Have you been searching for the best VPN? You’ve probably been overwhelmed by the number of providers in the marketplace right now… There are over 300 different options!

So, how do you make sure you choose the best one for yourself? See our criteria for choosing a Virtual Private Network for yourself.

What is a VPN?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is an essential privacy tool for browsing the web. It extends a private connection across public networks, which keeps your personal IP address anonymous. Many VPNs are encrypted, too. This means that your online activity (what you browse, stream, or search) becomes untraceable when using a VPN.

What is the best VPN service?

NordVPN is considered to be the best VPN service in 2021. It offers ease of use, no-logging, and an affordable price point. Other providers, like ExpressVPN and Surfshark, offer similar features.

NordVPN

NordVPN is the best VPN service for a number of reasons. They continue to prove themselves as a trustworthy provider for those seeking private global connectivity year after year – most recently introducing new 10Gbps servers to improve speed. NordVPN is also one of the best priced providers coming in at under $5/mo. We like NordVPN’s ease-of-use and compatibility with most platforms – including Android, Windows, and Mac.

Surfshark

Surfshark is a “no-log” VPN provider that has quickly gained popularity around the world thanks to their low price (starting at $2.49/mo!). SurfShark has a smaller network than more established VPNs but they bundle in a number of top-notch features which makes them a provider worth considering. We like that obfuscation is included which means that your ISP (or anyone else, for that matter) cannot tell that you’re using their VPN.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN has a strict no-log policy, and has been considered to be one of the best VPNs for a number of years. While increased security can result in slower speeds, they have received praise from a number of tech reviewers – including CNET. We like that ExpressVPN accepts over 15 different payment methods – including Bitcoin.

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is known for their free VPN but they also offer a compelling premium plan that comes with an industry leading 45 day money back guarantee. They have had some security concerns over the years, but that doesn’t seem to be much of an issue these days. If you’re looking for a streaming video VPN for Netflix or Disney+, you’ll like to know that Hotspot Shield Premium is one of the fastest options on the market.

How does a VPN work?

Virtual private networks create a tunnel and heavily encrypts your Internet traffic. Such encryption works as a solid shell, making it harder for the government, ad agencies, businesses, ISP, and hackers to intercept/view your data. This helps enable you to access the online world safely.

When enabled, the VPN also hides your IP address by changing it to an IP of its server. For example, if you browse the Internet from the US but use a Japanese server, your IP location will also change to somewhere in Japan. This way, others will be unable to track you, unless of course, you are logged into sites like YouTube or Google.

Choosing the Best VPN Service

There are many factors to consider when choosing a VPN. We recommend considering the following criteria:

  • Price – A good VPN will cost between $5 and $10 per month. Pricier VPNs are also available but are only better if the higher price is justified by the criteria below.
  • Speed – Using a VPN means losing at least 10-20% of your Internet speed. Therefore, you must pick a service that offers greater speed to compensate for the slowdown. While most VPNs claim to be fastest, in many cases, it is an idle boast. The solution is to continuously test speed while on trial and read reviews.
  • Ease of Use – Not everyone is tech-savvy, and it is best to go for a VPN that is easy and quick to set up without any technicalities.
  • Number of Servers – The higher these numbers, the more anonymity you enjoy around the globe. Of course, if you are aiming to access a certain country only, say Japan, you can focus on it and leave the rest so long you are not paying a hefty price for accessing just that. Just remember to choose a VPN with multiple servers across Japan to present as though you are were on the Japanese server.
  • Type of Protocols – Most VPNs are reasonably secure. But if you are after legitimate and serious anti-tracking service, you will need to find one with the strictest protocol that does not hamper speed and is available on all devices.
  • Kill Switch – Imagine the VPN suddenly disables or malfunctions and dumps all your data on the regular Internet servers? Or worse yet, opens the regular connection and accidentally exposes your IP address? These are the kind of situations that a kill switch prevents by immediately disconnecting your device from the Internet until the VPN is restored.
  • Logging & Jurisdiction – Go with a vendor that offers no-log VPN but then check the reviews to see if they back their claim.
  • Customer Service – Never use a VPN service that does not offer 24/7, multi-medium customer service. You do not want to trust a vendor that cannot be questioned or reached easily.