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VPN explained: How does it work? Why would you use it?

Last edited: May 20, 2020
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What is a VPN: a short summary

A VPN creates a secure connection between you and the internet. When you connect to the internet through a VPN, all your data traffic is sent through an encrypted virtual tunnel. This has multiple advantages:

  • You’ll be more anonymous on the internet: your IP address and location won’t be visible to just anyone anymore.
  • You’ll be safer on the internet: the encrypted tunnel will keep away hackers and cybercriminals and your device won’t be as vulnerable to attacks.
  • You’ll be more free on the internet: by using different IP addresses, you’ll be able to access websites and online services that would otherwise be blocked.

Do you want to start using a VPN? We recommend ExpressVPN. This VPN has a lot of options, offers strong security, and has performed well in our tests. It even managed to take the number one spot!

You can find out how to set up a VPN connection and what a VPN can do for you in the full article below.

An increasing number of people use a VPN while browsing the internet. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It’s an easy and efficient solution which offers you three essential things when you go online: more security, privacy, and freedom. If you are unfamiliar with the concept of a VPN, it can seem quite daunting. But no worries! This page will explain exactly how a VPN works and why people use it. We’ll tell you everything you need to know about the advantages and possibilities of VPNs. We’ll also tell you about a couple of excellent VPN providers you might want to try out yourself.

What Is a VPN?

VPN Internet NorwegianA VPN creates a secure connection between your device (for example your computer or smartphone) and the internet. When going online, we all have a unique IP address. You could compare this address to a phone number or home address, but for your computer or smartphone: your IP address is a personal identification code for your internet connection.It reveals your location and is tied to the person paying your internet provider. With your IP address, you’re recognizable and traceable online, no matter what you’re doing. That is, unless you use a VPN.

A VPN won’t always be able to cover all your online tracks: there are other methods that could result in uncovering your online identity. Techniques that use WebRTC leaks and browser fingerprinting could still collect data about you. Even so, a VPN will protect your privacy very well in most cases.

As mentioned before, VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. This private network allows you to send your data traffic via an encrypted, secure connection to an external server. From there, the traffic will be sent on to the internet. Because of this, the IP address shown to the internet will be changed.

If you want to get started straight away, you can find a short step-by-step guide further on. We’ve also compiled a list of the best VPNs out there for you to try. Would you rather use a different VPN? You can find more providers on our VPN reviews page.

What Is a VPN Used For?

There are many different reasons for people to start using a VPN. The biggest ones can be summarised as follows: it increases your online privacy, provides you with more online security, and allows you to browse the internet with more freedom (as it gets you around online restrictions and censorship). We’ll explain exactly what this means in the following sections.

How a VPN offers online security

A VPN offers security because it heavily encrypts all your internet traffic, even before it reaches the VPN server. It also guides your data traffic through a much safer “VPN tunnel”. This makes it much harder for others, such as governments and hackers, to intercept and view your data. Therefore, it’s especially important to use a VPN when using (dangerous) public WiFi-networks.

At home or at work it can be equally helpful to use a VPN. Providers like NordVPN or ExpressVPN offer top of the line, AES 256 levels of encryption. With that kind of protect, you won’t have to worry about anyone gathering your data and using it against you.

Encrypted VPN Tunnel protecting you from various groups

How a VPN offers online anonymity and privacy

A VPN offers more online anonymity because you won’t be surfing the web with your IP address publicly available. Your personal IP address will be hidden as soon as you connect with the VPN server, as it will change to the VPN Server’s IP. Normally, others can link your online actions to your identity and your location based on your IP address. For instance, your internet service provider, the websites you visit and many governments can generally see everything you do online.

When you use a VPN, your online actions can only be traced back to the VPN server, but no longer to you (unless, of course, you’re logged into a certain website such as YouTube or Google). Many VPN providers won’t disclose or even monitor what you do via their servers. You’ve thus become much more anonymous on the internet, since you can’t be identified or traced through your IP address.

