Getting Started With a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Getting Started With a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

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We live in a day and age when all kinds of organizations, corporations, and governing bodies are interested in our personal information. An average Joe (or Joanne) may start to feel like they’re being victimized by some looming conspiracy.

The truth is that your private data is precious. Whether it’s nosy marketers or lurking cybercriminals, people want to gain access to your personal information. For many people, some online activity being made public is no big deal. After all, almost everybody has social media. But most of us would prefer if our browsing habits remained private.

With a public Wi-Fi network, this level of privacy isn’t possible. Unfortunately, if you’re frequently on the go, you rely on these connections. This issue brings us to fortifying your internet connection with a VPN, which stands for “virtual private network.”

What Is a VPN and How Does It Help Me?

Whenever you only have access to public Wi-Fi, implementing a VPN allows you to turn that public connection into a private network. You’ll mask your IP address, hiding your online behaviours from potentially prying eyes.

Hide your location

A VPN works as follows: Your device (smartphone, laptop, etc.) connects to another computer or server. Thus, your connection will display the VPN server’s IP address and not convey where you actually are.

Hide your private data over public Wi-Fi

When you’re on public Wi-Fi, VPN encrypts data you send across the internet, making anyone who intercepts your web traffic unable to read it. This extends even to your service provider. Keep in mind that this VPN-protected information includes your passwords and financial information (ie a credit card number).

Make it appear as if you’re in another city or country

When you’re using a VPN, your internet traffic is directed to an encrypted server that is often located in a different city or country. For instance, you could be in Kuala Lumpur but, using a VPN, you could connect to a Canadian server—with everything remaining secured.

This brings with it many advantages.

All Canadians know how lacking our country’s Netflix is, as are some of its other streaming services. There are even YouTube videos we can’t access because of geographical limitations[.8] . Yet [.9] with the right VPN, it’s possible to access this otherwise unavailable content since you’re connecting to servers in different countries.

How Does a VPN Work?

VPNs were initially meant to connect specific sites and users together through a public network. A VPN uses virtual connections routed through the internet from a third party VPN provider (or private network) to a remote site or person. As mentioned above, throughout this process, everything  remains secure and encrypted.

Your traffic to whatever digital space you’re visiting (ie website, app, streaming service) is forwarded by the VPN server.

The site in question sees your VPN server, not your device itself, as the traffic’s origin. Therefore, it also sees your VPN’s IP address—not yours. At their highest functioning, VPNs use thousands of servers while frequently updating their IP addresses. This approach keeps them one step ahead of websites, side-stepping any blacklists or blocking.

A VPN allows you not only to hurdle geo-blocks and keep your data safe through its functionality but also to download torrents faster.

How to Get a VPN

The primary matter to consider when getting a VPN is where you can use it. Of course, this depends on your needs. Provided that the VPN is protecting valuable work-related data, these highly secured networks are often available through your employer.

These days, however, many people are creating VPN servers on their own. There’s even a growing trend for individuals to host a VPN from their homes. Still, most often, people just want to leverage a VPN network to access otherwise geo-blocked content or to speed up torrent downloads.

For such purposes, there are plenty of online providers. A quick visit to their websites before signing up can help you make the decision . But we’ll go through the best VPN options in the next section.

How to Choose the Right VPN

The broad-stroke answer to this question is to write out your needs and pain points, then read what’s offered by a given VPN provider.  Remember that most VPNs will focus on one or two features. Ensure that whatever you choose aligns with your intended usage and is compatible with your devices. For instance, if your VPN is for an entire household, you’ll likely require a router-based solution. A product that allows for multiple simultaneous connections may also fit the bill.

If you intend to use your VPN for streaming and torrents, seek out one that’s high-speed, with reliable connections and unlimited bandwidth. If you travel all over the world and rely heavily on public Wi-Fi connections, a VPN with heightened security should head your priority list.

Here are three of the top VPN providers on the market:

Editor's Choice
Get secure and private access to the Internet with NordVPN

NordVPN is the best VPN if you’re looking for peace of mind when on public Wi-Fi. Securely access personal information or work files, encrypt your internet connection, and keep your browsing history private. 

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NordVPN prioritizes ease of use, server speed, streaming/torrenting capabilities, and affordability.

Your online activity is your business. Period.

ExpressVPN hides your IP address and encrypts your network data so no one can see what you’re doing. Become anonymous in seconds.

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While not ideal for torrenting and streaming, ExpressVPN is easy to use and highly secure, making it a great option for a coffee shop. ExpressVPN also offers a (limited) free tier.

Providing unthrottled VPN for over 100,000 users since 1995

Experience WireGuard, a next-generation VPN protocol that delivers industry-leading speed, security, and performance. StrongVPN is proud to be the first VPN service to offer WireGuard.

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Ease of use isn’t a strong point here. However, the torrenting and streaming capabilities are stellar with StrongVPN.

Get PureVPN at amazing discounts

PureVPN does not let you settle for a slow speed connection. Your streaming, downloading, gaming, and browsing will always be super fast.

Get PureVPN
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

PureVPN does not let you settle for a slow speed connection—your streaming, downloading, gaming, and browsing will always be fast.

Best All-Around VPNs for Canadians

Looking for a VPNs to use in Canada? Whether you’re working remotely or you simply want to keep your information safe from prying eyes, a VPN can help maximize your security and anonymity online. Getting the best VPN possible is one of the best first steps to staying protected online. The easy-to-use software remains the strongest defense against cybercriminals who want to expose your online information for their own financial gain.

We’ve tested more than 40 services to help you pick the best VPN protection.

How to Set Up a VPN

Upon choosing a service, you d ownload your selected VPN provider’s app. Generally, you’ll see a ‘Downloads’ page on the company’s website.

Make sure to download the app on all devices you wish to combine with the VPN. After your free trial (these aren’t always offered but are quite common), you’ll usually pay one subscription fee for a specific number of licenses. Most of the time, this number is five.

With Macs, companies sometimes release different VPN versions in the App Store than on their proprietary website. This practice is followed to appease Apple, which enforces strict compliance protocols.

Once the apps are installed, you’ll receive prompts to enter your login information. Typically, this information is the username and password you used to sign up for the service.

(That said, ExpressVPN—for instance—possesses unique login systems to bolster your privacy. It’s slightly confusing at first and will require that you carefully read the instructions.)

From there, your VPN app connects to the applicable server once you’re logged in.

Generally, the chosen server will be the one that’s closest to your location to help enhance speed while using your VPN. Network speed tends to decrease when you’re too far away from the server.

Also, should you prefer not to, you don’t need to download a VPN company’s app. Those concerned with app ecosystem surveillance can configure their device’s network settings to connect directly to the VPN service. While this isn’t ideal (since you must manually update information on your computer), most services provide written configuration instructions.

Takeaway

As the digital revolution continues to run wild , we’re more at risk of privacy invasion and malicious cyber threats than ever before. VPN protects your precious personal information while also providing other perks, such as negating geo-blocks and speeding up torrent streaming.

The caveat is that you must put in the research to ensure your VPN provider meets your needs. Interested? Get secure and private access to the internet with NordVPN.

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