TLDR: VPNs are definitely worth it! If you’re in a hurry NordVPN is the Best VPN!🥇
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Ever since the world has been forced to work from home due to the Pandemic, more and more people are becoming aware of their online security and privacy. And more often than not, their search for the solution ends up with them being told to use a VPN. That is in most cases very accurate. Now, here’s the problem. There are tons of articles on what the best VPN is and which one to choose. But that’s not the ideal way to go about it. The reason is that most of these people haven’t sold on a VPN yet. They know which VPNs to go for but they aren’t sure they should go for it. They want to know whether a VPN is worth it. Well, in this article I will be doing exactly that. I will define what a VPN is and why it is used. Then we will decide whether it is worth buying a VPN. And finally I will be telling you my top two VPNs that are worth a try. So, let’s begin with knowing what a VPN is.
What is a VPN?
To begin with, let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about VPNs.
A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running on an end system (PC, smartphone etc.) across a VPN may, therefore, benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network. Encryption is a common, though not an inherent, part of a VPN connection.
I would go out on a limb and say that this definition isn’t that beginner-friendly. So, let’s try and put it in a more beginner-friendly way. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service that gives you online privacy and anonymity. It creates a private network from the user’s internet connection. VPN routes the users’ connection through a remote server. This way it masks the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the user making them virtually untraceable. Most important, a VPN service establishes secure and encrypted connections. This provides far greater privacy and protection than a regular connection. Using a VPN your connection becomes secure and anonymous. On the local network only a single connection will be visible. All the other traffic that needs to be transferred will pass through the VPN connection. Therefore, VPN routes all of the users’ requests through a secure tunnel on their server without exposing the user. Hence, anyone who uses a VPN will be safe from the prying eyes of their ISPs and other 3rd parties. Now that we know what a VPN is, let’s take a look at the reasons why one should use a VPN.
Reasons to Use a VPN
Now that you know what a VPN is you will be itching to know what is the need for it and what are some of its use cases. You would also want to know whether VPN is a must and you won’t be able to access the internet without it. The answer is that it isn’t required to be connected to a VPN while accessing the internet. It’s just that using a VPN makes your connection secure and anonymous. Let us now see some common uses of a VPN.
Security is one of the primary reasons most people use a VPN. The level of security a VPN can provide decides how effective a VPN is. A good VPN has a good amount of features that provide security to users. These features include the level of encryption that a VPN has. Most good VPNs use military-grade encryption like Advanced Encryption Standard (AES-256). This is the most common type of encryption used by VPNs and is very effective in protecting your information. These protocols define how a VPN works and hence are instrumental in deciding the level of security of a VPN. There are multiple VPN protocols, but the most common is the OpenVPN protocol. This is the industry standard of and is used by default in most VPNs. There are a few other new protocols that are supposed to provide more security like Wireguard. While they are effective, there’s still a lot they need to do to be able to be as effective.
Another great feature that helps protect users’ security is the DNS leak protection feature. Most good VPNs will provide you secure protection from any sort of DNS leaks. The way most VPNs protect you from DNS leaks is by using their own private Domain Names System(DNS). This means all the DNS queries of the users will go through an encrypted tunnel. These queries are then resolved on the same VPN server the user is connected to. So there will be no activity logs, no connection logs, no DNS blocking, and no third parties. And in an event that the network is compromised, the users’ identity will be protected. They will remain anonymous and hence their security won’t be compromised.
Some VPNs also have a Kill Switch feature. This feature, when enabled, prevents the users’ traffic from leaving the local network in case the connection is interrupted. In other words, it will immediately stop any kind of traffic from either entering or leaving the device. This will ensure that the personal information, including the IP address of the user, will not be exposed to the ISPs or any other prying eyes. Hence, the users’ security will be protected. These and many other features like this will decide how good a VPN is in protecting our privacy. A VPN will also protect a user from IP address leaks. VPN providers won’t use the real IP address of a user. Instead, it uses one of its dedicated IP addresses. This protects the real IP address of the users from leaking at websites and web services. No one will be able to trace the activities back to the real IP address.
So, if privacy is your main concern, like many others out there, then a VPN will be worth it. Just make sure you don’t end up using a poor VPN and do your research before using a VPN. To make it easier for you, I will be mentioning two such good VPNs. So hang on till the last.