How a VPN offers online freedom

A VPN can offer you more freedom online. It allows you to connect to servers all over the world. When you connect to a VPN server in a certain country, you’ll be able to access the internet as if you were physically in that country. This is useful, because the internet isn’t freely accessible everywhere. Some countries censor part of the internet or impose restrictions on social media sites or online streaming services.

If you are on holiday or have migrated, you might be unable to view your usual streams. A VPN will also enable you to connect to the internet via servers in your home country, so you can watch your favorite show or access your favorite website again. It also works the other way around: if you want to gain access to websites or streaming services from a different country (for example to watch a different version of Netflix), you can do so with a VPN.

If you would like to try out a VPN right away but aren’t sure which provider to pick, you can consult our top 5 of the best VPN providers.

How Does a VPN Work?

When you have found a reliable VPN provider you can download and install their software. Then you select your preferred security settings and set up a safe connection with your desired VPN server. When the connection has been established, the following will happen to your data:

How Does a VPN Work Illustration

  1. The VPN software on your computer encrypts your data traffic and sends it to the VPN server through a secure connection.
  2. The encrypted data from your computer is decrypted by the VPN server.
  3. The VPN server will send your data on to the internet and receive a reply, which is meant for you, the user.
  4. The traffic is then encrypted again by the VPN-server and is sent back to you.
  5. The VPN-software on your device will decrypt the data so you can actually understand and use it.

The VPN connection will encrypt your data traffic, making it much more difficult for hackers and other parties to intercept and view it. The secure connection also provides the user with increased anonymity, because the internet traffic is rerouted through an external VPN server. Since you’re surfing the web via the IP address of the VPN server, your real IP address will remain hidden.

Normally, your location and even your identity could be revealed through your IP address, because it’s unique to your internet connection. By using a different IP (the one assigned to the VPN server) none of your actions online are traceable to you, allowing you to surf the web more anonymously.

The VPN application runs in the background of your computer, tablet, or smartphone. You can access the internet as you normally would and won’t notice anything different – save for the fact that you’ll be able to get around online restrictions.

Three Great VPN Providers for Beginners

If you’d like to start using a VPN, it’s easiest to choose a trustworthy provider and access the internet through their servers. We have tested most major VPN providers of this moment on their usability and quality. If you’d like to get started with a simple yet great VPN, we recommend ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, or NordVPN.

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN providers we’ve tested so far. They offer several thousand fast and stable servers, applications for all devices, and a great customer service. This VPN also works with Netflix, so you can unblock all your favorite shows. ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can try it out before getting a lengthier subscription.

ExpressVPN aims to offer you the best quality, and that comes with a price tag. They aren’t the cheapest VPN provider around, but with our special discount offer, you can get a subscription for $6,67 a month. This subscription allows you to protect five of your devices with ExpressVPN. You can read more about this provider in our full review of ExpressVPN. Click the button below to check out ExpressVPN’s website.

ExpressVPN
Our pick
Our pick
Deal:
3 months for free with a one-year subscription
9.5
  • Super-fast and simple VPN
  • Perfect for anonymous browsing, downloading, and streaming (i.e. Netflix)
  • 3000+ servers in 94 countries
Visit ExpressVPN

CyberGhost

CyberGhost has earned a second place in our top 5. The biggest difference between CyberGhost and ExpressVPN is that CyberGhost is much cheaper. This provider’s strong suit is its user-friendliness. CyberGhost’s software is incredibly easy to install and navigate. Everything is self-explanatory and you’ll be able to find the perfect server in just a few clicks, whether you wish to download anonymously, watch the American Netflix, or simply browse the internet as securely and quickly as possible.

Another advantage of CyberGhost is that it has thousands of servers at its disposal. This is especially useful when you want to unblock specific online pages, but can also really help improve your internet speed. The closer a server is to your actual location, the faster it tends to be, after all.

In short, CyberGhost is a fantastic VPN for every beginning VPN user, but is also suitable for the more experienced user who wants to have a wide array of possibilities at his or her disposal. Would you like to try out CyberGhost? Click the button in the box below to visit their website.

