A small business can be the accountant who does your taxes, the insurance agent down the block or the information technology firm made up of 30 IT professionals that fix the things that go wrong with your network.
Small businesses need to remain competitive with their larger brethren in order to attract and keep customers. In order to do this, they need to keep costs down, while still requiring access to files, apps and other vital aspects of their day-to-day operations.
Many small businesses do not have the financial resources to set up their own servers for apps, file storage and databases. Many of these firms use peer-to-peer file sharing to transfer files between employees. Security is a top concern for all of these activities.
A VPN offers small business users the ability to use an encrypted connection to securely access online resources, protecting their own – and their customers’ – sensitive data from prying eyes.
While file sharing is a valid need for businesses, Internet Service Providers sometimes block peer-to-peer file sharing due to its use by many to share copyrighted content. A VPN encrypts a user’s connection, hiding P2P sharing, ensuring that it isn’t blocked.
VPNs also allow users to access information in other parts of the world that might normally be blocked by geographical restrictions placed by content owners or government agencies.
When businesses have employees on the road, visiting customers or working off-site for other reasons, a VPN offers an encrypted connection to much-needed online resources. For many small businesses, their “home office” is the nearest Starbucks. A VPN keeps their Wi-Fi hotspot internet connection at the coffee shop safe from prying eyes.
Here are the 5 best VPNs for use by small businesses.
Best VPNs for Small Businesses
I ran my usual group of VPN providers through a battery of rigorous tests. The results proved these 5 VPNs provide the best features for use by small businesses. Here’s a summary:
- ExpressVPN: This provider is the best choice for small business owners looking for optimal online protection for its employees. Its fast connection speeds are perfect for file sharing and other online-intensive tasks. The provider’s security and privacy protections are second to none.
- NordVPN: This provider’s reasonable price makes it an excellent selection for small businesses being run on a shoestring. The provider offers an extensive global server network, allows P2P file sharing on many of those servers and offers excellent security and privacy for its users.
- CyberGhost: This is another bargain-priced provider. It also has the attraction of being easy to install and use, so small businesses with users who might not be so tech-savvy will appreciate its simplicity. Fast connections help keep things moving when updating files on the road.
- IPVanish: Allows P2P activity on all of its servers, making it an optimal solution for businesses with a mobile workforce. The provider’s well-encrypted connections keep your workforce safe when connecting from the road.
- PrivateVPN: A recent addition to the VPN scene, PrivateVPN has quickly gained a reputation for reliable protected internet access. Fast speeds make it easy to conduct business while keeping important business-related information protected.
I evaluated and ranked the top small business VPNs using the following criteria:
- Global server network
- Allows P2P traffic on at least some servers
- Connection speeds
- Strength of privacy and security protections
- Multi-platform support
- Concurrent connections allowance
- Customer support
Here’s my list of the top 5 VPNs to enhance and protect your streaming sessions.
ExpressVPN is the #1 choice for protecting the connections of small business users. The provider’s fast connection speeds, comprehensive security and P2P-enabled global server network make it #1.
The provider’s global server network is made up of over 3,000 servers, stationed in 94 countries. P2P file-sharing is allowed on all servers.
ExpressVPN’s connection speeds, the fastest around according to our latest round of tests, provide plenty of speed for file sharing, connecting to file and application servers, video conferencing and much more. The provider doesn’t place any monthly data caps or bandwidth restrictions on their customers’ accounts.
Military-level encryption protects all users’ internet connections, and privacy is also well-protected thanks to the provider’s strict no-logs policy and Bitcoin subscription payment option.
While large corporations may have the money to provide the same model desktop and mobile devices for everyone on the staff, many small businesses keep costs down by encouraging a “bring your own device” policy. This can lead to a variety of devices being used. This makes multi-platform support an important consideration for any VPN.
ExpressVPN’s multi-platform support offers native apps for the Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Linux and Amazon Fire TV device platforms. Chrome and Firefox browser extensions are also available.
For devices not on the above list, or for businesses that require more than 5 simultaneous connections, the provider is compatible with numerous makes and models of routers, making it easy to protect all of the devices in your office via one point of access. Pre-configured routers are available.
Customer support is handled by 24/7 support chat, email support, a trouble ticket system and a searchable support and troubleshooting library.
