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Working from home? Here's how to pick the ideal VPN

working from home with a VPN
(Image credit: Pixabay)

With advances in telework technology, an increasing amount of our workforce is taking advantage of the opportunity to work from home. This trend has also been accelerated due to the Covid-19 pandemic with stay-at-home orders, and social distancing. Work at home these days runs the gamut from folks that can work a portion of their time from their abode, to full time freelancers that run a business from their home office.

Remaining productive while away from the office can be done, particularly with some preparation. It certainly starts with an appropriate workspace, and the right technology gear that fits the task at hand. Next consider getting enough speed for your broadband connection, and finally figure on using a VPN.

VPN Basics

A VPN often sounds complicated, but in fact is pretty simple. A VPN - an abbreviation of virtual private network - is just a way to connect your device to a separate server in an encrypted fashion, rather than directly to the internet.

Some companies provide their own Corporate VPN and run their own server to accomplish this. This can be used so employees can directly connect to the corporate network, and even directly to their desktop remotely.

However, those workers without access to a corporate VPN still can benefit from this technology, as a good VPN still has multiple advantages. These include increased security, less vulnerability to hackers, and maintaining privacy, especially when connecting over public WiFi that is totally unencrypted. It's no surprise that business VPN solutions have increased rapidly in popularity and use of late, too.

What to look for when choosing your VPN

Choosing a VPN is just like shopping for any other service. It all comes down to the functions, and the pricing. Here are the features it's worth looking out for:

1. Platform support

Start with a VPN that will support all the devices that you are likely to use. While finding Windows 10 VPN for your PC laptop is hardly a challenge, today’s mobile workers will frequently need a VPN to protect smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks and Kindle Fires. Choosing the right service upfront with an effective mobile VPN app makes it easier to have the right protection.

2. Server locations

Better VPN’s generally have more servers, in more locations. This ensures that each user will get more bandwidth, and faster logins. Take a provider like NordVPN - at the time of writing, it boasted in excess of 5,300 servers that you can direct your traffic through.

Also look for a VPN that has a server in any country that you plan to do business with, as it can be useful to access websites, and see what they look like from within that country, such as for pricing in the local currency, or to avoid geo-restrictions.

3. No logs policy

A benefit of a VPN is privacy. Reputable VPN’s have a clear ‘no logs’ policy to keep user’s data private. Look for it on the website before signing up, and if you can’t find it, that would suggest to stay away. Again, NordVPN is an excellent example of this, as it has a privacy policy that's independently audited by an outside company.

4. High level of encryption

Be sure to make note of the level of encryption used. For example, ExpressVPN uses AES 256-bit encryption, which is good enough for Top Secret government communications.

5. Affordable Pricing

VPNs are pretty affordable these days. Look for one that works with how your business cash flow works. Better cheap VPN providers offer monthly plans, along with discounts when paying for longer terms, such as annually.

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Jonas P. DeMuro

Dr. Jonas P. DeMuro graduated summa cum laude from St. John's University with a Bachelor's of Science in Biological Sciences, and a minor in the Philosophy of Science. He went on to receive his Doctorate in Medicine from the Stony Brook University School of Medicine. He has authored and coauthored numerous academic publications related to Surgery, Trauma, and Critical Care. When not leading the charge in the global pandemic, he has written for a number of notable publications, including TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Hardware, ITProPortal, Maximum PC, Top Ten Reviews and PC Gamer among others. He gets a kick out of seeing his work quoted and linked to in computing academic circles, as he recalls fondly that his last formal class on computing was in high school using the BASIC software language on a TRS-80 platform. How things have progressed!