Setting Up and Using a VPN

Increasing your online privacy is simple with a VPN. We describe what they do, how to choose the right one for you, and how to begin going. 


Setting Up and Using a VPN

Virtual private networks (VPNs) used to be the exclusive domain of companies and a specific class of privacy-conscious individuals. Currently, there is a growing market for commercial VPNs with attractive apps and reasonable rates that are easy to use. It's challenging to sort through the marketing bluster, which is prevalent, and once you discover a VPN you like, how do you even use it? We'll assist you in determining what a VPN does best, how to choose a reliable one, and how to utilize it to enhance your online privacy.


What About a VPN?

VPNs are more user-friendly than ever, yet articulating their benefits is still difficult. But, in 2021, the Federal Trade Commission published a study showing just how much information internet service providers (ISPs) have about their clients (you). The research presents a compelling case for VPNs in one specific paragraph:


Hence, a single ISP may monitor the websites that customers visit, the programs they watch, the apps they use, the amount of energy they consume, their present location and past location, the search terms they employ, and the content of their email correspondence. Companies use this information to produce advertising segments, some of which contain revealing information about sensitive topics like race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, financial situation, health, and political beliefs.



Keeping individuals with access to your data from viewing it is what VPNs are best at. It's crucial to comprehend a VPN's restrictions as with any technology, though. For all, you wouldn't anticipate a parachute or a Kevlar vest to save you from a bullet or a fall from an airplane, respectively.


Your traffic is sent to a server run by the VPN provider when you turn on a VPN through an encrypted tunnel. Hence, your ISP won't be able to view your web traffic. Nobody will be able to spy on your actions, not even the network administrators.


How a VPN Operates

Your true IP address is effectively concealed because it looks that your traffic is coming from the VPN server. This makes it more difficult to follow you as you navigate the internet and conceals your actual location because IP addresses are dispersed geographically. This can be useful if you wish to disguise your location. You can appear as though you are accessing the internet from the UK by connecting to a London-based VPN server.


Your traffic won't be entirely anonymous with a VPN, though. Use the free Tor anonymization network to accomplish that. Using Tor, your data is routed via a number of volunteer computers as opposed to only passing through one (like a VPN server). This makes it much more difficult for someone to monitor your activity and observe what you're up to, but be aware that it will also cause a decrease in online traffic.


Nevertheless, websites are able to follow your activities thanks to cookies, browser fingerprinting, internet trackers, and other sophisticated methods. Ad-blockers can make it much more difficult for advertisers to track your online activities if you install them and use all the privacy features offered by most current browsers.


Furthermore, just because you use a VPN does not excuse you from maintaining the fundamentals of security. While some VPN services assert that they can block malware, we advise downloading independent antivirus software for your computer instead because this software is made particularly to guard against harmful software. Using a password manager can help you prevent password leaks because reused passwords are a common point of failure. Turn on multi-factor authentication whenever you can when you're securing your passwords.


How to Choose a VPN

We take a few crucial metrics into account when we test and evaluate VPNs. For starters, a VPN service should let you connect to at least five devices at once. The greatest providers now easily surpass this criteria, and some now don't even impose a cap on the number of connections at once. If you intend to utilize BitTorrent or P2P, another fundamental criterion for a VPN service is that it must permit traffic on its servers. Although almost all VPNs let them on at least some of their servers, you don't want to get in trouble with the provider you're paying a monthly price to.


In terms of prices, a monthly membership to a VPN service that has examined costs, on average, $9.78. While paying extra each month for a VPN service doesn't necessarily mean you're getting ripped off, the service should make up for it by providing a valuable perk, like a great user interface or a large selection of server locations.


Longer-term contracts are typically more affordable. I've looked at around 40 products, and the average cost of a VPN subscription per year is $65.57. So until you're convinced that you're delighted with the service, we advise avoiding lengthy commitments. Instead, begin with a short-term or, even better, a free subscription so you may test a VPN at home.


Knowing a VPN provider's location is also helpful. Remember that this is not always the company's physical address, but rather a legal designation that specifies the country or region the organization is based in. Some businesses may (or may not) be exempt from data retention rules because of local regulations, which would otherwise oblige them to keep certain information (including your data) that may be accessed by law authorities.


