Finding a good VPN and using it is basic online hygiene. But before we get onto the actual numbers, let’s do a quick qualifier. What actually makes for a good VPN?
A great VPN has plenty of great servers
Servers, servers, servers. The more exit points back onto the internet your VPN has got, the shorter distance from wherever you’re at to wherever you’re going. Think of it like a teleporter that only has specific destinations it can send you to. The more destinations it’s got, the more likely it is that you can get close to your intended target.
This is the primary way in which a VPN can increase your network connection speed. It also has the added bonus of making it appear as if you’re in a different country, a must if you plan on watching international television.
Trust is key
You also want to be able to trust your VPN provider. One of the most common reasons to use a VPN is to protect yourself from data snoops but the one group guaranteed to still be able to see your data are the guys who are hosting its transfer. Check the privacy rules of your VPN host before you subscribe.
Number of devices
Number of keys: Most VPN providers will only rent you a number of connections and you need to decide which devices to connect. Off the back of this, does the VPN support mobile device connection as well?
What about the Benjamins?
Finally, value for money. We’ve got to include the word ‘value’ there because no half decent VPN is going to give away their services. They’ve got those servers to maintain. If you do get a free VPN double check that point about which data of yours they’re selling because, trust me, they’re making money somewhere.
So, who do you go with? Here’s five to get you started.
NordVPN: The budget-friendly all-rounder
Why? Well, they’re fast and offer up to 6 simultaneous connections but the real value with these guys is the price which begins at a startling $2.75 per month. It may lack some of the more in-depth features of the higher tier stuff but you can replicate a lot of that locally if you know what you’re doing.
It also has a handy dandy ‘Kill Switch’ which is basically a panic button to disconnect you from the net if you end up in the wrong part of the digital neigbourhood.
Tunnelbear: The super-secure multi-device choice
A bit more expensive, this one, at $4.99 per month starting price — but you do get an extra connection for your buck. It also doesn’t have as many servers as some of its competitors so you may want to check out their seven-day free trial to see if it meets your needs.
So why is it on the list? Tunnelbear boasts an excellent reputation for privacy and security, as well as ease of use.
It makes for an excellent first step to determine your needs as a user and the support is definitely there to help you get setup and running and it’s “Ghost bear” and “Vigilant” services provide extra layers of security even on top of that normally boasted by a VPN. Well worth a look if it’s your first time.
Pure VPN: Move fast for less
This group are all about speed. Based in Hong Kong, they have over 750 servers in over 140 countries and that means you’re going to get where you’re going. Fast! Whilst not as many device connections as some of the others on this list, if you’re looking for an out and out speed connection for international multiplayer gaming, this is definitely worth a look.
They also have a dedicated support team to help with any issues. It may make a few trims to the experience here and there with less features than other providers but the upshot of that is it keeps itself at very reasonable cost, starting at only $2.45 per month.
SurfEasy VPN: No logs, no tracking
I put these guys on my list for one reason alone. Privacy. It may not outperform some of the others all of the time but builds itself on a strong ethos and a strict ‘no logging’ policy. They don’t track what you’re doing. I will point out that only focuses on browsing, downloading and other such stuff and the government can force them into revealing what few details they have but even so, the rock solid 256 OpenVPN encryption makes these guys really very secure.
ExpressVPN: Fast, good… but not cheap
Final contender in the ring: ExpressVPN. One of the more expensive providers I’ve found but you get what you pay for in this life and ExpressVPN back up their claims with a 30 day money back option. They’re fast, secure and easy to setup.
They’ve got a 24/365 support line and make the same guarantees as SurfEasy on their logging policies but are based out of the Virgin Islands which does not have data retention laws.
They have a lot of servers (over 140) in 94 different countries so you can also expect good speeds and their service will automatically pick the best servers based on your location and that of your destination.
These are some of the biggest players in the VPN world and if you’re shopping for your first paid VPN, the answer’s probably here. If you need something a little more specialized, or you want to compare and contrast more deeply, check out VPNadviser.com for advice and guidance. And remember, the best VPN is the one you use!