The VPN market earns a lot of money from advertisements as well as affiliate commissions. That is what makes it so hard for regular consumers like you to choose the right VPN service. Some VPN features are truly useful, while others are pure marketing fluff.
Unfortunately, most of the marketing fluff feeds on the common fears faced by consumers. So you may end up giving too much importance to the features that create hype instead of considering the truly useful ones. Our purpose is to tell you how you can segregate the efficient Virtual Private Network services from the ones that are merely a security theater.
Smart DNS Capabilities
If you know what smart DNS is, you may be wondering why you would need it on top of a VPN connection? There are several technical reasons, but the most common one is that Smart DNS lets you bypass geo-blocking without affecting the VPN connection speed.
For example, if you have to visit China, you will find that you cannot access social media or Netflix without using a VPN service. However, a VPN service without Smart DNS capabilities will spend a lot of time encrypting and decrypting all the data, which will slow down your Internet connection.
On the other hand, Smart DNS will let you access restricted website content without the need to encrypt the data. You may find that most companies do not offer both VPN and Smart DNS as part of the same package, so you may have to check that with the company or look at the fine print yourself.
VPN Connection Protocol Options
VPN connection protocols can come in various forms, and each one of them has a list of strengths and weaknesses. Some protocols offer higher security at lower speeds, while others provide lower levels of encryption with a provision for browsing at high speed.
Most reliable VPN services will offer you an option to choose the protocols you want to use for your connections. Some of the common names for VPN connection protocols are:
- Open VPN
There are some other forms of VPN protocols as well that offer more advanced features. For example, some VPN service providers have developed proprietary protocols that are supposed to be very fast while providing maximum security. Make sure that the VPN service provider offers you the option to choose from different connection protocols along with an explanation for each of them.
Updated Desktop and Mobile Apps
A VPN service can only prove useful to you if it can help you connect with the right online resources. The first step when choosing a VPN service is to ensure that they update their apps regularly for various operating systems.
Updating VPN services takes a lot of time, money, and effort, which is why many of them skip the updates unless there is a problem that needs to be fixed. You may notice that VPN service providers do not usually advertise the frequency of their updates. But you can find out the last time their software or app got updated by looking it up on the app store.
Avoid any VPN service that has not been updated in more than a year. The best VPN services release a new version of the VPN app or software every time they have a major update for different operating systems, including Windows, Mac OS, iOS, and android.
Transparent VPN Logging Policy
Most consumers find the “no-logging” policies to be the most confusing VPN feature. That is because most VPN companies are either lying to you or knowingly deceiving you. We would advise you not to fall for the headline on the company’s homepage that promises not to log any of your online activity.
Look for a VPN service that has a transparent and clear logging policy for your online activities. It should specifically state details of the data they collect from your Internet usage and their methods to store that information.
VPN Kill Switch or Network Lock
A VPN kill switch or a network lock is meant to cut off network access from your device if your VPN gets disconnected due to some reason. You may find that most VPN services offer a kill switch or network lock as an advanced feature, but we feel that it is a must-have.
It is especially needed if you regularly transmit sensitive data. That way, you can be sure that any data entering or exiting your device connected to the Internet follow encryption protocols at all times.
There are several other obvious VPN features that we have not included in this list. We have included the features that prioritize privacy and online security for the consumers. Therefore, make sure that you look for these features whenever you are looking for the best VPN service.