Top 5 Best VPN Service Providers in 2021

Let’s delve into the world of your data security. It needs help, particularly if you regularly deal with sensitive data. This is in the form of, for example, financial transactions. It can also be the daily operations of your own business.

Passwords no longer work to protect this critical information like they used to. Cyber extortionists can break through a code you think can’t be busted. The result is a loss of your personally identifiable information (PII). Not only yours but also that of the people or organizations you work with. However, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) does stop cybercriminals and others from snooping around.

A VPN goes beyond other solutions to reduce the risk of hacks. It goes above updating the security and operating system software on your computer or smart device. Additionally, it allows you to securely perform vulnerable tasks while logged into a coffee shop’s wifi.

The Best VPN Services (According to Us)

NordVPNHideMyAss VPNCyberGhost VPNExpressVPNAvast Secureline VPN
#1 NordVPN#2 HideMyAss#3 CyberGhostExpressVPNAvast SecureLine VPN
Website
Our Rating96%85%81%80%74%
SummaryRecommended full-featured, fast and reliable VPN with zero-log policy.Best for Netflix and BBC streaming with the biggest list of locations.VPN with advanced features for a great price and the best user interface.Popular VPN service with lots of features and simple to use interface.Solid VPN solution with essential functions for a great price.
Full ReviewNordVPN ReviewHideMyAss ReviewCyberGhost VPN ReviewExpressVPN ReviewAvast Secureline VPN Review
Price for 1 Month$11.95$11.99$11.99$12.95$5.99
Price for 1 Year$69$83.88$49.50 (+ 6 Months for Free)$99.95$47.99
Money-back Guaranteeyesyes30-day Money-back Guaranteeyes30-day Money-back Guaranteeyes30-day Money-back Guaranteeyes31-day Money-back Guarantee
Free Trialyes3-day Free Trial (no credit card needed)yes7-day Free Trial (credit card needed)yesno7-day Free Trial (no credit card needed)yes
No Logs Policyyesyesyesyesno
P2P or BitTorrentyesyesyesunknownyes
DNS Leak ProtectionKill Switch will automatically block your internet connection in case your VPN connection drops.yesyesyesyesyes
Kill SwitchKill Switch will automatically block your internet connection in case your VPN connection drops.yesyesyesyesyes
Blocks Adsyesnoyesnono
Phone Supportyesnononono
Accepts Bitcoinsyesnoyesyesno
Average Download Speed10.2 Mbps15.6 Mbps9.6 Mbps7.3 Mbps11.8 Mbps
Servers Locations62 countries190 countries60 countries94 countries33 countries
Simultaneous Connections65731
Supported PlatformsWindowsmacOSLinuxiOSAndroidChromeFirefoxRoutersTVsWindowsmacOSiOSAndroidTVsWindowsmacOSiOSAndroidRoutersTVsWindowsmacOSLinuxiOSAndroidRoutersWindowsmacOSiOSAndroid
ProtocolsUDP (OpenVPN), TCP (OpenVPN), L2TP (IPsec), IKEv2 (IPsec), PPTPOpenVPN, L2TP, PPTPOpenVPN, L2TP, PPTP, IPSecUDP (OpenVPN), TCP (OpenVPN), L2TP (IPsec), SSTP, PPTPOpenVPN, OpenSSL
EncryptionAES-256AES-256AES-256AES-256AES-256
Full ReviewNordVPN ReviewHideMyAss ReviewCyberGhost VPN ReviewExpressVPN ReviewAvast Secureline VPN Review
Website

How to Compare VPN Services

The overall percentage rating is based on a summary of the in-depth review. 0% is the worst score and 100% the best. To read the full product review see the link in the “Read Review” row or check our Reviews & Tests page.

Protocols shows which protocols are supported (the more, the better) and encryption shows the standard which is used for encrypting the data when connected. Most of the VPN products use AES-256 (Advanced Encryption Standard with 256 bits key length).

Store logging is extremely important when you care about your privacy. If there is a checkmark for “yes”, it means the particular VPN vendor is storing some of your data. We recommend reading the full review to understand what kind of data is being stored.

P2P (peer-to-peer) or BitTorrent shows if these connections are supported. The number of simultaneous connections means how many devices can be connected using the same subscription/account.

Kill Switch is an advanced feature which immediately disconnects you from the Internet in case your IP address and location would be revealed. It is extremely useful for torrent users.

