VPN is an abbreviation for Virtual Private Network, whose primary job is to provide you with the ultimate security and privacy from the prying eyes on the internet. A VPN lets your web-enabled device stay protected even when you are using a public internet connection.
A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your computer and the network you’re connected to so that you remain safe online. There are numerous reasons why you should always use a VPN no matter what your OS is.
In this post, we are going to talk about how to install and set up a VPN on your device, including Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS. Along with that, we will let you know why using a VPN is important.
Why is using a VPN Important?
Your device has a unique IP address, and with that, your internet activities and private information are traceable. Your IP address is a part of the TCP/IP protocol, which is important for your device to connect to the internet. For the same reason, during the initial stage of setting up a new internet connection, your provider asks for your IP.
If you don’t know what your IP address is, you can go to WhatIsMyIPAddress.com. Here, you will find your device’s IP address and what network you are using. Since your IP address is visible while you are online, anyone can track you down and, potentially, steal your private data.
However, if you hide your IP address using a VPN connection, it will keep you safe. Using a virtual private network also lets you visit websites that are not accessible from your territory. For example, when you need to access a site for business or some other purpose but it is not available in your country due to geo-restriction, you can use a VPN to switch your location.
For many industries and businesses, a VPN connection is important for securing personal data. It ensures the privacy of your business-related information so that outsiders can’t follow your intention. Moreover, it can cut down bandwidth throttling to let you access restricted information without any interruption.
When you are using a router, your IP address is generated by the router if you are not using a VPN. Therefore, a hacker can easily sell or misuse your information without you even knowing. Using a secure VPN configuration can save you a lot of trouble and allow you to accomplish the following:
- Protect your identity seamlessly while you are performing any online activity, such as shopping, paying credit card bills, streaming content, and sending gifts or messages through emails.
- It lets you access location-restricted online sites or platforms.
- helps to keep your privacy secure while on a public WiFi network.
- It hides your actual location and gives you an anonymous browsing experience.
- It provides you with the ultimate security while you are torrenting.
Specifically, what is a VPN?
While you are using a VPN on your device, it offers you an additional security layer. It lets your connection pass through an encrypted server while allowing you to do your job without interruption.
Therefore, when you are using a public WiFi network, the authorities won’t be able to identify your IP address as a VPN would have already changed that. A VPN works as a traffic origin and pretends to be a user on the internet.
So, when your computer is going through a web server, the professionals who are taking care of the connection won’t view you as a user. Instead, they will take your VPN as a traffic origin.
As a result, the authorities of the websites you are visiting or the government, including your network provider, won’t be able to identify you as a data resource. Likewise, they won’t be able to track what information you are sharing, accessing, or using.
Using a VPN is more important these days than it was a few years ago. The emergence of COVID-19 has increased our internet usage, resulting in more malicious activities worldwide than ever before.
Many users keep asking this question “what does a VPN do”? To think that a VPN is only important while using an unsecured network is a mistake and not true at all. Even while you are using your private network connection, the chances of getting hacked online are still high.
However, a free VPN service may not help you in the long run as it has limited capabilities. Only a paid VPN can be fully trustworthy and will keep you secure whenever you access the internet.
How to Choose the Best VPN?
Before choosing a VPN, you need to know and ask questions like “how many types of VPNs are there?” Basically, there are 2 types of virtual private networks. One is known as Remote Access or Client-to-Site VPN, and the other one is Gateway-to-Gateway or Site-to-Site. There are some fundamental differences between these two types of VPNs.
Another frequently asked question is ” what does a VPN do” or “how do VPNs work?”. Remote access VPNs establish single-user connections, and gateway-to-gateway VPNs take care of the remote connections between entire networks. We will talk about how to choose the right VPN later. But before that, let’s discuss and compare Remote Access and Gateway-to-Gateway VPNs.
Differences Between a VPN Client and a VPN Gateway
Your data travels through the internet to let a VPN work seamlessly on your computer or any other device. For your VPN to work perfectly, it must work with 2 different systems: a VPN client and a VPN gateway.
A VPN gateway stays inside of the VPN infrastructure, and it manages as well as operates the access to another endpoint for both Client-to-Site and Site-to-Site VPNs.
A VPN client works to establish a connection with the server by building a private tunnel. And later, it uses the tunnel to transfer traffic data to the corporation or websites. Usually, a VPN client relies on the access provided by the VPN Gateway. In simple terms, the VPN gateway is the server, and the VPN client is the client that receives the data.
A client-to-site VPN will allow your device to access data over the internet. It is also good for browsing the internet. A client-to-client VPN is a good option when you are attempting to access your business network over a public internet connection. If you are looking for this type of VPN, you can rely on VPNs from the likes of NordVPN, OneLogin, and OpenVPN.
