More and more people are becoming increasingly worried about their online privacy and security. If you are concerned that your ISP or government might be spying on your online activity or simply want to access geo-locked content on the Internet, VPN services could solve your problem for good.
VPN providers allow you to hide your online activity from both your government and your ISP, bypass geographical restrictions, limitations, and censorship, as well as watch widely-popular services such as Netflix and Hulu. What’s more, many top VPN service providers encourage P2P sharing and torrenting.
To enjoy all these perks, all you have to do is find a good VPN provider. However, the problem is that there are so many VPN services on offer that it can be quite difficult to make up your mind.
So, how to determine which VPN provider is right for you?
First of all, what you need to know is that the VPN market is an ever-changing one. Even though there are some top players out there who have been consistently delivering in every possible area, each year a different VPN provider emerges as an absolute leader.
VPN providers are constantly trying to one each other up, which is always good news for the users, as the services become more affordable and reliable, the features become richer and more attractive, and the overall experience becomes more user-friendly.
Choosing the right VPN provider is not an easy task with so many excellent companies. Different users have different requirements, but there are some things that every VPN service provider needs to fulfill in order to stay competent and relevant in this tough business.
There are several criteria that make a good VPN provider. If a company wants to stay afloat, they absolutely have to meet them; otherwise, they will be done in a matter of months. Similarly, if a company wants to reach the top of the VPN business, they not only have to meet those criteria but they have to excel at what they do.
For instance, no company is ever going to reach the top if their speeds are shoddy, very slow or unreliable. No user is going to tolerate constant drop-offs. Good uptime is another important factor and so is the number of DNS and IP leaks, or more precisely, the lack thereof. Both the number and the location of servers is very important as well.
A top VPN company needs to have excellent, friendly, and extremely knowledgeable support staff. Ideally, the staff should be available 24/7/365, regardless of holidays because people use the Internet on holidays too.
Furthermore, a great VPN provider needs to offer attractive packages at reasonable prices. For some packages, it’s okay if they are a bit on the pricier side, as long as they are filled with useful, interesting features and come with certain perks.
So, in a nutshell, a great VPN provider needs to deliver in all areas. Here are 5 VPN providers that we have found, after careful consideration and thorough research, to be the absolute best in the business in 2016.
A company that is very consistent in terms of quality and keeps offering excellent services year after year, ExpressVPN is truly dedicated to its users. This is clear from the moment you enter their website. They provide top-notch services, whether you are interested in browsing, streaming, gaming or downloading.
This provider has an excellent, easy to use client with plenty of different settings that can be changed with just one or two clicks. You can pick any server you like from one of more than 130 locations in 87 countries. Speeds are stable and reliable and they are quite fast. Uptime is excellent and there are no leaks.
You can use ExpressVPN on up to three devices, which is certainly convenient – although it needs to be said that some providers offer more than three simultaneous connections. They use what is considered the golden standard when it comes to encryption and protocols, including OpenVPN, which is your fastest option. Server switching, speed, and data transfer are unlimited and the service is compatible with all major platforms and operating systems.
ExpressVPN offers live chat support, keeps no logs whatsoever, and comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
This Panama-based provider is ideal for those looking for extra security and privacy because, thanks to their location, they are not legally obliged to give any of your data to anyone, plus they have a strict zero-logs policy. They use the top protocols in the business, which is excellent, and there are plenty of proxies that you can use for free as well.
NordVPN is also famous for having what is probably the best Windows client right now. The design is great and it’s highly functional and easy to use, even for beginners. You get unlimited switching so you can pick one of their many servers located in 52 countries of the world. Moreover, they also have dedicated servers for various activities, such as P2P servers, Netflix servers, Tor servers, and more.
This provider has excellent speeds, as well as top-notch customer support. In addition to the 24/7 live chat, which is always a big plus, there is a very extensive and informative FAQ section and a great user community. Their prices may not be the cheapest in the business but they do offer a lot in terms of features, privacy, security, and reliability.
Thanks to some good marketing and overall excellent service, PureVPN has managed to become one of the best VPN providers in the world right now. This company has over 500 servers in 121 countries all over the globe. This kind of coverage really sets a provider apart from the competition.
On top of that, they offer excellent speeds and promise that their users won’t even notice they’re using a VPN. While this may not necessarily be true, their speeds really are quite remarkable and the connectivity is stable and reliable.
