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How To Use A VPN

VPNs: Why, What and How – Part three

Welcome to the final instalment of VPNs WHY, WHAT AND HOW. In the coming weeks we will be releasing some instructional video blogs that will cover a few key areas around VPNs and PROXYs.

SADAH-VPN-logoOur recommended provider for both VPNs and PROXYs is TorGuard. They provide monthly quarterly 6month or annual subscriptions for a range of services that have been covered in these articles. Their pricing is reasonable, service is excellent and they guarantee no logging with any of their services.

I’ve chosen three of the most common applications for using a VPN and expanded each of these into an instructional video. Click on these links to learn how to do this yourself!

**If you think you can work this out without the instructional video, here is a link which will take you to TorGuard website where you can purchase and install your own PROXY or VPN from our recommended providers. **


Remember! A VPN won’t protect you from all the online threats out there. While a VPN encrypts your information on its way to the server – once you access another website, if it isn’t encrypted or safe (HTTPS) then neither is any of the information you enter into that site.


I have provided some recommendations for what VPNs are best above, if you are one of those people who like to do your own digging then be sure to keep these few things in mind.

  • Location: Keep in mind the server’s location and the exit locations you can choose particularly if you want to be able to access a network in a specific region. IE you are overseas and want to watch the football in Australia, there’s no point in getting a VPN with a server and exit location in America.
  • Logging Policies: If one of your main concerns is privacy/security, make absolutely sure you check your provider’s logging policies before you sign up. Some providers will log your online activity and on-sell this to a third party company. Others will log your activity and only store this unless audited by any government agancie in which they will hand over your information.
  • Free Vs Subscription: Some times in life you do get what you pay for, and if you don’t pay for your VPN or PROXY services then you will probably have a service that will log your information and probably even on-sell it to a third party company, or they will litter your browsing experience with tailored advertisements – they’ve got to make their money somewhere right?
  • Remember: that while using a VPN does dramatically improve your security and privacy, you are still not invulnerable to risk. It is recommended that you always use HTTPS sites when handing over personal information online, and make sure you are still careful about what you are downloading and have quality virus protection.You can find VPN providers that offer Anti-malware/ Anti-spyware features which is great for that extra protection.
  • VPN for Mobile and multiple devices: If you are paying for a VPN, you should be able to find a provider that offers consistent experience across all of your devices so you can use the same VPN on your laptop and your phone. You don’t want to be using two different VPNs with two different policies, this day and age you should be able to find the one size fits all VPN provider.
  • Price: Last thing to keep in mind is price. While it’s not always true, often you get what you pay for in this case. Free providers are good if you just quickly need to use the internet on a public network, but if you are looking at all the reasons to get yourself a VPN in particular security, then you are probably better going with a provider that offers a subscription as they generally take your privacy more seriously.

VPN clients will often skew their services towards specific uses so it should be pretty easy to find the right protocol for your needs. There are VPN’s specific for mobile devices, some VPN’s suite the occasional user and some are geared towards heavy downloaders or getting around location restrictions.

The last piece of advice I have on this is make sure you do a bit of research on your chosen provider before you sign up. There are a myriad of chat forums out there that will have already discussed your possible choice. Make sure you do a bit of reading before you lock it in.

That all from me for now, I hope this has been a useful article.

If you have any questions or suggestions for any other HOW TO posts on this subject please contact us on 1300266936 or you can email us here.

Thanks and stay safe online.

Lock concept

What Is A VPN?

VPNs: Why, What and How – Part Two

Break In Online Security If you read my previous article ‘VPNS why should I get one’ then you are no doubt reading this article because you are a concerned internet user and you are after a little more information.

The subjects in this article are verging on the technical side and I’ll only be trying to give you a basic understanding here. For most people it isn’t vital that you fully understand the inner workings of these things if all you need is to find a VPN Provider. However it’s my opinion that a little bit of knowledge is always preferable so you can be more informed when you embark on your quest for online security and anonymity.

