What is a VPN? A Beginner’s Guide

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Are you looking to keep yourself safe from hackers and cybercriminals? If you’re not, you should be. 

Hackers steal around $172 billion from people each year. Although a lot of that money comes from large companies, many of it also comes from small businesses and individuals.

One way that you can help keep your data safe is with a VPN. And, to help you understand the basics, we’ve put together this VPN guide. By the time you finish reading, you’ll know exactly how downloading one can help you. 

Keep reading for a VPN beginner guide that will break down everything you need to know.

What Is a VPN?

VPN stands for virtual private network. While that name might sound a bit complicated, VPNs are exactly what their name connotates—a private network that you use in a virtual environment. 

Think of a VPN as a way to wall yourself off from people who would otherwise want to see what you’re doing on the internet. This can include anyone from your internet provider to cybercriminals hoping to steal your information. 

A VPN provides you with a remote server to connect to, providing you with an extra layer of protection. That server then works as your virtual home or office as you surf the web. 

Why Should You Bother to Use One?

But why should anyone bother using a VPN? Aren’t normal internet security measures enough to keep you safe from hackers?

No, not all the time. 

Hackers that tunnel into otherwise secure connections are remarkably good at their jobs. If they’re determined to hack into a connection, you’ll have a difficult time stopping them—unless you use a VPN.

Besides protecting you against nefarious agents who want to steal your data, VPNs also protect your privacy. They encrypt your data, meaning that you look up pictures of puppies or learn more about bright mls—all without fear of other people finding out. 

When Should You Use One?

The average internet user doesn’t have to worry about using a VPN each time they use the internet. However, there are several situations where using one might be a smart idea.

Anytime you hop onto a public and unsecured Wifi connection, hackers have access to your information. Some of the places where you’re the most vulnerable include:

  • Airports
  • Coffee Shops
  • Malls
  • Restaurants

In these sorts of situations, it’s not a bad idea to switch on your VPN to provide you with an extra layer of network protection. 

How to Find the Right VPN

So VPNs are important, you now understand that. But one quick Google search reveals shows that there are hundreds of different options to choose from. So how can you find the right one?

Let’s take a look at a few of the different factors you’ll want to consider. 

Consider the Cost

As you’ll soon find out, most of the VPNs that you can download aren’t free. In fact, some of the more secure ones can cost you hundreds of dollars a month. 

Most people, however, won’t need to worry about getting an extremely expensive VPN. Cheaper ones that cost you several dollars a month should be just fine. Always remember to check some VPN deals available online.

Most of the free VPNs aren’t worth downloading. They’re slow, buggy, and prone to crashes.

Look at the Location Servers

As mentioned, VPNs connect you to remote servers. These servers can be in the same city, a state over, or on the other side of the Earth. Try to get a VPN that provides you with a plethora of different server options. 

From time to time, different VPN servers will go down. You want to make sure that you have a backup (or several backups) to choose from if this happens.

Having many server options also helps ensure that your connection stays fast. Too many people on a single server can cause it to slow down. 

Make Sure You Get Multiple Device Support

If you’re like most people, you probably access the internet on many different devices. You might use your work computer as you work from home, your personal computer once you log off, and your phone throughout the day. 

If you regularly use more than one device, make sure to get a VPN that provides you with multiple device support. 

The best VPNs come with apps that work across computers, tablets, and mobile devices. Cheaper VPN packages may limit the number of devices you can connect, while more expensive and comprehensive plans may not. 

User Interface

It might not seem as important as something like effectiveness or price, but you also want to consider the user interface when looking at different VPNs. You want to ensure that the one you decide on is easy to use.

Does it seem straightforward and simple to operate? Can you find the button to turn it off and on with a glance at the app? If you can’t, find another one.

You should be 100% that it’s on when you need it to be and off when you don’t. 

Take Advantage of This VPN Guide

VPNs can be a tricky thing to wrap your head around, especially if you’re not someone who uses them often. However, the truth is that they’re not as complicated as many people make them out to be.

Use this VPN guide to help you understand the basics. As explained, VPNs are one of the best ways to ensure that your internet connection stays secure and private. 

Did you find this VPN beginner guide helpful? If you did, make sure to check out the rest of our site for more great content. 

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