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How to Get a VPN & Why Use One in 2021

Updated on: November 13, 2021

How to get a VPN and why use one

If you keep hearing about these “VPNs” that everyone seems to be using, and you have yet to take the VPN plunge, maybe it’s time to ask yourself “why?”

If you are interested in VPNs but having trouble moving forward for one reason or another, keep on reading! I am going to give you the rundown of how VPNs work, when it’s important to use one, and how to choose a VPN that best suits your needs.

VPN encryption

But first, what is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that helps you establish a secure and private connection online. Sending your online traffic through a VPN connection ensures that you, your activity, and your private data are hidden from hackers and prying eyes; and a VPN, among other benefits, can also help you access content and services that are not ordinarily accessible to people in your region.

My team of VPN experts and I have reviewed and analyzed over 100 VPNs on the market to give you this comprehensive guide that will help you better understand everything you need to know about VPNs — including which ones will work best for you.

And before you decide that this article is going to be too complicated for you to understand, let me reassure you: Even if you are a VPN novice, you will be able to follow this guide.

*Time-Saver Tip: Our top VPN choice is ExpressVPN, which has a broad server network, the fastest speeds, and the most up-to-date security and privacy features.

In a Hurry? Here’s How to Get a VPN

Here are 3 quick and easy steps to help you connect to a VPN today:

  1. Choose a reputable VPN provider. We highly recommend ExpressVPN for its top security features, ease of use, and broad server network.
  2. Download and install your VPN on your device.
  3. Connect to a VPN server in any country you choose. (For example, if you want to access US Netflix, connect to a US server.)

Why Use a VPN? Here Are the Reasons to Use VPNs in 2021 (on a Daily Basis)

If you are wondering if you actually need a VPN, the answer is probably: yes.

The reason I can assume that you need a VPN without ever having met you is that one of the most important uses for a VPN is to enhance your security online; and who could possibly deny wanting to feel secure online?

As you may have realized, almost anything you do on the Internet is out there for others to see. In fact, I would venture a guess that we have all had the experience of feeling like we were being watched online — like when a minute after you searched for new furniture online, all of the ads that popped up for you on Facebook were geared toward furniture. Eerie, right?

But it isn’t just targeted ads that should make you worry. Nowadays, your Internet Service Provider, government agencies, hackers, and other prying eyes can all get their hands on your data and activity. This transparency online not only makes you vulnerable to online attacks, but also allows different websites to block your access to their services and content.

Reputable VPNs can help avoid any of these issues. Here are some of the key reasons VPNs are beneficial:

Concealing Your IP Addresses:

When you use a VPN, your actual IP address is hidden. One reason why this is beneficial is that concealing your IP address conceals your true location, so geo-restricted sites cannot block you if you are in a location that does not have permission to access certain sites. On top of this, if your location is hidden, people who are trying to track you cannot find out your actual location. When you connect to one of your VPN servers, your real-life IP address is replaced by an IP address that reflects your server country and region. This is the best way to ensure your privacy online.

Keeping you safe from online threats:

Many VPN apps have built-in ad blockers that prevent ads, pop-ups, and malware from corrupting your devices. On top of this, if you accidentally do something illegal online (for example, downloading a file you did not have permission to download), your VPN can ensure that no one — law enforcement, your ISP, or anyone else — can identify and punish you.

Encrypting your data:

Each time you sign on to a VPN server, your traffic and information go through the process of encryption. With this encryption, even if someone gets their hands on your online traffic and data, it will all be indecipherable. The top VPNs on the market use military-grade encryption.

How Does a VPN Work?

If you are not familiar with VPNs, they may seem complicated and confusing. In reality, though, they are pretty easy to understand, and even easier to use.

Here’s the story — When you subscribe to a reputable VPN plan, there’s not much that the user actually has to do other than read the prompts to download and install the VPN app on his devices. Even connecting to a server is a piece of cake with most services.

*Time-Saving Tip: If you want to quickly connect to a secure server without having to choose one on your own, use one of the VPN companies that offers you an auto-connect option. This will route your traffic through the best server closest to your actual location, ensuring the best speed while delivering top privacy and security options.