On the other hand, a gateway-to-gateway VPN provides security between your business network and its data storage through an encrypted server. With a gateway-to-gateway VPN, your PC can enter into a private tunnel to access the VPN server. Examples of such types of VPNs include Palo Alto Networks, Barracuda, and OpenVPN.
When you are choosing a VPN, there are some important things you need to keep in mind. These important questions will let you know the same:
1. Do you need a free VPN or a paid one?
Both work perfectly well; however, free VPNs are typically slower than paid VPNs and offer fewer features. And since you are not paying them to serve you well, they may not work with 100% accuracy.
2. What is VPN Security and does the VPN you are using keep a record of your internet history?
Make sure the provider does not keep a record of your browsing history before purchasing or using a free VPN. This is called a “no-log policy. If it does, then what difference does it make?
3. Does the VPN provide a strong enough connection?
Different VPNs use different levels of connection. For instance, AES-256 is stronger than AES-128.
Apart from these, there are some vital pointers to take into consideration while choosing a VPN service:
- Learn about its servers. Learn whether they provide BitTorrent traffic on their servers or not. If they don’t, you don’t have to pay the monthly fees to keep them on your device.
- A good paid VPN service should let you connect at least five devices at the same time using the same VPN network.
- A well-known and A-class VPN service usually costs around $10–12, but it should offer other convincing services to negotiate the amount if it’s charging more than that. Other convenient services may include a nice UI, thousands of locations to choose from, and a few unique features.
- Do not pay for a VPN that you don’t feel comfortable with.
- Before you sign up and pay for a VPN, go through the page outlines the data collection and what they do with the collected data.
What do you need to know about VPN Protocols?
VPN services have one of the ahead-mentioned 5 types of VPN protocols. The job of these protocols is to determine how the data will be transferred through the server. Different protocols have different specifications, and they can be beneficial under different circumstances. These are:
- L2TP/IPSec: This is the most common and oldest VPN protocol. Its full name is Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol which replaces the PPTP VPN protocol. Though it does not provide any unique security features, it is still a stable one to create tunnels.
The L2TP/IPSec VPN security protocol is fast, reliable, versatile, and does not come with any apparent vulnerabilities.
- OpenVPN: It is an open-sourced protocol where the developers can get access to a wide range of configurations. Though it is not the fastest protocol available, it is still versatile and reliable.
- SSTP: Known as Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol, it was specially designed for Windows devices. Therefore, it is not as versatile as its counterparts. However, it still is fast and provides great security.
- IKEv2: Internet Key Exchange version 2 is a common VPN protocol that uses IPsec for encryption and authentication. This protocol plays a huge role in re-establishing the connection after losing it all of a sudden.
- PPTP: The Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol is another old protocol in internet history. It was designed for dial-up connections. However, this one has a few security flaws and is not used widely for the same reason.
Getting Started with a VPN
Since you have come to know about the services a VPN provides and how it works on your device, it’s time to use one. You can visit the official website of the VPN you have selected and download it from there.
If you are using a free one, you won’t have to pay anything (note that it may charge for a fee to let you access its additional features though).
Take a look at the steps below to understand how to install a VPN on different devices, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS.
How to Install a VPN on Windows?
Once you have figured out which VPN to use, you can install it on your system with ease. The steps may differ from one VPN to another, but generally, they are the same.
Step 1: Press the Start button.
Step 2: Search for VPN.
Step 3: Click on VPN Settings.
Step 4: From the settings menu, click on the plus side next to the Add a VPN Connection option.
Step 5: From the first drop-down menu, select Windows built-in. It will set your VPN type to automatic, but you can change the protocol, i.e. PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, or IKEv2 if you want.
Step 6: Now, you will have to fill in the other blank spaces with the information regarding your VPN provider. Basically, you will have to ask your employer for the server name and address, username and password, etc. If you are using third-party software like NordVPN, you will find the required information from the VPN client’s settings or dashboard.
Step 7: After providing the information, click Save.
Step 8: Click on your WiFi connection and select the VPN you created earlier. Basically, the connection name will appear first. After connecting, you are good to go.
How to Install a VPN on Windows 7?
We know that many users are still using Windows 7. So, this section will help you set up a VPN on your Windows 7 computer.
Step 1: Press the Start button and in the black field, type VPN.
Step 2: Select “Set up a virtual private network (VPN) connection” from the options.
Step 3: Provide the IP address or domain name of the server. If you are accessing your office computer, ask your administrator to provide you with the correct information.
Step 4: Provide all the information needed and select Don’t connect now (if you want to connect later) or select Next.
Step 5: Another screen will pop up where you will have to enter your username and password. You can leave it blank if the data is missing.
Step 6: A screen will appear with the option to connect to the VPN. Once prompted, click Connect.
Step 7: Click on the Windows network logo at the bottom-right part of your screen.
