How to Use a VPN

We’ve included a guide on how to use a VPN, as well as the step-by-step process for five of the best VPNs.

Ilustration of how a VPN works

Whether you are connecting to the internet on a smartphone, computer, or smart TV, VPNs will always be useful to you. It’s no secret that there are lots of security threats out there, and the number of cyber criminals seems to be increasing every day. Also, in the internet environment, many sites restrict some of their content to users in a particular region, and it can seem like a hard nut to crack in unblocking such content.

VPNs will help you out in both these situations, and make browsing, streaming, or any other activity you perform on the internet much easier.

This article is a complete step-by-step guide on how to use a VPN and some of the best ones you should consider getting.

How do you use a VPN?

We’ve highlighted some of the reasons why you need a VPN. But how do you use one? Follow these steps to use a VPN.

  1. Register with a VPN service provider: The first step in using a VPN is to create an account with a VPN provider. Most importantly, you should know the one you intend to use. If you don’t already have a VPN, getting one shouldn’t be a difficult task since there are quite a number of them available today.

    Most free VPN providers request for your email address and ask you to set a password when creating an account for the first time. However, if you opt for a paid VPN, you’ll only need to enter your payment details. No other information is needed from you to register your account with any VPN provider.
  2. Download the VPN or get its browser extension: You have two options: you can either download the app or install the browser extension. On the VPN provider’s page, you’ll easily see the link to getting the VPN’s app, but that of the browser extension may take some searching. Most VPNs work on Windows, Android, iOS, and macOS devices, so there’s no need to be worried about their compatibility with your device.

    Launch the VPN’s app to get started.
  3. Choose a server and connect to it: When the VPN is up and running, the next thing to do is to choose a server that you want to connect to, and a map or country list should be provided. When selecting a server to connect to, remember that its location is the most important thing to consider. For example, if you want to watch Japanese content from Russia, you’ll not have access to it if you choose any other server than a Japanese one.

    Connect to the server, when you’ve chosen one that works for you.

There you have it! Those are the steps to follow to use a VPN.

Best VPNs to use

Knowing how to use a VPN is the easy part. The more tasking aspect is getting a good VPN that meets all your requirements. We’ve made that search easier by compiling a list of five top-class VPNs to use.

1. ExpressVPN

Features

  • Number of servers: More than 3,000
  • Speeds: Unlimited
  • Server locations: 160 in 94 countries
  • Maximum devices supported: 5
  • 24 live chat: Yes
  • 30 day money back guarantee: Yes

Pros/Cons

  • Fastest VPN out there
  • Strict no logs policy
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Few discounts

ExpressVPN is one of the leading VPNs in the industry, and it gets all the praise it deserves. It is a versatile and affordable VPN with a no-logging policy that supports P2P and torrenting.

One of its greatest advantages over many other VPNs is its massive number of servers. With over 3000 of them in 94 countries and 160 locations, getting access to geo-restricted content is a breeze with ExpressVPN. Very few VPNs can match this number.

The next feature that blows our mind about this VPN is that its servers are super-fast. We don’t say this about a lot of VPNs, but ExpressVPN is one of the fastest you’ll ever use. Some of its servers can get up to a speed of 100Mbps, although this value depends on how far the server is from your physical location. Its top-speed is assisted by an excellent VPN protocol in OpenVPN. On ExpressVPN, you also have the option of connecting to other VPN protocols like PPTP and L2TP.

On its privacy and security features, VPN leads the pack, yet again. Not only does its AES-256 encryption provide all you need to stay secure, but the VPN also has cool features to complement its rock-solid security measures. It uses a TrustedServer technology that ensures your data is not written on any drive, as well as VPN split tunneling, Zero-knowledge DNS, and a network kill-switch. Trust us; there’s no breaking through a device connected to any of this VPN’s server.

