Welcome to the ultimate guide on how to choose a VPN. We’ve compiled a ton of information here on VPNs, why you should use one, as well as a feature table outlining the differences between our top reviewed VPN providers. This guide will help you understand why you need a VPN and how to pick one.
What is a VPN?
If you’ve found yourself here, you might be in the market to purchase a VPN. Maybe you know what a VPN is but you don’t know which one to buy, or you might not even know what a VPN is so you’ve come to learn which ones are good. Whichever, the case, we understand the importance of a good VPN better than anyone.
The term “VPN” stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN works when you connect through a virtual tunnel to a remote server. The process encrypts your standard IP address and gives you a new one. This new IP address is usually shared by a large number of users that helps with anonymity. The entire VPN process ensures that all of your internet traffic is encrypted and secure.
Why do you need a VPN?
VPNs are important to not only to encrypt internet traffic, but they can also be used as a necessary means of accessing blocked content. Advanced censorship firewalls like China’s Golden Shield Project (dubbed appropriately “The Great Firewall”), block a large part of the world from accessing significant sites like Google and Facebook. Other countries like Turkey also respond aggressively to protests by blocking free speech on platforms like Twitter and Youtube, while other countries like the United Kingdom block attempts to block access to VPN technology services directly because users use VPNs to access content behind licensed geo-restriction deals.
Some users rely on VPNs to access Netflix libraries that aren’t restricted–like Australian internet users, and in many cases, users in the United States use VPNs to find ways to watch TV sports programs like NFL live, if they aren’t in the right geotagged location.
On the other side of the spectrum, gamers also use VPNs to access international betas locked to a particular region or to keep their IP addresses protected to prevent DDOSing.
Combined with their many extended uses, VPNS have also become streamlined and increasingly simple to use both for computers and mobile devices. For this reason, many VPN users use VPN apps on their phone in public Wi-Fi spaces, like Starbucks or Airports, to protect sensitive or personal data.
With more interactions taking place online every day–like Banking, shopping, and even business–security should be a top priority. What was once something used only by a small niche audience is now a multi-million dollar market with hundreds of VPN’s claiming to be the best, the easiest to set up, and the most reliable.
The nature of this saturated market makes choosing a suitable VPN increasingly difficult and complex. Not only are there multiple factors to be considered, but the market around VPNs themselves and the information about them is often unreliable due to sponsorship agreements and the combative nature of the companies themselves.
We haven’t found a suitable VPN Review site. In fact, almost every one we’ve found doesn’t have a good review list or high-quality VPN reviews to help users make informed decisions on which VPN to buy or use.
Best10VPN.com wants to change that.
Who can benefit from a VPN?
Mobile works often need VPNs to access even their company websites and accounts from remote locations. The security of a VPN ensures that sensitive data is protected in open Wi-Fi locations.
We also live in the age of remote work–and an attractive choice to do said remote work is coffee shops. Remote workers might find that they need additional security since their primary connection source is unprotected.
Sometimes gamers like to hide their IP address from server administrators or other gamers looking to hamper their gameplay. If another malicious gamer finds a personal IP address, they could cause lag issues. The gamer who needs a VPN could be a professional streamer, a competitive player, or just someone who is looking to sneak back into a server if they have a banned IP address.
Colleges and other scholarly institutions often have strict firewalls to prevent students from accessing gaming websites or social media platforms. A VPN can be an easy way circumvent a strict gaming or website firewall, as well as a proxy provided by a VPN provider installed on a browser.
Many a BitTorrent user has received a copyright infringement notification for illegally downloading movies or TV shows. While we do not condone such illegal activities, VPNs can be useful for stopping internet service providers from using IP addresses to track down users since a VPN encrypts and changes a user’s IP address. Even users that use the BitTorrent protocol legally can benefit from using a VPN to protect their activity–since the nature of P2P lets every user’s IP address public knowledge inside your preferred application, which isn’t always the safest thing.
Security & Privacy advocate
Every internet safety and privacy advocate knows that they need a good VPN in their arsenal. But they might be surprised by just how easy a VPN is to set up, or by how many uses they may find in a VPN.
