How To Use A VPN

Michael Gargiulo - CEO, VPN.com

By: Michael Gargiulo, CEO at VPN.com

Updated: 4:05 PM ET Tue, June 29th 2021

how to use a vpn

Each passing year, we find that more and more of our lives end up online in the form of data. This data ranges from the mundane details of your life to your credit card information, and there are organizations out to take advantage of it. Relatively benign corporations pry into your personal life so they can sell you things more effectively, but other actors are out to steal your financial information or your identity. Whether you’re interested in the practical or principled side of maintaining your privacy, you should learn how to use a VPN. Not only can using one keep your data safe, but it can also improve your experience on the internet in many ways.

How To Use A VPN And Why

By using a VPN, you’re able to encrypt your data and reroute it to a different IP address. The encryption makes it impossible for observers to use the data, while the alternate IP address allows you to show up in different countries. Together, they empower you to have an unencumbered, private experience of the internet that prevents unwanted prying and region-based restrictions.

Controlling your IP and data comes with more benefits than you’d think. Besides protecting your privacy, you’re also able to enjoy lower prices that are available in other regions, access different servers for online gaming, enjoy the entire library of any streaming program, and access secure servers from around the world.

Furthermore, many nations such as China and Russia block access to websites that the average traveler checks into multiple times a week. On top of that, some websites even block themselves in nations abroad. The frequent traveler benefits from using a VPN to maintain regularity and security in their online experience, wherever they go. Thankfully, it’s extremely easy to use a VPN on your PC or Mac.

Download, Register, Activate

The exact signup process varies from one VPN to the next. However, it generally follows a simple, straightforward pattern. Once you pay for a subscription, you’re able to create an account and register with the VPN. From here, you can configure a certain number of devices to send their data through the VPN server. Different VPNs will support different devices, but many of the top programs support PC, Mac, and various phone operating systems. Once you configure your devices, it’s a simple matter of activating the VPN.

The more popular an operating system is, the more easily you can find VPN programs that are built specifically to run on them. All popular programs will offer a detailed, step-by-step guide on using your new VPN and configuring your devices. This also applies to the market for iPhone and Android VPNs, although it can be difficult to find a VPN for less popular OSs.

Free Or Paid VPN?

While the best VPNs require payment, there are a small number of free VPNs that are worthwhile. However, they always have severe limitations and typically function as chopped-down versions of paid VPNs. The most recurring limitation of the rare high-quality, no-cost VPN is a harsh data limit that prevents you from using it for purposes such as torrenting or streaming.

How To Use A VPN On Your Cell Phone

If you have an iPhone or Android, you’ll have an easy time taking your pick from any of the top VPNs. While it will be harder if you use a Windows Phone or other less-popular VPN, the setup and configuration process is fairly easy at least.

iPhone

Configuring a VPN on your iPhone is easy and straightforward. Once you’ve signed up for a service, you can navigate to the VPN menu from Settings>General>VPN. Most apps will offer to automatically configure the VPN for you once you download them, at which point you’ll only need to switch the VPN on.

Android

Configuring a VPN for your Android consists of finding the data for the VPN and inputting it on your device. The information varies by VPN, and you may have to download an app to make it work. Either way, you’ll be able to input the information by entering the Settings App and navigating through Network & Internet>Advanced>VPN.

This menu will contain the fields that enable you to add a new VPN and activate the connection by following the instructions from the provider. Alternatively, you can also remove VPNs that you’ve configured at any time.

Windows Phone

Connecting to a VPN on a Windows Phone is similar to doing so on other phones. First, select All Settings after swiping down from the home screen, and then tap Network & Wireless. From here, you’ll be able to find the VPN option and input the key signup information from your provider. Filling out fields such as VPN type, provider, and other data will allow you to setup the connection and enjoy the protection of a VPN whether you’re on a wifi or data connection.

However, sometimes you may find yourself over the device limit for your VPN provider by attempting to use it for all of the phones in a household. Thankfully, you can enjoy VPN coverage for all of the devices in a home by setting up a VPN router. While this won’t protect your data when you’re accessing the internet away from home, it accounts for all at-home devices while only using a single connection.

