What is a VPN?
The internet handles about 71,131 GB of traffic per second, including 2,790,265 emails and 73,849 Google searches per second(1). This also includes your business’ communications – both internal and external. What if any of this data got leaked?
In times when data privacy and security measures are being legally enforced by countries around the world, one term you’ll hear frequently is VPN. VPN – short for Virtual Private Network, is a service that gives you virtual privacy by masking your IP (internet protocol) address. A VPN established a secure and encrypted connection by creating a private network from a public internet connection.
The VPN creates a private ‘tunnel’ of sorts, between your internet network servers and your device. The encryption that a VPN provides hides information in such a way that the user data breaks into a complicated code. This keeps your data protected and secure.
Why should you use a VPN?
- Data Security: While many websites are upgrading to HTTPS, several others still rely on HTTP. This comes with a major risk of potentially exposing sensitive data such as passwords and business details.
- Managing a remote workforce: If your firm has employees or freelance staff working from multiple geographic locations, then using a VPN will ensure that all of your company data is safe and secure, and also well managed.
- BYOD is your policy: According to Betanews, 85% of organizations offer BYOD options to employees. While BYOD reduces a company’s costs, it increases the security risks. This is where VPN comes in play.
- Your employees travel frequently: Your employees may have to frequently travel to client locations to close deals or to carry out after-sales work. Having a VPN to use on their devices while travelling will ensure your data is safe.
Best 10 VPN Providers in the Market
Hands down the best VPN provider out there, Express VPN has delivered outstanding performance in multiple speed tests.
Express VPN offers access to more than 3,000 servers in 160 locations across 94 countries, and is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, plus iOS, Android and even BlackBerry, and comes with VPN browser extensions for anything which can run them.
The service comes with excellent customer support plus a 30 day money back guarantee.
SurfSharks includes OpenVPN UDP and TCP, IKEv2 security protocols, AES-256 encryption, and a kill switch ready to stop your details leaking if connection fails. In addition, Surfshark boasts a private DNS and an extra security blanket via a double VPN hop.
Surfsharks has a very user friendly interface, with options for ‘Quick connect’ and ‘All locations’, accompanied by a Settings icon – so if even if you’re not a tech person you’ll be able to navigate it easily. A Surfsharks subscription covers unlimited devices and services, and so is best suited if multiple devices are in play.
With NordVPN’s current offerings, you can choose from over 5,500 servers in around 60 countries, 2048-bit encryption, 6-device support as standard, strong DNS leak protection, kill switches and proxy extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers. There’s even a variety of choice for payment options that include Bitcoin, PayPal and credit cards.
NordVPN seems to have taken all the right steps to up its security measures and ensure your network and data are both extremely secure. It is also high ranking in terms of speed of the network, showing great download and upload speeds in various speed tests.
Another major VPN provider and arguably one of the most recommended VPN providers, IPVanish comes with 40,000+ shared IPs, 1,400+ VPN servers in 70+ countries, unlimited P2P traffic, 10 simultaneous connections and 24/7 customer support.
On the subject of support, we really like that you can access it directly from your Android or iOS app on mobile, and the service compatible with a host of operating systems and devices.
Their servers are always up, connect quickly; download speeds were far above average and torrents are supported on every server.
CyberGhost is a popular VPN provider that comes with more than 6,000 servers spread across 90-odd countries, apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, torrents allowed and speedy live chat support.
The interface is a major highlight – as it both user friendly and automatically connects to the best server connection available. The service can block ads, trackers and malicious websites. Moreover, CyberGhost provides a 45 day money back guarantee, giving you ample room to explore and decide.
Hotspot Shield offers a fairly decent free VPN service. However, the paid service ‘Hotspot Shield Premium’ is the real deal.
The premium service gets you unlimited bandwidth, full access to 3,200+ servers in more than 70 countries, support for connecting up to 5 devices, 24/ 7 support, and of course absolutely no ads at all.
