3 considerations when choosing a VPN

Increasingly users are becoming more aware they need to protect themselves when browsing the web. After what feels like a relentless flow of news stories about data and privacy breaches, it’s easy to see why.

You may be putting up your defences to protect your data from private companies or even the Government, either way, the solution is the same, you need to find yourself a VPN to reduce your risk of identity theft.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to a VPN or are thinking of changing to a different VPN, there are some factors that may help you decide.

First and foremost, not all VPNs are created equal, they all offer a different set of features and your decision to select one over another will depend of how secure you need the connection to be.

Some people may just need their internet traffic to appear as if it’s coming from another location, to fight geoblocking, while other more serious uses may require more serious anonymity, like whistlebowers.

These 3 considerations may help you choose the right VPN for your needs.

1. Price and Subscription type

There are free VPNs out there, but caution needs to be applied, as you really get what you pay for here. While the most expensive doesn’t automatically mean it’s the best, free VPNs can often still see your traffic, similar to how your ISP does. If they have a reason to interrogate what you’re doing on their service (like being issued a warrant), they could. Other’s, usually paid, offer full end-to-end encryption meaning there is no opportunity for man in the middle attacks.

When it comes to VPN pricing, we’re really talking a few dollars a month, as providers understand their fee is on top of your monthly internet bill.

Some VPN providers offer discounts on year-long subscriptions. These discounts can be quite significant. There have been limited offers where a year’s subscription was available for 60% less.

If you’re worried about committing for that long, check that they have a money-back guarantee. That can serve the purpose of a 30 day free trial. You’ll have to deposit the money upfront, but can get it back if you don’t like something about the service.

2. Streaming Services

One side-benefit of getting a VPN (although it is the primary factor for some) is that you can watch geo-restricted content. By going through a server in the US, you can stream content only available there.

However, streaming services have come down on VPNs and tried to block VPN users altogether. Make sure that the VPN you choose will get you Hulu Australia from abroad, as well as Netflix and Prime Video. It’s worth the effort, since you’re going to be using a VPN anyway.

3. Many Servers

Finally, the more servers the VPN offers the better. If one server is down, your traffic will be routed through another, similar to how CDN works. Visiting a website will see your browser request images, javascript etc from the CDN, this data is then delivered from a server close to your location, if one goes down, the structured redundancy comes into effect and your browser gets the assets from an alternate server with a copy of the same data.

The location of your VPN server can impact how fast your internet speed feels. Considering the region, if there are only servers in the US or Europe, you might get slow speeds. It’s important that they have servers everywhere you would want them to. The bigger providers will have a global network of servers, again expect to pay more for better speed.

Incidentally, VPN locations are also useful, especially when you get to pick which country your internet traffic is routed through. When you’re trying to stream geo-blocked content like Hulu, which is only available in the US, VPNs can work great. Some use static IP addresses which get blocked by providers that are determined to only receive money from local citizens, rather than citzens of the internet.

Depending on where you are in the world, you are able to get some shows and not others. Often, series that are not available on Netflix even in the US will be available on Netflix in Japan, Hong Kong or Singapore. Also, you don’t have to do the work yourself to find this information. The website uNoGS searches the Netflix catalogues of 36 countries to see if you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwrighthttp://techau.com.au/author/jason/
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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