The best VPN client doesn’t necessarily have to come from the largest VPN service. In fact, small VPN startups are at the forefront of crafting intuitive, easy-to-use VPN client software, although a couple of big players have created advanced VPN software to their users. While the major operating systems come with native support for certain VPN protocols, custom-built VPN client software offers more functionality and flexibility.
Custom-built VPN client software comes with many features and functions that enhance the overall user experience. Ordinarily, a user would have to configure a VPN connection manually. However, most custom-built VPN client software removes this fiddly step. With most client software, all that a user needs to do is type in their login details to connect to the VPN service.
Each VPN client comes with a different range of features. However, besides good features, VPN client software should have overall quality to ensure reliability and consistency. A VPN client that connects for ten minutes and then goes off is undoubtedly frustrating. Most issues with VPN client software are with mobile device connectivity. Desktop clients don’t have as much problems.
Ideally, the VPN client should be freely available for all subscribed users, but some providers offer both free and paid versions of their client software. Most mobile apps are premium though.
Before you explore the different features of VPN client software, ensure that the client meets these qualities:
Compatibility With Systems And Protocols
A good VPN client should be compatible with all the major desktop and mobile platforms in use today, especially Windows, Mac, and Linux distributions. Some providers offer dedicated VPN client software for a particular platform, but the majority of client software supports multiple platforms. The VPN client should also have a mobile version for Android and iOS devices. VPN apps for mobile devices are more complicated to develop than desktop clients, so they are usually dedicated apps built for a particular platform rather than multi-platform apps.
In the same regard, a good VPN client should support the different VPN protocols, particularly OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and SSTP/SSL protocols. Many top providers offer OpenVPN as standard; however, if it is not applicable in some situation, the app should be able to support the suitable protocol. The level of encryption (and security) that you get depends on the protocol in use.
A VPN client establishes a connection between your computer and your provider’s VPN server. Once connected, the client ensures that the connection remains active for as long as the user is accessing the Internet. The longer the VPN client can sustain this connection, the more reliable it is. You want to avoid VPN terminals that frequently lose connection with the remote server.
Ease of Use
VPN client software comes in two types: GUI based and command line based clients. Predictably, GUI-based client software offers increased ease-of-use compared to command line based software. GUI-based clients enable users to connect to a VPN service with mere clicks of a mouse. On the other hand, some command line clients require more technical details before authenticating a user. Needless to say, GUI-based VPN client software is the way to go.
After exploring the three main qualities of good VPN client software, look for these features that enhance your VPN experience:
IP Address Changer
An IP address changer or scheduler helps you manage your IP changes and settings easily. This feature is optional, but client software that comes with it offers better usability and flexibility in terms of how you manage your connection.
DNS Leak Protection
If DNS requests bypass your VPN server for some reason, it results into DNS leakage and, therefore, potential compromise of your privacy. Advanced VPN client software ships with built-in DNS protection capabilities. If you’re serious about protecting your online privacy, ensure that you select client software that has this capability.
Internet ‘Kill Switch’
This is a crucial feature for any serious VPN client. The ‘Kill Switch’ does basically what its name describes – it ‘kills’ your Internet connection in the event that the connection to the VPN server is lost.
A VPN client that displays server statistics enables you to select a server that will give you the best connection speed based on its signal latency and how busy it is. Without this feature, you’d have to test servers manually by hoping from one to the next.
Other useful but not necessarily critical features include auto-login and connect, port forwarding, and subscription details.
HideMyAss (HMA) Pro VPN Client
Many VPN users and experts agree that HideMyAss’s Pro VPN client software is the most advanced and user friendly client terminal on the market. The feature-rich software is equipped with everything that makes for seamless VPN connection.
The Pro VPN client supports multiple protocols and comes with built-in load balancing. The quick server selection feature lists all the servers in the company’s network for your quick and easy selection. Once the client software is launched, this feature is automatically loaded and displays servers grouped by protocol. You will be able to select a server closest to where you are. You may also create a custom server list to randomly connect to in order to increase your online anonymity.
The Pro VPN client software also comes with a ‘secure bind’ feature that ensures a constant VPN connection whenever you are actively connected to the Internet. The feature blocks connection for certain applications whenever the VPN is not running.
A speed guide feature continuously pings servers to detect signal latency. It then displays the results for the user to know the fastest server at a given time and whether they should switch to that particular server.
This VPN client also has an elaborate IP settings feature that includes an IP scheduler, third-party websites that confirm your anonymity, and an IP history feature that keeps a log of all previously used IP addresses. This might be a positive or negative depending on your privacy needs.
Overall, the HMA Pro VPN client software is a fully featured client that has all the crucial features plus a few optional ones. The only downside is that it keeps IP address logs that you connect to; otherwise it is one of the best VPN client VPN terminals on the market.