- Connection speeds easily handle online business activities
- Excellent multi-platform app support
- Top-notch security and privacy protections
- Wide-ranging global server network
- Allows P2P file-sharing on entire server network
- Priced higher than other VPN providers
BEST VPN FOR SMALL BUSINESS:ExpressVPN is my top choice to enhance and protect your small business’ online activities. Fast and reliable connections ensure you can get your business done online, and the provider’s excellent security and privacy protections keep your business information safe from outsiders. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read my full review of ExpressVPN.
NordVPN is the best VPN option for small business owners operating on a shoestring thanks to its low subscription price. The provider delivers champagne service on a beer-bottle budget.
NordVPN’s global server coverage consists of 5,200 servers, stationed in 60 countries, providing plenty of access to services and websites that you might not normally have access to.
Peer-to-peer file sharing is available on the provider’s servers. However, P2P traffic is limited to a select number of servers. If you engage in P2P activity on a non-P2P server, your traffic will automatically be routed to a server in Canada or The Netherlands.
NordVPN’s connection speeds are the slowest in the top 5, but they are more than sufficient for business-related activities. No data caps or bandwidth limitations are ever imposed.
Privacy and security are well covered here thanks to military-grade encryption and kill switch protection. Your privacy is also well covered by the provider’s strict no-logs policy and its acceptance of Bitcoin for subscription payments.
App support isn’t a worry when you’re protecting your devices with NordVPN thanks to apps for the Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Linux and Android TV device platforms.
While NordVPN’s 6 simultaneous connection allowance may be fine for many small businesses, larger firms can use the provider’s excellent router support to protect all of their devices at once. (Pre-configured routers are available.)
The more users, the better the chance you’ll have device or software issues, so NordVPN’s 24/7 customer support is always there for you. 24/7 live support chat, email support and a searchable support library are always available.
- Plenty of servers around the globe
- Allows P2P activity
- Plenty of app support
- Excellent privacy and security coverage
- Apps could be more user-friendly
BEST FOR BUDGET-MINDED BUSINESS OWNERS:NordVPN is an excellent option for small business owners looking for a reasonably-priced way to offer top-notch online security for their employees’ internet activities. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of NordVPN.
CyberGhost is the best option for small business users who might not have much experience with VPNs. The provider’s easy-to-use, yet powerful software ensures even rookie owners have top-notch VPN protection.
The provider boasts a global server network that includes over 3,900 servers in 60 countries. The provider limits P2P traffic to a select number of servers (in around 25 countries).
CyberGhost offers the 4th-fastest download speeds in this roundup (missing 3rd place by a mere 0.34 Mbps behind 3rd-place speedster PrivateVPN), offering plenty of horsepower for any business-related online activity.
No need to worry about having your VPN connection shut down in the middle of a Skype conference call thanks to the provider’s lack of data caps and bandwidth limitations.
Those connections keep your online activities undercover thanks to government-tier encryption, as well as kill switch protection. Privacy isn’t an issue, as the provider keeps no logs of any kind, and accepts Bitcoin, offering the option to keep your payment information completely incognito.
Easy-to-use apps are available for Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Linux, Amazon Fire TV and Android TV devices. While 7 simultaneous connections may be sufficient for many small businesses’ needs, the provider is also compatible with numerous router makes and models. (Pre-configured routers are available from FlashRouters.com.)
Live support chat, a searchable support library, and a support ticket submission and tracking system are available in your time of need.
- Servers cover the globe
- Fast connection speeds
- Perfect for beginners
- Excellent privacy and security protections
- Apps lack options preferred by advanced users
BEST FOR BEGINNERS:Many business users might not have much experience with VPNs, and CyberGhost is the best choice on this list for users who are new to VPNs. Easy, one-click connections make it simple for users to protect their online activities. 45-day, no-risk money-back guarantee.
Read my full review of CyberGhost.
IPVanish is an optimal choice for business users looking for a VPN that delivers security features not available from other VPNs.
The provider delivers above-average global server coverage, with more than 1,300 servers in 50+ countries around the globe. Every server in the network supports P2P file sharing.
IPVanish’s server network is where the extra layer of security and privacy comes in, thanks to its owning and operating every server in its network, ensuring that no third-party contractors have access to your precious information.
IPVanish’s connection speeds can easily handle audio and video conferencing, file downloads, and any online app or service you throw at it. The provider imposes no data caps or bandwidth restrictions to get in the way of the business of business.
