Items filtered by date: October 2020
Sunday, 25 October 2020 11:26

How to choose the best VPN

For those new to the world of VPNs, getting started can seem a little overwhelming. With so many paid and free options available, it’s not always easy to find the right fit for individual needs. This is what you need to know to choose the right VPN for you, no matter why you want a VPN or what you are trying to accomplish.

What to Look for When Picking a VPN

There are a number of factors that go into choosing an appropriate VPN. Some of these elements are recommended for all VPN users while others may be a matter of personal preference. From safety to server location, there are plenty of things to keep in mind when weighing the pros and cons of different VPN services.

Privacy and security are top priorities.

For many, the main driver behind choosing to use a VPN is addressing privacy and security concerns. By encrypting data transmission and masking identifying information, using a VPN can make web use safer, easier, and more private.

However, not all VPNs offer the same level of security and protection. When choosing VPN options, it’s important to evaluate things like encryption keys to ensure protection is adequate. For example, some VPNs use 128 bits or even 256-bit strings to make encryption virtually impenetrable, while others employ ciphers like Blowfish, Twofish, and AES. By knowing what these terms mean and how they apply to safety, users can ensure the VPN they select can properly protect personal information and data transmissions.

Consider the cost and be wary of free options.

VPN costs can vary from free to around $30 per month for personal use models; corporate products can cost significantly more. Pricing often varies based on things like security measures and servers available. VPNs that can accommodate things like streaming and gaming can be more expensive, and those that prioritize basic functionality are more affordable.

There are free products on the market, but some free VPNs can be more problematic than beneficial. Some free products contain malware while others lack the security necessary to keep your devices protected. Even the FBI warns against free VPNs, so if at all possible, stick with paid options that provide trusted services and proven security.

Server accessibility and locations. 

Server location can affect what sites and services are accessible; many sites, particularly streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, have geographical restrictions. Before choosing a server, VPN users should be sure there are adequate servers available in their chosen locales. In general, a single server isn’t enough. Should something go wrong with one option, having others available can be critical. For example, U.S.-based web users who want to ensure all U.S.-specific sites and services are available when using a VPN should select a product with a focus on domestic servers versus one with a strong overseas presence.

Determine performance parameters.

VPN performance can also differ in a few ways from one product to another, including things like speed, device compatibility, and data limitations. Before choosing a VPN, it’s important to know the specifications surrounding performance. Some VPNs do things like limit the amount of data that can be used or offer membership tiers that restrict use to a single device without an increased monthly fee.

The extent to which performance matters can be a personal issue. Web users who require a fast connection to do things like stream media or play online games, for example, are encouraged to choose a VPN that can meet these needs.

Choose the right connection protocols.

A VPN, in essence, creates a tunnel between public networks and a private one. This is the basis for the security that can be provided. However, not all VPNs do this in the same way. The connection protocols in use, which include options like PPTP, L2TP and SSTP, can affect things like how data is routed and the security of a connection. The wrong connection protocol may negatively affect use, so understanding how VPNs connect and why can be valuable criteria to assess in the selection process.

Why Do You Need a VPN?

There are several reasons why a web user may feel they need a VPN, including functionality that goes above and beyond securing data transmission.

For many individual web users, VPNs are most commonly selected to hide movements online or prevent the chances of cyber attack through an unsecured network. However, others may choose a VPN to hide activity like torrenting from an ISP, access web content that is restricted based on location and improve lag times and ping when gaming by using a faster server connection.

Businesses that employ VPNs may have other priorities. In a corporate setting, VPNs are often used to let users access a business network remotely. This prevents the likelihood of an information breach while giving employees the flexibility to work outside of a company’s physical location.

The reason for choosing a VPN is by and large a personal one. Some web users feel the protection provided by their own network or anti-virus software is adequate and are not concerned about additional security while others are highly concerned with privacy and protection.

What Is a VPN?

A VPN is a virtual private network or a tool that encrypts data transmission to protect against attack and the release of identifying information. By shielding your information and providing a secure way to transmit data, a VPN offers privacy and protection in an easy-to-use, affordable manner.

