What Is a VPN and What Does It Do?

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What Is a VPN and What Does It Do_

Virtual Private Network (VPN) has more benefits than just keeping you private online. Many companies ranging from small to big ones, and even individuals, have benefited in various ways from using VPNs. The tool comes in handy when using public Wi-Fi, streaming movies and playing games online, transmitting sensitive data, and many other applications. You can do all these activities safely and anonymously using a VPN. 

Key Takeaways

  • VPN is an acronym for Virtual Private Network.
  • A VPN creates a secure and encrypted connection between your device and the internet to help you stay private.
  • A VPN hides your IP address by redirecting your internet connection to the VPN remote server.
  • Always leave your VPN on if you care about your data privacy but be ready to compromise on the browsing speed.

This article is a comprehensive guide to what VPN is. In addition, we have also highlighted how it works, its benefits, possible drawbacks, and when and how to use it. Read through to learn more.

Related: Surfshark Vs Express VPN – An In-Depth Comparison

What Is VPN, and Why Do I Need It?

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It is a protocol that ensures you browse the internet privately and protects your data. To do so, the VPN crafts an encrypted connection between your PC and the internet. This connection is in the form of a private tunnel that restricts third parties from accessing your data. It is a crucial element when browsing public and private networks.

How Does a VPN Work?

A VPN creates a private and secure connection by creating an encrypted tunnel between your device and the remote VPN server. It redirects the internet connection to the VPN host through a remote server. This way, the website sees the IP address of the VPN server instead of your IP address. It blocks third parties and your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from tracing the websites you visit.


Benefits of Using a VPN

The VPN connection has several benefits. The most common ones are as follows. 

  • Secure encryption. VPN encrypts your online data to deter third parties from accessing your data, even in public networks. 
  • Disguising your whereabouts. VPN plays a proxy role in concealing your demographic location. Instead of displaying your current location, it shows the demographic location data of the host country. 
  • Access to regional content. Some regional contents have restricted access depending on the region you browse from. However, a VPN spoofs your location data by switching your server. Thus, you can access the regional content.
  • Secure data transfer. Individuals working remotely need regular access to the company’s network. VPN ensures a secure connection that can access the network, minimizing the chances of data leakage.  

Additional Benefits

There are lots of other benefits a VPN provides, including;

  • Stream from anywhere
  • Access blocked websites
  • Avoid censorship
  • Beat price discrimination

Related: What Is Onion Over VPN? A Detailed Guide

Do I Really Need a VPN at Home?

Do I Really Need a VPN at Home?

Yes, you need a VPN at home. We spend a lot of time at home, and a VPN can help us keep our data private and secure. Below are the pros of using a VPN at home. 


  • While at home, potential threats may come from your internet service provider, as ISPs have the authority to trade your data. Despite ISPs assuring that this data will be anonymized, there is still a need to worry. A VPN comes in handy to deter ISPs from accessing your data and your log activities. 
  • VPN encrypts your data so third parties, such as advertisers, marketers, and promoters, won’t correlate your online traffic to you. 
  • VPN makes digital sharing more secure. While working remotely at home, you may need to share your files and projects online. A VPN protects your data from strangers who may want to spy on them.

However, using VPN at home has some cons too. Below are some of the drawbacks of using a VPN at home. 


  • Some VPNs slow down your home internet connection; therefore, you shouldn’t opt for a VPN at home if you’re more interested in internet speed than your online data privacy. 
  • VPN can give you a false security impression. Some VPNs, especially free VPNs, are unreliable in encrypting data equally. Therefore, hackers and third parties can access your home data, track you and potentially harm you or your property. 

Below are the scenarios a VPN is useful at home

  • Assume you upset someone on the internet. Chances are they can track your location and find you through your IP address. However, VPN will protect your IP address and identity, ensuring they do not track you. 
  • If your internet service provider slows down your connectivity, you can use a VPN to avoid such unnecessary lag. 
  • No one working remotely from home should lack a VPN. It helps them securely access the company’s shared network. It also protects your files and projects from third parties. 

Related: Best VPN for Firestick – Stream Anywhere, Anytime in 2023

When Should You Use a VPN?

