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The Best VPN Services of 2021

By
Donna Fuscaldo
,
business.com Staff
| Updated
Jul 16, 2021

Here are the best virtual private network (VPN) services, which allow you to change your IP address to protect your privacy.
Best for Performance
3,000+ servers in 160 locations
Smart Location technology
Split tunneling for data
Best for Reliability
5,200+ servers worldwide
Advanced encryption tech
No-log policy backed by audit
Best for Value
Starting price under $3 per month
Unlimited devices connected
Automatic best-server connection
Best for Protocols
Support for several VPN protocols
Easy switching between protocols
6,500+ servers worldwide
Best for Network Size
Over 7,300 servers worldwide
NoSpy servers
Fast internet
Here are the best virtual private network (VPN) services, which allow you to change your IP address to protect your privacy.

VPN Service Comparisons

The best VPN services provide high levels of security and privacy without sacrificing any performance. They understand that another layer of security could slow down your internet and work hard to prevent that. The VPNs that stood out to us use 256-bit military-grade encryption, have built-in kill switches to prevent data links, and operate big enough server networks to provide fast and secure connections, whether you are in the office or logging on to the network remotely. To help you select the best VPN for your business, we researched several VPN providers, evaluating them on security, performance, ease of use and price.

Compare Our Best Picks

Vendor Use case Editor's score Minimum price Number of servers Dedicated IP Unlimited bandwidth Supported devices Access management Free trial Logging Kill switch 24-hour support
ExpressVPN Best for performance 8.4/10 $12.95 per month or $99.95 per year 3,000+ No Yes 5 Yes 30 days No Yes Yes
NordVPN Best for reliablity 9/10 $11.95 per month or $143.40 per year 5,500+ Yes Yes 6 Yes 30 days No Yes Yes
IPVanish Best for value 8/10 $9.99 per month or $89.99 per year 1,300+ No Yes Unlimited Yes No No Yes Yes
PureVPN Best for protocols 8.9/10 $10.95 per month or $69.95 a year 6,500+ Yes Yes 10 Yes 7 days No Yes Yes
CyberGhost Best for network size 8.5/10 $12.99 per month or $47.88 per year 7,300+ Yes Yes 7 Yes 45-day money-back guarantee No Yes Yes
Hotspot Shield Best for streaming 7.3/10 $12.99 per month or $95.88 per year 3,200+ No Yes 5 Yes 7 days No Yes No
Surfshark Best for multi-hop servers 8.7/10 $12.95 per month or $59.76 per year for 24 months 3,200+ No Yes Unlimited Yes 30 days No Yes Yes

Reviews

ExpressVPN: Best VPN for Performance

ExpressVPN is best for small business owners who care about performance above everything else.
ExpressVPN's vast network of VPN servers across the globe prevents slow downloads for customers.
Small business owners pay up for the performance and security they get from ExpressVPN. This VPN is pricier than rivals and only allows five devices to be connected at one time.

VPNs provide an extra layer of security, but they can also slow down your internet connection. That is a dealbreaker for businesses that rely on fast internet to do their work. When reviewing VPN providers for performance, we looked at several factors that impact the speed of the VPN connection, including the number of servers and their locations, the ability to handle simultaneous connections, and the protocols they use to provide safe and secure coverage. ExpressVPN met or exceeded our expectations in all these areas, making it our best pick for performance.

Editor's score: 8.4/10

Test after test has proven that ExpressVPN lives up to its hype when it comes to speed, with a vast network of VPN servers partly to thank. It has more than 3,000 servers in 160 locations, spanning 94 countries. ExpressVPN has a big presence in the U.S. and Europe, which will give you the best connections, as well as servers in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. ExpressVPN isn't the only VPN provider with a large network of servers, but what makes it stand out is its Smart Location technology. With this feature, the VPN software automatically selects the best VPN server location based on download speed, latency and distance. It takes the guesswork out of making sure your VPN is performing optimally.

Its technology designed around performance doesn't end there. ExpressVPN's in-house Lightway protocol boasts speeds over 500 Mbps. This vendor is an outlier in that regard; most VPN vendors rely on existing protocols instead of developing in-house ones. To us, that demonstrates ExpressVPN's commitment to performance.

