In current years, you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of VPNs and how great they are.
VPNs can allow you to stream content from different countries, will enable you to improve your connection to the internet, and even download content that you usually couldn’t.
However, the primary purpose of a VPN is to keep you and your information safe, but how good are they at doing that?
For the most part, using a decent VPN will keep you and your data safe. However, there are factors to consider, and some providers are stricter than others. Good, and more importantly, safe VPNs will encrypt your IP address, keep no logs of your activities, and have a killswitch for extra security.
Since there are so many VPN providers and constantly more being added, you need to know what to look for before deciding which is best for you.
Personally, my main focus is to keep my data and personal information safe from the view of others.
For this reason, I have made a list of the top things to consider and the criteria that make a VPN genuinely safe.
How To Research A VPN
Though this might seem like a simple topic to discuss, researching a VPN can be more tricky than you think.
As someone raised to be skeptical of what a company says about itself, I have learned how to dig deeper to find the factual information behind all the marketing campaigns, and this is crucial to ensure you get a service that is worth it.
All companies with an online presence have a website explaining how excellent their service is, and though that is useful to find out what the company claims they do, finding the truth can be more intricate.
Some of the most valuable methods to determine how a company runs include looking at independent organizations’ reviews.
These companies are not paid to speak nicely and will often be harsh to telling you the truth. Another excellent place to look for more information is on forums.
Whether on the VPN provider’s site or somewhere like Reddit, angry people need a place to talk.
The Criteria Of A Safe VPN
Finding a VPN that will offer you precisely what you need is key to not being unhappy and paying for a service that you barely use. For this reason, I have listed the key points to look for and the main criteria of a safe VPN.
Remember that research is essential and that you should always look at information from more than just one source.
1. IP Encryption
The number one thing that all VPNs should do to make them safe for use, and to keep you safe, is to encrypt your IP address. This option should always be the first thing you look for when deciding what VPN provider to use.
However, even with IP encryption, some VPNs are known for having flaws in their VPN protection protocols that can lead to your IP still being traced or leaked.
If you are looking for a safe VPN, it is not enough to look for a VPN that encrypts your IP address. It would be better if you also looked for a VPN that actively tries to prevent leaks and learn from past mistakes.
The provider is the best to find information about the IP address encryption and the VPN’s method.
However, if you want to explore the history of IP address leaks and see how the service has improved, third-party review agencies and customer reviews might be your best bet.
2. No-Logs Policy
The no-logs policy, or lack thereof, is another aspect that affects how safe a VPN is. If a VPN provider offers a no-logs approach, not even the service provider can see your history or where you have been.
It means that none of your information stays in their logs, and even if an agency wanted to get their hands on your information or recent activity, they wouldn’t be able to.
However, I will assume that you do not need a VPN to commit a severe offense and instead focus on the positive effect on your safety from a cybercriminal.
Suppose even the VPN provider does not know what you have been doing, searching, or downloading.
In that case, there is no chance that a cybercriminal would be able to access your data or information either, making this practice very safe for you.
In my case, dealing with sensitive information at times, it is necessary that the VPN I use implements a no-logs policy.
If a cybercriminal could gain access to my information and see what I do online, they might be able to do the same for some of my clients.
For this reason, many law firms, financial institutions, and other organizations use VPNs to protect both their and others’ information.
3. Multi-Factor Verification
Though using more than one way to authenticate who you are can be annoying, it certainly does what it should.
Protecting your VPN account from being hacked is as necessary as protecting you while online.
A cybercriminal can have ways of getting your password, whether that is through a scam, unprotected internet access, or other means, and ensuring that your account stays safe is essential.
For this reason, I recommend using a VPN service that offers multi-factor verification whenever you sign in, or at least the first time you sign in to a new device.
4. Killswitch Protocols
If you, like I, wonder what would happen when your VPN disconnects while you are busy online, you would be pleased to know that there is a feature made to protect from your information or IP address leaking if this were to happen.
The killswitch protocol is essential for the high-end safety of you and your information.
The protocol allows the VPN provider to cut any direct internet access if your signal or connection to the server suddenly stops.
This mechanic ensures that even in the case of a breach or system failure, your identity and information are safe from those who might be able to access it.