There are dozens of VPN providers currently on the market. Some have been around for years. Others started up during the coronavirus pandemic to protect individuals and businesses that increasingly worked from home. What this means is it can be difficult to pick the right one for your needs.

Hence, the reason for this list of the top five best VPN providers for your Windows PC. These are proven vendors with histories (short as they may be) filled with satisfied customers. They feel secure to hand out their privacy to these companies. 

Furthermore, the top 5 VPNs listed offer premium services. In other words, you pay a fee, monthly or annually, to utilize them. Sure, you choose a VPN vendor that offers a free service. However, there’s a chance they’ll provide it for another price – the sale of your PII. If that’s the case, then what’s the purpose of a VPN? 

The cost to use these VPN services tend not to break the budget. The average monthly fee is a little over $10 with discounts if you purchase an annual package. These are good deals to protect your PII from cyber extortionists. 

What is a VPN?

To put it in simple terms, a VPN provides a “secret” location where you can perform work. Though not 100% secure, it provides the right amount of protection that confuses hackers and others that want to collect and sell your data.

The history of VPNs isn’t long. The earliest version of the protocol is tracked back to 1996. This is when Microsoft created a peer-to-peer (P2P) tunneling protocol (PPTN). It established an encrypted connection from one location to another via a LAN or WAN.

Eventually, other companies adapted this form of data transfer. Initially, these were built for computer organizations or large corporations. Eventually, smaller businesses began to utilize the process to help their consumers feel secure about their PII and financial transactions. By 2005 the ability to utilize VPNs stretched into the market for home users.

Each product review has been concluded by our independent team of experts. If you find some of the information misleading, outdated or incorrect, please let us know and we will be happy to review it.

What VPN Provides

In a nutshell, the Top 5 vendors listed provide the following abilities:

  • Access to all streaming films, TV series, music, sports events, and censored or geo-restricted content.
  • Secure and encrypted private web browsing through wifi hotspots like coffee shops.
  • The ability to hide your real location, IP address, and online activity from hackers or other forms of surveillance.
  • Protection for transfers of financial data and storage of confidential information.

Here’s a breakdown of the ones we recommend.

NordVPN

This is one of the best VPN products on the market today. It doesn’t have the download speed or amount of international connections. However, what it does have is a stable peer-to-peer tunnel and a strict zero-log policy. Furthermore, it provides advanced features like a kill switch, double VPN, and DNS leak protection.

HideMyAss (HMA) VPN

Despite its off-color moniker, HMA VPN is a popular provider of secure data tunnels. It provides servers in over 190 countries. This allows users to access geocentric material without detection. Among the other advantages of HMA VPN are IP shuffle and a kill switch. On top of those features, users can try it out free for seven days. If not satisfied within 30 days they are given back their subscription fees.

CyberGhost VPN

This solid solution has one of the best user interfaces on the market. Beyond that, CyberGhost VPN has stable connections across over 60 international servers. Extra features include DNS leak protection, kill switch, and no logs policy. Those who select the annual subscription get six months free. This equals 18 months of service. 

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN works best for streaming services. Its 94 locations across the globe allow for smooth viewing on Netflix, HBO Max, and others. An easy-to-use interface and advanced security features are a few reasons why this service’s subscription fees are above average. Still, they’re willing to give your money back within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied.

Avast SecureLine VPN

The advantage Avast SecureLine VPN has over others on the list is a minimal impact on internet connection speeds. Hence, its download speed of nearly 12 Megabits per second (Mbps) doesn’t face much degradation. Additionally, this VPN solution is one of the least expensive. Useful for those attempting to use this secure data tunnel for the first time.

PrivateInternetAccess (PIA) VPN

While it only has 28 server locations across the globe, PIA VPN is still a great value for those who need a simple way to work with data. They’re committed to your protection of privacy and don’t store any of your PII on their devices. They also offer a Chrome extension that makes connecting much easier.

IPVanish VPN

This product is a powerful VPN solution with surprising features. No connection records are kept on their servers for sale. Users can connect unlimited simultaneous devices through the secure tunnel. Plus, for the subscription payment, IPVanish unblocks streaming services like Netflix and Disney+.

Compare VPN Services

The overall percentage rating is based on summarized details from our in-depth reviews. For the Top 5 VPNs, 100% is the best. To obtain additional information about each company listed, including the pros & cons, view the full product reviews. You can click the link in the Read Review row or check our Reviews & Tests page.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s presented in our summary charts. 