How to use ExpressVPN

The steps listed above are exactly the ones to follow when using ExpressVPN. It’s important to note that you can get a trial version by paying the fee for a plan and canceling it within 30 days of getting the subscription. This is because ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. It is definitely a risk-free VPN worth trying out.

  • Pros: Fastest VPN out there; Strict no logs policy; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $8.12

2. NordVPN

Features

  • Cryptocurrency accepted? Yes
  • Simultaneous connections: 6
  • Dedicated IP-addresses? Yes
  • Servers: 5342 in 58 countries

Pros/Cons

  • Lots of pricing options
  • Netflix support kept up to date
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Slow app

If you search for VPNs on any search engine, NordVPN will surely pop up as one of the best ones. It is such a complete VPN that you’ll hardly have any reason to ask for a refund, even as it offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

NordVPN has a simple pricing structure, with affordable subscription plans. Just as in other VPNs, paying for a longer period will require you to pay less for each month. By opting for its 3-year plan, you’ll save 70% and have three months for free.

A look at its features explains why the VPN has much spotlight as one of the best. NordVPN uses military-grade encryption, CyberSec, and Double VPN to keep you secure no matter what happens. To ensure total security while using the VPN, it also has an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, and Onion Over VPN. Hackers cannot get through these layers of security put in place by NordVPN.

On its speed and performance, NordVPN is amazing. It easily bypasses ISP throttling and allows you to stream videos, play games, and browse the internet with no hassle. The VPN also allows P2P sharing between users.

NordVPN is compatible with every type of operating system, and it has a browser extension. If you’ve got a little to spare, you can also get a dedicated IP address, so you don’t have to worry about server congestion. However, its 5343 servers in 59 countries are impressive enough.

How to use NordVPN

The VPN’s primary protocol is OpenVPN. Download the app or the browser extension on your device, register, and connect to a server. It is that simple!

  • Pros: Lots of pricing options; Netflix support kept up to date; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $2.99

3. Surfshark

Features

  • Free trial? Yes
  • Simultaneous connections: unlimited
  • Ad blocking? Yes
  • Servers: 1000+ in 61 countries

Pros/Cons

  • No footprints
  • Allows torrenting
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Not the cheapest around

Don’t let the name fool you; Surfshark is not only used for surfing. It’s an excellent VPN and definitely one we’ll recommend. But why has it made this list of the best VPNs, and how do you use the VPN?

If you need an affordable VPN deal, then SurfShark is the VPN you should consider getting. With mind-blowing offers that allow you to save as much as 85% of your money, while still getting several months for free, you’ll enjoy using SurfShark.

On one SurfShark account, you can connect an unlimited number of devices. And it doesn’t just work with a few devices but is compatible with any operating system. That’s a feature you’ll hardly see in any other VPN.

The VPN provider has over 1040 servers in more than 61 counties of the world. This includes servers in all continents except Antarctica. Another aspect where SurfShark leads the way is in the number of Netflix libraries it can unlock, with 15 to its name.

Surfshark prevents phishing attempts and malware on your device through Cleanweb. As expected, it operates a strict no-log policy and uses the industry-leading AES-256 encryption to secure your data while you browse, watch movies, or surf the internet.

How to use SurfShark

First, download the VPN to your device. By clicking on the ‘Locations’ icon on the menu bar, a list of all the cities and countries with servers pops up. The VPN’s servers are sorted by their regions, while the virtual ones have a list of their own. Connect to the server in the country you want to access its content. You can turn on MultiHop, which allows your data to be sent through not one but two servers.

  • Pros: No footprints; Allows torrenting; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $1.99

4. UltraVPN

Features

  • One click connect? Yes
  • Platforms: Mac, Windows, iOS, Android
  • Bandwidth cap? No
  • Servers: 100+ superfast servers

Pros/Cons

  • Firewall
  • Apps for all devices
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Not as many servers as others

The fourth VPN on this list of the best of the best VPNs is UltraVPN. It’s a smart way to browse the internet with no restrictions, and the VPN has cool features that you’ll love.