There are many different types of VPNs available; they use different methods (or protocols) to achieve similar goals. There are also different types PROXYs available which can provide the same if not better results as a VPN – depending on what you are looking for.

What is an IP Address:

Before we go any further it’s important that you understand what an IP Address is. An IP Address or Internet Protocol Address is a series of 12 numbers which is a unique code that is assigned to each device. (Laptop/PC/Mobile)

The purpose of an IP Address is to make your device identifiable online and also your current location. This is a major vulnerability when seeking security and online anonymity.

What Is a Proxy?

If all you are looking for is online anonymity from using certain sites (like torrent sites) then a PROXY might serve your purposes more simply and effectively than a VPN.

A PROXY is a server that acts as a filter for any of your activity on your web browser. You connect to the internet via a PROXY and once in use, you will adopt the speed/security/GEO location and IP address of your chosen PROXY server.

Once your online activity is managed by the proxy, you will become anonymous as your IP Address will become that of the PROXY and your online activity will pass only through the PROXY.  PROXYS can be a faster and cheaper solution over VPNs if all you are looking for is online anonymity.

  • PROXYs will only filter sites that are accessed via a browser (firefox/chrome etc) that you have applied the PROXY settings to and they aren’t always compatible with certain web pages that use-non browser technology.
  • PROXYs also don’t use particularly strong encryption and are most effective when used to target particular sites like Bit Torrent. If you are concerned about online security then a VPN is a safer option for you.

Diagram of Proxy Server

What is a VPN?

Both a VPN and a PROXY server will re-route your internet traffic and change your IP address. As with a Proxy, you will also adopt the speed/security/Geo location and IP Address of your chosen VPN server. Aside from these two factors a VPN operates very differently from a PROXY.

  • A VPN encrypts ALL of your traffic including programs and applications, bypassing your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and routing all traffic via the VPN server.
  • VPNs use tunnelling protocols to actually tunnel a secure point to point corridor inside an unsecure network (the internet) offering a twofold layer of protection.

Diagram of VPN tunneling protocal

Not all VPNs and Proxys work in the same way and some aren’t as effective as others. Here are a few examples to help you understand some of the many confusing acronyms out there.

  • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Transport Layer Security (TLS):

    SSL and TLS are used extensively in the security of online retailers and service providers. An online shopper should never purchase from a site if it does not implement SSL or TLS. You can look for this in the web url like in this example. A site wishing to implement this protocol will have to submit points of identification and verification before being allowed access. Once approved the SSL or TLS is established and all information from this site that is passed to a server is encrypted and secure.

Example of SSL Website

  • Site-to-Site VPN (S2S):

    Site-to-site is much the same thing as PPTP except there is no ‘dedicated’ line in use. This is a connection to two sites which encrypts all data passing between the two.


  • Socks 5 Proxy (SOCKS5):

    There are two different types of Proxy, HTTP and Socks. HTTP is the protocol used to transfer website data. It is designed for a specific protocol and while it does this very well, you will run into problems when trying to use this for any other applications. The SOCKS5 Proxy technology is designed to be an all-purpose proxy accommodating any programme, protocol or type of traffic. While there are many different types of Socks Proxy – SOCKS5 is the best one for torrent use offering support and faster downloads.


  •  Point-to-Point Tunnelling Protocol (PPTP):

    PPTP is an age old VPN protocol. This is also the most common and widely used. PPTP simply tunnels and encapsulates the data. There are concerns regarding the security of this type of protocol as it doesn’t encrypt the data it encapsulates.  A secondary protocol in conjunction with this can provide a powerful combination.


  • IP security (IPSec):

    IPSec is often used to secure Internet communications and can operate in two modes. Transport mode only encrypts the data packet message itself while tunnelling mode (L2TP/IPsec) encrypts the entire data packet.


