Creative users are a demanding niche of the computing world, generally using heavyweight apps – like Adobe Photoshop or Premiere, for example – to design and hone their various creations. And whatever industry they are involved in, being creative usually entails a specific approach to getting work done, often requiring high levels of flexibility and mobility.
These days, people work from anywhere and everywhere as long as they have a decent internet connection. However, if you're stuck using iffy coffee shop Wi-Fi or a computer that isn't yours, you may want to pay a bit more attention to your privacy. A VPN service asserts itself as a universal and effective solution for any security worries.
How to choose the best VPN service for creative users
Creative endeavours often involve a lot of data and that usually means shifting it to the cloud (and back), and perhaps collaborating with others on a project. In that respect, performance is a prime concern, because you don’t want a VPN provider that slows you – and potentially your productivity – down.
Here are our top five picks for the best VPN service for any creative types out there.
VyprVPN operates its own servers and infrastructure, which always helps when it comes to achieving speedy performance. And indeed when we tested this service we experienced stellar download performance, with speeds which were more than double the rates achieved with the VPN turned off.
The service has great global coverage and clients for almost every major platform and device, with detailed manual setup instructions for the rest. The easy-to-use interface of the software is replete with user-friendly options such as auto-connect, plus there are advanced features to boot.
Being based in Switzerland, VyprVPN benefits from favourable privacy laws that fully respect the rights of internet users. The bottom line is that the service doesn't log your traffic or tinker with your connection. Along with the usual multiple security protocols for encryption, you get bolstered security through VyprDNS, and the company’s proprietary Chameleon protocol that prevents deep packet inspection, VPN blocking, and throttling (note that only Premium users get Chameleon, though).
A free 3-day trial provides a good sample of the service, but be sure to use this as the company doesn’t allow refunds if you sign up for a paying subscription. There are two plans which can be billed monthly or annually, and the annual Premium subscription is the best bet, to keep costs down and ensure you get all the goodies like the firm’s Chameleon technology. The packages available are:
- Basic: $9.95 monthly or $5 per month billed annually
- Premium: $12.95 monthly or $6.67 per month billed annually
With 145 server locations across 94 countries, finding a reliable connection should be easy with ExpressVPN. And that was certainly our experience, because during our testing we measured consistently good performance across the network.
Another boon is a wide array of tailored clients for Windows, Mac, Linux, plus iOS, Android and even BlackBerry, with lots of additional manual setup instructions for other devices. The native apps possess enough in the way of basic and advanced options, and are nicely implemented across the board.
The clients allow manual or automatic selection of protocols that include OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSEC, PPTP, and SSTP with 256-bit encryption in place. ExpressVPN clearly states there is zero logging of the user’s network traffic, while there’s 24/7 email and live chat support should you encounter any problems. This VPN provider also has a 99.9% uptime guarantee.
Subscription plans are a tad on the expensive side. The service doesn’t offer a free trial or plan, but there is a hassle-free 30-day money-back guarantee in place, which gives you some breathing room to test things out. With three plans available, the 1-year plan is the best value, particularly as it grants you an additional three months for free. The packages available are:
- [$12.95 a month] 1-month
- [$9.99 a month] 6-months – $59.95
- [$6.67 a month] 12-months (plus 3 free months) – $99.95
Panama-based NordVPN has over a thousand servers in 59 locations so there’s no shortage of choice here. Performance levels were quite impressive in our tests, with only very small drops in download and upload speeds compared to our normal rates (with the VPN turned off).
The service provides clients for all major platforms and tutorials for setting up on other devices. The software clients are rather simple to use, yet they come packed with expert-level features.
Those wanting to beef up on security should look no further – NordVPN offers Double VPN technology, meaning your data is passed through two servers and encrypted twice, and the firm operates its own DNS servers, plus there’s Tor over VPN alongside the usual security features. The company enforces a strict no log policy, stating it doesn’t track any online activity.
Interestingly, there is a free trial available but it’s difficult to find on the website – check it out here. Price plans come with a 30-day no-hassle money-back guarantee and are fairly affordable, except for the monthly plan which is steep. The best option is the 2-year subscription as it provides fantastic savings. The packages available are:
- [$11.95 a month] 1-month
- [$7.00 a month] 6-months – $42.00
- [$5.75 a month] 1-year – $69.00
- [$3.29 a month] 2-years – $79.00
One of the best general purpose and wallet-friendly VPN services, KeepSolid VPN Unlimited offers impressive coverage with servers in over 70 countries. In our performance tests, we achieved some very serviceable download speeds, and in fact they were only slightly slower than our regular rates (down by about 10%).
The range of available clients is equally impressive: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and even Windows 10 Mobile. The clients are pretty straightforward and cover the basics, although they only allow for a small number of tweaks. Bear in mind that the system only lets you delete one device per week, meaning that you can only switch one new device in or out every week, which could be a potential nuisance if you intend to use a lot of different hardware with the VPN.
For all that it offers, KeepSolid’s VPN service is a rather affordable affair. On top of that, you have a 7-day free trial available which is plenty of time for a good test run. However, when it comes to the price plans, there isn’t much in the way of variety. The super-cheap permanent subscription and equally cheap annual package are your best bets, depending on how much of a commitment you want to make. The packages available are:
- Economy [$8.99 a month] 1-month
- Professional [$3.33 a month] 1-year – $39.99
- Infinity (lifetime) [$149.99]
Windscribe has a pretty major trump card in the fact that it offers unlimited device connections, compared to most VPN providers which limit users to five or so devices. In our performance tests, Windscribe acquitted itself admirably with shorter hops, although speeds dropped more significantly with longer-distance connections.
This provider offers native clients for Windows, Mac, and iOS, but sadly not for Android which is a bit of an omission on the mobile front. The software clients are pretty basic with a few low-level settings – probably just enough to fulfil most needs.
On the privacy front, everything is clear and explained in great detail – there is no logging of VPN usage, connection logs, or IPs. The Canada-based provider’s security efforts include a firewall, kill switch and all the standard security protocols.
One of the major draws of Windscribe is a free plan that has a rather generous limit of 10GB of monthly data if you register with your email address. However, you can only use one device with this plan, and you’re also limited in the number of servers available. Paying customers can choose from two plans with either monthly or annual billing, with the usual savings for the latter. The packages available are:
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