We put together a list of frequently asked questions and answers to help you make informed decisions before selecting a VPN. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, send us a message using the contact form below.
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for “virtual private network”. A VPN acts as a barrier between your personal data and the websites that you visit, making your online viewing habits completely private. Your visits to sites won’t be tracked and your IP address won’t be revealed to sites you visit.
Why should I use a VPN?
VPNs encrypt your online data and create a secure connection to the internet. VPNs are great for keeping you secure when you are using public WiFi since they make it close to impossible for cyber criminals to steal your personal data. VPNs are also commonly used for recreational purposes. For example, many users will use a VPN to unblock geo-restricted content on online streaming services, such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon, and more.
Will using a VPN slow down my internet speed?
This typically depends on several factors, first and foremost, the quality of the VPN service. The best VPNs will have servers with unlimited download speeds and will avoid throttling (the intentional slowing or speeding of an internet service by an Internet service provider). The next factor to consider is the distance between your physical location and the server to which you are connecting. If you pick a server that is relatively close to you, your internet speed will be faster than if you had picked a server halfway across the world. Additional factors include the level of encryption and protocols you select.
Are paid VPNs more reliable than free VPNs?
Both paid and free VPNs will most likely get the job done, however, free VPNs are notorious for storing user data. Free VPN services typically make their profits by selling user data to corporations for advertising purposes. If you want to avoid this at all costs, your best bet will be to purchase a VPN subscription from a reliable provider with a very transparent zero-logging policy.
Are VPNs legal?
Typically yes, but this can sometimes vary by country. China and Russia, for example, are known to have banned the use of VPNs. Most other countries do not have restrictions on this type of service. We recommend checking your local laws before getting started.
Do VPNs protect you from viruses?
VPNs add a layer of protection between you and the sites you visit. It will make it difficult for cyber criminals to steal your data, but it will not be able to protect you from files you download that may contain viruses or malicious software. If you download a lot of content online, you may want to supplement your VPN purchase with a robust antivirus.
Can I use my VPN on multiple devices?
Most of the top VPNs let you use your subscription on multiple devices. If you are sharing the subscription, or have multiple computers, phones, or tablets, be sure to check the specific allowance of your service before you make your purchase. Another tip to keep in mind is that some routers have VPN capabilities, meaning you can simply connect your router to your VPN and then all the devices on your home network will be connected as well. If this interests you, check to see that your VPN service supports this and make sure your router is compatible with the software.
Should I pick a VPN with a lot of server locations?
Ideally, yes. The more servers and locations a VPN service has, the less likely you are to experience connectivity issues or congestion. The more people that are connected to a single server, the slower the connection becomes. When users are spread across hundreds or thousands of servers, each one is likely to have a faster browsing experience. Also, in the rare event of a regional power outage, there should still be enough locations to choose from, even if your server of choice is temporarily offline.
What is a VPN protocol?
A VPN protocol is the way that data is encrypted between your computer and the VPN company’s servers. Typical protocols include IPSec, L2TP, PPTP, TLS, and OpenVPN. Most users are happy to go with their VPN’s default settings, but if you are extra security-conscious, we recommend doing some research on which protocol best fits your needs. Some protocols will favor an extra layer of security over internet speed, which may be a drawback for some users.
How do I choose a VPN service?
We recommend going with a service that supports multiple devices and operating systems, with servers in many different countries. We also recommend checking the logging policy of the service you are thinking about so there are no surprises. If you are an experienced user, you may also want to delve deeper into the protocols the VPN service supports so you know you’re getting exactly what you need. Most of the top brands offer all of the above. Since price is obviously a big factor as well, once you narrow down your options, compare the costs to make your final decision.
Can I access streaming content with a VPN?
Yes, you can easily access movies, music and torrents that are legal in your country. You can also connect to paid services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon, Hulu, and more, but you will need to have a subscription to those services to stream content. Many users use VPNs to unblock content that isn’t currently available in their country by accessing services like Netflix through a VPN.
Can I use a VPN to watch Netflix?
Netflix and VPN companies are always trying to outsmart each other. VPNs will often work with Netflix, but Netflix may learn to detect the use of that VPN and block it for a period. If Netflix and other streaming services are your main focus, unfortunately this will be trial and error since different VPN services may work with Netflix at different points in time. Some users will do research, purchase short-term VPN subscriptions and switch between providers as needed.
What is a Kill Switch?
A kill switch is another very important feature to check for when you purchase a VPN. A kill switch ensures that your personal IP address is never exposed, even when there is a drop in your VPNs connection. Should your VPN connection time out, a kill switch will cut off all internet traffic until the VPN connection is restored, maintaining your privacy online.