Bandersnatch is an interactive Black Mirror movie – and it’s now on Netflix

Update: Bandersnatch is now available on Netflix, though it seems to be more than your usual Netflix movie. 

An interactive adventure that puts the viewer in control of key decisions throughout the film, with various routes the film can travel through, Bandersnatch is a natural evolution of Black Mirror’s paranoid depictions of technology – as well as Netflix’s growing interest in interactive media on its streaming platform, such as Minecraft: Story Mode.

For the Bandersnatch trailer, and our original article on the film’s announcement, read on below…

Has Netflix won the battle for top Christmas TV this year? It’s looking likely – first it rolled out the charming Kurt Russel-starring ‘The Christmas Chronicles’ and now this – the first feature-length Black Mirror movie.

Netflix has just revealed the trailer for Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, as well as some bombshell news – it’ll be hitting the streaming service in just a day’s time on December 28, 2018.

Here’s that trailer in all its glory…

What is Bandersnatch?

For the uninitiated, Black Mirror is a series of standalone TV shows, each (usually) focussing on a dystopian vision of where technology, if abused, could lead us. 

Created by former games journalist Charlie Brooker, Black Mirror has become must-watch TV over the past decade, with Netflix recently acquiring the exclusive rights to future episodes of the show.

With the might of Netflix’s budget behind it, Black Mirror: Bandersnatch looks like the most ambitious undertaking for the series to date. While the trailer doesn’t reveal all the special’s secrets, it appears to focus around a troubled video game developer in 1980s Britain, whose creation looks to take on a life of its own.

That is… we think that’s what’s happening. With Black Mirror, as the series’ title suggests, all is never quite what it seems. We’ll look forward to seeing exactly what’s in store for us when Bandersnatch releases imminently. 

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Best free web hosting of 2019

Best free web hosting

The costs of setting up and maintaining a website can add up quickly, so picking the best free website hosting provider for your needs can help cut costs, and this list of the top-rated service providers out there will hopefully help you make the right choice.

Designing, developing and maintaining a website all need an outlay of one sort, so it’s important to minimise expenditure where they can; which is one reason why website builders have grown in popularity over the past few years.

Web hosting is one area where costs can easily grow, as hosting packages are generally sold with monthly billing. There are a (dwindling) number of providers that offer free web hosting, however, and whilst such packages will not be suitable for most businesses, others have a great opportunity to try new things before scaling website projects.

Below is a selection of the best free web hosting available to everyone and since they are all free, nothing prevents you from trying all of them.

Inmotion Hosting is the best web hosting right now

We have reviewed dozens of web hosting services, both free and paid and our top recommendation right now is Inmotion Hosting. Whether your looking for a business hosting, shared hosting or WordPress hosting, Inmotion Hosting delivers the sort of expert knowledge, bespoke support and balanced price that you can expect from a boutique web hosting provider.

Infinityfree is one of the few providers that offer unlimited bandwidth and storage

Infinityfree is one of the few providers that offer unlimited bandwidth and storage

1. Infinityfree

One of the most popular hosting services

Unlimited storage/bandwidth
400 MySQL databases
Average load times

In the world of free website hosting, Infinityfree stands out for good reasons. It has a well designed website that makes a positive impression and ticks the right boxes for us. Its homepage gets a C performance grade in our load time test but other than that, it looks pretty solid.

It has been in the business for over six years, claims to have 200,000 users and offers unlimited disk space and bandwidth (albeit with a very generous 50,000 daily hits). You can host as many domains as you want but you will only get 10 e-email accounts and one FTP to upload your content.

There is no hidden fees and despite its free status, you will get a 99.9% uptime guarantee (although you are more or less on your own if your site goes down) and the popular Softaculous Script installer. (with more than 400 applications. 

We were surprised to see that its features list include 400 MySQL databases (where others give only a handful, if at all), a free DNS service, free SSL and free Cloudflare CDN.

As expected Infinityfree offers a cheap paid for hosting (Infinityfree Ultimate Premium) that offers unlimited everything for $5.90 per month, worth an upgrade as you will also get access to CloudFlare Railgun, which cuts load times significantly.

FreeHostia

2. Freehostia

A good alternative with great support

Bandwidth: 6GB | Disk Space: 250MB | Ads: No | Panel: Elefante | MySQL Databases: 1 | Website: 1 | E-mail accounts: 3 | Domain hosting: yes | FTP: No

Good server speeds
Excellent support
Interface can be a bit clumsy

Freehostia offers a number of different hosting tariffs with outlandish names like Lovebeat, Wildhoney and Supernatural. Its free plan, Chocolate, gives users 250MB disk space, 6GB bandwidth each month, PHP & MySQL compatibility and 3 POP3/IMAP email accounts. Server uptime is guaranteed at 99.9% and 24/7 user support is provided should any problems arise.

It even offers a surprisingly good 1-hour ticket/email response promise. Joomla, WordPress, phpBB and other PHP scripts can be installed with one-click using Freehostia’s Elefante Installer and upgrading to any of the paid premium packages can also be done in one-click, should users outgrow the free plan.

5gbfree

3. 5GBfree

A decent free web hosting offer

Good server speeds
Nice starting amount of space and bandwidth

As you would expect, 5GBfree provides 5GB of free hosting space to users along with 20GB of monthly bandwidth, 3 MySQL Databases and PHP scripting.

There’s no email included in the package, but the company is proud of the technology it offers, claiming, “At any other hosting company, you could be paying between $15 and $20 a month for the same cutting edge software (including the revolutionary CloudLinux operating system!), hardware, and security certifications.”

Support is provided in forums via the 5GBfree community and users who require expert phone support can upgrade to the Pro version, which costs $2.95 per month and offers both unlimited disc space and bandwidth.