In addition, PureVPN is compatible not only with all major operating systemsbut also with some less commonly covered platforms and consoles. You can connect five devices at the same time and server switching is unlimited. The company offers all the latest protocols and uses the best encryption commercially available. They do keep some logs, but only regarding connection times and data transfer.
PureVPN also offers great value for money. They have some truly affordable packages, but there is one downside – there are some limitations regarding their 7-day money back guarantee, which is not exactly risk-free.
IPVanish is a VPN provider that has an impressive list of features to offer to all users. Unlimited data transfer, speed, and server switching, NAT firewall, and VoIP are just some of the things you can expect to get in your IPVanish package, along with the ability to use your VPN connection to download torrents. If you are simply interested in streaming, you will be happy to learn that IPVanish has some of the best speeds in the business and very reliable ones too. As for the coverage, with more than 500 servers strategically located in almost all continents of the world, you can pick just about any location you want to.
Another great thing about this provider is that, if that’s what you’re interested in, you can count on 100% privacy. Well, you still have to provide your e-mail, but all of your vital data will remain private thanks to the company’s zero logs policy. And if you pay using Bitcoin, not even the company itself will know who you are.
One downside of this provider is that they do not offer constant live chat support, which is strange for a company of this size and popularity.
Part of the well-known company called Golden Frog, VyprVPN is a reliable and trusted VPN provider that prides itself on a great number of servers and some impressive speeds. You can pick among more than 700 servers and 200,000 IP addresses and unblock and access any website you want. VyprVPN has a terrific Windows client and the software for other platforms and operating systems is equally good, which is convenient because it allows you to switch between all your devices, from desktop to smartphone. Depending on your plan, you can connect up to five devices simultaneously.
Their own Chameleon protocol and zero-knowledge DNS are just some of the security perks you can count on when using VyprVPN and they are also the key features that really set this provider apart from others. However, bear in mind that full security protection only comes with the more expensive packages.
It is also worth mentioning that this provider has truly amazing customer support, which has received high rates from users and constantly keeps improving. If you want to try VyprVPN before subscribing, there is a handy 3-day free trial. Unfortunately, unlike most other VPN providers, VyprVPN does not offer a money back guarantee.
As you can see, all these companies are doing their best to stay afloat and to make it to the top of the VPN game. They all offer similar features, of course, but there are certain things that some companies simply do better than others.
For example, some VPN providers do not offer 24/7 live support. This kind of customer support should be a norm because people use the Internet all the time and we live in a world with so many different time zones. A paying customer should not have to wait until the business hours start in some distant country in order to have their issues solved. Still, we understand that technically and logistically it is not exactly easy to run a fully operational, around-the-clock live support system.
Another thing that differs from one company to another is what they offer in their packages. Some providers seem to be particularly intent on making their packages as feature-rich as possible while others offer pretty basic plans with not much to show for. This usually coincides with the size and popularity of a provider – the bigger a provider, the better their packages. This makes perfect sense because more famous companies have been in the business for a while and probably have more assets than some smaller, younger companies. However, there are some exceptions to this, several small, young providers that want to become competitive as soon as possible and therefore invest a lot of money and effort into their features.
Most of these providers offer VPN service that is compatible with all major operating systems and platforms. You will notice that some of them are also compatible with some less common platforms, such as gaming consoles and even e-readers. Another thing worth noting is that some VPN providers have custom software for all operating systems and platforms and some only have a custom Windows client. In those cases, you still get to use a VPN on other platforms, but you have to use some generic software and set it up manually, which can be somewhat complicated for inexperienced users.
One thing that you should always take into consideration when choosing a VPN provider for yourself is the level of security and privacy they have to offer. When it comes to security, bear in mind that there are some standards below which you should never go. A good VPN provider should offer all the major protocols. Moreover, switching between them should be pretty straightforward.
This is important because some protocols offer more security but are more difficult to set up and some are fast but not as secure. Depending on your needs, you will probably want to use them interchangeably. You will also need excellent encryption. Remember, 256-bit is what is considered the best encryption these days. You probably don’t want to go below that number.
As for privacy, that is where the so-called log policy comes in. Some companies do not keep any logs at all, which is, of course, ideal. Some companies do keep some logs, usually regarding the time and duration of your connection. Many users do not mind this sort of thing because they don’t feel that connection times need to be protected at all costs, but many users want to enjoy absolute privacy and will only settle for a strict no logs policy.
As you can see, VPN providers offer similar features and options but the devil’s in the detail, as they say, so pay attention to all those small differences when choosing a VPN provider for yourself.