  • P2P or BitTorrent determines if these connection types are supported. 
  • DNS Leak Protection is useful to prevent cyberspies from determining the series of Domain Name Systems you’re attached to. These are responsible for keeping the files that contain data on domain name(s) and corresponding IP addresses (zone file).
  • Kill Switch is an advanced feature that immediately disconnects a user from the internet if there’s a risk their IP address and location can be revealed. It is extremely useful for torrent users.
  • Average Download Speed is the rate of megabits per second (Mbps) you can expect once you’ve accessed the VPN. Nevertheless, this can be less or more depending on your internet service.
  • Server Locations are the number of systems a vendor has across the globe to handle VPN activity. The more the better as it maintains open tunnels and minimizes service interruptions.
  • Simultaneous Connections lists how many devices can be simultaneously connected through the same subscription/account.
  • Protocols show the protocols supported by each vendor. The more they list the better.  
  • Encryption reveals the standard that is used for encrypting data when the private tunnel is established. Normally, AES-256 is utilized. This is an Advanced Encryption Standard with a key length of 256 bits. While this seems small, the encryption is nearly unbreakable. 

How to Select the Best VPN Product for You

The best VPN service for your or your business depends on your needs. If you care about protecting PII you need a solution that supports the Kill Switch feature and doesn’t store items like keystroke logs. Vendors with these services charge more for increased security. For example, NordVPN or ExpressVPN.  

If you need to connect to various locations around the world, including some of the more exotic ones that don’t have the best internet security, select a product that offers the most server locations. We recommend HMA VPN or PureVPN. Both of these companies offer more than 200 locations.

Should you require a service to protect your data while using public wifi, the Top 5 we recommend do the job. Here, the main deciding factor is the price. For common users, we recommend Avast SecureLine VPN for a very reasonable price. There’s also TunnelBear, which is completely free with limited data. For more suggestions on no-cost services, see our list of the truly free VPN solutions.

Desktop vs. Mobile VPN

There’s something else to consider when you need to select a VPN service. The type of device where it will be used. Right now, VPN works for desktops and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. However, they aren’t interchangeable between this equipment, let alone operating systems.

Desktop Platforms

Not every VPN works the same on a system that runs Windows 10 as opposed to Apple OS. The same can be said for these two platforms and something like Linux. The reason is the protocols used to access the VPN application.

For instance, we mentioned PIA VPN offers an extension for the Google Chrome web browser for a quicker connection. Yet, it doesn’t provide the same service for Apple’s default browser, Safari. Neither does HMA. 

So, when you consider a VPN, look carefully at what platforms it services. Most likely, if you download a Windows service on a Linux device, the result will be a failure.

Mobile Devices

VPN use on mobile devices is incredibly important as more transactions are conducted via smart devices. Though websites and applications have refined their backend coding to provide enhanced security, it might not be enough for some. Thus, the reason you want to add a mobile VPN to your bucket of protection tools. 

Like desktop operating systems you need to be aware of different smart device platforms. There’s a good chance a VPN app built only for Android won’t work for Apple’s iOS. It’s best to review the limitations on the Apple or Google Play stores to see what works for your iPhone or Android product.

Overall, mobile VPN is optimized for the world of wireless transactions. Here are a few enhancements. 

  • Encryption is enhanced beyond 256-bits.
  • The creation of a smaller data footprint.
  • Session performance is maintained in weaker connections.
  • VPN connections remain stable in roaming situations.
  • Advanced data compression increases.
  • Smaller bandwidth compared to traditional VPNs.
  • Less processing power helps maintain battery strength.

We recommend you utilize a mobile VPN over a desktop if you intend to spend more time on your smart device. The reason is simple:  it’s designed for that type of environment. Legacy versions of this peer-to-peer tunnel don’t have the capabilities, at least not yet, to switch between wired and mobile devices. In turn, you can encounter multiple login failures, slower speeds, and excessive data loss. 

Of the companies we mention above, the ones that have both desktop and mobile VPN applications are:

  • ExpressVPN
  • NordVPN
  • IPVanish
  • CyberGhost

Browsers and VPN

Another item to consider when looking at a VPN is how well it works with your browser. It’s no secret that the most popular ones on the market, Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge, collect PII at some point in time. You may not know it because that information normally comes in the Terms of Service that you initially agree to or update. 

