A VPN, or a Virtual Private Network, is an invaluable tool that helps you bypass internet censorship, protect your identity online, and access geo-blocked content. However, learning how to use a VPN might seem like a daunting task if you’ve never encountered this service before.
Luckily, it’s much easier than you think. In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about setting up your first VPN and using it to make your online experience more secure… and more fun.
If you want to get the gist of how to use a VPN, the very first (and the most important) step is choosing the right VPN service. Compatibility with your device, functionality, and speeds are just a few of the things to consider. To make things easier for you, we compiled a list of the best VPN available in 2021.
No matter what kind of device you use, setting up a VPN should be a piece of cake. Usually, you’ll need to download the app, go through the installation process (which usually consists of a few clicks), and sign into the app with your VPN account.
Which country would you like to connect to? Browse through the list of regions available on your VPN and pick the one you need.
Finding out how to use a VPN can be extremely useful. Here are the most common reasons for getting this service:
No matter what kind of device you use, you’ll most likely be able to set it up with a VPN. That’s because most VPN services offer dedicated apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS operating systems. In other words, a VPN of your choice should perfectly function on both desktop and mobile devices.
Now, if you tend to use a lot of devices at the same time (or just want to share your subscription with your family members), you should consider getting a VPN that allows for multiple simultaneous connections. Most of the time you’ll get five, however, some VPNs (like Surfshark) don’t limit the number of simultaneous connections at all.
There’s also the possibility to install a VPN directly onto your router. In this way, all the devices connected to the router will use the VPN connection – even those that don’t support VPNs on their own. Some VPNs (ExpressVPN, for example) make the installation process easier by offering you specialized router firmware.
Finally, some VPN providers help you enhance your streaming experience by allowing you to watch geo-blocked content on smart TVs and gaming consoles. This is done with the help of SmartDNS.
Even if you have zero knowledge on how to use a VPN, I promise you – there’s nothing to be afraid of. Usually, VPNs are made with the average user in mind, which means that the application you download will be intuitive and easy to set up.
First of all, keep in mind that even though the main functions of a VPN are to hide your real IP address and encrypt your internet traffic, each and every VPN is unique.
For example, one thing to consider is the speed. If you have a slow internet connection, some VPNs might be downright unusable. In cases like this, it’s best to pick a VPN service that supports the WireGuard tunneling protocol – it will make the decrease in speed the least noticeable.
Next, you should think about why you’re getting a VPN in the first place. Do you want to watch geo-blocked Netflix content, or simply stay anonymous online? Always read the feature list offered by the VPN you’re interested in.
Finally, don’t forget to check whether the VPN is compatible with your device. Luckily, most VPN services offer apps for lots of different operating systems, so finding the right VPN for your device won’t be a problem.
Now comes the time to pay for your VPN. Usually, you’ll be offered a whole bunch of different payment options, credit cards (VISA, Mastercard, American Express) being the most common one.
In addition, some VPNs might let you pay with PayPal, Google Pay, AmazonPay, UnionPay, WebMoney, GiroPay, etc. Also, services like NordVPN allow you to pay with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Dogecoin, adding an extra layer of anonymity. A few VPNs (i.e., Mullvad) even let you pay in cash.
No matter which method you choose, you’ll need to provide a valid email address for registration. When using a credit card, you’ll also need to type in your full name.
After completing the payment, download the VPN from its official site or the app store of your device. Whether you use a Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, or iOS device, the installation process should be a breeze. Often, VPN services also offer extensions that you can set up on your Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera browsers.
Once the download process is complete, simply open the application and sign in by providing your email address and password.
So, it’s time to use your VPN. To connect to another country, simply open the application, browse through the list of the countries available, and click on the one that you need. Once you don’t need to be connected to a VPN anymore, click the Disconnect button and your connection will be back to normal.
In case you want to tweak a feature or two (i.e., select a different tunneling protocol, change the encryption method, or use split tunneling), you’ll need to open the Settings menu. There, you’ll be able to see all the extra features offered by your VPN.
Finding a safe free VPN is an art in itself. You see, a huge chunk of free VPN services might pose a threat or two. For example, downloading a free program that you know nothing about can result in the leakage of your personal data. In less severe cases, you might simply get bombarded with annoying (or downright dangerous) ads whenever you go online.
On a more positive note, there are a few trustworthy VPN brands that will keep you anonymous for free. Windscribe VPN is one good example, as it generously offers unlimited data and bandwidth. However, you’ll have to subscribe to a paid version to unlock the full list of countries and most of the special features.
