Internet Service Providers have marketed their speeds in Mbps or Megabits Per Second for years. It’s important to know the difference between Megabit and Megabyte, as they are two completely different metrics. Megabit is a lot smaller than a Megabyte. If you want to calculate your actual download or upload speeds – you need to multiply the speed you’re getting by “.125“. So, for example, if you’re getting 300 Mbps download speed from your ISP – you’re actually only getting 37.5 MBps Download speed. This is a huge misconception with a lot of people thinking they are actually getting the 300 MBps speed! To put it in perspective a SATA 3 (6 GBps) hard disk transfers data at a rate between 70 MBps to 120 MBps. A USB 3.0 Thumb Drive will transfer data around 80 MBps to 130 MBps. So in short, keep this in mind when you are shopping for an Internet service provider or upgrading your service.
Here is a chart so you can see how download rates compare to transfer rates.
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Most of the time when we are traveling we don’t want to use all of our mobile data. We would rather stop at a Starbucks or restaurant and connect to their Public Wi-Fi. That is dangerous if you want to do banking or any other financial related tasks online. Your device may not be as secure as you think and someone may be watching your every keystroke or keyboard tap on your smartphone. There are several ways to secure your devices while abroad and mitigate some of the risks of public Wi-Fi. You can use a Virtual Private Network or VPN, which is one of the best ways. You can also use firewall rules to restrict traffic on your PC, Mac or Linux computer. Mobile devices can be lacking in the firewall department though. So we will instead focus on VPNs and the different types and their strengths and weaknesses.
- OpenVPN is one of the best options. It has the best encryption. You can use either TCP or UDP protocol.
- IPsec or Internet Protocol Security is very common. It authenticates and encrypts data while connected.
- L2TP or Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol combines other VPN types such as IPsec for added security. L2TP is very secure.
- PTPP or Point to Point Protocol is one of the oldest dating back to Windows 95 era. It is the most widely supported across most if not all operating systems. It has the weakest encryption of the VPN Protocols and is considered less secure.
- IKEv2 or Internet Key Exchange version 2 is only considered a VPN when you pair it with IPsec – it is very secure.
I personally have an ASUS RT-AC87R router that comes with a VPN feature. You can select which type of VPN you want to use – I prefer OpenVPN. Setup is a breeze and it works perfectly!
If you prefer to pay for a service, make sure you do you research! I look for services that do not keep any logs or records of your internet activities. This gives you even more anonymity while online. I would stay away from “Free” VPN services as nothing is truly free. They have to make money somehow and my guess is that they are selling your metadata. Here are a few top VPNs: