Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs as they are better known, are becoming the choice of people who want the ultimate in Internet privacy. These users understand that constant contact from online marketers or having search engines tailored to the results of the user is an infringement of privacy. For this reason, they are using the services of VPN providers, but there are distinguishable differences between reliable service providers and those who are in the business to make money only. The important differences are the number of server locations, uptime guarantees, hosting type, and protocol options. Let’s examine each in turn.
Server locations are important. They determine how easily and securely users can connect. Some VPN providers have very few servers. A provider with one or very few locations is more subject to connectivity bottlenecks than providers with more locations. More reputable VPN service providers have multiple servers and consistently expand their server locations. The more servers a provider has, the more they are able to provide in terms of connectivity. Servers also allow for encryption and for accessing data at reliable speeds. A provider with few server locations experiences slow connectivity because of the time it takes to encrypt and decrypt communications over the VPN. When the server is tied up with too many users because of lack of sufficient capacity or no backup, there are occasions when the service can grind to a halt.
Uptime is an especially important part of a VPN service. If there are consistent interruptions in service, access to a user’s information is dramatically slowed. In order to assure that service is reliable, the VPN service provider should be in charge of its own software and networking. This assures that all maintenance is done properly and there are no connectivity issues. In addition, if the servers are being maintained properly the user’s data will be encrypted properly and accessing to user information by hackers is easily thwarted. Users should accept nothing less than a 99 percent uptime rate.
VPN service providers that outsource their hosting are not going to compare to those that write their own software and maintain their own networks. While it is tempting for a user to save a few dollars by signing up with a VPN provider that uses outside hosting services, it is not a wise choice. Service providers should be directly responsible for their programs in order to provide the best services. They can easily fix bugs in programming that may arise since they wrote the code. A VPN service is only as good as the company that runs it. Outside hosting companies may not be diligent in performing hardware upkeep which can result in loss of connection and serious outages. These outages will keep a user from connecting to a VPN in order to experience the enhanced security they desire.
One final feature that sets VPN providers apart is the options they offer in terms of protocol. VPN providers that offer several protocol choices enable users to secure different types of devices. Not all protocols are the same or able to secure all devices. Some protocols, such as OpenVPN, are only designed for desktop devices. This would not work as an option for someone who wanted to secure a mobile device such as a smart phone.