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Confessions of a First-Time VPN User

There are a lot of Internet users who are fairly tech-savvy but certainly aren't information technology (IT) or network experts. That's most of us. So when the subject of VPNs comes along, many people have at most a passing knowledge of what a virtual private network is. (Hopefully, WhatIsMyIPAddress.com has helped you learn more about VPNs and other technical matters!)

Still, any high-tech product that's relatively unknown and is not common knowledge can be intimidating. But if you let that stop you from taking the next step—giving a VPN a try—you could be missing out on privacy protection that's easy to come by. One of the best ways to lower your apprehension is to read about somebody who has taken the next step and hear what they have to say. So that's what we did for you.

A first-time user shares his experience.

"WhatIsMyIPAddress.com" talked to an email subscriber recently who had just signed up for a VPN and asked him what his motivation was for opening his account and what his personal experience was like. By reading about it here, you'll see that it's a pretty straightforward experience, and it might encourage you to get past any indecision or obstacles.

Q. What was your main reason for choosing to sign up for a VPN?

A. I am an independent contractor, so I work at home or anyplace where there's an Internet connection. Since I find myself doing office-type work at coffee shops and hotels with hotspots, I started to get more concerned about my privacy and Internet vulnerability. A friend told me about the risks of unsecured wireless connections and about virtual private networks, so I decided to look into it. I ended up setting up a VPN account.

Q. What made you choose your particular VPN provider?

I liked the look of their website, which was professional. The content was clear, friendly and easy to understand. The website and copy came across as very credible and professional.

They offered both a free option and a paid option. I am willing to pay for the service because with the free option, I'd have to see banner ads while I browse online and I didn't want that. Plus the monthly fee I'm paying is pretty minimal, just a few dollars a month for a six-month period. That sold me.

Q. What did you like about their offerings, or what impressed you most about their website?

The VPN provider I chose didn't have a bunch of packages or add-ons to choose from, which can make it a harder decision. I like things simple. Sure, maybe I could get have gotten some extra services with another service, but I like it that they made it seem very easy.

Q. Was it easy to sign up and set up your account?

Yes! In fact I was surprised, and really pleased, at how simple it was to get started. There was not a lot to it. It's all done while you're online, and you don't need any technical information about your computer or router or network to set it up. I think that if everyone knew how easy these VPNs make it, they'd sign up. I literally clicked to download the software and it ran by itself. I set up my profile by providing my email address and phone number, and then picked a username and password. That's it. I wish I'd done it before.

Q. Did you check your IP address once you were online to see if it had changed?

I did, and I went to WhatIsMyIPAddress.com to do it. Plus, if you go to the VPN's website while you're logged in, the dashboard has a button to click to verify that you're protected. When you click it, it goes to an IP address-detector website. You can easily "pause" protection and refresh to see your IP changing.

Q. Did you notice any change in performance when you went online?

I didn't and that was a relief. I had been wondering what my connection speed would be like using a VPN, so I was very happy that there seemed to be no noticeable change in surfing speed on the Internet.

Q. What problem, if any, have you come across?

There has been one hitch: For some reason, I'm unable to send email through my normal email application. (I don't use Webmail.) In doing a little online research, it seems that email problems can occur with VPNs. Now, I can send email using a Web browser like Gmail or Yahoo, but that's not my preference. My email problem has yet to be resolved. I'm still working on it.

Q. Are you happy with your choice? Do you think you'll look at other VPN providers?

I'm happy so far. At this point, I'm not sure if trying another VPN would solve my email problem or not. If that issue turns into a headache, I might try out another VPN provider if I know they have it fixed. But overall, I don't have a real reason to switch VPNs because I'm getting the Internet privacy and peace of mind I wanted.

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