A significant part of protecting your digital presence is understanding your threat model and how to mitigate those threats. Everyone’s situation will be a little different. For some, a basic VPN that encrypts sensitive information may be enough to keep away prying eyes. Many use VPNs to unlock content that is region locked such as sporting events or streaming services. For others, they may need more sophisticated features such as multi hop connections or Tor-over-VPN. Each platform has unique abilities that may come with significant trade offs such as high latency or extremely slow speeds.
Only you know the specifics of your needs, but always remember: VPNs are a means of privacy enhancement and obfuscation but they DO NOT make you 100% anonymous. Not even the Tor Network guarantees 100% anonymity.
Basic Encryption – These services secure and encrypt your connection, but do not offer features such as location selection and no logging policy. Perfect for coffee shops and hotel wifi. Whether or not you decide to trust a company such as Cloudflare, Google, or Apple with your private data is heavily dependent on who you are what your specific needs are. If you are already logged in to any of the aforementioned services, utilizing a VPN will not hide your activity from that company since you are already logged in and/or have cookies associated with your ‘real’ IP address. See more on this topic: VPNs are not invisibility cloaks
Examples: Cloudflare Warp, Google One, iCloud Private Relay
Enhanced Protection – These are your more standard VPNs that offer abilities such as location spoofing, multi hop connections, streaming.
P2P/Torrenting – These services are specially geared to those who want to use P2P and torrent services like The Pirate Bay. They almost exclusively host servers in countries with no copyright laws.
Ad Blocking – Not all VPNs offer the ability to block ads and malware. Some, such as ProtonVPN, offer the ability to turn ad blocking on and off. Others, such as AdGuard and Private Internet Access allow you to set custom DNS servers to block ads at the network level.