The best place to find out about the killswitch method used to protect you from the situations mentioned above is to read about the VPN provider, either on their website or through forums.
5. Privacy Safe Origins
Many VPNs came into existence a while ago to fulfill a specific purpose and protect the data of a particular group of people.
Though these VPNs might now offer services to the public, it is essential to read up on these histories to understand the foundation and values of the started company.
It is also essential to ensure that the VPN has a foundation, and probably head office, in a country that is happy and able to protect the VPN and its users’ rights to freedom.
Certain countries do not allow the VPN provider freedom in terms of a no-logs policy, and some countries can ask for records through a court order.
Because of this reason, it is essential to ensure that the VPN has its origins or head office in a country like Switzerland, which will protect the rights of privacy of any who uses that service.
6. Customer Support
Though you might not consider customer support essential for safety, it is crucial. Some VPNs do not offer 24/7 customer support or use bots to answer basic questions before sending an in-depth question to a support agent.
Though there is nothing wrong with using bots to help with groundfloor support, live support that is available at all times can be essential to the safety of you and your data.
If you run into a problem or are struggling to sign in to your account, live support will be able to help you without much wait.
On the other hand, if you need to wait for support, there is a higher chance of exposing your data to a criminal.
7. Supported Devices
The range of devices supported by a VPN provider directly correlates with the safety that the provider can provide you as the user.
Though you might not think of redirecting your console through a VPN, this is an extra added safety measure that many want and are willing to pay to receive.
Using your VPN to protect only one device with sensitive information can allow a cybercriminal to access other data through another.
I have noticed that most VPN providers offer a list of supported devices on their websites. Naturally, looking here is the easiest way to know all the things you can protect.
Non-Safety Related Features That Make A Good VPN
Though safety is the number one aspect you need to consider when paying for a VPN, other features can make or break your experience. Some VPNs offer more features than others, but below is a list of the most important.
1. Connection To The Service
Having a good and stable connection to the VPN service is a must. I have used a couple of VPNs over the past few years that do not have good connectivity, and that continues to be one of the most annoying things to deal with for me.
If your connection with the VPN service of your choice is bad, you might suffer from drops in connectivity in the middle of doing something.
The connection you have to the servers you want to use can make a usually excellent service a terrible one.
2. Speed Of The Servers
You probably have pretty fast internet at home and the office if you are anything like me. However, unfortunately, your attempt to protect yourself and your information can drastically affect your connection’s speed.
Whether you are using your VPN subscription to torrent content, play games online, stream content, or work, speed is a necessity that we often need more than other things.
For this reason, you must research the speeds the VPN service of your choosing can offer you.
For an essential guide to the speeds you can expect, you can look on the website if the VPN you want to use.
However, the best source of accurate rates might be a third-party reviewer. Since third-party companies and users have no obligation towards the VPN service, you are sure to get a more precise answer through this means.
3. Price Of The Service
The price you pay to use a VPN service is another essential aspect before deciding which VPN is the best.
I have had the ability to try several distinct VPNs and have noticed that many of them are over-priced for what they offer.
One of the most general reasons for a VPN service to be severely over-priced is the name attached to the service.
Though you might think the most heard of and popular VPNs are the best, you might be shocked at what a cheaper and lesser-known service provider can offer.
Either way, you must ensure the VPN provider is trusted and do your research on all the features mentioned above and the price.
4. Refunds and Guarantees
Refunds and guarantees are the last aspects I will discuss here, though you must not overlook them.
Refunds and guarantees will ensure that you are happy with the product and can cancel your service if it does not fulfill its promises.
In searching for the best and safest VPN, I have found that many providers offer guarantees and money-back options, but they don’t all stick to it.
Some providers are so eager to keep your money that they will credit your account with the amount you had left without allowing you to withdraw those funds to use again.
The best way to find out about the policies of returns and guarantees is to look at reviews, usually those left by very unhappy customers.
Since the users that are the least happy about the service are more likely to ask for their money back and have no reason to pretend, they are often the best source of information for these kinds of things.
I recommend using a VPN to keep you and your information safe when you’re online. However, not all VPNs are made equal, and finding one with your best wishes at heart can be tricky.
Looking at all the considerations above, you should be able to find a VPN that is to your liking. Just be sure to put in the time and effort to ensure the service is as promised.