The Importance of Using a VPN When on Public Wi-Fi – And How to Set One Up

If you haven’t set up a virtual private network (VPN) on your device yet, it’s time you get started. This tool could provide a valuable layer of security, especially as you connect to public Wi-Fi. Read on to learn why VPNs are so important – and how they can easily be configured.

What Is a VPN?

A VPN harnesses the power of public internet connections, but allows for the use of a private network, thereby improving personal security. When enabled, your VPN essentially acts as an encrypted funnel between your device and the remote server. Since all traffic is securely routed through this funnel, none is available to the general public – including suspicious parties who might seek access to your sensitive data. All data exits the remote server, making it appear as if your devices share that server’s geographic location.

Why You Need a VPN For Public Wi-Fi

As mentioned previously, VPNs play a critical role in boosting network security. Virtual private networks are particularly valuable in public settings, where practically anyone can easily access your information through free Wi-Fi. That connection at your local coffee shop may be convenient, but it’s not particularly secure. With a VPN, however, you can easily protect your personal data.

VPNs can also provide considerable value at home. Although you technically own your network, your internet service provider likely enjoys significant insight into your online activities. With a VPN, however, it’s much harder for providers and other organizations to determine your internet whereabouts. Plus, most VPNs can be downloaded on several devices, so your home computer can be kept just as secure as your VPN-enabled smartphone or laptop.

Beyond security concerns, some people use VPNs for streaming content developed in other countries. While security should be of greater importance, content streaming perks certainly play into the decisions of many VPN users.

How to Set Up a VPN

Whether you’re on your smartphone or using a laptop, you’ll want to make the most of VPNs when using a public internet connection. Setup isn’t nearly as difficult as you might think, but it helps to understand the process before you arrive at your source of free Wi-Fi.

Choosing the Right VPN

Often, the most complicated aspect of setting up a VPN involves choosing one in the first place. Keep in mind that, while free VPNs are available, you get what you pay for. Supposedly free services have been known to harvest the data that they’re meant to protect.

As you examine VPN options, look carefully at the terms of service. You should come away understanding whether or not your prospective VPN will monitor traffic. You’ll also want to note where the company is based. This might not actually indicate its physical location, but rather, the jurisdiction under which the business operates.

Download the VPN App

Once you’ve selected your preferred VPN, you can begin the setup process by downloading its respective application. When in doubt, download the app on as many devices as possible –desktop computers, laptops, and phones all require protection. You’ll also be prompted to create a username and password, although some VPNs automatically assign login information. If you’re asked to use your own password, aim for a random string of letters and numbers that is hard to guess.

Not everybody is willing to download VPN apps on their devices. Some users cite security concerns present within the ecosystems of these applications. Thankfully, an alternate option is available – allowing the network settings on your device to connect directly to VPN services. Check specific documents for your preferred VPN to gain additional insight into configuring a direct connection for your device.

Select a VPN Server

While many VPNs automatically connect users to nearby servers, this approach isn’t always preferred. Alternatively, some VPNs provide the opportunity to choose a server directly. This approach is especially common among those seeking servers based in different countries. Hence, various server locations are often displayed on a map.

Ultimately, how you select your server will depend on what you want to accomplish. If you’re all about speed, you’ll benefit most from the server situated closest to your current location. If you’re mostly concerned about government censorship or other restrictions, you’ll probably opt for a server based in a different country.

Examine Other VPN Options

Advanced settings on your virtual private network can allow you to achieve the exact level of service you desire. These can vary considerably from one VPN provider to the next. For example, many come with kill-switch features, which prevent devices from transmitting or receiving data when the VPN is not in use. Additionally, certain VPNs provide the opportunity to select a specific protocol.

Your VPN is your ticket to improved security in a variety of settings and situations. The sooner you take advantage of this powerful tool, the better.

Seek Help from a Charlotte IT Service Company

Struggling to set up your VPN? With a cybersecurity computer service team in Charlotte on your side, you can take the steps necessary to keep your device – and your data – safe.

No matter what tech problem you’re currently dealing with, the team at NerdsToGo is happy to help. For more information about how to increase your cybersecurity with a VPN for your phone, PC, or Mac, contact us today.