Best VPN July 2020

  • Secure, encrypted and private surfing on the Internet
  • Unlimited worldwide access to websites and apps
  • Super fast speed that is perfect for streaming
  • Free trial period with money back guarantee
  • Available from:
  • windows
  • apple
  • android
  • linux
  • VPN service

    Features

    Score
    Best VPN 2020
    north vpn

    NordVPN is the best VPN 2020. Military security.

  • 4300 servers in 62 countries.
  • Very high speed
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • NordVPN Coupon available here
  • Recommended for streaming, data protection and changing the IP address
  • One of the best VPNs you can find. Military security. Lots of servers.

    9.6

    express vpn

    Fast and secure VPN service. Very good encryption.

  • Servers in 94 countries
  • Super fast pace
  • No protocol guidelines
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • Fast and secure VPN service. Servers in 94 countries. Very good encryption.

    9.8

    ultravpn

    Super fast and safe. Many servers. Very good VPN service

  • Server in 100 countries
  • Easy to handle
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • Super fast and safe. Many servers. Very good VPN service

    8.9

    surfshark vpn

    Fast speed and security at a reasonable price.

  • Over 500 servers in 50 countries
  • Very easy to use
  • 30 day money back guarantee
  • Fast speed and security at a reasonable price.

    8.5

    cyberghost vpn

    VPN provider with server 56 countries. Strict no-logs policy

  • Soddisfatti o rimborsati per 30 giorni
  • Servizio clienti 24/7
  • Setup istantaneo su tutti i tuoi dispositivi
  • VPN provider with 3700 servers in 56 countries. Strict no-logs policy.

    7.9

    bullguard vpn

    Bullguard offers fast connections and basic privacy protection.

  • Private & secure P2P connections
  • Instant setup & easy to use
  • Chrome, Firefox and Safari extensions
  • Bullguard offers fast connections and basic privacy protection.

    7.5

    What is VPN?

    ExpressVPN

    ExpressVPN

    A VPN represents a secure, encrypted "tunnel" through the Internet between your PC, smartphone or tablet and the website or app you want to visit.

    This is made possible by a VPN server in another country that redirects your connection. This will make you appear as a different “local” user.

    ExpressVPN

    ExpressVPN

    Since your IP address is replaced by the VPN server, you are traveling anonymously on the Internet.

    All you have to do is set up a VPN application on your device. The best VPN Services work on all devices such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.

    If you want to hide your real place, you can just start the VPN Service and connect from the country of your choice. Then use your browser or other Services as normal and do what you would normally do.

    How can I connect to a VPN?

    The most common method is to install a VPN application on the device you want to connect to the VPN. The VPN Service enables you to connect to a selection of servers from different locations worldwide.

    The number of available locations depends on the VPN provider you use. By using a VPN, you establish a secure connection between your device and the server, network or other digital device that you want to connect.

    Which type of VPN you use depends on how you want to connect to the Internet and how secure the connection should be.

    In most cases, you only need to register with the VPN service and install the Service before you can connect to the VPN. The majority of VPN services offer their software for all common operating systems.

    NordVPN

    NordVPN

    What are the advantages of a VPN?

    There are many advantages to using a VPN Service. If you want to fully protect your privacy, VPN is the right solution. Unlike proxy services and other applications to hide the IP address of devices, VPN offers better data protection because it creates a secure connection between the device and the server or network to which you are connecting. To be sure that your IP is protected, check your IP with the free online tool What Is My Ip.

    VPN gives you additional security. If you want to receive or transmit sensitive information over the Internet, this can be done much more securely using a VPN Service.

    NordVPN

    NordVPN

    Another advantage of VPN is that you have unlimited access to websites and Services that are otherwise blocked. For example, if you want to watch films from Norway on Netflix, you can only do that via the United States. No matter where you are, a VPN gives you access to a variety of servers worldwide.

    Can I use VPN on all devices?

