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Before you start searching for the right VPN Service, you should first make a checklist of your requirements. What’s the use of investing in a VPN which won’t match your needs?
So, to help you, we’ve put together a brief on the common mistakes people make when they’re shopping for a VPN and the main steps on how to choose the right one.
Common Mistakes for First Time Buyers
Usually, people don’t ask the right questions when they’re searching for a VPN and tend to focus on getting the cheapest price, as many servers and as many features as possible.
Also, looking at how the VPN provider ranks in Google searches is the wrong approach.
What should you be looking at?
When you’re searching for the right VPN you should consider location, privacy & anonymity, speed, security, technical features, ability to integrate on mobile devices, limitations and customer support.
Usually, you buy a VPN to connect to a specific location or region. So, make sure the VPN provider allows connections to that particular location/ region.
Do some research and check how many IPs and servers are in that region or location. It’s best if you look for a VPN which covers a large geographical area so you don’t have to worry about any restrictions.
Privacy and Anonymity
Most users are aiming for online privacy when they use a VPN.
Your best approach is to check if the service doesn’t record logs. It’s known as a log-less service or zero-log.
Although some VPN providers claim that they guarantee zero logs, they still record data such as bandwidth usage, connection times or the IP info of the sites you visit. If you combine that information with your ISP’s records of your online activity you’d be stunned of what you can find out.
You should also check what personal details you’re required to disclose to the VPN provider. Keep things as simple as possible and aim for VPN’s which only ask for your email address and a password.
Consider the location where the VPN provider is headquartered so you don’t run into bad surprises such as having your personal details disclosed to authorities. Aim for jurisdictions such as Panama where the regulatory framework is permissive.
Speed is vital to your use of the VPN. If the connection is too slow, it’ll damage your entire online experience. When it comes to speed, you should consider three metrics including ping time, upload and download speeds.
Ping time refers to the time it takes for the packet (one unit of data) to pass from your laptop/ computer through the VPN server, reach the destination and return. The lower the ping time, the better off you are. Real-time apps such as voice over IP or online messaging are drastically affected by ping time.
The upload & download speeds refer to how rapidly data is sent and received by your laptop/ computer when you’re connected to the VPN. For large volumes of data transfers, you should choose high download speeds. Upload speeds matter if you’re usually uploading large packages of data. Which metrics are important depends on your needs. Once you’ve narrowed it down, check for a VPN which offers the best numbers in the country which you’re interested in.
In terms of security, you should look for providers which offer L2TP/IPsec or OpenVPN. Although OpenVPN is your best option, it’s not supported by mobile devices.
So, choose OpenVPN to connect via your PC and L2TP/IP if you want to use your smartphone or tablet. However, the top VPN providers include both options.
The connections provided by the VPN should be reliable and consistent. You shouldn’t need to check if you’re connected to the VPN server. It should be running non-stop.
Because hackers can trick your system to reveal the IP address when DNS lookups are performed, make sure that your VPN uses its own DNS servers to guarantee that your privacy isn’t breached. The VPN should have built-in DNS leak protection systems.
The technical features you should look for depend on whether you have protocol preferences such as OpenVPN, PPTP, or L2TP. The most secure of the options is Open VPN.
Concerning encryption, check if the VPN provider supports AES-256 cipher, SHA-512 has authentication or an RSA-4096 handshake.
In terms of cross-platform compatibility, some VPN’s strip down features of the main software to fit Android/ iOS operating systems. If you plan on using the VPN on your smartphone, double check that the mobile version integrates the same features as the main program.
You’ll find that VPN providers limit the number of simultaneous connections allowed from a low of 2 to a maximum of 6. If you plan to use the VPN for peer-to-peer services or file sharing, check the number of connections allowed. Other limitations may relate to amounts of download/ upload data packets or speed at various times during the day.
Even if you’re a technical expert, you can always run into issues which you can’t resolve. Aim for a 24/7 customer support service with multiple contact options. Live chat always prevails in terms of efficiency. To get help on more general issues you can also look up the social media account of the VPN provider.
So, what is The Best VPN Provider for 2018?
Express VPN tops the charts as the best VPN of 2018. It offers incredible speed, unblocks websites and guarantees unmatchable privacy. The second-best VPN is IPVanish, followed by VyprVPN.
So why is Express VPN the No. 1 provider? Because of its incredible performance, large geographical coverage, mobile usability, and excellent customer support. This VPN has around 2,000 servers in more than 148 locations and offers 30,000 IP addresses while supporting 3 simultaneous connections. It’s also very efficient at unblocking DNS content for a wide range of streaming devices.
The customer service through live chat guarantees that you can ask for help anytime by reaching out to a professional team available 24/7. You’ll also benefit from a kill switch (which is helpful in hiding your IP address in case of network failure) and P2P support.