Microsoft is adding a free built-in VPN to its Edge browser

Microsoft is adding a free built-in virtual private network (VPN) service to its Edge browser in a bid to improve security and privacy, a Microsoft support page revealed.

Called ”Edge Secure Network,” Microsoft is currently testing the Cloudflare-powered VPN service and says it will roll it out to the public as a part of a security upgrade.

When turned on, Edge Secure Network should encrypt users’ web traffic so internet service providers can’t collect browsing information you’d rather keep private, like, say, health-related searches or just plain bizarre queries.

The new feature will also let users hide their location by making it possible for them to browse the web using a virtual IP address. That also means users could access content blocked in their countries like, for instance, Netflix or Hulu shows.

There’s a catch for this free service, though. Data use is limited to 1GB per month, and users will need to be signed in to a Microsoft account so the company can, well, ironically track their usage.

Microsoft adds that while Cloudflare will collect support and diagnostic information from the service, the company will permanently get rid of that data every 25 hours.

While the feature is still under development and not yet available for early testing either, Microsoft detailed how users could try out a preview. That suggests it could roll out soon to one of the Microsoft Edge Insider channels first, which users can download and join here.

Once it does, you can try out the preview version by opening up Edge, heading to Settings and more, and clicking on Secure Network.

Click on “Secure Network” to turn the VPN service on.
Image: Microsoft

At that point, users will be prompted to sign in to or create a Microsoft Account. After doing so, a solid shield icon will appear in the browser frame, indicating Microsoft’s Edge Secure Network is now turned on. It will turn off after the user closes the browser.

Microsoft is one of many browsers that offer some kind of VPN service. Opera comes with a free one as well, but more popular browsers like Mozilla only offer a paid VPN service, as does Google Chrome, thereby potentially help improving Edge’s value proposition.

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This Is the Best VPN Black Friday Deal You Can Shop Today

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If you want to browse the web more securely, then this VPN Black Friday deal is the perfect chance to do so. A VPN, or virtual private network, is an affordable and simple way to encrypt the online traffic on your local network and protect yourself against today’s digital dangers (or even simple annoyances like unwanted surveillance and region-based streaming restrictions). The best Black Friday deals aren’t just for pricey electronics, and right now, you can take advantage of this VPN Black Friday deal and sign up for NordVPN on the cheap.

VPN Black Friday Deal: Best offer today

NordVPN is actually the best VPN in our opinion, and it’s been our favorite for quite a while. We ranked it higher than our other favorite, Express VPN, thanks to NordVPN’s reliability, good connection speeds, wide range of servers, and value. In our direct hands-on comparison of NordVPN vs. ExpressVPN, NordVPN won out in speed, streaming performance, peer-to-peer file-sharing, and server availability. NordVPN is also a better bargain, and you can sign up for the two-year plan right now for just $79 (a deep 72% discount). That comes to an average of just $3.29 and is by far the best VPN Black Friday deal going right now.

Although it might be the most enticing VPN Black Friday deal we’ve seen so far this year, is NordVPN safe? That’s the central question when considering any virtual private network, and the good news is that NordVPN passes this test with flying colors. It offers multiple encryption protocols, including KEv2/IPsec, OpenVPN, and NordLynx, and routes your connection through any of its more than 5,000 servers spread across 59 countries around the globe.

NordVPN is also a great choice if you have a number of devices that you want to secure. It’s the best VPN for multiple devices thanks to its wide compatibility with Windows PCs (we named NordVPN the best VPN for Windows as well), Mac computers, Android phones and tablets, iPhones, and iPads. It also works with Linux operating systems, and you can install and use NordVPN on up to six devices simultaneously — meaning you can have your computer, smartphone, tablet, and a few other gadgets protected while connected to the internet at the same time.

NordVPN also works with streaming sticks and smart TVs. VPNs can be fussy sometimes when it comes to streaming, but NordVPN is the best VPN for streaming thanks to its fast and stable connection speeds and the ease with which you can side-step geoblocking (thanks to the many servers at your disposal). It’s also the best VPN for torrenting large files, another area where some virtual private networks can struggle due to fussy connections and bandwidth constraints — no worries here with NordVPN. Another feature we like is split tunneling, which allows you to whitelist certain activities that you don’t want routed through the VPN. This means you can browse the web on NordVPN but play online games on the “clearnet” if you wish.

At $79 for a two-year subscription, this is the best VPN Black Friday deal on our favorite virtual private network, and we doubt we’ll see prices this low again before 2022. If you don’t want to commit for two years (although that’s the best value), you can also grab the one-year plan for $59 ($58% off).

After something a bit different? There are plenty of other VPN deals happening today.

We strive to help our readers find the best deals on quality products and services, and we choose what we cover carefully and independently. The prices, details, and availability of the products and deals in this post may be subject to change at anytime. Be sure to check that they are still in effect before making a purchase.

Digital Trends may earn commission on products purchased through our links, which supports the work we do for our readers.

Editors’ Choice

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VPN Free Trial: The Services That Offer a Free Trial in 2021

A virtual private network is a great thing to have in your digital toolbox today, but if you’re new to all this and just want to give one a spin, then it’s not a bad idea to look for a good VPN free trial. The good news is that many of the best VPN providers do offer a free VPN trial to new subscribers (or at least a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee period, which effectively lets you try out their service without being locked into a contract), meaning you don’t have to commit to a costly plan before you’re 100% sure it’s what you need.

