How to choose a VPN

Here's What You Want To Avoid When Buying a VPN

Last updated on May 11, 2021

So you’re looking for a VPN, right? The great thing about technology is that you have a world of information at your fingertips. Online you will find countless opinions as to which VPN service is the best, cheapest, fastest. But do they really know which VPN is best for you if they don’t know what your needs are?

Truth is, there are a lot of VPNs out there. In fact, more than 300 on the market right now. They come with an array of options and features which can make the decision-making process all the more difficult.

Not all of us are built the same. Some are more tech-savvy than others. So learning about servers, timestamps and bandwidth may not interest you. And what’s a kill switch? Some just don’t have the time. This is where we come in to make your choice easier.

Essentially your VPN should cater to your unique needs and wants as well as what you don’t want in a VPN.

Today, we explore how to choose a VPN and what to avoid when making your purchase. Follow these ten tips and by the end, you will have discovered the best VPN for you.

We recommend ExpressVPN as the most reliable and secure VPN. They also offer a special deal for SecureThoughts readers: 3 months free (49%) savings on their annual plan.

How to Choose a VPN

#1 Don’t Go in Blindly

Firstly, you will need to figure out what it is you need a VPN for exactly. Are you going to access specific web locations in the world, do you want to access your company’s server while working remotely? Are you evading censorship in a particular country or just want more privacy protection when it comes to surfing the net? These are all things to take into consideration when making your choice.

After all, you wouldn’t just walk into a car dealership and choose the first one you see, right? You want the one that works for you. So take a minute and think about what is really important when it comes to your VPN service.

#2 Check for High Speed and Unlimited Bandwidth

If you want to watch Netflix all day long, there is nothing worse than waiting for your favorite show to buffer, constantly stopping and starting.

The solution? You will want to look for a VPN with reliable connections and most importantly high speeds and unlimited bandwidth. Also, don’t forget to make sure that your VPN service provider of choice has a solid number of servers and IPs in the country that you are streaming your content from. The more of them there are, the better. If you don’t want the frustration of a frozen screen, avoid VPNs that have lower server numbers.

Two of the best VPN services for streaming are ExpressVPN and NordVPN. They are able to bypass the Netflix block without any issues.

#3 Check Their Log Policy

Privacy is an incredibly important aspect, especially in today’s society and remains one of the top reasons as to why people choose to purchase a VPN. A lot of VPN companies claim that they do not keep logs of your internet activity. But then again, not all VPNs are created equally.

Did you know that there are varying degrees of logging? For example, a VPN company may not log your particular IP address, but they may keep tabs on the times and dates that you have been active on the internet. They might also keep tabs as to which country you are logging in from. If this is paramount to you then avoid VPNs that mention keeping logs.

Upon subscribing, how much information do you have to divulge? Is it your complete personal contact details (including address and phone number), or just an email?

NordVPN is a fantastic choice when it comes to privacy. They truly will not log any of your information, ever.

#4 Make Sure Your Device is Compatible

Those with an iPhone are pretty much covered when it comes to device compatibility, but what if you’re using another platform? The truth is, iOS, Mac, Windows, Android and Linux are supported by VPNs in general, but it doesn’t mean that the software will be the same on different platforms. It goes without saying you should avoid any VPN that isn’t compatible with your devices.

Make sure to check that everything you need will be covered on all your devices. Are you headed to an exotic location for a family holiday? It is a great idea to invest in a VPN that connects to more devices with the same license. Surfshark does this with an unlimited amount of devices. Impressive.

#5 Make Sure Their Interface is Easy to Use

Look, not everyone has the tech skills of Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. And that’s OK. The main thing you need to make sure of is that you can actually turn on your VPN. A user-friendly interface is key to choosing the right VPN for you.

Setting it up should take no longer than a couple of minutes. You should be able to turn it on and have it working with just a few clicks. If you aren’t too comfortable with technology, then check out the interface, if you feel overwhelmed, then avoid that VPN, it’s probably not for you.