To start off, UltraVPN provides a rock-solid connection. We know a lot of VPNs say this about their service, but trust us when we say that there’s no way past the measures put in place by UltraVPN. When using the VPN, you’ll not experience speed loss or throttling. The VPN also does not have bandwidth caps and allows you to connect to any website within seconds of selecting a server. Like the other VPNs on this list, UltraVPN uses 256-bit encryption to protect your browsing history and data while you use it. It runs a zero-logging policy and a secure firewall that ensure no data breaches.

UltraVPN allows you to connect all your devices to one account and offers the same services in all of them. The VPN has 57 servers in North America, 20 in Europe, 17 in Asia, 9 in Africa, 20 in South America.

How to use UltraVPN

The steps on how to use this VPN are easy to follow.

  • Firstly, go to UltraVPN’s homepage.
  • Create an account with your username and password.
  • Select a server after downloading the app.
  • Connect to the server.
  • Pros: Firewall; Apps for all devices; 256-bit AES encryption
  • Lowest price: $2.99

5. ProtonVPN

Features

  • P2P support? Yes
  • 30-day money-back guarantee? Yes
  • Country of origin? Switzerland
  • Servers: 600+ in over 40 countries
  • Simultaneous devices: 5

Pros/Cons

  • Professional support
  • Modern interface and apps
  • AES-256 encryption
  • Lesser known provider

Finally, we have ProtonVPN. The VPN is in partnership with the popular email service, ProtonMail. Both companies are known to have top-notch security features, and that is one of ProtonVPN’s selling points.

The VPN service works with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and any other website you can think of. Based in Switzerland, ProtonVPN is not subject to the laws of the fourteen surveillance networks, so it has one of the best privacy laws in the industry. Like all the other VPNs on this list, ProtonVPN does not keep records of users’ activities or disclose them to third parties. The VPN offers unlimited bandwidth and supports P2P.

ProtonVPN allows you to connect up to 10 devices at a time on one account. When using its servers, you’ll get speeds that go as high as 10GBps that ensure fast connections to websites. But best of all is that the VPN is very easy to use and has a user-friendly interface.

ProtonVPN has 576 servers in 44 countries and a 675 Gbps capacity.

How to use ProtonVPN

To use ProtonVPN, follow these steps:

  • Install the VPN from your device store. If you’re a Windows user, you can Download the exe file from ProtonVPN’s official page. Then follow the next step.
  • Head out to your downloads folder and click on the Exe file you just downloaded. If a window asking you to allow the device to make changes to your device pops up, click ‘Yes.’
  • Follow through the other steps until the VPN gets installed.
  • Once ProtonVPN is installed, the app will start.
  • Register your details (username and password) when you are prompted to do so.
  • Lastly, choose a server and connect to it.

ProtonVPN has a 7-day free trial that is automatically activated when you create an account.

  • Pros: Professional support; Modern interface and apps; AES-256 encryption
  • Lowest price: Free

What to look out for in a VPN

We’ve discussed some of the best VPNs in the industry above. Now, let’s have a look at the things you should look out for in a VPN.

  1. Number of Servers: This is perhaps the most important factor when choosing a VPN because a lot of things can go wrong when there are not enough servers. However, having a lot of servers in one region is not an ideal situation. Instead, these servers should be evenly distributed across all continents to make it easy to use the VPN from any location. VPNs with a higher number of servers should be placed higher than others when making a choice among them.
  2. Bandwidth: Has someone ever pulled out the power cable when you’re watching an interesting movie? Remember how frustrating and annoying that was? Well, if you don’t look out for bandwidth caps on VPNs, you’ll experience that feeling lots of times. Bandwidth caps means that only a stated amount of data can be used with the VPN for a period. Usually, this period is for a day, after which you’ll have to wait until the next day to continue using the VPN. Always check that the VPN you intend to get has unlimited bandwidth.
  3. Speed: No one has got the time to wait for a web page to open. And if your VPN makes it considerably slower to connect to the internet than when using only your Internet Service Provider (ISP), then you have got a problem on your hands. The speed of a VPN is affected by the number of devices connected to a server. So, you should opt for servers with less load on them.

