A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a network that adds on to an existing network by creating an additional layer of privacy, i.e. you can securely transmit data through a VPN over a public network like the internet. They are used by organizations to provide remote and secure access to its employees. More nefarious uses such as masking IP addresses for accessing blocked sites are also possible. Though proxies can be an easy fix for many people to browse through to blocked sites, they are either too risky, too slow or add adverts into the page. VPN is cleaner and smoother, albeit it requires the installation of a VPN client and access to a VPN service. Here is thus a list of the more popular VPN services around in the internet.
This is one of the most popular free VPN services while it also provides for paid services. Though it does sneak in some advertisements and imposes a 1GB transfer per month, it is easily configurable and uses both open VPN and open DNS technologies for browsing.
This French VPN provider uses fully open source technology and utilizes a cross-platform client too! It is a very simple and completely free and the installer is also pretty light (0.93MB for Windows!). It also comes with a word of warning:
If you use UltraVPN to commit hacking, you are required to cover your traces.
This German VPN service provider allows you 10 GB of transfer per month with its free service which is quite a lot! The paid service is pretty affordable as well.
Though it advertizes itself as an application for web anonymity, it is a VPN client specializing in that job. There is an application available for the iPhone as well!
The AN.ON (ANonymity ONline) project aims to be a mix between a proxy and a VPN service to preserve your anonymity online. This project will remain free forever.
For those looking for configuring your own VPN server on Windows XP, here is a quick and easy way to go about it: VPN setup.