What is a VPN, do I need one? – 2021 Beginner’s Guide

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Imagine sitting in a bus next to other people and entering your credit card information while they are watching. In this scenario the bus represents the internet traffic and the road represents your public internet connection. In this case, taking a cab or using your own vehicle while doing the same thing sounds much better and safer than taking a bus. This small story should give you a fair idea on what will be discussed in this article.
The average number of google searches per day is around 5 billion. With new technologies being developed the internet is not that safe anymore because no one knows who or what is online plus most user activities are also tracked and saved. The solution to this problem is by using a virtual private network. 
A virtual private network gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. It hides your internet protocol (IP) address so your online activities are virtually untraceable. Most importantly, it establishes a secure and encrypted connection to provide greater privacy than even over a secured Wi-Fi hotspot. Going back to that small story earlier, this is where you use your own vehicle instead of taking the bus with the general public.

Do I really need one?

Firstly, it is important that you know something: our presence online is not anonymous as we might think. Our IP addresses reveal our geographical location, our data are collected by companies, our browsing habits are tracked, etc… Also, the internet is no longer that decentralized resource accessible from any user all the world that once was. Today, there are geographical restrictions: for example, you can’t access US Netflix if you are located in Europe.
And this is basically why you need a VPN. By encrypting your data you hide your geographical location, bypass filters, restrictions, protect your online activities and at the end of the day your, browsing history is not saved making you untraceable. But let’s proceed one step at a time. Keep on reading to find out how it works, how you can get one, and other recommendations.

How does a VPN protect me online?

When you connect to the internet without using a VPN, you are connecting through your internet service provider (ISP). The ISP assigns a string of numbers to identify your device, and that’s your IP address. The IP address provided by your ISP contains information about your geographical location.
What happens when you use a VPN instead?
When you use a VPN, your device connects to the their server and then securely connects to the internet. This way, the IP address comes from the VPN rather than your computer. Most VPN servers are located all over the world, and this is how they allow you to bypass country restrictions: if you are in the UK and want to connect to US Netflix, all you need to do is connect to a server that is located in the US and then access the Netflix platform.
Additional features provided by VPN clients
A VPN can actually do more than hiding your IP address and let you access foreign platforms. For example, it can encrypt all your browsing information and the sensitive data that you sometimes provide to platforms (such as your credit card number to Amazon). This way, if an attacker tries to steal or read those data, they’ll only obtain something incomprehensible. Most VPN service providers don’t keep logs so your data is also not saved or tracked by them as well.
Some providers also allow you to create an encrypted backup of all your data and files.

How do I get one?

VPN tools or applications are available on different types of platforms/operating systems and mobile devices so it isn’t that hard to find one. Most of these services are FREE but have limited features. Paid VPN services offer more security and features than compared to the free VPNs. The only way to get a more secured connection is to subscribe to a VPN service provider. There are tons of these service providers out there and most of them would require you to pay a monthly bill which is not that expensive. The average price for a month of service is around $10, but you can obtain huge discounts if you subscribe for 6 months or a year. Some examples of these service providers are Nord VPN and EXPRESS VPN. 
These tools will provide you with a simple interface through which you can choose what server to use from those that are available with that VPN provider. After that, you can browse the internet as always.

Are there any VPN cons?

We’ve listed all the pros of utilizing it, but are there any cons? There is actually a couple of issues that you could face, especially if you rely on free, cheap or poor quality VPN providers: they concern the stability and speed of your connection. Some VPN may slow down your connection, so you want to pick a provider with a huge server park available so that it can ensure stability and – with stability – speed.
To conclude, VPN is an ideal solution to avoid revealing your location, protect your information and data, and also bypass the country restrictions to access your favorite platform. Using this tools or services makes the internet a more inclusive and democratic place that once was and was made to be.
If you are trying to find the best VPN service provider for your internet needs but if you are not sure to go about which one then we recommend you check out our article on the Top VPN Service Providers of 2021.
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