With fast internet connections available in places all around the world and jobs becoming increasingly online, more and more people are taking up remote work. Telecommuting into the office is becoming the norm in a whole range of industries and jobs. In addition to this, in the new gig economy lots of people are working as freelancers, taking on a mixture of clients and managing their own schedules and workloads.
Both remote working and freelancing give workers the freedom to work in new ways, often including working from a new location. When you can Skype all of your meetings and submit all of your work via email, why not work from a different location? It could be travelling to a new country or just squeezing out some work while visiting friends of family in your home town.
In either case, both freelancers and remote workers need a few tools in their digital arsenal to deal with the issues that arise when working online. Today we’re going to talk about why remote workers and freelancers might want a VPN, then we’ll recommend the best VPNs for freelancers and remote workers.
Why It’s Hard To Access Content From Abroad
Here’s one common issue when you are working remotely: you arrive in a new country, you find a cafe with an internet connection, you settle down to work, and then disaster: you can’t access vital files or websites. The problem is that some sites use geolocation to track where users are visiting from, and then limit visitor’s access to content based on their location.
For example, a new source might only be available in its local area, and not be accessible from abroad. Or there can be a language problem, like when you visit a familiar site but the content is presented in the language local to where you are based – not the language you speak. In both these cases, you are seeing a different version of the site than you usually would at home because you are in a different location. This is the same problem that you’ll find if you try to use a streaming service like Hulu or Netflix – the content that you can watch at home may not be available when you’re abroad.
This process is called region locking, and it means that websites will only let you access certain content when you visit them from a particular geographic location. This can cause a lot of problems for remote workers who are travelling or accessing their work materials from a new location. Fortunately, it is possible to get around these region locks and access your files and content as usual by using a VPN.
Using A VPN To Get Around Region Locks
So how does this region locking process work? Normally, when you use an unencrypted internet connection then you will be assigned an IP address by your internet provider and this IP address can be traced to a particular location. This is because ranges of IP address are assigned to each country, so when you visit any website that site can read your IP and see where you are visiting from. When you travel abroad and try to access a website with region locking, the site sees that you are in, say, Italy rather than the US, and restricts what you can see.
But a VPN can help with this by giving you a new IP address. A VPN works by encrypting all of the data that leaves your device and travels over the internet. You choose a server to connect to in the country of your choice, and your encrypted data is sent to that server to be decrypted and sent on its way to its original destination. This means that because the data is unencrypted at the server, you are assigned an IP corresponding to the location of the server not the location of your device. So even if you are in Italy, you can connect to a server in the US – then when you visit websites they will show you the US version. This is how you can get around region locks from any country and to any country.
A VPN service will give you access to a network of servers all around the world, so you can pick any server to connect to and browse as if you were in that country. This means that remote workers or freelancers can be abroad and connect to a server in their home country, then use the internet to access any sites that they need as if they were at home. They can even watch their streaming services like Netflix or Hulu as if they were at home too.
Other Reasons To Use A VPN
A VPN can bring more benefits to remote workers than just the convenience of getting around region locks. There are also important security and privacy benefits which you should consider:
- Protect yourself from hackers on public wifi. A popular way to work is to find a public wifi network at a cafe or airport, for example, and to use this connection to work. However, it can be dangerous to connect to a public network without protection. When you send data across a network, then other users may be able to intercept this data. This means that hackers on public wifi networks could steal your personal information and use it for identity theft, or they could spy on your private work documents. You can protect yourself from this risk by using a VPN whenever you connect to a public network. The encryption of the VPN means that your data is bundled up and locked safely away so that no one else on the network can read it or intercept it.
- Preserve your privacy. Whenever you use an unsecured internet connection, it’s easy for the internet provider to track exactly what sites you have visited and even to see data that you have sent over the internet. As well as being an invasion of your privacy, if your work is sensitive then this can be a big problem. To stop your internet provider, the government, or any other third parties from being able to track your internet use, use a VPN to encrypt your data which will stop others from being able to intercept it.
- Download files safely. If you are going to download files or visit websites which are not fully legal, then you need to be careful – particularly when you are travelling. Make sure that you don’t get into trouble for downloading or streaming something that you shouldn’t by using a VPN to encrypt your traffic and to hide your download activities.
How Should Remote Workers Choose A VPN?
With all these benefits, it’s clear that remote workers and freelancers will benefit from a VPN. As well as helping them to keep their professional work secure, a VPN will also improve their personal privacy. But how should you go about choosing a VPN, and what factors are most important in that choice? Below we’ll recommend our top VPNs for remote workers and freelancers, as based on the factors we find most vital:
- Strong encryption. In order for a VPN to keep you safe, you need the best encryption which is practically impossible to crack. We recommend the industry standard 256-bit encryption as appropriate.
