Every day, you hear more and more about the hazards of the internet. It seems country intelligence and malicious actors on the internet have the same objective: getting user information. That is precisely why you keep your laptop camera hidden behind a piece of tape suspecting someone might have access.
On the other hand, it seems that accounts of information tracking by public Wi-Fi hotspots are also not unheard of. Either way, the internet causes as much paranoia as it helps you. If you use the internet every day, we can bet you have used a VPN at least once in your life.
Be it for protecting your own identity or hiding yourself to bypass geographic restrictions, VPNs are not a novelty for everyday surfers. However, understanding the nooks VPN is of the utmost importance.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. As it sounds, it helps you create a secure connection to the internet where your real identity is hidden. While they are commonly used by individuals today, this was not their real purpose. Their initial aim was to connect business networks on the internet securely and perhaps even to help you access a business network right from home. Today the VPN has become so important that it also comes pre-installed in several operating systems.
But a VPN does not hide your identity as much as it redirects it. All a VPN does for you is to connect your device to a server somewhere on the internet. Once connected, you can browse the internet using the connection of that server. So, all anyone can see is that the host server’s identity and not yours!
That is why your VPN shows the location of your host server. Even today, VPNs are quite famous for businesses, even more so when it comes to working from remote locations. However, most of the usage of VPNs indeed pertains to bypassing internet censorship and accessing geo-blocked sites.
Using VPN on you Windows 10
Windows 10 comes with an embedded option to use your VPN. This option is predominantly designed for corporate users who might want to work from remote locations. The set up for this is relatively easy. You open the VPN settings by searching in your Start menu and open the settings. Use the setup wizard and enter the address and credentials for the VPN service you are registered with and want to use. Connecting and disconnecting to this VPN then becomes easy, with one click in the notification bar.
However, while you may want to make use of this fantastic add on to your computer, it is essential to always go for a trustworthy and reliable VPN. Here are 5 VPN clients for windows 10:
ExpressVPN is often considered to be one of the best VPNs in the market at present. It has become the number 1 choice for many surfers around the world, given its unparalleled speeds and smooth functionality. It allows you to monitor what apps can use internet access.
ExpressVPN carries a unique feature that is called split tunneling. Through this, you can designate specific applications that will use your VPN and others that will not. Express VPN also supports the L2TP protocol, OpenVPN protocol, and IKEv1/2 protocols.
While the service from ExpressVPN is not free, it surely is versatile. It allows you to operate any Operating System from Windows to IOS to Android to Linux and so on. You can also run it on your Apple TV, Fire TV PlayStation, Smart TV, and Android TV box. It offers browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Alternatively, you can also get a router preloaded with ExpressVPN on top of that; it lets you run up to 3 devices simultaneously.
ExpressVPN guarantees that it does not keep any logs on your browsing activity. It does not store any data that would trace back to you. Express VPN also offers one of the broadest range of VPN locations. It has over 160 servers in 94 countries.
Another impressive feature of ExpressVPN is that it comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. To create awareness of ExpressVPN for school and college students, Express VPN has also announced a scholarship competition. The scholarship value is US$5000 and will feature you on various websites. This scholarship is organized every year and is in line with ExpressVPN’s campaign for digital rights and information protection.
In case you want to check for a DNS leak test and a WebRTC leak test, the ExpressVPN website allows that service on its own website. Moreover, ExpressVPN is also known for its compatibility with entertainment websites. It can unlock Netflix, BBC iPLayer, Disney+, and more.
Another significant fact about ExpressVPN is that it is based in the British Virgin Islands. This is important because there are no data retention laws in that location, and hence ExpressVPN is not bound by those laws.
- ExpressVPN offers a vast range of servers spread across the world.
- It supports OpenVPN protocols on all its platforms.
- No activity logs maintained.
- Guarantees privacy with a reliable customer support system.
- ExpressVPN is one of the more expensive choices for a VPN.