Whenever you browse the internet, your Internet Service Provider can see what websites you are visiting and what files you are downloading. Not only this, but even other prying eyes will also be able to track your activity. This data can be sold to third parties who might use it for malicious activities. So if you want to hide your browsing activity from your ISPs and other third parties then you can connect to a VPN. Using a VPN your connection becomes secure and anonymous. On the local network only a single connection will be visible. All the other traffic that needs to be transferred will pass through the VPN connection. This way your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or Governmental agency won’t be able to track you. They will not be able to link your session with your IP address. However one thing you should keep in mind is that VPN providers may still track and log your activity. So, as long as you use one of the known VPNs with a strict logging policy, your privacy will be safe. Another reason why a VPN is worth it. Talking about logging policy, well let’s see how it plays a role.
3. Logging Policy
Another primary reason people use VPNs is to hide their online activities and prevent ISPs from monitoring and tracking their online activities. The thing is even though the ISP and other third parties won’t be able to track users, the VPN provider will still possess this particular information. There is no guarantee what they will do with that data and nothing is stopping them from selling these data to third party buyers. Also if the VPN provider is based in one of the member countries of the 14 eyes, then there is a chance government surveillance officials might ask for these data in the guise of national security. This is especially relevant if your VPN provider is based in a 5/9/14-Eyes Alliance country. VPNs in these countries can be legally obligated to provide your data. For this reason a good VPN should not store any of your information at whatsoever. So a VPN is as good as its logging policy. Most good VPNs have a strict no-logs policy. And they are located in countries that don’t have any restrictions regarding this. So, using a VPN would mean that your data will be safe from your ISPs as well as Government Agencies.
4. Bypass ISP throttling
Most Internet Service Providers (ISP) intentionally slow down the speed of a user’s broadband internet connection. This is usually done by the ISPs to regulate a network’s traffic and to alleviate network congestion. While this is a common practice the result of this throttling is that users get a lower speed than they were supposed to. This throttling can be bypassed by using a VPN. A VPN routes your connection through their secure tunnel, preventing your ISP from throttling your connection. How this works is that the ISP won’t be able to identify your connection and hence there will be no internet throttling.
5. Unblock Geo-Restricted Content
Imagine these scenarios. You are someone who is traveling to a different country and want to access your native Netflix or Prime Video library. Or you are someone who wants to access the catalog of a different country because a particular title isn’t available in your region. Normally you would be out of luck in both these scenarios but using a VPN can easily solve these problems for you. A VPN will mask your location based on the server you are connected to. This enables you to access these region-restricted services from anywhere in the world. So, you can stream a show which isn’t available in your region using a VPN.
6. Bypass Internet Censorship
Many countries are known for notoriously censoring a majority of the online content as well as restricting access to many websites. China is one such country that comes to mind. In such cases you can use a VPN to gain access to these restricted contents. While you may not be required to use it but if you are somewhere where you might have to use a VPN for this purpose, then it makes the VPN worth it.
7. Downloading Torrents
Downloading torrents might land you in trouble in multiple countries. Even if it isn’t illegal, downloading a torrent can be painstaking because most ISPs throttle the speed. Some ISPs might even serve you notices for downloading torrents. Universities and other Institutes also block torrents. Using a VPN you can bypass these restrictions and also ensure that you don’t land in trouble.
8. A large number of Servers
Most good VPNs will have a large number of servers, which is also a great indicator of how versatile a VPN is. Having a large number of servers available has its advantages. Here are two such reasons why large no servers can be beneficial. First, more no of servers means that you can switch between servers in case one of the servers isn’t working. So you can find a server that best suits your requirements. Secondly, a huge no of servers would mean that there will be less congestion in a particular server. As a result you will get better speeds. Therefore a VPN will allow you to access content from several locations spread across the globe.
Is a VPN Worth It?
Well, now you know the reasons why having a VPN is worth it. It not only gives you privacy and security but opens up a lot of other possibilities. So, if you have decided to go ahead and get a VPN, then I guess it’s a good time to tell me my recommendation on which VPN to choose.
Which VPN Provider should you try?
When it comes to VPN, NordVPN is one of the leading providers out there. They pretty much excel in almost every aspect. Let us see how they fare against our criteria.
Privacy: NordVPN is based in Panama, which doesn’t have any data retention laws. So that means your data won’t reach any authorities or government agencies. So that’s a plus. Moreover, NordVPN has multiple protocols that will secure your connection. It supports the following protocols:
NordVPN also has many other features that ensure you are always protected.
Kill Switch: If your VPN connection is ever interrupted or if the connection fails, NordVPN will make sure to immediately stop any kind of traffic from either entering or leaving your device. So your personal information including your IP address will not be exposed to your ISP or any other prying eyes.
