What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a network technology that is used to connect one or more computers to a private network using the Internet.
Companies often use these networks so that their employees, from their homes, hotels, etc., can access corporate resources that they otherwise would not. However, connecting an employee’s computer to corporate resources is only a function of a VPN.
The same technology can be used by consumers to link their cell phones and laptops to their home networks while they are traveling, so they can securely access their files on their desktops.
VPN services also have another use in addition to linking networks that are separate: connect users to the Internet through a secure connection so that all traffic between their devices is directed by a tunnel to the endpoint and nobody in the half can see what is happening.
In addition to security, the VPN network will make it appear that the connection did not originate from where the user is, but from where the VPN exit node is located.
Advantages of VPN connections
Now that we know what a VPN connection is and what it’s for, it’s time to summarize a list of the advantages using this technology. These are given below :
- It works in all applications, because it routes all Internet traffic, unlike the proxy servers, which you can only use in the web browser and a handful of other applications that let you configure the advanced connection options.
- It connects and disconnects easily, Once configured, you can activate and deactivate the connection at your whim.
- Additional security, in WiFi access points, as long as the connection is encrypted, clear
- Faltering your location, as we have seen in the previous section, a VPN connection is an effective way to avoid censorship or access content limited to a certain region.
- Your Internet provider, can not know what you do on the Internet. Do not you want your Internet provider to know that you spend hours watching videos of kittens on YouTube? With a VPN they will not know what you are doing, but beware, the company that manages the VPN will know.
Is the VPN server useful for what I want to do?
There are VPN services that restrict certain activities such as the following:
- Perform P2P downloads.
- Browse the Deep Web.
- Transmit files through programs such as BitTorrent.
- Transmit large amounts of traffic.
- To be many hours connected to the VPN service.
- Make more than one connection simultaneously.
If our intention is to carry out one of the 6 activities that we have just mentioned, we have to ensure that the VPN service allows us to do so.
Obviously, we should also look at the VPN server does not impose any bandwidth limit.
How to select your VPN provider?
What makes a good VPN provider? Putting aside the most obvious issues, such as a price that fits your budget, other items may go unnoticed. Let’s see some of these elements.
It is your task to answer these questions by reading the terms of the VPN service provider before subscribing to the service. Better yet, read the terms but then look for frequent complaints about the service to make sure that even though they do not do X, Y or Z, users are reporting otherwise.
What protocols do they support?
Not all VPN protocols are the same. Undoubtedly the protocol you want to have to achieve high levels of security with little processing is OpenVPN.
You want to avoid PPTP as much as possible. It is a very old-fashioned protocol that uses weak encryption and due to security problems should be considered as compromised.
It could be enough to ensure your internet browsing in a cafeteria, but it does not reach the high-security standards. Although L2TP / IPSec is significantly better than PPTP, it needs the speed and audits that OpenVPN has.
To summarize, OpenVPN is definitely what you should look for and you should not accept any substitute until something better appears on the market.
Currently, there is only one scenario where you could choose the L2TP / IPsec protocol instead of OpenVPN and it is in the case of Android and iOS devices.
Currently neither Android nor iOS supports OpenVPN (although it can be used with a third-party application). However, both operating systems support L2TP / IPsec natively.
A good VPN provider will offer you all the above options. An excellent provider will offer good documentation and prevent you from using the PPTP protocol.
How many servers do they have and where?
If you are in the United States and want a VPN to hide your activities (like file sharing) in a country with lax laws, then a VPN with most of its nodes in the United States would not be very useful for you.
On the contrary, if you are looking for access to US content such as Netflix and YouTube without being blocked, then a VPN service with most of its nodes in Africa and Asia would not be useful for you.
The service you acquire must have many stable servers in a variety of countries. Given how robust and popular VPN services have become, it is not unreasonable to think that there are thousands of servers around the world.
Do they have regulated connections, limited bandwidth or restricted services?
The regulation of internet providers is one of the reasons why many people look for VPN networks in the first place, so paying extra for a VPN service over the internet receipt only to be regulated again is a terrible proposition.
This is one of the issues with which VPN providers are not completely transparent, so it’s a good idea to do a little research on Google about it.
The restrictions of broadband perhaps were not something important before the online transmissions existed but now they are all transmitting videos, music and the bandwidth burns really fast.
Avoid VPNs that impose bandwidth restrictions unless they are specifically so that the provider can ensure that no one abuses the service.
What kind of records do they maintain?
Most VPN services do not keep records of user activity. Not only is this a benefit for consumers, it is also a great benefit for providers (since records can consume space on their servers).
Although some VPN services could clarify that they will keep records for a minimum window of time to facilitate maintenance and ensure that your network is running smoothly, there really is no reason to settle for anything less than zero records.
Ease of configuration and use of the VPN service
It is important to know if the process of configuration and use of the VPN service is easy and friendly.
There are VPN services that, although good, require medium-high technical knowledge to be able to configure and use them.
Therefore, in case you do not like the technology and/or do not have the adequate technical knowledge, try to find a VPN server that is easy to configure and use.
What payment methods do you offer?
If you are buying a VPN service to secure your traffic from snooping Wi-Fi nodes while traveling or for your traffic to arrive safely to the US while you travel, payment methods may not be a priority for you.
If you are paying for a VPN to avoid political persecution or wish to remain as anonymous as possible, then you will be significantly more interested in services that allow payments through anonymous sources such as encrypted coins or gift cards.
To choose the ideal VPN service for our needs, we need to be clear about what we want and analyze all the points we mentioned in the post.
However, even if we analyze all the points and select a good VPN server, we will never be sure that the choice is good.
VPN services are based on the trust we place in a VPN provider.
If the company in which we place our trust betrays us we can not do anything about it.