Some virtual private network operators even offer free plans. Although a paid service is almost always going to be better, faster, and safer than even the best free VPNs, this is still an option worth looking into if you just want to see what a VPN can do on the most basic level. Whatever your situation is, though, if you’ve arrived here, it’s because you’re hunting for a free VPN trial — and we’re here to help you find it. Below, we’ve rounded up a list of all the top services that offer a VPN free trial in 2021, along with some answers to any questions you might have.


NordVPN has been our favorite virtual private network service for quite some time now, and we’re not the only ones — far from it, in fact, considering that NordVPN remains the most trusted provider on the market today. You may have heard of NordVPN before even if you’re still asking, “what is a VPN?” Without getting too far into the weeds with details, just know that NordVPN has everything we look for in a good virtual private network: It’s fast, it’s reliable, it’s secure, it gives you several different encryption protocols to choose from (if you’re picky about that sort of thing, anyway), and it works well across multiple types of devices and software interfaces.

One noteworthy feature of NordVPN is split-tunneling, which allows you to select which sites and services you want to route through the VPN and which ones you want to remain on the “clearnet.” You might want your web browsing traffic to be on the VPN, for example, but may not necessarily need or want your online gaming sessions to be run through remote global servers. That breadth of features and customizability is what keeps NordVPN at the top of the list of the best VPNs. More good news is that it’s actually one of the cheaper services (as low as $3.30 per month if you sign up for the two-year plan), and one that offers a 30-day money-back guarantee that serves as a VPN free trial period.


ExpressVPN is another top contender for the best virtual private network, with the caveat that it’s a bit more expensive than others including NordVPN. The advantage of this service is that it offers one of the widest selections of remote servers of any network operator — the provider boasts a spread of servers in more than 90 countries (160 locations altogether) throughout the globe, with excellent coverage in high-traffic regions like Europe and North America. That makes ExpressVPN an attractive option for users who are particular about the end-point for their VPN connection for things like streaming or government censorship that employ region-based content restriction.

When we tested ExpressVPN, we liked how easy it was to set up the VPN and run it on multiple devices. It is, as we mentioned, a little pricier than some others (the best value is the $100 yearly package, which averages to $8.32 monthly), but if you’re looking for the best VPN to bypass regional content restrictions, ExpressVPN is arguably the top choice. It also offers a 30-day risk-free money-back guarantee if you want a free VPN trial before you commit to a recurring subscription plan.


NordVPN is a great value if you sign up for its two-year plan, but if you’re looking for a top-tier virtual private network that’s even cheaper, then Surfshark is another trusted provider and one of our favorites. With more than 3,200 servers in 65 countries, its server network isn’t quite as large as that of its biggest competitors, but that won’t be an issue for most users. It’s fast, reliable, secure, and does what you want a VPN to do. Best of all is the fact that there is no limit to the number of devices you can use Surfshark VPN on simultaneously, making it a great choice for family homes and local office networks.

If you’re looking for a VPN free trial with no device limitations, Surfshark is a fine choice that offers the same 30-day refund window as NordVPN and ExpressVPN. Better still is its unbeatable price: The two-year plan is billed at $60 for your first two years, which comes to about $2.50 month-to-month (just bear in mind you have to pony up the cash in advance). With a virtual private network that’s this cheap, there’s really no reason to even bother with sub-par free VPNs which won’t offer protection that’s nearly as comprehensive.


Another one of the best VPNs is IPVanish, which offers an optional data backup and recovery service as an add-on to its virtual private network. Along with letting you tunnel your connection through one of the 1,600-plus servers that IPVanish operates in 75 countries, its VPN + Backup plan allows you to select folders and files that you want to automatically keep uploaded to remote and secure cloud storage. This shields you from potential ransomware attacks by preventing your sensitive data from being held hostage, and it’s also useful in the event of a hardware or software failure that renders your local data inaccessible. And, like Surfshark, the IPVanish VPN has no restrictions on the number of devices you can use it on simultaneously.

IPVanish offers its own VPN free trial in the form of a 30-day money-back guarantee, with one catch: It only applies to the yearly plan. We’re not sure why that is, but if you try it and find you like the VPN, you should sign up for the yearly plan anyway because it’s going to be a better value (this is true of all of these services, not just IPVanish). Also note that there are two plans to choose from. The standard package includes just the VPN service for $45 for the first year, or you can grab the VPN + Backup plan for $50 for the first year. These average to $3.75 per month and $4.58 per month, respectively.

Hotspot Shield

If speed is your number one priority — maybe you’ve given some other free VPN trials a test run and found them to be too sluggish for your needs — then Hotspot Shield is worth a look. Virtual private networks reroute your connection through remote servers (i.e. you’re connecting to a remote server before whatever site or service you’re accessing, rather than connecting to the site or service directly), and one unfortunate side-effect of using a VPN is that download and upload speeds can suffer a little. That’s not a problem for most things but can become a noticeable issue for bandwidth-heavy activities such as gaming or 4K streaming.

Hotspot Shield attacks this problem by offering market-leading connection speeds of up to 1Gbps. This isn’t an idle boast, as this VPN operator has indeed been named the fasted virtual private network by Another notable benefit is that Hotspot Shield offers a genuine 7-day VPN free trial along with a 45-day refund period. There’s even a free VPN plan, although speeds for that are capped at 2 Mbps. The annual Premium plan costs $96 (averaging to $8 per month) for five devices. A 25-device Premium Family plan is also available for $144 per year.

What is a VPN free trial?