    Most VPN Services are available for use on all devices. Nevertheless, you should clarify whether the Service you want to use supports your operating system. Express VPN and CyberGhost for example support all leading operating systems.

    If you want to trust the highest security, you will also have to choose the right VPN protocol. VPN services offer different VPN protocols for different operating systems. Therefore, depending on the VPN protocol you want to use, you should check which VPN service supports this for your operating system.

    Use paid or free VPN Services?

    There are quite a few VPN providers and many also offer free services. The problem, however, is that these Services tend to offer less speed, reliability, security, and customer service. If you use VPN for streaming data, speed and reliable connection are important.

    Security is also an important factor when choosing a VPN provider. Free VPN services mostly offer a point-to-point tunnel protocol (PPTP), which is the easiest to set up. Some vulnerabilities are reinforced by PPTP, which make these connections interesting for attacks. Paid offers on the other hand offer a variety of VPN protocols such as IPsec (Internet Protocol Security) and L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol), which are more secure than PPTP.

    Another important factor is the bandwidth of the VPN service. Free providers often don't have the resources to invest in effective Internet connections, which leads to slower connections. On the contrary, paid solutions offer more security and a faster connection.

    In addition to security and bandwidth, it is important that the provider has many servers. Payment services for VPN usually have many servers to make your VPN connection fast and stable, so that you can stream without problems and not lose the connection.

    Payment services are always getting better customer service compared to free services. Free of charge often require you to identify or fix your BPN problems yourself, while payment services have 24/7 customer service. Payment services also offer good customer support over the phone, which is useful if you can't solve your problems online.

    Can I use a VPN as web designer?

    Absolutely. A VPN secures your connection when designing websites and also protects sensible client data. You can easily use WordPress Page Builders like Divi Discount from Elegant Themes or connect to your web server.




    1. CyberGhost: The streaming and all-rounder

    What an awesome name! After all, with a VPN, the user actually moves through cyberspace like an invisible ghost. CyberGhost  has much more to offer than a sonorous name and a cute logo.

    At the company’s headquarters, CyberGhost takes  an interesting middle course. It is located in Romania, i.e. within the EU. The seat is therefore not at an offshore location (e.g. Panama or the British Virgin Islands) as with other providers, but also not in one of the Fourteen-Eyes states (e.g. Germany, the USA and Great Britain) that spy on their citizens.

    With a fast and secure connection without DNS leaks, a well-developed server network, unlimited data volume and anonymous registration, CyberGhost  chops off all mandatory criteria that a VPN should meet. A number of additional functions  provide the freestyle . It is worth mentioning, for example, that CyberGhost blocks advertisements, trackers, malware and phishing websites on request.

    Users can test CyberGhost  free of charge and without obligation for 24 hours. Only a few other VPN operators offer this option. For the free test, the user simply downloads the client from the  CyberGhost website and creates an account. If he then decides to purchase a subscription, he can easily withdraw from the purchase within the first 45 days (30 days are usual).

    2. NordVPN: The streaming and all-rounder

    NordVPN leaves almost nothing to be desired. The company has a huge network with more than 5,500 servers  in around 60 different countries and uses secure technologies such as OpenVPN and 256-bit AES encryption as standard. NordVPN  is fast and there were no DNS leaks in the test.

    NordVPN has equipped its software with extensive additional functions. The most notable is one that works inconspicuously in the background: NordVPN  uses special technology to make streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify available. Users with  NordVPN do not have problems with servers blocked by streaming providers . Another highlight is that NordVPN  supports Onion-Over-VPN for maximum security and anonymity. This technology combines the VPN with the anonymization network Tor (The Onion  Router ).

    If you want to convince yourself of NordVPN  , you can do it risk-free, because the provider has a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you want, you can remain completely anonymous, since payment with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is possible. Despite the impressive performance that  NordVPN offers, it is one of the cheapest providers. The 3-year package for 114.33 euros is particularly worthwhile. So the VPN only costs 3.17 euros per month.

