Some VPN services offer even longer subscription periods. KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, for example, lives up to its name with an effectively life-long plan. It also offers billing periods as short as one week, which is great for travelers who want a VPN only for a vacation or business trip. At PCMag, however, we recommend using a VPN as often as possible.
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Perhaps you'll decide that all this effort isn't worth it just to secure your BitTorrent downloads. But even so, you should keep in mind that a VPN is still the best way to keep your internet traffic private and secure. Whether you decide to spring for a premium account, you're looking for a cheap VPN, or you want to dip your toe in with a free VPN, it's about time you started living the encrypted lifestyle.
While Public Wi-Fi is a real convenience, it also poses a threat to you privacy. Unsecured public Wi-Fi networks leave you very vulnerable to advertisers, criminals and hackers trying to steal personal data and information. Windscribe VPN for Chrome encrypts your internet connection to secure it preventing others from tracking your browsing activity and leaving invasive tracking cookies in your Chrome browser which compromise your privacy even after you disconnect.
We often receive emails asking about the interplay between VPNs and BitTorrent. Some of them have included admissions of piracy, and even justifications for it. One reader bemoaned the difficulty in finding legal avenues for material that is out of print or just hard to obtain or not available for sale in a given locale. We sympathize. The state of the public domain has been woefully neglected, and market forces and regional distribution deals often keep worthy art and materials out of the hands of those who want it, even if they are willing to pay for it. But no matter how just the reasoning, the law (however problematic) is the law. ISPs and, yes, other web companies, are often compelled to answer when rights holders come with a list of offenses carried out on their data infrastructure.
The Netflix app, however, can override a device’s DNS settings and force DNS requests to be sent to either a public DNS nameserver or the default ISP’s nameserver. This results in a mismatch between where the user’s IP address is located and where their DNS requests come from. That’s a red flag indicating the viewer is using a VPN or some other type of proxy, resulting in the dreaded Netflix proxy error message.
Smart DNS proxies like Unotelly, Overplay, Unlocator, and Unblock-US were a flash in the pan during Netflix’s war on proxies. After Netflix blocked connections from most VPN servers, many users switched to these services instead. A smart DNS proxy is a server that monitors any DNS requests sent from your device. DNS requests are a means of looking up which domain names (e.g. “netflix.com”) are associated with which servers. If it detects a DNS request for Netflix, it sends all the browser traffic for that request through the server to an American Netflix server, thereby changing both your IP address and DNS server.
Ivacy has a bare-bones offering out of the box. You can spice things up with a NAT firewall for an additional $1 per month. That's a bit odd, since many other companies include this feature for free. Ivacy also has dedicated IP addresses for $1.99 per month in Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Singapore, as well as the UK and the US. A dedicated IP is less likely to be blocked, since it won't be immediately recognized as part of a VPN's IP block.
Ivacy offers only 459 servers, a bit below the 500-server minimum threshold I have come to expect. In fact, so many VPN services are now exceeding 700 and even 1,000 servers that I may need to raise the cutoff soon. NordVPN currently leads the pack with over 3,400 servers, and Private Internet Access is close behind with 3,275. TorGuard recently expanded its offering to 3,000 servers, placing it among the three most robust services I have yet reviewed.
ExpressVPN unblocks Netflix on every platform tested, including Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Linux, and certain wifi routers. ExpressVPN lets you connect up to three devices at a time. Plus, every ExpressVPN subscription comes with the MediaStreamer smart DNS proxy. MediaStreamer can unblock Netflix on devices that don’t normally support VPNs, such as Apple TV, PS4, and Xbox One.
Ivacy's streak of mediocrity continued into the upload tests, where it had the third-worst score recorded. Here, it reduced upload speed test results by 31.9 percent. To be fair, the worst score is far worse than that (KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, 71.3 percent), but it's also a long way from the best score. That goes to IPVanish, which slowed upload speed test results by only 2.9 percent. Again, Ivacy's international tests were a mirror of its domestic performance. Here, Ivacy had one of the better scores, reducing upload speed test results by 97.81 percent. It wasn't however, enough to unseat Private Internet Access, which reduced upload speed test results by 97.3 percent.
Other noteworthy settings within the Ivacy app are a protocol selector, IPv6 leak protection, and a Kill Switch. This prevents your computer from communicating over an unencrypted channel should Ivacy become temporarily disconnected. Also notable is the split tunneling option, which lets you decide which apps should deliver their traffic through the VPN tunnel. I had no trouble using the selector tool to choose my protected apps.
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Those aren't the only threats to your data. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to let ISPs sell anonymized user data. A VPN prevents your ISP from snooping on your online activity in an attempt to monetize you. Because your traffic, and the traffic of others, appears to come from the VPN server, it's much harder (but not impossible) to correlate online activities to your computer. That's great if you're concerned about advertisers or law enforcement trying to track your activities online.