, if you shop online or make money transfers situation looks different. You don’t want to have your data stolen or become a victim of a hacker, do you?
That is when you need a good VPN. Whenever you use your banking information, provide contact details or whatsoever, the data gets encrypted when it enters the tunnel immediately.
And if someone wants to read it, including your ISP, all they’ll see is a flow of senseless signs. The best providers manage to do that so fast that you won’t even notice you are using a VPN.
Why People use VPNs?
Every Internet user has his or her grounds to use a VPN. One of them is the privacy mentioned above and security. A reputable service will encrypt your data. It will also mask your real IP address and assign a different one. But this is not the only reason to stick to a virtual private network.
You can use a VPN to override geo-restrictions. There is much content which may be only accessed in certain countries. Using a VPN to unblock restricted content is especially convenient for people that travel and, for example, want to stream their favorite TV shows wherever they are. So, when choosing a VPN, you should check the locations of servers it has.
Another reason to use a VPN is to go around censorship. For example, if you reside in a country where the government prohibits using Facebook or YouTube, you may easily access them via the server located thousands of miles away. You won’t get caught doing that because the VPN will mask your real IP and hide your traffic.
A VPN can save you money. Different e-commerce websites, including Amazon, track your location and collect information about you. If they decide that you are likely to pay more just because you live in the US and not some third world country, they won’t waste their chance to make more money.
How to Choose a VPN Service?
Probably, there are no two VPNs that are similar. Each one of them has strengths and weaknesses. And if you have previously used the service, you might already have an idea of what to look for when choosing a provider. But if you don’t have any experience with VPNs, this is what you should consider when making a choice:
- The VPN’s jurisdiction. It is essential since all providers must follow the laws of the country where they are located. The more severe the regulations are, the more vulnerable you become. The reason is simple: your provider might be obliged to disclose your information anytime (in court, for example).
- The number of servers and their location. This criterion becomes especially vital if you travel frequently. Make sure your provider has servers in the countries you visit. The more, the better because this will allow spreading the traffic burden equally and thus, you will enjoy better speeds.
- Devices the VPN is compatible with. Pay particular attention to this criterion if you plan to use the service on your mobile device because some providers use protocols which do not work with Android and iOS.
- Price, the method of payment, and refund policy. The cost of the service from different providers may vary significantly. Also, some companies offer good deals if, for example, you go bold and buy a long-term package. The good idea is to check whether the provider is ready to return the money if you don’t like the service.
- Ease-of-use. Unless you like puzzles, you will appreciate a simple service which can be easily set up.
- Customer support. The best VPNs have comprehensive knowledge bases on their websites. But what makes them truly different is contact with their support teams. Make sure the company is using your preferred communication channels and replies quickly whenever you send them a request.