How to Get The Most Out of Your VPN: VPN Security Tips & Best Practices

article by Rachel Carr
May 20, 2020
It’s all well and good signing up to use VPN provider products with the intention of making your online activity safe and anonymous, but to do so you have to ensure that you are making the most of your VPN connections.

Here, in this article, we look at how to use VPNs effectively so that you can be certain you are always secure when connected to the internet. Through the use of a few VPN tricks or a few VPN tips, browsing, shopping, gaming, and streaming content on your devices will all become impenetrable to hackers and help make you stay anonymous to any prying eyes.

Top Five VPN Security Tips

There are a number of best practices for using a VPN that result in you establishing a VPN connection. It’s best when learning how to use VPNs effectively, to employ the use of every single one of our recommended best practices for setting up VPN connections. In doing so you ensure that when you make use of VPN connections you are doing so to the highest standard of security you can reach.

1. Make sure you use the right VPN provider for you

It may sound obvious, but many people don’t always use the right VPN provider for them. Not all VPNs and the providers that offer them are equal and some will offer features that are not essential to you, while not offering tools that you absolutely need.

Additionally, some VPN providers simply don’t invest in their infrastructure which means sub-optimal experiences for their customers. The result is slow connection speeds that materially affect a user’s productivity while online – whether they are working, streaming video, or gaming.

Other features that we like to see as standard, whatever your usual day to day purpose for having an internet connection, are:

Kill switch

One of the best additional features to look for in your VPN provider, whatever you use the internet and your computer for, is a kill switch. This provides a fantastic extra layer of security by cutting the internet connection in its entirety should the VPN you established drop out. It means that you can be sure that you are only ever browsing the internet when you have your safer VPN enabled connection up and running. Some providers do not have this feature – the result is that some users are naively continuing to use the internet when it is not safe for them to do so as their VPN is no longer working.

Large server network

One of the best ways to learn how to get the most out of your VPN is to ensure that you only subscribe to a provider who has a large server network. There are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, it means that your chances of being able to establish a VPN in the first instance are much higher than if you go with a provider with only a handful of servers under its remit.

Secondly, with more servers, the provider’s ability to offer connection speeds that do not interrupt your usual internet sessions is much improved. The reason that this is important is that if the connection speeds are too slow for you to be able to browse the internet for any purpose, you simply won’t make use of VPN connections at all.

Many country locations

For the same reason, it is important to choose a VPN provider that has its servers located in many countries. The result is that you are far more likely to make use of VPN connections if your provider is able to offer you a connection to a server in a country you need.

Without servers in various locations around the globe, you are likely to forget best practices for setting up VPN connections and simply go without – thus leaving yourself vulnerable to hacker attacks.

Plus, having many country locations is not always about being able to unblock any geo-restricted sites and content, it also provides you with the ability to choose the right server location for you and your needs so that you maintain your security at all times.

Military-grade encryption

Buying into a subscription service is an important decision to make and the very best services will provide military-grade encryption. This means that all your data is transferred over a connection that is encrypted with 256 bit AES encryption which is the most difficult standard of encryption to hack.

So if you are looking at how to get the most out of your VPN, it is important to start with the basics first and ensure that the provider you are using invests in the best encryption technology possible. Without it, you are making yourself susceptible to attack or prying eyes by not taking heed of VPN security tips recommended by industry experts.

2. Educate your company and/or household

Perhaps one of the best things you can ever do when thinking about the best practices for using a VPN is to educate yourself, your company, and your household on the risk that is posed to you with a VPN established. By not using a VPN with its encrypted tunnels, you are leaving yourself susceptible to online attacks which can then have massive repercussions. Hackers like to get hold of data that will help them commit illegal, financial fraud, while some governments like to spy on their citizens to see what they are up to. With a VPN, this type of risk is substantially reduced.

Additionally, ensure that all who will be using your VPN subscription know how to use VPNs effectively too. Without properly educating people with the right VPN tricks and VPN tips, you could run into the problem that your network is at risk through just one user. It takes just one user not to establish a VPN connection properly for a hacker to identify a weak spot and wreak havoc with your systems and the data saved upon them.

3. Use a strong password

It sounds so simple, yet so many of the funny things to do with a VPN that people undertake are not using a strong password to protect themselves with. Without a strong password, you again leave yourself vulnerable to attack by people who can infiltrate your systems.

In addition to that, using a password management system also allows you to apply the strongest of passwords that are otherwise difficult to remember. Some VPN providers will offer a password management system as one of their key features in addition to their encrypted tunnel connections too.

4. Sign up for as long as you can

Along with having servers that are quick and server locations around the world meaning that subscribers to VPN providers actually use the product, it is important to find a subscription plan that you can afford for as long as you can.

For that reason, it makes sense to sign up for the longer subscription plans as they make the final monthly price much more affordable. The result of that is, you actually use a VPN for longer and so can make use of other VPN security best practices that keep you safe whilst online.

That means, that if you can only afford to use a free VPN service, then that is better than nothing. In fact, there are some free VPN services out there that can provide a pretty decent standard of VPN, given that they are free for people to use. The main drawbacks with free VPNs are often slow connectivity and a small number of server locations.

However, it could be that these two issues do not impact your online usage, in which case a free service could be suitable for you. While we would never recommend it in comparison to our trusted brands Surfshark and ExpressVPN, if you are going to use a free VPN, then you may as well use the best.

5. Run IP leak diagnostics

One of the top VPN security best practices that any VPN customer can do is to regularly run IP leak diagnostics as often as possible. The reason being is that you can tell quickly and easily if your VPN connection is actually providing you with security that your provider claims it does. To work, a VPN must give you the illusion of a new IP address so that you become anonymous and close to impossible to trace.

Running IP leak diagnostics is easy and can be done through many a website online. There are several of them and once these IP identifiers have provided you with the number they think is your IP, you can cross-check it against your computer’s IP. If they are the same, then your VPN is not working. If they are different, you are secured through a connection to a server elsewhere.

Best Brands to Help Make Use of VPN security tips


Surfshark VPN

We love Surfshark for so many reasons. Perhaps the most standout plus point to using Surfshark as your VPN provider is the fact that it allows for an unlimited number of simultaneous connections. This is a massive benefit and Surfshark are the only VPN providers to offer it.

It gives customers the ability to ensure that all their devices on their networks are connected to the internet in the most secure way, without worry or additional costs experienced for those that have a large number of devices.

There are a number of other reasons however that Surfshark is one of the best VPN providers to sign up to. For example, their customer support is fantastic and it’s available to customers around the clock. That means that should a user experience an issue, they can have that issue resolved 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Additionally, we love that this low-cost VPN provider also comes with an ad blocker feature as well as the capability to stop phishing attempts that you may have to endure. We also like that even though the subscription plan cost is one of the lowest on the market, Surfshark still allows customers access to a large selection of Netflix libraries.

It also has a Whitelister feature which means that customers can pick and choose which websites and apps are allowed to bypass their VPN connection to be used. This is particularly helpful when using apps for banks.

More importantly, despite the incredibly low cost for a subscription package with Surfshark, this provider still offers top quality features that we like to see as standard too. This means that they do not maintain logs, and they have a kill switch. Additionally, it has a huge network of servers dotted all over the globe.

In fact, it has over 1700 servers in over 63 countries. Its encryption technique is the 256 AES Bit encryption that we like to see too. Finally, it has a 30-day money-back guarantee so that if the package does not meet your needs or requirements, you can have your money back with no quibbles.

All of these features add up to a VPN that allows you to make the most of VPN security best practices. The result is a product you actively use as with the consistency needed to stay safe online at all times.

Check out our in-depth review of Surfshark here.


Express VPN 210X100

ExpressVPN has been a market-leading VPN provider for a long while now. This is thanks to setting the bar high in terms of feature-heavy subscription packages as well at getting the basics right.

The result is, ExpressVPN provides customers with 256 AES bit encryption across the board so that users can be certain their data is safe when being transmitted – which is often seen as the most vulnerable situation for data. Through the use of this encryption technique, ExpressVPN ensures that its customers and their data is kept safe.

Additionally, it too employs the use of a kill switch feature should their VPN connections drop out for any reason. Thanks to a huge selection of high spec servers, drops in VPN connections are rare, but the kill switch is there as a safety net should that occur.

Plus, those servers are in over 160 locations in over 94 countries across the world. With numbers like this, customers can be certain of a VPN connection each and every time that doesn’t negatively impact their internet usage either.

Plus, those with many different types of devices find that ExpressVPN works for them given that the provider has versions that work on a wide variety of devices, operating systems, and hardware like routers. Be it a Mac, a Linux OS, or another mobile device that needs a VPN to stay secure, ExpressVPN will be able to provide that to its users.

Furthermore, it has some of the quickest connectivity that VPN users are likely to see. As ever, this is down to those optimized servers again. However, it is also great to see that ExpressVPN provides unlimited bandwidth to its clients across its subscription plans.

This is important as it means that users employ the use of a VPN connection every time they are online. When some VPN providers strangle bandwidth after a certain amount of usage, the danger is that users simply won’t use it at all. It is then that adherence to the VPN security best practices can get a little sloppy.

Finally, we love its high-quality customer support that is available throughout the day, every day. And if users still don’t like ExpressVPN as they feel it does not provide them with the level of security they require, there is a 30 day month back guarantee.

Check out our in-depth review of ExpressVPN here.

How to get the most out of your VPN – The Bottom Line

Using a VPN is one of the quickest and effective ways to improve your security online. However, signing up for a subscription service is just the first step to ensuring that a VPN does eventually give you the security you need.

Customers have to learn how to use the technology to its best advantage to be certain that when using an internet connection, they are not leaving themselves or their data open to online attacks.

The technology is not hard, however, and any funny things to do with a VPN that users experience are most likely a user error – particularly if users subscribe to a reputable provider like the two we mentioned above. Learning how to get the most out of your VPN, therefore, is straightforward and easy, but an absolute must-do.