• Burton Kelso, Tech Expert

How To Choose A Virtual Private Network (VPN)



In this cyber-crime environment we are currently in ,it’s more important than ever to keep your data safe and to keep a level of privacy while you surf the web. Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a great tool you can use to stay safe online. It creates a tunnel for your Internet, which means criminals and other prying eyes can't see what you are doing when you're online. With so many VPN companies out there, it can be hard for you to choose which one is right for you. Read on to find out how to choose a VPN that will work best for you.


VPNs have been around for a while, but the discussion about VPNs is appearing in mainstream media because they are being used in Russia to get around some of the restrictions the Russian government is placing on its citizens to prevent access to western media. Also, with many companies switching to a remote workforce, VPNs offer remote workers privacy and security as they can work anywhere in the world and keep company information safe.


Do You need a VPN?

There are many schools of thought of whether you need a VPN and sometimes that depends on your Internet habits. Here are some things to consider.


  • If you do a majority of your Internet surfing checking email and visiting the same websites, you probably DON'T need a VPN.

  • If you're streaming movies from legitimate streaming services, then you probably DON'T need a VPN.

  • If you work from home or run a business out of your home, especially if you're working with sensitive customer data, then you DO need to look into getting a VPN.

  • If you're a regular traveler who depends on a lot on public WiFi networks you really need a VPN


1. Beware of 'free' VPNs. Free is everyone's favorite price when it comes to online services, but nothing is really free in life and online. If you decide to use a free VPN service you may be bombarded with ads from other companies. Also, free VPN services won't offer robust security and could easily be compromised. The web browser Opera offers a VPN built into it's interface. It's fairly simple to use and is pretty good. However, it does have some weaknesses and should only be used if you want to keep your searches private if you're looking at social media and email.


2. Where your VPN provider is located matters. Kaspersky is an anti-virus company based out of Russia. Although there isn't any proof they are selling your secrets to Russia, in this day and age would you want to take that risk? Same with your VPN provider. These companies have to comply with the rules of their country ... which means their laws can allow them to share your data.


3. Watch those reviews. Yes, product reviews are good in helping you select hardware and software, but in this Amazon and online review age, not all reviews are honest. Some companies pay people to leave reviews. Check multiple websites for VPN reviews and reach out to your favorite tech expert (like me) to find out the right VPN for you.


4. Check out the privacy policy. When you use a VPN, all of your traffic is routed through their servers to help keep your information safe and secure. If you're using your office VPN, that just means the folks in IT can see your information. If you're using VPN services from another company, they can see where you're going. All VPN providers need to keep a log of sites you're visiting, but they aren't supposed to share that information unless the authorities come to see your online activities. No one likes reading the terms of service, but when you're working with a VPN provider that's supposed to keep your information safe, you need to.


5. Will the VPN work with all of your devices. If you're like me, you work off multiple devices. I'm writing this article from a MacBook Air, but next month I could write my blog post from my Dell 2-1 laptop, my MacBook Mini, or my Dell desktop. You get the picture. Most VPNs support Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, and iOS, but not all of them do. Check to see see how many devices you can connect to at once. Some VPNs allow unlimited devices, while others only let you connect a limited number.


6. Get good customer service. Look for a VPN with reliable 24/7 customer service. VPN service is reliable, but you know that tech challenges appear from time to time so work with a company that will get back to you in a short amount of time.

If your head is spinning after reading all of this information, check out my favorites for VPN services.

  • Best VPN Overall: ExpressVPN and Nord VPN. These options are the best VPN services if you’re looking for simple, easy-to-use clients for every Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone, or Linux device out there.

  • A Good Second Best Option: TunnelBear.TunnelBear is a solid choice. they have a limited free trial tier and cheap prices, and while they aren’t quite as powerful or fast, they have a really nice service.

  • The Best Free VPN Option: Opera Web Browser. If you’re looking for a quick VPN connection to use at the coffee shop, download the Opera browser. Keep in mind, Opera's VPN will only protect the information you use within the browser, it doesn't give you complete VPN protection of your computer or your other smart devices like Express VPN, Nord VPN, or Tunnel Bear will give you.


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Want to ask me a tech question? Send it to burton@callintegralnow.com. I love technology. I've read all of the manuals and I'm serious about making technology fun and easy to use for everyone.


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