How To Use a VPN (Regardless of Your Platform)

how to use a vpn

If you use multiple platforms, using a VPN can be somewhat tricky. Much of this comes from how VPNs don’t always have complete support for your device. Also, new users might wonder what they can use their VPN for. 

Below, we will teach you how to use your VPN across multiple platforms. This ensures you will remain secure regardless of what platform you are on.

What is a VPN?

A VPN, or virtual private network, is an encrypted server you can use to hide and encrypt your data. A good VPN hides you from ISPs (Internet Service Providers), government groups, and criminals. 

Some VPNs work across multiple devices and browsers. Others only work for a few locations. 

How to Use a VPN on Any Platform

Below, we will discuss five significant platforms where you can use your VPN. iOS (iPhones and tablets) will receive special attention in a later article.

Using a VPN on Android

Android is Google’s smartphone operating system. Unlike iPhone, Google has a strong habit of gathering your personal data. To find out how to address this, keep scrolling.

When using a VPN on any Android device, follow these steps:

  1. Search VPN using the search bar on the Google Play Store
  2. Choose one that looks appealing
  3. Check out their details under the “About” section
  4. Click the “install” button on their Google Play Page
  5. Click the “connect” button on their dashboard
  6. Select the target location you want to mask yourself with (or select optimal location)

The Fast VPN’s connection page looks like this:

connection page screenshot of Fast VPN

To ensure that your Android-based VPN won’t use, pay attention to the app permissions section:

Google Play Store information collection policy of FastVPN

App permissions are on the very bottom of any Google store page. It will tell you about what information they gather.

Compare this information with their privacy policy to determine whether they are a security risk. If the company behind your desired VPN gathers your data and sells it, avoid the company at all costs

Using a VPN on macOS

FastVPN on macOS App Store

Getting a VPN on macOS is similar to getting it across any app store. In this case, you’ll need to follow these instructions:

  1. Search for a VPN from the Mac App Store 
  2. Download it
  3. Click the “Connect” button
  4. Choose your location 

Thankfully, Apple isn’t quite the data hog, making them more privacy-centric. Much of this is proven through their statements on data gathering.

All data that some apps (like The Fast VPN) gather cannot connect to any user. Here is an example of what you should look for in any App’s about section:

Appstore data collection policy of FastVPN

The crucial piece comes back to ensuring that data does not come back to you. But not all apps follow these guidelines.

Some apps work on different privacy policies. So be sure you double-check what data a VPN company gathers and how they use it. 

Using a VPN on Windows

 Much like Google, Microsoft is known for selling user data. Much of this comes from people using their Bing search engine, which you should avoid using. 

When getting a VPN on Windows, you have your choice of one of two options:

All Windows 10 (and Windows 7) devices include the option to allow for a VPN for Windows without downloading software. However, this option is no longer available for Windows 11 devices. 

To set up a VPN for Windows 10, follow these steps:

  1. Reach your Network & Internet settings
  2. Select “add VPN connection” 
  3. Enter your name for the connection (it can be anything)
  4. Enter your address (gathered from your provider)
  5. Insert your username and password
  6. Save the information 
  7. Click on the new connection and select “connect”

If you have a provider that does not support Windows 7 or 10, this will be your workaround. Virtual Private Network options are not available for older versions of Windows. 

Your alternative, the browser-based approach, is only necessary if you use Microsoft’s Edge browser. The Add-ons Store will be your go-to spot for finding a working VPN extension. 

Microsoft edge Add-on store

Microsoft does not personally vet many of the VPNs here. Also, some VPNs are simply proxy’s, meaning you will still have to supplement with a dedicated VPN connection.

Built-in VPNs for browsers also do not encrypt your connection with external apps. An independent VPN is almost always a better choice. 

Setting up a VPN in Chrome OS (Chromebooks)

Chrome OS is the primary operating system of Chromebooks. It uses a modified version of the Android operating system, which relies on the same Google Play Store.

Here are the steps you need to follow: 

  1. Download The Fast VPN for Android devices
  2. Click the “connect” button
  3. Select a location that meets your needs

Many apps you find under Android are still supported here. However, some Chromebooks rely on older versions of the Android software. 

This means that you should double-check to see if the company has any known breaches. You can do this by typing in the company’s name alongside breach in any search engine. However, you might stick with a privacy search engine like DuckDuckGo:

DuckDuckGo search example of "company breaches 2021"

A browser-based solution is an alternative to setting up a VPN on Chrome devices. The Chrome Web Store is where you can find browser-based VPNs:

Chrome browser extension store

Be careful to check if the “VPN” is an anonymous proxy server. These servers are great in a pinch but not as secure as VPNs due to a lack of full encryption. 

 When using Chrome OS, stick with Android-based VPNs that aren’t limited to the browser. This way, your connections are encrypted across all applications. 

Using a VPN on Firefox

Firefox works across multiple operating systems. It is also one of the most secure browsers I found across this browser review

Much like other browsers, Firefox has a dedicated web store

Firefox browser extension store

Clicking on any of the titles and choosing the “installation” button will enable you to download the extension. The upper-right-hand corner will show extensions on a list. 

