I started this blog to make it easier for you to protect your online privacy. If you’ve checked out any of my other guides, you’ll probably notice a theme: VPNs. Well, this guide is my most important: What is a VPN for Dummies? At the end, you’ll be able to answer the question ‘what is a VPN’, as well as know why you should use one and other VPN basics. The world of VPNs can get quite technical, but I’m going to keep it simple. For the sake of this article, we’ll be talking about simpler VPNs – or, a dummies VPN. Let’s get started.
What is a VPN?
We have two main questions to answer: “What is a VPN?”, and “why should I use a dummies VPN?”
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and is a security software that protects your internet connection. In it’s simplest form, a dummy VPN will allow you to send and receive data on the web by securely connecting to a remote server, anywhere in the world.
What is a VPN client?
A Virtual Private Network establishes a virtual tunnel between a user and a server (that belongs to the dummy VPN). This tunnel secures all the data going through it using military-grade cyphers to encrypt it. When I recommend a VPN for dummies, I use only the best options, all of which use the same level of encryption as the NSA.
How is the network private?
To access a dummy VPN, you’ll need to sign up for an account and login. Most providers offer dozens, hundreds or even thousands of server locations, which – as I’m sure you can appreciate – proves expensive, as the hardware has to be purchased and maintained. Providers therefore charge a monthly fee to users. When you subscribe to a dummies VPN, you’ll pay a small fee and gain access to servers all over the world.
VPN for Dummies: The Protocols
Dummy VPN software offers users several security protocols. Expert providers even develop their own protocol, to fight against deep packet inspection for example. But a dummies VPN will use one of the three most common:
- PPTP: One of the first protocols (it’s been around since Windows 95)
- L2TP/IPsec: One of the most secure protocols with a tunnel
- OpenVPN: The most flexible an popular open source protocol
As the aim here is to explain VPN for dummies, I don’t want to get too technical. If you want to know more about security, check out my article about protocols for all the details. As for the three options above, I recommend finding a dummy VPN that uses OpenVPN.
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Why should I use a VPN?
So, we’ve answered what is a VPN, but we’ve still not discussed why you should be using one.
What happens when you connect to a server? The server connects to the Internet on your behalf. This doesn’t mean much for you, as you can keep browsing as usual and won’t even see a difference. But behind the scenes, everything has changed. Below, you’ll see what a ‘VPN for dummies’ can do.
Increase your online security
Originally, dummy VPN were created by companies to protect the communications of their employees who were working remotely or using public Wi-Fi. Data interception is a common and real risk for businesses, and while day to day, you’ve probably not heard about these cyber attacks, only recently, security specialists discovered KRACK, a major vulnerability on WiFi networks. Before that, hackers and cybercriminals were using solutions like MAC spoofing, Firesheep and other tools to steal information on public networks.
To prevent this happening, engineers were tasked with finding a way to add a layer of security to Internet connections. They came up with a security tool that guarantees an encrypted connection between two devices, so that all the sensitive information travelling on the network is secured. Enter, the dummy VPN.
This solution is so efficient that most companies have adopted it. Most companies don’t have the resources to create their own software in-house, but can afford to partner with external VPN brands. In fact, some corporate businesses use the same dummies VPN providers I recommend on my blog.
Protect your privacy
Privacy sounds good, right? If you live in a country with a mass surveillance program, you should be doing everything you can to protect your privacy, and know ‘what is a VPN’ can help. But that’s not the only way a Virtual Private Network protects your privacy. When you connect to a dummy VPN server, it hides your IP address. This means that websites can’t get your real IP and instead receive the server’s log. Without being able to detect your actual IP address, you can browse anonymously. So when you ask what is a VPN, essentially, it’s a game of hide and seek.
As there are thousands of users connecting to a single server, it’s incredibly difficult to determine any one person’s identity. While a dedicated server and IP can sound attractive, it makes things easier for government agencies or hackers to track you down.
If you’re the only one browsing from a server, it’s pretty easy to know what you’re doing online… All agencies have to do is monitor the activity coming from said server/IP. If you’re using a server alongside other users (like a dummies VPN), it’s very hard (almost impossible) to isolate your traffic from everyone else’s. As the saying goes, there’s strength in numbers!
Last but not least, a VPN for dummies will protect your privacy during all your online activities. Whether you’re doing some online shopping, torrenting, streaming, or online gaming. And while your data is protected, you’re also protected from data throttling.
What is a VPN and data throttling?
If your internet provider can’t detect what you’re doing online, they can’t throttle your data. What does throttling mean? Well, if you’re streaming online or gaming, this uses a lot of bandwidth. To equal out your usage with other users, the ISP will slow your connection down – leading to lag times and buffering. With a dummies VPN, ISPs won’t be able to snoop on what you’re actually doing online, and as such, you’ll have access to all the bandwidth you need.
Bypass censorship and access geo-restricted content
As I said previously, when you log into a dummy VPN, you’re browsing the web using the server’s IP address, not your own. Why is that important? Because you can use them to bypass censorship and the geo-restrictions on content. And that’s by far the most popular feature of a VPN for dummies.
There’s censorship in the UK on the adult content, for example, meaning most ISPs have to block adult websites – even if the customer doesn’t have a family of younger kids. Some ISPs just take parental control features into their own hands. With a dummy VPN however, you can bypass any blocks and enjoy an unrestricted Internet connection when you log into a VPN server. This is the same for any country, too. Even China, Iran or North Korea for example. All traffic travelling through the dummies VPN tunnel is encrypted and can’t be viewed or blocked.
But wait, there’s more! If you can connect to IP addresses in any country, it means you can unblock geo-restricted content.
