How to know which is the best VPN (virtual private network)

VPN purple computer

A VPN (virtual private networkvirtual private network) allows the connection between a device (computer, tablet, smartpohne…) and a network in isolation from the rest of the Internet. This is a security reinforcement that, in addition to its use in professional environments, is very convenient for any user of public WiFi networks (restaurants, airports, stations…).

VPNs allow you to connect to the Internet in a protected way, isolating the connection from the rest of the network

The result when connecting through a VPN is the creation of an encrypted tunnel which allows information to be sent and received in isolation from the rest of the network, thus protecting transmitted and received data from unauthorized intruders. In addition to security reinforcement, they also represent an obstacle to the various systems for collecting usage data from websites, online platforms and social networks.

But given the variety of VPN solutions on the market, how do you determine which VPN is the best? Several parameters need to be analyzed.

What you should evaluate to find the best VPN

-Speed: It is inevitable that, when a VPN comes into action, the browsing speed will be reduced, even very slightly, due to the very operation of this “encrypted tunnel” that protects the data, so that one of the characteristics to evaluate would be the percentage slowdown of the connection and downloads provided by a VPN. This speed also depends on the number of servers available to the VPN service provider, their location and the type of hardware they use.

A point to determine is also the number of IP addresses it can offer and whether they are dedicated IP addresses. The protocol considered the most secure and most widely used for this purpose is Open VPN, which is open source and allows the connection speed of the VPN service selected to be measured with its different servers, something that can be done using Ookla Speedtest, so that an average of the relative speeds can be obtained. In this measurement, the network used to access the Internet must be taken into account. You will not obtain the same speed over residential fiber optics or at work as over a 4G/5G wireless connection or over public WiFi, which usually have limited bandwidth.

-Security: Since the main reason for using a VPN is to protect the connection, it is essential that the security provided by the service offers maximum guarantees. It is particularly important that the VPN service can be used effectively in territories, such as China, where Internet access is severely limited.

Relating to geographic location, the use of VPN can allow the use of streaming platforms (see Netflix) from locations other than the actual location or the other way around, to access content that the platform does not have available in the user’s country of residence but is available in other countries. For most users, however, it is sufficient to keep their device safe from unwanted intrusions by using a public WiFi connection. It should be noted that some VPNs advise against the use of P2P technologies such as Torrent file downloads and the like due to the possibility of their use allowing data leaks from the equipment. In any case, all these circumstances can be analyzed with tools such as Perfect Privacy’s DNS Leak Test, IPLeak or IPv6 Test.

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-Jurisdiction: For those most concerned with possible access to their connections by certain governments, it is advisable to resort to VPN services that do not cooperate with agreements that allow information sharing with U.S. intelligence agencies but at the same time have a visible structure that allows for verification.

This makes it necessary to carefully review all information from the VPN service provider as to its data collection policies and possible data sharing action, including with its parent companies, as these could be the ones that would be subject to the obligation to share with government agencies.

-Indications not to advise against use: Some VPN platforms offer a history of having shared data on their users’ activity, albeit for advertising purposes to obtain funding on free services, but even these would be unwise to trust.

The problem is that they all claim that they do not share user data but it turns out to be a very difficult extreme to prove. It would be necessary to analyze the news in which this behavior is reflected and, especially, whether the parent company on which the VPN service or platform depends or to which it belongs has engaged in this behavior.

-Encryption: It is the key to the correct functioning of a VPN and the minimum that should be required to trust one of these services is the use of AES-256 encryption. Below these parameters it may still be safe to use, but it will always be lower.

-Instant off button: In some circumstances the VPN connection may fail, blocking data transmission and reception. In such an eventuality it is imperative to have an easily accessible button that immediately interrupts VPN operation and protects data and traffic.

-Technical assistance: Especially for professional users, the existence of a technical support service available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week is particularly valuable. Even if it is only through a chat, but in case of any eventuality, a response and a possible solution should be available as soon as possible.

-Price: Finally, some VPNs are free and others are paid, with different pricing plans and with different target groups, from individuals to professionals. It is necessary to compare prices but also features and, where appropriate, whether payment can be made via PayPal or Bitcoins.

For business use, it will be necessary to check whether the VPN allows multiple connections and whether it is compatible with the various ecosystems (Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android) as well as evaluating (through the trial periods that many include) its operation with the equipment and software used by the various users.

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