Why Do I Need to Use a VPN?
It is an efficient tool for enhancing your online privacy and security. Its emergence has made lives easier and offers endless benefits to individuals and organizations. If you haven’t started using a VPN, then you should because:
- It helps in bypassing ISP throttling– a practice that results in slow, frustrating speeds. A VPN by connecting you to the nearest fastest servers, allows you to browse the web quickly.
- Best privacy software for online anonymity and privacy. It provides end-to-end encryption and hides your IP address, preventing online spying and monitoring.
- With a VPN you can bypass internet restrictions and access the open internet world.
- You can even unblock the content libraries of other regions on Netflix and other popular streaming channels.
Besides this, if you want to know more about why you should use a VPN, follow the link.
Why are VPNs important for online privacy and security?
VPNs are privacy tools that encrypt your data, route your traffic through remote servers, and hide your IP address to ensure security. Recent awareness regarding cybersecurity has made VPNs one of the most essential tools for online privacy. Almost 1.6 billion people use VPNs, of which 33% use it for security. Here is a breakdown of why a trustworthy VPN is important for online privacy and security.
Data encryption is the key to VPNs. a VPN encrypts your data, hides it into encrypted data packets, and carries it in encrypted tunnels. This encryption helps a VPN ensure online privacy, making it almost impossible for snoopers to snoop on your online activity. However, not all VPNs provide such encryption; only the best VPN services offer such security by using military-grade encryption ciphers such as AES 128-bit, 192-bit, and 256-bit, Blowfish, ChaCha20-Poly1305 and Camellia.
Along with encrypting your daat to provide online privacy, VPNs reroute your data traffic through remote servers and hide your IP address. Since your IP address is your online identity, masking it helps ensure anonymity and bypass online surveillance.
Secure data transfer.
Once your data goes online, it is vulnerable to hacking, snooping, and online surveillance. Hackers are always looking for sophisticated methods to steal your information. Therefore, it is crucial to use a VPN since its encryption helps ensure online privacy and security from hack attacks and surveillance. However, using a VPN that uses strong encryption and security tunneling protocols, such as OpenVPN, WireGuard, IKEv6, etc, is crucial.
Access geo-blocked content.
Copyright issues and censorship are a common part of the digital world. Access to most games, movies, songs, software, and even books sometimes gets hard simply because of copyright issues or geographical restrictions. This is a significant problem for anyone streaming on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, or DisneyPlus since they all practice geo-blocks. While this practice is legal, it does seem unfair and unethical. Similarly, people in restrictive regimes are banned from accessing social media platforms or forums. Therefore, people use VPNs to bypass these geo-blocks. A VPN routes your data traffic through remote servers in countries where the particular site or content is unrestricted and helps evade online censorship.
Secure browsing on public wifi.
Using public wifi poses a risk of data breaching and hacking. You never know who’s monitoring your online activity while absent-mindedly browsing the internet. A VPN will secure your connection and protect your data from online threats. Moreover, most users have sensitive information on their devices, such as login credentials and banking details. By encrypting your data, a VPN makes it difficult for third parties like ISPs and hackers to intercept your data.
As per studies, 58% of all the criminal platforms on the dark web contain bank data collected from MITM or other attack types. Therefore, it is crucial to practice secure banking methods such as VPN. A VPN encrypts your data, protecting it from snooping and hack attacks. Moreover, online banking often requires users to access their online accounts from IP addresses of their own countries. A VPN helps attain that by providing the IP address of that particular country. Anyone can use a VPN to gain an IP address of any country they want, such as a US IP address.
Help avoid ISP throttling issues.
Ever since net neutrality was revoked in 2017 by the FCC, ISP throttling has been a significant issue for netizens. No matter the ISP they use, users worldwide face throttling, which is the deliberate slowing down of the internet at a specific time of the day or when they perform high bandwidth activities such as torrenting or streaming. However, there are talks of restoring net neutrality, and throttling is likely to remain a problem since most ISPs tend to throttle users even before throttling was legal. A VPN helps bypass throttling by encrypting your data traffic through remote servers.
Ensures fast streaming
ISP throttling often hinders online streaming, which leads to frustratingly slow internet speeds. Since buffering and lagging videos are a nuisance. Amidst this, people need reliable methods to ensure fast streaming, such as using a VPN. A VPN helps bypass ISP throttling issues and helps ensure steady speeds for streaming.
Helps in torrenting and P2P activity
P2P activity such as torrenting is a reliable way to access free content. However, torrenting has several risks, such as ISP throttling, malware, and DMCA notices. Using reliable methods to ensure secure P2P activity, such as VPN, is crucial. A torrenting VPN encrypts your data and hides your activity, ensuring security from copyright trolls and hackers, usually part of torrent swarms. The encryption also helps bypass ISP throttling issues, ensuring fast uploading and downloading speeds.
In short, a VPN is an important tool that protects your online privacy and helps change your virtual location.
selecting the best VPN providers- How do we Test VPNs?
The best trusted VPN is the one that offers a reliable and secure connection. However, finding such a VPN is somewhat challenging, especially since several VPN services are available online. Therefore, to compile this list of the best and most trusted VPNs to use, it is crucial to check their performance in various spheres, such as:
- Speed: VPNs generally reduce browsing speeds due to the data routing feature. Therefore, it is best to run speed tests to ensure the VPN speed drops are negligible.
- Encryption: the VPN must offer advanced encryption ciphers such as AES, Blowfish, or Camille to ensure robust security.
- Security and Privacy: it is crucial to have a VPN with advanced security features such as obfuscated servers or built-in antivirus, multi-hop, or double VPN.
- Jurisdiction: a VPN must have its headquarters in a country that does not have data retention laws, nor should it be a part of the 9, 12, and 14 eyes.
- No logs policy: If a VPN logs users’ data, it is no different than surveillance agencies and ISPs and can sell it to any third party. Best choose a VPN with a log audit and strict no logs policy.
- Streaming: A VPN must help bypass geo-blocks and ISP throttling. The best way to check it is to run speed tests while streaming and check streaming performance on different VPN servers.
- Torrenting friendly: look for a VPN with P2P servers and features that help torrenting, such as SOCKS5 proxy. Run a torrent IP leak test to ensure it’s secure.
Apart from going through these metrics, another crucial thing to ensure a VPN is secure is to run IP leak and WebRTC leak tests on it. It is also best to check if the VPN provides the promising encryption protocol by checking the VPN connection through Wireshark.
Five Best Trusted VPN Providers of 2023
We understand the hardship of selecting a reliable VPN service. Too many VPN providers claim to be the best and offer different security features. Therefore, we tested and checked out some of the top VPNs and rated them for users to understand better what these services offer.
CyberGhost VPN is a Romania-based VPN provider offering several reliable privacy and security features. The VPN has a secure jurisdiction and is not subject to 5, 9, 12, and 14 eyes alliances’ surveillance and data retention laws.
Apart from that, CyberGhost VPN uses secure AES-256-bit encryption to protect all user data from prying eyes. In addition, the service also employs a range of security protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP-IPSec, and PPTP, to provide users with maximum security and privacy. Aside from high encryption, CyberGhost also offers the following features.
- Kill Switch.
- Wifi protection.
- Password manager/PassCam.
- Security suite.
- Anonymous payment option.
- Private Browse.
- Content blocker.
- Dedicated IP.
- DNS leak protection.
- Tor over VPN.
- Smart DNS.
- Specialized P2P servers.
- Split tunneling.
Additionally, the VPN boasts over 7,300 servers in 91 countries, making it one of the most widely used VPNs in the world. The company offers a range of specialty servers optimized for streaming and torrenting. It also provides unlimited bandwidth, which helps in smooth downloading and streaming.