In addition to owning and operating all of its servers, the connections that this provider offers deliver protection with government-degree encryption and kill switch protection. Meanwhile, a strict no-logs policy means there are no records to be exposed when it comes to your online travels. Unfortunately, the provider lacks a Bitcoin payment option.
IPVanish has all of the major device platforms covered, with apps for the Windows, iOS, macOS, Android, Linux and Amazon Fire TV platforms present and accounted for.
A generous 10 simultaneous connection allotment should be enough for many small businesses, but the service’s comprehensive router compatibility is there if you need it. (Pre-configured routers are available.)
Customer support is always available via IPVanish’s 24/7 live chat feature. Email support is also available, or do-it-yourselfers can search for answers in the provider’s support library.
- Optimal security and privacy
- Owns and operates entire VPN server network
- Excellent native app and customer support
- Offers only a 7-day money-back guarantee
- No cryptocurrency payment option
HIGHLY SECURE:IPVanish keeps things well undercover thanks to its optimal privacy and security precautions, which include owning and operating their entire server network. Fast download speeds and optimal app and customer support round out an attractive package. Offers only a 7-day money-back guarantee.
Read my full review of IPVanish.
PrivateVPN bills itself as “The Fastest Growing VPN Worldwide.” Hopefully that means they’ll be adding more servers soon, as the provider’s current global server coverage is a bit lacking.
While the provider has only 150+ servers available, they are well placed (if stretched a bit thin) in 60 countries around the globe. P2P file sharing is allowed on all PrivateVPN servers.
The provider’s download speeds are the 3rd-fastest in this list of 5, just beating out former speed king CyberGhost by less than a single Mbps. No data caps or bandwidth restrictions will get in the way of doing business online.
PrivateVPN protects their customers’ connections using military-level encryption. On the privacy side of things, the provider keeps no logs on their servers, and they accept Bitcoin if you’re looking to keep your payment records completely anonymous.
The provider’s native app support is limited to the Windows, iOS, macOS and Android platforms. However, that should cover the needs of most businesses. For protecting other devices, or for protecting more than 6 devices at one time, you can take advantage of PrivateVPN’s router compatibility feature.
While PrivateVPN claims live support chat is available 24/7, it seems to be staffed at random times. However, a “Contact Us” form is always available, as is the provider’s FAQ section, although it isn’t searchable.
- Fast download speeds
- Up to 6 simultaneous connections
- P2P file sharing on all servers
- Servers are spread a bit thin
- Lacks searchable support library
LOW PRICE/HIGH SPEED:PrivateVPN offers fast, well-protected VPN connections for a low price. The service’s app offers a wealth of options for experienced VPN users who don’t require much support. A 30-day money-back guarantee is available.
Read my full review of PrivateVPN.
How to Protect Your Business-Related Activities With a VPN
Enhancing and protecting your internet-related business activities with a VPN is easy:
- Subscribe to a VPN.
- Install the VPN’s app(s) on your employees’ device(s).
- Log into the app to enable VPN protection.
- Select a VPN server.
- Start your workday!
Is a Free VPN a Good Option For Protecting My Small Business?
No, and I’ll tell you why.
The hidden costs and “features” of free VPNs are not conducive to doing business successfully in the internet age.
Freebie VPN providers are known to throttle their users’ connections, slowing their download speeds. They also usually place daily or monthly data caps on their users’ connections. You do not want to be bumping up against a data cap when you’re trying to conduct business.
In addition to the above restrictions, “free” VPNs are known to have hidden costs. Most of those costs relate to your online privacy. Privacy is of utmost importance when it comes to conducting business online.
Many sans-cost VPNs are known to track their users’ online travels, save the information, and then sell it to the highest bidder. That highest bidder could be an advertiser, or it could be a competitor.
Other free VPNs insert unwanted tracking cookies and advertisements into a user’s web browsing sessions. Again, not good.
When your business is online, the “Private” part of “Virtual Private Network” is of utmost importance. That’s just not there when using a “free” VPN provider.
Small business owners who are searching for the best way to keep their business-related internet activities safe from observation and theft are strongly recommended to subscribe to a Virtual Private Network service.
A VPN provides the best protection available, keeping your business-related information safe from prying eyes, while enhancing your employees’ online activities.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for all-around business use, providing comprehensive global server coverage, P2P activity on all servers, fast connection speeds and top-notch privacy and security protections. Throw in optimal native app support and 24/7 customer support, and you have the best VPN for your small business.
For more information or to purchase a subscription, visit the ExpressVPN website.