How to set up a VPN for free

VPN stands for virtual private network and is a service you can use to encrypt your Internet traffic. Leaving it unreadable for prying eyes. This is useful when you connect to public WiFi in airports, hotels and coffee shops. Using a VPN service also allows you to manipulate and set your preferred location. It will then appear to others that you are in a different location when browsing the web. Many websites use your location to give you a price. A VPN can help you to get good rates when booking flights and hotels. Regardless of your intention for using VPN, I will share with you some of the steps you can take to get free access to a VPN service.

Using a network-attached storage device to host your VPN

If you have a Synology, QNAP, Netgear or other network-attached storage (NAS) device you can have your private VPN up and running in minutes. Many NAS devices comes with VPN software out of the box with one-click installers. All you need to do is hook your NAS to your network, use your browser to access the control panel of the device and install the VPN app on the NAS device. Because you need to access your private VPN from the Internet, you need to open a port in your firewall. This is easy and you just need to use your browser to access your router’s configuration to open the VPN port under firewall settings. All you need to do now to connect is to install a VPN client on your phone and on your computer. If you don’t have a NAS, one option is to buy a second-hand NAS cheaply online.

Free Services for Students

If you are a student you are eligible for a wide variety of free services that you can use to host your VPN. While many companies offer free website hosting for students, what you need is a virtual machine. GitHub offers students the Student Developer Pack. Once you register you can claim your $50 DigitalOcean platform credit and set up a virtual machine to host your VPN. The cheapest droplet DigitalOcean offers is $5 per month so that will give you a free private VPN service for nearly a year. After that your friend could give you his or her voucher so you can continue to use the service. You will need to move your VM to the new account, though.

Amazon offers students $100 in AWS credit when you sign-up for the AWS Educate program. Once you receive the credit you can login and setup a virtual machine. Thereafter you install the VPN service.

Paid VPN Service

Businesses that offer VPN services are constantly popping up on the web. And there are now a wide variety of VPN providers to choose from. Many offers VPN for as low as $2 a month. However, you should be very careful when choosing a public VPN provider. Just because their website looks legit doesn’t mean that the people behind it have good intentions with your data. Especially with the amount of data they may collect from you. The good thing with VPN providers is that they offer have a global network of servers you can connect to anytime. In addition, most of them have a user friendly VPN client you can easily install on your devices.

Conclusion

VPN is a technology and service that can be used to encrypt network traffic. Traditionally VPN has been used by businesses to connect employees in remote locations to their internal network to access and backup documents. VPN has become widely available and affordable for everyone to use. Hosting a private VPN at home or in the cloud is the safest and cheapest option. If this is too much of a hassle, you may choose a public VPN provider. Be careful with “free VPN” providers. You basically risk piping your data through someone who analyze and sell your data to advertisers. In addition, most reviews of VPN services you find online are sponsored, so pick wisely.

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