To choose the best VPN for you, don’t just look at the price, not least because many services offer massive discounts if you take out a longer term subscription. Start with the basics: how many simultaneous connections can you have? Are there particular security protocols you want to use? Does the provider have servers in the places you’ll want to use it from and the places you want to connect to? How much data will they log about you, and how long do they keep it for?
For as ubiquitous as connectivity has become and how reliant we've grown on it, the Internet is still a digital jungle where hackers easily steal sensitive information from the ill-equipped and where the iron-fisted tactics of totalitarian regimes bent on controlling what their subjects can access are common. So instead of mucking around in public networks, just avoid them. Use a VPN instead.
Because few VPN companies offer live support, we appreciate when they at least provide easy-to-follow resources on their websites. Detailed setup guides with step-by-step instructions are available for every platform IVPN supports, and it breaks down troubleshooting advice into language that’s easy to understand. ExpressVPN also has clear, helpful support articles, but other services aren’t as straightforward. It’s harder to find the right information on TorGuard’s support site, and its articles aren’t as novice-friendly. If you need to submit a ticket for a specific problem, you can expect a quick response from all the companies we tested—IVPN and TorGuard both responded to us in minutes, and PIA took the longest at one day. ExpressVPN was the only one of our finalists that offered tech support over live chat. (Other companies provide live chat only for sales and signup support.)
If you are not afraid of commitment, you can get a Hide My Ass subscription for $47.94 for six months or $83.88 per year. Those are decent prices for those durations, but it's worth noting that some VPN services, such as KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, offer lifetime plans, for long-term protection. Notably, KeepSolid also has a wide variety of plans—some as short as a week.
Most professional testers say PIA offers good download speeds but some users have complained in forums that they can be unpredictable. Another feature that may put off some users is PIA’s location, as it’s based here in the USA — AKA a Five Eyes country. This means that security agencies operating in countries that are part of this surveillance alliance could demand access to customer data, which is a big turn-off for those using VPNs for less than legal means. However, PIA says it has designed its operations "to prevent this from happening in the first place," because there are no logs of identifying information collected about users. This means that in theory, it can’t be handed over no matter how much force is applied.
A VPN allows a user to securely access private networks with complete peace of mind. Whether you want a VPN in a country like South Africa for example, or in any other country, in the modern age, everything is possible. It has similarities to a firewall, except that a VPN disguises your IP address, so you are untraceable. By changing your IP address a top VPN like IPVanish ensures that if anyone is spying on you, they will not see your correct geographic location. VPNs use a combination of encryption protocols and dedicated connections; therefore, even if a hacker tries to access some of your data, they would be unable to read due to it being encrypted. With this level of encryption and security, you can always be sure that you are browsing anonymously with your VPN.
CyberGhost adheres to a no-logs policy, uses 256-bit AES encryption with perfect forward secrecy, and has a kill switch on its desktop clients. An app-specific kill switch is buried in the settings, dubbed “app protection,” which will only cut off internet to specified programs, e.g. a torrent client. CyberGhost Pro scored well in our speed tests and can even unblock US Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
In very simple terms, a VPN connects your PC, smartphone, or tablet to another computer (called a server) somewhere on the internet, and allows you to browse the internet using that computer’s internet connection. So if that server is in a different country, it will appear as if you are coming from that country, and you can potentially access things that you couldn’t normally.
A good VPN service offers more than 700 servers across the globe, with diverse server locations. A robust VPN service has more than 1,000 servers. The kings of the heap as far as servers go are NordVPN, Private Internet Access, and TorGuard VPN. NordVPN offers over 4,800 servers, and the other two have over 3,000 servers for subscribers. All three have a good mix of locations to boot.
A mix of features and price make a good VPN, but plenty of bad VPNs masquerade as good ones. Look for articles written by trustworthy sources that discuss the merits of each service based on its features, versus simple rundowns and user testimonials, which are almost always polluted by a combination of fanatical users and corporate bootstrapping in attempt to get their names out to potential customers.
I consider the download speed tests to be the most important of the bunch, and Hide My Ass did not disappoint. It slowed download speeds by only 6.9 percent, not far from the best score in these tests. That's held by TorGuard VPN, which reduced download speeds by only 3.7 percent. That success was short-lived, as Hide My Ass lowered international download speeds by 77.1 percent. In these tests, AnchorFree Hotspot Shield Elite had the best score, reducing speeds by 39.9 percent.
Cator promoted the tool in online forums and it was featured on the front page of Digg. After attracting more than one thousand users, Cator incorporated ads. HMA! did not take any venture capital funding. It generated about $1,000 - $2,000 per month while the founder went to college to pursue a degree in computer science. In 2009, Cator dropped out of college to focus on HMA! and added a paid VPN service. Most early HMA! employees were freelancers found on oDesk.com. In 2012, one of the freelancers set-up a competing business. HMA! responded by hiring its contractors as full-time employees and establishing physical offices in London.