Creative users are a demanding niche of the computing world, generally using heavyweight apps – like Adobe Photoshop or Premiere, for example – to design and hone their various creations. And whatever industry they are involved in, being creative usually entails a specific approach to getting work done, often requiring high levels of flexibility and mobility.
These days, people work from anywhere and everywhere as long as they have a decent internet connection. However, if you're stuck using iffy coffee shop Wi-Fi or a computer that isn't yours, you may want to pay a bit more attention to your privacy. A VPN service asserts itself as a universal and effective solution for any security worries, and obviously enough, you want to pick one of the best VPN providers out there.
How to choose the best VPN service for creative users
Creative endeavours often involve a lot of data and that usually means shifting it to the cloud (and back), and perhaps collaborating with others on a project. In that respect, performance is a prime concern, because you don’t want a VPN provider that slows you – and potentially your productivity – down.
Here are our top five picks for the best VPN service for any creative types out there.
- Check out the best VPN services of 2017
Best all-round VPN
Number of servers: 700+ | Server locations: 70+ | IP addresses: 200,000+ | Maximum devices supported: 3-5
VyprVPN operates its own servers and infrastructure, which always helps when it comes to achieving speedy performance. And indeed when we tested this service we experienced stellar download performance, with speeds which were more than double the rates achieved with the VPN turned off.
The service has great global coverage and clients for almost every major platform and device, with detailed manual setup instructions for the rest. The easy-to-use interface of the software is replete with user-friendly options such as auto-connect, plus there are advanced features to boot.
Being based in Switzerland, VyprVPN benefits from favourable privacy laws that fully respect the rights of internet users. The bottom line is that the service doesn't log your traffic or tinker with your connection. Along with the usual multiple security protocols for encryption, you get bolstered security through VyprDNS, and the company’s proprietary Chameleon protocol that prevents deep packet inspection, VPN blocking, and throttling (note that only Premium users get Chameleon, though).
A free 3-day trial provides a good sample of the service, but be sure to use this as the company doesn’t allow refunds if you sign up for a paying subscription. There are two plans which can be billed monthly or annually, and the annual Premium subscription is the best bet, to keep costs down and ensure you get all the goodies like the firm’s Chameleon technology. The packages available are:
- Basic: $9.95 monthly or $5 per month billed annually
- Premium: $12.95 monthly or $6.67 per month billed annually
Best VPN for multiple platforms
Number of servers: 1000+ | Server locations: 145 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 3
With 145 server locations across 94 countries, finding a reliable connection should be easy with ExpressVPN. And that was certainly our experience, because during our testing we measured consistently good performance across the network.
Another boon is a wide array of tailored clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, plus iOS, Android and even BlackBerry, with lots of additional manual setup instructions for other devices. The native apps possess enough in the way of basic and advanced options, and are nicely implemented across the board.
The clients allow manual or automatic selection of protocols that include OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSEC, PPTP, and SSTP with 256-bit encryption in place. ExpressVPN clearly states there is zero logging of the user’s network traffic, while there’s 24/7 email and live chat support should you encounter any problems. This VPN provider also has a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
Subscription plans are a tad on the expensive side. The service doesn’t offer a free trial or plan, but there is a hassle-free 30-day money-back guarantee in place, which gives you some breathing room to test things out. With three plans available, the 1-year plan is the best value, particularly as it grants you an additional three months for free. The packages available are:
- [$12.95 a month] 1-month
- [$9.99 a month] 6-months - $59.95
- [$6.67 a month] 12-months (plus 3 free months) - $99.95
Most secure VPN
Number of servers: 1367 | Server locations: 60 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 6
Panama-based NordVPN has over 1300 servers in 60 locations so there’s no shortage of choice here. Performance levels were quite impressive in our tests, with only very small drops in download and upload speeds compared to our normal rates (with the VPN turned off).
The service provides clients for all major platforms and tutorials for setting up on other devices. The software clients are rather simple to use, yet they come packed with expert-level features.
Those wanting to beef up on security should look no further – NordVPN offers Double VPN technology, meaning your data is passed through two servers and encrypted twice, and the firm operates its own DNS servers, plus there’s Tor over VPN alongside the usual security features.
Interestingly, there is a free trial available but it’s difficult to find on the website – check it out here. Price plans come with a 30-day no-hassle money-back guarantee and are fairly affordable, except for the monthly plan which is steep. The best option is the 2-year subscription as it provides fantastic savings. The packages available are:
- [$11.95 a month] 1-month
- [$7.00 a month] 6-months - $42.00
- [$5.75 a month] 1-year - $69.00
- [$3.29 a month] 2-years - $79.00
Most affordable VPN
Number of servers: 250+ | Server locations: 100+ | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: 5
One of the highlights of this VPN provider comes in terms of performance levels, as its network displayed consistently fast speeds throughout our testing, delivering good results even with long-distance connections (which is quite rare).
Ivacy offers desktop clients which are beginner-friendly, but also have advanced features for those who know what they’re doing. Sadly, the mobile clients aren’t so hot, and are too basic and seemingly rarely updated.
Ivacy employs the usual suspects when it comes to security protocols, and boasts added features like a kill switch and split tunneling (meaning you can specify that only certain apps use the VPN).
It’s worth mentioning the seven-day refund policy, which is obviously useful, but has some limitations. Namely that you won’t benefit from it if you used Bitcoin or Paymentwall to pay for the service, or if you have used more than 7GB of data, or connected more than 30 times.
When you consider all that it offers, Ivacy has a seriously tempting long-term price plan. While the other plans aren’t anything special in terms of their cost, if you can commit for two years, you’ll get one of the cheapest deals you’ll find anywhere. The packages available are:
Best VPN for free usage
Number of servers: N/A | Server locations: 45 | IP addresses: N/A | Maximum devices supported: Unlimited
Windscribe has a pretty major trump card in the fact that it offers unlimited device connections, compared to most VPN providers which limit users to five or so devices. In our performance tests, Windscribe acquitted itself admirably with shorter hops, although speeds dropped more significantly with longer-distance connections.
This provider offers native clients for Windows, Mac, and iOS, but sadly not for Android which is a bit of an omission on the mobile front. The software clients are pretty basic with a few low-level settings – probably just enough to fulfil most needs.
On the privacy front, everything is clear and explained in great detail – there is no logging of VPN usage, connection logs, or IPs. The Canada-based provider’s security efforts include a firewall, kill switch and all the standard security protocols.
One of the major draws of Windscribe is a free plan that has a rather generous 10GB of monthly data if you register with your email address. However, you’re limited in terms of the number of servers available (and you can’t configure OpenVPN). Paying customers can choose from two Pro plans with either monthly or annual billing, with the usual savings for the latter. The packages available are:
- We’ve rounded up the best free VPN services of 2018