FreeHosting.com

4. FreeHosting.com

Offers plenty of server space and bandwidth

Bandwidth: Unmetered | Disk Space: 10GB | Ads: No | Panel: Cpanel | MySQL Databases: 1 | Website: 1 | E-mail accounts: 1 | Domain hosting: yes | FTP: Yes

Unmetered bandwidth
10GB disk space
Some limitations to free service

Of the free hosting providers convered in this article, Freehosting.com is the biggest hitter in terms of bandwidth since it’s unlimited, and you just need to make sure you follow their Fair Use Policy. The service also includes 10GB of server space and one email account. For users without a domain name, free subdomains are also offered, such as freesubdomain.freehosting.com.

Paid package is also available, offering unlimited disk space and monthly transfer as well as unlimited email accounts. Freehosting is also one of the few to actively encourage using the hosting service to backup your important files (e.g one 10GB ZIP file), great as it doesn’t have a limit for file sizes.

ByeHost

5. Byethost

Quick and easy hosting

Bandwidth: 50GB | Disk Space: 1GB | Ads: No | Panel: Cpanel | MySQL Databases: 5 | Website: 1 | E-mail accounts: 5 | Domain hosting: yes | FTP: Yes

Good support
Easy to use
Very limited server space

Byethost is part of Byet Internet, a US-based provider of hosting, domain name and reseller services. With more than one million websites hosted, It claims that its free hosting service is, “one of the most powerful networks dedicated solely to free hosting in the world.”

Users are given 1GB of server space (although, as of late, it looks like this has been changed to unlimited), 50GB of monthly bandwidth and MySQL / PHP compatibility. They also benefit from 24/7 tech support and access to Byethost’s community and knowledge base. And if you are ever interested in becoming a free web hosting provider yourself, Byethost operates a separate entity, myownfreehost, that allows you to do just that.

ByeHos

6. Awardspace

Simple and free

Bandwidth: 5GB | Disk Space: 1GB | Ads: No | Panel: Proprietary | MySQL Databases: 1 | Website: 1 | E-mail accounts: 1 | Domain hosting: Yes | FTP: Yes:

Easy to use
Decent support
Limited server space

For businesses that want free hosting with green credentials, Awardspace provides a solution. It offers CO2-neutral hosting with all of its servers running on wind-generated electricity. Its free plan provides 1GB of storage (a 15MB upload file size limit), 5GB of bandwidth per month and up to five MySQL databases. One associated email account is also included.

Users have access to online documentation and 24/7 support should any issues arise. Live chat is also available for pre-sales queries. Worth noting that the servers of Awardspace are located in Kiel, Germany, rather than in the US and house more than one million websites. There’s a nifty test hosting speed service that allows you to check the transfer speed in a live environment.

ByeHosAwardspace

7. FreeHostingEU

European hosting

Bandwidth: 4GB | Disk Space: 200MB | Ads: No | Panel: Proprietary | MySQL Databases: 1 | Website: 1 | E-mail accounts: 1 | Domain hosting: Yes | FTP: Yes

30MB database storage
Choice of domain names
Low disk space

FreeHostingEU is a joint project set up and run by FreeDomain.co.nr and AttractSoft GmbH. Yes, Germans are at the forefront of free web hosting in Europe. Three hosting tariffs are offered – two paid and one free.

The free package provides 200MB of space, 4GB of bandwidth per month and one associated email account. Five free domains at .eu5.net are also included but they are likely to be of little use for most UK businesses. Also, you get three free web site builders.

For users of WordPress and Joomla, one-click installation is provided and languages supported are PHP, MySQL, CGI, Perl, Flash. Worryingly though, the user forums have been closed until further notice.

UHostFull

8. U Host Full

Easy to use, with plenty of bandwidth

Bandwidth: Unlimited | Disk Space: Unlimited | Ads: No | Panel: Proprietary | MySQL Databases: 2 | Website: 1 | E-mail accounts: 2 | Domain hosting: Yes | FTP: Yes

Easy to use
Unlimited bandwidth and disk space
Dated interface

For businesses that are looking for hosting that is quick and simple to setup, U Host Full promises the ability to setup a site within five minutes.It also provides a host on one-click installers for platforms including WordPress, Joomla, phpBB, Mambo, osCommerce and Zen Cart.

Uptime is guaranteed at 99% with unlimited server space provided and unlimited bandwidth per month. Email is also included. Now we don’t know what the catch is but it is definitely one of the better deals out there especially since it doesn’t have any adverts.

Note that there doesn’t seem to be any limit to the size of the files uploaded which is a pleasant surprise.

Free Hosting No Ads

9. Free Web Hosting No Ads

A straightforward hosting service

Bandwidth: 5GB | Disk Space: 1GB | Ads: No | Panel: Cpanel | MySQL Databases: 3 | Website: 1 | E-mail accounts: 3 | Domain hosting: Yes | FTP: Yes

Good PHP hosting with three available versions
3 email accounts
Promotional email messages

All of the free hosting options included in this article are ad-free, with revenue generated by other means. Free Hosting No Ads celebrates this more than others, but still offers a solid free hosting deal with 1GB of disk space.

The deal also includes 5GB of monthly bandwidth and three POP email accounts. Three PHP versions are supported (5.2-5.4) and three MySQL databases are also included. As expected, the free service is subsidised by the paid-for service.

Just note this though… “FreeHostingNoAds.net reserves a right to send 1 promotional email message every 6 months that can promote our affiliate products.” You may however unsubscribe from the marketing marketing list.