Based in Panama, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs in 2023. The VPN has a secure jurisdiction and ensures robust privacy through military-grade AES-256-bit encryption. The VPN also helps ensure security through secure encryption protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2, and the proprietary NordLynx protocol designed to provide high speeds and security. The protocol is based on WireGuard and uses ChaCha 20 encryption, a newer and safer encryption cipher. Here are the security features that the VPN offers:
- Double VPN.
- Kill switch.
- Dedicated IP.
- Threat protection.
- Obfuscated servers.
- Split tunneling.
- Onion Over VPN.
- Nordlynx Protocol.
Along with ensuring robust privacy, NordVPN is also a reliable choice for streaming. The VPN has 5200+ servers in 65 countries, which are regularly updated and help users bypass geo-blocks while ensuring fast speeds. NordVPN also uses obfuscation technology, which helps bypass possible VPN blocks, allowing users to access sites like Netflix U.S. and Disney Plus. The VPN also offers dedicated P2P servers for secure torrenting.
While NordVPN is reputable for the security it ensures, in 2019, the VPN came across a questionable position when its servers were breached. The breach was due to the poor configuration of the third-party data center that NordVPN rented. Once NordVPN became aware of the breach, they terminated contracts with the data center provider even though none of the user credentials were harmed. The VPN also regularly audits its services to prove its strict no-logs policy.
3. Surfshark VPN
Surfshark VPN is an excellent VPN service that lets you browse the internet safely and secretly. Unlike other VPNs based in countries requiring user data logs, Surfshark is based in the British Virgin Islands, with no data retention laws. This means that Surfshark can guarantee its users complete privacy and anonymity.
Moreover, the VPN uses industry-grade AES-256 encryption, which is super strong and almost impossible to break. They also use IKEv2, WireGuard, and OpenVPN protocols to establish secure connections and offer fast speed. Plus, Surfshark has lots of other unique features, including,
- Kill Switch.
- DNS leak protection.
- Camouflage mode.
- Surfshark Nexus.
- Surfshark Search.
- Surfshark Alerts.
- GPS spoofing.
- Clean Web.
- RAM-only servers.
- Tor over VPN.
Another great thing about Surfshark is that they have servers in 99 countries, so you can always find a fast and reliable connection anywhere. Besides, the service offers a strict no-logs policy, so they don’t collect or store information about your online activities.
They’ve even had two independent privacy audits by a top cybersecurity firm, Cure53. Fortunately, both audits found that Surfshark’s systems were secure and that they had implemented all of the recommended security measures. Besides offering robust security, It is a good choice for streaming as it offers features like GPS spoofing and Camouflage mode, which help bypass geo-blocks.
In 2022, Surfshark announced a merger with Nord Security, a Panama-based company. Even though Nord Security is based in Panama, which is generally considered at lower risk for government surveillance and data access requests, we found out that they operate from Lithuania, which is part of Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties (MLATs). This means that users are not entirely protected from MLATs. However, the VPN has always operated securely and offered privacy to its users. Despite this, Surfshark is still an excellent VPN provider with many features and an extensive network of servers. It’s worth checking out if you’re looking for a top-tier VPN service!
ProtonVPN is a popular VPN service known for its focus on privacy and security. It is based in Switzerland, known for its strong privacy laws and outside the Eyes Surveillance alliances. Meaning it is not required to share user data with any government agencies.
Moreover, it provides AES-256 encryption, which is considered to be the advanced standard in encryption technology. This means that all data transmitted through ProtonVPN is protected by high encryption, making it virtually impossible for anyone to intercept or access it. Besides robust security, ProtonVPN offers many unique features, including,
- Kill Switch.
- Alternate Routing technology.
- VPN Accelerator.
- Secure core servers.
- Double VPN.
- Full disk encryption.
- DNS leak prevention.
- Tor over VPN.
- Dedicated IP.
- Optimized P2P servers.
- Split tunneling.
