What Does A VPN Do?

VPNs are among the most commonly used online tools in this day and age. You probably hear and see the word VPN thrown around a lot and maybe wonder, ‘what’s a VPN?’, ‘what does a VPN do?’
We’re here to answer these questions and outline how a VPN may be of use to you.

What Is A VPN?

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is software that enables you to browse the internet with increased privacy, safety, and anonymity. When you access the internet without a VPN, other parties can pinpoint your location and data from your IP address, unique to your device.
VPNs conceal your online identity and divert your IP address by creating a buffer between you (the source of data) and the website you’re browsing. Instead of sending your data directly from your device to other parties, it’s routed first through encrypted networks to servers in other cities (in some cases, other countries).
This makes your location and identity unknown to the online destination to which your data is being sent. In turn, this grants you privacy and anonymity, which can have many advantages when browsing the web.

What Does A VPN Do?

VPNs have a wide array of uses; here are some of the most important ones.

Protecting Your Data

The internet has become a platform on which we exchange and enter personal information daily; this makes it essential to have a secure, private connection. VPNs aid you in keeping sensitive information hidden from the prying eyes of hackers and, in some countries, government officials.
The heavy data encryption that VPNs provide makes it virtually impossible for entities trying to spy on your internet activity to intercept and access your data. This makes using the internet a safer experience, whether you’re browsing from home, work, or a public network.

Preventing Websites From Collecting Your Data

It’s not only hackers interested in monitoring your activity on the web and collecting your data. Websites you use every day, such as Facebook and Google, perpetually gather information about you based on your online activity.
They use this data to show you ads tailored for you based on the content you interact with and the things you search for. They’re even allowed, by law, to sell your data to third parties.
VPNs keep your internet activity private and make it much more difficult for such websites to collect your data.

Preventing Censorship & Geoblocking

Trying to watch a show on Netflix or a video on YouTube, but you’re being told that it’s not available in your country? Not to worry; you can bypass such geographic restrictions by using a VPN.
VPNs are also highly useful in countries where internet censorship is a significant issue. For example, governments in countries like China and Russia block access to popular websites, including Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, and news websites that the government views as a threat.
By masking their IP address, VPNs enable people in such countries to access blocked websites by making it seem that they’re connected to the internet from another country.
By that same process, VPNs allow you to access and stream content that’s otherwise not available in your country by connecting you to streaming websites via a server located in a country where that content is available.

Working Remotely

Following the pandemic, companies allowing their employees to work from home has significantly increased. Data encryption provided by VPNs allows employees to access the company’s network securely, getting their work done without putting the privacy of the company’s sensitive information in jeopardy.

Saving Money

Another perk of using a VPN is that when you’re accessing the internet from an IP address in a different country, you’ll often find that some products and services are actually cheaper in that country than in yours.
Things like airplane tickets and hotel rooms are often listed at different prices in different locations; by using a VPN, you can access the lowest prices available.
Of course, it takes experience to find these offers, but you can land some good bargains if you wait around long enough.

Drawbacks Of VPNs

Using VPNs isn’t without its issues. Here are some problems you may face when using a VPN.

Slower Internet Connection

By encrypting and redirecting your data, VPNs can cause it to take longer for that data to reach its destination. This translates to websites taking longer to load and content taking longer to stream. The increased security and privacy provided by VPNs often come at the expense of overall connection speed.

Anti-VPN Software

Some websites try to counteract VPNs through anti-VPN software. Also known as VPN blockers, such software can detect using a VPN and block your access.
Netflix and other streaming services are prime examples of this. You may suddenly find yourself unable to watch your favorite show, even if you’re using a VPN.

Sudden Disconnection

When using a VPN, you may experience an abrupt connection drop. When this happens, your real IP address is exposed, and you’re no longer browsing anonymously.
However, some VPNs avoid this issue by incorporating a ‘kill switch,’ which prevents your IP address from being exposed by disconnecting you from the internet immediately if a connection drop occurs.
This is still inconvenient if you’re doing something that requires a continuous internet connection, like downloading a file, for example.

Conclusion

VPNs can do many different things; their uses range from enhancing data privacy and security to bypassing censorship and geographic blocking of content.
Additionally, VPNs can help you save money by helping you discover products and services listed at lower prices in different regions. If you’re a business owner, investing in a VPN for your company can help make your employees work remotely more secure.
However, VPNs can pose problems when it comes to the speed of your internet connection. They’re also not immune to VPN blocking software that’s used by certain websites. You may also face issues with the continuity of your internet connection when using a VPN.