When you use a VPN app, your service encrypts your online traffic and sends it through one of its secure servers. ExpressVPN has secure servers located in over 94 countries around the globe. When your traffic is encrypted, only you have the key to decrypt it. This means that anyone who tries to access your online activity won’t be able to see what sites you are visiting, what you are typing, or what your actual IP address/location is online.

After encryption, your online traffic is sent to your destination, but instead of the destination site seeing your IP address, it sees the IP address of the VPN server to which you are connected. This can be beneficial in helping you gain access to geo-blocked sites because it keeps them from seeing your actual location.

Some websites nowadays try to prevent people from accessing their services using VPNs, but the top VPNs are constantly updating their IP addresses to stay one step ahead of these website blocks.

In practice, because using a VPN is as easy as downloading the VPN app, following the simple installation steps, and then pressing connect, it is really something that is accessible to everyone, no matter what their comfort level on the Internet. Once users are more comfortable navigating VPNs, they can then choose to change VPN settings, or manually choose servers.

You Need a VPN for Streaming: Here’s Why

If you’ve traveled outside of your home region, you may have noticed that you may no longer have the option to watch your favorite shows, or the option to even access your favorite streaming service, when you are outside of your country. The reason for this is that not all content is licensed for distribution in all countries. So, for example, if you are an American who is traveling to Canada for work, you will not have the option to access Hulu, which only allows streaming within US borders.

In this situation, instead of seeing Handmaids Tale pop onto your screen, you will see an annoying error message, like this:

Hulu streaming error

So, what’s the story? How can these streaming sites tell where you are located?

The way that Hulu (Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and many more streaming services) can detect your location is by looking at your IP address. When you use a VPN, you can connect to a VPN server in the US while you are in Canada, and Hulu will only see your VPN server IP address and you will be granted access to Hulu as if you were actually in America.

If you are a Netflix subscriber who is used to watching your shows on the US Netflix library, you may be shocked when you travel abroad to find that you can access Netflix, but that your favorite shows are not available. The reason for this is that Netflix offers different content to users in different countries. Connecting to one of the many VPN server locations that the top VPNs offer will give you access to multiple Netflix regions.

The problem with this is that the most sophisticated streaming services, like Netflix and Hulu, work hard at blocking IP addresses that they detect are coming from a VPN server. If you are using a free or unreliable VPN company, it is unlikely to grant you access to your content, because it is not as likely to have the resources necessary to stay ahead of this streaming site vs. VPN game of whack-a-mole.

When using unreliable VPNs to unblock your content, you may get an error message like this:

“It looks like you are using an anonymous proxy or VPN.”

In order to consistently unblock your content on streaming sites that are outside your region, you will need to use a vetted VPN provider that has a reputation of success in this area, like ExpressVPN or NordVPN.

How to Choose a Great VPN

So, with hundreds of VPNs on the market, how do you choose the best one?

That is why we are here. Because there are so many VPNs out there, all of which will declare themselves “the best,” how can you possibly choose which option is truly the best for you? Unless you are doing your research properly, you could waste a lot of time looking for the right provider, and still wind up choosing a lemon.

We are going to help streamline the process so that you can easily figure out how to choose a VPN, and which VPNs you should consider.

The most basic criterion that any consumer should keep in mind is usability. If you are unable to navigate the apps easily, and unable to figure out how to enable or disable important features, any VPNs you choose will be pretty useless.

Another important consideration when looking to choose a VPN is what your specific needs are. Are you mostly interested in streaming blocked shows? Or maybe you are interested in securing your devices and traffic, and enhancing your privacy online?

Here are some tips on how to find what you are looking for in your VPN service:

For Privacy & Security:

Privacy and security are constant concerns when you are on the web these days. If you are especially concerned with protecting yourself online, here arethe criteria to pay attention to when choosing your VPN:

  • Verified no-logs policy: Unfortunately, plenty of VPNs will log and sell your data and IP addresses for a profit, particularly the free VPNs. When choosing a VPN, make sure that the service you choose has a strict no-logging policy! This way, if your provider is ever compromised, there will never be any data for it to leak because none is stored.
  • Military-grade encryption: The standard these days for data protection is AES 256-bit encryption. With this level of data protection, if your data is ever leaked, it will be completely indecipherable to any hacker. If you come across a provider that offers anything less than this level of encryption, you cannot trust that your privacy and security are being prioritized, and your traffic may be vulnerable and exposed.
  • Leak protection: The most reliable VPNs on the market will have both DNS and IPv6 leak protection. If they do not have these safeguards built into their VPN, your sensitive data may be leaked online.
  • Kill Switch: If for some reason your encrypted connection cuts out while you are using your VPN, a kill switch will “kill” your entire Internet connection until this secure connection is restored. This prevents your activity and IP from being leaked in the seconds or moments that you are exposed. Not every provider has the kill switch enabled in the default settings. It is always smart to check your settings make sure the kill switch is turned on.

For Streaming 

VPNs are most commonly used for accessing geo-restricted content. When you are looking for VPNs that will work at unblocking almost any geo-blocked service, here is what you need to take into consideration:

  • Server location: If you are looking to access certain platforms that are only available in certain countries around the world, the best option is to find a VPN with a broad server network that covers a wide range of countries. An example of a great provider for streaming is ExpressVPN, which has servers located in 94 countries around the world.
  • Speeds: Any time you are using VPNs, your online traffic is sent through an extra step of encryption, which will slow your online speeds. If you are looking to stream content online, you need to make sure your VPN offers fast connection speeds so you will be able to stream with no buffering and with HD quality.
  • No caps on Bandwidth: Because of the large amount of bandwidth used when streaming, it is important to use a service that offers unlimited bandwidth, so that you have the option to stream as much and as long as you want.
  • Server Size: Server size is important for a couple of different reasons. First, if you want to make sure your speeds are fast, you need to ensure that VPN users are not crowded onto too few servers. Next, online services try to block VPN companies from gaining access to their sites. If a VPN has a larger number of servers, there is less chance of the IP addresses being blocked by streaming sites.
  • Optimized Servers: Some VPN apps help you find the best servers for streaming, which comes in handy if you don’t feel like performing your own speed tests. These server options are the ones that will offer the most seamless streaming with the best speeds.

For Business Use 

When looking to choose a VPN that you can use for your business, here are some of the criteria to take into consideration:

  • Price: When choosing a VPN for your business, the benefit has to be worth the expense. While we most highly recommend a premium service, like ExpressVPN, if your business budget will not allow the few extra dollars per month for that VPN service, you can go with NordVPN or Surfhsark, which will both be better money-saving options that also deliver strong features and solid online privacy and protection to users.
  • Usability and Compatibility: If you are working for a small company, you will be able to sufficiently connect the few employees to your VPN if your VPN, like ExpressVPN, only allows 5 simultaneous device connections. If you have a larger company, you might want to consider a VPN service like Surfshark that allows unlimited simultaneous connections to a single account.
  • Privacy Online: When you are using a company VPN, something important to consider is the need to be sure that your private business details are never leaked to the public. To make certain that employees are always protected, they need to be able to use their VPNs at work, at home, or in public. The best bet for this is to pick a service that will keep you safe and secure on not just your company Wi-Fi, but also on public Wi-Fi. Features like a verified kill switch and leak protection are vital to make sure private company traffic is never leaked outside the company.
  • Admin Tools: If you are running a company and want to be able to control the settings on all of your employees’ VPNs, it is important to find a service that allows your VPN settings to be adjusted by a single user dashboard so an administrator can manage users’ device settings from a master dash.

Great VPNs Can Be Installed Almost on Any Device

Reliable VPN companies will allow their apps to be installed on a range of devices, including PC, MacOS, iOS, Android, and more.

As an example, here are the range of devices and extensions available with ExpressVPN:

ExpressVPN has apps for these devices:

☑️ Windows
☑️ Mac
☑️ iOS
☑️ Android
☑️ Chromebook
☑️ Routers
☑️ Linux
☑️ Kindle Fire

Browser extensions on desktop and PC available for:

☑️ Chrome
☑️ Firefox
☑️ Microsoft Edge

Smart TV compatibility with these TV systems:

☑️ Samsung Smart TV
☑️ Apple TV
☑️ Amazon Fire TV Stick
☑️ Chromecast
☑️ Roku
☑️ Android TV
☑️ Nvidia Shield

On top of these, you can use top VPNs, like ExpressVPN, for gaming consoles, like Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and PlayStation.

