Whenever you need to appear to be browsing from another country, TunnelBear and Hola! are valuable options. I looked into these two in this previous post. I then tested CyberGhost (this cool image left) which is another interesting solution. But are these the best options and what are the alternatives? The offer is vast, actually, once you start exploring, and some narrowing-down is definitely needed.
So before figuring out what services are the better suited to the concept of Life Without Borders, I’m wondering: what matters? Here’s what matters, in my view.
It should cover the world, of course, not just the US and the UK. And I’m part Brit stating this, imagine. The more countries you can browse from, the better. If I’m Japanese and want a virtual trip back home, then JP should be on list.
It should work on all devices. All meaning Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. Linux is a plus, true, but I won’t include it as a must.
It should be easy to use, easy to setup and unobtrusive. Although I’m a techie, I’d rather not go back and forth to change my DNS settings. I’m all for a simple app which you switch on and off, once in a while selecting the country you’ll browse from. No ads, no flashing notifications, just a little icon sitting next to battery level and the volume down right on my computer.
It should allow to tunnel all your trafic. Some tools only tunnel web trafic for certain sites. This last option solves most country blocking problems (access to streaming sites, online shopping), but won’t allow you to tunnel off-brower data (from an email client, for example).
It shouldn’t be slow. More servers to go through means a slower throughput, generally speaking. However, some services compress your data through the tunnel, compensating in a way. I’ll measure throughput from my couch in the soon to come guide on the subject.
I’m willing to pay for this service, believe it or not, as long as it remains reasonable. Prices today for the Premium service are generally around $5 USD a month, which qualifies as reasonable. Some market the service over $10 a month however, often to desperate expats missing their favorite shows back home. Let’s not be that desperate!
It’s better if it’s encrypted. For some of us, it’s the country where we’re in which is the problem, not the country we’re trying to browse from. Most services offer encryption, which is a good-to-have option.
Popularity. Finally, I’d prefer it to be used by more than 3000 fans. Not an absolute rule for sure, but a popular service often works more fluidity than a service just launching.
So that’s a bunch of rules which matter to me in my pursuit of a Life Without Borders. Some may not apply to you at all, maybe you’re an Ubuntu fan or maybe you need only Netflix, from Ghana, so I’ll give options on that too.
How do we get to select from the dozens of services that exist? First of all, this privacy-driven site has done most of the work: BestVPN, so thanks. Then good old alternativeTo has some ideas. Plus this guide on LifeHacker is another valuable resource. And many other blog articles on the subject. Next step is selecting out of all these which ones work for these criteria… to be continued.