What is VPN, Benefits and How to Choose VPN – Understanding its Benefits, Drawbacks and How to Choose the Right Service for You
You may have heard of VPNs, also known as Virtual Private Networks. These can be used to encrypt your online activity and provide an extra layer of protection for your device. VPNs are actually quite useful, especially for journalists and activists who need to bypass internet censorship and access websites and content that may be banned by governments.
Both companies and consumers can use VPNs to stay secure and keep their online activity private. With a VPN, you can change your real location by getting a new IP address from the UK, US, Canada, Australia or any other country. VPNs were originally used to connect businesses together but their use has grown significantly in recent years.
It’s important to note that using a VPN doesn’t make you fully anonymous; it just significantly enhances the privacy of your online activity. Gamers love using VPNs because they prevent ISPs from throttling bandwidth. Sometimes ISPs might limit your internet speed; using a VPN can help prevent this. Additionally, VPNs allow gamers to play games that aren’t available in their country.
Advantages of using a VPN:
- You can use a VPN to add encryption to your online activity, which gives you better privacy and security.
- Helps reduce online tracking by hiding your IP (Internet Protocol) address.
- Provides protection against cyber threats and content filtering, which helps block access to phishing sites, malware and other threats.
- Protects against hackers on unsecured networks or public Wi-Fi.
- Unlocks regional content and allows you to access regionally locked streaming content.
- Some VPNs come with DNS filtering which helps block ads and prevent tracking.
- Makes P2P file sharing encrypted. Services like BitTorrent, multiplayer gaming services, voice chat services and other P2P specialty services are enforced with zero trust access.
- Can help reduce price discrimination.
Disadvantages of using a VPN:
- A VPN can make your connection slower but it’s hardly noticeable.
- QoS (Quality of Service) challenges may arise.
- Some businesses block VPNs.
- No cookie protection. Some cookies are useful for keeping service functionality but as a VPN might remove tracking cookies it won’t work.
What is an IP address?
Before learning about VPNs, it’s important to understand what an IP address is. IP stands for Internet Protocol and it’s a digital label that allows communication between your device and a server to be established. Your data travels with your IP address so that you always receive the correct information.
How to choose VPN Service
When choosing a VPN service, make sure to opt for one that doesn’t store logs or sell your browsing activity to any third-party. You can also look for a VPN that hides the fact that you’re using a VPN service. Many VPN providers offer a free version of their service without ads; if you like it, you can consider upgrading to a paid plan for a more reliable connection. Before making a long-term commitment, check if there’s a money-back guarantee or refund policy and what kind of customer support is available.
It’s possible that some logging is performed in order to offer you the service. Check if your network traffic is logged and whether it’s stored with your IP address and activity. When it comes to network privacy and security, check the protection standards used by the VPN provider such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) and other protection standards.
Also look at what protocols they use such as WireGuard, OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec/PPTP and LT2P/IPSec/SSTP/Shadowsocks etc. Check if the company has had any accusations in the past; if they have a good track record of protecting public data and providing privacy then it’s good to go with them.
Don’t forget to try out the trial version first, especially when it comes to speed because using a VPN might slow down your internet connection. You can check your interent Speed test with Speedtest.net or Fast.com or with any other based on your choice.
Look for fast internet connection VPN services by testing different ones across your apps, browser and services. Check how many devices you can use with your VPN service and what platforms it supports.
Not all VPNs are trustworthy. Some VPN services might be vulnerable or request unnecessary access in order to monetize their platform. Some might even store logs despite promising not to log their users’ online activity. Logs for network traffic (including DNS), the IP address of the device, bandwidth utilization and connection timestamps should not be logged. If the project is open source then that’s a bonus because you can’t blindly trust any VPN provider. The company should be transparent and able to show how their service keeps your data private.
Some VPN providers have independent audits; if independent reports are available for a particular VPN provider then it’s a good sign to go with that service. Some VPNs might have complicated user interfaces so if you have trouble with complex interfaces don’t forget to check which one suits you best.
You should also check how much battery the VPN consumes. While some VPNs claim to boost your speed it really depends on how far away the region you selected is. It’s good to have worldwide VPN server coverage as it gives you more locations to choose from and can decrease server load. Because a VPN runs in the background it could drain your battery faster than usual.
Check how many servers the VPN service offers and what kind of encryption they use; for example, AES 256-bit cipher is well known because it’s used by the US government and NSA. To test a VPN you can use a DNS leak test: first check without using a VPN and then check again after enabling it. If your results change then your VPN is working.
How VPN does Work
First things first: when you use a device to connect to the internet, your browser and apps communicate with websites. Some sites and apps might not be up-to-date or could have weak or no encryption. So when your device connects to a server and sends or receives files from the end server of a website or app, if the connection is unsecured it could be intercepted by hackers which could compromise your online privacy and security.
By using a VPN you can keep your internet traffic encrypted and secure your data on both public and untrusted internet connections. Your ISP assigns you a unique IP address which makes it easy for them to identify you and see all your traffic and activity. But with a VPN you still use the same ISP but they’re no longer able to see which sites you actually go to. After enabling a VPN, your ISP only knows that you’re using the same IP address which is actually shared with other users and changes regularly making it difficult for them to track you.
So when you enable a VPN on your device it encrypts the data and secures the connection between your device and server. It also masks your IP address from apps and websites so they won’t be able to determine your precise location. Your VPN works like a proxy or stand-in for all your online activity; instead of using your original IP address and location those websites can only see your VPN’s IP address and location.
How Safe are you with VPN
On top of that, a VPN makes you anonymous on the internet by establishing a secure connection where it uses complex mathematics in a process called authentication. This can only be read by the VPN client and server so no one in between can read your files. This is also called tunneling where each data packet is encapsulated inside another data packet making it harder for third-parties to read the files in transit.
A VPN tunnel keeps your files, passwords and confidential data safe and there are many ways to hide VPN communication. With this anyone can check your internet connection but they can’t track what you’re doing. Different VPNs use different methods of tunneling and there are multiple VPN protocols that exist.
VPNs are legal in most countries but some have laws against using them for illegal activities. Some countries ban VPNs for political and legislative purposes such as internet access controls and stifling freedom of speech.
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