Choosing the best VPN for photographers isn't just about being able to navigate past geo-restrictions when traveling, it's also about protecting your personal data. Anonymity on the web is becoming harder to achieve, but the right VPN service can ensure that you don't need to worry about malicious users gaining access to your information via the internet.
Plus, if you frequently travel for your work (as many photographers do), a good VPN service means that you can continue to access all of the websites and apps that you usually use. However, with so many VPN services available online, how can you choose the right one for you?
Luckily, we've rounded up the best VPN services for photographers to help you find the right VPN for you.
What is a VPN and why do I need one?
A VPN is about two things – freedom and protection. Think of navigating the internet on public Wi-Fi as though you're cycling down a busy road without a helmet. You could be perfectly safe, but why take the risk? The internet has a plethora of exciting places to explore, but without the anonymity and protection of a VPN, you make it all too easy for criminals to hack your email, steal your identity and even take over your bank accounts.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts all of your data on its own server before returning it to the internet. This means that no one is able to view this data except for yourself and whoever you choose to share it with.
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Using a VPN also has other useful benefits as well. For example, if you're traveling for work and you want to catch up on your favorite show from one of the best streaming services, a VPN will enable you to get past any geo-restrictions set in that particular country. Plus, if you've travelled to a country such as China, where sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Google are blocked, a VPN is the only easy way to get round government censorship.
The best VPNs for photographers
VPN performance is a tricky thing to measure accurately because there are so many variables: where you are in the world, what you’re doing, what equipment you’re using and what time of day it is. But bearing all that in mind, in our experience ExpressVPN offers the best all-round performance in terms of speed, privacy and access.
Based in the British Virgin Islands, the service offers access to more than 3,000 servers in 160 locations across 94 countries; an impressive level of infrastructure that’s unlikely to ever leave you hanging. It provides a great range of apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Chromebook and even Kindle Fire, plus support for Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast.
It’s not the simplest VPN to use; we’d recommend TunnelBear, number 4 on our list, if you’re a nervous newbie. But if you're struggling, there are a good selection of tutorials to get you started. And most impressively, it’s the only service here to offer live chat support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Note, however, that ExpressVPN only offers five connections at any one time, so if you have a lot of devices that need to be connected simultaneously, you’ll need to go elsewhere (or purchase extra subscriptions).
Unlike most of the services here, there’s no free trial option. However, ExpressVPN does offer 30-day money back guarantee, which is kind of the same thing but with a little more admin, and the possibility of getting charged if you don’t remember to cancel in time.
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Based in Switzerland, a country historically associated with privacy protection, VyprVPN calls itself the “world’s most powerful VPN” and while this is difficult to measure definitively, we certainly found it pretty speedy in practice.
The service also makes a big play for its proprietary Chameleon™ VPN technology. This is squarely aimed at defeating VPN-blocking, which is used by dictatorial regimes around the world to beat VPNs and enforce censorship. So if you’re collaborating with someone in an authoritarian country, or working in one yourself, that could make all the difference to your communications remaining stable and secure.
You can connect up to five devices simultaneously, and there are also a good range of apps and setup instructions that will allow you to run the service on anywhere you like, including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux, smart TVs and a variety of router types.
You'll need to sign up for a full paid account to try VyprVPN, but a 30-day money-back guarantee is offered in all subscription plans for peace of mind.
Based in Panama, NordVPN has the most infrastructure on our selection, with over 5,500 servers in 59 countries around the world. It’s also one of the most feature-rich, giving you fine control over how the service operates, and you can even customise the interface itself. If that sounds a bit overwhelming, though, don’t fret; there’s also a Connection Wizard to help beginners started with the minimum of fuss,
NordVPN comes with apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android, as well as extensions for Chrome and Firefox browsers and Android TV. You can protect up to six devices simultaneously, and all-round performance is good. There’s no free trial, but NordVPN does offer a no-quibble 30-day money-back guarantee.
If all this choice and tech-speak is freaking you out, and you just want a simple service that will protect your privacy and keep your data secure, then Tunnel Bear is for you. Based in Canada, and now a part of security giants McAfee, this is by far the easiest VPN to get started with and to use on a day-to-day basis.
With a cartoon bear guiding you through, instructions are jargon-free, written in plain English, and fully designed with beginners in mind. The flipside is that this is a service that experienced users might find too basic.
TunnelBear offers up to five simultaneous connections, and there are apps for iOS, Android, Mac and Windows, as well as a browser extension. There’s no free trial option, but there is a free version you can use without commitment for as long as you wish, although you’ll be limited to 500MB of data per month.
In today’s world, it’s amazing quite how many internet-connected devices there are in the average household, especially if you have a big family. And that’s where Windscribe comes in, because uniquely, it promises to support an unlimited number of simultaneous connections.
Beyond that killer benefit, the Canada-based service also provides a decent all-round service, with impressive speeds, a wide range of setup options, apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and Amazon Fire, and browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox and Opera. It’s also recently introduced a helper bot called Garry, to guide to you through any problems.
There’s no free trial, but there is a free version which you can use for as long as you like, with some restrictions. These include being limited to 10GB of monthly data if you register your email address (2GB if you don’t), only being able to use one device, and only getting access to ten countries (rather than 63+).
KeepSolid VPN Unlimited, which is based in New York, puts a high priority on security. And that doesn’t mean just protecting you from malware, blocking ads and preventing tracking. It also offers an additional service called KeepSolid Wise, which offers an extra layer of encryption and data privacy that makes your VPN connection about as safe as it can possibly be. This is probably overkill for everyday use, but if you’re super-concerned about security (for example if you’re involved in highly confidential business dealings) it could help you sleep better at night.
In general, the service offers an impressive level of performance when it comes to download speeds, and offers apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and Windows 10 Mobile, plus browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome. It’s also recently added a cool feature called Trusted Networks; this allows you to add a network to the list, and the VPN connection will be automatically disabled when you’re using it.
You get up to five simultaneous connections and the option to pay for more, which is a nice touch. You can take out a seven-day free trial to see how well it works for you, and if you decide to buy there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Based in Romania and Germany, Cyber Ghost is most notable for offering a wide range of handy features, across its apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. There are too many to list here, and some can be oppressively techie-sounding, but we particularly loved, for example, how Cyber Ghost displays the last few server connections you've made. That way, if you only ever log on to a couple of countries, they'll appear on the list, and you can choose them with one click. Also, you can tell CyberGhost to auto-start when you run particular software, such as your banking app, or to always (or never) connect to a particular Wi-Fi network.
CyberGhost offers a one-day free trial, and there’s a 45-day money-back guarantee on paid plans.