- How Do VPNs Work?
- Factors to Consider When Choosing a VPN Service
- Top 10 VPN Services in the Market
- How to Set up and Use a VPN Service?
- Troubleshooting Tips
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a network technology that allows users to create a secure connection to another network over the internet. VPNs are designed to provide internet users security, privacy, and anonymity.
In this guide, we'll explore the different types of VPNs, how they work, the factors to consider when choosing a VPN service, the best VPN services in the market, how to set up and use a VPN service, troubleshooting tips, and more.
How Do VPNs Work?
VPNs work by encrypting data and routing it through a private network, which makes it difficult for hackers, governments, and other third parties to intercept and access the data. The process of encrypting and routing data through a private network is called tunneling.
Here are the key elements of how a VPN works:
Encryption and Tunneling
- VPNs use encryption to protect data in transit. This means that the data is scrambled in such a way that it cannot be read by anyone who intercepts it.
- Once the data is encrypted, it is sent through a VPN tunnel, which is a secure connection between the user's device and the VPN server.
- The VPN server then decrypts the data and sends it to the intended destination.
Types of VPN Protocols
- VPN protocols are the rules that determine how data is encrypted and transmitted between the user's device and the VPN server.
- The most common VPN protocols are OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and PPTP.
- OpenVPN is the most secure and widely used VPN protocol. It uses SSL/TLS encryption and can run on any port, which makes it difficult to block or detect.
- L2TP/IPSec is a combination of two protocols that offer strong encryption and can be used on most devices.
- PPTP is an older protocol that is fast but not as secure as OpenVPN or L2TP/IPSec.
VPN Servers and Their Locations
- VPN servers are the backbone of VPN services. They are the computers that handle the encryption and routing of data.
- VPN services have servers located worldwide, and users can connect to any server they choose.
- The location of the VPN server can affect the speed and performance of the VPN service.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a VPN Service
Choosing the right VPN service can be a daunting task, especially if you're new to VPNs. Here are the key factors to consider when choosing a VPN service:
Security and Privacy Features
- A good VPN service should offer strong encryption, a no-logs policy, and advanced security features such as a kill switch, DNS leak protection, and split tunneling.
- A no-logs policy means the VPN service does not store any data about the user's online activities.
Speed and Performance
- The speed and performance of a VPN service are critical to its usability.
- A good VPN service should offer fast and reliable connections with minimal latency.
Number of Servers and Locations
- The number of servers and locations a VPN service offers can affect its usability and performance.
- A good VPN service should offer a large number of servers in multiple locations around the world.
Compatibility With Different Devices and Platforms
- A good VPN service should be compatible with different devices and platforms, including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux.
- The VPN service should also offer easy-to-use apps for each platform.
Customer Support and User-Friendliness
- A good VPN service should offer responsive customer support and easy-to-use software.
- The VPN service should also have a user-friendly interface that allows users to connect to servers and customize their settings easily.
Pricing and Payment Options
- VPN services can vary widely in terms of pricing.
- A good VPN service should offer reasonable pricing plans with flexible payment options, such as monthly or yearly subscriptions and a money-back guarantee.
Top 10 VPN Services in the Market
With so many VPN services available in the market, choosing the best one for your needs can be challenging. Here are some of the top VPN services in the market based on our research:
ExpressVPN is a high-end Virtual Private Network (VPN) service known for providing top-quality performance, reliability, and privacy.
- One of the best VPN services in 2023, a 5-star VPN service
- Unblocks streaming sites such as Netflix, Amazon, Disney, BBC iPlayer
- 24/7 customer support
- 30-day refund period
- 3,200+ servers in 160 locations across 94 countries
- Simultaneous connections of up to 5
- Cutting-edge VPN protocols
- Secure DNS, leak protection, Network Lock, split tunneling, and more
- Expandable to hardware with the Aircove router
- Configurable toolbar to launch favorite apps or websites
- Tracker and malware-blocking Threat Manag10 Best VPN Services -er
- Parallel Connections feature to reduce connection times
- App support for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, Chromebooks, Amazon Fire TV, Kindle Fire, and routers
- Comprehensive approach to security and privacy
- Above-average prices
- Reliably unblocks nearly everything most users need
- Clean and intuitive apps
- Expert 24/7 live customer support
- Shiny and new features added frequently
- 12 months for €6.30/mth + 3 months free
- 6 months for €9.44/mth
- 1 month for €12.24/mth
Overall, ExpressVPN is an excellent VPN service for those looking for top-quality performance and reliability, with an emphasis on usability and customer support. While its prices are above average, its comprehensive approach to security and privacy makes it well worth the investment.
