Benefits Of A VPN You Might Not Know About
At a basic level, if you activate a VPN when you go online, it can provide two key benefits.
- Privacy by masking things like your IP address, location, and search history, to keep them from being tracked by websites, internet browsers, cable companies, internet service providers , and others.
- Security by helping protect your personal information and other data as its in transit, or being sent from and received by your device.
But thats not all a VPN can do. A VPN can also help you in other ways.
How Private Are VPNs Do They Log Everything I Do
In my VPN directory, I tracked two types of logging. The first is whether they log traffic, DNS requests, and IP addresses. This is pretty nasty stuff. If a VPN service logs this, they would have the information you might choose to hide, like sites you visit, locations where you are, and possibly even information you might be sending.
Although the use of these services will still protect you from Wi-Fi spies in your hotel or restaurant, I can’t recommend signing up for any service that does DNS, traffic, or IP logging. There are better, more private options.
The second type of logging is more benign. VPN services that log bandwidth usage and connection timestamp data usually do so either to tune their own systems or manage any abuse of their services.
I have less of a concern with services that just monitor bandwidth usage, as long as they don’t store any specifics. That said, we gave top marks to those services that don’t do any logging. When I choose a VPN service, those are the services I pick for my use.
What Is A VPN And What Does It Do
Before diving into all the benefits of using a VPN and why you need one, lets quickly look at what it is. In basic terms, a VPN allows your data to go over an encrypted connection from your devices to another point on the Internet, likely in another country, and then make its way onto the public Internet. A good VPN service will encrypt and protect the data and ensure the origin and device information stays hidden.
For a more detailed breakdown, dont forget to check out our excellent explainer on what a VPN is, what it does, and why you need one.
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Is It True That A VPN Is Completely Unhackable
No. No. Did I mention… no. Nothing is unhackable. As evidence…
In January 2018, Cisco Systems revealed that a critical bug was found in its ASA software that could allow hackers to execute code remotely.
This is a bug in enterprise-level VPN systems used by corporations, so it’s severe, indeed. Fortunately, responsible IT administrators can patch their systems to fix the bug. However, it goes to show how no system can be truly deemed absolutely secure.
Another example was a bug in Hotspot Shield, a popular VPN service. This bug allowed a hacker to expose private information, including originating IP. Hotspot Shield issued an update, which gives us an excuse to remind you that you should always install updates, especially on your VPN client software.
Why Do You Need A VPN Service
Surfing the web or transacting on an unsecured Wi-Fi network means you could be exposing your private information and browsing habits. Thats why a virtual private network, better known as a VPN, should be a must for anyone concerned about their online security and privacy.
Think about all the times youve been on the go, reading emails while in line at the coffee shop, or checking your bank account while waiting at the doctors office. Unless you were logged into a private Wi-Fi network that requires a password, any data transmitted during your online session could be vulnerable to eavesdropping by strangers using the same network.
The encryption and anonymity that a VPN provides helps protect your online activities: sending emails, shopping online, or paying bills. VPNs also help keep your web browsing anonymous.
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What Is A VPN Virtual Private Networks Simplified
A Virtual Private Network is a connection method used to add security and privacy to private and public networks. Free WiFi Hotspots and your home Internet connection can both be encrypted using a VPN. In short, this provides you with private Internet access.
Virtual Private Networks are most often used by corporations to protect sensitive data. VPNs are becoming more popular because interactions that were previously done in person are now done online.
Privacy is increased with a Virtual Private Network because the user’s IP address is replaced with one from the VPN. Subscribers can obtain an IP address from any gateway city the VPN service provides.
You may be connecting to the Internet from New York. With a VPN, you can spoof your IP location where your connection looks like you’re based in Chicago. Therefore, using a Virtual Private Network is preferred if you want to hide your IP address. The same method can be used for streaming services when you’re out of country.
VPNs are sometimes incorrectly referred to as a Virtual Protected Network or Virtual Personal Network. Although both Protected and Personal are seemingly correct, the P in VPN stands for Private.
A VPN can be used over WiFi, but is NOT a WiFi connection. Therefore, it’s impossible to compare VPN vs WiFi. VPN connectivity should always be encrypted to protect your data.
