Your VPN provider may also take note of your real IP address as well as the date and time you connected and disconnected from their server. Anyone with access to both pieces of data (unlikely but a government could access it) could potentially cross-reference them to show that it was you who visited a specific site.

Two popular VPN providers in Australia with explicit ‘no logs’ policies are NordVPN and Private Internet Access. However, if you need true anonymity because you are apolitical activist, journalist or whistle blower, using a specialist browser,such as Tor, may be more appropriate. This offers greater anonymity but can dramatically slow your connection speed.

Free VPN Apps – never use them

Free VPNs may be tempting but, as has as we have said you can’t trust them! With often substandard privacy policies, opaque logging procedures and hidden ownership, they are not worth the risk.

Ultimately, when you choose a VPN provider to protect your privacy, you are putting your data in their hands. Although they are generally more secure and less intrusive than your ISP, it’s worth being aware that this doesn’t mean that your digital data suddenly disappears.

GadgetGuy’s take:

Do not use a free VPN ever – a paid one provides peace of mind.

A VPN is the perfect piece of software to help enhance your security online and protect your online data from the intrusive gaze of your Internet Service Provider. Additionally, many of the most popular VPN providers still allow you to access otherwise restricted content and will keep you considerably safer online. 

That’s not to say that a VPN will keep you safe from all the threats online. Also, not all VPN providers offer the same level of protection, so it’s essential that you investigate logging policies, privacy policies and connection speeds before you decide.

Thanks to Samuel Woodhams from Top10VPN for providing the background material for this article. Sam and the team specialise in VPN testing and objectively rating them.