VPN Services Comparison 2016
Having a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a good idea for anybody. It allows users to connect via the internet and offer them greater privacy than a traditional connection. Choosing a VPN provider is not easy. While getting opinions and recommendations is a great way to get started, you need to compare features and services before making a final decision. Detailed reviews and VPN comparison charts can help a consumer determine the best choice for their needs.
This article explains why you use a VPN provider, who some of the top contenders are, and what to avoid when making your selection.
Why Use a VPN?
While VPNs are good for businesses and companies, this does not mean that they are not useful for anyone else. Private users may find a virtual private network to be a tool that can offer greater protection than traditional firewalls. VPNs allow users to mask themselves online and protect their systems from potential hacks.
Most personal VPN users simply want to navigate the internet without worrying about someone tracking their every move. Yes, most web browsers do allow consumers to block cookies, but that does not mean their searches are not being traced. Utilizing a VPN encrypts the information and truly allows private browsing and searching.
In business, VPN allows users to access their company’s intranet from outside the office firewall. It allows these businesses to extend their private network across public services, such as the internet. The connection across the Internet is very similar to the way websites utilize wide area networks (WAN). Traditionally, VPN services are point-to-point and do not often support broadcast domains. Providers now offer variants that overcome this limitation.
Here are some other reasons why a VPN is good for users:
- Ability to download and upload files with complete privacy
- Allow users to access secure content without being inside the restrictive work network
- Cloaking ability of VOIP phone calls
- Use Public Wi-Fi without worrying about privacy
- Search without tracking
- For added privacy when connected to the internet at any time
Top VPN Services
AirVPN was founded in 2010 by a group of activists and hacktivisits at a Pirate festival in Rome as a project. The company has become known for providing fast, reliable, and transparent service while keeping their customers secure. The staff has the technical expertise to back up their privacy claims, making them one of the most sought after companies in the world.
Some of their features include:
- Transparent server status and bandwidth reports
- Shared IP
- no logs
- Support for Tor, OpenVPN over SSL and SSH
- Perfect forward secrecy
- Port Forwarding on Ports 80 TCP/UDP, 53 TCP/UDP, and 443 TCP/UPD
- Up to 3 simultaneous connections
- Access to 60+ servers in 14 countries
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access, or PIA, is known for its encryption as well as consistency in speed performance. Additionally, the company is one of the few United States based companies that boasts no log keeping whatsoever while keeping costs affordable for the average user. Because the company is U.S. based, some consumers may have reservations about doing business with them, thanks to the recent rash of security scandals. However, the company insists that there have never been any problems with the NSA and their system has never been compromised.
Some features that users may find appealing include:
- SOCKS5 proxy for users who don’t want their entire internet connection proxied
- Support for DD-WRT, pfSense, and Tomato routers
- simultaneous device connections
- Allows P2P
- Based in US but with servers in 10 countries, including Canada and the UK
Offers choice of PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN protocols. PPTP is not as secure as the other protocols but is simpler to set up.
BolehVPN is based in Malaysia. The company is small but is a major player in the Asian market. This area offers true “no log” service due to an unusual lack of data retention laws. Founded in 2007, this company has a full featured desktop client that makes it simple to use and is combined with technology centered on privacy enhancement and censorship defeating.
Here are some of the main features BolehVPN offers customers:
- No Logs
- SmartDNS, in US
- VPN through Tor
- Desktop client with VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection
- Servers in 11 countries
- Up to 2 simultaneous connections
- Shared or dedicated IPs
- OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec protocols
- Port forwarding available
How We Review VPN Providers
VPN reviews can make comparison shopping easier for users. By giving them the good and the bad, consumers can quickly determine what will work best for them without wasting a lot of money. When we review a service, we try to view consistently the areas that consumers care about most. During our reviews of a VPN provider, we look at the following criteria:
- Pricing and Features
- The Software
- Transparent Operation
- Website and Customer Support
Major VPN Pitfalls to Avoid
As with any service, there are always some things that can cause consumers to go with the wrong service for their needs. When viewing a VPN comparison chart, users should keep in mind that this is simply an overview of the services provided and should only be used to narrow down the overall choice in service. All too often, these areas fall through the cracks and keep consumers from picking what would have been the best provider for them, causing a waste of time and money.
Expecting VPN to be Security Measures
While VPN is a good choice to help make your computer more secure, it cannot be the only security measure being used. VPNs are designed to help extend device security features, not replace them. A large part of the service is dependent on the user’s ISP. This is why consumers must research every aspect to ensure the ISP and VPN are compatible and the ISP can handle the protocols.
Another security issue some consumers face is that while most VPN services do not log consumer traffic, when it comes to truly private browsing, it is not a universal truth. Some free and subscription options are not as concerned with consumer privacy. Monitoring and logging where their customers are going while online undercuts the reason most users subscribe to begin with. Additionally, some free services may have holes that allow other users on the VPN to log user actiivity.
Misunderstanding Bandwidth Usage Can Cause Performance Issues
Dedicated lines of data service give companies guaranteed bandwidth no matter what the traffic load looks like. That being said, in the public network realm, there is no guarantee of bandwidth use because of the sharing protocols that are being used. When VPN comes into play, there can be performance issues.
The problem isn’t that the VPN is incorrectly installed. On the contrary, even when the software is properly in place, issues still arise. The reason is that virtual private networks can only work as fast as the slowest internet connection between the two endpoints. Also, real-time applications and interactive software may contribute to the performance issues being seen. This can be especially true of those streaming video or voice conferences while using a VPN.
Different providers have different standards and protocols in place. This means that there may be some problems should two services attempt to work together.
Complexity and Cost
The problem that many first time users are sucked into is the complexity of the service VPN provides. That is because it uses multiple network protocols, topologies, hardware equipment and even providers in order to establish a tunnel. While this adds to its robust nature, it also makes getting several networks set up difficult.
Personal VPN users have an easier time establishing networks than corporate users. They simply subscribe to a service and download their software. Then using their credentials, they log into the system. However, companies often have to hire a hire a network specialist, or two, to configure, deploy, and administrate the network. This additional personnel and equipment can make it a costly addition for businesses. It can also make it too costly for the average consumer to use.
Overlooking Offered Protocols
VPN comparison is an important step into sorting out which provider works best for your use. While many providers do offer a simple installation option of PPTP, this is not as secure as OpenVPN or even L2TP/IPsec protocols. Users need to be aware of how these protocols differ so they can ensure the security of not just their VPN but their system as well.
Not every provider is going to be right for each user. All VPN services are created with privacy in mind, however, they do not all follow the same protocol. Consumers need to understand how their services differ from one another prior to purchasing a subscription. Don’t be sucked in by low monthly fees just to get service started. The features and services provided may not be what the user was expecting.