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What Is A VPN? A Complete Guide For Beginners In 2024

Have you ever logged into any public Wi-Fi network at any public place like a bank, a library, or a coffee shop? You simply start browsing but did you know there is a high risk to your privacy protection with it?

Well, due to the increase in the consumption of digital platforms for daily activities like important transactions, cybercriminals have taken much advantage. One way to safeguard our data from being captured is by using VPN.

Yes, it is VPN that shields your personal information and prevents it to be illegally accessed by cybercriminals. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic and disguise your online identity. This makes it more difficult for hackers to track your online activities and steal data.

In this article, you will get updated knowledge about what is a VPN and why do we use it, how it works, what are its benefits, when and where to use it, and most importantly what are the best VPNs to be used in 2023.

What Is A VPN?

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is a technology that allows users to securely connect to a private network over the internet. This connection is typically made through a VPN client, which is a software application that runs on the user’s device. The VPN client establishes a secure connection to a VPN server, which then acts as a gateway to the private network.

Once connected, all of the user’s internet traffic is routed through the VPN server, which encrypts the data and makes it secure. This means that any information sent or received over the internet, including sensitive data like passwords or personal information, is protected from being intercepted by third parties.

Additionally, because the user’s internet traffic is being routed through the VPN server, their IP address is hidden, providing an additional layer of security and privacy.

Why Should I Use A VPN Connection?

There are several reasons why someone might choose to use a VPN connection:

1. Privacy And Security:

One of the main reasons to use a VPN connection is to protect your privacy and security while online. A VPN encrypts your online connection, making it difficult for hackers, government agencies, and other third parties to intercept and view your online activity. This includes sensitive information such as login credentials, credit card numbers, and personal data.

2. Bypassing Geo-Restrictions:

Another reason to use a VPN is to bypass geo-restrictions and access content that may be blocked in your country. Some websites and streaming services are only available in certain regions, and a VPN allows you to connect to a server in another location, making it appear as though you are located in that region.

3. Protecting Your Identity:

A VPN also helps to protect your identity by hiding your IP address. This makes it difficult for advertisers, websites, and other organizations to track your online activity and build a profile of your browsing habits.

How Does A VPN Actually Work?

A VPN works by creating a secure, encrypted connection between a user’s device and a VPN server. The process typically involves the following steps:

  1. The user installs a VPN client, which is a software application that runs on their device.
  2. The user connects to a VPN server by entering their login credentials and selecting a server location.
  3. Once connected, the VPN client establishes a secure, encrypted tunnel between the user’s device and the VPN server. This is done using various encryption protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2, or L2TP/IPSec.
  4. All of the user’s traffic is then routed through this encrypted tunnel, which makes it difficult for anyone to intercept and view the data.
  5. The VPN server acts as a gateway to the internet and the user’s internet traffic is routed through the VPN server before it reaches its final destination. This has the effect of hiding the user’s IP address, making it difficult for anyone to track their online activity.
  6. When the user wants to disconnect from the VPN, the VPN client closes the encrypted tunnel, and the user’s internet traffic is no longer routed through the VPN server.

It’s important to note that not all VPN providers are created equal, some VPNs are more secure than others and some VPNs keep logs of their user’s activity.

What Does A VPN Hide?

A VPN hides a user’s internet activity by routing it through an encrypted tunnel to a VPN server before it reaches its final destination. This has the effect of hiding the following information:

IP Address:

A VPN hides a user’s IP address, making it difficult for websites, advertisers, and other organizations to track their online activity and build a profile of their browsing habits.

Online Activity:

A VPN encrypts a user’s internet connection, making it difficult for hackers, government agencies, and other third parties to intercept and view their online activity. This includes sensitive information such as login credentials, credit card numbers, and personal data.

Physical Location:

A VPN allows a user to connect to a server in a different location, making it appear as though they are located in that region. This can be used to bypass geo-restrictions and access content that may be blocked in their country.

ISP Tracking:

VPN encrypts the user’s internet connection, making it difficult for the Internet Service Provider to see the user’s browsing history and traffic data.

