The internet is now a primary need that is interconnected to our various daily activities: collecting various information, playing games, accessing and posting on social media, and so on.
At the same time, however, the risks of cyber-crime from data theft to hacking have grown rapidly over the years, increasing the awareness of VPNs as a way for us to effectively improve our privacy and data security. In businesses both big and small, however, this threat of cyber-security is even more serious.
In this article, we will go over key factors to consider when choosing the best VPN solution for your small to medium size business. But let us begin by discussing the concept of a VPN itself.
What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
In a nutshell, VPN is an application or software that masks our identity in the online world so we can surf the internet anonymously. This makes your internet activities more secure, and also provide access to censored and blocked sites if the need to should ever arise.
Without being too technical, the basic function of a VPN is to lend you a temporary IP address and hides your real IP address from every website (and email addresses) you connect with during the VPN session.
The term VPN stands for Virtual Private Network:
- It’s Virtual because it hides your IP address and provides a virtual IP address as your mask.
- It’s Private because now you have a private connection and all your website visits and online activity is only between you and the visited websites
- It’s a Network because you are using a special, privatized network of the VPN server
Why having a Private Connection is Important
So, a key aspect of how a VPN works is about masking your IP address. Yet, why is it actually important?
To answer this, we have to understand the basic concept behind the IP address itself. In general, the IP address is a series of numbers (and dots) assigned by your internet provider as your identity on the internet.
The thing is your government and even other people can track people down via their IP addresses. Online businesses, for example, can monitor activities coming from IP addresses and use the data for their marketing efforts. Also, hackers and crackers can break into your connection and even take over your computer and devices through your IP address.
As you can see, you are not really as private as you may think in your online activities, and this is where your VPN can help you by providing:
- More anonymity: hiding your true IP address, so you are now unidentifiable online. You will be given a new virtual IP address every time you turn on your VPN application (and never your real one). Also, it might look like you are now in a completely different part of the word from where you actually at.
- More privacy: your online activities can’t be traced and linked to your computer. You can visit any website and even your ISP (Internet Service Provider) can’t trace your activities.
- More website access: can bypass blocks or censorship, and access blocked websites.
- More security: connections from proper VPN software are perfectly secure and hack-proof since all your online activities are encrypted.
VPN in a Business Setting
On the one hand, the internet has become a very important aspect of our lives. But on the other hand, the internet is becoming an increasingly dangerous place. It is expected by 2021, cybercrime will cause more than $6 trillion in damages each year.
Cyber attacks and data theft are increasing at a rapid rate, and it’s also worth considering that small businesses are also major targets for cybercriminals – not only big multinational companies.
Thus, whether you are a Small Business Home Office (SOHO) or a full-fledged organization, VPNs are now very important as a way to securely access corporate software and systems online.
VPN services aimed at SOHO and medium-sized businesses have become increasingly popular in recent years to:
- Encrypt the business’s internet connection and online activities to improve online privacy.
- Assigning a fake IP address to offer an additional layer of security for the company’s online identity.
- Bypass regional blocks and censorship, providing access to websites that are only available for certain locations.
Choosing the Best VPN – Important Features
Above, we have established the objectives and benefits of using VPNs in a business setting. Based on those, here are some important factors to consider in choosing the best VPN service for your business:
This one is fairly obvious. Since the main objective of using a VPN is to improve online security, then how secure the VPN service/solution is will be the most important factor to consider.
For example, when we are away from our office (using a public network) or currently in business travel abroad, sending or receiving online files can be risky for various reasons. When you access sensitive data using only your smartphone and a public WiFi abroad, for instance, you are at an elevated risk of a data breach.
Nowadays, we have various technologies and online security solutions allowing remote data access. For example, more companies are now transitioning to secured cloud storage. but we still need to figure out how we can connect and access the cloud more securely.
A business VPN service provides the ability to connect into a secure server that hosts your company’s data. The best VPNs that are dedicated to business applications should offer end-to-end encryption, so your remotely-hosted data is secure from data breach and data theft when you access it anywhere and anytime.
An important factor to consider is that any VPN will slow down your normal internet connection. This is normal and is caused by the encryption process: the VPN will reroute your online traffic through a private, encrypted server. Think of this process as you physically using a hidden, safer route that is slightly longer than the normal route.
With that being said, good VPNs will only slow it down by a small fraction, but low-quality (and free) VPNs can slow your internet speed significantly.
A speed test can measure the VPNs latency, jitter, upload speed, and download speed. You should choose VPN services with stable, high-speed results.
Also, you should choose services with very high uptime (99.9% when possible) and make sure the VPN service doesn’t use any speed or bandwidth caps (where your download/upload speeds will go down considerably when you reached certain bandwidth usage).
Reliability and Privacy
Another very important consideration. It’s fairly unknown for so many people that accessing the internet using public connections (Wi-Fi, LAN, phone tethering) is very dangerous and you are really exposed to data theft and breach in such cases. In fact, you can quite easily find instructions on how to hack into public Wi-Fi networks via just a Google search.
