Image Source: Kaspersky
Do you need secure access to public Wi-Fi? Or do you just need to ge0-shift your location?
Whatever your needs are, fret not as this ultimate guide will guide you on how to use a VPN on your Android phone along with choosing the best VPN recommendations for extra protection 24/7.
What is a Virtual Private Network and How Does it Work?
A Virtual Private Network or VPN is a digital tool that allows for protected connection while using a public network. It will mask your IP address while encrypting your internet traffic and concealing your online identity which will protect you from possible cyberattacks. In short, VPN can provide an extra layer of protection in real-time for all your online activities.
Image Source: AT&T Cybersecurity
VPN works by hiding your IP address and redirecting it through a secured Internet tunnel which is specially configured by a remote server run by a VPN host with a strong encryption protocol to all your data. What this means is that when surfing the Internet with a VPN, it becomes your source of data, and the Internet Service Provider (ISP) along with other third parties cannot see your online activity.
This is because your VPN provider turns all your data into “mumbo jumbo” that even if someone were to analyze your data, it would be useless.
Why do you need a VPN on your Android?
1) Everyone and everything is online now
Nowadays, it is almost impossible to not do anything that doesn’t involve an Internet connection. Need a ride? Call Grab. Hungry? Call Food Panda.
From online shopping to paying bills online, we are potentially sending out personal information assuming that they are safe and private but in most cases, they are not.
Hence, this should be the number one reason for you to install VPN apps for a safe and secure connection. A reliable VPN app on your Android device will ensure that no matter how you connect to the internet, public Wi-Fi or not, your internet traffic will always be secured.
2) Higher level of security for online banking
Image Source: Security Today
You’re in the airport but need to urgently deal with some financial situation and you’re running out of mobile data. So you have no choice but to log into the airport’s public Wi-Fi to make payment.
What are the chances that your bank account information will be private? You are literally sharing that connection with tons of people in the airport!
Worst case scenario, all the information that you send and receive (including passwords) will probably end up in the hands of cybercriminals if no secure VPN is in place.
3) Enjoy entertainment that isn’t available in your country
With VPN, you can gain access to open, unblocked content that isn’t available in your country. You cant access international content as the standard connections in your country will connect to local servers that can determine your location.
Fret not as certain VPN Providers like ExpressVPN will use VPN location spoofing to switch to a server in another country, hence “changing” your location. The VPN provider can consistently provide access to streaming services such as 20+ Netflix libraries as well as some TV shows in BBC iPlayer.
What should a good VPN provider do for your Android device?
Your VPN should do more than one task– providing privacy, bypassing censorship, hiding identity, location shifting, and more. Your VPN provider should also be protected against other cyberattacks and will not be easily compromised.
a) Encryption of IP address
This is the primary job of a VPN. It should hide your IP address from your local ISP and others. When the job is done right, you can then send and receive information online without the risk of data leaking.
b) Encryption of protocols
PPTP (Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol) is the oldest VPN protocol out there which you should avoid at all costs. This is because PPTP uses weak encryption and might be good enough for non-essential web browsing but it’s not up to snuff for serious security.
A good one should be the OpenVPN protocol as it allows for high levels of security with low processing overhead. It will not leave traces in the form of internet history, search history, or cookies.
c) Kill switch
Your encrypted connection will be disrupted if your VPN connection is unexpectedly disconnected. A good VPN provider can detect this unplanned downtime and turn off pre-selected programs, reducing the chance of security breaches.
d) 30-day money-back guarantee
Now, this is an important factor as you won’t know how good their VPN service is until you try it out for yourself. Since most VPN services fees can cost up to a few hundred ringgit per year, it’s only fair that these big companies can offer in good faith to prove that their service is the best.
It’s a good sign if they have a return policy with a quick turnaround, though don’t be fooled. Try chatting with their 24/7 chat support or sending some test emails to gauge their customer service response or support.
This would come in handy if you would want to get your money back.
How to Install VPN on Android Without an App
Now if your phone storage is almost full and you do not want to go through the unnecessary hassle to find things to delete, well you’re in luck!
You can set up your VPN without actually downloading the app and here are the steps:
- Firstly, you will need to register and get a username and password, as well as server address details from the VPN settings (VPN provider) or network administrator.
- Then, head on over to your Android Settings and select Network and Internet > Advanced > VPN. Either way, you can search “VPN” in your Settings.
Images Source: alphr
- After tapping into VPN, tap into the plus sign (+) or “Add VPN” tab on the top-right corner.
- Proceed to fill in the details and then Save.
Images Source: alphr
- You can now use any internet connection without worrying about your security and safety!
How to Install VPN App on Android
For the sake of better understanding, we will use ExpressVPN to illustrate the step-by-step process of setting up and running the VPN app.
- Firstly, you will need to head on to your Google Play Store and search for ExpressVPN on the search bar.
- Next, you can download the app and tap the “Open” button once the installation process is completed.
- From there onwards, set up a VPN profile with your email address and choose the “Start Free Trial” option (the trial lasts for 7 days).
Image Source: Tech Advisor
- After that, you will be asked for permission to configure your VPN. Click “OK” and do not deny this request or else the VPN will not work.
