Whether you're killing time at a cafe or travelling for work, keeping your data out of the wrong hands will usually necessitate a virtual private network (VPN). Most VPN service providers encrypt your online traffic in the same way, but they're not all created equal. Here are five VPN service providers that stand out for their reliability, features, security and affordability.
Photo by cloki (Shutterstock).
BolehVPN is praised for its personal touch. The people working behind the scenes openly work to improve its service by taking feedback and suggestions seriously. You get all the usual features that come with a good VPN service, including anonymous surfing, masked IP addresses and encryption of all your internet traffic. BolehVPN also offers completely proxied servers, so you can choose how much traffic you want to route through its servers. Check out BolehVPN's pricing and plans here.
Astrill VPN is known for its simple setup, one-click activation and low prices. You can buy a router that comes pre-configured with Astrill VPN so you don't need an additional client to protect your data. Astrill supports Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android, and it offers up servers in 17 countries that are all ready to anonymise and encrypt your traffic while you're on-the-go. You can see all of Astrill VPN's pricing and plans here.
Hamachi is one of our favourite VPN tools. We've shown you how to secure yourself on public networks with Hamachi, as well as how to use it to roll your own VPN for gaming, multimedia and security. You have the option to subscribe to its managed plan, but it's just as easy to pick up the free client and use that as a VPN when you travel. It's easy to set up, and you can encrypt your traffic or route it back through your home internet connection, which makes it the ideal solution for DIY enthusiasts.
Private Internet Access (appropriately named) supports a surprising number of devices, has servers in dozens of countries, and doesn't log your activity, so you can be completely anonymous and encrypted. It comes with everything you'd expect from a good VPN -- encryption, user-friendly setup and decent prices -- but its commitment to anonymity has earned high praise from users. You can check out all of the pricing and plans here.
Witopia topped our list last year, but now it's up against stiff competition. It still offers some of the best and most robust VPN services you'll find, thanks to a massive network that won't leave you struggling for a connection, around-the-clock customer assistance, an easy-to-use client, and support for just about every possible transport protocol. Witopia supports Android, iOS, and even Chromebooks. Need secure DNS? That's on offer too. You can read up on Witopia's pricing and plans here.
The honourable mention this week goes to BoxVPN, which is favoured by many for its international support and low prices. AirVPN is another one worth noting specifically for its high-level data encryption, compliance with data security best practices, total net neutrality, and the fact that bitcoin is accepted as a form of payment.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Did your favourite not get mentioned? Make your case in the comments below.