What is a VPN?
A VPN or a Virtual Private Network is a technology service that keeps you secure and anonymous while you’re browsing the internet. VPN technology is a set of protocols that facilitate secure, encrypted connections between end points. VPN services are the companies that run the servers and offer support. A VPN is essentially a secure intermediate point in a connection. When you log into your VPN, the VPN then connects to websites on your behalf – this hides your IP address and other identifying information from websites, ISPs, advertisers, governments, etc.
What does VPN stand for?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network.
Why do people use VPNs?
People use VPNs for a variety of reasons, to protect their security and privacy while online. Businesses use them as a secure means of remote access and to protect intranet and extranet site-to-site communications. Individuals use them to enhance their privacy when surfing the internet, to mask their IP addresses, to tunnel into other locations to stream entertainment or access otherwise-unavailable content. Any time you want to stay anonymous or to encrypt a connection, a VPN gets its wings.
What do VPNs do?
VPNs serve as an intermediate point in the middle of a connection. A user logs into the VPN, which then uses one of its own IP addresses from one of its own servers to connect to websites or internet services on your behalf. This masks your IP address, encrypts your communication and generally protects your privacy. VPNs can also help you stay secure on public WiFi and stream content from other parts of the world as if you were actually living there.
How do VPNs work?
VPN services essentially act as huge hubs for internet traffic. They set up hundreds, even thousands of servers all around the world and allow their customers to log into those servers directly. Once logged in, the customer is assigned one of the VPN’s IP addresses and can then begin surfing the internet anonymously. An ISP or third party could see you are connected to the VPN, but they can’t see the other half of the connection and know what sites you’re visiting or what content you’re viewing.
What are VPN protocols?
Owing to the nature of networking and internet, there are a broad number of different connection types. Connection types vary by devices, TCP/IP layer, operating system – you name it. One thing all of those different connections types have in common though is that there is a VPn Protocol that corresponds to all of them. Whether you’re connecting browser to server or network to network, there’s a protocol that will facilitate the secure, encrypted connection you desire. The trick is knowing what protocol you need.
Why should I use a VPN?
For starters: privacy and security. Your ISP – and anyone else eavesdropping on your network – can see everything you look at, everything you click. If you’re streaming a movie – they know. VPNs obfuscate that so nobody knows what you’re doing, and – if it’s a good VPN – who you are. This is especially important in countries that lack internet freedom, but it’s also useful in more developed countries, too. VPNs can help with video streaming, security on public WiFi – really anywhere that encryption and anonymity would come in handy.
What can I use a VPN for?
You can use a VPN for:
- Masking your IP address
- Hiding your behavior online
- Tunneling into other locations
- Protection on public WiFi
- To get around NetFlix blocking
- Remote access
Can I use a VPN with my normal browser?
Yes, VPNs work seamlessly with all modern desktop browsers and most mobile browsers. Once you log into the VPN, simply use the browser as you normally would. It’s working.
Can I use a VPN with my phone?
That varies by device and protocol. Not every protocol plays well with mobile devices, though the most popular protocols like OpenVPN certainly do. Check with your VPN service about mobile compatibility, but most will support at least one protocol that works on mobile provided they have a mobile client in the first place.
Can I use a VPN on my tablet?
Much like with mobile phones, not every protocol plays well with mobile devices, though the most popular protocols like OpenVPN certainly do. Check with your VPN service about mobile compatibility, but most will support at least one protocol that works on mobile provided they have a mobile client in the first place.
Can I use a VPN on my streaming device?
Sometimes. Some VPN services do support streaming devices like Rokus and Fire TVs, its best to check with your provider to see what your options are. Some VPN services even specialize in streaming and make clients that are native to those specific devices.
Will a VPN mess up my internet connection?
No, regardless of whether you’re using a VPN at the local level and installing it directly on your router, or if you’re deploying it on the application layer, your VPN will connect easily. VPNs only affect virtual network connections, not the actual local connections in your home or office.
How do I set up a VPN?
The instructions for setting up a VPN vary by device, operating system and service. There is no one-size-fits-all guide for setting up a VPN. There are, however, dedicated guides. And you can find those here.
How do I use my VPN?
Using your VPN is simple. Just download your VPN service’s client, make sure you’re registered and active, then use your login credentials to sign into the client. It will make all the connections behind the scenes, you just go on using your device as you normally would.
How much does a VPN cost?
It varies by VPN service, some are completely free, others cost as much as $100 per month. You get what you pay for with VPNs. If you don’t mind slow speed and performance issues, free is fine. If performance matters, you probably need to pay. Don’t worry, there are coupons for paid VPNs that can reduce the price substantially.
How can I tell if my VPN is working?
Typically the VPN client will have some kind of panel or dashboard that gives you statistics about your connection. They like to flout how safe they’re keeping you. If the VPN STOPS working, it will let you know.
Are free VPNs worth it?
It depends on what you need a VPN for. If you’re an enterprise looking to deploy an organization-wide VPN network, then no using a free VPN probably isn’t going to be a good fit. Keep in mind, if a VPN isn’t taking subscriptions and is free, it has to be making its money somewhere. The servers and resources required to run a VPN cost money, and most free VPNs don’t have big corporate sponsorships backing them. That means they’re either running a skeleton crew and minimal equipment, which is going to equate to poor performance. Or else they might be selling your information. Remember, nobody knows what you’re doing when you’re using your VPN – except for your VPN. So, make sure it’s trustworthy.