There’s a reason the internet is obsessed with VPNs these days. For the past decade, our identities have swiftly been becoming entirely downloadable. With a person’s online activity, along with access to his or her social media pages, you can find out pretty much all there is to know about him.
That is, if they're not secure about how they interact with the web. Smart users don’t put all their information in one place (like Google’s holistic web of services). They don't make their social media profiles too public. And they don’t go online without a VPN.
A VPN encrypts your data and hides your location. That is the very least you can expect from them, while at the same time being all you need.
But what differentiates one from another? There are so many options online, this is how you should differentiate the good VPNs from the bad.
I’m going to address this from two sides. Firstly, free VPNs will never be good enough. That’s not necessarily because they're not secure. Some of the best providers offer free options. However, there will always be limits to what you can do. Bandwidth caps are in place, and if it’s not working, you can’t expect much from customer service. Ultimately, you get what you pay for.
But secondly, higher prices don’t necessarily mean a better service. So, when you download a free VPN, you get what you pay for, but when you're paying, price doesn't always reflect value.
Research the paid VPNs, looking for the following.
Do they keep your information?
Some cynics complain that using a VPN is simply swapping one ISP tracking your activity for another. After all, the VPN provider has access to your information. Nonetheless, that information is harder to access and, consequently, to track back to you.
However, some VPN providers promise complete anonymity. They don’t get any of your info, and you can even subscribe without providing too many details.
Of course, we can never be sure they're keeping their word, and if you're paranoid about being watched, this won’t necessarily help you. In your case, creating your own VPN is the only answer.
Are streaming services blocked?
We’re all well aware that Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, et al, blocked people using VPNs from viewing their content. This was to prevent those in countries where content is already syndicated from violating copyright laws.
Unfortunately, you don’t have to be doing anything illegal to be affected by this ban. If you are trying to be more secure, turning off your VPN every time you want to watch a series is counterintuitive. For this reason, you should go for a VPN that still works with Netflix, et al.
Finally, speed is an all-important factor. No matter what VPN you use, you're going to lose out on speed. You're sending your data through another server, after all. But some are slower than others. Find an option that has servers close to you. This will inevitably be quicker, and you won’t have to worry about ruining your online experience.