A VPN can safeguard your data by making sure that your connections are secure and secure. However, while the claims of military-grade encryption or total digital anonymity may entice you, Consumer Reports’ Yael Grauer advises you to look for more specific evidence that a service is authentic before committing.

Start by checking compatibility. The service should work with at least the most popular operating systems, such as Windows, macOS and Linux, Android, and iOS. You’ll want to know the number of devices supported by the service and how many connections it is able to allow concurrently. Finally, you’ll want to examine the number of available servers and their locations around the world. This will help you choose one close to your home or one that offers fast speeds when you’re traveling abroad.

Some services offer special features, like dedicated ‘Netflix servers’ that allow access to geo-restricted websites, as well as additional security features, like RAM-only servers, which erase data every when the service is rebooted or switches to dark web monitoring and security features to guard against threats. Examine the ownership structure of the company, and see if it has had data breaches or privacy scandals in the past.

NordVPN was the best overall service we evaluated. It offers thousands of servers spread across 94 countries. It also offers AES-256 encryption and ChaCha20. a reliable Kill Switch, split tunneling, and obfuscated server. It’s also one of the few providers to publish its detailed no-logs policy and engages PricewaterhouseCoopers for annual audits. Its costs aren’t cheap but you do receive a variety of features and a great long-term plan comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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