I’m a computer enthusiast—I like to hear about and sometimes be one of the first to try out new software and gadgets. I was a Microsoft OneDrive Ambassador years ago and have participated in their Windows and Office Insider Programs. This article is about why I got a VPN service along with some of the privacy, security and geo-location advantages.
That said, I’m not a hacker, deep web or Tor user. If you don’t know these terms, then you may be what is referred to as a ‘regular’ person — one who uses established software and doesn’t look to be that ‘cutting edge’, which is great. Because I’m speaking to people like you and me.
Having a VPN (virtual private network), has been back in my mind for a while. I’ve used one previously when I’ve traveled, but I didn’t keep the service when I got home. Instead, when I’d travel, I would not check in on any of my financial websites or other places where I would need to sign in when on a public Wi-Fi. I could check my email using desktop Outlook because my email already had me logged in. I would visit websites, but not log in.
“A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. Applications running across the VPN may therefore benefit from the functionality, security, and management of the private network.” (from Wikipedia)
Importance of a VPN in Today’s World
If you’ve been paying attention to the last few years (Edward Snowden, revelations that our cell phone companies and ISPs gather info on us, data breaches and more), then you may be concerned about all the information already exposed or filed away on us. Although there’s really nothing we can do about what’s been done, we can decide to at least protect and secure what we do going forward.
Some VPNs promises anonymity, privacy and no logging of where you’ve been. Depending on how much you know about how VPNs work and who you believe, these claims may not be true.
What some VPNs say is that having a VPN can greatly increase privacy and security online. (This may or may not be true). It can help protect from several types of attacks. It can encrypt your data, mask your IP address, location, websites visited and personal communications. (I believe this is true.) If your IP and activity are masked, then your ISP won’t be able to record where you’ve been. I like this – not that I visit nefarious websites, but because I think what I do is my business and no one else’s.
Research on Best VPNs
When I decided it was time to have a continuous VPN service, I needed to do my research. There are lots of VPN services out there. I saw there’s a free and open-source VPN over on SourceForge.net. I do trust Source Forge, so I checked them out. You do have to be techy to go through all the networking steps to get your VPN setup. I wasn’t interested in that.
I did some searches for best VPNs and most secure VPNs, best VPN service, etc. The one I settled on is VyprVPN from Golden Frog. Ultimately, I went with them because they own their own servers, which means no third parties need be involved, they didn’t make extreme claims. In fact, they did a blog article several years ago to reveal top 10 myths about VPNs. They are in Switzerland. I don’t know if that’s more helpful if some government would ask them for anything or not. But they say they only keep logs on users for 30 days.
It also didn’t hurt that I got a 25% off for my first year and their monthly cost was pretty low ($5 is the regular monthly cost). They just have a free 3-day trial, so not as long as other VPNs out there.
Here’s the 10 myths from their blog article.
What You Get With VyprVPN Service
I got the lowest level plan ($5/month), which gives me their VPN service on up to 3 devices at the same time. Right now, I’ve got it on 3 devices, but I am going to add it to my husband’s computer and show him how to connect when he’s online. My 3 devices are my desktop, laptop and Android phone and I won’t be using all at the same time, so this should work well.
VYPRVPN has other plans for Business and a consumer Premium plan. They have other products you can check out at their website.
VPN Set Up
Although I’m a bit techy, I wanted an easy set-up, so I looked for that benefit when choosing. I did struggle a bit with the directions – but then I was trying to do it in a hurry. All the directions are on the website.
I saw that there were settings to add in my Windows 10 Settings area – in the network part. Never noticed that before. Here’s a brief look at that.
Other Benefits of VPN Service
A side benefit that I’m going to check out is that when I use VyprVPN, I can be geo-location independent. This means I can watch sporting events that may be blacked out in my area. I should also be able to watch those cool BBC programs now instead of waiting until they come to the US. I haven’t checked into it, but I think all I need to do is select a server in England and then go to the BBC channel and see what shows are available for me to watch!
If I was located in a country that censors content, I could do the same thing – select a server from somewhere else and then browse.
Another benefit – have you heard that when you shop online, prices are sometimes adjusted because of where you live? You could experiment with this feature – might save you some money!!
Pros and Cons of VyprVPN
I’m including this screenshot from this review site. The only cons they found is that they have policies against torrenting (DMCA copyright violations). This means people who are stealing movies and music. They also pointed out their logs are retained for 30 days. Perhaps other VPN services don’t keep them at all, but neither of these is a concern to me.
Things To Remember When Using A VPN
When you get your VPN set up, you’ll choose a server to log on to and then your sessions will be protected and secure. I found there aren’t any servers in my city, so I’ve been using Austin and Miami so far (because it said their connection was faster than others). Then I logged into my Gmail account to get the app for my phone and Gmail went crazy notifying me about 3 times that someone had my password! Even though I did a dual-factor authentication with them and then told them multiple times via my phone and email that it was me, I still don’t think they believed me – ha-ha!
It might be a good idea to disconnect from your VPN before logging into some of your services (when at home). I tried logging into my bank and I got the ‘we haven’t seen you log in from here before’, screen. But when you’re on WIFI or traveling, you’ll want to go through the prompts – they are there for our protection.
What About You – Will You Try A VPN Service
What’s been your experience with VPNs or does this article get you more interested in them? Has it been difficult to set them up? I did have a bit of difficulty setting mine up. The hardest thing was finding the instructions on how to connect! They do have a good support section and I did a brief chat with them too. My second and third devices were a snap to do.
If you have a VPN experience to share, please leave a comment here or Twitter!