A hand pointing at an open book with a chat box coming out of it that says VPN

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) sends your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel, which protects you from snoopers and prying eyes online. Services like Surfshark make it easy to use a VPN and enjoy online protection without the need for a manual setup. 

Follow along to learn how to use a VPN and why you should do it in 2024.

Table of contents

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    How to use a VPN in 4 quick steps

    1. Get a VPN service subscription

    Surfshark subscription page with plan choices.

    When looking for a VPN, choose a premium provider. Sure, free VPN services have an attractive price of $0 (that’s €0 for European audiences). However, they don’t have the funding to maintain the same security standards as a paid VPN. Some may even sell your data to make a living.

    On the other hand, premium VPNs live and die on their reputation and technical sophistication. So, compare premium VPNs and pick one that is right for you. Most long-term subscriptions are priced at around $2/month for base plans, so you definitely won’t be breaking the bank to protect yourself online.

    1. Download and install the VPN app

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

    Installing a VPN is no different than any other app. Simply download a VPN app and install it on a platform of your choosing. Surfshark has dedicated apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and other major platforms.

    We also offer unlimited simultaneous connections, so make sure to install Surfshark on all your devices and stay connected to be safe online.

    1. Run the VPN app

    Surfshark login screen

    Once you have installed the VPN app, open it and log in to your account. Use the username and password you created when you got the VPN subscription in step 1.

    1. Click Connect

    Surfshark main screen, not connected to any server.

    Most VPNs, including Surfshark, have a Quick-connect button somewhere on the home screen that connects you to the closest/fastest server available. If you’re just looking for a quick and secure connection, this is the perfect option. If you wish to connect to a specific country or region, you can pick from a long list of servers to connect to.

    As soon as you establish a VPN connection, Surfshark starts doing what VPNs do — it encrypts your traffic and changes your IP address to ensure a secure connection to the internet.

    How to choose a VPN

    There are several factors to consider when choosing a VPN provider:

    Free VPNs are in all ways inferior to paid VPNs, but make sure not to overpay. You can get a reliable premium VPN for around $2/month if you commit to a long-term plan.
    Choose a VPN with a solid reputation. If a provider has been hacked, leaked user data, or doesn’t undergo regular independent audits, it might not be worth your trust.
    Server crowdedness and the distance between you and the server are both crucial for a good connection speed. If you choose a VPN with thousands of servers worldwide, you should be able to enjoy good speeds no matter where you are.
    Security technology
    A VPN is primarily a privacy and security tool. That’s why you should look for a VPN that uses modern algorithms and encryption for routing and protecting your data.
    Platform support
    Choose a VPN provider that has native apps for all major platforms and offers manual setup guides for devices that don’t support VPN apps. This way, you’ll be able to stay protected on all your devices.
    Money-back guarantee
    What if you’re unhappy with the VPN service? Then you’d probably want your money back. Surfshark offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. If your expectations are not met, you can get your money back within 30 days, no questions asked.

    Using a VPN on different devices

    Using a VPN on your device may seem scary at first. But this is the year 2024, and using a customer-oriented VPN client is actually very easy. Here’s how you can use Surfshark on all major platforms:

    Use a VPN on Windows

    1. Open the Windows download page and 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 connect to one of 3200+ servers in 100+ countries.

    Use a VPN on macOS

    1. Get the Surfshark app from the App Store or download the macOS app from the Surfshark website and install it on your device.
    2. Open the app, enter your login credentials, and click Log in.
    3. After logging in, click Quick-connect to connect to the nearest/fastest server. If you want to connect to another server, find the one you like in the Locations tab and click on it. 

    Use a VPN on Android

    1. Download the app from the Google Play Store or download the .APK file directly from Surfshark. 
    2. Install the app and log in using your credentials.
    3. Tap Quick-connect to connect to the fastest VPN server nearby, or select from a list of servers to connect to.
    4. The smartphone will ask you to approve the connection request — tap OK to complete the connection.

    Use a VPN on iOS

    1. Download the Surfshark app from the App Store.
    2. Install the app and open it.
    3. Use your credentials to log in to your Surfshark account.
    4. Tap Quick-connect to connect to the fastest server or manually choose from the list of available servers.

    Use a VPN for browser extensions

    1. Get the Surfshark extension on Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.
    2. Click Add, Get, or whatever other appropriate button is 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 in the upper right corner).
    4. Enter your login credentials — the email and password you input when signing up for the account.
    5. Click Quick-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 Android smart TVs, download the Surfshark app on the Google Play Store.
    2. Install the app, launch it, and log in using your credentials.
    3. Click Quick-connect to connect to the fastest server, or choose from a list of servers in the Location tab and click on a server to connect to it.

    How to set up a VPN on my device

    If you need more in-depth guides for setting up Surfshark on your device, we’ve got you covered. Click on the links below to find extensive setup guides.