ExpressVPN have really put in the effort to keep your life simple when it comes to using a VPN.

#6 Make Sure the Price is Worth the Quality

They say you get what you pay for. Don’t ever think twice about paying for a great VPN that you know will keep your online data protected.

Although there are a number of free VPNs out there, what you might gain in cash, you will lose in privacy. Unreliable protection, annoying ads, and really bad streaming is the price you will pay for a free VPN. On top of that your personal data will be collected and then sold to the highest bidder. Free VPNs, on the whole, are best avoided.

There is a myriad of payment options out there, at least one of which will suit your needs. In general the longer your subscription, the more money you will save. For example, ExpressVPN offers a special deal, get 3 months free and 49% savings with their annual subscription plan.

In terms of privacy, some VPN services will offer payments systems such as Bitcoin, whilst others work with PayPal as well as other payment channels. Buying a VPN via a gift card means that no personal information needs to be disclosed.

#7 Check the VPN’s Limitations

Although there are few limitations when it comes to VPNs, there are always certain elements that you may overlook that will mean a lot to you in the long run. How many devices does your VPN service provider allow for? Is two enough? Three? Seven? Maybe you need even more than that.

Do you have a free trial option? Is that something that plays a major part in your selection process? If not, how long is their money-back guarantee?

Do the number of servers suffice? Are 100 servers really enough, or do you need 5,000 some VPNs provide for their customers? Do they have server locations in the country you need?

Think long-term about your needs and go for the VPN that will offer you the smoothest ride, while avoiding any that might lack servicing your key needs.

#8 Customer Support

If you happen to choose a VPN service with a tricky setup, or just don’t have the best tech skills, that shouldn’t be a problem. Why? Great VPN customer service support is essential for any individual, especially those finding themselves at an unfamiliar destination.

Round the clock customer service is really important in these situations, and it always helps to speak to a real person who can guide you in solving any problems that might arise.

Another customer service element that often gets overlooked when picking the right VPN service is a simple troubleshooting page. Helpful online tips and FAQs can resolve a tricky experience instantly. There are some excellent VPN customer support teams out there, so it’s worth choosing a VPN with support if you think you will need it, and avoiding those that could leave you high and dry.

#9 Money-Back Guarantees are Everything

In case you do get stuck with a VPN that isn’t living up to your standards, you want to be able to get your money back.

VPN companies that are confident in their service will provide a certain amount of time in which you can cancel your contract and get your payment returned. With so many options offering a money back guarantee, it’s almost not worth looking at a VPN that doesn’t. Most guarantees will be for 30 days, but CyberGhost offers as long as 45 days.

#10 Don’t Take Your Location Lightly

If you happen to be traveling or residing in certain parts of the world where censorship is an issue, whether for political or religious reasons you should consider the technical aspects your VPN offers.

Countries such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, and Vietnam have strict legal jurisdiction when it comes to online activity. This may include various political sites, porn sites or even news and social media platforms.

If this is the case you need to take into consideration your security needs. Military grade protection and double VPN features should be taken into account. Did you know that your internet activity will be exposed if your VPN connection suddenly drops?

To avoid unnecessarily landing yourself in hot water a kill switch will shut off any internet connection as soon as your VPN is disconnected.

Avoiding What You Don’t Want in a VPN

As you can see there are a number of things to take into consideration when choosing the perfect VPN. Do not kid yourself in thinking all VPNs are the same, some are best avoided for many different reasons.

Of the hundreds available to choose from, there will be at least one compatible with your needs.

If you don’t have the time to search through all of them, have a look at our list of the best VPNs available on the market at the moment.

From there think about which devices your VPN needs to be compatible with, how many servers they have in which locations, customer service availability and what kind of money-back guarantee they offer.

Expert VPN Reviews:

ExpressVPN review
NordVPN review
SaferVPN review

Article comments