    3. ExpressVPN: VPN on all devices

    Like Surfshark , ExpressVPN  is based in the British Virgin Islands, according to the website a “tropical oasis without data storage laws”. The provider operates more than 2,000 servers in 160 cities. ExpressVPN  offers an unusually large global coverage  . The server network comprises 94 countries in Europe, North and South America, Asia, the Pacific region as well as in North Africa and the Middle East. The area of ​​Sub-Saharan Africa, in terms of area and population, is relatively poorly supplied;  ExpressVPN servers are only available in Kenya and South Africa .

    Technically, the VPN with AES-256 encryption and four supported protocols (OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP / IPsec and PPTP) is well and modernly equipped. DNS leaks effectively prevent every server from acting as a DNS server at this provider.

    A special feature of ExpressVPN is split tunneling  : The user can choose which applications should have network access via the VPN and which should not. This is useful, for example, if someone uses the VPN to bypass geoblocking to stream a movie, but also wants to surf the web with their local IP address.

    ExpressVPN  does not offer additional functions such as an ad blocker, multihop, Tor-over-VPN or shadowsocks . The strengths of this provider lie elsewhere, namely in the platform support. No matter which internet-enabled device the user has at home: chances are high that he can use it with  ExpressVPN .

    ExpressVPN has  even developed its own client software for many operating systems ; many more can be connected to the virtual network using the device’s own network settings. The supported platforms naturally include the popular desktop and mobile operating systems such as  Windows , macOS , Linux , Android and  iOS , but also game consoles such as the PlayStation and Xbox , streaming media adapters such as the  Chromecast and various routers. In addition, browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome are available.

    In terms of price, ExpressVPN is  in the upper middle range. There are no greatly reduced offers with a long commitment period of up to three years with this VPN operator. The subscription with the best price-performance ratio is the annual subscription, which costs around 8 euros per month. There is no free trial before purchase, but  ExpressVPN has the industry-standard 30-day money-back guarantee.

    4. Hide My Ass !: Cheeky performance, solid performance

    The VPN provider Hide My Ass!  stands out for its marketing. The company mascot is the donkey Jack wearing a hat and sunglasses, who acts as a mixture of a casual dude and a cool pig and who, in a snappy tone, informs visitors to the provider website about the advantages of  HMA (short for Hide My Ass!) . Whether you find that personable or annoying is a matter of taste. In any case, it is clear that  HMA stands out from the crowd of VPNs, whose online presence is often confusingly similar.

    Support is a definite strength of HMA  . The customer service staff are available around the clock in chat and speak or write German. Another plus point is the well-developed server network. There is a VPN server from  HMA in almost every country in the world . Would you like to check whether your flight to Azerbaijan is cheaper if you book it from there? Go ahead  , HMA makes it possible! And which films can Netflix  users actually see in Gabon? You can easily find out if you have Jack the donkey by your side.

    Technically, with a 256-bit encryption and the VPN protocol OpenVPN , HMA  is based on what is currently considered useful for secure, stable and fast VPN connections. DNS leaks were not found in the test. However, HMA’s data protection declaration is skeptical. The VPN operator retains certain usage data for two months, and for an indefinite period if the terms of use are violated. In addition, the provider, headquartered in the United Kingdom, which is considered to be surveillance-friendly, freely agrees to disclose its users’ data to authorities, should the laws of their country so require.

    Price is Hide My Ass!  very attractive. A three-year subscription costs a total of 89.64 euros, which is only around 2.50 euros per month. If you want to test the VPN before buying, you can do it for free for seven days. However, this requires entering payment details. If the user does not cancel, the free test automatically switches to a paid subscription.

    5. Surfshark: So cheap and yet so good

    Skepticism arises regarding the lowest prices of the provider based in the British Virgin Islands: Doesn’t a VPN, which in the two-year package costs less than 1.80 euros per month, necessarily have to be a scrap product?  Surfshark proves the opposite. Despite the account-friendly market positioning, this VPN operator can easily keep up with more expensive providers and even exceeds many of them.