Freevirtualservers

10. Free Virtual Servers

Comes with a website builder

Bandwidth: 200MB | Disk Space: 100MB | Ads: No | Panel: Cpanel | MySQL Databases: 1 | Website: 1 | E-mail accounts: 1 | Domain hosting: Yes | FTP: Yes

Free website builder
Choice of 3 free webmail platforms 
Low on bandwidth

Free Virtual Servers is another free web hosting platform with an impressively straight-talking name. Signing up to the free web hosting service will get you a decent amount of server space – 100MB – which should be enough unless you have a very image-heavy site, and most of the usual features we’ve come to expect from free web hosting services. Bandwidth is a bit on the tight side, however, with just 200MB, which is enough for small, simple websites, but if your site starts getting popular, you may have to think about upgrading.

Also worth looking at

Why do web hosting companies offer free hosting?

Free web hosting should be seen as a marketing tool which means that terms and conditions may be changed frequently and since there is no financial transaction, downtimes may be more frequent as SLA (service level agreements) are non-existent.

Free web hosting comes with a number of limitations of course. Server space, site speed, traffic, uptime guarantees and backup provision are all features that are often curtailed, but that’s not to say that good cheap hosting isn’t available.

Bear in mind that free web hosting exists because it allows companies to upsell more expensive web hosting to those who may need it.

You might also want to check out our other website hosting buying guides:

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Best Linux web hosting services of 2019

Best Linux web hosting services

Linux hosting is everywhere. Whether you’re looking for a simple shared website hosting account or a powerful dedicated server, the chances are that you’ll be offered a Linux-based option first.

In many cases, you might not care. If your hosting needs are simple, you’ll probably choose an account based on the allocated web space, bandwidth and similar features – the operating system is so far down most people’s priority list that often it’s not even mentioned in comparison tables.

But if you’re an experienced user, know more about Linux, or you perhaps need to build a technically complex website where you have full control over everything, it’s a different story.

You might want to choose your preferred distro or control panel. You could need more control over the server and its components. Hosts may throw in all kinds of goodies to get you started – a firewall, mail server, private DNS – and offer quality support to keep your site up and running.

Every web host has its own idea of what makes a great Linux package, but we’ve listed five of our favorite providers to point you in the right direction. Keep reading to find out more.

1. InMotion Hosting

Fast and feature-packed hosting from a reliable provider

Professional features 
Excellent support

InMotion Hosting is a professional Linux web host which delivers high levels of power and control right across its range.

InMotion’s shared hosting includes many beginner-friendly features, for example – free website migration, a bundled website builder, regular backups – but that’s just the start. More experienced users will be happy to see support for MySQL and PostreSQL databases, PHP 7, Ruby, Perl and Python, SSH access and more.

There are interesting touches wherever you look. You don’t just get the option to have WordPress, PrestaShop or Joomla preinstalled, for instance – InMotion throws in WP-CLI to enable managing multiple WordPress installations from the command line. It’s a far more capable product than you might expect, considering prices start at $5.99 (£4.30) a month for the two-year plan.

It’s a similar story as you upgrade. Optional self-managed VPS hosting – from $19.99 (£14.30) a month for the initial term – gives you a choice of OS and a firewall, but after that, you’re able to install, optimize and configure the server however you like. Even InMotion’s managed VPS hosting still gives you root access for considerable low-level control.

For the operating system, you get to choose from CentOS, Ubuntu or Debian. If you encounter some setup issues, the Launch Assist feature gives you a minimum of two hours with an InMotion tech support person to help you solve any problems.

Best Linux web hosting

2. SiteGround

Powerful Linux hosting for demanding users

Powerful features
Genuine technical expertise
Responsive support

Every Linux host claims to offer the best possible technical support, but separating the experts from the pretenders isn’t always easy. One way to identify the most knowledgeable providers is to check their high-end products. You won’t get the same level of support if you’re buying a basic shared hosting package, but just knowing that level of expertise is available somewhere in the company can be useful.

SiteGround is a great example. If the company’s standard hosting products aren’t enough, it can build enterprise-level solutions from scratch, and SiteGround’s website lists some of the technologies it supports: custom private clouds, smart use of Linux containers, replication between databases, and in-depth expertise in WordPress, Drupal, Nginx, Apache, PHP, MySQL, MongoDB, ElasticSearch, Redis, Solr, Memcached and more. This is clearly a provider that knows what it’s doing.

Home users won’t get the same level of support, of course, but even SiteGround’s shared hosting plan delivers more than you might expect: free Let’s Encrypt SSLs, cPanel and SSH access, Cloudflare integration, unlimited emails and databases, HTTP/2-enabled servers, free daily backups, and 24/7 technical support by phone, chat and a ticket system. Not bad at $3.65 (£2.95) a month plus tax for the initial term, $11.7 (£8.95) afterwards.

Ramping up to a VPS-like Cloud Hosting plan gets you a very well-specified CentOS system. MySQL 5, PostgreSQL, 5 PHP versions, HHVM, Apache, Nginx, Exim mail server, a private DNS server setup and Iptables firewall are all preinstalled and managed by SiteGround. Prices start at $67.20 (£48) a month plus tax.

Opt for a dedicated server and you’ll get high-end extras like Git integration and performance-boosting Nginx-based cache options for WordPress, Memcached and HHVM.

You probably won’t want all these features – maybe you only need a few – but they do provide a strong indicator of the company’s technical expertise. If you’re looking for a provider that can support your site and help it grow, SiteGround could be a wise choice.

Best Linux web hosting

3. Hostwinds

Power-packed Linux hosting for expert users

Choice of OS
Good value
Limited support

Linux hosting is available from just about everyone, but anything less than a dedicated server is often fully managed by the provider (they set up, manage and maintain the OS and all its components for you). That’s great for beginners, but more experienced users might be frustrated by the lack of features and control.

Hostwinds’ unmanaged VPS packages allow you to take complete charge of your workspace. You can choose from a range of operating systems, including CentOS, Ubuntu, openSUSE, Debian and Fedora. You can tweak and set up the operating system however you like, configure your own backup scheme, and more.

Unmanaged packages bring responsibilities, too. If there’s a missing update or some mystery software issue, you’ll be the one who has to fix it. But that shouldn’t be too intimidating for Linux users, and many elements of Hostwinds’ packages remain simple and easy-to-use (site management via cPanel, automated WordPress and other installs via Softaculous, and so on).

Even better, as you’re not paying for management, Hostwinds gives you a 50% discount on every package. Normal managed Linux VPS packages range from $10.99 (£8.5) for 1 CPU core, 1GB RAM, 30GB disk space, 1TB traffic, up to $526.99 (£404) for 16 cores, 96GB RAM, 750GB disk space, 9TB traffic – but the unmanaged range runs from $4.99 (£3.60) to $328.99 (£249.50) – currently there is a 53% discount on managed packages and 10% for unmanaged. There’s no long-term contract required, so you can try the service for as little as a month to see if it works for you.

Best Linux web hosting

4. Liquid Web

CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu? Take your pick

Choice of OS
Excellent support
Above average prices

Part of the appeal of Linux hosting should be the level of control you get over your working environment, but this doesn’t happen with every provider. Often you’re presented with a standard base environment – typically CentOS and cPanel – with no standard ability to choose anything else.

Liquid Web has been providing quality VPS and dedicated hosting packages for years, and one reason for this success could be its flexibility. Whatever you’re after, the company offers in-depth low-level control over your server specifications.

You’re not stuck with a single version of CentOS, for instance. Liquid Web offers CentOS 6 (optionally with CloudLinux) and 7, as well as Debian 8, Ubuntu 14.04 and 16.04. The CentOS 7 images can include cPanel or Plesk, and plans are available in a mix of self-managed, core-managed and fully-managed variations.

There’s even more power over some supplementary features. While other hosts might throw in a standard backup plan, Liquid Web enables choosing how many daily backups you’d like to retain, or it can squeeze as many backups as will fit into a defined amount of disk space. Both options are charged at a very reasonable $0.12 per GB per month, so you only pay for whatever you use.

However your server is configured, Liquid Web’s excellent support is on hand 24/7/365 to resolve problems as quickly as possible. And we do mean quickly: if, say, there’s a hardware failure, the company promises it will be replaced within 30 minutes of the problem being identified.

What’s more, Liquid Web backs up these promises with an impressive service level agreement. If the company doesn’t respond to an initial helpdesk ticket within 30 minutes, you’ll be credited with 10 times the amount they missed it by, and there are similar clauses to cover you for power outages, network failure and more.

Best Linux web hosting

5. OVH

Learn the Linux basics on a budget

Wide choice of OS, control panels
Amazingly cheap
Poor support

Choosing the right Linux host can be difficult, especially if you’re a hosting newbie and unsure of which features you might need.

One option is to gain some experience by signing up with a flexible budget host like OVH. The company doesn’t have the best support and we wouldn’t recommend it for business-critical sites, but you do get a huge amount for your money and it’s a very cheap way to learn more about your Linux options.

Do you need a wider choice of operating systems, for instance? OVH VPS plans support Arch Linux, CentOS 6, CentOS 7, Debian 7, Debian 8, Debian 9, Fedora 26, Ubuntu 14.04 Server and Ubuntu 16.04 Server, along with Kubuntu 14.04 Desktop if you need a user interface.

You’re not restricted to cPanel as a website manager, either: OVH also supports CozyCloud, Plesk Onyx, Vesta CP and Virtualmin.

OVH says you can have WordPress, Drupal, Joomla! and PrestaShop pre-installed, conveniently, although there’s no mention of a general Softaculous-type one-click application installer. Still, with full root access you should be able to manually set up whatever you need.

What’s really impressive here is the price, which starts at just $2.2 (£1.69) per month, excluding the VAT. OVH isn’t the best Linux host by any means, but it does provide a very cheap way to experiment with different distros and control panels to find out what works for you. It’s well worth a look for Linux newbies or anyone who feels they need more hosting experience before handing over the big money.

You might also want to check out our other website hosting buying guides:

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The best CDN providers of 2019 to speed up any website

The best CDN providers 2019

A content delivery network (CDN) works to accelerate almost any website by caching its files in servers around the world. Whether your visitors come from Europe, North America, Asia or anywhere else, content is automatically served from the nearest location for the fastest possible speeds.

If you’re new to the technology then it might seem intimidating, and there’s no doubt that prices can be high, but don’t let that put you off. A CDN is not just for massive corporations. You can set up the simplest services in less than five minutes, and if you choose your plan wisely, it might not cost you anything at all.

Whatever your website, from a simple blog to a sprawling site for a big business, we’ve picked out some of the best services around to help point you in the right direction. If you find anything that looks interesting, give it a try – you can explore many of these CDNs for free, without handing over payment details or signing up for any contract.

1. Cloudflare

A feature-packed CDN with one of the best free plans around

Capable free plan
Lots of features
Great performance

Cloudflare is a hugely popular American content delivery service which combines novice-friendly ease of use with expert-level features and functionality.

Setup is simple, with no need to edit your code. Just update your DNS nameservers to use Cloudflare and the service kicks in automatically, caching content and serving it to visitors from their nearest location.

But there’s much, much more. Web filtering can block bots, limit content spam, keep you safe from hackers or detect and mitigate DDoS attacks. Smart image optimizations can reduce image file sizes by up to 35%, further improving speeds. There’s wide support for standards like IPv6, HTTP/2 and SPDY, clever page rules to help you manipulate traffic, and a REST API allows developers to take full control of what the service is doing.

