Now, usually I don’t like to make assumptions about people, but I have a pretty strong suspicion that if you’re reading this right now, you’re on the Internet. We use it every day to work, learn, laugh, and more, and thanks to developments in wi-fi and satellite technology, we can use it just about anywhere in the world. The internet is a great tool, but like most great things, it can also pose a risk. Protecting your identity and privacy online has become more and more of a concern, whether it’s simply keeping your search history to yourself or fending off identity thieves and hackers. The most effective way to keep yourself safe on the internet is a virtual private network (VPN), so let’s break down what they can and can’t do, and why you need one.
WHAT VPNs DO
Explaining the internet is hard because everything about it is so intangible, so let me paint a picture for you. Imagine you’re standing at one end of a big field with a bunch of other people. Each of you has a very important letter you need to get to the other end. Not that you’d ever care about what’s in everyone else's letters (because you’re a nice person who minds their own business), the fact is that you’re out in the open with everyone else, and if someone was so inclined they could take a look at the contents of your letter, or, my goodness, steal it all together! In this case, the field is the internet, your letter is your internet search, and the creeps trying to sneak a peek at the letter could be anyone from advertisers to an identity thief to Edward Snowden.
A VPN acts like a tunnel that goes directly under the field that only you can use. It’s not going to get you there any faster or slower, it’s not taking a different route, and will take you to the exact same place, but it WILL make sure that you do it privately, away from the eyes of potentially dangerous people.
VPN's also have the benefit of having their servers connected to their country of origin. This means that any website that you visit will recognize you as being from the same place as the VPN; if your VPN server is located in the UK, your internet search for "football" will return a lot of results for what Americans would call soccer, even if you're actually searching from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconson during the Super Bowl. This can give you exclusive access to region restricted websites, such as international versions of video streaming services. It can also allow you to bypass some content that may be censored by local governments, preserving your internet freedom. If you want to check Facebook while vacationing in a country ruled by a tyrannical dictator, a VPN is a smart idea!
WHICH VPN YOU SHOULD GET
There are a number of different VPN services out there. We can't make the choice for you, but we can say that you should get one, and make some suggestions to make the choice easier. Here are two of the best VPN's out there, from our perspective.
TunnelBear is a free VPN. While you might jump at the word free, keep in mind that choosing not to pay for a service can have drawbacks. TunnelBear has a bandwidth cap of 500MB/month on its free plan, so if you want to use a VPN for streaming video, you're better off elsewhere. Other free VPNs sometimes use ads to finance themselves, which is something to keep in mind if you find pop-ups distracting. TunnelBear also only has 20 serves across the globe, which can sometimes mean slower results and less options as to what country your server claims to be from. With all that being said, TunnelBear does have a yearly subscription option that solves the low bandwidth issue, and has one of the easiest and most user friendly interfaces in the whole VPN market. if you're a relatively causal internet use that just wants to keep prying eyes away, TunnelBear is a great choice.
NordVPN is a great next step for a more advanced internet user. Starting at as low as $3.29 a month, it's a great balance of quality service and an easy to use interface. NordVPN boasts double data encryption, keeping you even more secure, and over 1000 server locations in 61 countries. They also have a dedicated support team and a ton of tutorials for a number of operating systems if you aren't the most tech savvy. This VPN will without a doubt keep you safe at an affordable price, and you can make sure it's the right fit for you with a three day free trial.
So, what do you think about VPN's? Have you used them before, and do you have any better recommendations about which ones to use? Let us know in the comments below, and remember to call Microcom for all your other satellite internet needs!
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