What Does a VPN Do?
Updated: April 5, 2016
A VPN provides users with a secure network connection which offers them increased levels of privacy and security when operating online, in addition to various other advantages. Using a VPN will provide you with a whole host of advantages, including rendering you anonymous online, and allowing you to circumvent online restrictions such a state censorship and geo-blocking, as well as evading such detrimental practices as throttling.
Since the revelations a few years ago by Edward Snowden of the extend of the US Governments surveillance program against their own citizens online activity, more and more people have been looking around for a way to ensure their online activity is both secure and private.
Few will have looked far before happening across the concept of a VPN. Yet for many the name VPN, or Virtual Private Network, to give it is full moniker, is a meaningless and highly technical sounding concept.
Yet the reality is that a VPN is a very simple, affordable, and effective piece of kit, as well as being one which is fast becoming an essential tool for anyone working online.
Yet here at Fried.com we still get asked on a surprisingly regular basis what a VPN actually does. The answer could be an enormously complex one if we were to dig down into the detail. But for most users a summary of the basic core functions is what they are looking for, and that is exactly what we are providing here:
1. Online Privacy
A VPN greatly enhancing your levels of online privacy, rendering you virtually anonymous while you are using the internet. It does this by funneling all of your online traffic through an encrypted pathway.
This encryption means that your data is indecipherable from prying eyes such as Government agencies, hackers, or even your own ISP.
Your data also goes via an external server and this helps to hide your IP Address, because websites you visit will see the IP Address of this server rather than your own connection. This means even the sites you visit cannot trace your activity back to you.
The only people who might know who you are online is your ISP provider, but with many keeping no activity logs, you can be completely anonymous online.
2. Online Security
A VPN in itself is not a security tool, but it does offer various security advantages. Central o this is the encryption we talked about above. This encryption protects your data and makes it invisible to hackers. It also servers to make many of the simplest and most common types of security breach ineffective.
With a hidden IP Address as well, using a VPN can also protect you if you visit any infected websites, or websites that might try and push you automatically onto an effective site. It also adds anonymity if you are looking to use a torrenting service.
A VPN alone will not protect you online, but it will certainly bring a number of highly desirable advantages.
3. Watch Geo-Blocked Content
Having a hidden IP Address also has the advantage of allowing you to access geo-blocked content around the world. Geo-blocking is when a site restricts access to people within particular geographic areas.
But most VPNs will offer users the chance to choose between a range of servers located around the world. These servers then broadcast their IP Address which fools the site into thinking you are in the relevant country, regardless of where you are in the world.
In this way, you can watch streaming content and visit restricted websites in any country where your VPN provider has a server.
4. Evade Online Censorship
It is no coincidence that highest proportion of VPN users in a single country can be found in Indonesia, which has one of the world’s worst internet censorship records. VPNS are now hugely popular in countries with bad censorship records such as China, Indonesia, and Iran.
A VPN can help you avoid censorship because it offers an encrypted pathway to an external server, which then lends you its IP Address. With an IP Address located elsewhere, the site will believe you are not in the country where the censorship exists, and so the site will be visible.
5. Avoid Throttling
Throttling is the growing ISP practice of limiting service speeds to people using streaming services because it uses up too much bandwidth and their networks cannot cope.
It is often done on a commercial basis to try to promote their own service and can be hugely annoying to users. But it works by your ISP reading your data packets to see what you are doing. With a VPN, encryption makes this impossible, so the ISP will not try to throttle your service.
There are many reasons to sign up for a VPN as they do a huge number of really useful things. Above we have highlighted the most popular top five functions.