Cloudflare’s free plan allows you to see what the service can do, without making any commitments. It’s very usable, with unlimited bandwidth and no annoying restrictions to try and force you to upgrade.

Upgrading to the Pro plan costs a reasonable $20 (£16) a month, and adds the image optimization rules, extra configurability and improved support.

Whatever you choose, Cloudflare delivers great performance. As we write, the benchmarking site CDNPerf ranks Cloudflare at sixth place for worldwide HTTP request response times out of a field of 20 top CDNs.

2. Fastly

A highly configurable heavyweight of the CDN world

Delivers fast speeds
Hugely configurable
Can be tricky to set up

Fastly provides CDN tricks for some really big organizations, including the likes of Spotify and Reddit, and the firm lives up to its name, delivering impressively fast performance levels. Going by the rough guideline of CDNPerf’s rankings, it’s the second fastest CDN for the UK, and worldwide speeds are mostly good, too.

Perhaps Fastly’s strongest point, however, is just how configurable the service is. For example, there’s diverse support for different types of video caching, and tons of low-level controls for those who want to get stuck into the likes of manipulating HTTP headers to customize how content is served.

Of course, some know-how is required to set up everything, and novices to the CDN world will doubtless be confused by all the options on offer. But for those who need this level of flexibility and configurability, it’s priceless to have.

Speaking of the price, Fastly operates a pay-as-you-go model with a minimum charge of $50 (£37) per month.

3. KeyCDN

A great value service with low traffic prices and free SSL

Very low prices
Easy setup
Performance isn’t the best

KeyCDN is an easy-to-use budget CDN that might be a good pick for first-time users.

Getting started couldn’t be much simpler. Sign up with your email address and you get an immediate 25GB to play with, no payment details required. A well-designed web dashboard enables creating your first zone with the minimum of clicks, and there are guides to help you integrate the service with WordPress and other apps. 

Worth mentioning is that as of late November 2018, KeyCDN fully supports IPv6.

More experienced users will appreciate options like Origin Shield – this allows you to specify a KeyCDN server to be the source for updates rather than the origin, reducing your server load. You’re able to manipulate headers, cache or strip cookies, or set up a custom robots.txt. Once the service is running, a capable set of reporting tools enable watching CDN performance in near real-time.

KeyCDN’s standout feature has to be its low prices. Bandwidth charges start at $0.04 (£0.032) per GB, less than half the price you’ll pay with some of the high-end competition. The minimum charge is a tiny $49 (£39) a year. (Yes, really – a year.) The company doesn’t even try to cash in on the extras, for example offering shared SSL and custom Let’s encrypt SSL certificates for free.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, these low prices don’t get you leading-edge performance, but there’s still plenty of power here and you do get a lot for your money.

4. MetaCDN

Cloudfront, Fastly and EdgeCast repackaged into a single CDN

Should deliver top performance
Easy-to-use
Barely any configuration options

MetaCDN is an Australian company which combines the CDNs of Amazon Cloudfront, Fastly and Verizon’s EdgeCast into a single speedy service.

Why? It’s all about performance. When a visitor accesses your site, MetaCDN has three networks and more than 120 locations to choose from – way more than anyone else. In other words, there’s a much greater chance any visitor will have a server near them.

This matters because every CDN delivers its best performance in different areas. EdgeCast scores highly in North America, for instance, but Fastly is quicker in the UK. MetaCDN automatically chooses the best network for every visitor’s location, giving you the best of all worlds.

This approach does have a catch. When you sign up with a single CDN, you can get access to all its individual settings and options, but combining three means you only get settings which apply to all of them (for obvious reasons). Which essentially means MetaCDN has barely any configuration options at all. (Check the Support site to get a rough feel for how the system works.)

Still, MetaCDN is nicely user-friendly and it could be a good pick if speed is your top priority. Pricing is complicated (although not bad for access to enterprise-level CDNs) and there are three plans, Basic, Lite and Pro. The most popular one, Lite, is $50 on a monthly basis (you can also choose a yearly rate, for a $39 a month).

5. StackPath

A user-friendly CDN with some advanced security features

Easy to set up
Powerful security features
Lacks locations outside Europe and US

This CDN provider focuses mainly on the West, with 13 points of presence (PoPs) in North America, and nine in Europe. There are only five PoPs in Asia, and two in Australia and South America (Brazil).

StackPath is user-friendly, complete with a straightforward web console to manage your settings, and if you do get stuck, there’s extremely efficient technical support available via either live chat or phone.

Performance seems good in the US and UK, and indeed Europe, but further afield you may see things tail off a bit, which is hardly a surprise given StackPath’s aforementioned focus on Western nations.

Another strength here comes on the security front, with this CDN giving users free shared SSL (or the option to use your own SSL certificate, if you prefer). There’s also anti-DDoS technology and a capable Web Application Firewall.

All in all, this is a tempting offering with a baseline plan that charges $10 (£7.6) for up to 1TB of bandwidth per month. The first month is also free.

Update: The service has been now integrated with StackPath – “Everything you love about MaxCDN is being integrated into the new StackPath CDN service.”  

6. MaxCDN

A great service for novices to the CDN world

Easy setup
Good value-for-money
Asian locations cost extra

MaxCDN is actually owned by StackPath now (the previously mentioned CDN), but provides a standalone service of its own which is well-suited for novices. You get 24/7 tech support with speedy responses promised (and indeed these claims stood up to our testing), and it’s easy enough to set up, and indeed use going forward.

You don’t get as many settings to play with as some of the more advanced services, but that’s hardly surprising when trying to keep things more user-friendly.