There are instances when you need to use a VPN. Below are examples of such instances. 

  • Always use a VPN when using public Wi-Fi. Hackers use public networks to access your data because public Wi-Fi isn’t encrypted. A VPN will create the missing encryption to keep your data private. 
  • You need VPN in countries with a low index of internet freedom and harsh internet restrictions. Be vigilant when traveling in countries you’re less familiar with. Some have rules and severe punishments against data breaches, and you may end up in prison. If unsure, always have your VPN on while browsing the internet. 
  • Don’t turn off your VPN when performing financial transactions or sending sensitive data. You should know that hackers are always on the lookout for ignorant victims; they can easily hack into your connection and steal your private data. A VPN encrypts your internet traffic to keep your data private and secure. 

  • Use your VPN when you want to limit bandwidth throttling. Internet service providers with limited resources to cope with services like continuous streaming and gaming may slow down your traffic. However, with a VPN on, the ISP can’t see your internet activities and thus won’t slow down the connection.
  • Use your VPN in the absence of an HTTPS extension. Websites that use HTTP are unsecured and not safe for your private data. They lack the TLS protocol, which encrypts data you transmit between your device and a website. A VPN will hide your IP address and encrypt the connection to the website. However, if you enter your username and password on an unsecured, HTTP-only website, your username and password can still be stolen, even if you have your VPN on.  It is important not to create a false sense of security.

Is It a Good Idea to Use a VPN?

Yes, it is a good idea to use a VPN. You should know that once you connect to the internet, your ISP sets up the connection and may track you using your IP address. Thus, your data can leak to third parties. The IPS may share your data with third parties like the government, police, or advertisers. Your data can also end up in the wrong hands when hackers gain access to your ISP network. To ensure your private data is well-secured, use your VPN, which encrypts your connection. 

Other than using your home network, public networks are also prone to attacks by hackers. When you connect to a public network, potential hackers may monitor your internet traffic and steal your data. However, VPN will create encryption that protects all your data.

Potential Drawbacks of Using a VPN

When using a VPN, you may encounter any of the following drawbacks. 

  • Slower internet speed as VPN creates more steps on your web traffic, creating a perceptible slowdown. 
  • Quality of Service (QoS) challenges. VPNs can not have a standard to determine the performance of a network or service. Thus, you’ll need professional reviews to gauge the best network or service from many options. 
  • Some websites and companies block access from known VPN IP addresses if they have carte blanche to access their content.
  • VPNs can’t protect you from cookies as they can’t block them. 
  • Not total privacy. Despite VPN blocking third parties and your ISP from accessing your data, the VPN provider can still access your private data.

How to Use a VPN?

Follow the steps below to use VPN. 

  1. Get VPN information from your administrator. 
  2. Install a VPN app from Google Play Store or your Administrator. 
  3. Input your VPN information. To do so, follow the steps below.
    1. Go to Settings and navigate to Network & Internet.
    2. Select VPN. If unavailable, search VPN.
    3. Press the Add tab at the top right section of the interface.
    4. Input the administrator information and click Save. 
  4. Connect your VPN. To do so, follow the steps below.
    1. Open Settings and go to Network & Internet.
    2. Select VPN. If unavailable, search VPN.
    3. Select the VPN you want.
    4. Input your Username and Password. 
    5. Click Connect. If you have a VPN app, it will automatically open. 

What Is VPN in Android?

VPN in Android creates a connection that ensures devices not physically on a network access it securely. You should note that Android has built-in L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and IPSec VPN clients, which assume VPN roles automatically. Also, if you have an Android 4.0 or a later version device, you can install and run a VPN. This VPN will encrypt your connection and hide your identity while going about your business on your phone.


Recommended VPN Apps for Android

The recommended VPN apps for Android are as follows. 

  • Proton VPN
  • OpenVPN for Android
  • SetupVPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • NordVPN
  • SuperVPN Fast VPN Client
  • VPN Settings
  • Private Internet Access VPN
  • Secure VPN-Safer Internet

VPN Meaning on iPhone

A VPN on iPhone is a virtual private network you add to your phone. It works the same way any VPN does. When you browse the internet, it encrypts your connection and data traffic between your iPhone and the specific VPN server. Therefore, it uses the VPN server to secure your data as your iPhone communicates with websites. 