Whether they want to encrypt all of their traffic from their ISP or protect their information from hackers or other malicious users, a VPN fills a much-needed niche for the security advocate.
That’s why it’s important for security advocates to get the best VPN there is. A VPN that doesn’t log information, provides high speeds, and guarantees quality service.
Popular media streaming services like Hulu and Netflix are often not available in certain countries, despite their ever growing encroach upon the world.
With each new country added, new licensing deals have to be considered which means that the considerable library available in the United States can be different in each country that Netflix supports.
Australia is one good example of a country that has limited access to Netflix. With the use of a VPN, media streamers can choose which location they want their service to geotag. Football games, soccer games, and even Netflix can be altered to give media streamers the best experience by changing geo-tagged locations to match the ideal service.
Corporate workers make use of a VPN while they are at work, or working remotely to protect valuable corporate data. However, you can also use a VPN at work to get around firewalls and content restrictions since a VPN changes your IP address and encrypts your traffic to prevent monitoring.
Censored users / international users
A VPN is one of the most important tools a censored user can use. Chinese users rely on VPNs to access a majority of internet content–which has resulted in the Chinese government restricting less powerful tools like the Tor Network, and several VPNS themselves. However, the best VPNs offer solutions for censored users that are untraceable provide great speeds and are easy to use. A VPN in China can hide your IP address, prevent surveillance, and give access to sites like Facebook and Google.
Specifications of a good VPN
VPNs are purchased on VPN provider websites through online checkout processes, but payment methods vary from provider to provider. Checkout could be a simple as a one click solution, to more complicated forms that require more details as well as websites that make you create an account before you can even pay.
Besides the differences in checkout, each VPN has varying methods of payment that they accept. The best VPNS take all forms of payment including regular debit cards like Visa, standard Paypal options, BitCoin and even gift cards. Yes–you heard me, gift cards.
A few VPNS let you use your gift cards from retail stores to pay for a VPN, so everything is anonymous. This way you can pay cash to get a card and use the card to pay for your VPN.It’s more common for a VPN just to accept cards and PayPal.
Some VPNs even try to trick you into paying a certain way, or limiting the way you can pay for subscription options (like letting Bitcoin pay for multiple months but not one month). That’s why we’ve included information about these methods in our reviews.
VPNs often have different options for protocols that you can use. These protocols can often be changed inside a VPN provider application, or through their tutorials–however, many iOS applications have limits on what you can change due to API restrictions
OpenVPN is a new open source protocol that uses OpenSSL library as well as SSLv3/TLSv1 protocols in conjunction with other technologies. The main strength of OpenVPN is that it’s very customizable and runs well with a UDP port. Since OpenVPN can run on virtually any port, this makes it hard to block and tell apart from HTTPS traffic. The customizability and flexible nature of OpenVPN makes OpenVPN a default pick for the best blend of security and speed. Make sure your VPN provider supports this protocol, and if they do, check to make sure it’s the default option in your VPN since you might need to adjust it.
Other options like SSTP, PPTP, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPsec exist as well with their own advantages and disadvantages. PPTP isn’t a very good option since it’s an older protocol with possible security leaks while SSTP offers the same level of security and use of OpenVPN. The downside is that SSTP is only supported on Windows (which means a lot of VPN providers don’t support it as much since it’s not as versatile). L2TP/IPsec is a decent protocol with good encryption strength that is common on iOS mobile applications since iOS has restrictions on API use.
Most VPN providers claim to have a global server network that offers amazing speeds and connections for any location. It’s hard to tell how reliable this information is since testing it in varying locations to different connections is difficult.
However, it’s easy to see how good servers are in a lot of VPNs since some are obviously overloaded, slow, and unreliable. Servers can also be either hard to navigate through a bad interface, or pleasant through an intuitive one.
VPN’s can also have a recommended server connection that can sometimes work very well or not good at all. When choosing a VPN, a wide server network, as well as positive server speeds, are essential to a good service. In each of our reviews, we go over server information as well as tested speeds with varying connections.
The best VPNs have no-logging policies which mean they don’t log any information from your VPN use. Most VPNs collect information from you when you go to their site or purchase a VPN so they can make their site better or use your information if you need a refund.
