A VPN (Virtual Private Network) uses encryption to protect online activities and maintain the user’s confidentiality as they browse the internet, as well as helping them access content that is restricted by location.
If you’ve never heard of a VPN, but you’re interested in protecting your information and internet browsing, this article is a good place to start.
One of the main advantages of using a VPN is that it uses encryption and changes your IP address to let you browse the web more anonymously, helping to keep your identity, activity, and geographical location private.
VPNs can be especially helpful if you sometimes use unsecured networks and you want to keep your activities and important data private. If you log into to your VPN at the beginning of every online session, you are in effect creating an encrypted “tunnel” between you and the remote server of your VPN provider. This “tunnel” protects your privacy from other network users.
Even when you use your home network, you need to take your privacy into account. Otherwise your internet service provider (ISP) can still collect data on your online activity and share that data with other companies for profit. Unfortunately, private browsing modes offered by internet browsers such as Chrome’s Incognito are not enough to protect your data from ISPs.
Sometimes VPNs are used for reasons other than privacy. They can also help you access content that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see because it is restricted by country, such as a Youtube video.
Additionally, VPNs are regularly used in countries that try to block access to certain websites. For example, certain countries may have blanket bans on Facebook and Youtube. In these cases, having VPN might allow you to bypass these restrictions, because you are logging into a foreign server and effectively browsing the internet from a different country than the one that you are physically in.
Once a VPN is installed, users can enjoy increased bandwidth and efficiency of the network they’re using, especially if they are trying to access content that is far away from their physical location. For example, if you are in Europe and want to access content from the United States Library of Congress or even if you are on the opposite side of the country, it would be more efficient to use a VPN located closer to Washington D.C. or at least in the Eastern United States. A VPN in closer proximity to the Library of Congress will allow for a more direct connection and will require less “hops” onto other networks to reach the Library of Congress website server.
Using a VPN for companies also has several advantages. One of them being that the internet browsing data of a company’s employees such as their locations and work activities can be kept private from ISPs and other network users.
Secondly, employees having to work on-the-go sometimes rely on unsecured networks to access the internet. In these situations having a VPN will protect their data from other users of that network. Moreover, if employers require their employees to use a VPN at all times, the fact that some of their employees might not always follow the best network security standards will be less of a worry, because the use of a VPN automatically adds additional layers of security.
As mentioned above in the Library of Congress example, VPNs can allow more direct and efficient access to materials whose server location is far away. This makes file and data sharing between employees in different locations much more efficient.
Finally, there may be reasons why a company might want to use a VPN to mask the physical location of its office or its employees, especially if it wants to remain anonymous while conducting surveillance on competitor websites.
In today’s world, public networks can pose a real threat to your private data, while private networks still allow your internet service provider to keep tabs on everything you do online. Therefore, if you value your privacy, installing and using a proper VPN is very important.
Now that you know all of the advantages of using a VPN, you can start researching which one to use. Make sure to choose one that offers you a free trial period, so that you can test its speed, capacity for simultaneous connections (so you can use it on more than one device at a time in your household), quality of customer support, and compatibility with various operating systems.
We all wish our internet connection could be faster, and while calling your Internet Service Provider to upgrade your plan may prove to be the easiest option, it is also the most expensive one. So, before you do that, try these tips to see if you can speed up your internet connection on your own.
In order to prove that your strategies to speed up your internet connection are working, it’s important that you first run a speed test. You’ll be able to find several tools that can help you do this for free online. We personally recommend Speedtest.net, Fast.com, and even Google.
Make sure that you’re testing before and after at the same hours of the day and using the same service, so that you can be certain you’re getting the most accurate results. You also need to remember to turn off data-intensive activities, such as downloads, music or video streaming, and online games before you run any tests. Otherwise you will get a much lower speed.
Once you have the speed results, compare them with the speed you should be getting as advertised by your service provider. Although real world internet speeds don’t usually match perfectly to the one’s your ISP says you’re paying for, it shouldn’t be too big of a difference, especially during off-peak hours.
