How To Protect Your Internet Browsing With A VPN

There are many privacy issues associated with surfing the web. Staying off the internet isn’t an option for most of us, but using a VPN can be the next best thing.

How To Protect Your Internet Browsing With A VPN

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?

VPN stands for “virtual private network.” VPNs have long been used on the enterprise level because they help big companies keep customer data and proprietary information secure. They are increasingly popular for home use because they’re attractive to privacy-minded individuals.

VPNs are a separate service from your internet provider that you can sign into whenever you’re online to shield your activity from hackers, advertisements, fraudsters and any other unwelcome third parties. They work by concealing your real IP address and assigning you a temporary one. In the digital world, an IP address is a unique number that gets linked to all of your internet activity. Changing this identifier helps you stay more anonymous on the web.

Benefits of Using a VPN

Benefits of Using a VPN

  • Protection

    Using a VPN protects you from common risks associated with public Wi-Fi networks, such as hackers and scammers using public network vulnerabilities to steal your information or spread malware.

  • Less targeted ads

    Most browsers show you advertisements based on your browsing history. Signing into a VPN sidesteps many of those ad-targeting protocols. You’ll still see ads, but they’ll be less eerily specific. Some VPN services include an ad blocker as well.

  • Bypass location restrictions

    Some web content is blocked in certain geographic areas. This can be a hassle if you’re traveling, trying to watch a sports team that isn’t covered in your area, or if you’re doing research. By using a VPN, you can make it seem like you’re located somewhere else.

  • Save money

    You can save on items that are priced according to your location or browsing history. The big offender here is plane tickets. Ticketing websites remember which travel routes you research, and they employ tricks to charge maximum prices. Viewers in cities with higher costs of living tend to pay more, and you might see prices automatically inch up with every repeat search. When you use a VPN, they don’t know your location or if you’re a repeat visitor, so you’re more likely to get a low price.

The Best VPN Services

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is built to give you unlimited access to videos and music at unlimited speeds. This VPN hides your IP address and encrypts all of your data to give you better protection. You’ll be able to access ExpressVPN using mobile apps on your mobile devices for added security when you browse from anywhere. ExpressVPN also comes with a kill switch and Network Lock to stop traffic if your VPN connection is disrupted and protect your information from cybercriminals. 

Standout Features 

  • Includes kill switch and Network Lock 
  • 30-day money-back guarantee 
  • Zero-knowledge DNS to avoid logging activity and connections 
NordVPN

NordVPN

NordVPN promises secure Internet browsing and never logs your information. You’ll be able ro surf and stream privately with a kill switch to keep your data secure. You’ll have your personal IP that can be masked and changed to cover your web activity. NordVPN also blocks malware and ads. You’ll have easy access to NordVPN with browser extensions for your favorite browser and a mobile app for your smartphone. They also have 24/7 customer support to assist you with any security or VPN needs.

Standout Features 

  • Includes a kill switch 
  • Blocks malware and ads 
  • 24/7 customer service
Surfshark

Surfshark

Surfshark keeps your information and location private at all times. This VPN is designed to block ads, trackers, malware and phishing attacks for your digital safety. You’ll be able to connect unlimited devices and uses Surfshark’s ‘No-Logs Policy’ for your protection. Surfshark also includes Camouflage Mode to hide your VPN use from Internet providers and includes a Whitelister to allows the apps and websites – such as banking or credit apps – you choose to bypass the VPN.

Standout Features 

  • Camouflage Mode to hide your VPN 
  • Whitelister feature to bypass VPN for certain apps and websites 
  • Blocks ads, trackers and malware 
CyberGhost

CyberGhost

CyberGhost works on up to seven of your favorite devices including FireTV, Microsoft, Android and Apple. The VPN includes an automated kill switch, ‘No Logs Policy’ and a 14-day money-back guarantee for your satisfaction. CyberGhost also offers ‘NoSpy servers’ for secure downloads free from third-parties and to block online tracking. You’ll also have the ability to hide your IP and protection when you’re using a public Wi-Fi network with CyberGhost. This VPN also gives you the power to access restricted content and unblock streaming services to watch movies and shows. 

