Opera has built a free VPN into its browser, so you no longer need a separate tool to secure and hide your browsing. Here’s how to use it.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) disguise who you are and where you’re browsing from. When you connect to one, your PC acts as if it’s on the VPN’s local network and uses its IP address. If that network is in the US, for example, any websites you visit will think you are in the US, which can help you get around annoying geographic browsing restrictions.
Until now, if you wanted to use a VPN, you had to install one, such as TunnelBear (www.tunnelbear.com). This, like most VPNs, gives you some free traffic, but you have to pay if you need more. Opera has just integrated a VPN into its browser, giving users free, unlimited data secured with 256-bit encryption. It’s only available in the developer version for now, but expect to see it in the stable build soon.
Step 1: Make sure you have the Developer version of Opera. If you’re not sure, click the Opera button and select About Opera. The page that opens should say you have the Developer version. If not (and assuming the VPN isn’t yet in the stable release), download it from www.opera.com/developer.
Step 2: The VPN is switched off by default. To activate it, click the Opera button and go to Settings. In the page that opens, click the ‘Privacy & security’ link. You’ll see a new VPN section. This explains what the tool does. Tick the Enable VPN box.
Step 3: Browse the web as you would normally. The only difference you’ll see is a blue VPN button to the left of the address bar. Try to access a site that’s usually blocked and you should find that it loads. If you go back into the ‘Privacy & security’ section of Settings and untick Enable VPN, the button vanishes.
Step 4: Clicking the blue VPN button opens a small window that lets you toggle the service off and on more easily, so you don’t need to go into Settings every time you want to use the VPN. It also shows you how much data you’ve used in the current month.
Step 5: VPNs let you change the location you appear to be browsing from, which is useful if you want to access websites that are restricted to a particular country. To change the location in Opera, click the blue VPN button and use the drop-down menu to pick a new country from the list of available options.
Step 6: Opera only offers US, Canada and Germany at the moment, and you have no control over where in those
countries you appear to be, but further locations will have been added by the time the VPN reaches the stable build. Hit the refresh button on the page you’re on to reroute via the new location.
Step 7: Switching between countries takes a few seconds as the VPN routes your traffic through a new server. The IP
address shows where websites think you are. There are only three variations. If browsing seems slow in one location, try another, but bear in mind that it might affect sites that use geographical blocks.
Step 8: As well as a built-in VPN, Opera comes with its own ad blocker, which removes adverts from pages. Opera says this can speed up browsing by up to three times. Turn it on in the Settings menu by ticking the box to ‘Block ads’. You can allow some sites to show ads by clicking ‘Manage exceptions’.
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