Normally, your computer uses the connection provided by your internet service provider, or the provider of any network you may be using, to send and receive data. A VPN circumvents this, creating a tunnel between your personal connection and a private network that shields the information available about your network and device. By essentially replacing this connection with that of a server located elsewhere, VPN users can hide identifying details about devices and networks and create a secure connection that reduces the likelihood of a data breach.


How Does a VPN Work?

A VPN is a virtual connection created between a device and the internet. Instead of connecting directly to a network like normal, a VPN creates an encrypted virtual tunnel that adds an extra layer of security to web use.

Usually, a web-enabled device uses the connection provided by a personal internet service provider, or ISP. However, doing this essentially tags your device with the information provided by this connection, also known as an IP address. IP addresses are effectively pieces of identifying information unique to each internet connection point, much like a phone number or address. This means that the information associated with your IP address is communicated to every site you visit or email you send. However, using a VPN will route your standard internet connection through a secure, encrypted alternative, displaying a different IP address and making it much harder for anyone to track your online activity or breach your device through data transmissions.

VPNs can be used to hide data anywhere but can be most effective on unsecured networks, like public networks available in retail stores or restaurants where the risk of use is much higher.




Published in Web Applications
Sunday, 25 October 2020 11:22

How does a VPN work?

The Basics

Each time you connect to the internet using your computer, tablet or smartphone, if you’re using a VPN, it connects you to another computer, called a server. This server can be in one of several locations in one of several countries, depending on how many server connections a VPN has in its arsenal. As you browse the web or work online, everything you do is sent over this secure connection and routed through the server’s internet connection and an encrypted virtual tunnel. Thus, any data you send to a website and any data that comes back to you from the website all goes through this secure connection, masking and protecting your information and online identity.

By encrypting your data and making your IP address and location invisible, a VPN helps protect you from hackers and cybercriminals looking to track what you’re doing online and/or steal your personal information. This can be especially important when you’re using public Wi-Fi connections that aren’t very secure. A VPN effectively shields your browsing activity from everyone, but you can also use it to gain access to websites that restrict users from certain regions. When you browse the internet using a VPN connection, your IP address changes and makes it appear as if you’re browsing from the location/country of the VPN server, instead of where you really are. This helps you gain access to websites or online services blocked to certain geographical locations.

Downloading and installing a VPN is as easy as any other app, and it’s one of the simplest ways to protect your privacy online. Good VPNs can be set up instantly without any complicated steps using the in-app instructions and are also easy to use. Once installed, all you do is connect to a server of your choice when you go online and disconnect when you’re done. The VPN does all the rest while you confidently surf the Internet knowing your information and web activity are being guarded.


How to Pick the Best VPN

There are tons of VPN providers out there to choose from with distinct advantages and disadvantages, so there isn’t a single service that’s perfect for everyone. There are several important features to consider when choosing the best VPN for your needs.

Security/Privacy. All VPN companies say they don’t save your connection logs or what you’re doing online, but sometimes data collection occurs. Always check the Privacy Policy and Terms of Service to learn exactly what’s collected and how long it’s kept and to ensure they never sell your information. For the most privacy, choose a VPN that operates under a no-logs policy, meaning your connection and bandwidth data will never be collected, stored, or shared.

Location & Servers. A large server list spread out over multiple countries is an integral part of any good VPN service. The VPN should have servers available in the geographical locations you need with numerous servers available in each country or region to spread out the load of multiple users to guarantee optimum performance all the time.

Performance. Check important performance features, such as how many devices you can have connected simultaneously, download speeds and monthly data limits, which can all affect your streaming capabilities — especially if multiple household members use the same connection. On average, VPNs allow between three and seven devices to be connected at the same time, but this number varies between one and unlimited.

Cost. Like any service, beware of cheap or free plans that may restrict features or only offer discounts for the first billing period then automatically renew at much higher pricing. Always read the fine print on the pricing details, and if the service renews automatically, choose a payment option that lets you easily cancel subscriptions yourself.

