Source: With Zimbabwe Internet Shutdowns: Are Premium VPN Services Worth It? – NewsDay Zimbabwe July 30, 2019
What are the chances that Zimbabwe will again suffer internet shutdown? No one really knows. What we know is how to be prepared. There are a few easy and cost efficient ways to avoid online censorship. We have the right to information, and it’s our right to equip ourselves with technology to stay informed of the state affairs, Specially if it has an impact to our life.
Virtual private network, or VPN, services come in free, budget and premium options. The premium options are the most expensive of the three, but they come with many features that make them attractive to people who are going to use VPNs frequently or need more than a basic set of features. Whether a premium VPN service is worth it depends on how a person intends on using it, the number of devices that they want to run through a single VPN account, and several other factors.
Premium VPNs offer a higher data cap or unlimited bandwidth for users. It’s easy to underestimate how much data browsing can take up, especially if it involves a lot of resource-heavy sites and online videos. With a premium virtual private network service, users don’t have to worry about reaching a data cap quickly and being unable to use the VPN until the next month.
Additional Device Support
Premium VPN services have generous caps on how many devices can connect to the service on the same account. In some cases, the user can use an unlimited number of devices without paying for a second account. Since people these days often have smartphones, tablets, smart TV devices, video game consoles, and laptops in addition to their desktop computers, it’s easy to reach a low device limit. Having to maintain two or more VPN accounts makes things complicated and it’s easy to forget to pay or to choose the right account for each device. A premium VPN that supports all of the devices someone has in their home makes everything easier.
Many free VPN services suffer from a lack of advanced features, which can be frustrating to power users. They may not be able to choose their own VPN protocol, set up a VPN directly through the router, or make configuration changes that better suit the way that they use the service. Without these flexible features in place, it may be difficult to use a VPN the way that they want to without figuring out a workaround or going without it.
More Platform Support
Devices that have Internet connectivity go far beyond desktops and mobile devices. Many people use smart TVs, TV accessories and even video game consoles to stream their media and access online services. Additionally, operating systems such as Linux often get overlooked by free VPN services. A premium VPN can support a variety of devices and platforms for a seamless and feature-rich experience.
Streaming online video without buffering or lag requires a high-speed connection. Premium VPN services offer better performance that’s necessary to watch online videos, play online games and download files faster. Without the additional speed, the browsing experience would end up being a frustrating one overall. For normal Internet usage, which only involves light browsing, a free VPN may be sufficient. There are few people these days that go on the Internet and don’t end up watching an online video or browsing a site that uses up a lot of resources.
Better Security Features
Premium VPN services can offer more when it comes to security features. Some of the options that they can offer include a kill switch that stops all internet traffic if the VPN connection gets lost, masking the VPN activity from the Internet Service Provider, offering modes that are specifically set up to deal with opening up Internet access and preventing censorship in restrictive countries, using a private DNS and putting IP leak protection in place. These security features can be a lifesaver.
Technical support is limited or lacking on free VPN services. If a user runs into a problem, they might need to wait for a long time to get an answer to their inquiry or they may not hear anything back at all. They can’t reach someone via telephone or other communication channels, which is frustrating when someone needs a quick answer to questions. The self-service customer support portal may be limited or lacking entirely, so they’re forced to rely on Googling to try to figure out what’s going on with their service. Premium VPN offerings give people many ways to connect to the company for customer support. Responses come in a timely manner and are professional and thorough.
Support for Routing Traffic Through Multiple Servers
Users that rely on VPNs for remaining as anonymous as possible will appreciate being able to route their traffic through more than one server. They go through two or more VPN servers to make it even more difficult to determine the original connection point. This level of protection may be necessary when a single server is not working the way the user wants it to, or they’re worried about restrictive governments looking into their activities.
Masking VPN Usage
Some government agencies and Internet Service Providers try to stop VPN traffic from connecting to online resources. They look for characteristics that are indicative of VPN services, and some VPNs work hand-in-hand with these organizations. Premium VPNs have features in place that make the traffic look like a standard Internet connection without anything else going on.
Routing Some Traffic as Normal
Certain types of websites don’t allow VPN traffic or anything remotely resembling it. For example, the security that bank websites use will often reject VPNs as a fraud-prevention measure. If a user needs to access these resources while using a premium VPN, they can choose to whitelist the site and connect to it with a normal Internet connection while routing the rest of their traffic through the VPN service. This split usage also makes it appear like the user is simply using websites as normal, while their protected activity takes place behind a VPN.
Premium VPNs may cost more money, but they are very affordable considering all of the features that they have available. For people who are looking to do more with their VPNs or who need better protection and security in place, the premium VPN is an essential for their toolkit.