  • Secure Shell (SSH):

    SSH creates both the VPN tunnel and the encryption that protects it. This allows users to transfer information unsecured data by routing the traffic from remote fileservers through an encrypted channel. The data itself isn’t encrypted but the channel its moving through is. SSH connections are created by the SSH client, which forwards traffic from a local port one on the remote server. All data between the two ends of the tunnel flow through these specified ports. SSH tunnels are the primary means of subverting the government content filters and allowing access to torrent sites that might otherwise be blocked by the HTTP network.

SADAH-VPN-logoIf you are considering a VPN or Proxy provider there are a few things to keep an eye out for. Be aware that many providers still log your information and while another user may not be able to view or access information on your activities – the information is still there.

Look for providers that offer non-logging services. Free providers are particularly guilty of this and they have also been known to on-sell your online activity to marketing giants for targeted advertising.

Hopefully now you have a better understanding on the different types of VPNs and how they work. In my next and final article on VPNs: WHY, WHAT AND HOW- Part Three I will show you how to set up a real VPN for three different user scenarios:

  • How to safely download torrent files using a PROXY
  • How to use a VPN to access NETFLIX in America
  • How to use a VPN to browse the web anonymously and securely

If you have any further questions please feel free to comment or give us a call on: 1300 266 936 or send us your enquiry.


Why You Should Get A VPN

VPNs: Why, What and How – Part One

Hooded_HackerAs time goes on we are wising up to the fact that the advancements of technology are not always for the betterment of the user. More and more we are becoming unknowing victims of analysis, spying and hacking. There are steps that every user should consider in order to protect their freedom of speech, access of information and personal information from prying eyes and malicious spies. Securing a VPN is the first vital step towards attaining this goal.

The Increasing Desire for Online Anonymity

All you have to do is look at the current battle between Apple and the FBI and you will have a quick idea of the complexities behind this issue and you will hopefully have a clear side of the fence on which you stand. Both sides have their valid arguments and It’s sad that we have to say ‘we do not support criminal activities’ just because we do not support the creation and implementation of technologies that can allow detailed access to a person’s personal information and habits.

The unfortunate truth is that if technologies can access every piece of information on the life of a terrorist, then they can also access every bit of information on you. Should this kind of power to invade privacy belong to corporations or government’s hands? In some cases, it already does.

A VPN or Virtual Private Network is a technology that creates a secure and private connection over a less secure network such as the internet. VPNs use strong encryption and restricted data access keeping your information secure from other users on the underlying network that you are on.

There are many different types of VPNS along with many different uses. VPNs have been in use for years however more and more their popularity is growing – along with the necessity for them – thanks to the growing global desire for internet protection, personal security and privacy.

Why You Should Get A VPN:

Security and Protection of Personal Information:

VPN-Service-for-Online-SecurityThis is probably the strongest case for you to consider getting a VPN.  Security is a huge concern for businesses that need to operate across a network with remote workers and need to keep their company information secure. It also concerns every day users who need to be protecting things like passwords, key codes, home address and personal interests – all information which can be used against you in the wrong hands.

“As we continue to move towards a more digital and convenient life, that convenience has come with a steep price tag, and our personal information is more vulnerable to criminals than ever before.There are a lot of common sense measures you can take to protect yourself, but when the basics fail, a VPN is the best way to protect your data from hackers and snoops.”

Internet Censorship:

There is something about this term that runs a chill up my spine. I think of the countries (that I know of) who have oppressive political influence over their people. How horrific it is that a governing body has such power over their people that they can dumb them to the truths of their lives and the world in which they live. In China Facebook is totally banned yet users can get around this by using a VPN.

While this level information censorship still might feel far away – that is the insidiousness of censorship. Not too long ago Australia enacted new Data privacy laws that effectively allow them to censor certain websites they deem inappropriate. This would have been introduced under the banner of protection against malicious sites – but now that the laws are passed, what’s stopping them from preventing other sites that speak out about social injustices or stand against government policies or reforms?