- Fast connections. A bad VPN can slow down your internet connection, making work a pain and being an unnecessary hassle to deal with. We identified VPNs that are so fast you won’t even notice that they’re there.
- A no logging policy. For peace of mind when it comes to privacy, we look for VPN providers who keep no logs of their users’ data so you can be sure your activities aren’t being recorded.
- Support for different operating systems. You want to be able to protect all of your devices with just one VPN subscription, so we look for providers with software that supports multiple different platforms.
- No bandwidth limitations or traffic restrictions. A lot of free VPNs have bandwidth caps or limitations on the types of traffic allowed over the network, which is no good when you want to work freely. We identify reputable paid VPN services that have no bandwidth limits and no traffic restrictions so you can browse freely.
When we looked at all these factors, here are the VPNs that we recommend:
One of the most popular VPNs among power users and internet professionals is ExpressVPN. Thanks to its super fast connections and exceptional reliability around the world, this service is idea for frequent travellers. With a server network of more than 1000 servers in 145 different locations in 94 countries you’ll have no problem in finding a server, and you’ll also benefit from excellent security with strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy to protect your privacy. The software has helpful advanced features like a speed test and a DNS leak and is available for Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Linux, and more.
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- Superfast servers (minimal speed loss)
- Govt-level AES-256 encryption
- Keeps no logs of personal data
- 24/7 Live Chat.
- Power-users configuration options.
When you want a VPN that is fast above all else, then you need IPVanish. With lightning quick connection speeds and a network of 950 servers in 60 different countries you can always find a server in the country that you need and know that it will be super fast. The service offers good security with strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy, so you can browse with peace of mind. The software has handy features like a kill switch, auto reconnect, leak protection for IPv6 and DNS, periodic IP address change, and manually configurable DNS, is available for Windows, Mac OS, Android, Linux, Windows Phone, and iOS.
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For those who are concerned primarily with security and want to be absolutely sure that no one can access their data, then NordVPN is a top choice. This service has more than 1000 servers in over 60 different countries for easy access to content from elsewhere in the world. But the best feature is the exceptional security. As well as strong 256-bit encryption and the no logging policy you would expect, there is also a special double encryption feature in which your data is encrypted not once but twice. The data is passed through an extra layer of encryption for the best possible security. The software has a map interface which makes it great for travellers, and it is available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Chrome OS, Android, iOS and Windows Phone, as well as browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome.
- Unblocks American Netflix
- Different IP addresses aervers
- Torrenting/P2P explicitly allowed
- “Double” data protection
- Great customer service via chat.
- Automatic server selection can be unreliable
- Sometimes slow in procesing refunds (but always do).
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Another good option for travellers, especially those who spend time in China, is VyprVPN. The infamous Great Firewall of China severely restricts what sites and content are accessible from China, and the Chinese government tries to crack down on VPN use by adding VPN protection to their networks. This means that many VPNs do not work in China – but VyprVPN does.
This is because as well as good security with 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy, the service has a special feature called the Chameleon protocol. This protocol encrypts not only your data but also your metadata (which includes information about the origin and destination of the data packets). VPN detection tried to compare the origin of the data with the origin stated in the metadata, and rejects those which do not match, which is why most VPNs don’t work on such networks. But because the Chameleon protocol encrypts the metadata too, there is no mismatch found and therefore VyprVPN works.
This makes it the top choice for remote workers who will be travelling to or through China. The service has a network of more than 700 servers in 70 different countries and the software is available for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS.
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Finally, one option includes not only a VPN but also an all in one security solution: PureVPN. The VPN part of the service has excellent security with strong 256-bit encryption and a no logging policy. The network of servers includes more than 750 servers in 140 different countries, and the connection speeds are good.
But in addition to the VPN there are other features to keep you safe too, like anti virus and anti malware protection, an anti spam filter for your email inbox, app filtering, DDoS protection, a kill switch, the option for a dedicated IP, and a NAT firewall. The software can be installed on Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, and Android TV devices, plus browser extensions are available for the Chrome and Firefox browsers.
To save money on PureVPN, you can take advantage of a 73% discount on the two year plan, for a total cost of $2.95 per month, with a seven day money back guarantee.
Freelancers and remote workers benefit from a flexible work schedule which means that they can travel and work in lots of locations outside of the traditional office. However, working remotely requires consideration of some security issues too – from the potential of hackers stealing your data while you use the public wifi in a coffee shop to the difficulty of accessing content which is restricted in the country you are currently located in. A VPN can help ameliorate both these issues and improve your general online security and privacy at the same time. Any of the five VPNs that we have recommended would be a great choice for freelancers or remote workers to help you do your best work.
If you have experience with remote work, then what security measures did you take? Did you use a VPN or was there another method you want to share? Let us know about it in the comments below.