A VPN (virtual private network) is used for a variety of reasons. Most typically the service is used to allow employees remote access to a secure company network. VPNs can also be used to access websites that are restricted on a network and for the purposes of hiding a users identity. When a VPN is installed on a company’s system and then on an employee’s own laptop or desktop, they are able to access the businesses network and grab files they need without sensitive data being seen by prying eyes.
VPNs are also a great way to access websites that are restricted by a specific geography. Many users take advantage of VPN services so they can watch, for example, a show on NBC when they live in the UK.
VPN Factors to Consider
Check for a free trial with any provider you choose. VPNs can be notoriously slow if they are not properly optimized. Since you are essentially using another service’s connections to create the virtual private network you’ll want to check the service’s reliability in terms of overall speed.
Check the VPN’s support services. The better programs such as HideMyAss.com (yeah we know the name is a bit out there), will provide quick and knowledgeable service. If you are using a VPN for business purposes a knowledgeable staff is important for any issues that might arise with your company’s network.
Understand the protocols used by VPNs. For example, are connections made over a secure SSL connection? Most business VPNs utilize IPSec or SSL, which ensures the best possible data encryption for sending and receiving files and surfing the web.
Understand the VPN service’s exit locations. If you want to watch UK television program from the U.S. make sure the VPN you choose actually has servers in the UK. Also understand laws surrounding the exit locations. For example, in the US, specific laws allow authorities to demand your usage data from your VPN provider. Remember that your data is hidden from prying eyes but it may still be used and collected by the VPN service. A VPN isn’t your ticket to unlimited illegal activities. It is simply an anonymity service for your web surfing and business use.
That brings us to our last point: understand the logging practices of the VPN service you choose. Some services log location data, other services log general overall activity. If a VPN doesn’t log certain data they can’t hand over to authorities what they don’t have. Read through your VPN providers terms of service to understand its logging practices.
If you still aren’t sure which VPN is right for you, try a site like BestVPN, which specializes in helping users find VPN services based on their specific operating system, location, and other requirements.