VPN for dummies ... Or Dads ... Or why it's time to finally take the plunge

A good VPN isn't as complicated as it used to be, but it's still a pretty big step for a "regular" user to take. But it's time to get my family used to it. Their data may depend on it.

A good VPN isn't as complicated as it used to be, but it's still a pretty big step for a "regular" user to take. But it's time to get my family used to it. Their data may depend on it.

Over the past year I've been slowly moving my family to more secure options for their phones and computers. Password managers — to promote the usage of longer and stronger passwords — was the first step. Then we all moved to more secure messaging.

Now it's time for the big one. The one I'd been dreading. VPNs.

I've been using Virtual Private Networks for years. Almost exclusively for work, but I was plenty familiar with the principle. But while I'm certainly no expert in networking, I wasn't looking forward to trying to explain all this to my wife and kids. And, actually, it's still a work in progress.

The main issues:

  • What is a VPN?
  • Why would you need a VPN?
  • When do you need to use a VPN?
  • OK, fine. Now how do I use a VPN?
  • Which VPN should I use?

Not overly difficult questions, right? But when you're taking something that just works — our phones and our computers — and adding yet another layer of complexity atop what already has become more annoying with incomprehensible passwords and seventeen different messaging apps ... Well, I get it. Is a VPN something we really need to use?

Yeah, it is.

I'll keep this relatively short.

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