Many streaming video services block the use of VPNs because you can use them to spoof your location and access content licensed for specific regions. BBC's free streaming iPlayer, for instance, is intended only for UK citizens. But if you hop onto a VPN server in London, you may as well be a local resident. In particular, Netflix blocks VPNs very aggressively, as mentioned above.
One of the biggest things that can put people off the idea of using a VPN is that they slow down your internet. This is mainly because you are adding an extra leg to the journey your data must take to reach its destination (via the VPN server). These days good VPN services are very fast and if you connect to a server near to you, you will often get 90% or more of your raw internet connection speed.
We considered native apps for Windows, Mac, and Android to be mandatory because they’re easier to use than open-source or third-party VPN apps like Tunnelblick; that in turn makes it easier to stay secure. For more-advanced users, adding VPN connections to Wi-Fi routers can help secure all connections on a home network without having to manage devices individually.
We also like how easy it is to connect, and how clear and accessible the settings are, on all platforms when using the IVPN app. (ChromeOS has an option to use a less-secure VPN protocol with most providers, including IVPN. But TorGuard, our budget pick, supports the more secure OpenVPN on Chromebooks and tablets.) If you do want to tweak some settings, IVPN has easy-to-understand checkboxes for most options. For example, the kill switch (labeled “firewall”) has an easy on/off toggle. Anytime it’s on and the app is open, all traffic in and out of your computer will cut off if you forget to connect to the service or the secure connection drops for some reason.
If you’re looking for mobile solutions, check out the best Android VPNs The 5 Best VPNs for Android The 5 Best VPNs for Android Need a VPN for your Android device? Here are the best Android VPNs and how to get started with them. Read More and the best iPhone VPNs The Best VPN for iPhone Users The Best VPN for iPhone Users Looking for the best VPN for iPhone? Here are some great VPN choices to protect your iPhone's browsing. Read More .
If you are going to use BitTorrent for whatever reason, good luck to you. If you are going to use a VPN, more power to you. But be sure that you take the time to read the VPN's terms of service before you start. And be aware of the local laws and possible penalties before you start, whatever your willingness to obey them. "I didn't know the law," or "I don't agree with the law," won't hold up as defenses in a court, so make sure you can live with any potential punishments should you choose to do something legally dubious.
It's worth noting that most VPN services are not philanthropic organizations that operate for the public good. While many are involved in progressive causes, they are all still for-profit organizations. That means that they have their own bills to pay, and they have to respond to subpoenas and warrants from law enforcement. They also have to abide by the laws of the country in which they officially reside.
L2TP/IPsec (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol). This is a combination of PPTP and Cisco’s L2F protocol. The concept of this protocol is sound — it uses keys to establish a secure connection on each end of your data tunnel — but the execution isn’t very safe. The addition of the IPsec protocol improves security a bit, but there are reports of NSA’s alleged ability to break this protocol and see what’s being transmitted. No matter if those are actually true, the fact that there’s a debate at all is perhaps enough to avoid this as well.