Christian Stewart

@stewofkc

What is A VPN? Why Should You Be Using One?

August 17th 2018
Photo by Arif Wahid on Unsplash

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for virtual private network. Using software, VPNs create a virtual network between two separate physical networks. For example, if you are connected to your home Wi-Fi network but need to connect to your company’s intranet, VPNs allow you to do this.

This same technology can be applied in different ways for other uses too. If you want to access a particular website that is limited to a certain country, you could VPN into that country to access the content. Another application is protecting your information on public Wi-Fi networks. VPNs act as a secure tunnel for your information so that you can still use public Wi-Fi without worrying about leaking your information.

In countries with authoritarian governments monitoring and censoring their citizens’ internet activity, people can use VPNs (although its sometimes illegal) to access blocked websites. If your school or work internet has content filters, you can also use VPNs to bypass these.

“A VPN keeps your internet activity private and secure. It stops your ISP and the authorities from tracking what you do online. A VPN will allow you to use public WiFi networks securely, safe from hackers. It will also give you unrestricted access to the internet by making it appear you are from another country.”
Source: What is a VPN?

How To Choose a VPN (Virtual Private Network)?

Not All VPNs are Created Equal

Before you invest in a VPN (the best options are paid, not free), do some research on how VPNs work and which ones have positive customer feedback. Ideally, your VPN will have many servers and server locations, tons of unique IP addresses and support for multiple devices. Most VPNs provide service for a few devices, so you can use them on your computer, smartphone, and other devices. Similar to private search engines, VPNs vary in how how private they really are. Just double check before purchasing one and you should be in the clear.

Consider These Factors When Choosing a VPN

There are a few things you should think about before selecting a VPN. The first question you should ask is: What do you plan on using a VPN for? Beyond that, you should consider the privacy you need, the speed you prefer, which location your connection should come from, and how much you’re willing to spend.

Speed

Because VPNs basically reroute your network connection through another network, they can slow your internet speeds. Some VPNs will publish their download speeds, but the best way to know how fast your connection will be is to use free trials to test the connection speed yourself.

Location

If you’re using a VPN to connect to a specific IP, like your office network, you don’t need to worry about a specific location. Accessing location specific content though requires certain geo-locations. To access certain locations, check the VPN’s website to make sure you can access servers in your desired location.

Cost

With VPNs there are free options, but similar to other services on the internet, if it’s free you’re probably paying with your personal data. We recommend using a paid VPN as they tend to be more reliable and trustworthy.

Privacy

If you’re concerned about privacy, make sure the VPN you choose does not collect or share any of your personal data. You can find this information in the VPN’s privacy policy. If you aren’t careful your VPN could just be opening your data up to more threats — and doing more harm than good.

Recommended VPN Services

  1. NordVPN
  2. ExpressVPN
  3. Private Internet Access
  4. PureVPN
  5. Perfect Privacy

Which VPNs have you used? Let us know!

[Disclosure: Some of the links included are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.]

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