Pros And Cons Of Using A VPN Connection:

Pros

Cons

·         Privacy and security ·         Costly
·         Bypassing geo-restrictions ·         Slow internet speed
·         Protecting your identity ·         Limited server locations
·         Remote access ·         Not all VPNs are trustworthy
·         Public Wi-Fi security ·         Complexity

 

Types Of VPN Connection:

There are several types of VPNs available which include:

1. Remote-Access VPN:

A Remote-Access VPN is a type of VPN that allows users to connect to a remote network over the internet. This is the most common type of VPN and is typically used by remote workers, telecommuters, and other individuals who need to access a company’s network and resources securely.

It uses a combination of software, hardware, and protocols to create a secure connection between a user’s device and the remote network. The user’s device runs VPN client software, which encrypts all data sent and received between the device and the VPN server.

2. Site-To-Site VPN:

This type of VPN, also known as router-to-router VPN connects multiple sites or networks together over the internet. Organizations commonly use this with multiple locations or branch offices that need to connect to a central network.

It uses a combination of hardware and software, typically a VPN router or firewall at each location, to create a secure connection between the sites. The VPN routers or firewalls at each location are configured with the same VPN settings, including the same VPN protocol and encryption settings.

3. Client-To-Site VPN:

A Client-to-Site VPN is a type of Virtual Private Network (VPN) that allows an individual computer (the client) to connect to a private network (the site) over the internet, providing secure and encrypted communication between two. This allows the user to access resources on the private network as if they were physically present on the network.

4. Virtual Private LAN (VPLS)

VPLS is a type of LAN that provides the capability to interconnect multiple LAN segments over a public or shared infrastructure, such as the Internet. It enables multiple sites to share a single broadcast domain and enables communication between sites as if they were all on the same LAN.

VPLS is a layer 2 VPN, meaning it operates at the data link layer of the OSI model, providing transparent connectivity between LANs.

5. SSL VPN:

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) VPN is a type of VPN that provides remote access to a network using an SSL/TLS encryption protocol. It allows users to securely access resources on a private network from anywhere on the internet.

SSL VPNs use certificates and encryption to secure the connection between the client and the VPN server, providing an added layer of security compared to other VPNs.

Does A VPN Make Me Anonymous?

A VPN can enhance your online privacy. But it does not make you completely anonymous. When you use a VPN, your internet traffic is encrypted and routed through a VPN server, making it more difficult for others to see what you are doing online.

This can help protect your personal information, such as your browsing history and location, from being disclosed to third parties.

However, the VPN provider can still see your internet traffic, and if the VPN provider logs your activity, this information can be used to identify you. Additionally, your online activity may still be visible to your Internet Service Provider and to any websites or services that you use.

While a VPN can provide a higher level of privacy, it is important to understand that true anonymity is difficult to achieve online and requires using a combination of privacy tools and practices.

Are VPNs Legal?

VPNs are generally legal, but the legality of using a VPN can vary by country. In some countries, the use of VPNs is heavily restricted or prohibited, while in others, VPN use is generally allowed.

For example, in countries like China and Russia, the use of VPNs is highly regulated and restricted. In the United States, VPN use is generally allowed, but some states have laws that restrict or prohibit the use of VPNs for certain purposes.

It is important to note that while VPNs can provide a degree of privacy and security, they can also be used for illegal activities. As such, it is important to understand the laws and regulations in your country before using a VPN.

How To Setup And Use A VPN?

1. On A Computer:

To set up and use a VPN on a computer, follow these steps:

Step #01: Choose a VPN Service:

There are many VPN services available, with different features and pricing options. Choose one that meets your needs and sign up for a subscription.

Step #02: Download and Install the VPN Client:

Most VPN services will provide client software that you can download and install on your computer.

Step #03: Launch the VPN client and log in:

Once the VPN client is installed, launch it and enter your login credentials.

Step #04: Choose a server location:

Depending on the VPN service, you may be able to choose a server location that you want to connect to. Select a location that is closest to you for the best performance.

Step #05: Connect to the VPN:

Once you have selected a server location, click the “Connect” button to establish a VPN connection. You should see a notification that you are now connected to the VPN.

Step #06: Start using the VPN:

Once you are connected to the VPN, you can use the internet as you normally would. All of your internet traffic will be routed through the VPN server, providing an added layer of privacy and security.