Concerns about how VPNs would affect internet speeds are common among readers. At we conduct in-depth speed tests to identify the fastest VPN. Having said that, we don't think that the main consideration when choosing a VPN should be speed. A service with excellent ratings now can be extremely slow tomorrow due to the wide variance in performance. With the knowledge that there will always be a performance cost and that it may change from day to day, we advise trying a service on your home network to see for yourself how it works.


Is a VPN trustworthy? is a common query from readers. In light of the fact that VPNs have access to the same traffic that an ISP has, they may attempt to monetize it or, if they are careless with your privacy, may provide your information to hackers or the police. Through speaking with businesses, reviewing their rules, and other methods, we spend a lot of time in our reviews attempting to provide an answer to this query. Clear and understandable privacy policies, transparency reports, and third-party audits that look at infrastructure and policy enforcement are some indications of a reliable VPN.


Trust is the most significant consideration when selecting a VPN. Try another provider if the location, cost, or terms of service give you any pause. In every one of our VPN reviews, we make sure to cover all of these concerns and call attention to anything that seems unclear or troublesome.


Is a VPN Worth the Money?

Free VPNs with any value are uncommon, but they do exist. A few VPN providers provide a free trial, but it's typically only available for a few period of time. Others, like TunnelBear VPN and Atlas VPN, provide completely free subscriptions but place restrictions on the amount of data they can use. Due to its lack of data restrictions for free users, Proton VPN is our top pick for free VPNs.


Unfortunately, the majority of VPNs are far from free, although purchasing one won't cost you a fortune. If you're on a tight budget, you should start with our selection of affordable VPNs.

Using a VPN: How to Get Started

The first thing to do after choosing a service is to download the provider's app. For this, the website of the VPN service typically has a Downloads page. While you're there, download the apps for your smartphone. If the VPN provider you're thinking about doesn't have an app for the devices you use, you might want to look elsewhere.


Some businesses offer a certain set of apps on app stores and another set on their corporate website. This seems to be required for compliance with limitations set by app store owners. Reading the company's literature attentively can help you determine which will work for you.


You're typically requested to provide your login details after installing the apps. This is often the username and password you made when you registered for the service. Several businesses use privacy-protecting login procedures that can first seem puzzling, 

Once you've logged in, your VPN app often connects to the VPN server that is most near where you are right now. Because performance suffers the further a VPN server is from your actual location, this is done to improve speeds when using the VPN. That's all; your data is now being tunneled securely to the VPN server.


The thought of adding another another app on their devices may make some readers uncomfortable. If you prefer to do things on your own, you can forego the app and go the traditional route. In order to use the VPN service's infrastructure, this typically entails making adjustments to the operating system settings. On how to configure your device, the majority of VPN services will have guidance.


Having stated that, we advise against following this course of action. You will need to manually keep your computer's server information current if you use manual configuration. Also, you won't be able to use all of the other functions that the VPN service that you are already paying for offers.


How to Choose the Correct VPN Server

You might not always wish to connect to the VPN app's suggested server. You could want to use your VPN's custom servers or pretend to be somewhere else. Or perhaps the server that the software suggests is simply unreliable or extremely slow. The best VPNs enable you to swiftly and simply switch to a different VPN server for any purpose.


VPN software occasionally list their servers in extensive pull-down menus or menus. The top VPN providers have search bars and prominently display servers for particular tasks like BitTorrenting and streaming. An interactive map is a common feature of the apps offered by VPN providers. You may click on countries to connect to servers there, for instance, with TunnelBear VPN and NordVPN.


ProtonVPN shows a map of nearby servers and a list of accessible servers.

You can utilize an interactive map in addition to Proton VPN's list of accessible servers.

What you intend to do will determine the server you use. You ought to pick a nearby server for faster performance. A server close to the content you wish to watch is necessary to access region-locked content.


Some VPN providers offer servers designed specifically for streaming video. These customized servers come in handy because VPNs are blocked by streaming providers like Netflix.


Is a VPN at Home Really Necessary?

