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The Secrets I Discovered About Using VPNs

October 18, 2019



Initially, I was weary about setting up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) on my computer. Then a situation arose that made me promptly decide that VPN software is a must...and I was right! First I accepted a free trial period and realized that VPNs are not simply glorified widgets. This technology is just as important as computer antivirus software and malware removers. Funnily enough, the trial included all the perks of the most expensive plan. I chose a cheaper plan and it's sufficient for what I need at the moment. So far, so good.

Why I Wanted a VPN

Configuring a VPN service on your computer in no way means that you are a criminal or up to something nefarious; however, due to consistent oversight - like tracking your every online move - our civil liberties have literally vanished. You need to protect yourself. Not only that, perhaps you want to watch a particular podcast that may not be allowed wherever you are. A virtual-private-network will take care of that. As for me, I don't want anyone or anything "all up in my business." It's so, well, uncouth.


If you are a freelancer, VPNs are a must. If you are in a certain geographical location and have a client in another geographical location, you can "see what your client sees" in their part of the world. Like specific advertising for example. If you're working on a particular project and you are located in the west and your client is located in East Asia, it may help you get more acquainted with your client's mindset and what they need from you. Plus, it's interesting to observe the way advertisers target various places around the world.

VPNs are used for a variety of reasons like improved online security, bypassing censorship and other restrictions, and evading the prying eyes of authoritative entities. What's more, VPNs are not only for freelancers, big businesses, and the wealthy, average online users are investing more in this worthwhile technology.


A Bit of VPN History


Most online information regarding how VPNs were first introduced is consistent. In 1996, a Microsoft employee created PPTP (Point-to-Point Protocol) to initiate virtual private networks. PPTP offers Internet users a secure Internet connection that functions capably and dependably from within their home


Sites like le-VPN.com offers an excellent treatise on the history of VPNs. In the piece, a section titled: What is the Purpose of VPN? flaunts an impressive infographic detailing information concerning global Internet censorship, but excludes western countries. Today, even in the west, censorship has become a huge controversy. The article needs updating, since its publication in 2018, to articulate this nagging transformation. All and all, it's still a good read.

CactusVPN.com offers a beginners guide on the history of VPNs along with additional information such as why VPN software has become so popular and the future of the VPN app.


VPN Secrets

I have one of the Top 10 VPNs available - I prefer not to give the name - and it works faultlessly. My OS is Windows 10 Home Edition. My computer is fairly new. The secrets I discovered is not so much with the VPN app itself, but the long-and-short of using it. This has been my experience.


When I connected my VPN to an EU country I was surprised. A variety of messages popped up asking me to "agree to various terms and conditions" in order to continue on the site. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) changed the entire online spectrum for Internet users living in this area. Companies requested permission to collect data more often, which caused more pop-ups with "click to proceed" buttons.


-There are some good points about GDPR but with adblock, VPN, or turning off your JavaScript, you can avoid most annoying pop-ups. It's probably best to bypass EU countries altogether when using your VPN, even if you live in one. Unless for work reasons, for example, it's impossible to do so.


-VPNs might slowdown your computer or at least slow down the time it takes sites to load. It's most likely due to the VPN's need to divert information to the VPN server.

Your VPN may also impede updates for malware and virus detection software on your computer. When updating my malware/virus software, I turn off my VPN as updating becomes extremely slow or there's no update at all.


-If your VPN is substandard, your original IP address -and original location- may still be accessible. If you are using a VPN go to ipleak.net to check if your VPN is actually doing its job.


I recall when my ISP provider kept interrupting my Internet service with a message that "my computer was or could be corrupt with malware or a virus." As I work online, I make sure to keep my computer in tip-top shape and perform scans regularly. After I installed my VPN software no more problems from my ISP. The may have been trying to get more money by requesting that I install a particular software upgrade to solve the issue. I put a stop to it with my VPN!


-Sometimes you are logged out of a site unexpectedly. For example, if your Wi-Fi goes down. Or you can't reach the site due to the VPN's kill switch. Still, the minute disruptions are irrelevant compared to what having a VPN offers. Plus it doesn't happen too often.


-Some browsers work better with VPNs than others. Be sure test to see which browser best suits the VPN of your choice.


Conclusion

I find VPNs invaluable. Especially as more and more tech giants are consistently looking for new ways to spy, censor, and restrict our online experiences. Using a VPN is a BIG step up from wondering whether you can visit certain sites - regardless of your country of residence - or whether your every move is being tracked i.e. monitored. In my opinion...installing a VPN is totally worth it!

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