The more devices you have connected to your router, the slower your connection will be. Therefore, if you have multiple phones, tablets, computers, smart TVs or home devices and video game consoles sharing your home network, you can be certain they’re all sucking up bandwidth even if they’re idle. This is because many devices can be set to automatically download and install updates, which can significantly reduce your internet connection without you even noticing it.
In order to stop unused devices from sucking up your bandwidth, shut them down entirely or at least turn off their Wi-Fi connection when you’re not using them.
Routers work by sending radio signals outward in every direction, however, these signals come with a high frequency and a relatively short range, meaning they’re most likely not covering every part of your home or can even be slowed down and get blocked by objects that are in the way, therefore reducing your internet speed.
In order to solve this, relocating your router to a place that’s closer to where you mainly use your internet and keeping it away from corners and objects such as doors, TVs, etc., can help speed up your internet connection.
If this isn’t possible, purchasing equipment, such as a Wi-Fi repeater or range extender, can help extend your router’s range, helping you maintain your internet speed when you are farther away from your router.
Keeping a tight router password is important as it helps you avoid unwanted guests who may be latching on to your internet connection without you even noticing it, and therefore, significantly reducing your speed.
If your connection is unsecured, immediately add a password and then browse your router’s connection logs to determine who is currently or has been connected to your home’s wifi. It can be useful to then add names to your devices so you can be certain who’s logged in, and if there’s ever unrecognizable devices connected you can either block them – if your router gives you that option – or simply change the password for a stronger one.
Your wireless router catches information and holds memory and background processes just as a computer does, so resetting it from time to time can be an easy way to get it back to a fresh start and speed up your internet connection.
In order to do so, you’ll simply have to remove your router’s power cord, wait 15 to 30 seconds, and then turn it back on.
If you’re seeing a lot of other networks on your devices when connecting to your home Wi-Fi, picking a Wi-Fi channel that offers less interference will help you easily speed up your internet connection.
Most routers will simply pick an available channel automatically, which may not be the most efficient or least crowded. As a solution, check your routers’ settings because it should allow you to manually change the channel it’s broadcasting on, and run speed tests after each try to see which one makes the most difference.
If your devices are placed close to your wireless router, a quick fix to speed up your internet connection can be using a wired ethernet connection whenever possible, as this will speed things up significantly while also saving bandwidth in your Wi-Fi network for other devices.
You can also try connecting directly to your modem instead of your wireless router, as this usually shows better results.
Check your computer’s task manager to see if there’s anything that’s using up more internet speed than it should be while running in the background. If you’re a Windows user, launching the Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del) can help you view a list of all running processes, while the Network column will show you which of them are using your network connection so you can eliminate anything that’s not needed. On a Mac, the Activity Monitor serves the same purpose.
If there are any process names you don’t recognize, conducting an internet search will quickly let you know whether you need that app or not.
Keep an eye out for malware and viruses as they can be the source of unwanted network activity, especially on Windows. Remember to run a virus scan regularly to keep yourself protected.
Also, if your computer tends to be slow, limiting the number of tabs you keep open on your browser can help speed up your internet connection. On mobile devices, especially on older ones, Opera Mini can deliver faster speeds.
If you’re still dealing with super slow internet connections or simply haven’t seen a significant change after implementing all of these tips, then it may be time to upgrade and get a new computer, modem, or router, as old devices can be the cause of slow speeds.
If your router is more than 5 years old, there’s a great chance that it’s not up to the newest Wi-Fi standards, hence why you’re getting slower speeds than you should be. The same can happen for an old computer, smartphone, or gaming system. While new devices can usually support older wireless standards, old equipment will never work with a standard that didn’t exist before its manufacturing.
If, after trying all of these tips, you’re still experiencing slow connections, then there’s a great chance it’s not your fault. In this scenario, contacting your service provider and letting them know about your findings will be necessary, especially if the internet speeds you’re getting are significantly lower than what you’re supposedly paying for.
