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Consumer Reports: How to choose a VPN

We all want to know how to keep our digital lives private and secure. One easy way is to use a VPN -- or virtual private network -- on your computer and smartphone. (Image credit: Consumer Reports)

With stories of widespread hackings and websites selling your data, we all want to know how to keep our digital lives private and secure. One easy way is to use a VPN -- or virtual private network -- on your computer and smartphone. But how do you know which one is right for you? Consumer Reports offers some guidelines.

Most good VPNs will have encryption. That will secure your data going back and forth. And it's not just for businesses. Consumer Reports says anyone who uses public WiFi--like at a coffee shop or airport--would be wise to use a VPN. But, if you have to add in codes or put in a password, it may not get used and a VPN that isn't used is not going to protect you.

Another thing to look for is whether the company keeps a log of your activity. Some VPNs make no bones about the fact that they are collecting and selling your data, which is kind of antithetical to the idea of a VPN in the first place.

This is more common among free VPNs, but if you're willing to pay for privacy, a typical service for consumers will run you about 5-10 bucks a month. Businesses will likely pay more. But the peace of mind really sweetens the deal.

And this isn't just for people who use public WiFi. Consumer Reports says you can also use it in your own home so that your internet service provider can't keep track of what you are looking at or shopping for -- because they can collect your data too.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2018 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.

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