What beginners need to know about running a VPN on Android

by: Brad WardMay 8, 2013


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.

What is a VPN?

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


[Price: $8.32 per month (Yearly package)]

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 AndroidiOSMac, 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

  • Graf

    What about orbot?

  • Alex

    I hope everyone will understand how urgent this is. Using public wi-fi can mean disaster for your personal identity.

    This probably won’t be popular (ha ha) but I personally use “Norton 360™ Multi-Device” which is good for up to 5 devices (laptop, phone, tablet, etc)

  • Alex

    I hope everyone will understand how urgent this is. Using public wi-fi can mean disaster for your personal identity.

    This probably won’t be popular (ha ha) but I personally use “Norton 360™ Multi-Device” which is good for up to 5 devices (laptop, phone, tablet, etc)

  • districtjack

    Thank you. Thank you! Thank you Brad Ward. I’m old and have always wondered what a VPN really is and how to set one up. Finally someone has explained it to me. For us dinosaurs that can remember the first party line *phone being installed on our street, technological terms can be intimidating. *(And that’s rotary dial phone btw)

    • Not All VPN Apps will give your geo restricted freedom & Anonymity. you should always chose the best for your own security. configuring VPN is not just about unblock website or browsing, it will secure your data as well from local hot-spot hackers. Through your app they will access Identity, Card Number, credit card information and all. you should always consider to have best VPN APP to get rid of these kinda circumstances. here is the resource where you can find Most Secure VPN service provider(http://www.mostsecurevpn.com/). Read reviews, features, pricing plan and all that in on page.

      Rebecca James

    • Night Fury

      that’s true

    • 11c40m60

      as late as 1977 in kansas my sheriff freind still had to crank 3 times to get a line on a 10 line phone. i was stationed at ft riley and lived in silina. i to enjoyed this report and learned something important.

  • districtjack

    Thank you. Thank you! Thank you Brad Ward. I’m old and have always wondered what a VPN really is and how to set one up. Finally someone has explained it to me. For us dinosaurs that can remember the first party line *phone being installed on our street, technological terms can be intimidating. *(And that’s rotary dial phone btw)

  • Allen Themba

    Thank you a million Brad, thank you! Being in Africa, its hard to get such information.

  • Nice article you share for beginner VPN users i am using Btguard on my android device its HTC desire S and i also share the tutorial andList Of Free VPN For AndroidProvider list i hope this list helps your subscribers

  • Bravo!.. VPNs are not only used to unblock websites but are a better source of protecting yourself and your data online. These days Cyber crimes are at a all time high and we need VPNs to protect ourselves from them. There are many more other ways you can use a VPN (source: http://bit.ly/Yw1Zw9).

  • Sudeepto Dutta

    Very Good Article sir .. I always wanted to know about this technology but whenever I searched for it I always saw intimidating terms right from the start …

    This one … very easy from start till the end…. :)

  • Cool write-up, thanks. I’ve been using a service from http://hidemyiponline.com/hmvpn for a few years now, but was keen to have access also from my Android devices (a 7-inch tablet and a Samsung Galaxy phone), so this article is great. I can use my same subscription now also when on the move! I mainly use it to access TV from the UK, as I don’t currently live in the UK, but it’s great also to remain secure and protected when using wifi hotspots away from home.

  • Adam Outler

    you totally missed the point of VPN. It makes you part of a different network. You can be at work but still access your computer with and get all the resources you have at home along with Internet.

  • There aren’t a lot of good VPN providers that work well on Android. I use ExpressVPN (expressvpn.biz). It works the best so far that I’ve tried. Can’t take chances with security, not ever.

  • sheena

    I had already installed vpn on my android phone and I’m now using mobile network i wanted to subscribe the data plan but is it necessary to used credit cards for the payments? Or is there any other option? thanks

  • Aidan Roberts

    I went to ExpressVPN.biz for my Android devices. Never disappointed me on security like other popular VPNs did.

  • Pavel Pravdin

    Nideninja great application, use it for a long times for free and got them 5 stars!