What’s geo restricted content? Well, it’s simple: It’s content that’s only available in certain places. This is typically down to broadcast regulations and rights. When a broadcaster – like the BBC – signs the rights to a certain program, they’ll have certain conditions. One of these is usually that the content can’t be viewed outside the UK. As such, if you’ve ever tried to access iPlayer outside of the UK, you’ll probably notice it’s not available.
So let’s say you want to watch American Netflix from your home in Leeds. No problem, just log into your dummies VPN and connect to an American server. You will notice you now have access to the full Netflix US catalogue.
It’s the same the other way round, too. If you’re on an international trip, you can watch UK Netflix from abroad or watch the BBC iPlayer if you connect to a British server. Why? Because the server has an IP which is on the whitelist of Netflix, BBC or Sky Go as it has a UK address. Therefore, the server can receive on your behalf. As this is a ‘what is a VPN for dummies’ guide, let me know in the comments if any of this is getting too technical.
What is a VPN limitation?
While I’m a big fan of this security and privacy tool, it’s very hard to achieve ultimate protection. And this something to understand when learning about VPN for dummies. If you assume you’re completely protected, you could expose yourself to cybercriminals and hacks.
To avoid any DNS leak, and to protect yourself as best as possible, a dummies VPN needs to be set up properly.
Secondly, although most VPN for dummies use no-log policies (where they keep no identifiable information about you on their servers), your email address and log in credentials could easily help identify you. To get the most out of your online protection, you should use a neutral email address, a pseudonym for your username and pay with cryptocurrency.
Furthermore, while a dummy VPN doesn’t protect you from every single threat you can face online, it will prevent most attacks on your connection. I always recommend to use a dummy VPN alongside other security software such as antivirus and a firewall. Some dummies VPN options will offer additional protection with built-in malware protection, but you will still need to intervene: You can’t expect the software to know whether a link is legit or not. You still need to rely on your common sense to avoid phishing pages and scams.
The best VPN for dummies
Every day we rely on the internet more and more. Whether we’re buying groceries, online dating or selling old furniture. As we all depend on the Internet more, we’re also becoming more aware of the risks to our cybersecurity.
To help, people are searching online for the best solutions to protect themselves online. Sound familiar? Well, my blog is here to help people understand what is a VPN, as well as all the ways you can use one. Another way I’m trying to help though, is by actually providing my readers with a list of the best dummy VPN options available. But how to choose the right one for you?
Well, as most dummy VPN brands charge, you don’t want to be wasting your time trying them all out. Which is why I’ve done the hard part for you. I personally tried and reviewed most of the software of the market to provide you with my 3 favourite VPNs. Each offers robust servers, unlimited bandwidth, proven security and unmatched speed.
Nothing’s really free in this world. If you’ve come across a free VPN for dummies, chances are, they’ll collect and sell your data and browsing habits for commercial purposes or worse. They also sell your bandwidth. Or they use your device for a botnet. You’ve been warned: Use a free service at your own risk.
Should I trust a dummies VPN service providers?
As a rule, you should always be cautious with your data. While I only recommend reliable companies that have years of experience and expertise, things can change quickly. So it’s important to keep an eye on the news, just in case.
Users’ privacy’s regularly makes the headlines these days. And most companies now have to follow strict rules regarding user’s data. In addition, most dummies VPN providers have a commitment to protect your data: As such, they offer strict no-logging policies. Some will even refuse to hand over information to authorities.
A good, dummies VPN brand is really trying to make the Internet a better place. Because that’s the whole aim of their business. But also because they really believe in everyone’s right to privacy.
How to use a VPN for dummies
Even if you’re not tech-savvy, you can easily protect your privacy with a VPN for dummies. Most providers offer a dummy VPN for Windows, Mac, Android and iOS – so you can protect all of your devices. Most VPN options will allow you to connect several devices to a single account too, so you don’t have to worry about paying for the software for every device you want to protect.
Although each dummy VPN will have it’s own specific installation process, most will follow a similar pattern to this:
- Log in with your credentials (this should be a one-time step, the client should store your account credentials)
- Select a server
- Determine your activity (P2P may be restricted to selected servers)
- Determine where to connect (UK to unblock UK content, USA to unblock American content etc.)
- Click on the connect button
And that’s it. Only three little steps and you’re now protected. This VPN for dummies guide couldn’t get much simpler!
VPNs are cheap, easy to install and totally worth it, trust me. By default, the client should use the best protocol (OpenVPN) and settings. If you’re looking for a more detailed guide, with recommended settings for specific functions, take a look at some of my other articles. Especially if you want to download torrents anonymously.
So that’s VPN explained for dummies
In this article, it’s answered what is a VPN, why you should use one and how to set yourself up for online security. A Virtual Private Network is the perfect tool for your internet connection, and it’s becoming essential. Just like your firewall protects you against external threats and your antivirus protects you against local threats. Most countries have implemented mass surveillance and censorship rules, and the only way to get your freedom back is to install a dummy VPN on all your devices.
A dummies VPN increases the security of your internet connection and protects your privacy. They also allow users to browse an unrestricted internet. That’s why most companies, NGOs and journalists use one on a daily basis.
For the average Joe, there’s one more bonus for using a dummies VPN: Accessing geo-restricted content! If you want to stream a different Netflix library, or watch Sky-Go outside the UK, you can. You can even connect to a different server to take part in a competition of your favourite online game? What’s more, you might be able to score yourself cheaper flight tickets in another country?
There’s a multitude of reasons to subscribe, to a VPN for dummies. And that’s what my blog is all about. Here, I reveal what is a VPN, and show you everything you can do with one.
If you have any question related to what is a VPN, feel free to contact me. I hope that I’ve been able to shed some light on the topic, as well as given you some ideas on a VPN for dummies can do for you.
So this was my What is a VPN for dummies guide. Stay tuned for more articles coming soon.