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Knowing what a VPN is and how it functions is the first step to choosing the right one. Matching the VPN features to your needs will help you select appropriate functionality. Then you can narrow down the list to the VPN provider that works best for you.
What Is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network is a secure connection over the Internet that keeps your data and activities private. It is an inexpensive way of securing online traffic, and includes privacy from ISP snooping. The VPN takes your traffic through a private tunnel over the public Internet. Your data and traffic is not available on the Internet except to those that you connect with. The VPN creates this level of security by implementing protocols for Internet communication.
PPTP is a common tunneling protocol used for connection to a private server. It is built into Windows and very easy to maintain. L2TP is used to tunnel data traffic between websites. The IPSec overlay used with L2TP secures data traffic through transport mode to encrypt the data or tunneling mode to encrypt the traffic. SSL and TLS are additionally used for cryptography and authentication to secure data. User access is allowed through certificates, or keys, that are given to those authorized to access the data. SSL based protocols provide higher security because they are impossible to block. SSTP secures data and traffic by securing IP packets. OpenVPN combines SSTP and SSL. It provides the highest level of encryption and can run over UDP and TCP/IP network protocols.
All VPNs will give the user an alternate IP address. When connected to the VPN, data traffic from a computer will be routed through one of the VPN’s servers. The IP of the server becomes the IP that is detected in association with the connection. The user’s IP address is no longer visible to the public. This prevents anyone from tracking and monitoring the user. All VPNs also provide security for communications over all Internet enabled applications like instant messaging and VoIP.
How Can I Get a VPN That Suits Me?
The right VPN is the one that meets user needs. If tighter security is the main goal, OpenVPN is the best option. Privacy and anonymity are tied closely with security. If privacy is the key, choose an OpenVPN provider that does not keep records of user data and activities. If anonymity is what matters, get OpenVPN from a provider with a reputation for stable servers and connection. If you are using a mobile device, OpenVPN is not fully supported. The next best option for security is L2TP/IPSec. If location versatility is the purpose of the VPN, the provider with servers over the widest geographical range is best. If speed is the most important, the provider that uses low encryption and is known for low latency is the best bet. If you need to access content or use applications that are for some reason blocked, select the provider that has the server that can open access for you. Accessing blocked content also requires security and anonymity, so choose an OpenVPN service with the appropriate server locations.
There are many VPN providers, and much information about them available on the Internet. Be judicious when you read articles and user reviews, however. Better yet, take advantage of the trial offers to test out the services. First-hand experience is the best way to know which provider is the best fit. And always contact the provider before you sign up. This way you know what to expect so you can make a fair comparison.