What Is a VPN?

At first glance, VPNs sound complicated. They're actually really easy to use and can transform the way you interact with the Internet. But what exactly is a VPN? This article will go into detail about what a VPN is and how it can help you.

What Is It and How Does It Work?

A Virtual Private Network, or a VPN, is a service that allows you to browse online with increased safety and privacy by rerouting your connection through a remote server and encrypting your traffic. The process starts by downloading a VPN client to your device, which the VPN service will provide you. This client encrypts your data, preventing your Internet Service Provider from seeing what you do online. The data goes from you to a server run by the VPN directly to the website that is your destination.

Essentially, the VPN creates a private and encrypted tunnel for your online activity. If your destination is Netflix, Netflix will see the data as coming from the remote server, rather than your IP address. Thus, a VPN hides your identity and your location.

How Can a VPN Help You?

Using a VPN can have a lot of benefits. For starters, a VPN gives you much-needed privacy in a world where privacy is hard to come by. Multinational corporations a, for example, collect data from you when you browse online. Most people would rather they didn't because how can you know what they do with the data they collect. In many countries, there are few laws actually governing what can and can't be done with data.

Another thing VPNs can help with is bandwidth throttling. Almost every internet service provider and mobile carrier partake in this activity. Bandwidth throttling occurs when a service provider intentionally slows down your connection. If you ever had a hard time streaming content because it kept stopping to buffer, you've probably experienced bandwidth throttling. They usually do this when networks are congested to keep popular sites from crashing, however, as a user, it can really interfere in your enjoyment while online. A VPN can prevent most forms of throttling because it enables you to hide your identity and location. The servers used by VPN services also tend to be less congested, to begin with. With a good VPN service, you will also have your choice of servers. You can find the server that provides you with the highest performance.

VPNs are also great for people who use streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. Most streaming platforms have region-specific content. So if you're in the United Kingdom, you will not be able to access US Netflix. If you're in the United States, you're not going to be able to stream UK Netflix. You can with a good VPN provider. Because you can hide your location, you can make it look like you are in London even if you are in New York and vice versa.

VPNs have other advantages as well. They can help you download torrents more safely and protect you when you have to access public WiFi, which is often highly vulnerable to cyber attacks. VPNs are also useful for using Kodi.

How to Choose a VPN

There are paid services and free services. Some of the best free VPNs include Hotspot Shield, TunnelBear, Speedify, and Windscribe. There are some general guidelines you should consider when trying to decide on what VPN to choose. Depending on your needs, you might want a paid VPN as they will usually have more features. Sometimes, a more basic VPN will suffice.

First and foremost, you want to check to see what encryption and protocol the VPN service uses. This largely determines how secure the service will be. There are several different protocols available, such as PPTP, L2TP, SSTP, IKEv2, and OpenVPN. OpenVPN is considered to be the most secure by most experts, but IKEv2 is also highly regarded. On the other hand, PPTP is viewed as an outdated protocol that has several problematic security vulnerabilities. When it comes to encryption, look for AES-256 encryption. This is the industry standard.

Location is also an important factor. Where is the company based? This is an important question to ask because different countries have different data retention laws. You want a VPN based in a country that has a strong stance on privacy. Other important factors include server locations, price, and whether or not the VPN has a kill switch.

Overall, a VPN is an incredibly useful service that can give you a greater sense of security and anonymity while you're online. When you live in a world where privacy seems to be a luxury, you need all the help you can get.