This article has been just updated: December 11, 2019
You may have seen advertisements that tout the benefits of using a VPN and have wondered what all the fuss is about. Read on and gain some knowledge that is really important if you conduct any online activities.
What is a VPN?
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is a service that allows you to establish encrypted and anonymous connections to any website or email server with which you communicate. It will seem as if you have a direct connection between your computer or device and the site you are visiting. Behind the scenes of a VPN, the reality is a little bit different.
How Does a VPN Work
When using a VPN and connecting to a website, your request is routed to one of the special VPN servers in your provider’s network. The original request is now completed, but with the IP address of the VPN server rather than the one that identifies your device. This effectively protects your privacy and provides anonymity by masking your IP address.
A quality VPN will also protect your data by using powerful encryption algorithms, making them unreadable to anyone but their intended recipient. This is of critical importance if you use the Internet for banking, shopping, or other purposes where sensitive information may be transmitted.
How a VPN Can Benefit You
Using a VPN is highly recommended if you value your privacy and the safety of the data you share online. Here are the two main ways that a VPN can be very beneficial to you.
- Maintaining online anonymity – Your ISP can see every move you make online, and through the use of your IP address, track it back to your computer. For any number of reasons, this may not sit well with you. Using a VPN, your IP address is only seen connecting to the VPN. After that, your online movements cannot be followed.
- Protecting your online data – The encryption that is offered by a VPN provides an essential benefit for users of the Internet. In many cases, such as when using a public WiFi network, there is a great risk that hackers may be monitoring the network in search of your personal data. Even when using a secure network, encrypting your data before transmitting it between computers is a good idea. VPNs take care of this for you by securely encrypting your data before sending on its way.
As you can see, you can definitely benefit from using a VPN when you are doing anything online. You might think it’s a complicated procedure to set up this kind of online privacy and data protection. You would be wrong in that assessment.
How to Set Up a VPN
- Once you have decided that it is dangerous to continue to use the Internet without the protection afforded by a VPN, you simply need to select a VPN provider.
- After selecting your provider and signing up for the service, you will download the client software that will run on your device. Be warned that in some cases the versions available directly from the developer may have additional features from those available in various app stores.
- Install the software and start it up. Most applications have a quick connect option which will connect you to a server in the VPN network that is located in your general geographic area.You can also choose a particular server to spoof your location. Some providers have specific servers that are optimized for streaming video or P2P connections.
- Make it a point to always have your VPN running when you are online and your data and privacy will be protected. Don’t take a chance on your personal information being compromised or your privacy violated.