COMPUTER 101–What Is a VPN?

The Mouse Trap
by Janis Weber

What Is a VPN?
A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi, and more. These days VPNs are very popular, but not for the reasons they were originally created. They originally were just a way to connect business networks together securely over the internet or allow you to access a business network from home.
A VPN encrypts your entire internet connection to protect all your communications, even over unsecured networks. It stops your internet provider from tracking you (hate that), something your browser’s incognito mode cannot do, and lets you unblock websites and bypass filters.
But, how do you know which VPN is the best for you? Well, there are many factors that go into a great VPN and we will go over everything that you need to look for when making the right choice.

In very simple terms, a VPN connects your PC, smartphone, or tablet to another computer (called a server) somewhere on the internet and allows you to browse the internet using that computer’s internet connection. So, if that server is in a different country, it will appear as if you are coming from that country, and you can potentially access things that you couldn’t normally. With a VPN service, your ISP, the government, or other snooping eyes cannot see what you’re doing online. Even though a VPN doesn’t protect your computer against malware or viruses, it does improve your online security by hiding your presence and activity from hackers, making it more challenging for them to steal your private information and use it for identity theft or other fraudulent activities.

  1. ExpressVPN – This VPN server has the best combination of ease-of-use, really fast servers, and supports streaming media and torrenting, all for a cheap price.
  2. Tunnelbear – This VPN is really easy to use, is great for using at the coffee shop, and has a (limited) free tier. It’s not good for torrenting or streaming media though.
  3. StrongVPN – not quite as easy to use as the others, but you can definitely use them for torrenting and streaming media.

All of them have free trials, so you can easily get your money back if you change your mind. If you’re just getting started with VPNs and want a basic VPN for using on public Wi-Fi hotspots or accessing region-restricted websites, there are a few good, simple options. We like ExpressVPN because they have great speeds and a lot more functionality than average, including clients for almost any device. You can even get a router pre-installed with their VPN client.
Do not select a totally free VPN. They have holes in their security. Again, you get what you pay for. Expect to pay between $5 and $15 a month depending on what level of protection you want. If you are paying for security like Bit Defender, Norton, etc that is fine. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) totally locks out hackers that can bypass firewalls and get into your computer with spam and theft. Think of it as a private vault that your computer is in. No one can sneak in if your network is private.
More money, yup! More security, you bet. Companies have been using these for years. Now it is our turn to block those bad dudes from our personal computers.

Next Sylvania Senior Center Classes
New classes with be held throughout 2020 as soon as the center reopens. Check the SSC newsletter and website for the most current information. Included will be Windows 10 Computers Basics, Facebook, Microsoft Word, Google Docs and iPhone/iPad. If you have a topic and know some folks who are interested, please call the Senior Center and ask for
Susan Jenelle (419-885-3913).
Limited seating is filling fast so call ASAP to reserve your spot. We are considering an Excel Club. Interested? Call the SSC.

I Make House Calls:
I will come to your home or office and help you with almost any predicament including repairs, upgrades and general software or hardware issues. This Stay Home Order should end at some point. I can be your resident “Geek.” I have an endless amount of patience and knowledge with years of experience. Send me a text or call at 419-318-9112.
Don’t forget to sign up for my free newsletter at Subscribers will get a copy of this article plus added hints, tips and trusted/valuable web-links.

Janis Weber, B.A., owner of Ohio Computer Training & Support, is a professional computer adjunct instructor. E-mail any specific questions or comments to
or call her for assistance at 419-318-9112.
Private tutoring and repairs are just a phone call, text or email away.

Leave a Reply