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In the current digitized world, web surfing has become an essential part of our daily lives. You could be surfing numerous websites for different needs. Not only do you do this at your home or workplace, but also you may have a habit of connecting to public Wi-Fi networks such as restaurants or shopping malls for browsing.
However, have you ever thought that some people are spying on you on the internet and monitor what you are surfing? The reality is, if your network is not secured enough, whenever you surf a website, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and third parties can see your real identity and what you are browsing. They can also sell that information for various purposes.
So how can you surf the web privately without revealing your true identity? This is where you need to be aware of what a VPN connection is and how it helps you achieve that essential privacy and anonymity. In this article, we’ll cover some important facts such as what is a VPN, what a VPN used for, how to use VPN, and what is the top VPN for your needs.
A VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, is a private network created from a public internet connection. When you connect to a VPN, it establishes a secure tunnel between your local network and a remote VPN server in another location hosted by the VPN service. This provides VPN users the ability to set up a secure VPN connection and make it look like their computer is located in any number of locations, from Russia to Switzerland, Canada, or the British Virgin Islands.
Data transmitted through this tunnel is encrypted, meaning that your data transform into secret codes that third parties cannot understand. Therefore, they cannot see what websites you are surfing and where you are because it makes you appear as if you are in a different location.
So how does a VPN make you anonymous? An IP address is what identifies your device on the internet as well as your location. Since the data goes out of the VPN server, your identity or IP address is masked, preventing third parties from identifying you. Due to this, VPNs offer you the following key benefits.
When you are not using a VPN, your network ISP can track your IP address and see what you are doing online as browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer do not protect this information. ISPs can collect this information and share them with third-party organizations like advertising companies, governments, and law enforcement agencies. But this is not possible when you use a VPN connection since your IP address is hidden from them. Further, the best VPN services like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Cyberghost, and PIA, do not keep your web activity data, guaranteeing your privacy when using a VPN.
Some countries like China block social media sites such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Instagram to control their citizens from using them. Besides, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney block content in some locations due to copyright and censorship issues.
You can bypass these restrictions using a VPN as it changes your IP address and makes the restricted websites or streaming services see as you are accessing them from a non-restricted location. For example, ExpressVPN< is known as the best VPN that unblocks Netflix and many other streaming services.
Sometimes it is frustrating to see endless loading status when you watch your favorite movie or TV series. It happens when your ISP is throttling your bandwidth. They can do this deliberately if you forgot to pay the monthly internet bill or you have already used the specific amount of data that is available to you. In order for an ISP to throttle you, it needs to know your IP address. Since a VPN service makes you anonymous to ISP, it helps to prevent slowing down your speed. For instance, NordVPN is one of the best VPNs that prevent bandwidth throttling.
On the same token, just like you don’t want your ISP to throttle your internet speed, you don’t want your VPN to throttle or limit the amount of internet you can use. To prevent that, you’ll want an app with unlimited bandwidth.
A good VPN is fairly simple and easy to install. The setup steps can be specific to each VPN and device type, but most VPNs follow the same installation procedure. Once you have done your research and decided on what VPN and its plan to choose, you need to purchase it. If you want your VPN experience to be totally private, many providers now accept cryptocurrency as opposed to a debit or credit card.
Then you need to download the VPN application. Most of the time, your VPN service will provide you with an installation guide. Note that some free plans may not have an application on their own. When installing it, you may be prompted to enter your username and password, and some may ask you to provide an activation code you received when purchasing it. Then the VPN service will either automatically connect you to the closest VPN server to your location, or you can choose one from the available servers.
There are a lot of different VPN services available on the market, including completely free VPN services. Most paid VPNs offer a free trial so that you can download the VPN and use it free for a certain period to check its feasibility. You need to consider a lot of factors when choosing the best VPN service that suits your needs. For example,
When choosing a VPN, the first thing you would look for is the cost. There are completely free VPNs on the market. However, make sure you do not lose your privacy and security by choosing a free VPN. Because most free VPNs earn their profit by advertising and keeping and selling your browsing data. Therefore, always go for a VPN with subscription plans and choose the most affordable option.
Your VPN should not cause a noticeable drop in your network’s connection speeds after connecting to it. An easy way to audit this is by signing up for a service with a free trial or 30-day money-back guarantee, then running an internet speed test with and without the VPN on.
The top factor that affects the speed of a VPN is the number of servers in the provider’s server network and the server locations. The closer the servers are located to your place, the higher the speed. Hence, to find the fastest VPNs, always choose VPNs that have a higher number of servers in multiple locations.
The best VPNs work on almost every device type including Windows and Linux as well as have apps for Apple IOS and Android devices. Popular VPN companies such as Private Internet Access (PIA) make it easy to use their product whether on a laptop of mobile devices like iPhone or Android phones.
The download and installation should be simple, and they should provide specific instructions to follow when setting up the VPN. Lastly, they should have a user-friendly interface, where it’s straightforward to turn the VPN on and off and see if it’s working. Some free VPNs don’t have a dedicated application, so if you new to VPN use go for a VPN that features good ease of use.
Another important factor to consider is customer support of VPN services. Check for their responsiveness through available contact methods. Especially, Check if 24/7 live chat is available for you to get help whenever you need it.
You also need to check the privacy and security policies of VPNs. While a VPN doesn’t act as an antivirus and protect against malware, you should check for additional useful features they provide like a kill switch, multihop network, spam protection, etc.
As we’ve established, the purpose of a VPN is to keep your data secure and protect your privacy for everything from financial transactions to customer information and even torrenting for those who use it. In order for VPNs to work in this capacity, the VPN provider needs to keep your connection secure while also not keeping logs of your activity. Some of even the best free VPNs make money by collecting your data and selling it – which negates the whole purpose of having this online privacy software. For this reason, it’s of utmost importance to only choose a VPN with a no-logs policy.
The number of simultaneous connections refers to the number of devices that can be connected to the VPN at once. If you’re using a VPN for your personal device or your household, then 1 to 3 simultaneous connections will be adequate. However, if you are using it in a professional setting then you’ll want a plan that allows for many connections at once.
This functionality refers to the ability to divide your internet traffic and send some through the encrypted VPN and the rest through your normal network. It’s a particularly useful VPN protocol for those with employees who work from home, as it lets people connect to the company’s private servers while still having regular internet access instead of turning a VPN off and on repeatedly.
As discussed in this article, a VPN is now an indispensable tool for web surfing. While most VPNs provide the essential anonymity and privacy you need, some VPNs go beyond that, providing some extra security features. Like many other services, VPNs are expanding to surpass the new restrictions imposed on the internet every day. Therefore, more and more people will make use of VPNs in the future. Take a look at our top picks to find the best plan for you.