Most people use public Wi-Fi when they’re traveling, whether it’s at home, work, or the airport, but did you know that you can actually use your devices’ cellular data to access the internet when you’re abroad? This could potentially save you tons of money, not to mention the freedom to roam the world with your digital devices in tow. It’s time to explore how to wirelessly connect to a remote desktop using a VPN, and here’s a step-by-step guide to help you along the way.
Step 1. Install Remote Desktop Apps
As the name might suggest, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a network layer tool that creates a secure connection or tunnel between your device and a remote server. Some good remote desktop apps that support VPN functionality are Microsoft Remote Desktop, TeamViewer, and VNC. If you have a Mac, you can use iTermVPN, a VPN for macOS. If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can download the free VPN app from the App Store.
Step 2. Enable VPN on Your Router
You’ll need to access the settings of your internet router to setup VPN. Most routers have a setup page where you can enter your login credentials to connect to the internet; they may also provide you with a VPN connection as part of their default installation. Many routers have a setting where you can specify the country that you’re in, which might be helpful if you’re traveling internationally. For instance, if you’re in the UK but want to connect to a US-based server, you might want to choose England as your country of choice and adjust the other settings to meet your specific needs. It’s generally best to consult your internet service provider’s website for instructions on how to connect your device to the router.
Step 3. Download and Install VPN Connector Plugin
There are several different VPN plugins or extensions that you can download and install on your browser, but we recommend using the OpenVPN Connector for its seamless integration with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. You can download the OpenVPN Connector from the Chrome Web Store or the Mozilla Firefox Add-ons page. Once you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll see a small icon in the toolbar of your browser. You can also click the icon to bring up a menu where you can select the profile you want to use for VPN connections (more on profiles later).
Step 4. Configure VPN Connection
You’ll need to enter your VPN credentials to connect to a VPN server. These can be either login details for a personal account on a cloud service like Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud, or you can use a unique identifier for the device (usually a login + password in the form of a PIN or a security question). Remember to keep your VPN credentials secure, as anyone who gets access to them can access your account and all the servers you connect to, which could be a serious security risk. Keep your VPN credentials out of reach from others, and ensure that you’re not revealing them to anyone. You can use a secure password manager tool to generate and store your VPN credentials safely.
Step 5. Browse the Internet Through a VPN
Once you’ve setup your VPN connection and connected to a server, it’s time to enjoy the freedom to roam the internet as you please. From anywhere in the world, you can access secured websites that will allow you to do all the things that you could do from your home or office internet connection. You’ll need to connect to the server through the VPN before you can use it, but once you’re connected you can access any website or service that is not blocked by your country’s internet censorship laws. The big advantage of this method is that you’ve got complete control over what websites you can access, and you can create a rule to only allow certain websites through the VPN. This means that even if there’s content that you don’t want your kids to see, you can prevent them from accessing certain sites by creating a VPN rule that restricts them to only access sites you deem suitable. It’s the perfect hybrid solution for those that want to enjoy the benefits of remote working while on the move.
Step 6. Secure Your Home Networks With a VPN
If you’ve got a home network, you can use the same VPN setup method to secure your laptops, tablets, and smartphones (and potentially even your router) against hackers and the like. Simply connect to the server through the VPN before you use your device to access the network, and voila, you’re good to go. You can also use the VPN to make sure your device’s data is secure when you’re using public Wi-Fi or another person’s connection. If someone else is nearby and trying to access your device’s data, they’ll need to do so via a VPN connection first, as your device will not be able to detect any unencrypted connections. This is why we recommend using OpenVPN for securing your Wi-Fi connection, as it’s extremely easy to set up and supports many different connection types (L2TP/IPsec, PPTP, SSTP, and IKEv2), ensuring you can find a type that suits your needs. If someone is trying to access your device’s data when it’s connected to the internet via a public Wi-Fi connection, the only way they can do so is by first connecting to the network via a VPN. We also recommend creating a VPN rule for your home network that restricts access to only certain devices, like smartphones and tablets, and allows other devices like laptops and desktop PCs to access the network without needing a VPN.
Step 7. Use a VPN On Your Mobile Device
If you’re on the move and using a mobile device, you can secure your personal data against hackers and the like by using a VPN. Most mobile devices support connecting to a VPN server, either through the built-in browser or through an app. Some of the most well-known VPN apps for mobile devices include IPVanish, NordVPN, and Perfect Privacy. You can download these apps from the App Store or Google Play, or you can use your device’s browser to access a secured site through a VPN whenever you connect to a network.
Step 8. Remove Cookies
Cookies are small data files that are stored locally on your computer or mobile device when you visit a website. They are usually used to identify users and track their activity on a site, so that the site can personalize their experience based on what they’ve done before. The common cookie is called PHPSESSID, and it’s usually stored in a file called cookies.txt inside your browser’s data folder. To remove all the cookies stored on your device, you can either navigate to the browser’s settings menu and select “Clear browsing data” or you can use an app that specializes in clearing cookies for Android and iOS devices. Some of the most popular apps in this category are:
- Clear My Safari
- Clear My Chrome
- Clear Cookie
- Eco Cleaner
Step 9. Manage Your VPN Accounts
If you use more than one device, like a laptop and a tablet, it’s important to keep track of your VPN settings to ensure you connect to the right server when you use the device. You can either download a dedicated app for managing VPN accounts, or you can use the web browser on your laptop to access the account you set up on the tablet. One simple way to remember which server you need to connect to is to mark it as your default in the settings of the app or browser you use to connect to the internet. This can be done by simply clicking the check box next to the VPN server in question and entering your login credentials if requested. You can then connect to the VPN without entering your login details every time you use a different device to access the internet.
Step 10. Consider These Points When Travelling
If you’re traveling, it’s essential to keep your personal data secure while enjoying your trip. There are certain things you need to do to ensure this, like keeping your devices up-to-date and considering which areas of the country you’re visiting may be dangerous. The internet in some places in North Korea is heavily censored, so it’s best to avoid using public Wi-Fi altogether while you’re there. If you’re in an area where there’s political instability or violence, it may not be wise to display your valuables like credit cards or other forms of ID on the open internet, as this could make you a target for hackers or those seeking to do you harm. Setting up a VPN to secure your data while abroad is one of the simplest things you can do to ensure your travels are safe and hassle-free.