VPNs… If you’ve graced the internet for some time, there is a high chance that you’ve come across the term VPN. For tech enthusiasts, this is not a new thing. It’s one of the commonly thrown around words while discussing online privacy in some way or another.
But apart from the tech mumbo jumbo, what is a VPN? How can you use a VPN and what are some examples of a VPN? In this post, well answer all of that in the simplest way, leaving out the tech jargon that you will find in most sites.
What is a VPN?
VPN is a short term for Virtual Private Networks. A VPN provides that extra security to your internet activities while browsing the web by creating a private network from a public internet connection. Or, in other words, enabling users to send and receive data via a private network even though they are connected to a public network through masking the internet activity.
VPNs also make it hard for other users in the shared public network to snoop on your data because the data will be transferred in a “private tunnel” – making it hard for bad actors and even ISPs to track your online activities.
A VPN hides a user’s real internet protocol (IP) address, giving them a new virtual one that makes it hard for ISPs to trace their activities on the web.
They have gained popularity in the recent past as more people begin to value their online privacy. They have also been used to circumvent restrictions put in place by certain websites based on geolocation, and even censorship put in place by authoritarian governments.
Due to these reasons VPN usage has and is still increasing as more folks become privacy-conscious. VPN use is not just tied to personal use, businesses are increasingly embracing the technology, as well.
How Do VPNs Work?
VPN use a simple technique that helps keep your data and online activity secure – by routing all the traffic from an end user through one of their servers instead of your internet service provider (ISP). This makes all the data from your computer or mobile device appear to be coming from the VPN server. The VPN acts like an intermediary between your computer and the internet.
VPNs also encrypt the data exchanged between your computer and the internet thus making it unreadable even if it lands on the wrong hands. Talking of encryption, VPNs encrypts the data by scrambling – converting readable information into random characters that don’t make sense. To do this, a VPN uses an encryption key which will be required at the end of the “tunnel” to make the data readable again through a process known as decryption.
Do you Really Need a VPN service?
But do you need a VPN service? Spoiler alert; yes you do. If you’re using an unsecured WIFI connection such as Public WIFI, chances are that someone may eavesdrop your information virtually. But if you embrace a VPN, it will help encrypt all the data being transferred via the network and also helps you stay anonymous by masking your identity – even to your internet service provider (ISP).
By hiding your IP address, VPNs also make your online browsing activities untraceable giving you the freedom you need.
Advantages of Using a VPN
There are many advantages as to why one should use a VPN. Here are some of the reasons why you should join the VPN life like us here at VPNFreak:
VPNs mask your real IP address, which not only hides your identity on the web but also masks the real location from which you’re browsing from. Since VPN services have servers based in different geological locations, you may use a server based miles away from your real location, making it look like youre browsing from the location where the server is located. This helps in bypassing geo-restrictions which is a common thing put in place by streaming services. Netflix, for instance, offers shows depending on your location – a show maybe available for US users but not available in any other place.
2. Masking your IP Address and Location
Besides helping you bypass geo-restrictions, masking your real IP and using a virtual one is one of the crucial reasons to use a VPN. By hiding your IP address, VPNs help you browse the web anonymously, thus making it hard for ISPs to trace your online activity. On top of that, by masking your IP address, your real location is also hidden in the process.
3. Securing your Data and Devices
By using a VPN, your online browsing data is encrypted when sent over a WIFI network, thus helping it become difficult for prying eyes to see the data. On public WIFI, a VPN encrypts data by scrambling it first, thus making it hard for strangers using the same network to eavesdrop. Also, VPNs protect your browsing history from your ISP.
Disadvantages of using a VPN
Does using VPN have disadvantages as well? Yes there is, though, spoiler alert: minimal. We’ve added this section to provide views from both sides of the coin.
Slows down your internet speeds
One of the bigger problems associated with VPNs is they will slow down your browsing speeds to some extent. That is why we recommend picking a VPN service that doesn’t hog your connection much. This is highly dependent on the VPN protocol or the underlying technology used by a VPN to provide a secure and fast connection. You can read more about VPN Protocols.
How to use a VPN
Using a VPN is pretty easy than you would have thought. One way is by downloading a VPN app on either Windows, macOS, Android, or iOS. Currently, most VPN apps feature easy click-to-connect buttons. They have additional functionality that let a user choose whichever servers they want to connect to – depending on the server’s location in most cases.
The second way is by physically setting up a VPN connection on your device, as long as you have credentials of your VPN provider, like the server address, connection type, name, and more.
Examples of a VPN Services
There are tons of VPN services out there, with some notable examples being ExpressVPN, NordVPN, ProtonVPN, Surfshark VPN and etc.