Best VPN services 2017 directory

A virtual private network (VPN) enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to a private network. Using a VPN allows a user to benefit from the functionality, security and management policies a private network provides.

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The CNET VPN Directory lists many of the most popular VPN Services available. Secure your data and protect your identify by adding a virtual private network to your desktop and mobile devices. Use a VPN already? Share your personal experience and let us know if we are missing any top providers. Also note, if a purchase is made through the links below, CNET may receive a small share of the sale.

IPVanish VPN - Internet privacy threats are increasing, but IPVanish keeps data safe and encrypted from end-to-end. Recognized as one of the fastest VPN providers, IPVanish owns and engineers every part of its service. This approach is uncommon, as most VPN providers lease components from third parties. The IPVanish network spans 750+ private servers across more than 60 countries worldwide. Its strict no-logs policy, easy-to-use apps, and 7-day money-back guarantee make it a favorite among privacy advocates.  

VriosVPN - Vrois VPN router is a great way to protect all the devices connected to your home or small business Wi-Fi. Connect unlimited devices. Use VPN with Chromecast, Apple TV, PS4, XBox, Playstation, Mobiles,Laptops and any Internet enabled device. 

Hostwinds - Unsensored global access. Using Hostwinds VPN ensures that no restrictive firewalls are able to block you from accessing the content that you want.  Surf the web with ease and peace-of-mind using their secure On-the-go connection.

NordVPN - With more than ten years of experience, NordVPN is a leading VPN provider. NordVPN gives you military-grade protection online, and you can access all your favorite sites without restriction. They never log your activity when using their servers, which are operated under the jurisdiction of Panama, where there are no mandatory data retention laws. So you can always trust your privacy to NordVPN.

ExpressVPN - If you use the Internet on lots of devices - like desktop, laptop and mobile - you need a VPN that protects you on all of them. ExpressVPN has easy-to-use app and setup guides for all of your favorite platforms and protects your Wi-Fi at the source with ExpressVPN's app for routers.

PureVPN - PureVPN encrypts your Internet connection to prevent hackers from accessing your IMs, e-mails and personal information. Two Years/$2.49 per month. Over 1 Million people worldwide use PureVPN to protect their online privacy. Their service includes a 7 days money-back guarantee.

Buffered VPN - Buffered is one of the fastest-growing VPN providers on the market. With servers around the globe, its service enables users to safely and anonymously browse the web while also having access to all of their favorite websites. Buffered is very easy to set up and use, it has 24-hour customer support and the company's so confident you'll be pleased with its service, it offers a 30-day money back guarantee. Founded in 2013, Buffered is on a mission to make the internet a less restricted place and is a staunch advocate for internet freedom, and online security.

Golden Frog VPN Services - Golden Frog provides people with privacy, security and access to a free and open Internet. Golden Frogs VyprVPN service option has the highest level of speed and security for broadband Internet connections. Whether you are in North America, South America, Europe, Asia or Oceania, their network engineers build and continually manage their own global VPN network to provide the fastest VPN speeds across the globe.

Private Internet Access - One of the world's leading VPN service providers since 2010, specializing in secure, encrypted VPN tunnels providing safety on the internet. This VPN service is backed by multiple gateways worldwide with VPN tunnel access globally. PIA is 100 percent committed to privacy, doesn't log, and provides the most innovative technology to guarantee its customers' anonymity. Sign up today and connect up to five devices with one account!

Hotspot Shield - Hotspot Shield VPN software is free and available for many devices. Their mobile apps and browser extensions are supported by all major operating systems. Hotspot Shield VPN provides you with an easy and secure way to surf the Web anonymously and privately.

TorGuard - With all the security issues created by hackers, net censorship, identity theft, and ISPs' monitoring activities, your online privacy has never been more threatened or important. TorGuard's goal is to provide easy to use services that protect your online identity.

Hide My Ass - With servers in over 190+ countries, use the internet like a local, wherever you are. Unlike other VPN services, Hide My Ass VPN can be used on many devices at the same time, including mobile phones, tablets and games consoles.

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VPN FAQ

Since we're living in a connected world, security and privacy are critical to ensure our personal safety from nefarious hacks. From online banking to communicating with coworkers on a daily basis, we're now frequently transferring data on our computers and smartphones. It's extremely important to find ways of securing our digital life and for this reason, VPNs have become increasingly common.

What Is a VPN?

A virtual private network (VPN) is a technology that allows you to create a secure connection over a less-secure network between your computer and the internet. It protects your privacy by allowing you to anonymously appear to be anywhere you choose.

A VPN is beneficial because it guarantees an appropriate level of security and privacy to the connected systems. This is extremely useful when the existing network infrastructure alone cannot support it.

For example, when your computer is connected to a VPN, the computer acts as if it's also on the same network as the VPN. All of your online traffic is transferred over a secure connection to the VPN. The computer will then behave as if it's on that network, allowing you to securely gain access to local network resources. Regardless of your location, you'll be given permission to use the internet as if you were present at the VPN's location. This can be extremely beneficial for individuals using a public Wi-Fi.

Therefore, when you browse the internet while on a VPN, your computer will contact the website through an encrypted VPN connection. The VPN will then forward the request for you and forward the response from the website back through a secure connection.

VPNs are really easy to use, and they're considered to be highly effective tools. They can be used to do a wide range of things. The most popular types of VPNs are remote-access VPNs and site-to-site VPNs.

