The online world is riddled with promises of free services, but as we’ve learnt, quality often comes at a price, and VPNs are no different. Will Opera’s free VPN prove us wrong?
In this article, we will review Opera’s VPN features, how it functions and potential security concerns.
What is Opera VPN in Browser and How Does it Work?
Opera VPN is a unique feature available in the Opera web browser. This VPN service is free and built directly into the browser, which means it’s a breeze to access and use. The fact that Opera has integrated VPN into its browser sets it apart from many other web browsers.
A VPN creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between your device and the server you’re connected to. This helps to keep your online activities private by obscuring your IP address, which can be used to determine your physical location.
Although Opera refers to it as a VPN, it’s technically a browser proxy since it only reroutes traffic from within the browser. You can use secure and reliable VPNs like NordVPN, ExpressVPN or Surfshark to access advanced features.
How to Use Opera VPN?
Setting Up the VPN
First, you need to have the Opera browser installed on your device. If you don’t have it yet, you can download it from Opera’s official website. Once downloaded, follow the installation prompts, and you’re good to go.
Activating the VPN Feature
Follow these steps to turn on Opera’s VPN:
1. Open the ‘Menu’ from the browser (it looks like the Opera logo)
2. From the drop-down menu, click on ‘Settings’
3. In the settings tab, navigate to the ‘Advanced’ section on the left and then click on ‘Features’
4. Scroll down till you find the VPN section
5. Slide the switch to the ‘on’ position, and your VPN is activated!
Choosing Your Virtual Location
With your VPN activated, you’ll see a ‘VPN’ badge to the left of the address bar at the top of your browser. Click on this badge, and you’ll see the option to select your virtual location. You can choose from several regions like the Americas, Europe, or Asia.
Best Practices for Using Opera VPN
- Regularly update your Opera browser.
- If you’re keen on boosting your online privacy even further, consider using Opera’s private browsing mode in combination with the VPN.
- To ensure your VPN is working correctly, you can check your IP address before and after activating the VPN.
- While the VPN is a handy tool for privacy and accessing geo-restricted content, it can sometimes slow down your browsing speed.
Remember, using a VPN doesn’t mean you’re completely anonymous online, nor does it provide 100% security. It’s still essential to follow good internet practices, such as not sharing sensitive information online and being cautious of the sites you visit.
Opera VPN: Pros and Cons of Integrating a VPN into a Browser
Pros of Using Opera VPN in a Browser
Opera’s integrated VPN provides numerous benefits to its users, contributing to a safer, more private, and unrestricted online browsing experience.
1. Enhanced Privacy
Opera’s VPN feature helps shield your browsing activities from prying eyes by obscuring your IP address, making it difficult for websites or third parties to track you online. Plus, it’s a no-log service, which means Opera doesn’t store your browsing history or activities.
2. Access to Geo-Restricted Content
With Opera’s VPN, you can virtually change your location, allowing you to bypass geographical content restrictions. This can be particularly useful for accessing location-specific news, entertainment content, or even shopping deals that are unavailable in your actual location.
3. Built-In Feature
Since the VPN is built directly into the browser, you don’t need to download or install a separate application. This seamless integration simplifies usage and eliminates the need for managing another software.
4. Free to Use
One of the most significant advantages of Opera’s VPN is that it’s completely free. Unlike many standalone VPN services that require a subscription, Opera allows you to use its VPN feature at no additional cost.
5. Easy to Use
Activating Opera’s VPN is straightforward. Users can easily enable or disable the VPN from the browser’s settings. This ease of use makes it more accessible to users unfamiliar with VPNs.
6. No Bandwidth Limit
Many free VPNs limit the amount of data you can use, but Opera’s VPN has no such restrictions. You can browse, stream, and download as much as you want without worrying about hitting a data cap.
Cons of Using Opera VPN in a Browser
While Opera’s integrated VPN browser offers several advantages, it also comes with a few drawbacks that are worth considering.
1. Limited Scope of Protection
The first and most significant limitation of Opera’s VPN is that it only encrypts traffic within the Opera browser. If you use other applications or browsers, they won’t be covered by Opera’s VPN. So, it doesn’t offer the system-wide protection that standalone VPN services typically provide.
2. Limited Server Locations
Opera’s VPN allows you to choose between several virtual locations, but the options are relatively limited compared to most dedicated VPN services. You can only select from regions such as the Americas, Europe, or Asia, not specific countries. This limitation could be problematic if you need a VPN server in a specific country.
4. Speed and Performance
Like many VPNs, using Opera’s VPN can potentially slow down your internet speed. While it’s generally good enough for basic browsing, you may experience slower speeds when doing data-intensive tasks like streaming or downloading large files.
5. Lack of Advanced Features
Opera’s VPN lacks some of the advanced features available in dedicated VPN services. For instance, it does not have a kill switch or a multi-hop VPN, which routes your connection through two VPN servers for extra security.
6. Questionable VPN Classification
Technically speaking, Opera’s “VPN” is more of a browser proxy than a true VPN. While it does offer many benefits of a VPN, like IP masking and access to geo-restricted content, it may not offer the same level of security as a true VPN, especially for more advanced or sensitive uses.
Advanced Uses: Opera GX VPN
Opera GX is a first-of-its-kind web browser specifically designed to cater to gamers. This unique browser offers features like a gaming-inspired design, custom skins, integrated messengers, a game release calendar, and resources limiter (CPU, RAM), amongst other tools. However, one of the most significant attributes that set it apart is the integrated VPN, offering privacy and freedom to gamers globally.
