Virtual Private Network, or VPN as it generally is called, is not a foreign term for the tech-savvy generation. VPN creates a private and anonymous network between host and service.
It does so by masking your IP address and redirecting it via different servers. A VPN host holds the servers, which becomes the new source of data.
Data travels through digital tunnels, with ends far away from their actual origin. As a result, your location is now far away from where you are. It takes care of your anonymity.
On the privacy front, your data passes through various filters. These filters scramble your data in transit rendering it into gibberish. So if anyone tries to steal your data, they will find it scrambled and useless.
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Uses of VPN
There are vast numbers of applications of VPN. It finds its uses in both the professional and entertainment sectors. For example, most organizations rely on their private network to function.
The employees need to log in to that network and then, they can resume working. In case any employee can not report to the office for work, an administrator can give them access to the network via a VPN.
It will appear as if the employee is working from the premises of the company. Another example, if someone wants to stream some content on any streaming platform.
Streaming platforms sometimes make some of their content available only in some regions. As a result, a movie or web series available in a particular area will not be available anywhere else.
VPN allows users to bridge that gap. Connecting to a VPN of any country gives the user access to contents from that specific country.
How to use VPN on Android, iOS, and Windows?
Let us move forward and learn how to use VPN services on our devices. Major operating systems providers like Android, iOS, and Windows provide a built-in VPN function for office use.
While they are not for streaming or accessing websites, they prove their usefulness in the work environment. Let us now understand how to use the built-in VPN service in each of these systems, one by one.
VPN on Android
Android is one of the most common mobile operating systems. Android now offers a built-in VPN service. It can connect an Android device to an office network with details provided by the administration department. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it-
- Choose and subscribe VPN service. We will recommend NordVPN because it is easy to configure on android.
- You can either use the built-in VPN service or download it from Google Play Store.
- Open Settings, go to Network & Internet, select Advanced and then, select VPN.
- On the top-right corner, tap on the + sign and enter the details provided by the administration. Save the details.
- Tap on the VPN you want to connect. Enter username and password.
- Tap Connect.
This VPN works if you have to log in to a specific network for work purposes. It can not help you with streaming or torrenting.
The protocols used by this VPN service are PPTP, L2TP, and IPSec. This service has limited uses, barely any outside work.
VPN on iOS
iOS is an operating system second only to Android. Just like Android, it provides a built-in VPN service for official purposes.
You need information from the IT department or the administration of the company to configure this VPN. Here is how you can configure VPN in iOS-
- Choose and subscribe VPN service. We will recommend NordVPN because it is easy to configure on iOS.
- You can either use the built-in VPN service or download it from Apple Store.
- Open Settings, tap on General, then on VPN.
- Select Add VPN Configuration. Enter the VPN details.
- Tap Done. Enable or disable it using the Slider Toggle on the VPN page.
In terms of application, it is pretty similar to VPN provided by Android. One vital upgrade Apple brings to the table is dropping obsolete PPTP protocol and adding IKEv2 to the list.
VPN on Windows
Windows is the most widely used operating system for computers. Microsoft Windows now features a VPN service to make its user experience more work-friendly. Here is how you can use the Windows VPN service-
- Choose and subscribe VPN service. We will recommend NordVPN because it is easy to configure on windows.
- Go to Settings, select Network & Internet, then select VPN.
- Select Add a VPN Connection. Change VPN Provider to Windows (built-in) and fill out the rest of the details.
- Click on the WiFi logo and select the created VPN connection.
Windows uses the same protocols as iOS and Android, making it most suitable for the work environment.
Third-Party Applications for iOS and Android
We now know the uses of built-in VPN services and their pros and cons. While they are beneficial in official use, they lack tight security and out-of-work applications.
For entertainment and more functions, there are several third-party applications available in the market. These apps allow their users to entertain themselves while keeping a watch on their data and security.
Most of them are available for iOS, Android, and Windows. Let us take a look at some of the top-ranked VPN service providers and what makes them rank high on the list-
Voted #1 by various independent tech websites, ExpressVPN is the first choice for anyone who wishes to use VPN. With a clean user interface, hassle-less, easy use, and strong security, it instantly becomes the favorite of anyone who uses it.
Android, iOS, and Windows.
- The big On/Off switch on the main screen instantly connects you to a server which the app thinks is best for you.