CyberGhost
Deal:
Try CyberGhost for $2.75 per month and get two extra months for free!
9.3
  • Very user-friendly
  • High quality for a low price
  • Torrents and Netflix possible
Visit CyberGhost

NordVPN

A third VPN we’d like to recommend is NordVPN. This good and trustworthy service offers high levels of security. Its software looks sleek while also being easy to use. Its high levels of security cause NordVPN to be slightly slower than ExpressVPN, but it remains a very good option. For the quality they offer, they’re very affordable. Moreover, the applications are user-friendly and well-structured. Read more about this provider in our full NordVPN review.

NordVPN also offers more advanced options. These are great when you’ve gotten used to VPNs and are looking for specific features to help you out. For instance, NordVPN offers dedicated IP addresses and obfuscated servers, which make circumventing geo-restrictions, such as those enforced by Netflix, easier. Similarly, NordVPN also offers double VPN connections for extra privacy and security.

NordVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee. They also have very affordable deals, especially on their longterm subscriptions. If you’re interested, you can check out their discounts by clicking the button below.

NordVPN
Deal:
Only $3,49 a month for a 3-year subscription
9.1
  • Excellent protection and a large network of servers
  • Nice and pleasing application
  • No logs
Visit NordVPN

Extra advice: if you’d like to protect all your online devices with a VPN in one go, you could try to set up a VPN connection on your router. Installing this can be a challenge. We advise you to use DD-WRT router software. If  you need help installing a VPN on your router, you can consult our article on this topic.

Lady JusticeSome people wonder whether it’s legal to use a VPN. After all, the service enables you to become a lot more anonymous online, which can be quite useful for hackers and online criminals. If those people can’t be traced online, it’s much harder to punish them for their crimes, after all. Even so, this doesn’t necessarily mean a VPN is illegal.

On the contrary: many official companies and businesses work with VPNs and recommend the use. The European Union, too, supports internet freedom, which a VPN can give you.

Many countries consider the use of a VPN completely legal. Conducting illegal activities while using a VPN, however, remains illegal. Therefore, using a VPN for legal activities, such as browsing, gaming, Netflix, and YouTube, isn’t a problem at all. If you use a VPN to, for example, download illegal files such as unofficial copies of movies and music, however, you’re most likely going against your local laws. While the VPN gives you more anonymity online and makes it a lot harder for officials to trace you down, the downloading in and of itself is still illegal.

There are a couple of countries that do consider the use of a VPN illegal. If you’d like to know more about these countries and the legal and illegal use of VPNs in general, you can read this article. Using a VPN in most of the (Western) world won’t get you into any trouble. On the contrary: we’d recommend it.

Which Different VPN Protocols Are There?

VPN connections use an encrypted connection also called a tunnel. There are several ways (protocols) in which such a VPN connection can be set up. These protocols ensure that your data remains safe and can’t be read by others. The most common VPN-protocols are:

  • OpenVPN: OpenVPN is one of the most widely used protocols. It’s an open-source protocol that uses encryption based on the OpenSSl and SSLv3/TLSv1 protocols. Most VPN providers support OpenVPN and it’s available for a lot of different platforms (e.g. Windows, Mac (OSx), Android, iOS, Linux, routers). Most consider OpenVPN to be the best choice.
  • IPSec/L2TP: this protocol combines IPsec for the encryption of data with L2TP for establishing a secure connection. Most operating systems include IPsec/L2TP, which is a good choice when OpenVPN isn’t available.
  • IKEv2: IKEv2 is a protocol based on IPSec. This protocol can quickly connect to and switch between networks. This makes it an ideal choice for smartphones, because these devices tend to switch between wifi networks and public networks regularly. According to some sources, IKEv2 is faster than OpenVPN. Nevertheless, OpenVPN is seen as the better protocol.
  • PPTP: PPTP (Point to Point Tunneling Protocol) is one of the first widely used protocols. This protocol contains a few (potential) leaks. For this reason, its use is only advisable if speed is more important to you than safety. This could be the case if you want to bypass restrictions set up by streaming services.
  • Softether: Softether, unlike other protocols mentioned so far, is not a stand-alone protocol, but an open-source application that works across different platforms and offers support to VPN protocols such as SSL VPN, L2TP/IPsec, OpenVPN, and Microsoft Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol.
  • WireGuard: WireGuard is a relatively new protocol that has been gaining in popularity. It runs on a Linux kernel and is aimed at performing even better than OpenVPN and IPsec.

