How to Use a VPN

Coby McKinley Profile image

Written By:

Updated September 12, 2022

If you’re considering a premium VPN, you’ll need to know how to use a VPN connection, even if you need to get a VPN on your iPhone. While VPN services aren’t necessary on most private networks, they provide extra security on public Wi-Fi hotspots. VPNs hide your real IP address and protect your online activity with double encryption. So, if you want a safe internet connection on public Wi-Fi networks, read this guide on using a VPN.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Choose a VPN service that meets your privacy needs and delivers any extra features you want.
  • Install the VPN software on your computer, streaming, and mobile devices, and log into the service.
  • Activate the VPN connection and pick your server location.

How to Operate a VPN

As you’re searching for the ideal VPN service, you’ll soon understand what a VPN is and what a VPN hides. Simply put, a virtual private network can protect your personal data and internet activity, providing an additional layer of security. Fortunately, most VPNs are easy to use, and the instructions below should be relatively universal.

Insider Tip

You can use VPN software to access geo-blocked content on video streaming services like Netflix, BBC, and Channel 4.

STEP 1 Pick a VPN Provider

Numerous VPN providers are offering private internet access, but experts warn that free options usually aren’t the best choice. If you need a VPN for privacy, consider a premium option with enough simultaneous connections to cover computers, streaming devices, and smartphones.

STEP 2 Install VPN Software

Most VPNs offer a desktop client from their website and mobile apps for iPhone and Android devices. Additionally, you can use a router VPN solution for complete network protection. Create your account, but remember your login credentials.

STEP 3 Connect Your VPN Profile

Use your credentials to log into the VPN software. If you’re on Windows, you can set up the VPN in the Network & Internet Settings menu.

STEP 4 Choose a VPN Server

While you can pick any server from your VPN provider, the fastest server is generally the one nearest to your actual location.

STEP 5 Connect to the VPN

Press the connect button on your VPN software to start the encryption process. On software like the NordVPN app, you should see an icon that signifies a secure connection.

Warning

You may experience a slow internet connection speed if you pick a VPN server location that’s far from your home.

STAT: A Pew Research Center poll showed that internet usage among US adults has grown from 52% in 2000 to 93% in 2021. (source)

How to Use a VPN FAQs

When is it safe to turn off my VPN connection?

You should never turn off your VPN software on an unsecured network like a coffee shop or library. You are open to external attacks and tracking if you hit your VPN's disconnect button on a public network. Even if you're on a trusted company network connection, experts recommend the extra privacy of a VPN.

What do VPN providers not protect?

A VPN solution provides an extra layer of online privacy that keeps your connection details and data hidden from your internet service provider and hacker attacks. That said, they do not replace a comprehensive anti-virus program that protects against malware, ransomware, and viruses.

Are VPNs legal?

VPN encryption software is a legal activity in every US state and Washington DC. Additionally, there are no laws against accessing geo-blocked Netflix content. That said, there is a small list of countries, including North Korea and Iraq, where law enforcement prohibits VPN usage.
Coby McKinley Profile image