Virtual private networks (VPNs) are increasingly essential security tools to keep your data safe and keep it private. Whether it's access to streaming video, blocked social media or to protect your information when you use public WiFi, using it has many advantages. It is definitely a good idea to know how to use a VPN.
Despite the recent increase in VPN service providers and users, it is still something that not everyone is familiar with. Things can also be confusing, with a multitude of VPN options and different settings and functions to deal with. To help, we will look in more detail at how you can use a VPN and why you should do that!
What is a VPN?
Before we discuss the use of a VPN, you probably need to know what they are. Instead of going into intricate details, I leave Android Authority & # 39; s explanation of all things, Gary Sims, cover it in this great Gary video below.
How to use a VPN  For this tutorial we will use ExpressVPN as the main example. It is one of the best VPN services there is and offers everything you want from a premium VPN. Of course there will be special entries where other VPNs do things differently than ExpressVPN.
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Most VPNs require an email address to log in and to get started. For ExpressVPN, this is also what you use to log in to the various apps. Others, such as PureVPN, send you a username and password or have them set up yourself. The service guarantees that your e-mail address is not shared or used for anything other than customer service. If you want more anonymity, you can always set up a dummy account.
Multiple payment options are available with most VPNs, such as credit and debit cards, Paypal and Bitcoin. ExpressVPN and some others also include the option of payment portfolios. NordVPN accepts cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin, while with PureVPN you can even use gift cards from stores such as Best Buy, Lowe & Sears, and more. Most people will have no trouble finding a way to pay that works for them.
Some VPN services, such as Mullvad, take anonymity to another level by not requiring an email address to sign up. The service also encourages the use of cryptocurrency to pay for subscriptions, so the service has very little information about you.
ExpressVPN is compatible with most devices and operating systems. Apps are available for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android and even BlackBerry OS, and they are easy to download and install. It also offers handy installation manuals for setting up VPN routers directly on Linux systems and media and game consoles. Browser extensions are also available for Chrome, Safari and Firefox.
ExpressVPN contains one of the most robust lists of compatible devices and operating systems, but each VPN service has at least easy-to-install apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. The VPN website contains download links for all compatible devices and Android and iOS apps can be found in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store respectively.
Almost every VPN service offers apps for the common operating systems that people use – Android, iOS, Windows and MacOS. However, if you want to set up a VPN on routers, game consoles, and other devices, make sure that the VPN you choose supports it.
Connecting to a server
Once you download and install the app on your device, get started very simple if you do not want to mess with the settings or server location. Most apps have a prominent connection button that you can tap to use the VPN. The server that is closest to you, or the person who chooses the app, offers the lowest latency and the highest speed. If you only want to keep your online activities and information private, that is the best option.
Some users may want to know how to use the VPN server in a specific country. For example, you must connect to the correct American server to access the American catalog of Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services, or the correct UK server for BBC iPlayer. Another consideration is torrenting, because not every location or server supports this. It is always important to know every aspect of using a VPN, even if you do not intend to use it a lot.
ExpressVPN automatically chooses a & # 39; smart location & # 39; for you – it is the server with the lowest latency and the highest speed. If you are looking for something specific, tap the "Choose Location" button to display the full list of available servers. Once you have selected the best servers for your needs, you can make them favorite so that they appear at the top of the recommended page.
VPN services such as PureVPN and CyberGhost take the guesswork about how to use a VPN by choosing a server completely with their "Mode" and "Target" lists. If you want to watch videos on Netflix US, just select the "Stream" mode and select Netflix from the list of targets. The app then makes the best choice for you, which is ideal for users who are in use for the first time.
Settings and functions
The sections about settings and functions are where competing VPN services really differ. Let's see what ExpressVPN has to offer.
The menu in the top left corner contains the Express VPN speed test, a help section and diagnostics. The Help section contains a Contact Us page and lets you test security functions with an IP address check and a DNS leak test.
The Options button opens the Settings page with these functions:
- General: Here you can set the start-up behavior and enable functions such as Network Lock. Network Lock ensures that if the VPN connection ends unexpectedly, the internet connection is also completely closed to prevent leaks.
- Protocol: You can choose which security protocol you want to use when using the VPN. All options such as OpenVPN (UDP and TCP), L2TP / IPSec, PPTP and SSTP are available. Of course you can always set it to Automatic and the app will choose the best protocol to use.
- Browsers: This appears on the Windows or Mac OS apps. You can set and enable browser extensions that are available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari.
- Advanced: Advanced options include the ability to set and select IPv6 puncture protection or to use only ExpressVPN DNS servers while connected. Having both switched on is definitely the best way to go.
In general, most VPNs can select a VPN protocol. We recommend using the OpenVPN protocol for the best combination of security and speed. However, other security settings and functions will differ.
How to Choose the Right VPN for You
Many elements explain how you can use a VPN for your needs. Hundreds of options are available, making everything a bit more difficult. Let's look at the most important factors that you should consider when choosing a VPN service.
Read on: How to use a VPN properly and save a lot of money
- Free versus paid VPNs: Paid VPNs offer much better service quality without advertisements, data caps or speed limitation and more security and privacy functions. They are definitely the better way to go if you are serious about your online privacy and security.
- Privacy: The best VPNs do not keep activity or connection logs such as ExpressVPN, NordVPN and IPVanish. Others can only maintain connection logs, so it depends on whether you feel comfortable with that. Every VPN that keeps track of all logs is not at all.
- Where the VPN is based: This is another important factor, as the privacy and data retention laws of the country may apply. ExpressVPN is based in the British Virgin Islands, which is great. IPVanish promises zero registration, but it is based in the US, which can be a concern.
- Where you are : Your location plays an important role in determining which VPN is best for you. For example, if a VPN service has no servers near your location, you will not get the best speeds.
- Security: You get various security functions with different VPNs. SaferVPN offers a kill switch, which is the minimum that you can expect. ExpressVPN adds IPv6 and DNS puncture protection to the mix. NordVPN goes all out with features such as eclipse, dedicated servers, dual VPN, etc.
- Usage: Not every VPN offers everything for which you may want to use the service. Although ExpressVPN and NordVPN, for example, offer access to Netflix US, IPVanish does not. Services such as SaferVPN only have one location for P2P, while some, such as TunnelBear, do not allow this at all.
- Ease of use: Almost every VPN service is very easy to use and it is up to how specific you want to be. SaferVPN is one of the simplest VPNs in the field of bells and whistles. That said, PureVPN completely takes the guesswork out of server selection with its various modes.
- Prizes: Prizes are often the most important factor in choosing something. ExpressVPN is at the top of the price spectrum, while SaferVPN is a lot cheaper. In any case, substantial discounts are offered if you opt for long-term plans. Special offers and deals are also often available.
Our VPN recommendation
Android Authority recommends ExpressVPN to our friends, family, and colleagues. It ticks most courses of high-end VPN & # 39; s and scores highest in our recent comprehensive reviews of high-quality VPN & # 39; s. ExpressVPN offers the perfect balance between speed, security and privacy.
In addition to ExpressVPN, we have also assessed services such as NordVPN, PureVPN, SaferVPN and IPVanish. There will also be many more in the coming days and months!
We will offer you even more great VPN coverage with our ongoing series of VPN reviews, guides, comparisons, best lists and a whole lot more! Looking for a specific VPN that we can review? Let us know in the comments below.