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VPN service - Buyer's Guide

Updated on February 25, 2011

How to choose from all the VPN services?

Intoduction:

The choice of a VPN service is an important choice and there are many factors which should be carefully considered. If you fail to do the proper research prior to signing up with a VPN service you may find your privacy being exposed without your knowledge and this can be very dangerous. There are at least four criteria by which a VPN service should be judged;

Steps to buying a VPN service:


1. Security - What VPN technology does the service use? There are known security vulnerabilities with PPTP, acknowledged by the protocol's authors and hence a service which relies on PPTP should be immediately discounted unless you are not concerned with the security of the connection (e.g. if you use the VPN simply for streaming media). The most secure implementation available is OpenVPN which is an industry standard based on open source technology which means that the software source is available for anyone to review. Another consideration should be whether the service has multihop capability. Multihop basically allows you to connect to a server in one country and your traffic exits in another country. This technology significantly enhances your privacy and should be given a high priority.

2. Performance - A VPN service requires gateway servers located in areas geographically close to their customer base. You should check to see that a server is available at least within the same continent as where you will mostly connect from. The server that is close to you does not gaurantee speed, but it should have a low latency which will enhance your surfing experience by making things feel much faster.

3. Privacy policy - Does the VPN service log any data relating to their customers activity on the Internet? If so, why would you trust them with access to this data? There is no point in using a VPN service which logs data about which sites you connect to since they can always be compelled to hand over this information if given a court order in the neccessary jurisdiction. Serious privacy services will always turn off logging and can therefor not provide any data relating to their customers surfing even if requested to do so by a valid court order.

4. Price - If you take your privacy even marginally seriously, you should forget
about using a free VPN service. They have no incentive to service you well and will often use alternative tactics to monitize their customers. As in most industries, you get what you pay for up to a certain point and there is no point going with simply the cheapest service. The best way to choose a VPN service would be to first find companies which statisfy all the above criteria and then rank them based on price.

Conslusion

If you compile a short list of popular services and review each one according to the criteria above, you will find the clear winners in which to buy VPN services. Considering that a VPN subscription is usually a long term investment, it is well worth taking the time to do this research.

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      Mands 

      7 years ago

      Great guide Maddison, thanks. There are so many choices at the moment and you really have shown me what to look for in order to buy the best VPN!

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