How to Use a VPN | VPN Tutorial 2022

Cindy F. Cape

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A virtual private network (VPN) service hides your device’s IP address and encrypts and transmits your data in a secure VPN tunnel to a VPN server, concealing you as well as your data as it moves between your device to your destination. Whether you’re checking your email from a different country than your own, streaming content from around the world, or protecting your online activity from prying eyes while using public Wi-Fi, there are lots of VPN uses. In this guide, we explain how to use a VPN. Elsewhere, we explain more about what a VPN is, how a VPN works, how to get a VPN, and how to set up a VPN.

(NicoElNino)

To use a virtual private network, follow these basic steps:

  1. Decide which VPN service you want to use and sign up for a free, month-to-month, or annual subscription. Consider VPN providers that offer features like a kill switch, DNS leak protection, plenty of VPN servers, and a VPN app.
  2. Log in and set up your preferences.
  3. If you’re trying to access content in a specific country, choose a server in that location.
  4. Open your browser, app, streaming service, or other platforms, and do any other online activities just as you normally would. You’re protected as long as your VPN is active. If your VPN has a kill switch, your data won’t leak even if your internet connection glitches.
  5. Use the Tor network plus your VPN for extra security. Connect first to your VPN and then to Tor (The Onion Router), which is called Tor over VPN or Onion over VPN. If your VPN allows this, it gives you another layer of protection to hide your IP address and gives you access to Tor even when it’s organization- or geo-restricted.

Best VPN’s Social Media Compatibility

NordVPN »
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube
NordVPN » Company
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube
PureVPN » Company
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube
VyprVPN » Company
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube

Social media channels can be a prime hunting ground for identity thieves, and some countries block access to social sites. In fact, over the past year, interest in VPN services has spiked numerous times in response to the government’s threats to ban TikTok in the U.S., including a 34% increase in inquiries on what would have been the first day of the ban, according to CNBC’s interview with Daniel Markuson of NordVPN.

Not all VPN services are compatible with all social media platforms. The table below shows which VPNs in our rating of the Best VPNs of 2022 work with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Best VPN’s Streaming Compatibility

NordVPN »
Netflix
Disney+
Hulu
Amazon Prime
NordVPN » Company
Netflix
Disney+
Hulu
Amazon Prime
PureVPN » Company
Netflix
Disney+
Hulu
Amazon Prime
VyprVPN » Company
Netflix
Disney+
Hulu
Amazon Prime

With so many streaming services to offer, more and more people are setting up subscriptions to Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and others. A VPN service often lets you access geo-restricted material. “Not only does a VPN encrypt your IP address and help protect your personal information from potential cyberthreats, but it also allows you to customize your device’s location settings,” according to Cyber Florida, a cybersecurity center hosted by the University of South Florida. This gives you the ability to use streaming services “that are unavailable in some countries due to licensing or legal issues.”

For example, if you’re visiting the U.K. and want to connect with Amazon Prime, you can use a U.S.-based VPN server to view what you want. Or if you’re in a country that blocks the streaming service completely, your VPN service obscures your IP so you can still get in. Note that you still need a subscription with the streaming service in order to watch shows and movies from that source.

Having trouble accessing your streaming service on your computer? Try this:

  1. Check for leaks. Your VPN should show some kind of indication on your toolbar or elsewhere that you’re connected to its servers and therefore able to stream. If the VPN isn’t active, turn it on.
  2. Are you on the right server? Make sure you’re on the correct server for the streaming library you want to access. For example, if you want to watch BBC, you’ll likely need to select a server that’s in the U.K.
  3. Clear your cache. Check your browser settings and follow the instructions to clear your cache.
  4. Relaunch your VPN app. For most devices, including smartphones and routers, simply restart the device and resolve streaming problems.
  5. Check the self-help section of your VPN provider. Streaming services frequently block VPN connections. If you aren’t able to unblock a media site when your VPN connection is active, check to see if the service is no longer capable of working with that streaming site.

Torrenting is like turning a large file into a puzzle by breaking it up into pieces. Data is separated into smaller packets and then shared across a torrenting network using software called a torrent client for people to retrieve later. The “seeder” is the party that houses the original file, and “leechers” (or peers) are those who hold different pieces of that file. Sharing a large file between users, also called peer-to-peer (P2P) sharing, is faster than downloading the data from a single source.

The process of torrenting with a torrent client isn’t illegal by itself. Large educational or legal files and updates to some gaming software are examples of legal torrenting. However, sometimes P2P applications or torrenting clients are used to download copyrighted, pirated material and even less savory content. Some internet service providers have watchdogs on their pipes to sniff out torrenting and they throw up a block to keep you from accessing the torrent files.

ISPs often watch for BitTorrent use, which is a communication protocol for P2P file sharing along with uTorrent, and blocks the site. Your ISP may alternatively slow down your internet speeds (called throttling) if it believes you are torrenting, as the process often uses lots of data. You can activate a VPN before you begin torrenting in order to download legitimate files privately and without ISP throttling.

Follow these troubleshooting tips to fix many common issues with a VPN service:

  • Connect to a server in a country with more open access. Not every country wants its citizens or visitors to have uncensored access to social media sites, streaming services, and more. Choose a server in a different country if you’re encountering lots of blocks.
  • Change servers or server locations. If your internet speeds are slow, change your server location to another within that same country, or select a server that’s geographically close to your physical location.
  • Pick a different protocol. Some VPN providers offer a number of choices between different protocols you may use. NordVPN, for instance, recommends switching the OpenVPN port from TCP to UDP for smoother livestreaming and faster gaming.
  • Call customer service. If you can’t connect to the VPN, are getting an error message, or otherwise can’t troubleshoot your problem using the above steps, contact the VPN provider’s customer service department.

VPN Services

Learn More

Still looking for more information about VPNs or trying to find the best VPN for you? Explore the directory below to learn more about these services.

Related 360 Reviews

Why You Can Trust Us: 26 VPNs Researched

At U.S. News & World Report, we rank the Best Hospitals, Best Colleges, and Best Cars to guide readers through some of life’s most complicated decisions. Our 360 Reviews team draws on this same unbiased approach to rate the products that you use every day. To build our Best VPNs of 2022 rating, we researched more than 26 VPNs and analyzed 23 reviews. Our 360 Reviews team does not take samples, gifts, or loans of products or services we review. All sample products provided for review are donated after review. In addition, we maintain a separate business team that has no influence over our methodology or recommendations. See more details about our 360 Methodology for Evaluating VPNs.

U.S. News 360 Reviews takes an unbiased approach to our recommendations. When you use our links to buy products, we may earn a commission but that in no way affects our editorial independence.

https://www.usnews.com/360-reviews/privacy/vpn/how-to-use-vpn

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