Data might even be collected in a Private (Edge) or Incognito (Chrome) browser window. Therefore, you want to ensure the VPN you choose works well enough to secure your browser transactions. Yes, the encryption of your entire internet connection via a peer-to-peer tunnel should help. However, you want to review their settings to check on compatibility. 

In the end, you need to ensure your data footprint is as small as possible. That doesn’t work if extensions are blocked or sites don’t recognize your VPN access. Check with the vendor ahead of time, perhaps through a free trial, to determine the potential issues and if they have any solutions.

To prevent these issues, you might want to look at browsers with built-in VPN capabilities. Unfortunately, Chrome, Edge, and Firefox don’t have this ability at this writing. The ones that do are:

  • Opera
  • Tor
  • Epic
  • UR Browser

The most “well-known” of these, Opera, permits you to turn the VPN on and off when needed. For instance, it can automatically be activated if you go into Private/Incognito mode. Additionally, you don’t have to pay an extra fee to enable and use the peer-to-peer tunnel. 

This isn’t to say that the big three browsers don’t have the power to utilize VPN. Chrome, for example, gives its users the ability to install a VPN extension to increase security. You must review the pros & cons to decide on the best course possible for you and your data.

VPN Considerations

There’s a lot to consider when you’re ready to select and use a VPN. Some of these are already mentioned in the comparison chart details. However, that’s a small part.

As stated, VPNs are secure tunnels that help you avoid detection from cyber extortionists or others that might want to harm you. It goes beyond virus protection and the use of incognito browser windows on your computer. Although both of those are important. VPN gives you privacy.

When you consider one it needs to be something that, for lack of a better term, transforms your digital identity. Others shouldn’t be able to see your starting point and follow the path through commands like ping or traceroute. It should stop at your computer or DNS and not be able to find you.

With that being said, here are the most important items you need to consider when you decide to go with a VPN vendor.

  1. Device Compatibility: Like we said, not every VPN product is available for each platform. There are some exclusive to Windows 10 or Apple OS due to their configurations. The same goes for Android versus Apple iOS on mobile devices. Carefully regard product descriptions so you don’t purchase something inadequate for your needs.
  2. Number of Devices: How many devices can be simultaneously utilized once a VPN connection is established? Furthermore, does the price increase as more of them need to be added? This is important to consider when using it for a business.
  3. Security: Check the protocols supported by the VPN provider. They can’t simply offer the standard OpenVPN. They should provide multiple avenues with varying degrees of encryption. For instance, a safe solution is AES-128-bit encryption. Those that support AES-256 want to make sure their customers have the utmost security for their transactions.
  4. Speeds: There’s no point in getting an incredibly slow VPN. If your internet connection is average at best you’re going to slog through a connection. All VPNs encrypt and reroute data through other servers. If the connection is so slow that it keeps productivity to a bare minimum, then you need to defer to another vendor with better upload/download times.
  5. Anonymity: If a VPN provider keeps track of what you do via keystroke logging or some other form of reporting, then privacy is only a word. Yes, they may need to perform some form of monitoring to prevent a cyber extortionist from initiating malicious activity. However, they can’t track every key entry or mouse click. 
  6. Specific Purposes: All VPNs aren’t made alike. Some are used for certain high-level digital transactions. Others specialize in access for streaming services. Make sure the VPN you choose doesn’t block access to various applications or websites for security purposes. You might get stuck with what you get. Similarly, if you need a VPN connection while working internationally, ensure that it allows you to reach your destination without blocks. 
  7. Prices: While most VPNs on the market are affordable, many people still want free VPNs. For this, consider trying a vendor’s access out via a free trial. 

Free vs. Paid VPN

If you’re a first-time VPN buyer, you might think about getting a free version instead of buying one. After all, there are several no-cost offerings available. So, what’s the point of spending money when you can get a secure connection gratis?

Here’s the thing:  Like other “free” security products, your return on investment won’t be as good as you think. The fact is that free VPNs are often slow and untrustworthy. 

Look at it this way – why would a company set up servers in several countries, maintain them, and provide all their services for free? Unless they’re a non-profit or supported by investors or stockholders, they must pay for these items out of their own pockets. Thus, there’s a good chance they’ll want something else from you in return. 