Proton Technologies AG owns ProtonVPN, the parent company of ProtonMail, a secure email service. However, in 2020, Protonmail breached the user’s data and handed it over to the French authorities. The news created suspicions about the security of ProtonVPN and its IP logging policies. However, they’re committed to privacy and security and have conducted various audits to prove their VPN policies.
The service promises a no-log policy, and they don’t keep any records of your online activity or connection logs. They’ve undergone third-party security audits to ensure their infrastructure and software are secure.
Additionally, the VPN has an extensive server network in 50 countries worldwide. The company offers fast and reliable connections, with servers optimized for streaming, gaming, and torrenting. Besides, it offers unlimited bandwidth and can unblock geo-blocks easily, allowing users to perform uninterrupted streaming.
ExpressVPN is a popular VPN service founded in 2009 and is headquartered in the secure jurisdiction of the British Virgin Islands. The VPN promises ultimate privacy and security through secure AES-256 encryption. It also uses secure VPN protocols such as OpenVPN, L2TP, IKEv2, and a proprietary lightway protocol. This protocol is designed to provide blazing-fast speed and establish quick connections. Some of the significant security features of ExpressVPN that make it one of the best VPNs to use are:
- Split tunneling.
- Network lock.
- Zero-knowledge DNS.
- Threat manager.
- Stealth Servers.
- IP leak protection.
Along with offering such privacy and security, ExpressVPN also ensures fast and reliable streaming. Its vast network of 3000 servers across 94 countries helps bypass geo-blocks and ensure fast speeds. It can unblock streaming sites, including Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. Aside from that, it is a reliable VPN for playing games, as it prevents DDoS attacks and offers high speed.
However, in 2021, Kape Technologies took over ExpressVPN. This news caused concern among some users. Kape Technologies has a controversial history of being associated with adware and malware. Despite this association, ExpressVPN has stated that it remains committed to its privacy policies and will continue to operate independently. It also maintains its promise of a strict no-logs policy that is verified through a log audit report.
What is the best VPN for you?
Determining which VPN service is the best for you can be pretty hard, especially since it depends upon various needs. VPN use has grown significantly over the past few years, especially within the era of remote working. While 6% of users use VPNs merely to get rid of ads, a significant chunk, almost 80% of VPN users, rely on them to enable online privacy. Amidst this, there is no hard and fast rule you must follow in choosing the best VPN, and it all depends upon the activity you wish to perform such that:
- Online privacy and security: you might want to choose a VPN that secures data through secure encryption protocols and ciphers and even has extra security features.
- Streaming: A VPN with obfuscating technology and servers in multiple locations is a good choice as it can help in streaming.
- Gaming: choose a VPN with high-speeds, low ping time, and security features for gaming.
- Torrenting: Torrenting is illegal in some regions, so look for a service that bypasses censorship and allows P2P sharing.
- Tor: if you use Tor Browser, you might want to choose a VPN with Tor over the VPN feature. It will help you connect to a VPN while using the Tor Browser for maximum privacy.
- Bypassing geo-blocks: choose a VPN provider that offers servers in different locations to bypass geo-restrictions and censorships easily.
These are the features to look for while selecting the best VPN for yourself. Hopefully, this list will help you understand what features to look for in a VPN provider.
What are the best trusted VPN providers for streaming and banking?
When it comes to streaming and banking, the best VPN service is the one offering high-end privacy and security. The VPN must provide security through robust encryption such as AES, Blowfish or Camille encryption. Moreover, it should also use secure VPN protocols such as OpenVPN or WireGuard. This security is crucial as it helps ensure secure online banking and also helps bypass throttling issues while streaming.
Some other important aspects of the best VPN for streaming and banking are fast speeds, obfuscated servers, a strict no-logs policy, and a large server network. The obfuscated servers are important for people traveling in restrictive countries where VPNs are blocked since this feature helps evade those blocks. Moreover, the fast speeds, strict log policy, and large server network help ensure a reliable online connection for streaming and banking.
How can I tell if my VPN is working or not?
