There are various reasons why people turn to trustworthy VPN services. It is understandable since there are numerous benefits that come with virtual private network tools.
You can unlock websites that were not previously available, get access to exclusive games and Netflix shows, as well as get past school network restrictions, just to name a few examples.
However, many people mention the word “trust” when talking about finding the best VPN service for their needs. In this article, we are digging a bit deeper to see what makes a VPN trustworthy. We are also showing you ten telltale signs that you look out for when trying to find a reliable virtual private network tool.
Check out the list of topics below to see what we planned for today (click to jump).
- What is a trustworthy VPN?
How to find a reliable VPN
- 1. Never use a free VPN
- 2. Check for IP and DNS leaks
- 3. It must have an emergency kill switch
- 4. Look into the VPN jurisdiction
- 5. Verify the logging policy of the VPN company
- 6. Find out who owns the VPN service
- 7. Check the VPN’s reputation on review sites
- 8. It supports obfuscated VPN servers to defeat government censorship
- 9. It comes with a money-back guarantee
- 10. It has 24/7 live chat support
- Our recommendation for a trustworthy VPN service
- In conclusion
What is a trustworthy VPN?
When browsing the Internet for VPN advice, you will come across many guides that mention the word “trustworthy,” “dependable” and “reliable” when breaking down a virtual private network service and explaining to you how VPN works.
There are many features that add up to a trustworthy VPN, but they all seem to revolve around one thing: the VPN provider makes a promise and you must trust that it will deliver on that promise no matter what.
As such, it is essential to deeply research any VPN service that catches your attention before purchasing it. Find out what it is supposed to do and look for evidence that it actually did it. If it failed to deliver on its promise, it should be a red flag.
How to find a reliable VPN
It is not easy to find a dependable VPN service that delivers on its promise. However, here are our best 10 telltale tips to help you get started.
1. Never use a free VPN
There are many hidden dangers to using free VPNs. The worst one is that such services are notorious for selling your data to third-party marketing agencies in exchange for profit.
And they come with other downsides, too. Free VPN tools often have few VPN servers that you can use to mask your IP address and conceal your true location.
Furthermore, free VPNs keep most of their features blocked, have low or compromised security due to the lack of advanced VPN protocols, and they might throttle your connection speed.
Suffice it to say, free VPN services are not trustworthy and you should never use them on the long term. Instead, look for a premium VPN application that can do everything a free VPN can not.
A premium VPN is maintained by a team of professionals who dedicate themselves to protecting your online privacy, security, and anonymity. It is the reason you pay them for, anyway.
If you need a suggestion about which premium VPN service to get, we recommend ExpressVPN (buy here) since it is the best in the business. For additional information, make sure to check out our article on the best VPN services of this year.
2. Check for IP and DNS leaks
It does not matter if you have the most feature-rich and intuitive VPN service if it spills your IP address and DNS requests to the websites to visit. When this happens, your online identity is compromised. It is like you never used a VPN in the first place.
On the other hand, a trustworthy VPN has protection modules to make sure your genuine IP address and DNS requests are not visible to others. As such, when exploring the set of features of a VPN, check for IP and DNS leak protection components, too.
If you have already purchased a premium VPN service, then you might just want to make sure that it is trustworthy. In this case, you can use an online service like IPLeak to see if the displayed IPv4, IPv6, and DNS addresses are your real ones or concealed by the VPN.
3. It must have an emergency kill switch
The VPN kill switch acts as an emergency plan in case your Internet connection drops unexpectedly. You are disconnected from the VPN as soon as your Internet connection stops working.
However, it re-establishes itself on its own, eventually. The problem is that the VPN service cannot re-establish the connection simultaneously with your Internet. And, until your VPN connection is up and running again, the tool unintentionally broadcasts your true IP address to the world.
As you can see, that small time frame is dangerous for your online privacy. But a VPN kill switch takes care of this. Not all virtual private network services come with such a security feature, so it is crucial to look for it when you are trying to find a trustworthy VPN.
4. Look into the VPN jurisdiction
The physical whereabouts of the VPN company are key to finding a trustworthy service. All companies must respect the laws of their countries, and VPNs make no exception.
If the law says that all companies must retain the personal data of their customers, then it is better for you to look for an alternate VPN whose company is based in a safe country.
Moreover, there are many countries that work together in secrecy. Because it is illegal to monitor the citizens of their own country, they collaborate to monitor each other and swap information.
You may have heard of them as part of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes surveillance agencies. Needless to say, you should not pick a VPN service located in one of these countries.
5. Verify the logging policy of the VPN company
When connecting to a VPN server, you essentially shift that trust from your ISP to your VPN provider: you must trust when the VPN provider says it does not collect and use your data against you.
Therefore, you should remember to check the logging policy of the VPN company you are interested in. Also, run a simple Wikipedia or Google search to see if the VPN company was at the center of any controversies.
But you should not fall victim to opposite claims either. You will see a lot of VPN websites that claim a “strict no-logs policy”. But that does not exist. All VPNs collect some form of logs, but part of them are harmless. As such, you must find a trustworthy VPN that is completely honest about the type of logs it gathers and stores about its customers.
