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VPN

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network” and if you translate this into Dutch “Virtual Personal Network”. With a VPN provider, a secure and shielded connection is established between your device and the website or online service you want to use. This connection acts like part of your own private network, preventing external parties from gaining insight into your online activities or your location.

1) NordVPN – the best VPN on all fronts

NordVPN offers reliable, affordable and fast VPN services, plus it’s packed with useful extra features. It is particularly effective when it comes to bypassing geo-blocking, which means accessing content on international streaming services. Moreover, NordVPN guarantees the privacy of your torrent traffic. NordVPN is an excellent choice for protecting your online privacy.

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1. NordVPN

  • Fantastic security
  • Large server network with high speeds
  • Excellent for privacy, no user logs
  • Suitable for streaming and unblocking content

Some important specifications of NordVPN

  • OpenVPN with AES-256-GCM encryption, IKEv2/IPSec, NordLynx (WireGuard)
  • Does not keep logs
  • Can be used on up to six devices
  • Available on Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, routers, Android TV, Chrome and Firefox
  • About 5,700 servers in 60 countries, all physical servers (no virtual servers)

Why choose NordVPN?

In our opinion, NordVPN is currently the most comprehensive and best VPN provider. They offer a wide range of services, including their own security protocol called Nordlynx, which uses Wireguard technology. With a significant number of servers and an excellent privacy policy, we consider NordVPN to be one of the best VPN providers.

NordVPN security
In terms of security, NordVPN has chosen to use the OpenVPN protocol for setting up connections. This protocol is known for its high reliability, partly due to the fact that it is open source, meaning the source code is public. This makes it easier to quickly detect and resolve any security issues.

In addition, NordVPN offers the option to switch to another proven protocol called IKEv2/IPsec. A unique option they offer is the NordLynx protocol, which is based on WireGuard. WireGuard is known for its security and efficient programming, resulting in fewer potential security holes and faster performance compared to other protocols.

NordVPN privacy
As for privacy, NordVPN does not keep logs of your browsing habits, meaning it does not record your online activities. However, they do store important account and billing data, as well as time-stamp data to monitor how many devices are using their service at the same time.

Does NordVPN work well with Netflix and P2P?
NordVPN offers special servers for P2P (torrents), which ensures fast and anonymous connections. You can also access Netflix offerings from various countries, including the US, but make sure you select the correct NordVPN server when you get started. The NordVPN website provides an overview of which libraries you can and cannot access via their servers.

Which apps are supported by NordVPN?
NordVPN offers special apps for iOS (Apple) and Android to set up the connection. If you’re using Windows or MacOS, you can choose a server via a world map interface.

The best VPNAlthough NordVPN works on Android TV, direct support for smart TVs is not available. To use NordVPN on your smart TV, you need to adjust the VPN settings on your router. This requires setting up your router once. NordVPN also offers browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome.

How is NordVPN’s speed?
NordVPN’s speed is generally very good. In most cases you will hardly notice any difference compared to your normal internet speed. Sometimes web pages may load a little slower, such as images taking a little longer to load. However, this is easy to solve by selecting a different VPN server.

Is using a VPN legal?

It is completely legal to use a VPN in the Netherlands. However, it is important to know that using a VPN does not automatically make your online behavior legal.

A good analogy is wearing a mask: you can’t be identified, but if you do something illegal and get caught by authorities, that mask won’t protect you from legal consequences. For example, illegally downloading movies remains illegal, but by using a VPN the chance of being caught is nil.

In some countries, slightly different and stricter rules apply when using a VPN. A VPN is not allowed or highly regulated in the following countries: China, Iran, Belarus, North Korea, Iraq, Oman, Russia, Turkey, Turkmenistan and the United Arab Emirates.

What are the benefits of using a VPN?

The main advantage of a VPN is that it hides your online activities and visited websites from the outside world. No one can see what you are up to online.

When you surf on a public WiFi network without a VPN, others can use simple software to track your internet behavior. Even if you’re online at home, people can see where you are and what online services you use. For example, they can detect whether you are using Bittorrent. Streaming services such as Netflix can also track your location and tailor their content offerings accordingly.