Using A Corporate VPN In Windows
Connecting to a VPN is fairly simple. In Windows, press the Windows key, type VPN, and click the Set up a virtual private network connection option. Use the wizard to enter the address and login credentials of the VPN service you want to use. You can then connect to and disconnect from VPNs using the network icon in the system tray the same one where you manage the Wi-Fi networks youre connected to.
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Improve Your Internet Privacy
We tend to feel pretty secure when were browsing the web at home, but your internet service provider can see and log your activity. Similarly, the government and various websites can track your activity by using your IP address, which can tell them a lot about you, including where you are and what pages youre looking at.
Were not implying that youre getting up to anything shady, of course – its about your right to online privacy in an age where were sharing more data than ever.
A VPN excels in this. Instead of connecting directly through your ISP, a VPN allows you to browse the web through a secure VPN connection. The VPN handles your requests and deals with the response from the website, acting as a barrier between you and the site.
So, if youre thinking a VPN sounds pretty good, youd be right – but it is important to have a discerning eye when picking one. There are pages and pages of VPNs available with just a Google search – but dont worry, weve compiled a list of the best VPN services, and would recommend going with one of these options.
What Is An Ip Address And Why Can Others See It
An Internet Protocol address is a digital label used to achieve communication between networks. It serves the purpose to identify:
- The host
- Your location in the network so that it knows where to send you the information.
This means that without a VPN, the data packets traveling over the internet display your IP address at all times. It is visible to most online services, allowing websites to gather information about you.
A VPN hides your IP address and location in the process because youre technically accessing the internet through a VPN server. And this server is where information goes before it gets encrypted and reaches you through a trusted tunnel.
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What Is A VPN Server
So Ive mentioned VPN servers several times now, but what are they? Are they any different than regular servers?
Well, not really. A VPN server is just a standard server configured with VPN software. This ensures that only people with VPN client software can connect to it.
If you try to connect to a VPN server it will ask for authentication that you have a VPN client. Once youre in, all your traffic goes through this server. To anyone watching from outside, they can only see a mess of random internet data going in and out of the server. Hence, your whereabouts remain unknown.
VPNs Are Good For Securing Public Wi
The best use of a VPN is to add security to your connection when youre on public Wi-Fi from someone you dont knowat cafés, hotels, airports and airlines, and even car dealerships while youre waiting for your vehicles fuel-line recombobulator to be replaced. A bad actor or mischievous network owner can intercept and steal your personal data on these types of networks. Though network security has changed since 2014, a more recent vulnerability in 2017 shows that so too have the exploits and methods miscreants use to break it. A properly secured VPN can help deter this type of attack because it encrypts your connection starting with your computer, through the network, and out to the far-off VPN server.
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Three Great VPN Providers For Beginners
If youd like to start using a VPN, its easiest to choose a trustworthy provider and access the internet through their servers. We have tested most major VPN providers of this moment on their usability and quality. Most good VPN providers offer trials so you can check out their service free of charge. If youd like to get started with a simple yet great VPN, we recommend ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or Surfshark.
Should I Use A VPN At Home
VPNs are especially useful when you are browsing the web through public Wi-Fi, whether you are at a coffee shop, hotel lobby, or public library. But a VPN can also protect your privacy when youre at home, keeping your browsing safe from prying eyes. You can also use a VPN to access streaming content from your home that might be otherwise locked in your area.
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Check Point Remote Access VPN Reviews
- “It allows everyone to work from home. If no one could work from home, then we wouldn’t have a company, especially now during COVID-19. It’s mission-critical, especially since it’s currently being used. If there is a problem with it, we would really be screwed. We would be hard-pressed because we would have to figure out what solution we’re going to go with, how to deploy it, how long it would take to deploy it, and how we’d even get it on people’s computers if we couldn’t VPN to them. It would be near impossible to just change to a new VPN solution right now.”
- “When you want to deploy a new Check Point agent, it is really a pain in the butt. For example, Windows 10 now has updates almost every couple of months. It changes the versioning and things under the hood. These are things that I don’t understand, because I’m not a Windows person. However, I know that the Check Point client is installed on the Windows machine, and if the Check Point client’s not kept up-to-date, then it’s functionality breaks. It has to be up-to-date with the Windows versions. Check Point has to update the client more often. Now, the problem is that the Check Point client is not easy to update on remote computers and it’s not easy to deploy a new client.”
