VPN usage has been on the rise for years. But as millions of people were suddenly confined to their homes for long stretches of time due to the coronavirus pandemic, VPN usage surged significantly in 2020.
A VPN can come in handy for people who are looking to stay anonymous on the internet, bypass censorship, torrent content, and stream music and videos that are under geographic restrictions.
In this article, we’ll walk you through what a VPN is and how to find a good VPN for streaming. So keep on reading and we’ll teach you everything you’ll want to know!
What Is a VPN and Why Do People Use It?
A VPN utilizes software to create a virtual private network between two networks that are physically separated from each other.
With a VPN, you can gain internet access to a building in one city while you’re on the other side of the globe. You can also connect to your home network while you’re traveling and securely access files that are on your home computer.
Because a VPN routes your connection through a different network, you can even make it seem as if you’re accessing the content from another location. So if you’re in Dallas, Texas, you can make it seem as if your traffic is coming from Paris, France.
This is extremely useful for services like streaming. Platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes have different licensing deals with different distribution companies. So a movie or TV show that you can watch on Netflix in England might not be available to you if you’re in Canada.
With a VPN, you can tell Netflix that you’re actually streaming from England even if you’re actually in Canada, and thus gain access to all of their available content.
Having a VPN can also protect you from an intrusive ISP (Internet Service Provider). If your provider tends to interfere with your internet connection based on content, then that can seriously affect your ability to download or stream music and videos.
With a VPN, you can get around this problem completely. This is because all of your traffic is going to go to a single point via the encrypted tunnel. Your ISP will have no idea what kind of traffic it is or where it’s actually coming from.
Basically, you can use a VPN whenever you want to hide your connection from your ISP, people on your local network, or even the government. It is also very useful to trick platforms into thinking that you’re nearby even though you’re thousands of miles away.
Looking At Your VPN Needs
Every person with a VPN is going to have somewhat different needs. This means that there isn’t just one VPN that’s going to be perfect for every user. Thankfully, there are companies like Invpn that can help you find the perfect VPN for your situation.
The best way for you to pick the right VPM service is to go over what your VPN needs actually are. We’ll go through some of the top considerations below to help you get a better sense of what you should be looking for.
Secure Casual Browsing
Even if you’re not the biggest techie, you should still be concerned whenever you access a public Wi-Fi network. This is where a VPN service can really help casual consumers out.
Whether you access the free Wi-Fi at a Mcdonald’s, airport, or coffee shop, you have no idea how secure the network actually is.
It’s very easy for your data to become exposed due to either a poorly configured router or one that’s maliciously designed. Also, even if a network requires a password to be accessed, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s secure.
If this is the case for you, you can use a simple VPN server model. And you can pay a little more to get more bandwidth if you want.
Geo-Shift Your Location
For streaming, you most likely want to be able to make it seem like you’re residing in a country that’s different than your physical location. This means that you’re going to need to use a VPN service that has servers located in the geographic area that you want to exit the virtualized network in.
If you want access to the Australian Netflix, then you’re going to need a VPN service that has servers in Australia. Even the best VPN provider that you find is going to be useless if they don’t have servers in the area that you want to access.
Plausible Deniability and Anonymity
If you’re concerned about downloading content and file sharing on BitTorrent, you would likely want to have plausible deniability. By making it seem as if your traffic is coming from a different IP address, you make it even harder to get detected.
If this is something that you’re interested in, then you want to get a VPN service that has a very big user base and doesn’t keep logs. The bigger the service is, the more people who are going through every exit node. This will make it harder to isolate a single user.
Aside from concerns about logging, you also want to consider the type of encryption and VPN protocol that is being used.
Choosing Your VPN Provider
It can be difficult to figure out what makes a good VPN provider. Aside from being affordable, you might not be sure what makes one provider better than another. For example, you can compare the best VPN for Canada.
It’s important that you read all of their documentation and see what online reviews say about the company. When dealing with files and data, it’s very important that you only work with legitimate and secure companies.
What Protocols Do They Support?
