A Complete Guide To Choosing and Using a VPN

Whether you work remotely or you're just really precise about personal cybersecurity, Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, are becoming a popular choice to secure your browsing history. That's especially true following some much-hated regulation changes from the Federal Communications Commission back in 2017—ahem, a reversal on rules that required your internet service provider (ISP) to ask for explicit permission before accessing your personal data.

What Does A Vpn Do?

First, let's recap what a VPN is, and why you might use it. A VPN service is a tool that you use to obfuscate your connection from your PC, tablet, or smartphone to the internet.

This is particularly valuable when using your device on a public Wi-Fi hotspot, where your transmissions might otherwise be open and unencrypted -- and subject to interception. By running VPN client software on your device, a secure tunnel is created between your device and a VPN server located somewhere on the internet.

The Best VPN Service 2021

1. ExpressVPN - best VPN service in the world

TechRadar has tested over 200 of the best VPN providers and the outright number 1 right now is ExpressVPN. It ticks all of the boxes: fast server connections, serious security smarts, ridiculously easy to use - even free cloud storage thrown in. It's the very best around and you can try it for 30-days risk-free.

2. NordVPN - the biggest name in the business

NordVPN is jam-packed with features, unblocks loads of streaming services and boasts extra privacy perks like 'Double VPN' security and an independently audited no-log policy. And right now, it will give you an extra month or one year extra for free when you sign up for its two-year plan.

3. Surfshark - easy to use VPN that's great value

If you're more concerned about grabbing a bargain than going for the all out best above, then Surfshark should be on your shortlist. From just $2.50 USD/£2/$AU3.50 per month it's a fantastic, premium option that's super simple to use and has become a TechRadar favorite.

How To Choose A VPN

1. Supported Protocols

VPNs utilize a variety of security protocols to protect the data as it passes through the tunnel, but not all of them are created equally. Each protocol brings its own set of advantages and disadvantages to the table.

2. Number of Servers & Locations

Interested in accessing US streaming services like Netflix without geographic restrictions? Then, let’s face it – choosing a VPN provider with the vast majority of its servers in Asia and Africa will be of no use to you.

3. Privacy-Friendly Jurisdiction

If you don’t want anyone to know what you’re doing online, you should avoid VPNs that are based inside the Five, Nine, and Fourteen Eyes Alliances. That’s because these providers have to comply with government requests to share personal user data.