What is a remote-access VPN?

A remote-access VPN uses public infrastructure like the internet to provide remote users secure access to their network. This is particularly important for organizations and their corporate networks. It's crucial when employees connect to a public hotspot and use the internet for sending work-related emails. A VPN client, on the user's computer or mobile device connects to a VPN gateway on the company's network. This gateway will typically require the device to authenticate its identity. It will then create a network link back to the device that allows it to reach internal network resources such as file servers, printers and intranets, as if it were on the same local network.

It usually relies on either Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to secure the connection. However, SSL VPNs can also be used to supply secure access to a single application, rather than an entire internal network. Some VPNs also provide Layer 2 access to the target network; these will require a tunneling protocol like PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) or L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) running across the base IPsec connection.

What is a site-to-site VPN?

This is when the VPN uses a gateway device to connect to the entire network in one location to a network in another location. The majority of site-to-site VPNs that connect over the internet use IPsec. Rather than using the public internet, it is also normal to use career multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) clouds as the main transport for site-to-site VPNs.

VPNs are often defined between specific computers, and in most cases, they are servers in separate data centers. However, new hybrid-access situations have now transformed the VPN gateway in the cloud, typically with a secure link from the cloud service provider into the internal network.

What is a mobile VPN?

A traditional VPN can affect the user experience when applied to wireless devices. It's best to use a mobile VPN to avoid slower speeds and data loss. A mobile VPN offers you a high level of security for the challenges of wireless communication. It can provide mobile devices with secure access to network resources and software applications on their wireless networks. It's good to use when you're facing coverage gaps, inter-network roaming, bandwidth issues, or limited battery life, memory or processing power.

Mobile VPNs are designed and optimized to ensure a seamless user experience when devices are switching networks or moving out of coverage. It generally has a smaller memory footprint, and because of that, it also requires less processing power than a traditional VPN. Therefore, it enables your applications to run faster while the battery pack is able to last longer.

A Mobile VPN is a worthwhile tool to have since it increases privacy, user satisfaction and productivity, while also reducing unforeseen support issues caused by wireless connectivity problems. The increasing usage of mobile devices and wireless connectivity make it more important to ensure that your data is being transferred through a secure network. It will allow you to access the internet, while staying safe behind a firewall that protects your privileged information.

Who needs a VPN?

Individuals that access the internet from a computer, tablet or smartphone will benefit from using a VPN. A VPN service will always boost your security by encrypting and anonymizing all of your online activity. Therefore, both private and business users can benefit from using a VPN. Communications that happen between the VPN server and your device are encrypted, so a hacker or website spying on you wouldn't know which web pages you access. They also won't be able to see private information like passwords, usernames and bank or shopping details and so on. Anyone that wants to protect their privacy and security online should use a VPN.

How to choose a VPN Service?

There's a vast range of VPN servers on the internet. Some are free, but the best ones require a monthly subscription. Before you decide to download a VPN, make sure you consider these factors for understanding a VPN:

Cost - VPNs aren't too pricey, but they vary from vendor to vendor. If your main concern is price, then go with something inexpensive, or free - like Spotflux Premium VPN or AnchorFree HotSpot Shield Elite. By all means, try a free server but they do have a few drawbacks since they attract a lot of users. Free servers are often slower, and since most are ad-supported, they place adverts on the online pages you access. Others can even limit the speed of your connection, as well as your online time or amount of data transferred.

It's also important to note that leading VPN providers such as NordVPN and Internet Private Access offer stronger security features to ensure you're digitally safe. When selecting a paid VPN service, always be sure to check which countries it operates servers in.

Reliability - Select a VPN that is reliable and read the reviews to make sure that it's capable of protecting you by providing you with sufficient online privacy.

High security - An effective VPN will have the following security features: 128-bit encryption, anonymous DNS servers and an absence of connection logs.

Are there any bandwidth limits? This can often be linked to price; paying more will generally provide more bandwidth with faster internet access.

Are apps for Android, iOS phones and tablets available? Apps for Android and iOS devices are also vulnerable, so make sure your VPN server can support them.

To ensure privacy, you want to make sure you have a VPN that doesn't store online logs. Some servers provide virus and spyware protection, and features like that can significantly increase your online safety.

Using a no-logs VPN service will provide you with a higher degree of security. It can protect you from blanket government surveillance and prevent your internet service provider from knowing your online activity.

Using a VPN for Netflix and other forbidden treasures

Online streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have been making it difficult for foreign users to access their content in other countries. Many people can get around region restrictions by using a VPN to route your traffic through another country.

It can be quite simple to watch Netflix and other restricted goodies. You'll have to use a VPN service that allows you to get a unique IP address. This can often be available for an additional fee. Look for VPN services that offer a "dedicated IP address", "dedicated IP", or "static IP." Additional features like these will always allow you to access content from Netflix through a VPN service.

This is by far the easiest way to access your forbidden apps since there's no specific way to block VPN traffic.

A lot of people started using a VPN to evade geo-restrictions. But despite its forbidden benefits to users outside the US, a VPN is a great tool that can protect you and enhance your online experience over the internet by providing you with sufficient security and privacy. When it comes to selecting the best VPN, you have plenty of choices. There are many cost-effective VPN options, and all of them will vary in monthly offerings. Choosing the best VPN is easier once you narrow down the competition. The best indication of a good VPN service provider is that they have the right security and the right support in place for you.

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