Free trials for paid services typically work like this: You create an account to sign up for the service, enter your payment information, and then get to enjoy that service for a set amount of time — usually somewhere between a week and 30 days — before the automatic recurring charges kick in. A VPN free trial generally works differently in that you still have to pay for the subscription period upfront (be it a month, a year, or even longer), but you then have a set length of time during which you can cancel your plan for a full refund at any given time. This “money-back guarantee” period usually lasts for 30 days, which is ample time to give the VPN service a thorough tryout and decide if it’s a good fit for online habits and local network setup.

Should you use a VPN free trial?

In our opinion, a VPN free trial should only be used as just that — a trial. The same goes for free VPNs. If you want real protection and the full suite of features, multi-device coverage, encryption protocols, connectivity speeds, and other benefits (not the least of which is peace of mind) that you get with a proper virtual private network, you should pony up the cash for one of the best VPN providers we mentioned above. The good news is that they’re pretty cheap for all they give you, and all of the ones listed offer a money-back trial period if a service you signed up for ends up not jiving with your digital lifestyle.

Is there a commitment with a VPN free trial?

Other than the fact that you usually have to pay up-front and cancel it yourself before your trial period is up, no, there’s no commitment. The money-back-guarantee ensures that if you sign up for a service and end up changing your mind before the VPN free trial period is up, you can cancel your plan and get your cash right back. That said, if you change your mind after the refund window is closed, you’re likely to have a hard time getting your money returned to you if you cancel your subscription. If you signed up for a service, make sure you give it a good try-out and test out everything before the free VPN trial period is over.

Should you use a free VPN or a VPN free trial?

A VPN free trial is always going to be better, faster, and safer than a free VPN. The most basic reason is that when you sign up for a paid virtual private network plan with a money-back guarantee period, you’re not getting a limited or “free” version of that service. You’re getting the whole shebang: All the features, software, device coverage, bandwidth, upload/download speeds, server options — everything the VPN has to offer.

That’s not the case with a free VPN, which will be extremely limited in terms of network speeds, encryption protocols, server selection (if you’re even allowed to choose this), and so on. That’s even before you consider the fact that few things are truly free; there’s always a price to be paid, and in the case of free VPNs, companies generally recoup their costs by collecting and selling data. That negates much of the point of using a VPN in the first place, and it also means you can pretty much forget any sort of no-logging policy. Our recommendation? Give so-called “free” VPNs a wide berth and sign up with a trusted service that offers a money-back trial period instead.

Can you do a VPN free trial without a credit card?

Typically, no. Free trials for any service normally require you to create your account and then sign up for the service, which means entering some sort of payment information (although online payment services such as PayPal might be an alternative to entering your credit or debit card info). Then the VPN free trial period begins, meaning you won’t be charged until after a certain date. After the trial period dries up, your recurring subscription fees kick in.

That’s also naturally the case with “money-back guarantee” periods, which is what you’ll usually get from top VPN providers rather than standard free trials. You have to pay up-front — meaning you’ll need to enter your payment information when you sign up — but you have the option to get a full refund during the trial period. If you really don’t want to enter your payment information, though, then you might want to give one of the free VPN tiers a try, but only if you fully understand and accept their limitations and drawbacks.

Why do VPN free trials exist?

As newbie-friendly as the best VPN services are nowadays, providers understand that some people might be wary about fully committing to a monthly or yearly (or even multi-year) subscription plan with no ability to get out of the contract. A VPN free trial period gives new users sufficient time to give the service a spin, get a feel for its capabilities, and decide if it’s a good fit for their needs before fully committing to a subscription.

It can also take a bit of time to really give a virtual private network service a proper try-out. You’ll probably want to install and use it on multiple devices, get a good feel for the user interface and all the features available, stress-test its connectivity speeds and encryption capabilities on the sites and services you use most throughout the day (such as your favorite streaming apps), and so on. That takes a little bit of time. It’s simply good customer service to give new subscribers the chance to do this with the option for a refund if a VPN proves not to be a good fit. This is a market that depends heavily on trust, and the best virtual private network operators aren’t trying to rope you in and steal your money.

Editors’ Choice

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Best Netflix VPN 2021: Watch the Action Unfold From Anywhere

It can be frustrating not to be able to access specific content on Netflix if you live in a different country, but by downloading some of the best Netflix VPNs, you can remedy that problem. Some countries employ harmful and restrictive censorship practices, limiting what type of media the citizens can consume. Others just don’t have a particular show or movie available due to copyright issues within the country. What if we told you that you could access all Netflix content in any country you want?

If you wanted to watch The Walking Dead in India, Attack on Titan in Germany, or Breaking Bad in India, you can do that with a VPN that works with Netflix. Different to the best VPNs out there, the best Netflix VPNs allow you to access restricted content while protecting your identity online and ensuring your connection doesn’t suffer speed dips.


  • Country of Registration: Panama
  • Supported Clients: iOS, Android, Windows, MacOS, Linux
  • Cost of Service: $12 per month
  • Simultaneous Connections: 6
  • Number of Countries: 62
  • Unlimited Data Bandwidth Globally

NordVPN is perhaps the most famous out there, and you can safely assume that if a product or service is that widely adopted and well-liked, then it’s safe and legitimate. As with most VPN services, NordVPN encrypts your connection with an AES 256-bit encryption, which many government agencies, militaries, and cybersecurity firms also use. You can be sure that you are completely obfuscated while accessing Netflix when using this service.

When looking for a VPN to watch Netflix, the most important factor to consider is the browsing speed. If you have to sit through constant buffering and shoddy picture quality, you’ve purchased the wrong VPN. NordVPN has some of the fastest speeds we’ve tested, even to the point that when testing our connection speed, we noticed that there wasn’t a dip at all.

