Web services have become so highly developed that you can run your entire business with online software, remote staff, and no offices. This revolution makes the world your business premises, but it also opens your enterprise up to threats.
A typical company used to operate out of a head office. Admin staff worked on PCs that were connected to central data servers over a local area network (LAN). Having everyone in the same building made security easy. Companies would hire security staff, issue passes so that office workers could get in and out, and have a network manager in charge of issuing logins and passwords to the network.
Cell phones and the internet changed all of that. Sales staff no longer need to return to the office to make appointments, prepare sales materials and bids, or have team meetings. Nowadays, sales and service staff can be out on the road all of the time. Reporting and meeting apps on their smartphones mean that management can keep in touch with a team that is constantly on the move.
In recent years, companies have realized that there is little point in tethering admin staff to desks in an office either. Why make the sales manager dress up, drive in and sit at a desk for eight hours in a building that has to be paid for, when all of the staff that she monitors are spread out around the country, or even the world?
Sole traders, startups and big businesses alike have come to realize that doing away with the office slashes costs and creates more time for productive, client-facing work. Now there are no desks, no security staff, and no network administrators. In fact, businesses can now operate entirely with cloud-based services delivered to phones and home-based laptops.
Virtual Private Networks
Companies no longer need servers, desktop computers, software installations, or desks. They don’t even need their own network, because the internet provides connectivity. However, a publicly-accessed network doesn’t have the same levels of security as a physically enclosed and entirely owned local area network.
The concept of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) gives you the same level of privacy over the internet that you get by communicating over your own infrastructure.
Your office network can now be instantly available wherever you go. You might fly off to a sales opportunity in Japan, or need to go to a convention in Miami. You can pick up the network on your smartphone while you are in the back of a taxi, and even connect to a proctor or an autocue when you give a presentation. However, don’t overlook security.
Now that you are building your appointments schedule while on the move, or putting together a report while feeding the baby in your bedroom, you probably find that you have less time for new projects than you used to have in the office.
Searching through all of the available VPN services to find one that is right for your business can be very time consuming. This is where this review can really help you out. First of all, think about the requirements you should prioritize for the perfect VPN service:
• Constant uptime
• Fast connections
• Total privacy
• A global network
• Value for money
• Ease of use
List of the Five Best VPNs for Business in 2017
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Best Business VPNs
ExpressVPN provides excellent customer support. Unless you run a tech startup, the chances are that your team knows very little about technology. That’s why choosing a well-supported, easy-to-use, self-installing service is so important. ExpressVPN has the largest number of servers around the globe of any VPN. That means that it is a good choice for businesses all over the world, not just those in the US and Europe. Those who travel to China on business will need the stealth technology that the company employs in order to get around the Great Firewall of China.
- 30-day money-back guarantee
- Easy to use, self-installing software
- Servers in 94+ countries
- Choice of protocols
- Three simultaneous connections
- A little pricey
When you investigate VyprVPN, you will see that there are two levels of service. Don’t be tempted by the Basic package, because it doesn’t have sufficient levels of security. Opt for the Premium service instead and enjoy other bonuses, too. VyprVPN includes free cloud storage in the Premium deal. Thus small businesses automatically have another service decision taken care of. The VPN has proprietary cloaking methods, which are essential if your business takes you to repressive countries such as China, Pakistan, or Iran, where internet access is restricted. Better still, the company offers a three-day free trial, so you can try it out before paying for the service. If you trade on Alibaba, then you probably have an Alipay account – you can pay for VyprVPN through this.
- Cloud storage included
- Chameleon cloaking technology
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Fast speeds
- Three-day free trial
- Does not support P2P
- Keeps some connection logs
IPVanish was custom-built as a VPN network. Many VPN companies put together their server networks by contracting in service providers – IPVanish doesn’t do this. It even has its own physical cable network, to strengthen security and improve speeds. The company is based in the United States, so they offer US standards of customer support. The service will allocate you a temporary Internet Protocol (IP) address and switch it every 45 minutes. This is a great feature if you want to avoid detection.
- IP switching feature
- Up to five simultaneous connections
- 750+ servers in 60 countries
- Reliable service
- Great customer service
- Based in the US
Buffered has a smaller server network than the others on the list, so check on locations and make sure they cover all the places you want to go. If you are rooted in one country, then you will be very well served by this VPN. Buffered used a “mobile first” strategy when designing its interface. That means that it wrote the smartphone app first, and then adapted it for larger screens. The result is a very easy-to-use interface, which is also pleasant to look at. Mobile users won’t end up squinting at tiny text, or scrolling all the time to use the service. Travelling staff will also love the Port Discovery feature, which gets around the payment locks on WiFi hotspots in hotels and at transport hubs.
- Easy to use
- Fast speeds
- P2P permitted
- Servers in 37+ countries
- Five simultaneous connections
- No Linux version
VPNArea is the cheapest service on this list, but it still offers high quality protection. The company is owned by a techie, which is important in the ever-changing world of internet security. VPNs have to keep developing in order to trounce hackers and evade detection from repressive regimes, so a good development budget is an important feature of a VPN service. The company has servers in 60 countries and provides a range of VPN protocols – this is important for those who expect to travel to China. The interface is a little more complicated than services such as Buffered. The app has menu options and tabs that offer the technically minded opportunities to manage its security features.
- Servers in 68+ countries
- Great security features
- Multiple protocols
- Low prices
- On-demand speed test to aid server selection
- Not the fastest VPN on the list
VPN for Business: Considerations
As well as security, VPNs bring you another bonus – anonymity. If you run your own website, then you probably realize that the IP address of every visitor to a site is logged. That means you can be identified when you visit websites. VPNs prevent that from happening.
Anonymity gives you the ability to sneakily check out the sites of your competitors, and even chat online to sales staff without them realizing who you are.
Although the logical way to implement VPNs for your staff is to take out a separate subscription for each worker, there is a strategy that you could use to reduce costs. All of the services in our list offer five or six simultaneous connections, so you can share out each subscription between several members of staff and devices.
From an accounting perspective, VPN services do present a bit of a problem, because none of them will bill you retrospectively: you have to pay for your service up front. All of the VPNs in the list offer monthly billing, but those plans always work out more expensive. Whether you take a monthly plan or opt for longer subscriptions, you will have to treat it as a prepayment on the books.
VPN for Business: Conclusions
VPNs are becoming essential security services for businesses. This situation is developing as a result of increased government blocks and internet restrictions – which aren’t only applied in repressive countries.
You now have the ability to use the internet as your private office network. So there is nothing stopping you from getting out there and winning business from all over the world, supported by a team of home-based staff.