VPNs And Their Current Use
According to the GlobalWebIndex, the number of VPN users worldwide increased more than fourfold between 2016 and 2018. In countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and China, where internet use is restricted and censored, one in fiveinternet users uses a VPN. In the USA, Great Britain and Germany, the proportion of VPN users is lowerat around 5%, but is growing.
One of the biggest drivers for VPN adoption in recent years has been the increasing demand for content with geographical access restrictions. For example, video streaming services such as Netflix or YouTube make certain videos available only in certain countries. With contemporary VPNs, you can encrypt your IP address so that you appear to be surfing from another country, enabling you to access this content from anywhere.
How To Set Up Your VPN
Setting up your own VPN connection is simpler than it might seem. Your VPN provider will do most of the work for you. First, you will need to find a VPN service that you like. On our site you can find reviews of the different providers as well as some recommendations.
When you find a VPN that fits your needs, you subscribe to their service and download and install the software they provide. Most VPN providers offer software for all types of devices and operating systems. You can download a VPN client for Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android, and sometimes Linux. Within this software, you can choose which protocol to use and which VPN server you wish to connect to. In just a few clicks youll be connected to a server. Now you can use the internet in a safe and anonymous manner, free from any restrictions or censorship that your geographical location might impose!
Installing a VPN is easy. Below, well tell you how to do this in three steps.
Use Other Devices As VPN Servers
If you dont have an OpenVPN-compatible router and you dont want to buy one, you can host a VPN server on another device such as your Windows computer or macOS device but, like flashing a router, its a complex process.
Bear in mind that the device used as the VPN server needs to be switched on at all times.
If the device is turned off , you wont be able to connect through the VPN, which is a big problem if youre far away from home and unable to switch it back on.
Before making the VPN server you will need to set up port forwarding on your router so that the server will be accessible from the internet.
Our instructions for changing your NAT Type cover accessing and setting up port forwarding on your router.
Well teach you how to set up a Windows device, as well as macOS and Raspberry Pi.
If youre a Linux user, you can save yourself a great deal of effort and use one of the full-GUI VPNs for Linux we recommend here.
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What Limitations Do VPNs Have
A VPN has a lot to offer when it comes to privacy and security. However, its not the end all be all of cybersecurity and privacy. To browse the web safely and anonymously, youll need to observe some extra privacy measures, on top of using a VPN connection. For instance, youll still have to clear your cookies regularly. Moreover, there are also things a VPN simply cant do.
Say youre logged in to your Google account, you can be connected to a VPN on the other side of the world, Google will still be able to create a profile of you as an internet user. After all, theyll simply correlate your search history with your account information, regardless of whether you change your IP address or not. The same is true for services like Facebook.
There are more ways in which online entities can determine your identity which a VPN doesnt protect you from. When using Google Maps, for instance, youre often required to turn on GPS. This means Google Maps can see exactly where you are. There are also more advanced ways that are used to identify internet users, such as browser fingerprinting. This method uses your browsers and devices settings to distinguish you from other internet users.
Moreover, a VPN can slow down your internet. Your data has to be sent through the VPN server, which means it can take slightly longer to end up where it needs to be. However, there are several effective ways to increase internet speeds while connected to a VPN.
Does My Router Support A VPN
The easiest way to check whether your router supports VPN is to consult the routers manual. If it supports it out of the box, youll immediately notice a section dedicated to the VPN setup.
Even if the routers manual is silent, it doesnt mean that it cannot be done. Most likely, you can get VPN configurations up and running with custom firmware.
If youre renting a router from your ISP, more likely than not, you will not be able to use it as a VPN client as they run various backdoors so that their customer service could troubleshoot your Internet problems via long distance.
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Get A Router Appropriate For Your Needs
Check to ensure your hardware router meets the following requirements:
- The router must have wired and wireless connectivity.
- It must have virtual private network functionality built in.
- It must support up to 10 workstations.
For organizations that do not have the correct router, check out this list of the best routers for 2020. Weve also included a comparison of the top three VPN providers below, along with a guide on how to choose the best one for your needs.