With that being said, your VPN for business should be able to provide a whole new layer of privacy and security that is always reliable at all times from basic encryption, firewall, and other security measures.
The VPNs role here is to ensure a reliable online activity without significantly slowing down your online speed (as discussed above), but still effective in encrypting and providing a private connection.
This way, if a hacker or data thief decides to breach your connection, they will only meet a meaningless, encrypted data.
Top 3 Best VPNs For Small Business
Now that we’ve discussed how VPN works on small businesses, here we will review three of the best VPN solutions available. We have tested various different VPN services for consumers and small businesses, and based on these tests, these three are our top recommendations.
Let us begin with the first one:
#1. Express VPN
- 24/7 customer support
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Supports 94 countries and more than 145 servers
- Supports SSTP, PPTP, OpenVPN, L2TP-IPsec
- Advertised as best-in-class encryption
- All popular platforms supported
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Unlimited server switches
- Kill Switch
- Split tunneling
- Zero-knowledge DNS
- 99.9% uptime
Monthly plan: $12.95/month (check latest pricing on 1-month plan)
6-month plan: $9.99/month (check latest pricing on 6-month plan)
Annual plan: $8.32/month (check latest pricing on 1-year plan)
Pros and Cons:
Reliable and very fast speed across all servers
- Zero logs
- 24/7 responsive live chat support
- Works in China and UAE (pretty rare among its competitors)
- Effective in unblocking various streaming sites
- Relatively expensive compared to its competitors
- Non-labeled streaming servers
- Dropped connections from time to time
Based on our tests, we can confidently say that ExpressVPN is the most versatile VPN solutions available in the market today. We can quite easily unblock various region-locked and blocked websites, including bypassing content from China and quickly download files securely from various resources (including your company’s cloud storage).
With that being said, ExpressVPN is very safe to use abroad, whether you are using WiFi unsecured public connections.
Yet, ExpressVPN is relatively expensive compared to most VPN services we’ve tested, but we personally feel the price is justified considering its versatility and rich set of features.
One of, if not the best VPN for business in 2020, period.
#2. Nord VPN
- Double VPN feature
- Hide IP Address
- Zero Logs Policy
- Accept Bitcoin and Crypto Payments
- Military-Grade Encryption
- Automatic Kill Switch
- DNS Leak Protection
- Onion Over VPN
- Streaming enabled
- P2P Sharing
- High-Speed and reliable
Standard: $5.75/month (check latest pricing on 1-year plan)
Best Offer: $3.29/month (check latest pricing on 2-year plan)
NordVPN for Business: (get a custom quote for your business)
Pros and Cons:
- Reliable and impressive speed overall
- Zero logs
- Very reliable and secure encryption
- Based in Panama for an extra layer of safety
- Allows up to 6 devices per account
- Accepts Bitcoin payment
- Dedicated account manager
- No Linux support at the moment
- Fairly rigid and limited choice of plans
- No round the clock support
One of the key highlights of NordVPN is obviously its affordability, offering as low as $3.29/month price tag. With that being said, NordVPN offers a fairly decent set of features considering its very affordable price overall.
It has more servers than ExpressVPN (5,437 servers) but fewer (62) countries. So, there are countries missing from NordVPN like Egypt, China, and Guatemala, among others.
It can be accessed by 6 devices simultaneously for one account (great in a business setting). It’s worth noting that NordVPN offers really fast speeds for the US servers, although it’s a little slower in other countries compared to ExpressVPN.
Probably the most cost-efficient option available in the market today, and definitely worth your consideration.
- Over 1200 super-fast servers in 60+ countries
- Anonymous Torrenting
- Unlimited P2P Traffic
- SOCKS5 Web Proxy
- Geo-Locked Content Access
- Protect up to 10 devices with one account
- Multi-Platform Protection
- Unlimited Bandwidth
- 256-Bit AES Encryption
- No Logs
- Multiple VPN Protocols
- Unlimited Server Switching
1 Year: $77.99/annual billing (check latest pricing on 1-year plan)
3 Months: $8.99/annual billing (check latest pricing on 3-month plan)
1 Month: $10.00/annual billing (check latest pricing on 1-month plan)
Pros and Cons:
- Relatively affordable compared to Express VPN
- Limitless bandwidth and speed
- P2P file sharing
- 24/7 support
- Money-back guarantee (within 7 days)
- Various protocols for increased security
- Reliable encryption method
- Effective bypassing region-locked websites
- Zero logs
- Lack of free trial offers
As the names suggest, IPVanish offers a pretty decent solution to help your IP vanish completely online so you can be 100% safe and can be sure that all your online activity and personal accounts are secured perfectly.
It does offer some additional features like a VPN over a proxy, allowing even more security for your online activities.
Overall, a relatively affordable solution with great 24/7 customer support and pretty complete and reliable security features. One of the best VPNs for business in 2020.
Choosing the Best VPN – Closing Words
Our number one pick here goes to the Express VPN due to its overall reliability and rich set of features, but all of the solutions presented are great VPNs for businesses with their own advantages and disadvantages.
We hope you’ve gathered enough information from this buying guide, and can make a better purchase decision with what we’ve shared.