Vince Rants

Free VPN Web Browsing How-To

TL;DR: Opera Browser has free built in VPN support. You can download it at:https://www.opera.com/download

Screenshot of Opera Browser from Opera.com

If you're as shocked as the rest of us to learn about the United States Federal Government making it legal for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to collect and sell your private browsing habits, you're not alone!

But I know some of you are thinking: "I have nothing to hide! Why should *I* care?"

Imagine for a second that you catch an illness. Not sure if it is the cold or flu, you hop onto Google and do a few quick easy searches for your symptoms. Now, a month later, you do the same again when you get sick a second time. Comcast collects these search queries and the following links you click on and tie them directly to you, since it is associated directly with your IP address assigned from them. Comcast then sells this information off to the highest bidder, which today happens to be your medical insurance company. With only 30 days separating each search, the insurance company deems you are at higher risk for health related issues, and decides to increase your insurance premiums.

Now, with this scenario in mind, do you think you have anything at all to hide?

Luckily, there are effective ways to combat these practices. One of the simplest is to browse the internet through a Virtual Private Network (VPN) gateway. These allow your browsing traffic to route through a 3rd party server using encryption and anonymize your browsing. The only downside to this is that VPN's are relatively expensive and cumbersome to setup... Except for a new player to the game.

Opera Browser has recently introduced an absolutely free to use VPN service built directly into their web browser. It is as simple as going to "Settings" and enabling VPN support. Everything else is handled automatically! Additionally to help with privacy concerns, Opera Browser has an ad-blocker built-in as well, so no need for resource intensive plugins there either.

But what about web site compatibility? Luckily, Opera Browser uses the same Blink rendering engine as Google's Chrome Browser. This means that every single web site that supports Google Chrome will work flawlessly without a hitch in Opera. Additionally, their user interfaces are nearly identical too, save for some small cosmetic style choices, so you should feel right at home switching browsers!

To enable VPN support, there are only a few simple steps to take after downloading and installing Opera Browser from: https://www.opera.com/download

Step 1: Select "Settings" from the Opera Menu
Step 2: Select the "Privacy & Security" page
Step 3: Check "Enable VPN" (optionally check "Block ads")
Step 4: Select "VPN" next to the address bar and ensure it is on

And there you have it, full VPN support right out of the box! Additionally, you have the option to select a "Virtual location", this is the physical location around the world where the VPN server is hosted. This can be especially useful for web developers who need to test their web application latency from different geographical locations easily.

As a personal note: Vince Rants is 100% entirely programmed and tested on Opera Browser and has been since day-one. This is my personal browser of choice, and has been for many years, even before the switch to Blink rendering engine. All other browsers are only tested after the fact for compatibility reasons. I have some other personal reasons too why I personally no longer use Chrome, Firefox, or Internet Explorer / Edge, but that is a rant for another time!