How far away is this kind of online censorship really from our own back door? We are all familiar with media bias. Each piece of news that is fed to us today is (or should be) automatically taken with a grain of salt. And in recent news we read that our government is looking to remove the ‘two out of three rule’ in our media.

The two out of three rule means that no entity is allowed to control any more than two out of three platforms for any market. If this is removed then we will have a Murdoch dominated media market which means even more media bias and filtering. Media Bias is like a second cousin to internet censorship and if one influences our lives now, it’s only a matter of time until the whole family will come to visit.

Online Anonymity:

Internet-privacyThis one has a lot of shadowy undertones and is one of the more contentious aspects to the use of a VPN. Some people say that an online user would only want browser anonymity if they are doing something wrong. Sure, browsing anonymously is attractive to the torrent user; it makes it virtually impossible for the identity to be linked with an illegal download. But some torrent sites are not illegal and networks often will limit accessibility to all sites without applying these sensitivities.

More seriously there are users who would want to remain anonymous for much more sinister purposes. However, only a small percentage of people in the world abuse this aspect of VPNs and the larger group of are just private people and prefer to stay anonymous. It would be considered inhumane to apply punishment and restriction on the general populous just because of an abhorrent few individuals. There is nothing wrong with wanting your personal interests kept private.

Access to Global Networks:

One of the really cool uses for a VPN is that it can allow you to access local networks while you are outside of that country. VPN’s allow you to access broadcasted TV networks and news and any other location specific networks – globally. Some VPN providers will give you a choice in which region you choose to connect to the VPN. You will have access to whatever is available in that region on that local network. An excellent example of this; if you use a VPN who’s server is based in America, then your NETFLIX account will change data feeds and you will have American channels and movies available to you via NETFLIX instead of the Australian ones. We will show you more on how to use a VPN to access overseas Netflix next week.

Because of the Principal:

What better reason to protect your online activity but because of the principal of it! It’s my given right to brows anonymously. Nothing erks me more that to find that I am regularly bombarded with advertisements from outdoor adventure companies ever since I was reading up on the 7 best trekking destinations in the world. I like my privacy. I don’t have anything to hide but that doesn’t mean I am comfortable with the idea of big name corporations profiling me for saleability and any other self-serving reasons.

If you are interested in non-bias global information, access to international channels and news feeds, freedom to search the web without political bias, tracking, internet security and of course protection of personal information – then you should definitely start using a VPN today!

I will follow up this article with a more in-depth explanation on different types of VPNs and how they work.  After that we will go into some helpful demonstrations on three different applications of a VPN service.

Computer Zen has been helping clients secure their private information and online activities with VPN services and sound advice for many years and we would love to give you the best advice and help you can get.

Call Computer Zen for advice on any online security concerns that you might have.  1300 266 936 or contact us via email.


Windows 10 upgrade no longer a choice

Windows 10 Upgrade No Longer a Choice

Microsoft is trying something new and we’re not very confident it’s for your benefit. As of February 2016 Windows 10 will automatically download for millions of users.

In July 2015 millions of people awoke to Microsoft’s ‘new approach’ to sales and software integration of their new operating system Windows 10.

Like a spy in the night, suddenly there was the intrusive and annoying pop up in the start bar – urging you to upgrade your system…for free. Everyone likes something for free right? But as is usually the case, the capitalisation of this mentality was not for the benefit of the consumer.

Aside from the bugs with the software and the potential problems an upgrade could cause, the biggest problem is the way that Microsoft chose to engage with its customers, and chose to leverage their naivety in order to get what they want.

If you wave a shiny banner in front of a user saying ‘upgrade me for free’ and there isn’t anyone around who knows better to tell them “don’t do it, they haven’t tested it properly” then they may chose the exciting & nonsensible option, not knowing how it will affect their system and their applications. I say may – but ‘they’ definitely do.

