The benefits of a VPN are numerous and include protecting your personal information, allowing you to work remotely, and giving you the ability to unlock content and websites that you might otherwise be restricted from accessing. While the concept behind a VPN is fairly straightforward, implementing it in your life can be rather challenging. For example, what exactly does behaving like an always-on VPN connection mean and how can you ensure that you are in fact using one when needed? Let’s explore.
How Does a VPN Work?
At its most basic level, a VPN is a tool that allows you to connect to a private network, meaning that only the people you specifically allow can access your private data while the rest of the network is hidden from view. This kind of setup might seem straightforward yet, in practice, it can be slightly more complex. For example, you might configure your VPN to automatically reconnect if your internet connection is lost, which, if not done carefully, can be both annoying and risky. Always-on VPNs are even more complex as they allow for endless reconnection scenarios and require quite a bit of thought to set up and manage correctly.
Are There Different Kinds of Always-On VPNs?
Usually, when someone thinks about VPNs, they think immediately about the classic VPN that establishes a secure connection once you connect and keeps it open as long as you need it. While this is one of the most popular kinds of VPNs, it is certainly not the only one. Depending on your needs, you might want to consider other alternatives such as kill switches, hardware VPNs, and no-logging VPNs. Know what you need and choose wisely!
Which Type of VPN Is Suitable for My Needs?
To answer this question, you need to examine your requirements and the features that are most important to you. The most basic requirement is security and you cannot emphasise this enough. You need to be sure that your VPN is reputable and that you are protected from hackers, scammers, and other malicious actors. This is why you should avoid free VPNs as they are usually easy to hack and steal your personal information. Ideally, you want a VPN that is completely free but also secure and doesn’t keep any records of your activity. The best solution for this is a no-logging VPN as they don’t keep any logs and don’t even have to, meaning that you cannot be tracked. The fewer the logs that are kept, the better. A no-logging VPN also insulates you from government surveillance as much as possible, avoiding the risk of your personal data being intercepted and hacked. These are all important considerations and should be considered before purchasing a VPN.
Once you have your security sorted, you can move on to more practical matters such as cost, performance, and feature sets. All of these are important and should be balanced against your needs. For example, price is always important but so is features and performance when buying a product that you will use often. You don’t want to spend a ton of money on something that is low-quality because it might bog down your device or network. As a general rule of thumb, try to spend about the same amount of money on a VPN that you would spend on a high-quality hotel bed for the weekend. This will ensure that you are getting a good quality product that will not disappoint you. Performance should be good as well because if it isn’t, you will experience slow speeds which can be frustrating when trying to stream videos or download large files. No-logging and free VPNs are normally faster than paid VPNs because they don’t have to log and keep records of your activity. However, the trade-off is that they are less secure and also more susceptible to hackers and malware. So, it is always a matter of balance as you cannot have all things at once.
What Does an Always-On VPN Look Like To The Average Joe?
This is a common question when it comes to people trying to understand what a VPN is and why they need one. Most people assume that an always-on VPN is just like any other VPN connection meaning that it connects you to a private network and allows you to browse the web privately. This, however, is far from true. To an average Joe, an always-on VPN will look and behave more like a conventional internet connection than a normal VPN connection. Let’s examine.
When you turn on your VPN and connect to a server, you will see a popup that looks similar to the one below. By default, most VPNs will hide this pop-up but you can easily bring it to the forefront by pressing the option button. Doing this will give you access to additional information about your VPN connection as well as allow you to change certain settings. This, in turn, will allow you to change the way your VPN behaves and interacts with your computer. For example, the VPN below will not show the popup as it is set to “Hide the VPN connection.” However, if you check the box to show the popup, you will see this info and be able to quickly configure the VPN to your liking. This is because most VPNs are designed to be user-friendly and easy to use rather than complicated and secure protocols and settings buried deep within the interface. The fewer clicks you have to make to get the result you want, the better. One short-cut way of looking at it is that an always-on VPN is an internet speed booster that you can turn on anytime you feel like doing so. This way, even if you don’t have a conventional VPN connection, you will be able to get internet service just like you would if you were physically connected to a Wi-Fi network.
Do I Need To Configure My VPN Every Time I Turn It On?
Unless you are using a VPN that is already configured and working when you turn it on, you will need to go through the process of connecting to a server and entering your login details every time you turn it on. VPNs that are already set up and working behind the scenes when you turn them on do not require any configuration and you can simply use them as is whenever you need to. This kind of setup is more convenient as you do not have to go through the process of configuring the VPN every time you turn it on and off. You can wait until you need it and turn it on when you need it. Configuring a VPN every time you turn it on is both a hassle and not necessary if you are using one that is already configured when you need it. This type of setup requires more maintenance as you will have to ensure that your VPN is always connected and set up correctly so that you do not have any connection issues when you need it.
What Is The Difference Between A VPN And An Internet Shield?
VPNs and internet shields are not interchangeable as they serve very different purposes. VPNs are specifically designed to provide internet anonymity and security while internet shields are more intended to simply protect your personal information from prying eyes. The fact that they are both online security products does not change this fact as they serve completely different purposes. VPNs are usually associated with hiding your identity online whereas, internet shields are more focused on privacy and security at the expense of anonymity. Once you have determined the purpose that your VPN is serving, you can move on to decide whether or not you need it to perform at its optimal level.
What Are The Long-Term Storage And Data Retention Options For My VPN?
Choosing a VPN can be hard because there are so many options available but if you want a relatively easy guide to selecting the right VPN, try out this helpful list from NordVPN. It breaks down all the key details you need to know and allows you to choose the perfect VPN for your needs.