VPN Guide

Scott Repasky
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What Is a VPN?

If you're new to the world of VPNs, you might be wondering just how in the world they work and what exactly they're for. VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, give you new anonymity online when accessing apps and websites, and they also give you the ability to unblock content to which you wouldn't normally have access.

Essentially, a VPN tunnels you securely and privately to a virtual IP address belonging to the VPN provider (the VPN server), which will then allow you to surf securely without being tracked, logged, or having your traffic intercepted.

When you access a website without a VPN, your IP address is exposed to whoever is hosting the website. If you're visiting a site from work, your IP address could easily be identified as work-related, which is not always desired.

VPNs can also help you unblock content, which we'll cover in detail below.

VPNs are especially useful if you're trying to access content while outside the country in which it is usually available. For example, if you're an American traveling to Canada, you'll find that you won't be able to watch many shows available on US television. If you fire up a VPN, however, you can pretend to be just about anywhere else in the world, allowing you to access the uncensored American version of sites and apps–including Netflix!

Main Types

Of VPN Protocols:

  • PPTP … L2TP/IPSec is usually used. It is the fastest protocol, but it is also the most insecure and is known to be a target of hackers. The encryption protocols available are Blowfish, 3DES and AES.
  • OpenVPN … OpenVPN offers more security than PPTP. It also offers more security options, such as using the TCP, UDP Protocols and even SSL. Openvpn is used by many VPN companies to encrypt VPN connections for secure information. This type of VPN is used in countries that do not actively attempt to block VPN traffic. Therefore it has become very popular in countries like Malaysia.
  • L2TP/IPsec … It provides an increased level of encryption and security from popular protocols. It works by combining the Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol with the idea of a PSK, which is the Pass-phrase Shared Key. This VPN protocol is generally used to support mobile devices like Android or iOS.
  • IPsec … IPsec is the predecessor of L2TP and was designed by Cisco, Microsoft, 3COM and Ericsson. This protocol can be used on both mobile and computer networks. It is better than PPTP as it is a very secure VPN protocol, but it is slower as compared to PPTP.

Why Use A VPN?

A VPN or Virtual Private Network is an encrypted "tunnel" that you can use to securely surf the web from your computer or device. A VPN allows you to connect to an encrypted and secure tunnel that allows you to surf the web anonymously.

This is really good when you are connecting to a untrusted wireless network, trying to protect your identity from an unknown computer, or protecting your personal data from Internet Service Providers. VPNs allow you to encrypt your connection, so that you don’t have to worry about someone who is on the same network as you, spying your data. They also allow you to access blocked sites. In countries like Iran for example, there are instances where internet traffic is filtered and censored by the government. By using a VPN, you can bypass these restrictions and access the entire internet.

The VPN that is being created for this ebook is a combination of a VPN Router and Android OpenVPN app on a tablet or phone.

VPNs vs. Routers vs. Bridges vs. Dongles vs. Tor

Do I need a VPN Router?

Do you need a VPN router?

What is a VPN router?

How secure is a VPN Router?

What is a VPN bridge?

What is a VPN dongle?

What is a VPN Tor?

What VPNs Do

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a technology which creates an encrypted connection between your device and a server operated by a VPN service. Once installed on your computer or mobile device, the software will act as a relay between you and the web, taking over a lot of the responsibility for your online security and privacy.

The idea is that your data is encrypted before it leaves your device, sent to the server, then forwarded to its intended destination. When the data arrives at its destination, it’s de-encrypted so the website/service/application can make sense of it.

VPN services make it much harder to eavesdrop on your web traffic, and over the last decade, interest has grown in using VPNs for general privacy and security. If someone’s trying to log into your bank account or credit card while you’re looking at the website, they’re probably unsuccessful.

Should You Use a VPN?

A VPN is great in theory, but a good tool does you no good in the wrong hands. Be sure to choose a VPN that’s trustworthy and based in a country with strong privacy and security laws.

Here are some key qualities to look our for:

Strong Privacy Policy

“No log” policies are the main factor of trust in a VPN service.

How VPNs Work

(And How They Don't)

Over the years we were able to test tons of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). These are services used to hide your identity online by (amongst other things) hiding your IP address. Although there are many different VPN providers out there, they all work in a similar fashion. In this post we will explain how exactly a VPN provider does this.

