You have probably heard the term “VPN” in relation to your online browsing. And the truth is that we hear it in many contexts: protecting your data, consuming content blocked in your country, avoiding the famous “dynamic pricing“, among others. The term VPN stands for “virtual private network”. VPN’s have many uses, especially for freelancers and creative people who read our blog. Keep reading this article for our recommendations and reviews of various VPN options, including Forticlient VPN, Express VPN and NordVPN, among others.
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What is a VPN
As explained in the introduction, VPN stands for “virtual private network”. VPNs have many uses, but in this article we are going to focus on those that will be useful to you as a freelancer, remote worker, and as a private citizen. There are many companies who offer you VPN connections (generally in the form of subscriptions plans), including Forticlient VPN, NordVPN, Hola! VPN, among others. We share our recommendations at the end of the article, so read on.
When using a VPN, your internet connection is handled in an encrypted and highly private manner. This means that your internet activity is protected from governments, hackers as well as from your internet provider. If you have already worked remotely for a company, it is likely that you have had to connect to the company’s internal VPN to work. This is because this VPN puts you on the company’s central network, which protects your data from potential vulnerabilities. And if you are a freelancer and do not use one, ¡we recommend that you start right away!
Why we recommend that you use a VPN as a freelancer
There are many advantages (and pressing needs) why a freelancer should consider using a VPN service. This applies not only to freelancers, but to anyone who works remotely and who may be using public internet connections for their work.
1. Safety and Privacy
As a freelancer or remote worker, you probably work from a laptop, which you have probably used in airports, cafes or coworking spaces. Even your own home Internet network can be open to vulnerabilities. A VPN helps you keep your data secure. This is because with a VPN, your connection is encrypted. This means that, unlike public or vulnerable networks, no one can see what websites you are visiting or the files and data you are transmitting.
Como Freelancer, esto agrega una capa de confianza a las relaciones que tienes con tus clientes (¡puedes incluso dejarles saber que trabajas usando una VPN, lo que protege tu trabajo y sus datos!). Es más que probable que estés intercambiando contratos, métodos de pago y archivos con mucha gente. Con una red privada virtual estás invirtiendo en tu protección y reputación. Como mencionamos más temprano, es probable que si trabajas a distancia para una compañía, te hagan utilizar una VPN para conectarte a sus servidores centrales por default.
2. Unrestricted International Access
It is nothing new that, for various factors, many countries restrict content on the internet. Not only this, your browsing experience across countries will be different due to targeting and geolocation issues. With a VPN you avoid censorship and restrictions. If you are a freelancer who does SEO consulting work in Mexico and your client is in Canada, you will want to see Google’s homepage and search results as a Canadian sees them, and not as they appear locally. You simply need to use your VPN to connect to servers in Canada and that’s it: when you enter Google, you will see that it is in English (or French) and that the results will be those of the Great White North.
In a similar manner, if you work in digital marketing, your client may ask you to set up campaigns with specific creatives and copy unique to different countries. There’s nothing more practical then to be able to see in real time each geo is displaying their unique campaigns according to plan.
This point will also help to see streaming content available exclusively in other countries … so a VPN is useful during your working hours, as well as during your leisure time!
3. Speed and Performance
When you work in an office, there is an IT team that specializes in making internet connections work quickly and efficiently. When you are a freelancer or remote worker, the connections you use can be saturated and slow. This is where VPNs come in: by relying on an external virtual server, the performance of your connection can be improved and perform at stable levels while you work.
If you work in creative industries, you know that there are a lot of files to send, many of them heavy (for example, RAW photos, videos, images, audio and video files, or in special software formats such as AutoCAD, AfterEffects, DaVinci Resolve, among others). A VPN will save you more than one frustration with slow connections and failed file transfers.
Our VPN Recommendations:
In our team we have tested some VPNs for both professional and personal browsing. These are the ones we recommend based on our experiences.
This Premium VPN provider is one of the most popular, well-known and reputable out there. They have servers on a global scale (more than 5,500 in 60 countries) and all set up to offer you fast and reliable connections. Your data will be safe thanks to their advanced encryption technology and the fact that NordVPN does not store any of the user data that passes through their servers.
NordVPN has other more advanced features, such as a double encryption option (which encrypts your connection through two servers for even greater security). NordVPN is easy to use and you can use the same account to connect from multiple devices (computers, smartphones and tablets). The interface is as simple and intuitive as selecting the connection you want on a world map and clicking on “connect”.
Their pricing is very reasonable and comes in a few purchase formats. You can opt for a monthly billing plan, an annual billing plan, or a prepaid plan for a two-year subscription. As usual, the two-year plan is where you save the most, especially since there are often great deals and discounts.
ExpressVPN is another of the best-known names among premium VPN providers. It has an excellent reputation in terms of the speed and stability of its connections – which, as we mentioned, is key for a freelancer who needs stable browsing for surfing the Internet, using tools that depend on fast connections, as well as sending and downloading files with their clients.
