How Easy can you VPN?
There was a time, not so long ago, when connecting to a VPN network means fiddling with your device’s Internet settings. This is by no means intuitive, and entering a wrong digit or setting can cause your Internet access to break… and heaven forbid you don’t have a backup device to Google how to get it back right.
Today, most VPN providers offer their own software that makes encrypting your VPN traffic a simple, one-click affair. All you need to do is install the VPN provider’s software on your device, log in, click a button, and you’re in!
When we review services, this is normally the type of ease we’re looking for. Simple, one-click affairs that makes it very easy to VPN. However, not all VPN software is made the same.
Some VPN software will be slow to respond, and prone to crashing. On the other hand, some zip by even on less-modern machines. Some VPN software offer its features in a clean, easy-to-use interface, while a few would look like they need a UI overhaul. And then, some VPN software offer a host of smart features that adjust depending on your usage and status (such as kill-switches that protect your traffic even when the VPN server blips out) while others leave you to do all the manual tinkering.
Granted, it’s hard to create the perfect software in any category, but the best VPN services we have reviewed have gotten pretty close. We review all their available VPN software in whatever device and platform they may be supported, so that you can get a full picture of their software’s robustness. Coding for Windows is vastly different from doing the same on Mac, Android, and iOS, so there are times when there’s a disparity in the features across platforms, thus impacting ease of use. You can learn more about our take on cross-platform VPN compatibility here.
Some VPNs have no apps!
There are still those smaller VPN services, however, that don’t provide their own VPN clients — yet. These are few and far between, and these are often those companies that are just starting up. Maybe they do offer their own client, but they prefer other setup methods.
Don’t look down on them, though, since they’re likely to catch your eye through the great deals they offer. They’re on the cheaper side of the (already affordable) VPN spectrum, and as an introductory offer they may even offer a lifetime subscription for a small fee!
Of course such a deal is not for the faint of heart. You would have to contend not only with the risks of an unproven VPN service but also with an extended setup process, typically one that uses software like OpenVPN or Pritunl — maybe these would ring a bell if you’ve been working from home! Such software takes a bit of manual downloading, unzipping, and/or copying, and there’s still a margin of error. Not quite as scary as the olden days, but considering the ease of use from top offerings, a far cry from what the best offer.
You won’t find many of these in our reviews, but when you do, you may want to keep your eyes peeled — they’re the up-and-coming services that might make it to the “best of” list a few years down the road.