Having a VPN connection that is not working well is a privacy hazard. Therefore, when connecting to a VPN, it is crucial to check whether it works well. Here are a few ways to tell if your VPN is working:
- Check your IP address: When you are connected to a VPN, your IP address will be changed to the IP address of the VPN server you are connected to. You can check your IP address using a website like WhatIsMyIPAddress.com. If your IP address is different, then your VPN is working.
- Check for leaks: Leaks can occur when your real IP address is accidentally exposed, even though you are connected to a VPN. There are a number of websites that can help you check for leaks, such as DNS Leak Test and ipleak.net.
- Check your connection speed: If you are experiencing slow speeds, it is possible that your VPN is not working properly. A VPN can sometimes slow down your internet connection, but the slowdown should not be significant. If you are experiencing a significant slowdown, it is possible that your VPN is not working properly.
- Test your VPN with a blocked website: If you are in a country where certain websites are blocked, you can test your VPN by trying to access one of those websites. If you are able to access the website while connected to your VPN, then your VPN is working properly.
These methods can help determine if the VPN is working properly or not. If you have run all these tests on your VPN connection and you are sure that your VPN is not working, then it is crucial to check in with your VPN provider. If it is a reliable VPN, you can mitigate the issue by troubleshooting the app, disconnecting and reconnecting the connection, or contacting customer care.
Are VPN services trustworthy? How to find a reliable service.
VPNs are used to protect users’ privacy. So the question is, are these VPN services trustworthy? Users’ trust in VPN is conditional and depends on the performance of the VPN. For instance, providers that are secretive about their policies and ownership often appear shady. Meanwhile, services with transparent privacy policies appear to be more trustworthy. However, not all services prioritize users’ security. Here is how you can find a reliable VPN service,
- Avoid free VPNs: free VPNs are often scams, and you must understand that VPNs are expensive. Any provider claiming to offer free security is probably costing you your privacy.
- Look for privacy audits: if a VPN has undergone independent audits, it is more likely to be secure than other services. Moreover, privacy audits increase security as independent organizations verify them.
- Check past records: look for the track records of a VPN and if it has a data breaching history or not. Also, check how these providers reacted to the data breaches if they had any incidents. Knowing whether the service released a log report is crucial, as it makes the VPN trustworthy.
Finding a trustworthy and reliable VPN is crucial to ensure a secure online connection. With several VPNs involved in scams and privacy breaches, finding a reliable VPN is somewhat hard. However, if you research and carefully avoid the types of VPNs mentioned, you will get a reliable VPN.
Is Mac’s built-in VPN worth it?
While many people might think so, Macs do not come with a built-in VPN. People remain under this assumption because Apple offers a private relay proxy called the iCloud Private Relay to iCloud+ subscribers. The Private Relay is designed to ensure privacy while browsing in Safari, and it hides the user’s IP address and DNS. With the private relay enabled, the user requests go through two separate internet relays:
- Apple operates the first relay. It encrypts your DNS to prevent any party from seeing the website you want to visit while the IP address remains visible.
- A third-party content provider operates the second relay. It is responsible for generating a temporary IP address, decrypting the website name you want to visit, and connecting you to it.
Apple says the private relay does not significantly lower browsing speeds and ensures privacy through a single secure connection. Nevertheless, it does not offer the same level of privacy and security as a VPN. There are various security issues with it, such as:
- The private relay depends on a third-party content provider to hide your IP address, whose name is not yet disclosed by Apple.
- It does not encrypt your data traffic, which leaves it vulnerable to snooping.
- The relay can not help bypass geo-blocks and censorships.
- Its security is only limited to the Safari browser.
Therefore, amidst this, the best way out is to use the Private Realy and a VPN. This way, even Apple and the third-party content company will only get the VPN IP address, and the user traffic will remain encrypted, preventing snooping. Moreover, the best VPN for Mac also helps in streaming, torrenting, and gaming.
Is Microsoft Windows built-in VPN worth using?