    Unlike CyberGhost and NordVPN , Surfshark has no device  limit . In addition, since there is no limit to the data volume, users can use the VPN as they please, without compromising.

    When it comes to  safety, Surfshark can’t be fooled so quickly. The VPN uses the latest protocols and encryption algorithms. DNS leaks reliably prevented it, as we found in the test.  Surfshark  even goes one step further than most other VPNs and offers multihop connections: The data stream is not glided through one, but through two VPN servers. These are located in two different countries. This makes it even more difficult for attackers to find out where the user is really located or to intercept their communication.

    As usual with commercial VPNs, Surfshark  does not offer a free test. Interested parties can still test the service risk-free, since – as is also common in this industry – they can avail themselves of the 30-day money-back guarantee if they don’t like it.

    Surfshark offers a great number of payment options. In addition to the online shopping classics credit card  , PayPal and instant transfer, this also includes Amazon Pay and its Chinese counterpart Alipay  as well as the cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum.

    6. ZenMate: Protection for an unlimited number of devices

    Zen Buddhism stands for serenity and inner peace. VPN provider ZenMate advertises with security, privacy and inner peace. ZenMate’s headquarters are in Berlin and the technology was developed in Germany. However, the provider has been part of the Israeli company Kape Technologies since 2018. A total of 3,800 servers are available in 74 different countries.

    ZenMate is available for Windows, iOS, Android and Linux. Use the VPN for Chrome, Firefox or Opera as a browser extension. The software is compatible with OpenVPN and Amazon’s Fire  TV  . According to the manufacturer, it follows a strict no-logs policy and does not create any logs. 256-bit AES encryption protects your data from unauthorized access.

    The manufacturer advertises with an uncomplicated one-click connection and gives you the opportunity to bookmark your preferred server. ZenMate offers you a 30-day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied. Payment is made by PayPal or credit card.






    What does a best VPN do for me?

    The abbreviation VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is therefore a virtual, i.e. software-generated network within the Internet  that is protected from unauthorized third parties. It prevents websites from tracing requests back to the user. The server only sees which best VPN the request comes from. Since the virtual network encrypts the data traffic between the user’s computer and the best VPN server, it reduces the risk of being spied on.

    In principle, using a best VPN is recommended for anyone who cares about their digital privacy. The digital civil rights organization  Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) also advises the use of a virtual private network .

    safety

    Since the connection between the user’s computer and the best VPN server is encrypted, eavesdropping attempts are made more difficult  . This is particularly important if the user goes online via an unencrypted WLAN (radio network), for example in a café, at the airport or in a library. In such networks it is very easy for everyone with the right software tools to read the data traffic of the other network participants. A VPN protects against this by means of encryption.

    privacy

    Fortunately, only very few internet users are victims of hackers, and innocent citizens are also rarely targeted by secret services. A less dramatic, but much more everyday danger comes from websites that create  extensive user profiles  for advertising purposes . This problem affects everyone who surfs the web. Since a best VPN obscures the location of its users and hides them behind the VPN server, so to speak, it is much more difficult for data-hungry websites to assign network requests to individual users.

    However, this type of attack on privacy cannot be completely prevented by a best VPN alone, since there are methods with cookies, trackers and digital fingerprints with which the users can still be identified. Users should therefore regularly delete their cookies and install anti-tracking extensions such as  uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger  in their browser. Various browser extensions are also available against digital fingerprints. Users can see their own digital fingerprint on the website  https://amiunique.org .

    Bypass geoblocking

    For many VPN users, the topics of security and data protection only play a minor role. Their main concern is to avoid geoblocking. Video and music streaming services  restrict their offer to certain countries. They have to, because the rights holders do not generally grant exploitation rights to the content globally.

