What is a VPN?

VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a group of computers networked together over a public network - that is, the Internet. It secures the computer’s internet connection to guarantee that all of the data that is being sent and received is encrypted and secured from eavesdropping. Once you connect to a VPN, you usually launch a VPN client on your computer, log in with your credentials, and your computer exchanges trusted keys with a far away server. A VPN alone is just a way to bolster your security and access resources on a network you’re not physically connected to.

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The best VPN services offer a solid balance of features, server location, connectivity protocols and price. Some are great for occasional use, others tend to get around the location restrictions companies put on their apps and services, while others are targeted at people who do much downloading and want a little privacy while they do it.

Advantages of the VPN

Protocol - When you’re researching a VPN, you’ll see terms like SSL/TLS, PPTP, IPSec etc. All protocols provide a secure connection and most solutions are invisible to the end-user. In addition, each protocol has its benefits and drawbacks. Most individual users shouldn’t worry about the vulnerabilities, while corporate users are already using IPSec or SSL clients.

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Corporate and exit locations - Depending on what you’re using a VPN for, your service’s location and the exit locations you can choose - are important to consider. If you want to get around a location restriction and watch live TV in the UK, for example, you want to make sure your VPN service provider has servers in the UK. If you’re concerned about privacy or a state monitoring, you can pick a service operated outside of your home country, e.g. if the service is based in the US, it’s subjected to US laws, and may be forced to turn over usage data to the authorities if they request so.

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Logging - When you connect to a VPN, you're trusting the VPN service provider with your data. Your communications may be secure from eavesdropping, but other systems on the same VPN, especially the operator - can log your data if they choose. If this presents a problem (for example, you're the privacy/security advocate or the downloader), make absolutely sure you know your provider's logging policies before signing up.

Torrenting safety - There are many sites on the Internet that provide privacy and safety through VPN clients. The prices are affordable and not that high, and you can choose the appropriate package that suits you best (whether on a monthly or annually basis). Almost all providers include guaranteed privacy regarding the torrenting. They can serve as a cover up (hiding your IP address) even if the download in progress is an illegal.