Recommended VPNs 2019

How to Choose a VPN Service

Before you decide which VPN client you want to download and install on your device, take some time to ask yourself a few questions, the most important of them being “what exactly do I need the VPN for?” Regardless of the platform or firmware that your devices operate on, certain aspects of a VPN are critical and should be considered before making the purchase.

For most users, the connectivity speed is the most essential part of a VPN service. Smartphone users want apps to refresh and fetch new data faster, while desktop users want a VPN with good download speed and stable connectivity, so that torrenting and streaming can be done with ease.

While it is impossible to know how good the provided speed is for every VPN that you are considering as an option, new users can start by reading reviews online. If that doesn’t suffice, download a trial version of the VPN you are interested in and see if it has an effect on your connection.

Best VPN for iPhone, Android, Windows, or Mac

Some people only want a VPN to protect their online activities while using their smartphone. Some are more inclined toward protecting browsing sessions that they engage in from their PC browser. As an aspiring VPN user, you first need to determine if the primary purpose of purchasing the subscription is to protect a smartphone, a desktop or laptop. Once that has been established, making the next choice becomes easier.

Different VPN providers boast different and unique features which set them apart. Some specialize in providing the ultimate protection for your PC, while others are good protecting your Mac, so make sure you get one that fulfills your requirements. Some of the more reputable providers even offer multi-device subscriptions, which basically allows you to use the same subscription on multiple devices, at the same time.

Category Winner: Both PureVPN and ExpressVPN have some of the best VPN clients and apps. PureVPN also has dedicated apps and patches for Kodi, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Firestick, and many other devices.

Unlimited Bandwidth – A Must for VPN Services

Most VPN providers have limitations on the default bandwidth that they provide to their users but will offer more or unlimited bandwidth if their users pay up an additional amount. This can be a major turn-off for users who want the best VPN for Mac or Windows, as these platforms use more data and are dependent on fast and stable download speeds to optimize their online experience.

Category Winner: PureVPN and ExpressVPN both provide unlimited bandwidth.

Why you need a VPN service

Privacy and Security

Some people believe that since they do nothing wrong on the internet, and all of their interests and preferences are well within legal boundaries, they are safe. But they fail to realize that they may also be up against governments and monitoring authorities on the lookout to ban specific content and apprehend users trying to access such content. Privacy and security on the internet have also become a major problem in many countries such as China, which enforces one of the most stringent internet policies. The same is true for Saudi Arabia, where more than 400,000 sites are blocked, most of which are media sites that discuss international political, social, and religious topics.

Internet surveillance is not just limited to these countries, but rather encompasses almost the entire online human population. The National Security Agency (NSA) is known to have developed programs and software that can be used to monitor emails and personal messages. For example, the famous whistleblower, Edward Snowden, was the architect of the NSA’s top-notch surveillance program, called the Heartbeat. This is a search engine that could show results from people’s personal messages, emails, and chats based on keywords.

Category Winner: PureVPN is much better at keeping user’s privacy and security intact.

Encryption

Professional users from around the world are always overly concerned about the privacy of their official documents and other sensitive material. Many international organizations specifically avoid sending and receiving files over the internet for several reasons.

The primary reason for avoiding this relatively easier medium of transferring documents is that the internet is a very unsafe place. Data can easily be intercepted by a hacker or any other malicious individual. For example, if this data involves unreleased company products, data leakage can jeopardize a company’s business prospects and halt its growth. Things can get even worse if the data intruder decides to contact a competitor and sells the data to them. This can give the competitors an upper hand in the market and insight into what is under the covers. In such a scenario, a company can lose its profit for the foreseeable future.

To overcome this hazard, it’s always recommended that employees encrypt their data before sending it over the internet. When sensitive documents are encrypted, the data contained gets scrambled and can be hard to make sense of, even if it gets intercepted by an intruder. It can only be put together in a meaningful way with the decryption key. Since the decryption key is transferred separately, it is impossible for any hacker to get hold of it. Hence, the data will remain safe, even if it is stolen.

A VPN is the easiest way to secure all such data via encryption. By default, it encrypts all data that it sends and naturally decrypts it upon receipt. There are multiple encryption protocols which different services use, and each encrypts data in a unique way. The most commonly used encryption protocols are PPTP, L2TP, and IKeV6.

Category Winner: Both PureVPN and ExpressVPN’s encryption protocols are good.

Anonymity

A VPN can provide you with only some degree of anonymity; it is just one tool in the fight. It’s important to know beforehand who you are trying to be anonymous from. A VPN is great at masking the location you are trying to access the internet from. For instance, if you go to www.whatismyip.com without using a VPN, you will notice that the website is able to retrieve many location details, such as coordinates, city, along with other significant details such as the OS you are using.

When you connect to a VPN, your internet traffic is routed through a different server in a different country (often of your choice). Once you have connected the VPN, you can check if it is working by going to the same website again, www.whatismyip.com. If your VPN is not faulty, you will see that your IP and location has changed. Now, if someone tries to track you online and trace your location, he will only be able to see the pseudo-location allotted to you by your VPN, and not your actual location.

Avoid ISP Monitoring

The first thing this stops is your ISP from monitoring you. Some ISPs will block you or cancel your account if you are doing file sharing, for example. It also allows you to access websites in certain countries which are may not be available, for example, if you are traveling abroad. Having an anonymous connection helps to ensure that your online activities will not get monitored or tracked by your ISP, government or monitoring authorities. However, being safe from the eyes of these entities is only half the deal. Major websites and platforms can still know your identity. For example, if you change your IP and location to another country, but have logged in to your Gmail account or Facebook profile, you have not only exposed your identity but have also allowed these tech giants to link your pseudo IP with your original one. Once that connection has been made, these websites will profile your pseudo IP and know that you are online each time you use your pseudo IP.

As for banking websites, when using a VPN to change your location for anonymity, you may have to go through multiple factor authentication. This is because, when your bank is, let’s say in China, but your VPN server is in Canada, the bank server will know that the incoming data request is originating from Canada. Hence, it will have to be extra cautious before granting you access.

This is the idea behind anonymity: the ability to browse the internet without making your identity public. While some people believe that they have nothing to hide and that they don’t need to mask their IP and be completely anonymous, they may not fully understand the repercussions of making themselves so “visible” online.

Category Winner: ExpressVPN, as it has no known cases of compromising its users’ anonymity.

Conclusion

A VPN is an incredibly useful tool. As described, it’s a secret network within a public network. Staying connected to a VPN at all times whenever you connect to the internet from a public place can help protect you. The secrecy of the network and the anonymity of everything you do on it is ensured by encryption protocols. All of your data, communication, and any other information that you send over the internet is treated with end-to-end encryption, ensuring that only the intended recipients are able to decipher the code.

Written by: Osman Husain
20 February 2019

Osman's been a tech writer and editor for several years. He's interested in the intersection of technology, privacy, and security and aims to empower consumers through his writing. When he's not typing away furiously, you can find him basking in the sun or enjoying the great outdoors. https://twitter.com/osman_husain

Written by: Osman Husain

Osman's been a tech writer and editor for several years. He's interested in the intersection of technology, privacy, and security and aims to empower consumers through his writing. When he's not typing away furiously, you can find him basking in the sun or enjoying the great outdoors. https://twitter.com/osman_husain

arrow