Alternatively, you can also make use of the 30-day money-back guarantee that most VPN providers offer. Treat it as a trial version – during these 30 days, you’ll be able to try out all the features of the VPN, which will help you decide if you want to use the service full-term.
One of the most common uses of a VPN is streaming. That’s because most streaming platforms offer different content for different regions, while some streaming options are downright unavailable in certain countries. From a user perspective, that’s really unfair.
Luckily, even these problems can be solved by the almighty VPN. By changing your IP address, a VPN service spoofs your country, tricking the streaming page of your choice.
Unluckily, Netflix and other pages are constantly blocking VPN traffic (more accurately, known IP addresses), making it more and more difficult to bypass geographical restrictions.
As a result, trying to unblock streaming services is a never-ending battle, and a VPN that works today might be unable to help you watch geo-blocked movies tomorrow. Thus, it’s a good idea to buy monthly VPN subscriptions, constantly switching to the service that works with your favorite streaming site.
Using a VPN on Netflix is an easy feat. Just follow these steps and you’ll be watching your new favorite show in no time:
In case you get the dreaded Netflix proxy error, pick a different server of the same country, or even try another country altogether. Usually, a specific show or movie is available in multiple countries.
Kodi is a great way to watch all sorts of content for free. Available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS devices, this software lets you stream movies, shows, and music as much as you want.
However, your Internet service provider (ISP) might block certain Kodi add-ons for streaming. Thankfully, a VPN will help you bypass these restrictions.
To use a VPN for Kodi, simply download the VPN of your choice and select the desired region. You can also route the VPN connection solely through the Kodi app with the help of an add-on that you can download from the Kodi add-ons menu.
Even though torrenting in itself is a legal activity, it can pose certain threats. That’s because when you download files via a torrent client, your public IP gets exposed, and there are a lot of dangerous people out there who could make use of it. Also, your IP can be tracked by copyright holders if you download copyrighted content.
To avoid this, you can use a VPN. Lots of VPNs have dedicated servers for torrenting that will spoof your IP address and help you stay anonymous online. If you want to choose the best VPN for torrenting, feel free to read our article on this very topic.
Learning how to use a VPN is easy – but choosing the right one can be tough. That’s because there are a lot of variables to consider. These involve speed, functionality, compatibility with various streaming services, and the VPN’s stance on personal data logging.
Below, you’ll read about our three top picks that will help you narrow down your choices. All of these VPN services are trustworthy and really easy to use – simply pick the one that seems right for you.
That’s because investing in a two-year plan will bite off the price by 81%, leaving you with only $2.49 to pay every month.
So, basically, for a couple of bucks a month, you’ll be getting military-grade encryption, a myriad of great tunneling protocols to choose from (including WireGuard), and a bunch of cool features like split tunneling, GPS spoofing, double-VPN, and a Camouflage Mode.
However, being suitable for beginners doesn’t mean not being able to cater to advanced users. NordVPN gives you options like a SOCKS5 proxy, malware and ad-blocker, kill switch, double encryption, and lots of other integrated features.
You can use this VPN for as low as $3.71 a month. And if you suddenly feel the urge to try out another VPN instead, you can make use of NordVPN’s 30-days money-back guarantee.
Being the most expensive pick of our top three VPNs, ExpressVPN has to try its hardest to prove itself – and it succeeds. Equipped with amazing speed results, RAM-only servers, and the ability to unblock almost any geo-restricted site you want, ExpressVPN is truly a sight to behold.
It’s available on lots of devices including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, and various routers. You can subscribe to ExpressVPN for $8.32 a month if you buy a yearly subscription.
The best free VPNs are Windscribe and TunnelBear. The former gives you unlimited data, while the latter offers free 500MB of data every month. Alternatively, most VPNs have a 30-day money-back guarantee, which lets you try out the service for free.
In most countries, VPNs are completely legal, so you won’t be doing anything bad by using one. However, certain countries like Russia, Belarus, and North Korea have completely banned VPN usage.
If you use a reputable VPN, your IP address and personal info won’t be tracked thanks to the military-grade encryption and secure tunneling protocols. However, some sites might be aware of the fact that you’re using a VPN in the first place. In this case, you should consider buying a residential IP or using a lesser-known VPN provider.
No matter which VPN you use, your connection speed will decrease. In addition, some sites might block VPN traffic in general.
For the most part, yes! It will secure your browsing activity and protect your data from hackers and spies. Sometimes you will need to pause your VPN, for instance, to connect to local websites. For more details, check our guide when you should keep your VPN on or off.