If you’ve got a smartphone, then you probably haven’t tapped into all of the amazing features and functions that it supports.
Implementing and using a VPN on your mobile is a good example of this, but what is one, why should you take this step, and how can you go about it?
A virtual private network (VPN) sounds complex, but is a fairly straightforward concept to grasp. It basically describes a way of keeping your personal information safe by channeling all of your network traffic through a provider’s servers. Businesses often set up and maintain in-house VPNs, although they may also rely on IT service desk outsourcing to oversee and manage this asset.
When you’re connected to a VPN, your IP address won’t be shared with the sites you visit or the online services you use. Instead, it will be the IP of the provider’s infrastructure that is left behind.
Understanding the Advantages of VPNs
There are several benefits to having a VPN set up on your mobile, the first of which is that it can better defend you against security threats such as malware and hacking.
It’s important to learn how to tell if your phone is hacked, and to appreciate that when you use the web without a VPN standing between you and third parties, you’re at greater risk of being targeted.
Another common reason for people to harness VPNs is that it lets them mask their location, which is useful for accessing region-locked content from streaming services, amongst other things.
If you’re a business user and you’ve got an in-house network that you want to access remotely, a VPN is another way of doing this securely, even if you’re elsewhere in the world.
Finding the Right VPN Provider
For most mobile users who are looking for a VPN that will support their personal online activities, it makes sense to pay for access to a service of this kind offered by one of the many reputable providers out there.
Some of the biggest names in this market include ExpressVPN, NordVPN and Surfshare. You may have seen their packages advertised on social media, or through podcast sponsorship deals. This is advantageous because there are usually discount codes and free trials available through these marketing methods, so you can experiment with what each has to offer without paying through the nose.
In terms of narrowing down your options, pricing and features will help, but you also need to be aware of the locations that each VPN brand serves, as well as the availability of a dedicated app that’s compatible with your mobile device of choice. If you’re using a VPN as part of a remote working setup, selecting enterprise-grade packages makes sense.
Connecting Via a VPN App
Whether you’re an iPhone user or an Android fan, if you go with a mainstream VPN provider then they’ll almost certainly offer a native app for your platform, as mentioned.
For the most part this is the quickest and easiest way to get connected. Install the app from the App Store or the Play Store, then either create a new account and purchase your chosen package, or log into your account if you’ve already set one up prior to downloading.
Once you’re logged in, most VPN apps will let you connect swiftly with the tap of a button. You can go into the settings and tinker with options like which server you’re connected to and which location it is based on if you wish. But if security is your main concern, you never really need to tinker with any of the settings.
The one thing to keep in mind about using an app to connect to a VPN is that it may be necessary for you to launch this every time you intend to use it and keep it running in the background throughout.
Having processes like this active won’t impact your user experience so long as your phone is relatively modern. For older devices, the effects could be more pronounced, but there are more permanent ways to establish a VPN connection on your mobile device without an app, enhancing cyber security in the process.
Connecting to a VPN on Android
There are lots of different versions of Android, and a whole host of iterations that have been adapted and tweaked by individual manufacturers. This means that the way to set up a VPN might be slightly different depending on the make, model and age of your handset.
Even so, here are some general tips for establishing a connection and choosing the right settings on a Google-based device.
First, head to the Settings menu, then open the Network & Internet submenu. From here you should be able to scroll down to the Advanced segment, and see a section appropriately labeled as VPN. If it isn’t in this menu or list, try searching for ‘VPN’ on your phone.
Once the VPN menu is open, you can hit the ‘Add’ option to set up your new connection, and you’ll be presented with all the sections you need to fill out to fulfill this aim.
The info you need should be available from your chosen VPN provider, whether on their website or within their app, so copy this across in full.
If you’ve got your own VPN to connect to, or your business VPN you want to access, you’ll need to come up with the necessary info yourself, or get in touch with whoever is responsible for administering the infrastructure in question.
Once set up, you can change the settings of your VPN connection and activate the ‘Always-on VPN’ option so that it is permanently enabled.
Connecting to a VPN on iPhone
The iPhone route to VPN connectivity is not that different to Android; first, head to the Settings menu and hit the General tab. Here you’ll find the VPN submenu, from which you can select to Add VPN Configuration.
This is where the aforementioned info on the type of VPN will come into play. You’ll need details on the type of connection, the server address, the username and password you want to use, and so forth.
After everything is configured here, you can save the VPN to your iPhone and then either enable always-on connectivity, or leave it as a connect on demand setup depending on your preferences.
Bear in mind that with both Android and iPhone, if you have installed a VPN app, you may be able to see the settings for your provider’s network in the VPN menu, but you might not be able to alter anything manually. And of course, if you do make changes to the configuration, then it may render the app’s features useless until you reset everything and start again.
This is where outsourcing support is useful for business users in particular, as it avoids prolonged disruption due to user intervention.
The Last Word on Setting up a VPN on Your Phone
So long as you are happy to pay the small monthly fee for mainstream VPN providers’ services, then it really does make sense to have this type of connection up and running on your mobile device.
The security and the convenience go hand in hand, and there’s no doubt that as cyber threats continue to get more serious by the day, average consumers and business users alike have to be proactive in fighting back against them.
So, get out there, experiment with VPNs on your smartphone, and enjoy a safer approach to using all sorts of online services.