What is a VPN?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is the number one personal cybersecurity product for people that use the Internet.

It works by installing software on a subscriber’s device, which allows it to encrypt all incoming and outgoing web traffic.

As well as providing a layer of encryption, a VPN service sends a subscriber’s encrypted web traffic to a remote server before sending it to the web page.

By acting as a middleman for their subscribers’ traffic, visited websites only get to see the VPN provider’s IP address.

By doing this, a VPN service can protect its subscriber’s’ online activities from the snooping eyes of governments, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), advertisers, corporations and cybercriminals. Furthermore, a VPN keeps people’s data safe when attached to public WiFi – or when in shared living arrangements – when any other person attached to the same WiFi could theoretically ‘sniff’ their traffic.

It does this thanks to the encryption that is provides between the subscriber’s device and a choice of VPN servers. With the best VPNs on the market, this is done with military grade OpenVPN encryption – the protocol that is most recommended by VPN reviewers at BestVPN.com. The outcome is security for password and bank details at home and when traveling.

VPN solution world map

Internet freedom with a VPN

In addition, a VPN is one of the most sought after Internet freedom tools. All over the world, people turn to VPN services to overcome censorship imposed on them by governments. At critical times, when totalitarian regimes close down access to social media websites in order to quell dissenters: a VPN is the solution. Regaining access to those websites so that oppressed people can once again communicate and share vital information.

For people that simply want the freedom to bypass annoying geo-restriction notices, the same is true. A worthwhile VPN service has servers located all over the world so that subscribers can ‘spoof’ their IP address.

‘Spoofing’ means that VPN subscribers can pretend to be anywhere else in the world that their provider has a server. As such, a VPN is fantastic not only for overcoming censorship – but also for entertainment purposes – allowing people to stream content privately that was supposed to be restricted.

Protect Against Snooping

In many nations around the world (and more all the time), governments are forcing ISPs to retain web browsing histories and metadata for anything between six months and two years. That private data can be used to tell a lot about a person. In fact, studies have revealed that web browsing histories can tell people’s political beliefs, their lifestyle choices, their sexual preference, their religious beliefs and even their medical conditions. At its most invasive, web browsing histories can even be used to ascertain whether a person is socially ‘upwardly mobile’.

That is a disgusting amount of power, which governments and ISPs have absolutely no right to abuse. Worst of all, on the 28 of March 2017 US congress decided to give ISPs the right to sell all US citizens data to whoever they want – without the need for the customer’s consent.

That means that despite it not being mandatory for data to be retained (like it is in some places), ISPs in the US are even more likely to retain that data: because they are allowed to make a profit from it. With that in mind, it is very likely that all ISPs in the US are retaining as much data as they can since the ruling was passed.

A VPN is the only solution

For people that don’t want their ISP to have all their data, the encryption that a VPN provides is the perfect solution. However, do be aware that not every VPN is created equally. Some VPNs are a total rip off, providing outdated encryption protocols that simply aren’t secure. In addition, many VPNs sell user data to third parties (just like ISPs are now permitted to in the US). This is a huge security risk, and is the exact opposite of what a VPN is supposed to do.

There are well over 800 commercial VPNs on the market, and the vast majority of those prioritize making money above providing adequate privacy. That is a disgrace, and is why it is highly important to make sure that you subscribe to a world class VPN provider that is both trusted and reliable. The best VPNs believe in providing a secure service – and it these VPNs that consumers come back to time and time again.

With that in mind, it is important that consumers make the effort to compare the market and discover which VPNs are worth the investment. A trusted VPN service, with a watertight privacy policy that provides strong security and great speeds will cost in the region of $75 to $90 per year. That is not a lot of money, considering that many bad VPNs still charge about $50 to provide a rip off service.

Beware free and cheap VPNs

Everybody likes getting something for free. However, when it comes to VPNs the age old adage of “you get what you pay for” is definitely true. Data is extremely valuable, which is why VPNs are willing to give away their services for free. However, unless the free VPN is severely limited (bandwidth and usage limits) it is likely that the VPN isn’t free. Instead, consumers are paying for it with their data: which the VPN will sell to third parties.

This is also true of other free apps, so it is always worth checking the terms of service of all online services and app permissions before downloading them to your device.

A VPN for streaming

Many people want a VPN for unblocking HD streaming content. In order to do this, it is important to have a fast VPN. All VPN services slow down a subscriber Internet because they

have to route the internet via their servers and encrypt the data.

The best VPN services only slow down the speed of an internet connection about 10%. However, most VPNs slow it down much much more. In fact, it isn’t unusual for VPNs that claim to be “the fastest in the world” to slow a 50 Mbps Internet connection down to just 5 Mbps (yes they lie a lot). This simply isn’t acceptable, so when choosing a VPN subscribers need to take a lot of care. If you need a fast VPN, the best option is to take advice from an article like this one.

Which VPN should I choose?

In fact, because there are so many VPNs to choose from (and because so many are massive liars) the best thing to do when selecting a VPN is to seek expert advice. There are a lot of VPN comparison websites online, though you may find that not all of those can be trusted (some recommend seriously insecure VPNs like PureVPN as secure!)

How to setup a VPN

Another reason to seek expert advice about VPNs is that setting up the best VPNs is very easy: whereas others can be a bit of a pain. The best VPNs provide custom apps for each platform, which means that all you need to is download the version you need.

At times, it will be necessary to download the third party OpenVPN  software to connect via OpenVPN. However, when this is the case the VPN will tell you and provide you with a guide for doing so (it is very, very easy).

Finally, here is a VPN setup guide for anybody that is worried about the process:

  1. Subscribe to your chosen VPN software.
  2. Download the VPN software from your provider: being sure to get the right version (called a client) for your device.
  3. Install the software. The software will install quickly and will walk you through the process
  4. Select your VPN protocol from the VPN menu. We suggest L2TP/IPSec or OpenVPN
  5. Connect to a server from the server list. If you require a particular location choose that, if not select one closer to your geographic location as that will provide even faster speeds.
  6. Now that you are connected all your data is private and you can see any restricted content!