ExpressVPN stands out from its rivals in performance. It has the network might, the innovative technology, and a commitment to ensuring the best possible connections, earning our best pick for performance.

Read ExpressVPN Review

NordVPN: Best VPN for Reliability

NordVPN is best for businesses that can't risk dropped connections and slow internet. It has a large server network, giving customers reliable service.
It applies innovative tech and advanced encryption to provide protection and speed.
NordVPN allows you to connect only six devices at one time, which is too limiting for some business owners.

For small business owners who care most about a VPN's reliability, NordVPN stands out. This Panama-based VPN provider operates a network of more than 5,200 servers in 59 countries, which is largely to thank for its reliability. The more servers a VPN has, the less chance it has of overcrowding and thus slowing down your service. NordVPN also has a strong reputation in the market, serving more than 14 million customers since 2012. But servers aren't the only thing that makes NordVPN our best pick for reliability.

Editor's score: 9/10

For a VPN to work, it has to use advanced encryption and fast protocols. NordVPN hits that mark with its AES 256-bit encryption, which is what the National Security Agency uses to secure classified information. It also offers a double-VPN security feature, which sends online traffic through two VPNs. Then there's its kill switch that automatically disconnects your devices from the internet if the VPN drops, its obfuscated servers that hide the fact you are on a VPN, and its split tunneling that lets you send only certain data through the VPN. All those features are designed to give you reliable connections.

NordVPN also stands out for privacy-conscious business owners. The company boasts a zero-logging policy and backs that up with an outside audit. It's also a member of a new industry group aimed at setting VPN standards and educating the public about cybersecurity. Add 24-hour live chat support to the mix and you can see why NordVPN is our choice as the best VPN service for reliability.

Read NordVPN Review

IPVanish VPN: Best VPN for Value

IPVanish makes sense for small business owners who don't want to spend a lot for a VPN but aren't willing to sacrifice in security or performance.
This is one of the few VPNs to offer small business customers unlimited connections at one time.
IPVanish doesn't have the largest network of servers in the VPN industry. That may hurt its performance, depending on how close your business is to the VPN server.

Budget-conscious small business owners don't have to give up high speed and security in their VPN provider, nor do they have to go with a free one that sells their data to third parties. The best affordable VPNs offer low prices and secure and speedy connections. IPVanish checks off all those boxes, making it our choice as the best VPN service for value.

Editor's score: 8/10

This VPN vendor is among the cheapest we reviewed, charging $28.79 or $2.40 per month for the first year and $89.99 thereafter. At $90 a year, IPVanish would match some of its rivals, except for one thing: unlimited connections. This is a big reason IPVanish earns our value pick. Whether your business wants to connect three devices to the VPN or 25, you won't pay extra. That is not true of other low-cost VPN providers we reviewed. PureVPN costs $69.95 a year, but you only get 10 connections; if you want more, prepare to pay for it.

IPVanish also offers a pricing plan that includes 500GB of storage, file sharing, online backup and ransomware protection. That plan only costs $31.99 for the first year and $99 thereafter. We like that IPVanish offers an introductory price for the first year, giving you enough time to determine if you want to continue using this service without spending a fortune.

Outside of its low cost and unlimited connections, IPVanish earned our best pick for value because it uses industry-standard VPN protocols, has a zero-logging policy, and doesn't limit the number of servers or times per day you can connect to the VPN. You get good performance, a secure connection, and an affordable price, which is why we chose IPVanish as the best VPN provider for value.

Read IPVanish VPN Review

PureVPN: Best VPN for Protocols

PureVPN is best for businesses that want to control the protocols they use. It supports multiple protocols on all its 6,500 servers in 140 countries.
It manages its own servers, which ensures the protocol you want to use can be easily deployed.
PureVPN does not currently support WireGuard, which is the newest security protocol in the VPN world and boasts speedier connections.

VPNs apply a lot of technology behind the scenes to encrypt and protect your data in transit. A big part of that is the protocols the VPN providers use. Some give you more security, while others give you faster internet. The VPN vendors that stand out are the ones that support all the leading protocols and let you choose between them based on your internet activity. PureVPN stands out in that regard, which is why it's our choice as the best VPN service for protocols.