 

Standout Features 

  • Offers NoSpy servers
  • Includes an automated kill switch 
  • Access restricted content that’s not available in your region
Private Internet Access

Private Internet Access

The Private Internet Access VPN gives you online protection to secure your data and identity using a private IP and encryption. You’ll be able to safely browse on public Wi-Fi networks and see restricted content. Private Internet Access also gives customers unlimited bandwidth and no traffic logs for your Internet security. This VPN also comes with a firewall to avoid any bad connections on your personal device. You’ll only access the content you choose to access. It also blocks ads, malware and trackers. 

 

Standout Features 

  • Advanced firewall 
  • Blocks ads, malware and trackers 
  • Access restricted content that’s not available in your region
TunnelBear

TunnelBear

TunnelBear promises to let you surf and stream quickly without buffering. They perform security audits and publish results to keep you up to date on the latest findings from their apps. You can connect up to five devices for this VPN and get priority customer service with your plan. TunnelBear comes with Vigilant Mode to block unsecured traffic until it’s safe to reconnect if your connection gets disrupted. They also don’t log any of your activities for your protection. 

 

Standout Features 

  • Vigilant Mode to protect your data if your connection is interrupted
  • Published latest security audits to keep you informed 
  • Priority customer service with plan 
Hotspot Shield

Hotspot Shield

Each Hotspot Shield plan comes with unlimited HD streaming, unlimited data and military-grade encryption. You’ll also get unlimited data and a kill switch. Hotspot Shield helps you browse safely on public Wi-Fi and keeps you safe from malware or phishing attacks. This VPN makes it easy to unblock firewalls for streaming services and social media. Hotspot Shield also protects your identity by displaying your proxy’s IP address instead of your computer’s. 

 

Standout Features 

  • Displays the proxy’s IP address instead of yours 
  • Includes a kill switch 
  • Comes with unlimited streaming and data
Compare the Best VPN Services

Compare the Best VPN Services

NordVPN
ExpressVPN
Surfshark
CyberGhost
Private Internet Access
TunnelBear
Hotspot Shield
Starting price $11.95/mo $12.99/mo. $12.95/mo. $12.99/mo. $9.95/mo. $3.33/mo. $12.99/mo.
Number of servers 5,200 151 1,700 Over 1,100 1,804 1,800 Over 3,200
Number of devices to connect Up to 6 Up to 5 Unlimited Up to 7 Up to 10 Up to 5 Up to 5
Kill switch Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blocks malware and ads Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Money-back guarantee 30 days 30 days 30 days 14 days 7 days N/A 45 days
Best Features to Look for in a VPN

Best Features to Look for in a VPN

  • Kill switch

    This feature protects your IP address and device from being exposed when a VPN server connection is interrupted.

  • Encryption

    How to secure your data within a VPN client to make sure your information isn’t compromised. 

  • No log policy

    A policy that the VPN promises not to collect any information through their network while you’re using it. 

  • Mobile app

    A mobile app used to connect to your VPN and access features even when using a public Wi-Fi network.

The Cost of a VPN

The Cost of a VPN

Most VPN services cost an average of $10/mo. for an average of five to seven devices. Most monthly services include advanced features to help protect your home. You’ll have access to a mobile app, encryption to protect your data and kill switch. The best VPN services also block ads, malware and phishing attempts for the cost. 

VPN Frequently Asked Questions

VPN Frequently Asked Questions

What should you expect when logging into a VPN?

After you subscribe to your VPN of choice, you’ll have to download the software on each device you want to protect. Each VPN’s app has a different interface, but usually the set-up and sign-in process includes following a few device-specific prompts and selecting the location of the VPN server you’d like to use. It doesn’t matter which location you use if you’re just seeking more privacy, but it does matter if you need to mimic the internet browsing experience of a specific place or country (perhaps during travel, or if you’re need to stream specific content).

Can you use a VPN to protect your Wi-Fi network?

Yes – if you have a VPN-compatible router, you can protect your entire network with a VPN instead of manually connecing each one of your devices. You can either buy a router with a VPN service pre-installed, or you can manually connect your VPN to a compatible router. Your VPN provider should be able to provide instructions and help you troubleshoot.

What can’t a VPN do?

Any security expert will tell you: Nothing connected to the internet is 100% unhackable. Even the best VPN can’t protect against user error, viruses, phishing scams, third-party data breaches or physical tampering. Since VPNs do require a couple of extra steps and change the way you experience the internet, not everyone will want to use one all the time.


safety logo

Researched by the

Safety Team

The Safety Team is a group of experts that handle provider research, product reviews and recalls to make your home safety and security search as easy as 1-2-3.