Know the finer aspects of VPN Services while investing in one

By: Isabella
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If you are planning to take a VPN (Virtual Private Network) service for maintaining privacy, do torrenting, bypass censorship, shift location, or to cross geographical restrictions, there are a lot of choices available.

Advantages of VPN

Virtual Private Networks are the ideal solutions for someone who is looking for an easy solution to operate anonymously and make your computer appear to be coming from another location. The VPN providers do this by creating another virtual network, which routes your network traffic through an encrypted tunnel, which further gives the feel that you are actually from where the VPN server is located. This approach, as discussed above, will help avoid censorship restrictions of various countries and keep you relatively anonymous online.

Some use case examples of VPN are:

  • VPN creates a virtual network between two networks which are physically separate. For example, a company employee at the suburb of Chicago can work from home by accessing the intranet of the company office situated in New York.
  • VPN technology can also be used for people to connect their laptop or mobile phone to their home network to secured access files from their home PC or to manage the home automation system.
  • As VPN help encrypt the connection and allows the users to protect their data from being accessed by others or getting transferred. It will help keep the data secure especially when connecting to Wi-Fi network of airports or coffee shops, by making sure that no one else can snoop into your traffic to hack password or credit card info.
  • As VPN routes the traffic to you through a different network, you can give the feeling that it’s from another location. If you are in London, still you may make your traffic appear to come from Sydney. This is ideal to be used with certain websites which block the content based on geographical location.
  • Many people live in countries with intensive censorship and monitoring of internet activities were one of the best ways to get around these interventions is using a secure VPN tunnel. Not just
  • Apart from protecting yourself from snooping of the state, VPN also helps to hide you from the snooping of ISPs. VPN eliminates the problem of internet service providers throttling your connection based on the content as the traffic is coming through an encrypted tunnel which the ISP is not aware of.

Considering all these, you can easily conclude that VPN is a highly useful thing. However, when it comes to choosing an appropriate VPN service, there is this surge of opportunities which will further make it a lot confusing and difficult for you to get hold of the best provider for your purpose. While choosing a VPN service, it is imperative to ensure that it meets all your needs, for which you first need to a self-assessment to define your requirements well.

Do you need secure access?

There is no need to invest in a VPN service if you don’t find any need for secure access to your home or office network. To access the VPN network, you may want to have a VPN server running on your router or another device like Raspberry Pi. Typically, you may run a VPN server at router level to ensure optimum security and minimal consumption of power. For this, you can flash the router to a VPN-server and client supported DD-WRT or can install a good router with a built-in VPN server.

Is there a need for secure browsing?

Even if you are not worried about security, it is recommended to have a VPN if you regularly access public Wi-Fi. When you are accessing a network at a coffee shop or bus station, one may have little idea about whether the connection you use is secure or not. The routers on such network may have compromised or outdated firmware. They may also be malicious and can sniff the data packets to access your data. In such scenarios, you can best use the minimally paid VPN solutions.

Do you need access / geo-shift of location?

VPN is needed if your aim to appear as if you are in a different country to access content available in that location only. Say, for example, the sports network which is not available at your present location.

Do you need anonymity?

If you have more serious needs than accessing Netflix or blocking some kiddies at coffee shop snooping over to you at a coffee shop, VPN is a must. VPNs can promise you anonymity and plausible deniability while doing things like file sharing etc. For this, you have to choose a VPN service provider carefully, i.e., the one who doesn’t keep the logs and also trusted by a large user base. The biggest your service is, the number of people will be crowing at each exit node, which makes it more difficult to isolate and expose a single user.

Considerations to make while choosing a VPN

Once if you understand your requirements and the specific features needed, next you can explore the options to identify which one will be the most identical one to meet your needs. Let’s further discuss some considerations to make to find the best possible VPN service for you.

# Location

First things first, you should get an appropriate VPN if you want to connect to a particular country or location. If the objective is to connect to more than one, then ensure that the VPN provider offers you this too. There are many geographically diverse VPN services which will sever the purpose no matter which location you want to connect.

# Beware of throttling

One reason why people move on to VPN is ISP throttling, so on paying extra to a VPN service should also give you the benefit of eliminating it. Restricted bandwidth was not a big deal at olden times, but now in the live streaming era, this is a crucial aspect. So, it is better to avoid those VPN services which impose any bandwidth restrictions. Read through the fine prints before signing up a deal as to see if they restrict services or protocols you wish to avail.

# Check speed

The speed of VPN services can make or break your user experience. If the connection you get is slow, you will be suffering a lot. The three key metrics you need to evaluate are:

  • Download speed
  • Upload speed, and
  • Ping time.

The first two are known to you as for how quickly the data is sent and received by the device connected to VPN. Ping time is the time a single data packet takes to travel from your machine to the destination through a VPN tunnel and back. Ensure this number is kept to the bare minimum possible. Lowest ping time is critical regarding live applications like Skype or other VoIP systems and also for online gaming etc.

Check whether they have an instant kill switch

If you are availing a VPN service to be anonymous, then one should be sensible about the security. A typical VPN will not dump all the traffic out into the regular internet. You typically want a ‘kill switch system’. Professional VPN services will have such a system in place that if you find the VPN connection fails, this can automatically lock the connection so that the computer doesn’t go back to the default to use an unsecured connection.

# Privacy

For many who look forward to taking VPN services, privacy is the prime concern. It this is the need, then the first thing to do is to find a provider who ensures not keeping logs, notified as log less or zero log services). There are various types of logging. Some may claim to be legless, but may still be keeping anonymous logs of bandwidth usage, connection times, or IPs etc. You also need to pay attention to the personal information which the VPN provider keeps. The lesser they know; the better things are.

# Plan the number of concurrent connections

Based on your need, you have to check the number of concurrent connections the provider offers. Say, for example, if you plan to do file sharing like a Bit Torrent or peer-to-peer transfer, choose a provider allowing it. There are some other limitations too some VPN providers put forth these days like volume restrictions in upload/download, the reduced speed at certain hours of the day etc. So, it is always better to double check all these before signing up to avoid any disappointment later. To know more on VPN services, you may get in touch with any one of the leading service providers.

Finally, the cost of VPN services also may vary based on various factors. You need to consider your budget also against your needs to eliminate some options right away. Availing a service on a six or twelve-month contract may offer some better pricing deals than the monthly payment. After the initial period, if you are comfortable with the service of the provider, one can sing up for a long-term plan, which can give a significant saving.

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