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How to use a VPN?

Learning how to use a VPN (or Virtual Private Network) might seem like a daunting task if you've never used this service before.

Luckily for you, it's much easier than you might think. In this article, you'll learn how to use a VPN. It will surely help you make your online experience more secure and increase the total number of pages you'll be able to visit.

Learning how to use a VPN won't require sitting through a lecture or reading a book. You don't even have to be a computer whiz. The whole setup can be completed in a couple of minutes. If you go through it, you're pretty much set for life.

Here's how to get started with a VPN in a couple of steps:

How to use a VPN
  1. Get a secure and reliable VPN. We recommend NordVPN.
  2. Set up the VPN on your device
  3. Connect to your chosen server
  4. That’s it! You are now ready to surf the internet safely online

1. Get a VPN

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. Our top recommendation is NordVPN, as it easily ticks all the checkboxes for the top VPN service. Also, be sure to check our list of the best VPN available in 2022. Here is a short-list of our top suggestions:

  1. Surfshark VPN - great security features for a decent price
  2. NordVPN - one of the top VPNs in the market
  3. PureVPN - offers solid speeds and top-notch encryption

2. Set up a VPN

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.

3. Choose a server

Which country would you like to connect to? Browse through the list of regions available on your VPN and pick the one you need.

VPN country list

Why I need to use a VPN?

Finding out how to use a VPN can be extremely useful. Here are the most common reasons for getting this service:

  1. Staying safe online. If you’re a freelancer or an avid traveler, working at an airport or a café might be a part of your daily routine. However, most of the time, public wifi is unencrypted, making it a real treasure trove for cyber-criminals who are lurking to steal personal info. By encrypting your data, a VPN will protect you from such threats.
  2. Unblocking websites. So, Omegle has blocked your IP address or you simply can’t access your usual social media platforms while at work. Luckily, a VPN will help you deal with these problems and unblock websites by giving you another IP address.
  3. Bypassing censorship. It’s no secret that countries like China, Russia, and Egypt have really strict internet censorship laws. This affects not only their residents but also reporters and travelers. Thanks to obfuscated servers (and, sometimes, the Shadowsocks proxy), some VPN services will be able to bypass this censorship.
  4. Watching geo-blocked content. Have you ever been frustrated that your Netflix library lacks certain movies or shows available in other regions of the world? Don’t worry – a VPN might just be able to fix this. By providing you with an IP address from another country, it can help you trick Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube into thinking that your traffic comes from a different country.
  5. Safely accessing the Dark and Deep Web. Contrary to popular belief, browsing the Dark and Deep web doesn’t make you a criminal. It simply means that you’re accessing the content not available on your common browser. However, it’s still a bit risky to do this, and using a VPN for an extra layer of security reduces your chances of getting into trouble.

Can I use a VPN on any device?

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.

Use a VPN on your computer (Windows, Mac)

  1. Download a reliable VPN. We recommend NordVPN, which is super easy to use on your PC.
  2. Install the VPN onto your device.
  3. Connect to your preferred server
  4. That's it! You are now secure
NordVPN connect to server

Use a VPN on your smartphone

  1. Choose a VPN that works on mobile devices. We recommend NordVPN as the top choice.
  2. Install the VPN on your mobile device
  3. Connect to a server
  4. Voilà! You are now protected to surf the internet safely

For further information on how to use VPNs on your devices, check out our in-depth guides below:

  • VPN for iPhone: guides how to install a VPN on your iPhone along with the best VPN suggestions
  • VPN for Android: learn the top VPN providers for your Android device and how to use them
  • VPN for Windows: most effective VPNs to use on PC and installation guides
  • VPN for Mac: top-notch VPNs for your Mac and easy-to-use set up guides
  • VPN for iPad: check out the top VPNs for your iPad and how to use them on your device
Use VPN on Android

Use a VPN on streaming devices

VPNs can be used on streaming devices too, although the setup is different depending on the device. Some have dedicated apps that can be downloaded from stores while the others require an intermediary device, such as a router.

  1. Choose a VPN that works with your router. We recommend NordVPN for this.
  2. Install your VPN and connect it to your Wi-Fi router.
  3. Connect to any server of your choice
  4. Done! Enjoy the privacy and security a VPN brings

Want to know more? We have full guides available on using VPNs alongside various streaming devices:

  • VPN for Roku: the best VPNs to use with your Roku device along with instructions for easy set up
  • VPN for Firestick: learn how to use a VPN with your Firestick
  • VPN for Kodi: check VPN set up instructions tailored for your Kodi device
  • VPN for Apple TV: see how to set up a VPN specifically on your Apple TV

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 router VPNs 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.

Using and setting up a VPN

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.

1. Choose the right VPN

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.

2. Pay and sign up

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.

VPN payment methods

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.

3. Download the app

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.

4. Setting up and using the VPN

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.

Connect to a VPN

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.

It's always a good idea to enable a kill switch. That way, your Internet will be shut down each time the connection to a VPN server drops. This can protect your online safety from accidental IP address leaks.

Free vs paid VPNs

It's always a good idea to enable a kill switch. That way, your Internet will be shut down each time the connection to a VPN server drops. This can protect your online safety from accidental IP address leaks.

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. AtlasVPN and ProtonVPN are good examples, as they generously offer unlimited bandwidth. However, you’ll have to subscribe to a paid version to unlock the full list of countries and most of the special features.

Another great option is to check out best VPNs with free trial. You can make use of the 30-day money-back guarantee that most VPN providers offer. 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.

Best ways to use a VPN

A VPN is one of the most versatile tools at your disposal. With it, you can do plenty of things. Here are the main reasons why people use VPNs.

  1. Streaming. A VPN is great for unlocking streaming services like Netflix or Hulu and accessing your favorite shows or sports games, like NFL.
  2. Torrenting. Mask your IP address and avoid being exposed when downloading copyrighted content.
  3. Privacy and security. Protect yourself from untrustworthy networks, hide your browsing activity and much more

Using VPN for streaming

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. Thus giving you the possibility to watch the Oscars, new movies, TV shows, and sporting events like Formula 1 online from any location.


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 VPN for torrenting

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 know how to torrent safely with a VPN feel free to read our article on this very topic.

Using VPN for privacy and security

A VPN allows you to protect yourself on untrustworthy networks. For example, if you're using a free Wi-Fi hotspot, you can never be 100% sure that it's safe. A VPN adds reassurance that the things that you're doing on public networks remain private.

Moreover, VPNs are excellent at hiding your browsing activity. Some governments aren't very respectful of your privacy. The same could be said about some ISPs. A reliable VPN will hide your activity from ISP or the government. No activity logs will be tied to your real identity.

Must watch: 4 real-life examples of VPN use cases

If all of this technical stuff goes directly over your head, be sure to check out this video. It should help you to understand better how a VPN can be helpful in everyday situations.

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.

1. Surfshark VPN – an inexpensive solution to your problems

Surfshark VPN
🌎Based in:
The Netherlands
3200+ servers in 99 countries
🍿Unblocks Netflix:
Surfshark coupon 82% OFF

You don’t need to dive deep into the world of VPNs to find a really good one: some of them are patiently waiting for you just below the surface. Such is Surfshark VPN – a super-fast Virtual Private Network that will take care of your privacy for an extremely low price.

That’s because investing in a two-year plan will bite off the price by 82%, leaving you with only $2.30 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.

Check out all of the features on our Surfshark VPN review.

2. NordVPN – the perfect VPN for beginners

🌎Based in:
5500+ servers in 59 countries
🍿Unblocks Netflix:
NordVPN coupon 68% OFF

If you’re still unsure how to use a VPN correctly, then NordVPN is the right program for you. Its extremely intuitive user interface won’t confuse even those who are using a VPN for the very first time in their life.

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 $3.09 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.

Read our NordVPN review to learn more.

3. PureVPN – great all-around solution

🌎Based in:
British Virgin Islands
6500+ servers in 78+ countries
🍿Unblocks Netflix:
PureVPN coupon 82% OFF

PureVPN is an excellent all-around VPN, offering most of the industry-leading features for a very competitive price. It's also one of the only VPNs with an always-on security audit, meaning that its no-log policy is constantly tested by independent third-party researchers.

But it's not just the security where PureVPN shines in. There's also solid performance, and excellent streaming features, letting you watch all of your favorite shows with no interruptions.

PureVPN is available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS. You can get it for $1.99/month when you sign up for a long-term deal.

Check out our in-depth review of PureVPN.



Vicki C
Vicki C
prefix 7 months ago
Hello - I hope you can help please. The one thing I can't find an answer to is if I use a VPN, say one that offers unlimited data, does that mean I use the apps data and not my own i.e. will a VPN help me get around my ISP's monthly data cap? Thanks for your time.
Cybernews Team
Cybernews Team
prefix 6 months ago
Hey, Vicki!

Long story short – no. Your data packets are still your data packets. Your ISP won't be able to see what and where you browse, but its infrastructure is still responsible for sending and receiving data. Therefore, a VPN won't be able to help you get around the monthly data cap.
prefix 8 months ago
Thank you for this - I'm very unsavvy with IT stuff - what I would find helpful is how to use VPNs when surfing using normal search engines eg Google & Duck Duck Go - whether it works if your phone line is provided by Sky, Virgin etc - and whether it works where you have signed up for a site like Amazon, eBay and newspaper subscriptions - can you tell me where I can find out? Thanks R
CyberNews Team
CyberNews Team
prefix 8 months ago
Hello - a VPN will work with all the things you mentioned above. Simply connect to a VPN server and continue your activities as usual.
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