With a VPN you remain anonymous and you can even ‘fool’ servers into thinking you are in another country. This means that, in the case of streaming services, you can access a much larger library, like the one available to subscribers in the United States. This way you can watch films and series that cannot yet be viewed in the Netherlands with a VPN, because you can browse around in the American library.

What is the best VPN for Netflix?

The best VPN for Netflix gives you a reliable way to access Netflix’s library in other countries. American Netflix is ​​especially attractive because of the abundance of films and series that cannot yet be viewed here. However, you may be interested in Netflix’s offering in Japan or the United Kingdom, but not all VPN providers can maintain this connection equally well. The fact is that Netflix is ​​constantly working to prevent VPN services.

Best VPN Netflix

It’s important to note that Netflix isn’t the only streaming service you can “unlock” with a VPN. Services such as Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, HBO Max and Peacock, which are normally only accessible to American users, can also be unblocked using a VPN.

VPN providers often choose to support only a few international libraries. When selecting a VPN provider, it is advisable to check whether it offers access to your preferred Netflix library.

If we have to answer the question “What is the best VPN for Netflix?” then we will go for NordVPN.

VPN buying guide: how to find the best VPN

You need to do your own research to determine which VPN provider suits you best.

Features to look for when choosing a VPN

We strongly recommend that you consider the features and factors below when choosing a VPN.

Security

If you want to use a VPN to secure internet traffic on public Wi-Fi networks, you should pay attention to the following features:

  • Security protocols such as OpenVPN and WireGuard and AES 256-bit encryption.
  • A VPN kill switch to protect your real IP addresses in the event of a VPN connection error.
  • Special servers that enable MultiHop, obfuscation and even Tor via VPN.
  • Blocking IP leaks for IPv6 traffic (because most VPNs don’t work with IPv6 connections).

Privacy

The following features are important if you want to anonymize internet activities via VPN:

  • A no-logs privacy policy so that your internet activity cannot be traced back to you.
  • The company is headquartered in a country without data retention laws (in other words, a privacy-friendly jurisdiction).
  • ‘RAM-only’ servers that never write data to the hard drive.

Streaming features

If you want to use a VPN to access a geo-restricted streaming service, the following features are important:

  • Works with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, HBO Max, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.
  • Fast international speed, especially to popular server locations such as the US and UK.
  • Smart DNS, Fire TV and Android TV apps to unblock content on streaming devices.
  • 24/7 customer service via live chat to quickly find working streaming servers.

Speed

The following factors are especially important for a VPN with the fastest instant speed:

  • Using WireGuard or a proprietary VPN protocol optimized for speed.
  • High bandwidth VPN servers, such as 20 Gbps, for reliable speed performance.
  • A large server network so you can always connect to a nearby server for the highest speed.

Device compatibility

If you work with multiple computers and devices, consider the following compatibility criteria:

  • Native apps for Windows, macOS, iOS (iPhone and iPad) and Android smartphones.
  • Native app for Fire TV devices and the option to configure VPN on routers.
  • Smart DNS technology so you can use the VPN provider’s DNS details on Apple TV, PlayStation and Xbox.
  • VPN extensions for Chrome and Firefox for controlling the VPN via the browser and for use on Chromebooks.
  • Router compatibility for using VPN with Chromecast, Roku and all other devices on your WiFi network.
  • Android APK file for sideloading (installing) the VPN on Android devices that do not support native VPN applications.

Advanced features

For experienced VPN users, the following features are important to get the most out of your VPN:

  • It should allow for a large number of simultaneous connections so you can secure all your devices.
  • Split tunneling, so you can configure certain devices or applications to use your default Internet connection.
  • An ad blocker to stop ads and trackers when you are online.

Price

The  cost of a VPN  depends on the quality and duration of the subscription, but for a paid VPN provider, consider an amount between  € 1.84  and  € 11.98  per month.

Low price:  for a good VPN of around  € 1.84  per month you have to pay at least two years in advance.  The biggest disadvantage is that if the product spoils over time, you won’t get your money back.  In addition to the cheap VPNs we recommend in this article, there are many low-priced VPNs that offer fewer features and are new to the market.  That means there has been less time to build trust.

Average price:  Most VPNs cost around  €5.53  per month.  For that price you get a good VPN with a long-term subscription, or a mediocre VPN with a short-term subscription.  If you have that to spend, you’ll need to decide if you can afford the higher upfront cost of a better VPN.

High price:  if you pay more than  € 11.05  per month, you can choose from the very best VPNs.  By paying every month you can easily switch VPNs, with less financial loss if your VPN no longer suffices.  The downside is the much higher costs over time.  But you can reduce the monthly price by paying a (multi-year) subscription in advance.

Free vs. Paid VPN Providers: Should You Pay for a VPN?

Most of the VPNs we recommend on this list are premium services, meaning you  ‘ll have to pay a subscription fee  to use them properly.

You can also find free VPN providers advertised online and in app stores, which can be a tempting alternative.  Some are 100% free, while others are limited ‘freemium’ versions of premium services.

The Limitations of Free VPNs

Like paid VPN providers, free VPNs come in a wide spectrum of quality.  However, they are  almost always inferior products compared to their paid equivalents.

It costs money to maintain a server network and run a secure VPN provider, so  free VPNs are usually very limited  or don’t provide  enough privacy and security.

Due to the extensive resources required, it is simply not possible to match the best VPN providers completely free of charge.

‘Freemium’-VPN’s

The safest free VPNs are limited versions of paid services such as Windscribe, TunnelBear and Proton VPN.

If you use the free version of these apps, your VPN usage is essentially  subsidized by premium subscribers  , so the company doesn’t have to directly monetize the free VPN.

PrivadoVPN free price plans

‘Freemium’ VPNs typically offer a limited version of the premium service.

Freemium VPNs often use the infrastructure of a premium VPN, but with major limitations on functionality.  You usually get a limited number of servers and a monthly data limit of 10 GB or less.

As a result, these free VPNs also tend to have  slower speeds  and  unblock fewer streaming services  .

100% free VPN’s

The worst VPN providers are usually completely free to use.  They generate revenue through intrusive advertisements or – in the worst cases – by  capturing user data and  selling it to third parties.

In addition to the privacy and security risks, most 100% free VPNs are also simply less effective.  They often use weak encryption, have slow speeds and leak your IP or DNS data.

It’s also rare for a 100% free VPN to unblock popular streaming services.

Since 2016, we’ve tested over 150 free VPNs and found that 77% posed privacy and security risks.

The chart below illustrates some of the key findings from our free VPN surveys:

We’ve discovered dozens of popular free VPNs that are essentially proxy services: they redirect your web traffic but don’t encrypt your data.

In fact, many of the most downloaded free VPN apps on the Google Play Store contain suspicious links to Chinese companies.

When should you use a free VPN?

Premium VPNs are almost always  faster, more secure, and have more servers  than their free counterparts.

Additionally, paid VPNs unblock more streaming services, offer unlimited data usage, and have a range of additional privacy and security features.

In contrast, many popular free VPNs are ineffective or at least limited.  If you plan to use a VPN regularly, it’s worth paying for a high-quality, premium VPN provider.

However, not all free VPN providers are bad.

The very best free VPNs securely encrypt your data transmissions and hide your IP address, which may be sufficient if you only need a VPN for very occasional use.

However, you are limited to a small monthly data limit and you are limited when it comes to speed, streaming and torrents.

Of all the free VPNs we tested, only  Windscribe Free  consistently streams multiple Netflix regions at reasonably fast speeds.

That’s impressive for a free app, but the paid version of Windscribe offers  more than ten times as many servers  and  unblocks 32 Netflix regions.

In short: a handful of free VPNs are safe to use under limited circumstances.  However, if you plan to use your VPN for streaming, torrenting, or processing sensitive data, it’s  definitely worth paying for a premium VPN subscription.

