So you’ve decided that you’re going to surf the Web anonymously and securely but don’t know which VPN service to select. Well, undeniably, settling on one service is not simple. There are many to choose from and each offers a unique flavor of features and subscription packages.
At the very basic level, all VPN services aim at providing a safer and private way for users to browse the Web. There are many additional benefits of using a VPN service such as bypassing country restrictions and accessing local content while abroad, among other things.
Also, different users subscribe to a VPN service for different reasons. Frequent travelers normally need VPN services in order to have access to local media streaming services such as Netflix for U.S. residents. Other users are more concerned about anonymity and privacy whereas others are only concerned about their online security as they carry out a lot of transactions over the Web.
That said, it’s worth noting that choosing the best VPN service usually comes down to cost and features. The best VPNs provide a good balance between features and cost. Of course, as you consider these two, keep in mind your main objective for enlisting a VPN service.
The following VPN services are largely considered some of the best according to user reviews as well as independent assessment of features.
HideMyAss VPN (HMA) is a UK-based vpn service that offers a range of features to Internet users including multiple VPN servers in several international locations, more than 40,000 IP addresses, and web proxy services, among others.
As of April 11th, HMA has 358 VPN servers in 53 locations around the world comprising more than 40,500 IPs. This extensive network of servers is what makes HMA VPN standout from the competition. In the U.S. alone, there are 175 servers and more than 22,000 IPs. Moreover, new servers as well as IPs are regularly added onto the network. HMA has one of the largest networks of servers among all VPN services, so you can count on this flexibility to catch up with local content if you’re a regular traveler.
HMA’s large network also contributes to its superior performance in terms of speed. Generally, the service is rated 4 out 5 in terms of connection speed and this is one of the best. Note that besides server proximity, there are a couple of other things that affect speed including ISP connection speeds, equipment capability, and more.
Another notable mention about HMA is its innovative VPN software. Slick and feature-rich, HMA Pro is arguably the most advanced yet easy to use VPN software you will find anywhere. The software is compatible with the major operating systems (Windows, Linux, and Mac) using either OpenVPN or PPTP protocol, as well as on mobile platforms including Android and iOS.
HMA Pro VPN software makes it seamless to select or change between servers, randomly switch IPs, or finding the least loaded server to connect to.
HMA offers three subscription plans starting at $11.52 for the 1-month plan and $49.99 for the 6-month plan. The one year plan comes at $78.66 or $6.55 per month, which is the best deal of the three.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access is another leading VPN service based in the U.S. The service offers guaranteed privacy and online anonymity by exploiting the fact that there is no obligatory data retention law, allowing the service to offer a high level of user data privacy.
But Private Internet Access stands out for its package pricing and features. Their yearly plan of $39.95 breaks down to a mere $3.33, arguably the lowest offer by any VPN service. And since the 6-months plan is priced at $35.95, it makes much more economic sense to go for the yearly package unless you have good reasons to choose the six months plan. The ‘kitchen sink’ package of one month comes at $6.95
Private Internet Access provides three protocol options on all its plans including OpenVPN as the default on all plans, but you can choose from PPTP or L2TP/IPSec.
The server network comprises 18 servers along with more than 199 gateways in 9 international locations including the U.S with 8 servers, Canada, the UK, and the rest of Western Europe.
Security-wise, Private Internet Access provides one of the most secure and private VPN connections you can get as there’s no activity logging. Moreover, the shared IPs used mean that it is virtually impossible to match a particular user to a given activity on the system. Although email address records are retained, the service recommends the use of anonymous, disposable emails for customers that are overly concerned about online anonymity.
The VPN client software that is supplied on subscription is easy to use and is DND-leak proof. The client automatically disconnects from the Internet if your Internet connection is interrupted, thus providing further protection for user identity.
Overall, Private Internet Access offers superior privacy and security, and it is arguably the cheapest VPN service you can get at the moment.
StrongVPN is another big player on the VPN service provider scene. The service offers the biggest selection of packages catering to a variety of users. In total, StrongVPN offers seven packages divided into six standard packages and one premium package. The six standard packages are also split into two categories – one category is designed for mobile devices and faster connections while the other category is ideal for VPN routers and provides stronger encryption features.
The cheapest package comes at $7 and connects only via PPTP protocol, perfect for mobile phones and tablets. The Premium package comes at $30 per month and is specially designed for high end users. Unlike all other packages, the Premium package gives users access to all StrongVPN servers; that is 407 servers in 20 countries and 20 international cities.
All other packages are limited to the number of servers that users can switch in a month. One downside to StrongVPN’s server switching is that it attracts a toll charge as well as a monthly cap to the number of switched servers. This limitation definitely is a big inconvenience and somewhat reduces privacy. However, the service makes up with good reliability and connection speed as this capping provides better utilization of servers.
In addition, StrongVPN has the best pre-sales and post-sales customer support of any VPN provider. Presale queries are answered within an hour generally via email, but there’s live chat as well.
For post-sale support, customers generally use live chat as it’s extremely convenient and if your queries cannot be answered on time by a support agent, they will find another agent online to help you out. Most users rate StrongVPN, 5 out of 5 for customer support and this is one of the VPN provider’s strongest points.
In all, choosing a VPN service shouldn’t be hard once you know exactly what you want from a VPN service. The above review should make it even easier for undecided users to find what they want. If you want ultimate flexibility to switch between servers without a lot of fuss, you’ll probably need to give HideMyAss VPN a try. If price is your biggest concern and you don’t want to spend a lot, Private Internet Access is your best bet. But if you want to enjoy premium VPN services with top-notch connection speeds and impeccable customer support, StrongVPN is the service you want.