How To Use A VPN With Your WiFi Router

The easiest way to set up your router for VPN usage is by buying a prepackaged, preconfigured VPN router. However, these are expensive and somewhat restrictive due to their association with a single provider. Thankfully, more and more routers today offer VPN compatibility and a set of guidelines for connecting them to the VPN of your choice.

The first step is to ascertain the model of your router, and then check the website of potential VPN providers to find one that’s compatible with the router. After assuring compatibility, the VPN provider itself should outline the necessary steps to set up your VPN on the router. As a rule, this process consists of logging onto the router by entering its IP address into your search bar. Once you log in, you’ll need to set about configuring the router to direct traffic to the VPN server. The exact method varies depending on router model and firmware, but customer support at your chosen VPN provider should be able to help.

How To Use A VPN For Console Gaming

There are many reasons to use a VPN for consoles, whether you have gaming or alternative multimedia applications in mind. Consoles generally do not support VPNs. However, using a VPN with your router as described above is one of the best choices of for gaming.

Alternatively, you can enjoy VPN coverage for your console by routing the connection through your desktop or laptop computer. If you have an ethernet cable and ethernet compatible ports on your computer, then this is an excellent option. Since many people use consoles to stream from services such as Netflix and Hulu, it’s also a fairly graceful solution so long as your VPN is up to the task.

How To Use A VPN With Netflix, Hulu, And Other Streaming Services

Using a VPN on Netflix and other streaming services is, on its face, no different from using a VPN in any other application. Once you’ve set up a VPN on the device of your choice, you’re already using your VPN for Netflix and other devices. The problem is not so much a process, but a matter of your choice of VPN. This is because streaming programs have decided that they have a vested interest in identifying and blocking VPN users. They do this by identifying addresses with certain patterns of unusual behavior that serve as a giveaway that said IP is actually a VPN server.

Find A Suitable Streaming VPN

Some VPNs are able to evade the block from popular streaming services in a variety of ways. By routing traffic through many different addresses, they’re able to hinder the ability of streaming services to crack down on them. When they are caught, they switch to new, yet-undetected IP addresses and the game continues. As a rule, the VPN industry leaders are able to stay ahead, but there are also alternative options.

For instance, you can choose the IP that your traffic emerges from. By directing your encrypted traffic to your home address or the home address of a friend, your activity will be virtually undetectable. If this isn’t workable, leasing a virtual private address could be a worthwhile alternative.

Lease A Virtual Private Address

A virtual private address is a powerful resource to engage in unrestricted internet access. All of the tells that can cause a traditional VPN IP to suffer a block are rooted in the strange volume and usage patterns that they produce. By leasing an individual, private virtual address as some VPN providers offer, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to access your favorite websites indefinitely. Of course, the drawback is that this will necessarily be much more expensive.

How To Use A VPN To Torrent Safely

Torrenting is normally a risky business for many reasons, such as the illegality of it and the visibility of your private information. ISPs can punish you in various ways if they catch you torrenting and may restrict your internet access, which is all the more reason to use a VPN.

On the one hand, it will encrypt and hide your data from your ISP, keeping you safe as you download and seed media. On the other, it will also protect you from peers. When a person engages in torrenting, their IP is visible for anyone else on the BitTorrent network to see, with all of the information that entails. By using one of the top VPNs, you’ll be able to rest assured that you’re safe while torrenting. However, you should take a few additional precautions.

How To Active Your VPN’s Killswitch

Most VPN programs today come with a killswitch function. That is to say, if your connection to the VPN fails, they’ll cut off your internet activity until the connection is restored. Since losing VPN connectivity while torrenting means exposing yourself to other torrenters and your ISP, it’s essential that you choose a VPN with a killswitch setting and keep it active. By doing this, you’ll be able to use a virtual private network to keep yourself safe while torrenting. In addition, you should run a good adblocker and a competent antivirus program to be extra certain of your security.

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