Why You Need a VPN On WindowsLast Updated by Olivia Jones on August 18, 2020
Security on the go
If you own a laptop and you use it to browse the internet in public venues, a VPN is highly recommended. Connect to WiFi at public locations like a coffee shop or a library can open your computer up to hacking or getting your personal information stolen. Passwords, credit card numbers and any other private info entered while connected to a public WiFi could easily be compromised.
Unless that is, you’re using a VPN. Even if you’re connecting to an otherwise dangerous public wifi spot, a VPN will ensure that your data is encrypted and impossible to be intercepted by any bad guys. According to Harvard Business Review, unsecured public wifi has been used to target everyone from random customers in a hotel lobby to high-ranking executives and politicians. Don’t let yourself fall prey.
Seeing what they don’t want you to see
Many countries around the world, including Egypt, China, or Saudi Arabia, to name a few, strictly limit access to the internet. If you live in or are visiting one of these countries, many sites may be marked as off limits and inaccessible, including major social media and news websites. If you use a VPN, however, you can access the web through a server that’s free of whatever restrictions may be in place in your physical location.
This point isn’t just about government censorship, either. Some schools and employers will limit what’s accessible via their wifi, even going so far as to block popular (but distracting) websites like Facebook and YouTube. With clever use of a VPN, you can get around these restrictions, as well as making sure that the boss or school administrator cannot see what you’re up to.
Full access to streaming services
If you have an account with Netflix or any other major media streaming service and have ever traveled outside your home country, you know the pain that can ensue. These services retain different media rights contracts in each country, so the films and TV shows available for streaming in the United States might be completely different from what’s available in Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, or anywhere else.
Good news, though! You can use a Windows VPN on your laptop to get around these restrictions. With the right VPN, you can set your server to any of multiple different countries, potentially increasing your access to new and different shows even from home. If you’re already paying for the streaming service, you might as well get everything it has to offer!
Good old privacy
This is more about the principle of things than any currently realistic concerns, but the fact is that it’s too easy for the government, a major corporation, or any other force who gets a hold of ISP data to track and log your entire online life. That may not be a massive concern for the average person yet, but it’s not inconceivable that it could become a huge problem in the future – even if you live in a free and democratic country like the United States.
When former government contractor Edward Snowden leaked a ton of information from the NSA in 2013, it became clear that the government has both the power and the willingness to dig deep into the internet browsing habits of everyday citizens. If you feel that people should have free access to the internet without fear of possible government surveillance, it’s worth investing in a VPN, even if you’re not necessarily scared of being watched yourself.
Three Recommended VPNs for Windows
There are dozens of options for VPNs out there, and it can be intimidating deciding which is best for you. Not sure where to start? Here are three of the best VPNs on the market right now.
In addition to over 3,500 servers spread around the world, NordVPN also keeps zero logs, ensuring privacy even more than the average VPN.
As a company, NordVPN has made it a policy to continue developing and improving the security of its service, so you can expect regular upgrades and improvements. It even has Netflix-specific features to help make your streaming experience the smoothest possible via a VPN. NordVPN also features 24/7 customer support and a money-back guarantee if you try the service for 30 days and don’t like it.
Pricing: ranges from $11.95 a month to $2.75 a month with a 3-year plan.
Features: more than 3,500 servers worldwide, “double VPN” for multiple layers of encryption, no logs policy, up to 6 devices connected at a time, 30-day money-back guarantee.
As the name implies, ExpressVPN’s biggest focus is on speed. With this British Virgin Islands-based service, you can expect to get some of the fastest browsing speeds possible when connecting through a VPN. Instead of advanced setup options, ExpressVPN offers a clean, simple design that emphasizes ease of use and blazing fast speed. It also offers up 24/7 customer support and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Pricing: ranges from $12.95 a month to $6.67 a month with a 15-month commitment
Features: over 2,000 servers in nearly 100 countries, optimized for speed, unlimited bandwidth, easy to use, “kill switch” to protect you when you get disconnected from the VPN, no logs policy and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
This is another case where the name says it all. If your main concern is privacy above all else, then Sweden-based PrivateVPN is probably the service you’re looking for. Though it has a smaller number of servers than other VPNs, PrivateVPN boasts some of the best encryption available.
Speed and ability to handle streaming media takes a hit, but in return, it has improved port forwarding and peer-to-peer connection technology. Those concerned about maintaining their privacy should give this one a shot; there’s also a 30-day money-back guarantee if you find the slower speeds too much to handle.
Pricing: ranges from $7.67 a month to $3.88 a month for a 13-month commitment
Features: 80+ servers in 56 different countries, military-grade encryption, no logs policy, port forwarding and P2P functionality, up to 6 devices connected at a time and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Better Safe Than Sorry
In many ways, using a VPN comes down to a form of insurance. Is it likely you’ll be watched by a shady government agency, hacked by some creep in a coffee shop, or find yourself unable to access Twitter? Not necessarily, for any one of these on any given day. But is it worth taking that risk over and over again?
You can find more information about protecting yourself online from the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Surveillance Self-Defense guide.