What Are VPN Servers
A VPN server is computer hardware thats configured to run VPN software. Heres what the VPN server does:
- Encrypts your traffic The process involves creating an encrypted connection between the VPN client and the VPN server. This way, all of your data, including the websites you visit, is scrambled.
- Changes your IP address When you connect to a VPN server, it assigns you an IP address that coincides with the servers location. All of the sites you access while connected to the VPN server will only see the VPN servers IP address .
Can I Host My Own VPN
Technically, yes, you can set up and host your own VPN on your home computer. Its not the best idea to do so though, because youll miss out on the main reasons to use a VPN. Connecting to a third-party VPN can change your location, which lets you access otherwise blocked content, and you wont be masking your location with a VPN. Plus, a VPN requires a bit of bandwidth, which you likely dont have with your home internet connection.
They Protect You Against Attacks
Are you an avid gamer or streamer? If you want to play a game without the risk of a Distributed Denial of Service attack to ruin your connection, a VPN is your best bet.
If nobody knows your real IP address, they cant target you.
But a VPN only helps protect your personal computer and connection, not your web server or host. If youd like to learn more about protecting your website, download the Site Security Cheat Sheet.
A secure website is the first step towards complete ecommerce fraud prevention.
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Assess The Suitability Of Each Option According To Your Needs
As everyone has different needs, you may need a different VPN than others. To find your ideal tool, research your potential options carefully, and ask yourself these questions:
Can You Use This VPN On Multiple Devices?
The average U.S. household has 10.37 devices that may need VPN protection. Other countries have fewer devices on average, with the leaders behind the U.S. being the U.K. with 9.16, Norway with 8.82, and Sweden with 8.51 devices per household.
Take all devices into account when selecting a VPN.
Many VPN providers restrict the number of devices you can connect to the VPN on their basic plans. Look at each providers pricing and find the best overall deal. It may be cheaper to get a VPN that works on multiple devices than to pay for a Mac, iPhone, and work computer plan.
Are There Data Limits?
As it can be expensive for VPNs to maintain servers, some providers limit your internet access with bandwidth throttling . Check if your potential providers can handle it if you need high bandwidth.
Where Are The Servers Located?
If you need to use a VPN to browse the internet in a specific country , check that your potential VPN clients have servers there.
Does It Work on Mobile?
What Operating Systems Are Supported?
Speed and Reliability
Which Type Of VPN Is Right For You
So how do you choose the best VPN? Well, that depends on what you need a VPN for. Take a look at the scenarios below and see which one most closely matches what youre looking for, and Ill share tips on finding the best VPN for it:
If you want to find out whether a VPN has a specific feature , check the providers website. Theres usually a section listing all the features, and another listing all the apps which are available.
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Advantage : Protection Against Hackers And Governments
A VPN encrypts your data traffic through strong encryption protocols, which make intercepting and reading your data almost impossible. Why is this important? Well, in this day and age there are a lot of parties that want to listen in or take a look at what you are doing online.
There are many different parties that are interested in your internet traffic, among them are governments and cybercriminals. The security a VPN offers makes it a lot harder for them to look at your data. This increases your online safety.
We have to mention that a VPN isnt the ultimate solution to all things cybercrime. We always recommend combining a VPN with a good antivirus solution so you cover all your bases.
Why Use A VPN
Do you really need a VPN? Short answer: yes. There are several important reasons why you need a VPN, the two main purposes being privacy and access.
Public Wi-Fi networks, such as those found in coffee shops, airports, and other public areas are incredibly risky. All it takes is one hacker connected on the same network, and they can easily spy on all your activity. A VPN acts like an invisibility cloak, hiding everything you do on your phone or computer.
And why use a VPN at home? VPNs also allow you to hide from your internet service provider , governments, and advertisers so you can avoid censorship, price discrimination, and geo-blocks on media.
In 2017, the US abandoned net neutrality the principle that ISPs should treat all internet data equally and various lawsuits continue over the issue. The complete elimination of net neutrality would free ISPs to collect and sell your personal data, including your browsing history, physical location, health info, and even your social security number. It would also permit ISPs to slow down your connection if you do a lot of downloading and streaming, and otherwise discriminate against certain internet users. A VPN blocks your ISP from seeing your browsing history and other personal data.
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Which VPN Protocol Should I Use
OpenVPN has traditionally been the most popular option, although many people are now switching to the new WireGuard protocol. Ultimately, the VPN protocol depends on how much security and speed you need, as well as your device.
