If you’ve had more than a passing interest in Internet streaming then there is little doubt that you’ve heard the acronym “VPN” being tossed about. If you are confused as to just what a VPN is, or if you are interested in obtaining a VPN but simply don’t know where to start, have no fear, here at CutCableToday we’ve done all of the legwork for you. By the end of this article you’ll not only know what a “VPN” is, but you’ll also be able to make a more informed decision on whether you should pursue a VPN service, and if so, which provider has the best VPN.
So what the heck is a “VPN”?
Well, first off, VPN stands for virtual private network. In layman’s terms a VPN is a group of computers that are connected over a public network, which in most cases is the Internet. This allows you to route all of your computer’s traffic, or online activity, through a different server other than your Internet service provider’s.
If you’re lost already, don’t worry, we can break it down even further. Basically a VPN makes your Internet activity anonymous. Simply put, your computer has a unique Internet “address”, known as an IP address. This address is used by websites to figure out where in the world you are. That is how search engines like Google are able to offer more accurate search results, or how advertisements seemed tailored to you. A VPN essentially scrambles your address as it passes through a server so that the website (or any potential prying eyes), thinks that your Internet access is coming from somewhere else.
Why would you need one?
- VPN’s anonymize your Internet traffic, so VPN’s are a must for those concerned with privacy.
- Travelers who are connecting to public hotspots like those found in hotels, coffee shops and airports find VPNs useful as they encrypt their data, making their computers more secure against any potential attackers on the same public network.
- VPN’s allow you to bypass geographical restrictions based on location. For example, the Euro soccer tournament that happened recently streamed for free on BBC’s iPlayer for those in the UK. For those of us not in the UK, we can use a VPN to obtain a UK IP address in order to watch the free, legal stream.
Sound pretty good? We thought so. Continue reading for our picks of the best VPN services (free and paid) of 2016. Before we begin, there are some important things to remember:
- Your internet speed might slow down a bit, mainly because when routing your traffic through a VPN, you’re adding an extra step in the data transmission/retrieval process.
- Take note of any data caps (this is especially pertinent with many free VPN options).
- Ensure your operating system is compatible.
- Pay particular attention to their privacy and data login policies. Just because a VPN will protect you against any peeping toms out there in cyber space, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the VPN provider itself isn’t keeping detailed logs of what you’re doing.
What Is the Best VPN Available?
It’s tough to choose a single best VPN service, but below you’ll find some of our top recommendations.
- Monthly Subscription: $12.95
- Yearly Subscription: $99.95 ($8.32/month)
Although ExpressVPN is one of the more expensive options on the market, it does boast stellar customer service (including a 24/7 online live chat), servers in over 78 countries (so geo-blocking shouldn’t be an issue), and support for virtually every operating system and device known to man. In addition, ExpressVPN doesn’t log their users data and they offer a 30-day, cancel at any time, money back guarantee, so it is definitely a contender for best VPN. We put together a full ExpressVPN review, or you can head to their website to learn more.
- Monthly Subscription: $9.99
- Yearly Subscription: $59.88 ($4.99/month)
London-based HideMyAss probably has one of the best names of all the VPN services out there, but the real draw is the sheer amount of servers they have at their disposal. HideMyAss boasts over 100,000 available IP addresses spread across 900 servers in over 300 different countries. That covers almost every single country on the planet, so you’ll never have an issue finding an address that suits your needs. The HideMyAss interface, while usable, isn’t nearly as impressive. While it is certainly a very good VPN service, be aware that you can only use the service on two devices simultaneously. Check our HideMyAss review for more information.
- Monthly Subscription: $4.99
- Yearly Subscription: $49.90
If your main concern is getting around pesky geo-blocking, Unblock-us might be the VPN service you’re after. As the name would suggest, Unblock-us specializes in bypassing the location restrictions of many popular streaming services. It is compatible with virtually any device ranging from the AppleTV to the PlayStation, and is quick and easy to set up. They even offer a free seven day trial to see if it is the right VPN service for you. Learn more here.
Private Internet Access
- Monthly Subscription: $6.95
- Yearly Subscription: $39.95 ($3.33/month)
Private Internet Access is consistently one of the top rated VPN services around, and for good reason. PIA’s pricing structure is very affordable, they do not log any of their users data and they put a strong emphasis on speed. They have desktop clients for PC, Mac and Linux, as well as clients for iOS and Android, making connecting a breeze. They also offer a seven day, money back guarantee.
Tunnelbear: Best Free VPN
- Free (data limitation apply)
- Premium: $6.99/month, $49.99/year
Cheap (starting at the low, low price of free) and easy to set up, Tunnelbear is one of the best free VPN services out there. Tunnelbear has a desktop app for PC and Mac, and even has a Google Chrome extension if you’re running something other than the big two. The biggest draw here is the fact that there is a free option, however be aware that there is a data cap of 500 MB, so you won’t be streaming any video. But if you just need a VPN for when you’re sending emails or banking on a public network, Tunnelbear could be the best VPN free option for you.
And there you have it, some of the best VPN services available in 2016. Do you use a VPN? Which do you use and what do you use it for? Let us know in the comments!