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How to choose a VPN

Not all VPNs are the same. Free VPNs may leak your data, while others are owned by questionable entities, are not audited independently, and use weak encryption that is easily cracked.

Zen Bahar

Zen Bahar

How to choose a VPN

Your VPN should use advanced 256-bit encryption, and be regularly audited by independent auditors.

How to pick a VPN for the best protection and privacy


First things first, speed. Even if you simply need a VPN to protect you while you’re gaming or watching your favorite TV show, without a fast VPN you’ll be lagging and buffering non-stop.

Look for strong protocols and encryption

A VPN is faster when it’s built on strong and lightweight protocols. Take NordVPN, for example: it uses the exclusive NordLynx protocol, built on the renowned WireGuard protocol. It remains so lightweight and powerful that you get the fastest speeds possible when using a VPN.

Servers and countries

When you use a VPN app, you can connect to different countries from the menu. Spoofing your location lets you access the internet without restrictions while travelling, as well as liberating citizens of political oppression.

For example, if you connect to a server in Utah the websites you visit will associate you with the location of the VPN server’s IP. That offers an extra layer of privacy.

The fastest VPNs will have hundreds, if not thousands of servers in each country. The more servers there are in a country, the more likely you are to connect to one closer to you. And the closer you are to the server, the faster your speed will be.

As an example, NordVPN has 5,100+ servers in 60 countries across the world and breaks speed tests every time. You can now even select a specific city you want to connect to, from Mumbai and New York to Brisbane and Berlin, and always get a VPN optimized for speed.


Look for 256 AES-bit encryption

Those of us who need protection against snoopers and spies need a VPN that uses the most powerful 256 AES-bit encryption, which is the technology that scrambles your data so intruders who aim to steal it can’t read it. Always look for a VPN that uses the strongest encryption and protocols.

Who is the VPN audited by?

Some VPNs choose to prove that their security claims are intact through independent audits. So check whether the VPN company has been audited, when you’re choosing a VPN.


Free VPNs vs paid VPNs

Sometimes, a VPN will boast powerful encryption, top-tier protection, and an array of easy-to-use apps, which might even be free! Some free VPNs make their money by selling your data to advertisers and third-parties. Paid VPNs can afford to operate huge research and development teams, to deliver secure, well designed services.

*Never trust free VPNs as this is usually their way of making profit. *

What data does the VPN collect?

Make sure the VPN company doesn’t track or store your connection or traffic logs. It means that even the staff working for the company can’t see your data, so even if they were asked to share it, they couldn’t.

This information is usually advertised as a feature rather than hidden in tonnes of small print.


Nobody wants all the gear with no idea how to use it. Look for a VPN app that’s easy to use and understand because new advancements and features are being added all the time, and you want to be able to keep ahead without the hassle.

Most VPN apps offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can see if it’s nice and simple to use before you commit.

Look for apps on multiple platforms

There’s no point in using a VPN on your phone when you can’t use it on your PC, laptop, or router. If you’re a gamer, look for a VPN that says it can be used on your home router. NordVPN can easily be configured on your router, which means every Wi-Fi device, including your game console, will be protected.

Can you use one login for multiple devices?

Imagine you’re in the airport. You’re watching a TV show on your laptop and shopping on your phone. Imagine having to log out of the VPN on your laptop, disrupt your show, and log in to the VPN on your smartphone just so you can buy something.

Premium VPN apps like NordVPN let you use it on 6 devices simultaneously. You can even share your login with friends and family as long as the simultaneous connections doesn’t exceed 6.

Do the apps come in different languages?

Get a VPN app that is translated into multiple languages, not just English. You can find this out on the VPN’s FAQ page. NordVPN is translated into multiple languages across all of its apps for macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, and Android TV. That way, even your relatives and friends abroad can use it comfortably.

So, now you know what to look for, how do you choose the right VPN? It also depends on what you need a VPN for.

What are you using a VPN for?


You’ll need a VPN that prevents DDoS attacks and hides your IP with strong encryption.

  • Choose a VPN that can be configured on your router, as most VPNs don’t have apps for gaming consoles.
  • Choose a VPN that uses next-generation encryption. It’ll make sure attackers can’t crack the encryption and attack you.

Find out more about how a VPN protects you while you’re gaming

Casual users

You’ll need a VPN that uses powerful encryption and has apps for every platform so you can watch TV shows and live sports from any of your devices.

  • Choose a VPN with a high count of servers all over the world for better speed.
  • Choose a VPN that uses advanced encryption, as it’ll ensure maximum privacy against prying eyes. Strong encryption is also essential for browsing on public Wi-Fi in airports, cafes, and hotels. It’ll make sure you don’t leak any information to hackers, who frequent places with public Wi-Fi.

Privacy fans

To ensure robust privacy and security, you’ll need powerful next-generation encryption. You should also review their privacy policy.

  • Choose a VPN that is regularly audited by independent auditors. NordVPN has been audited by one of the Big 4 auditing firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers AG (Zurich, Switzerland), one of the most dependable and renowned auditors in the world.
  • Choose a VPN that doesn’t keep your traffic logs and offers a kill switch. The policy will make sure your data isn’t stored or shared, and the kill switch will take your devices offline if your connection to the VPN suffers. That way, you’re never exposed.

Working from home

If you need a VPN to securely access work files, security is your top priority. With the right equipment, your home Wi-Fi can be hacked from a few miles’ radius from your house. Your traffic may also be monitored by your ISP, who may sell it to third parties. Some VPNs also have useful features that can help with home working. For example, NordVPN’s Meshnet function allows you to securely access devices remotely — for example, retrieving files from a work laptop while working on your home computer.

  • Choose a VPN that can be configured on your router. Any online activity from your house will be encrypted automatically without you having to install an app on each of your devices.
  • You’ll need a VPN that uses next-generation encryption. Your work files and data traffic include sensitive information, which need proper protection from malicious actors.
  • Choose a VPN with added protection. NordVPN has a Threat Protection feature, which warns you of websites which are known to be involved with malware and cyberattacks. It also helps you to identify malware-infected files, blocks trackers and intrusive ads.
  • You may want to consider NordLayer, specially designed for company use. You can manage access permissions, enjoy auto-connection to protect employees, and take advantage of dedicated servers for optimum performance.

NordVPN is the world’s most popular VPN with 14 million users worldwide. Try it today.

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Zen Bahar
Zen Bahar Zen Bahar
Zen likes to use her cybersecurity knowledge to help protect the privacy and freedom of others, otherwise, you can find her playing with paints in her studio in London.