The easiest method of installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is not the cheapest. Then again, the prices seem reasonable for what you receive.
I have been using VPNs for years on the various computers I have owned. The security and privacy of VPNs is important to me, and I believe such privacy should be important to every internet user. Who wants hackers, spies, or your local internet provider spying on your email messages and online usage of the web?
In the “good old days” of five years ago or so, VPNs were tricky to install, not available for some operating systems (Android, iPad, etc.), and required quite a bit of technical knowledge of TCP/IP networking to install and configure. Luckily, the technology has improved a lot, and today’s newer VPN products can easily be installed in Windows, Macintosh, Chromebook, Android, iOS, and possibly other operating systems by anyone with minimal technical skills. In most cases, installing a modern VPN is a simple matter of double-clicking on an installation icon and, once installed, entering a user name and password into the newly-installed VPN software, then clicking on “enable” or some similar word. If you know how to install programs in your computer, you probably can install a modern VPN. But beware: some of the cheaper VPNs may use the older, rather complicated installation methods.
Most VPNs require software installation in each device you wish to protect. This is a problem if your family has two, three, or more computer devices in the home. (Don’t forget the smartphones and tablet computers!) Most of the better VPNs cost money, and you might have to purchase VPN software for each computer. Some VPN providers do allow two or more simultaneous connections, but not all of them do so.
Another interesting question is how do you install VPN software in devices that do not allow for user-installed software? In my home, the Roku box, the security alarm system, the VoIP telephone device, the Amazon Echo device (“Alexa”), the garage door opener that sends me notices if it is opened when I am traveling in other parts of the world, and even my remotely-controlled Nest thermostat are all internet-connected. How do I protect these devices from snoops that want to learn more about my personal habits and private information?
(I am not sure why I need a VPN on a thermostat, but the capability is there at no additional charge, so I use it.)
The answer is simple: don’t install VPN software in any of these devices. Instead, install VPN software in the internet router that is in your home.
Unfortunately, only a few routers have the capability of running user-installed software, and even then, the process isn’t simple. The easier method of using VPN software in a router is to purchase a router with VPN software already pre-installed. Luckily, there are several VPN-equipped routers to choose from. Prices vary from $20 up to several hundred dollars; I would avoid the cheapest units as they all seem to run the older software that is complicated to configure and use.
Even if you already have a router provided by the local internet provider, you can easily add a second router for use on any and all internet-connected devices in your home.
For the past few months, I have been using a tiny GL.iNet GL-AR750S-Ext Gigabit Travel AC Router that sells for $69.99 on Amazon and elsewhere. I have been pleased with the results. While it is called a “travel router,” it works equally well at home. I also used it on a recent trip and found that it lives up to the claim of being a “travel router.”
The GL-AR750S-Ext Gigabit Travel AC Router can provide encrypted VPN connections to any of more than 25 different VPN service providers. It also has both the traditional OpenVPN software and the newer WireGuard® VPN software pre-installed. This allows it to be used with even more VPN service providers although some manual reconfiguration may be involved. WireGuard® supposedly is more secure than other VPN products although I have no method of proving that myself. For more information about WireGuard®, see my earlier article, WireGuard: Probably the Most Secure and Fastest VPN Available Today, at: http://bit.ly/2R6fA0l.
The GL.iNet GL-AR750S-Ext Gigabit Travel AC Router is so small that it easily slips into my carry-on bag when traveling. I can connect it to any hotel or coffee shop’s internet connection by either wi-fi or a wired ethernet connection within a few seconds. I travel a lot for both business and pleasure, so that is a big deal for me.
Not only can the GL.iNet GL-AR750S-Ext Gigabit Travel AC Router connect to a hotel’s wi-fi connection, but it also has a second wi-fi network built in that will allow local devices to connect to the VPN router by its second wi-fi connection or by an ethernet cable. I find this useful as most hotels and coffee shops only make internet access available via wi-fi. However, in a few hotels, internet connectivity is only available by a wired ethernet cable in your room. At home, you probably have a wired internet connection and possibly a wi-fi connection as well. The GL-AR750S-Ext Gigabit Travel AC Router works with either method.
The GL-AR750S-Ext router also has a slot for a microSD card that can share its contents with all local users. In effect, the microSD card becomes a shared hard drive that is available to everyone on your local wi-fi network but not available to anyone else. This is a good method of sharing movies, cartoons, and music to keep the kiddies entertained on a long automobile trip.
Speaking of automobiles, the GL-AR750S-Ext router is powered by any standard USB charger. The router comes with a power charger that plugs into a wall outlet for power . In addition, you can substitute any adapter designed to power cell phones while in an automobile. The adapter plugs into a standard power outlet in an automobile (we used to call them “cigarette lighters”) and also has a standard micro USB connector that will plug into the GL-AR750S-Ext router. These power adapters are sold at most any store that sells cell phones and accessories. I use one of these mobile power adapters with the travel router to encrypt my cell phone’s tether hotspot and use the hotspot for internet connectivity to multiple nearby devices, such as those used by family members in an automobile when traveling.
I am so pleased with the GL.iNet GL-AR750S-Ext Gigabit Travel AC Router that I plan to purchase another one. I will leave one at home for use by family members when I am traveling and then take the second one with me in my carry-on bag or even in a pocket as I travel.
The GL.iNet router I use is not the only one available today. You can find several other brands of routers with VPN capabilities by starting at https://duckduckgo.com/?q=VPN+router&t=h_&ia=products. However, the GL-AR750S-Ext router is the only one that I have used in recent years.
I had an earlier router with VPN capabilities several years ago, but it was bulky, had several shortcomings, and locked up occasionally. I stopped using it. I am much happier with the GL-AR750S-Ext router. It hasn’t locked up once in the two months I have been using it.
You can learn more about the GL.iNet GL-AR750S-Ext Gigabit Travel AC Router at https://www.gl-inet.com/products/gl-ar750s/. It is available for purchase from the same web site as well as from a number of retailers. I purchased mine from Amazon at https://amzn.to/2BWBQQ2.
Yes, you can secure ALL your internet-connected devices and keep snoopers off your wi-fi network.
NOTE: I am not compensated for writing and publishing this article. I am simply a satisfied user of the GL-AR750S-Ext Gigabit Travel AC Router and decided to share my experiences with anyone interested.