- It can only run up to three devices simultaneously when the industry standard is five.
NordVPN covers one of the biggest cons of ExpressVPN exceptionally well. While ExpressVPN only allows simultaneous connections on three devices, NordVPN allows secure connections up to six devices!
NordVPN works with Android, Mac, Linux, and Windows operating systems to provide maximum internet security. You can get browser extensions from NordVPN for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. You can also get the NordVPN application on your Google Play Store and Apple App Store.
NordVPN also has some of the most prominent players talking about them, including The Guardian, VPNOverview.com, Forbes, The Huffington Post, BBC, BuzzFeed, and many more. NordVPN works with an astounding 5700 servers located in around 59 countries.
But Nord does not just offer their VPN for you. They also offer products such as NordVPN Teams, NordPass, and NordLocker. In addition to that, NordVPN also bypasses the Netflix proxy error and allows unlimited access to streaming services. The SmartPlay DNS feature is responsible for this feat, which is great for bypassing geographical restrictions.
The streaming support for NordVPN is not just restricted to Netflix, though. NordVPN can help you access about 150+ streaming services, including Hulu, BBC, Amazon Prime, Zattoo, and so on.
Moreover, NordVPN has an exceptional ad blocking service that will even let you skip YouTube Ads at times. On the other hand, the Double VPN servers add an extra layer of protection by routing data through two VPN servers simultaneously. NordVPN also allows you to monitor which applications use your VPN service and which don’t. You also get a kill switch to stop the VPN connection entirely.
You also get DNS leak protection, Onion Over VPN servers, Open VPN protocols, and LAN invisibility settings. When it comes to the payment procedures, NordVPN does not offer a free trial. It does provide a 30-day money-back guarantee for all customers with student discounts and social responsibility campaigns.
- No activity logs ensuring complete anonymity.
- Works with several streaming services and offers high speeds for streaming.
- You get specialized servers for torrent downloads.
- You do not have the flexibility to choose specific servers for browsing.
- It can connect to as many as six devices simultaneously.
Surfshark offers a uniquely personalized experience for you, which is evident from their own website. Extensively customer-centric, Surfshark even offers a free trial period that is available for all their supported platforms. But unlike most other paid VPN services, Surfshark is also willing to give you a 30-day money-back guarantee with its free trial period!
Going a step ahead of NordVPN, Surfshark allows you to connect unlimited devices to one account! The operating systems that Surfshark supports include Android, MacOS, Windows, Fire TV Stick apps, and Linux. It also gives you smart TV compatibility and works with your consoles. Moreover, you get to add extensions of Surfshark to your Chrome or Firefox browsers.
Surfshark also offers its CleanWeb, Whitelister, Kill Switch, MultiHop, and camouflage features with the subscription.
- CleanWeb ensures that you do not have to see annoying advertisements and pop-ups as you browse.
- Whitelister allows you to provide Surfshark access to a specific number of applications that will use the VPN when connecting to the web.
- The Kill Switch allows you to disable your internet connection with one-touch if your VPN drops.
- MultiHop is a feature designed to ensure that your identity is safe and untrackable. It connects you to multiple countries at once to mask your footprint.
- The Camouflage mode ensures that not even your internet provider can track you. Your provider would not be aware that you are using a VPN!
When it comes to streaming Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, there is no problem whatsoever. Similarly, using torrents with your VPN is no problem either. Moreover, with the added camouflage and MultiHop features, Surfshark is also secure when it comes to DNS leaks. Surfshark also claims that they do not keep logs on any of their users. Going up a notch, Surfshark has a partnership with Cure53 to audit their VPN extensions, who admitted that Surfshark was safe!
Surfshark also boasts its OpenVPN and IKEv2 protocols as well as its Shadowsocks protocols for Windows.
- Very cost-effective as compared to other paid VPN services.
- It allows you to connect to an unlimited number of connections simultaneously.
