What Is A VPN And Why Use One? Complete Guide

Category: Technology

Post Updated On:

6 min read

Virtual Private Network is something which keeps user internet access private. VPN helps to visit or access any website securily and encrypted. Do you want to know what is vpn and why you should use?

In this guide I’m gonna tell everything about VPN, their types of protocols, top use cases and choose a provider for maximum privacy accross internet.

What Is A VPN?

A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel from your device through remote servers run by a VPN provider, out to the public internet. By connecting via VPN servers, your computer traffic gets privacy protection and IP anonymity benefits:

Masked Original IP Address – Your public IP address gets replaced by one owned by the VPN provider, concealing identity and location.

Data Encryption – Information gets scrambled into digital gibberish protected from prying eyes while traveling between your device, VPN servers and destination sites utilizing protocols like OpenVPN and WireGuard.

Hidden Browsing History – With no logs of sites you visit, what you access remains private without being recorded, analyzed or sold by internet service providers.

Why Use A VPN? Major Advantages

Here are the top 5 reasons individuals and businesses deploy VPN connections during daily online activity:

1. WiFi Hotspot Security

Connecting to public WiFi at the airport, hotel or cafe carries risks of getting hacked through man-in-the-middle attacks stealing passwords and data. Activating a VPN adds a shield of encryption.

2. Access Region-Blocked Content

Content and streaming platforms like US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Disney Plus or sports networks blackout access from abroad. A VPN tunnels your location, bypassing geo-blocks.

3. Safeguard Downloads & Uploads

Downloading software and files via torrent clients or accessing cloud storage can open attack vectors for spying. A VPN keeps downloads encrypted and activities private.

4. Defend Against Data Tracking

Every site gathered data on visitors for targeting ads and generating revenue. A VPN hides marketing footprints, stopping companies tracing activity across sites by masking your IP address and data.

5. Foil Internet Censorship

Oppressive regimes restrict access to information channels and sites offering uncensored political, social and news content. Connecting through a VPN server in a different country provides access.

VPN Protocols Comparison

There are various technologies powering VPN encryption, connection routing and bandwidth sharing behind the scenes:

OpenVPN – Utilizing TLS/SSL protocols, OpenVPN offers excellent balance between speed and security across devices. Many VPNs default to this standard.

WireGuard – This new protocol uses state-of-the-art cryptography for faster speeds with low battery drain. It is gaining widespread VPN adoption, available on NordVPN, ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access (PIA) and others.

IKEv2/IPSec – Developed by Microsoft and Cisco, IKEv2 splits tunnels allowing better mobility between WiFi and cellular networks. It finds use in enterprise solutions from vendors like CyberGhost, Hotspot Shield, and StrongVPN.

L2TP/IPSec – Offering native integration with Windows, MacOS and mobile devices, L2TP features ease of setup without apps but slower speeds.

VPN Use Cases

Let’s explore key scenarios that benefit from firing up a VPN connection:

Safe Public WiFi Access

See section above on WiFi hotspot risks. Don’t expose sensitive login credentials and data on unsecured networks.

Unblock Streaming Sites

Utilize VPN servers in America, UK, Canada, Europe to gain access to content libraries you can’t normally see. Binge watch Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, sports anywhere.

Torrent Safely

Encrypt torrent downloads and hides IP from agencies monitoring distribution of copyrighted material. Avoid ISP penalties or lawsuits in litigious countries.

Bypass Internet Censorship

If traveling or living under regimes limiting online freedoms, use VPN tunnel to bypass filters to access social media, communication apps like WhatsApp and blocked news sites.

Online Gaming Anonymity

Mask your public IP and physical location while gaming online to reduce DDOS attacks, harassment and maintain privacy against data harvesting.

Key VPN Provider Selection Factors

With knowledge of what a VPN accomplishes plus common usage scenarios, next step is picking a suitable provider. Look at these aspects.

Server Network Scale & Speed – More servers across diverse locations increase chances of getting stable connections and internet throughput closer to your unprotected speeds.

Top VPN Protocols Available – OpenVPN and WireGuard compatibility offer trusted encryption with better speeds and device support over old standards like PPTP.

No Traffic & Activity Logs – Strict no logs policies prevent tracking browsing histories or building user behavior profiles – data shouldn’t exist available for sale or handover.

5+ Simultaneous Device Connections – For homes with many gadgets, the ability to encrypt several mobile, laptop and media streamer connections delivers flexibility.

Kill Switch Functionality – Hardwired network cutoff if VPN drops, preventing data leaks with internet disabled restoring privacy automatically in short disruptions.

Reasonable Pricing – Annual subscriptions around $50-100 for full-featured access across unlimited devices per account. Others have restricted plans.

Reliable Customer Support – Short wait times and effective issue resolution reflects dedication. Some solely offer limited knowledge base access.

Maximizing VPN Privacy Across Devices

Install your chosen VPN provider’s apps for each device OS like Windows, MacOS, iOS and Android. Most support router configurations for encrypting all WiFi traffic flowing through them.

For Windows, utilize the full client VPN tool for strongest environmental integration. MacOS users gain added UI polish utilizing Tunnelblick for OpenVPN or WireGuard software.

The built-in VPN settings within iPhone/iPad and Android mobiles offer capable handling through either IKEv2 or OpenVPN configurations generated by the VPN company links or QR codes.

Browser VPN extensions on Chrome and Firefox enable quick access but lack lower network stack integration compared to apps, limiting traffic coverage and logging notifications.

Conclusion

After absorbing this crash course spanning what a VPN accomplishes regarding online privacy and security plus creative usage examples, you now can better safeguard identities and data across networks.

Choose reputable VPN providers upholding fair policies while offering multi-platform native apps ensures protection barriers span all browsers and devices. Establish connections automatically when on shared WiFi and roaming abroad.

What aspects of VPN technology were most interesting? Which use cases match your computing environments? Configure your protection tools now rather than regret data exposures later.

Does using a VPN slow my internet speeds considerably?

While VPN encryption has minor overhead, evolving protocols like WireGuard now minimize impacts below 10% for most connections. Top providers efficiently scale networks to maintain brisk speeds for gaming, streaming and downloads. Test tools like speedtest.net allow comparison.

What if my VPN drops connection temporarily? Does that risk data exposure?

Enabled VPN “kill switch” functions sever internet access when protection disconnects – hard cutting transmission paths. Apps restore connections automatically limiting downtime windows where public exposure might happen across devices.

Do some video streaming platforms ban accounts for using VPN access?

Yes a few like Disney Plus attempt blocking VPN IP ranges to enforce regional rights limitations. Providers constantly expand server options and stay atop detection schemes. Multi-hop connects often resolve access. Bet on privacy over streaming library expansion entitlement!

Can schools or governments see I access VPNs to circumvent internet filters and censorship? Encrypted VPN traffic is difficult for network firewalls to conclusively identify and block without collateral damage to legitimate services. Using TCP port 443 associated with HTTPS websites also avoids port blocks applied to some VPN software.

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