Disclaimer: By law, I am required to disclose that the product I reviewed in this blog post, proXPN, was presented truthfully and ethically from my personal opinion and personal use of said product. I have not received cash or in-kind payment from the company to endorse their product. (in other words, I bought the product with my own money and used it).
There are days when you just have to get out of the office. You just have to get away to refocus and re-energize yourself. Recently, Starbucks has been that getaway, my office away from the office, for me (and fortunately for me my office sits between two of them). Public Wi-Fi is essential when you want to get away but also have to stay connected to the office while you are away. Always being connected also means that I have to make sure that I have a secure connection whenever possible. Awhile back, I discovered a service called proXPN that makes it easy to use VPN technology to privately and securely connect to the Internet.
Before I talk about proXPN, let me briefly explain what a VPN is and why you would want to use one if you regularly connect to public Wi-Fi networks. A VPN or virtual private network is basically a secure method for a computer to connect to another network. It enables a computer to send and receive data securely across a public network as if it were directly connected to a private network. The benefit of using a VPN is that the data that you are sending is encrypted and if anyone intercepts it, the encrypted data can't be read.
VPNs have traditionally been used as a method for employees who were either telecommuting or working remotely to create a secure connection to their corporate (private) network. Once connected, users could securely access the resources on that network as if they were in the office using a computer that was directly plugged into the network.
So now the question that you are probably asking is why would I need a VPN just to surf the Internet? Whether you are using public Wi-Fi at Starbucks, Barnes & Noble, the airport, a hotel, or a conference, you want to secure your Internet connection against eavesdropping. Why? Because some public Wi-Fi spots can attract cybercriminals who are out to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting web surfers. These cybercriminals are just as likely to hang out at your favorite Starbucks as you are sipping on a grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte (or a grande Iced Green Tea Lemonade in my case) while looking for their next victim.
Because Wi-Fi access is more readily available nowadays and our devices to access the Internet have become more portable, people are a bit more comfortable performing tasks such as online shopping, online banking, and even accessing sensitive work-related documents, while connected to a free, public Wi-Fi network than ever before. This is the perfect scenario for cybercriminals to gain access to a person's private and sensitive data using tools that can easily be found on the Internet to intercept a user's passwords or banking information.
So now that I have your attention, let me talk about proXPN. As I mentioned earlier, proXPN is a VPN service that creates a secure, encrypted tunnel that allows all of your online data to pass through. This allows you to keep everything that you do hidden while online no matter where you are located. This prevents cybercriminals from intercepting your personal data or other online activity. It even prevents someone from discovering your current location while online.
After using proXPN for over a year, I can say that it is the easiest "consumer-grade" VPN that I have used especially when it comes to setup. You simply download and install the application, create your account, and log in. That's it. There is no complicated software configuration required nor do you have to make any changes to the settings on your device. Just choose your location and click connect. It doesn't get any easier.
proXPN offers two types of accounts: Basic (free) and Premium ($6.25/month). The Basic accounts offer the same level of security (2048-bit encryption key and 512-bit encryption tunnel) as the Premium account except the Basic account throttles your speed to 300 kilobits per second, limits your connectivity to the OpenVPN protocol and you are restricted to only one location in the United States. The Premium account not only gives subscribers a choice of OpenVPN and PPTP protocols, there are no network speed limitations and you are able to choose the location you want to connect to from a pool of servers (Dallas, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, London, Sinapore, and Stockholm). Another advantage of having a Premium account is VPN Guard. This feature allows you to indicate which programs on your computer should immediately shut down if you lose your connection to a proXPN server. The Premium account also allows you to use their service on your Android or iOS devices.
Bottom line, both the free and paid versions of proXPN do the job they are designed to, which is encrypting all traffic from user's devices and keeping them secure online. Yes, there are a number of free VPN services out there, but I personally prefer to use a paid service that guarantees their connection’s integrity. If you are a frequent user of free, public WiFi, proXPN can give you a peace of mind that their private information will stay private while online.