Getting To Your Router Configuration
Every router is a little bit different, but most Linksys routers follow a similar pattern when it comes to login and making changes to the configuration. That process is also similar to what you’ll find on most other router brands, too, so it’s a good example for this article. The first thing to do is figure out what your router’s Internet Protocol address is. To do this on Microsoft Windows 10, click the Start menu and type in Command Prompt and click Enter. Then type in ipconfig and click Enter again. You should see the same thing as in the screen shot below, though with different address numbers. Your router’s IP address will be listed as the Default Gateway. Here, that’s 192.168.13.1.
Next, open your browser and type in your router’s IP address as the URL . That’ll get you to a login prompt for your router’s administration console. If you’ve never changed the username and password for your router, then looking up your router model on the Linksys website should lead you to a support page where the default credentials are listed. If it’s not Linksys, then just find your original installation instructions from when you first installed the router and the default credentials will be there. If that document is long gone, then head over to your router maker’s website and find the instructions for setting your router back to factory defaults. The default credentials should be there, too. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to call your router’s support line and ask.
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Create A Certificate For Openvpn
Now we need to create a certificate for the OpenVPN service. On the System > Trust > Certificates page, click Add to create a new certificate. You may notice that there is already one certificate in the list. That certificate is used by the web admin page you are currently using. It was created upon the OPNsense installation since HTTPS is enabled by default .
For the Method choose, Create an internal Certificate. Add a useful Description name such as OpenVPN CA to indicate the certificate is for the OpenVPN service and not for one of the VPN users. The Certificate authority should be automatically populated to the correct CA if you only have one CA defined. If you have more than one, make sure select the CA that you are using for your VPN service.
For the Type of certificate, select Server Certificate since this certificate is for your OpenVPN service. For the Key length, Digest Algorithm and Lifetime , you can set it to the same as the Certificate Authority: 4096 bits, SHA512, and 3650 days, respectively. You may also give it a Common Name such as openvpn-ca. Click Save to generate the certificate.
Security On Public Wi
Public Wi-Fi is convenient but comes at the expense of security. When youre answering emails at a local coffee shop or absent-mindedly scrolling through social media at the airport, someone may be tracking your online activity.
Using a VPN protects your data while you are on other networks, hiding your browsing history, banking information, account passwords and more from ill-intentioned internet strangers.
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Advantage : Anonymity Online
Without a VPN your location and even your identity can be traced without too much hassle, thanks to your IP address. This IP address is unique to your internet connection. It is like an online postal code that tells people who you are and where you are at. It enables people to connect your online behavior to you.
A VPN hides your IP address and location. When you use a VPN, your internet traffic is rerouted through an external server and your online activities can only be traced back to the IP address of the VPN server, but no longer to your IP address and you.
By using a VPN, websites, marketeers, streaming services, governments and cybercriminals can no longer identify you with your IP address, because they only see the IP address of the VPN server youre connected to. Moreover, they wont be able to find out your real location, because to others it will look like you are where the VPN server is.
So by using a VPN your online activity will no longer be linked to your own IP address. This way you can browse the internet with more anonymity.
Security When Working Remotely
One benefit of a VPN is its data encryption features. Encryption, or putting data into a coded format so its meaning is obscured, allows you to keep confidential information safe.
If you are an individual thinking about investing in a VPN for your company, one benefit is that workers can connect to your office network and look at sensitive materials on their own devices while away from the office. As remote work seems a possibility even after the pandemic ends, a VPN is a helpful investment to keep confidential material safe off-site.
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VPNs Should Work For You
Far from being arcane networking tools, modern VPNs are exceptionally easy to use. Most are now set-and-forget tools, as they should be. The bigger problem these days is consumers misunderstanding what a VPN can and can’t do. Worst of all, some VPN companies seem content to let this confusion drive their sales.
A VPN will absolutely make it harder for your ISP and others to keep tabs on your web traffic. They can also help access blocked streaming content and make it harder for you to be tracked online. Everything else is a bit iffy. Once you understand what you want a VPN for, you’ll be able to find one that meets your needs and that will fit into your life.
