A Virtual Private Network, also known as a VPN, is a network that provides anonymity and privacy online. It achieves that by creating a private network through a public internet connection. A VPN will mask your IP (Internet Protocol) address so that all of your actions online become virtually untraceable. That is not all, as VPN services also provide encrypted and secure connections that would allow for more privacy than even a well-secured WiFi hotspot. A VPN has become a key tool when it comes to accessing the internet in any public venue, such as a hotel lobby or a coffee shop.
Another great advantage of using a VPN is accessing location-based content. Some governments and countries would block specific websites and content. It can be for moral/ethical reasons as well as political ones. In addition, some viewing content, whether on YouTube or Netflix or other streaming services, can also be based on the country. So, using a VPN would allow you to bypass these restrictions and be able to access any website and any content, regardless of where you live.
How do VPNs Work?
A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel for the data. Through that tunnel, your data is going to travel to a remote server that is operated and owned by your VPN service provider. The VPN servers will then send the data to the site through the same tunnel. As a result, the data is now safe and secure and kept away from any prying eyes or cybercriminals, and identity thieves. It will not only help protect you from thieves, but even your internet service provider will not be able to track your online history and activities. That is because all data and activities take place on the VPN provider’s servers and not your ISP.
On the other hand, a VPN can come with a few challenges. For example, you might notice that your browsing and internet speed are slower than usual. That will be the case if the VPN’s servers are distant geographically. Therefore, to get the best out of it and for the best performance, always consider a VPN with servers located around the world so that you can pick a location close to you. In addition, some VPNs might limit your usage. For example, they can limit the amount of data that you are able to send in a single connection. That is usually the case with low-tier VPNs and free-to-use services. Therefore, you’d have to stick with the top VPN services providers to get the best service. Here, you can find the recommended top 5 VPN service providers.
HMA VPN (Also Known as Hide My Ass)
HMA is one of the most reputable and popular VPN providers. It launched its first subscription in 2009, under the ownership of its parent company, Privax Ltd. The VPN service gained a lot of traction ad became highly popular. It was very popular that AVG, the Czech antivirus company, acquired it for $60 million back in 2015. AVG was soon bought by Avast, another Czech antivirus company, in 2016. Despite the parent company being in the Czech Republic, Privax Ltd is still based in the UK.
Once, HMA had a major drawback, as it used to have an invasive data retention policy. That is not the case anymore, as it has a private logging policy, which means it will no longer log any internet data that can be used to identify its users. Therefore, all of your activity will be private to you and hidden from anyone else, including HideMyAss. Now, HideMyAss only collects two types of data regarding your activity. The first one is the date of the connection, and the second one is the amount of data that was transmitted during the session.
HMA offers outstanding VPN services, regardless of the reason behind using a VPN. Whether it is to unlock location-specific content on streaming services, or if you are trying to avoid the prying eyes of the government, or to keep your data safe from cybercriminals. HMA offers excellent value for its paid subscriptions in terms of pricing. It offers three main subscriptions.
Monthly Subscription for $11.99/month, which is billed monthly
A 12-Month subscription that costs $4.99/month, which is billed yearly at $59.88 every 12 months
A 3 Years subscription, which costs $2.99/month, $107.64 billed every three years
That is not all, as HMA offers a 30-day refund guarantee, which comes with no questions at all. Even if you consume a lot of data within these 30-days, you will still be eligible for a refund. In addition, all subscriptions come with auto-renewal by default, but it can be disabled in the member’s area. Last but not least, there is a 7-day trial on offer at HMA, so you can get a taste of what HMA has to offer before making a purchase.
Express VPN is a very user-friendly VPN, and its signing-up process only requires a few minutes of your time. You will simply select the pricing plan, type your email and purchase information, and you will quickly have a working VPN. You will not have to go through a lengthy and useless questionnaire, just a few steps, and you are ready to go. In addition, the Express VPN plans allow for up to three connections simultaneously. That means that you can simultaneously have it on your tablet, Laptop, and Smartphone.
The VPN also offers multiple locations from different countries, which is a huge part of what makes a VPN great. For example, if a VPN has 100 locations, but they are all in the USA, then they are pointless. It is here where Express VPN excels, as it offers locations in more than 94 countries. That is pretty decent when compared to other VPNs, as for more than 99% of the users, 148 locations in more than 94 countries are more than enough to satisfy any of their needs.
When it comes to pricing, a 1-month subscription costs $12.95. You can save money by opting in for the 6-month plan that costs $9.99 a month, billed at $59.55 every 6 months. There is even a cheaper plan, the annual plan. It costs $99.95 a year, which translates to $6.66 a month.
NordVPN is one of the beloved VPNs around the world. That is due to its high speed, security tools, and its torrenting and streaming abilities. It is headquartered in Panama, and it offers a combination of unbreakable encryption, a no-logs policy, and great speed. In addition, it packs its service with intuitive apps on a user-friendly platform, making it one of the top VPNs for beginners and pro users.
Its streaming performance is top-notch through its SmartPlay technology, which lets you in multiple video platforms and can easily unlock all content. In terms of Server location, NordVPN will not disappoint. It has multiple servers in different countries. So, you will be able to access a variety of content from the US, UK, Canada, and plenty of other locations.
In terms of plans, the longer the plan, the better price you will get. So you will have a bigger initial investment, but you will save more money in the long term. So if you were to opt-in for a 1-month plan, it would cost $11.99 per month. On the other hand, opting in for a 1-year plan would translate to $4.99 a month. A 2-year plan is going to be even less, at $3.29 a month.
Proton VPN is yet another highly reputed VPN service provider, and that is due to three main reasons, the pillars of ProtoN VPN. The first one is security. The VPN provider has one of the most secure VPN services as it sends its traffic through its encrypted VPN tunnel. Therefore, all of your passwords and confidential data are safe, whether you are using untrusted and public internet connections. The second one is privacy. As a Swiss VPN provider, Proton VPN does not log the user’s activity. It doesn't share its data with any third party. Therefore, you can enjoy the internet without any surveillance. Last but not least, freedom. It was created mainly for activists and journalists, as it helps break the walls of internet censorship. They can use ProtonMail and ProtonVPN to access any website and content without fear of being tracked.
Proton VPN has three paid plans. They are Basic, Plus, and Visionary. Their prices vary between €4 and €24 per month. The most popular plan is the Plus Plan. It offers 1600+ servers in more than 63 countries, 10 VPN connections, and a high speed of up to 10 Gbps. It also offers Tor Over VPN, P2P/BitTorrent Support, and a Secure Core VPN.
IP Vanish VPN
IPVanish is one of the fast VPNs in the industry. It has a server footprint of more than 1300 VPN servers that are located across 75 locations. That is a part of the reason of why it is able to maintain such speed ratings. IPVanish is reliable, flexible, and fast. It is highly configurable, which makes it one of the best options for those who are new to the whole VPN thing. It offers a responsive service that is able to keep up with the demands of online gaming and Netflix, among other streaming services. The service comes at a price tag of $10.55 for a monthly plan, $5.32/month for a quarterly plan, and $3.99 for a yearly plan.