What is a VPN provider?

VPN (virtual private network) service  is a system that allows users to access proxy servers to bypass Internet geoblocks.

VPN software also protects your internet data from hacking attempts and unsolicited data profiling.

Essentially, a VPN has two main functions:  hiding your public IP address  and  encrypting your internet traffic  .

How a VPN works

how a virtual private network (VPN) works

VPN software connects your device to a remote server through an encrypted tunnel.

VPN software creates an encrypted connection between your device and the websites, applications, and web services you use.  This is done by connecting to a secure VPN server.

When you connect to a VPN server, your  public IP address is  replaced with the server’s IP address.  This can make it seem like you are surfing from another city or country.

Encrypting your data transmission and  changing your IP address  greatly improves your Internet privacy, security and freedom.

What is a VPN: video explanation

We’ve created the short video below to explain in simple terms what a VPN provider is, what it does and how it works:

VPNs aren’t that complicated once you understand how they work.

Why you need a VPN provider

Using a VPN provider has several advantages.

VPN providers are usually used to:

  • Protect sensitive data transmissions on public WiFi networks.
  • Hide your web traffic from Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
  • Unblock websites and international streaming content.
  • Protect your identity and activities while torrenting.
  • Bypass web censorship and internet shutdowns.

Below we explain each benefit in more detail.

1. Encrypt data transmission on public WiFi networks

Cybercriminals abuse public WiFi networks without password protection to steal sensitive data such as your banking details and passwords.

If you use a public WiFi connection that doesn’t require a password, you’re putting your sensitive data at risk.

VPN software can protect your web traffic from hackers and other third parties.  It encrypts your browsing activity and makes it virtually impossible for criminals to intercept your data transmission.

2. Hide your web activities from your ISP

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as AT&T and Verizon monitor every website you visit and every unencrypted message you send.

An ISP can see every HTTPS web domain and every HTTP web page you visit.  Depending on where you live, you’re almost certainly legally required to keep your browsing history for years to come.

In some cases, internet service providers may even decide to limit or slow down your internet speed based on the web services you use.

A VPN encrypts your web requests as they travel from your device to the VPN server.  Your ISP knows that you use a VPN, but not which websites, applications and web services you visit.

Therefore, it will be much more difficult for your ISP to track your activities and browsing history.

By changing your IP address, VPN providers also make it much harder for the websites you visit to identify you.

3. Unblock geo-restricted web (video) content

Streaming platforms like Netflix, HBO Max, and BBC iPlayer use your public IP address to limit the number of movies and TV shows you can watch.

Each country has a different content library and some content platforms are only available in a specific country.

You can use a VPN to switch your real IP address with an IP address from another country.  This way you can ’trick’ streaming services and unblock region-specific content on Netflix, HBO, Hulu and the best free movie streaming sites.

Use Netflix with private internet access

We unblocked US Netflix easily with private internet access.

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4. Hide your IP address while torrenting

P2P file sharing without a VPN or proxy can be dangerous.  Your personal IP address is visible to anyone you share files with, and your ISP can track your download activities.

A VPN hides your IP address, your identity, and your file sharing activities from both your ISP and other users.  This protects you from the risks of torrenting with your real IP address.

 

We tested CyberGhost’s torrent capabilities on qBittorrent.

5. Circumventing government censorship

Governments around the world censor what you can watch and do online.

Some governments even choose to close certain online services, such as social media platforms, during times of political unrest.

The best anti-censorship VPN providers use obfuscation technology, which is specifically designed to bypass advanced internet censorship.

By encrypting your web traffic and changing your IP address, obfuscation VPNs allow you to bypass aggressive web censorship and access the global Internet securely.

We watched YouTube from China with Surfshark.

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VPN provider limitations

VPN providers are great for improving your online security, privacy, and freedom.  But even the best  VPNs have their limitations  .

