Contributor, Benzinga
February 15, 2023

If you're a privacy-minded person, then a virtual private network (VPN) can be an excellent way to improve your online privacy. A VPN protects your private web traffic from snooping, interference and censorship by establishing a secure and encrypted connection between your device and a private server.

VPNs offer many benefits, including unblocking geo-restricted contents, data protection on public Wi-Fi and enhanced data privacy from internet service providers ISP or the government. 

Fortunately, learning how to use a VPN requires no extensive IT knowledge. In fact, whether your aim is unblocking geo-restricted Netflix shows, staying safe during torrenting and gaming, or improving your general online privacy, setting up a VPN requires only a few simple steps. Benzinga reviews how to set up and use VPN depending on your core needs.

How to Use a VPN

Anyone with little or no technical knowledge can set up and use a VPN service. The following hassle-free steps will fast-track your setup and usage. 

Select the Right VPN

To start using a VPN, you choose a VPN service provider. Many VPN service providers offer excellent products that deliver robust encryption of your web traffic with other activity-specific features. Your choice will depend mainly on your core needs — gaming, streaming, torrenting or strictly online privacy protection.

Once you define your core needs, it's easy to check features like speed, unblocking capabilities and security measures that align with those needs. For instance, if your core need is streaming, your choice of VPN must deliver fast speed and an extensive server network with robust unblocking capabilities. Some of the best VPNs offer these features.

However, suppose your priority is complete online privacy when browsing using Chrome. In that case, you can go for some of the best VPNs for Chrome with features ranging from advanced encryption to a strict no-logs policy, among others. 

Signup and Subscribe 

After choosing a VPN service provider, you create an account with your valid email address and other personal details and then subscribe to the service. As a rule of thumb, you should avoid free VPN services because they often lack robust encryption and data privacy protection unique to premium services. Subscription packages vary among providers. 

Most providers offer multiple subscriptions depending on duration — monthly, annual and 2-year plans. For most providers, the two-year plan is the best cost-saving package. Once you've chosen a subscription package, you proceed to the checkout page, where you'll complete the transaction by selecting your preferred payment method.

Besides credit cards like VISA, most providers accept alternative payment options like PayPal, Google Pay and cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin), among others. 

Download and Install the VPN App

Once you've concluded the signup and payment processes, you can download and install the VPN app on your device. If you wish to use the VPN on your smartphone, you can download the app from Apple's App Store on iOS or the Google Play Store on your Android device. 

You need to download the dedicated app from the official VPN provider's website for usage on your Mac or Windows computer. Most providers offer Chrome, Firefox, Edge or Opera browser extensions that you can download from the official website. Once you download the app or add the extension, open the application and log in using your email and password. 

Setup and Start Using Your VPN

Now you're almost ready to use your VPN, here are additional steps to complete your setup. 

  • Choose your tunneling protocol: The WireGuard protocol is highly recommended as it offers the best speed and security. An alternative tunneling protocol is OpenVPN. Although not as fast as the WireGuard, the OpenVPN UDP provides excellent speed, and the TCP version offers robust encryption.
  • Review the available encryption: The 256-bit AES encryption is the default industry standard and delivers robust security. Nevertheless, most providers allow customization enabling you to choose between 128 and 256-bit versions as well as GCM and CBC. If online privacy is your priority, consider 256-bit AES-GCM encryption. The AES-GCM offers a more secure cipher than the AES-CBC. 
  • Activate the kill switch: A drop in your VPN connection can expose your data to a third party. The kill switch prevents such data exposure by terminating your internet traffic during a drop in VPN connection while ensuring your real IP remains hidden. 
  • Consider split tunneling: Split tunneling can be helpful when you want secure VPN connections with specific apps or websites and regular internet connection for others. If that's your case, consider using split tunneling.

After determining which features are best for you, select a server in your chosen location and establish a VPN connection. You'll then be assigned a new IP from that location and protected with robust encryption. 

Benefits of Using a VPN

Virtual private networks offer numerous benefits. Some of the core benefits are:

Online Security and Privacy 

By providing robust web traffic encryption, a VPN protects your data from third-party access, especially when using public or free Wi-Fi or other untrustworthy public networks. Hiding your browsing activity makes it hard for your internet service providers and the government to track your online activities. 

Unblock Geo-Restricted Contents

Streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime offer different content depending on the region or geographical location. For most highly censored countries, some content is entirely unavailable. However, with a  VPN, you can access the latest shows on these platforms, even if they're unavailable in your region. By changing your IP address, the VPN geo-spoofs your location, thereby tricking the streaming website.

Minimizes or Eliminates Bandwidth Throttling 

Online activities like streaming games in 4K or downloading large files are costly to your internet service providers (ISP). And so your ISP may reduce your bandwidth speed if they notice you indulge in such activities often. However, with a VPN, data traffic between the server and the receiver is encrypted with advanced algorithms making it hard for your ISP to distinguish between HD streaming and web browsing.

Who Needs a VPN?

An excellent VPN can be a handy tool for diverse users for different activities. The following groups of people especially need it.

Sports and movie streamers: Movie streamers need VPN to unblock geo-restricted content from streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. You can also access your favorite sports shows.

Gamers: A VPN can be handy if you're a professional or a regular gamer. The best VPNs for gaming can improve pinging, help you bypass local firewalls and IP restrictions and protect you from distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. 

Regular public Wi-Fi users: Public Wi-Fi in airports and coffee shops can come in handy when you need an urgent connection to send a message, share files or access your social media accounts. A VPN is helpful in such a scenario to prevent your data from being stolen by malicious third parties online, especially considering such connections are vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Heavy internet users: If you're a heavy internet user, whether as a researcher or for any other purpose, then getting a VPN extension or proxy network for your specific browser can be helpful. For instance, besides bypassing censorship and protecting from privacy violations and data breaches, the best VPN for Chrome also offers malware protections, ad blocks and cookies controls. 

Compare the Best VPN Providers 

Benzinga compares the best VPN service providers.

Frequently Asked Questions


How do I set up a VPN connection?


Many VPNs don’t require an elaborate setup process — you allow the app access to configure the settings. Subsequently, you can fine-tune the settings by turning on the kill switch or choosing tunneling protocols to meet your needs.


How does a VPN work?


A VPN uses advanced encryption algorithms to protect your data traffic, masking your online activities. It spoofs your geographical location based on your choice and makes it appear as if you’re accessing a website in your chosen location when you’re not.