Windows 10 and above users often remain under the false impression that the “built-in Windows” feature will solve their VPN problems. But in reality, this supposed built-in VPN is nothing but a mere container, and users need to subscribe to an actual VPN for it to work. The only benefit it offers is that users won’t have to download a separate VPN application, that is, unless they want to skip using OpenVPN and the WireGuard protocol.
The built-in Windows client only offers the standard IKEv2, L2TP, PPTP, and SSTP protocol configuration. Also, the process of setting up a connection profile is tedious. In other words, the VPN client is only for the tech-savvy users.
Apart from that, Microsoft also offers an Edge VPN, which is a part of the Microsft Edge browser. The free VPN obscures your IP address and encrypts your connection for better privacy and security. It also reroutes your data traffic through specially configured remote servers to prevent online tracking. While the feature activates automatically when you perform risky activities like connecting to public wifi, you can annually turn it on by using these steps:
- Open the Microsoft Edge browser.
- Go to Settings > Privacy, search, and services.
- Turn on Microsoft Edge Secure Network and choose Optimized.
However, this free VPN has drawbacks, such as having a data cap of 1GB-5GB per month and being available for limited users too. Therefore, the only reliable way for users to stay safe while using Windows is to use a reliable VPN for Windows.
What is the fastest VPN?
VPNs often slow down speeds as they route data traffic through remote servers after it leaves your computer and then to the destination site. However, slow speeds usually occur when VPNs use outdated encryption protocols or have traffic congestion on their servers. On the contrary, a good and reliable VPN offers a fast and reliable online connection. It ensures super-fast speeds through reliable VPN protocols such as OpenVPN or WireGuard.
Since only limited VPNs provide such fast speeds and a reliable connection, the top-rated VPN in this guide undergoes the Ookla Speed. The metrics for these tests are uploads and download speeds, latency, and streaming. Only after a VPN passes these tests it becomes one of the best and fastest VPNs.
While choosing a VPN, it is important to understand that not all VPNs are built similarly. Some are privacy-focused, and others are preferable in terms of speed. However, before deciding on a VPN, you must consider your needs first. To save you time, we tested and reviewed the top-rated VPN services and ranked them.
We test these VPNs through various speed tests and by using the VPNs personally. According to our ranking, ExpressVPN and NordVPN are the top-ranked services. However, we also researched other services to deliver the most authentic and accurate information.
FAQs: On the Best Trusted VPN Providers
Understand your needs if you need the VPN for streaming or if your main focus is security. Secondly, look for the features that the VPN provides. Lastly, ensure the VPN provider is trustworthy and the prices are justified.
NordVPN is among the best VPNs of 2023. It is one of the fastest and most secure services on the internet. It is a Nord Security product with AES-256-bit encryption and fast protocols.
If you want to choose a VPN service first, consider why you need it and then check out its security features, privacy policies, speed, and prices. These factors will help you choose the right VPN for yourself.
VPN services are legal in most countries unless users use them to perform unethical acts. VPNs are legal in countries like the U.S., U.K., Australia, etc. However, VPNs are illegal in China, Oman, U.A.E, etc.
Yes, you can still be tracked even after using a VPN. To prevent this, you can take extra steps to ensure security, like using Tor over VPN.
ProtonVPN offers a free version with a no-log policy, robust encryption, and excellent security features. It is one of the most secure and trustworthy free VPN services.
The number one best VPN is the one that offers robust privacy and security. It must offer high encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and a secure jurisdiction. Some examples of the best VPNs in 2023 are NordVPN, SurfsharkVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and ExpressVPN.
The best VPN in the market is the one that offers robust privacy and security, such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Surfshark VPN, and CyberGhost VPN.
The most strong and reliable VPN is the one that has high encryption, a strict no-logs policy, and a safe jurisdiction, such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and Surfshark VPN.
The safest VPN is the one that guarantees a strict no-log policy with a log audit report, a safe jurisdiction, and string encryption, such as NordVPN.