What Is a VPN, and Why You Need One

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Is there Any Reason to Use a VPN at Home?
Using a VPN is as easy as installing the software on your computer, tablet, or even smartphone and launching the application. Submit a new Self Post. Some people want one for some specific purposes. It's easy to want to find the perfect, magical tool that will protect you from all possible threats. You could host your own VPN server with a web hosting provider, and this may actually be a few bucks cheaper a month than going with a dedicated VPN provider.

What is a VPN?

Do I Need a VPN at Home?

On Windows, you may have an icon on your desktop or you may need to click on the Windows icon in the lower left corner of the screen and select the program from the Taskbar or the Programs menu. Most VPN applications will give you easy to follow prompts that get you started if this is your first time using the software. You can also edit your preferences to tailor your experience. You may also have the option for TCP overrides.

This override means that if your internet service provider throttles your connection, you can choose to force your VPN to use a TCP Transmission Control Protocol which is more stable, though sometimes a bit slower.

Enter your username and password when prompted. If you are using a company's VPN, or most personal software, this will grant you secure access to your network. At this point, operations vary depending on how your company has configured its VPN access. The VPN software may open a new window that looks like your desktop at work, also known as a virtual desktop, where you can access your company resources. Or, you may need to launch your web browser and enter a secure web address where you can access your company's resources.

If your VPN session does not launch a virtual desktop, your IT department should provide you with instructions for accessing your resources. Now that you are signed up and logged in, you can begin running your VPN to protect your identity, access protected files on a network, or access websites and content not available in your country. You can also change your settings to allow your VPN to launch automatically and connect to a random network, or you can choose when and how you connect.

Or you may be restricted to a time limit. For example, you may want to use your VPN when on a public Wi-Fi like at a coffee shop, but not use it home. Or consider choosing VPN providers that do not limit your data as mentioned above. You can use your VPN to watch Netflix in a different country, allowing you access to movies and shows that you may not get normally. Hola is a collaborative P2P network that comes as a browser extension.

You can install Hola to your browser easily for quick and free VPN access. You can download it to your computer or through the App store. Or, you can install the extension to Chrome, Firefox, and Opera for quick use. Hola reroutes some of your activity through a peer to peer network and helps to mask your true IP address.

It doesn't completely reroute it as other VPN applications do but is effective for its ease of use. Once on the homepage, click the blue button that says "Get Hola, it's Free! Once you have Hola installed, you will see a button on your browser's toolbar. It is identified by a little flame with a smiley face. Click it to activate the Hola service. If Hola is off, the flame will be grayed out and you will see that it says "Off".

Click the icon and then wait for a popup box to load. Click the button on the center of the dialogue box to activate Hola. Click your desired country. Upon activating Hola, you will have the option to browse from various countries. Click the "More" option to open a list of all the countries that are available. Once you click a country your page will reload and will act as if you are browsing from your desired location. This is useful for not only protecting your identity, but also to access websites that may not be available in your region.

You can also access other sites restricted to your region. Not everyone gets access to the same content on Netflix due to licensing restrictions. Find out which countries allow the video, then connect to the video site through a VPN server setup in one of those countries. Not Helpful 3 Helpful I want to download torrents or stream movies, but I keep getting copyright infringement notices from my ISP. Can I use a VPN to hide these activities? Not Helpful 1 Helpful 5.

You can connect to VPN only when you are connected to the Internet. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 2. If I want to log into my bank account, do I go straight to the bank's website? It depends on the VPN setup. If all traffic is forced through the tunnel, and no where else, then yes, you do.

Not Helpful 8 Helpful 7. Yes, you can use VPN on your mobile. Not Helpful 1 Helpful 1. This depends on your P2P downloading software.

When your turn off VPN, some p2p programs stop downloading. Not Helpful 0 Helpful 0. You may want to. It's better to be secure than to take a risk by connecting to something public. Answer this question Flag as What are some ways to use a VPN in China? How do I connect my VPN server from my house? Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Already answered Not a question Bad question Other. Use a password that is unique, but easy to remember and do not write it down or stick it anywhere near or on your computer.

Some areas have only one ISP offering wired internet access. That makes recent changes that allow ISPs to sell data from their customers all the more troubling. It's one thing to opt into a shady system, it's quite another to have no choice in the matter. They kind of have to be, since they have to carry all of your traffic," explains Electronic Frontier Foundation EFF senior staff technologist Jeremy Gillula.

