If you’re an experienced Internet user, you’re no doubt aware of the risks of the Internet – phishing, spam, and malware are just the tip of the iceberg. Yet that doesn’t mean the Internet is a bad thing – undoubtedly, it’s a great place to find information and connect with people. It’s just that what makes it great is that it’s also dangerous.
Today more and more people are learning about and using VPNs because they allow surfers to travel the Internet more safely and freely. Then, what is a VPN and why is it so popular? See below and you may find an answer.
What is a VPN and How does it Work?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. A VPN service encrypts your data from the Internet Service Provider (ISP) or the network you are connected to. It will obfuscate your personally identifiable information, especially your IP address and location. What your ISP will see is the information provided by the VPN server, whatever that may be.
To be more specific, a VPN hides your IP address by letting the network redirect it through a specially configured remote server run by a VPN host. This means that if you surf online with a VPN, the VPN server becomes the source of your data. This means your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and other third parties cannot see which websites you visit or what data you send and receive online. A VPN works like a filter that turns all your data into “gibberish”. Even if someone were to get their hands on your data, it would be extremely difficult or even helpless.
The most important part of the VPN workflow is its encryption technology. When you connect to a virtual private network service, it authenticates the client through a VPN server, which then applies an encryption protocol to all the data you send and receive. The VPN service creates an encrypted “tunnel” across the Internet. This tunnel will protect the data transmitted between you and your destination.
Simply put, the flow of your Internet connection is You-ISP-Internet (limited content). VPN works between the ISP and the Internet, turning it into You-ISP-VPN server-Internet (more content). And the end network receiver can be a government, website, employee, company, etc.
In other words, having a VPN is the same as having an extra key to open the door to the online world.
How does a VPN Help You?
You may have heard of VPNs, but not yet know that a good VPN application can provide you many unexpected features. Here are the five most common advantages of a VPN.
Unblock Online Restrictions
In some regions and countries, the online world is not completely open. Some online content is unreachable due to political considerations. If you travel to those places for business or vacation, you may not be able to do many things without good VPN software. For example, you may be frustrated by not being able to use Facebook or Snapchat to connect with your loved ones, check the latest news via Twitter or Instagram, or stream the popular episodes on Netflix or YouTube.
Some specific locations may also restrict or limit Internet using within a certain domain. For example, most colleges or universities in the United States may prohibit students from using the campus network to search for certain sensitive words and phrases. This may include content that is actually not harmful at all, thus limiting academic freedom and student development. However, with a VPN, you can easily bypass firewalls and censors.
Protect Online Privacy
VPN can protect the information you share or access using your device because it can hide a lot of information that could put your privacy at risk, including your browsing history, your IP address and location, your streaming location, your devices, your web activity… When you’re at home, a VPN can make your web browsing footprint disappear into thin air. When you’re using a public Wi-Fi network, a VPN is even more useful. That’s because a cyber thief on the same network can easily discover any private data you’re browsing.
Protect Against Data Breach
Hackers are in the news all the time stealing other people’s information to commit crimes. They can capture your login credentials and the credit card numbers you enter when you shop online through public WiFi. However, all you need is good VPN software that can easily solve this trouble. It creates an encrypted tunnel for the data you send and receive, protecting your data to prevent identity theft.
Access to your company’s network
A lot of large companies build their own internal networks in order to protect their proprietary technologies and confidential data. Commonly, people working in those places can only work and communicate while sitting in their offices, using the internal network. But in the wake of the epidemic, more and more people are being forced to work from home. Many companies started using VPN technology to offer their staff the possibility to work from home and to defeat work-from-home scam. With a VPN, employees can quickly and securely connect to the company’s internal network for file sharing and transfer.
You may not imagine that there are some people who are using a VPN just to save money. How does it work, then?
Using a VPN allows you to switch your webserver to another country and get the associated “benefits” of that country. For example, some things are cheaper in developing countries than those in developed countries. Many people will take advantage of this regional price difference to save money, such as buying gaming devices and watching Netflix specials on demand.
How Many Types of VPNs are There?
There is a wide range of VPN software on the market, which can be broadly classified into the following three categories based on the different features they offer.
Remote Access VPN
A remote-access VPN securely connects a device outside the main office or the headquarters. These devices are known as endpoints and may be laptops, tablets, or smartphones. This connection could use IPsec, but it is also common to use an SSL VPN to set up a connection between a user’s endpoint and a VPN gateway. It enables users who are working remotely to securely access and use applications and data that reside in the corporate data center and headquarters, encrypting all traffic the users send and receive.
