Being anonymous online can save your skin. Even on your home or private network, but especially on public networks, you private emails, browsing/download history, and credit card information could be at risk. In countries that monitor internet use in a effort to target specific users or censor websites, anonymity is essential. Even in countries that allow free use of the internet an all of its contents, government/private organizations, malicious individual, and even your ISP has means of monitoring your internet activity. An anonymous VPN site can keep you hidden.
Anonymous virtual private networks are the strongest form of anonymity online you can use. Open proxies, web based proxies, and software based proxies are other popular methods of anonymous surfing, but they have some definite limitations when compared to VPNs.
- VPNs make all software, chats, email/webmail, and other non-browsing activity anonymous
- VPNs hide as well as encrypt your information
- VPNs will get you past more firewalls
Though proxies are commonly used to unblock sites, bypass firewalls, and general anonymous browsing, it’s easy to see why VPNs are superior. If you are going to need to rely on anonymity online for business, downloading, or to avoid ISP/government restrictions, a proxy just won’t do.
Anonymous VPN Site Features
There are many different VPN providers that offer VPN connections for cheap. I say ‘cheap’, but I guess that’s relative. For me, $10 dollars a month for complete anonymity for all of your online activity on your phone and computer is pretty damn good. I do business, banking, chatting, calling, shopping, and download movies/music online – in a few clicks (laptop)/swipes (Android Phone) I can make everything private. Convenience is worth a lot.
So what about these features?
Well, when you sign up for a VPN service, there are a couple of things you can keep you eye out for.
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- Servers In Multiple Countries/Cities
- Free Server Switching
- Allowing P2P/Torrents
- Quality Support
The last one is hard to measure, because every site will tell you that their support team is great. I know from first had experience that this isn’t true. There are plenty of rude live/ticket support staff who will be slow to respond to your request. Perhaps the most frustrating is when they say that it’s not the VPNs fault, but don’t offer any suggestions as to what might be causing the issue. Fast and friendly support is important.
Multiple server locations and free server switching is more important than I imagined when I first signed up. I’ve found that different servers will perform differently occasionally. The number of users, the location of the sites you’re surfing, the kind of software you’re running, your current location, and a number of other factors will affect the VPN server performance. Also, the country IP you decide to use can affect the sites you’re able to unblock and even Google search results. Being able to switch freely gives you control over your anonymous surfing session.
Also, downloading movies and music online is pretty common these days, though the debate over whether this is ‘sharing’ or ‘stealing’ has yet to come to an end. Depending on which country you’re in, what sites you’re downloading from, and what you’re specifically downloading, your ISP may take interest in these torrents/files.
Though no VPN service condones the downloading or seeding (uploading) of copyrighted material, there are some services that allow P2P and torrents. If your anonymous IP receives complaints about distributing copyrighted material however, your VPN service may require that you stop distributing this specific file, or shut down your account.
My Favorite Anonymous VPN Sites
#1 Hide My Ass
The number of reasons to sign up with HMA outweigh any other service. They’ve got more server locations and thus more anonymous IP addresses than other services. Not only that, but they do it at a better price than most other services – less than $7 dollars a month (if you sign up for a year), or just over $11 a month if you go by a month to month basis. They have unlimited bandwidth, respect your privacy (of course), and allow P2P on all servers. PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN for iOS/Android/Mac/Linux/Windows. What’s the catch? Nothing too bad to say, but I’ve found their support team to be a bit slow. However, they do have Wiki-Support pages, and a private forum for discussion/support.
Also a great service. Support response is done by tickets, and they usually respond in an hour or two, if not within the hour. They’re super friendly, and always willing to help, no matter how small the issues is -real 5-star support. $79 for the year is a very cheap price (Hide My Ass is $78). They also support more operating systems and devices than Hide My Ass, and have options for security/encryption upgrades as well as VPN router solutions. The only think negative I can say about them is that $79 only gets you USA IP locations (10). For a wider range of IPs you’ve got to get “World VPN”, which will cost you $119 per year – reasonable, but compared to HMA, obviously more expensive. No torrents allowed here.
This service also has some very distinct advantages. One, they offer SSTP VPN for Vista and Win 7. Though OpenVPN is clearly a more popular VPN protocol now, as it can be used for Windows XP, Mac, and Linux, as users make the switch from XP to Win 7, you’ll see more services start to offer it. It’s a Microsoft VPN protocol, so Windows users may prefer to use this. Their standard plan starts at $74 annually, which is the cheapest price of the VPN services I’ve listed here. It works out to like 50 cents a month cheaper, but still, cheap is cheap! They also offer packages with dedicated IP addresses, for users doing some serious business/banking/gaming online and don’t want a dynamic IP.
They are also located in Hong Kong, which means that they only comply with Hong Kong laws. For P2P and torrent fans, this is good news. Everyone knows that China doesn’t give a rat’s *ss about copyright laws, so you can download to your hearts content using PureVPN. Their standard plan comes with a 30 GB bandwidth limitation, but I think it’s rare that an individual user would need more than 30 GB of bandwidth per month. Oh, and they’ve got live support which is cool.