- The app picks the correct option and chooses the server, which assists you in day-to-day working.
- With its 3000+ servers from over 90 countries, you get to choose which one you want to connect for streaming. It means you can stream any content from any country at high speed, be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, or BBC. ExpressVPN has got your back.
- As for security, you can choose from the protocols, check for leaks, and activate the kill switch and enable split tunneling. All these security features make ExpressVPN one of the most secure VPN providers in the market.
- A fast 24/7 chat support system is always at your service to help you with any issue you might face. It is capable of solving any problem in a matter of seconds.
- The only downside of ExpressVPN is the limited number of devices. It allows only five devices at any given time.
With all the features it is providing, ExpressVPN comes with a price tag. With the most economical option being $6.67/month for 12 months, prices can go as high as $12.95/month. It also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee, in case you don’t enjoy using it.
On #2 spot is Surfshark VPN. While it is new to the VPN market, it is quickly making itself noticed. Be it because of its aggressive pricing or ease of use. It is catching a lot of eyes.
Android, iOS, and Windows.
- With an intuitive experience and ease of use, it is quickly climbing the ladder of fame.
- With safety features like one-touch connection, kill-switch, range of protocols, and auto-connect, Surfshark VPN is suitable for people who want a simple experience.
- It also supports a large number of streaming services. It allows users to enjoy content from other countries at a fast speed.
As mentioned, the plus point of Surfshark is its competitive pricing. Starting at as low as $2.5/month in the 24-month program, it gives most VPN services a good run for their money.
However, it costs $12.95 for a single month, the same as ExpressVPN. It also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee, in case you change your mind.
Already famous in computers, NordVPN has now entered the mobile market. It shares the same 2048-bit double encryption with its computer counterpart, providing strengthened privacy.
Android, iOS, and Windows.
- Along with its usual VPN security on public WiFi, NordVPN brings something unique to the table.
- Onion over VPN and Double VPN features are the new technologies brought in by NordVPN. These features are not usual in the VPN industry.
- To show its commitment to safety, NordVPN regularly audits its servers and policies.
- The only place where NordVPN lacks is the interface. It brings the same map-based interface for mobile, which makes the screen look cramped up. Though after spending a couple of minutes, it is not so tricky anymore.
As far as pricing goes, it sits somewhere between Surfshark and ExpressVPN. With two years plan at $3.71/month, one month plan costs $11.95, relatively cheaper than both ExpressVPN and Surfshark.
ProtonVPN is a Switzerland-based security company. It comes from the same group of minds which brought ProtonMail to the internet.
Android, iOS, and Windows.
- ProtonVPN is an established name in online security. With the same experience, this app has developed a feature called Secure Core.
- It routes traffic through various servers to form an extra layer of security on the data.
- The app is P2P friendly, has DNS leak protection, kill switch, Tor support, and supports up to ten devices at once, well above the industry average.
- ProtonVPN also has a strict no-logs policy. It means that your sessions will not be logged anywhere on their server.
- The area where ProtonVPN needs work is blocked content streaming. It is not available in the economical plans, and it costs $9.57 for streaming.
It might be one of the costliest VPN services in the market. Starting at $4.79 per month for the basic plan, it rises to $28.71.
Although, feature it provides sound tempting and worth the cost. Features like speed up to 10Gbps, ten connections, and ProtonMail, along with many other pulls users towards ProtonVPN.
IPvanish is a decent option that uses high-end encryption protocols to minimize any data theft.
Android, iOS, and Windows
- It is one of the most transparent apps in the market. It displays complete status on the screen to give you a feeling of safety.
- IPVanish comes with all the standard security protocols like kill switch, split tunneling, and DNS leak check.
- IPVanish allows good download speeds with no logging of data. Thus, keeping your data safe.
- It uses 256-bit AES encryption to protect data. A 24/7 customer support is always there to help you.
- One area where it can improve is auditing its policies and security measure. It goes a long way to show just how serious they are regarding security.
Prices of IPVanish are still on the lower end, making it highly affordable. Starting at $3.79/month for a year and $4.99 for a month.
While there are so many great options available in the market, some apps stand out. For mobiles, ExpressVPN is best at a high cost.
For a more budget-friendly option, Surfshark would not disappoint. ProtonVPN gives a decent free version. For Windows, NordVPN is a better option due to its user interface.