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VPN How Tos: From Beginner to Advanced

If you’ve ever wondered how to use a VPN, we have the answers you need

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Aliza Vigderman
Gabe TurnerChief Editor
Last Updated May 15, 2023
By Aliza Vigderman & Gabe Turner on May 15, 2023

With any subject, you have to start somewhere, and that’s especially true for virtual private networks (VPNs), an increasingly popular way to hide your online activity. VPNs aren’t as complicated as they seem, but we dove deep on how to use them for everything from watching Netflix in another country to bypassing your school’s firewall. If it’s related to VPNs and how to use them, we’ve got you covered with detailed articles below.

ExpressVPN App
ExpressVPN App

VPN How Tos

From what a VPN is to how to find your IP address, our experts have written detailed articles with step-by-step instructions on VPNs.

General VPN How Tos

From what a VPN is to how much one costs, these pages are great for those just starting to familiarize themselves with VPNs. Hey, you have to start somewhere, especially if you’re using a public Wi-Fi network on various mobile devices.

Note: While VPNs are legal in the United States, countries like Belarus, China, Iraq, North Korea, Oman, Russia, and the U.A.E. have banned them.1 However, many VPNs have server locations in these countries, so proceed at your own risk and make sure your secure VPN client has a kill switch.

TunnelBear VPN Kill Switch
TunnelBear VPN Kill Switch

How to Change Locations

Using a VPN can let you change locations without moving your seat, fooling your device and websites into showing you other countries’ content. It’s especially useful on location-based dating apps like Bumble.

IP Addresses

One of the main functions of a VPN is to hide and change your IP address, but not everyone is familiar with the nitty-gritty of IP addresses.

NordVPN connected
NordVPN connected

How to Set Up VPNs

We provided clear instructions on how to set up a VPN on a multitude of devices, from Androids to Xboxes.

Watching TV and Movies with VPNs

If you’ve got a streaming VPN or a torrenting VPN, here’s how to put it into action.

Pro Tip: Netflix has banned the IP addresses of many VPN servers,2 so make sure you’re using one of the best VPNs for Netflix.

VPN Vocabulary

Reading about VPNs, you may come across unfamiliar terms. Well, we’ve defined them as simply as possible.

Multi-hop VPN
Multi-hop VPN

VPNs and Privacy

Forty percent of people use a VPN for general privacy, according to our VPN usage report. Learn more about how VPNs increase your online anonymity.

VPN Alternatives

Of course, VPNs aren’t the only game in town for hiding your web traffic. We explain proxy servers and incognito mode, and how they compare to VPNs.


Those are all of the VPN how-tos we’ve created, but we’ll continue to make them as our readers’ questions arise. If you want to learn more about VPNs in general, our VPN guide is a great place to start. And of course, if you’re ready to buy one, check out the best VPN list to see our picks.

VyprVPN App
VyprVPN App

Frequently Asked Questions

Not surprisingly, given how many VPNs we’ve tested, we’re constantly inundated with questions about how to use VPNs. Here are our most frequently asked questions, with answers to boot.

  • What is a VPN and how do you use it?

    A VPN is a virtual private network that encrypts a user’s IP address and web activity. To use a VPN:

    1. Download a VPN app or browser extension.
    2. Create an account, either on the VPN itself or the VPN’s website.
    3. Sign in.
    4. Connect to a server.
  • How do I set up a VPN?

    To set up a VPN:

    1. Sign up for a VPN account.
    2. Download the app or browser extension either through the company’s website or through your operating system’s app store.
    3. Enter your username and password.
    4. Click Sign In.
  • How can I use a VPN for free?

    To use a VPN for free, you’ll need to either look for a completely free VPN or a VPN with a free trial. Some free VPNs and VPNs with free trials include:

    • Hotspot Shield
    • Surfshark
    • ProtonVPN
    • TunnelBear
    • Windscribe
    • VPNSecure
    • HideMyAss
    • IVPN
    • Trust.Zone
    • BlackVPN

    To use any of the above VPNs:

    1. Choose a VPN service.
    2. Go to the app store.
    3. Search for the particular VPN.
    4. Download the VPN app.
    5. Sign in or create an account.
    6. Connect to a server to create a VPN connection. Now, your internet service provider can’t see your personal data or IP address.
  • How do I connect my PC to a VPN?

    To connect your PC to a VPN:

    1. Open the Microsoft Store.
    2. Search for a VPN.
    3. Download the VPN app.
    4. Sign in with a username or password, if you’ve already created an account. If not, create an account and sign in.
    5. Choose a server you want to connect to and click Connect.
  1. Norton. (2021). Privacy.

  2. Netflix. (2021). Netflix says ‘You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy.'