What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)?
In the case we’re talking about here a VPN is a sort of secure tunnel between your device -computer, smartphone, whatever- and the provider of your VPN service.
Your system makes an encrypted connection to your VPN service provider and all your web browsing, IM, Skype calls and the like come and go within that secret-code-protected tunnel. The exit point is on the VPN service providers side so no one seeing the traffic coming out of the service providers systems will be able to identify the source of the traffic.
Why should I use a VPN?
If you care about internet privacy, want to avoid possible identity theft and don’t like the idea that Google and other websites you visit collect information about your web browsing and physical location, you want to use a VPN. Virtual Private Network technology is also used by people living under censorship to bypass the restrictions and gain access to information.
Another huge reason for VPN use is for mobile users who log onto Wi-Fi hotspots or networks at hotels and hostels. Usually these are very open to snooping and other users can potentially collect all kinds of information about you and your system.
When I decided to try a VPN I did a little searching and decided to go with the basic offering from Witopia.net since they had good pre-purchase information and seemed professional. It’s called the personalVPN – PPTP and runs $39.99 a year. PPTP just means Point to Point Tunneling Protocol and is the technical standard used for connecting to Witopia’s VPN service. They also offer two other VPN options with higher strength encryption and more connection options in case the PPTP connection method is being blocked by the powers that be in your location.
The personalVPN – PPTP service works with each of the following platforms:
The support wiki includes setup instructions for each. We’ll probably be going over some of the setup options with more detail than the wiki provides in the near future so check back for that.
I’ve set up a connection to the service in Linux Mint, Windows XP and Android while on a couple different personal\home Wi-Fi networks as well as at a Panera Bread location with good results. I use a 1.5Mpbs DSL line for the most part and if there is any decrease in connection speed because of the VPN use it is so minimal as to be unnoticeable.
There are many different Witopia servers listed in the wiki so you can setup a connection to each and choose which to log into whenever you use your computer. Pick a server in another country and go to Google.com to see the results. For example if you live in France and log into either the Toronto or Vancouver servers you should see Google Canada when when you enter google.com in your browser instead of the French version of Google you’d usually see without the VPN activated.
My only complaint about Witopia’s service thus far was during purchase. The payment process is somewhat confusing and I was initially unsure whether I’d completed payment or whether the shopping cart had set me back a step and was going to ask me to pay again. Pay close attention and you shouldn’t have a problem. It works fine it just makes you think twice.
If you find another VPN service you like go for it by all means! There are some shady services out there though so be careful. Look around for what others have used with success.
Image by: Mr_Andre[/caption] What is a Virtual Private Network (VPN)? In the case we’re talking about here a VPN is a sort of secure tunnel between your device -computer, smartphone, whatever- and the provider of your VPN service. Your system makes an encrypted connection to your VPN service provider and all your web browsing, IM, Skype calls and the like come and go within that secret-code-p" data-image="http://theartofprivacy.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/4205689527_e993e9104b-300x213.jpg" data-site="The Art of Privacy">