Hides Your Private Information
Websites and apps can constantly track your online activity, analyzing the data they collect. A VPN can prevent web browsers and others from accessing your connection, helping to keep information you send and receive anonymous and secure. Some VPNs also offer military-grade 256-bit encryption of your data.
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Subscribe To A Trustworthy VPN Provider
For beginners we highly recommend using SurfShark or NordVPN. We tested these providers extensively and found them to be very suitable for beginners, as they are easy to understand and set up, while also being very fast. Moreover, these two VPNs allow you to secure multiple devices with a single subscription and offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. This way you can try them for a month without being stuck to a long-term subscription. Furthermore, using the links and buttons on our website will get you a discount with these providers.
You can check out our extensive reviews on our review page. Weve also reviewed other VPN-providers of course. Some other impressive VPNs are PIA, CyberGhost, and ProtonVPN. The latter also happens to offer one of the best free VPN subscriptions.
Many free VPNs are unsafe and work with data or speed limits, but ProtonVPN doesnt do this. Weve researched plenty of VPNs to search for free providers that are secure and safe to use. You can read all about these in our article about free VPN providers.
Once youve chosen your VPN service, youll have to subscribe to them. Create an account and make sure you have your log-in info at hand. Youll need it in the following steps. As weve mentioned earlier, CyberGhost and NordVPN both have a money-back guarantee, so you can always try them out and get a refund if you dislike the service.
Will A VPN Slow Down My Internet
A VPN routes your data an extra leg to a VPN server, which must then spend processing power encrypting and decrypting the data. It is therefore inevitable that using a VPN will slow down your internet connection at least a little.
The two biggest factors at play are the distance to the VPN server and how loaded the VPN server is. If you connect to a server near to you which is not overloaded, then you can expect to lose around 10 percent of your base internet speed. However, the Fastest VPNs invest heavily in high-speed servers so you don’t have to deal with a slow internet connection.
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How Does A VPN Work
When you sign up with a VPN provider, you first log onto that service before you connect to the internet. Once you are connected, others cant see your activity. Your VPN provider will encrypt your data, scrambling it so that hackers, government agencies, and businesses can’t see what websites you visit, messages you send, social media sites you use, or files you download.
Are There Free Versions And Does It Matter
Many of the top providers offer free versions of their VPNs. But the free versions may be limitations for instance, on how much data you can use.
Some VPN providers offer free trials of their paid versions. The trials typically run for about a month. Some allow to access most of the VPN features of the paid service, although there may be data limitations.
If you sign up for a free trial, you provide the same personal and payment information youd use if you were signing up for the paid service. You can cancel your account before the end of the trial. If you dont cancel, the provider will begin to bill you for continuing service.
Keep in mind, some free VPNs may collect and share or sell your data to third parties for marketing purposes, while others may not block ads.
Are free versions available?
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What Is A VPN And Why Would I Need One
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He’s written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami’s NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read nearly one billion times—and that’s just here at How-To Geek. Read more…
Justin Duino is the Managing Editor at How-To Geek. He has spent the last decade writing about Android, smartphones, and other mobile technology. In addition to his written work, he has also been a regular guest commentator on CBS News and BBC World News and Radio to discuss current events in the technology industry. Read more…
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi, and more.
These days VPNs are really popular, but not for the reasons they were originally created. They originally were just a way to connect business networks together securely over the internet or allow you to access a business network from home.
VPNs Are No Guarantee Against Government Tracking
Despite leaks and disclosures about government data-collection efforts in recent years, its hard to determine the exact reach of current operations and how vulnerable encryption technologies like VPNs are to those efforts. Given the more immediate threats to security and privacy from other avenues, none of the experts we interviewed highlighted government data collection as the foremost reason for most people to get a VPN. A VPN could help prevent some types of passive data collectionand a trustworthy VPN certainly cant hurtbut theres no guarantee against government tracking.
In our exchanges with security expert Alec Muffett, he suggested, Some privacy activists expend great effort in hiding from the man, where the man really doesnt care about them. So they just make excess work for themselves. Bill McKinley, head of the information security team at The New York Times, went further, saying, If you really feel that what youre doing online is that valuable to government x, then you probably shouldnt be leveraging the Internet. Were not saying its hopeless, but even if you seriously overhaul how you conduct your activities online, there are no guarantees you wont get caught up in a database somewhere.
Some privacy activists expend great effort in hiding from the man, where the man really doesnt care about them.” Alec Muffet, security expert
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