However, some VPNs have more liberal logging policies where they do collect information from your VPN use for an extended time (usually 30 days to three months). This information could be how long you are connected, your IP address, and other small details about your connection. Most VPNs should be suitable for people who aren’t committing crimes, but if you’re a security advocate with total privacy as a goal–choose a VPN, who doesn’t log.
The best VPNs have applications for every platform–whether that means for browsers, mobile phone, tablets, or PC and Mac.
That said, not every VPN has equally good applications. Applications range from minimalist applications that are super easy to use and deliciously fast, to more complex applications with more options that provide good usability as well. Then on the other end of the spectrum are applications that barely do anything but install files on your phone so you can connect inside your phone’s settings. Sometimes these applications can be meddlesome without a good interface, and clutter up your phone settings.
If your VPN provider doesn’t provide a mobile application, you can also connect manually through external applications like an OpenVPN app.
Most VPN’s offer varying price ranges from around 7 dollars a month to 13 dollars a month. VPN providers also try to sweeten the deal by offering annual packages for less money per month. I would recommend not purchasing an annual package before trying out a VPN service for at least one month.
Sometimes people get roped into yearly sales for VPNs (and paying significantly more overall than a month) and end up not liking them only after a few days. Also, keep in mind that lower priced VPNs often are more straightforward (but not necessarily unreliable or fast) while higher priced VPNs might offer more bang for your buck with some more customizable options available.
Some VPN providers also provide ways for you to add onto your primary VPN service with external offerings like dedicated IP addresses, or special protection packages. Be leery of these add-ons (a lot of the time they aren’t worth the extra price point or they don’t work well) and check out what we think of them in our reviews.
Most VPN providers with tons of add-ons don’t give you enough information on what they do or how they operate to make them legitimate.
When choosing your VPN, speed needs to be one of your top priorities. There’s no point in encrypting your internet traffic and changing your IP address if you can’t use your internet connection correctly.
VPNs can offer varying speeds–even if almost everyone out there claims that they offer the best speeds. They could claim it’s because they operate their server network, or that they have a background in servers–but none of this matters if servers speeds can’t deliver when it comes to test time.
We’ve tested out the speeds of all our reviewed VPNs so you know you’ll be getting quality high speed when you make a VPN purchase.
Ease of Use
VPN providers offer different complexities within their applications. Some have setting pages that are extensive with options to change and configure everything from protocols to more advanced options like route delay or DNS settings. The good VPNs offer these types of configurations, but they also design the application so users can ignore the settings they don’t need. This could mean something as simple as a one-button connect.
Most VPNs are relatively easy to use, but installation methods and set-up processes can vary wildly. There are unreliable VPNs that tend to crash, or have bugs, and then there are those that work flawlessly.
Some you might not even notice after a while since they reside in your taskbar while other VPN providers have intricacies that feel pointless or pop-ups that want you to review your experience.
The best VPNs are incredibly easy to use and are one reason VPNs are becoming so popular and widely utilized by the internet community.
VPN providers have different takes on what a VPN should be. Some of our favorite VPN providers just do “VPN”, and they do it very well. That could mean just offering fast speeds, good applications, and reliability without special features or additions for a custom user base.
Other’s do “VPN” but they add on tons of expensive add-ons that feel extraneous and just get in the way. These add-ons feel like they are there just to raise the price for people enticed by offerings. These features could include adblockers, services that speed up your internet, virtual routers, split tunneling, or proxies within web browsers.
There aren’t many good VPNs that have fully fledged extra services that are supported, used by a significant number of their clients, and have enough support and knowledge base about their additional services, but we do feel that the VPNs that can pull this off effectively really stand out. Things like in-house proxies, encrypted email, VPN routers, multiple clients, and Stealth offerings can improve a user’s experience (or offer one entirely) to a new level.
Customer support for a VPN is very important. Depending if you’re a VPN noob, or if you have an error or problem with your service, or even just a question, an excellent customer support team can be a lifesaver. Unfortunately, customer support from VPN providers often doesn’t even have live chat, real support ticket systems, or reliable return policies. From the VPN reviews we’ve done here, support can be either a heavenly experience or a complete nightmare.
Choose a VPN by Features
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