Editor's score: 8.9/10

Not only does PureVPN support several protocols, it also has them installed on all its 6,500-plus servers spread across 140 countries. That's important, because the more servers a network has, the less crowded they will be. A VPN can offer all the protocols in the world, but if it has too few servers to support demand, customers will still have to deal with slow and dropped connections.

PureVPN self-manages all its servers, making sure they all support several protocols. But that isn't the only reason PureVPN is our best pick for protocols. This VPN service makes it easy to switch between protocols based on what you are doing online. Not the DIY type? PureVPN can automatically select the best server connection based on your location and protocols. On top of that, PureVPN is affordable and lets you connect 10 devices to the VPN at one time. It also has a zero-logging policy backed by an independent audit.

PureVPN is a standout in protocol support. Add speedy, secure, and private connections to the mix and you can see why PureVPN made it onto our best picks list.

Read PureVPN Review

CyberGhost VPN: Best VPN for Network Size

CyberGhost is best for businesses that prioritize fast and secure connections. It has over 7,300 servers in 131 locations across 91 countries.
Privacy isn't an afterthought with its NoSpy network of servers, which are super secure and speedy.
If you don't commit to at least an annual contract, the service can get expensive. What's more, you can only connect seven devices to the VPN at one time.

The size of a VPN provider's network matters a lot in performance. After all, the more servers it has, the fewer people are using each server at one time. That reduces the chances of slow internet connections, long buffering times, and dropped connections. CyberGhost fits the bill with more than 7,300 VPN servers, which is more than the other VPN providers we reviewed have. Those servers are in 131 locations, which is also important to performance and speed. The more spread out the servers are, the greater the chance you are near one, which means faster internet connections. CyberGhost's servers are located in 91 countries, including Romania – another bonus for privacy-focused business owners. Romania is where CyberGhost's NoSpy servers are located. They have enhanced security and privacy and quicker internet connections. Plus, they are out of the purview of prying eyes, since Romania isn't part of any intelligence-sharing alliances.

Editor's score: 8.5/10

CyberGhost's network size made it a top contender, but this isn't the only reason it's a best pick. We also like the add-ons it offers, such as a security suite for Windows, dedicated IPs, and a password manager. These features cost a little extra each month but give you more protection. Some of these add-ons, like the Windows Security Suite, are unique to CyberGhost.

Despite all the bells and whistles, CyberGhost is easy to install and use, which is a big plus in our book. You don't have time to worry about installing and running a complex platform. You want easy configurations and reliable connections, which you get from CyberGhost. For business owners who need both high performance and privacy, CyberGhost delivers.

Read CyberGhost VPN Review

Hotspot Shield: Best VPN for Streaming

Hotspot Shield is best for businesses that need fast internet connections for streaming. It has over 3,200 servers in 65 countries, consistently providing high speeds.
It uses the Hydra protocol to ensure fast and secure connections for streaming.
At $12.99 a month, Hotspot Shield is among the priciest VPN providers we reviewed, especially when you consider that you can only connect five devices simultaneously.

VPNs serve many purposes, and one is to stream content when you are out of the country or when an event is not broadcast where you live. At the same time, a good VPN gives you secure connections to your business data. Business owners who plan to meld business with pleasure need a VPN that gives them the best of both worlds: fast streaming with little buffering, and security that is above reproach. Hotspot Shield delivers on both fronts with its military-grade encryption and fast protocols.

Editor's score: 7.3/10

When choosing a VPN for streaming, you want one that has a large network of servers around the world. After all, the more servers there are, the less likelihood there is of crowding, which slows down your connection. Hotspot Shield checks off that box with a network of over 3,200 servers in more than 80 countries. Having so many servers in that many countries ensures you get high speeds when streaming your favorite shows, movies or live events – and when sharing files among staff.

Tests of Hotspot Shield have backed up its claims of high speeds, which is another reason it's our best pick for streaming. Sure, we trust Hotspot Shield's claims, but we like to see others confirm it. Another reason we like Hotspot Shield for streaming is that it uses the Hydra protocol to enhance its VPN servers. That ensures fast, secure connections whether you are streaming content, sharing files or playing a video game. While those are not work-specific functions, even the most dedicated business owner needs to relax sometimes – and when you choose Hotspot Shield, you can do it securely without giving up high performance.

