What is a VPN? Everything you need to know!

Since 2016, the use of VPN has increased by an astounding 185%. In fact, now about 36% of Internet users rely on VPN (or about 2.1 billion people). So it is safe to say that the VPN is more popular today than ever.

However, people who know VPN not so long ago often ask the same question: “What is VPN? In addition, many existing users have asked us to prepare an article describing in detail everything they need to know about VPN. And that is why we decided to publish a universal article on this topic. Here is all that you need to know about VPN.

What is a VPN?

In simple words, it is an online service that can hide your IP address and location, and encrypt your Internet data and traffic. This will protect you from surveillance by the government, ISP or cybercriminals.

But what does VPN mean?

The abbreviation stands for Virtual Private Network. It allows setting up a private network (which will not be physical – hence the word “virtual”) over the public (in this case – the Internet).

Corporate VPN vs. personal VPN

To understand better what a VPN is, you need to learn how to distinguish between corporate and personal VPNs.

In short, personal VPN is a service offered by VPN Services – third parties that offer VPN functionality to any user on the Internet. The purpose of personal VPN – to help you, an ordinary Internet user, to safely browse through the sites and bypass any restrictions that you face.

On the other hand, an enterprise VPN (also called remote access VPN) is a VPN connection that large enterprises set up with their own resources. Corporate VPNs have basically one goal – to provide employees, owners and stakeholders with secure remote access to company data.

How does VPN work?

Once you start the VPN client and connect to the VPN server, the client will start encrypting all traffic that you send to the server. Once the client establishes a connection to the server, your IP address will be replaced with the server address.

The server then decrypts all the data received from you, and forwards your connection requests to the site you want to see. Once the server receives the requested data (e.g. a web page), it encrypts the data and forwards it to the client. When the VPN client on your device receives traffic, it decrypts it for you.

What is a VPN-server?

A VPN server is a physical or virtual device that VPN Services use to provide its services to users. They do this by installing a VPN program on the server. Some VPN service providers have their own physical servers, but most of them rent servers with a good level of security in proven data centres. Physical VPN servers are a bit more popular than virtual ones and when properly configured they can be just as secure.

What is a VPN client?

VPN client is software that is installed on the device and used to connect to the VPN server. They are responsible for encrypting the traffic you send to the server and decrypting all data you receive from the server. Most VPN clients also have additional functions, such as allowing you to switch between VPN protocols, select different ports and enable/disable additional functions (like Kill Switch emergency disconnection from the Internet).

It is important to distinguish between built-in VPN clients and third-party clients. The former is native software, which can be built into your operating system by default (for example, VPN client in Windows 10). The second option is the programs that you receive from VPN service providers.

What is VPN tunnelling and how it works

VPN-tunnel is an encrypted connection between your device and the Internet, which is provided by VPN Service. As for the work of the VPN-tunnel, it usually encapsulates your traffic in encrypted data packets. That is, the “tunnel” is an additional level of VPN encryption, which is added to your connections. In addition, VPNs use tunnel protocols (known as VPN protocols) to further configure and optimize connections.

What does VPN do?

Now that you know what a VPN is, it’s time to learn how it can be useful to you.

Here are the main benefits you can get from using VPN:

You will get improved security on the Internet. This way, you no longer have to worry about cyber criminals watching what you do on the Internet or stealing your data.

You will be able to bypass any restrictions you face, be it firewalls or geoblocks, because the VPN hides your IP address.

With VPN you will be able to significantly increase your privacy on the Internet and ensure that your Internet service provider, government agencies and advertisers cannot monitor your activity on the Internet.

When to use VPN

Whenever you cannot access the sites because they are not available in your region.
When your government decides to censor certain content on the Internet.
When you are at work and can not open some sites because they are blocked by firewalls.
Every time you use the Internet on an unprotected public WiFi network.
When you go abroad and can not watch content from your home country.
When you download torrents.
Whenever you play online games.
Whenever you want to check the result of SEO-optimization of your own website.
If you want to avoid additional markups on airline tickets or accommodation booking.
When for one reason or another you need to hide your own presence on the Internet.