learn what you need to know about VPN

If using the internet is like crossing a park from one end to the other, then a VPN Virtual Private Network is a technology that allows you to cross that park in a private tunnel and away from public notice.

A VPN service creates a special secret communication channel that nobody can snoop on. And with apps like Surfshark, it’s also very easy to do.

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    How to use a VPN in 4 quick steps

    Step 1: Get a VPN service subscription

    Surfshark subscription page with plan choices.

    When looking for the right VPN for you, steer clear of free VPNs. Sure, they have an attractive price point of €0 (that’s $0 for American audiences). But a free VPN doesn’t have the funding to maintain the same standard of modern security as a paid VPN. Some have the incentive to trade your information away. 

    On the other hand, premium VPNs live and die on their reputation and technical sophistication. Plus, one of them pays my wage. 

    So choose the premium VPN that is right for you — has a good reputation, maintains loads of servers near or in your country, supports your devices, etc. — go to their website and subscribe. 

    Step 2: Download and install the VPN app

    A standard Windows prompt asking whether the user wants to install Surfshark.

    Ever downloaded and installed a thing before? That skill is about to come in handy again. Download VPN apps like Surfshark and install them on a dizzying array of platforms — you’re likely to be directed to the download page after you sign up for the subscription.

    From there on, you’ll find easy-to-install versions of Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and other apps. So install at least one!

    Step 3: Run the VPN app

    Surfshark login screen

    Once your VPN app is installed, run it like you would any other app. However, you will need to sign into your user account. You should still remember the username and password you chose in Step 1, so enter those and complete the two-factor authentication requirements if there are any. 

    If you’re successful, you should be able to see the app’s main screen, with an enticing Connect button prominently displayed. 

    Step 4: Click Connect

    Surfshark main screen, not connected to any server.

    In most VPNs, clicking Connect will connect you to the closest/fastest server available. As soon as you’re connected, Surfshark starts doing what VPNs do — it encrypts your traffic and changes your IP address to ensure a secure connection to the internet.

    However, you can always easily choose another server on the app and connect to it instead. On the Surfshark app, you do that by merely clicking the server of your choice. 

    How to Choose a VPN

    When you’re choosing the right VPN for you, there are several factors to consider:

    Price
    Free VPNs are in all ways inferior to paid VPNs, but make sure not to overpay.
    Reputation
    A serious VPN developer will have years of history behind it. Check the news or review websites like TrustPilot to see what the other users are saying.
    Servers
    The more servers in more countries, the better. Servers not only let you replace your IP with that of the VPN server but will also keep as much of your internet speed as possible.
    Security technology
    How trustworthy your VPN app is depends a lot on the money spent on security research and implementation. A good VPN will use the most current algorithms for encrypting your data.
    Platform support
    Simply put, it’s about finding out whether your device — smartphone, tablet, PC, etc. — is supported by your VPN of choice.
    Money-back guarantee
    What if you’re unhappy with the VPN service? Then you’d probably want your money back. That’s why you need to find a VPN provider with something like Surfshark’s 30-day money-back guarantee.

    Using a VPN on different devices

    Alright, digital cowboy (or girl or other), using a VPN on your device may seem scary at first. But this is the year 2023, and it’s actually very easy to use something like a consumer-grade commercial VPN client. 

    These guides presuppose that you have already subscribed to Surfshark and thus already have login credentials — the email address and password you entered during the subscription. 

    Use a VPN on Windows

    1. Open this page and click the Download the Windows app button to download the installation file;
    2. Open the install file and click Yes/Confirm/etc. on any prompts to install the app in the default directory; 
    3. After the installation, the app will start automatically. Enter your login credentials — and potentially the 2FA code — and click Connect. The app will automatically connect you to the fastest/nearest server; 
    4. If you want to connect to a different server, find it (potentially with the Search bar at the top) in the Locations tab and click on it. 

    Use a VPN on macOS

    1. To get the Surfshark app, search Surfshark on the App Store — or just click on this link and click Get. This will download and install the VPN app. Click Open
    2. Once the app is open, enter your login credentials and click Log in;
    3. After logging in, click Connect to connect to the nearest/fastest server. If you want to connect to another server, find one you like in the Locations tab and click on it. 

    Use a VPN on Android

    1. Open your Play Store app and find Surfshark by entering Surfshark in the search bar; Tap on the Surfshark VPN result, then tap on the install. Agree with any prompts; 
    2. Once the app is installed, open it. Log in with your credentials. The main page of the app should open; 
    3. On the main page, click Connect — the app will automatically connect to the fastest server; 
    4. The smartphone will ask you to approve the connection request — tap OK
    5. To connect to another server, tap on the Locations button and then tap on the desired server. 

    Use a VPN on iOS

    1. Open the App Store on your device and search for Surfshark
    2. Tap GET to start downloading and installing the app. You will have to confirm your choice with Face ID or your Apple ID password;
    3. After the installation, close the App Store and find the new Surfshark VPN icon. Tap it, then agree with the Terms and Conditions;  
    4. Log in with the email and password you chose during the registration. Once on the app’s main screen, tap Connect to connect to the fastest server;
    5. To choose a different server, find one you like in the Locations tab and tap it. 

    Use a VPN for browser extensions

    1. Find Surfshark on your browser’s app store or click the appropriate link: Chrome, Firefox, Edge;
    2. Click Add, Get, or whatever other appropriate button to install the extension. Agree with any prompts about installing it; 
    3. Once the extension is installed, click on the Surfshark logo in the toolbar usually on the upper right; 
    4. Enter your login credentials the email and password you input when signing up for the account; 
    5. Click Connect to connect to the fastest server or find a server in the Locations tab to connect to. 

