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The use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to add privacy, anonymity, and/or freedom from regional blocking, is becoming more common with each passing month. So, we want to know whether you use a VPN, which VPN you use, and why you use a VPN in the first place? Welcome to this week’s MakeUseOf Poll.

Lumia Lollapalooza

To answer this week’s question please scroll down the page until you see the poll staring back at you. But first, we need to look at the results from the previous poll, when we asked, “What Is The Best Smartphone Released In 2014?

Out of a total of 1,368 votes, 22.8% chose the Nokia Lumia 930, 11.6% chose the Samsung Galaxy S5, 9.9% chose the iPhone 6, 9.7% chose the HTC One (M8), 9.2% chose the LG G3, 6.8% chose the Sony Xperia Z3, 6.4% chose the Google Nexus 6, 6.1% chose the iPhone 6 Plus, 2.5% chose the BlackBerry Passport, 0.4% chose the Amazon Fire Phone, and 14.5% chose Other.

This is a strong win for the Nokia Lumia 930, the current Windows Phone flagship. This result is something of a surprise, because Windows Phone is struggling to steal market share Why You Should Consider Switching To Windows Phone [Opinion] Why You Should Consider Switching To Windows Phone [Opinion] I want Windows Phone to succeed. The problem is persuading you Apple fanboys and Google droids to give Windows Phone a chance. Read More from Android and iOS.

However, Windows Phone users are a vocal bunch MakeUseOf Says Goodbye To Windows Phone MakeUseOf Says Goodbye To Windows Phone This is going to be a tearful goodbye, buddy, but it has to happen. MakeUseOf will soon be parting ways with Windows Phone. Read More , and appear to have fully lined up behind their platform of choice, knocking the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6 into second and third places, respectively.

The OnePlus One Top Six Best Features Of The OnePlus One -- And One Drawback Top Six Best Features Of The OnePlus One -- And One Drawback I've been living with the OnePlus One for a few weeks now, and it's amazing, but it's not perfect. Let's run through some of the best features -- and one downside. Read More deserves a quick mention thanks to the number of comments citing it as their choice under Other.

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Comment Of The Week

We received a lot of great comments, including those from pete, likefunbutnot, Robert, and D2. Comment Of The Week goes to Doc, who earns our admiration and affection for this comment What Is The Best Smartphone Released In 2014? [MakeUseOf Poll] What Is The Best Smartphone Released In 2014? [MakeUseOf Poll] There were some brilliant new smartphones released in 2014. But which, dear reader, is the best smartphone launched in the past year? Only you have the power to decide... Read More :

I chose the HTC One M8 – great speakers, SD card slot (up to 128GB! Nexus phones are good, but *give me an SD slot, Google!*), lots of RAM, Android 5.0 update available … pretty much everything I want in a phone.

It’s short, it’s sweet, and it tells us everything we wanted to know. Namely, which smartphone this particular reader thinks is the best one released in 2014, and why that is the case.

Everybody has different wants and needs when it comes to smartphones, which is why explaining your reasoning for voting the way you did was so important.

VPN: Viral Poll Nonsense

As the name suggests, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a virtual version of a private network. Using a VPN means adding an extra layer of privacy and anonymity when connecting to the Internet. A VPN can also be used to access region-blocked content VPNs Are Old: Better Ways to Access Region-Blocked Video VPNs Are Old: Better Ways to Access Region-Blocked Video Internet users outside of the United States are blocked from accessing the wealth of streaming video and music content available to Americans. Even Americans are deprived of international services like BBC iPlayer. Faced with this,... Read More , such as the American version of Netflix Netflix Starts Messing With VPNs, Google Reveals Windows 8.1 Exploit [Tech News Digest] Netflix Starts Messing With VPNs, Google Reveals Windows 8.1 Exploit [Tech News Digest] Netflix punishes pirates, Google publishes Windows 8.1 exploit, Acer reveals giant Chromebook, Sony offers PlayStation freebies, the Smithsonian posts art online, and the $7,500 iPhone 6. Read More from a country that isn’t the U.S.

There are a host of free VPN services 5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest? 5 Great Free VPN Services Compared: Which Is Fastest? Virtual private networks (VPNs) aren’t much of a mainstream service. The only ones who know about VPNs are those who are sufficiently tech-literate, and even among these folks, only few actually use VPNs. The name... Read More and paid-for VPN services The Best VPN Services The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More available to use, so we want to know a) whether you use a VPN, b) which VPN you use, and c) why you use a VPN? The poll below specifically covers the first part of the question, with the comments section open for you to answer the other parts of the question.