  • Ammar

    Great Source for beginners. Apart of this useful guidelines, i believe there is much more that should be know regarding Android and VPN importance in it. Specially relates to top Android VPN providers. One must look at the source to make final decision before choosing VPN for your Android (Source: http://goo.gl/ExfdxQ )

  • Great Article and very informative but my daunting dilemma is trying to allow my Android 4.1 jellybean OS obtain internet on the go using my Blackberry as the client and android the host device and I have tried the tethering apps both Google play and blackberry app world with road block communication acceptance of each other but my android tablet has the VPN manager installed but my blackberry ISP service is by Boost Mobile riding Sprint. Is there hope for me to manually enter protocol language to achieve the results I need.

  • Jessica Liu

    I got a VPN from vpnexpress.net that works really well on Android. The security is excellent and the privacy policy guarantees that data won’t be misused or sold.

  • BrettyDaren

    Android have some built in flaws in VPN. I have setup 3rd party VPN on my android to get easy access to all geo restricted sites and keep my data secure from wrong hands. Recommend others to find out only top VPN apps for Android here http://www.vpnranks.com/android-vpn/

  • Anykey Vseslav

    Excellent article. I use vpn from vpnsafe.net long ago. Because my account in facebook hacked when I was in a cafe with a public Wi-Fi. Now I am very careful. Many thanks author.

  • Linda Devies

    Learn how to setup a VPN on android in Less than a minute ;)


  • Linda Devies
  • There’s a handy comparison of VPN apps on android (if you’re looking for them) complete with speedtests here: http://bit.ly/1iFx7zY

  • Amy Torres

    Thanks for this comprehensive analysis of the best VPN services in the market today. I am thinking of using a VPN but don’t see any reason until i came across your page. See, I’m doing some research about VPN and found cool stuffs here: https://www.bestvpnservicemag.com/vpn-providers-reviews/ Hope it would also help other newbies like me. :)

  • linda carter

    The best way to access blocked websites is to use a vpn service,

    saturnvpn.com is the best you can get,

    1Month only $3.3 | 2Months $5 | 3Months $7 | 6Months $10 | 12Months $16 |

    It has totally FREE test account.


    Works on: Windows, iPhone, Android, Mac, Linux

  • Ab

    Have you guys tried SmartShield VPN? So far seems to be pretty good with fast speed and no limits on connection time or attempts to charge me for anything.


  • Thanks for the article Brad. Why using a VPN when you can use a DNS service like UnoTelly? The DNS option is much faster and easier to use.

  • Bilal Asif

    Brad Nice article, you define it very clearly that why we should use VPN. Very nicely describe article. But one thing which i feel you did not mention is that which service provider we should prefer and why. Because there are hundreds of VPN providers . While surfing on internet i find a very nice article like your. I hope this is a great source of information for your readers.
    5 best canada vpn

  • BilalAsif1900

    i never rely on them because they are slow, showing ads, kill the speed as well steal my private data. Due to this reason I always use premium VPN provider but yes before choosing any VPN Provider I go to various Review sites like VpnRanks and read reviews about them and then buy any provider.

  • Sally Croft

    I had installed Purevpn app on my android mobile phone now I am looking for some advice’s which plan should I go with?

    Here you go http://www.purevpn.com/singapore-vpn-service.php

  • Ann Moroz

    Another interesting story : why use vpn on Android device: http://sahrzad.net/blog/why-it-is-necessary-to-use-vpn-on-mobile-device/

  • Mind Time

    Thanks a ton dear, I was desperate to know more about VPN
    with androids, I found many sites but the way you explained it…. Hats off…. As
    now I can easily start using it and to make it easier for others to find the
    best VPN for Androids here you can get it –

  • Mind Time

    There are many advantage of VPN, but of course people are
    scared to use it due to the charges otherwise if it was free I can say it with
    guarantee that everyone would be loving using it. I am mostly working out on
    trials since I want privacy on my work and for that I need VPN, but
    unfortunately I am not rich enough to pay for it, so I use trials from various
    companies and thanks to VPNTRIAl, I can easily found it here – http://www.vpntrial.net/service/

  • Mind Time


  • To protect against all threats which is harmful for your internet connection, you need a VPN on your Android device. It will protect you at all times when you connect to unsecured internet networks and keep you anonymous as well. The user friendly nature of Android makes it easy to configure different apps. Find a very easy guide, how to setup VPN on Android.

  • Lisa Levine

    The article is right on point covering basics of VPN to why VPN is needed. Nice article and its nice to see articles that convey message without too much of technical confusions and all that.

  • very informative and detailed article about VPN