Below are the most common VPN protocols.
- OpenVPN: Popular open-source protocol thats supported by nearly all VPNs. Its the most secure protocol available with no known weaknesses.
- WireGuard: Open-source protocol with excellent speeds and strong security. Predicted to overtake OpenVPN in popularity but is still relatively new, so there could be undiscovered vulnerabilities.
- IKEv2: Fast, secure, and popular with mobile users. The biggest drawback is that its not open-source and cant be audited.
- SSTP: Less popular protocol that works mostly on Windows. Good for bypassing firewalls but speeds are average.
- L2TP/IPSec: Mostly used on iPhones, although its outdated so you should avoid it where possible.
- PPTP: PPTP isnt secure and has been previously cracked by the NSA in the US.
When Should I Use A VPN
Should I trust this VPN provider? More often than not, you can’t and shouldn’t.
We’ve already discussed the use of a VPN when connecting offices. Any time you have two LANs that need to link over the public internet, you should consider using VPN technology or an equivalent method of enterprise protection. In this case, the VPN software will probably run in a router, a server, or a dedicated VPN server hardware appliance.
We talked about two use cases above for consumer VPN services: Protecting your data and spoofing your location. We’ll talk more about location spoofing later, so let’s focus on data protection for now.
When you’re away from home or the office, and you connect to the internet, you’ll most often be doing so via Wi-Fi provided by your hotel or the restaurant, library, or coffee shop you’re working out of at that moment. Sometimes, Wi-Fi has a password. Other times, it will be completely open. In either case, you have no idea who else is accessing that network. Therefore, you have no idea who might be snooping on your internet traffic, browsing history or online activity.
And then, of course, there are those people in restrictive countries who need to hide their activity merely to gain access to the internet without potentially grave penalties.
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Expressvpn: Additional Tips & Tricks
The steps we explained above should be more than enough for an average VPN user. However, we know that some of you want in-depth knowledge on how VPNs work. So, lets take a look at advanced options found within ExpressVPN.
- Do Performance Checks: By clicking on the menu button , you can find a set of interesting options. One of those is Speed Test. The application will display a list of recommended locations, but you can also check servers by geographic regions. All you need to do is to click on Run Test. After a few minutes, youll get to see three results for each server available: Speed Index , Latency , and Download Speed . You can even save a server by clicking on the star icon . This is also handy if youre experiencing some issues. You can do a speed test and then save the results file by clicking on Save Results before you contact the support team.
- Choose a VPN Protocol: You remember that we talked about different VPN protocols earlier. These dictate how the VPN encrypts your network and handles different types of data. To reveal whats in store, go to the Menu button > Options. Now, select Protocol from the available tables. You will find five available protocols, or you can let ExpressVPN decide which one to use.
Can I Use A VPN On All My Devices
Every VPN provider allows you to install its software on as many devices as you like. Most, however, limit how many devices you can use at the same time with a single account. We refer to the number of devices a VPN allows you to use at once as the number of “simultaneous connections” it permits.
VPNs typically allow up to five simultaneous connections, although this number can vary considerably.
The majority of VPN services offer iOS VPN apps as well as VPNs for Android users, however, it may be difficult to find support for less popular mobile operating systems. When it comes to computer clients, most VPN services support Windows and Mac users, but Linux VPN clients can be more difficult to find.
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Is A VPN Legal
VPNs are not illegal in the United States. However, not all countries have the same laws regarding these services. For instance, China, Russia, and North Korea either regulate or ban VPNs. You should know, too, that if you commit an illegal act online using a a VPN, that act is still illegal. Customers often use VPNs so that they can stream sporting events and TV shows that they may be blocked from accessing in their own region. Using a VPN to pretend that you are logging onto the internet from a different location might violate the service agreements of streaming services.
Secure Your Online Privacy
Have you sent your bank details to friends online? Do you ever use public WiFi networks? If so, youve just risked exposing your personal information to hackers .
A quality VPN will use the most advanced encryption to secure your data. Itll also ensure that any websites receiving your private data cant trace your device, which keeps you as anonymous as possible.
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Does A VPN Guarantee Online Privacy
A VPN protects your online privacy by hiding your traffic and preventing anyone from tracking your IP address. However, to actually guarantee your internet privacy, the VPN needs to have a no-logs policy.
