What’s The Best Paid / Premium VPN for You?
Choosing the best paid virtual private network (VPN) is a tough and often an all too confusing process. It’s tough especially because there is no such thing as an absolute “best paid / premium VPN” – there is only the VPN that is right for you considering all the tradeoffs.
Here’s a quiz that helps you balance all the usual tradeoffs to figure out what is the best premium VPN (updated for 2018) for you based on your preferences (or skip to the summary of choices).
Disclosure: I receive referral fees from companies mentioned on this site, including the ones mentioned in this quiz. My recommendations are based on my experiences as an independent paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.
Based on my experience exploring different VPN providers, there are a few that are a good fit for most people. Here’s a summary of the companies included in the quiz.
Best Premium VPN Choices
|Name||Best if you want…||Features!|
|ExpressVPN||…a well-known brand w/ great usability, performance & privacy.||Visit!|
|CyberGhost||…full-featured, user-friendly w/ excellent pricing.||Visit!|
|NordVPN||…fast-growing brand w/ zero logging & user-friendly interface.||Visit!|
|AirVPN||…complex VPN offering total control & total privacy focus.||Visit!|
Other Paid / Premium VPN Choices
There are a ton of paid VPNs on the market. Here’s a few other popular VPNs that I have personally used / reviewed.
PureVPN – Good pricing options, usability, security and complementary features. Limited range of server locations w/ limited support.
Considerations for the Best Paid / Premium VPN
If you’re looking for increased security and anonymity when using your internet connection, a VPN may just be the solution that you’re looking for.
You may have noticed that there are a lot of free VPNs that are available. But before you go with one of these free VPNs, you may want to reconsider. A free VPN can have a lot of problems that come with it. With VPNs – you generally get what you pay for due to the business model structure.
If you’re serious about increased security and anonymous browsing, nothing beats a great premium VPN. A good premium VPN will sidestep the many flaws of free VPNs and will allow you to feel more secure when online.
There are a lot of premium VPNs out there, however. So which one do you choose?
What Does a Paid / Premium VPN Do?
So what does a premium VPN do, anyway? A premium VPN will serve to increase your security and anonymity while using an internet connection. Your VPN provider acts like a middleman between you and the Internet. Every Internet request routes from your computer to the VPN before routing to the Internet. If anyone snoops or tracks your connection – all they can see is your VPN connection.
You can use a VPN with many types of devices, including Android, iPhone, PC and Mac computers.
A VPN will anonymize you and help to protect you against hackers on some public wifi connections as well as any surveillance from internet service providers and governments**.
**Caveat – Note that no VPN is 100% secure. Your traffic is still routing through a company. Any company can go out of business or go rogue. If you are trying to avoid your American ISP – then you are simply replacing distrust of Comcast/Charter with the trust of your VPN. If you are a political activist where trust is a life or death situation, you need to be using something like Tor in addition to your VPN. This highlights this section of paid VPN’s unique features, but the point remains using a VPN does not instantly create security/privacy. That is something you do via aligning company incentives (ie, paying for companies who maintain security) & being proactive about your browsing habits. Here’s a useful explainer.
Surveillance and the collection of personal data are getting much more common – even at the ISP level. Identity theft is also a big concern.
If you want to protect yourself and your privacy better, a VPN may be just what you need. A VPN can anonymize your connection and even make it seem as you are using your device in a different location.
In addition to the increased security and privacy that you can achieve through using a premium VPN, a VPN service can also allow you to access content that has been blocked in your geographic location.
A premium VPN will typically have a lot of advantages over a free VPN. While this won’t be true of all premium VPNs, you should only consider paying for a VPN if they have most of the qualities and features listed below. All VPNs will have differences, but when paying for a service, there are some things that a good premium VPN should have.
When it comes to VPNs, a premium VPN will usually offer a lot more customer support should you have problems somewhere along the line. Many paid VPN companies will be readily accessible and can be contacted in a variety of ways including phone, email, and chat.
Free VPNs might not give you any support at all, and you’ll mostly be on your own should you need help. You often get what you pay for when it comes to customer support with VPNs.
Customer support can be very helpful if you’re new to VPNs and not technologically savvy, so finding a VPN with excellent customer service is highly recommended.
A premium VPN will be much better than most free VPNs when it comes to offering support and guidance.
Amount of Servers
While the number of servers VPNs have can vary, in general, premium VPNs will have many more servers available for you to use. A free VPN will generally have far less.
