When To Use A VPN
Ideally, you should use a VPN whenever youre online. However, an always on VPN isnt realistic for everyone due to the slowdowns. Instead, we think its more practical to consider a handful of everyday use scenarios for VPNs, such as these:
- Using public networks
- Hiding activity from an internet service provider or the company running a browser
- Avoiding cache/cookies
VPNs Aren’t Rocket Science
Too many of you aren’t using a VPN, and maybe that’s because they seem like arcane security tools. Fortunately, many providers have worked hard to make them friendly and easy to use. Most are now set-and-forget security tools, as they should be. A VPN is one of the best and easiest ways to guard your web traffic from, well, just about everyone.
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The Complications Of Privacy
VPNs do have have practical drawbacks. Some sites and services look at VPN traffic as suspicious and won’t let you connect. That’s a real problem, especially when it’s your bank that blocks you. In situations like that, you can try a different VPN server, but you may have to wait until you can use a trusted network without a VPN.
Chromecast and other streaming systems send data over your local network, but that’s a problem when you’re using a VPN. The same for printers, drives, or any other devices on your network. Those machines are looking for data from phones and computers on the same network, not from a distant VPN server. Some VPNs have options to allow local network traffic, or you could try using a VPN on your router, but the simplest solution might be to switch off your VPN.
Do you like Netflix? That’s too bad because Netflix does not like VPNs. The problem is that Netflix has a complex global web of regional licensing arrangements, and they don’t want you using a VPN to access Netflix content that’s not available in your home country. Some VPN services, however, work hard to ensure their customers can still stream movies and TV shows. It’s something of a cat-and-mouse game, and a VPN that works with Netflix today might not work tomorrow.
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Why Create Your Own VPN
With such a wide range of VPN services already available, setting up your own server might seem like a waste of time. However, there are quite a few advantages to the DIY approach:
- Fewer points of trust. With a paid VPN service, you pass all of your traffic through a third-party service operator and their cloud or network provider. When you set up your own server, you cut out the middlemanyour data is private between you and whoever provides your server.
- Lower cost and fewer limitations. In exchange for some setup time and being limited to a single region, making your own VPN server is cheap. Some cloud providers even offer fully-functional server hosting for free or provide significant sign-up credits. If you have a compatible router, setting up a VPN server on your router costs nothing.
- Access to your home network. If you set up your VPN server on your home router instead of in the cloud, youll be able to use your home connection. From printing on your personal printer to accessing files on your NAS, anything that works from home will work while connected to the VPN. You can travel and still have access to your digital resources at home.
- A good learning experience. Although you can set up your own VPN with relatively little computer knowledge, the process will introduce you to lots of concepts and technologies that are common in IT.
How To Choose A VPN
There are a ton of VPNs out there, which can make the choice seem overwhelming. The key is to choose a VPN based on your specific needs, and what you plan to use it for. Of course, there are some basic aspects that everyone should consider. For example, youll want a VPN with user-friendly apps and enough connections to install it on all your devices.
Its also important to pick a VPN that actually protects your privacy otherwise, whats the point? Ideally, the service you choose will have industry-leading security features, super-fast speeds, servers all over the world, and awesome customer support. That might sound too good to be true, but some services like ExpressVPN really do check all the boxes.
Finally, its always a good idea to check the current discounts available and make sure you get the best deal possible. But the final decision should always be based on your own priorities and primary reason for getting a VPN.
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Open VPN Settings In Windows
Do you want to install a VPN on Windows 10? First of all, you need to make sure youre using a Windows account with administration rights. Usually the owner of the computer has these rights. He or she can also distribute them to others. If you only have one user account on the device youre working with, youll automatically have these rights.
Go to the start menu and click Settings. This button often looks like a small cogwheel. Once the Settings screen opens, click Network and Internetfrom the menu. Then choose VPN from the list on the left side of the screen. The image on the right of this text shows what this looks like. Youve now found the VPN settings screen on Windows and are ready to add a VPN connection to your operating system.
Running An Openvpn Server On A Dynamic Ip Address
While OpenVPN clients can easily access the server via a dynamic IP address without any special configuration, things get more interesting when the server itself is on a dynamic address. While OpenVPN has no trouble handling the situation of a dynamic server, some extra configuration is required.