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Surfshark: Best VPN for Multi-Hop Servers

Surfshark is best for businesses that want an extra level of security, as its data goes through two VPN servers.
With more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, Surfshark can offer secure, reliable and fast VPN connections.
If you do not sign up for a long-term contract, Surfshark is not cheap. It costs $12.95 per month, which is on the high end for the VPN providers we reviewed.

For some small business owners, privacy and security matter more than anything else – so they need a VPN provider that takes that seriously, going beyond 256-bit encryption to mask data so no one can ever track it. That's where multi-hop connections come in. A multi-hop VPN, otherwise known as a double VPN, sends your data through an extra layer of encryption. With a normal VPN connection, incoming and outgoing internet traffic goes through one VPN server. With a multi-hop VPN, your data is encrypted twice and sent through a VPN twice. This makes it even more difficult to trace online activity back to one user on a shared server, greatly increasing your privacy. Surfshark is among the few providers to offer a multi-hop VPN.

Editor's score: 8.7/10

With a multi-hop VPN, you get improved privacy online, the ability to mask your real location and, in some cases, faster internet. Another reason it's our best pick for multi-hop connections is its network of more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries. It also offers unlimited connected devices at one time, a bonus for small businesses with a lot of remote users. We also like that Surfshark backs up its zero-logging policy with an independent audit, showing it's serious about protecting users' privacy. 

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Pricing

The VPN market is large, and competition is fierce. There are price points for all small businesses, whether you want a barebones VPN or one with all the bells and whistles. The amount you'll pay monthly or annually depends on several factors, including the number of devices the VPN covers, the number of servers the VPN software connects to, and the length of the contract. For instance, business owners who sign a long-term contract will save more than those who pay monthly. Expect to pay anywhere from $4 to $13 a month for a business VPN.

Not all VPN services are created equal, so ask the right questions of your potential VPN provider to get the best deal:

  • How many devices can access the VPN per license?
  • Does the VPN keep logs of user activity online?
  • What level of encryption does the company employ?
  • Are there any usage limits or overage fees?
  • What are the company's commitments to user privacy (even if the information is requested by authorities)?
  • Where are the company's servers located?
  • What level of support can you expect from the company?

As always, if you subscribe to a plan on more than a month-to-month basis, you should closely review any contracts or legal documents before signing. Ensure the pricing is exactly what you've discussed with the provider and that all promised features will be available under the plan. Ask whether there are any cancellation fees, and ensure that it's easy to cut ties with the service if you are unhappy.

Buying Guide

What Is a Virtual Private Network?

A VPN is a type of software that creates a private network from a public internet connection. It hides a user's IP address so their online activity can't be traced. The connection is encrypted, which means that even if hackers get hold of your data, they won't be able to read it. It's the latter attribute that small business owners should care most about. Cyberattacks are on the rise, and hackers see small businesses as easy targets. A VPN provides an extra layer of protection against those attacks.

VPNs are also growing in popularity because of the new remote work environment brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees are logging on to company networks from remote locations, which increases the security risks. A VPN provides a secure and encrypted way for employees to access a small business's network.

VPNs come in consumer and business models, both of which offer paid and free versions. The key difference between consumer and business VPNs is the IP address. With a business VPN, you get a dedicated IP address and server. With a consumer version, the IP address is shared and changes every time you connect to the internet. Businesses tend to use VPNs to protect the privacy and security of the entire business; consumers often use a VPN to access a certain website or to surf the internet privately.

Bottom LineBottom line: Small business owners can no longer afford to ignore network security. With hackers waiting for their next prey on open Wi-Fi networks, a VPN can provide an extra layer of protection.

Benefits of VPNs

VPNs are becoming necessary as businesses embrace remote work and hackers adopt more sophisticated methods of infiltrating networks. But those aren't the only reasons a small business should consider using a VPN. Here's a look at all the benefits.

1. It boosts online security.

A big benefit of using a VPN in the workplace is enhanced internet security. A main way companies get hacked is through malware installed on websites. Employees unwittingly stumble upon it, click on the wrong thing, and boom, the network is infected. With a VPN, you can block and limit your employees' access to certain websites. This reduces the risk of a cyberattack, but it's important to review the pros and cons of a VPN before making a decision that impacts your entire business's security.