Other advantages of ExpressVPN are its encryption technology, the privacy that their lack of logging and data storage offers, its global coverage with servers in countries all over the world, as well as its renowned customer service that is available 24/7 (not to mention its 30-day satisfaction guarantee policy). ExpressVPN also offers a free trial period. Their subscriptions offer monthly, semi-annual, or annual billing. It goes without saying that the longer subscription you chose, the more savings you will have.
This premium provider is another one that we refer to as the “big three”, which include the two previous ones above. It is a service that will accompany you across your devices (in fact, as they themselves say, you can use it on an infinite number of devices). In terms of privacy, you are just as protected as with the other VPNs mentioned above, since Atlas VPN has advanced encryption technology and a zero data storage policy (Atlas VPN uses what is called a “WireGuard” protocol, which focuses precisely on security and privacy). Another advantage is that AtlasVPN offers protection for your email.
With this VPN provider you will have optimized servers for streaming, which will be very useful for both your work and personal browsing. In the same way, it has no bandwidth restrictions, which keeps your connection at an optimal speed through more than 750 servers around the world. Another very useful thing as a freelancer or remote employee is that Atlas VPN allows you to share files Peer-to-Peer in a secure way, which is ideal for teams and projects that need efficient file sharing.
You can purchase a monthly, yearly or 3-year subscription. The longer you opt for, the more you save (not to mention that there always seem to be extra coupons and promotions to entice you into a subscription). Atlas VPN also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee policy.
Forticlient VPN belongs to Fortinet and it is one or the more advanced options here, though at the expense of intuitiveness of use. It offers robust security and privacy features like SSL and IPSEC encryption protocols, which will shield you from several cyber threats. It is available across various platforms, including Windows and Mac for desktop, as well as Android and iOS for mobile devices.
A neat feature is its automatic detection of unsecured network connections, which will immediately prompt your device to connect to its VPN. It also adds an extra layer of security to your connection via 2-factor authentication. It also offers you default malware and antivirus protection, which will filter out any issues with incoming files and data.
As mentioned, it is not that Fortinet VPN offers bad UX – it is just not as intuitive and attractive as the previously-reviewed competitors. Indeed, our team had to follow a YouTube tutorial to resolve a doubt it had when trying to connect (or perhaps we were spoiled with how easy the other Premium VPN services do things!)
Regarding pricing, it offers a free trial (once more, a bit of a cumbersome process since you have to apply for it), and the transactions go through a sales team to find the best solution for you. All-in-all, it may be a better solution for professionals or large networks. For freelancers, we recommend sticking to the easier-to-use options.
Hola! VPN offers both a free and a premium VPN service. The disadvantage of the premium version is that usage is restricted by time limits. This means that you will be disconnected when using the maximum daily time limit and you will have to wait until enough time has passed to connect again. To avoid this, you can opt for the Premium version, which Hola! VPN offers under monthly, annual and three-year billing (need we repeat that the longer you opt for, the more you save?)
You can enjoy HolaVPN through a Chrome extension, as well as a Hola! VPN app for both desktop and Android. It’s worth mentioning that there are some aspects in which HolaVPN is at a disadvantage to the other providers mentioned. For example, HolaVPN’s encryption is not the most robust (far from what other tools offer), which is definitely not ideal for professional use. Another aspect is the limitations of the free version, including usage, bandwidth, and speed limitations. As a freelancer, we recommend you to go for one of the previous ones that offer premium plans and services.
We hope that now you understand what a VPN is and the advantages that using one brings to you as a freelancer. We also hope that our recommendations will be useful to you when choosing a VPN provider (although there are many other providers that we did not mention in our reviews). Protecting your security and privacy is priceless, especially when the quality of your work and your reputation as a professional are at stake, so don’t hesitate to visit the pages of each of the recommended providers and see which one is best for you!
If you are not yet a freelancer and want to launch yourself as a freelancer, we recommend our article on the 6 sectors for freelancers in digital marketing. If you already are one, we recommend you to read about the 7 mistakes to avoid as a freelancer.
We wrap up with some frequently asked questions to further help you with the topic of VPNs.
What is VPN and why do I need it?
A VPN (“virtual private network”) establishes a private communication channel between devices over the Internet. One of the primary functions of a VPN is to transmit data securely and anonymously across Internet networks, including your own connection or public networks. You don’t need it – but it has many benefits such as enhanced security, privacy, and connection speed.
Are VPNs free?
Some are, like Hola! VPN. However, if you find free VPNs, chances are that they come with strings attached (usage and speed limitations, for example). Most providers offer trials and satisfaction guarantees.
Do I really need a VPN at home?
It depends. If you just use your internet to stream Netflix or Disney+, no. But as a private citizen, you likely use online banking and do online shopping. It goes without saying that using credit card and banking information without a VPN, even at home, exposes you to vulnerabilities. Now, if you are a freelancer or work from home, then yes – we strongly recommend using a VPN for safety and privacy reasons.