How to use a 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 Surshark, it’s also very easy to do.

Table of contents

    How to use a VPN in 4 quick steps

    Step 1: Get a VPN service subscription

    Who could have thought that spending money on your online protection would be so fun?

    Step 2: Download and install the VPN app

    Ever downloaded and installed a thing before? That skill is about to come in handy again.

    Step 3: Run the VPN app

    Enter the login credentials, and you’re but a click away from a VPN connection.

    Step 4: Click Connect

    Click Connect, which will connect you to the nearest, fastest server. That’s it – you’re using a VPN.

    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:

    What is a VPN server?

    VPN servers are an essential part of the whole VPN thing. They do two things:

    • Encrypt and decrypt the correspondence between you and the website/service;
    • Hide your IP (Internet Protocol), making it look like you’re connecting from the server’s location.

    Don’t worry. Everything has already been set up by your VPN provider – you just have to choose the server when connecting.

    An important part of VPN services is access to a variety of VPN servers around the world. For example, Surfshark has 3200+ servers in 100 countries.

    This means a German user can easily connect to a VPN server in Germany (for the best speed) or one in Australia (to appear as an Australian internet user). 

    Free vs. paid VPNs

    You’ve heard the saying, “the best things in life are free.” Sure, I won’t deny it if we’re talking about family, friends, or love. However, when the subject drifts to your digital life security, we might have reached an impasse if our opinions differ. Let me try to salvage it. 

    You pay money → a VPN gives you a no-logs policy, exclusive advanced features, a moderate VPN speed, many trusted servers, and more.

    You don’t pay money → a VPN can privately collect and sell your data, provide low server speed,  minimal additional features, a few servers, and who knows what else it hides under its cloak…

    Free things typically come with a hidden price that only becomes obvious when the provider demands payback. And that’s what happens when you’re using a free VPN. Look at our Free VPN vs. paid VPN blog post and make sure you never become someone else’s COUGH *free VPNs* COUGH product.

    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 about VPN legality.

    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:


    Blocks the known malicious ads and malware. 

    You can find it under SettingsVPN settings → Cleanweb.


    Allows apps and websites you choose to bypass VPN protection. 

    You can find it under SettingsVPN settings → Bypasser.


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

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

    Kill Switch

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

    You can find it under SettingsVPN Settings → Kill Switch.

    Rotating IP

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

    You can find it under SettingsVPN SettingsAdvanced Settings → Rotating IP.


    Allows VPN use in restrictive regions. 

    You can find it under SettingsVPN SettingsAdvanced Settings → NoBorders.

    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!

    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: Surfshark does not encourage using a VPN in any way that would potentially violate the Terms of Service of other 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

    Get Surfshark


    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.

    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.