Recommended VPN Apps for iPhone

The recommended VPN apps for iPhones are as follows. 

  • Proton VPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • NordVPN
  • Atlas
  • VPN Master Proxy
  • Free VPN by Free VPN .org™
  • TunnelBear
  • CyberGhost VPN
  • hide.me VPN

How Do I Get a VPN?

How Do I Get a VPN?

You can get a free VPN or a purchased VPN through the following ways. 

  • VPN Client

A VPN client requires you to install software with configurations to address the endpoint requirements. This VPN creates encryption by executing the VPN link at one endpoint and connecting it to the other endpoint. You’ll need a password if you have a remote-access VPN client; for instance, the VPN client used to connect to your office network requires your company’s username and password. However, VPN clients from companies such as ExpressVPN do not require a password but have a button that you switch on and off.

  • Browser Extensions

Most web browsers support VPN extensions. Opera has its own integrated VPN extension, but you’ll need to install one for Chrome or Firefox browsers. They present a quick-access VPN solution. However, it only protects data you share using the given web browser, exposing other data to third parties. 

  • Router VPN

A router VPN is installed on the router rather than on individual devices. It is ideal if you have multiple devices connected to one router. It is the best VPN solution for devices that would otherwise be hard to install VPN, such as your home smart TV. However, managing it can be challenging if your router doesn’t have an independent user interface and may block incoming connections.

Tips for Choosing a Reputable VPN Provider

Consider the following tips when choosing a reputable VPN provider. 

  • Speed. Choose a VPN with sufficient speed to fast streaming and downloading services. 
  • Reputation. Go through professional and consumer reviews to gauge the VPN provider’s reputation. 
  • Shared IP addresses. A reputable VPN provider should have shared IPs; therefore, ensure the one you opt for has one. 
  • Servers. Choose a VPN provider with more servers, as they guarantee top performance. 
  • Encryption. Ensure your VPN provider has an advanced encryption standard. AES-256 is ideal.  
  • Protocol. Go for more robust security protocols like OpenVPN and avoid weaker ones like PPTP.
  • Data logs. A reputable VPN provider should not save data logs. Go through the VPN policy to determine if it keeps your data logs. 
  • Customer support. Choose a VPN provider with excellent customer support so that they can assist immediately if you encounter any problem. 

What Is a VPN and What Does It Do?-FAQs

What Is a VPN Used For?

A VPN keeps your online activities private. It creates an encrypted connection that protects your online data from third parties. It is useful when connected to public networks and private ones as well. 

What Is VPN in Android?

VPN in Android creates a connection that ensures devices not physically on a network access it securely; remote access VPN. It allows you to access the office network, for example, from your home. You can also use a personal VPN on Android that encrypts the connection and hides your identity when browsing the internet. You should note that Android has built-in L2TP/IPSec, PPTP, and IPSec VPN clients, which assume VPN roles automatically. Also, if you have an Android 4.0 or a later version device, you can install and run a VPN.

VPN Meaning on iPhone

A VPN on iPhone is a virtual private network you add to your phone. When you browse the internet, it encrypts your connection and data traffic between your iPhone and the specific VPN server. It uses the VPN server to secure your data as your iPhone communicates with websites. 

VPN Free Options on the Market 

The free VPN options in the market are as follows: 

  • Windscribe
  • Proton VPN Free 
  • Hide.me
  • Privado VPN
  •  Hotspot Shield Basic
  • Atlas VPN 
  • Best VPN

The best VPNs are as follows:


Express VPN


Nord VPN




A VPN keeps your data safe while browsing the internet. The VPN connection routes your online data through secure encryption, which protects your data. A VPN connection is also useful for accessing regional data and restricted websites. Whether you want to watch a specific movie or sort out a Spotify ‘can’t play this song’ issue, a VPN can help.

While a VPN helps protect your data against third parties, you should note that your data isn’t entirely safe. The VPN provider still has access to your online data and internet traffic. They can therefore trade your private information with third parties. Therefore, we recommend you choose a reputable VPN provider.

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