These days a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a privacy and security necessity. In simple terms, a VPN secures all of your data by sending it over an encrypted connection from your device and sends it to another point on the internet, which is owned by the VPN provider. The data will then make its way towards the public internet. Any data coming from the website will be received in a similar way, but in reverse. A good VPN service will not only encrypt and protect the data but will also ensure the origin and device information stays hidden, all while keeping logs to a minimum.
One of the biggest benefits of using a VPN is to keep your data secure and online activity private. An Internet Service Provider (ISP) and some other organizations, like Google and Facebook, have ways to keep a track of many of your activities online. If you think going incognito is all you need to do, you would be incorrect.
Some automatically associate using a VPN or trying to keep your activity private with nefarious purposes. That’s certainly not the case for a large majority of users. The reason why most people use a VPN is because of the peace of mind it can offer.
The obvious security and privacy advantages of a VPN come when you are connected to a public Wi-Fi network. Depending on where you are, Wi-Fi could be widely available at coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and on school campuses. There is no way to know what kind of security is available on these networks, though. Some can even use these public connections to snoop and steal your data. As a rule of thumb, never do anything like online banking when connected to such networks without a VPN.
VPN services will often advertise the fact that they can help you circumvent geolocation restrictions, particularly when it comes to streaming services or specific website restrictions. This can be a popular reason many users are attracted to these services in the first place.
At a time where quite a few people, whose job affords them the capability, are now working from home, a VPN lets you connect to the office network and work remotely. You can access any confidential information you need that would otherwise only be available in the office. The data is encrypted as it travels to and from your home.
Keep in mind that corporate VPNs used to connect to office networks are very different from the consumer-grade services that we generally talk about for personal use. You, or the company’s IT administrator, will need to manually set up the VPN on your devices first to make sure that you have access to the office network as required.
A free VPN service is bad news. There are thousands of free VPNs that are appropriately flashy and hit all the right keywords to make you feel at ease. However, running and maintaining a VPN service is complicated and expensive. A service that is free to the customer will need to recover their costs elsewhere. Some of these companies do so by tracking your online activity and selling the data.
Keep in mind, using a VPN for any purpose can be illegal in some countries because they offer anonymity, privacy, and encryption. You do not want to break the law in these locations! Do your research before using these services. Updates on country status can be found here: https://protonvpn.com/blog/are-vpns-illegal/
A downside to VPN services can be the drop in connection speed. You are sending your data to the VPN provider before it heads to final destination, which means the connection speeds will almost always be slower than your regular, non-VPN speed. Depending on the server location, the drop can be quite significant. Use a trial version of your VPN to ensure you can get speeds that are appropriate for your working conditions before purchasing a subscription. Some services also offer a money back guarantee.
ExpressVPN has been great because our connection speeds our not impacted. However, the pricing is a bit high and your personal experience may vary. NordVPN claims an impressive number of servers and has a lot of security features while also being one of the cheapest options available.