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VPN for Public Wifi – How to Protect Yourself

Last updated on December 26th, 2022 at 10:03 pm

VPN for Public Wifi - How to Protect Yourself

VPN for Public Wifi – As the internet becomes a key part of our everyday lives, do we even stop to think about the consequences of being connected to the internet all the time? When we’re at home, we do all the privacy protection we can add – from cameras to password protectors and software. But how about when we go outside?

Today we talk about public wifi, and how to protect yourself and protect your devices while using public wifi in different places every day. 

Public Wifi Today

As travelers and digital nomads, we often find ourselves needing wifi anywhere we go. Even for regular use outside of work and travel, just like everyone, we get used to having access to the internet. We personally use sim cards and eSIMs with us for data when traveling, however, nothing beats the speed of public wifi. 

For example, a coffee shop that has its own high-speed internet is preferable if we’re going to work for a while in the place, instead of worrying if a sim card has the proper signal in that area.

But how do we keep our devices and our information safe when browsing with public internet? Insert, VPNs. 

What are VPNs?

Almost everywhere we get access to public wifi – coffee shops and cafes, restaurants, libraries, hotels, public transport, and airports. Public wifi is a big part of establishments nowadays that want to offer high services to customers.

It now becomes your own responsibility to make sure that while you expect all these places to offer you free public wifi, you need to protect your devices and make sure none of your information is tracked or stolen while being connected to these public wifi hotspots.

VPNs, as we’ve talked about in some of our digital nomad resources and posts in our blog, are a big part of our top digital tools. Especially when connecting to anything outside our homes, we use VPNs with our laptops, iPad, and phones. 

VPNs (short for Virtual Private Networks) in simplest terms means that you have protection added to your devices to make sure no one can track your identity while you browse and use the internet in a public setting, using public wifi. 

How do VPNs Protect You

If you’re using a reputable and trusted VPN, these apps and software generally help you with: 

  • Securing that your connection online is private, untrackable by anyone who might be trying to access your connection while on a public wifi network ie hackers
  • Have ad blockers and malware (computer virus attacks) protection 

Other interesting ways, in addition to the normal browsing safeguard for your devices, VPNs also allow your devices to connect from a “different server location” which is useful when

  • Accessing geo-blocked content like reading websites or streaming shows and movies that are only offered in particular locations ie streaming content available only in the UK when you’re traveling outside of the UK 
  • Logging in to emails and other services online (like bank and payment websites) so that you don’t get tagged as logging in from another location or country, which usually asks you for special codes on phones or emails and gives you an extra headache when traveling abroad
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What VPN to Use

VPNs can be free or paid, with paid allowing you extra protection and features (ie choosing which server to connect to, having multiple users logged in at the same time to one account). 

Here are trusted VPN software we suggest you choose from, depending on your need, to make sure that you and your loved ones are protected all the time when browsing with public wifi. 

1. Surfshark 

Surshark is what we use for our daily browsing needs. 

Surfshark VPN is easily one of the most popular VPNs right now, with its successful partnership with a lot of influencers for promotion. Let’s take a look at some of its best features to understand why it’s actually a good VPN for you to use.

Unlimited Bandwith

Surfshark VPN offers unlimited bandwidth which will let you use the internet for calls, video sessions, and streaming without worrying about speed.

Browsing speed is of course one of the best worries when using the internet with a VPN, and with Surfshark VPN, it’s not a problem at all. If you’re using it for work and business, or if you just your online streaming, it will not disappoint.

Unlimited Devices

Surfshark VPN can be used simultaneously with an unlimited no. of devices. Now you don’t have to worry about picking which among your devices can be used with a VPN. Partnered with the multiple platforms that are supported by Surfshark VPN, you can get secure browsing for all the devices you have any time you want.

Surfshark VPN supports several platforms: Windows, macOS, and Linux for computers, Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Android and iOS, and Android TV.

Split / Bypasser

The VPN Split Tunneling or Bypasser feature is something unique to the Surfshark VPN. It helps you pick certain services to run without a VPN, in case you need it. For example, if you’re router is connected to Surfshark, or let’s say your computer is connected to Surfshark VPN, and one service like Youtube is running slow, you can have Youtube run without VPN, while the rest of your browsing activity stays hidden, and running with VPN, within the same computer.

Kill Switch

Kill Switch is a feature where Surfshark VPN disconnects from the internet in cases you want to always hide your IP and use a VPN, but your connection suddenly drops. This means none of your information stays insecure, and you will automatically connect to VPN once the connection is back.

24/7 Support

Surfshark VPN also offers 24/7 support which is very helpful any time you need VPN support. 

Surfshark VPN Pros

Unlimited bandwidth and speed and being able to run your VPN on unlimited devices are some of Surfshark VPN’s strongest features. Partner these features with a price almost as affordable as Atlas VPN, and you definitely get a really good VPN service contender.

Surfshark VPN Cons

The only con we see with Surfshark VPN is their inability to offer a free service. A lot of outstanding VPN companies offer a free VPN subscription and a lot of internet users are already good with this.

