VPNs work by routing your web traffic through an encrypted tunnel between your computer and a server operated by the VPN company. Anyone snooping on your activities, even if they are the ones running the network, won't be able to see what you're up to. Even the ISPs will be blind. Advertisers and others on the web will have a harder time tracking your movements because your true IP address is hidden behind that of the VPN server and your traffic is mixed in with everyone else on that server.
Some VPN services offer even longer subscription periods. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, for example, lives up to its name with an effectively life-long plan. It also offers billing periods as short as one week, which is great for travelers who want a VPN only for a vacation or business trip. At PCMag, however, we recommend using a VPN as often as possible.
Ivacy offers only 459 servers, a bit below the 500-server minimum threshold I have come to expect. In fact, so many VPN services are now exceeding 700 and even 1,000 servers that I may need to raise the cutoff soon. NordVPN currently leads the pack with over 3,400 servers, and Private Internet Access is close behind with 3,275. TorGuard recently expanded its offering to 3,000 servers, placing it among the three most robust services I have yet reviewed.
Hosting and running a VPN is quite expensive, and nobody would do it for charity. The so-called ‘free VPNs’ are therefore not entirely free, as they use adverts and various restrictions to continue offering you service. Some even sell your data to third parties for analysis and marketing! If you don’t like restrictions & ads, check out these Paid VPNs. That said, there are still some decent free VPNs that just limit what you can do. Here are some of comprises you’ll have to do with:
In the latency tests, Ivacy performed noticeably poorly and increased latency by 2,360 percent. This is the second-worst score I have recorded, after AnchorFree Hotspot Shield's abysmal 3,145.4 percent increase. TorGuard VPN had the best score in these tests, actually reducing latency by 6.7 percent. Ivacy performed much better in the international tests, where it increased latency by 292.5 percent. That's nipping at the heels of TunnelBear, which increased latency by 270.31 percent.
These VPNs work with Netflix, but for one reason or another, they don’t make the top seven cutoff. This may be due to inconsistent service, privacy concerns, speed, or inability to unblock Netflix on mobile devices. Netflix frequently blocks VPNs, so we also favor those with a proven track record of bypassing the proxy error. Erring on the side of caution, we don’t want to recommend VPNs that work today but not tomorrow.
Those aren't the only threats to your data. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to let ISPs sell anonymized user data. A VPN prevents your ISP from snooping on your online activity in an attempt to monetize you. Because your traffic, and the traffic of others, appears to come from the VPN server, it's much harder (but not impossible) to correlate online activities to your computer. That's great if you're concerned about advertisers or law enforcement trying to track your activities online.

It’s not just Netflix. Hulu, BBC iPlayer, HBO Now, and several other streaming providers have all implemented VPN bans at some level. Should the trend continue, legally watching licensed content online from any site would require users to relinquish their privacy. Constantly maintaining a Netflix workaround requires significant resources. Each of the VPNs we contacted was optimistic, but not certain, that they would still have a workaround six months from now.
The short answer is a big yes. Internet Service Providers can effortlessly crack open one of these pipes and log or monitor all your Internet traffic data, including all your browsing history and sometimes even the content of your emails. Depending on where you reside and who your Internet provider is, they may actually be mandated to log your internet data and forward it on to law enforcement, copyright extortionists, and advertisers.
Ivacy also has some very strategically positioned servers. While most VPN companies ignore the entire continent of Africa, Ivacy has six locations. South and Central America is another region passed over by many VPN companies, but not Ivacy. It also provides servers in regions with repressive internet censorship, including China, Russia, and Turkey.

While Public Wi-Fi is a real convenience, it also poses a threat to you privacy. Unsecured public Wi-Fi networks leave you very vulnerable to advertisers, criminals and hackers trying to steal personal data and information. Windscribe VPN for Chrome encrypts your internet connection to secure it preventing others from tracking your browsing activity and leaving invasive tracking cookies in your Chrome browser which compromise your privacy even after you disconnect.
Windscribe VPN is a Canadian VPN provider that has made a dent in the low-end VPN market. They claim not to keep any logs of activity, and their software is quite good. Windscribe is also one of the last remaining VPNs that works reliably with Netflix without generating the dreaded 'proxy error'. (Hint: NordVPN is another that works flawlessly with Netflix). 

Understanding what kind of information a VPN service collects, and how long it is maintained, can be hard to figure out. To get the answer, you may have to wade through unending FAQ pages and opaque terms of service written in arcane legalese. If the VPN company you're considering can't clearly explain what information it gathers and how long it will be kept, it's probably not a great service.


