Choosing a VPN in 2020? Here are some quick do’s and don'ts to make the process that little bit easier.
Do: Your Research
There are dozens of different VPNs to choose from and it’s almost always worth the time to find the right one that suits your budget, security and speed-related needs. Read both professional and user reviews, read guides like this one and feel free to ask around.
VPNs are much more commonplace than they used to be and being referred to a reliable VPN by a trusted friend can usually be a safer bet than searching online.
Don’t: Sign up for a long-term subscription if you don’t need to
Most VPNs give your choice of either a monthly, bi-yearly or yearly subscription. Opting for the more expensive options here can reduce your potential monthly cost to a dizzying low number.
For example, throwing money at Surfshark’s 24-month subscription reduces your monthly membership cost from AU$15.99/month to just AU$1.99/month.
However, as tempting as that deal might seem, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s no rush to lock yourself in and you will have to pay the first 24-months of the subscription in advance. Unless you’re certain that you’re actually going to use your VPN over the long-term, it’s probably not gonna be worth locking yourself into that kind of commitment.
If you’re expecting to be using your VPN for only a month or two, it's worth trying to minimise your overall investment by using the free trial period and then sticking with it for a single month afterwards. If you are still using your VPN regularly after that point, then maybe it’s time to consider longer-term payment plans.
Do: Check The Fine Print
It’s always worth taking a closer look at the fine print before you sign up for a VPN. Specifically, when it comes to logging policies. If the VPN you’re looking at doesn’t have a no-log policy, you might want to resist the urge to sign up with them - no matter how good a discount they’re offering.
A no-log policy is an assurance from your VPN provider that they don’t keep logs of your online activity. The need or desire to surf the web in private is one of the biggest reasons people sign up for VPNs but if your VPN doesn’t have a no-log policy, your search history isn’t as anonymous as you think.
Don’t: Leave your VPN enabled when you don’t need to
There’s nothing more frustrating than wondering why your download of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands has been bottlenecked all night only to discover that you left your VPN-on after watching some late-night Netflix.
Always remember to turn your VPN off when you don’t need to be using it. The privacy and security you get from using your VPN is important but not always ideal for times when you actually want or need to access Australia-specific platforms like iView or download large files or games using the NBN.