VPNs have taken the world by storm in recent years and have become trendy amongst many internet users. Between keeping your devices secure and changing your device’s virtual location, VPNs provide incredibly helpful features that are important to have at hand in our modern society.
But VPNs aren’t created equally, each one is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses. This makes choosing a VPN incredibly difficult at the end of the day. On top of that, you need to make sure to avoid free VPNs because they come with many drawbacks that will affect your experience with them.
As long as you stick to choosing one of the top 5 VPNs that are currently on the market, you’ll be in good hands. But, let’s take a closer look at how to choose the perfect VPN based on your needs and preferences. Along the way, we’ll dive into what a VPN is and why it’s so important to have one installed on your device.
A VPN, also known as a virtual private network, is a cybersecurity tool that can be installed on your device, whether it’s a laptop, smartphone, or tablet. The main purpose of a VPN is to encrypt your internet connection, which will prevent anyone else from seeing what you are doing on your device while using it. Not even the government or your internet service provider can keep track of your internet traffic, which makes a VPN the ultimate tool for privacy and security.
But that’s not the main reason why VPNs have become so popular. Their popularity comes down to another feature that they offer to internet users — the ability to change your device’s virtual location at the click of a button. VPNs allow you to spoof your location by hiding your real IP address (the string of numbers used to identify your device on the internet) and allowing you to connect to a secure global server in another country or city around the world. Once you’re connected to the server of your choice, your device will adopt the IP address of the server instead, tricking websites into believing that you are accessing them from elsewhere (the location of the server you are connecting to).
You might be wondering why it’s so important to have a VPN installed on your device. This tool helps prevent hackers from stealing your data, especially if you’re using unsecured connections such as public WiFi hotspots. These public WiFi hotspots are often found at airports, hotels, and restaurants, where cyber criminals often thrive, especially when targeting tourists.
Hackers know that foreigners often don’t have access to mobile data, and they need to avoid the expensive roaming costs. This means that they need to rely on these cheap and convenient public WiFi hotspots to get access to the internet.
When a victim connects to an unsecured network, skilled cybercriminals can “listen in” on their devices as it sends and receives data through the connection. The form of virtual eavesdropping allows hackers to steal important data such as login credentials, personal information, and even banking details. If your connection is secured with a VPN though, a cybercriminal can’t eavesdrop on your device.
VPNs also allow you to bypass geo-blocking restrictions. You may have noticed that some live sports streaming platforms, YouTube videos, and even content on entertainment platforms are inaccessible because you’re in the wrong region. Luckily you can use a VPN to bypass these restrictions and access any content you want simply by connecting to the correct global server.
If you’re a frequent flyer you may have encountered internet censorship in the past. Several countries around the world employ internet censorship. Some of these countries are so strict that they even block access to popular social media sites and some Google services. As long as you have a premium VPN installed on your device, you can bypass internet censorship in foreign countries by changing your IP address.
Finally, you need to learn about choosing the right VPN — that’s right they’re not all the same. As much as a VPN can help to protect your devices and give you much more freedom on the internet, it doesn’t help if you use a VPN that isn’t good quality.
Apart from the interesting names and different color schemes, there are some important elements that you need to keep in mind when choosing which VPN to install on your device. Each VPN vendor has different strengths and weaknesses. For example, one VPN might have better connection speeds, whereas the other might have better unblocking capabilities.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that one VPN is better than the others. It all comes down to your needs and preferences. If your main focus is on protection and privacy online, you need to make sure you get a VPN that specializes in that field.
Another important factor to keep in mind is that many entertainment platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu do not allow their subscribers to use VPNs to bypass geo-blocking restrictions. Some VPNs therefore won’t allow you to use these streaming platforms while the VPN is active. If you’re looking for a VPN to stream movies and TV shows, make sure the VPN has that capability.
Whichever VPN vendor you choose, always make sure to choose a premium VPN. Using a free VPN might be tempting to save some cash, but it also comes with a ton of drawbacks that you need to know about. If you’re using a free VPN you can expect slower connection speeds, more ads, less security, fewer global servers to choose from, daily data limits, and a lot more disadvantages compared to using a premium VPN.
Luckily though, the majority of premium VPN providers have excellent offers that you can use to your advantage. Many of them, such as Surfshark, allow you to use the VPN with a 30-day money-back guarantee. This allows you to use the VPN as a free trial for the first month, and if you don’t like it you can cancel your subscription and try out another one.