While most VPNs have caps on how many devices can be used simultaneously on a single user account, if your VPN is installed on your router, you can connect an unlimited number of devices to your Wi-Fi network, all of which will be connected to your VPN.

How to Set Up a VPN (Easy & For Any Device)

You do not have to be tech-savvy to set up your VPN. After you choose a VPN, here are 3 quick and easy steps to setting up a VPN service on your device:

  1. Download your VPN app from the App store/Google Play Store, or from the VPN provider’s website.
  2. Install the VPN on your device by following the prompts.
  3. Pick a server location from your VPN’s location menu, and connect.

Once you have your VPN set up, you can choose a server in any of the locations where your provider offers servers. ExpressVPN has servers located in 94 countries, so if you are using a VPN to to unblock geo-restricted services in India, for example, you can connect to an Indian ExpressVPN server.

Choosing the Right VPN Server for the Best Performance

Choosing the best VPN server depends on your own personal priorities. For example, if you are located in the UK and looking to connect to geo-restricted streaming services in the US, like Hulu, you will want to choose a US server. Some of the VPN services also have a list of servers that are optimized for streaming.

If you are using your VPN service for access to torrenting sites, you need to be sure to pick a server that supports P2P sharing. Your VPN site will have a list of servers that are best for torrenting; and if you can’t find them, you can live-chat with your VPN’s customer service representative to find out their recommendation for a server that offers top privacy for P2P traffic.

If you are simply using your VPN service for privacy and security, you can just click “quick connect,” which will quickly connect you to the closest server to your location, giving you a secure connection and the best speeds available.

Advanced Features (Great VPNs Should Have Them)

Here are some of the most important features to look for when shopping for VPNs:

Kill Switch

When connecting to the Internet using a VPN server, your traffic and IP address are encrypted and protected. While this connection is reliable, it’s not foolproof. What happens if your VPN’s connection cuts out all of a sudden, exposing your traffic to prying eyes online?

In order to ensure your privacy if your VPN cuts out so that your traffic, IP address, and data are not leaked, reliable VPNs have a kill switch that “kills” your Internet activity if your VPN somehow deactivates, reconnecting your Internet only after your secure connection is reestablished.

An important piece of advice: check your VPN settings to make sure your kill switch is enabled, as not all services have it turned on as the default setting.

DNS & IP Leak Protection

If your private information is inadvertently sent through your normal ISP instead of through your VPN server, you could experience an IPv6 leak or DNS leak. It is important to use a VPN that offers reputable DNS and IPv6 leak protection features to protect your privacy and prevent your data from being compromised.

Advanced Protocols

OpenVPN is the most popular VPN protocol — most commonly used on computers — that offers safe, speedy connections. As you may have guessed by its name, this is an open-source protocol, which means that its code is free for security experts to view and check, making any modifications or updates they see fit.

Good VPN providers offer a range of different VPN protocols from which to choose. The IKEv2 — Internet Key Exchange — protocol is a popular protocol that many people opt to use on mobile devices because of its fast speeds.

Some VPN providers offer a protocol that is optimized for bypassing blocks in restricted locations, like China. Surfshark’s encrypted proxy is called Shadowsocks, and while this protocol is great for bypassing censorship, it is not ideal for everyday use, as it will slow your Internet traffic.

Most VPNs let you switch your protocols among options like these, as well as IPSec, L2TP, PPTP, Wireguard, and others. If you have trouble connecting to a server, trying to change protocols may help with your connectivity.

P2P Support

The top VPNs on the market support P2P activity, though some provide optimized servers specifically for P2P traffic. If you are using ExpressVPN, any of its 3,000 servers can be used for torrenting. But, with NordVPN, for example, you will find hundreds of P2P supported servers under the “Specialty Servers” section on the app.

What Is a VPN No-Logs Policy

Whenever you are using a VPN service, your VPN company has access to your private data and IP address. Because you are put in this vulnerable position, it is vital that you only use a VPN provider that does not keep any records of this personal data. The top VPN services all have strict, verified no-logging policies so that users can be sure that their personal information and activity will never be captured and stored.

If you can count on your VPN’s no-logs policy, you can breathe easier knowing that, even if your VPN servers are somehow compromised, or if government authorities ask your VPN to turn over your data, there will be no records of your data or activity. Period.