Site-to-site VPNs are frequently used by companies with multiple offices in different geographic locations that need to access and use the corporate network on an ongoing basis. With a site-to-site VPN, a company can securely connect its corporate network with its remote offices to communicate and share resources with them as a single network.
In many respects, the history of site-to-site VPNs intersects with that of the internet. Site-to-site VPNs were a forerunner to the internet as we know it today. They were initially made possible by the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), which was the first packet switching network, as well as the earliest applications of Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
A decentralized VPN, also known as dVPN, provides a secure internet connection through a network of nodes that can include a server, a laptop, a phone, or even a desktop computer. These node providers profit by maintaining their services and ensuring a more secure network.
Users can choose from nodes located all around the world. Security is assured since the companies use advanced encryption techniques. Based on blockchain technology, decentralized VPNs provide better security than centralized VPNs.
How to Choose a Good VPN?
Finding a VPN application that works best for you is like picking any commodity; it must be considered from multiple angles: performance, quality, price, access, coverage, usage, etc. Take a look at the following five tips before making a final decision.
Figure out why you need a VPN
Why on earth do you need a VPN?
Do you want your browsing footprint to be hidden?
Do you want to be able to connect with your family on Facebook when you are abroad?
Do you want to watch Netflix videos without geographical restrictions?
Do you want to buy gaming gear at a lower price?
Do you want to use your company’s intranet from home?
There are different types of VPN software that offer various services. Find out which features you need most and download the app accordingly. For example, if you are a student calling for the feature of unblocking online restrictions and have a limited budget, SkyVPN is the optimal one because its premium traffic can even be used for free. If you’re a business staff calling for high-level privacy, VPN FORCE is the best choice since it’s created to protect users’ privacy.
Check the applicable devices
While most VPNs support the major platforms of Windows, Mac, Android, Linux, and iOS, some VPNs are not available on all platforms and can only be downloaded from its official website, especially in some areas with limited internet access. By the way, you should know VPNs released on App stores are more securer than those that are not because App stores, Apple or Google Play, are to some extent responsible for the security of their users.
Also, if you need to log in on two electronic devices with one VPN account, then you may need to make sure that the VPN you choose has apps for both platforms and apps. Most VPNs only allow up to three devices to be connected at the same time. If you want more features, you may have to pay extra.
Check out the price
Cost is always a factor to consider when making a purchase. The same is true when looking for a good VPN for yourself. VPN prices vary depending on the features offered (speed limit, number of servers, simultaneous login devices…) and the length of the subscription (daily, monthly, yearly, etc). In general, the higher the performance and the shorter the subscription, the more expensive the VPN will be. It’s strongly suggested that free VPNs should not be purchased. After all, nothing in the world can be used for free unless what the provider wants only is YOU.
Payment methods can also differ significantly. Most VPNs accept popular payment methods including PayPal, Credit Card, Alipay, etc. Some VPNs, on the other hand, only offer entirely anonymous payment systems like Bitcoin, while the rest require you to purchase gift cards to avoid using personal information.
Find a VPN with reliable customer service
Most VPNs do not offer any human service because of their clean interactive page design and their claimed privacy goal setting. Even if some have a “contact us” button, you can only send an email and you will hardly receive any reply. In many cases when you get stuck while using their product, you have to wait – most VPN apps have technicians behind the scenes constantly maintaining and upgrading their product. Try again in an hour and you may get a surprise, just like after rebooting a broken digital device.
If you want more instant help, you can try to find some VPN apps that offer premium subscription services. Instant response, more servers, detailed tutorials, can all be included.
Speed, speed, speed
Slow internet speed is perhaps the most irritating thing in the world that can easily make people go crazy. All VPN apps have ad words that claim to offer fast internet speeds, but that’s not the case. VPNs are supposed to add an extra track to your highway journey, but only a few VPN services can actually make you feel lag-free, and some even can ruin your Internet experience. Download some VPN apps that interest you and tap on their free trial. The differences in use will help you quickly find the best one for you.
- VPNs are very useful from a professional and personal point of view. It can help you unblock geographic restrictions and provide full access to all websites and their content.
- VPN online provides an extra layer of security, so you can prevent hackers from accessing your information.
- VPNs also create a more secure environment for people to conduct business, so they can focus on increasing revenue without worrying about the technical details.
- There are three most common types of VPNs on the market, including Remote Access VPN, Site-to-site VPN, Decentralized VPN. Different VPN types are appropriate for various application scenarios.
- Find out what you need from a VPN and choose the one that best suits your needs – for work, study, streaming, gaming, or business.