Most likely, they’ll harvest some of your PII. Maybe not your social security number or bank account details. However, they’ll certainly pass along your mail address and other contact information. Free VPNs will probably be the ones that look at your keystroke and browsing logs so they can send the appropriate data to certain vendors.

That’s not to say every free VPN provider is waiting for your data. Some for-and non-profit organizations have the same protocols as subscription services. If you are adamant to use a free VPN service, then examine the terms of the agreement extremely closely. If there’s anything about collecting your data, then it’s recommended you look elsewhere.

Free Trials

On the other hand, nothing is stopping you from partaking in free trials of subscription VPN services. Though they differ in the amount of time and usage, they allow you to see what the specific vendor has to offer. Plus, it determines the amount you wish to invest. 

It’s best to select a service that offers, at a minimum, a seven-day trial. This gives you enough time to fiddle with the settings and see how fast data is transferred in their insulated environment. If the company provides a trial of fewer days, or no free use at all, then make sure they have a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.

Another form of trial is in the form of data usage. For instance, they might provide 500 MB per month for free. After that, they’ll begin to charge you for additional connections. While this doesn’t provide you with a lot of bandwidth, you can work on low-space documents and view various websites to get an idea of speed and quality. 

VPN Equipment

As we previously mentioned, VPN services are available for both personal and business services. If you’re the latter type of user then this section isn’t for you. Instead, we want to talk to companies that use VPN for day-to-day operations. Particularly if your employees tend to work outside of the office environment.

Not utilizing a private way to access a business’ infrastructure is a bad idea. Yes, computers and other devices people use outside of the office have some form of security. However, it greatly varies. Especially if they don’t update their software regularly.

As a result, basic access to a company’s environment can be detrimental. For instance, should someone have a virus or other piece of malware simmering on their system, they might deliver it into the company setup after their login is validated. As a result, cyber extortionists can see everything and retrieve data at will. This causes financial and personal loss for a company as well as scrutiny by the press and public.

It’s even more important in the post-coronavirus world. More companies moved into a virtual environment during the 2020 pandemic than at any time. Though some have decided to go back to the office, others decided to remain digital to reduce their overhead and increase productivity. 

Thus, it’s imperative that businesses invest in a VPN framework for their employees and clients. Especially one that grants access to multiple users at one time and maintains its stability. For this, you need to purchase some equipment along with software. 

These devices are similar in design to network routers. Connected to a company’s security infrastructure (e.g., firewalls and modems), they permit multiple access to a VPN environment. Normally, this requires a piece of software, like Cisco AnyConnect, to enter the environment through a valid username and password. Some firewalls also act as VPN gateways.

Some of the advantages to this equipment are:

  • Load balancing to ensure all users have equal speed and access to the environment.
  • Built-in Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) protocols.
  • Data transfer rates of 100 Mbps or higher.
  • Easy-to-use graphical setup wizard.
  • Analysis of network activity.

The last item doesn’t mean data collection. Rather, it’s based on performance. The statistics provided to network administrators reports on activity levels. It also alerts them to VPN port issues that must be addressed. 

The cost of the VPN equipment depends on the number of access points required by the company. Some offer a finite amount of ports for small businesses. Others have the capacity for 1000 VPN sessions or more. These devices cost upwards of $1000 or beyond. Additionally, if the company relies on outside employees, they might need to purchase more than one of these boxes.

VPN Routers

Generally, routers are used to direct connections that come and go from a network. They are paired with a firewall for an added layer of security. When it comes to a VPN, routers are used to direct access to the peer-to-peer tunnels.

Some of these routers are like the pieces of equipment mentioned above. They load balance and add SSL and SPI layers to a VPN callout for further protection. However, there are also wireless VPN routers available for remote workers. These permit pass-through functionality to connect to the secure service and return a request for login credentials. 

Like other VPN equipment, the cost of routers depends on what’s required. Business-class models are priced higher than personal versions. Among the reasons why are the creation of cost-saving business processes and the seamless ability to login to a work environment for team collaboration. Furthermore, more access points are available to reach the peer-to-peer tunnel. 

VPN Uses

We’ve briefly discussed some of the most common uses of VPN in previous sections. However, there’s more to it than one-sentence explanations. Overall, VPN offers a lot of advantages for personal and business use. Here are a few.

Working from home:

Like we said before, VPN is critical for those who work from home. What it does is closes a steel door against cyber extortionists. True, it doesn’t completely stop them from trying. However, it takes them a long time to breakthrough.

