If you are going to spend money to secure your Internet connection, then you have to get a VPN service. There are a multitude of VPN services out there and the thing with them is that they are not similar; some are better than others in terms of usability; some are affordable while others require intrusive client software to access their services.
Each VPN service has its strong as well as weak points. Generally, big and well established VPN companies tend to offer a variety of features and flexibility, but poor customer support because they are more commercially oriented. On the other hand, smaller VPN providers tend to offer a more personable and specialized service because they cater to ‘niche’ users, such as BitTorrent users.
In the wake of the ensuing spying scandals by security agencies, many Internet users are now concerned about their online privacy. While most VPN service providers claim to offer total online privacy and anonymity, in reality, only a handful of them guarantee total privacy.
Whatever you’re looking for in a VPN service, there is at least one provider out there that matches your needs. As VPN Journal we compare the Best VPN service providers to help you filter their feature in order to find the best provider that suits your VPN needs.
HMA is arguably the largest personal VPN service provider with an extensive network of servers spanning over 63 countries worldwide. The UK based provider boasts of more than 60,500+ IP addresses from which users can select, courtesy of the 509 server network, by far the largest among VPN providers.
Supported technologies include PPTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP, offering above average encryption levels to guarantee online security against intruders and malware.
HideMyAss offers three pricing options starting at $11.2 per month for the one month package, $49.99 for the 6 months package, and $78.66 for the yearly package, which as expected gives the biggest discount.
Users who are not certain whether HMA is best suited to their needs can sign up for the 30-day money back guarantee trial period. The company also offers a series of promotions on its packages through various third-party partners.
That being said, HMA is not the best VPN service for total online anonymity and for the past two years, the company has been the subject of much discussion in the VPN user community for its role in exposing a user who allegedly hacked into a Sony Pictures website. Overall, if you’re looking for everyday VPN use to guard against intruders and ensure online privacy, HMA ranks among the very best VPN service providers.
Private Internet Access
Private Internet Access focuses on maintaining high privacy and anonymity standards for its growing legion of loyal users and, as such, it has been voted one of the best logless VPN service providers in the market by experts and users alike. The company takes advantage of the fact that the US (where it is based) has no mandatory data retention laws to ensure that no logs for user activities are kept.
Private Internet Access offers an attractive pricing model, with the cheapest plan starting at $6.5 per month for the monthly package while there’s a difference of only $4 between the six months and one-year packages offered at $35.95 and $39.95 respectively.
For these attractive prices, you get top-notch security with the standard OpenVPN protocol with 128-bit encryption, but you may also choose PPTP or L2TP if that’s what you prefer.
The company also offers good customer support through several channels including a ticketed email system and live chat support. In addition, the official website has a FAQ section where users can find answers to the most common problems they encounter.
Private Internet Access is one of the best VPN service providers for ensuring total anonymity and it’s also among the most affordable price-wise.
ExpressVPN offers high quality services and features, supported on almost all major mobile platforms.
ExpressVPNoffers three pricing plans in line with the majority of the top VPN service providers. The cheapest goes for $8.32 per month on the yearly subscription while the six months subscription comes at $9.99 per month. If you prefer to pay monthly, you’ll be coughing $12.95, which is a little higher than the average monthly subscription for the top providers. The company offers a 30-Day money back guarantee so that you can see whether you get value for your money.
Regardless of which plan you’re subscribed too, you get the standard OpenVPN protocol by default, but you can also use PPTP, IPSec, and L2TP on devices that don’t support OpenVPN.
ExpressVPN has a server network encompassing 39 countries and there is no limit to the number of devices that you can setup with one account, although only one can be actively connected at a time.
Overall, ExpressVPN offers the widest range of mobile device support along with top-notch security and quality features. In terms of price, the VPN service is somewhat pricier than its immediate competitors.
StrongVPN has been in business longer than most VPN service providers in the market. Based in San Francisco, California, StrongVPN has built a solid reputation as a dependable VPN provider notable for its impeccable customer support.
The company offers a vast range of features and flexible subscription packages that cater to different types of users.
StrongVPN offers several pricing options under the three main categories of Premium, OpenVPN, and PPTP. There are packages under each of the three aforementioned subscription categories. The general rule is that the higher you go in category, the more features you have access to and, therefore, the more flexibility you acquire about how to use the service.
Security-wise, StrongVPN is highly reliable, offering 128-bit encryption with the cheaper PPTP category. There is also the 256-bit and 2048-bit for users with heightened security needs.
On the downside, StrongVPN maintains user logs for their online activities as well as their personal details. This means that they can easily match users with their external IP addresses. That is definitely a scary prospect for users who want total anonymity.
From the onset, PureVPN shines with a polished, easy to navigate website. The VPN service offers a money-back guarantee and round-the-clock customer support, along with superior client software and good connection speeds.
PureVPN offers a yearly plan at $69.95 and a six months plan at $44.95. You can request a trial account for only $2.5 to get a feel of what the VPN service offers. Users can choose any of the four protocols including PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, and SSTP, with up to 256-bit encryption on protocols that support it.
PureVPN’s client software is not the most advanced you’ll find, but it offers ease of use due to its simplicity.
Users can freely switch between 300+ servers in 26 countries, choosing from 22,000 IP addresses to conceal your identity.
The company offers 24/7 support as boldly advertised. A highly responsive chat support option is also on offer at the official website along with a ticketed email system and a FAQ section.
In all, PureVPN is a solid VPN service provider with little to hate. However, the company’s servers were compromised last October 2013 and although not so much damage was caused, the incident is worrying for a company that is supposed to maintain security and privacy.
Along with Private Internet Access and StrongVPN, IPVanish is another US-based VPN service provider that stands out for its strong commitment on anonymity, unlike its nearest US-based competitors. Starting out in the IP services business 15 years ago, IPVanish boasts of a good understanding of the Internet and VPN industry.
The company server network is pretty impressive, with a presence in India, North Africa, and the Far East. In total, IPVanish has a presence in 47 countries worldwide totaling to 110 servers.
Users can choose from the three pricing categories of one month, three months, and one year at $10.0, $26.99, and $77.99 respectively.
For any of these plans, you get to choose from the PPTP, OpenVPN, and L2TP protocols.
Security-wise, IPVanish offers OpenVPN encryption, which is above average for normal Internet usage. However, where OpenVPN is not supported, users can still secure their connections with 128-bit encryption on the L2TP and PPTP protocols.
While this VPN service provider keeps users’ email addresses, it doesn’t maintain their logs. The company asserts that the emails are kept strictly for promotional purposes.
Searching for the best VPN service is not easy given the number of providers out there. However, narrowing down your options to a few top providers helps you to easily filter through the different offerings and features available from the various providers.
The top user needs for a VPN service are privacy, anonymity, security, access to and restricted websites. The above top VPN services can satisfactorily meet those needs. However, for the contentious issues of privacy and anonymity, you need to do thorough homework as not every VPN service can guarantee them in practice, despite their claims.