Why Do You Need a VPN?

VPNs were originally created to provide businesses with a way to securely connect their networks together over the internet and allow employees to access the business’ network while working off-site at home, on the road, or abroad. While businesses still use VPNs for these reasons, individuals seeking safer internet access also found many other reasons why they need a VPN, including:


  • Online anonymity through a hidden IP address and location
  • Increased online security, especially while using public networks or Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Accessing a home or business network while traveling
  • Safe, anonymous downloading and uploading of files
  • Ensuring emails and instant messages remain private
  • Hiding browsing activity from a local network and internet service provider
  • Bypassing restrictions based on geography or censorship, such as streaming services, social networking or internet content not available in every country
  • Protection from hackers who intercept and steal data unknowingly spread while browsing the web
  • Blocking advertising networks from collecting information about you to sell to third parties
  • Preventing slower internet speeds when your internet service provider throttles down your service due to using a lot of bandwidth while streaming or downloading large files


How Much Does a VPN Cost?

With so many VPN services available, you’ll find a huge price range. The costs for a VPN also vary greatly based on the features you want, so make sure you understand what you’re getting for the price. However, a good VPN usually isn’t very expensive, with most costing less than $10 per month. Premium plans with additional security or encryption typically increase your cost, but these plans may be worth it, depending on your needs.

There are also free VPNs available and some companies with paid-for services that offer a basic service that don’t cost anything. Like most free products, these no-cost services typically come with several catches. The most common drawbacks are data caps, session limits, usage restrictions, and advertising. Many free VPNs aren’t reliable and don’t secure your connection nearly as well as paid services. Untrustworthy free VPN services may even install malware on your devices. However, you can find good free VPN services that may be fine for protecting your laptop during infrequent public Wi-Fi usage, but commercial products are still the better choice.

Most VPNs offer a per-month fee as part of a subscription with varying lengths of commitment available. The longer your subscription, the less you’ll pay in the long run. Some VPNs also offer deeper discounts on service plans when you opt to pay for a couple of years up front. Before you spend a lot of money, it’s advisable to pay for only a month first. If you’re still happy after this trial period, upgrade to a longer plan that offers a better value.



Published in Web Applications
Sunday, 25 October 2020 11:10

What is a VPN?

In an age when data breaches have become a universal challenge facing websites and networks of all sizes, affecting millions and sometimes even hundreds of millions of users at a time and costing business millions of dollars to address, internet privacy has become a more urgent issue than ever.

One of the most important developments in privacy, both for private individuals and businesses, has been the Virtual Private Network or VPN. VPNs are simple, elegant privacy solutions that make the internet safer for their users by making it harder for hackers and cybercriminals to compromise their systems and providing more anonymity and freedom while browsing. Here, we’ll provide an overview of VPNs, including how they work, what kinds of protection they provide and a typical range of costs.

How Does a VPN Work?

Every device, when connecting to the internet, has a unique address rather like a phone number or street address, but for the user’s smartphone, tablet, or computer. This is called an Internet Provider or IP address. It’s tied to whoever is paying for internet access at the user’s location, and it identifies exactly where that location is. In normal circumstances, without the use of encryption, the unique IP address associated with each login is public information, fairly easy to access for someone who knows how and just as easily used to recognize and trace someone’s online activity. That information, in turn, can be exploited for the purpose of hacking your computer, among other things.

Given the amount of time that many of us spend working, playing and doing business online and the volumes of personal information going out over many an internet connection, it’s more than understandable that you might not want just anyone to be able to look up your IP address. This is where Virtual Private Networks or VPNs come in. A VPN installs encryption software on your device that provides a secure connection to an external server, which sends traffic from your device to the internet. This arrangement is designed to hide your IP address from prying online eyes.

