A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes on public Wi-Fi, and more.
These days VPNs are really popular, but not for the reasons they were originally created. They originally were just a way to connect business networks together securely over the internet or allow you to access a business network from home.
VPNs essentially forward all your network traffic to the network, which is where the benefits — like accessing local network resources remotely and bypassing Internet censorship — all come from. Most operating systems have integrated VPN support.
In very simple terms, a VPN connects your PC, smartphone, or tablet to another computer (called a server) somewhere on the internet, and allows you to browse the internet using that computer’s internet connection. So if that server is in a different country, it will appear as if you are coming from that country, and you can potentially access things that you couldn’t normally.
The VPN extends a private network across a public network and enables users to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if their computing devices were directly connected to the private network. The benefits of a VPN include increases in functionality, security, and management of the private network.
So, how does a VPN work?
A VPN hides your IP address by letting the network redirect it through a specially configured remote server run by a VPN host. This means that if you surf online with a VPN, the VPN server becomes the source of your data. Meaning, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and other third parties cannot see which websites you visit or what data you send and receive online. A VPN works like a filter that turns all your data into “gibberish”. Even if someone were to get their hands on your data, it would be useless.
What are the benefits of a VPN connection?
A VPN connection disguises your data traffic online and protects it from external access. Unencrypted data can be viewed by anyone who has network access and wants to see it. With a VPN, hackers and cybercriminals can’t decipher this data.
VPN servers essentially act as your proxies on the internet. Because the demographic location data comes from a server in another country, your actual location cannot be determined. In addition, most VPN services do not store logs of your activities.
If you work remotely, you may need to access important files on your company’s network. For security reasons, this kind of information requires a secure connection. To gain access to the network, a VPN connection is often required. VPN services connect to private servers and use encryption methods to reduce the risk of data leakage.
So how does this help you? Good question! You can use a VPN to:
- Bypass geographic restrictions on websites or streaming audio and video.
- Watch streaming media like Netflix and more.
- Protect yourself from snooping on untrustworthy Wi-Fi hotspots.
- Gain at least some anonymity online by hiding your true location.
- Protect yourself from being logged while torrenting.
What should you look for in VPN services?
The VPN market is crowded with options, so it’s important to consider your needs when you’re shopping for a VPN.
Think about what is important to you. Do you want to be able to surf the web anonymously by masking your IP address? Are you afraid that your information could be stolen on public Wi-Fi? Are you a frequent traveler who wants to be able to watch your favorite shows while you’re on the go?
A good VPN can help you check all three boxes, but here are some other points to consider.
How many devices can connect to the VPN at once?
Think of how many devices in your home connect to the internet. You have your laptops, tablets, smartphones, and voice assistants. You might even have smart appliances that access the web.
That’s why it’s important to work with a VPN provider that allows several devices to connect to it at one time. That way, you can have both your laptop and your children’s tablets routed through a VPN at the same time.
Some VPN providers might offer different plans that allow for a higher or lower number of simultaneous connections. In general, you can expect to pay more for a greater number of connections. Top providers allow you to connect 10 or more devices simultaneously.
To conclude, A VPN connection establishes a secure connection between you and the internet. This disguises your IP address when you use the internet, making its location invisible to everyone. A VPN connection is also secure against external attacks, and it is recommended to all.