Why should I pay for a VPN? There are free ones out there?
There are a lot of options for VPN prices and there are many free services too. Often the free services are a little more stripped down like a proxy service.
One of the biggest free VPN plug-ins is Hola Unblocker, a very popular tool for accessing geo-blocked sites. In mid-2015, it was revealed that the company was selling free users’ bandwidth unbeknownst to them. This is something to be wary of when using a free program.
Will a VPN work in China?
This is difficult to answer. It will depend on the VPN provider that you choose. Some VPN providers have been blocked or banned. If you check the GreatFire.org resource, you can find a list of sites that are blocked. Among this list are the sites of several VPN providers. This makes it difficult to access the means to download the software. If you travelling to China and would like to use a VPN while there, we recommend downloading it before you leave.
How is a VPN different to a proxy service?
A VPN is more fully featured piece of software that will encrypt your entire traffic. A proxy will just switch your IP address around.
Has anyone ever got into trouble for using VPNs?
Yes, but this is rare. There have been some cases where internet censors in China have attempted to restrict access to VPN services and their websites. The UAE has also issued warnings to people that use VPNs.
Most recently in Denmark, two sites were taken offline and their owners arrested for publishing guides to using the illegal steaming service Popcorn Time. The sites also featured guides to using VPNs.
Are there any legal implications if I use a VPN?
Generally speaking using a VPN will not get you in any legal trouble, unless you are living in a country that has explicitly banned the technology. It is possible to conduct illegal activity by using a VPN, no more than it is possible to do so with a regular connection.
Some VPNs take measures to ensure no illegal activity or fraud happens on their service. This may involve time stamps of when you logged in and out or logging your original IP and the one you connect. It is a rare that a VPN will monitor or log the sites you visit. Make sure to check the logging policy of any VPN before you use it.
Is it difficult to set up a VPN?
Most VPN providers now make it as easy as possible to download and launch a VPN service, much like any piece of software. When you set up, you’ll usually find that the default settings make it easy to get started. From there, you can alter settings like the VPN protocols to your liking.
Will a VPN affect my internet speeds?
Yes, it can but this all depends on a variety of factors such as the strength of your own internet connection and server latency. If you connect to a server the farthest away, it may create some latency issues with transferring data. At the same time, whenever you use any encryption tools, it can potentially slow down your connection but with improving software, the difference is becoming negligible.
Can I use a VPN to access streaming sites like Netflix?
Yes. With a VPN you can change your IP address. For example, if you live in the UK and would like to access the US Netflix catalog, you can select a US-based IP address and browse freely from there. Similarly, you can do so if you live in a country where Netflix is not yet available. You will still need to purchase a subscription. Update: From early 2016 Netflix US has started blocking many VPNs, some still work and there are other ways to get access such as a Smart DNS. You can read more here about Netflix VPN unblocking and Smart DNS.
I have nothing to hide so why do I need more security online like a VPN?
Hacks and data breaches are ten a penny. It’s easy to feel like you have nothing to hide until something is taken or stolen. Something as simple as your Facebook password is valuable. Would you ever tell a stranger your passwords and give them the log in details to your online banking services?
Will a VPN guarantee I stay private and secure?
Nothing is 100% secure, any cybersecurity expert will tell you this. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an effort to protect your browsing and online accounts. A VPN will encrypt your traffic to provide added protection and hide your original IP address but it will not guarantee complete and total safety online.
What is a virtual private network?
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a security and privacy tool that gives users an extra layer of protection online. A VPN consists of a network of servers that the user can connect through in order to encrypt their traffic and hide their IP address.
Instead of connecting to a regular public server, you can connect to one of your VPN provider’s servers globally, this depends on what your provider offers.