    Abroad, for example, many content from German public television channels cannot be streamed. Conversely, friends of British  series are out of luck if they want to use the BBC’s  large free streaming service in Germany. When Netflix  are available to customers in the US other films and series are available than in this country. Since they make the user’s whereabouts unrecognizable, VPNs help. For example, if you choose an American server in the network of your best VPN service, you can access the American  Netflix library.

    Leverage restrictive networks

    Best VPNs are also suitable for lifting locks in your own network. If, for example, certain websites cannot be reached in a public network because they are blocked by the firewall  , the best VPN can still help to access these pages. A best VPN is just as useful when it comes to circumventing Internet provider restrictions such as page locks or speed restrictions for certain services (such as streaming or peer-to-peer file sharing).

    A best VPN is even suitable as a means against state censorship and surveillance. However, users should exercise particular caution, since states with restrictive regimes sometimes penalize circumvention of censorship measures. If you plan to use a best VPN abroad to access blocked websites, you should definitely consider the topic before you travel.

    How does a best VPN work?

    How exactly a best VPN works and where the limits of its effectiveness lie becomes clear when one understands that every device on the Internet – whether laptop, router, smartphone or LED-controlled LED lamp – has a  unique IP address worldwide  . This unique identifier is, so to speak, the addressing of the data packets on the Internet. It is necessary so that internet devices can communicate with each other.

    Since IP addresses are assigned regionally, it is very easy for website operators to find out from which countries, from which locations and, in the case of larger cities, even from which parts of the city their visitors come. A best VPN server works a bit like a mailbox: it accepts the data instead of the website visitor and forwards it to him. The website operator only learns the IP address of the best VPN server, but not the actual visitor.

    A best VPN works like a virtual network cable. A computer that is connected to another via best VPN can exchange data with it as if both were in the same local network. That is why best VPNs are also popular with companies that give their employees access to the company network in their home office, just as if they were sitting in the office. The difference to a physical network, however, is that the connection is not made via radio or a network cable, but via the Internet. A  virtual tunnel is created in the data stream of the Internet through which the computers connected via best VPN send data, which is why one speaks of a best VPN tunnel.

    Encryption secures the best VPN tunnel. Without it, all network nodes that pass the data on the way could simply read along. It is important to know that data traffic is only encrypted within the best VPN, i.e. only between the user’s computer and the best VPN server.

    As soon as a website is called up, the data also travels via best VPN on the route between the best VPN server and the web server of the requested page. Therefore, a best VPN does not replace encryption for the entire transmission link (E2EE, end-to-end encryption). Internet users can tell that E2EE is active in the form of TLS / SSL from the fact that the URL begins with “https: //” or at the closed, green padlock in the address line of the browser. In contrast to E2EE, a best VPN prevents the Internet provider from being able to observe, record and pass on the online behavior of its customers. Because it obscures the user’s IP address, it makes it difficult for websites to assign access to a specific place of origin or even an individual user. However, this advantage disappears if the user reveals himself, so to speak, and logs in, for example, on a page with his personal account. best VPNs are also ineffective against other methods of user identification such as tracking cookies or digital fingerprints. [/ Answer] [/ question-answer]

    Which best VPN should I choose?

    The market for commercial operators of best VPNs is relatively confusing. Hundreds of providers  compete for the favor of customers. This is also because with a little technical knowledge in the field of network administration, it is quite easy to become a best VPN provider. Basically, it is enough to rent a few cheap virtual servers and configure them as best VPN servers. Getting into this business is easy, but setting up a best VPN is challenging if you want it to be secure and stable over the long term. Customers need to find a provider they can trust to operate a network properly.

    What is needed is a persuader

    It is important to choose a provider that is trustworthy and that acts in the best interest of its customers. Since all data traffic runs over the best VPN, each best VPN service, like an Internet provider, has the opportunity to spy on its customers. best VPN providers can pass on the data obtained without the knowledge of customers, for example to companies that use them for targeted advertising. The ideal best VPN operator is not only a company with a profit intention, but also stands up  for data protection, for a free internet and against censorship .

