General VPN Questions

What is VPN?

The Virtual Private Network or VPN is a way for you to connect your computer to a VPN provider before in order to access the Internet privately and securely. Providing better security, the VPN is a way of encrypting data over public networks. Providing a great anonymity, your Internet history, data, downloaded files will all show as coming from another source other than your computer and IP Address. VPN provides an anonymous identity for you since all of your Internet traffic goes through the VPN server. Any website you visit will only be able to see the information for the VPN server.

Why do I need a VPN?

Using a VPN has many advantages.  Here are some of the top reasons we think VP is the way to go:

  • Public Wifi Safety.  With Public Wifi being such an easy way for privacy to be compromised the VPN will keep you safe and secure
  • Identity and data are all protected when using the internet
  • Geo-Restricted sites like Twitter, Netflix and Hulu will be accessible with a VPN
  • VPN will keep your physical location as well as your IP Address private
  • VPN can allow you to bypass government or business censored sites.
  • While at work you can unblock websites.
  • With a webmaster unable to see your IP address, you can truly post anonymous comments
  • All of your downloaded and shared files will be anonymous
  • VPN blocks the swarm from seeing your true IP address allowing BitTorrent use to be anonymous
  • Want to speed up your Youtube, Torrents or Netflix speed.  A VPN will allow you to avoid throttling from your ISP

What is the cost of a VPN?

With advances in technology, functionality combined with the increase in popularity, more and more people are using VPN. This has brought pricing down as little as $3.00 to $12.00 per month. Everything varies depending on how long you subscribe to the VPN or what additional features you may opt to include with your VPN subscription.
Price can always effect the decision of what VPN service to use. Look for our list of some good quality VPN services that offer pricing perfect for a limited budget.

Where are the locations of the VPN servers?

They do not call it the World Wide Web for no reason. Wherever in the world there is an Internet connection, there can be a VPN server. Any VPN Server that is recommended by TopTenVPN will have servers in a minimum of five countries over three continents. There are VPN’s out there with servers in over 50 countries like Hidemyass and IPVanish.

What is a VPN Log?

Some VPN Providers may keep logs for their internal records about their customers. With privacy being the entire reason for a VPN, the logs are most of the time kept because a country may require it by law, or for technical support or troubleshooting purposes. The United States of America does not have laws requiring a VPN company to keep a log.

How hard is it to set up a VPN Connection?

With user-friendly desktop applications and a few clicks to start, connecting to a VPN server has never been easier.
With millions of people using mobile devices to connect to the Internet, the VPN providers have even created Android/IOS Apps making it as easy as can be to get onto a private network no matter where you are.

These are the two types of VPN Logs

Connection logs

Connection logs are logs kept to keep basic information like incoming/outgoing IP address, number of bytes for data that was transferred, and timestamp and duration connections.

With troubleshooting as the primary reason to keep connection logs, there is never enough information to compromise the actual identity of the user, especially if the VPN is using shared IP Addresses.

Usage Logs

Usage logs keep more detailed information like the websites that you have visited and even details on the files that you have downloaded. Keeping Usage logs is extremely common with regular Internet providers in the USA and Europe, which is why VPN has become so popular. Any VPN recommended by TopTenVPN will not keep usage records.

VPN’s that do not keep Logs

TopTenVPN have found VPN services that do not keep any logs at all. Some of the top choices would be Torguard and IPVanish. We have compiled a list of the top Anonymous providers.

Is a VPN Fast? Can it slow down my Internet connection?

To give you an idea, 100 users can download 10 Megabits per second simultaneously with only 1 gigabit of bandwidth.  TopTenVPN only recommends sites top reputable VPN providers that offer a huge amount of available gigabits.  There are some variables that can affect the speed of the VPN

Maximum Speeds without VPN

A VPN will usually not exceed the maximum connection speed that is provided to you by your Internet service provider. If the plan you have gives you a speed of 10mbps, this is the speed that you will experience on the VPN.  The only time that the speed could be a little greater is if your Internet service provider throttles your connection.

Throttling protocols put in place by Internet provider causing a bandwidth limit. In TopTenVPN’s tests, we have found that the encryption of the VPN provider can actually interfere with the throttling allowing for faster speeds than you have usually experienced.
This comes in handy as the Internet providers will throttle specific ports you use for Gaming, or even to stream Youtube, Netflix or Torrents. With the VPN, the ISP will not be able to throttle those specific ports giving you more speed.

Encryption Strength

There is more bandwidth used from the bits of data that are produced from the Creation and Maintenance of a VPN Encryption.  Data and Bandwidth are needed even more when maintaining the encryption over longer distances.  There can be a small drop-off due to the encryption being stronger.  We have found that the use of encryption methods like PPTP shows slightly faster speeds than a 128-bit + OpenVPN.

Location and distance of server

Distance of a server from your computer will most likely affect the speed of your connection. As an example, if you connect to a VPN from the USA with a server that is located in China or Russia, the data will have to travel many miles leaving it susceptible to losing pockets of data, which will slow down the speed.  So with long distances affecting the loss of packets, a server located closer to your location is most likely going to give you a slightly faster speed than that of a server located so far away.

When we say slightly, we mean slightly. The time difference for the data to go around the world and back versus data that is travelling only a few miles and back is only about a faction of a second. This leaves you with very adequate speeds to stream services like Hulu or Netflix from an International Server.

