The VPN guide for beginners
So what is a VPN?
The goal of this article is to give you an understanding of what a VPN is. What does a VPN let you do? Should I be using a VPN? I’ll also be recommending a VPN service provider should you decide after reading this that you want one.
Firstly VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and they’re used to keep your connection to public or private networks encrypted and secure. So all that traffic that comes from your laptop, mobile or tablet to the VPN server is in a word scrambled. If somebody happened to capture any of your communication traffic, it would be of no use.
Who uses VPN’s and to do what?
- Large enterprises and the SMB (Small Medium Business) use VPN technologies to allow their remote employees to connect back to the office when away on business or when working from home. Once the secure connection is established it’s effectively like that employee is sitting at his/her desk in the office. They can access the file, print and email server and be on the opposite side of the world. The key being it’s highly secure. This reason is why VPN’s first came into existence.
- The security conscious internet user who values privacy. We see a lot in the media about government snooping and ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) keeping logs of their customer’s internet traffic. Well, VPN’s help with this. As we will explain shortly, you’ll be going undercover when you connect to the net.
- Bypassing Restrictions. Today this is a common reason for using the technology. If you wish to access a service or even a website that is blocked based on your geographical location, then you need a VPN to help you out.
- Hackers. Hackers use VPN services to remain anonymous. It helps them to hide their location and evade getting caught when carrying out illegal activities.
- When connecting through free public Wi-Fi zones such as internet cafes. If a malicious user is snooping on network traffic from a free Wi-Fi area, you’ll be kept secure through the use of encryption.
I’m sure there are lots and lots of more reasons, but for now, these are the main ones that spring to mind.
How does a VPN connection work?
When you connect to the internet, you are assigned an IP (Internet Protocol) address by your service provider. This address is unique, and it’s just for you (Aren’t you special). So maybe you can tell already by that sentence that identifying you if required would be relatively easy, right?
When you connect to a VPN server that you have chosen, you are forming what is called an encrypted tunnel. All your traffic passes through this tunnel before it hits the final distinction. Now my ISP cannot see my traffic (It’s encrypted), it cannot see the websites I visit because my chosen VPN provider is routing my traffic for me. I can appear as though I’m in an entirely different country altogether. Most VPN providers have options that allow you to select which county you wish to route your encrypted traffic through. An attractive choice if trying to access streaming serveries that would be otherwise unavailable. At this point, I’d like to mention that Jon.ie does not in any way condone the illegal use of VPN service providers.
Do I need a VPN provider?
Well, that all depends. Do you want privacy when surfing the net? Are you trying to access a resource that’s unavailable due to your geographical location? Do you use lots of public Wi-Fi spots? Do you want to avoid logs being kept of your traffic and sold to the highest bidder? If you have answered yes here then maybe yes, it’s time to get a VPN service. You will have plenty of choices.
Who we recommend for VPN services.
- When choosing a VPN service provider keep an eye out for the following:Cost. Naturally, this will be a significant factor. Limited vs. unlimited usage. How much data allowance will you require? How many simultaneous connections can you have running together?
- Software used to establish the connection. How easy is it to get up and running? Read the Reviews.
- The number of servers at your disposal. Does the provider offer lots of server in multiple geographical locations?
- Speed. A VPN service will slow your connection down to a degree. Again, do some research and see how the reviews stack up.
- Customer Support. When it all goes wrong, do you have a support agent to contact to get to the bottom of the issue you’re having?
- Operating System Compatibility. Is this software support by the OS (Operating System) that you use, e.g., Windows 10, Ubuntu MAC, etc.
Bearing all this in mind Jon.ie recommends the following VPN service provider:
Provider: Express VPN
- Compatibility. With apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Routers, and Linux. ExpressVPN works with any internet connection including wired, Wi-Fi, and cellular networks.
- Easy to setup. Sign up, install, and press connect. Straightforward for the least technologically savvy of us.
- No Logs. Express VPN never share your details with anyone.
- Unblock Websites. Easily unblock sites and services like Facebook, Twitter, Skype, YouTube and Gmail. With ExpressVPN you can keep on accessing the sites, you love.
- Speed. With unlimited bandwidth, you can enjoy your favourite videos and video chat with your friends and family without waiting for videos to buffer.
- Censorship. When connected to ExpressVPN, your ISP only sees encrypted traffic passing to our VPN servers, but they cannot decipher the data or know the websites you have visited.
- Customer Support. We’ve used it, and it’s excellent.
- Cost. Different plans to meet your requirements. See here: https://www.expressvpn.com/order
ExpressVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
We hope that you have found this brief VPN guide informative. You should now know what a VPN is, what it does and who uses VPN’s. Should you decide to use one, we have our recommendation but don’t be afraid to try several until you find the one that meets all your requirements.