Windows_10_escape_keyThere’s no denying it; Microsoft offering the software as a free upgrade for any Win 7, 8 and 8.1 users was curious. It is said that this technique was implemented avoid any more damage to the company’s reputation following the disappointment of Windows 8.Or maybe this ‘free’ roll out was a type of bug testing at the expense of the user.

All that is clear at this point in time is that Microsoft very desperately wants all Windows users to be on Windows 10 in the very near future and they are using very aggressive tactics in order to get themselves there.

In Windows Update settings on your computer, there are two different types of update labelled by their importance as deemed by Microsoft; optional, recommended and important. There are also settings (which by the way are the default for a new system) where ‘recommended’ updates are installed automatically along with important updates.  Originally, the Windows 10 Free upgrade for users of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 was listed as ‘optional’ in user settings. If you could avoid clicking on the ‘upgrade me’ pop up button then you were relatively free to choose your own operating system.

Windows_10_error_msgJust last week, Microsoft changed the settings In Windows Updates so that Windows 10 upgrade shifted from ‘optional’ to ‘recommended’. This means for millions of people, Windows 10 will automatically download and begin the installation process, making a mockery of choice for its consumers. As Joel Hruska from Extreme Tech puts it:

“This move targets users who don’t know enough to disable recommended updates, but have also rejected Microsoft’s previous offers.” This could create a nasty snarl of blowback if the upgrade push starts making life difficult for large numbers of people.”   Joel Hruska Extreme Tech February 2nd 2016.

If you know enough about computers then you would have changed your Windows Update settings on your computer to prevent this automatic download, (We’ve demonstrated how to do this below)but let’s face it – there are millions of people out there who don’t know as much as you.

The list of problems and complications with the software upgrade grows literally every day. We know this, because we are supporting these people. Despite the influx of work we are seeing as a result of this – we really don’t enjoy experiencing the frustration of our clients at the sometimes lengthy process involved in fixing these complications after expressing only borderline permissions for a Windows 10 upgrade.

Windows_10_Microsofts_NOHow is Microsoft getting away with these tactics in this day and age where the consumer is key? Their use of language is deliberately vague and misleading, and their methods are coercive. They are pushing people to install their product regardless of compatibility and any possible pitfalls associated with the upgrade. Next thing you know all other Windows Operating systems will become obsolete and we will no longer have choice at all. Well….there is always Mac…..

If someone engages in an activity with full understanding of the possible risks associated with it, this is called choice and it’s a part of life that we accept when sometimes our choices are don’t turn out the best . What is unacceptable is when choice is blurred by smoke screens and mirrors and becomes more like wavering, unsure and bullied consent. I’m not sure what Microsoft plans in the future, but I hope they receive enough back lash about the way they are treating their customers, that possibly they will re-think their approach to things next time around. As it stands, I am not feeling very optimistic.

If you do currently have Windows 7 or Windows 8, our advice is for you to stick with this until all of the bugs associated with the Windows 10 transition have been ironed out. Windows 7/8 are still great operating systems and we recommend sticking with what you know. If you do want to opt in and install Windows 10 we highly recommend you contact an IT professional before you get started.

If you are still being annoyed by the Windows 10 upgrade popup adds on the bottom of your monitor there is a small patch we can install for you to make this go away. It’s a little bit tricky though and can cause problems if you don’t perform the patch correctly, so we don’t recommend our clients do this themselves. You can contact us to discuss this and we can perform a quick remote access connection with you and have this removed in under 30mins. More on Remote Support here.

Contact us here at Computer Zen for any of your Window’s 10 questions or woes.


Change your update settings to prevent the automatic download of Windows 10:


Change your update settings to prevent the automatic download of Windows 10:


Remote IT Support

Computer Zen – Remote IT Support

Don’t waste your precious time. Remote IT Support is the answer.

“The title doesn’t do the service justice. I have never felt closer to my clients than when I am just one click away from not only supporting them but really understanding their problems.” –  Toby Hazlett, Director of Computer Zen.

Do you value your Time? Take a second of your time and ask yourself how many technical interruptions your home or business systems experienced in 2015?


