Users are more concerned about online privacy when using the Internet at home or connecting to public Wi-Fi networks , which leads to the use of special virtual network (VPN) services to encrypt traffic . Whether you’re worried about your internet service provider tracking your online activity, whether you want to keep your information and identity secure, or trying to access geographically blocked content, a VPN can help. Our guide will help you understand what a VPN is and choose the best VPN program for your needs.
What is a VPN?
VPN means a dedicated virtual network. It is a kind of special tunnel that can hide any information you send or receive on the Internet. That is, the VPN keeps your information secret from your internet service provider (ISP), from advertisers who want to track your search history, and from malicious people who want to steal your information. It can also show that you are online elsewhere.
Companies have traditionally used a VPN connection to store data online, but recently there has been an increase in VPN services for personal use. For example, live streaming services use a VPN to access geographically restricted content, bypass filters on public Wi-Fi networks, and to secure data when accessing financial sites.
You can use VPN on your computer, tablet, mobile device, smart TV or router. Using a VPN on any of these devices can help you stay more anonymous by hiding your location online and provide you with extra security when connected to public Wi-Fi.
To create this secure connection, you use a program called a VPN that connects your computer to a VPN server elsewhere. All traffic between your computer and the server is encrypted and prevents others from seeing the information you share.
VPN protocol: This is a technology that a VPN uses to send and receive information to users, and at the same time hides what this information is from everyone. Each protocol uses different rules and operations to establish a connection between your computer and the VPN server. Some protocols are more secure, while others are faster or more appropriate for a specific purpose. Popular protocols such as IKEv2 and OpenVPN are good protocol examples that offer speed, security, and reliability.
VPN Server: A VPN server is a powerful computer in any remote location where your computer is connected via a VPN. Other users are connected to this computer at the same time. When you access a web page on your computer, the VPN sends a request to the VPN server. The website then sees the request as coming from the server, not from you. This way, you can present yourself as if you are in another country or another place. A VPN service provider with more servers and more server space helps a VPN run faster because you share a powerful computer with fewer users. This can also increase your internet speed when you can choose a server that is geographically close to your real location.
IP address: The online address of the device you use to send data back to websites and services. Your IP address can include details such as your physical location, the type of device you use, and even the browser you use.
Static / Custom IP: A static or custom IP is like a specific IP address you have each time you connect to a VPN. Without it, your IP address may change every time you are online. Having a private IP prevents problems with shared IP addresses, such as blocking a shared address due to another user’s misbehavior.
P2P Functionality: This means that a VPN allows you to use P2P (peer-to-peer) applications to share files with other users, such as a torrent application. Examples of situations where P2P is useful include downloading an open source program or updating your multiplayer online game.
Kill Switch: This feature constantly checks your VPN connection, and if the connection fails, Kill Switch blocks your internet connection so that nothing is sent without the VPN in place. When the VPN is reactivated, the Kill Switch automatically shuts off and you can continue browsing the Internet.
What Does a VPN Do?
VPN hides your internet activity from others and can show your location as in a different city or country.
Businesses use a VPN to keep data secure when employees need to connect to a company database while working from home or traveling . This type of VPN service allows your computer to be visible on the same network as the servers and allows you to access applications and data as if you were in your office.
Many private users trust the VPN service for security and privacy. This encryption, which keeps the company’s data secure, can provide browser security when you’re at home or using public networks. This service can also hide your IP address from websites and hide what you do online from your ISP.
Using a VPN can speed up some of the browsing and streaming on the Internet. This is because some ISPs slow down traffic to specific services or websites.
A VPN can also make you look like you’re somewhere else. This is often done only to access a broadcast service that is available in a particular region or country. For example, you can show that you are in a different country to access a broadcast of a sport that is normally inaccessible to you due to blocking. For this to work, you need to make sure that there are VPN servers where the broadcast you want to connect comes from, and you need to subscribe to the live broadcast service itself.
You can also use a dedicated virtual network (VPN) to avoid content filters that some schools, companies, or governments set up to block certain websites.
If you use torrent applications for P2P downloads, you can use a VPN to hide this traffic from your ISP. This can provide a faster download for your large legal downloads, as it can slow down your traffic if your ISP detects that you are using too much bandwidth.
How Does a VPN Work?
VPN works by encrypting your data and then hiding it in a kind of tunnel to move between places. It can also show you as if you were somewhere else using a remote server.
When you use a VPN, the VPN program on your device encrypts the Internet traffic before sending it. Encryption keeps your information secret. On the other hand, a VPN server in a different location decrypts the data. From here, the server sends your request to a website or a broadcast service. When a response arrives, the server re-encrypts the data and sends it back to your device. The VPN program and server use a VPN protocol to encrypt and send data .
When the server sends your information, the website or service sees the IP address of the server, so your IP address is kept secret. Contains information such as IP address, geographical location of your computer, which browser you are using, and other identifying information. This prevents others from linking and understanding your online activities using a different IP address .
In most cases, you use a VPN service on each of your devices, but there are some VPN services that work on your Wi-Fi router. Installing a VPN on your router makes it easy to connect all the devices in your home to a VPN without individual applications and protects your private network. First, because VPN providers typically consider a router as a device, it often allows you to connect more devices at the same time. Second, it connects smart TVs, game consoles, media players, baby monitors, and any device with a Wi-Fi connection to a VPN. To be able to connect your laptop, tablet and phone at the same time, it is important to have a VPN that supports simultaneous connection.
Why Should I Use a VPN?
What do VPNs do:
- Hide your online activities
- Show that you are in another place
- Avoid content filters
- Use file sharing
- Protect you from hackers when using public Wi-Fi
What do VPNs not work for:
- Watch broadcasting services without subscribing to the service
- Completely anonymize your online activities
- Block all viruses or malware (unless there is an additional security feature with a dedicated VPN service)
“Consumer VPNs are used to protect privacy when consumers don’t want them to know what their Internet service provider is browsing and downloading,” explains Nick Consolo, director of cyber security firm Simple Cyber LLC . VPN “when you want to protect your privacy, as well as public Wi-Fi, airport, hotels, etc. When you’re on a network where you don’t have security control in places like “
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) also recommends that mobile travelers use a VPN when connecting to social networks. When you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, the VPN protects you from those who try to steal your data (such as your password) or take advantage of it (by sending you to a malicious website). When you establish a public connection that uses a content filter, a VPN can help you access normally blocked websites and services.
While a VPN is more useful when connecting to public Wi-Fi, you may want to use it at home. You can use it to hide your browsing activity. If your ISP slows down certain websites and services, a VPN can speed up your internet connection to some services.
Remember that sometimes using a VPN can slow down your internet speed. Especially if your computer is already weak. “A VPN encloses all your Internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel,” says Consolo. “Adding more network jumpers to redirect the additional load and traffic provided by encryption creates a delay, which slows down the connection to the services. “That’s why you need to look for a VPN provider with a large number of servers and modern VPN protocols.
When using a VPN at home, you can also use a VPN to show that you are somewhere else. This means that you often broadcast media from geographically blocked content; or allows you to shop from different versions of the store in another country. Even though websites adjust prices based on factors such as your location and browsing history, this can allow you to find better deals.
Although people often use VPNs to broadcast content blocked by the region, content providers are constantly struggling with this and can even successfully block some VPN traffic.
For this reason, it is important to look for a VPN that has a free trial or a refund guarantee to be able to test the service.
When you need to use a P2P service to download a large file, such as an open source software or multiplayer player update, your ISP can slow down your traffic. When the VPN is in place, the download will be faster.
VPN is also not a substitute for antivirus or malware. Some VPN providers have the ability to block malware, pop-up ads, and tracking, but that doesn’t always mean it will be the same type of system scan with a quality antivirus product.
