Firstly, what is a VPN? If you are reading this, you probably have a general idea what a VPN is or what it can do for you. In any case, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a network technology that creates a secure network connection over a public network such as the Internet or a private network owned by a service provider.
VPNs are not all created equally. And while you may have stumbled upon this post seeking to understand what makes one VPN differ from the various other VPNs out there, here are our tips for you to consider in recognising qualities that matter in what a top anonymous VPN service should do.
While deciding which private VPN service may suit your needs, you will often come across terms such as PPTP, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2, OpenVPN and other VPN types. These are encryption protocols which is used by a VPN as a measure of the level of security for your online activities.
Each protocol has its benefits and drawbacks (albeit PPTP is commonly avoided due to its many security vulnerabilities). However, without getting into the technicalities, it can be recommended that the two best options of VPN security are the OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec, so these should be the protocols you should aim for.
OpenVPN is largely considered to be the best protocol to achieve high levels of security and is based around open source audits. OpenVPN can run on virtually any port, which makes it hard to block and tell apart from standard web traffic for anyone snooping for VPN traffic. Ensure that your VPN provider supports this protocol as it is regarded as the best in terms of balancing security and speed.
Considered to be the second best option after OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec makes an alternative to the former due to its better compatibility with mobile devices such as iPads, iPhones and Androids, although its drawback is that it lacks the speed and the open security technologies found with OpenVPN.
When selecting a VPN service, you should aim for a provider who provides a wide range of servers across the globe so you will have ease in accessing any website which is blocked in any geographical region. Servers are important to a VPN user because if you need to use an IP address from a particular country, you need to confirm your VPN has a server in that country. (Eg. If you are trying to access a site/content which US-restricted, you need to connect using a US IP to do so).
Be it for corporate or personal use, the core function of a VPN is to essentially protect your online security and communications privacy. So if your VPN provider is keeping logs of all your activities, this is a big No-No, especially once they are served up a secret government warrant to grant access to users’ information.
It is very important that your VPN provider maintains a no logs policy on user activity which could be abused by selling customer data or aggregated statistics on customers. And if they are not logging your data, they will not have any relevant details to hand over to law enforcements for monitoring.
Some VPNs prohibit or limit its usage in Peer-to-Peer (P2P) and torrents downloading for fear of being blacklisted and receiving DMCA notices. Due to the nature of P2P and torrenting which shares copyrighted stuff like videos, audio files, or reports, it falls into the grey area of the Internet, which may cause some VPNs to cancel your subscription if you use their servers for BitTorrent and other P2P protocols to download/upload content.
If one of your main reasons to use a VPN is for file-sharing, your best decision would be to pick a VPN provider which allows for file-sharing traffic.
One of the biggest reservations when it comes to paying for a VPN service is, “Why should I pay to use a VPN when I can get a free VPN?”.
It is always good to select a VPN provider who accepts several payment alternatives (Bitcoin, Coinpayments, Paypal, Credit Card etc.) which can match your preferred payment options.
Bandwidth refers to the volume of data per unit of time that your transmission medium (in this case, your internet connection) can handle. Typically measured in Mbps, an internet connection with a larger bandwidth can transfer a set amount of data (like a video file) much faster than one with a lower bandwidth.
While you may be contentedly using your VPN for streaming movies or downloading music, paying for a VPN service which imposes bandwidth restrictions and then throttles your connection speeds would suck.
Why are DNS servers and kill-switch systems worthy of a mention when it comes to deciding which VPN provider to pick? Well, one of the worse things that could happen while using a VPN is a DNS leak, where instead of your connection staying anonymous over the secure connection of your VPN, your real IP address would be exposed due to a malfunction which connects you straight to your ISP’s DNS servers instead of through the VPN tunnel.
Worse still, this gives any VPN user the false sense of security because you probably would not be aware the leak was happening all along unless you conducted a DNS leak test.
The solution to this is that you should opt for a VPN client with built-in DNS leak protection and its own DNS servers.
On top of that, if you are concerned of the event where your VPN connection unexpectedly fails leaving all your traffic out on the regular internet, you would want a VPN service which provides protection tools known as a “kill switch system” that will automatically lock down all traffic in and out of your device so that it will not default to connecting to the unsecured internet connection.
Take your time before jumping on-board with any VPN provider. After all, with your online privacy at hand, you should only sign up with a VPN service that you truly trust to take care of your security on the Internet.
Here’s how BolehVPN compares: