These top VPNs can help you secure your web traffic, at the best possible speeds

By Polycount · 10 replies
Apr 25, 2018
  1. The Internet has become an essential tool for our daily lives whether you want to find information, do business, stay connected with friends and family, and the number of things you can accomplish keeps growing every day. However, the technological advancements that have granted us this level of connectivity haven't come without a few privacy risks. ISPs, governments and various other third parties have ways of tracking what you do online to some degree.

    While many of these groups likely won’t use the information they gather about us for anything nefarious, the risk remains. Following the recent controversial repeal of 2015's Title II net neutrality protections, these protections not only prevented US ISPs from blocking content and dividing the internet up into “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” but they also contained a few important restrictions regarding the types of information your ISP could gather about you. Depending on where you reside, other similar restrictions or contradicting laws could play an important role in determining how private your online presence really is.

    Now, virtual private networks, or VPNs for short, are currently the best way to keep your online browsing habits private and to secure your web traffic. You can use a VPN as a tool for staying anonymous online and potentially bypassing future content restrictions.

    For the unaware, whenever you connect to an online website or service, you’re sending a request to a host’s server for the piece of content you’re attempting to access. This is a fairly straightforward process on paper, but it’s far from perfect -- hackers can potentially intercept this request and gather information you may have sent, such as payment information, your birthday or your address. That is why HTTP Secure is so important and thankfully fully mainstream by now. But how about when using a public network like a coffee shop's Wi-Fi hotspot? Furthermore, some online content can be blocked by your ISP or other third parties based on your location.

    With a VPN, however, your web traffic is given an extra layer of security and anonymity. VPNs route your web requests through an encrypted tunnel to a server run by the VPN company you signed up with. After the request hits their servers, it’s then sent out to to the internet as usual. This means that your IP address -- which is often gathered and used to determine your general location -- and other information is effectively obfuscated.

    This layer of protection often comes at the cost of speed, but that’s a price many are willing to pay for increased security. It's also worth noting the speed impact a VPN may have can be mitigated by selecting the right service.

    There are dozens, if not hundreds, of options out there and some are certainly faster and more reputable than others. PCMag periodically tests VPNs for performance as well as factoring in other features like type of encryption used, transparency, ease of use and support. Their most recent roundup lists the best VPNs available today on a comprehensive comparison.

    When we test VPNs, we use the Ookla speed test tool (see how we test). This test provides metrics for latency, download speeds, and upload speeds. (...) Using that measurement, PureVPN is the fastest VPN by far. It's followed by the aptly named ExpressVPN and IPVanish VPN. But networks can be fickle things and your mileage may vary.

    Speed is one of the key factors to consider, but not the only one. We've rounded up top five VPN choices based on PCMag's tests along with our own impressions based on personal use over the past few months.

    PCMag awarded their 5/5 rating to NordVPN, applauding the service for its clean interface and excellent collection of features. NordVPN is priced at $11.95/month or $79 for a two-year plan. We managed to get a better offer for longer-term subscriptions, securing a $2.75/month rate if you subscribe for three years ($99 total).

    PureVPN which was listed as the fastest service on the roundup has a similarly aggressive deal going on at the moment: $2.87 per month on the 2-year plan, and a 7-day money back guarantee.

    We have recommended IPVanish in the past and we're glad to see it doing so well in PCMag's speed tests. One of their differentiating features is app support for Amazon FireTV and Kodi streaming. They're currently $5.20/mo when signing up for a year.

    PCMag’s runner-up Private Internet Access (PIA) is a simple, affordable VPN for “power users.” PIA will run you $69.95 for a two-year plan ($2.91 per month). I can attest to PIA’s performance myself; I use it regularly and haven't yet noticed a significant speed decrease while browsing the web or watching Netflix.

    We've also used ExpressVPN extensively on desktops and mobile devices with great results. Lately they've been touting bypass of Netflix's geo restrictions to access all the content offered in the US when connecting to their VPN.

