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10 Things to Look for When Buying a VPN

You’ve been thinking of using a VPN for some time now, but you’re still on the fence about which one you should go for. It’s only normal as there isn’t any shortage of services out there, and you can bet your last dollar that a great deal of them will tactfully omit any drawbacks in favor of the “amazing advantages” they offer, or at least claim to. Feel like you need a bit more information before you commit to the ideal VPN for you? We’ve got you covered with a concise yet detailed list of the 10 most important factors you should consider before deciding on a VPN service.

1. Speed

We’ll start with the paramount aspects that separate the great VPNs from the mediocre ones. Speed is one of those. No one likes a sluggish connection – of course, there are multiple outside variables that make for stable and fast access. As far as the VPN itself is concerned, you should look for one that offers options. Different configurations for different purposes ensure that you always have versatile speed on your side, whether you’ll be using the VPN for streaming, peer-to-peer activities, or otherwise.

2. Security

While imperative, lightning-fast connectivity shouldn’t be the only priority on your list. After all, one of the cornerstone characteristics of a VPN is a safe connection with minimal risk, or so it should be. Definitely be on the lookout for features that contribute towards your guaranteed security – no-logs and anonymity policies with protection mechanisms like IP hiding and kill switches go a long way in ensuring your trouble-free VPN experience.

3. Accessibility

What good is a VPN service if it’s severely limited in its reach? If you’re using it as a workaround to access content that may be blocked in your current destination for one reason or another, we recommend you pay attention to the availability of a VPN by countries. This is especially important if you travel a lot – a high-quality VPN will go the extra mile in ensuring you can connect to the services you subscribe to back home, no matter where you find yourself.

4. Reliable Encryption

Encryption technology can make or break a VPN. Your privacy is precious – an excellent service will do all it takes to keep it in impeccable condition. Dependable encryption mechanisms will send your Internet traffic through multiple servers, instead of just one. This is particularly important in cases where a high level of anonymity must be maintained. Of course – opting for the standard VPN server – destination is sufficient in basic situations, but a variety of encryption modes is a hallmark of an outstanding VPN service in its own right.

5. Ease of Use

Any VPN that requires you to become a tech expert is one that isn’t worth your time. When choosing the ideal service, don’t make compromises in user experience. Contrary to popular belief, even advanced technology like virtual private networks can be intuitive and hassle-free. If you can’t get what you want out of a VPN within a few minutes, don’t bother. There are way too many good products out there that will do that for you while delivering on every parameter.

6. Versatility

Another important factor that should be covered is making sure your VPN supports a wide array of platforms and operating systems. Be on the lookout for multi-device availability – a stellar VPN will offer simultaneous connection to your laptop, your PC and your smartphone, with extra room left for other devices. We advise you not to limit yourself to one platform or OS. These days you never know when or how you may need your VPN access, so versatile services are quite beneficial for you.

7. Static IP

Having a dedicated IP address while using a VPN is so important, it deserves a separate spot on our list. We can’t stress the significance of a static IP enough – being the only person to use an assigned address is crucial if you want to get the most in accessibility and security, as well as in special cases where static IP is mandatory. You may not even need it at all times, but simply having the option to acquire a dedicated IP address will contribute heavily towards your peace of mind and a better overall VPN experience.

8. P2P Functionality

Peer-to-peer (or P2P) sharing is often frowned upon by ISP and VPN providers alike. Although somewhat of a grey area, P2P is perfectly fine to use and extremely efficient in a number of cases. When looking for an excellent VPN service, make sure it doesn’t limit you in that department – bandwidth throttling is a common way of impeding P2P users. A worthwhile VPN provider will already offer no bandwidth thresholds in general, but the great ones will ensure there are no obstacles in P2P as well, providing you with exceptional file sharing capabilities instead of restricting them severely.

9. Tech Support

The qualities of a VPN service don’t end with the opportunities it gives you – knowing that any questions you have will be answered is equally important, especially if you aren’t well-versed in this field. Helpful and readily-available customer service is hard to find, but you should look for it regardless. An exhaustive FAQ section and dedicated expert representatives are the telltale signs of a VPN provider that not only offers stellar products, but values its customers as well.

10. Price

Last but not least, the cost of your VPN should be an important factor in your decision, particularly if you’re debating whether you should use a free service or not. We’re going to play the devil’s advocate here, if only to get our point across as clearly as possible – the only advantage of a free VPN is that you don’t pay money for it. As the saying goes, however, nothing is free in this world. What you save in your wallet, you pay otherwise, especially when it comes to a VPN. Choosing a free service is a trade-off that just isn’t worth it, as there are no guarantees what happens to privacy, security and overall performance. What’s more, you’ll be missing out on so many great features. There are plenty of remarkable VPNs out there that are also affordable, so don’t fall for the illusion that free services are good – the risk is too great and the quality is anything but guaranteed.

How Do I Know I Have Made the Right Choice?

Our list is a collection of the essential qualities and features that make up an outstanding VPN. The final choice, however, is entirely up to you. In order to make sure you have opted for the ideal product, research is vital and so is assessing your individual situation and needs. Remember: a superior VPN will offer you variety. Our recommendations to you are ExpressVPN and IPVanish – both of them are leaders in VPN products and services. Chock-full of features and with extensive capabilities no matter the situation, they offer you high performance, reliability, security and privacy with zero bandwidth restrictions, or any other limitations for that matter. Making the right choice is easier when you look at reputation and feedback – ExpressVPN and IPVanish check all the boxes and are both excellent candidates for your ultimate VPN experience.

Check out our most recommended VPNs below.

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VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

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About the Author

Kristina is an experienced tech writer and researcher with a keen interest in cybersecurity for businesses and the general public.

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