NordVPN is a popular VPN service with 5,500+ servers in 80+ server locations and 60 countries. The service allows up to six simultaneous connections, and NordVPN has its own custom version of WireGuard called NordLynx, which offers fast connection speeds of up to 820Mbps.
NordVPN provides an impressive set of security features and technologies, including Double VPN, secure DNS, and a reliable kill switch. NordVPN is also known for its ability to unblock streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, BBC iPlayer, and more. NordVPN's monthly billed plans are a little more expensive than some, but the annual offering is good value for what you're getting.
- 5,500+ servers in 80+ server locations and 60 countries
- Six simultaneous connections
- NordLynx, a custom version of WireGuard, for fast connection speeds of up to 820Mbps
- Security features include Double VPN, secure DNS, and a reliable kill switch
- Unblocks streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, BBC iPlayer, and more
- Meshnet for a secure link to devices anywhere in the world
- Strong DNS leak protection and two ultra-reliable kill switches
- Support for paying by crypto as well as PayPal and cards
- Fast and reliable connection speeds
- Extensive server network
- Excellent set of security features and technologies
- Good for unblocking streaming services
- 24/7 customer support
- Monthly billed plans are a little more expensive than some
- Annual offering is good value for what you're getting
- Two-year offer of just $2.49/month beats most providers for the first term
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Renewal prices are a bit above average
NordVPN is a great option if you're looking for a VPN service with an extensive server network, fast connection speeds, and good security features. If you're interested in unblocking streaming services, NordVPN is also a good choice.
Surfshark is a virtual private network (VPN) service offering users access to over 3,200 servers in over 100 locations across 99 countries. Its apps can be used on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, and other smart TVs. The service offers a range of features such as Multi-Hop VPN, private DNS, ad, tracker, and malware blocking.
- 3,200 servers in 100+ locations across 99 countries
- Accessible on Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire, and other smart TVs
- Multi-Hop VPN, private DNS, ad, tracker, and malware blocking
- Secure protocols (WireGuard, OpenVPN) and strong encryption
- Kill switch to prevent traffic exposure
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Unblock streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, BBC iPlayer
- Refund period of 30 days
- Excellent customer support with a detailed support site and live chat
- A two-year plan with an effective monthly cost of just $2.05
- Surfshark Nexus to add new privacy features and stabilize and speed up the VPN connection
- Surfshark's monthly billed plan is not as cheap as some competitors, but the two-year deal is a great value for the features offered, with an effective monthly cost of $2.05.
Surfshark is an excellent VPN service that offers a wide range of features and excellent customer support. It's a wonderful choice for users who prioritize price and need access to a wide range of servers and locations.
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Private Internet Access (PIA) is a VPN service that offers low prices without compromising quality. PIA has 10,000+ servers distributed across 84 countries, with a 10-device limit for simultaneous connections. It uses the OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols for security and MACE feature to block ads, trackers, and malware.
PIA has open-sourced its apps, allowing interested users to check the code. The service provides support for standard platforms, and its Chrome extension has bonus privacy tools.
- 10,000+ high-speed servers in 84 countries
- 10-device limit for simultaneous connections
- OpenVPN and WireGuard protocols for security
- MACE feature to block ads, trackers, and malware
- Open-sourced apps for transparency
- Chrome extension with bonus privacy tools
- PIA's apps have a lot of features, but users can configure them to highlight their favorite features and hide the rest
- Ideal for experts who need power and simplicity for those who don't
- Unblocks streaming sites such as US Netflix, Amazon, Disney, and more
- Good for browsing and streaming but may not be suitable for gaming or other speed-critical applications
- 24/7 customer support via live chat
- 30-day refund period
- Great value plans
- Mac and iOS apps have a host of options and settings
- Android VPN app is more powerful than some providers' desktop editions
- Monthly plan is a few dollars more than before
- Great value plans available
Overall, Private Internet Access provides a lot of power to VPN users and is still very accessible to newcomers. However, the service's below-par speeds may be a concern for demanding users.