To have a high-quality VPN and Firefox work together, you will either need to ensure your VPN works with your operating system or limit all connections to your browser. This is an option if you are looking for a VPN for Linux, which does not support many VPNs. 

Using a VPN on Router

When looking at VPNs for routers, few VPNs participate. Despite this, having a VPN on your router helps prevent accidental IP address leaks and protects your home network (or business) should someone attempt to gather information about you.

Router login example

Below is a list of potential routers you can install VPNs on:

  • TP-Link 
  • Linksys
  • Cisco 
  • Netgear
  • Asus

I will discuss this further in our list of the best routers for VPNs. 

Some routers on this list are “pre-flashed,” meaning these already have the necessary software installed. Otherwise, you will need to use one of three open-source broadband software:

All three software types enable you to modify your router to install VPN software. I will discuss how you can do this in another article. 

Different Ways To Use Your VPNs

Whether your goal is to access geo-restricted content or hide your data from prying eyes, there are many ways you can use a VPN. Regardless of protecting Wi-Fi or Ethernet, there are different ways you can use your VPN. 

Using a VPN on Netflix

Netflix landing page screenshot

Netflix is one of the world’s top streaming services. However, its habit of producing region-locked content is frustrating, requiring you to pay for multiple services to get what you want.  

Despite incurring the wrath of violating terms of service, many online watchers do there. Here’s what you need to do to make sure it works:

  • Clear all browsing data (or app data) if you are doing this for the first time
  • Activate your VPN before you log in 
  • Check for signs that you are in a new region (check for new content)

Netflix will likely catch your use of a VPN eventually. This happens because Netflix does have trackers that recognize decrypted data.

Because encryption comes through as nonsense, Netflix will prevent you from viewing its content. You can reset everything (deleting data, logging out, and logging in), but do so at your own risk. 

Using a VPN on Kodi

Kodi landing page screenshot

Kodi is an open-source home theater platform that works across multiple operating systems. It works as a smart TV substitute (for those who do not have smart TVs). 

 Because of this, you can install it on any platform where your VPN works. This includes the following:

  • Linux
  • Android
  • Windows
  • Raspberry Pi
  • macOS
  • iOS
  • tvOS (Apple Smart TV)

Much like accessing your streaming services, all you need to do is install your VPN and clear your data before accessing Kodi. Doing so will enable you to trick Kodi into believing that you live in a different location. 

Maintaining Security While Using Public Networks 

 Public Networks are easy to get hacked, but a VPN keeps your data secure on any public network. It would be best always to be sure that you activate your VPN before connecting. 

For extra protection, ensure that your VPN has a killswitch mode that activates if you lose the VPN service. This ensures that you do not expose your info in the event of a VPN failure. 

You can also stick to mobile data if you are using a smartphone. 

Get Around FCC and Data Retention Laws

VPNs became more popular after the former FFC Chairman, Ajit Pai, put a sour taste in everyone’s mouth regarding his stance on communication. Net neutrality was widely seen as a positive, clenching the control from large internet service providers.

Data Retention laws are also a concern due to the Five Eyes Alliance (FVEY) and the Five Eyes Intelligence Oversight and Review Council (FIORC). Privacy-conscious individuals see this as a sign of tyranny, allowing government officials to jail anyone who will not agree with them. 

To avoid this situation, many privacy enthusiasts create VPNs, use proxy servers, and avoid significant services known for high levels of data collection. 

Avoiding Online Price Discrimination

Travelocity landing page screenshot

Websites like Hotels.com and Travelocity are well known for their price discrimination tactics. These sites will price you based on how frequently you check flights and hotels. 

The only way these companies can do so is through the strategic placement of tracking cookies. Otherwise, those who share their real identity with these sites are also likely to receive lesser prices.

When shopping for flights, be sure to do so from an untraceable status. This means you should ideally do so from a privacy browser and immediately remove cookies. 

Only use your account with all the fancy online rewards after you’ve compared pricing. Otherwise, your chosen flight will likely double after you check it for the third time. 

Using VPN for Torrenting

You’ll see a few lists concerning the best VPN for torrenting. The key to finding the right VPN for torrenting is to find one that supports P2P (Peer to Peer) connections. Some VPNs do not allow this.

The other crucial point to torrenting via a VPN is avoiding seeding wherever possible. Seeding is when you support other people downloading the software.

While other downloaders will appreciate good networks, it puts a target on your back. So if you are looking for peace of mind with torrenting, there are no “special torrenting VPNs.” There are just VPNs that support  P2P.

Conclusion 

If you want to know how to use a VPN on any platform, it is essential to try and reduce your downloads. Ideally, this means downloading VPNs that work specific to operating systems, not browsers. 

For example, the Fast VPN currently works with Android, iOS, and macOS devices. We hope this gives you some tips to use VPNs right. As always, be sure to remove all your internet data after each use to ensure there are no tracking cookies that can use your data. 

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