Widely used by those who wish to surf and download anonymously, the VPN is a good way to secure your computer, smartphone, or even all connected devices at home or outside. Here is all there is to remember about the VPN, and its installation and configuration method.
Say, what is a VPN?
VPN, for Virtual Private Network, is a tool that allows you to surf in peace and completely anonymously (or almost, but we’ll come back to this). Because it provides anonymity to its users, it is the favorite toy of fans of illegal downloads. But it’s not only that, it’s also a real Swiss army knife of tech.
In which cases do we use a VPN?
- First, using a VPN can be used to protect your network from an outside threat (a DDoS attack, for example).
- VPN can also be useful when you connect from an insecure location (from a public Wi-Fi hotspot).
- It can also be used to download over P2P networks, as mentioned above.
- Finally, it can be used to watch TV programs, to access sites or services that are prohibited in certain regions of the world.
In concrete terms, how does that work ?
A VPN creates a direct link between two machines, while isolating the traffic generated by the user and the remote computer. This allows you to bypass intrusive analyzes of your traffic, while avoiding potential hackers’ attacks, since there is no interaction between your connection and outside traffic. A VPN is a bit like going through a tunnel to get from point A to point B: you are not afraid of outside looks and threats since the tunnel protects you from it. The other advantage of VPN , and that may be the reason why it is so widespread today, is that it also allows you to “hide” your real IP address and use another one: you therefore have the possibility of surf the web without remote servers identifying you. Only the VPN server is able to trace back to you, since it is the only one that knows your real IP address.The VPN is therefore very used by those who need to surf anonymously. On the other hand, beware: some sites, services, games and applications will not hesitate to deny you access if they analyze your IP address and that it coincides with that of a VPN registered in their database. In this case, the trick is to use a dedicated IP address (it is your own), rather than a shared address with hundreds of other users. The other warning concerns the use you make of the VPN : there again it is not frequent, but it is possible that by downloading an illegal file on the torrent networks, the RIAA or any other association which defends the rights of artists, lodges a complaint against the service which provides a VPN to a user. Therefore, the service in question can turn against the user and cut off access to the VPN, or even initiate legal proceedings. In short, do not believe that the VPN gives you a foolproof invulnerability, even if it is a great way to surf anonymously on the Web.Finally, for short (in reality, it is a little more complex than that), remember that there are three types of VPN services:
- Those which consist of installing software on your computer and / or mobile. These are the ones we will deal with here.
- Those which do not require any installation, since they are directly integrated into the browser.
- Finally, there are also those that are “injected” directly into the box or router. They are very effective, because they protect all the devices in the house, without having to do it post by post. In addition, they also make it possible to protect connected objects, generally lacking the slightest VPN configuration interface. However, setting them up is more complex, even if some router models have them by default.
But which one to choose?
VPN services that go through a mobile application or computer software, there are dozens and dozens, at prices ranging from 2 to 10 € / month. To support the installation procedure, we opted for NordVPN and VyprVPN. They are purely and simply “examples”: we do not force you to use one of these two. But their tuning possibilities, their performance and their low prices make them the VPN of choice. If you want to learn more about the different VPNs on the market and find out which one will meet your needs, take a look at Tom’s Hardware VPN Comparison.
Properly install and configure your VPN (NordVPN)
Let’s start with NordVPN, which has more than 4000 servers scattered around the world. The service exists for Windows (7, 8 and 10), Linux and macOS, but also for Android, iOS, Android TV or as an extension for Chrome and Firefox. The service protects up to 6 devices at the same time.
- Go to the site NordVPN to register (this is the painful moment when you will have to take out the number of the credit card). Once registered, download the application or extension for the device you want to protect from this page: https://nordvpn.com/en/download. The application offers to activate a feature called CyberSec on, which protects you against possible malware, intrusive ads or phishing attempts that threaten your machine. Accept, it does not commit you to anything and you can deactivate it anyway if it does not satisfy.
- In the window that opens next, you have the choice: either connect to a server by selecting it from the world map that appears, or call up the list of available countries by clicking on Countries. We prefer to use this second option, because it allows us to go a little further in the selection of the server. For the rest, nothing could be simpler: if you want to “simulate” your presence in France, click on the French flag, in the United States on the North American flag, etc.
- By default, the service directs you to the server least used by other users. To view the overload level calculated as a percentage (the lower the percentage, the better the server load), click on the small hamburger icon located next to each country. Once the list of servers has been deployed, you can select a server other than the one offered by default. NordVPN also has its own tool dedicated to peer-to-peer services. To access this functionality, go to Countries> Specialty Servers> P2P. Again, you have the option to change the server depending on the overhead of each. You will also note that most servers are much more used than those accessible in the classic Countries tab, proof is that NordVPN is much appreciated by P2P enthusiasts.
- How does it work on a smartphone? The interface of the application available on Android and iOS is very similar to what is done on a microphone. The good news for Anglophobes is that it has been almost entirely francized. By pressing the Quick Connect button, the application will connect you to a VPN located in France (if you are in France, of course). The Browse servers function allows you, as for the Countries on PC option, to select the location of a server, to choose a dedicated P2P server, to access the Dedicated VPN option (= dedicated IP, as opposed to shared IPs, a function that offers you access to restricted IP networks), etc.
Properly install and configure your VPN (VyprVPN)
VyprnVPN also exists on different platforms: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, etc. It is even accessible on Qnap brand NAS, on Android TV or as an application for a router.
- Go to the address https://www.goldenfrog.com/fr/vyprvpn/vpn-apps to download the version that suits you. Do not forget to register on the way (it will cost you 3.96 € / month for 3 simultaneous connections or 5.42 € / month for 5 connections and the VyprVPN Cloud and Chameleon Protocol options). Note that you can test all the functionality of the service for 3 days without paying a single penny.
- Once the software is in place, launch it: a button offers you to connect immediately to the fastest server. Unlike NordVPN, which highlights the servers least overloaded by other users, VyprVPN prefers to focus on the servers that offer the best ping. The best server is therefore not necessarily located in the same country as you: if you want to choose a server according to its geographical location, and therefore benefit from an IP address corresponding to a very specific country, click on the small location symbol, next to the term Connect. Then select the Show locations of all servers function.
- To connect to a VPN server, simply double-click it. Note that the number of VyprVPN servers is a little less than a hundred: it may seem little, but a good part of the countries of the globe are represented, so do not panic. In addition, the service being much more confidential than NordVPN, we never encountered any IP problem banned by this or that website during our tests. Finally, if you chose the Premium plan, you have options like the Chameleon function. This functionality can be activated from the small notched wheel, located at the very top of the main interface and the Options function. In the Protocol section, you will find the Chameleon option in question. Concretely, what is it? This feature allows you to hide from the servers that analyze the traffic of VPN users. It randomly searches for open ports and allows you to avoid being blocked in certain countries or experiencing bandwidth limitation.