If your company isn’t using VPN right now, then it needs to be immediately addressed. In fact, it needs to be paired with devices that are proprietary to the business. In simpler terms, they need to be configured to be the same for all workers. That way, the risk of malicious activity is greatly reduced.

If that’s not doable, then everyone needs to use the same VPN vendor to access the business environment. It can’t be a free-for-all. Someone might utilize a free VPN that harvests data and sells it to the highest bidders. 

Gaming:

Privacy is in play when it comes to using VPN in gaming. In networked environments, it helps prevent another player or cyber extortionist from discovering your IP address, which is basically the street location for your computer. Therefore, they can’t generate a denial of service attack. 

There’s also a concern that goes beyond the home gamer. When VPN isn’t engaged anywhere on the network the opportunity is ripe for a hacker to take over company servers. As a result, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack can halt gameplay. 

On top of this, gamers utilize VPNs if they want to play a game in another region. Sometimes, other countries block users due to security concerns. When a VPN is enabled, they can access a peer-to-peer tunnel to get to a gaming site.

Videos and Netflix:

You may have come across an issue on a streaming site like YouTube or Netflix where you couldn’t see a video. The explanation usually relates to you not being in the right country. For example, you can’t watch a show on the BBC because you don’t live in the United Kingdom.

The same goes for Netflix. Since it’s an international brand it offers unique shows and movies in different regions. Thus, if you want to see something from Netflix Japan but live in the U.S., then a VPN can help create a tunnel that shows you as a regional participant.

Travel:

While most countries must adhere to strict internet security protocols, others don’t have that capability. So, you risk attacks or data harvesting when you travel. Particularly to those regions that are on international security alert lists.

Going to private browser windows only does so much to protect you, let alone get you to a specific destination that’s hard to reach. However, the use of a VPN can open the internet door to safely access your personal and financial information.

Torrenting:

Torrenting was made for P2P environments. It’s one of the most popular ways to share content without relying on a single source. In a way, it’s a level higher than the original file transfer protocol (FTP). 

Large amounts of data can be transferred at once by hundreds or thousands of people. VPN provides a secure and fast tunnel to move that data with a minimum of loss.

VPN Setup and Use

The setup and use of a VPN is an easy process when you’re simply using the software. It can get complicated when you must utilize business-based equipment. For that, you will want to speak to the vendor and review their guidelines.

Where to Buy VPNs:

As mentioned above, the best place to purchase VPN subscriptions is through the selected vendors. Either the Top 5 best that were already mentioned or others that were recommended to you. Of course, speed and security are at the top of the list. Other items for consideration should be:

  • The subscription cost, which might be less overall if you purchase an annual plan over a monthly program.
  • The ability to expand the number of VPN users. This is important if you intend to utilize the software for a small business.
  • Proper customer service to promptly address issues you might encounter during installation or use. It’s also needed if you feel there has been a security breach.
  • Constant communication from the vendor on updates to the software as well as alerts of suspicious activity.

Download a VPN:

Obtaining the VPN software is going to vary depending on the vendor. Some have their own application depositories. Thus, you can download it right from their site. Others redirect you to a storage site to retrieve the desired program.

When you’re ready to download the VPN program, make sure you select the one that’s right for your device. A service that’s made to decompress and install in a Windows system doesn’t work for a Mac. Furthermore, avoid downloading PC-based VPN applications on your mobile devices. Some companies produce similar peer-to-peer products for smart devices.

Another item to consider for Windows systems is the version. Most modern systems run in a 64-bit environment. This has the capacity for increased processing power with low memory usage. However, some operating systems utilize a 32-bit platform. If there are options for each at the vendor site, then make sure you select the one appropriate to your system.

Setup a VPN:

Most likely, you’ll follow a setup wizard to successfully install the VPN software. How that works depends on the vendor you use. To ensure there won’t be unexpected failures, make sure the installation is run as an administrator. You can also set up your system ahead of time to run program uploads without asking for additional permissions.

The most important thing you must do when you install a VPN package is to carefully read the terms of the agreement. Especially if you have decided to go with a free service over a subscription-based application. As we said before, the way these free sites gain revenue to help support their infrastructure is to harvest and sell your PII. 