Statistically most businesses experience approximately 3 – 4 interruptions per year and each one lasts on average 8 hours – if you’re lucky! That’s 30 hours minimum of down time for your business each year, and in this fast paced world, potential clients have the attention span of a squirrel so that down time is costing you dearly. Being able to maintain a connection with your customers is vital for a successful business. Yet the full potential of remote support has yet to be realized as companies are still opting for onsite IT support.

Primary benefits of Remote Support:

  • It’s Fast: Normally you would have to wait a minimum of a half day sometimes days for a technician to get to you. Remote support is fast, easy and no fuss.
  • It’s Cheaper: Because we don’t have to drive out to see you, we don’t have to charge as much to cover our costs.
  • It’s Constant:  It’s constant: A reliable technician is only a phone call or a click away. Plus there is no longer the need to employ a fullimage-of-computer-keyboardtime IT expert to sit around, drink coffee and play mine craft
  • It’s Convenient: You don’t need to set up an appointment or wait for your technician to arrive. You can be at the park walking your dog while we make all your problems go away.
  • It’s Personal: With Computer Zen, even if you have gone to visit your Gran in Idaho we can still support you and your business. You can relax knowing that you are dealing with your local IT support guys who know you and understand your needs better than anyone!

The Mysterious Stranger: Like all things in life however, there are pros and cons to everything.
The biggest concern people face when considering remote support for their troublesome system is security. And we take these concerns seriously!image of a computer criminal

You really do need to trust the person who is remote accessing your computer but arguably, not as much as the guy who actually accesses your home or business and your computer as well.

Lots of people will allow a complete stranger to come into their home, sit at their computer and often even take it offsite to repair it. Using our remote support software our technicians are literally not able to access your computer unless you allow them to and it’s just as easy for you to boot them off as well.

When you look at it, there is really no more risk in remote support than traditional forms of IT support.

How to keep your IT safe: 

Providing you are giving permission for the access, the company or business you are using is reputable and so is the technician, then your risk factor( in this humble person’s opinion) isn’t any higher than getting your TV repair man to come in to your home and fix your television.

Anything that involves a person you don’t know does carry a certain risk – that is life. You can minimise your risk factor by dealing with people and businesses you know or were recommended to you.  The advantage in using small businesses (like us) is that you know who we are, and if you know us – then that’s one big step closer to being able to trust us. Never allow someone to access your system unless you have some element of trust there first.

Remote support bonuses

Remote It support also has the added bonus of allowing you to sit there and unobtrusively watch every step the technician makes – If you’ve got the time on your hands.

In an ever changing, constantly flexing and challenging world one of the surest commodities we all possess is time. In Business time isSteve Jobs quote image money. In life time is more precious than money.  Business people, working couples and parents, would agree that if there is a way to save yourself some time – then you should take it. 

If your staff productivity grinds to a halt because of an IT problem, then you may as well throw your cash in the rubbish bin. If you are missing priceless time with your family because of time wasted on a broken machine – try something new.

Remote Support sounds great! How do i get started?

  1. Call Computer Zen on 1300 266 936 to book a remote support appointment

  2. Goto and download our teamviewer remote support software

  3. Once downloaded –  Run or open the software and read us out your id support number

  4. Sit back and relax as Computer Zen takes care of all your IT  problems!

The only thing that will stop us from helping you remotely is you have no internet connection or your system does not actually power on .


Computer Zen – At One with IT

Hi… it’s Toby Hazlett launching our new website. We wanted a fresh new look to accompany our streamlined computer repair services for Brisbane. You see we think our service is second to none, and makes mobile computer repairs-SIMPLE.

Just like our business name suggests our philosophy in business is to keep it simple and elegant. We do not charge any call out fee… and if we can’t fix it, there’s no charge!.

Put us to the test. You’ll find our hourly rate lower than many of the franchises. Yet our service and experience will eclipse most of our competitors- guaranteed!