07 October 2016

Free VPN for lazy people, or another reason to love Opera

I think it is generally agreed (unless you are a government agency) that virtual private networks (VPNs) are ‘a good thing’. Essentially what they do is channel all your Internet communications via a proxy server, which can be on another continent. That makes it more difficult for websites you visit to identify you (unless of course you give them personal information). But more importantly, communication between your computer and the proxy server is encrypted so that the hacker at the table next to you in the internet cafĂ© can’t eavesdrop on you and steal personal information. It also means that the data your Internet Service Provider will be required to collect for HM Government will be useless to them.

Unfortunately, until now VPNs have come in one of two flavours: pay a monthly subscription and get decent service, or opt for a free VPN which may be slower and is often a pain to set up properly. As a result, it is something I’ve meaning to do for at least a couple of years.

Enter my favourite web browser, Opera. It now comes with free VPN capability built in. All you have to do is go to the Settings page and switch it on. I’ve had it running for a couple of weeks now and it doesn’t seem to have slowed my system down at all.

One caveat: it is not a complete VPN solution because it only works within the browser. If you decide to run another browser or a separate email program, you won’t be protected.