    By assessing the overall appearance of a provider, customers can assess how they are dealing with these issues and thus at least obviously exclude suspicious providers. For example, some admit in their data protection declaration that they log user behavior in order to be able to place personalized advertising. Excessive tracking on the homepage is also a negative feature and can be determined very easily by using anti-tracking browser extensions.

    It is particularly unfavorable if media reports show that the provider has violated the interests of its users in the past. The following criteria help you choose a good and trustworthy best VPN:

    Anonymous use

    Usual payment methods such as bank transfer or credit cards reveal the identity of a user. For maximum security, it is therefore advisable to use an alternative payment method that guarantees the anonymity of the customer.  Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin  are ideal for this. Another option is prepaid credit cards, of which only a few can be used completely anonymously. Voucher cards are also an option. In theory, it would even be possible to send cash and a registration code to the operator by post; In practice, however, we have not yet found a best VPN that supports this type of payment.

    Company headquarters of the provider

    best VPNs like to advertise with an offshore company headquarters in small states like the British Virgin Islands. In such countries, which are also popular as locations for mailbox companies, they and therefore their customers appear to be largely safe from access by the European or US judiciary, they argue. Nobody can force them to give out customer data.

    What are the fourteen eyes countries?
    Democratic states only allow their own citizens to be monitored under strict conditions. This usually requires at least a reasonable suspicion of a serious crime and a judicial decision. By contrast, with foreign espionage, an intelligence agency does not usually violate the laws of its own country. The Fourteen Eyes countries take advantage of this. They have signed an agreement (SIGINT Seniors Europe, SSEUR) to tolerate the mutual surveillance of their citizens and to exchange the data obtained in this way. In this way, secret service organizations use the intelligence services of other countries to obtain surveillance data on the citizens of their own country.

    The following countries are part of the agreement: USA, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, France Denmark, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Sweden

    No logs

    Almost every best VPN provider advertises that it does not create any logs. A no-logs policy (usually referred to as a no-logs policy  in English ) makes sense, because if a provider does not log user behavior, he cannot reveal any data about it, either intentionally or through hacks or data leaks. Unfortunately, outsiders cannot check whether the best VPN really does not create any logs.

    However, some providers already contradict themselves in their data protection declarations. It can often be seen from these that despite the advertising promises, they save certain connection data, such as the amount of data transmitted by a user or his login times. This may be permissible in certain cases, for example to deal with excessive use or other forms of abuse. However, it weakens the trustworthiness of a provider if its advertising does not match the contract details.

    Encryption strength and best VPN protocol

    Decisive factors for the security and speed of a best VPN are the usable protocols and the encryption strength. The provider should support Openbest VPN with UDP and TCP  , and the encryption strength should be 256 bits. Other transmission protocols are comparatively unimportant and interesting for special applications. Encryption strength lower than 256 bit (128 bit) is not secure enough. A higher one would slow down the connection more, but would not significantly improve security.

    Device limits

    Today’s households usually have several devices with an Internet connection . At least one  notebook and one smartphone  per household member are common. More are often added, such as  tablets  and smart TVs. Customers obviously want to use all of these devices with the best VPN, but many providers don’t allow that. Some have to register each device in the customer area of ​​their website and they have  strict limits on the number of devices . A limitation to three devices, for example, is usually only sufficient for a single user, and even five is scarce for families.

    Limits are more flexible for the number of devices connected at the same time  . With this method, no registration of the devices is necessary, and an unlimited number can be configured to use the best VPN. If, however, the maximum number of devices connected to an account is reached, no more can register. It is also possible for a larger family to use the best VPN on all of their devices, but not on all of them at the same time.

    At At Surfshark there are no limits on the number of devices or simultaneous connections.

