One of the big challenges of travelling to some countries is the fact that some websites and services do not work there. For instance, Google and Facebook do not work in China. Of course, there are alternatives available but what if you definitely need to access those very particular sites?
Well, a workaround in those cases is using a Virtual Personal Network. Which, in simple English, makes it very difficult for anyone to track where you are accessing a service from. So you can actually use the service to access websites and services that have limited access or are not available at all in other countries. And can also keep your own information and online activity private if need be – something that is very important while using public Wi-Fi systems in places like airports and cafes.
Great for travellers, right? We mean, you can access the Internet pretty much the way you do at home, no matter where you go. Well, there is a slight catch: VPN services generally involve the installation of fresh software and can be a little complicated to set up. There is a bit of a geek element there.
Which is why we love what the folks at Opera have done — they have built the VPN into their Opera browser. In case you did not know it, Opera is one of the most popular Web browsers in the world and is considered competition for the likes of Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge.
They were the first people to bring tabs into a browser. And now they have added a VPN to the Opera browser. So every time you want to surf the Web and do not want your location to affect the service, you just launch the browser and activate the VPN. No need to launch an extra application, log in or anything of the sort — you launch the VPN from within the very tool you are using to browse the Web. You do not even have to download any extension.
Using it is as simple as going to Settings in the Opera browser on your computer or Android phone, and simply selecting “Enable VPN.” That’s it. You are set. You can even set a “virtual location” for anyone who tries to track you, or to log in to services that are not available in the region in which you are at that moment.
So if you are in China and cannot access Facebook over a normal connection (you cannot!), you can simply activate VPN on Opera and specify a region from where the social network can be accessed. It actually works — your real address is replaced by a virtual one, and thus you are protected from hackers or anyone attempting to track your location. And yes, you can use it in a private browsing window as well!
The best part — the VPN is totally free and has no limits whatsoever, unlike some services that come with price tags or have a data limit. Speaking of data limits, you can check just how much data you have used over VPN. A very nice touch is the fact that when you are using a search engine, you can actually bypass the VPN to make sure you get the best local results, and then continue to the site you want to go through on VPN.
Oh, and it helps that Opera is a damn good browser in its own right — speedy and secure and packed with every feature you would want. Some might find the interface slightly different from the likes of Chrome and Firefox, but it is not counter-intuitive and you will get used to it. We did.
So if you are going abroad and need to keep in touch with your favourite sites and social networks, and do not want to get into the tangle that some VPN apps are, just get Opera. It works with Mac, PC and Android. You can download it free from here.