Are you concerned about your privacy online? Many people are and have taken to encrypting their internet traffic with a VPN (Virtual Private Network). For the uninitiated, a VPN allows you to tunnel your Internet traffic through another computer. The computer, acting as an intermediary, ensures that any data you send out cannot be identified to you based upon your IP address. More often than not, VPNs employ encryption; ensuring that nobody on your local network can intercept your traffic.
VPN usage has historically been linked with the enterprise, offering companies a way for remote workers to access an internal network without worrying about external threats getting hold of their precious, private data.
From this stuffy, corporate heritage, the consumer has found use for the humble VPN, with the proliferation of VPN services reflecting that. Common use cases involve circumventing georestriction on the likes of Hulu and iPlayer; anonymizing BitTorrent traffic and avoiding ISP level traffic shaping that slows downloads; and in countries which employ mandatory web filtering they are extensively used to access sites and content that would be otherwise blocked.
Choosing the right VPN provider can be a bit of a headache. Until now. Meet Private Internet Access; a US-based provider of VPN services, with an emphasis on usability and choice of endpoint. They’re fast, and really quite good — and should be no surprise that they’re listed on our Best VPN Service Providers page. Here’s why, and how they can help you take control of your own privacy.
We’re also giving away 10 Private Internet Access accounts valid for one year! Join the giveaway below.
Private Internet Access
I tested Private Internet Access on computers running fully-patched and updated versions of Windows 7 and OS X Mavericks. I connected over my home Internet connection; a 50 megabit fibre-to-the-cabinet affair.
What first struck me was the speed of the connection. I’ve used other VPNs in the past, and a surprising amount were blatantly oversubscribed, providing glacial access speeds and intermittent (and infuriating) drop-outs. That really wasn’t the case with Private Internet Access.
Casual browsing felt no slower than my home connection, and I was able to watch movies and stream music without any buffering. Upload speeds were pretty impressive too, which is excellent news for BitTorrent users looking to maintain a healthy ratio on their favorite private tracker.
As I’m sure you’ve imagined, since you’re accessing the Internet through a server in the middle, latency is going to be a bit more than what you’re used to. However, I found that I usually got a ping that was less than 100 ms (and often hovering around the 50 ms mark). This is more than adequate for VoIP, and a href=”http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/how-to-reduce-lag-in-online-gaming/”>online gaming, although your milage may vary based upon the VPN server you choose. Obviously, the further the server is from you, the longer it takes for data to travel to and from it.
There’s also a startling amount of choice for endpoints. You can choose to push your traffic through multiple locations within the US, as well as many European jurisdictions including the UK, Sweden, France and Switzerland. People wanting to get their fix of Doctor Who from BBC iPlayer can choose to use a VPN in Blighty, whilst those who are particularly privacy focused should connect to a box in Switzerland or Sweden.
I didn’t try out every location on offer, although the ones I did use were uniform in offering a reliable, consistent experience in terms of speed and stability.
Getting started with Private Internet Access is easy. Whilst it’s entirely possible to manually configure your computer’s VPN settings, they offer clients for OS X and Windows which do most of the manual lifting for you.
Acquiring the OS X client is easy. Navigate to the Private Internet Access downloads page, and click on “Download Mac OS X VPN”.
Once you’ve downloaded the DMG file, mount it and double-click the executable inside. Depending on your security settings, your computer may regard it as an unacceptable security risk and refuse to run it. That’s not a huge problem, and is easily circumvented Control-clicking it, and selecting open.
Installation is over and done with in just a few short minutes. Once it’s finished installing, the client will launch and ask you for your login details. Pop them in, and select the region you wish to use by default. If you have a change of heart, don’t worry. You can easily switch later. You can also select whether you wish to open the VPN client whenever you log into your computer and tell it to connect automatically whenever the client opens.
Once installed and correctly configured, it’s time to connect! You’ll notice a new icon in your OS X toolbar. Click it, and select ‘connect’.
As I’m sure you imagined, the steps taken to install the Private Internet Access VPN client on Windows don’t differ greatly to that on OS X. Like you did before, pay a visit to their downloads page and grab the Windows client. Once downloaded, double-click to start the installation process.
Halfway through the installation process, you will be prompted to install a device driver. Press ‘install’. Once the installation has concluded, the client will open.
As you did before, enter in your log in information and select the region you wish to connect to.
You’ll notice a new icon in your taskbar. Click it, and select ‘connect’.
Private Internet Access offers three subscription options: $6.95/month, $35.95/6 months, and $39.95/year. Regardless of which plan you choose, you’ll receive the same benefits: PPTP, OpenVPN and L2TP/IPSec protocols, “choose your own encryption level”, VPN kill switch, IPv6 protection, multiple VPN gateways, unlimited bandwidth, and support for 5 simultaneous individual connections. Private Internet Access also doesn’t store any traffic logs for complete anonymity.
How do I win a Private Internet Access account?
You may enter by submitting your name and email address. You’ll receive one entry simply by doing so.
After that, you’ll also be offered various methods to earn additional entries. They range from sharing a link to this giveaway on social networks; to commenting or visiting a specific page. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning! You will receive 5 additional entries into the giveaway for every successful referral via your shared links.
This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, December 6. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.
- Timothy Kusajtys
- Sonia Gupta
- Flora Robleto
- Aaron Perkinson
- Timothy Murphy
- Lawrence Woolley
- Joel Gochberg
- Bryant Helms
- Ed Aponte
- John M. Gehring
Congratulations! If you were selected as a winner, you would have received your license via email from firstname.lastname@example.org. If you require any assistance, please get in touch with Jackson Chung before December 21. Enquires beyond this date will not be entertained.
Submit your apps and software to be reviewed. Contact Jackson Chung for further details.