If you’d like to know more about the different VPN protocols and how they work, you can find a complete overview right here.

How to Set Up Your Own VPN

VPN on mobileSetting up your own VPN connection is simpler than it might seem. Your VPN provider will do most of the work for you. First, you will need to find a VPN provider that you like (on our site you can find reviews of the different providers as well as some recommendations).

When you find a VPN that fits your needs, you subscribe to their service and download and install the software they provide. Most VPN providers offer software for all types of devices and operating systems (Windows, Mac, iPhone, Android, and sometimes Linux). Within this software, you can choose which protocol to use and which VPN server you wish to connect to. In just a few clicks you’ll be connected to a server.

Now you can use the internet in a safe and anonymous manner, free from any restrictions or censorship that your geographical location might impose! Installing a VPN is easy. Below, we’ll tell you how to do this in three steps.

Getting Started With a VPN in 3 Simple Steps

If you want to start using a VPN, but don’t quite know where to begin, you’re in the right place. We’ll walk you through three easy steps to get you started:

Step 1. Subscribe to a trustworthy VPN provider

For beginners we highly recommend using CyberGhost or NordVPN. We tested these providers extensively and found them to be very suitable for beginners, as they are easy to understand and set up, while also being very fast. Moreover, these two VPN providers allow you to secure multiple devices with a single subscription and offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. This way you can try them for a month without being stuck to a long term subscription. Furthermore, using the links and buttons on our website will get you a discount with these providers.

You can check out our extensive reviews on our review page. We’ve also reviewed other VPN-providers of course. Some other impressive VPNs are ExpressVPN, PIA, SurfShark, and ProtonVPN. The latter also happens to offer one of the best free VPN subscriptions, which you can read all about in our article about free VPN providers.

Once you’ve chosen your VPN provider, you’ll have to subscribe to them. Create an account and make sure you have your log-in info at hand. You’ll need it in the following steps. As we’ve mentioned earlier, CyberGhost and NordVPN both have a money-back guarantee, so you can always try them out and get a refund if you dislike the service.

Step 2. Download the VPN app

Now that you’ve signed up to your preferred VPN provider, you simply need to download the VPN app of this provider on your Android smartphone, iPhone, tablet or computer. Visit the website of your VPN provider to find the necessary software. Don’t download from a different source, as these downloads might contain malware. Once you’ve successfully downloaded and installed the software, you’ll be able to log in.

Step 3. Activate the VPN app and start browsing the internet safely and freely

Activate the VPN by pressing the connect button, and the VPN connection will be established. Generally, you won’t even notice it’s activated, since it runs in the background of your device.

And that’s all there is to it! While the VPN is enabled, you’ll be able to browse the web far more securely, privately and freely. The illustration below will shortly review the steps you’ll need to take to set up a VPN on your computer:

Install VPN Step by Step Desktop

If you want to learn how to install a VPN on a specific device, such as a smartphone or smart TV, have a look at our ‘VPN setup’ section. The installation may vary, depending on your device and operating system. If you want to know exactly how a VPN works, keep on reading. We’ll explain that and more below.

Why Would You Use a VPN?

There are many reasons why people use a VPN, some of the most common are as follows:

  • Anonymity on the internet: A VPN connection hides your real IP address and location. With a VPN connection, you use the IP address that belongs to the VPN server you’re connected to. This way your own IP address stays hidden. Websites and other parties won’t be able to trace your online actions back to your location and identity, based on your IP address (provided your provider has an adequate no-logging policy). All they will see, when you are using a VPN, is a strange IP address that has nothing to do with you. With a VPN you can browse the internet anonymously.
  • Protection against hackers and governments: People are becoming more and more aware of their vulnerability on the internet. Without a secure VPN connection, it is much more easy for others to intercept, view and steal the data that you, often unknowingly, spread when you browse the web. Without knowing it, others could tap your devices and use your personal information. You can prevent this with a VPN because it encrypts all your internet traffic.
  • Secure internet access on public networks: Using a public network can be very risky. Other users on the same network can easily tap into your data and personal information. Since you don’t want others to have access to, for instance, your email login, images/files or credit card information it might be wise to use a VPN connection. The VPN encrypts all of your internet traffic. A hacker will only see encrypted matter and won’t be able to see or use your personal information.
  • Bypassing censorship and geographical restrictions: For a normal internet user, there can be many restrictions as to what they can and cannot access online. For instance, you cannot watch all the content available on BBC iPlayer if you are not accessing the internet via a British IP address. Also, some streaming services like Netflix offer different content in different geographical zones. Some governments (e.g. China, Turkey, and Egypt) block access to certain internet services, such as WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook or Twitter. By changing your geographical location with a VPN, you can bypass these different restrictions.
  • Downloading and uploading anonymously: Downloading certain Torrents is illegal in some countries and more than ever before downloaders are tracked down and sometimes even prosecuted. Of course, we are not advocating any illegal actions. However, we do understand people want privacy and anonymity, not just when browsing the internet, but also when uploading and downloading files. To make sure nobody knows what you are downloading or uploading you can use a VPN connection. Because of the encrypted traffic and the rerouted IP address you can download anonymously with a VPN.
  • Prevent companies from building a file on you: Advertising networks such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter are constantly collecting information about you through your online traffic. With this information they can show you tailored adds but more importantly, they are free to sell this information to a third party. By encrypting your data using a VPN these networks won’t be able to collect information on you and they will have less influence on what you see online.
  • Access to your company’s network: More and more companies are giving people the possibility of working from home, or abroad for instance. Some people use a VPN connection to access the company network at home. This enables people to efficiently work from home.

To read more about the different reasons why people use a VPN please read our article on the subject: What are the advantages of a VPN?

Final Thoughts: VPN Explained

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a secure connection between you and the internet. It provides its users with more online privacy, security and freedom. There are several ways to set up a VPN connection, but most private users do so by subscribing to a VPN provider.

There are a number of major providers that’ll give you access to servers all around the world for just a couple of dollars a month. These providers constantly make sure that their security and the speed of their servers is in order. After extensive testing, we have identified the best VPN providers for you.

VPNs and VPN Use: Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a burning question about VPNs, we might be able to help you out. Simply click one of the queries below to see the answer. Do you have a question that isn’t answered in this list? Feel free to place a comment underneath this article, and we’ll help you out as soon as we can!

There is a large price difference between the various VPN providers. This makes it difficult to give a a clear answer to this question. That said, looking ath the better VPN providers, most VPNs will cost between $2 and $7 per month if you subscribe for a longer period of time. If you choose to take out a subscription for a shorter period of time, you have more control over the cancellation, but you often pay around $12 per month for the more well-known VPN providers.

There are also free VPNs. You don’t pay for these obviously, but limits on data or speed may apply. There is also a large number of free VPN providers who abuse your data or resell it to others. Always read reviews of VPNs to see if they are suitable for you.

There are many free VPNs to be found on the internet. However, not all of those VPNs can be trusted. Some free apps don’t secure your connection very well, while others might even install malware onto your device. Always make sure you’re using a VPN that offers a free service you can trust, such as Hide.me or ProtonVPN. Unfortunately, even good free VPNs often have speed or data limits.

If you want to start using a VPN, you’ll first need a VPN account. Choose a trustworthy VPN service and get a subscription with them. Install the software on your device and turn the VPN application on. In most cases, you’ll only have to click the big power button that’s shown in the app or on the dashboard to initiate the VPN connection.

A VPN is a secure connection between you and the internet. This connection is sent through an external VPN server, meaning your IP address, location, and data traffic remain hidden. Moreover, you’ll often be able to choose from different server locations, allowing you to access the web as if you were in a different country. This way, a VPN provides you with increased online privacy, safety, and freedom, which comes with all sorts of new possibilities.

