Best VPN of 2021 – Rated by our Experts

You might have heard of VPNs before, but what does that actually mean and what is a VPN good for?

Here at PrivacySharks we take your privacy very seriously, so we want to take a closer look at VPNs and why exactly they’re worth knowing about. What are they useful for, and just how exactly can they be helpful to you?Let’s start with the basics: “VPN” stands for “Virtual Private Network”.

VPNs are all about the privacy and security of your internet traffic and data. The two main focus points here are “privacy” and “security”. But they also come in handy when you want to virtually appear as if you’re in some other part of the world. It may be a way to overcome restrictions, limitations, or gain access to censored content or services. In some cases, it can be a way to overcome the censorship of authorities too. You essentially relocate, digitally speaking, and by doing so you short-circuit national or regional restrictions and limitations.

It’s also important to keep in mind that VPNs keep your online surfing secure over any and all networks and give you the freedom to do as you please without leaving a trace. It’s pretty much a safety blanket for your online browsing.

We’ll look over some popular choices, take a look at the features they offer, and then conclude what you should be looking for in terms of features when you’re shopping around for VPNs.

We’ll also be looking into the matter of legality and morality of using them and what are some of the best practices, as well as terms of service and what happens when you don’t respect them, whether it’s illegal or not in nature.

Setting up VPNs essentially means installing the software or apps and activating them, then forgetting about it and simply enjoying the benefits.

Table of content

Let’s see what a VPN is and why it’s relevant for your online pursuits.

What is a VPN

It’s all about the privacy of your internet traffic and why you’d use VPNs.

The privacy of your internet traffic

When it comes to internet access, you have an internet service provider (ISP) which helps you connect to the internet. When you connect to the internet through your service provider, you have IP addresses through which you access the network connection to surf the internet.

As you do so, your service provider, IP address, as well as information related to server locations, internet traffic, use of your internet connection, wi-fi network, web browser, iOS and Android apps you’re using, operating systems connected to your online activity and devices can become accessible to various third parties. They can be “seen”, shared, tracked, used in various ways.

How you choose to use your internet connection and local network isn’t covered by full online privacy. If you want to make sure you’re using a secure connection and keeping your online activity private across your devices, you need to insure an extra layer of data protection for your web activity.

Ideally, your extra layer of protection would come with a X day money back guarantee and would be a service which offers you privacy for your wi-fi network or network resources, offering you online security across multiple devices.

The virtual private network and your internet traffic

Here’s where the VPN or virtual private network comes in. In simple terms, the VPN company offering you its services sets the basis for private internet access and a secure connection by creating third parties private network connections through which you can use the internet and protect your online privacy and various types of data and information about your devices and activity.

So a VPN or virtual private network is an easy to use service from a VPN provider which offers VPN services with various types of security features. Using a VPN is all about your privacy, something we’re very invested in here at PrivacySharks.

What is a VPN used for?

The two main points when it comes to a VPN are privacy and security. Those are very significant aspects when you’re doing pretty much anything online. The better secured those aspects are, the more at ease you’ll feel to do your thing.

In some cases, one of the main pluses you get from a VPN is the ability to virtually appear as if you’re someplace else in the world. That may be useful to you because you want to gain access to some things, or because you want to escape restrictions and limitations. You might gain access to different sites, social media networks, services, goods or content by appearing to be someplace else in the world. Convenient, right?

It can become a matter of freedom in countries or regions where people’s access was restricted or limited to certain sites, social media networks, services, goods or content.

Of course, there’s the aspect of being able to surf, game, watch to your heart’s desires without leaving a trace of your presence behind.

How does VPN work?

A virtual private network is a bit like a safety blanket for your internet activity , browsing, and devices. It’s a way to create an area of privacy which your regular internet service provider won’t give you along with your internet access.

In fact, your internet service provider offers a bunch of information about your online persona and habits through your IP address, server locations, devices, connection, web browser or iOS and Android app. Your ISP can’t insure they protect your privacy entirely as they give you access to an internet connection.