Private DNS: NordVPN uses its own private Domain Names System(DNS). This means all the DNS queries of the users will go through an encrypted tunnel. These queries are then resolved on the same VPN server the user is connected to. So there will be no activity logs, no connection logs, no DNS blocking, and no third parties.
Advanced Encryption Standard (AES): NordVPN uses AES encryption in all their connections. They use 256-bit key encryption along with AES. They also use a 4096-bit RSA key to privately communicate with all your devices.
Double VPN: NordVPN will pass your data through multiple servers. It will encrypt your data at every server. So all your data is protected with an extra layer of encryption which makes it even harder to decrypt.
Strict No log Policy: NordVPN claims that they don’t log any of your online activity. They do not store connection timestamps, session information, used bandwidth, traffic data, IP addresses, or other data.
With features like this NordVPN provides you with a secure and safe streaming experience while using Kodi.
Servers: NordVPN currently has a total of 5679 servers spread across 59 countries. Each of these servers has a dedicated IP address. They also have, what they call, Obfuscated servers. So if you’re located in a country that has a strict restriction on Internet access, you can use these servers. All of these servers have a high-speed bandwidth, so streaming on Kodi won’t be a problem.
NordVPN has a few quite affordable plans. They have 4 different plans:
Monthly: This is the shortest and the most expensive of all its plans. It costs $ 11.95 for a single charge. For a one year period it will cost $ 143.40. This plan is billed once every month.
1 Year plan: The subscription for this plan is priced at $ 83.88. This comes with a 41 % discount which saves a total of $ 59.52. The per month cost for this plan is $ 6.99.
2 Year Plan: The subscription for this plan is priced at $ 119.76. This comes with a 58 % discount which takes the savings to a total of $ 167.04. The per month cost for this plan is $ 4.99.
3 Year Plan: This is the best plan that NordVPN has to offer. The subscription for this plan is priced at $ 125.64. This plan comes with a 70 % discount which takes the savings to a total of $ 304.56.
ExpressVPN is the other big name when it comes to VPN. Like NordVPN they also have been leading the market for some time now. Let us see what ExpressVPN has to offer.
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ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands which has no data retention laws. ExpressVPN supports the following protocols:
- OpenVPN with UDP
- OpenVPN with TCP
A few more features of ExpressVPN are:
IP address masking: ExpressVPN uses an encrypted tunnel to connect your device and the internet. During this it masks your IP address with its IP address. This makes it impossible to trace your internet activity back to you.
Network Lock: Network Lock is to ExpressVPN what Kill Switch is to NordVPN. So whenever your VPN connection is disturbed, Network Lock comes into play. It blocks all internet traffic. This prevents your IP from being exposed.
Zero-knowledge DNS: ExpressVPN has its DNS that it runs on each of its servers. That means that your activities are private. This is because your personally identifiable data is never stored on any server. So there will be no activity logs, no connection logs, no DNS blocking, and no third parties.
VPN split tunneling:
This is a feature using which ExpressVPN excludes certain traffic from the protection of its VPN encryption. According to their official website, with a split-tunneling VPN, you can:
- Stream foreign movies while using web services from local IP addresses
- Download safely without slowing down your other web activity
- Access your network printer while surfing the internet securely
So using Split Tunneling you protect only that traffic that you need to protect.
Best-in-class Protection:ExpressVPN uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with 256-bit keys to encrypt your information. Also known as AES-256, it is used by security experts worldwide to protect classified information. This means that your data is safe with ExpressVPN
Bypass ISP throttling: ExpressVPN also lets you bypass the throttling that your ISPs impose. It lets you use the full bandwidth no matter how many times your ISP throttles your speed.
Servers: ExpressVPN has around 3,000+ VPN servers in 160 VPN server locations in 94 countries. ExpressVPN is the only VPN that has a server in 90+ countries. All their servers have a pretty high speed that lets you stream Kodi, buffer-free.
ExpressVPN has three different plans.
- Monthly: This is priced at $12.95 and is the most expensive among all its plans
- 6-month plan: This plan costs $59.95 and is billed once per 6 months. The per month cost for this plan is $9.99
- 15-month plan: This is their most popular plan. It costs $99.5 and is billed once in 15 months. The per month cost for this plan is $6.67.
A VPN is worth your money and provides you Security, Privacy, and other features as well. If you are looking to try a VPN, they give NordVPN and ExpressVPN a shot. They both have a 30-day money-back guarantee.