A VPN creates an encrypted VPN tunnel between your device and the internet. All your online traffic is sent through this tunnel, meaning no one on the outside will be able to see what you’re doing online. The VPN also alters your IP address by changing it into the IP address of the VPN server you’re using. Therefore, your location will no longer be visible to everyone on the internet. The encrypted VPN tunnel is able to keep your data secure because it uses high-level encryption protocols.

A good VPN will allow you to watch Netflix movies and series that would normally only be available in different countries. The American version of Netflix, for example, has a bigger library than the versions in many other countries, including Spain, The Netherlands, and the UK. With the right American server provided by the right VPN, for example ExpressVPN, you’ll be able to access thousands of series and movies on Netflix.

Tech journalist
Tove has been working for VPNoverview since 2017 as a journalist covering cybersecurity and privacy developments. Since 2019 she is VPNoverview.com's cybersecurity news coordinator.

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  1. Thanks, informative but still I’m not that savvy. Will ask nerdy friend for more explanation !!

    • Wow what a great lesson this has been.
      Thank you

      • I am using ExpressVPN.
        When I connect uploading and downloading is showing on the app.
        Does it upload my personal image and videos too?

        • No, these mentions of uploading and downloading simply mean that ExpressVPN is sending your data onto the internet through a secure connection and receiving data it can show you. This is how you get a functioning and safe internet connection. Unless you choose to upload a personal picture of video of yourself onto the internet, ExpressVPN won’t touch any of that information, so you don’t need to worry.

      • Great article, thanks. I do have something I don’t understand. If I install vpn app on iPhone or iPad that are accessing internet through cell data, is this vpn protected or only when they are hooked up to wifi?

        • The VPN will protect both your iPhone and iPad no matter how you go online. It works both when you’re using cell data and when you’re using Wi-Fi, as long as you’ve got the VPN switched on.

    • Can the IT dept of your employer track your location through their provided VPN

      • If you are using a VPN connection set up by your employer or the IT department, they could be able to see your real IP address even when you’re using that VPN. With that information, they will also know your location. However, if you’re using a VPN provided by another company (such as NordVPN or another external provider), your employer will (very likely) be unable to see this information.

  2. thank you did not know what a VPN was. Is the one that windows has built in good for a free one

    • The built-in VPN that Windows offers via PPTP can help you up to a point, but is not as safe and secure as a normal, premium VPN. That’s why we generally advise to use a VPN from a third party, for example ExpressVPN or Surfshark. With these VPNs, you can be absolutely sure that the service you’re getting is decent, secure, and makes you anonymous. If you want to have a look at the free options, you can check out our article on the best free VPNs of this moment.

      • I’m traveling to China on Monday and have Express VPN. Currently I’m connected in the US but when I’m in China do I stay connected to US or connect to Hong Kong or Japan? I’m not clear as to how that works

        • You can do either. If you stay connected to a US server when you’re in China, you’ll have access to the same websites and services as you usually would. A server in Hong Kong or Japan could give you a quicker connection (since the distance between China and these servers is smaller than that between China and the US), but might not give you the same access. However, the most important thing to realise is that China can clamp down hard on VPN connections. If your VPN doesn’t seem to work while you’re there, you can try using different servers and different VPN protocols. Also make sure your ExpressVPN software is updated before you go, so you have the latest technologies to help you. Good luck!

  3. My brother got a vpn and was kind of making fun out of me that I didn’t know what it was and why it was needed, I thought that I should read about this matter a bit more so that next time I reply something with expertise and take him by surprise. This was the first website that I stumbled upon and it had great explanations (many thank you’s to the author)! Thanks, for the insights they were great, I might get a vpn myself (or just use my brothers Surfshark account)!

    • We’re glad we could help! Good luck with your VPN!

  4. What about using the VPN provided by Lts say Bitdefender or Webroot, Does it do the same job as explained above.

    • Yes, the VPNs by Bitdefender and Webroot both work in the same way as explained in this article. Each VPN has its own strengths and weaknesses, even though they all try to do the same thing, namely making your internet experience safer, more anonymous and more free. This means that some VPNs could be better for you to use than others. In order to help you figure out the difference, we review VPNs on our platform. You can have a look at the different reviews we’ve done so far on this page.