Hotspot Shield’s proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol provides the best download speeds consistently, but it can only be run on Windows, Mac, Android or iOS apps.
Private Internet Access
The Private Internet Access network covers more than 60 locations across more than 40 countries with P2P supported on all servers. It supports all apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux, along with browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera, and detailed tutorials for routers and other devices, meaning the service can run almost anywhere.
This means that it can be supported across various devices, apps, OS and browsers.
StrongVPN is another brilliant VPN service having the ability to connect to 12 of your devices at any one time. Thus, this will cover your desktop, laptop, mobile, tablet, streaming device and a fair few more devices. The service provides a choice from across over 900 servers spanning 46 cities and 26 countries.
If that’s not all, a number of speed tests reveal is the performance having some of the best connection speeds seen from any provider. The service also comes with a 30-day money back guarantee, so if you’re unsatisfied you can always switch.
Switzerland based VyprVPN is another well-known VPN service which boasts more than 70 server locations and a stack of unusual high-end features. Its platform support covers everything from the regular Windows, Mac, Android and iOS apps, to routers, Android TV, QNAP, Blackphone, Anonabox and more. Thus, it can be used throughout the organization.
Windscribe is another good VPN service which delivers more than it promises. It comes with support for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS and Linux, as well as Chrome, Firefox and Opera extensions, and guides for manually setting up the service on routers, Kodi and more. The network is a good size with locations in 110 cities spread across more than 60 countries, giving you wide variety to choose from.
Factors Influencing your choice of VPN
The choice depends on the following criteria:
The determinant of purchasing VPN is the price.
Many free VPNs allow total anonymity because you often don’t have to provide too much personal and financial information, or even sign up for an account at all. However, semi-free or paid options would provide a host of additional benefits and services as well.
Thus the choice depends on yours or your organization’s needs to choose the best VPN providers.
When it comes to free VPN offerings, the security of your data is questionable as many free VPN services provide only Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP) which is supported by most computers but is no longer considered secure.
Paid users usually have more options, such as OpenVPN or the Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol (L2TP) and IPsec combination.
You probably should avoid VPN services that offer only PPTP, or that don’t tell you which protocols they use or support.
Quality of service
Free service VPN providers actually come at the cost of your surfing activity data being sold to 3rd parties. For many free VPN providers, this is the source of income. Free VPNs can also leave you at the risk of many cyber attacks.
Paid VPN services usually provide much better quality of service by offering unlimited data and hundreds (or thousands) of connection points, and generally don’t throttle delivery rates. They also ensure that your data is actually kept private, encrypted and secure.
Free VPN services often track what you do and where you go online when you’re connected. Therefore your decision must take into consideration the User Policy, Data Policy and the Compliance factors.
Free Vs Paid VPN – Which is Truly Better?
The most common question that arises when it comes to deciding on a VPN service – should you go for a free service or a paid service.
Essentially, free and paid VPN services would differ on the following grounds:
|BASIS||FREE VPN||PAID VPN|
|Connection Speed||More traffic, slow speed, data transfer limitation and poor connection.||Regulated data traffic, best connection speed, uninterrupted connections.|
|Data security||No legal obligation to protect data, stores activity logs for sale.||Military grade data encryption legally enforceable by contract of service.|
|Server Selection||Fair number of servers, mostly from large countries.||Thousands of servers worldwide, even covering remote locations.|
|Advertising and User data||Not ads free, and will sell your data to third parties.||Ad free and trading of user data.|
If you are looking for a system that helps ensure the security of your data and keeps cyber attacks at bay, a VPN is your go – to solution.
As mentioned above, depending on your or your organization’s needs, you can choose whether you want to use a VPN from your workplace, create a server yourself or host one out of your company itself. You can also choose whether you want a free service or a paid service and which among the most popular and trusted VPN providers you’d go with.
Ultimately, it is all about your security in the virtual world. A small data leak could cost your company millions, but a simple VPN connection could save you lot of money and litigation issues.