A virtual private network, also known as a VPN, allows users to send and receive data over the Internet anonymously and securely. In some cases, it can also allow people to bypass restrictions imposed by technologies such as a firewall.
In order to secure an Internet connexion, a VPN tunnel is established between the user's device, such as a computer or a smartphone, and the VPN server. All the data sent through this tunnel is encrypted so that it can't be intercepted by a third party in the process.
Top 10 Most Popular VPN Services
Not all VPN services are the same. Some offer more VPN server locations than others. Some support different VPN protocols and devices.We have gathered a list of what we think are the top ten most popular VPN services for you to compare. Here are our picks:
I have been using ExpressVPN for quite a few years already. I mainly use them to secure my Internet connexion at the hotel when we're on vacation, and sometimes to watch video streams restricted to certain countries. So far, Express VPN has been flawless. I got their VPN client software installed on my Windows desktop, on my iPhone and my iPad. Once configured, you're just one click away from securing your Internet access when you need to.
Express VPN has a network of over 2,000 servers located in 148 locations around the globe. They have a pool of more than 15,000 IP addresses.
Verdict: Really good VPN service although they're a bit pricey.
NordVPN has been advertising heavily on TV lately, so you might already know them. NordVPN just has it all: up to six (6) simultaneous connexions, VPN servers in more than sixty (60) countries and P2P protocols are allowed. Operating under the Panama jurisdiction, NordVPN is therefore allowed to guarantee a no logs policy.
With 3,500 servers worldwide and over 2,000 IP addresses, NordVPN may not have the largest VPN network of them all but we think that at only $2.75/month (or $99 for 3 years), their offer is pretty unbeatable. Their servers are fast and support is amazing.
Verdict: Highly recommended.
3. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost is definitely one of the biggest players in the VPN industry, having more than 20 million users already. Along their VPN service, they also provide a free web proxy tool. With more than 1,200 servers spanned across 65 countries, CyberGhost offers a fast and secure VPN service at a reasonable price. The company has a strict no logs policy.
CyberGhost allows you to protect your entire home network by setting up a custom connection with OpenVPN, L2TP or IPSec from your Wi-Fi router if you subscribe to the Premium Plan.
CyberGhost is truly worth checking out. At $99 for 3 years (or $2.75/month), they are a really great option, especially considering they offer a 100% money back guarantee for 30 days.
4. Hotspot Shield
HotSpot Shield is a pretty fast VPN service, thanks to their proprietary technology called Hydra Protocol, which is based on OpenSSL and TLS. According to AnchorFree, the company who operates the HotSpot Shield service, says this protocol can double the download speed.
So if anonymity is not your priority, for instance if you just want to watch Netflix from abroad, then HotSpot Shield might be a good choice. Otherwise, I'd look into a 100% anonymous VPN service like NordVPN or CyberGhost.
There is a free 7-day trial if you wish to try them out. Just click the Download VPN button in the top right corner of their website.
HideMyAss is a decent VPN service that has been around for quite some time before being bought by AVG Technologies, developers of the famous AVG Antivirus.
HideMyAss has a clean interface which is really easy to use. They have over 850 servers spanned across 21 countries. Unfortunately, HideMyAss is a little bit on the expensive side and some users have complained about slow download speed occasionally.
They have recently introduced a free 30 day trial, but if you don't like the service, don't forget to cancel it otherwise you'll be billed for 12 months automatically when the trial period is over.
PureVPN is a large VPN company owned by Gaditek in Karachi, Pakistan. The service has received poor reviews and slow speed and connection issues are often reported. PureVPN is also admittedly logging some data but they say that none of it can expose you. However, it seems they have been collecting and sharing data with US authorities a few years ago.
How to Choose the Best VPN Provider
A virtual private network (VPN) is a fantastic way to protect your online privacy and get around Internet censorship but it’s also important to remember that both your online security and privacy will depend upon the quality of the service provided by your VPN provider. Likewise and before selecting a VPN service provider, you will need to ask the following two important questions:
- What do you want out of your VPN provider or service? In other words, are you living in or often travel to foreign countries where there is Internet censorship or do you live abroad and just want an IP address that will give you access to websites like Hulu, Netflix or BBC iPlayer? Moreover, how important is the data you transmit over the Internet?
- What is the reputation and reliability of the VPN providers you are considering? In other words, will you get your full money’s worth out of the VPN service you ultimately decide on?
Likewise, other important considerations when selecting a VPN service will include the following:
There are plenty of VPN providers who offer VPN packages that range from a few dollars a month to around $20 a month. However and as with any service, you get what you pay for or don’t pay for. In other words, a $20 a month VPN service might be more value for your money if its more reliable and secure than a $5 a month VPN service.
The whole point of having VPN is to protect your online privacy and to get around Internet censorship. Hence, your VPN service provider will need to have adequate infrastructure and more importantly, make sure that the provider does not keep a log of your online activities. After all, this would defeat the whole purpose of protecting your online privacy with a VPN service.
Likewise, another point of using a VPN service is to protect the security of your data while surfing the Internet. For users with high security requirements, make sure your VPN provider offers or supports protocols like L2TP, Ipsec or SSL. On the other hand and if you just want to watch streaming websites like Hulu or Netflix, PPTP will be enough.
If you live in China or a number of Middle East countries where there is heavy Internet censorship, you will need a VPN provider that has servers in other countries in order to get around the local firewalls. Likewise and if you need an IP address in a specific country in order to access streaming websites in that country, you will need to make sure that your VPN service provider has servers there.
With the above considerations in mind, you should have no problems finding a couple of VPN service providers who can meet whatever requirements you have for both online security and online privacy.