- Lastly, click “Allow” for the VPN to share crash reports and other technical test reports to the developer as this helps them to monitor the performance of the system. Don’t worry, it’ll be anonymous.
Image Source: Tech Advisor
How to Use VPN on Android Phone
Now that you’ve successfully set up your VPN, it’s time to have fun in the Virtual Private Networks.
Open the app and press the big power button in the center to turn on the VPN. When the VPN is activated, there will be a “green shield” around the button. This indicates that you now have a VPN connection that allows you to browse safely without worrying that any sensitive data will be leaked.
Beneath the power button shows the server location which can be changed by tapping on the “Choose Location” button. Most VPN apps will automatically prompt you to connect to any VPN server. Note that you can have multiple multiple VPN servers that you can switch in between in case one is slower.
Image Source: Tech Advisor
Best VPN Apps for Android
Did you know that Android devices have built-in VPN support? Sounds cool and all, but the thing is, you will need to manually set it up which can be very tedious.
OpenVPN is reputable as a more secure and effective protocol as compared to PPTP and L2TP/IPSec, however, you will need a third-party app. For this reason, instead of going through the hassle of trying to manually set up a VPN, we recommend subscribing to a VPN app instead.
Here’s an elaborate explanation of what the best VPN apps have to offer for your Android device:
Image Source: Comparitech
Most users always have a hard time choosing between NordVPN and ExpressVPN.
It is no doubt that the former is as impressive as the latter. NordVPN has a lot of factors going in its favor, but it is most recognized for its strong encryption and reliability. It encrypts your web traffic data via multiple servers with “multi-hop” technology.
The VPN service has a two-year subscription plan that makes it very affordable at only $3.30 a month. Get NordVPN on Google Play or install the .apk file version that comes with an ad-blocking feature.
- Works on Android 11, Android 10, Pie, Oreo, and even earlier versions and AndroidTV
- Security: Double VPN (extra layer of security) and kill switch
- SmartPlay DNS bypass anti-VPN firewalls on sites that are restricted geographically
- 5,100 servers across 60 countries
- Enables different server selection for different purposes (torrenting, P2P, etc)
- Subscription plan: $11.95 a month (30-day money-back guarantee)
- Brownie points: outstanding speed to download files and uninterrupted video streaming
Image Source: TechRadar
Surfshark is the best budget-friendly VPN app for Android devices. Why? With only $2.21 a month for the two-year plan, you will get antimalware, ad-blocking, and tracker-blocking features. Plus, it keeps no logs, no data caps, and has adequate speed.
One of the most notable features is its unlimited device support. Gamers, rejoice as it is not every day that you come across VPN that is compatible with your Xbox or Fire TV Stick.
With this VPN service, you do not have to worry about how many devices are connected, so feel free to run your entire home and office on this VPN. Additionally, Surfshark allows you to conceal your location by overriding your current digital location without any third-party apps.
- Has 256-bit encryption, a protocol selection menu, a kill switch, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and access to multi-hop servers
- No compromising on security and privacy
- 3,200 servers across 65 countries
- Comprehensive scanning for viruses & malware with real-time protection
- Subscription plan: $12.95 a month (30-day money-back guarantee)
Image Source: T3
ExpressVPN is one of the highly recommended VPN apps for Android as it is relatively easy to set up and use. The app lets users choose between UDP or TCP OpenVPN Protocols. This app is perfectly safe for torrenting or other peer-to-peer connections.
Besides that, its user interface is exceptionally user-friendly with high-speed connections and high security. Due to its top-notch and proven security, it is no wonder why it is on the more expensive side, though it guarantees your privacy. ExpressVPN is available from Google Play Store or APK for the direct download option.
- Works on latest version of Android 12 and below
- Security: 256-bit AES encryption, and DNS/IPv6 leak protection and kill switch to prevent data leaking
- 2000+ servers across 94 different countries
- 30,000 IP addresses with 5 simultaneous connections with multiple devices
- Subscription plan: as low as $8.32 per month (30-day money-back guarantee).
- Brownie points: accept Bitcoin as a payment option
Be Aware of Free VPN
According to a survey conducted by the ICSI Networking and Security Group, 38 percent of free Android VPN apps investigated included malware. Hence, free VPNs should be avoided.
You’re probably unaware that every free VPN makes money through ads. This means that they are using your browsing habits and monetizing them to the highest bidder. So you might as well just use public Wi-Fi instead.
Digital Privacy is Power
As once a famous technologist, Gary Kovacs said, “Privacy is not an option, and it shouldn’t be the price we pay for just getting on the Internet.”
As technology continues to advance faster every day, especially with the pandemic accelerating it, digital privacy becomes more compromised. Tech giants can collect an insane amount of data just to track your Internet activity, companies can sell or trade your browsing habits and history, and even worst – the government is potentially spying on you.
This awareness should be enough to cause us to be alarmed about our state of private information and data privacy. Well, guess what? Protecting your privacy can avoid all that.
In other words, what people don’t know, they can’t ruin. No matter your VPN needs for your Android device, you’re making the right decision!