Many people are on the lookout for means to unblock websites and services when traveling to restrictive countries. One such tool is a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
A VPN can be used to encrypt all your internet traffic, making it harder for third parties—including internet service providers (ISPs)—to track your activity. It also allows you to create a pseudo-private network, which is great for keeping your personal information secure when using public wifi hotspots or other unsecure public networks.
A VPN won’t protect you from hackers, but it will make it more difficult for ISPs and other third parties to collect information about your online activity. That, in turn, can make a difference. When using a VPN, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
Decide Whether to Use Software or Hardware
VPNs are available in both software and hardware forms. While both have their perks, it’s important to consider the nature of your internet connection and how mobile you need the product to be before making a decision. If you’re planning to use a software product, you may need to download and install the application on your own device. If you’re deciding between a desktop and a mobile version, take into consideration how you’ll use the VPN and what you need from the device. You can also compare the features of each version before making a decision.
Pick A Service And Stick With It
There are plenty of VPNs available, each promising to be the best in the market. However, that doesn’t mean they’re all created equal. Some companies may keep all their servers in one data center, making it much easier for them to provide great service. If you decide to use a free service, be sure to check for VPNs that have a money-back guarantee in case you don’t like the product.
Know How To Use It
Even if you decide to go with a reputable company, you’ll still need to know how to use the product confidently and easily in order to get the most out of it. For some, this may mean reviewing a bit of basic VPN knowledge before actually getting started. There are also numerous online courses and tutorials available to teach you the ins and outs of VPNs. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the different types of VPNs available, what each one does, and how to properly use it. Also, find out what protocols the company you’re considering uses and which ones it doesn’t. This will help you determine what kind of connection you need and whether or not the product is right for you.
Monitor Your Activity
If you’re using a software product, be sure to monitor and record your internet activity while connected to public wifi hotspots and other restricted networks. You can use a third-party application or VPN monitor to help keep track of everything you do online, when you do it, and where you go. This way, you can determine if the service you’re using is actually working as intended.
Consider Your Needs
As previously mentioned, not all VPNs are made equal. Depending on your needs and the type of device you have, it’s important to consider what features you need and which ones you don’t. Most devices today have all the necessary tools built in, making it easy for anyone to get up and running with a VPN. If you have a dedicated device for the purpose, such as a Chromebook or an Android phone, you may not need additional software to work with a VPN. Check with the vendor to see what protocols are supported by your device and if there are any add-ons or tools they provide to maximize your experience.
Use It For The Right Purpose
Once you’ve decided to use a VPN, it’s important to use it for the right purpose. There are plenty of free and open-source VPNs out there, each providing a different level of service. For instance, PPTP is the most commonly used protocol for software-based VPNs, while L2TP is the preferred connection method for mobile VPNs. Free VPNs that use OpenVPN tend to be very flexible, allowing you to connect to almost any server you want, whereas paid VPNs usually have you hooking up to a certain number of predetermined servers.
Think of what you’ll use the VPN for before making a decision. Will you need it to make WiFi connections more available abroad? Do you need to secure your internet connection when traveling to certain countries? Be sure to consider these questions and what answers you come up with before making a decision.
Consider Your Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Even if you decide to use an established VPN service, you’re still bound to your internet service provider (ISP). Most ISPs have a zero-tolerance policy against P2P use, which can make connecting to certain services and websites incredibly difficult. In some instances, you may need to switch ISPs or go through proxies to be able to connect to sites you want to access abroad. You can get a VPN that is specifically designed to unblock websites and services, as well as a dedicated device for the purpose. If you don’t have the budget or don’t want to sacrifice speed in order to get what you want, consider using a free VPN that is compatible with your current ISP.
There are also a variety of VPNs aimed at gamers, allowing them to play their favorite games without being tracked or blocked by their ISP. Many ISPs also throttle P2P traffic, which, in turn, makes connecting to these services and websites more challenging. A VPN can unlock these restricted websites and services, as well as allow you to create a private network to share gameplay with friends and other enthusiasts alike. This is one of the primary reasons why gamers use VPNs.
Secure Your Online Activity
Even if you decide to use a VPN, it doesn’t mean your personal information and activities will be completely secure. While connecting to a VPN brings added security to your online activity, it doesn’t mean you’re safe from hackers, cyber criminals, and other third parties who might want to access your data. Be sure to keep your user name and password confidential, as well as use a strong, complex password that isn’t easily guessed. You can also consider using a VPN that comes with a kill switch, which would automatically shut down your connection if your device is ever hacked or intercepted. If you’re just using public wifi hotspots at hotels and other locations, this could be very helpful in ensuring your personal information stays secure.
Another thing you can do to secure your personal information is to use two-factor authentication whenever possible. This way, even if your device is hacked or intercepted, someone would have to know your password as well as another piece of information, such as a code sent to your phone via SMS or an authentication code delivered to your device via a security key. Using two-factor authentication adds an additional layer of security and ensures unauthorized people don’t access your personal information.
Create A Private Network
In addition to keeping your personal information secure, a VPN can also be used to create a private network, isolating your devices and the data they contain from the rest of the world. You can set up a VPN with your device or with a dedicated router, depending on your preference. Setting up a VPN on a router allows for much more flexibility, as you can connect to the network from anywhere you have an internet connection. If you decide to use a software product for your VPN, you can install it on multiple devices so you can simultaneously connect to the same network from different locations. This feature alone can make a big difference in terms of how well you can conceal your identity while still maintaining your privacy online.
VPNs serve a vital role in ensuring your personal information stays secure and unmonitored while you’re traveling or when using public WiFi hotspots in foreign countries. The more you know about VPNs, the better position you’ll be in to decide whether or not to use one for yourself. Keep these things in mind, and you’ll be able to enjoy your travels without worry.