All VPN protocols are not created equal. You want to avoid PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) if possible. This is a dated protocol that uses weak encryption. It might be okay for casual browsing at coffee shops, but it won’t provide you with serious security.
You want an OpenVPN network because it’s much more secure. However, it should be noted that iOS and Android don’t currently support native OpenVPN. They do, however, natively support L2TP/Ipsec, which is a useful alternative.
A good VPN provider will avoid PPTP and utilize OpenVPN. You should also check the pre-shared keys they use for those protocols because many providers use keys that are easy to guess and insecure.
How Many Servers Do They Have and Where?
If you want to access American media platforms like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, then a VPN service that has most of its nodes in Asia and Africa isn’t going to be of much use to you.
You shouldn’t pay for anything less than a diverse array of servers in a variety of countries. Given how widely used and robust VPN servers have become, it’s not unreasonable to expect hundreds or even thousands of servers across the earth.
Along with checking how many servers the VPN service has and where the servers are located, you should also see where the company is based and if the location of their headquarters aligns with your needs.
How Many Concurrent Connections Are Allowed?
You might assume that you only need one correction. However, what if you want to set up VPN access with more than one device? Or if you want to add one for a family member?
To do something like this, you will need several concurrent connections to the service. If you wanted even more security, you could configure multiple devices to use multiple different exit nodes. This way, your household traffic won’t all be bundled together.
At a minimum, you want to use a service that allows for at least two simultaneous connections.
Do They Restrict Services, Limit Bandwidth, or Throttle Connections?
Throttling from ISPs is one of the main reasons why people pay for VPN services in the first place. So it would be unwise to pay a VPN network that is going to throttle your internet traffic. Not all VPN services are totally transparent about this, so it’s important that you do your research.
Restrictions on bandwidth might not have been a big deal before streaming was commonplace. However, if you want to stream content like music and videos, you’re going to want a lot of bandwidth. You should avoid using VPNs that place restrictions on bandwidth.
There’s no reason to go with a VPN service that you pay that is going to restrict how many GBs of data you can use. A service that restricts in increments of TBs might be more manageable. However, it’s not unreasonable to expect unlimited bandwidth from a high speed VPN.
Lastly, read the fine print. See if the company restricts any services or protocols that you want to use the service for.
For example, if you want to share files, make sure that the company doesn’t block file sharing. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your money.
What Kind of Logs, If Any, Do They Maintain?
Many VPN providers won’t keep any logs of the activities of their users. This won’t just benefit the customers. It will also be a big benefit to the provider because detailed logging can take up a lot of disk space and resources.
Many of the biggest VPN providers will tell you this much. Not only do they not have any interest in keeping logs, but they can’t even start to set aside that much disk space to do it because of the sheer size of their operations.
Some VPN providers will point out that they keep logs for a very short time window, such as just a few hours. This is to help facilitate maintenance and make sure that the network is running properly. However, there isn’t much of a reason for you to settle for anything less than zero logging.
What Payment Methods Do They Offer?
If you’re buying a VPN so that you can keep your traffic safe from Wi-Fi nodes while you travel, then having anonymous payment methods might not be a big priority for you. However, if you’re trying to remain anonymous on the internet, then you’ll likely want a service that allows for payment methods like gift cards and cryptocurrency.
You can buy a Visa or MasterCard gift card and use it just like a debit card.
Do They Have a Kill Switch System?
Are you trying to remain even somewhat anonymous on the internet with a VPN service? If so, then you’ll need some sense of security that the VPN won’t just go down and dump all of your traffic out into the regular internet.
What you want is a tool known as the “kill switch system.” A good VPN provider is going to have a kill switch system in place. This means that if the VPN connection were to fail for any reason, it would automatically lock the connection down.
When this happens, the computer won’t default to using the unsecured and open internet connection.
The Importance of Knowing How To Choose a Good VPN for Streaming
Hopefully, after reading the above article, you now have a better idea of how to choose a good VPN for streaming. As we can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when shopping for a VPN provider. However, once you put the research in, you’ll be able to stream content from all over the world securely and anonymously.
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