When you're connected to a VPN, your internet traffic is routed through their servers. These servers are spread out all over the globe. After your data is routed, your IP address will be the one they gave you, not the one your provider originally gave you. This allows you to surf the web anonymously. However, although it is not visible to you, this is not the only thing they are doing. The VPN provider will probably store some of your information and use it for their own gain.

How does this work? Well, when you're connected to a VPN, the VPN provider will see all the traffic passing through their servers. This allows them to make money, location tracking is a popular tool for many companies. Also, by storing some of your information, they can then use that information to make more money. This information could be financial information, media you're downloading, forums you're posting on, basically any kind of information.

There also was a discussion on Reddit where one user said the following:

When Do I Use A VPN?

Today, with the internet, it’s simple to see why so many people want a VPN. It gives them the freedom to browse anonymously over the Internet and allows them to access geo-restricted websites and apps from anywhere in the world. This is particularly useful if you travel or are an expat who want to stream content that’s only available in certain areas.

VPN’s are ideal for people who use public Wi-Fi or users who live in countries where a lot of online activity is subject to censorship by the government. For example, in China where foreign online content is blocked unless you have a VPN service. This was the case with the Chinese version of Netflix, which was banned on the Mainland until a few months ago.

If you use an email or social media account that doesn’t give you full privacy, then you can also consider a VPN. It will help you to be anonymous on the Internet and will hide your information from the website you are using. Google+ would be an example of this.

VPN’s do not just affect an individual but businesses too. If you own a business and use cloud email services that you store online, then you need to be concerned about data security and how to protect yourself against online threats.

VPN Pros and Cons

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a way to connect securely to the internet using a network maintained by a third party. It is the same as a private network–but it is built publicly and encrypted using a private key.

VPN Pros

A VPN allows you to connect to any website, internet connection, or program that is blocked in your area.

It keeps you as safe as possible by giving you the greatest protection available.

It keeps you anonymous so that nobody knows what you do on the internet. A VPN will hide your IP address, your location, and personal information.

VPN Cons

VPNs may be a little costly for less advanced users. The more you pay for a VPN, the faster it is and the greater the release rate. (This means the VPN is less likely to slow down your internet connection.)

Some VPN providers choose to keep any logs of user data. Some companies keep logs even if they state otherwise. If you are concerned about your privacy, you should choose a VPN that removes all logs.

Can I Stream with VPNs?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It's a security technique that makes it possible to safely surf the internet, no matter where you live. By applying some clever encryption techniques to the data you transmit and receive using your internet connection, VPNs allow you to secure your internet communications from eavesdroppers.

The benefits vary depending on who you are and what you're doing. Many people are using them to protect their privacy when browsing the web. In countries like China, these are a must because the government has full control over what you can see on the internet.

Other people are using them to hide their sources when they search for pictures and other files via torrents. Also, VPNs allow you to access sites and services that are usually restricted because of your location.

But privacy is only one of the reasons why you should consider using a VPN. You can also use them to bypass censorship. For example, in places like Iran or China, VPNs are the only way you can access websites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Skype.

Will VPNs Slow Down My Internet?

First of all, let’s get this out of the way. Yes, using a VPN will slow down your connection. You’re adding a layer of security and encryption that needs to be confirmed and decrypted, just like when you send an email. It takes a little bit of time. The trade-off is that you get a far more secure system and the added privacy of hiding your location.

The difference is barely noticeable with a lot of our high quality VPNs. Our recommended services each have different network stacks that contain a variety of customized security features and custom operations to ensure you get maximum performance. Below, we’ll go over a few of the key factors that impact your connection speed and how to find the best possible speed/reliability as well as a few potential benefits.

Internet traffic and network conditions. Everyone is using the internet! Since we are all chipping away at that big ol’ data pipe, our speeds are affected by what everyone else is doing. However, you never know exactly what is slowing you down unless you test it yourself. It could be the weather, the hardware you’re using, or even a hacker halfway around the world. To determine if it is your VPN or something else, it is best to test your connection speed with and without a VPN.

Are VPNs Hackable?

When you do a bit of research about VPNs, you might find articles/quotes claiming that VPNs are not secure, easy to hack, or that they don’t provide adequate security.

