Most of us rely on WiFi for our internet connection these days. And let’s be honest, the convenience of having a hotspot at the finger-tip and being able to move from place to place while still connected is impossible to beat. But, despite its convenience, WiFi isn’t safe and it certainly isn’t private. Anyone within range can access your personal information, whether you’re online or not. If, by chance, you’re on a public WiFi network, even more so. Hackers and cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to steal your personal data, whether it’s to commit identity theft or just to embarrass you.
With all of that said, you might be inclined to wonder, how can I set up a VPN over public WiFi? Glad you asked! In this article, we’ll discuss what you should know and consider before doing so. We’ll also arm you with the tools you need to keep your personal data secure while still connecting to public WiFi.
Why Should I Set Up a VPN Over Public WiFi?
Even if you have a strong sense of cybersecurity, it’s highly likely that you don’t feel completely secure on public WiFi. After all, you wouldn’t be on a public network if you felt safe, right? Well, perhaps you would, but that’s the point. You’re choosing to be on a public network because it’s easier to find WiFi in places like coffee shops or hotels than it is in your home. But that’s not the only reason why you might want to set up a VPN over public WiFi. There are others.
For example, you might want to set up a VPN over public WiFi so that you can access personal or business-related websites that are restricted to certain locations or use cases. Maybe you want to be able to play games that are only available in certain areas. Or maybe you just want to be able to use public WiFi wherever you go, without worrying about your data being unprotected.
Whatever your reasons for wanting to set up a VPN over public WiFi, we’re sure that you’ll agree that it’s a great way to ensure that your data is always protected.
What Is A VPN?
If you’re not familiar, a VPN is a Virtual Private Network. Think of it as a secure tunnel that you connect to before logging on to the internet. When you log on to the internet via a VPN, your computer or smartphone will randomly select a server, which will in turn encrypt and decrypt your internet connection. This encryption is what makes a VPN tunneling technology. It prevents anyone, including the site you’re connecting to, from reading your data. While this sounds great, let’s be honest, using a VPN is not always simple. For example, you have to make sure that your VPN’s network is always ahead of the internet when you’re browsing. You also have to make sure that you’re always using the latest version of the software to ensure optimal performance.
Luckily, we have tools to make the process easier and less time-consuming. We’ll discuss how to set up a VPN in just a minute, but first, let’s discuss the pros and the cons.
When it comes to setting up a VPN, there are a number of things that make it worth your while. First off, let’s discuss the pros in terms of functionality and performance. The software that most VPN services offer these days is incredibly easy to use. Whether you have zero tech savviness or you’re simply looking for a quick and easy way to secure your data, there are dozens of VPN services that make it simple for even the most inexperienced user to get up and running in minutes.
Performance-wise, most VPN services are pretty good these days. Even the worst VPN services are fast enough to ensure that you can still access the sites you need to connect to while remaining anonymous. Plus, the speed will vary depending on where you connect to. So, if you’re in Australia, for example, you might notice that some VPN services are a bit slow, but for the most part, they work great.
To end this section, let’s discuss the most important pro of all: security. It’s pretty evident to state the obvious that the entire point of a VPN is to keep your data secure while you’re on the internet. But exactly how safe is your data when you’re on public WiFi? Well, in reality, it’s not too safe to say that your data is entirely secure, because there’s always a chance that an attacker could get access to it. But it’s pretty great in terms of security compared to not using a VPN at all. When you use a VPN, the most that can happen is that your data could be compromised. And even if that happens, there are numerous techniques, including two-factor authentication, that you can use to ensure that your data is still safe. If you choose to use a VPN, then you’re choosing to take some level of risk in order to gain a little extra security.
Now for the con’s of setting up a VPN. First off, let’s discuss the downsides in terms of functionality and performance. Just like with the pros, the functionality and the performance of most VPN services are pretty bad. Only the best VPN services offer good enough performance for it to be worth your while. Even then, you’ll notice significant slowdowns and an increased chance of connecting to faulty servers.
Next, let’s discuss privacy. When you use a VPN, you give up your privacy. You’ll be giving up everything from the sites you visit to your browsing history. So, if you’re not comfortable with that, then there are definitely better options for you. Just keep in mind that most VPNs are very unprofessional when it comes to maintaining privacy. Some of the worst VPNs will even upload your browsing history to their own servers, so they can sell it to the highest bidder. So, while it’s not always easy to determine what’s going on behind the scenes of a VPN, you can be pretty sure that you’re not being treated with the greatest of care. As a general rule, using a VPN always means that you’re responsible for your own privacy.
Then, there are the technical aspects of setting up a VPN. This includes things like securing your device and ensuring that you have the proper tools to connect to a VPN. Not every device is compatible with every type of VPN. If you have a PC, you’ll need to look into buying a VPN adapter for it. Some of the worst VPNs are so poorly designed that they require you to have specific hardware in order to connect to them. If you’re on a mobile device, you’ll need to have a VPN app installed and you’ll need to make sure that the app is up to date. But again, security-related issues are probably the worst con of all when it comes to using a VPN. If you choose to use a VPN, then you’re choosing to have a bad experience with regards to security, privacy, and functionality.
So, as you can see, the majority of the con’s of using a VPN are directly related to security and privacy. If you’re worried about those issues, then there are definitely better options for you. But if you still want to use a VPN, then you have to be prepared for sub-optimal experience. Just remember that it’s still better than not using a VPN at all.
How Do I Set Up A VPN?
If you’re still with us, you might be wondering how you can set up a VPN. As we’ve discussed, the process isn’t easy and it requires a bit of tech savviness. So, here are the steps that you need to follow in order to successfully set up a VPN:
Step one: Choose a VPN provider
The first step is to choose a VPN provider. It might seem obvious, but this is critical. You need to pick a VPN that has excellent reviews and that offers a good level of security. Even if you have a strong sense of cybersecurity, it’s still best to be safe than sorry, right? Once you’ve picked your VPN provider, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Step two: Determine the location of your server
After choosing your VPN provider, it’s time to determine the location of your server. You’ve already established that you’re going to be using public WiFi, so this is the location for your server. Now, it’s important to note here that not every VPN provider offers servers in every country. So, make sure that you’re selecting a provider that has servers in the country that you’re in. Otherwise, you might encounter connection problems.