How to Set Up and Use a VPN

What a VPN Does and Does Not Do

For example, you may want to use your VPN when on a public Wi-Fi like at a coffee shop, but not use it home. By continuing to use our site, you agree to our cookie policy. Your information is now being securely tunneled to the VPN server. Max Eddy is a Software Analyst, taking a critical eye to Android apps and security services. How to Check Your Internet Speed. Everyone should be using a virtual private network or VPN , whether you're connecting to the Internet on your computer or your smartphone. One is that the VPN service should allow you to connect at least five devices at a time.

How to Choose a VPN

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a way for individuals and companies to protect your personal data and identities.

VPNs are used to block your IP address and redirect it somewhere else. This is useful for blocking parties from tracking your data and browsing habits, or viewing websites or services that may not be available in your area. VPNs also give you an extra level of security against government agencies or hackers, especially when using a public Wi-Fi service. Some VPNs allow employees of a company to gain access to company resources outside the office.

There are many VPN services for you to use which are both free and paid. Using a VPN is as easy as installing the software on your computer, tablet, or even smartphone and launching the application. Sign up for a service. Install the app for the service. Open the VPN app. Follow the on-screen instructions to sign in.

Did this summary help you? Turn on your computer and connect to the Internet. If you are at home, your computer should connect automatically. If you are working someplace other than home, such as an airport or coffee shop, you may need to manually connect to the Internet if you have not connected from that location before. VPNs are offered in both paid and free versions, and both have merits. You may not need a full scale VPN if you simply want to access Netflix or BBC iPlayer from different countries, or you want to make sure that your social login information is safe while at a coffee shop; you can get typically what you need from a free service.

However, if you are looking for more comprehensive encryptions that hide all your activity from government surveillance or disallow data trackers from advertising companies, you may need a paid service.

Note that most free options offer a data limit for free before charging you for more data, sell users data to third parties, add loads of in app ads or label free trial as a free plan. But some of the VPN services, such as ProtonVPN, as stated in their website, has no privacy-invading ads, no malware, no bandwidth limits, and does not secretly sell user data. However, it also has some limits, such as access to the servers and devices you can use simultaneously.

VPNs can also be used within a company to connect everyone privately and protect sensitive company data. Download your desired VPN. Navigate to the website for your desired VPN.

Click the download button and follow the prompts to download the version for your operating system. You will need to install the client software onto your computer to access your company's servers.

Your IT department will determine if your computer is compatible with the VPN software, help you make your computer compatible if it is not, and help you install the software and configure your access to the VPN. Install your VPN Software. Once you have downloaded your VPN software to your computer, locate the downloaded file. Open it and follow the prompts to install and start. Other VPNs require you to sign up with an email address. On a Mac, you will typically launch the.

On Windows, you will typically run the. Once you have installed your VPN, launch the application from your Start menu. On your smartphone, launch the app from your home screen. Read the terms of use. Some VPNs, especially free ones, might install third-party applications, or give you a data limit. Make sure you are educated on what your VPN is providing you, what it is requiring of you, and what kind of information it collects. Launch your VPN software. On Windows, you may have an icon on your desktop or you may need to click on the Windows icon in the lower left corner of the screen and select the program from the Taskbar or the Programs menu.

Most VPN applications will give you easy to follow prompts that get you started if this is your first time using the software. You can also edit your preferences to tailor your experience. You may also have the option for TCP overrides. This override means that if your internet service provider throttles your connection, you can choose to force your VPN to use a TCP Transmission Control Protocol which is more stable, though sometimes a bit slower. Enter your username and password when prompted.

If you are using a company's VPN, or most personal software, this will grant you secure access to your network. At this point, operations vary depending on how your company has configured its VPN access. The VPN software may open a new window that looks like your desktop at work, also known as a virtual desktop, where you can access your company resources. Or, you may need to launch your web browser and enter a secure web address where you can access your company's resources.

If your VPN session does not launch a virtual desktop, your IT department should provide you with instructions for accessing your resources. Now that you are signed up and logged in, you can begin running your VPN to protect your identity, access protected files on a network, or access websites and content not available in your country. You can also change your settings to allow your VPN to launch automatically and connect to a random network, or you can choose when and how you connect.

Or you may be restricted to a time limit. For example, you may want to use your VPN when on a public Wi-Fi like at a coffee shop, but not use it home. Or consider choosing VPN providers that do not limit your data as mentioned above. You can use your VPN to watch Netflix in a different country, allowing you access to movies and shows that you may not get normally. Hola is a collaborative P2P network that comes as a browser extension.

You can install Hola to your browser easily for quick and free VPN access. You can download it to your computer or through the App store. Or, you can install the extension to Chrome, Firefox, and Opera for quick use. Hola reroutes some of your activity through a peer to peer network and helps to mask your true IP address. Smarthome Office Security Linux.

The Best Tech Newsletter Anywhere Join , subscribers and get a daily digest of news, geek trivia, and our feature articles. So how does this help you? You can use a VPN to: Bypass geographic restrictions on websites or streaming audio and video. Watch streaming media like Netflix and Hulu.

Protect yourself from snooping on untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspots. Gain at least some anonymity online by hiding your true location. Protect yourself from being logged while torrenting.

Tunnelbear — This VPN is really easy to use, is great for using at the coffee shop, and has a limited free tier. StrongVPN — not quite as easy to use as the others, but you can definitely use them for torrenting and streaming media.

All of them have free trials, so you can easily get your money back if you change your mind. Access a Business Network While Traveling: You can also set up your own VPN to access your own network while travelling.

This will allow you to access a Windows Remote Desktop over the Internet , use local file shares, and play games over the Internet as if you were on the same LAN local area network. If you want to hide your browsing activity for a bit more privacy, you can connect to a VPN.

The local network will only see a single, secure VPN connection.

How Do You Get a VPN, and Which One Should You Choose?