Another definite benefit is a range of useful reports, and a solid core network. MaxCDN offers eight edge locations in the US, five in Europe – and you can add additional locations in Asia (and Australia), but you have to pay extra for those.

Overall, though, pricing is a strong point, starting from $9 (£6.75) a month for a 100GB account, with a clean pricing structure which isn’t confusing in the slightest (often not the case with CDN offerings). Performance is, generally speaking, solid enough, and this CDN does pretty well for speeds in the UK and US.

7. Amazon CloudFront

A powerful CDN which is reasonably priced

Plenty of advanced features
Highly configurable
Tech support will cost you extra

Amazon CloudFront is the CDN facet of AWS (Amazon Web Services), so it’s certainly part of a heavyweight operation. And indeed CloudFront offers a raft of advanced features as you might expect, and you can customize all manner of things such as enabling automatic GZip compression for better speeds.

Another strength here is the in-depth analytics on tap, showing you details of your visitors’ device type, OS and so forth. There’s also the handy ability to set up alerts, meaning you can be warned when data transfer usage goes above a certain level.

The downside to all the options on offer is that relative novices to the CDN world may find CloudFront’s control panel a little intimidating, at least initially.

The other slight sticking points are that calculating pricing can be a rather tricky matter, and if you aren’t an experienced user familiar with CDN basics, tech support isn’t free – if you need help, you’ll have to fork out for it. Prices vary depending on region, but the good news is there’s a free tier (which gives you 50GB of data per month for one year).

Performance levels are fairly average, too, but there’s no denying the power and configurability that Amazon offers to the slightly more tech-savvy user.

8. Microsoft Azure CDN

A customizable CDN for those who need Microsoft integration

Diverse spread of locations
Better than average performance
Not very user-friendly

As you’re doubtless aware, Microsoft Azure is a big old stack of integrated cloud tools for building and managing applications and services, with a wide range of coverage including a CDN offering, which is what we’re focusing on here, naturally. Note that this doesn’t use Microsoft’s own edge servers, but rather three plans that use other CDN networks: Standard Akamai, Standard Verizon, and Premium Verizon.

We fully discuss these various plans in our review of Microsoft’s CDN service, linked below, but suffice it to say that in terms of pricing – which can be somewhat confusing to work out – this isn’t the cheapest offering around. Still, those who want integration with other Microsoft technologies and services may well find the price worth paying.

You get a web dashboard which is absolutely crammed with features, although as ever, this means it’s not particularly easy to use for beginners (and the setup process is pretty involved, too). Performance levels are impressive, and at the time of writing, according to CDNPerf, Azure CDN is the fifth fastest content delivery network worldwide, and fourth in the US.

This has to be a tempting prospect if you’re using other Azure services, or if you’re a developer who will appreciate the likes of .NET or PowerShell management features.

9. CDN77

Another easy-to-use service with some temptingly low prices

Nicely priced
Free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate
Not many advanced settings
Performance isn’t great

CDN77 is a big-name player in the content delivery game, with some heavyweight clients signed up including the European Space Agency. It has an expansive CDN network with 32 data centers across the globe, with many of those in Europe and the US, but there are also locations in South America, Asia and one in Australia.

The web console interface is very streamlined and keeps any jargon to a minimum, making it suitably user-friendly for novices to the CDN world. The flipside of this is that there aren’t a huge amount of options, although you can do some tweaking of various settings.

In terms of performance, CDN77 is solid enough, and it ranks as a lower-to-mid pack player that’s unlikely to disappoint, but certainly isn’t the fastest CDN network we found when reviewing these various services.

You get a free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificate, and CDN77 is pretty good value for money overall in terms of its per-GB pricing, although it’s not the cheapest outfit we’ve highlighted here. Pricing starts at $0.049 per GB of data for US and European locations, with Asia and Latin America being more expensive. If you want to test the waters, there’s a 14-day risk-free trial, and you don’t need to supply any payment details for this.

10. Leaseweb

A high-end CDN for demanding business users

Loads of features on tap
In-depth reports and stats
Not the speediest service

If you need a powerful CDN, look no further than Leaseweb, an enterprise-level operation which is still suitable for regular business users – just about, although we should say upfront that it isn’t cheap, as you might imagine.

Pricing starts at $113 (£88, €99) per month for an entry-level plan with a 2TB data allowance, the good news being that even with this ‘basic’ subscription, you get all the same security and CDN features as the heavyweight enterprise plans.

That includes a smartly designed console for overseeing your CDN needs, complete with an extensive raft of potential settings and tweaks, featuring many options you don’t get with your average service (like the ability to set the cache-control header, or determine how long to cache 404 responses).

There’s also an in-depth statistics section which displays graphs and charts showing many interesting stats, such as visitor and traffic breakdowns, cache performance and the top file types which are seeing action.

The one somewhat bleak spot is Leaseweb’s performance, which seems somewhat off the pace going by CDNPerf’s findings, although it’s difficult to gauge exactly what results you’ll get in practice. Users who want a powerful range of features in their CDN could give the 30-day trial a go to find out.

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Webroot WiFi Security VPN

American security vendor Webroot is best known for its ultra-lightweight antivirus, but the company has now extended its range with Webroot WiFi Security, a simple VPN for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.

Although the service is branded as Webroot, the apps, underlying network and VPN expertise largely comes from SaferVPN, a capable provider which offers decent performance and some useful features.

WiFi Security has a network of 35 locations spread around the world. That can’t match the best of the competition – ExpressVPN has 148 locations in 94 countries – but WiFi Security’s locations are well positioned, and most users will have one nearby.

