Congratulations, you’ve made the first step towards greater online privacy by searching out the world of a VPN.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and is a system that was originally used by businesses so staff could work remotely and access office files securely. These days VPNs are used by ordinary individuals and are a gateway to privacy and have additional bonuses such as allowing you to access content that might otherwise be restricted or censored.
Starting to use a VPN service is extremely easy but the technical terms and jargon can put many off, so we’ve put together this little guide to teach you the basics and also recommend some of the best VPN services available that you should consider using.
How does a VPN work
A VPN is a connection between yourself and another computer (VPN Server) located elsewhere. Everything you do when connected to a VPN passes between yourself and the VPN Server before being passed on to the wider internet. It acts as a sort of middle-man between you and the internet.
Everything that is passed from you to the server is encrypted. Encryption is a way of jumbling up all the data so anyone snooping on your connection such as a hacker or the government can’t see what you’re doing. The VPN server at the other end decrypts (unjumbles) this information and then passes it to the internet. The same works in reverse. For all intents and purposes the internet sees the VPN Server accessing the internet and not yourself, you’re essentially removed from the equation.
How do you use a VPN
VPN services are provided by VPN Providers of which there are thousands to choose from. Most major VPN Providers supply software for desktop or laptop systems like Windows or Mac and also apps for Android, iPhone, and iPad. This software is easy to use and user-friendly. The basic premise involves you running their software or app, choosing a country to connect to and then pressing connect.
The software takes care of all the technical side of things and within a few seconds you’re connected. Now you’re connected your privacy is protected and everything you do is encrypted. You can just leave the software or app running and continue browsing the web, watching videos, playing games or whatever else without giving it a second thought.
With just a few clicks your privacy is protected.
VPN Servers are located in various countries, when you connect to a VPN Server you assume that servers location. So if you’re in the UK and you connect to a US VPN Server then the internet thinks you’re in the US. Due to this it’s possible to access services that would otherwise be blocked such as accessing Hulu from the US when you’re in the UK or BBC iPlayer from the UK when you’re in France etc.
Using a VPN when using Wi-Fi hotspots is essential as it’s possible for other users connected to the same Wi-Fi system to see your data, read your emails or even access your social media accounts. A VPN puts a stop to this ensuring you can use public Wi-Fi without worry.
Who are the best VPN Providers
Our site is dedicated to reviewing and testing VPN Providers so we have a good grasp of putting them through their paces. Through our extensive tests we’ve found the following three providers to offer the best service in terms of speed, encryption, ease of use and customer service.
There isn’t a huge difference between the following three but we’ve found IPVanish to be the best overall.
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If you’re new to the VPN world IPVanish are the ideal choice. They offer simple software for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices that allow you to get connected and protect your privacy within just a few clicks.
Quick and easy to use and set-up
Prices range from US$10 per month (Approx £6.50) but can be as low as $6.49 per month (Approx £4.22) if taking a yearly package. This is a highly competitive price and amongst the lower end of VPN prices. IPVanish accepts Debit and Credit cards as well as Paypal, Bitcoin and a host of other payment options.
Low priced and cost effective
IPVanish has VPN Servers in over 60 countries meaning you can make yourself appear as if you’re anywhere in the world. This is highly useful to unblock restricted content or keep you safe while travelling.
Our Number 1 recommendation for a VPN service
VyprVPN is another VPN provider who certainly make it easy to get connected. Their custom software and apps takes out any hassle of set-up and lets you get connected within a matter of seconds from installation.
Get connected within seconds
VyprVPN is one of few providers who let you have a three day trial before payment. Like the service just do nothing and you’ll be charged. Don’t like the service, simply cancel and you won’t be charged a penny.
Free three day trial
If you’re slightly more technical then LiquidVPN are an ideal choice. Some features they have that other providers don’t include a Transparency Report and a Warrant Canary. While they’ll appeal to the slightly more advanced user they’re still extremely easy to use however they only offer software for Windows and Mac so unless you know what you’re doing to set up manually on Android or iOS they are best avoided for the novice.
Advanced features appealing to the technically able
LiquidVPN has some of the cheapest prices in the industry and can cost as little as US$4.50 per month. With advanced encryption and a passion for their customers, the prices are extremely good.
Super low prices
So there you have it, now you know a little about how a VPN works, how to use one and which companies provide the best VPN service.
You can essentially leave your knowledge there, once you have a VPN service and are running it you’ve massively increased your privacy. You’ll also have access to worldwide content that would usually be blocked.
If you would like to learn more about VPNs and their possible uses take a look around our site as we have hundreds of articles to expand your knowledge. If you’ve taken in enough information for now just remember you’ve now taken the first step to ensuring your online privacy!
If you fancy comparing other VPN providers take a look at our VPN Comparison Guide or read our detailed reviews in the VPN Review section.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net