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How do you use a VPN to surf the web?

Posted on by in Private

There are many reasons why people or an organization would want to make use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology. The use of a VPN encrypts its users activities online and furthermore cloaks their identity and physical locations. If you are a private and casual user you might simply use a VPN to circumvent geo-restrictions to view your favorite videos online. If you are big on keeping your privacy secure you can use a VPN to stop hackers or government agencies from eavesdropping on your endeavors or to make your unsecure public Wi-Fi connection into one that is encrypted. Educational institutes, multinational businesses and other organizations tend to use a VPN to allow their members to access their servers securely from a remote location. There are quite many more reasons why you would have an interest in using a VPN. But how exactly do you start using one? There are many VPN providers, some of which are free and some which you have to pay for. All VPN providers have different sort of deals and services which they provide. At the end of the day, installing VPN software on your device is quite easy and straightforward.

Step-by-step instructions

  1. First things first to you would need to have access to the internet in order for you to download a VPN client if you haven’t done so before and then to access a VPN. Take notice that a VPN is not a substitute for an Internet Service Provider (ISP). You will need a reliable internet connection to make use of a VPN. If you are connecting from work or from home your connection is probably a lot more secure compared to if you are connecting to the internet using an open public Wi-Fi. Because public Wi-Fi are usually unsecured and vulnerable, even people with a slight knowledge of hacking could easily eavesdrop on information being send and received by you over such connections if you are not using a VPN.
  2. The second step is deciding if a free VPN service is enough for you or if a paid VPN service is what you need. If you want to circumvent geo-restrictions on your favorite websites or videos, a free VPN might be enough. Free VPNs usually do limit speed data so your websites and videos might load slower compared to what you are used to. Some free VPNs might also inject their own ads into the websites you visit in order for them to generate some revenue. One good thing about not having to pay for your VPN service is that you are not giving up personal information when you are paying online with either your credit card or any payment service. If you want to make sure that your activities online are not logged by the websites you visit or not surveilled by hackers or the government or you simply want to stay anonymous, you should opt for a free VPN service.

    There are quite a few reasons to make an investment into a VPN service subscription. Paid VPNs tend to use security protocols which are more secured that those used by free VPNs. They are more reliable, they have better speed, support and server locations. Because of all these wonderful properties paid VPNs come with, it’s no surprise that business, educational institutes and other organizations which want to make accessing there servers remotely secure, choose for paid VPNs.

  3. What you want to do next before choosing your VPN client is reading their terms and conditions. This is especially the case if you have decided to use a free VPN client. As said before it’s not uncommon for free VPNs to inject their own third party ads, applications or severely limit data speed or to even have data caps, these might be deal breakers for you.

    Furthermore, you might want to know in which countries their servers are located in and how their policies are concerning giving up user information if requested by authorities. Even though your connection might as well be encrypted, it is only encrypted to people outside yourself and the VPN provider. VPN providers can see what you are up. To give an example if you are a journalist who is reporting on corruption or other Governmental inconsistencies in Russia, you might have an interest in using a VPN with servers located outside Russia or outside countries which are allies with Russia.

  4. After having a good idea what you are getting yourself into, choose, download and install your VPN client. There is quite a multitude of VPN clients which you can find online. After deciding which VPN client is right for you and if you want to pay for a specific service or not, head over to the VPN provider’s website and proceed to download the VPN client/software. Follow the instructions provided to you by the VPN provider’s website and install the software after it has finished downloading to your device.

    If you have chosen for a free VPN chances are that you don’t need to register and log-in to make use of the VPN, after the installation you should be good to go. If you did pay for the VPN service you should have been obligated to make an account while making your purchase. Simply use your account log-ins in the software to have access to your paid VPN service.

  5. Now that you have your VPN client installed and you have logged in if required, it’s all about making it run. Most VPN clients have similar interfaces and they all have a button that says something similar like “Turn on VPN”. It’s up to you if you want to make further configuration from within the client like choosing specific servers in specific countries.

Notes

  • If you are working for a multinational company or you are a student at university you don’t need your own VPN client to access your organizations network. Usually such organizations networks are already using a VPN and you only need to log in on their websites with log in credentials given to you by the network administrators/IT department.
  • Only use free VPNs if you are using it for things like circumventing geo-restrictions, securing your internet connection over a public Wi-Fi network for simple browsing and staying anonymous. Not securing your public Wi-Fi connection makes you vulnerable to hackers connected on the same network. Your private conversations, pictures, files, passwords and other data you are sending and receiving can be easily picked using simple software if your connection is not encrypted.
  • When paying for a VPN service it might not be a good idea to do so over a public Wi-Fi because as mentioned before the connection might be compromised. If you do choose to do so anyway make sure that website you are making your purchase from is secured. Usually you can tell that this is the case if the URL of the website starts with https:// instead of http://.
  • A good VPN might only set you back $5-10 a month. So even if you don’t think you need one, it is a small price to pay to keep your online activities private. You never know when it could come in handy down the road.
  • Using VPN is usually legal if what you are using it for is also legal. If you are simply using a VPN to access blocked videos outside of the US, odds are nothing will ever happen to you. Then again if you are using VPN to access illegal marketplaces, child pornography or to cover your black-hat activities online, you are probably setting yourself up to get in trouble. Again your VPN is encrypted for people who are trying to eavesdrop but that doesn’t mean your VPN provider will not report you to authorities if you are using their service for illegal activities.