Please vote in the poll above, and then explain in the comments why you voted that way.

We would love to know your thoughts on VPNs. If you use a VPN, which do you use and why? What made you choose that particular VPN over the competition? For what purpose(s) do you use a VPN? Is it all about privacy? Or is it more about masking your IP in order to access region-locked content?

The best Comment Of The Week will win our everlasting admiration and affection. Well, at least until we meet back here again this time next week.

Image Credit: Josh Hallett via Flickr

  1. mohan nath
    June 28, 2015 at 7:36 am

    In my college they block use of social websites and whatsapp in student wifi . so i use vpn to bypass the block. my preferred vpn are "superfreevpn.com" and "vpnbook". when downloading torrent files i use "hide.me" because former vpn services do not allow the p2p network.

  2. anelly
    April 28, 2015 at 9:06 am

    ibvpn - good price, good speed, VPN & DNS in one package ;-)

  3. James Vang
    February 24, 2015 at 10:55 am

    I use different VPN Providers depending upon my geographical location. I travel due a lot to the nature of my job. I always choose my VPN provider from VpnRanks.
    I usually use VPN for:
    1- Geo-Restricted Content.
    2- Using of gmail account whenever I was in China.
    3- When I am in my home country(USA) then i use for Security.

  4. Feruss
    January 16, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    I use PureVPN on my android and Windows Laptop.

    I mostly use for following:
    1- Access restricted content and websites
    2- Watch Netflix and stream videos
    3- Stay safe, secure and anonymous.

  5. K.I. Matthews
    January 15, 2015 at 1:27 am

    I don't do a lot of stuff that I want to keep private, nor do I do much geo-surfing, so I don't use VPN's much. When I worked, I used the company's VPN (Microsoft and later proprietary built on Linux). I tried a few of the free VPNs to see how they worked, but wasn't impressed ( Hulu, Hola, Hotspot Shield, Expat Shield, etc.) These were slow and buggy for the most part.

    I play around a little with TOR, but again find it a little slow and buggy. More research needed. I like the idea of anonymous surfing and try to keep as low a footprint as possible just on general principle.

    I expect the for-pay VPN offerings are better based on their free trials, but again, I don't have a great enough need for them.

    I don't think the technology is quite ready for prime time yet, despite the length of time software VPN's have been around.

  6. fira
    January 14, 2015 at 7:24 am

    I was a PIA user, bought using gift card. recently I found a local VPN service in my country and it provide 1 year service for just $14

  7. International Man of Mystery
    January 13, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    I use ExpressVPN and have for a year or so.

    Pros: I don't lose a lot of speed, depending on the connection I select. (-25% at best, -90% at worst, depending on which location is selected). Allegedly no logs.

    Cons: $10/month?!

    Verdict: Yes, I love it, but there are other options. I'm going elsewhere when my subscription runs out.

  8. Linda
    January 13, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    I use ZoogTV VPN both for privacy reasons and to access TV streaming websites such as Hulu and Netflix. This also helps me to save on my cable bills and provides an excellent on-demand alternative.

  9. The Geek Boss
    January 13, 2015 at 6:36 am

    This has been an awesome post/feedback - I find it very interesting to see the variety of VPN's out there that I didn't know existed. Some of which I had tried before - others I will try.

    Why?
    I'm not saying that my online activities dictate that I should use a VPN, it's just that I prefer what I do online to remain private, and/or any person spying/logging my activity is, in my view, 'not on'.

    Also, more than any other reason, I like to set which country I am in when making purchases online, that way I avoid taxes, and 90% of the time, it's cheaper than buying from overseas. EG: A book from the UK will cost me $30 here, $14-16 online, or $9 if purchased over a VPN set in the UK, with free delivery to my country!

  10. Debbie
    January 13, 2015 at 5:57 am

    I use surf easy VPN and there are numerous situations I use a Vpn for. I travel to Mexico a lot so I use a VPN to watch Hulu and for general Internet use.In the US I use it to watch the BBC. I also use when I'm working,I have a square swipe on my IPad to take payments from clients.I want a extra layer of protection for myself and clients.

  11. Jean Pierre Rojas
    January 13, 2015 at 3:36 am

    From my previous post.

    "Not get bothered by those***"

  12. Jean Pierre Rojas
    January 13, 2015 at 3:35 am

    Philippines have a stupid hole which is a Dynamic IP. If a person or a server who is using the same IP as the other is caught by CloudFlare honeypot project in order to powers its CloudFlare DNS protection.

