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What is a VPN connection?

With all of the focus on online privacy, Internet censorship, and the NSA snooping, more and more people are looking into VPNs as a privacy tool. But what is a VPN connection? Read this quick article to find out what a VPN connection is, and why you should use one thanks to all of the things it can do for you.

What is a VPN connection?

The acronym VPN stands for Virtual Private Network (more acronyms and phrases). What it does is allow you to open a secure connection over someone else’s network to the Internet. Instead of connecting directly to the Internet from your computer you instead connect to the VPN and then to the Internet.

All of your Internet traffic from emails, to Facebook updates, to the files you download or upload, are now sent over this secure connection. Your IP addess will now appear to be that of your VPN host. No one except you, and sometimes your VPN provider, now knows what you’re doing.

The VPN connection is secured with some sort of encryption technology. This can be a simple encryption that anyone and break, to a complex one that would take centuries to break. You can read more about VPN encryption protocols at the link.

What is a VPN connection used for?

what is a vpn connection secureThe most common uses for a VPN include:

  • Securing private communications, the first users of VPNs were corporations.
  • Hiding download activity, nearly every torrent site user has a VPN. Not only will it protect you from your identity being shown, but it will also help fight against Internet throttling by your ISP – which can still happen when you’re downloading completely legal content! This is why you need to look at the best torrent VPNs that we’ve reviewed.
  • Protecting public WiFi connections, there are endless hazards on public WiFi like Man in the middle attacks.
  • Accessing geoblocked content, getting you around pointless government restrictions that limit your access to information. We have a specialty list of VPNs which are great for getting around geoblocks!

I’m sure that you can see a use for a VPN out of that list. Nearly everyone has seen a blocked content message due to geoblocking, and the threat of public WiFi hacks is ever-present.

How a VPN connection is able to do this comes down to the fact that your computer no longer looks like your computer. If you’re in the USA on vacation and trying to watch the BBC iPlayer back home you’ll be blocked. If you connect to a VPN server that’s in England the BBC website will now think that you are in England too. It’s that simple, and with a good VPN provider you’ll be able to connect to a wide variety of countries.

What are some advanced uses for a VPN

The majority of users are interested in the VPN benefits listed above, but what is a VPN connection good for if you need a little extra from the apps you install? Try out these:

  • Access your business network securely while away from the office. This can include working from home, or working from the hotel room in Arizona.
  • Access your home network securely while away on vacation. This is great if you want to remotely access files on your home computer while travelling with your laptop.
  • Get around Internet Censorship. You can read about the worst Internet censorship deeper, but many countries completely censor the people within their borders from accessing some websites and Internet tools. The Chinese have it the worst, but you’d be surprised who else is bad.

A VPN connection is so much more than a tool that hides your IP address, it can open you up to the entirety of the Internet, get around censorship, and allow you to secure your connection with little to no knowledge. The best VPN providers that we review all have simple to use clients which anyone can use as they require a few button pushes to connect. Try one out to see what a VPN connection is going to do for you.

VPN hand image by arka38 / Shutterstock

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