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What Is A Good VPN?

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Are you concerned about hackers, tracking and your online privacy? It might be time to join the club and get a VPN. But which one should you choose?

Picking the right VPN can be tricky if you don't understand how they work and are unfamiliar with their features. Read on to learn what makes a good VPN and how to find one that suits your needs.

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What Makes a Good VPN?

VPN services come with many different features, including encryption, DNS protection, kill switches and split tunneling. While no VPN can claim to be number one on the list for every single use case, a good VPN will have strong results across the board.

Here are some features you should consider when deciding which VPN to get.

Strong Encryption

VPN providers use encryption to protect your personal data and safeguard your privacy online. Encryption encodes your information, making it impossible for anyone else to decipher unless they have the encryption key. This keeps you safe from hackers or other unwanted third parties trying to get information like your social security number, birth date or financials.

VPNs with the strongest encryption use the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). Encryption keys come in the form of 128-bit, 192-bit and 256-bit — the higher the bit rate, the longer the encryption key. AES-256 is military-grade encryption, and the U.S. government uses it to secure confidential documents related to national security.

With a good VPN, you can use the same level of encryption to make sure no one finds out in advance which Halloween costume you ordered for this year's office party.

Wide Server Network

The wider your VPN provider's server network, the better. You'll have a higher likelihood of finding a quick and stable VPN connection when you have the option to connect to a range of servers across different cities or countries.

A server network that spreads across the globe also means you'll have greater access to geo-blocked content. Geo-blocking is when an online platform — a streaming platform, for example — limits the content you can access because of your location. The best example of this is Netflix.

Netflix determines your location and then provides you with a limited number of movies and shows that are viewable in your location. If you're interested in watching an Argentinian documentary on Messi's childhood, it might not be available where you live due to geo-blocking. With a VPN, however, you can switch your location to Buenos Aires and access that and a whole slew of South American movies you were missing out on.

Keep in mind that using a VPN to bypass geo-blocking might breach your user agreement. If Netflix detects you are using a VPN connection, your connection will be blocked and you won't be able to watch anything.

No-Logs Policy

A VPN with a no-logs policy is a must to ensure your privacy when you're on the web. Without a VPN, you allow your Internet service provider to track and record your online activity in logs. A VPN should protect you from having your data logged and stored, including by your VPN provider.

Having a no-logs policy means your VPN provider won't collect any data on the websites you're visiting, which files you're downloading or what you're searching for. Because of this, you don't have to worry about your internet activity falling into the wrong hands and being used against you, for example, as a result of a data breach.

High-Speed Performance

No one wants a slow internet connection. In some cases, a bad VPN can slow your internet speed by up to 77 percent. You'll likely need to spend some money and subscribe to a reputable VPN that has performed well on speed tests from trustworthy third parties. Most paid VPNs sport high speeds and allow you to stream 4K video feeds or video games with minimal lag.

Kill Switch Feature

If your VPN connection suddenly drops, you risk having an unencrypted connection until your VPN reconnects. This is most relevant for those using unsecured or public Wi-Fi. The whole point of getting a VPN for many is to have their identity and connection protected at all times, so a good VPN should include a kill switch feature to prevent this from happening.

A kill switch only allows your device to send and receive data over the internet when connected through a VPN. If your VPN stops working, so does your internet connection. The kill switch feature won't allow websites to load, emails to go out or any other online activity until the VPN is back up and running.

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Split Tunneling

Split tunneling is an advanced VPN feature that lets you fork your connection between encrypted and unencrypted internet access. You might want to use split tunneling to get a faster, unencrypted connection for trivial online activity like streaming services. At the same time, you can keep a portion of your connection encrypted to hide any sensitive information.

Let's say you're living in a country whose government censors the internet. You might need to use a local website that you can't access from outside the country, which means you can't access that local website with a VPN. With split tunneling, you can use a local IP address to access content inside of the country but also filter the other half of your internet usage through the VPN.

DNS Leak Protection

Domain Name System (DNS) is the service that matches a website's IP address with a hostname, making it possible for you to remember your favorite website with words rather than having to memorize a string of numbers. Without a VPN, you will use a DNS server administered by your Internet service provider, which means they will be able to see all of your online activity. Rerouting your internet activity through VPN servers ensures your Internet service provider doesn't get that information.