    Other users such a myself who is just happily browse news website and other websites gets blocked for no apparent reason. Additionally, the blocked is instantaneously that even with Whitelisting Report on Honeypot. CLOUDFLARE DOESN"T COMPLY!!

    That's why I used VPN in order to get bothered by those stupidly frequent and irritating CloudFlare Web Protection Captchas. Seriously! I just want to read news! Why do I have to get slapped with another captcha at each visit that cycles every 2 hours!

  13. Zeus
    January 12, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    "VPN Unlimited" coz i like the simplicity of the setup and use. Plus for the most part I havent noticed any bandwidth throttling.

  14. Victor
    January 12, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    I typically don't use a VPN because they just don't offer enough advantages for the cost in my opinion. When I need to secure my browsing or bypass internet restrictions, I'll use HotSpot Shield in free mode, but otherwise, because it is so slow, I don't use a VPN. I don't really have anything to hide anyways, so if the government want to see what I'm doing, so be it!

  15. Brian Barnes
    January 12, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    I use Anonymizer because they seem to allow me to connect unlimted number of devices(my whole family connects via the same account), and I can pay in cash. They allow torrenting and keep no logs which are both nice as well.

  16. DonGateley
    January 12, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    Private Internet Access through their app to get the kill switch (blocks traffic if the VPN fails or disconnects.) Occasionally, like yesterday it corrupts itself and I have to resinstall their TAP driver to get it to work again. I chose them after researching reccomendations and seeing their (as yet unchallenged) claim to not record or keep logs and to hard encrypt traffic using well vetted and effective open protocols.

    My reason for using a VPN is simple. I don't want whatever goes through my connection to implicate me should I transact something that offends someone or some organization to where they seek to spy on me or punish me. No solution to that is perfect but a well encrypted VPN helps.

  17. Armando
    January 12, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    I use 12VPN to listen to Pandora Radio, since it's IP-banned from my current country.

  18. likefunbutnot
    January 12, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    I'm an IT guy so I need to deal with VPNs quite a bit. I use Private Internet Access for anything of questionable legality. That machine is configured to only ever access the internet through its VPN connection.

    I also use Hamachi for a lot of handy reasons. Hamachi is extremely useful for managing access to internal network resources for non-techie people, so I roll it out for clients that might not have the resources or know-how to support some other technology. I really appreciate that it has a web-based management interface so that I can quickly form ad hoc networks as well. Hamachi is great for gaming on private servers and for virtual desktop access through RDP or VNC.

    Other stuff? Sure. I also use SSH tunnels and OpenVPN connections for site to site links where my network equipment on each side support them and I still have some old Windows Servers kicking around that need to be accessed with good old PPTP.

  19. R A Myers
    January 12, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    I use "SurfEasy" because it works on our Windows computers and and our Android cell phones.

    Why? Safety, privacy, versatility

  20. Geert
    January 12, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    I use Zenmate for Chrome in order to watch BBC iPlayer in my country, and also to watch Netfix USA and Netflix UK. It works like a charm.

  21. Steve
    January 12, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Good Morning Mr. Parrack,
    I am not sure which VPN I should choose.....! Do you have any suggestion?
    A million thanks !
    Steve

  22. G.R.A
    January 12, 2015 at 10:04 am

    HotSpot Shield Elite for me, it is cheap and rarely lets me down. I have tried a few others but didnt think they were as good.

  23. Praveen
    January 12, 2015 at 8:51 am

    I use VPN for accessing Blocked Sites in my college.

  24. Jan Vagn Nielsen
    January 12, 2015 at 8:47 am

    I'm using HideMy Ass occasionally, specially if a video is region restricted. Only problem is that the broadband speed is reduced by a factor of ten, so I don't use it very often.

  25. Vamsi KRishna
    January 12, 2015 at 6:13 am

    I use VPN on my mobile device for accessing Whatsapp and some other services bcoz they are blocked in our college wifi and even had to occssionally shift VPN's because they even block them.Currently we use DroidVPN and psiphon.

  26. intouch01
    January 12, 2015 at 5:03 am

    Great Post!
    Thanks for sharing.Keep sharing in future.

  27. Sueska
    January 12, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Use VPN for more security at public wifi and when volunteering for phishtank

  28. Anonymous
    January 12, 2015 at 4:06 am

    Private Internet Access of course, because what I do is my business, not anyone else's.