2. Your team can securely access data remotely.

A VPN enables your employees to securely access the network whether they are at home or in a coffee shop connected to public Wi-Fi. The VPN encrypts the data, adding another level of protection for remote workers. With an increasing number of employees working remotely, a VPN is an important level in the security stack.

3. You can browse international content.

Depending on your business, you and your employees may need access to websites outside of the U.S., some of which may be blocked by your internet service provider (ISP). With a VPN, your IP address is hidden, so you can access these international websites.

4. You can surf the web anonymously.

For business owners who care about privacy, a VPN is a great way to achieve it on the internet. VPNs mask your IP address, so your online activity can't be tracked. That makes it harder for hackers to infiltrate your company's network.

How to Choose a Business VPN

When selecting a VPN for your small business, you'll need to consider several factors, from the type of VPN to its security.

Step 1: Determine the type of VPN.

Within the types mentioned above (remote access, site-to-site and client-based VPNs), there are fixed, specialized and cloud VPNs. With a fixed VPN, you can connect an office to your main network. This type is popular among small business owners.

A specialized VPN requires you to have a server or router with a built-in VPN server feature. This type is typically used by larger businesses.

Cloud VPN services offer business owners a secure tunnel between the internet, device and server. They are cheap and easy to use but designed with consumers in mind. This type of VPN may be adequate if you are a solo entrepreneur, but for businesses with employees, VPN services in the cloud may lack all the features you need.

Step 2: See if it provides secure access.

The VPN you choose needs to provide top-notch security, enabling your staff to access your network securely wherever they may be. The level of security you require depends on your business size. If you have a lot of remote workers connecting to the network, it will require more protection than a VPN for a single user. Many VPNs offer malware protection as well. When comparing VPNs, inquire about the type of security each vendor uses.

Step 3: Decide the level of management you want.

Some VPN vendors will manage your encryption keys, while others leave it up to your company. Before selecting a service, you'll need to decide how hands-on you want to be. You'll also need to determine how much control you want over employees. Some VPNs offer more extensive management features than others.

Step 4: Determine the number of connections.

For businesses that need several connections simultaneously, it's important to choose a vendor that won't limit your business. Most VPN vendors cap the number of connections you can have at the same time, which can get expensive if you have a lot of employees. Some vendors – such as IPVanish, our best pick for value – offer unlimited connections.

Step 5: Gauge the customer support.

Access to support is important with any service, but especially when you rely on it to protect your business data from prying eyes. Support should be available by email and phone. Live chat support is also helpful, since it quickly connects you to customer representatives.

Also make sure you're dealing with a reputable vendor. Ask how long it has been in business and who its clients are. It should have a good rating with the Better Business Bureau and more positive online customer reviews than negative ones.

Bottom LineBottom line: The best VPN providers give you top-notch security, multiple simultaneous connections, and control over user access. They also tend to have great customer service and are easy to use.

VPN Features

Business VPN services are enormously flexible. Some VPNs are designed to link a handful of users to a shared network, while others are optimized to connect multiple networks across the globe. No single configuration is suitable for every VPN, which is why each one must be evaluated in relation to the intended use of the network. In general, enterprise VPN services are judged on three criteria: who will be connected, how they will connect, and the level of intervention required to manage their connection. With that in mind, here's a look at some key features of business VPNs.

Unlimited Bandwidth

Your bandwidth determines how quickly signals transfer from your computer to the VPN server and then to the website you're accessing. If the VPN offers unlimited bandwidth, pages load quickly and attachments, even large documents, send without lag time. Unlimited bandwidth also allows you to download content quickly, without slowing down your day-to-day business activities. VPNs across the board offer it, so don't choose one based on unlimited bandwidth alone – just expect it to be there.

Strong Encryption

Hackers want to steal your data and will go to great lengths to do that. But if it's encrypted, there's not much they can do with it. That's why it's important for your VPN to have solid encryption. Look for vendors that employ the OpenVPN, IKEv2 and/or WireGuard protocol.

OpenVPN is widely used in the industry because of its flexibility and security. It is an open-source protocol, so it is updated all the time. It hides data as it flows across the web. Mobile and Windows users should make sure their VPN relies on the IKEv2 (Internet Key Exchange version 2) protocol, which keeps your VPN secure in the event you lose your Wi-Fi connection. The WireGuard protocol improves the connection speeds and includes advanced security.

