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Everything you need to know about VPNs (including whether you need one)

You have likely heard of VPNs, and you may have even considered purchasing one for yourself. But how well do you understand how things operate in the USA? Here are the answers to five essential questions to help you get started.

What are VPNs?

VPN is an abbreviation for Virtual Private Network. It is a tool that enhances internet users’ privacy and security. According to the Dutch Times, a VPN primarily serves two purposes. First and foremost, it encrypts all data sent and received over the internet. This makes it extremely challenging for other (unwanted) parties to intercept your online data, particularly when using public Wi-Fi. Second, a VPN replaces your actual IP address with a new one, rendering your online activities virtually untraceable. Without a VPN, your internet service provider (ISP) logs the websites you visit.

However, when using a VPN, your web activity is associated with the IP-address of the VPN server, not your own.

People choose a VPN primarily to protect and anonymize their online activities, such as sending e-mails, shopping online, paying bills online, streaming and downloading content.

Changing your IP-address allows you to virtually visit a different region of the world. A VPN enables expats to access the Internet from their home country as if they never left.

Traveling to a different virtual location enables you to circumvent local censorship and stream movies and television shows anywhere you go. 3

Isn’t there something dubious about VPN usage?

Why would an individual who has nothing to hide use one? Edward Snowden once remarked, “Saying you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is like saying you don’t care about freedom of expression because you have nothing to say.” There is nothing suspicious about using a VPN for web browsing, streaming, or gaming. It is entirely legal. In fact, a Dutch government initiative recommends the use of a virtual private network (VPN) for self-protection, particularly when connected to a public Wi-Fi network. However, it is important to note that using a VPN to download and share copyrighted content is illegal. Therefore, having a VPN is comparable to owning a firearm in Texas; it should only be used for self-defense.

Should I use a free VPN service?

We all enjoy free online services, and the same is true of VPNs. However, there are numerous unreliable free VPNs available. Some may even sell your search information, while others are simply ineffective. In other words, if you do not pay for something, you are not the customer; you are the product being sold. There are a few trustworthy free VPN providers, such as Proton and Hide.me. However, even with these, there may be a data limit that prevents you from using the free service without restrictions. Additionally, you are likely to encounter performance issues when utilizing a free VPN. In general, free VPNs are not the best option, so consider paying for a premium service.

A VPN with four or five stars should not cost more than €3 to €5 per month. Consider that when selecting a one- or two-year plan, prices decrease significantly. Additionally, all providers offer a 30-day money-back guarantee, allowing you to test their services for free.

What are the most important considerations when selecting a VPN?

There are several factors to consider when selecting a (paid) VPN provider. Privacy is crucial. Choose a service provider with a no-logging policy, advises Dutch News.

Second, it is prudent to acquire a VPN whose headquarters are located in a country with lenient privacy laws, such as Switzerland, Panama, Romania, Malaysia, or the British Virgin Islands. Other significant factors to consider include: How fast are browsing, streaming, and downloading operations? Are the apps easy to use on your laptop and mobile device? Is live chat available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for technical support? Server list: a respectable VPN will provide an extensive list of servers in at least 50 countries.

Ensure that it has a location in both the USA and your home country. Some providers have no limit on the number of devices that can be connected to a single VPN account, while others prohibit connecting more than five or six devices. Don’t forget to examine the payment methods offered by the VPN service providers. The majority accept credit cards, and PayPal. If privacy is your primary concern, however, you will likely want to search for a provider that allows you to pay anonymously with cash or a cryptocurrency such as bitcoin. There are a number of comparison sites that have evaluated the most popular VPN service providers in order to make your decision a little simpler.

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