  29. Randy Brown
    January 12, 2015 at 3:12 am

    almost using it everydayXD
    and often recieving new feeds in FeedDemon through the VPN cuz I'm from ChinaXD

  30. Fraser Smith
    January 12, 2015 at 1:57 am

    I live in China, so I have no choice but to use a VPN if I want access to News and Social media. I've been paying for Astrill's service for 5 years now. However, this year when I renew, I'm seriously considering shopping around. Astrill recently introduced new "VIP" servers for China users that cost an extra $10 per month to use. Sadly, performance through the non-VIP servers seems to have deteriorated since the introduction. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to work out why.

  31. Obat Herbal Fistula Ani
    January 12, 2015 at 1:49 am

    thank you for allowing us to visit and comment on this website
    Your website is very interesting for me ..
    a very good step

  32. Colin
    January 12, 2015 at 1:38 am

    Have been using FrootVPN. Speed seems to be decent and so far it is free with no ads, and they say no logging. I am on DSL with a very good service indepentant ISP. With all the nonsense from goverments and certain businesses, you almost need to have an VPN.

  33. ReadandShare
    January 12, 2015 at 1:17 am

    I rarely use VPN -- but the few times I did, it was TOR -- based on general positive feedback and its low, low price of zero.

  34. The Geek Boss
    January 12, 2015 at 1:08 am

    I recently changed from TOR to Avast Secure Line (as a trial - only 3 days into it and it seems pretty good). TOR I found rather annoying with connectivity, and would now and then not work at all.
    My reason for VPN is because I use a lot of public wi-fi and, when I am at home I too don't like the concept of my ISP reporting on downloads etc.

  35. Paul Harris
    January 11, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    VPN Unlimited on my laptop and phone, because I want privacy and because it is reasonably priced...$20 for 3 years. I don't notice much slowdown in downloads or uploads, but the Ping
    suffers. I don't care about that as I do not play online games.

  36. Jan F.
    January 11, 2015 at 9:40 pm

    I only (and rarely) use the Hola browser extension, mainly for sites which offer free content with geo restrictions. If something is free it should be free for everyone. The Internet should not have geographical borders.

    I get it that sites like Netflix and similar (payed) services can't offer all their content in all regions duo to licensing (or technical reasons, speed). I respect that and I don't circumvent these kind of limitations.

    But a music video on YouTube should not tell me that it's "not available in your region" and it's frustrating being linked to a news article surrounding a video which I can't watch.

  37. Bryan
    January 11, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    OpenVPN to a machine at my house whenever I am away from home.

  38. Just Me
    January 11, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Private Internet Access - because I don't care to have my ISP report me for downloading torrents.

    • Bob
      January 12, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      I use PIA also, and have gotten a few emails from my ISP that said such and such file is a violation. I don't think the ISP was doing the scanning, but someone was tracking the torrents uploading from my
      box and tagged my IP address. FWIW, the downloads don't get dinged.

    • Bob
      January 12, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      I use Private Internet Access also for much of the same reasons listed above...get to BBC since I'm out of the region, other streaming video sites that I prefer not to be tracked, etc. I have also used Astrill which I tried and liked, but went with PIA for budget reasons.

    • likefunbutnot
      January 12, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      @Bob,
      You can get dinged even over a VPN if your DNS queries aren't being sent over the encrypted connection, which by default they won't be. If you're using PIA, turn on DNS Leak Protection and if you're torrenting you may also want to configure PIA's torrent-only proxy and/or connection kill switch options since, if you aren't particularly mindful, your traffic would also be visible while you're disconnected or switching servers.

  39. roko
    January 11, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Vpnunlimitted. I use a lot public wifi networks.

  40. white chocolate
    January 11, 2015 at 6:47 pm

    Hotspot Shield for me. I am a high school teacher and my school's filters are set at "Grandmother" - trying to get someone to fix it is like trying to get about half of my colleagues to teach....ain't gonna happen.

  41. Private One
    January 11, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    I've been using privateinternetaccess for years, because 1) it's fairly cheap, and 2) it mostly works well. It does slow down my connection, so there are times when I don't want to use it, such as Netflixing. I use it primarily for activities where an additional layer of privacy would be good. It also, through its nodes in Europe, allows me to view content (from, say, the BBC) that may not yet be available in the USA.

  42. AriesWarlock
    January 11, 2015 at 5:19 pm

    BlackVPN!

  43. Judi Dupree
    January 11, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    I used a VPN based in England while traveling in Italy this past fall. It only worked periodically and now I can't figure out how to remove it from my iPad. I won't sign up for another one, that's for sure.

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