An virtual private network, or VPN (Virtual Private Network), is a service that allows you to connect to the network, such as the Internet, in a more secure way. The reason for that extra security that it provides in your connections is because it will hide the origin of the traffic, it will provide you with a different IP than the one you usually have if a VPN. This new IP may even correspond to another country different from the one of your origin, which also gives a lot of play for other applications that I will comment on later.
Also, the connections are not as vulnerable to encrypt network traffic, so it will hinder some attacks such as the famous MITM (Man In The Middle), which can intercept traffic to get relevant information. However, like almost everything, not everything is an advantage, it also has a disadvantage: it reduces the connection speed. Although, if you have high speed and bandwidth, it shouldn't be a problem. Even more so when you consider that some current VPN services hardly slow down the transfer.
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Everything you need to know about a VPN
To be able to ssee whether or not you need a VPN at home or work, First you must know well what it is and what it can do for you, as well as the most important characteristics that you must observe to choose the best service for your needs.
What is a VPN?
¿What is VPN? The VPN (Virtual Private Network)As its name suggests, it is a virtual private network, safely extending the LAN (Local Network Area) over a public network or the Internet. The VPN will allow the connected device to send and receive data over this shared or public network as if it were a private network. In other words, it will allow all your connected devices, whether they are PCs, mobile devices, game consoles, SmartTV, and other IoT devices, to connect to a more secure network with a large number of uses that I will show you later.
So that all your devices are connected through this VPN tunnel you need to install the service on each of the connected devices you have. The problem is when you have some in which there is no VPN service available for that platform or operating system, or simply the device's own limitations do not allow it to be installed or configured properly.
In this case there is an option that can save you, and that is the use of a special router. And they exist some routers that include VPN service. Therefore, all the devices connected to your WiFi will already be using said VPN, without having to install or configure each one of them. Therefore, it can be very comfortable.
If you are interested in any of these routers with VPN, here are some good examples:
- ASUS RT-AX58U
- ASUS RT-AC68U
- ASUS RT-AC5300
- D-Link DIR-885L / R
- Netgear Nighthawk X4S D7800
- Linksys WRT 3200 ACM
- Linksys WRT32X Gaming
Be careful when choosing a router with VPN! In some cheaper models, in the description it says that it has VPN included, but it refers only to the client and not to the necessary server service. Therefore, in that case you will also have to look for a third-party service ...
Third-party VPN or your own?
You can create a VPN server yourself, to mount you your own service if you want. A software for this purpose is the famous OpenVPN that you can find for GNU / Linux. Although many prefer to use third-party services for the convenience and for some extra qualities that you could not get with your own VPN ...
In any case, if you have chosen to create yourself your own server VPN, you can configure the GNU / Linux connection in a simple way to connect to the server you have created. To do this, you must install the network-manager-vpnc package. With it everything will be easier, although there are other ways. Once installed, from the network configuration of your distro, you can go to the option VPN Connection / VPN Configuration or similar and then add the VPN server created ...
Advantages and disadvantages
The pros and cons of having a VPN are quite clear, and you should be the one who evaluates whether a VPN service suits you or not. Although honestly, in these times and with all the threats out there, there are not many things that are not worth having a VPN.
Our Advantages and disadvantages of having a VPN are:
- It encrypts all Internet traffic, so its effect will be applied to all applications that have a connection. That differentiates them from a proxy server, where you can only use your web browser or certain apps that can be configured through connections to a proxy.
- You can connect and disconnect easily. If for something you need the maximum network speed and you want to stop using the VPN, it is very easy to do so. In the configuration options you can activate or deactivate it whenever you want. Therefore, it is not permanent.
- Extra security thanks to encryption, even from less reliable WiFi access points.
- It allows to hide the origin / falsify your location with an IP from another country. Therefore, also avoid geographic restrictions or censorship.
- Your Internet provider (Telefónica, Vodafone, Orange, Eurona, Jazztel, ...) will not be able to know what you do with your connection. In other cases it will have data of what you do, even if you have pirated movies, software, music, etc. This data will be kept for a few years according to the law and could act against you.
- Price (although there are free ones). And if you choose a router with VPN, you save this.
