VPN Guide: What is a VPN Connection and How does it Work?
In this article, you will learn how to use a VPN. You will learn the basic concepts, principles, and how a VPN works. You will find out what a VPN is used for and its advantages and disadvantages.
What is a VPN?
VPN is an often-mentioned acronym when it comes to privacy and internet connectivity. But what does this acronym stand for? The acronym VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is a secure and encrypted connection between a device and a network (such as the internet). A VPN uses a link to the internet through servers found in different countries, the range of which varies depending on the VPN provider. The servers hide your identity and anonymize the connection.
VPNs are also used for secure connections when working off-site. With a VPN, you can connect securely to your network remotely and use your data and entire work network as if you were on-site. Corporate VPNs are for this purpose.
What is the Difference Between a Traditional Connection and a VPN Connection?
The fundamental difference is that a regular internet connection hides sensitive data such as passwords or credit card numbers. Moreover, only if an administrator properly secures the site.
Other data about your searches are not encrypted, so it is not difficult to track them and find out what sites you visit. In addition, using your IP (connection identification number) address makes it possible to trace your location, unlike a VPN connection. With the latter, all the data transmitted from your device is encrypted, so no one can find out what you are searching for and from where. So instead, it replaces your IP address with a fake one; this keeps your searches anonymous and private.
Nowadays, VPNs are necessary for gaining privacy on the internet, where your private information becomes abused.
An alternative to a VPN is the Tor network, which redirects your searches between different devices on that network. The main disadvantage of Tor is the speed, which is significantly lower than a VPN.
Some VPNs also offer other benefits, such as blocking ads, tracking tools, and malware.
VPNs are also a safe way to connect to a public Wi-Fi network, for example, in a coffee shop, where your data is even more at risk and an easy target for hackers. So if you connect to a public network, use only a VPN or mobile data.
How a VPN Works
If you connect to the internet with a VPN turned on, your connection is encrypted and runs through a VPN server. Your IP address is replaced and hidden behind the server’s IP address, making it impossible to trace your real IP address. In addition, outgoing and incoming data becomes encrypted with the unbreakable AES-128 or the even more secure but also more challenging and, therefore, slower AES-256. This makes them completely unreadable.
Most VPN servers also act as a firewall. A firewall is a network device that determines which data it can pass on, in this case, to your device. Thanks to the firewall function of the servers, malicious codes will not be allowed into your device to damage it or steal data.
For known malicious content sites, you will receive information about the site’s bad reputation before you enter, so you will not put yourself at risk. A VPN can also rid you of annoying pop-ups and ads, saving you money on mobile data.
Is a VPN Secure?
Quality VPN security providers have their security verified by impartial auditors. This makes it possible to guarantee the complete security of the VPN. Authenticated VPN providers (beware of free VPNs from unknown providers) do not log data about your searches, and most offer a kill switch to ensure your connection only goes through the VPN tunnel. If the connection through the VPN server fails, the internet connection shuts down completely.
VPNs are also legally secure in most countries. So, if you are wondering if a VPN is legal, it is. It is only illegal to use a VPN in select countries, which include Belarus, China, North Korea, Oman, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates. We can help you choose a quality provider with 100% security VPN services. Because not every VPN is entirely secure, and this is doubly true with free VPNs.
Which Devices are VPNs For
VPN is for computers, mobile phones, tablets, smart TVs, and routers. If you use a VPN on your router, you protect all your devices, including those that do not offer a VPN app. IoT stands for Internet of Things. IoT devices include smart light bulbs, voice assistants, and other smart home devices.
Whether you are looking for a VPN for Windows, Android, iOS, or Mac, all VPN service providers offer apps for these operating systems. In addition, some also offer additional apps for Linux and web browsers, such as VPN for Chrome.
You usually have the option to connect multiple devices at the same time. However, the number of devices you can connect to simultaneously becomes limited by most providers.
How to set up a VPN? The easiest way to set up a VPN not only on your computer and mobile is to download an app, log in with the details you entered when you bought your subscription, and you are ready to use it. The apps themselves will guide you through the controls.
Most of the VPN services reviewed offer apps primarily in English. Select VPNs offer additional languages not only for the apps but also for support.
You can then easily connect to the VPN with a single button or set up an automatic connection as soon as you start your device.
Advantages and Disadvantages of VPNs
VPN services primarily offer pros. Of course, they have their disadvantages, but they are all negligible and outweigh the advantages several times over.
➕ No tracking
A VPN protects you from being tracked by advertising agencies, hackers, corporations, government agencies, or ISPs.
➕ No censorship
It is not possible to censor your content. If a site has restrictions for your location, then you simply connect through a server in another country. You can also take advantage of this when streaming. You can also watch country-specific content on Netflix, for example. With a VPN, you can make the most of Netflix. You can also use this simple trick to unblock websites if they are blocked by the government (for countries with censorship) or by the provider.
In the case of blocking internet content, for example, in the workplace or some institutions, a VPN will also serve you well in most cases and unblock access. With a VPN, you can access all websites wherever you are.
➕ Streaming abroad
Access to your streaming services may be restricted abroad. With a VPN, you connect through a VPN server in your country and stream like you were at home in your living room.
➖ Slower connections
More security and privacy are not completely free. Because your connection is better encrypted it passes through more servers than usual, so that you may see a slight slowdown in your speed. Most of the time, however, you will not notice the slowdown, thanks to the optimized and fast connections that VPN providers offer.
➖ Service Interruptions
Some services may not work for you because of your VPN connection. For example, when you connect through a VPN, you may not see services correctly. Of course, you can always resolve this by disabling the VPN, but you will lose security.
Some VPN services also offer a whitelist, so you can add the sites you want to connect to without using VPN servers.
Some companies also block VPNs in the workplace, but you can still circumvent them in most cases.
➖ Imperfect privacy
Your browser stores cookies and browsing history. Cookies are small files your browser stores for later use on sites where you are logged in or, for example, have added items to your shopping cart. The cookies keep track of your visited pages, not to mention your browsing history.
This problem you can solve easily. You can delete the history and cookies. Most search engines offer third-party cookie blocking, deleting cookies every time you turn them off or even not allow cookies at all, but this can lead to some sites not working. In addition, you can limit the retention of your browsing history by setting the time to display the history retrospectively.