What is a VPN?
Many of our readers send us emails asking for a definition of VPN. Some of the explanations on the Internet are too technical and many people don’t understand it completely. Because of that, we decided to give you a definition of VPN. But this time with less technical terms, so that everyone can understand it easily.
What does VPN mean?
First, let’s take a look at the name. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. In your research, you will find it in both ways, sometimes you will see VPN and other times you will see Virtual Private Network. It’s the exact same thing.
How does a Virtual Private Network work?
A VPN allows you to hide your IP address from “curious eyes”. At the same time, it encrypts your connection for total security. The new IP that is given to you is used for all your Internet activity, such as file sharing, web browsing, chatting, e-mail, etc. You can even choose the country of your new IP, by selecting the country of the server you want to connect. As an example, If I connect to a Mexican server, my IP address will be Mexican. This is possible by using dedicated servers, complex algorithms and an encrypted VPN tunnel, where your data goes through to guarantee full protection.
Here’s an image to help you understand how the VPN connection is made:
Between you and the server, there is an encrypted tunnel. And no one besides you knows what info is being sent and received through that tunnel. The best providers use modern and unbreakable encryption that make it impossible for any entity to see your activity.
Between the VPN server and the Internet is where your new IP comes into play. Let’s say you are downloading a torrent. As you may know, users are visible because of the trackers in the torrent files. With the VPN, these trackers will save a new IP, the one from the VPN server, not your real one. If anyone will try to go after this IP address, they will be lead to the VPN server, and that’s the furthest they will go.
Let’s put it in simple words
To make it even easier, let’s use a metaphor: Imagine that the Internet is a highway. Without the VPN you are visible to every other vehicle on that highway. Vehicles like yours and also aerial vehicles like planes and helicopters that are looking down, watching you. All of them can easily see you.
Now imagine that when you connect to a VPN, you are inside a private tunnel on that highway. Because it’s private, there is no one else, you are alone. Therefore, other vehicles cannot see you or your activity. The aerial monitoring vehicles will also be blind, they will only see a tunnel, impossible to penetrate.
To have an idea of how efficient the best VPNs are, not even your ISP has access to your online activity. No Governments, no hackers, no monitoring or publicity agencies… No one!
How does the user connect to a VPN?
The private servers of a VPN are spread through the world, and it’s up to the user to choose what country to connect to. In other words, the country that the user chooses to connect to will be the country of his new IP. Let’s see an example:
Mike is in Canada and he is connected to a VPN, to a server in Mexico. That means that Mike’s real IP address is Canadian, but it was replaced by a Mexican IP because he chose a server from that country.
Taking the highway example again, let’s say that Mike is downloading a torrent file. Now imagine that a monitoring agency is monitoring the tracker of that torrent. When they try to identify or follow Mike’s activity, this is what they will see:
1. User located in Mexico
2. Encrypted connection, Binary code (00101010101101001011110)
Choosing a good VPN is not always an easy job, mainly because different VPN software comes with different features, depending on the provider. For example, some of them offer more simultaneous connections than others. That means that more people and devices can be connected to the same account, which is great for a family. Another important factor is the extra security tools, such as a kill switch. And of course, prices are also different.
To make this task easier, we tested, selected and compared the best VPN providers. This way, our readers will be more informed and confident about their choice.
We hope that after reading this post it will be easier to understand what a VPN is. But if you have any doubts, don’t hesitate in getting in touch. We are always happy to help our readers.