VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are quickly becoming a recommended security essential for anyone that wants to keep their data out of unwanted hands. A good VPN can keep your online activity more secure, even from your ISP, but do you really need one?
A VPN is essentially a network of computers that operates on the Internet. This can be a large network with many integrated servers and clients, or a small network that connects an individual to their private network at home.
Businesses will often use VPNs to give system administrators the ability to access secured systems in order to perform maintenance and execute commands remotely. With a good encrypted connection, it gives the company the peace of mind of knowing that its systems and data are secure, as if the person connecting to them were sitting in the office.
A lot of individuals use VPNs to keep their online activity private, even while connected to a public Wi-Fi spot, such as the one found at a nearby coffee shop. These networks are dangerous grounds to leave an unencrypted connection open, as the information you pass back and forth can be easily captured and used by anyone else on that network.
With a good, encrypted VPN, you can enjoy a 100% encrypted connection to the Web, which appears as a miscellaneous stream of data to anyone watching.
When you connect to a VPN, all of your Web traffic is transferred through that connection. Your email, browser, and any other Web-enabled software's requests are handled by the remote server. The only thing you really connect to is the VPN.
The VPN business is a competitive one. These companies are all competing to prove that they are the fastest, most reliable, and securest solutions out there. This is good for the consumer as it means that the level of value out there is pretty high from most of the high-end companies.
Here are some features you should expect in a good VPN service provider.
These features are a great start when it comes to evaluating a VPN provider's services. Little additional things like a zero-logging DNS, multiple encryption protocol options, and more will make a big difference in your experience as a customer.
Every good VPN should offer a free trial that allows you to download their client and test their service without restriction. This will give you a very real idea of what to expect in terms of speed and reliability.
When specifically looking at exit server locations, a VPN can offer users the ability to circumvent regional restrictions. For example, if you live in a region that doesn't allow you to access Google, but your VPN has an exit server in a country that does, you can select it and readily access Google via that connection.
You can always create your own VPN which will enable you to route all of your Internet traffic through your home server while you're out and about. For a lot of companies, this is exactly the type of solution they use to keep their staff connected to the office from anywhere they may be.
This is a great option if you want to keep your connection secure, but it won't give you any added privacy as your ISP will still be able to see your activity as it is that connection you are using to route traffic through.
There are a handful of great providers out there that are an excellent choice for individuals that just want to keep their Web activity private and secure. Here are a few members of the RocketTheme team use:
VyprVPN by Golden Frog is an excellent VPN service that gives you a number of high-end features at a reasonable price. They offer multiple encryption protocols, no-logging DNS, NAT Firewall, apps for just about any smartphone or tablet, desktop clients with one-click operation, and one of the fastest services out there.
I use VyprVPN myself. I've found that the speed caps off at around 30 Mbit/s down and 10 Mbit/s up. If you are connecting from a network with a slower local connection, it doesn't seem to cause any noticeable slowdown.
With its Pro account, you gain protection from deep packet scanning and security protocols that mask the fact that you're even on a VPN from your ISP.
WiTopia is a personal VPN service that offers a consistent, reliable service in over 160 countries around the world.
WiTopia includes a plethora of security protocols to keep your activity secure from even the nosiest ISPs.
One of WiTopia's big selling points is that it enables instantaneous switching between exit servers located around the world without downtime or throttling.
ExpressVPN has exit servers located in over 40 countries. This means you can surf the Web as though you were in virtually any area of the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, and Middle East.
Another big selling point for it is a 30-day money back guarantee. If you aren't satisfied with the service, you can cancel and request a refund within 30 days of signing up.
As a basic feature, you can have two simultaneous connections including one desktop computer and one mobile device. A lot of other providers charge extra for that feature.
Finding a good VPN for you can take a little research. Not every VPN offers the same speed in every location. Obviously, the closer you are to a VPN's servers, the less latency you will experience as a user.
Once you do find a good one, you will be able to surf the Web with the peace of mind of knowing that your browsing habits, email, and other personal communication isn't being shared with anyone and everyone on your network.