If you’re on the fence about NordVPN, you can try it out risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee. That way, if, under any circumstance, you experience something you don’t like about the service, you’re free to cancel your subscription and ask for your money back. This also allows you to test NordVPN for yourself before fully committing to it.


  • Country of Registration: United States
  • Supported Clients: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux, Router firmware
  • Cost of Service: $10 per month
  • Simultaneous Connections: Unlimited
  • 24/7 Customer Service Live Chat
  • Unlimited Data Bandwidth Globally

IPVanish has 40,000+ IP addresses, 1600+ servers, and 75 locations you can connect to. Its reach covers the globe, and it has servers on all continents, so you can find a fast connection to a server near you wherever you reside. This is ideal when using a VPN to watch Netflix, as you need that proximity for the best streaming and browsing speeds.

To top that off, you can connect an unlimited amount of devices to your IPVanish account. If you want to watch Netflix on your phone, computer, or tablet, you’re free to do so (even simultaneously). Watching your favorite Netflix show in a moment of respite while on the go can be a great way to pass the time, but with a lot of other VPN services, you may find that you can’t because your account has reached the maximum number of connections. You’ll never have that issue with IPVanish.

Last but not least, there are no limitations to how much data you can use when connected to the IPVanish VPN. Once you’re a paying customer, you have unlimited access to the service. There are no limitations on accessing the P2P servers, no hard cap on how many gigabytes you can browse through—just an unfettered browsing experience.


  • Country of Registration: British Virgin Islands
  • Supported Clients: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Cost of Service: $13 per month
  • Simultaneous Connections: 5
  • 30-day Money-Back Guarantee
  • 160 VPN Servers in 94 Countries

ExpressVPN is another major titan in the VPN industry. The company doesn’t follow the standard procedures that others adhere to. Instead of dialing it in and using the same infrastructure as other VPN services, ExpressVPN developed its own set of protocols called Lightway. Lightway allows you to connect to any of ExpressVPN’s global servers in the blink of an eye while still providing elite protection. The unique thing about this feature is that if you lose signal or drop connection momentarily, Lightway will continue to protect your device.

With ExpressVPN, you have access to all global content at the click of a button. While it may not have as many servers as other services, each one guarantees a lightning-fast connection that will provide you with excellent streaming speeds. To complement the fast streaming speeds, you have access to unlimited bandwidth usage. There’s no need to worry about if you’re going to run out of data for a particular month—you get as much as you need!

While ExpressVPN is on the pricier side, we believe it’s a great Netflix VPN due to how fast and seamlessly it buffers media content. If you feel like you’re not satisfied with the service, you’re free to cancel your subscription and receive a refund with the 30-day money-back guarantee. But for those who need a VPN, we doubt you’ll be dissatisfied with ExpressVPN.

Hotspot Shield

  • Country of Registration: United States
  • Supported Clients: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Cost of Service: $8 per month
  • Simultaneous Connections: 5
  • Streaming Mode Optimized for Netflix
  • Antivirus Program Included

Hotspot Shield is a VPN you’ll see aggressively marketed on the App Store as the perfect solution for iPhone users. While it certainly does an effective job at changing your IP address and protecting you online, not many people know that their subscription also comes with other online privacy solutions.

Hotspot Shield also developed an antivirus that gives you real-time protection from malware and other types of viruses. This service is only available with the premium subscription, but for $8 a month, that’s a steal. To top off the antivirus program, you have access to 24/7 support so you can receive professional help with any issues regarding the program.

Your premium subscription also gives you access to a password manager. If you’re a forgetful individual, or if you (rightfully) have different passwords for different websites, then this will be extra useful for you. Never forget your Netflix password again, and keep yourself safe and secure on the internet with Hotspot Shield’s premium subscription.

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  • Country of Registration: British Virgin Islands
  • Supported Clients: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Cost of Service: $13 per month
  • Simultaneous Connections: Unlimited
  • 3,200+ Servers in 65 Countries
  • Unlimited Bandwidth

Many internet Service Providers (ISPs) throttle bandwidth, which decreases speeds. In that case, a VPN can increase your connection speed as it unlocks all limitations imposed by your ISP and allows you to access the internet as intended. Surfshark’s service provides you with unlimited bandwidth with no data limitations, so you can access the internet and watch Netflix undisturbed. If you have an ISP that doesn’t throttle speeds, you could experience a 20-30% decrease in speed when connected to this VPN. In the end, it really comes down to the integrity of your ISP.

CleanWeb is Surfshark’s adblocker that comes bundled with the VPN subscription. You’re essentially getting two excellent data protection features in one subscription. By blocking out malware and protecting you from phishing attempts, CleanWeb trims all unnecessary data when you’re browsing the web, which in turn boosts your browsing speeds and reduces the amount of data you’re using.

The most enticing part about Surfshark that makes it such a great VPN to watch Netflix is that you can use the service on an unlimited amount of devices on most clients. You can connect your family and friends’ devices to your subscription and protect them all. They can connect to Surfshark’s VPN all at the same time, too, with unlimited bandwidth. Now that’s a bang for your buck.


  • Country of Registration: Switzerland
  • Supported Clients: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux
  • Cost of Service: $8 per month
  • Simultaneous Connections: 6
  • Free 10 Gbps Data Every Month
  • Kill Switch Function for Constant Protection

PrivadoVPN was founded in 2020 and is one of the newer and more underground choices on this list. Despite that, it boasts an array of protection features to help you watch Netflix content safely and securely. Many customers love using PrivadoVPN because it’s one of the only VPNs out there that gives you free data monthly. And it doesn’t give you a measly amount either — you’re entitled to 10Gbps monthly!

