Location independence has a ton of perks – allowing you to work and live wherever you have an internet connection.
However, being lazy with your WiFi security is NOT one of them.
Whether you are connected to the WiFi network in your local coffee shop, or your AirBnB halfway around the world, you need to assume EVERYTHING is visible to EVERYONE on that network. Every page you load; every site you login to; every app you open; every email or message you send. All visible.
Not only that, but even our “secure” homes are now more visible, thanks to our US Congress. They recently repealed an internet privacy regulation, which now allows your broadband internet provider (i.e AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc) to capture and sell your internet activity. Again, every site you have visited, or service you have used.
Wouldn’t it be great to have the superpower of invisibility?
Protect your privacy and identity from any location.
One of the most affordable and easiest solutions to make you “disappear” is a virtual private network, or VPN service, run by a VPN provider. Before you connect to the internet through your internet provider, you first automatically connect to a server run by a VPN provider. Essentially, it does two things to your data.
- It scrambles, or encrypts, your data between your device and the VPN private server, so it’s unreadable to prying eyes.
- It sends this encrypted data through a private digital “tunnel” between your laptop, phone or tablet and the VPN’s private server, before connecting you with the service, (website, email, text, etc.) you requested.
Here’s a more visual representation. The people are your data. The sharks are the prying eyes.
Protecting your privacy is essential, but it’s not the only benefit you get with a VPN.
Bypass restricted content from any location when traveling.
Another big benefit, (with larger VPN companies), is the number of servers you can connect to throughout the world. It doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, until you are traveling outside of the USA and you try to stream one of your favorite TV shows.
When we tried to watch the Late Show with Stephen Colbert from France, a dreaded, “This content is not available in your location”, error message popped up.
Within seconds we disconnected from the France VPN server, then reconnected with the NYC VPN Server and Colbert’s monologue was soon streaming to us error free.
This is true for a number of streaming services, but not all. A couple big players, namely Netflix, has aggressively targeted VPN services, attempting to block out paid users who are not geographically located, correctly. (VPN services are constantly trying and succeeding for a time to circumvent this blockade, but it’s essentially a cat and mouse game).
Choosing the right VPN company
You may now be convinced of the real need for VPN security and privacy. However, not all VPN companies are created equal. When looking for a service you will want to take into account a number of variables. Here are four of the main ones:
- VPN Server Distance – How far the servers are from your location. If you are traveling around the world make sure your VPN company has servers located on the continent and preferably in the country you will be staying. This is a major factor affecting speed of your internet.
- VPN Server Load – How many users are connected to one server. A lot of Free VPN services allow too many users to connect to each server. As you might guess, (if you have experienced any traffic jam), this will slow down your internet speed as well.
- Simultaneous Device Connections – How many devices will they allow to connect per account at the same time. If both you and your partner have a laptop and smartphone, and maybe a tablet, you can see how devices quickly add up.
- No Traffic Logs – You become anonymous online and your activity is not recorded. Which means your information is private and cannot be sold.
We chose PrivateInternetAccess.com
After a lot of research we ended up choosing PrivateInternetAccess.com – one of the highest rated VPN services. They offer:
- Secure, encrypted WiFi
- Multiple VPN Gateways – 3272+ Servers in 25 Countries (and growing)
- 5 devices simultaneously
No traffic logs
- Easy to setup and use
Here’s their promo video…
Over the past year we have had a fast, reliable experience with PIA on both East and West Coast of the States, as well as several countries in Europe.
If you are looking for a secure VPN service give PrivateInternetAccess.com a 7-day trial period (with money back guarantee), or sign-up for a month service, which is only $6.95.
PrivateInternetAccess.com offers a support page with a number of video tutorials and resources. Setup took us just a few minutes on both laptops and phone. Connecting to the server is quick and unobtrusive.
If you are looking for a deeper, or comparison, review with other VPN services, see PC Magazine’s The Best VPN Services of 2017.