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Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about VPNs

02/07/2020 · Blog · Insurance2go

A VPN – or Virtual Private Network – is something most of us have heard of, you might even use one for work or have been recommended a few to use for personal use; but what are they? With more of us currently working at home, and with security protocols seemingly always on our radars, we’ve done some digging to see what VPNs can do for you and if they’re worth the investment.

What is a VPN?

Good question.

This had us scratching our heads for a bit too, but after some research and talking to the right people, we’ve come up with a simple answer:

A VPN gives you online privacy by creating a secure connection to another network over the internet. This basically means you are connecting to the internet from a different location. By using a VPN, you’re stopping normal public Wi-Fi users seeing what you’re doing on the internet by encrypting your traffic. In fact, even your internet service provider won’t be able to tell who you are, where you are, or what you do online.

How do VPNs work?

Normally, all of your internet data would go through your internet service provider, but once connected to a VPN, your data will be encrypted before and after reaching your ISP.

You can connect loads of different devices to VPNs, from Apple and Android gadgets, to Amazon Fire and Windows/Linux equipment.

There are also VPNs that you can add through your browser; Chrome for example offers many different VPNs extensions on their Web Store that will automatically start working when you start using the internet through Chrome on that device.

Some companies provide apps that you can use on your phone or tablet to connect to their VPNs.  NordVPN for example, lets you choose when your VPN is active:

What were VPNs created for?

Originally, virtual private networks were created by large organisations to keep their data in one, secure place that their employees could reach anywhere in the world.

VPNs are still used this way today by businesses, but now companies like NordVPN and ExpressVPN are making VPNs more accessible to the majority of internet users who just want to keep their data private.

To provide for the mainstream, some companies have even produced dedicated streaming servers to ensure users can watch tv shows and films over a VPN without any buffering problems.

How could VPNs help me?

Despite being originally created for huge companies, modern virtual private networks have loads of perks for regular users.

An IP address is a 32-bit number that can be used to identify one or more devices connected to the internet, kind of like a normal address.

A VPN can stop internet service providers and anyone else find your IP address.

When browsing the internet, sites use cookies to store small bits of information about you and what you have looked at on their website. This is why you sometimes get ads for specific items on your Facebook or Instagram page even when you’ve closed the page where you found the item.

If you’re more vulnerable to a bit of online retail therapy, it might be a good idea to stop companies showing you the perfect ads…

VPNs don’t just protect you, the also allow you to access the internet from anywhere in the world. This may not sound exciting, but streaming services like Netflix and YouTube often display different content according to which country you’re in because of complicated broadcasting rights.

For example, the American version of Netflix has more than approximately 1,000 TV shows and 4,500+ films to binge on, while in the UK it has under 500 TV shows and less than 2,000 films.

Some VPNs include an automatic adblocker when you use their service, meaning you’ll get less ads when you surf the web. Perfect for those people that like to read their news articles without being bothered by ‘the next big thing for face lifts at home’.

Are VPNs worth it?

It all depends on how much you value your privacy.

If you’re the type of person that hates the idea of companies being able to see almost everything you do online, then you may want to get access to a VPN. On the other hand, if you prefer the personalised internet experience, you may not like the idea of one.

After doing some research, most personal VPNs we looked at pretty inexpensive. Some cost just a couple of quid a month.

Hopefully, this article helps you navigate the world of VPNs a little better, we are certainly much clearer on the subject…

 

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