There are many good reasons for using a VPN or Virtual Private Network or VPN. A VPN is a series of computers or discrete networks that are connected to each other. Whilst VPNs enable businesses to access remote datacentres, individuals are able to use them to access network resources even when other users are not on the same LAN or local area network. This enables them to secure and encrypt communications when on an untrusted public network.
How does a VPN work?
When someone connects to a VPN, a VPN client is normally launched on their computer. They then need to login with their details, with their device sharing trusted keys with a remote server. Both computers verify each other, then communication is encrypted and eavesdropping is prevented. When you use a VPN, all data sent and received is secure. VPNs boost your security and allow you to get access to networks even when you are not physically connected to them.
VPNs and untrusted networks
There are many reasons why different people use VPNs. Students and workers often use VPNs when using Wi-Fi services in areas such as cafes to ensure their behaviour isn’t being intercepted. Some people choose to use VPNs to avoid being accused of illegal downloading just because they have torrent services and suchlike open on their computers. It’s also possible to use VPNs to stream shows and other content that is restricted by location. VPNs can be incredibly useful when browsing the internet on an untrusted network.
Choosing a VPN
So, how do you choose a VPN? There are a host of features to look for when considering using certain VPNs. Whilst some VPNs are used for occasional use, others can be of benefit to those who need daily access and some VPNs are designed to heavy downloaders. You need to be able to trust the VPN service provider with your data. Whilst your communications may be protected from snoopers outside of the network, other systems on the VPN including the operator can log your data. It’s a good idea to read the terms and conditions before you start using a VPN. Using a VPN won’t necessarily protect you from malware and spyware. This means you should use HTTPS whenever you can and be careful about downloads. Many people have been hit hard after using clients that weren’t bundled with anti-malware and anti-spyware protection.
Paid v Free
Whilst there are some high-quality free VPN services on the market, you’re more likely to benefit from a safer and more secure experience if you’re prepared to invest your cash. Free VPNs are more likely to log your activities and have an inadequate approach to privacy. You are more likely to be targeted with ads when using a free VPN. Some subscription VPN providers will log your data whilst others won’t. Most won’t show ads. You may wish to take out a free trial to get a feel for their services before you sign up for a subscription.
The risks of public networks
Far too many people don’t realise how insecure public Wi-Fi networks. Whilst they can be incredibly convenient, it’s all too easy for attackers to get access to your information when you are using this type of network. VPNs give you a greater level of control over your online activities, and various networking experts recommend them to all internet users.
Boosting your privacy
When you use a VPN, not even your ISP can see your traffic until you leave the VPN server. VPNs also hide your real IP address, making life much more difficult for advertisers, hackers and spies to track you whilst online. There are many VPNs on the market, but the varying levels of security and quality on offer mean it’s always wise to consider a number of services before you come to a decision and spend time reading reviews and comparing the features on offer.
There are also growing numbers of fake VPNs online, so it really is wise to take care when seeking out the right service for you. In any case, you need to spend time thinking about factors like support, ease of use, types of encryption, reputation, support and additional features when selecting a VPN.