General VPN FAQs
1. What is a VPN?
VPN stands for “virtual private network” and acts as a security tool for your internet connection to protect your online information and privacy.
2. What does a VPN do?
A VPN allows you to connect to the internet and use websites privately. VPN services encrypt the data that travels to and from your device to a remote VPN server. The VPN service also hides your IP address and masks it with the IP address of a VPN server.
3. How do I set up a VPN?
There are two main ways to set up a VPN. You can activate one using a downloadable VPN app or browser extensions. Regardless of how you get a VPN service on your device, you simply need to configure – or connect – your VPN to the internet. This usually requires a user to provide VPN login credentials and select a VPN server, which will come from your VPN upon signup.
4. How does a VPN work?
A VPN is a service that redirects your internet requests through a VPN provider’s private server, encrypting the data sent and received from your device(s). This essentially hides your IP address and helps secure your connection and protect your personal information from being hacked and stolen.
5. What is the best VPN?
This is a hot debate among internet users. However, our experts compare the best disputed premium VPN providers based on their security measures, privacy features, and overall speed performance. Among the top providers are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, Surfshark, and IPVanish.
6. Why use a VPN?
It’s more important today than ever before to utilize a VPN service when accessing the internet. The open internet is riddled with intrusive third parties like hackers, government surveillance agencies, nosey internet service providers, and advertisers. To avoid having your devices breached and your personal information tracked or stolen, we recommend always using a VPN. Due to its encryption technology, VPNs are the best way to avoid the hurdles and outside enemies trying to access your information on the backend.
However, we caution users against having a free VPN. Free VPNs aren’t really “free” at all. While they may successfully hide your IP address, they also log your internet traffic and identifiable data, package it up, and sell it to third party advertisers for marketing purposes. It’s best to invest in a premium VPN service, which still isn’t that big of an investment. ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access are just a few premium VPNs that offer flexible and affordable prices.
7. How to get a VPN?
Getting a VPN service is simple. All you need to do is find the best VPN, select the term length you want, make the necessary payment, and install the VPN application on your device(s). It should take no more than 10 minutes to successfully set up a VPN and start accessing the internet securely.
8. What does a VPN hide?
A VPN hides your real IP address – and subsequently your current location – from servers you attempt to access on the internet. When this happens, your data is encrypted and unidentifiable from the outside. This means that hackers, ISPs, government officials, and other websites attempting to track online traffic cannot access any information that identifies you.
9. How do you check if a VPN is working?
To check if a VPN is working, simply navigate to your VPN app or network settings and verify if your VPN is turned “on” or is “active.” If this is not the case, you’ll want to select a server within your provider’s network and toggle the VPN to “on.”
10. How do you set up a VPN at home?
Most VPNs offer at least 5 or more simultaneous connections on various devices, which means you can be protected on your home network, smart TVs, desktop computers, smartphone, and more depending on your VPN provider. Setting up a VPN at home is the same as setting it up anywhere else. Simply navigate to your network or VPN settings and configure (connect) your device(s) of your choosing to a VPN server. This usually requires a user to provide VPN login credentials for authentication and a specific VPN server, which your VPN provides at the time of signing up.
If you wish to set up a VPN on a home router, this will require both compatible router equipment as well as some technical ability as it’s not cheap or easy to do. Be sure to confirm that the VPN service you get has a router compatible before investing in it. Not all premium VPNs have this capability.
11. Are VPNs Secure?
While some premium VPNs offer bonus security features to protect you online, it’s important to remember that the main function of a VPN is privacy first. VPNs don’t work in the same way as anti-virus software.
12. Does a VPN Make You Anonymous?
For the most part, yes. VPNs serve as an encryption method to securely hide your online identity while you access the sites you love. When you connect to a VPN, your search requests are routed through a VPN server that encrypts your data and hides your real IP address by supplying you with a temporary one. In this way, your identity is anonymous to the websites you visit. However, if you were to log in to an account on a website, that would automatically negate any sense of anonymity you gained by using a VPN. So, always be aware of your online activity even with an active VPN connection.
13. Are VPNs Legal?
This depends on a few things: 1) where you live, 2) types of websites you access, and 3) your online activity.
Every country has different regulations regarding the legality of VPNs. In free-market countries like the United States, it is legal to use a VPN. However, if you live or visit a repressive country like China, it is not legal.
In addition, many websites (i.e. streaming services) have geographical restrictions on their different content libraries depending on where you are in the world. For example, Netflix blocks users from different countries to view international content due to copyright restrictions and airing rights. Many premium VPNs can circumvent these restrictions and unblock content, however, streaming services still include a “no VPNs” clause into their Terms & Conditions to deter users from doing so.
Lastly, the legality of a VPN also depends on what online activities a user engages in while connecting to a VPN service. Specifically, torrenting runs a thin line between legal and illegal activity due to the potential for copyright infringement and piracy. So long as you do not engage in these activities, a VPN is fair game in most cases.
14. What is a VPN App?
A VPN app is simply the downloadable software needed to connect your VPN service to the device of your choice. Generally, you use a VPN app on mobile devices and tablets, however, many providers also offer their service as a desktop application that runs in tandem with an internet connection.
If you mostly use a VPN on a browser like Chrome or Firefox, some providers also have a browser extension that can be downloaded and managed from your browser window.