- Connection speed (somewhat reduced by having to encrypt and decrypt network traffic)
The first thing you have to being clear is whether a VPN makes sense in your case or not. That way you can decide to purchase one of these paid or free services. And for this, what you should know is the applications that the VPN would have:
Read the fine print of the VPN service you have chosen, as bandwidth may be reserved, logs of your data are kept on their server, etc. If you don't trust the VPN service, you better not use it.
- Protect browsing data: a VPN is a extra layer of security that encrypts traffic on the network. For that reason alone, although none of the following applications is your case, it would be an almost essential option for most users who want a little more security, privacy and anonymity. Although remember that a VPN does not make you invulnerable ... But for example, it could be a good idea when you usually use public WiFi connections to connect to banking services, etc., since you cannot trust those open WiFi without protection.
- Bypass internet censorship: on the network there are many services and websites that do not allow you to access their content if they detect that your IP comes from a specific country. For example, some television services with streaming video options. If you want to avoid these restrictions or censorship, a VPN can give you an IP from another country in which this service is allowed to bypass that restrictive measure. Another possibility is that in your country an online service has been blocked by the laws of the State, in which case, with the VPN you can also access that service without problem.
- P2P Downloads: If you download a lot through Torrent or P2P networks, having a VPN is probably a good option. Not only if you do it pirated, but also when you download legally. And it is that this way you will avoid that they snoop too much in what you do. Also, if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has blocked services like P2P downloads and they are not allowed, with a VPN you can.
- Telecommuting- With the VPN you can connect networks that are not physically connected. In this way, they will be able to access a private network and operate with greater security. Therefore, if you travel a lot and need to be constantly connected to your company's intranet, the VPN can be a great option that will provide an extra layer of security.
Now, with these data, you must evaluate whether the VPN could help you. If you have decided to use one, in the following sections you have everything you need to know ...
What do you need to know to choose one?
Well, if you have reached this point it is because you are totally convinced that you want a VPN. In such a case, you should take into account the following points to choose a good service:
- Free choice of IP: it is very important only in case you want to use the VPN to bypass any restriction or censorship. Imagine that you want to access a service that only allows you to connect from the United Kingdom. In that case, you will need the VPN service to supply you with an IP from this country and fool the server. You must take this into account since some VPN services assign a specific IP and do not allow you to choose from where. Others do allow you to choose the country from where you want to obtain an IP.
- Encryption algorithm- Not all VPNs use the same encryption algorithm. The security of the encryption will depend on it. However, most services are quite secure and do not usually include algorithms with vulnerabilities or weaker ones. Most use strong AES ciphers.
- Speed: you already know that the disadvantages are the slowdown. The more agilely you manage data encryption and decryption, the less impact it will have on your connection speed.
- Requests or claims DMCA: is the acronym for Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In Spanish it would be the Digital Age Copyright Act. This United States law seeks to sanction infringements of the rights of both reproduction, production and distribution of technologies to circumvent copyright.
- GUI and usability: Most of the VPN services have a very easy-to-use graphical interface to carry out all the configuration and start-up processes. Some that I have tried usually have a map for you to touch the country from which you want to obtain the IP and a button to activate or deactivate it. As simple as that. You will rarely find a complicated interface, although you should not rule it out.
- Support and platforms: many services have apps to facilitate the implementation of their VPN service for Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, iOS operating systems, etc. So they can work on mobile devices, PCs, etc.
- Technical support- Technical support for available VPN services also has big differences. Some have better support to help you with everything you need or if problems arise. In many cases they have 24/7 support, but in most cases it will be only in English.
- Method of payment- There are several types of payments available for the VPN. The most frequent are the credit card and PayPal. If you have apps in the App Store or Google Play, you can pay through it. On the other hand, if you are paranoid about anonymity and do not want to leave a trace of your purchase, you can use cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in some cases.
With these items we will have everything you need to choose the best VPN.
The best VPN services
Now that you should have everything clear, the next step is analyze and compare the best VPN services.
It is one of my favorites, and one of the ones I have used the most. This VPN service can be used on multiple devices as it is multi platform (Linux, macOS, Windows, Android and iOS).