ExpressVPN assures users that it will never store or log users’ DNS queries, metadata or traffic destinations, browsing history, or IP addresses.

3 Best VPNs Overall (Beginner Friendly)

Devices compatible with ExpressVPN
Company Location: British Virgin Islands
Servers: 3000+
Countries: 94 Country
Connections: 5 devices
Speed: Great
Torrenting: No (but support p2p)
Logs: Yes
Free Trial: No
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30-days
Netflix: Yes
Price:

ExpressVPN is our top VPN choice for both beginners and advanced users, with over 3,000 high-speed servers in 94 countries around the world. Whether you are connecting to a local server or a server around the globe, your connection speeds when using this VPN service will be the very best.

ExpressVPN’s speed bodes well for those of you who are looking for torrenting capabilities in your VPN service. All of ExpressVPN’s servers support P2P traffic, and its Smart Location feature will automatically choose the best server for you, so you can torrent your media quickly, with complete privacy, and with minimal trial and error. ExpressVPN also offers split tunneling, which can help you customize the VPN exclusively for torrenting.

If you are looking to stream the latest movies and shows, ExpressVPN can help you access your content in HD with no buffering or lag, and with consistently stable connections. You can use the MediaStreamer DNS service with your VPN to get even faster streaming speeds when breaking through geo-restrictions.

When put to the test, ExpressVPN had no problem unblocking Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, HBO GO, Disney+, ESPN+, Showtime, and the many other streaming platforms we tested.

ExpressVPN has compatibility with all main devices, including Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox, routers, Linux, Chromebook, smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and gaming consoles.

Since most households have many different devices under one roof, it is good to note that you can use up to 5 simultaneous devices using the same ExpressVPN account, and that adding these devices will not slow your browsing experience.

As for privacy, ExpressVPN offers military-grade 256-bit encryption, DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and OpenVPN across all platforms, so all of your information will remain private and secure at all times.

It’s also good to remember that ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is outside the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, so all of your activity and information will remain out of government reach.

And, of course, Express has a strict, verified no-logs policy, so there really, truly is never any worry that your information is being kept by anyone. Ever.

The one drawback of ExpressVPN is that it is one of the more expensive VPN services. But, in my book, the few-dollar increase in price for an ExpressVPN subscription is completely worth paying for the peace of mind knowing that my connection is always going to be reliable, fast, and completely secure.

Important for beginners: ExpressVPN has some of the most responsive, most knowledgeable customer support around. I’ve used the 24/7 live-chat feature multiple times and have always been impressed with the quick and professional service.

In the end, if for some reason you are not pleased with the ExpressVPN, you can opt-out within 30 days for a full refund, guaranteed, so there really is nothing to lose.

Pros:

  • Exceptional streaming speeds
  • Easy to use across platforms
  • 24/7 live chat support
  • Top privacy and security features
  • 5 simultaneous device connections
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Cons:

  • More expensive than the other VPNs

2. NordVPN

Devices compatible with NordVPN
Company Location: Panama
Servers: 5400
Countries: 54
Connections: Up to 6
Speed: Average
Torrenting: Yes
Logs: Yes
Free Trial: No
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30-days
Netflix: Yes
Price:

NordVPN is one of the best VPN services for both newbies and pros. It has over 5,400 VPN servers in 60 countries worldwide and, although it’s not as fast as ExpressVPN, it consistently delivers good speeds, great privacy features, and reliable connections.

NordVPN offer fast and secure torrenting, using its hundreds of specialty servers for P2P sharing.

Using Nord’s SmartPlay DNS feature, you can automatically unblock and get quick buffer-free access to Netflix, Hulu US, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video Disney+, and over 400 different services.

NordVPN has obfuscated servers that can bypass firewalls and geographic restrictions, and a double VPN that you can enable that will send your traffic through an extra layer of encryption, giving you the most secure experience out there. Using this doubleVPN feature is only recommended if you need an added layer of privacy in heavily censored countries. Using it for ordinary online activity is not recommended because it will slow down your traffic.

This VPN service protects your privacy with its AES 256-bit encryption, kill switch, and OpenVPN and IKEc2/IPSec protocols that will keep your footprint hidden. Its CyberSec feature also provides an extra layer of protection from malware and annoying ads that may pop up.

