Accessing the Internet on the go or from the comfort of your rural home is an important requirement by the Digital Nomad. Even more important is the understanding that you can browse the web safely. The last thing you want is someone or an organization keeping track of your activities online. That is where a VPN comes in.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) is billed as one of the most effective ways to safeguard your data privacy. As you plan on installing one, it is crucial that you first get all the relevant information. Here is a look at all you need to know about a VPN.
What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network refers to software created to enforce user’s privacy and anonymity on the Internet. All your Internet traffic goes through this software for all requests and responses. This is the most effective way to go around censorship as well as geo-restricted websites/applications.
If there are certain online games, website content, or video streaming services that are not available in your geographical location, you can use a VPN to circumvent the restrictions.
If you have ever heard a technical conversation around the topic of a VPN, you may have come across the following terms:
- VPN Service – The entity that powers the VPN network. VPN service is typically offered as a subscription model and may include access to VPN apps (although not a guarantee).
- VPN Client – Also called VPN app, this is software that you install on your computer in order to use VPN.
How does VPN work?
Without being overly technical, the operation of a VPN is such that it masks your IP address and routes your network traffic such that it appears to be coming from a different location. The data goes through a protected tunnel that allows you to access anything on the Internet. In so doing, you benefit from increased anonymity as well as secure Internet browsing.
Location selection in a VPN can be manual or automatic. Whichever the case, you get to create the perception that you are from a given region when, in reality, you are not. Any tracing attempt leads to a false location pin.
When you use a VPN, the much that your ISP can see is that you are connected to the VPN and nothing else. Even though the apps you use can tell you are on a VPN, all that they see are random IP addresses, making it hard for them to build your online profile.
Benefits of a VPN
Most people choose a VPN when seeking the following benefits:
- Anonymously surf the Internet
- Access geo-fenced data like streaming services and websites
- Keep off spies from your Internet connection
- Stream media and get torrents more privately
- Change your IP address to a certain location without traveling
- Keep off hackers from your systems
Internet speeds and VPN
Whereas VPNs have the benefit of increasing your privacy and security, they have the drawback of slowing your Internet speeds. The slow connection is as a result of the layer that the VPN creates between you and the Internet. That forces you to make a tradeoff between speed and security. Depending on your preferences, some people may consider security to be more important while others prioritize speed.