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If you frequently watch movies online, you are probably familiar with a VPN. If not, now is your chance to learn how to use these virtual networks to unlock numerous online entertainment opportunities. In the following line, we will discuss everything you need to know about these networks: how they work, how to compare them, and whether it is worth paying for one or if it is a good idea to use free VPNs.

What is a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and how does it work exactly?

A virtual private network is an encrypted tunnel between your device and the websites that you are accessing. All the data that is transferred in these connections is safely routed through the tunnel, masking your identity and location.

Many websites restrict their content for various locations. For example, some movie-streaming websites are only available in the U.S. or the U.K. Each device that you use to connect to the internet has a unique address known as the IP which includes various information about your devices, including the location. Websites check the IP address to know where you are in the world, and they can restrict access to their content if you are not located in their targeting locations. When you use a VPN, all your data will be filtered through an encrypted tunnel, and you will appear to have the IP of the VPN that you are using. You can find VPNs with servers all over the world, so you can basically access content from every country in the world.

VPNs can also be used by people who frequently use public WiFi networks. Public networks are not very safe as they can be easily hacked. A virtual network can also be used when you are traveling to a country with strict censorship that limits your browsing possibilities.

Pros and cons of VPNs

If you don’t know whether you should use a VPN, consider their main advantages, but also keep an eye out for the possible drawbacks of using them.

Pros

Protect your data – Most of us have comprehensive online profiles that feature a lot of private information. From bank account information to private conversations, a VPN can protect all of your valuable data. You can use them at home, on private WiFi networks and even at the office.

Save money – There’s a lot of great free content online, especially in terms of movies and TV-shows. However, some websites only offer free content for certain locations and charge fees for people who are outside their targeted locations. With a VPN, you can access free content from anywhere in the world. While the best VPNs require a monthly fee, in most cases, that fee is significantly lower than monthly cable services.

Total online freedom – As we already mentioned, some online content is available only in certain locations. Whether you are currently in a country with a strict censorship policy, or you simply want to access content that is only streaming in certain locations, a good VPN can give you total online browsing freedom.

Cons

Slower connections – Any VPN will affect your connection speed since the data must be filtered before it is sent to servers. However, the are some very good networks out there which affect your connection speed so little that you won’t even notice.

They don’t always work – Not any VPN can unlock any contact. When choosing a VPN, you should do some research to see if it can unblock the content that interests you. Even then, it is possible in the future for your VPN to stop working, since reputable websites are developing stronger VPN blockers.

Free or paid VPNs?

Paid services are always better, and VPNs make no exception. Paid VPNs have faster connections, higher quality security features and they are often easier to use. Keep in mind that the online world thrives from buying and selling your online data, so when a service is free, it often comes with some traps. Nonetheless, some providers can give you free access to their services for a month or two. As such, if you only need to use the VPN for a short amount of time, this is an option worth exploring. Nonetheless, stay away from using completely free services, as they can pose a serious risk to your data.

How to choose a good VPN

Since VPNs have so many benefits, it is no surprise that this is a very competitive market, but you should explore all your options to choose the best service for your needs. Here are the main factors that you should consider.

Server locations – To access content from a specific country, you need to use a VPN that has at least one server in that country.

Connection speed – This is particularly important if you plan on using the VPN for streaming movies, as you don’t want to experience lags or buffering.

Device connectivity – Most VPNs only work for one device, so if you plan on using it for all the devices in your home, choose one that supports router connectivity.

Privacy and security features – These are important especially if you use the same device for entertainment and important matters like online transactions.

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