On A Smart Phone:

To set up and start using a VPN on a smartphone, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a VPN service: There are many VPN services available, with different features and pricing options. Choose one that meets your needs and sign up for a subscription.
  2. Download the VPN app: Most VPN services will provide an app that you can download from the App Store or Google Play Store.
  3. Install the VPN app: After downloading the VPN app, follow the on-screen instructions to install it on your smartphone.
  4. Launch the VPN app and log in: Once the VPN app is installed, launch it and enter your login credentials.
  5. Choose a server location: Depending on the VPN app, you may be able to choose a server location that you want to connect to. Select a location that is closest to you for the best performance.
  6. Connect to the VPN: Once you have selected a server location, tap the “Connect” button to establish a VPN connection. You should see a notification that you are now connected to the VPN.
  7. Start using the VPN: Once you are connected to the VPN, you can use the internet as you normally would. All of your internet traffic will be routed through the VPN server, providing an added layer of privacy and security.

Best VPNs For Use In 2024:

Some of the top VPNs in 2023 and 2024 that are highly recommended by experts include:

1. ExpressVPN:

ExpressVPN was launched in 2009. It is a VPN service based in the British Virgin Islands. Some of its key features include:

  • Strong security
  • Wide network of servers
  • Fast speed
  • User-friendly app
  • No-log policy
  • 24/7 support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

2. NordVPN:

NordVPN was launched in 2012. It is a VPN service based in Panama. It is similar to ExpressVPN in features like:

  • Strong security
  • Wide network of servers
  • Fast speed
  • User-friendly app
  • No-log policy
  • 24/7 support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Specialty servers

3. Surfshark:

Surfshark was launched in 2018. It is a VPN service based in the British Virgin Islands. Some of its key features include:

  • Strong security
  • Wide network of servers
  • Fast speed
  • User-friendly app
  • No-log policy
  • 24/7 support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections

4. CyberGhost:

CyberGhost was launched in 2011. It is a VPN service based in Romania. Some of its key features include:

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Large server network
  • High-speed connections
  • No-log policy
  • Advanced security features
  • Multi-device support
  • Ad and tracker blocking
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

5. Private Internet Access (PIA)

PIA was launched in 2011. It is a VPN service based in Romania. Some of the key features that make it unique include:

  • Large server network
  • No-log policy
  • Advanced security features
  • Affordable pricing
  • Multi-device support
  • User-friendly interface
  • Fast speeds
  • Bitcoin payments accepted

How To Choose The Best VPN?

When choosing the best VPN that meets your needs, it is important to consider the following factors:

  1. Privacy policy: Ensure that the VPN provider has a strict no-log policy and does not collect or store any information about your online activity.
  2. Server network: A VPN with a large server network in many countries can provide a wider range of options for users to choose from and help to ensure fast and reliable connections.
  3. Speed: Choose a VPN that offers fast speeds, as this can be important for activities such as streaming video content or downloading large files.
  4. Security features: Ensure that the VPN provider offers advanced security features such as a kill switch and optional multi-hop routing for added privacy.
  5. Price: Consider your budget when choosing a VPN. While some providers may offer more features, others may be more affordable.
  6. Compatibility: Make sure the VPN is compatible with your device(s) and supports the operating systems you use.
  7. Ease of use: Choose a VPN with a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate, even for users who are not tech-savvy.
  8. Customer support: Ensure that the VPN provider offers excellent customer support, including live chat and email support, in case you need help setting up or using the VPN.

Conclusion:

In a nutshell, a VPN is a valuable tool for anyone who wants to improve their privacy and security online as it encrypts the online traffic of its users, making it difficult for anyone to track their online activities.

We hope you find this guide helpful and that it has made up your mind about the use of the best VPN connection, when to use, and where to use it.

Let us know in the feedback which VPN you use for your business and which VPN from the above-mentioned ones, best meets your needs. We wish you all the Best!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1. Do VPNs slow down internet speeds?

Some VPNs may cause a slowdown in internet speeds, while others may not.

2. Can a VPN protect against malware?

It is important to use a reputable antivirus program in addition to a VPN for maximum protection against malware.

3. Can a VPN be used for torrenting?

Choosing a VPN that allows torrenting is important, as some VPNs may block or limit torrent traffic.

4. Does a VPN hide my IP address?

Yes, a VPN can hide your IP address by routing your traffic through a VPN server and assigning you a new IP address from that server.

5. Does a VPN use more Data?

Yes, a VPN uses more data, but only a small amount. It depends on the cryptographic functions applied to your data and how the packets are transmitted.

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