How do I choose a VPN?

Here are a few of my favorite VPN’s to use. I haven’t used every single VPN but of all the ones I’ve tried, there is one that impressed me the most. There are, however, some VPN’s that I would advise against; I will get into this later.

Choosing a VPN shouldn’t be stressful and time consuming. The research and comparison can be extremely lengthy depending on how specific you want to get. You can compare everything from the pricing to the type of VPN protocols supported. Understanding what a VPN can provide and how they work will help you to make an informed decision to pay or use one for free (not advised).

You can choose a VPN based on your needs. You may ask yourself what are you going to use your VPN for? Is it for streaming, browsing, or anything else? Certain VPN’s may offer faster speeds in more areas of the world; whereas some may offer more features and are cheaper than others. It is all up to the buyer and what their needs are.

A virtual private network (VPN) offers security for your mobile, wired, or wireless network. You are able to connect to your VPN service once you have a valid network connection to the internet whether that be from an ISP or mobile carrier network which are the most common.

Upon initiating a valid connection to these network(s), you can connect to your VPN service through a mobile or desktop application. In enterprise and corporate environments you will usually connect to a VPN service that’s built into a firewall. An example being the SonicWall VPN client. 

One of the biggest reasons people use VPN’s is for the security and privacy features. Notice that I said privacy NOT anonymity; this is a whole different article which I will write about soon. The security is achieved through a variety of VPN protocols, encrypted tunnels, and obfuscation.

Upon connecting to your VPN endpoint, your network traffic is encrypted.This not only makes packet sniffing difficult but also helps protect your data and risk of DoS/DDoS attacks. You may be curious how a VPN works…

What is a VPN and how does it work?

A VPN is a virtual private network, and that’s just what it is, private. The VPN works by routing your public IP address to VPN servers throughout the world, each time it stops at a server a different IP address is assigned to you.

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The connection from your device to the VPN’s endpoints are through encrypted traffic tunnels. This is achieved through a variety of VPN protocols such as OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP to name the most common.

After a certain number of hops (depending on the VPN provider) your obfuscated IP address will reach the destination host; for instance, the homepage of Amazon will not know your real public IP address but only the one that was assigned to you by the VPN service. It is extremely difficult to find the origin IP address and machine of the host that initiated that VPN connection. This is why VPN’s are very good tools for privacy.

Choosing a VPN is an important decision, that’s why I’ve made a comparison of a few VPN vendors. They are a little different in their own way. They all have very good reviews, features, and pricing. 

This VPN is  based out of Panama which has no mandated data retention laws in place. This makes privacy of the utmost priority. This software is intended to keep your online shopping activities, banking, transactions, and more safe and secure. This is my main VPN for my personal devices and I absolutely love it!

There are many great features of this VPN provider such as:

  • Compatibility with Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android devices
  • Access to over 5k servers in 50+ countries
  • Provides dedicated servers, Onion over VPN, P2P servers, and dedicated IP’s 
  • Double VPN is a feature that changes your IP address twice which gives your connection an extra layer of security!
  • The VPN protocols available with this tool are OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPsec, and WireGuard (NordLynx)
  • Kill-switch which drops your internet connection to a specified app if the VPN connection terminates for some reason. This prevents you from sending unprotected data to/from that application.
  • Recognized as the fastest VPN in the market by TechRadar —> See here.

The cost for this VPN is extremely affordable. There are always good deals like the one below. Of course, doing the 2 year plan is the most affordable and when you do a cost comparison on your own, you will see the savings! Believe me, it’s worth the price. Protecting your data going across the network is well worth the price.

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For more details click here to see the current deal happening now

You can set up multiple devices to use this VPN and it has very easy to use mobile apps for Android/iOS devices. I can speak from experience that the user interface is incredibly simple to use as well. This VPN is one of the fastest and most effective pieces of software I’ve ever used. I would highly recommend that you try it. 

If you are interested in setting this super fast VPN on your devices you can go to this video!

How to set up a VPN | NordVPN

Based out of the British virgin islands, again with very strong privacy laws. No data retention requirements here! I’ve always admired the clean and attractive feel of this VPN. And in addition, this is comparable in speeds to the previous competitor. I personally love this VPN because of the speed and variety of servers and it works great on my iPhone!

This VPN has been around for over 10 years making it the longest running VPN service! This VPN offers a great many features including but no limited to:

  • Access to over 2,800 servers in 160 VPN endpoints in over 90 countries
  • Apps developed for Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Amazon devices, and Linux
  • Express enforces a strict no logs policy
  • Netflix and other streaming services are unblocked by Express
  • Opportunities for bug-bounty programs for those penetration testers out there

The pricing is very affordable and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee as well.

To get started go here  (embed link here)

If you need help setting this VPN up, you can navigate to this link below!

How to set up ExpressVPN on Windows

If you are interested in knowing more about this VPN service visit the web page here.

Are there VPN providers I should avoid?

Just like I recommended my favorite VPN’s to use, here are some you should and avoid and reasons why. There are many reasons that you shouldn’t choose a certain one; the main reasons being that they are free and/or have had sketchy privacy history. 

I will point out free VPN’s will often promote high speed, low latency, high security, and more. The VPN’s will sound great but in reality, there are many downsides. Not only are the privacy policies vague, but the amount of personal data captured from the user is baffling.

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Here are some you should avoid for these reasons such as: 

  1. Opera VPN – This is a free VPN developed by Opera browser. This shouldn’t even be called a VPN. It is a proxy which doesn’t mask your IP address like a VPN does. If you are going to choose a VPN, choose one that actually does the job.
  1. PureVPN – This is one of the worst choices to choose. Not only have users reported DNS leaks and speed issues, but this VPN provider assisted with U.S. FBI investigators in 2016-2017 by providing them with user logs.

So, one could reasonably assume that PureVPN is lying when it advertises “strict no-logs” policies. Not only has this VPN provider proved to be dishonest but it’s also headquartered in China. China is notorious for harboring and hosting many advanced persistent threat (APT) groups.

Would you really feel comfortable with the Chinese government holding on to your VPN logs and connection details?

  1. VPNSecure – Headquartered in Australia, this free VPN is hosted by a country in the “Five Eyes” agreement. This means that the main English speaking countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, USA) are in an intelligence sharing arrangement.

This agreement means that your activities while on this VPN more than likely would be logged, shared, and investigated with authorities in that agreement.

These VPN’s that I do not recommend have been known for false-advertising, cooperating with authorities in investigations, advertising a strict no-logs policy which has been proved to be false, and other discrepancies. 
The bottom line is that if you are choosing a VPN, understand what you should be looking for in a quality product. Research these things when picking out a VPN:

  • Make sure the product has a strict no-logs policy and research the history of that policy
  • Ensure the product will work on your operating system and device(s)
  • Make sure the VPN provider isn’t headquartered in a Five Eyes country, communist country, or other place that doesn’t have good privacy laws
  • Check for the VPN protocols supported in that particular product. OpenVPN is the best one to use for security
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