A VPN app running on a smartphone.
DenPhotos/Shutterstock.com

Are you looking to get a VPN subscription soon? Before you get a multi-year subscription, make sure the VPN you choose has these six crucial features.

No-Log Policy

Since the primary purpose of a virtual private network or VPN is to ensure that you can browse the web securely, one of the essential features to look for is a no-log policy. This means that the VPN company itself doesn’t keep a log on your internet activity, such as the websites you visit and what you do on those websites.

If you’re using a VPN, you likely don’t want your activity to be viewable by your internet service provider, advertisers, and malicious actors like hackers. However, if the VPN company keeps a log of your data, that might also present a potential security breach. If the VPN company were ever to get hacked, other people would have access to your entire browsing history. Read the fine print and ensure that they’re not keeping a log of anything you do online.

Many Server Locations

One of the most significant selling points of a VPN is that it can unblock region-restricted content from specific services, such as Netflix and YouTube. Therefore, if you’re looking to expand your content library as much as possible, you should look for a VPN with many server locations from around the world. For example, if you know that the show you want to watch is available on Netflix Japan, double-check that your VPN provider has a fast Japanese server available.

Having many servers also helps you ensure the speed and stability of your browsing experience. If the server you’re using crashes or has too much activity, you can swap to a less-trafficked server and continue using the web.

RELATED: How to Use a VPN for Netflix

Network Kill Switch

Let’s say you’re using a VPN connection to do some highly personal work on a public Wi-Fi network. However, unbeknownst to you, the server you were using crashed several hours ago. Therefore, you’ve been using an unencrypted connection the entire time, and your data has been exposed to bad actors and anyone else using the same connection.

While this isn’t likely to happen on many of the most high-profile, stable VPN services, it’s not impossible. That’s why many VPNs have a network kill switch. If the VPN server drops off, this feature completely cuts your internet connection, ensuring that you’re constantly browsing the web behind a secure network.

Multiple Device Support

It’s relatively normal to use more than one device. You might have a phone, a PC, a TV, and a tablet. However, some VPNs restrict the number of devices that you can use simultaneously with a single account. That poses problems if you want to encrypt your traffic or watch blocked content on multiple devices simultaneously or if you’re going to share your subscription with a family member.

Before committing to a VPN service, make sure it supports multiple log-ins and active connections at the same time. Some offer an unlimited number of devices, will some allow you to connect ten or more devices. You should also make sure that the VPN has compatible devices with each of your devices, whether it’s your smartphone or laptop.

Bandwidth and Speed

In the early days of VPNs, they were tough to use for many people because they would slow your internet connection to a crawl. Nowadays, VPNs can facilitate high-speed connections, so you can browse the internet without taking a noticeable performance hit. Make sure to pick a VPN with a reputation for fast speeds and who has many servers you can switch to if the one you’re on experiences a slowdown.

Advertisement

Some VPNs may also impose a bandwidth limit or prevent you from streaming content for extended periods. If that is an absolute dealbreaker, make sure to look for a VPN that does not impose caps on bandwidth consumption.

Secure Encryption

Lastly, keeping your internet connection secure is one of the biggest reasons to use a VPN. However, not all VPNs are created equally. Some VPNs are less protected than others, which makes them more prone to potential data breaches. Encryption is the process that changes the nature of your data so that it’s impossible to read or process for people outside of your network.

If you want to make sure a company is using the best security possible, you can check its feature list for their encryption. Many industry-leading VPNs will use Advanced Encryption Standard or AES, an encryption method widely understood to be secure. If the VPN you’re looking at doesn’t list their encryption method at all, you might want to look elsewhere.

The Best VPN Services of 2021 for Netflix, Privacy, and More

Best Overall VPN
ExpressVPN
Best Budget VPN
SurfShark
Best Free VPN
Windscribe
Best VPN for iPhone
ProtonVPN
Best VPN for Android
Hide.me
Best VPN for Streaming
ExpressVPN
Best VPN for Gaming
Private Internet Access
Best VPN for Torrenting
NordVPN
Best VPN for Windows
CyberGhost
Best VPN for China
VyprVPN
Best VPN for Privacy
Mullvad VPN
Profile Photo for Vann Vicente Vann Vicente
Vann Vicente has been a technology writer for four years, with a focus on explainers geared towards average consumers. He also works as a digital marketer for a regional e-commerce website. He's invested in internet culture, social media, and how people interact with the web.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.