    Finally, we should mention there are some free VPN alternatives. We wouldn't use these permanently because of speed and data caps on free plans, but for ocassional use we've had good experiences with both Windscribe and Tunnelbear.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2018
  2. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,420   +975

    When I began using NordVPN the service and the speed was amazing, I got almost my full connection speed almost all of the time. After a year and something of using them, I struggle to get good speeds with them having to try other servers and options in order to reach a decent one.

    I'm struggling so often that I won't renovate their service.

    Edit: Before NordVPN I had PIA (Private Internet Access) and this only worked nicely for the first month or two, after this trouble after trouble. The client looked like SAP had an ugly baby. NordVPN client however looks good at least.
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2018
  3. axiomatic13

    axiomatic13 TS Addict Posts: 165   +86

    PureVPN was 100% failstorm while I was in Australia. Kept defaulting to the American servers and eventually, they conceded that their app was broken and to use the manual vpn login. I got a refund and moved to VyperVPN and it worked perfectly and their support acted like professionals and not newbs like PureVPN.
     
  4. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,116   +259

    EDIT Upon doing a new speed test it looks like PIA has updated their servers and now can handle at least 150 mpbs down. The below statement is no longer true.

    Private internet acess only gives you speeds under 20 mbps. What a fail article they don't even do speedtests.... With the vpn on and off....
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
  5. merikafyeah

    merikafyeah TS Booster Posts: 148   +88

    Every time you see PureVPN mentioned in a VPN article, credibility goes out the window. VPN veterans know that PureVPN and Ivacy are part of the same scummy umbrella and they're borderline scams. PureVPN's security is a joke and their "support" division is really more of a retention division (a page straight out of Comcast's book). Even cursory research would show that PureVPN is to be avoided at all costs.

    Why then are they mentioned everywhere? It has to do with their shady af affiliate programs and marketing schemes. They've been caught having employees write glowing reviews on various sites and even bribe third-party reviewers to mention or recommend their services.

    Anyone who's been on the VPN scene for a decent length of time would have heard of "That One Privacy Site". One thing almost never discussed in detail on other review sites and various VPN recommendation articles is the relationship between VPNs and affiliates, but it is absolutely tantamount if you care at all about privacy, which is kind of the whole point of VPNs.
    Read this for a primer: https://thatoneprivacysite.net/2016/07/20/secret-shopping-affiliate-policies/

    I'm not going to recommend a VPN service because you shouldn't trust random people for something as important as your own privacy. Do your own research! People have different needs for VPNs and only you would know what is best for you. Be cautious.
     
  6. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Maniac Posts: 276   +146

    My PIA gives me my full 100mbit connection.
     
    treetops and statikgeek like this.
  7. Axiarus

    Axiarus TS Maniac Posts: 276   +146

    You should be using OpenVPN anyways and not a VPN's client.
     
  8. JessieWE

    JessieWE TS Rookie

    Pure has A LOT of issues. I'm fine sticking with ExpressVPN.
     
  9. Roberta Gates

    Roberta Gates TS Rookie

    Haven't had any issues while using Nordvpn... well actually had a problem streaming us Netflix but customer service was very helpful helping me solve a problem and service is priced reasonably with some good deals
     
  10. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,676   +1,220

    Regardless of which software you use, your bandwidth is at the mercy of the "Weakest Link" problem - - you'll never exceed the slowest link in the path to the site you visit AND due to TCP design, you'll only get ~73% of the rated speed.

    Using a VPN is not a performance enhancement technique.
     
  11. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,116   +259

    You know what its been over 6 months since I ran a speed test with PIA, I just did another one it looks like they upped their game. I now get my full 150 mbps down with 20 ms ping. I bought a year subscription with PIA and had slow speeds for a very long time, even tech support admitted to me after trying everything that their servers were slow. But PIA must have upgraded their servers, kudos to them, maybe all my complaining made an impact. I now give PIA 10/10.

    Their monthly price of $2.91/mo with a two year subscription is very cheap. One year 3.33/mo. I haven't shopped around for a VPN in a while but a year or 2 ago this was the cheapest service and why I went with PIA, now well worth it.

    EDIT upon reading the article it looks like there are several alternatives at this price, however when I chose PIA the fact that they do not keep logs is another reason I chose them.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
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