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Features of VPN for Multiple Devices
All VPNs are not equal. Some, like the dozens of free services, are light-weight, stripped-down versions of premium, full featured VPN products. There are a number of good reasons to avoid free VPNs, and even some premium VPNs don't have extra security features to block online ads and provide additional web security. Some will not connect to overseas online entertainment providers like Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
Likewise, many premium VPNs will work across a variety of platforms-Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, etc., but may not offer the same security features for Mac users.
Also, some VPN providers will permit only a limited number (usually 5) simultaneous connections across multiple user devices. Others allow unlimited connections. Many will not work with smart TVs or on gaming consoles. Those that do require special setups, like installing the VPN on the user's router.
7 features to look for in a multiple-device VPN
When comparing premium VPNs, look for a product that works best and provides optimum value for the monthly subscription cost. The following are the best features of a premium VPN that works on multiple devices:
Feature 1: A "no-logs" policy with transparent security assurances
What type of data, if any, does the VPN provider collect on the user?
The VPN provider obviously needs to maintain the user's account and look after system performance. The tie breaker is whether the data collected is totally anonymous and whether or not it exceeds what is needed to run the service efficiently. A sure sign of data mining is if the VPN provider admits it tracks the user's web activity, even if it claims to have a "no-logs policy.
Must the VPN provider adhere to local restrictions and regulations that could violate user privacy?
A U.S.-based VPN provider is subject to government regulations and subpoenas demanding information on individuals' web activity, which could traceable to individual users.
Has the VPN provider undergone a third-party audit?
Most VPN services do not submit to third-party security audits. No-logs and privacy asseretions are easy to make, but the best evidence of protecting users' privacy is through an unbiased audit.
Feature 2: State-of-the-art encryption and browsing security
Premium VPNs for multiple devices employ AES 256-encruption and IKEv2/IPsec standards. The AES is the only public access encryption approved by NSA. It is practically unbreakable and impermeable to brute-force decryption methods. Some premium VPN services also provide the OpenVPN standard. That standard makes point-to-point VPN connections secure.
Feature 3: The number and diversity of servers the VPN employs
The greater number of servers the VPN service accesses and maintains, the greater the privacy and ease of access. The top VPN services access hundreds of worldwide locations. With so-called "dual tunneling," the user can log on and route the connection through multiple servers. This provides greater privacy and location masking while online.
Feature 4: Proven speed through testing
Expect a drop in web browsing speed when a VPN is running. Usually, 10-12 Mbps works well for normal web surfing. Online gaming requires a 20-30 Mbps performance. To test the speed of the VPN, while the VPN is running* do the following:
1. Log into the Testmy.net and free online internet speed tester and select the Internet Speed Test.
2. Select and run the speed tests for the web connection without the VPN.
3. With the VPN connected*, run the download/upload speed tests.
4. Observe the speed differences between steps 2 and 3.
5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 by logging into other VPN server locations.
*Note: Most premium VPNs have a free-trial period of money-back guarantee where the user can download the service and try it out. Also, a reliable VPN should route the user to the fastest server for optimum speed performance.
Finally, consider other factors that affect the VPN's speed. Distance from the VPN server and the time of day could also result in slower speeds. Also, the user's internet service may not be providing its advertised speed.
Feature 5: Reliable torrenting (P2P) and streaming performance is a must
Accessing BBC iPlayer or overseas Netflix libraries, requires a VPN that works with torrenting and has the speed to do video streaming. Some services, Norton for example, block torrenting because of copyright restrictions or as a matter of policy. Others simply are not fast enough or cannot support the bandwidth required for video HD streaming. Still, others will not work with every streaming service.
Feature 6: Online support and assistance
Helpful agents on a 24/7 chat connection can get new users off to a fast start with a VPN service. Many VPN providers do not have live support. Rather, they rely on email or a time-delayed ticketing process. Support after the sale is one factor where reviewers weigh heavily in rating VPN services.
Avoid free VPN services. Go for the premium products.
Facebook, Amazon and Google, have made a business out of data mining. They use all that data ad targeting and their own marketing ventures. Internet service providers and free VPN services have also harvested user activity records. Their goal is to collect user data for tailored ads and sell the data to marketers.
As previously mentioned, free VPNs can only remain free through selling user activity logs to web advertisers and marketers. When a user downloads a free VPN and logs into the service, they become an immediate target for spyware/adware. Advertising and links to unsecure websites are the ideal vectors of malware that can do great harm.
Subscription VPN services no advertising, collect no user data, and guarantee consistent fast internet connections.
Caution: A VPN is not an anti-virus tool
A VPN is a reliable mobile shield that hides the User's IP address. It relays the encrypted connection to a remote VPN server. However, while a VPN is another level of insurance for online security, it does not detect malware or protect the user against falling for email phishing scams.
The VPN must be one element of a commonsense and enlightened security awareness. That awareness and security consciousness must be include the following:
• commercial-grade antivirus software, updated automatically as new threats develop
• the built-in security settings already present on Mac and Windows operating systems
• never logging into public Wi-Fi networks without the protection of a VPN
• patronizing websites that only have the HTTPS header
• being aware of email phishing and never opening suspicious attachments or web links
• following a solid password strategy, using lengthy passwords as well as a different password for each password-protected entry point
• backing up everything as the last line of defense against malware attacks
Summary and Takeaways
When comparing VPNs that work across multiple devices, look for VPNs that also work across a variety of operating systems. A VPN that allows an unlimited number of connections is also a plus.
The best features of a premium VPN that works on multiple devices include the assurance of privacy through a "no-logs" policy. That policy must be transparent and state what data the provider collects from the user.
A VPN provider based in a location exempt from government oversight and regulations provides another assurance that the user data will not be compromised. Another assurance is a third-party security audit.
Free VPNs may work on multiple devices, but they are less secure than premium versions. The potential lack of privacy is also a concern with free VPN services, which must pay their way through selling advertising and user logs. Advertising can slow performance and can be a vector for malware.
Premium VPNs employ the best-in-class encryption and can access a wide variety of overseas VPN servers. Using "dual-tunneling" a premium VPN can route the user through multiple locations and ensure even greater security and privacy.
Users can run an individual VPN speed test and find the fastest VPN server. Speed is one factor in accessing overseas entertainment streaming services. Some VPNs will not allow streaming, while others don't have the speed required.
Online support and assistance are definite pluses in rounding out the best features of a multi-deice VPN. Look for reviewers to highlight product support in their online reviews.
Finally, it is important to remember that a VPN needs to be accompanied by anti-virus software as well as employing the firewalls and encryption available on MacOS and Windows 10 operating systems. Other commonsense security awareness includes avoiding unprotected public Wi-Fi networks, being on the lookout for phishing email and employing a solid password and backup strategy.