Choosing the right VPN is a fundamental matter for our cybersecurity. Contrary to popular opinions, VPN services are useful not only for hackers, journalists and criminals. It is true though, that high quality VPN protects our privacy from government invigilation, but most of all – keeps us secure from cybercriminals. Extortions and personal data theft is common in today’s Internet. What’s more, the victim of such crime is completely unaware of it until it’s too late. To sum up: VPN, just like strong passwords, firewall and antivirus software is a basic tool that can be used to protect our privacy online.
Data shows that a lot of VPN users resign from using them after a short while, even if they bought a license. The reason for this is probably not taking into consideration our own preferences and needs when choosing a VPN service. Depending on them, we can choose between level of protection and transfer speed, or have both in some premium options. To see full comparison, check out our VPN ranking. Below, we will try to answer questions that might arise when searching for the best VPN service.
How to choose the best VPN – practical advice
Firstly, we have to define our needs. If we want to use VPN exclusively for security purposes (work, messaging using public networks), a service which puts emphasis on safety will be enough. In this case, we should check most of all:
- Safety protocol used by the VPN
- Presence of “safety switch” function
- Tech support availability
Of course, we should also check is if given VPN is compatible with our operating system. When it comes to storing of logs, opinions differ. On one side, quite a lot of low-quality VPNs advertise themselves as services that don’t keep logs, which supposedly guarantees our safety. High quality programmes, which use highly secure servers all around the world often keep logs. In case of well protected and frequently updated network keeping logs should not pose any danger to user’s security. In case of low quality services, even not keeping logs does not in fact guarantee our safety.
What if we’re looking for a VPN that provides not only security, but fast and comfortable browsing and even downloading large files? In that case, all parameters mentioned above are still most important. Other than that, we should also check actual network speeds, transfer limits (when applicable) and whether or not those services will work with our other programmes (e.g. browsers, communicators, streaming apps).
Free or paid subscription VPN?
The rule of thumb is that both security and high transfer speeds can be provided only by paid subscription VPNs. Reason for it is simple: maintaining a capable Virtual Private Network is just costly (mind that those services have physical servers and professionals tending them all around the world). Thus general recommendation is that using paid subscription VPN is safer and simply better solution for anything but basic use. Speaking about paying, it is crucial to check payment options. Some services might accept only Bitcoin, which can be obviously problematic. More user-friendly payment method is using prepaid gift cards. Paying with our credit card or bank transfer directly is the most convenient method, but it automatically gives some of our personal data to VPN operator.
It is worth mentioning that there free VPNs which offer acceptable transfer speeds while maintaining safety. In case of top free VPNs security level is usually very high. It is worse when it comes to transfer speeds and limits. In that area paid VPNs remain unbeatable over free Virtual Private Networks.
What about free trials?
Free trials are great for testing VPNs in practice. Caution is advised though, as companies often offer lower standards in their free trials (especially when it comes to speed), than in full paid version. Thus our final conclusion, that switching between next free or trial versions does not provide the experience of full version.