Letting your ISP know you’re unhappy with the service and threatening to leave if they’re not being receptive should do the trick. However, always consider the option of going to another provider if you’re still not getting a good enough speed.
There are several reasons why your battery may run out faster than it should. Possible culprits could be your screen brightness settings, the GPS, and Bluetooth being turned on when you’re not using it, or even having a faulty charger. However, it is also possible that applications running in the background could be the cause of the problem, so how can you find out exactly which apps are draining your phone’s battery life?
According to a report published by Avast, common apps such as Facebook, Netflix, Google Maps and WhatsApp carry a lot of the guilt for draining your battery life. While some of these can seem essential to most users, there are ways to reduce their effects. For example you can view the social networks in your web browser instead of using their apps.
However, even for the apps that can’t be deleted, there are still ways to limit their energy use, such as turning off notifications and reducing background features, and limited their use of location tracking.
Up next, we detail the findings of this Avast report, before going through the specifics of how you can find out for yourself the particular apps that are draining your phone’s battery, whether you’re an Android or iPhone user.
So you’ve gone through the lists, but as it turns out you don’t actually use some of these apps. If you want to see for yourself which specific apps on your phone are draining the battery life, here are the instructions for both Android and iPhone users:
For most Android versions, you can go to Settings > Device > Battery or Settings > Power > Battery Use. If you’re using an Android 9 simply go to Settings > Battery > More > Battery Usage.
Here you’ll find a detailed list of all the apps that are draining your phone’s battery and at what rate. If one of these takes up a disproportionate amount of power then consider the possibility of uninstalling it. For Android 9 users, you’ll be able to turn on “Background restriction” and “Battery optimization” options for some, if not all, apps.
For iPhone users, the process is as simple as going to Settings > Battery, where you’ll immediately find a list of all the apps draining your phone’s battery. You can even tap on the “Battery Health” option to check how well your phone’s battery is performing. If your battery’s capacity is well below 90% it might be time to replace your battery.
Even if you’ve already deleted and replaced the most battery draining apps, here are a few bonus tips that can help your phone’s battery life last longer:
Although instant notifications may be useful for certain social media and mailing apps, some of them require you to allow notifications which contributes to draining your battery’s life faster.
Go to your Apps window in your phone to uncheck the “Show notifications” box for the apps in which notifications are unnecessary. If you’re an Android user, you can go further by checking Settings > Device > Notifications to manually adjust the notification levels for each app, either choosing for them to never show notifications or do so silently without vibrating, pinging or waking up the screen.
Going on Airplane Mode at night when you’re not using your phone, or in instances when there’s very low signal, can save a lot of battery life, especially since smartphones lose a lot of power when trying to connect in low signal areas.
If the low signal area is a home or office, you can use Wi-Fi when Airplane Mode is enabled as a way to stay connected, since your phone uses less energy to connect to wireless rather than cellular networks.
While there are plenty of cheap chargers out there, using them or a cable that’s not coming from the original manufacturer or a certified third-party could actually degrade your battery life.
If your phone is ringing you might not need it to vibrate as well, so turning this option off in your notifications along with haptic feedback and “touch vibration” can save power.
While having widgets on your home screen can be useful for real-time updates, they can also be major battery drainers as they’re constantly syncing. So, if you don’t need a permanent window into today’s News or regular weather updates, remove the widget from your home screen to save power.
GPS can be a major drain on battery life. You may have noticed this when using Google Maps, one of the main apps that drain your phone’s battery. So, when you’re not in need of active navigation, switch it off!
While they may look cute, there’s probably no need for a live wallpaper. Enabling an option, such as automatic or adaptive brightness, in order for your phone to adapt the display based on your current lighting conditions can work wonders in saving your battery life.
Also, make sure to decrease the length of time your phone remains idle before the display goes dark automatically. Adjusting screen timeout to 15 seconds instead of a 20 minute interval can make a big difference.
Updates usually include bug fixes and little tweaks that improve performance, which can sometimes also mean a more efficient use of battery life, for both apps and your OS.