Signing up with WiFi Security doesn’t just get you access to SaferVPN’s servers. Webroot adds a unique feature (on Windows, Mac and Android) of its own in BrightCloud, the company’s sophisticated web filtering technology, to prevent you accessing dangerous websites. Forget the basic DNS-based blacklists offered by a few other VPNs, what you’re getting here is just the same up-to-date threat information that powers Webroot’s own security suites.

Webroot WiFi Security looks reasonably priced at $40 (£30.77) for a one-year, three device service – that’s $3.33 or £2.56 a month – although it rises to $60 (£46.15) – $5 or £3.85 a month – on renewal. Covering five devices costs $60 (£46.15) for year one, $80 (£61.54) – $6.66 or £5.12 per month – on renewal.

To put that in perspective, Private Internet Access currently costs $6.95 (£5.46) for monthly billing, dropping to $3.33 (£2.62) if you pay a year upfront, which covers you for up to five devices.

There are no other subscription options, unfortunately – no monthly billing, no two- or three-year plans with healthy discounts.

Webroot WiFi Security

Sign up via Android or iOS and you’ll get a free 7-day trial. You don’t get this option with desktops, but if you create an account with your mobile, you can then sign in with your Windows or Mac, and try out the service.

This is especially important because, unusually, Webroot doesn’t offer refunds. That’s a definite problem for a VPN, when you’ve no idea how it’ll work for you, so it’s important to do as much pre-purchase testing as you can.

Webroot WiFi Security

Privacy and logging

Companies who are essentially reselling access to other VPN provider’s networks usually give very few details on their logging policies, but Webroot is a rare exception, with a more in-depth privacy policy than many specialist providers.

The policy explains that ‘we do not collect or log any browsing activity, IP addresses, downloaded data (or shared or viewed data), or DNS queries.’ That is, Webroot doesn’t keep your browsing history or log the content of whatever you’re viewing or downloading.

There is some session logging, with the service recording the date and time when a session started and finished, the amount of data transferred, the VPN location you’ve accessed, the country you’ve connected from (not the source IP address) and the number of devices simultaneously connected through your account.

The policy also reports that ‘if your WiFi Security app crashes, logs of what happened on the device for a brief period prior to the crash, which may include some downloaded data and DNS queries, may be logged for troubleshooting purposes only, in order to identify the cause of the crash.’

This leaves us with some questions. Can these logs be connected to your account, for instance? How long might the data be kept for?  But if you’re concerned, it appears that you can toggle a client setting to stop logs being sent to Webroot, avoiding these issues entirely.

Webroot WiFi Security does have some logging, then, but nothing we haven’t seen with many other providers. And having a trusted name like Webroot attached to the service gives us more confidence that the policy is accurate, and there’s no other logging going on that we’re not hearing about.

Overall, privacy purists will frown at the session logging, but if you’re mostly using the VPN for basic tasks – unblocking streaming sites, encrypting access to Wi-Fi hotspots – we see no special need for concern.

Webroot WiFi Security

Apps

Webroot’s Windows client (essentially SaferVPN’s software with Webroot’s web filtering included) has a simple and stripped-back interface which anyone will be able to use, right from the word go. A flag displays your selected location, a list enables choosing from the full set, and you can connect with a click.

There are barely any location-picking extras. You can’t filter by continents, for instance. You can’t expand a country to see individual locations within it. There are no load figures or ping times to highlight the fastest servers for you.

Webroot has covered the key fundamentals, though. A Recommended list highlights servers you’re most likely to use, a simple Favorites system places commonly-used locations at the top of the list, and you can view connection status and access locations by right-clicking the client’s system tray icon. It’s all very well presented and easy to use.

The only small issue that presented itself is the inability to change to a new server until you’ve closed the current connection, but that only takes a click, and if you rarely change servers, you’re unlikely to care.

Webroot WiFi Security

A sparse Settings dialog enables choosing your protocol (PPTP, L2TP and IKEv2, not OpenVPN). The client can automatically log in when you access insecure or untrusted networks, and a kill switch stops internet traffic if the VPN drops.

That’s almost it, apart from a ‘launch at startup’ setting. This is more limited than usual as although the client will launch along with Windows, it won’t automatically connect. You must do this yourself by tapping the Connect button.

Webroot’s web filtering is built-in and activated by default. It’s a definite plus for the package and will keep you a little safer, although if you do have any issues with it, you can disable the feature from the Settings panel.

Webroot WiFi Security also has apps for Mac, Android and iOS. A quick look at the Android version revealed very much the same interface as the Windows build, with the same core features. It’s not the most powerful or configurable Android VPN app we’ve seen, but as with the Windows client, it’s easy to use and covers the basics well.

Webroot WiFi Security

Performance

Webroot doesn’t support OpenVPN, which meant we weren’t able to use our automated performance testing tools. Instead, we fell back on our older approach, manually logging in to a sample of WiFi Security settings, then checking download speeds with Speedtest.net, Fast.com and more.

UK speeds averaged a disappointing 40Mbps on our 75Mbps test line. While that’s enough for most tasks, the best VPNs manage 60Mbps and more.

European countries similarly managed a below par 30-40Mbps, and a few locations were especially poor. The Netherlands delivered as little as 20Mbps, for instance, less than half what we would expect from a quality VPN.

US performance much was better, ranging from 30-55Mbps when using the US east and west coast servers.

Unfortunately, the problems reappeared when we went long distance, with Australia managing 10-15Mbps on a good day, and Thailand hovering around 5Mbps.

Speed tests rarely give definitive answers, but from what we saw, WiFi Security consistently delivers lower speeds than leading VPNs (though usually still enough for browsing and video streaming). If performance is a priority for you, take the free trial available on the mobile apps, then run your own performance tests before you buy.