    • Is there a VPN that works in Morocco?

      • Yes, there is. Many decent VPN providers will work in Morocco and allow you to unblock services and websites. You’ll find a list of the very best ones right here. If you want a VPN that specifically has servers in Morocco as well, we recommend CyberGhost.

  5. why isnt there a mention of pure? you guys should check out their halloween deal, its as good as those mentioned above

  6. My husband has jst left to work in China can he set up a vpn acc whilst there? Sorry, a not v tech savvy wife ?

    • Sadly, it’s going to be quite hard for your husband to set up a VPN account once he’s already in China. The Chinese government blocks most VPN websites, making it almost impossible to get a VPN if you don’t already have a VPN account to get around those restrictions. If he already has a VPN, however, he can likely use that to easily get around any censorship. IF you want some more information about online restrictions in China, you can read this article. Hopefully this helps!

      • I would like to improve my overall streaming speed.
        Just curious, will a VPN improve my streaming speed? Or would I have to buy a wifi booster? Also how do I connect a VPN to my current router? Would I need special equipment?

        • A VPN could potentially increase your internet speed, if this speed is being throttled by your ISP or purposefully restricted in another way. If this isn’t the case, however, a VPN will not increase your speed and could even slow it down somewhat. But don’t worry: if you pick a good, fast VPN (for example ExpressVPN), the chances of your streaming speed dropping dramatically are slim. To connect a VPN to your router, you’ll need DD-WRT. You can read all about this here: Installing a VPN on Your Router – a Simple Guide for DD-WRT.

  7. Hi, nice share, how do you think for this vpn product: VPNGO, is it also working in China?

    • We have not (yet) tested out VPNGO for ourselves. Seeing as it’s a VPN that comes with a free version, we expect there to be quite a few limitations. Looking at their privacy policy, it appears they make their money from (third party) advertisements, which is something to be wary of. Their official website also doesn’t appear to work for us. If you’re looking for a good VPN to use in China, we’ve got an article written about exactly that topic. NordVPN, for example, is quite cheap and has obfuscated servers that can help you get around China’s firewall.

  8. Can I use email (gmail) anonymously with a VPN?

    • Using a VPN while emailing won’t make you anonymous. After all, you’ll be logging into your Gmail-account, which is likely connected to your name and other personal information. However, a VPN can still be useful during emailing. Some countries won’t give you access to Gmail. Using a VPN in those countries will allow you to log in to Gmail, even when your access should be blocked. If you want to email anonymously, it’s best to create a new, anonymous email address that can’t be traced back to you. A good email provider to use for this purpose is ProtonMail.

  9. How useful is VPN if you are traveling to Ethiopia?

    • We would definitely advise you to use a VPN. Ethiopia is known to block internet access as well as access to specific apps (WhatsApp, Telegram) at times. Therefore, a VPN might be useful when travelling to Ethiopia. It might help you unblock certain web pages and social media. Even if there isn’t any (relevant) internet censorship at the time of your trip, a VPN will still help you protect your online identity and privacy.

    • I connect to my employer through a VPN using my Windstream internet service. I constantly get dropped. (Message says connection was disrupted.) Any troubleshooting ideas? I can’t figure out if it’s the provider (they seem to constantly have issues in my area) or my employer. Any guidance is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

      • Firstly, we’d advise you to check whether this problem is caused by your internet connection. Does the internet work properly when you aren’t connected to the VPN? If so, you’ve already ruled out your internet service. Secondly, try to browse the internet through the VPN, without trying to reach any job-related pages or documents. If this works, the problem isn’t with the VPN provider, but with your employer. If it doesn’t, the VPN itself isn’t working. Depending on your situation (which VPN you’re using, how you and your employer arranged the VPN connection) we’d advise you to either contact the VPN’s support team directly or talk to your employer so they can help you. Good luck!

