VPN FAQ

What is a VPN?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) creates a private, encrypted tunnel between your computer and a public or private network, such as the internet or a company’s servers. Not only is all of the data between your computer and the VPN server secure and private, it also allows you to appear as if you’re browsing from anywhere in the world.

What that means is that when you browse a website via a VPN server based in say, California, it will appear as if you’re browsing from California – no matter where you are.

No one will be able to connect the unique IP address that identifies your computer to your activities online.

What can I do with a VPN?

Using a VPN has lots of benefits – both for ordinary internet users and businesses.

High-grade encryption means all data travelling to and from your computer and the VPN server is completely secure. That makes it great for companies who want to allow workers to access sensitive files when they’re away from the office, and for individuals who want to browse the web using a public Wi-Fi hotspot.

The anonymity provided by VPNs make them ideal for anyone seeking to sidestep government censorship or spying. It’s near impossible to connect you to your online activities.

VPNs have also become very popular because they allow you to circumvent regional restrictions placed on media content (geo-blocking). Want to access a US-only streaming service from abroad? Just connect to one of your VPN service’s US-based servers and it’ll appear as if you are using the internet from the US.

Will a VPN slow down my Internet?

Sending your internet data via a shared VPN server somewhere far away from you will inevitably see a drop in your download and upload speeds. Some protocols are faster than others, and the closer the server is to you, the better. Despite the speed drop, we found that all of our recommended VPN services supported speeds fast enough to stream high-definition video easily. Many VPN providers offer gamer-friendly servers with higher speeds and less latency. There’s also the SmartDNS option, which allows location spoofing without the encryption offered by a VPN.

What is a VPN protocol?

VPNs use the public internet to create a private network. There are several different technical ways to do this – these are known as VPN protocols. Each has its advantages, and most have a flaw or two as well. Some offer higher speeds but with security compromises, others offer incredible security but slow down your traffic.

Most VPN providers offer servers with a range of different protocols, including OpenVPN, PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol), and L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol). We’ve got more on VPN protocols here.

Can I use the same VPN account for desktop and mobile?

Yes. All of our recommended VPN service providers offer compatibility with a wide range of computer operating systems – Windows, Mac OS X, Linux – and mobile phone and tablets – iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Symbian. You can also set up your VPN on many games consoles, smart TV boxes, and compatible routers.

Our featured brands all allow you to use the same VPN account on 2-10 different devices, sometimes simultaneously. For more details, check our in-depth reviews here.

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