The first step is to get a dynamic DNS address which can be configured to “follow” the server every time the server’s IP address changes. There are several dynamic DNS service providers available, such as dyndns.org.
The next step is to set up a mechanism so that every time the server’s IP address changes, the dynamic DNS name will be quickly updated with the new IP address, allowing clients to find the server at its new IP address. There are two basic ways to accomplish this:
The OpenVPN client by default will sense when the server’s IP address has changed, if the client configuration is using a remote directive which references a dynamic DNS name. The usual chain of events is that the OpenVPN client fails to receive timely keepalive messages from the server’s old IP address, triggering a restart, and the restart causes the DNS name in the remote directive to be re-resolved, allowing the client to reconnect to the server at its new IP address.
More information can be found in the FAQ.
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Are There Downsides To Using VPNs
A VPN’s success depends on other parts of your network infrastructure. Here are factors that could cause performance issues for your VPN:
Configuration security risks
Design and implementation of a VPN can be complicated. If youre not sure how to keep it up and running safely, consider bringing in an experienced network security professional to make sure VPN security hasnt been compromised.
Since VPN connections run off the Internet, you need to choose an Internet service provider that consistently delivers excellent service with minimal to no downtime.
If you need to add new infrastructure or create new configurations, you may run into technical problems due to incompatibilityespecially if you’re adding new products from different vendors.
Slow connection speeds
If you’re using a VPN client that provides free VPN service, your connection speed may be slow, as these providers do not usually offer high-speed connections. Consider whether the speed is sufficient for business needs.
How To Use A VPN
This article was co-authored by Luigi Oppido. Luigi Oppido is the Owner and Operator of Pleasure Point Computers in Santa Cruz, California. Luigi has over 25 years of experience in general computer repair, data recovery, virus removal, and upgrades. He is also the host of the Computer Man Show! broadcasted on KSQD covering central California for over two years.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 99% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 804,425 times.
When you use a VPN, your internet activity is sent through an encrypted server that protects it from others on the network. This means your ISP, as well as other people using the same Wi-Fi network as you, can’t see what you’re doing online.XTrustworthy SourceConsumer ReportsNonprofit organization dedicated to consumer advocacy and product testingGo to source VPNs are also used to access networks that are normally inaccessible when connected through your regular ISP, such as your work or school network. If you’re not using a VPN for work or school, you can select from a variety of paid and free VPN providers, most of which can be run on your computer, phone, or tablet. This wikiHow teaches you how to get started with a VPN.
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Two: Run The Configuration Script
If you manually configure your StrongVPN connection, there are dozens of different settings to toggle and configure. The automatic configuration system takes advantage of the shell on your router to run a small script which changes all these settings for you.
To automate the process, you need to log into your StrongVPN account and, in the customer dashboard, click on the VPN Accounts entry in the navigation bar.
There are two areas of interest to us here. First, if you want to change your server , you can do so by selecting Change Server. Second, you need to click on the Get Installers link to get the DD-WRT installer.
In the Installers section, click on the entry for DD-WRT.
You wont find an installer, in the traditional sense . Instead, youll find a command that is tailored specifically for your account and configuration. The command will look like this:
eval `wget -q -O - http://intranet.strongvpn.com/services/intranet/get_installer//ddwrt/`
where is a long alphanumeric string. Copy the entire command to your clipboard.
While logged into your DD-WRT routers control panel, navigate to Administration > Commands. Paste the command into the Commands box. Confirm that the text matches and includes the single quotation marks around the wget command and subsequent URL. Click Run Commands.
If youve entered the command correctly, you should immediately see an output like the following:
Adding A VPN Connection
Its time to add a VPN connection. First click on the button at the top that says Add a VPN connection.
A blue screen will appear. Here you can enter the details of your VPN provider. In some countries you can choose a VPN provider from a number of standard providers, but this step-by-step guide focuses only on the Windows option.
Give the VPN connection a recognizable name under Connection name. You could, for example, opt for VPN connection work if you only need it for work-related activities.
Under Server name or address, enter the IP address or server URL of the VPN server. This information is provided by the provider of the connection, e.g. your boss.
Under VPN type, choose the VPN protocol you wish to use. In most cases, youll be able to select the Automatic option here. For more information about VPN protocols, please read our article on this topic.
Under Type of sign-in info you can specify the way you wish to log in. In most cases, this involves using a user name and password. Alternatives include logging in with a smartcard or certificate.