  10. If I understand correctly, my communication with the VPN server is encrypted. But the communication is decrypted by the VPN server before being sent to the target website, minus of course my IP address. That means that the communication can’t be directly attributed to my machine. However, anyone intercepting the decrypted communication might be able to deduce who I am and what some of the information is, I think. Is correcting the vulnerability of decrypted communication from user machine to website the role of the https protocol?

    Do I understand correctly?

    • This is quite right. A VPN protects you by hiding your IP address and encrypting your data between your computer and the VPN server. However, if you, for example, log in on a website that doesn’t use a secure HTTPS connection, your login details could still be vulnerable. A VPN secures your internet connection and make it anonymous, but that stops when you willingly send personal information, such as login details or an email address onto the internet. This is why it’s so hard to stay completely anonymous online while using platforms such as email and social media. However, if you use a VPN, make sure the websites you visit are valid, and don’t give out personal information on any page that doesn’t use HTTPS, you should at least be secure and safe from many prying eyes.

  11. Good afternoon

    I would like to know information about everything that is necessary to implement a VPN network in the company

    • We have some information about security for businesses on this page. When it comes to VPNs that work well for corporate networks, there are many options. Both NordVPN and VyperVPN offer business accounts, and aside from that, there are specialised corporate VPNs such as Perimeter81 that you could choose. If you wish to set up a VPN on your router, so everyone in the office can use it, you can check out this article. We are constantly working to update our content and add new information to the business section of our website, so make sure to keep an eye on that, as well!

  12. I actually wanted to know more technical details, like does the VPN software overwrite the customer network settings? Does it define additional interfaces? Why don’t some of them have an exception for local addresses? I’m using e.g. pihole, a local DNS server that prevents connections on a DNS basis, depending on blacklists. If the VPN software overwrites my settings, I can’t use my local DNS to protect myself against malicious web sites. Thanks

    • Thank you for your interesting questions! Whether a VPN allows you to set up custom DNS, depends on the provider. One VPN that does allow this, and will therefore make it possible to work with both your local DNS server and the safety of the VPN, is ExpressVPN. If you want to do this, you’ll have to follow the step-by-step guide they’ve provided on their website to manually configure these settings.

  13. Thank you for article!
    But I missed newcomers. I mean there are a lot of shady free VPNs in the market right now, but recently I found Atlas and it seems to be quite alright. I used it for a couple of days and still do not have any issues. Works good with streaming services. Did you heard about them? They are saying they don’t do any tracking or data collecting. I think it deserves a try, would appreciate if any experts could review Atlas in near future to check whether it’s safe to use?

    • We’ve recently tested Atlas VPN and will be adding our review to our platform as soon as possible, so keep an eye out for that! In the meantime, we can tell you that, sadly, Atlas does log information, namely your IP address among other data. We’ve also found that it doesn’t work very well with Netflix, so you might not be able to watch that specific service when using Atlas. If you’re looking for free VPNs that don’t collect your data and still work well, you can always have a look at our top 5 free VPNs.

  14. As you listed, there are unlimited benefits of VPNs. Most of the business VPN providers offer discounts as well. My question is, despite of so many benefits, why is it banned in many countries?

    • Some governments across the world limit internet freedom and want to block certain parts of the internet, such as social media platforms and news websites. These governments could turn to a VPN ban as well, in an attempt to further control the information available inside the country’s borders. You can read more about the legality of VPNs across the world right here.

      • Thank you so much. I got the point.

  15. Very informative, Thanks!
    I use a point-to-point VPN client (Pulse Secure), installed on the laptop to connect to the company network – I have no other option for work from home. I want to upgrade the old router with something I can install a VPN on.
    Should I expect problems running the point-to-point tunnel through a VPN on the router?

    • Assuming you want to install a VPN different from Pulse Secure on your router, this could cause some problems. Your laptop will be using a double VPN, which doesn’t always work well, especially when using different providers. Chances are that this double VPN connection will keep your laptop from getting access to the internet at all. The best thing would be to run your laptop’s internet through the old router when you’re using Plus Secure, and use the new router for private use, where all your data traffic will be protected by the private VPN you use.

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