    It is easiest for customers if the provider has no device limits  at all . Such a regulation, however, leads to misuse. For example, an entire company with hundreds of employees could share a single best VPN account or someone could publish the access data in a forum. This would be detrimental to the business, so it can be assumed that they are using mechanisms behind the scenes that help them to identify such cases and to take action against them.

    Unlimited traffic

    Traffic volume is not an issue for best VPNs, because it is standard for paid best VPNs not  to set any down or upload limits . Daily, weekly or monthly traffic limits are only common with free best VPNs, but even there they are not always there. The free best VPN that is built into the  Opera browser , for example, has an unlimited data volume, but its functionality is relatively limited.

    Connection speed

    When using a best VPN, the data has to travel a long way. The encryption process also slows down the transmission. This always means that the connection speed with best VPN is slower than without. However, the test showed that with most best VPN providers very good speeds can be achieved with which surfing the web and even video telephony and streaming films in high resolution are possible without any problems. The speeds were usually around 40 megabits per second in both the upload and download. This is  faster than with conventional DSL and cable connections . Even those who are connected to the Internet at 50 megabits per second only have to accept low speed losses. With very powerful Internet connections with a speed of 100 megabits per second and more, most best VPNs are a bottleneck, which significantly slows down the data transmission.

    The user can influence the connection speed by the choice of the server and the network protocol  . Good providers show how busy the individual servers are so that the user can choose one that still has enough free capacity. In general, servers in closer geographical proximity also enable a faster connection. For the network protocol, Openbest VPN with UDP is the best combination of security and speed and should therefore always be the first choice. The user should only switch to Openbest VPN with TCP if a stable connection cannot be established with it.

    Server location countries

    VPN operators like to advertise with the number of countries in which their servers are located, in which their servers are located. These numbers are impressive  : 62 countries are at NordVPN , ExpressVPN claims to have server locations in 94 countries and  Hide my Ass! is represented by a server in more than 190 countries. With a total of 194 existing countries, there is a server from the latter provider in almost every country in the world.

    In practice, the many different server locations are of no interest to most users, because they only use the VPN servers in a handful of countries anyway. When deciding on a service provider, the total number of countries is therefore less important than adequate equipment with powerful servers in the countries of use.

    Number of servers

    The providers also advertise themselves with their server numbers. Most of them are in the hundreds – NordVPN  even operates more than 5,000 servers. However, this figure is not really meaningful because it says nothing about the performance and utilization of the servers . It is quite conceivable that providers may artificially increase the number for marketing reasons by using many cheap virtual servers instead of a few expensive but powerful machines with dedicated hardware. When looking for a suitable provider, customers should therefore pay little attention to the number of servers and instead test whether a stable and fast VPN connection is established at the selected locations. Another important criterion is that the provider’s servers are not blocked by video streaming services such as Netflix.

    DNS leaks

    So-called DNS leaks can lead to third parties having access to the data traffic of the user despite secure encryption with a VPN. They are a relatively common problem, as many VPN operators don’t take adequate measures to prevent them.

    DNS leaks occur because the browser sends a request to a DNS server each time a website is accessed to find out which IP address is hidden behind the server’s domain name. With 172.217.18.100, for example, the user comes to the search engine  Google  . The browser needs the IP address to communicate with the server. There is no way around the DNS query; the catch, however, is that the DNS server finds out which websites a user accesses. After all, he doesn’t get a detailed chronicle of the visited subpages.

    DNS servers are mostly operated by Internet providers or corporations like Google  , which learn how often which domains are visited. Good VPN providers design their clients so that they prevent DNS leaks  and the computer can only communicate with the provider’s own DNS servers.

    Streaming services

    Unfortunately, the streaming services and other providers whose content is protected by geoblocking also know and are increasingly blocking VPN servers. Often the user has no choice but to try out all the servers in the respective country one by one and hope that one of them is not yet on the blacklist of the corresponding streaming service.

