In the past, VPNs were complicated pieces of software designed for computer geeks, but today's VPN apps and software are easy to use. Most require you to download an app and create an account, and then they walk you through setting up your preferences. The whole thing usually takes less than 10 minutes.
Preference options you might see with a VPN service include whether to have pop-up notifications let you know when the VPN kicks in, or whether you want to automatically run the VPN whenever you open a certain internet browser. You can also choose to have your VPN automatically start up when you're using an unsecured public network. This is a great option if you're using a free VPN service that might limit the amount of data you can use each month, since you're more likely to need the protection of a VPN when you're on a public connection.
The only option on your VPN that you might want to change after the initial setup is the location of the VPN server you use. Most virtual private networks have between a few dozen to several hundred servers located all over the world, so you can decide where your IP address will be located. If you're traveling in a foreign country where certain websites are restricted, you can select a VPN server located in a different country to access the censored sites. But keep in mind that the farther away a VPN server is from your actual location, the greater the delay you may experience. After all, it's the internet, not witchcraft and wizardry.
We're glad you asked. We've tested a variety of different VPN services and selected our top picks for our Best VPN Services Guide.