You have probably heard the term before, but what actually is a VPN? We have created this handy guide to give you all the information on why you may need a VPN and how to use one.
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for ‘Virtual Private Network’. It enables users to send and receive data via a secure connection to another network on the internet. Essentially, a tunnel is created between your private connection and a secure server, which protects your data.
For example, if you are trying to access a server in another country to stream files, make back-ups to the cloud, access websites, download movies, or play games, a VPN will help you do so securely. They are often used by individuals, schools, and businesses to access or prevent content being shared with certain countries and protect from malicious attacks. Anyone can use them that has access to the internet.
They are essential in the age of cyber hacking and invasion of privacy. A VPN can be installed on a mobile or computer device. It will help protect you when using the internet to access private or public servers.
How does a VPN work?
When you connect your device to the internet, it connects to either a wireless or ethernet cable. While connected, your device will send small clusters of data that indicate what you want to do on the internet.
For example, you may log in to your blog dashboard to share a new article. This information is collected by the website, which will then respond by sending back data packets. These data packets can give away a lot of personal information about you to your internet provider, and potential hackers, without the right protection. Information that can be shared includes your precise location, which websites you visit, and any information you input into the websites.
It can also detect your behaviour and location, which can result in blocking access to certain websites. Content may be restricted due to local UK government regulations. Using a VPN will set up a secure tunnel and allow you to access this limited content. This will mask the IP address you are using through the server. Not only will this mean you can access the data, but you can access it securely as your location, data, and behaviour will be hidden.
The main function of a VPN will help you hide your location so that the website does not detect when you are attempting to access the content. Thus, there will be no limitation.
For example, if you on a trip to Istanbul and want to watch Netflix, but the show is not available in Turkey, you will need a virtual network. It will change your address to your home address or a country where the show is available so that you can watch it.
How to set up a VPN
You will need safe and secure wireless broadband. You will also need your chosen device using Windows, macOS, Linux, Android or iOS.
It is simple to set up an account when you have chosen your preferred provider. They will only typically need your email address and payment.
Step by step instructions for installing a VPN
If you are looking to set up a VPN account to access content safely from anywhere, here are the typical steps.
- Choose a service: you will first need to research which VPN provider is most suitable to your needs, budget, and security preferences. It may be ideal to go with a paid service as they will offer more security when accessing limited content. For example, if you are looking to use a VPN for your business, you will need super reliable and secure access. You will not want to put any of your business data or private information at risk.
- Signing up: the next step will be when you sign up for your chosen service. Whether you have opted for free or paid, you will need to hand over a payment method for monthly or annual payments. Then, they might ask for a name, email, and other personal information. Some only ask for your email to increase anonymity.
- Download and install the service: you will need to download and install the chosen service, which you will be able to do once you have signed up. This might be through an app or computer software download.
- Open the software and sign in: once the software is installed, you will need to sign in and choose your preferred settings.
- Test it: when everything is set up, you will need to test your VPN. You can use VPN service checker to check the speed and reliability. To get the most out of your VPN service, ensure a fast broadband connection, especially in rural areas for quicker download and streaming speeds. Wifi Boosters are always handy to have!
With the VPN set up, you can enjoy fast, reliable, and secure content from any website.
Are VPNs legal?
VPN use is legal in most countries. But, there are some countries where these types of networks are forbidden. See the following lists to see if you are able to use in your country or a country you are visiting.
Using a VPN is illegal in:
- United Arab Emirates
Some countries are currently taking steps to make VPNs illegal, which includes Bahrain, Egypt, Cuba, North Korea, Libya, Myanmar, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam. Before using a VPN in a new country, always check the government laws.
VPNs are legal for everyone to use in the UK, as well as any countries not listed above. They are ideal for personal as well as business use. For example, you may be looking for wifi solutions for your hotel or B&B in the UK; you can install reliable wifi and VPNs for you and your guests to enjoy.
Anonymity and VPN’s
On the internet, there is no such thing as being completely anonymous. Using VPNs in a residential setting or a business setup is completely safe, but it will not guarantee that your name or information will not be shared. VPNs are used to increase privacy as opposed to making your identity anonymous. A VPN provides a degree of privacy and anonymity but should not be relied upon to provide absolute anonymity or privacy.
If you want to increase your anonymity, you can mask your IP address, which will make your location and identity unknown. Yet, the VPN cannot be responsible for hiding your complete identity as your information may be stored in software that your VPN is not used for.
Misconceptions about VPN’s
There are numerous myths around VPNs, here are a few of the most common…
Hackers use them to access your bank account
It is essential to know that you cannot use a VPN when accessing your bank or any other personal financial information. No bank in the world should allow non-secure connections that do not provide location information. Seeing as VPNs withhold your precise location, a bank will not allow you to access the services due to a lack of identity.
VPN’s can protect you from computer viruses
This is not true, and you should not rely on them to protect you from malware issues. A VPN works to encrypt data, not protect it. Before installing the virtual network, you should ensure to have virus protection installed for your own safety.
a VPN can protect you from being tracked online.
While many VPNs services can hide your location from websites and keep your location safe, some online services need your location to function. For example, online banking or social media platforms need your location in order to function and provide you with the service. It is their way of guaranteeing you are a real person and are the person who owns the account.
A VPN can slow down your internet connection.
In some cases, it might. But, this is not the case for everyone, especially if you have a good wireless connection. Fast broadband will offer you a quicker download and upload time, which will make your VPN work smoothly will delay or interruption.
How to choose a VPN
VPNs come in all shapes and sizes, and you can choose one depending on your preferences. There are high-end paid options or free services. Before deciding on what service you want, you should read reviews such as Trust Pilot. There, you will find honest opinions from users of the service. It will indicate the pros and cons of each provider.
For school broadband and VPNs in public settings, it may be better to have a paid-for option. They often provide more security and privacy, which will protect all users of computers and technological devices. You can monitor your information easier if using the network for individual use, which means you may be able to be safe enough from a free service.
If you are totally unsure of what to look for when choosing a VPN provider, here are a few tips.
- Look for encryption protocol. These perform security-related functions and applies cryptographic methods, which offer protection and speed.
- See if they use an ad blocker service. Some VPN providers offer ad blocking services, which can maximize your download or viewing experience of the content you want to access. Ad blockers enhance your experience as well as preventing malicious code, viruses, and other dangers from infecting your device.
- IP address ghosting. Other premium features from VPN providers may include the ability to ghost your address so that your service provider does not know you are using a VPN.
- Extra storage. Some VPN providers may offer you extra storage in your package, which will allow you to store extra files, photos, and videos. It often acts as a bonus feature so you can get more out of your money.
- Written assurance. Written assurance will help you understand that your server logs are never shared with outside parties. This offers more security and privacy of your data.
Your chosen VPN will be down to your personal preference. Look for extra bonus features if you want more for your money. Or look for written assurance to guarantee the complete privacy of your data and personal information.
A VPN is ideal if you want to create a secure tunnel between your device and a blocked server. By using a VPN, you can change your location so that you can access limited data, such as movie streams and games. They can be used on a range of devices, so long as you have an internet connection. A reliable and super fast wireless broadband connection will maximize your online experience, as there will be limited delays and interruptions. Although VPNs cannot guarantee anoynomity, they will help you mask your location and personal data so that you can enjoy any content from anywhere.