These days, more and more people are turning to VPNs to protect their privacy online. As such, the number of VPN options has also exploded with each one claiming to be the best. With so many different choices out there, there’s no better way to get a feel for one than going through the free trial period. There’s no consensus on the single best VPN provider. Each has its own pros and cons, so you’ll want to be sure the VPN you choose has the following indispensable features:
1) Multi-Device Compatibility
All VPNs are Windows Compatible — as well as most being Mac compatible. However, many people access the internet, stream entertainment, and conduct transactions through their phones instead of their computers. For this reason, it’s essential that the VPN not only supports your desktop but all your devices. Your free trial should include multi-device support (at least three devices) to cover all your bases.
2) No Logs
The whole point of having a VPN is the encryption and anonymization of your data. Thus, your VPN service provider shouldn’t log any client data. It means that your VPN shouldn’t keep a record of your browsing activity. Be aware that many services claim they follow a “no logs” policy but may still hold onto certain elements such as session logs and IP addresses. Read the fine print of the service terms and conditions to be sure the company keeps none of your data.
3) VPN Kill Switch
VPNs work by connecting you to a private server and encrypting your data so that hackers or your ISP cannot see your activity. Just as with any network, sometimes the connection may be overloaded or dropped. When this happens, it’s possible for your real IP address to be exposed while you are online.
Your VPN service should feature an integrated “kill switch.” A kill switch detects connection problems and shutdowns data transfers preventing your private information from getting leaked. This feature is not always automatically turned on. You may have to check your app settings to make sure its monitoring active connections.
4) Variety of Server Locations
Many people use VPNs to bypass geo-restrictions and censorship. With a VPN, you can use an IP address of a different location than where you happen to be. People use this often with streaming content services and for many other reasons. Make sure that your VPN offers a wide selection of countries so you can access content from all over the world. Good service should provide at least twenty countries for you to choose from.
With any VPN, you will have to sacrifice some data speed. However, these days the technology is getting better and faster. If you have a fast Wi-Fi or LTE, you shouldn’t have to sacrifice more than 10% of your data transaction speeds. Run speed tests with your VPN turned on and off and check to see the difference. Do these tests throughout the variety of server locations they offer as well.
6) Compatibility with Your Router
One of the best ways to use a VPN is not to install it directly on every device but on your router. This means that any device connected to it will be protected and it is an excellent option for homes with a wide range of smart devices. This feature is less common. So, you’ll have to do some homework to be sure it’s not only provided by the service but that your router is also VPN compatible.
7) Anonymous DNS Servers
DNS or Domain Name System is what translates the address you type into your browser into an IP address. For example, when you type in Google, it’s IP address is 126.96.36.199. Normally, your ISP automatically does this for you. However, privacy is always the goal with a VPN, so you want the VPN to do this translation for you — keeping data away from the prying eyes of your ISP or hackers.
8) Good Pricing Options
With so many different features to look out for, you can easily forget this. More expensive VPNs don’t necessarily offer better services, but you don’t want to go for the cheapest one on the market either.
There is often a sweet spot where you can get an affordable and highly effective VPN. To get the best deal, most will want you to subscribe to at least a 12-month service that you pay upfront. When looking for the best deal though, ensure you’re not sacrificing any of the other essential features you need for a great VPN service.
The Most Important VPN Features
At the end of the day, the right virtual private network is the one that does its job in ensuring the privacy of your data while not sacrificing speed or your budget. There are plenty of great options on the market. Be sure the one you end up choosing includes these vital features so you can always have a safe and user-friendly online experience.