What is a VPN? Should I use it?

What is a VPN?

What is a VPN?

Technically, a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a technology that helps you to extend your private network across a public network. It means you can send and receive data between the computers over the internet directly since they are in the same VPN network.

However, for the normal internet user or beginner, a VPN can be understood as a service that enables you to speed up and secure your internet connection. People usually use a VPN to bypass restriction to internet services or websites, hide their real public IP address.

How does a VPN work?

When you connect your computer or any mobile devices such as mobile phones, tablets to a VPN, you will be in the same network as a VPN server. Your device’s default gateway will set to the VPN server address so all your traffic will be routed to it. It means, when you browse the web while connected to a VPN, your traffic will go to that VPN server first, then go to the final destination.

There are several VPN technologies, most of them have a secure way to encrypt the user data. So, your connection between the devices and VPN server will be secured.

What are VPN protocols?

Each VPN protocol has its way to determinate how your data routes between your computer and a VPN server. They have different specifications, offering benefits to users in a range of circumstances. In this article, we aren’t going to write in detail about the VPN protocols and their specification. However, we can list down few available VPN protocols today.

  • OpenVPN: It is an open source VPN that is useful for creating Point-to-Point and Site-to-Site connections. It uses a custom security protocol based on SSL and TLS protocol.
  • SSL/TLS VPN: SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) create a VPN connection where the web browser acts as the client and user access is restricted to specific applications instead of entire network. SSL and TLS protocol is most commonly used by online shopping websites and service provider.
  • IPSec: It is used to secure Internet communication across an IP network. IPSec secures Internet Protocol communication by authenticating the session and encrypts each data packet during the connection. It is widely used protocol, good speeds, but easily blocked due to reliance on single port.
  • PPTP: It stands for Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol which is one of the oldest VPN protocols. It is still in use in some places, but the majority of services have long upgraded to faster and more secure protocols.
  • L2TP: L2TP or Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol is a tunneling protocol that is usually combined with another VPN security protocol like IPSec to create a highly secure VPN connection. L2TP creates a tunnel between two L2TP connection points and IPSec protocol encrypts the data and handles secure communication between the tunnel.

When to use a VPN?

If you understand how does a VPN network work as we described above, you might already knew when to use it. You can use it to:

  • Secure your internet traffic: VPN supports encryption, so you will be protected when using the internet from a public WIFI for example.
  • Access blocked websites: When connecting to a VPN, your public IP address will be the VPN server’s one. It can be an IP address from a different country which is not blocked by the website or internet service you are trying to access.
  • Speed up your internet connection: When connecting to a VPN, all your traffic will be sent to the VPN server first, then go to the destination. The VPN server might close to your ISP and have fast internet access. So you will be benefited from that.

When not to use a VPN?

As you can see the benefit from using a VPN, there is no good reason not to use it. However, you can consider few cases that you can turn off your VPN connection when:

  • You have trouble with local network connectivity and want to troubleshoot it.
  • Your only VPN server is located far from your ISP which slow down your internet connectivity.
  • Your VPN server’s IP address is blocked by the website or internet services you want to access.
  • Don’t want to pay for the VPN service provider or your own VPN server traffic.

How to install a VPN on a computer?

It depends on the VPN protocol that you are going to use. However, if you buy a VPN from a public VPN service provider on the internet, the installation steps are usually simple. Let’s see our upcoming article about how to set up the VPN connection. If you have any question, leave your comment below, we are willing to answer.

What is a VPN? Should I use it?
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