Do I Need a VPN?

Updated August 5, 2020 | Jennifer Caffelle


We live in a day and age where technology is at the forefront of everything we do. More often than not we are connected to the internet, either by computer, tablet, or mobile device, for a good portion of the day. With the increased level of connectivity comes the question of privacy and security. If you?re worried about who can see your online activity, then a VPN (Virtual Private Network) might be right for you.

What is VPN and how is it used?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a way to create a private network while connected to a public internet source. For example, if you are working out of a Starbucks and connected to their customer internet, you can flip your VPN on, which encrypts your data as if you were utilizing a private network and will mask your internet activity from anyone else. This is a great way to create a secure connection, particularly if you are worried about sensitive information. VPNs are used by many companies but are gaining popularity amongst individuals as more and more of our lives are transferred online.

VPNs are typically a software or app that you install on your device, so you don?t have to worry about carrying around an extra piece of equipment with you. Some subscriptions offer downloads for multiple devices so it is important to make sure that your operating system is supported. Once installed on your device many systems are easy to use and require little maintenance.

What to consider when purchasing a VPN

There are wide ranges of VPNs available, some things to keep in mind:

  • Your Platform: Does it work with your preferred device? Are you looking to encrypt your laptop, tablet or smartphone? Do you use Mac, Windows, Apple or Android? Some VPNs are platform specific, some cover a range, so make sure what you are purchasing covers your specific needs.
  • Price Point: There are VPNs ranging from free to fairly expensive. Consider what you are looking for and how much are you willing to spend?
  • Speed: Depending on what kind of work you are trying to do, download and upload speed will be a factor. Depending on the amount of data they need to run, VPNs can slow down your speed.

Infoplease?s research process

We at Infoplease have a stated mission to help people find accurate, reliable information. We usually fulfill that mission by offering reference data, or by presenting educational articles. One area where there's a lot of confusion and misinformation on the internet is consumer reviews. So, we've decided to offer some useful tips and some reliable data for consumers.

As always, we want to give you the information you need. We?ve considered the experiences of people who use drone cameras and existing reviews on top websites. But, we want to focus in on expert opinions and on the hard facts about each product.

We are not sponsored by any manufacturers or retailers, But, if you make a purchase through one of the links on our site, we may earn a small commission for it.

Our top picks:

Nord VPNNordVPN Internet Privacy & Security Software

The Best Overall VPN

NordVPN is an excellent VPN service that supports Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBP, Amazon Prime and more streaming services. With a host of supported devices we are confident that this is a good choice for your streaming needs.

NordVPN keeps no logs so your information stays secure, is accessible in over 59 countries allowing for a wide range of connections, and is well known for its excellent customer service which is currently available 24/7. With many different subscription options, their prices are one of the lowest in the industry, and they do offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Reviews to Consider:
?I just added it to my 16" MacBook Pro and it worked perfectly from the start with virtually no loss in transfer speed.?

CNET:"NordVPN stays on our list ofbest 2020 mobile VPNsfor many reasons, including its status as the reigning champion of the bang-for-buck ratio. Hands down, you aren't going to get aVPNanywhere else that can do more than NordVPN does, as cheaply as NordVPN does it. "

See price and specs

KasperskyKaspersky Secure Connection/Total Security 2020

The Best Budget VPN

Kaspersky Secure Connection is the recent VPN from Kaspersky, which can be acquired separately or bundled with their security products. It is pretty bare-bones in terms of features, and isn't as rigidly protective as some other popular services, but it's a lot more powerful than other options in its price range. With a yearly subscription, Kaspersky offers competent VPN services for only a couple bucks a month. If you need something

Reviews to Consider:
?Security in this day and age is so important. I have been a user of Kaspersky many years now and have trusted them with the security on my devices. A trust that has been well placed. I would recommend this product for its performance and for its price.?

Techradar: "Kaspersky?s offering is fast and good value if you only need the VPN basics, but power users will be frustrated by the lack of features."

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PIAVPN by Private Internet Access

The Best VPN for Server Access

With over 3,339 servers in 49 different countries, Private Internet Access has a far reach and plenty of bandwidth to keep up with high speeds. With one subscription you are able to have up to 10 connections, so this is a great option if you have multiple devices. For the amount of privacy they offer, subscription prices are reasonable, but as an added feature they also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Reviews to Consider:
Amazon: ?Best All around VPN solution you can find, & the only one thats proven their "no logs" claim in court. Flexible usage & choice of encryption options & compatibility with operating systems. Best of all is the price!?

PC Mag:"Private Internet Access has long been atop our list of thebest VPN serviceswe've tested, but it has struggled to remain competitive. It still offers a robust collection of features, a slick interface, over 3,000 servers, and 10 simultaneous connections."

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TunnelbearTunnelBear VPN

The Best VPN for Basics

If you are new to VPNs, or just looking for the basic coverage, TunnelBear is a great option due to its ease of use. With locations in upwards of 22 countries, TunnelBear has plenty of servers, but is certainly not the most advanced.

Even though they don?t have all the bells and whistles, they have great basic overings, allow up to five connections, have decent speed, and are open and transparent about their policies.

Reviews to Consider:
?I do a lot of shopping from my cell phone and don't want my financial information at risk. I heard TunnelBear is great for those who aren't technical. I can tell you it was easy to install onto both my PC and cell phone and has a very simple connection screen. I enabled a few extra options and it rawrs at me to let me know they have been turned on. The whole experience was very easy and simple to understand. I feel safe now. I love this!?

PC Mag: "If you're tired of edgy security products, let the strong-but-cute bears of TunnelBear VPN defend your web traffic. Easy to use and easily affordable, it's an Editors' Choice winner."

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WebrootWebroot Internet Security Plus with Antivirus Protection Software

The Best VPN for Speed

If you are looking to protect your privacy while maintaining the speed of your computer, you don?t have to look further than Webroot. Known for being light on computer resources but still extremely effective, Webroot is more than just a VPN.

Webroot?s Cyber Security program offers an Identity Theft program, safe browsing with real time anti-phishing, password management, mobile security, lightning fast scans and webcam protection. To stay safe online Webroot feels that you need both a VPN to protect you on any network, including unsecured WiFi, and virus protection to secure your identity and protect you from malicious or risky websites and hackers. This is a one stop shop for both items, and because Webroot uses nearly 8x less memory than other top rated VPNs, it won?t slow down your system or take up storage space. This is an award winner we know you will be happy with.

Reviews to Consider:
?Webroot does a great job without you noticing it running unless it notifies you of a problem. While I have noticed other programs hogging resources and slowing my computer down, that has never been a problem with Webroot.?

PC Mag: ?My simple hands-on tests measure changes in the time required to boot the system, to move and copy a large collection of files between drives, and to zip and unzip that same collection repeatedly. I average multiple runs before and after installing the suites, and report the difference.

Webroot didn't slow down any of my tests. In fact, the average time for all three came in slightly faster than before I installed Webroot.?

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