We should note that there are multiple ways your behavior can be tracked online—even with a VPN, things like cookies allow web services Amazon, Google, Facebook, and so on to track your internet usage even after you've left their sites here's a handy guide to pruning cookies on your browser.

VPNs also only do so much to anonymize your online activities. If you really want to browse the web anonymously, and access the dark web to boot, you'll want to use Tor. Unlike a VPN, Tor bounces your traffic through several server nodes, making it much harder to trace. It's also managed by a non-profit organization and distributed for free. It's worth noting that most VPN services are not philanthropic organizations that operate for the public good.

While many are involved in progressive causes, they are all still for-profit organizations. That means that they have their own bills to pay, and they have to respond to subpoenas and warrants. They also have to abide by the laws of the country in which they officially reside. This is why it's so important to read the privacy policy for VPN services, and to find out where a VPN company is headquartered.

NordVPN , for example, operates out of Panama, and is not subject to any laws that would require it to retain user data. Things can get tricky when it comes to trusting a VPN. Recently, PureVPN handed over log information the company had to federal investigators building a case against a cyberstalker and general dirtbag.

Some were surprised that the company had any information to hand over, or that it did cooperated with investigators at all. It seems to us that PureVPN stayed within the bounds of its stated privacy policy.

But it's also true that other companies, such as Private Internet Access , aren't able to connect any of your personal information to your account information. It's easy to want to find the perfect, magical tool that will protect you from all possible threats. But the honest truth is that if someone targets you specifically and is willing to put forward the effort, they will get to you.

A VPN can be defeated by malware on your device, or by analyzing traffic patterns to correlate activity on your computer to activity on the VPN server. But using security tools like a VPN ensure that you won't be an easy target, or get scooped up in mass surveillance. We heartily reject the idea that security and convenience are necessarily at odds. There are, however, some notable complications that arise from using a VPN. These aren't deal-breakers, but they warrant consideration. Chromecast and other streaming protocols send data over your local network, but that's a problem when you're using a VPN.

If you encrypt the data coming from your laptop, your Chromecast or AppleTV won't have a clue what to do with it. Likewise, smart home devices may be gathering lots of data about you and your home that you'd rather not have intercepted.

Unfortunately, these devices simply cannot run VPNs. The solution for both problems is to move the security up a level by installing a VPN on your router. This encrypts data as it leaves your safe home network for the wild web. Information sent within your network will be nicely unencrypted, and any smart devices connected to your network will enjoy a secured connection. Do you like Netflix? That's too bad, because Netflix hates VPNs. The problem is that Netflix in England is different from Netflix in the US, which is also different from Netflix in Australia, and so on.

Just because you can see your favorite in one country doesn't mean you can watch it in another. The company has a complex global web of regional licensing arrangements, and it has a very real interest in making sure people don't circumvent the resulting restrictions. In order to ensure that you can't access streaming content that is not licensed for your region, Netflix blocks most VPNs.

Some VPN services, however, work hard to ensure their customers can still stream movies and TV shows. It's something of a cat-and-mouse game, and a VPN that works with Netflix today might not work tomorrow.

Similarly, many VPN companies would rather not have to deal with the legal implications of their services being used to download via BitTorrent. BitTorrent is, of course, not inherently illegal but it is often used to pirate copyrighted material. Several VPN companies outright ban BitTorrenting on their servers, while others restrict its use to specific servers.

Another major concern with VPNs is speed. After all, a VPN is making your internet connection jump through many more hoops than normal. In general, using a VPN is going to increase your latency or your "ping" , and decrease the speed at which you upload or download data. While download speeds are one thing, gamers have particular concerns when it comes to internet connections.

While there are some VPNs for gaming , they are few and far between. It's less secure, but also has less impact on latency. When the internet was first being pieced together, there wasn't much thought given to security or privacy. At first it was just a bunch of shared computers at research institutions, and computing power so limited that any encryption could have made things extremely difficult. If anything, the focus was on openness, not defense. Today, most of have multiple devices that connect to the web that are vastly more powerful than the top computers of the early days.

But the internet hasn't made a lot of fundamental improvements.

Option One: Get a Router With VPN Capabilities