We personally believe that buying a premium service is good if you want all the features, especially for advanced users, but there’s definitely nothing wrong with the free version. In fact, if the free VPN service covers everything you need, then you can definitely go for it. 

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2. Nord VPN 

Cybersecurity

Nord VPN’s newest feature, Threat Protection, gives users cybersecurity. This means protection from ads, trackers, and malware. One of the biggest worries of online users right now is how to not get tracked online when visiting various websites, and Nord VPN’s Threat Protection does this. The feature promises to neutralize any possible damage malware or tracker can do to your computer and information.

Nord VPN works on all platforms

Nord VPN covers a wide array of platforms and devices, making it one of the most flexible VPNs available today. It has an app for Windows, macOS, Linux, both desktop, laptop, mobile, and even Android TV. It also has browser extensions for Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox. Bogota vs Cartagena

Offers a 30-day Money Back Guarantee

One of the top features we love about Nord VPN, and well, on some of the most trusted services and apps we buy online is the money-back guarantee.

This gives you time to try it, and risk-free, meaning they know their product will really work, are happy to serve you well, and put their name on the line. Refunding you if in any case, you didn’t love their service.

Unlimited Bandwidth

One of the main issues of using a VPN service is that you risk having slower internet when you want to securely browse while running a VPN. The good thing is this is not the case with Nord VPN.

It gives you unlimited strong bandwidth (based on your original connection), making sure 

Nord VPN Pros

For Nord VPN’s Pros, we love the robust features it offers – ad blockers, malware protection, high-speed streaming and browsing, 1TB Cloud Storage (premium plan only), and password manager (premium plan only).

You’ll have to get the premium plan to enjoy a lot of Nord VPN’s amazing additional features. And the best is all plans are covered with a 30-day money-back guarantee (we’re thinking these are for first-time users of course) so that you can fully test how happy you are with their service to continue with the Nord VPN plans.

Nord VPN Cons

We feel that the con is that Nord VPN definitely charges a high premium for their paid plans. And of course, no free plans. There are a lot of free VPN alternatives out there, so if you need basic protection, and are not interested in all the additional (yet really good features), you’ll have to go for another VPN service. 

3. Atlas VPN

You can use it on unlimited devices.

Now we don’t want to have to get different subscriptions just for a VPN. It’s important, yes. But if we have the option to go with a trusted service without sacrificing spend, then we’ll definitely go for that. We suggest you do as well.

It has Adblockers.

Now, this is important for a lot of people, in addition to the viewing experience being better, it feels better to know that you have less tracking on your activities online. So yes, to ad blockers. Hopefully, you’re not using it while browsing our site though! haha But seriously, privacy is important. No one needs to track you if you did not let them, and more so, if you are unaware of it.

AtlasVPN has email protection.

Some of our most important work is communicated through emails. More often than not, you share sensitive information in these emails and it would be really nice to feel comfortable that you have protection whether you are exchanging emails with your family members, or sending sensitive information for work and with your clients.

It lets you do 4K Streaming.

Now, this is one of our favorite features. One of the most normal things that happen when you’re connected to a VPN is that the internet slows down heavily. This is why usually if you’re already on a weak connection, you don’t want to be connected to a VPN because it will weaken your connection even more.

This is the reason we love AtlasVPN. It doesn’t take so much wifi power from your connection that you can keep on streaming even 4K videos on your computer. Gotta love keeping access to all the series and movies you’re following while having security. 

Atlas VPN Pros

Atlas VPN’s biggest pro for us is its free plan. Sometimes, you just need to go with a company that’s happy to provide a free service to its customer base. We’ve definitely used Atlas VPN’s free service, and it’s more than capable. Trust us.

We can’t say good things about Atlas VPN’s free plan which already includes unlimited bandwidth, unlimited devices connected to your plan, and connecting through 3 secure locations. Such an incredible free service.

If you did choose to have the Atlas VPN premium plan, you can get the 2-year plan which will cost you $2/month. This will bump up your VPN features to include 24/7 support, email protection, and high-speed 4K streaming – all pros!

Atlas VPN Cons

Atlas VPN has some of the strongest price and service offerings in the VPN marketplace, and the only con we can think of is that you’ll need to go for a premium plan to take advantage of its ad blockers, and access to up to 37 locations.

Some VPN users like to use a VPN to show that they are using a particular software or service in their chosen location (for example if you wanna access to Netflix USA vs Netflix Brazil), or if you want apps like Instagram and TikTok to show you results from the United States, instead of your country location.

This feature is more for power users of VPN, and I must admit we like having this option. Still a very good price for the premium plan! 

Final Thoughts on VPN and Protecting Your Devices

Hope we were able to give you clear reasons why when accessing the internet on public wifi hotspots, a VPN is a must. There are several options you can choose from and test for the needs you have so there’s simply no reason not to start using them. 

If you have questions, we’re glad to tell you more about our experience when protecting yourself when browsing online. Til our next guide and safe browsing everyone! 

Ruben Arribas is the co-founder of Gamintraveler and a Spanish traveler who has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He is now a full-time digital nomad.