Greetings folks! We must clarify something before we begin. You don't have to be an idiot to read this guide, and we’re certainly not implying as much. A true idiot would have difficulty making sense of anything, even this guide. We just wanted to get that out of the way. Let’s proceed. If you checked No on any of the boxes below, this idiot's guide to setting up a VPN is definitely for you. 

  • Have you ever heard of a VPN?  Yes      No 
  • Do you think you need a VPN?   Yes      No 
  • Is a VPN useful to hide your IP? Yes      No 
  • Do you like getting spied on?      Yes      No 

Why Should You Be Afraid to Surf the Web without a VPN?

Did you know that the instant you connect to your ISP (Internet Service Provider), valuable pieces of information about you are relayed on the World Wide Web? For starters, your IP address (Internet protocol) can easily be seen by a bad actor on the web. Your IP address is your computer’s address. Hackers routinely attempt to exploit your IP address for valuable data such as your ZIP Code, your city, your state, and so forth.

A hacker who knows your IP address cannot simply gain access to your entire hard drive or put you at considerable risk.  The reason for this is that you are connected to the Internet through your ISP provider which has firewalls and protections in place. However, hackers use TCP/IP data as pipelines for programs and applications that are running on your system. Ports serve as entry points into your computer and your personal files. If somebody knows your IP address, they can infiltrate your connection through the ports and engage in nefarious activity to corrupt your data, steal your data, or erase your data.

Your ISP is the gateway through which all of your traffic flows. Your ISP is probably a big-name company like Sky Broadband, Virgin Media, Talk Talk Group, Vodafone UK, Post Office Ltd, Plusnet, Verizon, Comcast, or T-Mobile, et cetera. ISP providers can see everything that you do online in terms of websites that you visit, connection times, logs, and browsing history. Now that you know this, would you feel comfortable if your online sessions were being monitored?

Of course not. Very few people want private information made public. That's why tech gurus came up with an ingenious invention known as a Virtual Private Network, or VPN.

So How Do You set up a VPN?

VPNs like ExpressVPN come ready-made, so you don't have to do much other than carefully choose the right one, download the software, and fire it up. VPNbase features in-depth reviews of the top-rated VPN services in the world. These VPN providers are reliable, trustworthy, secure, and filled with added safety features to ensure that your IP address and your browsing history never leaks on the web.

Think of a VPN as a tunnel which hides all of your Internet activity. When you choose a VPN service, all of your online traffic is redirected through a VPN server. Instead of connecting to your ISP and then your target website, you connect to a VPN server and that's all anyone will ever see – the IP address of the VPN server. Everything that happens after you have connected to the VPN server is encrypted. Your IP address will never be revealed because everyone sees the VPN server’s IP address, not yours. This is true of all major VPNs like VyprVPN and TrustVPN.

TIP: While you are searching for a VPN, you will come across many free VPNs. Avoid them. They are free for a reason – they offer you shoddy service with lots of congestion, and they are probably going to be selling your data to marketing agencies.

Take a look at the rudimentary schematic below to understand how VPNs work: 

Your Computer [Symbol] ISP [Symbol]Target Website 

  1. In the above-unprotected configuration, everyone can see what you’re doing because your IP address is visible.

Your Computer[Symbol] ISP [Symbol] VPN Server[Symbol] Website 

  1. In this protected configuration, you still connect to the web via your ISP but your traffic is immediately obfuscated through the VPN Server’s IP when you connect to target websites. Your traffic has been re-routed.

 Follow These Steps to Set up a VPN: 

  • Choose a reputable VPN service like ExpressVPN, PureVPN, SaferVPN, Ivacy VPN, Webroot VPN, Hide My Ass or any other top-tier service. Feel free to browse our highly rated VPNs on site.
  • Pick a pricing plan that best meets your needs. Remember, most VPNs come with a 30-day money-back guarantee as well.
  • Download the VPN software to your PC, Mac, iOS, or Android device.
  • Install the VPN and start running it.

Folks, that's really how easy it is to set up a VPN. There are add-ons you can download and install for Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. Many VPN services also offer antivirus software for a premium. It's up to you whether you wish to do that or not. A VPN is not an antivirus program, nor is it a malware blocker. It simply re-routes all of your traffic through a VPN server.

 Things to Think about: 

  • What logs are kept by the VPN service?
  • What does the VPN service do with the information it collects about you?
  • Where is the VPN company located? If it's in the 5 eyes or 14 eyes countries, the company is duty-bound to share any and all information if the government warrants it.

All of these questions are easily answered by reading the privacy policy of the VPN service. For a summary of this information, we encourage you to read our reviews of reputable VPN service companies like IvacyVPN and NordVPN.

Did this idiot’s guide to setting up a VPN help you? We'd love to hear how we can make it even easier for you to set up a VPN on your PC, Mac, Windows, or iOS device. Share your thoughts with our community here at VPNbase.