Do I Need to Use a Virtual Private Network at Home?

People are using virtual private networks at home as well as when in cafes, restaurants and other places where Wi-Fi hotspots are found for a plethora of reasons. Virtual Private Networks can help you keep your online activity private and help you win the war against hackers.

The Wi-Fi networks found in public places can be very convenient, but you can also put your data at significant risk if you use them without a VPN.

Privacy concerns

More and more web users are expressing concerns about their privacy due to legislation being launched in various territories, such as the UK’s so-called “Snooper’s Charter”. When you use a VPN, you go through the VPN providers’ servers as opposed to the ones provided by your ISP. Your traffic will be encrypted and your ISP will only know that you have sent a request to the VPN. They won’t know what you have been doing whilst using the VPN client. Companies around the world use VPNs to allow workers to complete their duties out of the office and get access to the files and folders they need to do their jobs.

Choosing servers

Despite what you might think, it is legal to use a VPN in most countries. We don’t advise using a VPN to hide illegal activity, and you can still be caught even if you are using one. However, if you are doing nothing wrong but still don’t want your private information to be accessed, a VPN can be worth its weight in gold. Depending on where the server you are using is located, you may experience slower speeds than you are used to, so it’s always best to choose a server in a country near to you. Most VPN providers will give you the option of choosing from a host of servers in various global locations.

Getting started

It’s relatively easy to get started with VPNs. The first thing you need is to search online for reputable VPN providers, then sign up on the website of the provider that you are interested in. You will normally need to install some software, then choose which server you wish to use.

There are many free VPN services online, but the best and most efficient, trustworthy ones tend to be the paid-for options. The best VPN providers will offer you support and come to the rescue whenever you have a problem. You can expect most cheap or free VPNs to compromise your experience by collecting your data or restricting your downloads substantially.

VPNs and public Wi-Fi

Although many people use VPNs to protect themselves when using public Wi-Fi, there are many good reasons to use a VPN at home. If you don’t want your ISP to snoop on your activities or wish to avoid being bombarded with advertising, using a VPN is a good move. You may also be able to use your VPN to access geo-restricted content. For instance, if a streaming service or YouTube video is only available in North America, you can choose a US server to access the content you require, though it is worth noting that more and more services such as Netflix are making this tougher.

Battling censorship

Many people have been unfairly targeted for using torrent services even when only downloading perfectly legal material. Using a VPN can dramatically reduce the chances of this happening. Many journalists and academics are using VPNs to view content that is censored in their countries.

Governments like China are renowned for employing oppressive censorship onto their citizens, growing numbers of whom are using VPNs to access the content they require.

VPNS can also be used to hide activity on VOIP services like Skype. Even those without advanced hacking skills may be able to eavesdrop on VOIP calls. Although you may have to hand over a small amount of cash for a quality VPN, if you value your privacy this is highly advisable. VPNs can also mask your activity from search engines attempting to track your activities, build up a database around your interests and bombard you with advertising that they think is relevant to you. VPNs can prevent this from happening as you’ll be assigned a different IP address each time you log on.