What are the Best VPNs?
The best VPNs have several things in common. For example, all the options in our ranking of the best VPNs of 2020 support P2P downloads, kill switch, and use a kind of no-record policy to limit the information they store about your VPN usage.
Consolo said, “An unregistered VPN does not record any incoming or outgoing connection information. For this reason, it maintains privacy because there is no traffic record for anyone to view after the activity. Therefore, there is no information to share or sell. ” “This is a very good thing for privacy advocates, but in the past, some providers who claimed to have done so were not, so do your research.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports digital reasons such as user privacy, recommends that users search for a VPN that supports OpenVPN or IPSec protocols . It was stated that the selection of these protocols provided “the best security available”.
Look for VPN providers that support multiple devices and companies that offer the ability to install a VPN on your home router . “Configuring a VPN with a single router can provide more coverage for all your devices without the need to install individual applications / applications on each device. This allows you to cover any guest device that may be on your network. ” intelligence analyst Preston McNair said.
We recommend several VPN services for you:
- Private Internet Access
What is a VPN Application?
There are two main ways to use a VPN: through a browser extension or through a VPN application. You can download the VPN application to your mobile device, desktop computer and laptop. Some companies also have applications for broadcast devices, game consoles, and other devices connected to the Internet.
To use the VPN application, you must first install it on your device. To access a subscription you set up on another device, sign in through the app. It may explain the steps you need to take to set up a configuration profile on your device when you first install the app (to use a VPN). After opening the application, select a server and connect to the VPN for a secure browser session.
The VPN application and configuration manages all the technical aspects of sending your device’s internet connection encrypted and sent to a VPN server elsewhere. Many VPN applications ask you to do this in order to send you a notification. This will let you know if there is a problem with your account or VPN connection. For example, if the VPN fails and the crash gateway starts, you will see a warning. It asks if sharing anonymous data with a VPN service, such as some applications, crashes, speed tests, and similar information, is appropriate for you. You can choose to share or refuse to share without making any changes to the value or performance of your connection.
It is important to choose the right provider, and we recommend that you choose a reputable company instead of choosing any VPN from the app store. A study published at the annual ACM Internet Measurement Conference found that in 2016, 38% of Android VPN apps in the Google Play Store contained at least some type of malware. Therefore, it is especially important to choose the right VPN and the right application.
If no VPN application is available for your device, you must set up the VPN manually. It is widely used in routers and game consoles. The best VPNs explain how to follow these steps in the installation instructions.
If you pay monthly for a VPN plan, expect to spend $ 5-13 a month and $ 50-100 for a 12-month subscription. Many providers offer a 3-6 month subscription and several offers for up to 3 years. Typically, the longer the commitment in advance, the greater the discount.
All of our best VPN options offer monthly paid as well as longer-term subscriptions with no obligation, and are usually discounted on discounted 12-month subscriptions.
When comparing VPN prices and options, make sure you look for one with a free trial or money back guarantee. Although it can vary between 24 hours and 45 days, a 30-day money back guarantee is available at most VPN providers. Several providers offer free VPN testing or free VPN service with limited options. Be careful when choosing a free VPN that is not in our rankings, as some contain malware.
Depending on the number of devices your plan supports, you may need to purchase an additional subscription to cover all the devices in your home. Companies count active devices, not the number of devices you download a VPN, so try the service before you get a second subscription. If you need to support multiple devices in your home, you can set up a VPN on your router , which will allow you to use a VPN with any device on your home network, even smart TVs and game consoles.
How To Set Up a VPN
After choosing a VPN company, you need to register to open an account there and therefore download the VPN application. Most services consist of a simple installation procedure. That’s why you don’t need to be a technology expert to set up and use a VPN on your computer or mobile device. Setting up a VPN on your router takes a little longer, but it’s also relatively easy to do.