It is now time to use a VPN software also for Security and Privacy

With digital devices continuing to find more and more involvement in our daily lives, what is also increasing is the regular incidents of hacking, unauthorized access, data prying, ransomware attacks and more. While it is impossible to shorten the usage of computers, laptops, smartphones and tablets, it is time to beef up the security of our digital devices by monitoring how they interact with the internet.

So when it comes to the Security and Privacy of your computer, apart from installing an Antivirus software or Internet Security Suite, one should consider using a  Virtual Private Network or a VPN software on your Windows computer to stay anonymous, safe & secure, and to protect your privacy. You may argue that VPN may be required only at commercial networks or at offices – but the reality is that in today’s time, is that it has become imperative that one use it even on a home computer.

A VPN or a Virtual Private Network is essential to stay invisible or anonymous on the net. A VPN software will encrypt all the data that your PC sends so that it will not be hackable. And now that the US Senate has voted to let ISPs sell your Web Browsing History, it has become even more important to use a VPN.

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What is Virtual Private Network or VPN

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. As the name suggests, VPN is a creation of a private network that works over the public networks, such as the Internet. It is mainly used by corporations to protect their sensitive data. VPN is widely used to access the data on a computer that is not physically on the same LAN. However, it is also an effective way to secure and encrypt communication when using the untrusted public network.

When you use a VPN software, your IP address is replaced or masked, thus making you invisible. All the data that you send is encrypted. In short, the VPN server acts as a Tunnel and stands between your computer and the website. The ISPs too are therefore not able to trace you or track your browsing history.

How Virtual Private Network works

To use a Virtual Private Network, you have to launch a VPN client. There a are a number of VPN software available in the market.

Once you have launched the VPN software on your machine, you need to log in with your credentials. This establishes a connection with the remote machine. The VPN connection confirms whether both the PCs on the network are authentic and allows the connection between the two. The communication between these two PCs is encrypted and secured.

Not only the data shared between the two PCs, but a Virtual Private Network also secures the internet connection on your PC. Thus, it ensures any data sent or received by your PC is encrypted and secured.

Why use VPN for security and privacy

As mentioned before, VPN creates a secure and encrypted connection between the computers. Hence, the data always remains hidden from prying eyes. Any traffic between your PC and a private server remains unseen. Hence, it is nearly impossible to see this traffic or even modify it. Of course, the VPN can see and record all your activities. However, a VPN software does not typically log or share this data, unlike the browsers or other entities on the Internet.

In general, a Virtual Private Network is used by people for several purposes. Some of these purposes are with good intentions, while others may be considered as illegal by law. These include:

  • Taking remote connection of organization’s private network
  • When using public Wi-Fi, protecting the data
  • Hiding BitTorrent piracy
  • Hiding from government censorship or surveillance
  • Accessing Netflix library from other countries

However, one of the most prominent and common problems being faced today can be tackled using VPN. All Internet Service Providers mass-collect data about what you do online. This collected data provides all sort of information about you, such as what you like, sites you visit, where you live, what do you wear, where you work and so on. Sometimes this information is sold to the online marketers – and this is done without your consent.

And then there are the dangers of free WiFi which we are so used to now. When you connect to a public Wi-Fi network your sensitive information such as bank account passwords, online logins, and email passwords can be hacked easily, as these networks are not safe – and that is why we recommend that you follow these WiFi Security Tips – one of which is installing a VPN.

What things should you look in a good Virtual Private Network

When selecting a VPN, you need to look for some of its features. An efficient VPN must offer various features, good connectivity protocols, server location, and affordable price. Apart from a general category of free and paid VPNs, some VPNs are good for occasional use. If you want to use a Virtual Private Network for prolonged use, you can select the VPNs that work around the location restrictions.

Which VPN is good for you

That’s a critical question that you must ask. You will have to see your requirements and then decide which one to go for. Are you concerned about privacy or security? Or is geoblocking more of a concern and you want to be able to view blocked sites. Or maybe you are more concerned about bypassing restrictive networks. How strongly do you want the data you send to be encrypted. Is it important that your VPN does not log your data? Your answers to such questions will help you decide.

VPNs use different types of Protocols to establish connections. It’s best to choose a VPN that supports OpenVPN and avoid using other protocols like PPTP if you are concerned about privacy.

Not all VPNs may be good. Hence, it is important to install only the popular VPNs. You can read the reviews of some of the VPNs on our website. I have also come across this excellent study which compares a bunch of VPN software and lays down their pros and cons in a tabular chart. Not all comparisons you see on theInternet may be genuine – but this one looks pretty dependable to me.

There are several popular ones available like NordVPN, Traceless.Me VPN, TunnelBear, Freelan Open Source VPN software, VPN One Click, Ultrasurf, TOR, Betternet, Jumpto Browser, Hide.Me, strongSwan, Psiphon, Avira Phantom VPN, Hotspot Shield VPNGlobus Free VPN, SecurityKissSpotfluxNeorouterHotspot Shield, Hola UnblockerWindscribe VPN, etc.

I suggest that you install a free VPN software first, try it for a week or so and see if you like it and if it works fine on your computer. Sometimes a VPN software may just break your internet connection. So do try a couple of VPNs for a week each and then decide which one works best for you.

CyberGhost is yet another trustworthy, popular and free to use VPN. Just like any other efficient VPN service, CyberGhost is an anonymity VPN solution for Windows that completely hides and protects your identity online. The free version users are often required to wait for a few minutes before they can get connected – but the paid version is very good.

Virtual Private Network

If it is possible for you to invest some amount, you should, for the sake of your security go for a paid VPN version – but the free versions are fine too. Most free VPNs give you a set amount of free data every month. But some allow you to increase this quota. TunnelBear gives you 1GB extra free data every time you tweet. Windscribe VPN gives you 10GB free data every month – but currently, their promo will give you 50GB free data per month for life!

Go invisible on the Internet!

I honestly feel that it is time you adopt a VPN software even if you are a home PC user. It may all look complicated to some of you, but several VPN software like CyberGhost VPN, Traceless VPN, TunnelBear, etc. are really easy to you. All you need to do click on the Connect or Disconnect buttons. I have used Cyberghost, Traceless, and TunnelBear and find them easy to use – but I am sure that there are several other good and easy-to-use ones too.

If you have anything to add to this post or share your experience about using any VPN software, we’d love to hear.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.