To avoid charges of fraud, this information should be placed within the terms of the agreement you must acknowledge before you begin actual information. Take a few minutes to read the information instead of simply scanning it. What you find could make you change your mind about the installation and look at a paid VPN subscription.

Use the VPN:

The first time you access the vendor’s VPN you will need to create a new username and password for verification. In some cases, you might also need to provide a multi-factor authentication (MFA) code for a second level of verification. Once approved, it might take a few minutes to establish a connection into the secure environment.

Generally, you’ll need to enter your login credentials each time you access the VPN, even if the logout was short. This stops others from accessing the session should they get on your system.

However, there are some vendors out there that provide an option to log back into a VPN session without verification. For instance, Cisco AnyConnect stores the encrypted login data. So, when you access the VPN program again, you are seamlessly logged back into the peer-to-peer tunnel.

VPN FAQs

Despite being around for over two decades, there are still mysteries to VPNs that people need answers for. Some of it is due to its newness during the coronavirus pandemic. The rest is a general misunderstanding of some of its factors. 

Below is a list of common questions others have had about VPN.

Are VPNs Legal?

Yes, using a VPN is legal. Hence, the reason there are so many vendors out there that offer the service. They understand the need to have secure connections to perform even the smallest of tasks. 
Nevertheless, if something illegal is done within a VPN environment then it’s still illegal. Having it take place in a secure location doesn’t void this. For instance, if you live in the U.S. and want to use VPN to watch Netflix in China, that can be a breach of the company’s agreement. The same thing goes for torrenting new movies or television shows before they’re available for streaming or DVD release. 
If the VPN vendor finds out about this, they can suspend your account or even take legal action. Most likely, you probably broke their terms of the agreement as well when you performed the illegal activity. So, to maintain the law across all channels, it’s best to follow the rules. 

Are VPNs Safe?

The use of a VPN is one of the safest ways to work on important tasks and keep everything as confidential as possible. While not 100% secure, the way it closes doors on IP addresses and DNS searches protects your PII. It also minimizes the risk of DDoS attacks or cyber extortion.
There are two main ways a VPN wouldn’t be considered safe. The first is if the vendor collected your PII for others. Therefore, we have repeatedly mentioned that you must read the terms of the agreement before installing the VPN software. Particularly when you decide to utilize a free service.
The second reason a VPN wouldn’t be safe if someone entered the environment to perform illegal activities. This has been done in the past. Those who decided to perform malicious acts on systems and individuals did so from an environment where IP addresses and DNS servers can’t be detected. 

What is a Site-to-Site VPN?

This form of virtual private network isn’t based in the world of personal computers or smart devices. Instead, site-to-site VPN connects two or more corporate networks. For instance, a link from the main headquarters to the network of a branch office.
It can also be used for companies with multiple offices located in areas across the globe. Instituting VPN leads to ongoing access without the need to continually log out and log back in with credentials. Furthermore, the business can create a series of IP subnets that are only viewable by those who work for the organization. Thus, a single network entity is created.

What is Remote Access VPN?

This type of private network is normally used in situations where someone needs to access a business or other environment but can’t do so through normal means. An employee that works from home is a primary example of someone who uses remote access VPN to access their work environment.
Unlike site-to-site, this form of VPN doesn’t create a single network to work in on an ongoing basis. It opens a secure tunnel from one network to another. Normally, this is done via third-party software.

Does Tor Have the Same Protections as a VPN?

The best answer is kind of. The reason is Tor performs differently than a VPN. 
Tor and VPN use proxies that act as internet relay redirects. Therefore, real IP addresses and DNS servers are hidden. They also encrypt transactions to block third parties from intercepting the information. However, that’s where the similarities stop.
Where a VPN emphasizes privacy, Tor promotes true anonymity. It goes beyond hiding where you go. It makes you practically invisible. It does this by encrypting your connection information and routing it through a random sequence of servers.
One other difference between VPN and Tor is how they’re run. The former is normally handled by larger networking organizations for a fee. Tor is a service staffed by volunteers who handle the server redirections.

Do Proxy Servers Have the Same Protections as a VPN?

The basic answer is no. Proxies act as gateways to a specific device or application. However, when a user is granted access to a proxy they’re provided with similar protections to a VPN. This includes anonymous web browsing and IP masking.  
Conversely, VPN acts as a secure tunnel. Rather than disguising an IP address, the session is given brand new routing information. Furthermore, VPN has the advantage of encrypting all data transmissions.