Easily bypass government censorship and unlock geo-blocked Netflix content with the switch of a button. The great thing about PrivadoVPN is that if you live in a restrictive country, even if your connection waivers and your connection drops momentarily, it will continue to protect you even if you’re offline.

Finally, you have access to 24/7 support for any queries and issues. For the price of $8 per month, PrviadoVPN provides a very well-rounded and complete service that caters to every customer’s needs. We loved testing out this service, and if you’re on a tight budget, we recommend PrivadoVPN for that enticing free 10Gbps monthly data.

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  • Country of Registration: Switzerland
  • Supported Clients: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Cost of Service: $8 per month
  • Simultaneous Connections: Up to 10
  • 4 Different Subscription Plans Including Free Service
  • 1,251+ Servers in 55 Countries

ProtonVPN is a protection-first VPN, and its priority is protecting its customers while online. The most remarkable thing about this company is its physical servers are located in an ultra-secure Swiss army fallout shelter 1,000 meters below surface level. How many companies can say that about their level of dedication to security? On top of that, ProtonVPN is independently audited and open-source, meaning anyone can verify the claims the company makes.

But does it makes a good Netflix VPN? It’s great if you live in a country where the free and open internet is a dangerous ideology, yes. In terms of streaming speeds, though, ProtonVPN also excels. Regardless of which country you reside in, you’ll be able to find a server near you, seeing as ProtonVPN has servers in 55 countries across the globe. When connected, you can achieve speeds of up to 10Gbps, so you’ll never have a laggy Netflix stream.

If you value protection, privacy, and security, we wholly recommend ProtonVPN. It’s evident the development team over there puts a lot of effort into protecting its customers. From the Tor support built into the service to the no-log policy to the kill switch functionality, you can always feel safe when connected with this VPN.

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How to choose the best Netflix VPN

In today’s digital world, many VPNs on the market promise the same features but are bundled and marketed differently. Admittedly, some services out there on the internet are dangerous and can do more harm than good, but the list we compiled above are all some of the best VPNs for Netflix. So we advise you to stay within the confines of this post when researching which companies are the best for you — you can never be too careful with where you spend your money.

Apart from that, the choice is largely up to which features you value the most in a VPN. When picking a VPN that works with Netflix, you may want to focus on the service’s connection speeds, supported devices, and which countries it has servers in. This ensures that you have high connection speeds, and you’re able to watch content in different countries.

If you feel that privacy and security are your qualms when watching Netflix (due to being in a country that practices censorship or restricts content), then you should choose the service that best accommodates your worries. When picking a VPN based on its ability to protect your identity, it is crucial that you pick one that explicitly states that it does not give your information to the state and one that employs 256-bit AES encryption. The reason why 256-bit encryption keys are essential is that even if an intruder had access to the most powerful supercomputer that hasn’t even been built yet, they still wouldn’t have enough time in the universe to reveal your identity.

So, while we strongly encourage you to do your own research, you can rest assured that the Digital Trends team has spent a significant amount of time researching what makes the best VPN for Netflix.

How to use a VPN on Netflix

So you’ve purchased a subscription to a VPN you feel comfortable with. Now you just have to know how to use the VPN to watch Netflix. To do this, you’ll have to change your Netflix region. It sounds complicated, but if you have a reliable VPN, everything will proceed without a hitch.

This may not be common knowledge, but some countries don’t have access to certain titles due to region-specific copyright negotiations. A contract between Netflix and a studio regarding a particular movie may make sense and is profitable in the United States, but that might not translate well to a UK audience. So what a VPN does is mask your actual IP location and change it to one in a country or server that you choose. If you’re traveling abroad and want to view content from your home country, just connect your VPN to a server in your home country and binge away!

There’s one caveat that may disrupt your viewing experience, though. Netflix can easily detect a bad VPN connection. While there’s nothing illegal about connecting to Netflix via a VPN (we’ll go more in-depth below), it is technically in the Terms of Service that it can terminate your account if it suspects you are altering your geographical location. Netflix has never done this, though, and shows no intentions of starting anytime soon. If Netflix catches you using a subpar VPN, it’ll just show an error page, and you won’t be able to watch any content. Revert to your normal IP, and you can resume.

Is using a Netflix VPN legal?

As mentioned above, using a VPN to watch Netflix is completely legal. There have never been any cases where an individual was punished for using a VPN to alter their geographical location to access Netflix. For the time being, it doesn’t seem as if the company will change its stance on legally punishing those who use VPNs to access their platform—it’s a trivial issue for Netflix, and millions of users do it daily.

It is, however, technically against Netflix’s terms and conditions, and it has the right to terminate your account at any point in time if it suspects you’re breaking its rules.

You also agree not to circumvent, remove, alter, deactivate, degrade or thwart any of the content protections in the Netflix service; use any robot, spider, scraper or other automated means to access the Netflix service… We may terminate or restrict your use of our service if you violate these Terms of Use or are engaged in illegal or fraudulent use of the service.

Netflix ToS 4.6

If you get caught using a VPN to watch Netflix, you’ll be met with an error message, and you won’t be able to access any content. Simply turning the VPN off and refreshing the page will fix the error.

All in all, it’s highly unlikely, and maybe even impossible, that Netflix will terminate your account over the use of a VPN. If the company were serious about punishing individuals who do, it would follow a similar business model as Hulu or HBO, where it completely restricts access to only content available in your country.

Why you might want to use a VPN to watch Netflix

Most of Netflix’s subscribers reside in countries with free and open internet, so they don’t have to worry about their government spying on and punishing them for accessing foreign content. In countries like China, Iran, and other totalitarian regimes, access to Netflix is severely restricted, if not blocked completely. A VPN can provide an internet user with access to unlimited knowledge and services to change their lives. People with an open internet primarily worry about access to geo-locked content. However, for those less unfortunate than us, a VPN is important and sometimes even necessary.

Another reason why you may want to use a VPN when binge-watching your favorite show is security and protection. If you’re connected to an unsecured or public Wi-Fi, a VPN’s encryption can help keep you safe and sound, so you only have to worry about what your favorite protagonist is going through in the show you’re watching.

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What Is a VPN? Everything You Want to Know

Advice about how to use a virtual private network (VPN) has grown increasingly common, and as VPNs have grown more popular, they’ve become easier and more intuitive to use, too. VPNs have become a popular tool in the fight for privacy, whether you’re trying to stay hidden from the government or you’re trying to keep your information hidden from hackers.

Despite the complex network theory behind VPNs, they are easy enough to understand — and even easier to use. A good VPN can do everything from preventing internet service providers (ISPs) from tracking your activity to switching your server to a different region. Here’s how it all works.

A brief refresher on how the internet works

To understand what a VPN is and how it functions, it’s important to understand how the internet, and networks in general, work. When two or more devices — computers, phones, tablets, etc. — are able to interact with one another, that is a network. Machines interact by sending data back and forth. The internet is essentially just a worldwide network built out of various networks and devices worldwide.

When a user accesses a website from a computer or other device, data is exchanged. The user’s device sends out “packets,” which contain the addresses of the sender and the receiver, much like letters sent by mail. This is necessary in order to connect to a site, but it means that observers can read these packets and know who is visiting a particular site and what they’re doing there.

VPNs: A stop in the middle

A VPN is, at its simplest, a network that requires authentication before a user can access it. As an example, consider a campus or company network that requires a username and password. How exactly does a VPN protect your data? By acting as a sort of launching pad for users before they access sites.

When a user connects to a VPN, a “tunnel” is created. This is a secure line of communication between the computer and the VPN, meaning outside observers cannot see the data passing between them. As an additional layer of security, the data passing through the tunnel is encrypted, altering the information in a particular way. For example, it may replace every letter with the letter to the right, so that ever “A” becomes a “B,” every “B” becomes a “C,” etc. (Modern encryption is much more complex, FYI.) Both the user’s computer and the VPN know the key to the encryption, so when the data reaches its destination, it can be decrypted and returned to its original state.

This means that even if a hacker were to penetrate the tunnel, so to speak, they would struggle to read the data within. This secure tunnel blocks out more than just malicious outsiders, too. Even an ISP will only be able to see the unintelligible strings of data.

Once you connect to a VPN, you can browse the internet as usual, with one major exception: Your computer behaves as if it is located in the network rather than wherever you are. This means that when you access a site while logged into a VPN, the data packets sent will not have your own address on them but instead that of the VPN. This makes your location difficult to track, which is one reason VPNs are popular choices for journalists operating under oppressive governments.

NordVPN server map on phone.

A way around geoblocking

VPNs are a useful security measure, but they also serve another purpose. Because your computer, while logged into a VPN, acts as if it is part of the network, you can move your location to VPN servers in other countries to get around geoblocking (the act of blocking access to a site based on where a user lives). Examples of this range from the mundane (Netflix only allowing users in the United States to view certain content) to the oppressive (some countries banning their users from accessing certain sites).

For an example of how one can use VPNs to circumvent geo-blocking, imagine a user in Iran who wants to watch videos on YouTube. If this user were to log into a VPN based in the United States and access YouTube, the site and anyone observing their activity will recognize them as being in the United States, where the VPN is located. This is often referred to as spoofing your location or geo-spoofing.

However, a VPN isn’t a panacea for all geoblocking: Major streaming services, for example, continuously work to make sure their geoblocking stays in place even when users have a VPN, so results can vary. But switching servers remains a popular option for getting around these kinds of restrictions.

How to start using a VPN

How does one get started using a VPN? Despite everything that goes into making a VPN work (tunnels, encryption, etc.), for you, it’s as simple as logging in — meaning you’ll need the right credentials. As mentioned earlier, campus and office networks are examples of VPNs, and they’re fine if you are simply looking for a secure connection to the internet. If you are trying to protect your privacy, however, using your employer’s network might not be the best idea.

Login screen for NordVPN.

Enter private, third-party VPNs, which anyone can use. For most people, the easiest way to get onto a VPN is to sign up with one of these VPN providers. There are hundreds of privately owned services, and as with any service, they offer various incentives like lower prices or faster speeds. We have a list of options we recommend the most.

Limited VPN services may be free, but most VPN memberships will cost a monthly fee. In making an account with a VPN service, you will create a username and password that you can use to access the network. VPNs offer apps that are compatible across a wide range of devices, from computers and phones to routers and built-in extensions for browsers.

How much does it cost to set up a VPN?

It comes down to the subscription fee. Actually downloading the app and adjusting the settings is usually a simple, cost-free process (although some VPNs do have IT-level options for tweaking security protocols). And while some VPNs are free, we highly suggest getting a paid version to get the real benefits of a VPN and the most important features.

These fees tend to range from around $7 to $13 per month, and some VPNs do offer different tiers with added services at higher rates.

Also, note that VPNs have periodic sales and deals to attract new customers, so it’s possible to find lower rates down to $2 to $4 for the first year or so. Well-established VPNs typically offer 30-day free trials that will allow you to experiment with services. Reviews and ratings for VPN services can also be helpful when choosing the right subscription.

Man holding phone with VPN app.
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How do you choose the right VPN provider?

VPN providers can vary in many ways, so it’s important to do some research if you are serious about VPN protection. Think about your specific needs, and take a look at these important factors:

Verified no-log policy: Cheaper or inferior VPNs will still keep logs of your internet activity to use or even sell. Look for VPNs that have a no-log policy. NordVPN, for example, has a no-log system that is independently verified for extra assurance. VPNs also sometimes boast about the nation they are headquartered in, as some nations have mandatory data retention laws that make no-log policies difficult. Others are part of international data sharing efforts, like Five-Eyes, which can allow for sharing data with your government or other governments without your knowledge.

Kill switches: A kill switch ensures that if a VPN drops for any reason, the internet connection is immediately shut down to prevent any data from passing along to outside sources. This peace of mind is particularly welcome for those living under oppressive or dangerous governments.

Split tunneling: Split tunneling is a feature that essentially lets you whitelist certain services or sites to bypass the VPN entirely. This can help solve slowdown issues or latency problems when streaming and is an important tool to look for in modern VPNs.

Number of servers: VPNs like to boast about the number of servers that they have and how many cites they span. While it’s not quite as important as they make it out to be (anything above a couple thousand servers should be enough for server hopping around the world), it’s still a sign of how well-established the service is and potentially how many options you have if you’re trying to get around a geoblock.

Simultaneous connections: VPNs limit simultaneous connections, and you will want a service that can reliably protect all important devices on your home network at the same time. Five maximum devices is at the low end for professional VPNs but still a common limit. A 10 to 12 device limit is more ideal but harder to find.

Why set up a VPN at home?

While VPNs are frequently recommended for public Wi-Fi, remote business work, and other high-risk situations, they are also applicable at home. Here’s why it’s a good idea to consider a VPN for your home:

Broad protection for all your devices: Everything on your home network will be protected by a full-fledged VPN service. That includes your smart devices, computers, smart TVs, consoles, and phones. It’s an easy way to add broad encryption for your Wi-Fi.

Parental controls and kid security: Many VPNs offer features useful for parents and can block untrustworthy sites or malware to help keep the whole family protected.

Privacy features still apply: Privacy concerns, such as ISP logs, pertain just as much to your home network as to public Wi-Fi.

Region restrictions can be bypassed: From games to TV shows, we stream a lot of content in our homes, so the server-switching options that VPNs offer to get around geoblocking can be especially useful.

Downsides to using a VPN

VPNs can be very useful, but they are not without drawbacks. The most immediate problem with VPNs is that they can throttle your download speeds. Encrypting and decrypting data takes time, which can cause delays, latency issues when playing games, or stuttering when watching high-definition shows. The speed can also be impacted by how far away the VPN servers are from you. Split tunneling can help address some of these issues, but they remain a concern.

An additional problem with VPNs is that some larger websites have decided to crack down on them. Netflix is probably the greatest example. In order to keep foreign users from accessing its U.S. library, Netflix routinely blocks users if it detects they are coming from a VPN. This does not only apply to people trying to get around geoblocking; if you live in the United States and try to access Netflix through a VPN, the site may detect it and block access.

VPNs are a great option for anyone looking to protect their privacy online. They are not foolproof, however, so take care when using one. Be aware of your country’s surveillance laws and the privacy policies of any VPN you use.

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Tech News

Get Private Internet Access VPN for almost 70% off — and get a $15 credit too

TLDR: Protect your information and all your online activity with a subscription to Private Internet Access, now at nearly 70 percent off.

If you’re worried about being watched while online, it’s because you already are. Internet service providers (ISPs) can log everything you do. Online destinations from retail giants to social media platforms harvest information about you and can sell that data to virtually anyone. And yeah, getting emails or Facebook ads about the book you just did a Google search for are more than a little creepy.

A VPN is your first and best initial line of defense against constant surveillance. As one of the industry leaders, a subscription to Private Internet Access ($39.95 for 1 year, 69 percent off, from TNW Deals) can go a long way to erecting a staunch barrier against becoming an online privacy victim or, even worse, a victim of cybercrime.

With over a decade as a top VPN option, PIA remains one of the most respected names in data security, including a spot among CNET’s Best VPN Services of 2021 and a cumulative 4.6 out of 5 star rating from over 100,000 reviews among Apple App Store and Google Play users.

With one of the biggest service networks in the business, PIA allows users to log into a network of over 34,000 servers in 77 countries worldwide, shielding you and your vital information from online schemes, thieves and prying eyes. With a PIA connection cloaking a user’s location and IP address, they can do all their online business secure in the knowledge their information won’t be stolen or misused.  PIA also uses powerful Blowfish CBC encryption technology to protect all your data, even while ensuring unlimited bandwidth so browsing speeds always remain lightning quick.

And as an industry veteran, PIA is constantly adding new features to further safeguard connections and improve service, including free email breach monitoring, an advanced firewall for blocking unwanted connections, and their MACE feature with knocks out ads, trackers and malware as you surf the web. 

Unlike other services that usually only protect 2, 3 or even 5 devices, PIA allows coverage for up to 10 devices simultaneously, all while also bypassing censored and geographically blocked websites, apps and services you could never otherwise access.

Right now, new members can enjoy a year of Private Internet Access protection for almost 70 percent off its regular price at just $39.99; or get two years of coverage for an even more cost effective $69.95. And with both offers, shoppers will also receive a $15 store credit for their next purchase through TNW Deals. 

Prices are subject to change.

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Tech News

The Deeper Connect Nano could replace your VPN and offer even greater peace of mind

TLDR: The Deeper Connect Nano serves as your own private VPN device, securing web traffic across your entire network safely under your surveillance at a one-time-only charge.

Over 31 percent of all internet users worldwide use a VPN for either professional or personal reasons. But how many of those millions of users actually know and trust their VPN provider? 

Do you know your VPN’s country of origin? Do you know how and where their servers are maintained? Do you know their logging policies? And most importantly, do you know that they won’t sell your information to the highest bidder? While most VPN services are fair and reputable, it’s often hard to distinguish between those and their less savory fly-by-night brothers.

Of course, one way to enjoy the benefits of a VPN without actually enlisting and relying on a VPN service is with a device like the new Deeper Connect Nano Decentralized VPN Cybersecurity Hardware. Right now, it’s $299 from TNW Deals.

Rather than falling back blindly on a VPN provider to facilitate your access to the web and protect your connection, the Deeper Connect Nano puts those matters in your own hands.

As a decentralized private network, the Nano uses the same blockchaining technology that drive cryptocurrency creation to help users essentially create their own personal access tunnel to the web, a fully secure connection that cloaks a user’s IP like a VPN while also serving as its own client and server. 

You just connect the Nano to your internet router, run some quick configurations, and you’re immediately as well protected as a VPN user, scouring the web while a 7-layer firewall watches your back, blocking ads and trackers while monitoring web traffic across your entire network. 

Unlike a VPN, which almost always only protects a handful of devices, you can set up the Nano to protect virtually every web-enable device on your entire network, ranging from computer, laptops, and mobile devices all the way to your smart thermostat, smart appliances and all the other web-connected items in your home.

Also unlike a VPN, you won’t be paying a monthly service charge to use the Nano either. Your one-time purchase price grants Nano owners complete protection forever. Right now, you can start securing your home network on your own with a Deeper Connect Nano Decentralized VPN for just $299.

Prices are subject to change.

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Google investigates why a carrier linked VPN ads to an SMS two-factor code

Earlier this week, Australian developer Chris Lacy tweeted about a curious experience while logging into a rarely used Google account. When Google texted his two-factor authentication code, the message popped up along with an ad including a link for VPN services. Considering the downsides of phishing or malware distribution attached to a code that’s specifically intended to keep your account secure, this didn’t go over well.

While Lacy did not name the carrier who delivered the text, Google Identity and Security senior director Mark Risher clarified that the ad didn’t come from his company.

Google’s official statement on the matter is that “These are not our ads and we are currently working with the wireless carrier to understand why this happened.” The Messages app on Android didn’t display a preview, flagging it as possible spam, but it’s a less than ideal implementation of two-factor authentication.

9to5Google points out that at least in some countries, Google uses Verified SMS to authenticate and secure messages, but it’s not clear if that would be possible here. I’ve never seen any spam attached to verification on texts, but until RCS and end-to-end encryption are widespread, it’s just one more reason to opt for code generators, hardware keys, or push notifications for login security instead of a text.

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Tech News

Google Fi’s VPN service is now available on iPhone

We’ve been expecting Google Fi’s VPN to arrive on iPhone for the past few months and now that time has finally arrived. According to Google, iPhone users now have access to Google Fi’s integrated VPN, offering these users the privacy that comes with these services sans the need to sign up for a third-party offering.

Google said back in February that it would expand its Fi VPN service to iPhone users this spring. It took a bit longer than subscribers had hoped, but the big day has finally arrived and Apple device owners on the Google Fi network can now access the privacy tool.

As you’d expect from a VPN, the service enables Google Fi users to stream their data over an encrypted connection, preventing others from snooping on their browsing habits and online activities. The big benefit to this feature is that you don’t need to sign up and pay for a plan from a different company.

Google Fi’s VPN service is joined by a number of other features, including automatic spam call blocking, the ability to monitor data usage for everyone on the plan, support for data-only SIMs and high-speed data tethering depending on which plan you get.

Subscribers can sign up for the Unlimited Plus or Simply Unlimited plan to get unlimited data with the throttled speeds kicking in after the first 22GB. There’s also a Flexible plan that’s priced at $17/month with a data price of $10 per gigabyte.

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Google Fi’s built-in VPN starts iPhone rollout

Google Fi’s VPN service has started rolling out to subscribers on iPhone, the company has announced. The feature, which routes your phone’s internet traffic through an encrypted connection to protect your privacy, has been available on Android since launching in beta in November 2018. The launch comes a little later than Google’s previously announced “spring” release date, but it’s close.

In a followup tweet Google says not all iPhone users will have access to the feature straight away, but that it will be widely available “over the coming weeks.” To turn the feature on, 9to5Google notes that you should make sure your Fi companion app is updated to the latest version, and then head to “Phone Settings” in the main Account tab. From there go to “Privacy & security,” where there’ll eventually be a “Protect your online activity” option to enable. The VPN is included with all Google Fi plans.

The arrival of Google Fi’s VPN on iOS comes as Apple is gearing up to launch a similar privacy-protecting feature as part of its iCloud Plus subscription service. Apple’s version, which it’s calling Private Relay, routes your web traffic through a pair of relay servers to protect your sensitive information. It’s designed in such a way so that not even Apple itself has a complete picture of your browsing.

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