A private network connection can be insured through use of VPNs which work based on an encrypted tunneling point to point protocol for security, so users go through some security measures to gain access to the VPN and through that to the internet. Your online activity will therefore become the activity of the VPN servers of your VPN connection. The VPN company will be doing the browsing for you, through its IP addresses and its VPN servers.

What the VPN provider offers is a way to keep your browsing activity private, protect your privacy and that of your devices, and avoid internet censorship through VPN protocols – VPN protocols which work to give you an easy to use private and secure internet connection for one or more simultaneous connections.

VPN – the process

Seen in simple terms, a virtual private network covers your own internet activity with that of the VPN server, so you basically gain private internet access. When data and information become accessible on the internet and you use VPNs, it’s not your ISP IP addresses and local network information that is sent out, but that of your VPN provider and VPN server.

Depending on the type of VPN service you opt for and the devices you choose to use with using a VPN, the software or app is going to be specifically tailored to your devices’ operating systems, whether it’s Windows, Mac OS, iOS, or Android. All of the software and/or apps that connect to the internet on those devices can be protected when you choose to use a VPN.

The way your VPN works is you gain access to the VPN net which includes a number of servers that will present a different IP address than your own, effectively masking your connection details and protecting your privacy and security by shielding your user information.

By using VPNs you make sure that the privacy of your device is protected, even if you’re on iOS or Android and accessing a public wi-fi. You can install VPN apps and/or software to protect any point of access or all of them that access the internet, depending on your VPN providers options.

By choosing to use a VPN you go under an umbrella of privacy, created through a large number of servers which work to insure the security and privacy of every user’s details and make the traffic untraceable. But what VPNs are out there, and how should you choose the right one for you and your private, untraceable web surfing needs?

VPN – some options

Depending on your private internet access needs and the device or devices you’re using to access the internet, you may choose one or more of the various types of existing VPN services from one or more VPN providers.

Because PrivacySharks is looking out for you, we’re going to list a few options and some of their features. This is in no way meant to be an exhaustive list though, but more of a starting point so you know what to look for when it comes to VPN services, what you can potentially expect when you use a VPN, and what you can get from your VPN provider.

Once you get a good idea of what VPN providers can do for you and how, it’s up to you to decide whether you’d like to use a VPN, what sort of VPN services you might be interested in, and what the best VPN service would be for your particular needs.

Most VPN services cover the basics of encrypting the data regarding your traffic and details to insure your privacy, masking your IP and server information, placing you under one of a large number of servers of the VPN thereby making your “footprint” untraceable and pretty much unknown. By doing the “walking” for you, the VPN effectively erases traces of your online activity and grants you something like an invisibility cloak of online privacy.

You should also know that there are some free VPNs services, some offered by the same companies that offer premium or paid services too. Experimenting with some free VPN could be a good way for you to choose your VPN provider that best suits your devices and internet connection, network security and privacy, and how you choose to use the internet.

What’s the best VPN? Well, PrivacySharks feels that the best VPN is going to be the one that is easy to use, covers your private internet access needs, insures the security of your wi-fi network on any number of simultaneous connections, covers your streaming services needs, and, if possible, is a free VPN or paid VPN service which comes with a 30 day money back guarantee.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN offers a lot of interesting features as it focuses on giving you “the best VPN in the world”, their website states.

Some of the interesting features of ExpressVPN are:

Not sure about what ExpressVPN can do for you? Let’s look at their advanced features too:

(Source: https://www.expressvpn.com/features )

We also love the fact that ExpressVPN comes with a 30 day money back guarantee. If ExpressVPN doesn’t live up to its best VPN claims, you can always switch to other VPNs to get your Netflix and chill going without breaking the bank.

NordVPN

Another impressive player on the VPNs market is NordVPN. Let’s see what features this VPNs provider comes with, shall we?

(Source: https://nordvpn.com/features/ )

With a 30 day money back guarantee policy, you can still get your Netflix and chill going, right?

Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield is an interesting secure VPN provider because it offers both free and paid or premium VPNs options.

Their pitch is more focused and pretty attractive, boasting these features:

(Source: https://www.hotspotshield.com/vpn/ )

Their Free VPN server option gives you the encryption feature over networks including public wi-fi and pretty much nothing else, but they state that for the casual users, it’s perfect. All other features listed pertain to the paid Premium VPN server plan.

And we’re glad to say Hotspot Shield also offers a 45 day money-back guarantee for their Premium VPN server services. VPNs that offer privacy, security, a money-back guarantee, and Netflix and chill – that’s a good combo, right?

Surfshark

Surfshark makes a bold claim: “Eating other VPN deals alive”. What’s the catch?

Let’s take a look at the features this VPN offers:

(source: https://surfshark.com/)

With a 30 days money back guarantee in effect, why not give this VPN a try?

CyberGhost

Let’s take a look at what this VPN offers in terms of features:

(source: https://www.cyberghostvpn.com/)

This VPN deal is all the sweeter with a 45 day money back guarantee.

Not convinced by the VPNs listed above? There are many others out there, no worries. To name only a few: IPVanish, ProtonVPN, HideMyAss! VPN, Windscribe, StrongVPN, VPN Unlimited, Private Internet Access VPN, VyperVPN, TunnelBear. Check out the details, pros and cons of each of them and decide which one works for you.

By and large, VPNs generally offer some things like data encryption, a considerable number of servers to choose from which are located in various places around the world, and the ability to unlock some streaming websites. But exactly should you be looking for when you choose potential VPNs? Let’s take a look at that.

VPN features to look for

Now that we’ve seen a couple offers from the VPN market, we can draw a line and come up with a list of features which you should be looking for when choosing your VPN.

Is it illegal to have a VPN?

Is VPN illegal or immoral? How should you use it?

Legality vs morality when using a VPN

Let’s make one thing clear: VPN is a legal service offered by your VPN provider. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room here: in some cases, its use can be associated with some iffy or even illegal activities, that’s true. But it doesn’t make the VPN itself illegal, unless your country of residence has deemed it so. Using a VPN service in no way means you’re doing anything shady.

In essence, you use a VPN to protect your online privacy and insure an extra layer of security for your devices. It’s perfectly within your rights to try to make sure that you’ve got security for your data, information, and network, that you’re using a secure connection, that you keep your server locations and devices information private. VPN services, which are legal, offer you the means to do that. VPNs are a service you make use of. The ill intent doesn’t come from the VPN service, but from the user, if there’s any ill intent at play.

What’s illegal to do without a VPN is just as illegal to do with a VPN. Just as your internet service provider is going to have to comply with authorities investigating illegal use of your internet connection, the company offering you VPN services is going to have to comply with authorities as well.

In some cases, using VPNs may be immoral or illegal under some circumstances or in certain regions. If you’re sharing files through p2p or peer to peer and those files are protected by copyright, for instance, then the nature of sharing those files goes against intellectual property rights. Same goes for using torrents.

Breach of terms of service when using a VPN

If you’re in breach of terms of use of the VPN service you’ve gotten, then you’re most likely going to have your VPN services terminated even though there was nothing illegal about the situation, but all the more if there was something illegal as well.

Keep in mind that VPN services are offered to you based on a set of rules and regulations upheld by your VPN providers. Breaching that contract when using a VPN will mean the termination of services, which is a perfectly legal thing to happen as per the terms and conditions or contract you agreed to or signed.

Banned or restricted from using a VPN

It’s also important to keep in mind that while VPN services aren’t illegal, they are banned or restricted in some countries. Using a VPN isn’t technically illegal then either, but you won’t be able to use a VPN in those countries or regions as per their national policies. When in Rome, do like the Romans do, pretty much.

You should also keep in mind that some services restrict you from using VPNs, like some streaming services which have particular policies regarding their content and server locations.