Server Load

Certain VPN Providers can have more users than others all using the VPN at the same exact time. With servers like a dedicated p2p torrent, the people using the VPN are taking up much more bandwidth which means 100 people on the server uses more bandwidth on the p2p server rather than a normal server as the continuous downloads at 10mbps instead of people downloading at 1mpbs surfing the internet on another VPN server.

Don’t mistake it as being that all p2p servers can be slower.  The fact of the matter is that the usage of other VPN users of the same service can affect the speed.  This is why there are VPN providers that will offer more bandwidth per users than others.  The tests that TopTenVPN perform show VPN services with the fastest speeds.

This leaves the battle between Better Encryption or Quicker Speeds

How fast can a speed be?

TopTenVPN performs a speed test with every VPN service that is reviewed here so that you are able to get a preview of what kind of speeds you will be experiencing.  The speedtests we perform are capped at a 15mbps connection. Please take this into consideration when figuring speeds based on your connection.

As an example if we test a VPN at 7.5mbps with our 15mbps connection you can use that to figure your speed based on this percentage. With this calculation, a 30mbps connection could yield a speed of 15mbps, or a 21mbps connection will yield a speed of 10.5mbps.
Users with very high bandwidth connection have reported in speeds of over 50mbps with some of the most affordable VPN Providers out there.

What is Throttling and how can VPN help with it?

More common in the USA than other countries, Internet service providers or ISP’s use a technique called throttling which essentially can reduce the bandwidth speed that people will experience on specific ports, websites or even online protocols.  The throttling technique is usually used to limit high bandwidth use with things like:

  • Online Gaming
  • Streaming of HD content on sites like Youtube, Skype and Netflix
  • Peer to Per Sharing and BitTorrents
  • Downloading of files

How can throttling be prevented with a VPN?

The amount of bandwidth that you are charged for is a legal obligation of your Inernet Service Provider. However, there is still the ability by the ISP to throttle certain ports and protocols and the overall speed will remain unchanged.  For an ISP to be able to throttle a connection there has to be the ability for them to see and sort what your Internet traffic is. Web browsing data needs to be separated from Torrent Data in order for them to limit these torrents and not slow down your connection.

Using the VPN service – your data will be enclosed in an encrypted tunnel that is no longer visible to the ISP provider.  This means that there is no way for the ISP to throttle protocols that they cannot see. Tests performed by TopTenVPN have showed that when ISP cannot throttle protocols, speeds can increase to levels that are higher than the allotted bandwidth cap.

Is a VPN able to unlock a website?

VPN’s are able to easily connect to websites that are blocked with Fire-Walls and Geo-Restrictions.

Here is how it works:


Firewalls can be found in places as small as your office to as big as a country.  By blocking websites that may have objectionable content, firewalls are able to filter Internet traffic.  Office firewalls nowadays like to block a lot of social media sites including Facebook.   This is the breakdown of the firewall process:

  • The first thing you do like normal is type in “facebook.com” into the browser.
  • The computer will then connect to a DNS type server to find facebook.com.
  • The office firewall has control over the DNS server.
  • The firewall checks the list of blocked websites to see if Facebook is one of them.
  • Facebook shows up on the firewalls blocked list.
  • The access to Facebook is then denied and Facebook is locked.

The DNS Server is what is controlled by the firewall so there is only one path to block Facebook.   Using their own DNS Servers, the secure VPN tunnel keeps the DNS out of the control of the office firewall.

DNS lookups and all the Internet traffic unblock able using VPN once connected from your office computer.   There is no way for the office firewall to see what websites are being viewed.

Geo/Location Blocking

There are geographic regions all over the world that block access to certain websites.  In the country of France there is no access to sites such as Netflix. The IP address you are connecting from in France shows your location and blocks signing in to the website.

Utilizing the features of a VPN, you are able to connect to a server in another country then the one that you are in that is currently blocking your access to Netflix.  If you find yourself in France on business or travel and as an American with a Netflix connection you have a desire to catch up on Walking Dead, it is now as easy as connecting to a VPN with a US server and zombies here you come.

How is my identity protected online when using a VPN?

Internet Service providers have zero encryption for Internet traffic that is going and coming. You can be even surer of this if you are connecting a public Wi-Fi.   Usernames, passwords, social security numbers, addresses and phone numbers are all susceptible to even the most novice hackers.

When you are connected a public Wi-Fi with a VPN, the data that is transferred gets encoded and encrypted into a data tunnel.  This automatically hides all of the personal information that nobody wants shared over the World Wide Web.  This site outlines how VPN can help with identity theft.

Are Firewalls a part of a VPN Service?

This is usually a feature that is offered as an additional service and cost with some of the VPN providers we reviewed at TopTenVPN.

What is a VPN firewall?

Checking every single bit of data that comes in from the internet to make sure that it was requested by you are not is the primary function of a VPN Firewall. This helpful security feature will block unauthorized connections by hackers that want to get your information and do other things to effect your identity as well as your operating system in a negative way.

Who are the Providers that offer a VPN Firewall?

  • PureVPN
  • Torguard
  • IPvanish
  • Private Internet Access
  • ExpressVPN

Do I really need a Firewall with my VPN provider?

The majority of users will never know the difference whether a firewall is installed or not.  However, we do feel that it is a great feature to have on your VPN plan.  It is even a greater feature if there is no extra charge!  People that are using BitTorrent or other peer-to-peer file sharing protocols should definitely take advantage of a VPN Firewall.   We have found that IPVANISH offers a free NAT Firewall that tested very well.   

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