While many people have probably heard of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), you can absolutely rest assured that the people who actually use them are in a stark minority.
Just think of the amount of data each person can transmit over an unsecured network and a slight sense of paranoia is a rather reasonable response. Simply put, you wouldn’t head to a public pool and dive in naked, would you? You’d bring a bathing suit. Well, if you’re not using a VPN to surf the web, you’re essentially swimming in the nude in public.
A VPN creates an encrypted route between its user and the service, essentially making sure that data can’t be hoovered up. Not only that, it masks the identity of your computer, as your IP appears to have the same address as that of the VPN server you’re using. It’s a security measure, and today, when an unsecured connection can allow outsiders to access your data quite easily, it’s a necessary one.
But choosing the right VPN for your needs can be tricky. So we’ve assembled a list of some of the best VPNs on the market right now and which ones might best suit your needs.
If you’re looking for a VPN with more options than the competition, look no further than NordVPN. This Central American-based service offers six simultaneous connections, over 2,000 servers based in 61 countries, fantastic encryption and an automatic kill-switch function. You can even pay for it in Bitcoin if you like.
ExpressVPN is the great all-rounder. It’s fast, boasts great native apps across a range of platforms, has a fantastically intuitive set-up guide and offers superb 24-hour customer support. It also offers some valuable security features such as a “kill switch” (which basically conceals your IP if your connection conks out) and DNS content unblocking. Its configuration options aren’t particularly advanced, but it makes up for this with its location options.
Another big selling point is that ExpressVPN is incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which puts it beyond both EU data retention laws and US jurisdiction providing an extra layer of protection to both its consumers’ data and browsing habits. It’s a pretty pricey package but it does offer a 30-day-money back guarantee. No free service is on offer here, though, unfortunately.
This is one of the more expensive VPNs available – and its pricing policy is geared towards pushing consumers to its annual plan – but it’s worth every penny. IPVanish is incredibly fast, which makes streaming movies, gaming and file-sharing less frustrating offers over 950 servers in over 60 countries and five simultaneous connections. On top of that it offers a 7-day free trial so if you don’t find IPVanish to your liking you can get your money back.
What will make IPVanish incredibly attractive to prospective punters is the service’s zero logs policy. No user data is kept so it’s impossible for it to be snooped on or handed over to third parties. If that’s not enough, IPVanish also is an avid supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, so some of the money you pay to browse the net securely is being used to keep the internet a more open and safer place.
Based in Switzerland (hello, privacy laws) VyprVPN comes out of the gate swinging; the service offers 73 server locations, over 200,000 IPs – the largest number on this list – an optional dedicated IP address, unlimited data storage, a ‘kill switch’, the ability to run the app on pretty much any platform and more. At the base rate, it offers three simultaneous connections, but this can be upped to five if you’re prepared to fork out more for the premium service.
Premium also nets you the service’s Chameleon protocol, which helps you bypass VPN blocking. Naturally, this carries with it its own set of moral concerns and the service is clear in its warning that using the VPN for nefarious purposes will result in account termination. That having been said, VyperVPN offers a hell of a lot of browser security for a cheaper price than most.
To call TunnelBear the beginner’s VPN is not to say that it is any less secure than some of the other products on this list. It’s basically to say that it probably has the easiest interface of any VPN out there. Everything about TunnelBear – from its UI right down to the description of its product on its website (involving bears) – is geared first and foremost towards ease of use.
This cutesy veneer may put off more advanced users – as will the fact you can’t really tweak your connection options – but TunnelBear can serve your security needs and then some, offering 20 different servers around the globe and five simultaneous connections. On top of that, it offers a free plan (500MB per month) so you can use its service (albeit at a monthly limit) even if you don’t fancy cracking open your wallet. It’s also called TunnelBear. TunnelBear.