If you are worried about surveillance, it is good to note that Nord is based in Panama, far from the 5/9/14 Eyes surveillance, and it also offers a strict no-logs policy.

NordVPN has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, smart TVs, routers, and Linux, so there should never be a problem finding an app that is compatible with your device; and you can use up to 6 devices simultaneously with a single subscription, which means you’ll be able to use a combination of devices without compromising your speed or quality.

Nord has stellar customer service, including 24/7 live-chat support that you can use in case any problems arise; but, if you are still not sold after a few weeks, you can opt-out and take advantage of its 30-day refund guarantee.

Pros:

  • Very fast streaming speeds
  • Double VPN and Obfuscated Servers
  • No-logging policy
  • Cheaper price than ExpressVPN
  • 6 user connections on one plan

Cons:

  • Speed can be slower in advanced mode

Devices compatible with Surfshark
Company Location: British Virgin Islands
Servers: 3200+
Countries: 65
Connections: Unlimited devices
Speed: Average
Torrenting: No (but support p2p)
Logs: Yes
Free Trial: 7-days for mobile
Live Chat Support: Yes
Money Back: 30-days
Netflix: Yes
Price:

Surfshark is one of the best, most affordable VPNs out there for both beginners and pros.

Though Surfshark’s speed does not compare to ExpressVPN or NordVPN, its servers are still plenty fast for torrenting or streaming with hardly any buffering or lag.

Surfshark has proven to be successful at unblocking streaming sites like Hulu, Netflix, HBO GO, Disney+, ESPN+, BBC iPlayer, and more.

It is compatible with pretty much all devices and platforms you use, including Windows, Android, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Fire TV, Apple TV, and more.

Surfshark passes all the tests for security features with its AES 256-bit encryption, split tunneling, double encryption, kill switch, and its special CleanWeb suite, which blocks ads and protects against malware.

Like Nord and Express, Surfshark is located outside of the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, and it has a strict no-logging policy, so you should never be worried that your online activity is ever being tracked or kept.

Part of what pushes Surfshark toward the top of the list is the fact that it allows unlimited devices to connect on just one account, making it ideal for a large family that wants to connect multiple electronics at once, or for a workplace with a large number of employees.

Surfshark also offers great 24/7 live-chat customer support and a 30-day refund guarantee, giving you the chance to try this VPN for a few weeks and then change your mind without penalty.

Pros:

  • Live chat
  • No-logging policy
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Affordable
  • Ease of use

Cons:

  • Slightly slower speeds
  • Split tunneling only available on Windows and Android
  • Amazon Prime Video not available on mobile devices

How a VPN Protects You

Using a VPN protects you on the Internet by keeping your IP address hidden so that your browsing activity and location online are hidden. When you connect to a VPN server, your online traffic is routed through an encrypted VPN server before reaching your destination website, so no one is ever able to get their hands on your private activity. Not every VPN has the most up-to-date security and privacy features, and some will even leak your IP address and requests, so be careful that you are choosing one that is vetted and proven secure, like the 3 services listed above.

Cons of a VPN

So, we’ve established that there are many benefits to using a VPN, but let’s quickly discuss some of the drawbacks:

VPN lemons:

While there are plenty of effective VPN services on the market, there are plenty of lemons mixed in with the bunch. If you choose a VPN that is not reputable, it can actually have the opposite effect on your privacy and security online, leaking your identity or activity, or sharing your information with third parties. On top of this, if you choose a provider that is located in the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance, you then have to worry that your information may be turned over to authorities if your VPN logs your data.

Slower Speeds:

When you are using a VPN server, your traffic is making an extra pit-stop on the way to its destination. This, on top of the process of encryption and decryption, means that your online speeds will decrease slightly when using VPNs. The best VPNs will be fast enough that this decrease will not be noticeable.

Not Powerful Enough:

Because some websites make it difficult to get through their geo-blocks, some virtual private networks are not strong enough to break through these walls. IP addresses that are identified as coming from VPNs are blocked and flagged. In this case, you will need to switch servers to try to reach the sites you are trying to reach. The top providers continually update their IP addresses to combat this problem and minimize user frustration.

