Virtual Private Network (VPN) services have been around for years. Still, there’s never been a time when VPN services have been in greater demand than today. The reasons for seeking a VPN service could range from privacy, anonymity, and circumventing censorship, to cybersecurity, location shifting and bypassing geographical restrictions.
VPN services are not created equal. To ensure you make the right choice from the get-go, try and find VPN reviews online that would help you evaluate providers by the following factors. Pricing is excluded, as it’s relatively straightforward.
1. Number of Servers
A VPN is an encrypted tunnel between the VPN provider’s server and the user’s device. While this is the core logic, in actual sense, the provider will have multiple servers to handle the anticipated volume of users and data traffic.
The best VPN services will be transparent about the number of servers they run on. The larger market players will be backed by thousands of servers. The more the servers, the better equipped the provider is to deliver greater bandwidth and faster connection speeds.
2. Server Locations
Location is important, but whether you should prefer the servers near you or far from you depends on what your intentions for getting a VPN are. So if you are planning on using the VPN connection for online gaming, then speed will be a huge consideration. In that case, a VPN server close to where you are would ensure lower lag and higher responsiveness.
On the other hand, if your goal is location shifting, overcoming censorship, bypassing geographical restrictions or enhancing anonymity, then a VPN server in a different country would be a distinct advantage. Choose a VPN provider whose servers are in locations that serve your VPN interests.
3. Data Caps
A VPN facilitates the secure transmission of data over the Internet. Since these data packets must be moved back and forth over the VPN service’s infrastructure, there is finite capacity. For this reason, providers will have some form of data cap. Often, this is achieved by separating users into a free tier and paid tiers.
The users on a free tier are restricted to a low data cap of anywhere between 1GB and 10GB. Users on paid plans are given a higher monthly data limit. If you are a light Internet user, then the free plans could be more than enough for you. However, if you are a heavy user, then look for a provider whose data caps can accommodate your data needs.
4. Simultaneously Connected Devices
Most people looking for a VPN service are often thinking about connecting just one device. But even if you don’t envisage plugging in more than one device now, you may require it at some point. If you are in a multi-person household, you may want the other people in the home connected as well. In the event you are alone, there may be a time where you’d like your smartphone and tablet or laptop plugged in at the same time.
Virtually all VPN providers have a limit on the number of simultaneous devices you can connect sometimes depending on the plan you are subscribed to. Plans with a limit of anything from 2 to 5 concurrent connections should work for most people. Take time to find a provider and plan that satisfies your medium-term requirements.
5. VPN Logging
Different VPNs have different policies on data logging and data retention. Find one whose policies you can live with. Note that providers may turn over this user data to relevant authorities in compliance with a legal order. They wouldn’t want to be pulled into criminal proceedings as a facilitator.
Your choice of VPN service is one you should make carefully. Consider these factors before you settle on any particular one.