What Is a VPN and What Can (and Can’t) It Do?

VPN (or virtual private network) services create a secure, encrypted connection between your computer and a VPN server at another location. That type of secure connection is a worthwhile investment for anyone who wants to wrap their data in an extra layer of privacy and security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks. But a VPN is not a magic bullet for Internet security and won’t make you anonymous online.

For our guide to the best VPN services, we talked with Internet security experts, including the information security team at The New York Times (parent company of Wirecutter). We found a common thread in their advice: Any performance or security feature is worthwhile only if the company that provides it is trustworthy—that’s the main criteria we used when considering which services to recommend. But before you sign up for a VPN, it’s worth understanding how a VPN works and considering if a VPN is even the right tool for the job.

The research

SEE: HOW TO MAKE WIRED SPEAKERS WIRELESS

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