FAQs

star How much does it cost to get a VPN? Is a VPN expensive?

A VPN is one of those very useful tools that are actually easily accessible to people on any budget. The cheapest of the three VPN options that we recommend — Surfshark— will only set you back $2.49/month, which is less than a cup of coffee at any local coffee shop. While the coffee from the coffee shop will last 20 minutes, the VPN protection will last for a whole month for this price. The most expensive VPNs that we recommend are still very affordable. You can get the very top VPN, ExpressVPN, for only $6.67/month.

star What’s currently the best VPN?

While the VPN market is constantly changing to keep up with the newest technology and the latest trends, some VPN services have done a great job at delivering the most useful, reliable services, and staying at the forefront of the VPN pack, year after year. Our favorite VPN on the market is ExpressVPN, which we view as a premium provider. ExpressVPN has the best speed, the broadest server network, and the most consistently reliable features and performance.

star Do I need a VPN at home?

You should definitely use a VPN when you are surfing the Internet on your home network, not just when you are on public Wi-Fi. While it’s true that there are more risks associated with using public Wi-Fi, connecting to your home network also puts you at risk since your IP address is visible to your Internet Service Provider and others on the web. Using a VPN at home will keep your activity and location private, which is the way you should always feel when you are in your own home.

star Do I need a VPN on my phone?

Definitely. It is important to realize that your phone, while it may be small, can put you in big danger. When you are out and about with your phone, it is tempting to want to connect to any public Wi-Fi network that is available, with no way of knowing if the network is corrupt. It is a good rule of thumb that you should be connecting your VPN to any device you will be using on the web.

star Are free VPNs safe? 

If you are concerned about your privacy and security online, it is in your best interest to subscribe to a paid VPN service.

While there are some free VPNs on the market that may keep you safe, overall, free VPNs are too much of a question mark, which is not what you want to sign up for when your online security is at risk.

While not all are, many free VPNs are scams, and some not only fail at providing adequate safety features, but they actually actively sell user data and IP addresses to third parties for a profit, since they are not making a profit off your subscription fee. On top of this, free VPN services also have been known to allow ads and malware to access your network, which is not only a nuisance, but also puts you in danger.

star Does a VPN steal data?

An important VPN feature to pay attention to is the VPN logging policy. Some VPNs actually log your data and sell it to third parties for financial gain, which sounds a lot like stealing. This can actually be avoided if you make sure the VPN company you choose has a clearly outlined no-logging policy, stating that their VPN service never logs any user IP addresses, data, history, or duration of connectivity.

star Is it legal to access Netflix with a VPN?

While Netflix does its best to block IP addresses that are coming from known VPN users, opting to use a VPN to access Netflix is not illegal. Because of content distribution and licensing regulations, Netflix is only allowed to air certain content in certain regions. To do their due diligence, Netflix has to try to restrict its audience to people who are watching from regions that are permitted. While it is against Netflix’s policies to use a VPN to pretend you are in a different region, it is legal.

Conclusion

VPN services are becoming more and more common among users these days. Whether you use a VPN to access geo-restricted streaming services; keep your browsing secure on public Wi-Fi or on your home network; or keep your data and activity off of the radar of hackers, law enforcement, government agencies, or your Internet provider, a reliable VPN service can do the job.

If you are thinking of signing up for a VPN company for the first time, our top recommendation is ExpressVPN. ExpressVPN has the fastest speeds, a large, widespread server network, the best privacy and security options, and a reliable track record.

VPN service
Features
Best price
Score
Best Overall
  • Super fast.
  • Reliable & ultra-secure.
  • Great for HD/4K streaming.
  • Chrome, Firefox & Edge extensions.
  • 24/7 live chat support.
  • Outstanding!
$12.95
$6.67 /mo
Save 49%
Best Value
  • Fast speeds.
  • Strong privacy & security.
  • Uninterrupted streaming.
  • Ad-blocker included.
  • Chrome & Firefox extensions.
  • 24/7 live chat support.
$11.95
$3.71 /mo
Save 68%
Best Budget
  • Fast VPN streamlined for beginners.
  • Strong encryption & privacy features.
  • Chrome & Firefox extensions.
  • 24/7 live chat support.
$12.95
$2.21 /mo
Save 83%
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