Dedicated Static IP Address

Unless you are a solo entrepreneur or freelancer, you'll want to consider a VPN that offers you a dedicated static IP address and server. A static VPN is designed to protect the entire network for businesses with multiple employees. The VPN makes it easy for you as the employer to monitor your team's activity and manage access to your business's network from one centralized location.

Authentication

The protocols a VPN incorporates determine the network's security level and ease of use. Remote access VPNs usually authenticate users through usernames and passwords, which makes it simple for anyone with login information to access the network from any location, while site-to-site VPNs use certificates preloaded onto the hardware.

Management Level

Another factor to consider is the level of control an internet VPN offers you and other administrators. Access levels on small networks are often configured for each person, though this becomes unwieldy as the network grows. Large networks use global management, in which a single administrator sets up the VPN service by assigning permission levels to groups of people without having to separately reconfigure each machine.

No-Logging Policy

Privacy is at the heart of VPNs, which is why many boast zero logging. That means they won't track and log your business's activity over the VPN. Other VPN providers do keep records and sell their users' data to third parties. Before selecting a VPN service that doesn't have a no-logging policy, find out what it logs and what it does with the information.

Kill Switch

Most VPNs offer a kill switch that protects your data in the event of a breach. This emergency function automatically kills your connection to the VPN, which prevents data from being transferred. If the vendor doesn't offer a kill switch, it should raise a red flag for you.

TipTip: Even though VPNs prevent third parties from snooping, some service providers do the snooping themselves. They will log your activity and, in some cases, sell it to third parties. If that matters to you, read the VPN's logging policy to find out what data it tracks and logs before you sign up.

How Do VPNs Work?

VPNs may seem complicated, but once you peel back all the jargon, they are easy to understand. A VPN routes your internet activity through its own servers, which improves security and disguises you online. VPNs use encryption technology to protect the data when it is being sent across a Wi-Fi network. Hackers know they can easily infiltrate a company's network if an employee is using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. When the data is encrypted, though, it is unreadable even if it falls into a hacker's hands.

VPN software also blocks your IP address so your online activity can't be traced. VPN providers typically have servers located across the globe, making it hard for anyone to determine where your business is located even if they access your web activity.

Tunneling

VPNs use tunneling to package and transfer information. Tunneling is when a secure internet connection is established between a server and a computer, smartphone or tablet. The information sent through the tunnel is first encrypted, then sent via the secure connection across the internet and unpacked on the other side. While this whole process occurs in the blink of an eye, it is a multistep procedure designed to protect your security.

The different methods VPNs use to tunnel and transfer your data are called protocols. Two of the most popular are PPTP and OpenVPN.

PPTP Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, or PPTP, is the most popular and widely used protocol. One of the advantages of PPTP is that it's cost-effective. However, its connections are not as stable as other tunnel protocols, so there is a slight chance your connection could be dropped or penetrated, making you less secure.

OpenVPN Another frequently used tunneling protocol is OpenVPN, which is open-source software used by companies like ExpressVPN. It mixes Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS) keys that connect you directly to the website you want to access and keep your data encrypted so hackers can't swipe it. OpenVPN also relies on advanced security features, such as user authentication via usernames, passwords, key codes and certificates. It is one of the most secure VPN protocols on the market; however, it is relatively expensive to run.

Bottom LineBottom line: VPNs protect your business data as it travels across the internet. Thanks to encryption, even if it falls into hackers' hands, there's nothing they can do with it.

Types of Business VPNs

These are some popular types of VPNs for business owners. The size of your business and the location of your employees will dictate which one makes the most sense for you.

Remote Access VPN

This type is best suited for small business owners who want employees to connect to the company network remotely, as it lets users access the network through a secure and encrypted connection. Remote access VPNs tend to be cheap, which is why they are the most popular choice among small business owners. These VPNs are designed with a single user in mind and may not be enough for larger businesses that have employees in multiple locations using the network at the same time.

Site-to-Site VPN

Otherwise known as router-to-router VPNs, site-to-site VPNs enable several networks to connect to each other securely. This VPN type is ideal for business owners who have multiple offices or a lot of employees connecting to the network remotely.

