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August 4, 2020
HomeSecurityNot Sure What to Look for When Choosing a VPN? Start Here

Not Sure What to Look for When Choosing a VPN? Start Here

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When choosing a VPN, it’s important for you to be clear on your intended use and consider what tunneling features are most suited for that use. The table below is a summary of some the most popular VPN use cases and the corresponding tunneling features to consider.

VPN use caseMost important tunneling Feature to considerWhy is this important
Online StreamingSpeed and ability to bypass blocking softwareMinimize buffering and content restrictions
Accessing banned websitesSecurity with strong encryptionEvade prying eyes and content restrictions
Cloaking VoIP callsSecurity with strong encryptionEvade prying eyes
Public Wi-Fi useSecurity and privacySecurity is paramount for poorly secured public Wi-Fi networks
P2P File sharingSecurity and privacyEvade prying eyes
Bandwidth throttlingNeed for speedMinimize constant buffering
Mixed usesEase of switching between different protocolsSupport miscellaneous uses
Multitasking (local & remote)Split tunneling (detailed explanations below)Simultaneous access to your ISP and VPN server without interruption

There are other advanced VPN features that are essential to the effectiveness of tunnelling, such as a kill switch and split tunneling.

A kill switch is a mechanism setup to regularly monitor your connection for any changes in status. If it observes any disconnection from your VPN server, it automatically stops your device or terminates specific apps from connecting to the internet through your ISP to prevent you from being exposed you to unnecessary prying eyes.

There are times that you do not need all your data traffic to go through your VPN tunnel. That’s where the concept of split tunnelling comes into play.

What Is Split Tunneling All About?

Split tunneling basically enables you to route some of your online activities through the VPN tunnel while you directly access the internet through your ISP for others. Why is this important?

One of the main functions of a VPN is to provide you a secure and private channel to send and receive information anonymously. But the truth is, not everything that we do on the internet needs to pass through a VPN tunnel. For example, there are times when you want to access foreign movies on a streaming service like Netflix and at the same time access local web services. When the protection of tunneling is not needed, a VPN can be a bottleneck that slows down your connection. Or suppose you want to carry out online banking activities while also maintaining access to web services in other countries that require VPN use. Changing your IP address (and apparent location) using a VPN could be flagged as suspicious activity by your bank, which could actually lead to more invasions of your privacy.

In such cases, split tunneling lets you gain access to web services for which you want or need the protection of tunneling, without losing direct access to local web services. Otherwise, you would find yourself continually connecting and disconnecting from your VPN service. Besides, split tunneling will help you conserve a lot of bandwidth, as your internet traffic does not all have to pass through the VPN server. Fortunately, most highly rated VPN service providers include a split-tunneling feature within their apps.

What Do I Need to Know About Tunneling Protocols?

Most VPN providers give users the option to choose from several tunneling protocols such as:

  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP)
  • Layer Two Tunneling Protocol (L2TP)
  • Internet Protocol Security (IPSec)
  • Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP)
  • Open VPN (SSL/TLS)

The VPN tunneling protocol you select to use has significant implications for the quality and performance of your tunnel. Some key questions to ask before choosing a tunneling protocol include:

  • How fast is it?
  • How secure is it?
  • How easily can it transverse (get past) blocking software?
  • How easily can I access and use it?

Because your choice of tunneling protocols can be critical, it is important that you have a good understanding of the various protocols so you can make an informed choice. A VPN relies on the concept of tunneling to protect your privacy by hiding your internet activity from your ISP and spying agencies, while also helping you navigate to blocked websites. The degree of protection, speed, and ability to get past blocks and restrictions depends greatly on your choice of tunneling protocol.

Among all the tunneling protocols, Open VPN is the most highly recommended, especially for anyone with serious security concerns. Its open source code, stability, strong encryption, and ability to bypass blocking software make it the finest tunneling protocol currently available, and one you can trust.

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