· Surfshark is not the fastest VPN out there.
4. Hotspot Shield
While paid VPN services go the extra mile in ensuring your privacy, the extra buck you pay may not always be worth it. Several free VPN services in the market will give you the same level of service (if not better) with a few small compromises.
Hotspot shield is often considered the very best when it comes to free VPN services. Unlike some paid VPN services, Hotspot shield will let you connect to not one or two but up to five connections simultaneously!
And while it may sound exaggerated, the fact of the matter is that Hotspot shield also operates in more countries than many paid services – 80+ countries and 3200 servers! Most people could complain about the speeds that any free VPN service offers. However, Hotspot Shield uses a unique feature called the Catapult Hydra protocols that maximizes speed.
Also, Hotspot shield is compatible with several operating systems, including Android, Windows, MacOS, and iOS. You can get a Hotspot shield extension for your chrome browser and even get a pre-installed router.
Even when it comes to streaming, Hotspot shield does not disappoint. It can unlock Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer! On that very note, Hotspot shield is also an excellent choice for using torrents. Similarly, Hotspot shield does not allow any DNS or IP leaks and gives you an automatic kill switch for your windows.
When it comes to logs, some users might have to suffer. While Hotspot Shield does not keep records of your activity, it stores several other types of information, including Operating system, Email address, username, IP address (till the end of the session), and so on. On top of that, Hotspot shield also does not have an adblocker. So if you are going through the Hotspot shield experience, stay prepared for plenty of advertisements and pop-ups.
While you may have some restrictions with Hotspot shield free version, it also offers a paid service. However, the cost of the paid service is not as much as other paid services.
- It allows fast speeds and high security for all users free of charge.
- It unlocks several streaming services online.
- It only allows a 500MB per day free usage.
- DNS leaks and streaming may not work with every server.
- Initial set up takes some time.
TunnelBear is another one of the free VPN that is known for its excellent service. Just like Hotspot shield, TunnelBear offers both free and paid services. The small gaps that you find in the free version can be covered through its paid services.
The VPN service provides robust security protocols with its OpenVPN and 256-bit AES encryption. Moreover, TunnelBear operates in 22 countries and offers 350+ servers. Plus, with its DNS leak protection means that the VPN is secure for you. And it works on most operating systems, including Mac, Android, iOS, and Windows. You can get browser extensions for Chrome and Opera.
One of the great features of the TunnelBear VPN is called VigilantBear. This feature is designed to protect you while you are connecting or disconnecting, ensuring that your data is not accessible by any third-party. So, VigilantBear is their Kill-Switch. Another feature is called the GhostBear that hides the fact that you are using a VPN. However, it may affect the speed of your connection.
TunnelBear also allows up to five connections simultaneously, which is more than even some paid services would provide. It also provides a great experience for torrenting but does not allow streaming over Netflix. Similar to other notable VPN service providers, TunnelBear opened itself up for an audit by an independent organization.
TunnelBear also guarantees that it does not maintain any logs of your activity. However, they will collect personal information like your email address, name, amount of data used, and last four digits of your credit card.
- User friendly and supports multiple operating systems.
- It does not maintain any logs of your activity.
- Mobile applications and desktop versions are both very easy to use.
- It only gives you 1.5 GB of data per month on free service. You will have to promote them on Twitter to avail of all of that.
- It does not support streaming over Netflix.
When it comes to choosing the best VPN, several different factors come into play. Understanding your requirements is always the most important of these factors. However, some general factors must still be considered to know whether a VPN is worth your while or not.
Perhaps the most important of these factors is the quality of the application and the features it provides. On the other hand, DNS leak protection and Open VPN protocols also carry weightage in the decision to pick a VPN service. While these may be technical, the most crucial factor for any individual would be the speed and performance.
However, security tops it all. Anyone using a VPN would not only want secure browsing but to make sure that the VPN itself does not pose any security threats.