Do you need a VPN? If so, how do you choose one?

Some people think VPNs are unnecessary. But consider these scenarios:

You pull out your pad in a coffee shop and connect to the wifi server labeled “Joe’s Coffee.” Is it safe? Does it really belong to Joe or an imposter?

You see a flood of ads for a product you glanced at yesterday. If pesky advertisers know what you’ve viewed, what do bad guys know?

A VPN addresses these concerns. But which VPN should you use? Where do you start? How about starting here, with these 5 easy steps for the most trusted free VPN trial.

Step 1. Decide What You Want from Your VPN

A virtual private network, or VPN, stands between you and the internet. It creates a secure tunnel between you and the vendor’s VPN server. For anything that goes out from your device, to the world it looks like it came from the VPN server, wherever the VPN happens to be located. Your IP address, which identifies approximately where you are, is hidden. Nothing about your browsing is traceable to you.

To plan an effective VPN free trial, think about what you want most from a VPN. Which of these benefits are most important to you?

Privacy

When you use the internet, you’re broadcasting your IP address to the world. It’s like saying, “Here I am in Columbus, Ohio!” A VPN hides information that’s nobody’s business.

Keep Your ISP out of the Loop

Your internet service provider is a threat to your privacy. They can be subpoenaed and turn over records of what you’ve done online. They can legally sell your information to advertisers. They can slow down transmission speeds if you’re streaming video.

They can’t do any of these if they don’t know what you’re doing.

Block Unwanted Advertising and Malware

Not only can a VPN prevent targeted advertising, but it can stop general ads as well. Also, a good VPN is equipped to block malicious attacks.

Security

A VPN encrypts data right off your device so it can’t be intercepted from public wifi. If secures uploads and downloads of files and data. It protects you during a financial activity such as using your bank’s bill pay.

Expanded Content Access

A VPN can bypass internet censorship in countries where that’s practiced. Also, it can give you access to international libraries of services such as Netflix.

Step 2. Choose a VPN

There’s a “wild west” atmosphere in VPNs today with a lot of new players. Here’s how to choose a good one.

  • Reputation. Be sure the VPN has a history of doing what they say they will.
  • Performance. You may think that VPN response time would be slower because of the longer route through the VPN server. That’s offset by your ISP’s inability to throttle when you’re streaming. You should expect performance at least about as good as what you experienced pre-VPN.
  • Type of encryption. There are different security protocols. OpenVPN and IKEv2 are top choices.
  • Support should be available 24/7.
  • Number of devices supported. Some vendors limit the number of devices you can use and others don’t.
  • No logging. Your VPN should never log your activity. If there’s nothing to look at, no one can look at it.
  • Country. If your VPN is in the US, it can be subpoenaed under the Patriot Act. Many top VPNs are in counties that don’t have an intelligence agreement with the US.
  • Ease of use.
  • Bonus features. Some VPNs offer ad blocking, a kill switch to drop you from the internet if the VPN connection fails, and whitelisting sites for which you can bypass the VPN.

While you can learn a lot about a VPN through reading and research, the best evaluation comes when you try a VPN service.

Step 3. Set Up Your VPN Free Trial

There’s not much to this. Vendors that offer free trials have links on their pages to get you started.

Then download the VPN application to your device or devices. It’s no harder than installing any app from an app store.

You can also set up a VPN manually on your router or configure your own VPN server. Just be sure you’re using a router that supports secure VPN protocols.

Step 4. Give Your VPN a Workout

Use it and use it a lot. Try it from the coffee shop, the library, and other public hot spots. Targeted ads should vanish.

Notice how your response time is. Evaluate how easy it is to use. Check out as many bonus features as you can. If you’re a streamer, try accessing content such as Netflix from all over the world.

Step 5. Cancel or Continue

If you’re not happy with your VPN or don’t think it’s worth it, back up and think about something else. If you like it, congratulations! Welcome to the world of private, secure, ad-free internet access.


Author: Vanessa Seward

I’m Venessa and I’m a digital marketer and technical writer for Strictly digital. I’m passionate about exploring and writing about innovation, technology including cloud computing, VoIP, VPN, and digital marketing trends. I also manage my personal blog where I actively share my thoughts on digital marketing, lifestyle, and trending technologies.


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