If there is a DNS leak, your private data and activity are exposed. Top-notch VPN providers offer DNS leak protection, which verifies that none of your data finds its way to your Internet Service Provider or any other third party.

User-Friendly Interface

An easy-to-use user interface will save you time and effort when using a VPN, especially if you're not familiar with the technical side of this software. You'll want to choose a VPN that offers a stable, encrypted connection with just a click or a tap. The interface should also allow you to select a specific server location through a simple search or scroll feature.

On the other hand, if you could teach the VPN 101 class at your local community college, you might want to customize some of the features more than your average user would. A good VPN should also allow you to easily tinker with the software's settings.

Compatibility with a Range of Operating Systems

Good VPN services will work on Windows and Macs as well as iOS and Android devices ranging from smartphones to tablets to smart TVs. For instance, if you're interested in running your Amazon Firestick through a VPN, make sure that the VPN you're considering can do so. Make sure the VPN is compatible with many different operating systems, especially if the VPN provider allows you to use your subscription on multiple devices.

Reliable Customer Support

It's always possible to run into a problem that a quick Google search won't be able to solve. If that happens, you'll be at the mercy of your VPN provider's customer support representatives.

A VPN provider with multiple lines of communication, like via phone, website forum, email and social media, will be beneficial when you're stuck. Choosing a VPN that only communicates through a website ticketing system may leave you pulling your hair out after you don't hear back from them for two weeks.

Transparency About Data Handling

Transparency is essential for a good VPN. Many VPNs regularly release transparency reports that are available to the public. Transparency reports should detail any warrants, subpoenas or requests by government agencies for data and information from the VPN provider. You'll also find out if the provider complied with any requests.

Looking into these reports is a good way to judge the trustworthiness of a VPN provider. If a VPN provider doesn't release any transparency report, you may want to go ahead and scratch that one off your list of options.

Good Value for Your Money

Although there are free VPNs you can use, they often have very limited bandwidth or slow speeds. Good VPNs come at different subscription costs and tiers.

No VPN provider is perfect in every regard. To determine what is the best VPN for you, you should decide what is essential and then compare multiple providers. Many VPNs offer a free trial or free version of their software that you can use to try out the VPN before committing to it. If a free trial isn't an option, you can always pay to test it out for a month and then decide.

Once you find a provider you like, you can get a better bang for your buck by purchasing a one- or two-year subscription. The main benefit of this approach is not having to worry about renewing your VPN for the next year or two. On the other hand, this is a big upfront commitment that you should seriously evaluate before making your decision.

Regular Updates and Security Audits

There are two types of audits that a VPN can undergo: privacy audits and security audits. Privacy audits inspect if the VPN provider logs user data and information or abides by a no-logs policy. Security audits look at how well the provider protects information against hackers and how stable its infrastructure is.

Independent third-party firms conduct security audits. Four of the most known firms are:

  • Deloitte
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • EY

Checking if a VPN provider has undergone audits for privacy and security can help you determine the VPN's trustworthiness. VPN providers don't need to make these audits public, but the most reliable ones will.

As technology improves, a good VPN will improve, too. VPNs that regularly update their software are good picks for reliable services.

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Is Norton VPN Good?

Norton VPN is a good VPN that you can use to protect your internet activity. It comes with a lot of important features that good VPNs have. Norton has a kill switch, split tunneling and a no-log policy, plus you can connect several devices simultaneously depending on the package you choose.

Norton also comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to try it out for two months to be certain it fits your needs.

Is It Good To Have a VPN?

Purchasing a reliable VPN will ensure that no one is taking a peek into your internet traffic. You won't have to worry about cybercriminals stealing your data and using it to trick your friends and family with a phishing scam the next time you rely on public Wi-Fi.

A VPN will also be able to change your geographic location online to unlock geo-blocked content in your area. Some VPNs even have unlimited connections, so your whole family can use them simultaneously.

Summary Of Digg's What Is a Good VPN

Good VPNs include strong encryption, a no-logs policy, high-speed connections, a kill switch feature, split tunneling and are transparent about how they handle data. This may seem like a lot, but you should ensure the VPN you choose has all the features you need.

If you're looking for a solid VPN, consider Norton VPN. It's operated by a well-established and reputable cybersecurity firm, and it boasts a number of highly sought-out features, including military-grade encryption, split tunneling, a kill switch and more.