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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
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Use Another Device As A VPN Server
Another way is to turn one of your devices into a VPN server. This might be the best option if your router isnt compatible with OpenVPN. Just choose a device thats kept on all the time because you wont be able to connect to the VPN if it crashes or turns off when youre not home. Youll also need to set up port forwarding on your router so that you can access your VPN through the internet.
How to make a VPN server on a Windows 10 computer:
Windows 10 actually has a free, built-in VPN function. However, it uses PPTP, a VPN protocol that is outdated and full of security issues. Instead, I recommend using OpenVPN, which is fast, secure and reliable. Ive provided the basic steps for setting up OpenVPN on Windows 10 below, but you can find detailed instructions on OpenVPNs website.
How to make a VPN server on a macOS computer:
Not Able To Connect To VPN
If you still have problems, check the following:
Check 0: Wait a bit
- If you just installed Firewalla, it may take up to 1 hour to have the DDNS entry propagated. If you set up Firewalla VPN within 1 hour of the first power-up of the unit, please wait a bit.
- If you are running firewalla under NAT in router mode or in DHCP/simple mode, please make sure you do correct port forwarding on your main router. Tutorial: How to set up port forwarding for VPN Server
Check 1: Running in Simple mode
If you have problems with port forwarding in simple mode, try this:
Check 2: Do you have Public IP
1. Login to the router that the Firewalla is plugged in and look at the “WAN IP address” field.
2. Go to myip.com and compare that with
If and are different, you don’t have a public IP address. Call your ISP to get a public IP from them.
Check 3: Are you under double NAT
If you are under double NAT, that is, you have another router in front of the router that Firewalla is plugged into. If you have this configuration, you will need to do another port forwarding on the second router. Port forwarding the second router’s public UDP 1194 port to the first router’s 1194 port.
How do you know if you have double NAT?
Next, check the following:
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Setting Up A VPN In Macos
As with the other formats here, there are apps that help you through the setup process automatically, but you can also do it yourself manually.
- To start, head into System Preferences and then dive into Network.
- From there, the process is straightforward. Click the Plus symbol button on the bottom left, and use the Interface drop-down menu to choose VPN. Youll need the details from your VPN of choice to fill out the VPN Type and Service Name.
- Enter the username and password for your VPN, which you can set through your VPN app.
What VPN Providers Are There
Above we have shown you three good VPN providers but there are hundreds of companies that offer commercial VPNs. Just type in VPN in the App Store or Play Store, and youll see a dizzying amount of VPN apps, that are often free to download. And then there are also quite a few companies that offer business VPN packages.
We like to help and have tested many VPN providers already. You can find more information about testing and the results in our VPN review section.
Below youll find a selection of VPN providers to give you an impression of the amount of services out there. We also state under which jurisdiction each VPN provider falls and whether the VPN provider is located in a 5, 9 or 14 eyes country the governments of these countries exchange information.
The jurisdiction may have implications for the privacy of VPN users, as each country has different privacy laws. In practice, there are therefore differences in which user data VPN providers store. With privacy in mind, you ideally want to use a VPN that doesnt log or track anything about your internet activities.
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Should I Pay For A VPN
Worthwhile free VPNs are rare, but they do exist. A few VPN services offer a free trial, but it’s usually for a limited time. Others, like TunnelBear and Atlas VPN, have totally free subscriptions but limit the data free subscribers can use. ProtonVPN is our top choice for free VPNs, because it places no data limitation on free users.
Unfortunately, most VPNs are a far cry from free, but you don’t need to break the bank to get one. Our list of cheap VPNs is a great place to start if money is tight.
Why Does Your Business Need A VPN
At their most basic, VPNs protect businesses and users and their confidential data. Here are other reasons why your business could benefit from a VPN:
VPNs are a convenient way to give employees, including remote workers, easy access to your business network without having to be physically presentwhile maintaining the security of private networks and business resources.
Communication with a VPN connection provides a higher level of security compared to other methods of remote communication, keeping private networks closed to people who dont have authorised access. The actual geographic locations of users are protected and not exposed to public or shared networks like the Internet.
Its easy to add new users or groups of users to networks using flexible VPN software tools. That’s good for businesses that are growing faster than their budgets since it means you can often expand network footprints without adding new components or building complicated network configurations.
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