Step 8: Click on Connect under “VPN Connection.”
Step 9: Enter the right domain in the “Connect VPN Connection” box as well as your login details and select Connect once again.
Step 10: Choose different protocols if the server is not connecting. Choose from PPTP, L2TP/IPsec, SSTP, or IKEv2.
Step 11: You can also go to the Security tab to select a ‘Type of VPN’ from the drop-down list and click Ok and Connect.
How Do I Setup a VPN on a Mac?
Same with your macOS device; you can configure your VPN settings from your system’s settings menu or from some third-party VPN provider’s dashboard. Follow the steps below to set up a VPN connection on your Mac computer.
Step 1: Firstly, go to the System Preferences.
Step 2: Click on “Network.”
Step 3: Now, from the bottom-left, click the + sign, and then select your VPN from the drop-down menu.
Step 4: Gather information from your VPN provider and fill out the VPN Type and Service Name fields.
Step 5: Then click on the Create button and provide the server address, remote ID, local ID, etc. in the right fields. And then click on Authentication Settings.
Step 6: Enter your VPN username and password.
Step 7: Click “OK” to connect
How to Set Up a VPN on iOS?
Check out the steps below to set up a VPN on your iPhone:
Step 1: Go to Settings and click on General, then scroll down.
Step 2: Now, you can see the VPN option, and your device will let you know whether or not you are connected to one.
Step 3: Touch “Add VPN Configuration.”
Step 4: Click on “Type” to select your preferred VPN type.
Step 5: Tap on “Back” to go back to the previous screen.
Step 6: Enter your VPN provider’s information, such as the server, remote ID, username, and password.
Step 7: Click on “Done,” and you will be taken back to the main screen.
Step 8: Toggle on the status switch.
How to Set up a VPN on Chrome OS?
To set up a VPN on your Chrome OS device, you can download an extension from the Chrome Web Store. Then go to the Play Store and find a VPN app there. Here are the steps you should follow afterward:
Step 1: Once you install a VPN app on your Chromebook from the Play Store, it will prompt you with all the instructions you need to set it up.
Step 2: Click on “Time” from the bottom-right side of your screen and click on “Settings.”
Step 3: Select “Add connection.”
Step 4: Next, select OpenVPN/L2TP.
Step 5: Add all the important information, including server hostname, service name, provider type, pre-shared key, username, and password.
Step 6: Click Connect.
Note: Some VPN apps provide the users with a certificate that they need to connect to the server. You can collect the certificate from chrome://settings/certificates and the Authorities tab. Then you can follow the on-screen instructions mentioned above to set up a VPN on Chrome OS.
What are the disadvantages of using a VPN?
There are some disadvantages of using a VPN that you must know to make the most out of a VPN service:
You can see a significant speed loss in your internet connection. This mostly happens when you are using a free VPN connection. The cause of this issue is typically server problems.
Unreliable VPNs can create a false tunnel to outsmart users. Your privacy may become vulnerable again with a dropped tunnel. You can resolve this issue with an automated connection termination. However, this will not let you access the internet when the VPN is not available.
The design and settings of a VPN client and server are complicated. If you are unsure of it, you may end up compromising on the speed of your internet connection. You can seek help from a professional if you need to do any tweaks to your VPN connection.
VPN blocks your address, city, country, and location-based services. So, if you are connecting your VPN to another country, you may notice this drawback.
Now that you know everything about the VPN service, you can easily install it on your device(s) and use it to protect your identity. However, always make sure to use a reliable VPN. In case you need any help, feel free to ask us in the comments section below. We’d love to help you out.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is creating a VPN illegal?
It’s advisable not to visit legally banned sites while using VPN, even though using VPN is completely legal in most countries, including India.
2. How much does it cost to set up a VPN?
OpenVPN can be installed on a VPS, which costs about $5 a month from Digital Ocean, if you want to create your own private VPN. If you need better bandwidth, you can also search for other hosting companies.
3. Can you set up a VPN for free?
While it is possible to set up a VPN manually for free, most of the options on the market come with serious drawbacks such as data caps, slower connection speeds, and limited server choices, so we recommend using a paid VPN service.
4. What is the best free VPN?
PrivadoVPN is the best available free VPN
5. What is the easiest way to set up a VPN?
Home VPN servers can be set up easily. It only takes a little knowledge and a little time. Your home network can be securely accessed while you are away if you have a VPN server at home. In order to set it up, you will need some technical know-how.
6. Why would you use a VPN?
The VPN protects your IP address and provides an encrypted server from corporations, government agencies, and hackers. When you use a VPN, your identity will be protected even if you are on public or shared Wi-Fi, and your data will remain private.
7. How much does it cost to get a VPN?
Depending on your chosen brand, VPN prices vary from $11 to $13 per month.
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