When you use a virtual private network, or VPN, you can rest assured that spies and advertisers aren’t sniffing around your traffic, and it won’t be intercepted by ne’er-do-wells, even if they’re on the same network as you. While VPN companies provide apps to make setting up their products a breeze, that’s not the only approach you can take. In fact, you can manually configure Windows 10 to use a VPN, as we’ll explain—although you’ll still need a subscription to a VPN service.

What Is a VPN?

In the beginning, the web was created. And it was pretty good, albeit lacking in critical privacy and security controls. Unfortunately, not much has changed since the words fiat web were spoken; even though the more secure HTTPS is successfully becoming the standard for web browsing, it doesn’t protect everything and won’t guard against threats lurking on your network. That’s why you need a virtual private network, or VPN.

When you switch it on, a VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and a server controlled by the VPN service. Your web traffic travels through this tunnel, and it exits to the wide-open web from the VPN server to which you are connected. If there’s someone lurking on your network or, worse, the owner of the access point has configured it to steal information, they won’t see a thing. Your ISP and even three-letter intelligence agencies will be effectively blinded when it comes to monitoring your traffic.

Even advertisers and law enforcement will have a harder time tracking you across the web. Because your web traffic appears to be coming from the VPN server, correlating it to you is…

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