A virtual private network (VPN) is a service that gives you online privacy by masking your IP address so that all of your online actions are virtually untraceable unless your VPN provider keeps logs - we highly recommend you to stay away from such providers.
The only VPNs that should be considered safe are paid VPNs that claim that they do not retain logs. Make sure to do your research while picking a VPN provider. /r/VPN has a VPN comparison table, which is an excellent resource to start with. On top of a VPN with great speed without retaining any logs, you should also double check to see whether if the VPN in question supports crucial features such as port forwarding, split tunneling, or kill switch - such as Mullvad, TorGuard, or Private Internet Access (PIA).
TorrentFreak's Which VPN Providers Really Take Privacy Seriously in 2021? can also be used as a point of reference for paid VPNs feature comparison.
That One Privacy Site was sold to a third party and is no longer a trustworthy source for VPN comparison.
Take the top Google search results with a grain of salt - those reviews are often times have affiliations with the service per se.
Using a VPN for piracy purposes are always a good practice - hence, it is advised. Legal entities acting on behalf of copyright holders have been known to send DMCA letters to the ISP of IP addresses found in P2P network swarms.
Using VPN for streaming and DDL is usually not necessary unless you are coming from a place that blocks such sites. It is also unlikely you will ever receive a DMCA (or equivalent) notice for streaming or from DDL.
Please note that there are a few streaming sites (both official and non-official) that do not allow VPN use on their services.
Gambling with free VPNs is highly discouraged. They often come with a lot of risks and drawbacks:
Buying a long-term VPN subscription can be as cheap as $3/month, so please help yourself.
Absolutely not. The cracked/modded VPN might be injected with foreign scripts (a disguised malware) that can modify or leak your personal information or data without consent.
If you are using a paid VPN without logs, no. If you are using a free VPN or a VPN that retains logs, it is possible for your VPN provider to receive a DMCA (or equivalent) notice and forward it to your ISP.