Businesses and individuals use VPN services for various reasons, so there's no one-size-fits-all approach to selecting the best VPN. Before you make a purchase decision, you should determine and rank the reasons you want to trade your high-speed internet access for the privacy and anonymity (with a slower connection) offered by a private network.
1. Privacy History
Take some time to research the VPN company you're considering (and its parent company if it has one). Advertised claims, such as adherence to a no-log policy, may not be as strict as they initially seem. Some companies have a clear record of not participating with government agencies as part of ongoing investigations, while others have a more complicated history.
FYI It's also worth considering a company's history of third-party audits, which test a VPN's ability to keep your online activity private.
2. Server Locations
While having more servers does not necessarily equate to better performance, it is a strong indicator that you'll be able to access a less crowded option. Most VPN providers advertise their number of servers without distinguishing between virtual and physical servers. This may or may not be a factor in your decision, depending on your privacy concerns, but it's always good to have a server location near you. This will significantly increase your chance of a high-speed connection. If you're shopping for a VPN to bypass geo-restrictions, make sure you can find multiple servers in the parts of the world with content you want to access.
3. Required Add-Ons
Do you think you'll make use of a dedicated IP? Are split tunneling or double VPNs essential to your performance or privacy? While many VPN users are more than happy with the standard set of features that most providers offer, some demand special servers and additional layers of protection. We recommend determining your desired level of privacy for most of your online activity before exploring VPN options too deeply.
3. Total Monthly Cost
VPN pricing structures are the same across all companies, with significant discounts available for longer commitments. Once you've narrowed down your selections by available servers and additional features, consider trying a couple of services at the same time, with the knowledge that you can either opt out of a monthly plan or get a refund on most longer subscriptions. That way, you can commit to an annual or multiyear contract with confidence that you're getting the best deal available.