A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a more secure way to browse the internet. It is used by large companies, universities, governments and individuals alike, although for various reasons.

A VPN is a proxy service that allows the user to log onto the internet through their own internet service provider (ISP) but access content through a more secure, private network.

The advantage of this is that your device’s internet connection is encrypted, allowing you to peruse the internet free of hackers. Data travels from your device to a VPN server where it is encrypted.

It does slow your internet speeds down but it provides privacy, evasion of censorship, geo-spoofing and protection against hackers.

Choosing a VPN provider is not always easy. Not all are created equal and there are many services to wade through. What provider is right for you will depend on your intended use.

If you will only occasionally be using a VPN when browsing on an untrusted network, you will choose a provider that is fine for occasional use. If you are a downloader, you will want to choose a service targeted at downloaders.

Features to take into consideration are price, connectivity, protocols and server location.

1. Price – Prices vary depending on provider and services. Make sure to look at the user agreement and privacy policy. Free VPN providers usually keep usage logs and serve up contextual ads. These providers are less secure. They can be a great quick fix for budget-minded travelers, though. Paid services tend to specialize in privacy.

2. Connectivity – Because your data is being sent to a VPN provider, encrypted and sent back, you will experience slower internet speeds. It is good to know how much connectivity will be slowed. Although, more secure providers tend to be slower.

3. Protocols – There are many VPN types: L2TP, PPTP, IPSec, SSL/TLS, etc. Each protocol has its benefits and drawbacks. Many end-users are unable to tell the difference. Most individuals don’t need to worry about protocols. Corporations might want to do some research.

4. Server location – The importance of server location depends on your use. If you are looking to get around service location restrictions and want to watch live TV from another country, you want to make sure your provider has servers in that country.

If privacy is your main concern, make sure to choose a VPN provider that does not keep user logs. If you are just hoping to access all of Netflix’s content, pay attention to server locations. Access a set-up guide for Netflix here.

When shopping for a VPN provider, look for features that further your goals. Not all VPNs are created equal, so do your research.