Do you want to know which VPN is the best for you? Well, you have come to the right place. We are going to talk about VPNs, how they work and what they can be used for. Then we are going to give you our top 6 VPNs with a whole host of pros and cons.
This will help you figure out the best service for you and the device you will be using it on. From the setup to the workings behind them, this is the ultimate VPN guide.
“What does VPN stand for?” I hear you cry. VPN stands for virtual private network. To put it in the simplest terms, a virtual private network is a piece of software that makes your internet connection more secure.
It helps you stay anonymous when online and helps you get around blocks and access sites you can’t usually access. It also helps protect you against hackers when you are using PUBLIC Wi-Fi.
So, what does VPN mean? The virtual bit is because it allows you access to any site. It’s private because the sites you visit are only known to you.
It’s a network because you connect to an exclusive network of servers all over the world to allow you to do this. The best VPN services charge you a monthly fee for this service, which allows you to access almost anything, from anywhere.
If we up the level of techy jargon a bit, you’ll start hearing about things like IP addresses. Your IP address gets replaced by one from the VPN service. This will allow you, to get an IP address from a city of your choice, and therefore appear as if you are there.
You could be in New York, but look as if you are living in Sydney. You could be in London, but look as if you are residing in Amsterdam. This gives you access to online content that is restricted where you are, or only available elsewhere.
Now, let’s step it up again. A VPN hides your IP address, encrypts your information and passes you through securely, enabling you to browse the internet as you please. Your ISP (internet service provider) can’t even track your online path at this point.
Your data can be easily intercepted by someone when you are online. Just like if you send a letter, someone can open it; it is the same with your packets of data. Encryption makes this a whole lot harder.
If that has left you wondering what is a VPN connection again, go back to the first paragraph. You only need to understand it in simple terms, I promise.
How Does a VPN Work?
How does VPN work? Let’s start off with the simplest of terms again. If you aren’t using a VPN, at the moment, you are connecting to your Internet Service Provider (ISP). They will then connect you to the websites you wish to visit.
Everything you do is passed through their servers, and they can look at it if they wish. If you use a VPN, you connect to their server, through a connection which is concealed (encrypted). This encrypted connection is also known as a VPN tunnel, think about it regarding a tunnel through the side of a mountain. It’s a protective channel that gets you where you need to be, safely. This means only you and the VPN server can see what you are doing, and your ISP can’t.
Any questions? Yes, you at the back. “How do I know if my VPN is working?”. Ah, great question. If you want to check whether your VPN is working while you are browsing, start by doing an IP address check.
Do this using an IP address checker site, and make sure you so it before you have connected with your VPN. Then, log in to your VPN and start browsing. Head back to the same IP address checker site and check your IP address. The IP address should now be different. If it isn’t, then your VPN isn’t working.
Does a VPN use data? Another excellent question. Yes, it does use data, but only a small amount. I mentioned earlier about data packets. When you are using a VPN, you end up using a few more data packets each time you do something online.
Keep an eye on your data usage before you use a VPN and after you have used it. You will be able to see the difference in the amount of data you have been using, but it won’t be anything astronomical.
What does a VPN hide? When you are browsing online, VPN hides your location, and it protects your information by making it looks like you are elsewhere. It also stops your ISP from being able to see your online footprint (the sites you are visiting).
Remember that a VPN provides you with privacy rather than complete anonymity. The VPN server will still be able to see where you are and know who you are. Fortunately, many services go to great lengths to protect your privacy, but you are never completely invisible.
Why you need a VPN?
The most popular way of using a VPN these days is to enable you to stream content that you wouldn’t usually have access to.
For instance, it allows you to watch the latest series of Game of Thrones when it hasn’t been released in your country yet. It will allow you to watch movies that are available on US Netflix, which aren’t available on New Zealand Netflix.
What does VPN do for P2P file sharers? When VPN does its thing, you won’t be able to be identified by the authorities. Authorities want the sharing of files such as music and movies to be forbidden.
If they can see the information from your ISP if you aren’t using a VPN, you are making it a lot easier for them. Using a secure VPN service to up your privacy will allow you to share these files more safely.
Using a VPN service also allows you to use public Wi-Fi without worry. If you travel a lot and are often using public or hotel Wi-Fi spots, this may be of great use to you. Public Wi-Fi doesn’t offer any security to you, meaning anyone can look at the signals you are broadcasting. Using your VPN encrypts this information, and you are less visible.
If you live in a country where censorship of the web is stringent, a VPN will help you access blocked or restricted content. You could also use a VPN service if you are on a restricted network, like at work or in school.