Client-Based VPN

Another popular option for single business users and remote workers is a client-based VPN. With this VPN, users can access the company network through an application installed on a computer or smartphone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does a small business need a VPN?

A small business does not need a VPN to operate, but it is helpful to prevent cyberattacks and enable employees to safely access business data online. That is particularly important in the current environment, where millions of workers are connecting to company networks remotely. With a VPN, a company can set employee access to the internet, which limits the risks of employees visiting malicious websites.

How do you set up a VPN for your small business?

A VPN is easy to implement. All you have to do is download the software onto the devices that connect to your business's network. The software is necessary to encrypt your data. During the initial installation, you'll have to configure your administrator settings, which the software walks you through.

Before you roll out the VPN companywide, test it on a handful of devices. Make sure the VPN software won't impact other software on the network.  Once you've implemented it, you can tweak the VPN settings if need be and manage employees' access.

How much does a small business VPN cost?

VPNs are very cheap. Some services are free, while paid options cost about $10 a month if you pay annually. Month-to-month payments are higher, around $6 to $12 a month.

What should I look for in a business VPN?

When you're shopping for a VPN, your budget and needs dictate which one you should select. For small business owners who have only one or two employees connecting to the network, a free service may suffice. For small business owners who have a lot of remote workers or want to control employees' online access, a paid service may be better. Look for ones that have top-notch security, allow several (or even unlimited) simultaneous connections, and don't log your activity. If you need a reliable internet connection to operate, 24/7 customer support is also extremely important.

Should I use a free business VPN?

It depends. To keep their services free, many of these VPN providers sell the data they collect on customers to third parties. That means they are tracking and recording your activities when you use the VPN. That may not matter to individual consumers, but it could be problematic for businesses. Free services may not have the same encryption and account management capabilities you get with the paid vendors either. You have to weigh your need for privacy against the cost when deciding between a free and paid VPN.

What to Expect in 2021

The VPN industry is rapidly ascending. As the demand for secure online communications and data transmission increases – a seemingly inevitable outcome as devices proliferate and access expands to more users – VPNs often find themselves answering the call. The result has been a quickly growing market that shows little sign of slowing down.

Million Insights estimates the global VPN market will reach $92 billion by the end of 2027, which is a compound annual growth rate of 17.4%. Mobile VPNs are growing as well; while this is a smaller sector of the industry, analysts anticipate the mobile market will reach $2.4 billion by 2022.

However, market analysts warn that VPNs face obstacles like high deployment costs and the need for technical knowledge, which might stunt growth. The largest VPN market is in North America, with adoption being driven by a large number of cyberattacks in the U.S. and Canada. Europe is the second largest market for VPNs, but the Asia-Pacific market is growing the fastest, thanks to the expansion of the manufacturing and service industry in China and throughout Asia.

Since the VPN market is extremely competitive, vendors are looking for ways to differentiate themselves. Some do it with speed, others with privacy. Most VPN providers claim to not collect and store data on customers' internet activities, but the location of their headquarters dictates how true that is. If they are in a country that is part of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, they may not have a choice. The countries in the Five Eyes alliance – the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand – agree to share intelligence with the government, including internet activities. VPN providers headquartered outside of those countries can't be forced to turn information over to authorities.  

The Five Eyes has sparked other alliances, such as the Nine Eyes – the Five Eyes countries plus Denmark, France, Norway and the Netherlands – and the 14 Eyes, which is those nine countries plus Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Sweden.  

Bottom LineBottom line: With so many employees connecting to networks remotely, VPNs are more important for businesses than ever before, so the industry will continue to grow.

Donna Fuscaldo
business.com Staff
Donna Fuscaldo is a senior finance writer at business.com and has more than two decades of experience writing about business borrowing, funding, and investing for publications including the Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones Newswires, Bankrate, Investopedia, Motley Fool, and Foxbusiness.com. Most recently she was a senior contributor at Forbes covering the intersection of money and technology before joining business.com. Donna has carved out a name for herself in the finance and small business markets, writing hundreds of business articles offering advice, insightful analysis, and groundbreaking coverage. Her areas of focus at business.com include business loans, accounting, and retirement benefits.
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