Use the Free VPN in Opera Browser for Improved Privacy & to Access Regional Content
Opera, the alternative web browser, now includes a free VPN service, which is built directly into the web browser itself. The free VPN allows you to hide your IP address, access region restricted content or blocked content by bypassing a firewall or regional restraints, hide browsing activity from other users on the same local network, and theoretically enhance overall privacy and anonymity.
Using the VPN offered in Opera is quite easy, and we’ll show you exactly how to set it up and use the free service. Once it has been enabled, you can choose a region to assign a virtual location to and use an IP from that region. For example, you could use the Opera VPN to give you a USA based IP address, allowing access to US restricted video content on Netflix, Amazon, HBO, PBS, even if you’re somewhere else on the globe.
Opera works in Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, and presumably the free VPN feature will arrive on the iPhone, iPad, and Android versions shortly as well.
How to Enable VPN in Opera and Use the Free VPN Service
At the moment the VPN service is limited to the developer versions of the browser, but it will roll out to the other releases soon.
- Get Opera Developer version here from Opera.com (it’s an installer, if you’d rather have a simple DMG you can get the offline installer for Mac here
- Install Opera Developer version as usual, once completed launch the Opera app
- Pull down the “Opera” menu and choose “Preferences”
- Select “Privacy & Security” from the preference options, then scroll down to the “VPN” section and toggle the box next to “Enable VPN”
- Open a new browser tab or window in Opera and click on the “VPN” blue button that is in the URL link bar, pull down the ‘Virtual Location’ menu to choose the IP region to mimic (currently; Canada, Germany, United States)
- Browse the web with Opera as usual, except with a different IP or region!
This is obviously an extremely simple VPN solution, built directly into a browser that is as simple to enable, setup, and use as this, and completely for free. Given that many VPN services are $10 per month or more, it’s really quite great.
Now that the Opera VPN has been enabled, you can toggle the VPN off by clicking on the VPN button and flipping the switch to the OFF position, and back on again by returning to the same menu and flipping it back to the ON position. The same menu also allows you to easily check your data usage of the VPN service.
Keep in mind this is not a system-wide VPN service. Thus, in order to maintain the VPN IP and whatever privacy, security, or anonymity it may provide, you must stay within the Opera browser itself, as the VPN is limited to Opera only. That makes it behave kind of like using the TOR browser, though it’s obviously less anonymous and randomized than TOR would be. If you plan on using the Opera VPN often, you would probably want to set the default web browser on the Mac to use Opera, so that links opened elsewhere will open into the Opera VPN rather than the standard browser.
You’ll want to be sure the blue VPN badge is visible to indicate it’s in use at a given URL.
By the way, if you’re using a different regional setting and you access Google to find it’s kicking you to a language or region you don’t actually want to search from, use the non-directing Google domain version as described here.
Since many VPN services charge a monthly fee of $10 or more, this free offering from Opera may very well supplant the need to pay for such a third party service for some users. Of course it’s limited to the web browser, but if all you’re using a VPN service for is to access regional specific web content or video streaming, or just for web based access and services, it’s likely sufficient to meet those needs, and it’s obviously much easier to use than a SOCKS proxy and SSH tunnel to achieve the same effect.