This content originally appeared on Mashable for a US audience and has been adapted for the UK audience.
If you’re totally unfamiliar with virtual private networks, or VPNs, this is probably a good time to get to know the increasingly popular cybersecurity services.
There are a number of reasons why you might want to use a VPN, including but not limited to masking all of your internet traffic or accessing services that may be blocked in a particular location. If you want to get the most out of the internet these days, a VPN is absolutely essential.
What is a VPN?
VPNs provide protection for your data and identity when you’re online. They offer this online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network that hides your real IP address, meaning that all of your activity is untraceable and secure.
VPNs act like encrypted tunnels through which all of your online traffic passes through. Nobody can see into the tunnel, and everything inside the tunnel is protected against online threats like viruses, hackers, and malware.
Should you use free VPNs?
There are plenty of free versions of popular VPNs, plus free trials of VPNs with full access to everything you get with a premium plan. However, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for with VPNs.
There tends to always be a catch with free versions, and it’s normally in the form of limited data usage. If you’re just an occasional user, these plans will work fine. But if you’re going to be streaming or downloading, this isn’t going to work. Free trials are a little bit different: they come with everything you get in a paid plan, but obviously they don’t tend to last very long. Trials are great for testing out a service before committing, but this isn’t a long-term solution.
The best option for streaming securely and accessing the online world without restrictions is with a paid subscription to a VPN. To gain access to advanced security features without limitations on usage, you need to pay up.
What is the best VPN for privacy and anonymity?
Deciding that you need a VPN is the easy part, but which VPN should you pick, and which ones can you trust? Search for a VPN online and dozens of results appear, so choosing the best service can be tricky. It requires a lot of research, and you should absolutely do your homework before committing to anything.
The good news is that we have done a lot of the hard work to help you in your search for a VPN, and tracked down examples of great services that secure your data, hide your activity, and bypass online restrictions. You can pick from leading services like PureVPN, NordVPN, TunnelBear, and more.
These are the best VPNs for online privacy in 2023.
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