There are a few basic steps a VPN goes through to encrypt your data, transmit it to the internet and then have the internet transmit data back to you. VPN software, usually called a VPN client, first encrypts the data on the user’s device. The VPN client then sends the data to a VPN server, which decrypts it and sends the data to the internet, requesting a reply meant for the user. When the reply arrives, the VPN server encrypts the data again and forwards it to the user, and the VPN client on the device decrypts the data to make it usable.

It’s important to remember that while a VPN provides additional protection, it doesn’t totally guarantee anonymity.

A VPN provides the most security when you’re using it to connect to sites that use the modern secure hypertext protocol. That may sound a bit technical, but what it means is that if the site’s address in your browser starts with HTTPS instead of just HTTP, that site has been designed with extra security in mind. On an HTTPS site, your VPN will provide what’s called “end-to-end encryption,” fully protecting your anonymity at every step in transmitting information from your device to the host of the website you’re accessing. Fortunately, most of the Internet is converting to HTTPS as the new standard.

Web browsers can sometimes “leak” private information — for example, through automatically integrated plug-ins like WebGL and WebRTC, which are used to increase the efficiency of conferencing apps and programs like Skype, Discord and Google Hangouts — that can be used to identify your browser settings and profile your online activity. Some VPNs protect against this, but not all of them do. The good news is that this information isn’t nearly as easy to access or exploit for other people as simply leaving your IP address in public view, so in most cases, your VPN will still preserve your anonymity quite effectively. If you want to ensure that your security is at its best, it’s worthwhile to check for specific kinds of browser leaks and make sure that any VPN you’re considering can specifically address them.

Why Do You Need a VPN?

There are several ways in which keeping your IP address from public view can enhance the internet experience. A VPN provides better security, it offers more privacy and it enables more freedom of access to what the internet has to offer.

Better online security

The kind of security a VPN provides is on the way from being a luxury to becoming a necessity on the modern internet. While directly hacking a computer using its IP address is difficult today, thanks to the various firewalls employed by service providers, an IP address can still be used as a starting point to access location data that can then be used to dig up further sensitive information. What makes a VPN effective is that it encrypts your internet traffic before it reaches any server outside of your device. As that encrypted traffic passes through the steps described in the above section, which can be thought of as a kind of VPN tunnel, it becomes considerably more difficult for outside parties — including governments and hackers — to access your data and location.

Added privacy online

The location data provided by an IP address allows other people to link your identity and locale with your internet activity. When your address is publicly accessible, your internet provider and, often, governments or other online actors can see everything you do online. There are plenty of ways in which that information can be used to assemble a profile of you at a disconcerting level of detail. With a VPN, online activity can only be traced back to the VPN server, which won’t disclose and often does not track actions taken through the server.

More freedom of access

There are often restrictions on access to the internet that vary from one country to another, or restrictions on which content can be viewed from which country, that can limit a user’s ability to access certain sites online. Travelers might find themselves in a place where the internet is censored in various ways (“political” media and social media are common targets); or they may find they no longer have access to their favorite media streams at their current location for reasons other than censorship (Hulu isn’t normally viewable outside the United States or Japan, for instance). A VPN lets users connect to servers in any country as if physically present there.


How Much Does a VPN Cost?

The internet is awash in free services calling themselves VPNs. For the most part, these are best avoided. As per the old adage “you get what you pay for,” most of these services simply aren’t safe to use. An effective VPN is kept rigorously up to date by the people operating it, using the latest standards and best practices and patching potential vulnerabilities. Free services generally do not do this, and some of them get their bandwidth from inherently not secure peer-to-peer operating models.


Truly functional VPNs will typically come with at least some associated costs. It’s best to avoid locking yourself into a seemingly cheap “lifetime” contract with a VPN, as there’s no guarantee of the needed quality always being there, so a quality, secure VPN will typically involve some monthly or annual expense. Month-to-month pricing for the leading VPN services ranges from $5-$12. Annual pricing ranges from $35-$100 per year — sometimes this kind of pricing is structured as a biennial contract. Whatever the cost of truly quality VPN, it’s a worthwhile expense to enjoy true security, choice and privacy on today’s internet.



Published in Web Applications