If you hate being targeted with advertising when using a search engine, then use a VPN. It stops your Google searches from being logged. Search engines log each search you perform while using them. This enables them to customize searches going forward and target advertising. Using a VPN service keeps your searches private.
You could use a proxy to do this kind of thing, but they are deemed less safe and are often much slower. So, in a match of VPN vs. proxy, VPN is always going to win.
What is VPN Used For?
Once you have decided on the VPN service you are going to use, you need to know how to get a VPN and how to use a VPN. Once you have signed up, all you need to do is download the VPN service. If you are going to be using your PC for your internet use, you will need to download the software.
If you are going to be using your phone or tablet, you will need to download the app. Once you have downloaded your VPN service, you can start using it. If you are using your tablet, once you have launched the app, you will be able to select the country you want to connect to a server in.
Once you have selected the country, you can connect to the server. You can now operate online as if you are in the country you selected.
People use VPN’s for a whole host of reasons, not just for streaming US Netflix. People use them to access services like Star Sport India, Sky Go in USA, to access HBO Go in another country and to get Hulu Plus services from countries outside their own.
If you can’t wait for TV series to start airing in your country on services like Netflix, or you want to watch BBC iplayer from abroad, then a VPN is the way to go about it.
But, a recent crack down has resulted in Netflix blocking VPN’s. Some of the best VPN for streaming was no longer working for users who wanted to stream content.
When trying to access Netflix, VPN users were getting a message saying “Whoops, something went wrong… Streaming error. You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again”.
Some VPN services will only work when watching Netflix online rather than in the app. At the moment ExpressVPN can still bypass the ban Netflix have enforced. ExpressVPN looks to be the best VPN for Netflix especially when using the free trial.
VPN’s are also an excellent way to change your Google Play Store region, so you can download apps that aren’t usually available in your location. Using a VPN, Google play can be modified so you can unblock access to US-only apps, for instance.
If you want to know how to change iTunes store country, the process is the same. Using a VPN will allow you to gain access to content available in the iTunes store in a different country.
File sharing and torrenting
If you are looking for the best VPN for file sharing and the best VPN for torrenting, IPVanish is probably the one for you. If you are doing a lot of P2P file sharing, IPVanish gives you unlimited P2P traffic. When using a VPN, torrenting isn’t always an option.
This is because using VPN for torrenting isn’t always supported by the service. Torrents are used to download things, like movies for instance.
Pirate Bay is a popular site for this. Using a VPN to download pirate bay torrents affords you, as the user, more privacy when doing so. Another popular service for downloading movies and series is popcorn time, VPN use is recommended by the service.
If you are using a service like Popcorn Time or Putlocker movies, using a VPN stops your digital footprint from being visible to all. Streaming services like this are considered illegal in some countries, so make sure you do your research.
Public Wifi safety
When using a VPN, public Wi-Fi becomes a whole lot more secure for you. Anyone with the knowhow can see what you are up to when you are using public Wi-Fi. This is the same for hotel Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi in places like Starbucks.
While using public Wi-Fi, VPN can help you protect yourself from any preying eyes. It’s particularly handy if you are traveling for business and having to work on the go. This will stop the average Joe being able to see the sensitive plans you are working on.
Top 6 VPNs
We are going to rattle though the top VPN services. We have selected 6 of the best-recommended VPN providers. These are the ones to be considering if you are looking to buy a VPN service. Let’s start with the top ranked, and what we believe to be the best-rated VPN service out there.
ExpressVPN is at the top spot on our list. It is the most trusted VPN in the world and for a good reason. Downloads are superfast, and on ExpressVPN, torrent downloading is allowed on all of the servers.
It looks good, it’s simple to use, and there are some great additional features like their VPN Chrome extension. It still works with streaming Netflix, and no logs are kept of your internet use.
The only real con for ExpressVPN is how much it costs. It’s pretty expensive at $12.95 a month but becomes much cheaper on a year or more plan, and there aren’t a huge number of really advanced features. But, you are paying for a service that works and is user-friendly. ExpressVPN is a good all-rounder, for sure.
Nord VPN is our runner up VPN service provider. It’s got over 1000 servers all around the world, meaning there are a wide variety of connections available.
You can make simultaneous connections (up to 6 at once) this is a service that ExpressVPN does not offer. P2P is allowed on NordVPN, and it also blocks ads, unlike ExpressVPN.
One of the major cons of NordVPN when compared with our number one, is that doesn’t work with Netflix. It’s also a pretty expensive package, at $11.95 a month.
IPVanish takes a bronze position on our VPN leaderboard. IPVanish VPN reviews tell us that it is quite expensive at $10 and the interface is unattractive.
That being said, it is billed as being “user-friendly” and is friendly and speedy. It has hundreds of servers across the world, and one great feature – a kill switch. It also allows you to use BitTorrent.
It has servers all over the world, in almost every country you can think of. HMA Pro VPN has gone down in price from $11.52 to $9.99 a month.
So good news; your HMA Pro VPN download will now cost you less than before, making it a bit more reasonable.
You can only have 2 licenses with your subscription, whereas others offer 5 or 6. The interface isn’t particularly great either, and there aren’t that many features available.
What is CyberGhost? CyberGhost is a VPN service that caters to more than 10 million clients. Most CyberGhost VPN review’s give it about 4 stars. Is CyberGhost safe? Of course, it is safe, we arent going to include a VPN service in our top 6 that isn’t.
It’s ideal for desktop, as well as mobile users, and it offers:
- Free (albeit limited) plan as well.
- It’s a torrent-friendly service with hundreds of servers worldwide.
- But, there is restricted access to servers outside European countries and North America.
Their most basic plan only supports a singular connection, so those looking for multiple connections will need to purchase a higher level plan. The top plan is available for $8.70 a month, so it’s not as expensive as some of the others.
If you download PureVPN, you will get a service with a unique feature – Split Tunnelling. This service selects what it considers to be the best server for you from the PureVPN server list, based on a few different factors. It is user-friendly and suitable for both advanced and new users.
Pure VPN reviews say it takes longer to get set up when you are installing it, and the encryption settings can be confusing. You can also only log in on 2 different connections on one account. It’s one of the cheapest available at around $2.50, but it is slower in comparison to the others.
How to Set Up a VPN
Setting up a VPN is pretty simple. Once you have decided which Virtual Private Network you want to use, all you have to do is sign in to get started. The process of signing up will involve you creating an account and providing payment details.
Once you have done that, all you need to know is how to install VPN. This is as simple as downloading the software and following the instructions on the screen to sort out your VPN configuration.
How to turn off VPN
Knowing how to set up a VPN is all well and good, but knowing how to how to disable VPN is probably more important. If you are having trouble accessing certain things while browsing using your VPN service, you may need to uninstall it.
In the case of an app, it will be a simple uninstall, but if you are on PC, you will need to navigate to your control panel and uninstall the program.
Using a VPN on any device
You can use a VPN on virtually any device. From Apple to Android, to Sony devices, VPNs can be utilized by all.
What is VPN on iPhone? VPN for iPhone will come in the form of an app. You will download a third party application on your iPhone and go from there.
Before iOS 8, if you were using a VPN, iPhone’s used to disconnect from the VPN service when the phone went into sleep mode. In recent updates for iOS, VPN has become more compatible.
To get connected to your VPN – Mac’s aren’t quite so simple. Navigate to your System Preferences and select Network.
Click the + to add a new choice and select VPN as the interface and fill in the required information. You can then add this to the default configuration, choose Authentication Settings and enter the password.
Apple TV VPN setup requires one of the following: a VPN Router, a laptop running a VPN or a PC running a VPN, to be connected to your TV.
If you run your VPN on your laptop and set your laptop as a hotspot and connect your TV, that’s all you need to do.
What’s the best VPN app for Android? The best Android VPN according to PC Mag is NordVPN. This VPN service comes in at second place on our list of the top 6 VPNs. If you have multiple Android devices, NordVPN is an excellent choice as it allows you to connect up to 6.
If you are wondering how to setup VPN on Windows, it couldn’t be much easier. When you are downloading your VPN software there, tend to be different downloads for different systems.
If you navigate to your settings, in Network & the Internet you can add a VPN connection.
Xbox 360 VPN connection will require you to have downloaded VPN on your PC or laptop and connected it to your Xbox. You can then connect through the Network and Sharing Centre.
This process is the same for PlayStation 4. Connect your PC or laptop with your PlayStation to enable your VPN on PS4. On PS4, VPN settings will need to adjust and connected, as with Xbox.
Chromecast does not have built-in VPN capabilities. You will need to connect Chromecast to a VPN router to allow the connection.
VPN is the perfect way to increase your privacy online. It’s a great way to access locked or blocked content in your region and get you watching TV series before anyone else.
It can keep your public Wi-Fi network way more secure and allow you to browse without the worry of someone accessing your information.
Using a VPN like ExpressVPN or another on our list of the top 6 could open you up to the world full of opportunities. As long as your VPN service has a server in the part of the world, you wish to be visiting that day!