If you're unfamiliar with what a VPN is or it's your first time sitting down to try one for yourself, read on in our informative guide to find out everything you need to know about this privacy-based technology.
VPNs, or virtual private networks, are in their most simple terms a way that the average user can better protect themselves and their identity online from hackers, advertisers, or anyone else who might try to use your true IP address against you.
An IP address, or "internet protocol", is sort of like your state-issued ID for the internet. Anytime you visit a webpage, connect to a game, or link up to another server outside your own home network, all of those services use your uniquely assigned IP address to tie any of your activities back to the computer that it was sourced from. This is done for an array of different reasons depending on the application, but overall it's just a good way to make sure that everyone on the net is who they say they are (in an ideal world).
In the unideal world we inhabit, however, your IP address can also be used against you in an equally fascinating number of ways. Whether it's trying to directly advertise to you or your family, hack your home network for credit card information, or just pin a potential crime on you ("You wouldn't download a car, would you?"), sometimes it's better not to broadcast your IP openly depending on what kind of sites you're visiting or the types of activities you're participating in online.
This is where a VPN comes in. By using specially designed software installed on your computer or mobile device, all your traffic is encrypted through a "tunnel" (read more about tunnels from our knowledgebase article found here). This tunnel puts another server between your network and the rest of the internet, routing all your traffic through a separate IP address before it reaches the internet itself.
This means that if say, for example, you wanted to watch the UK BBC iPlayer but you lived in the United States, by signing onto a server in London you could convince the media player that your computer was actually connecting from somewhere in the UK rather than the states.
Of course, VPNs can do a lot more than help you stream the latest episode of Sherlock though. They're also great for a whole myriad of day-to-day activities, including shopping online, downloading files, and navigating to sites that may still not be operating on the HTTPS protocol. VPNs are a surefire way to protect your identity and encrypt your connection no matter where you go, so you always know that no one else (hackers or otherwise) could be listening in.
If you want to see all the different ways that a VPN can improve your internet browsing experience and protect your data all at the same time, head on over to our signup page to get started with your VPN.com subscription today!