If you’ve ever gone to Starbucks or Tim Hortons to use their public network on your smartphone or tablet, you should know that this could potentially be a bad idea. A public network isn’t very secure, thus it is easy for hackers to steal your data. While it is very uncommon. it’d be a terrible thing if they got their hands on your bank account credentials, personal information, and worse of all, your array of cute kitten GIFs.
So, how do you keep your data away from hackers? You can use something called a VPN or a Virtual Private Network to keep your information encrypted from prying eyes.
In short, a VPN allows you to connect your device up to a secure connection over the Internet. VPNs can do a lot of things, such as letting you access region-restricted websites, keep your data secure, hide your browsing activity on a public Wi-Fi network and more.
To answer the question more technically, when you connect your device up to a VPN your browsing is routed through servers across the world, which provide a proxy I.P. address. In example, let’s say there’s a server based in Japan that you connect up to. All your Internet traffic is routed to that server where you’ll be be provided with a proxy I.P. address. So, if you’re based in the United States and are surfing the web, websites won’t see a U.S.-based I.P. address — they’ll see a Japanese one.
Just to be as clear as possible, let’s use YouTube as an example. Without a VPN, pointing your browser towards www.youtube.com would show that you have a United States I.P. address. After connecting up to a VPN, you will longer appear to be connecting from the U.S., but from Japan.
Why would I want to use VPN?
As mentioned above, data simply isn’t secure over a public network. So, if you’re doing banking, sending private documents via email or just anything you don’t want other people to see, a VPN will keep all of that data secure, which is one reason why you would want to use one.
Secondly, maybe you want to access a region-restricted website, such as the BBC iPlayer. Say you’re in the United States and you can’t access the BBC iPlayer because of the region lock. By connecting to a Wi-Fi network, firing up a VPN like Hideman, you’ll be able to trick the website into thinking you’re connecting from the United Kingdom. At that point, you’ll be able to access the BBC iPlayer all you want.
Those two reasons aside, the video below gives you a few additional reasons as to why you should use a VPN.
A word of caution
VPNs are great, and while free solutions may look even better, it would be wise to either stay away from those or avoid transmitting sensitive data through them. Most free VPNs do employ a little bit of security, just not as much as a paid- or subscription-based service. Free solutions are great for general browsing, but it’d be wise to avoid looking at important information that needs your Social Security number and etc.
On another note, a VPN, in some cases, can also slow your connection down drastically. If you’re on broadband connection, you should barely notice a difference in speed, but if you’re using a mobile network, a VPN may prove to have a negative effect rather than a positive.
Ready to start using a VPN? Checkout our top pick ExpressVPN
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are among the best security tools a web surfer can have. You can use them to surf otherwise seedy public WiFi with more security and privacy. They can even be used to get around firewalls if your work has, say, Facebook blocked. Many people use them to overcome regional restrictions with various types of content as well. Whatever the reason, VPNs are powerful and popular tools. Here are the best Android VPN apps and free VPN apps (Spoiler alert: ExpressVPN is the clear winner)!
ExpressVPN is one of the most trusted, secure brands in the virtual private network industry, and that’s for good reason. It’s super fast and extremely safe, boasting an SSL-secured network with 256-bit encryption and, get this, unlimited bandwidth and speed. ExpressVPN has servers in 78 countries (including Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and others) in over 100 locations around the world, so there will always be a location near you to give you the best experience possible. What’s more, the service even has stealth servers located in Hong Kong which are specially designed to evade the GFW, making it look like you’re not using a VPN at all.
Many users around the web say they can achieve an average speed of around 6-7 mbpson the desktop. There are also a few extra bonuses thrown in that you don’t see too often in the VPN space. For starters, ExpressVPN doesn’t keep any browsing logs. All of your activities are mixed with the activities of other users as well, so it’s pretty near impossible to single out a user’s activity.
ExpressVPN has Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows applications, which are all really well done. At least for the mobile apps, you can easily connect on demand so it’s not constantly running in the background, taking up precious battery life. This is especially helpful in China as cellular data networks don’t always provide the strongest connection.
As for pricing, you’ll get the best savings (35%) with the 12 month plan at $8.32 per month. But no matter which pricing tier you choose, you’ll have access to all ExpressVPN apps, 24/7 customer support and high-speed unlimited bandwidth.
ExpressVPN is the best all-around VPN for a reason, so if you’re not convinced, we recommend you take advantage of their 30-day money-back guarantee.
30-day money-back guarantee