Monday, June 25, 2012

5 Things You Need to Know When Choosing Your VPN Service

This is a guest post by Jack Samuelson.

Due to the problem of online privacy and internet anonymity, VPN services becomes an increasingly popular choice for users around the world. It is used by both private users taking care of their security, and by business owners, who want to ensure safe access to company’s network for their employees.

But what exactly a VPN is? VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network”. It is a private network created on the basis of a public wide area network infrastructure. A VPN service is based on the usage of VPN servers, that creates a safe channel, tunneling all users communication through it. It also changes your visible to world IP and encrypts all your online activities. This safe tunnel enables to safely transmit private data through a public network, and to communicate between multiple private networks

If you're interested in getting VPN software, you need to know a few important things first. Not all VPN providers are the same, and the differences really matter. It is not just about the money, and before you look at the price, you need to check other, much more important issues. It’s really easy to end up with a VPN service that will slow your connection way down or you’ll get an unstable connection and the disconnecting will be frustrating.
1. Safety
Safety should be your main priority. There is really no other reason to choose a VPN service other than protecting your personal data, online security and anonymity. Check VPN’s provider site and see how they encrypt the data. If you’ll find it being encrypted to less than 128 Bits than you may have to rethink choosing this particular provider. Remember that VPN needs to be really secure, so no one can get access to your data and online actives.

2. Servers
When it comes to servers, there are two issues - quality and quantity. You shouldn't be impressed by one of these variables if the other one is really low. Look for good balance between those two. 10 or 20 reliable, stable servers that are almost always uptime, will not be enough because they’ll be used by many, many users. So you really have to check this feature right away.

3. Speed
Connecting through VPN servers can affect your connection speed and slow it down a bit. That becomes increasingly important if you transfer large files, which is why you should research the speed of servers used by the VPN provider (a stability check won’t hurt in this case as well). But also, it’s good to do a little private investigation and see if there any problems are reported regardin connection speed (check forums, or technical blogs)

4. Bandwidth and files sharing
Some VPN providers can lure you with a free account, but soon you’ll find out that it’s not really free as you use up all your free transfer. That’s why finding out about any bandwidth/transfer limits, or extra fees will give you a much better perspective to choose a proper VPN service provider. Probably the best solution would be a VPN service with no limits and just one payment.

Also - if you plan to share files - don’t forget to ask if there are P2P friendly servers in the plan. And remember to connect only through P2P friendly servers when using torrents, since if you do that through other servers, you may end up with a suspended account and no refund option. So keep that in mind.

5. Background check
After checking all of the above elements, you may want to do some research. Look for some information about the company you’re considering. Is it well known? Do they receive positive feedback from users? Don’t forget to find out if the VPN service works on your operating system (Windows or Mac) and supports other portable devices.

Now that you know all the most important things you can make an informed decision. But still - even if you’re completely sure that the company you chose is reliable, don’t sign a six month or a year long deal. Try out the VPN service first. Only personal experience can ensure you in making a good choice.

About the Author 
Jack Samuelson is a contributing author who writes articles on numerous subjects, interested in issues of personal right, online privacy, network security and VPN software. He has been an insightful observer of new technologies (such as VPN service) and their relations with the problems of internet privacy, freedom and independence. You can visit him on Facebook.