5. Proton VPN
Proton VPN is a well-known VPN provider that has grown in popularity due to its security, privacy features, and unblocking capabilities.
- Proton VPN has a vast network of 1,750+ servers across 63 countries accessible through a range of apps for various devices.
- Its apps are open-source and independently audited for added trust.
- Proton VPN uses robust encryption and top protocols such as WireGuard, OpenVPN, and IKEv2 for technical privacy and security features.
- It offers a kill switch and MultiHop VPN to ensure your privacy even when the VPN connection drops.
- The VPN accelerator optimizes connection speed on Windows devices.
- Proton VPN allows ten simultaneous connections, more than other competitors.
- Its apps have a well-designed map interface that displays server locations.
- It unblocks streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and BBC iPlayer.
- Streaming capabilities are only available on the paid-for Plus plan.
- Proton VPN offers a market-leading free VPN with no bandwidth limits and over 100 servers in three countries.
- Proton VPN offers excellent privacy and security features, including open-source apps and anonymous payment options.
- Its unblocking capabilities allow users to access streaming content from various regions.
- Proton VPN is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
- Its ten simultaneous connections allow you to protect multiple devices simultaneously.
- The free version provides a great way to test the service before committing to a paid plan.
- Proton VPN's full-featured Plus plan is relatively expensive, costing around $5 monthly with a longer-term plan.
- The company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, but refunds are only available for unused subscription time.
Proton VPN is a great option for those who value privacy, security, and unblocking capabilities. It offers a range of features that make it easy to use and access streaming content from around the world. While it may be slightly more expensive than other VPN providers, its free version and 30-day money-back guarantee provide an opportunity to try the service before committing.
CyberGhost is a VPN service that boasts an extensive network of over 8,900 servers across 115 countries. It has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV, and other smart TVs, and Smart DNS support allows it to be set up on game consoles.
- Unblocks US Netflix, Amazon, Disney, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and HBO Max
- 24/7 support
- Maximum speed with WireGuard connections at 730Mbps and OpenVPN reaching 400Mbps
- Torrent-friendly servers
- Specialist locations for streaming
- Smart DNS support for game consoles
- A 45-day refund period
- A high number of servers and countries
- Mighty network of mostly torrent-friendly servers
- Impressive unblocking capabilities for popular streaming sites
- 'Maximum speed' that is notably lower but still faster than most VPNs
- Exceptional value for the price if committed to a three-year plan
- Monthly plan is relatively expensive
- Sub-$2.50 per month if you commit for three years
CyberGhost is an excellent VPN for those looking for a reliable and fast service that can unblock popular streaming sites. Its high number of servers and countries, torrent-friendly servers, and exceptional value for long-term plans make it a compelling option. However, its basic omissions and device limit scheme may not appeal to some users.
TunnelBear is a VPN service offering simple apps focusing on privacy and transparency. It has a few app features like GhostBear and a kill switch for added protection. The service has its entire system audited annually and recently added support for WireGuard. However, it lacks some standard features and doesn't offer PayPal support, refunds, or 24/7 live chat support.
- Simple and user-friendly apps with GhostBear and a kill switch for added protection
- Entire service audited annually for transparency and privacy
- Added support for WireGuard recently, but only for Windows at this time
- Simple and easy-to-use VPN service
- Service is transparent and has an annual audit for added privacy
- Free version available to try before signing up
- Can unblock US Netflix but has issues with Disney Plus, Amazon Prime, ITV, C4, 9Now, Netflix, and BBC iPlayer
- Offers a free version with limited features and a paid version
- No refunds available for the paid version
TunnelBear is not recommended for demanding users looking for power, speed, or unblocking capabilities. However, if you have simple VPN needs or value transparency, TunnelBear is worth considering.
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Hotspot Shield is a VPN service that offers a network of 3,200+ servers distributed across 80+ countries and 125 cities. Here are some details:
- Hotspot Shield has apps for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as Linux and smart TV apps and a Chrome extension.
- The service offers support for setting up the VPN on various routers.
- Hotspot Shield offers the Smart VPN feature, which enables choosing websites and apps that won't have their traffic routed through the VPN.