The thing is, most VPNs have a no-logs policy. What sets them apart from one another and ensures your privacy is protected is whether the no-logs policy has been verified by an external source.
Take ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN, TunnelBear, and VyprVPN each VPN has had its no-logs policy independently audited and confirmed by a third-party security firm. CyberGhost VPN, Private Internet Access, and ProtonVPN all issue regular transparency reports, which show all of the requests for user data the VPN received from government agencies and law enforcement and how the VPN had no data to hand over. Plus, Private Internet Acess had its no-logs policy verified in multiple US court documents, and ExpressVPNs was also been proven true when Turkish authorities seized one of its servers but werent able to find any user data on it.
How Many Devices Can I Use A VPN On
Most providers allow you to set up the VPN on as many devices as you like, but there is one potential catch: they’ll often restrict the number of devices which can be connected at the same time. This limit can be as low as five, so if your family is sitting around the smart TV, two using the VPN on mobiles, two on apps, all while you’re streaming US Netflix, you won’t be able to connect another device until you disconnect one of the others.
If this might be a problem, look out for VPNs which give you extra support. Many now support ten simultaneous connections, and some have no fixed limits at all . Most providers clearly display their limit on the website, but they might describe it in one of two ways: ‘we support up to five devices’, or ‘we support up to five simultaneous connections’.
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Are VPNs Only For Computers
VPNs can be used to protect all your devices computers, laptops, tablets and phones. If you access the internet through stand-alone apps beyond the browser, a VPN is a good choice for protecting your privacy and security on any device. You will need to install a VPN on each device for it to be effective. Mozilla VPN offers an unlimited connection for up to five devices when you connect to the internet from any app or browser.
Is A VPN Necessary
You should use a VPN. If nothing else, a VPN protects your online privacy by preventing corporations, ISPs and government agencies from tracking you. In the U.S. and many other countries, VPNs are legal. Using one is simply an exercise in online privacy, giving you control over how you protect your data.
In the more likely event that you want to torrent or stream Netflix from other countries, a VPN is essential. Using one removes geoblocks and allows you to experience the internet of the world, rather than just the internet of your country.
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What Does A VPN Do For You
Most people will probably agree that the basic tenets of a VPN are a good thing. Here at Namecheap, we think that internet privacy is more than just a good thing its vital to the success of the online world. That said, many people delay getting a VPN, considering it inessential or, worse, unnecessary. They shouldnt.
A good way of illustrating the necessity of a VPN is to show just how exposed you are when your internet connection is not encrypted.
Set Up A VPN Manually
Most devices have built-in VPNs that you can configure to your liking. However, they might not support certain tunneling protocols such as WireGuard or OpenVPN, or you might not be able to choose from a variety of locations.
Besides that, setting up a VPN manually requires certain additional knowledge. Built-in VPNs also might not be as secure as the third-party VPN providers.
Nevertheless, if youd like to try this, we suggest taking a look at our extensive guide on how to manually set up a VPN on different devices.
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Can I Use A VPN On Any Device
No matter what kind of device you use, youll most likely be able to set it up with a VPN. Thats because most VPN services offer dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS operating systems. In other words, a VPN of your choice should perfectly function on both desktop and mobile devices.
Does A VPN Protect You From Viruses And Malware
A VPN and security software protect against different things. They are two key parts of an overall cyberprotection strategy. You might think of them working together as protection + privacy.
If youre worried you might have a virus or malware on your device, were here to help! Try our free virus scan and removal tools now.
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Secure Public Wifi Networks
A VPNs primary function is security and privacy protection. It comes in particularly handy when youre faced with using public wifi in airports or cafes.
In these settings, a crafty hacker could set themselves up between you and the router, intercepting your traffic in what is known as a man-in-the-middle attack. A VPN can prevent this and ensure utmost online pricy because any intercepted traffic would be encrypted and useless.
Your IP address could also be useful to hackers. Because an IP address reveals your real location, you could become the victim of doxxing or DDoS attacks. A VPN gives you a different IP address when you connect and prevents such events from happening.
Can I Use A VPN On More Than One Device
Yes, and Ive shortlisted the best VPN services you can use on multiple devices. Industry-leading ExpressVPN has native apps for Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Linux, Fire Stick, Android TV, and more. ExpressVPN even supports up to 5 devices at once, so you can stay connected on any combination of the above devices at any time.
You can also set up a VPN on your router. This way, the router automatically extends its VPN connection to all of the devices connected to it.
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