    Use a VPN on a smart TV

    1. For a smart TV running Android, find the Surfshark app on the Play Store on the TV. Install it;
    2. Once the app is installed, launch it and enter your login credentials email and password when asked; 
    3. When you log in, you can click Connect to connect to the fastest server. If you want to connect to some other server, choose one in the Location tab and click on it. 

    How to set up a VPN on my device

    Not satisfied with our short guide above? No worries (except for me, the writer) here are some helpful links. Click them to learn how to set up a VPN on:

    We also have a simple guide on setting up a VPN on any device.

    How to set up a VPN manually

    Sometimes, you need to take a hands-on approach. Maybe your system doesn’t support VPN apps, or you’re on a restrictive network that makes regular VPN connections impossible. Here are our guides for setting up a VPN manually on:

    How to use advanced VPN features

    Getting a VPN and not using its full features is like buying a car and never using the A/C – you’re missing out! Here are some of the more advanced features with handy links on how to use them:

    CleanWeb

    Blocks known malicious ads and malware. 

    You can find it under Settings → VPN settings → CleanWeb.

    Surfshark app's VPN settings screen with CleabWeb highlighted.

    Bypasser

    Some disable the VPN connection to save bandwidth. The Bypasser can preserve speed without losing security.

    This feature allows you to choose apps and websites that the VPN app will ignore.

    You can find it under Settings → VPN settings → Bypasser.

    Surfshark app's VPN setting screen with Bypasser highlighted

    Dynamic MultiHop

    Connects to the internet via two VPN servers of your choice for added privacy. 

    You can find it under the MultiHop tab in the main Surfshark app window.

    Surfshark app's Multihop tab

    Kill Switch

    Disconnects you from the internet if the VPN connection drops accidentally. 

    You can find it under Settings → VPN Settings → Kill Switch.

    Surfshark app's VPN setting screen with Kill Switch highlighted

    Rotating IP

    Changes your IP address every once in a while without disconnecting you from the VPN. 

    You can find it under Settings → VPN Settings → Advanced Settings → Rotating IP.

    Surfshark app's VPN setting screen with Rotating IP highlighted

    NoBorders

    Allows VPN use in restrictive regions. 

    You can find it under Settings → VPN Settings → Advanced Settings → NoBorders.

    Surfshark app's VPN setting screen with NoBoders highlighted

    How to use a VPN on multiple devices (at the same time)

    Some VPNs allow you to run a VPN on multiple devices at the same time. And some VPNs like Surfshark allow you to run VPN apps with a single account on virtually unlimited devices. 

    Doing it is very easy: 

    1. Install the VPN app on a device you want to use it on;
    2. Log in with your credentials;
    3. That’s it. 

    For a more sophisticated approach, you can set up two-factor authentication on multiple devices

    Things to do with a VPN

    Protect your identity online 

    Don’t want to leave digital breadcrumbs that give all your online escapades away? By connecting to a VPN server, you’ll hide your IP address (like your home address, but for the internet), mask your activities from your internet service provider, and more.

    Be safe on public Wi-Fi

    VPNs use encryption to shield your internet activities from prying eyes. They can be vital in keeping your login data secure from man-in-the-middle attacks on public Wi-Fi. Don’t get hacked when you’re enjoying a bit of traveling! And don’t worry, a VPN doesn’t drain the battery much!

    Avoid targeted ads

    To serve you annoying targeted ads, the marketers have to first figure out what makes you click. They do this in various ways, like buying your IP address and consumer profile from your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Foil them with a VPN that hides your IP. 

    Game in safety

    SWATing, DDoS attacks, and kids telling you they hired an assassin are all dangers of playing multiplayer games. But with a VPN, you’ll hide your real IP address, making it very hard (if not impossible) to DDoS you or find out where you live for a SWATing. And it prevents bandwidth throttling on your internet connection.

    Disclaimer: We prohibit using Surfshark services for any unlawful purposes as it is against our Terms of Service. Please be sure to act in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations of streaming service providers.

    Put that new knowledge to good use

    You now know not only how to use a VPN but also that using it is the easiest thing in the world. This means that you are but a few steps away from increased privacy and accessibility! So why not act on that knowledge and use a VPN?

    Now get yourself some VPN

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    FAQ

    How to use a free VPN?

    Firstly, you need to find a free VPN platform that suits you. Using it is more or less the same as using a paid VPN. You subscribe, download and install the VPN client, run the app on your device, and connect. 

    However, keep in mind that using a free VPN is not recommended since it won’t completely secure your data. Free VPNs lack transparency about the logs policies and don’t provide the right necessities for your digital safety.

    Is having a VPN illegal?

    It’s not illegal to use a VPN in 99% of countries around the world. We have an article that goes into deeper detail on VPN legality.

    What is VPN, and how do you use it?

    VPN secures your connection while you’re online. It makes browsing private, masks your IP address and prevents your ISP from tracking you. Using it is as simple as it gets:

    1. Get a VPN service subscription;
    2. Download and install the VPN app;
    3. Run the VPN app;
    4. Connect to the preferred server.

    That’s about it! If you follow the steps, you’ll successfully connect to the VPN.

    What is needed for a VPN?

    VPN doesn’t require a lot. You only need an internet connection and an electronic device (phone, computer, TV) to use it. If you already have these you’re qualified to use a VPN and secure yourself online.