6. Find out who owns the VPN service
You can never know for sure that a VPN company will protect your data, no matter what its logging policy says. Even if the Google search returns no results to indicate the bad practices of a company, you should still find out more information about who is operating it.
Besides, there are many VPN scams out there, and the last thing you want is to become another one of their victims. Therefore, you should dig a little into the ownership of the VPN company to find out if it is trustworthy.
Firstly, the names of the persons in charge should be displayed on the site. To double-check the accuracy of this information, run a separate Google search for the owner names to determine if they are actual people.
Secondly, while you are doing a background check on the owners, you should find evidence that they have the necessary knowledge and expertise to create an advanced security product like a VPN service.
Thirdly, the VPN company should not be a shell company. It would mean that the site offers a physical address that does not actually lead to any VPN company. In this case, Google Maps is your best shot at tracking down the corporation.
7. Check the VPN’s reputation on review sites
This part is tricky because it means trusting the review sites. There are numerous websites out there that claim to be VPN experts, but most top-rated reviews are paid by the VPN company itself.
Before checking a VPN’s reputation on a review site, you must first verify the review site to find out if it is legitimate, honest, and independent. For instance, it should use HTTPS connections to facilitate end-to-end encryption between your computer and its servers. If you are concerned about security, use Google’s Transparency Report to find out the safety rating of the review site.
Improper or awkward English is also a sign that questions the legitimacy of a review site. You would not want to trust the words of someone who does not understand the concept of VPN or who used Google Translate to make himself sound like an expert.
Further, if the review site promotes ads aggressively or worse, pops up windows with ads when you click an empty area of the page, you should steer away from it.
An aggressive approach can mean anything from banners that cover most part of the page, popup messages that insist you sign up for newsletters, survey requests to continue reading an article, as well as page redirects.
These types of review sites are more interested in generating revenue from ads than helping you understand how VPN works. But if the site passes these tests, you can go ahead and check the reputation of a VPN service to figure out if it is trustworthy.
8. It supports obfuscated VPN servers to defeat government censorship
There are countries with oppressive governments all over the world. They limit the Internet access of their citizens and block certain parts of the web, usually for political or religious motives.
Freely navigating the Internet becomes impossible when you are living or traveling to one of these countries. But a trustworthy VPN service can help you overcome this issue.
Many governments ban the use of a VPN or block the ones that are not approved by the state. However, if your VPN service supports obfuscated servers, you can connect to them to hide the fact that you are using a VPN.
Instead, you look like a regular user who prefers HTTPS websites over HTTP. As such, the obfuscation mode is essential. It works excellent against The Great Wall of China, to name an example.
9. It comes with a money-back guarantee
Earlier in this article, we advised you against using free VPNs. That does not mean that you should immediately spend tons of money on the first premium service that crosses your path.
Whether or not the VPN service comes with a free trial or demo, it must have a money-back guarantee. As such, you can freely test all VPN features for two weeks, one month or more before deciding if you want to keep using it.
A trustworthy VPN should not have anything to hide. And it should not a constraint you into paying for a product that you are not completely comfortable with.
10. It has 24/7 live chat support
When you encounter any problem with your VPN client, you should be able to immediately contact tech support and ask for help. Email and ticket support are decent, but the best example of this is 24/7 live chat support.
This way, you can start a conversation with a VPN specialist at any time of the day and fix your issue immediately, without having to wait for email replies or worry that your message was never received in the first place.
Our recommendation for a trustworthy VPN service
If you think we passed the review site reputation test and if you are looking for a recommendation, you should know that we have already evaluated, reviewed and ranked over 50 VPN products.
And, earlier this year, we pitted the top 5 tools against each other to find out the best VPN service. Results indicated that ExpressVPN is a trustworthy VPN service that makes good on its promises.
ExpressVPN is a premium VPN application that has exclusive DNS servers and guards you from IP and DNS leaks. It also supports a VPN kill switch (called Network Protection).
The company is based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which is considered safe. There are no data retention laws, and the territory is not part of the Eyes alliances. In fact, the BVI is well-known for protecting user privacy because it has offshore jurisdiction.
ExpressVPN has a no-logging policy, in the sense that it only collects anonymous data that can be used to improve the product in future releases. But your personal details remain unknown to the VPN service. Your sensitive data, like the IP address you use or the websites you visit, is routed to VPN servers that run on RAM, not hard drives. As such, the RAM servers wipe all information before writing a new one.
Moreover, ExpressVPN is a highly reputed VPN service on all trustworthy review sites (including FindYourVPN). It has obfuscated VPN servers for China residents, comes with a money-back guarantee, and features 24/7 live chat support.
If you are interested in buying a premium subscription plan for ExpressVPN, you can get started here.
Finding a reliable VPN can be a hassle if you do not know exactly what you are looking for. There are many shady VPN services on the Internet, but there are also good products worthy of your attention. If you stick to our tips, you should not have any trouble.
What do you think makes a dependable VPN client? And what is your favorite VPN tool? We would love to hear your opinions, so please do not hesitate to write us a comment in the section below.