The top VPN services provide extra security features like Tor access or multi-hop VPNs. You can visit restricted websites on the so-called dark web with Tor, which is a technique to better secure your privacy, as was already mentioned. Similarly, a multi-hop VPN connection tunnels you to one server and then another rather than just sending your traffic through a single VPN server. Each of these options give up speed for greater privacy.


The multi-hop connections portion of the ProtonVPN application was enlarged.

Due to the additional physical security measures taken by Proton VPN for its multi-hop servers, the company refers to these connections as Secure Core.


The Fundamentals and Beyond

What you might find when you access the VPN Settings differs depending on the VPN provider, therefore we can only make generalizations about the feature set in each VPN. But, we advise you to read the manual and give some of the buttons a try. Using a tool is, after all, the greatest way to learn it.


A Kill Switch is a feature found in the majority of VPN services that stops your computer from sending or receiving data in the event that the VPN connection is lost. It helps stop small amounts of unencrypted data from passing through. Check to determine whether your VPN's Kill Switch has been tripped if you discover that the internet has suddenly stopped working.


A VPN protocol selection option is available with some VPNs. This can be frightening because they have strange names and businesses rarely explain what they are and what will happen if the protocol is changed. Generally speaking, you may disregard this.


But if you're curious, the most recent VPN protocol is called WireGuard. It has the most recent encryption technology, is open source, and might be quicker than competing protocols. IKEv2 and OpenVPN are also wise choices. It should be noted that depending on the device you're using, you may not be able to manually choose all of the accessible protocols.


When ought I to use a VPN?

Depending on what you plan to use a VPN for, you can choose when to utilize one. You'll probably leave your VPN off until it's ready to stream if all you're doing is trying to access region-locked content. You should generally keep your VPN on as much as possible if privacy is a concern for you. Perhaps your VPN is only used when you're traveling if your main concern is sketchy Wi-Fi networks.


Do not punish yourself if you need to disable your VPN since it is causing you issues. While accessing a network that you don't own or manage, you should at the very least use a VPN, especially if it's a public Wi-Fi network.


VPNs for Android and iPhones are a little more challenging, especially if you regularly switch between cellular coverage. The VPN must reconnect each time your data connectivity is lost and restored, adding to the annoying wait. Your cell traffic is also less likely to be intercepted by criminals, despite research demonstrating that it is possible.


With a sizable map at the top and controls at the bottom, two views of NordVPN for iOS are side by side.

All platforms, including iOS, have a consistent appearance with NordVPN.

Most gadgets immediately join to any Wi-Fi network that appears to be familiar. That's done for your convenience, but it's really easy to pretend to be a Wi-Fi network. You might not even be aware that your laptop or phone is making a connection to a digital honeypot. By definition, unusual attacks like this one are uncommon. Understanding the hazards that are present will still help you make decisions about what to do.


Using split tunnels offers the best of both worlds

Consider split tunneling alternatives if you're afraid that VPNs can impede your connections or obstruct crucial traffic. You can choose which apps use the VPN for their traffic and which apps can transmit without the VPN. This feature goes by different names depending on the company. To make sure Apple apps run properly on a Mac, Editors' Choice winner TunnelBear VPN, for instance, has the option to not tunnel any Apple apps. Gamers and frequent video streamers who require a VPN might wish to look at this choice.


Additionally, some VPNs provide options that let your computer speak with local devices (LAN devices or devices on the same network), which may be useful. But, keep in mind that even with LAN traffic and split tunneling, programs like Chromecast and Apple AirPlay that allow you to remotely cast media to other devices frequently have issues with VPNs.


VPNs Must Perform for You

Modern VPNs are incredibly simple to use and far from being obscure networking utilities. As it should be, the majority of them are now set-and-forget tools. Consumer misinformation about what a VPN can and cannot achieve is now the bigger issue. Worse yet, some VPN providers seem happy to allow this uncertainty drive their business.


It is unquestionably more difficult for your ISP and other parties to monitor your web activity if you use a VPN. They can also assist you in accessing restricted streaming content and hinder internet tracking. The VPN you choose will determine everything else. Finding a VPN that suits your needs will be possible once you know what you want one for (at a price you can afford).

Malus Host - Entertainment Group's websites and are also fantastic places to find a VPN. ©2023 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.