Opera GX VPN: Ensuring Privacy for Gamers
Just like in the standard Opera browser, the GX version also includes a free VPN to keep gamers’ online activities private. This can be particularly beneficial for gamers who spend a lot of time online, often visiting various gaming servers and websites which can pose privacy risks.
How to Activate and Use Opera GX VPN
Activating and using the VPN in Opera GX is a straightforward process. Simply open the browser and head to ‘Settings’ from the ‘Menu’. After that, open the ‘Advanced’ section and click on ‘Features’.
Here, you’ll find the VPN option which you can enable with a single click. After activation, you’ll see a ‘VPN’ badge in the address bar, where you can choose your virtual location just as in the regular Opera browser.
Troubleshooting: Opera VPN Not Working
Users sometimes experience issues with Opera VPN not working as expected. Here are a few common problems and their solutions:
1. VPN Not Connecting: If the VPN doesn’t connect, try switching to a different virtual location. If it still doesn’t work, you may need to check your internet connection or restart your browser or device.
2. Slow Connection Speed: Opera VPN may slow down your internet speed, particularly if the server is far from your actual location. If the speed is too slow, consider switching to a different virtual location.
3. VPN Not Available: If the VPN feature isn’t showing up, make sure you’ve updated to the latest version of the Opera browser.
Understanding Network Settings
Opera VPN might not work correctly if there are issues with your network settings. It’s worth checking these settings or disabling them temporarily to see if the VPN starts working.
Resetting Opera VPN
If Opera’s VPN is still not working despite trying the above steps, consider resetting the browser settings to their default. To do this, navigate to ‘Settings’ and then ‘Advanced’, where you’ll find the option to ‘Reset browser settings’. Remember, this will revert all settings to their defaults, so use it as a last resort.
When to Contact Opera Support
If you’ve tried all the above steps and the VPN is still not working, it may be time to contact Opera support. They can guide you through more advanced troubleshooting steps and potentially identify any underlying issues with the browser or VPN. You can reach out to them via the official Opera website or community forums.
Potential Security Concerns About Opera VPN
Despite the above-mentioned privacy features, several potential security concerns have been raised about Opera VPN:
Opera VPN uses SSL/TLS encryption, which is strong but doesn’t provide the same level of protection as the AES-256 encryption used by many standalone VPNs. However, it should still be sufficient for most basic browsing needs.
Opera was acquired by a consortium of Chinese investors in 2016, raising some concerns about potential data privacy issues given China’s internet surveillance practices. In response to these concerns, Opera has reiterated that it follows a strict no-logs policy, meaning it doesn’t store any data about user’s browsing history or online activities.
Not a True VPN
Technically, Opera’s “VPN” is more of a browser proxy than a true VPN. This means that while it does offer many of the benefits of a VPN, like IP masking and access to geo-restricted content, it may not provide the same level of security, particularly for more advanced or sensitive uses.
Limited Scope of Protection
Opera’s VPN only encrypts traffic within the Opera browser. Other apps or browsers won’t be covered, meaning they won’t have the same level of protection.
Opera VPN vs. Other Popular Free VPNs
1. Opera VPN vs. ProtonVPN
ProtonVPN offers a limited free version that goes beyond browser traffic, providing system-wide protection for all applications on a device. This is a significant difference from Opera, which confines its VPN services within the browser. However, ProtonVPN’s free version does come with certain limitations that Opera VPN does not possess.
2. Opera VPN vs. Windscribe
Another popular VPN service is Windscribe with a free trial. Windscribe, like ProtonVPN, extends protection beyond the browser to encompass all device traffic. This broader coverage could make it a more appealing choice for users seeking comprehensive protection.
3. Opera VPN vs. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield is another notable competitor in the free VPN market. Its free version extends to all device traffic and boasts strong security features, potentially offering more comprehensive and robust protection than Opera VPN. Moreover, Hotspot Shield’s free version imposes a daily data cap, which could limit users who need frequent or heavy VPN usage.
Opera’s in-browser VPN provides a unique blend of convenience and privacy, offering benefits like geo-spoofing, enhanced privacy, and unlimited bandwidth at no cost. However, its protection only applies within the browser, it has limited server locations, and potential concerns exist regarding its Chinese ownership. For users seeking more advanced security or system-wide coverage, a standalone VPN service might be a better choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I Know if Opera VPN is Working?
To verify if your Opera VPN is functioning, launch the browser, then enable the VPN feature. Afterwards, visit a site like whatismyipaddress.com. If your IP address reflects a different location than your actual one, your VPN is working.
What Steps Should I Follow to Use Netflix with Opera VPN?
To use Opera VPN with Netflix, start by activating the VPN feature within the Opera browser settings. Connect to a server in the region whose content you want to access, then open Netflix. However, note that Netflix often blocks VPNs to enforce regional content restrictions. Since Opera VPN is not a true VPN, it may get blocked by Netflix. Alternatively, you can use advanced VPNs like NordVPN to bypass Netflix’s regional content restrictions.
Is Opera VPN Effective for Streaming Purposes?
Opera VPN can be used for streaming, though it may not be the most effective choice. It may lack the speed or stability for consistent, high-quality streaming. Moreover, some platforms detect and block VPN usage, including Netflix.
How Secure is the Opera VPN?
Opera VPN provides a decent level of security by encrypting your data and masking your IP address. However, it’s not as robust as some dedicated VPN services. It doesn’t have advanced features like a kill switch or multi-hop connections, which provide extra security layers.
Will my IP Address be Changed with Opera VPN?
Yes, VPNs work by changing IPs. It gives the illusion that your internet traffic is coming from a different location. It’s a method used to maintain privacy and bypass regional restrictions on certain websites.