Don’t fall for this! The only reason you might hear things like that is because this is what VPN providers/competitors are trying to make you think. They are aware that the entire VPN market is growing, and, therefore, it’s a huge profit opportunity.

In reality, VPNs are extremely secure and are considered to be impenetrable by hackers. This means that online snoopers, cybercriminals, and government surveillance bodies will not be able to see what you do online.

The Best VPNs Are Reliable

When choosing a VPN, like with any other service, reliability and quality are extremely important. Choose a provider that has servers that are spread out across the globe and have decent levels of uptime.

Choose a VPN provider with a stellar reputation. If you can find reviews and information about the service/company and if you can see that they have been around for a while, then you should feel safe and be more confident about your choice.

Why is it Important to Choose a Reliable VPN Provider?

VPN Limitations

A VPN (virtual private network) lets you access a private network from public places. It allows people to effectively and securely communicate.

A VPN works by using a public network (usually the Internet) to connect remote sites or users together. The VPN uses "virtual" connections routed through the Internet from the business's private network to the remote site or employee. By using a VPN, businesses ensure security of their data transmission and prevent third-party sniffing.

Logging into and out of a private network is the only times a VPN user’s true identity and information is visible.

When you compare a VPN to a normal Internet connection, the difference is like midnight and day. A VPN connection is a “tunnel” that connects you to your private network and it should be like a private tube over the Internet. A site-to-site VPN can also use a site-to-site Internet connection to connect to your private network.

A VPN adds many layers of security to the connection between two networks, and a company benefits from using one to connect to its remote employees. Employees and home users can benefit from a VPN in the following ways:

Personal Use

Employees who occasionally need to access their businesses’ private network, often from the road. A VPN allows them to use the Internet as a secure, encrypted tunnel to their business.

VPN Buying Guide

VPN service and any other web related service is not an easy topic to understand. You have to spend time to research, test and read about numerous reviews before you can understand all aspects of VPN software. There are hundreds of VPN service providers on the internet and most of them offer free trial account.

So how will you decide which one to buy? This comprehensive guide will introduce you to features and factors that you should consider before make your decision.

How We Test VPNs

A VPN is an online service that can hide your activity from outside eyes. It does this by routing your web traffic through its own servers. This adds another layer of protection beyond what you're already getting from your ISP when you connect to the Internet. Using a VPN is a smart way to prevent trackers and hackers from robbing you of your data, which is ultimately money.

In this VPN guide, we'll walk through what VPNs are, how they work, and how we test them.

We take an honest, hard look at VPNs from every angle, including their ease of use and quality of product. We start by looking at VPNs' marketing claims and talking to the experts to see if the claims hold up. Next, we dig into the products, looking for anything that might work poorly or be overhyped. We then turn our attention to the network, evaluating real-life use of each VPN service to see how well they perform.

If you're curious about how we test VPNs, read our VPN testing methodology.

VPNs and Net Neutrality

When you use a VPN, your Internet traffic does not go through the VPN provider, but instead the encryption is added at the point of entry into the network and the entire Internet. This neatly bypasses local restrictions. Imagine restricted websites as only being available in certain countries, with a VPN, you would be able to access every website from any location.

VPN providers are required to log some information such as when you log on to the service and bandwidth usage. This information is typically retained for a short time and then it is either deleted or anonymized. The VPN provider only looks at the logs to see if you are using too much bandwidth and then they will throttle your bandwidth usage. They may also use the information to help find your account if you lose it so that they can disable it and you don’t end up as a victim of identity theft.

Recap

In this chapter, we will talk about VPNs. We will explain what they are, why they exist, and what you can do with a VPN. We will also talk about which VPNs are the best for certain uses.

Why do you need a VPN?

You will come across many different types of VPNs. You will see that some of them offer their services for free, but those are not the ones that most people prefer. For you to get the best VPN service that money can buy, you need to pay for one. If you have the money to spare on a VPN, then you should do it. Most people prefer to use it on their mobile devices, but you can also use it on your desktop computer. If you only have one or two devices that you want to secure, then you can get a router or an adapter for it, but you will also be able to use it on your home Wi-fi. You can choose from a lot of different VPN protocols.