Many of us plan to travel internationally while teaching online. One of the biggest worries when doing so is the guarantee of strong, secure internet service.
A good VPN – virtual Virtual Private Network, for those who haven’t heard the term before — is an excellent tool to have in your pocket.
Many readers have asked us for advice on how to use a VPN, and we’re going to address questions surrounding why and how to use a VPN for working online here.
What is a VPN?
In laymen’s terms, a VPN service gives you an extra layer of privacy and security when connecting to unknown wifi networks.
You can set your location — many times even if that location is not where you are currently — and ensure that data flowing between your computer and the internet is encrypted.
No one else connected to that wifi network can monitor the information flowing into and out of your computer.
It’s essentially an extra layer of security, in addition to being a sort of ‘hack’ for accessing websites in places where they may be restricted.
A VPN sets your browsing location to wherever the VPN server you are connected to is — meaning that the sites you visit think that’s where you are even if you are somewhere else.
How to use a VPN to best optimize your experience online comes down to increased security bypassing firewalls, which is why we list a VPN among our must-haves for online teachers
Connecting through a VPN, though, encrypts all of the Internet traffic between your computer and the VPN server, preventing anyone on your local network, or at connection points along the way, from monitoring or modifying your traffic.
Beyond the VPN server (in other words, the rest of the way to whatever Internet server you’re connecting to), your traffic mixes with traffic from other people on the same VPN.
Someone monitoring the connection to the destination server could see that your traffic came from the VPN server, but wouldn’t be able to know it was destined for your computer or device.
Though these extra steps and encryption layers slow down any Internet connection, the best VPN providers have connections that are speedy enough to keep browsing and online services snappy.
If you teach online through public wife networks, or travel frequently while working, a VPN can be a life-changing tool.
Why and how to use a VPN
VPNs are fee-based subscription services that help to keep your web browsing secure and private.
In most cases, a good VPN can surpass regional restrictions for video, TV, and music streaming providers that don’t allow use in certain countries or locations and can even get by government censorship restrictions because they tell the websites you visit that you are somewhere else.
As far as how to use a VPN, all it takes is a bit of setup. Once you’re ready to go, the process of subscribing to and installing a VPN is quick and painless:
- Sign up for a VPN provider. Step one is to choose a VPN provider and get signed up. The one linked here is Buffered VPN, the service I have used throughout 2018 and plan to continue using for the foreseeable future as I’ve never found a more consistent product)
- Follow the installation instructions provided by your VPN service. The process is similar on most major VPN providers, and may require you to install what’s called a DD-WRT into your router. Setup takes a few minutes and you’ll want to do a test to make sure it works. Here you will find walk-thrus on setting up Buffered VPN service on just about any device you could have — desktop, laptop, or mobile.
And you’re ready to use your VPN!
Why is this beneficial?
- A VPN makes public wifi more secure. Your VPN will help protect you from anyone trying to hack the network you are connected to, as your information isn’t as accessible as those of other computers connected to the network. It is, in a way, scrambled and separated from the connection.
- ISP monitoring is made more difficult. With all of the news of data monitoring by social media and ISP networks of late, many online teachers are increasingly concerned about what their ISP (internet service provider) is tracking and what they aren’t. This is a tall task to monitor — most ISPs are protective of their data and how much of it they have. You are avoiding most of this by connecting to a VPN, as long as the VPN isn’t doing the same tracking.
- You can often access sites restricted by your location.
- The wifi can be more consistent for your teaching.
What it won’t do
- Keep you totally secure from viruses, threats, and tracking. Some VPNs actually track you themselves, though not necessarily in a harmful way as the VPN network monitors the data that flows through it. It is important to realize, however, that a VPN is no substitute for having a virus tracker and/or web security program on your computer. This is true for all forms of tracking, including governments and hackers. If you set your location to be in a country where the government tracks internet user data, or are physically in one of those countries, you may be tracked as normal.
- Location-dependent subscription streaming sites may not work. If you’re in a country like China or Indonesia, where certain web content is restricted, your Hulu or Netflix subscription isn’t guaranteed to work, even with a VPN. I know, this is a big reason to sign up, right? This isn’t necessarily the fault of the VPN — they do generally allow you to change where a website views as your perceived location. Many top-tier subscription streaming services are to blame. So you might be able to stream Game of Thrones on American Netflix while on the other side of the planet, but you may not.
- Run at the same speed as the wifi connection. This isn’t always noticeable, but because of the encryption and other extra data sets flowing through the VPN, you may notice page loading, upload, and download speeds slightly slowed. As we noted above, if you’re using a top VPN provider such as Buffered VPN, this shouldn’t be an issue.
What is the best VPN service?
At Anomalous Educator, we recommend Buffered VPN.
Their service is a fast-growing personal VPN service provider which gives users the ability to safely and anonymously browse the web from anywhere in the world.
I’ve tried a number of VPN services in my travels and have noticed theirs to be consistently quick and secure.
I’ve never had an issue with connnecting, save for one time in a tiny Central American airport surrounded by mountains, and am comfortable with their encryption.
Buffered VPN has servers in 45 countries and is a US-based company, which makes me feel comfortable using their servers from anywhere I am. Check out the link below to visit their site and find out more: