Whether you’re looking for a solution to your weekends Netflix fix, geo-frenzy P2P file-sharing woes, expensive online shopping trips, or just want to keep your communications private and secure, a VPN can prove to be quite a handful. 

Now choosing a VPN service shouldn’t be too difficult if you are already familiar with the basics of the technology. However, things can certainly be a little challenging if you don’t even know where to start with. The features might confuse you. The specs may not make any sense. Worse, you could fall for the flashy adverts and end up signing for a service way off from your expectations.

Feel like you could do with some help in deciding on the best VPN for your needs? This guide will walk you through the eleven most important things to look for when buying a VPN. Need extra advice? Check out these best VPN recommendations from Howtowatchinaustralia.com.

1. Jurisdiction

The base location of a VPN company matters. A VPN operating from an unsafe jurisdiction or a country with questionable data laws could be forced into monitoring your online movements. As a result, your privacy may get breached. Avoid any VPN service that’s situated in a Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, or Fourteen Eyes member-country.

2. Log Policy

Some providers may log your browsing data and sessions even though they may not be under any pressure from the government. This is usually the case with completely free VPNs. They record your information and sell it to third-party companies to make money. Always read the privacy policy of the VPN service you’re interested in. Credentials, email logs, and crash incidents are fine. Connection timestamps can work too. Avoid things beyond these.

3. Distribution of Servers

A VPN with servers all across the world allows you to connect to any region of your choice and effectively overcome stubborn geo-blocks while sitting at home in your slippers. On the other hand, a VPN server back home can be useful whenever you are travelling abroad and feel the need to catch up with the latest episode of your favourite show. Look for a VPN with an expansive network reach, covering at least the major countries across different continents.

4. Number of Servers 

Having a good number of servers is important. It helps reduce the risks of congestion on a busy day. Imagine you want to watch American Netflix from Australia over the weekend, but there’s only one server available. What are the chances that the server will get maxed out? Choose a VPN that has not only an expansive network reach but also a large number of servers. 

5. Security Features

When you talk about a VPN’s security features, you basically look at two things: i) available tunnelling protocols, and ii) employed encryption standards. Features like multi-hopping, ad & malware blocker, diskless servers are a plus. The VPN should at least use OpenVPN tunnelling protocol with AES-256 bit encryption to secure your web traffic. If it offers WireGuard (or similar) protection, it’s even better.

6. Speed

It goes without saying you should choose a VPN that offers fast speeds. You don’t want to be staring at your screen for a website to download, or a stream to get through its buffer. Keep in mind, however, a VPN is only good as your internet connection. So if you have a slow internet, your VPN will be automatically slow. Find and read speed reports (you can easily search for them online) to get an idea of the VPN’s speed performance. 

7. P2P Functionality

For what it’s worth, not every VPN comes equipped with P2P functionality. Furthermore, some VPN providers limit you with bandwidth throttling, while some others offer specialized P2P servers in only selected countries. Just a handful of VPN services allow you the full P2P freedom with no restrictions. If you want to exchange large files over the internet anonymously, you must get a VPN with at least some level of P2P support. 

8. Device Compatibility

VPN companies today make clients for a wide range of devices. While some can be found playing with the traditional platforms in Windows, Android, and iOS, others are more adventurous and offer apps for Mac, Linux, routers, and TV boxes too. Make sure the VPN you’re choosing is compatible with your device.

9. Customer Support

Another important factor to consider is the quality of customer support. You never know when you could face connectivity issues or have a general question to ask that may require prompt answering. In such a case, you would need responsive customer service. Look for a VPN that offers a live chat option.

10. Price

Different VPNs carry different price tags. Some are overpriced compared to the features they offer, while some pack in loads of good stuff and still cost you dirt cheap. In the end, it’s all about going for a VPN that offers the best value for your money. You should be able to get a good VPN in the range of $2.4/mo to $8.5/mo. Sign up for a long term plan to get big savings. 

11. Trial Period

Last but not least, look for a VPN that offers a trial period. That way, you can test the VPN before committing to a purchase. Some VPN companies also offer a paid trial backed by a money-back guarantee. The idea is simple: you initially subscribe to a VPN service, and if you change your mind, you can get a full refund later with no questions asked. These types of trials usually extend to 30 days. So you get a lot of time to spend with your VPN. Because of this, a paid trial is recommended over a free trial. 

Conclusion

VPNs come in all shapes and sizes, so choosing the right one can get a bit overwhelming. The pointers discussed above will help you select the best VPN for your needs. Happy VPN shopping!