Number of servers is usually the largest factor for handling network load. A given server can only handle so much traffic. More traffic requires more more servers.
But server diversity also matters. You need to pay attention to the countries that a VPN serves along with the actual location of all their servers.
If you have many choices of server diversity, it will be helpful because you can use a server in another geographic location to access geographically blocked content.
Additionally, if you can use servers that are closer to you, the speed will likely be better than if you’re using a server on the other side of the world.
A VPN with more servers will be faster, and you’ll have more options to choose from.
Logs and Data Selling
One of the biggest drawbacks of some free VPNs is that they can be untrustworthy. They may keep anonymous records of your activity, and you can’t be certain what they’re doing with it. They may even sell your data and logs for a profit.
The business cliche is that if something is free then you are not using a product – you are the product.
Premium VPNs will be more trustworthy in general, not because of any inherent goodness, but because they have an economic incentive to provide what their customers are paying for.
A premium or good paid VPN will have more security with their service. A premium VPN will have strong encryption standards and abilities, meaning you can rest easy when using the VPN.
A free VPN will have lesser security standards and usually and not meet the same encryption standards as premium VPNs.
While not all premium VPNs will be perfect, they will usually be a lot better when it comes to encryption and security when compared to a free VPN. It takes money to hire good engineers who can make the right tradeoffs between encryption and performance.
Free VPNs can also have serious deficiencies when it comes to the speed of the connection. A free VPN can be notoriously slow, so this can be a huge drawback to expect with many free VPNs.
A premium VPN will usually have higher standards and will be able to offer faster connection speeds. Part of this is because most premium VPNs have more servers.
It can be rough using a VPN because your connection will be passing through an extra server. Both premium and free VPNs will slow your connection down to some extent, but a free VPN connection will probably be the slowest.
Use a VPN’s free trial period or read reviews to make sure that the VPN will be able to keep up with you and offer you the speed you need.
Bandwidth is another thing to consider. Many free VPNs will have strict limits on the amount of bandwidth you can use. In case you don’t know, bandwidth is essentially the amount of data you’re allowed to upload and download each month.
If you’re planning on using a VPN for much of your time on the web, you’ll want to make sure the VPN has enough bandwidth for you to get everything done.
Generally, a premium VPN will have unlimited bandwidth. Free VPNs will often have data caps.
Other Features to Look for in a Paid / Premium VPN
By now you should understand the major differences between premium and free VPNs, and have an idea of how to choose the best paid / premium VPN. However, there are still a few more things you should consider when looking for a premium VPN.
Even among premium VPNs, there are some differences, so be sure to look at the various features carefully to make sure you’re getting everything that you need.
Where is the VPN Service Based?
If you’re worried about security and privacy, you’ll want to consider where the VPN is based. A VPN will be subject to laws in the country where it is located. Be aware of this when choosing a VPN. Some countries require logs and different recording and reporting standards. Some countries won’t require records at all.
Some governments may require reporting of information or may even make the VPN service hand over data at some point. Consider the country the VPN is in if you want to be especially careful with security and anonymity.
What Regions Does the VPN Have Servers?
If you’re using a VPN to access content that is blocked in your area, you’ll want to make sure that the VPN has servers in the region you want to access content.
A premium VPN will probably have a lot of servers, so this shouldn’t be too big of a worry. It will likely have the server location that you need, but make sure to check this.
More servers can also mean more speed for you if you can choose a server that is located close by.
What Protocols Are Used?
Some VPNs will have their own special connection protocol or have a desktop or mobile app that you need to use. Many will be able to use the open-source OpenVPN protocol as well.
Don’t rely on PPTP, if possible. PPTP is mostly obsolete and is known to be insecure compared to other protocols. Instead, you should use OpenVPN or L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, and IKEv2 connections.
Is There a Free Trial or Money Back Guarantee?
Of course, with a free VPN, you can try it as much as you want. With a premium / paid VPN though, you may need to look for a free trial.
Many VPNs offer free trials, and many will last seven days, although this may vary. With a free trial, you can test the service out and make sure the features work for you and verify that the connection is fast enough.
Some premium VPNs also offer a money back guarantees, so that you can try the service and get your money back if you aren’t satisfied.
By now you should have a pretty good idea of how to choose the best paid / premium VPN. Before paying for a VPN, you’ll want to make sure that the service offers most of the features that should be expected.
While there are some good free VPNs, the bad ones are not worth it and can cause a lot of problems. If you’re serious about your security and anonymity and want the best of the best, a premium VPN is the way to go.