Last Monday, one of our readers sent us a question to explain to him how a VPN connection works. While we did send that user our email with an explanation, we also decided to share the information with everyone else. So, here’s what we had to say about that, starting with a brief overview of what a VPN is…
A VPN defined
VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network, and it is the technology that enables users to send and receive data across public networks as if their devices were connected to a private network. This transfer of data happens in the background, and users may not even know they’re connected to a VPN. All they have to do is click/tap the “connect” button, and they’re good to go.
How does a VPN connection work?
Originally invented to allow users to connect to their home or office network while they’re in a different location, a VPN uses special (VPN) protocols to encrypt all communication between their device(s) and the rest of the world. As a result, no one can snoop into the data as it passes through the (public) network — which would be the Internet.
In other words, a VPN establishes a virtual point-to-point connection using tunneling (VPN) protocols over existing networks. It is these VPN protocols that make this tech mumbo-jumbo possible.
Read more: VPN Protocols Explained
What can a VPN do for you?
Now that you know how a VPN connection works, it’s time to find out what it can do for you. We want to highlight a few things:
1. Privacy protection
This is probably the most important reason why anyone would get a VPN. With its ability to encrypt traffic on the Internet and assign you a new IP address, a VPN makes sure that even if the data is intercepted — the malicious actor wouldn’t be able to do anything with it. Also, the likes of Facebook, Google, and various government agencies won’t be able to easily track you online as you will appear as if you were accessing the Internet from a different location — which would be the location of a VPN server you selected.
2. Security protection
We all know that we shouldn’t use public Wi-Fi networks, but sometimes – we just have to connect to get something done online. When that happens, you should have a VPN running on your devices to stay safe from malicious actors trying to snoop into your traffic. This “snooping” takes place in the form of the so-called “man in the middle” attacks, the number of which has been growing in recent years. Luckily, so has the use of VPNs.
3. Bypassing restrictions
Many people use VPNs to access video streaming services from anywhere. This is rather important while visiting other countries when a service like Netflix could block you from accessing your own account. That’s just the way these services work as they have content rights to deal with. A VPN can show Netflix that you’re in the U.S. (or wherever), while in reality — you could be on the other side of the world. Also, a VPN can help you bypass restrictions that could be imposed in schools, workplaces, and some (high-censorship) countries.
4. Business use
As noted above, a VPN was originally created to allow (mostly) business users to access the company’s internal resources. It does that by showing that you’re connecting from a select location that has been whitelisted for access to said resources. An IT admin in your company can add a few VPN servers to that list, and you will be able to do your work even when you’re not in the office. This, BTW, happened a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. Getting the best deals
You may have seen or heard about some online retailers offering better deals for residents of certain areas. With a VPN, you get to choose your virtual location and always get the best deal. For major markets, like the U.S., you can even choose a metro area (major cities) to which you want to connect to. Or you can keep switching your location to get one of those deals that are reserved for new customers only. Just play around with it to save a ton on your online shopping – it’s worth it and could easily recoup the price you pay for a VPN subscription.
Sign-up for a VPN today!
To sum it up, we hope that by now, you have realized how a VPN connection works and, more importantly, how you can benefit from it.
We have listed a few of what we think are key reasons to get a VPN, and it is up to you to make the next move.
To help you out, we have prepared a page listing Best of the Best VPNs, where you will find the services that have been tested for years and which won’t let you down no matter what you throw at them. So visit that page and make your pick. And never look back. 😉