What is a VPN?
Let's start with the basics
To understand what a VPN is, you first need to know about IP addresses. An IP address is a unique set of numbers that is used to identify your computer online, it's just like a postal address for your computer, smartphone, or any other device with access to the internet. While an IP address is necessary in order to send information over the internet, annoyingly an IP address also reveals your geographical location to any website or application that you are trying to access.
This is where the unique features of a VPN come in: VPN providers have servers located in various worldwide locations and are able re-route your traffic in order to hide your original IP address and exchange it with one from their servers. In simple terms, your IP address gets exchanged with a new IP address coming from the desired location. At the same time, a VPN service will also encrypt of all of your traffic, ensuring your security and anonymity online. ZenMate VPN differs from other VPN providers, as we do not keep any logs or history of your activity online.
What are the unique features of a VPN?
There are two unique features that a VPN provides. First, a VPN hides your online identity, meaning you can’t be tracked by cybercriminals, advertising agencies or the government. All your activity online is anonymous and you are able to browse privatelywithout leaving any tracks behind. Secondly, since all good and reliable VPN providers will let you choose the country you would like to receive your new IP from, you can also use a VPN to access blocked streaming sites or unblock websites that are not available in your current location either due censorship or geo restrictions.
Why everyone should be using a VPN
A VPN service isn’t only for the super technologically advanced individuals, but it is a piece of technology that all internet users should be familiar with. Here are 5 everyday examples of when you should really be using a VPN:
When using public wifi: Public wifi networks are a super easy place for hackers to gain access to your personal information such as passwords and banking details. Using a VPN to encrypt your traffic will stop you from having your money and identity stolen. Be Anonymous - use a VPN.
When living abroad: A VPN allows expats to online shop, research and stream just like in their home country, meaning you can watch the latest episode of your favorite shows or unblock YouTube no matter where in the world you live.
When traveling to a country with strict censorship: Many countries in the world censor parts of the internet, including social media, messaging platforms, and adult sites. With a VPN you can bypass censorship and unblock any site.
When torrenting: Torrenting is a great way to share files online, but the problem with torrenting is that all the people you connect with are able to view your IP address. If you don’t want anyone to track you while torrenting then you better use a VPN.
When you just want to be anonymous: You don’t need to give a reason for not wanting advertisers or your government to be able to spy on what you are doing online. Privacy is your right and using a VPN service will let you protect it!
VPN Protocols: How VPNs protect your data
In order to keep your data secure, VPNs can use a number of different ‘VPN protocols’, which offer different encryption standards and levels of security. VPN protocols can be a bit complicated to explain, so we’ve put together this comparison so that you know what to look out for:
IP security (IPsec): This protocol is usually used alongside L2TP (Layer 2 Tunnel Protocol) in order to encrypt your traffic. Overall it is believed to be a secure method, however, it can slow your traffic in comparison to other VPN protocols.
OpenVPN: OpenVPN is the newest and most secure VPN protocol. It is much faster than other methods and there is also no reason to believe that anyone (including the NSA) has compromised OpenVPN connections. OpenVPN is not integrated into popular operating systems, meaning you will need a third-party app - such as ZenMate - to use it.
PPTP: There are many known security issues with point-to-point tunneling protocol. For a while now, it has been assumed that the NSA is decrypting PPTP connections meaning the security offered by this method is dubious. It is not recommended to use PPTP if you are looking for ultimate security.
SSTP: Secure Socket Tunnelling Protocol is also a very secure form of protocol and uses AES encryption, which is basically the gold standard in encryption methods. Overall SSTP offers high levels of security, the main downside of SSTP is that it is mostly just for Windows users.
Free vs. Paid VPNs
In this paragraph, we will discuss why free VPNs and proxies are unsafe. When choosing a VPN service, there are many providers and proxy websites that offer to unblock websites for free. However, a VPN infrastructure costs money, meaning if a VPN provider or proxy site isn’t charging their users, you must ask yourself where they are getting their money from. Many free VPN providers make money by storing and selling their users’ data or by selling their bandwidth, like the popular free proxy server Hola was caught doing in 2015. Before choosing a specific VPN service, it's important to know its Free vs. Paid VPN benefits.
"...if a VPN provider isn't charging their users, you must ask where they are getting their money from.'
There have been a huge number of scandals surrounding the dodgy activity of free VPN and proxy providers, proving that free VPNs tend to undermine your online privacy and security, rather than protect it. If you still need to use a VPN for free, your best bet is to go with a paid VPN service provider who offers a free version of their product. Overall, however, if you are looking for privacy, security, top speeds and best locations it is best to go with a paid VPN service.
How to download and setup your VPN
If you’ve read everything you need to know and are ready to check out a VPN, then why not try out ZenMate. To download and setup ZenMate’s VPN is super easy:
- Download ZenMate’s browser extension, desktop client or mobile app by clicking on DOWNLOADS
- Follow the instructions within your VPN app or client in order to create your ZenMate account.
- Choose which server location you would like to connect to and then click the big round button -you are now secure with ZenMate VPN.
Why choose ZenMate as your VPN?
ZenMate VPN is based in Berlin, Germany and over 41 million users have put their trust in our product. We have servers in over 30 different locations, including the USA and the UK, which means that you can unblock almost any website in the world by using our VPN. We provide security and privacy to people all over the world, and we keep no logs or history of your activity online. We are committed to helping to build a secure, private and free internet. If you want to be a part of it, download ZenMate VPN today.