Below are some things that VPN software cannot do:

  • Provide complete protection against viruses and malware.  Always use reliable antivirus software, even if your VPN has a malware blocking program.
  • Keep all your passwords safe.  Some VPNs now offer password managers, but we recommend using established password managers like 1Password.
  • Increase your internet speed.  The only exception is if your ISP is throttling your connection.
  • Block ads.  Some VPNs come with an ad blocker.  If yours doesn’t, it’s worth getting one.  We recommend uBlock Origin.
  • Make yourself completely anonymous.  VPNs can improve your privacy, but they can’t make you completely anonymous.  There are other ways to track your online activities, such as browser fingerprinting, tracking scripts, and traffic analysis.

How does a VPN work?

A VPN is a kind of  proxy server , as all internet traffic is sent via the VPN server to the end station. This could be a website, an app that you use or, for example, a streaming service such as Netflix.

This is not just about chat or emails, but about all the services you use online. When you visit a website, your computer sends a request to the site’s server. The server responds with the page you requested. That traffic is also encrypted thanks to the VPN , which means that no one can see which site you visit and what you watched there. So no one can tap your data. 

Compare it to a tunnel that only you can go through. While everyone else just walks outside in the rain, you have your own protected route to which only you have the key. 

Technical functioning of a VPN

A VPN creates a separate,  encrypted connection between your device and the internet page or service you want to use. This means that others cannot see your sent and received data. Also, no one can trace where you are. To do this, your device first connects to the server of the VPN service, which then functions as a relay. That server ensures that your connection cannot be traced and hides your IP address (your ’telephone number’ on the internet).

An additional advantage is that the server can also adjust the country code of the IP address as desired, so that it appears to the server as if your requests come from another country. This way you can also bypass geoblocks. Because if the American Netflix server thinks that your request comes from America, you will get access to all content that is only available to Americans.

VPN Protocols

VPNs work based on protocols and various VPN protocols have been developed over the years. A protocol means: a number of technical agreements about how the devices communicate. 

Different VPN protocols have different advantages and disadvantages. Some emphasize encryption, while others only agree on how the VPN connection is established. The most common are:

  • IPsec / L2TP , Layer Two Tunneling Protocol: These two protocols together ensure a secure connection. IPsec takes care of the encryption, L2TP creates the tunnel between the client (i.e. the user) and the server. IPSec always uses UDP port 500, which in practice means that it is easy for network administrators, for example, to block this connection. In practice, this means that if you log in to a public WiFi network where port 500 is closed, you cannot use this VPN protocol.
  • PPTP , Point to Point Tunneling Protocol: This protocol is used less and less often, because over time it has been found to contain more and more security holes. The problem is that PPTP only sets up the tunnel between server and client, but hardly encrypts the data. We therefore advise against this protocol.
  • OpenVPN : This is an open-source solution. Open source means that the source code of the software is freely available (and for free), and that therefore many people contribute to improving it. Open VPN, like Open SSL, uses certificates. This ensures that the server and client know how the data is encrypted and how it can be decrypted. OpenVPN is one of the safest solutions for a VPN connection.
  • Wire Guard : The latest protocol, faster and with higher performance than its predecessors . Not all experts were convinced that the security problems of this protocol would be solved, but VPN provider NordVPN has now started using this protocol. NordLynx is the name that NordVPN has given to this protocol, on which WireGuard is the basis.

Do you have to remember all this? In principle no. VPNs usually automatically choose the most suitable protocol for your device. So you don’t have to set it yourself.

What does a VPN do?

There are two main effects of a VPN. The first is an increase in your privacy . All data traffic between your device and the world is encrypted and hidden. This is nice if you want to be sure at home that your online behavior cannot be traced. This is especially important if you use the internet via a public Wi-Fi connection . In the latter case, it is very easy for others to tap your data traffic and see exactly which sites you visit and what you do there.

 

The second is that a VPN allows you to bypass geoblocks . Because the VPN service hides your exact location (and can even pretend you are somewhere else), you can bypass the artificial blocks of services. This means that if you are abroad, you still have access to Ziggo Go, for example. Or that you can watch American streaming services such as Hulu, HBO Max and Peacock, or British services such as BBC iPlayer, from the Netherlands. 