    Or simply follow our general 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 Surfshark features that you should know about and use once you’ve got your subscription:


    CleanWeb is a feature designed to clean up your web surfing experience. It blocks intrusive ads and pop-ups and warns you about potential malware threats. 

    You can find it under Settings → VPN settings CleanWeb.

    Surfshark app's VPN settings screen with CleabWeb highlighted.


    You may want to disable the VPN to enhance connection speed when using data-heavy apps. Bypasser, Surfshark’s split-tunneling tool, can preserve speed without losing security. This feature allows you to choose apps and websites that the VPN app will ignore while the rest of your traffic stays encrypted.

    You can find it under SettingsVPN settingsBypasser.

    Surfshark app's VPN setting screen with Bypasser highlighted

    Dynamic MultiHop

    MultiHop is Surfshark’s double VPN solution that connects you to the internet via two VPN servers instead of one. While it’s rarely needed for regular browsing, it is a great tool for moments when you need extra security and don’t mind losing some speed.

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

    Surfshark app's Multihop tab

    Kill Switch

    Kill Switch disconnects you from the internet if your VPN connection accidentally drops. By doing so, it prevents you from leaking information online. As soon as your VPN connection is restored, you are reconnected to the internet. 

    You can find it under SettingsVPN SettingsKill Switch.

    Surfshark app's VPN setting screen with Kill Switch highlighted

    Rotating IP

    Rotating IP changes your IP address every once in a while without disconnecting you from the VPN. This feature makes your online activity even harder to track since it can’t be traced to a single IP address.

    You can find it under SettingsVPN SettingsAdvanced SettingsRotating IP.

    Surfshark app's VPN setting screen with Rotating IP highlighted


    NoBordersfeature allows users to access the internet securely even in regions where VPN use is heavily restricted. 

    You can find it under SettingsVPN SettingsAdvanced SettingsNoBorders.

    Surfshark app's VPN setting screen with NoBoders highlighted

    Can I use a VPN on multiple devices at the same time?

    Many VPN providers limit the number of devices you can use at the same time. But that is not the case with Surfshark. It offers unlimited simultaneous connections, which means you can keep all your devices protected without ever having to count them.

    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.

    What can I 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, mask your activities from your ISP (Internet Service Provider), and more.

    Be safe on public Wi-Fi

    VPNs use encryption to shield your internet activities from prying eyes. That’s why VPNs can be vital in keeping your login data secure from MITM (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, marketers first have to figure out what makes you click. For that, they might buy your IP address and consumer profile from your ISP or even track your searches. A VPN hides all this information, protecting you from targeted ads. 

    Game in safety

    Swatting, DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) 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 swatting. And it prevents bandwidth throttling on your internet connection.

    Stream shows and movies when traveling

    When you travel outside of your country, some streaming services may not work the same as they did back home. That won’t be an issue if you use a VPN when traveling, though. Simply connect to a VPN server in your home country and enjoy your favorite shows and movies as if you never left.

    Disclaimer: Please note that using Surfshark services for any illegal activities is strictly forbidden and constitutes a violation of our Terms of Service. Make sure that any use of Surfshark services for your particular activities conforms to all relevant laws and regulations, including those of any service providers and websites you access using Surfshark.

    Save money when shopping online

    Using a VPN can help you save money whenever you shop online, especially when it comes to flight tickets and accommodation. Prices for these things often change depending on your location and prior online activity. A VPN hides your actual location and encrypts your traffic, which can end up saving you a pretty penny when shopping online.

    Overcome ISP throttling

    Playing video games or watching videos online uses up a lot of bandwidth. Your ISP may decide to throttle your connection if it thinks you’re taking part in data-heavy activities too much. A VPN encrypts your traffic and hides your activity from the ISP, making it much less likely that it will slow your connection down.

    Put that new knowledge to good use

    Now you know how to use a VPN and the benefits that it provides. This means that you are only a few steps away from increasing your online privacy and security! So why not act on that knowledge and start using a VPN today?

    Start your VPN journey
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    How can I use a free VPN?

    First and foremost — we don’t recommend using free VPNs, and it’s best for you to avoid them if at all possible. Free VPNs lack transparency regarding their data logging policies and don’t provide the essential features required for ensuring your online safety. As a result, using a free VPN may be even less secure than not using a VPN at all.

    Is having a VPN illegal?

    Using a VPN is legal in a vast majority of countries worldwide, including the US, the UK, Canada, and most of Europe. The few countries that do ban or restrict VPN use are ones that are typically linked to oppressive censorship. This list includes Russia, Belarus, North Korea, and China.

    What is a VPN, and how do I use it?

    A VPN secures your online connection. It makes your 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.

    Is it safe to use a VPN?

    Yes, using a VPN is safe as long as you pick a premium VPN provider. You might run into issues if you choose a free VPN, as such VPNs have been linked to a concerning number of data leaks and other user security issues.