It's also important to know where your VPN company is located, since this dictates the legal jurisdiction under which it operates. Because of their location, some companies may be required to hold on to certain data for set periods of time, or need to cooperate with different law enforcement bodies. Ivacy is located in Singapore and operates under that legal jurisdiction. Personally, I do not believe that I can judge the quality of any company based solely on its location, but it is still an important consideration. I encourage everyone to make their own decisions in this regard, and use the service they feel comfortable with.
Ivacy puts the business address for its parent company as PMG Pte. LTD, 38 Beach Road #29-11 South Beach Tower Singapore 189767. Once again we’ve got a VPN with an exotic address. There aren’t many Ivacy employees on LinkedIn but those that are appear to work for the company out of the United Arab Emirates, as well as one person in Singapore. Previously there were also some employees working in Pakistan.
These VPNs work with Netflix, but for one reason or another, they don’t make the top seven cutoff. This may be due to inconsistent service, privacy concerns, speed, or inability to unblock Netflix on mobile devices. Netflix frequently blocks VPNs, so we also favor those with a proven track record of bypassing the proxy error. Erring on the side of caution, we don’t want to recommend VPNs that work today but not tomorrow.

BitTorrent has an unsavory reputation, one that is both unfair and yet also well deserved. At its best, BitTorrent addresses the bottleneck created when too many people try to download the same files from a single source at once—be they bootlegged tv shows, hot music tracks, DRM-free books, or photos of cats. BitTorrent turns a file's popularity into a benefit, instead of a bottleneck, by having each of the downloaders distribute pieces of the file to every other downloader. Furthermore, it's decentralized, with no main server to choke under the burden of traffic. There's no disputing that torrenting is a clever idea. While it can be used for legitimate purposes, its decentralized nature also makes it perfect for illegally sharing copyrighted content online, too.
Hosting and running a VPN is quite expensive, and nobody would do it for charity. The so-called ‘free VPNs’ are therefore not entirely free, as they use adverts and various restrictions to continue offering you service. Some even sell your data to third parties for analysis and marketing! If you don’t like restrictions & ads, check out these Paid VPNs. That said, there are still some decent free VPNs that just limit what you can do. Here are some of comprises you’ll have to do with:
If you are going to use BitTorrent for whatever reason, good luck to you. If you are going to use a VPN, more power to you. But be sure that you take the time to read the VPN's terms of service before you start. And be aware of the local laws and possible penalties before you start, whatever your willingness to obey them. "I didn't know the law," or "I don't agree with the law," won't hold up as defenses in a court, so make sure you can live with any potential punishments should you choose to do something legally dubious.
Hi Paula, thanks for the question. File sharing is indeed under fire in countries like the US, UK, Canada and Australia. But you can engage in P2P/File-sharing activity from these countries by connecting to the VPN servers of the countries where File Shharing is legal. As long as you don’t engage in any copyright infringements, you have nothing to worry about. However, anti-file-sharing measures are usually very limited and are usually always preceeded by rather harmless warning notices by the ISP so you have a bit of a margin in case you ever get flagged during a P2P session in the event of a worst case scenario.
The short answer is a big yes. Internet Service Providers can effortlessly crack open one of these pipes and log or monitor all your Internet traffic data, including all your browsing history and sometimes even the content of your emails. Depending on where you reside and who your Internet provider is, they may actually be mandated to log your internet data and forward it on to law enforcement, copyright extortionists, and advertisers.
BitTorrent's dubious distinction as the pirate's tool of choice has led to indiscriminate crackdowns from ISPs on the use of BitTorrent. With a virtual private network, or VPN, your traffic is encrypted and secured to ensure that no one can see what you're up to—even when you're torrenting. The catch is, not every VPN service allows BitTorrent on its servers.

Morgan says Netflix probably isn’t targeting isolated VPN providers. He believes a combination of techniques is used to block them. One of those techniques, says LiquidVPN CEO Dave Cox, is by identifying connections coming from data centers instead of residences. He goes on to explain that the Netflix apps combat SmartDNS services by forcing you to use a public DNS server and frequently change the URLs that do geolocation for their content. This makes it impossible for services that could support thousands of customers streaming at a time by only forwarding the geolocation packets through their servers.
Windscribe VPN is a Canadian VPN provider that has made a dent in the low-end VPN market. They claim not to keep any logs of activity, and their software is quite good. Windscribe is also one of the last remaining VPNs that works reliably with Netflix without generating the dreaded 'proxy error'. (Hint: NordVPN is another that works flawlessly with Netflix). 

The practical upshot is that no one can intercept your web traffic as it moves from your computer to the VPN server. And if you're connecting to websites via HTTPS (which you should), your data remains encrypted for its entire journey, even after it leaves the VPN server. This is why you need a VPN. VPNs are particularly important when you're using public Wi-Fi or unfamiliar networks. In these situations, hackers may be lurking on the network or even running the network themselves, hoping to snag your personal information.

×