    How well the VPN is suitable for video and audio streaming differs from provider to provider. While some find it a gamble to find a server that is not blocked, others take active countermeasures to provide their customers with easy streaming. The  NordVPN is particularly successful . This provider routes access to known streaming sites such as Netflix or  Spotify automatically and without the user noticing it, via a second, not yet blocked server.

    Bypass restrictive internet access

    A VPN may not be enough if website blocking is implemented consistently. Refined firewalls, such as those used by the Chinese government, recognize and block the VPN connection. In such cases, it helps if the VPN client supports  stealth mode  . This disguises Internet traffic as a normal encrypted TLS connection, as is now used by most websites. In many cases, this enables them to get past state censorship technologies and surf the Internet unhindered.

    Filter unwanted content

    A useful additional function that is available with some VPNs is the blocking of harmful and unwanted content. This is a function that modern browsers such as Firefox  or Opera  bring with them anyway. With other browsers it can be upgraded with free extensions. Content filtering is therefore not a decisive criterion for a VPN provider, but saves the user from installing some browser plug-ins. The following content is specifically blocked:

    • Promotional banners
    • Phishing sites
    • tracker
    • Malware

    Common VPN protocols

    The security of a VPN largely depends on the VPN protocol used. A network protocol is a standard for data transmission, i.e. the language in which network devices communicate. Each VPN protocol is made up of various processes and programs that determine the structure of the VPN tunnel.

    Commercial VPN providers support a number of different protocols. Most of the customers can choose between several. Some of them are publicly documented or even open source and are considered very secure. However, security gaps have been identified in the past in others. Users should  always use OpenVPN  and avoid most other protocols. From today’s perspective, PPTP in particular is considered questionable. In addition to security, the protocols also differed in speed and how well they work to circumvent network locks.

    OpenVPN / TCP and OpenVPN / UDP

    OpenVPN is currently the most popular VPN protocol. It’s considered secure, fast, and reliable, so it’s supported by many VPN providers. An advantage of OpenVPN is that the  source code is freely accessible . Hidden back doors are almost impossible.

    OpenVPN uses either TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) or UDP (User Datagram Protocol) as the transport layer. In many clients of commercial VPN providers, the user can set which of the two transport protocols should be used. In general, TCP is less prone to errors, but UDP is significantly faster. It is therefore advisable to use OpenVPN with UDP and only switch to TCP if there are connection problems. OpenVPN / TCP is also useful for overcoming network locks. Then the VPN should be configured to transfer data on network port 443, the standard port of TSL / SSL connections.

    IKEv2

    Microsoft and the network specialist Cisco  jointly developed the relatively new VPN protocol IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange Protocol Version two). It is an improvement on the predecessor IKE  , which the developers used to remove some of its weaknesses, including the extremely difficult configuration.

    Since IKEv2, like OpenVPN, is considered to be relatively fast and secure, some VPN providers use it as the standard protocol. The documents released by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA may have found a way to compromise IKEv2. In the meantime, there are ways to fix the problem that was uncovered at the time – if the VPN provider implemented it in a secure manner, there is nothing wrong with IKEv2.

    L2TP / IPsec

    The L2TP / IPsec protocol consists of two components: L2TP establishes the connection, IPsec provides the encryption. Since the protocol has been implemented in almost every modern operating system, many VPN providers support it. However, L2TP / IPsec is relatively slow and the NSA is highly likely to have cracked the protocol. It is also poorly equipped to bypass firewalls. The use of this VPN protocol is currently no longer recommended. It is only suitable as an alternative solution if a stable connection cannot be established with more secure protocols.

    PPTP

    PPTP can be classified as historical. At the turn of the millennium, it was the first widespread VPN protocol. Today it is considered outdated due to its weak encryption and many security gaps. However, it is highly compatible and very fast thanks to the low security standards. This makes it attractive for users who use a VPN primarily  to circumvent geoblocking for video and audio streaming services.

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