Best VPN Services of 2017 (Reviewed & Tested)
Concerned about being spied on? Worried about your personal information being stolen? Or if you simply just want to keep your online presence private, then you’ve come to the right place! It’s a common misconception that VPNs are only used to access dodgy or restricted websites; in fact, they are a great tool to prevent hackers and geo-spoofing your location, which many web developers and even testers find useful.
Our aim is to provide you with all the relevant information regarding Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), how they can be used, what they can be used for, positives, limitations, and all of your questions answered. We will review a selection of the best VPN services for you to make an informed decision as to which vital VPN tool to include in your internet toolbox. Using a VPN service is the most effective way that you can protect your online privacy and security, this is not to say, however, that other tools should be dismissed.
Why use a VPN?
Hide your IP Address & Location
If you’re using a Wi-Fi connection that is public, or even if your home router can be accessed by others, if you’re browsing a non HTTPS website, your internet activity is accessible to the public. Using a VPN will hide your IP address and location, so if you’re keen to protect your privacy, a VPN will provide you with a new IP address concealing your location. This is useful if you don’t want to be located.
To Secure your Data
VPNs don’t just stop at hiding your IP address, they actually make a really handy tool for security. Security is a hot topic when it comes to the internet; VPNs can encrypt data so this provides a good level of privacy when you’re browsing. Unfortunately, data is so easily accessible to the people who know how to access it, so ensuring your privacy is protected, including your data, should be essential to any internet session.
Hide your Internet Activity
When you visit a website, your location, IP, and details can be easily tracked using simple free online tools. Businesses who want to track where their customers are coming from often use analytics to track locations. VPNs can hide your internet activity by encrypting your data making it difficult for ISPs and hackers to track your internet activity. Most VPNs, in fact, won’t even keep logs of your online activities making it even harder to track you online.
Bypass Restrictive Networks
VPNs are a useful tool if you want to bypass restrictive networks, such as, Facebook in China. Many countries impose censorship restrictions on particular websites, so a VPN can bypass these, making services that aren’t usually available in your country, available. Other restrictive networks include websites that are blocked by your ISP, such as, peer to peer sharing websites.
If you’re trying to access a website that’s blocked by country, a VPN can bypass these restrictions. VPNs can be a handy tool, especially if you’re a web developer or tester working on a website for a customer in another country. Speed tests, accessibility, and user-experience can be effectively tested in a real-world setting, without the need to move to another country!
Have you ever been frustrated with your internet speed causing issues when streaming – of course you have! The best VPNs can ensure that you enjoy the best HD video streaming without any interruptions. Whether you’re in North America, Asia, or Europe, your streaming will be optimised to the best location to gain the fastest possible speeds.
What to consider when choosing a VPN
In this day and age, speed is something every internet user desires; no one would want to use a VPN that’s slow. Some of the better VPNs offer a speed test option which will locate the fastest VPN server location. VPNs all provide unlimited bandwidth so you’ll never need to worry about exceeding any limits.
With any service, you’ll want a good level of support, and a support service that will be there for you whenever you need them. The best VPNs offer ticket support, FAQs, telephone, emails, and live chat 24/7. You’ll need to consider the best method for you and test out the support before you buy, though, to ensure the quality is high.
The best VPN provider may not always be the cheapest; as with a lot of products and services on the internet, you’ll need to weigh up the features each provider is offering and whether the price reflects the quality. Opt for a provider that offers a money-back guarantee, a free trial, and several different methods of payment, such as, Bitcoin.
If you’re using an OS that is different to Windows, you’ll want to ensure the VPN provider offers support and compatibility for your OS. If you’re using a VPN on a device other than a computer, you’ll want to check that your VPN can be used on your phone or tablet. The best VPN will offer apps and multiple connection methods for different devices.
Are VPNs safe to use?
Safe is quite a generalised word and can mean different things to different people. However, we’ll go over several questions you might have to discover whether VPNs are safe to use for the services they offer.
Are VPNs legal to use?
Yes they are. VPNs are a legal tool to use; some countries may place restrictions on them, such as, UAE, but you’ll need to check this out dependant on where you live. VPNs are often used by large businesses as a secure way to connect between offices and remote or homeworkers. The use of them does not cause suspicion, and shouldn’t.
Will my ISP be able to spy on me if I have a VPN?
No, they won’t be able to look at any of your internet data as it will all be encrypted by your VPN. Your ISP will not be able to trace your IP, location, or what you’re looking at on the internet as all of this information is hidden by your VPN.
Can I use a VPN for Peer 2 Peer and streaming?
Yes, however, check with your VPN provider that they are happy for you to use P2P as some may place restrictions on this. Generally speaking, however, you should be able to access P2P and stream videos or movies at the click of a button.
Is my VPN provider trustworthy?
In general, yes. The idea behind VPNs is to provide a safe and secure environment to perform internet activity without being spied on and without the worry of hackers. If a VPN provider doesn’t protect their customers’ privacy, they are going against their own business model. Either way, a VPN is much more trustworthy and reliable than your ISP who can access every piece of data you transmit when visiting a webpage.
Can I use a VPN on my mobile phone?
You most certainly can! Android, iOS (iPhones and iPads) and Windows phones offer the most VPN support. VPNs for mobiles will perform in the same way as desktop; they’ll provide a secure browsing environments, encrypt your data, and hide your IP address for any internet connection you make.
It’s definitely worth mentioning, however, that custom and some particular mobile apps can and will send your personal data, such as, your mobiles IMEI number, GPS data, contacts, and more. Often you’ll be prompted on your mobile to allow/deny this data, but sometimes you won’t even be aware of it. We would therefore say, when using a VPN on your mobile, to be aware of which apps you’re using and avoid custom ones, or ones that will send your personal data. Your best bet will be to access online services via your mobiles web browser, rather than through an app, to ensure you’re getting the most out of your VPN.
Paid vs free VPNs
Designing and running a VPN service costs a lot of money due to the nature of the systems. Technical support is high on the list, as are expensive servers to manage all of the back-end technology. There’s no such thing is free – well, this is unfortunately the case when it comes to VPNs. Providers need to make money due to their high running costs, so if a service is being offered free, they’ll likely be making money off you in some way or another. Saying that, though, there are some very reputable VPN services that offer a limited free service with the mindset that you’ll enjoy using their products, and therefore hand over some cash for a premium service. This often works, as you’ll want the most out of a VPN, so being restricted will become frustrating very quickly.
Truly unlimited free VPNs, such as, Hola will actually steal your bandwidth and sell it on to make money; pretty shocking right? Generally speaking, if you’re looking for the best VPN service, you’ll need to pay for it, and doing so will actually protect you in the long run.