Webroot WiFi Security

Netflix

As you might guess from the name, Webroot WiFi Security sells itself almost entirely on its privacy and security benefits. The website pays no attention at all to the possibility of unblocking Netflix, iPlayer or other platforms or content which might not be available in your current location.

Does this mean WiFi Security can’t unblock anything, we wondered? Nope. Despite only offering a single UK location, the service gave us instant access to BBC iPlayer.

The US servers enabled viewing US YouTube content just as easily. That’s not quite as impressive – we’ve only come across one VPN, ever, which couldn’t bypass YouTube’s flimsy defenses – but it’s still good to know.

Accessing Netflix is the real prize, of course. WiFi Security’s ‘US East’ server was blocked, but connecting to ‘US West’ got us in. Webroot might not be interested in WiFi Security’s unblocking abilities, but from what we can see, the service performs better than most.

Webroot WiFi Security

Support

The best specialist VPN providers typically provide a host of setup guides, tutorials, troubleshooting resources and more, all designed to help you get the most out of the service.

Webroot WiFi Security is, well, a little more basic. The knowledgebase had 26 articles when we last checked, and although one or two have some valuable details, most include a few lines of text with little that you couldn’t have figured out for yourself.

This isn’t quite the problem it might be with some VPNs, though, as WiFi Security is relatively straightforward and unlikely to cause you many difficulties. If you run into problems anyway, you can contact Webroot support via a ticket system. That’s not going to give you the speedy response of the live chat support available with some providers, but in our experience, Webroot support is generally helpful, reliable and faster than most.

Final verdict

Webroot WiFi Security could work for undemanding folks who just need an easy-to-use VPN to protect browsing and email, but it doesn’t have the features, speed, configurability, choice of locations or platform coverage to match the best of the competition.

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LG G8 release date set for March with 3D cameras but no 5G

If you’re hoping the LG G8 will be the phone that packs in every single bit of top-end technology, chances are you’ll be disappointed this year. Where some brands are said to be joining the 5G train early, LG looks set to miss that feature for its upcoming flagship.

However, in a perhaps smarter move, it’s going to launch a phone with the high-speed connectivity later in the year.

The news comes from Korean site ET News (translated), which quotes an unnamed senior official as saying that LG will launch two smartphones this year to separately service the current 4G needs and the next-gen 5G speeds.

An official statement provided to the outlet by an LG spokesperson didn’t confirm the news, but did say that the brand was committed to ‘pre-empting’ the 5G rollout.

Bringing a phone that doesn’t come with 5G but still offers top-end features could be the more intelligent strategy for 2019, as adding in the next-gen speeds will add quite a cost to smartphones (as confirmed by OnePlus’ CEO to TechRadar) so if LG wants to be competitive with the G8, missing 5G could be a good move.

The same report also says that the new LG G8 will pack a teardrop small notch at the top to allow for the front-facing camera (no punch-hole option here) and the camera will have 3D capabilities.

We saw that Sony is betting big on 3D capabilities in 2019’s flagship smartphones, and it looks like LG is jumping on that boat in order to improve the augmented reality capabilities of its smartphones as well as improve the quality and scene recognition of its cameras.

A flexible future

ET News is also reporting that LG will be launching the LG Q9 at CES 2019 or MWC 2019, which will use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset, 4GB RAM, 32GB internal storage and a 3,000mAh battery.

On top of that a flexible phone will appear in the second half of the year – and a (World Intellectual Property Office) WIPO patent spotted by LetsGoDigital might have uncovered the form factor.

The patent outlines a phone that has multiple cameras on the rear, but a form factor that scrolls out sideways to turn a small phone into a tablet.

How the new LG rollable phone might look. Credit: LetsGoDigital

How the new LG rollable phone might look. Credit: LetsGoDigital

(Image: © LetsGoDigital)

We’ve no idea if this phone is going to be the final form factor, but this is the kind of space-age thing that we’re hoping starts to appear soon to take us away from the million of faceless black rectangles we’re seeing these days – so we’re keeping our fingers crossed.

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This TechRadar exclusive Samsung Galaxy S9 deal is one of the best around right now

The festivities of the Christmas period may have only just come to an end but we’re already launching straight on into the January sales, and Mobiles.co.uk is celebrating with a Samsung Galaxy S9 deal worth getting excited about. 

This offer gets you the Samsung S9 for the low monthly price of £23 a month with 3GB of data. Sounds good? Well, it gets better, if you use our exclusive TechRadar discount code TECH25OFF the upfront cost drops down to £50, making it one of the cheapest S9 deals on the market right now. 

The Samsung Galaxy S9 was a decent phone for 2018, packing a top camera with a smaller form factor over the plus model, and the current price drops are making it a much more attractive proposition – don’t forget, we’re still a few months out from the forthcoming Galaxy S10, so the S9 still represents one of the very best phones we’ve seen around at the moment.

If this sounds like the deal for you then you can find all of the details down below – but you do need to hurry as this deal ends on December 31. 

If this wasn’t quite the deal you were hoping for then don’t worry we have gathered all of the best deals for the flagship device on our Samsung Galaxy S9 deals page. 

This exclusive Galaxy S9 deal in full:

EXCLUSIVE Samsung Galaxy S9 at Mobiles.co.uk | O2 | £75 £50 upfront with TECH25OFF code | 1000 minutes and unlimited texts | 3GB data | £23 per month
Here it is, one of the best deal you are going to get on a Samsung Galaxy S9 – it’s on O2 and it’s exclusive to TechRadar. If you use our TECH25OFF code you will drop the upfront cost down to £50 making it one of the cheapest Galaxy S9 deals available right now. But hurry, this deal will finish on the December 31.
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