VPN or SSH tunnelling service checklist
2. Data transfer: Find out about the VPN or SSH tunnelling service data transfer maximum allowance and make sure it suits your needs. Also make sure they allow things like bit torrent if you intend to use it.
3. Jurisdiction: Choose a VPN or SSH tunnelling provider located somewhere outside of the jurisdiction from the corrupt Government you believe can get most pissed off or most likely to go after you due to your internet downloading/uploading activities.
Assuming that exists, choose a VPN or SSH tunnelling provider located somewhere with strong privacy laws.
4. IP blocking: Some services like Hulu block USA IPs they believe belong to a proxy service, make sure your VPN IP is not blocked by the websites you want to access.
IRC networks also blocks VPNs if these have been used in the past to abuse them.
5. Compatibility: Make sure the VPN or SSH tunnelling provider will work on your Windows 64 bit, Linux, iPhone or whatever OS you happen to be using.
VPN logging policy and anonymous internet surfing
Some VPN providers claim they do not to keep any logs, others claim they keep logs for thirty days, others refuse to disclosed their logs policy, consider all the public logs policy of a VPN as bullshit.
You have no way of knowing if a single hop proxy keeps logs or it does not. If you fall for a false sense of privacy and security you will pay the consequences.
Always assume the logs are stored for a year and they can be retrieved, be very careful with what anti government propaganda you post and all of your blogging activities.
A VPN is for privacy, not anonymity. If you are into serious business use tor.
What VPN or SSH tunnelling can do for you
A VPN will stop your ISP from logging your activities and will bypass their wrongly named child porn internet filters.
A VPN will give extra work to anyone on the intent to find out your real computer IP. They will have to spend more time and more money tracking you down, unless they want you badly, and depending on how hard it is to find you, they may as well give up.
Internet Service Providers filtering the internet are powerless against someone who is using an offfshore VPN for internet surfing.
The UK Internet Watch Foundation list of banned websites for example, is totally useless against someone accessing the internet through a VPN. If they add a Wikipedia webpage again to their list of banned sites, you will be able to access it.
My personal experience using VPN
During the past years I have used various Virtual Private Network and SSH tunnelling providers in order to stop my ISP logging my internet activities, data retention, and bypass the filtering of websites.
Something I have learned is that conditions such as speed and reliability keep changing, a VPN that works great today may go down, have its IP blacklisted or be very slow the next month.
Small VPN providers also tend to go out of business, I recommend you do not pay a year in advance to a small VPN provider, avoid the discount temptation unless it is a company you trust and you believe is here to stay.
Another good reason to avoid paying a full year in advance is that VPN customer service is more likely to reply to support emails. We all know how many support emails go answered nowadays.