In this day and age, when people are abandoning traditional cable or satellite television services at a faster rate than ever before,VPN for Streaming, more important than ever to have reliable and diverse streaming services for your entertainment needs.
Depending on where you live, however, the content available to you can be heavily restricted by licensing and distribution agreements and so forth.
On the other hand, more and more people are taking to using various file-sharing services and means to share television shows and movies, usually through the BitTorrent protocol – a process known as torrenting, and then playing back the files on a smart TV, tablet, or other home media center, usually via a streaming relay device.
In both cases, these pursuits can be done far more safely and effectively by using a VPN service.
Why Use a VPN for Streaming?
There are many reasons to use a VPN service for streaming. VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, provide security, anonymity, and privacy online.
They disguise your true IP address from destination servers. They also encrypt the data stream between you and the VPN server, meaning government and ISP monitors can’t tell what you’re sending, receiving, or accessing.
Additionally, they allow you to get around geographic restrictions on content, which is a crucial part of having an optimum streaming experience and availing yourself of the full range of content available online in different markets.
This is because the VPN services often have servers located in other countries – many countries, in the case of the top services. So, you can connect to VPN servers in other countries, and the ultimate website or destination server you access will THINK you are accessing from that country!
When it comes to torrenting, using a VPN is really a must. The peer-to-peer protocol is great for getting content fast from disparate sources, but has one significant vulnerability – everyone connected to you, and everyone you are connected to, can see your IP address. By using a VPN service that supports torrenting, this vulnerability disappears.
It means that no one can use torrent connections to try to hack your system. What’s more important for many people is it means your true IP address, ISP, and other information is obscured, so any litigious corporate lawyers or copyright enforcement services can’t serve you with a cease and desist or go after you for monetary damages for sharing copyrighted content.
So, no matter what method of content streaming you may choose, a VPN offers added security and safety for you, as well as opens up the potential for additional content from other markets.
5 Key Things to Consider
There are many different factors to consider when you are trying to find a good quality VPN for your streaming needs.
Below, we’ve highlighted the 5 main things to consider, because they will have the largest impact on the quality of your video streaming experience – whether through your browser, app, geo-unblocked content, or via torrenting and casting to a home media center.
Because VPNs use data encryption techniques, the latency and max download speed of your connection can be reduced somewhat.
The best VPN services only have an impact to max download speed on the order of 10-20%, whereas some lower-quality VPNs may slow connections to a crawl, with a 90% or greater hit to download speed.
For streaming needs, you generally want to ensure the download speed hit is less than 50%, or you may experience buffering and other issues. When torrenting, of course, you want the fastest speed possible, too.
Servers and Countries
The number of servers gives some sense of the size of the VPN’s network, and the number of countries the servers are located in provide insight into the potential for unblocking of geo-restricted content.
At the same time, some services have restrictions, with only certain servers and/or countries being available for streaming, Netflix unblocking, torrenting, or all of the above.
Torrenting, Streaming, and Geo-Unblocking
Whether or not the VPN offers torrenting or peer-to-peer file sharing support, streaming support, or geo-unblocking of popular streaming platforms like Netflix and similar are extremely important criteria. Many cheaper or budget VPN options do not offer all of these features, as the bandwidth required for streaming or torrenting is significant.
Security – Encryption, Logging, Etc.
The security of a VPN is only as good as the encryption protocols and other measures that the company takes to protect its customers. Most quality VPNs use industry-standard AES-256, a 256-bit encryption algorithm that is, for all intents and purposes, unbreakable by brute force attempts.
More important for streamers, however, is whether or not the company retails information on its users, commonly called a logging policy. You want a service that doesn’t keep logs – that way, there’s nothing for the company to turn over to copyright attorneys linking you to your activities.
Like any service, a cost must be considered. For any kind of meaningful VPN for streaming use, free options aren’t going to cut it – they almost all come with bandwidth caps, lower speeds, and limited options. Most top-tier VPNs offer subscription packages, that can range in price from a few dollars a month to $15 a month or so, depending on the features, options, and payment cycle.
There may be additional considerations depending upon your particular setup. For example, compatibility – whether or not a VPN provides a client or app compatible with the operating system on your intended viewing or casting device – can be a big factor.
This is especially true when it comes to VPNs for new, next-generation multimedia tech, such as Raspberry Pi devices running on Kodi. Here is a review of the best ones for Kodi.
Ultimately, you need to define your streaming goals and intended use before test-driving a VPN. And not every VPN offers generous trials or free versions, so it’s best to consult online reviews and do your research.
Consider the above important factors, as well as anything unique to your setup and how you intend to use the VPN service.
And, be aware, that policies of many streaming platforms with regards to regional content restrictions are subject to change – so just because you can gain access using a particular VPN today does not mean it will work tomorrow.
Keep all of these factors in mind when choosing a quality VPN for your streaming needs, and enjoy the show!