Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a software that can be used at a personal, government or corporate level to create a virtualized network between two or more physically separate networks. VPN is mainly used for security purposes, it prevents other users especially if you’re sharing a Wi-Fi connection with somebody or using a Public Wi-Fi to access and see the data you’re transferring from one server to another. For instance, VPN allows a Microsoft employee to work from home in California or anywhere else while accessing the company intranet located in a building in San Francisco as if he was right there on the San Francisco office’s network. The same technology can be used by consumers to bridge their mobile devices and laptops to their home network so, when away from home, they can securely access files and information from their home computers.
VPNs can also be used in other cases, though because they encrypt your connection, VPNs allow users to prevent others from seeing the data they’re transferring. This keeps data secure, particularly on public Wi-Fi networks in places like coffee shops and airports, ensuring no one can snoop your traffic and steal your passwords or credit card numbers or any other relevant information. Therefore, it is very necessary to consider and critically analyze services provided by VPN Service Provider before purchasing their services. Here are some amazing tips for choosing a good VPN service provider.
Since VPNs redirect your traffic through another network, you can also make it appear as if it’s coming from another location. That means if you’re in Lagos, Nigeria, you can make your traffic appear to come from Cleveland. This is very useful for certain sites that block content based on your location (like Netflix). It also allows some people have to deal with insanely high import taxes on software that see them paying double what other consumers pay for the same products just because of Nationality.
In addition to hiding your online activity from a snooping government, it’s also useful for hiding your activity from a snooping Internet Service Provider (ISP). If your ISP likes to throttle your connection based on content (tanking your file downloads and/or streaming video speeds in the process) a VPN completely eliminates that problem as all your traffic is traveling to a single point through the encrypted tunnel and your ISP remains ignorant of what kind of traffic it is.
In short, a VPN is useful anytime you want to either hide your traffic from people on your local network (like that Public Wi-Fi), your ISP, or your government, and it’s also incredibly useful to trick services into thinking you’re right next door when you’re an eternity away.
Assessing your VPN needs
Every user is going to have slightly different VPN needs, and the best way to pick the ideal VPN service is to take careful stock of what your needs are before you go shopping. You may even find you don’t need to go shopping because home-grown or router-based solutions you already have are a perfect fit. Let’s run through a series of questions you should ask yourself and highlight how different VPN features meet the needs highlighted by those questions.
To be clear, many of the following questions can be satisfied on multiple levels by a single provider, but the questions are framed to get you thinking about what is most important for your personal use.
Do you need secure access to your home network?
If the only use case you care about is securely accessing your home network to, then you absolutely do not need to invest in a VPN service provider. This isn’t even a case of the tool being overkill for the job; it’s a case of the tool being wrong for the job. A remote VPN service provider gives you secure access to a remote network not access to your own network.
To access your own home network, you want a VPN server running on either your home router or an attached device (like a Raspberry Pi or even an always-on desktop computer). Ideally, you’ll run the VPN server at the router level for best security and minimal power consumption. To that end, we recommend either flashing your router to DD-WRT (which supports both VPN server and client mode) or purchasing a router that has a built-in VPN server (like the previously reviewed Netgear Nighthawk and Nighthawk X6 routers).
If this is the solution you need (or even if you just want to run it in parallel with remote solutions for other tasks), definitely check out our article How to Set Up Your Own Home VPN Server for additional information.
Do you need secure casual browsing?
Even if you aren’t particularly security or privacy conscious, everyone should have a VPN if they regularly use public Wi-Fi networks. When you use Wi-Fi at the coffee shop, the airport, or the hotel you’re staying at while traveling cross-country, you have zero idea whether or not anybody is snooping through your data.
Also, the mode of payment to the VPN service providers, if you’re protecting your system from snooping, it wouldn’t make sense to pay through anonymous sources. Other factors to be considered should include their efficient kill switch system if they throttle connections and restrict services. Similarly, the number of Servers and location of the Servers should be considered, the number of concurrent connections they allow, and The Protocols they support.
With these tips, it would be easy for you to choose the best private VPN service. Whenever you want to implement the VPN network, you should consider several variances that may occur when comparing the providers.