Finding the right VPN for Android can be tricky because VPN technology is still so new. It’s hard to know exactly what specific terms mean and which features are important to look for in a VPN. Listed below is a detailed explanation on VPNs and features to look out for when choosing a VPN for Android.
The popularity of VPN services has picked up exponentially in the past couple of years thanks to various privacy breaches. Media outlets have also greatly helped to bring the merits of VPN technology into the spotlight. Through all this, more people are becoming aware of the need to protect their privacy and data from those that seek to exploit it, especially on their smartphones.
VPN technology isn’t just useful for protection, however. Many people use it to access geo-blocked content like streaming services or bypass potential risks when torrenting.
What Is a VPN?
Before getting into the details of choosing a VPN, it’s important to understand what a VPN is and how it works first.
A virtual private network encrypts any data that is being sent or received over a connection. When using a VPN on Android, the app will encrypt data before it’s sent through a VPN server that decrypts it again. Then it goes on to its intended destination. So it essentially acts as a middleman between the Android user and the internet.
The other upside of how VPN services work is that they spoof a user’s real IP address with a fake one. That allows people to access geo-blocked content and get around location bans.
How to Choose a VPN for Android
Before getting started, it’s important to note that everyone has different needs and will find some features more important than others. The information given below offers quick general guidelines on what to look for when picking a VPN service for Android.
The most significant selling point of a VPN is its ability to protect users’ privacy. So an unsecure VPN is a useless VPN. Things to look out for in the privacy and security department are:
A good VPN will have a no-logs policy in place. This means that it doesn’t collect any data that can be used to identify someone, be it financial records, personal details, or browsing history. Make sure to find out more about what details a VPN provider logs before signing up.
Encryption protocols offered
There are different types of protocols that determine how well-protected a connection is. Some protocols, like PPTP, aren’t safe to use anymore, while others like OpenVPN are considered very safe.
The location of a VPN provider’s headquarters can have a big impact on privacy. There are 5/9/14 eyes countries that have certain privacy-invading jurisdictions. Should a VPN be located in one of these countries, they may be forced to log and hand over client data.
One of the most prominent cons of using a VPN is that it can negatively impact connection speeds. Look for a VPN provider that has a lot of servers in various locations around the world and a good reputation amongst current clients. Reddit can be a good place to find VPN user reviews.
Extra features aren’t necessarily needed but still nice to have. Look for things like a kill switch, ad-blockers, malware protection, internet speed testing, and TOR support. Different features will appeal to different people depending on their needs.
For a consumer, the price is probably one of the main deciding factors. Many VPN services have trial periods and money-back guarantees. Some also offer great features and speeds at excellent pricing packages. It’s important to shop around a bit and try various free trials first. Once again, Reddit can help out here with special offers and coupons.
User-friendliness is a big part of app design. No one wants an app that’s too complicated or doesn’t work properly. In this case, it’s a good idea to make sure the VPN service specifically supports Android (here). Then find out more about the app interface. Some VPN apps are very clean and simple to use while others offer more detailed customizable options.
People often carry more than one Android device around with them. Of course, it’s better if all of these are protected. Luckily, many VPN service providers offer simultaneous connections that don’t hamper bandwidth. Some VPN services support up to 6 simultaneous connections. This means that you can use a VPN on your computer, tablet, or any other internet-connected devices at the same time.
Picking a good VPN for Android doesn’t have to be hard. However, the sheer amount of options can make it seem overwhelming. But that list can narrow down exponentially when one starts to consider the features listed above.