- Hotspot Shield offers blocking of malicious and phishing sites, and P2P is supported everywhere.
- The company has a specialist streaming location per country, making it easy to unblock streaming content from overseas.
- Hotspot Shield unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney Plus with no issues.
- Hotspot Shield offers a 7-day trial and 45-day money-back guarantee, giving users plenty of risk-free time to make up their minds.
- Hotspot Shield offers 24/7 customer support.
- Hotspot Shield has a three-year plan available at a great price.
- Hotspot Shield's pricing includes a 7-day trial and a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Hotspot Shield's best feature used to be its performance, but it has yet to keep up with most providers that have upgraded to the speedy WireGuard protocol in the past year or two. This is still less than half the speed of most services. However, it is still a decent choice for users looking for ease of use, top streaming support, and buying from a big name in the industry.
Windscribe is a Canadian VPN with plenty of features to offer.
- Open-source apps for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and Linux.
- Browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.
- Can connect unlimited devices.
- Advanced features, including ad blocking, tracker blocking, and malware blocking.
- Can unblock US Netflix, Amazon, Disney Plus, and BBC iPlayer.
- No 24/7 live chat support, only email and subreddit support.
- Windscribe has taken a transparency step by open-sourcing its desktop apps.
- Windscribe is a significant value, particularly for experts who get many advanced features.
- Windscribe has a free version with 10 GB of monthly data and access to all the main features.
- Windscribe provides a free version with 10 GB of data per month.
- Paid subscriptions start from $4.08 per month and come with a 3-day refund period.
PureVPN is a Hong Kong-based VPN that offers a global network of over 6,500 servers in more than 78 countries, making it one of the best VPNs for travel. Below is a breakdown of its features, benefits, and pricing:
- PureVPN has a large global network of servers, making it one of the best VPNs for travel, with over 6,500 servers in more than 78 countries.
- The VPN is based in Hong Kong, a Five Eyes non-member, and only collects minimal data from users.
- PureVPN uses AES-256 encryption and the OpenVPN protocol to secure users' online activities.
- The VPN offers a dedicated IP address for only $2.04 a month with a two-year subscription.
- PureVPN can be used to access websites blocked in your country or to access Netflix libraries in other countries.
- PureVPN hid browsing history and IP addresses, making it easier for users to remain anonymous online.
- PureVPN is excellent for unblocking websites and accessing Netflix libraries in other countries.
- Dedicated IP addresses make it easier for websites to remember users.
- PureVPN does not offer a free trial.
- Plans start at $3.33 a month for a two-year subscription.
How to Set up and Use a VPN Service?
Setting up and using a VPN service is a straightforward process. Here are the general steps to follow:
1. Choose and Subscribe to a VPN Service
- Choose a VPN service that meets your needs and subscribe to one of its plans that suits your needs.
- Download and install the VPN app for your device.
2. Connect to a VPN Server
- Open the VPN app and choose a server location from the list of available servers.
- Click on the "connect" button to establish a VPN connection.
3. Use the Internet With the VPN Connection
- Once the VPN connection is established, you can use the internet as usual.
- All the data transmitted and received will be encrypted and routed through the VPN server.
If you experience any issues with your VPN service, here are some troubleshooting tips to try:
1. Check Your Internet Connection
- Make sure that your device is connected to the internet.
- Check your Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection.
2. Try a Different Server Location
- If you're having trouble connecting to a specific server location, try a different one.
- The server may be temporarily down or overcrowded.
3. Clear Your Browser Cache
- Clearing your browser cache can help resolve some issues with website loading or connectivity.
4. Restart Your Device
- Sometimes, simply restarting your device can resolve connectivity issues.
5. Contact Customer Support
- If none of the above tips work, contact the customer support of your VPN service provider.
- They can help you troubleshoot the problem and resolve it.
A VPN service is an essential tool for protecting your online privacy and security. With so many VPN services available in the market, choosing the best one for your needs can take time. By considering factors such as security, privacy, speed, and ease of use, you can find a VPN service that meets your needs.
Remember to follow the steps for setting up and using a VPN service, and try the troubleshooting tips if you experience any issues. With a good VPN service, you can browse the internet safely and securely without worrying about your data being intercepted or monitored.