VPN and internet speed

It is important to know that a VPN connection can reduce your internet speed. All data is forwarded via the VPN server. Free services in particular do not give you the full bandwidth. Paid services give you more bandwidth, and the terms and conditions of your subscription state exactly what you can expect. In the best cases, the speed difference is so small that you don’t actually notice it. So the important thing is to find the fastest VPN .

Why do people use a VPN?

You now know the VPN benefits , but what do most people use their VPN for in practice? Research shows the following:

 

We explain a number of reasons:

use VPN to access blocked entertainment content

Streaming services determine which films and series can be streamed per country. This has to do with broadcasting rights, which are sold per country. It therefore regularly happens that a certain film can be streamed on American Netflix, but not on Dutch or Belgian.

In this example, you can connect to an American VPN server to still watch the movie. You will then receive an American IP address, and the service will still let you in, thinking that you are an American resident.

use VPN to access blocked social media or news sites

In certain countries the internet is not as free as here. Particularly in dictatorial regimes, many social media and independent news sites are blocked. A VPN is then necessary to be able to visit these platforms.

use VPN for anonymous Internet surfing

A VPN encrypts all your internet traffic so that it is no longer visible which websites you visit. Without a VPN, this is very easy to check based on your IP address, among other things. It also becomes a lot more difficult for advertisers to track you and draw up a usage profile of you based on your website visit.

 

use VPN to access files/websites/services at work

Some employers require a VPN if you work from home a lot or are often on the road with your laptop. Because the sensitive information that you exchange via the internet can no longer simply leak out. Another security measure may be that only certain IP addresses are given remote access to the internal systems. All other devices are not included.

use VPN to access torrent websites/other blocked download sites

many torrent websites and illegal download sites are blocked. So you can no longer access it with a Dutch IP address. But with a foreign IP address it is, because this blockade does not apply in many other countries. With a VPN you can visit these types of sites again (at your own risk).

In summary, people use a VPN for:

  • Access the internet safely
  • Protection of online privacy
  • Bypassing geoblocks

Safe and anonymous internet use

The main reason to use a VPN is to protect yourself from strange eyes . You can use the internet completely anonymously and untraceably . Did you know, for example, that if you use a public Wi-Fi network , people can use very simple software to see exactly which sites you visit and what you do there? But even if you use the internet from home, you leave a large digital footprint with which strangers can learn a lot about you. 

Large companies are increasingly recording users’ website visits. This is partly to improve their own services, but more often it is about ways to show better targeted advertising .

Hide your location

Companies can also determine where you are from your internet connection. When you make contact with the internet, your device is assigned a so-called IP address . That is very similar to a telephone number. And just as you can tell from a telephone number which country and often even which city it originates from, an IP address is also a source of information for companies.

This can have consequences for which services you can or cannot use and in some extreme cases it can even influence the price of products. This is called a geoblock .

How do you stream everything at home and abroad with a VPN?

The best-known form of a geoblock is how the offering of streaming services such as Netflix varies per country. You notice this when you are on holiday: you suddenly have access to new films and series on your tablet, while you can no longer see others. This is because Netflix looks at your IP address and thus determines what you can or cannot watch in the country you are in. With a VPN you can also watch Dutch TV abroad in this way .

Download invisible torrents

Finally, people who occasionally download via Bittorrent run the risk of being confronted with a hefty fine . Because your IP address is also visible from outside. Anyone who downloads a lot can be found at their doorstep thanks to their IP address. Illegal downloading is not something we recommend, but we mention it for completeness.

Because a VPN hides your IP address, no one can keep an eye on you. You are invisible , but you can freely use everything the internet has to offer.

Book cheaper holidays

Booking websites charge different prices per country. They choose these prices based on how ‘rich’ a country is, because its residents have more to spend. With a VPN you can see exactly in which country the tickets are offered the cheapest.

Also read our article about booking a cheap holiday with VPN .

