What Is a VPN? Do You Need One?

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With computers, sometimes there is a lot of tech lingo thrown at us we pretend to understand, but that we really don’t understand at all. The term “VPN” is high on the list of things that are confusing for customers. 

A virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a network that provides its users with privacy and anonymity while using a public WiFi hotspot, or any other type of public connection, in order to protect personal information. 

When people are on their computers in a coffee shop, they are not worrying about prying eyes. They are there to relax. However, people steal information online all the time because it is easy to gain access to your connection and network. 

Think about all the times that you log in to your bank while you’re waiting for your prescriptions or how many times you put your credit card information into a website without being on a secure network. A VPN protects you by encrypting your data so that you can continue doing all the things that normally do online with no added worries. 

Do You Really Need a VPN?

The short answer: Yes. Here are the reasons. 

  1. Security – A VPN not only secures your online presence and information; it also prevents malware and enhances cybersecurity by blocking nasty viruses. 
  2. Streaming – Functions as a worldwide streaming service. A VPN allows users to connect to a remote server in a country of their choice. Let’s say you want to watch a live match between Liverpool vs. Tottenham through an English channel or maybe you want to watch your favorite Colombian soap opera through a Colombian TV channel. Well, you can do that. 
  3. Encryption – This is probably one of the best features of using a VPN. The VPN will encrypt all of your data with military-grade 256-bit AES encryption. Basically, this type of encryption would take the fastest computer in the world millions of years to decipher. It’s the type of network security that not even your private hotspot can offer. 
  4. Tracking – You know how sometimes when you’re talking about a product or happen to like a friend’s dress on social media, suddenly you see ads for the product every time you open a browser? That’s because websites track your online activities. A VPN will prevent that from happening so that you can go back to browsing anonymously without feeling like the Internet is listening to your private thoughts. 
  5. Shopping – Using a VPN can help you get the best prices and deals on your purchases. This is because when you’re shopping online, prices vary depending on your browsing history and location. Websites normally track the activity of people that are on their website by tracking them with cookies. The VPN allows users to browse privately, disclosing none of their previous web history or location. A fun feature of this is also the fact that you can change your location and see how prices compare on various products across the country. 

What Should You Look For in a VPN?

There are certain features that you should look out for when shopping for a VPN service that can best complement your needs. 

Just like when you’re choosing what the best Internet bundle would be for your household, the best way to choose a VPN service is by figuring out what your needs are and what kind of security is the most important to you.

  • Are you mainly looking to hide your IP address and be able to browse more privately and securely?
  • Are you concerned about someone stealing private information like banking and credit cards?
  • Is an international streaming service important to you and your family? 

The chief things you should look at before buying a VPN service are data, cost, privacy, and accessibility. 

Some VPN services have data limits, just like a cellphone plan would. It’s important to pay attention to data limits if you are someone that has a need for unmetered bandwidth. For example, if you consistently download and upload extensive files, then you’ll want to look for a VPN service that doesn’t set data limits. 

This ties in with the cost of the service. How much are you willing to pay for convenience and security? Most VPN service plans range from $12 to $15 per month. This will mean that you won’t see a lot of advertisements. They will also allow simultaneous connections and a sizable number of servers for running high-performance applications.

If you prefer not to pay, there are some free VPNs available in the market. However, keep in mind that with a free VPN there is a risk of your information being collected and sold to third parties. Free VPNs are also not as reliable, they have a higher disconnection rate, and don’t always follow proper security protocols to protect their users. 

The one other thing that might be important to you, for security reasons, is figuring out whether the VPN server location is important to you. Essentially, what this means is that you can make it look as if you’re accessing the web from a different location than where you actually are. In order to do this, you just have to make sure that there is a server in that location. 

Is a VPN at Home Necessary?

Having a VPN at home is technically unnecessary. VPNs are the most useful when you’re on the go and need a reliable and secure connection to maintain privacy with your personal information. 

Still, we live in a world in which we are constantly risking our personal information through WiFi networks that are less than ideal. They are networks that leave us questioning how much of ourselves we’re exposing online to viruses, malware, and hackers. 

Even with a secure connection at home, there is still a chance of exposure. Even though the VPN is not technically necessary at home, it’s not a bad idea to have one. Remember, there are still a lot of agencies, companies, and websites that are tracking browsing history, location, and recording your online activity without your permission. A VPN will give you peace of mind and a very strong encrypted shield. 

Which VPN Services Are The Most Reliable?

Now that you’ve made the choice to add a VPN service to your life, the next question is: Which one should you choose?

There are plenty of services out there that are both affordable and reliable. 

  1. Express VPN
    • Offers unlimited data
    • Incredibly fast speeds
    • Servers in 90+ countries
    • Includes IP leak protection
    • Easy access for streaming services
    • Strong encryption for safe browsing
    • Unlimited bandwidth
  3. CyberGhost
    • Servers in 13 cities
    • Allows multiple devices for connection
    • Great for streaming
  4. Private VPN
    • Easy setup 
    • No logs policy 
    • Static IP, which is great for torrenting
  5. IP Vanish
    • Availability to 40,000+ IP addresses
    • Superb performance 
    • 30-day Money-back guarantee

The benefits of having a VPN are many. While there are things to consider when purchasing a service, it still doesn’t hurt to have a service that can provide added security and safety to your personal online activities. Unfortunately, the Internet is getting more dangerous each day, despite all the advancements made with technology. It’s better to protect yourself now before it’s too late to salvage your privacy.