There are many reasons why you would want to use a virtual private network (VPN, for short) when using the internet. One of the main reasons that people like to use these kinds of services is to cloak their identity and remain anonymous, as to not have their location be tracked.
Another reason that many people use these is to skirt around firewalls that restrict access to content to certain locations. I remember when traveling to China a few years ago, all of the social media sites I tried to access were blocked by the internet providers there. If I wanted to check my Facebook, I’d have to log into a VPN and make it seem like I was accessing the internet from somewhere else. That was my first time experiencing something like that, and a local friend there was a lot of help picking a VPN for me.
Additionally, logging into a VPN can assist you in accessing a local intranet, such as your workplace or home network, so you can access the files and utilities as if you were sitting at your office computer.
How to Choose a Good VPN
Whatever the reason may be that you need to use this kind of service, there are a few things that you should look out for when deciding on which provider to go with. The first thing you need to do is take a look at your needs – what are you using the private network for? Are you looking to access a home or office network? Are you trying to maneuver around a location-based firewall? Are you just wanting to cloak where you are accessing from as to protect your anonymity? Are you just looking for a more secure way to do casual browsing of the internet?
The next thing you want to take a look at is how many servers the provider has and where they are located. Say you are in the US and you want to use a virtual private network so you can watch Netflix programming that is available only to Canada or UK-based subscribers, for example. You want to select a provider that has servers located in those municipalities so you can make it seem as if you are accessing Netflix content from those areas.
Another thing that you want to take a look at is how many concurrent connections does it allow. Are you the only person that will be using this? Or are you setting it up for an entire office or household to utilize? Different providers offer a range of concurrent connections, so make sure that you are getting what you need. Of course, price becomes a factor here as well – the more connections you need to run at a time, the higher price you will pay.
Those are just a few things to consider, there is no “one size fits all” answer to what is the best provider as it all depends on your situation and needs. Do an assessment of what you are looking for in a provider and select the package that best balances out all of the above factors, and offers all of those at the most competitive rate. For more on this topic, we wrote a previous post about it here.