How do you use a VPN?

A VPN is a service for which you (usually) pay a subscription. Once you have a subscription, it is necessary to set your devices so that they send and receive all their data via the VPN from now on. 

And that is very easy. It’s all done in just a few steps:

  • Subscribe to a VPN service
  • Download and install the app on your PC or smartphone/tablet
  • Press the Connect button

It is also possible to set up a VPN manually, but that is cumbersome and not necessary.

How safe is a VPN?

A VPN makes your internet traffic virtually untraceable to outsiders. In practice this is very safe. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

To start with, your data traffic is visible to the VPN provider. You log in with them, so in theory they know what you do on the internet. So that’s a trust issue , and on this site we recommend VPN services that we believe are reliable. A good no-log policy plays a crucial role in this. The providers promise that they will not store anything about you.

Secondly, there is a chance that VPN services that operate from the United States still have backdoors for the American police and security services. This does not mean that all your data traffic will immediately be passed on to the CIA, but there is a (small) chance.

It is advisable to thoroughly test your chosen VPN for DNS and IP address leaks.

Is a VPN dangerous?

A VPN service is like any service on the internet: you have to be careful which one you choose and why. In the case of a VPN, you give the service a major responsibility: the protection of your privacy . After all, all your internet traffic goes through the server of the VPN of your choice. When it comes to paid VPN services, in most cases you can trust that they will handle your privacy very well. That is also one of the most important criteria we look at on this site before recommending a service.

Paid services are also committed to protecting your privacy, because in this case their image is literally everything: if someone were to get into trouble due to a leak or shady business operations, it would hit these companies very hard in the wallet. In short, they have every interest in delivering what they promise.

Unfortunately, that is not the case with free VPN services . There are two problems here: the first is that with a free service you can never claim anything: not on warranty, not on service, nothing at all. You can’t expect them to always keep their servers up to date and maximize their security. That costs money, and you don’t pay for it.

The second problem is that many free VPN services make money by tracking your internet traffic in order to show you advertisements. So what you are trying to prevent, in this case, is the core business of some VPN services, especially those for mobile phones.

By the way, we are talking about ‘completely free’ VPN services. Don’t confuse this with the free trial periods that many paid services offer. A free trial is a particularly pleasant way to investigate whether a service meets your expectations.

If you really want to protect your privacy online, you are doing yourself a disservice with a free option. Fortunately, there are plenty of VPN services that really protect your data for a few euros per month.

Is a VPN legal?

The short answer to this question is a resounding ‘yes’! You are completely free to use a VPN, and there is no law against it . There is no doubt about this, you can use a VPN on your computer or mobile device to protect your privacy and the police will never show up on your doorstep. Read more about the legality of VPNs here .

However, there are two caveats: the first is that the administrator of a network may prohibit access to a VPN. If you try to circumvent all kinds of blacklists on the boss’s network via a VPN , then the boss is completely within his right to shut down that VPN access. So you have no ‘right to VPN’.

The second caveat is that even though using a VPN is legal, that doesn’t mean everything you do online through a VPN is legal. If you break the law and try to cover your tracks via a VPN, you’ve still broken the law. In other words: you may own and wear a balaclava, but if you put one on while robbing a bank, you are still a criminal even if no one recognizes you.

Stay vigilant

And finally, using a VPN does not guarantee that you will never be hacked. So make sure you always observe basic security rules , such as never using the same password twice and being careful when filling out forms or other ‘voluntary’ forms of providing your own data. A VPN also does not protect against ‘ phishing ‘, in the form of fraudulent emails or WhatsApp messages that pretend to come from banks or governments.

A VPN therefore increases your security, but it remains important to be alert yourself.

Conclusion

A VPN ensures that you can use websites and online services anonymously and securely . The advantage is that your data cannot be tapped and you suddenly have access to many more services. You only have to set up a VPN once and then you can get started freely.

Please note that some (free) VPN services can reduce your internet speed, and that you are never 100% safe against hackers or scammers. Yet a VPN can prevent many privacy breaches.

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