VPN best practices

Some free VPNs might use some questionable methods or have some ulterior motive to offer their services. Be very mindful when choosing to use a VPN service and choose a VPN only after you’ve looked into the fine print and details of that VPN services. If it looks or sounds too good to be true, it generally is too good to be true – online more so than offline, perhaps.

You want VPNs focusing on keeping your data – like IP address, details of your device or devices, server locations, network security, internet connection details, and any other details – secure through VPN protocols and the VPN connection. Make sure to choose a VPN which is a secure service and a secure VPN, so when you connect to a VPN you gain security and not jeopardize it.

How do I set up a VPN?

It’s only a matter of installing, activating, and enjoying it.

Install

If you’ve decided you want to get a VPN, then you already know what you’ll be using it for, what your needs and wants are when it comes to making your choice. You know what device you’ll be using with your VPN, what operating system it has.

At this point, the next step is to get the software or app that is suited for your device’s operating system and install it onto your device. With getting the software or app installed and having bought the services of a VPN, you’ll have your VPN access data with which you’ll activate the service you’ve bought. If you’ve got a free version, then you’re going to have free access data or a simplified procedure to get it all going.

Activate

Depending on the options your VPN offers, you can now activate any and all features you want or deem necessary or helpful, from the most basic to the most complex ones. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and look into those options, because the right settings are going to work wonders for you.

Get your browser extensions going too, if your VPN offers them. Activate them and set them up, then simply forget they’re even there, pretty much. That’s part of the beauty of it: it’s pretty easy to use, though it does something so complex.

Enjoy

Of course, if you’ve gotten to this point, you’ve bought VPN services which you’re going to pay for regularly. Once the magic is done and everything is up and running, don’t forget to pay your bill to keep the magic going. But that’s pretty much it!

In short

Your PrivacySharks guide to VPNs covered a few main points when it comes to what VPNs are, how they’re used, what they’re good for, how to use them, and whether or not they’re illegal or perhaps immoral in certain situations.

A VPN insures the privacy and security of your internet traffic. It puts a sort of cloak of invisibility over the steps you take while you’re surfing the net by covering your real data with that of the VPNs servers. You go virtually unnoticed and can get access to any content you could have been blocked or restricted from previously.

Whether you’re using software, apps, and/or browser extensions, VPNs adapt to any operating system you might be using – Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and to various device formats like phones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, even routers.

There are plenty of options when it comes VPNs providers, from the free to the paid, from from the limited to the full coverage. Some of the names on the market are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Hotspot Shield, Surfshark, and CyberGhost. There are plenty other options out there, of course.

It’s important to know what features you’re looking for when you’re shopping around for a VPN, and PrivacySharks is trying to help you ask the right questions. How many servers from how many locations do they give you access to? What’s the encryption standard they provide you with? Do they offer automatic or enable-ready kill switch? Are logs being kept of your traffic or web activities in any way?

Do they offer you cross-platform compatibility? Is the simultaneous devices nature and number they offer enough for your needs? Do they cover your content streaming needs? Do they offer browser extensions as well, and do you need or want them? Do they offer 24/7 customer support service and does it get decent reviews? Do they give you your money back if it doesn’t work out? Are their services and prices worth it? Is the interface of the app or software easy to use and intuitive when it comes to learning how to use it?

It’s perfectly legal to have VPN, though it can be used in immoral or even illegal ways. In that sense, the use is illegal, but the VPN is not. Your use can be a breach of the terms of use of the VPNs. In some countries or regions, VPNs use is banner or restricted.

When it comes to VPN best practices, it’s important to make sure you’re not using the services of someone who’s using or selling your information instead of simply cloaking it.

Setting up your VPN is very easy, in the sense that you install the dedicated app and/or software which is fit for your operating system, activate your account using your access details, and make sure to go through the options and settings to get everything up and running. Then all you need to do is keep paying the bill in order to keep using VPNs, pretty much.

PrivacySharks » Best VPN of 2021 – Rated by our Experts
Last updated: January 19, 2021