    If you are not sure of the speed of the VPN you intend to get, you can carry out some tests on the trial version if the VPN has one.
  4. Security and Privacy: Cyberthreats should be taken seriously, and you have got to get only the best security features you can find in a VPN. Like we mentioned earlier, the industry’s standard encryption is AES-256, so any other VPN that doesn’t have this should not even be an option for you. Also, look at the cool features that the VPN can provide to strengthen the security features it already has in place.
  5. Compatibility: iOS and Android are two of the most popular operating systems in the tech sphere, and many apps have decided to focus on providing their services to one of the two. VPNs should not be caught up in this war of operating systems and are expected to be compatible with all devices. If the VPN you intend to use works not only with all operating systems but also with SmartTVs and routers, then you should definitely rank it higher than others.
  6. Price: You can have all the features you want in a VPN, but if the price for all its plans is too high, we are positive that you won’t go for it. Luckily, VPNs do not cost so much that you’ll have to break the bank to get them. Some are free while others are paid.

    Another price-related factor to consider is if there’s a money-back guarantee or a free trial. All the VPNs we’ve included in this list have at least one of the two.
  7. Customer support: If you are new to VPNs, you’ll likely need someone to guide you whenever you make a wrong turn. So, having a dedicated, empathetic, and responsive customer support system is totally worth it. Most VPNs have this factor in place, so you don’t have much to worry about.
  8. Ease of use and interface: Two words that should never be in the same sentence are ‘Complexity’ and ‘VPNs.’ The easier a VPN is to use, the better for you. Some VPN providers like ExpressVPN and NordVPN even go as far as including tutorials on how to install their respective VPNs.

Free vs. Paid VPN: Which is better?

VPNs can be categorized into two; free and paid VPNs. After discussing the criteria that you should look out for in a VPN, you may just be wondering whether you can’t find all of them in a free VPN. We’ve put both categories of VPNs to the test and here’s what we gathered:

  1. Many free VPNs don’t have enough servers: We now know that having enough servers is something we can’t compromise. Sadly, free VPNs do not have many servers, so it’s difficult for us to go for them instead of their paid counterparts. At best, any free VPN will have servers in about 20 countries. Comparing that with the number of paid VPNs shows that its definitely not a competition.
  2. Many free VPNs keep records of browsing history and data: They have got to make a profit in some way, and this is one of their tactics. It’s dangerous to use these VPNs because not only is there no guarantee that your logs aren’t saved, but these VPN providers could well be selling them to third parties. Coupled with their poor security measures, it’s difficult to see how free VPNs can keep you secure.
  3. Many free VPNs disturb with ads: A sign to show that your logs are being saved and used is when you get bombarded with adverts that relate to your search history. You’ll get loads of them when you use a free VPN because this is another way such providers use to make a profit. Most of these ads are not checked for malware and viruses.

When you consider the fact that paid VPNs do not cost a fortune, and can go as low as $3 for a month, it’s obvious that they should be your preferred choice. We recommend that you use paid VPNs like the ones we’ve included in the list above. They are easy to use.

Is it legal to use a VPN?

In most countries, it’s no crime to use a VPN as long as you don’t use it for malicious purposes like cyberbullying, cyberstalking, hacking, and so on. However, some countries ban it altogether. It’s a wise decision to find out the legality of VPNs in your country of residence before opting for one.

In Conclusion

We now know how important VPNs are. They protect us in this threat-filled internet sphere and allow us access contents that are not available in our region.

We’ve included a general guide on how to use a VPN, as well as the step-by-step process for five of the best VPNs. Also included in this piece are the factors that you should consider when getting a VPN. All these should help make a VPN easier to select, use, and install.