It does not keep a record of its clients, it will only store the email you used for registration and payment (it offers several secure payment methods). Therefore, the level of privacy is quite high. Also, for your peace of mind, it is also not affected by DMCA requests. Although I do not intend to encourage piracy, but it is likely that you are looking for a VPN for that ... NordVPN, by operating based in Panama will only attend to court orders from that country.
As for the encryption algorithm, it is very secure. Offers military grade protection with AES256. And if you are concerned about speed, it won't look too daunting. It has a good browsing speed due to its optimized load and the limit of abuses and 6 maximum connections simultaneously.
Like the previous one, it is great service overall, very competitively priced. Unlike the previous one, it has no limit for simultaneous connections, so you can have a free hand in that regard.
In this case, the service is hosted in the British Virgin Islands, so there is no obligation to keep records to improve your privacy and anonymity. That is, they will not give your data or your ISP, so they will not know that you are using this service or what you are doing with it. In addition, it has a good encryption algorithm, with AES-256-GCM.
La speed is extremely fast, you will practically not notice that you have an active VPN, so it is a great advantage. In addition, it allows the use of Torrent and access to streaming video services such as Netflix from the United States, etc., which with other services would be covered.
Another of his strengths is that it has extensions to easily use with Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, and with apps for iOS, macOS, Linux, Windows, Android and even with Amazon FireOS.
Quite similar to the previous two, with speed for the 6 simultaneous connections that it allows, and the possibility of using it with Torrent and P2P without restrictions.
Its security algorithm has an encryption of military grade to have you protected in a very robust way, using 2048-bit. In addition, it does not store data from your records, for which it highly respects your anonymity and privacy.
In addition, this service allows to pass geo-restrictions easily. The reason is that it allows you choose between IPs from up to 60 different countries.
It is available for multiple platforms, such as Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, iOS and also for routers, for those that I mentioned before that included a client but not the VPN server ...
As against I would like to highlight that it is not translated into spanish, although that is common for many others as well ... You only have it in English.
It is a VPN service aimed at offering good security. For a little money you have a service that does not keep logs about you (only the timestamp of your last session attempt), but has based in Switzerland. It operates, therefore, under the rules of jurisdiction of this country, therefore, it is not located in a legal paradise like some of the previous cases and that would be more favorable for you. However, if you are not going to do anything illegal, it is a good service.
If a DMCA claim The demand will not be made to the user, only if it comes from the United States, it will be sued. It also does not block P2P services, but is subject to the laws of the countries where the servers are located.
Regarding payment methods, it supports credit card and PayPal, as well as anonymous payments with Bitcoins. On the other hand, the encryption security is very good, with AES-256 algorithm.
Compatibility is good, with apps for Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android. And finally, the speed is quite fast ...
It is another of the great VPN services that you can find. In this case, use an encryption with AES-256 algorithm, so it is quite safe. So are payments, with methods like PayPal and Bitcoin.
If you are concerned about your privacy and anonymity, this service neither does it record your data or activity. It operates in the British Virgin Islands, and they are subject to the legislation of this legal paradise. They can receive DMCA notifications, but having no customer data, they will not be able to satisfy them. Only if they have court orders from the islands themselves should they attend to them ...
The only thing they do reserve is the right to block abusive traffic from a client that may be affecting the rest of the users of the VPN service.
Its speed is high, it has servers in 90 countries different, and has compatibility for Linux, Windows, Android, iOS, macOS, routers, and extensions for Firefox and Chrome.
It's a great VPN service that it does not register your IP nor what you do with this service. It is very fast and has servers in 190 countries. With it you can unlock more than 6 million pages with geo-restrictions. It will allow you to change the IP to the country you need very easily.
Regarding compatibility, it has support for Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, and Windows. And if you like VPN to access streaming video services, with HideMyAss you will have a great service to use with, for example, Netflix.
It is also optimized for P2P, and has an encryption algorithm for military grade AES-256. Its speed, on the other hand, is not affected by this robust encryption and it is very fast. Their technical support is also good and constant, in case of problems.
Regarding privacy and laws, in this case it is something worse, since it is based in the United Kingdom, and therefore, subject to its laws.