Under User name and Password, fill in the necessary login details.
Note: it is safest not to make the computer remember your sign-in info if youre using a public computer. Only choose to save the data if your computer cant be used by strangers and is well protected!
Once youve finished entering all the necessary data, click Save.
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I Built My Own VPN Server
Tired of dodgy VPNs? I took the DIY route to create one of my own
Don’t trust VPN? You’re not alone. Stories about rogue providers injecting ads into your web traffic or selling your browsing history should worry anyone who’s paying attention.
But what if you could bypass these dodgy vendors entirely, and get your own personal VPN server direct from a web host?
It probably sounds way too expensive and technical, but there are companies who say that just isn’t true. You can get started for under $5 a month, which is cheaper than many consumer VPNs. And setup is mostly automatic, with barely any technical knowledge required.
Is this really a good idea, though? What are the pros and cons, how does it work, and what sort of service do you get for your money? I decided to find out…
- Check your real VPN location with the best IP address tools
What Is The Safest VPN
The most secure VPNs today
- ExpressVPN. The most secure VPN on the market. Specifications.
- NordVPN. Incredible encryption and usability. Specifications.
- ProtonVPN. Swiss security through and through. Specifications.
- Surfshark. Cheap, effective, and secure. Specifications.
- VyprVPN. Small no-logging contender impresses. Specifications.
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What Are The Downsides Of Setting Up Your VPN Server
Like in every method, creating and using your VPN server has several disadvantages.
- If you lack the necessary technical and networking knowledge, this can be a difficult task.
- If you miss out on any essential security setting, your devices can be vulnerable to cyber threats.
- If you do not upgrade your system with the latest security patches, ideally, your VPN connection is not as secure as most commercial VPNs that automatically update.
- Your home network can have slower upload and download speeds. Therefore, the VPN connection can become slower.
- You cannot guarantee that your ISP is not spying on you since there is only encrypted traffic between the VPN server and the client.
Additional VPN guides you should check out:
What Tools Do You Need To Create Your Own VPN
Building a VPN is nothing more than creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and your cloud server. In other words, instead of trusting a VPN company, youre trusting a cloud service provider.
Doing this will effectively replace your real IP address with the one assigned to the server. On the security front, your traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel so no third parties can access your data. To put it simply, no one will be able to see what youre doing online and, even if they could, they couldnt trace your traffic back to you.
Its possible, but it requires a bit of work. So, lets see what tools youll need to create your own VPN.
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How Do VPNs Work
From a user perspective, VPNs are incredibly simple. All you have to do is download the software, install it on your device, select a server, and connect. If youve chosen a quality VPN service, you can then rest assured that all your online activity is protected.
Wondering whats going on behind the scenes? Essentially, a VPN encrypts your traffic and then routes it through one of its servers around the world. Because of this encryption, your ISP cant see what youre doing online. And because your traffic goes through another server, they cant see your IP address or your actual location .
From there, the VPN forwards your traffic to the website or app youre visiting. The site sees the VPN server, instead of your device, as the origin of your traffic, and sees the VPN servers IP address instead of yours. To keep sites from blocking them, the best VPNs regularly update their IP addresses and offer thousands of different servers to choose from.
How To Choose The Right VPN
Which VPN to choose depends on the needs of the user. When choosing a VPN, there are some simple questions to ask:
- How many devices will connect to the VPN? Most VPNs have device caps, so be sure the service can include all the devices within your network comfortably.
- How much will the VPN impact internet speed? All VPNs slow down internet speeds to varying degrees because instead of going directly to the router, data moves through an encrypted tunnel. Look at what our VPN comparison says about slowdowns with different VPN services to get a better idea.
- Do you need a VPN with torrent capability? If so, make sure the VPN service allows torrenting.
- Where is the VPN service located? Depending on where the VPN service has their headquarters, they will have to obey certain data retention laws. Before signing up for a service, check what user data they have to provide their host government. Through communications and data sharing alliances, your user data might be shared with your own governments intelligence agencies, if part of the same alliance. The biggest alliances among western countries are called Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes.
- Five Eyes: U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Canada
- Nine Eyes: Five Eyes nations and France, Netherlands, Norway, Denmark
- Fourteen Eyes: Nine Eyes nations and Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Sweden
Note:Free VPN trials are a great way to learn about what to expect from different services.
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