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What is a VPN?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and it is a technology that allows you to direct your internet traffic through a secure connection. With a VPN you can use public Wi-Fi without concerns because the data transferred is encrypted, meaning that it is not accessible for third parties. Your browsing history and all the information that you send and receive are protected from eavesdropping.

Additionally, a VPN allows to access websites and online content that are normally restricted in your country. This is possible because a VPN lets you access servers in different locations, changing your IP address, so you will appear as if you were connecting to internet from a different place. This is very useful when you want to access sites that have been banned in your country, such as YouTube or if you want to enjoy media content that is only available abroad including various sports: MLS. VPNs have become very important since nowadays, we are subject to government regulations and large corporations own agendas that affect internet freedom and also compromise our privacy.

Is my data secure when using a VPN?

A VPN can keep your data protected, thanks to protocols that are normally encrypted to make sure that your information remains private. Using a VPN improves your online security considerably and allows you to change your location.

You want to make sure to test you VPN connection for leaks, in order to ensure that your service is working as intended. Visit our complete guide on online privacy for more information on securing your data with a VPN and many other additional methods.

How are connection speeds with a VPN?

The downside of using a VPN is that it tends to slow down your connection. While some VPN providers can offer really good speeds, in general you can expect your connection to be slower when you use a VPN.

Are VPNs easy to use?

If you choose a provider that offers a good VPN client, all you will need to do in order to use the service is to run the software. It is important to select a VPN provider that offers ease of usage so that you don’t have any complications with manual set ups or issues when launching the service.

How do I choose a VPN provider?

There are many companies available in the VPN industry and they suit different needs. You can read our reviews and the advice we offer in our website to help you select the best option for you.

What are the downsides of using a VPN?

As previously mentioned, you may experience a slowdown in your connection when using a VPN. It is important to keep in mind that in some countries, hiding your online browsing activity may be against the law, so make sure to check what the regulations are in your location. Additionally, some VPN providers may keep record of your browsing data and will release it, if required by law enforcement.

Are there any free VPN services?

Although a handful of services have free options, our tests always left us unsatisfied that any productive usage can actually be extracted from them. Very often, free VPN services list a multitude of restrictions ranging from slow speed caps, extremely limited bandwidth usage, and a very short list of overcrowded servers with almost no global coverage. We are not telling you not to use free services, but you have been warned.

Unfortunately, to securely encrypt massive amounts of data across data-centers located all over the world is not cheap. VPN services need to charge a minimum amount to subscribers to provide fast, reliable and unlimited service. You can always look for free VPN trials to test different providers, but an even better option for a budget is to opt for a cheap VPN service provider that does the job.

Can I watch online movies and TV show content with a VPN?

Yes. In fact, this is one of the most popular home uses for VPNs. As previously mentioned, No matter where you are located, VPN services facilitate geo-unblocking various content providers such as Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, and even hardware devices such as Apple TV. You can also consult our top VPN choices for online streaming here.

Do VPN services allow P2P traffic?

Some do, some don’t. It’s important to consult the provider’s terms of service. U.S. and U.K. based VPN providers are at risk of having to respond to DMCA notices and leak your IP, or at a minimum, risk terminating your service with no refund. International providers often allow P2P, but often block it on US, UK and other locations considered too risky for P2P often containing copyrighted material. Visit our best VPN services for torrents and P2P file sharing here.

What is the difference between SSH and VPN?

SSH Secure Shell is an encrypted protocol often used to remotely access secure networks and services, such as a site-to-site VPN, but it does not encrypt traffic in the same manner, and is not as popularly used for online security. For more information, read our SSH and VPN comparative guide.

Does VPN Critic get paid by VPN providers?

While we occasionally receive compensation and have partnerships with some VPN providers that appear on our site, we are committed to offer unbiased information. We do everything possible to make sure that the data presented in VPN Critic is updated and accurate but we cannot guarantee that this is always the case. When information on an article is updated, the latest revision date is added at the top for better transparency.