How do I choose the best VPN for my needs?
To the novice, deciding which VPN provider to choose can be a daunting task. Every provider offers a different set of features and it's hard to know which are necessary and which aren't.
It is often tempting to either go for the package with the most features so you can be certain that what you want is in there somewhere, or to take the cheapest package and hope it will do.
Such an approach could leave you spending more money than necessary or – even worse – wasting money on something that doesn't do the job you want it to.
So what are the questions you should be asking about VPN packages to make sure you get the right one for you?
Where is the company based and where are its servers?
VPN providers are bound by the laws of whichever country they are based in. If you’re worried about your government snooping on you, pick a provider that has servers outside your country.
The more countries a VPN has its servers hosted in, the more choice you have. By logging into a server in a foreign country, the Internet is fooled into thinking you’re based there. This allows you to overcome certain restrictions. For instance, BBC iPlayer is not generally available in most countries outside the United Kingdom. However, by logging into a VPN server in the UK, you can watch iPlayer to your heart’s content.
Do they keep logs?
If you’re seeking privacy, then you need a provider who doesn’t keep a log of your transactions. Even though they’re unlikely to use the data in an unlawful or immoral way, they may be obliged to hand it over to law enforcement agencies.
Before signing with a provider, make show you know what their logging policies are. These should be displayed and easily accessible on their web site. If you can’t find them, alarm bells should be ringing.
What protocols do they use to protect my data?
Within the world of VPNs, the term protocol refers to the methods used to encrypt data and make it secure.
Some protocols are more secure than others. Some are more suited to a particular use. However, for most users, the protocols used by VPN providers aren't much of an issue. They all have their benefits and drawbacks, but the important thing is that they all do much the same job.
Chances are that if you already know a lot about VPN protocols, you have a good idea of which one is best suited to your needs. If, on the other hand, you feel the need to know more, you can find out more about VPN protocols on our Protocols page.
As with most things in life, when it comes to VPN providers, you only get what you pay for. While cheaper packages may seem like a bargain, they very often lack the features you need.
The best advice is to draw up a short list of suitable VPN providers – i.e. those you offer the features you're after – and only then let price become a deciding factor.