Do You Know How to Evaluate a VPN? – Here Are Six Things to Consider
Over the years, a Virtual Private Network has been the solution to many online problems that internet users face on a daily basis. As time passed by, more and more VPN providers emerged in the market offering all kinds of services making it difficult for people to choose one that fits their needs. With so many options, how do you know that you are choosing the right one?
When it was created for the first time, this revolutionary technology didn’t serve as many purposes as it does nowadays. Now, in order to choose a provider, you must first evaluate it carefully and to do so, you also need to know how.
The following questions are crucial for choosing a fitting provider and you need to take them into consideration before investing your money and time into a VPN.
Business or Personal Use?
Let’s first get this out of the way. Do you need the VPN for personal use or for protection of your business? The origins of the initial use of a Virtual Private Network go back to the ‘90s when the PPTP protocol was created by a Microsoft employee. He did it so that his colleagues could have a private network and work securely from their homes. At that time VPNs were exclusively used by businesses. Now, this technology has become much more popular in individual users, and presumably, you are one of them.
There are many differences with VPNs for business and individual use, so don’t make the mistake of choosing one without taking this into consideration. Some service providers offer both, others are targeting only a specific customers’ group.
How much are you willing to pay?
VPNs differ in prices depending on their features. And yes, you can find free VPNs as well. Obviously, everyone would consider a free provider at first, but it’s important to know that this is not your safest option. Free VPNs usually come at a different price. They either have considerable limitations in their features or are not secure at all. For example, you can get a free one but with only a limited bandwidth, reduced speed or only one server location. And this is not even the worst part. Many free providers store your logs and sell it third parties, or don’t encrypt your traffic at all without warning you about it.
On the other hand, if you do decide to invest your money in a paid VPN, you need to be extra careful. Service providers will say what you want to hear just to trick you into buying their product. Many times this will be just a false promise that they won’t deliver it to you once you purchase the VPN. Therefore, always search for free trials or extended no-questions-asked money-return policies. This way you will see it for yourself if the provider indeed is worth your time and money.
Another tip, never pay for a longer subscription unless you are already certain of the provider’s quality. Instead, go with the one-month price plan first, if possible.
What is the location of the VPN?
Sometimes it’s very difficult to find out where a VPN is located. Many providers often keep this information buried somewhere on the bottom of their website, others don’t even include it. This is usually because the VPN is not located in a privacy-friendly country. Some locations are much safer than others and if you are concerned about government surveillance, there are some things you need to know.
You might’ve heard of the terms Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or Fourteen Eyes. If not, that this is something that you need to know when you are evaluating a VPN.
The Five Eyes countries are basically abusers of internet privacy. These five countries are the USA, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Some are worse than others, but every country here is in an alliance that works together to collect surveillance data and acts as a global entity that compromises your right to privacy.
These five countries plus Denmark, France, Netherlands, and Norway are the Nine Eyes, which is merely an extension of this global surveillance.
Finally, the mentioned nine countries, enforced with Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, and Spain are logically the 12 Eyes.
Unfortunately, many providers originate from these countries. And while they might not be largely influenced by the country’s regulations, it’s good to have this in mind and stay precautious, especially if you value your privacy above everything else.
Other countries that are definitely a red alert are Israel, South Korea, Japan, Singapore, and the British Overseas Territories.
Very rarely some VPNs have a zero log policy. That means they don’t keep anything on you and what you do on the internet. If you are a privacy freak, this is the best and only option for you. Even if you are not, never trust a VPN that logs your activities and stores them for a longer time.
What do you want to use it for?
We all have our own reasons for using a VPN. Some want them for streaming, others for gaming, and there are people that get VPNs only with the intention to secure their devices and themselves from prying eyes. These are different things that require different features. For example, for gaming, it’s best to use a dedicated IP address, for streaming you need a VPN with speedy servers to avoid buffering. And when it comes to privacy, well the VPN needs to have the best security protocols, properly encrypted and not to store any logs.
The best thing is that you can also find VPNs that offer all of these features in a single piece of software. They usually come at a larger price, though.
What’s the customer support like?
Last but not least, customer support.
No matter if you are a beginner or have advanced knowledge on the topic of VPNs, you still require help from a representative of the company. Every VPN is different and you will need assistance at least once. For that, you need good and reliable customer support. If a company does not treat its customers with the proper care and attention then it’s much better to avoid it.
Let’s say you are experiencing an issue and you need it fixed immediately, a VPN with a 24-hour support is much better that one that’s barely available during the week. But what’s even more important is for the person behind the screen to be helpful and to have proper knowledge on the issue.
All in all, before you start using a VPN, you need to evaluate it properly. These are the key features you should keep an eye on. Buying a VPN is like any other purchase, you need to conduct the proper research, see if it fits your needs, and only then buy it.
Do you have any other suggestions that need to be added on the list? If you do, make sure you share them in a comment below.