what is a vpn

What is a VPN Connection and how does the Protection work? The Technology explained!

What is VPN Protection? Should I Set Up a VPN Connection? Will it Finally Make me Anonymous on the Net Again?

These questions are on the minds of more and more Internet users all over the world. Especially now that VPN providers are experiencing a remarkable boom thanks to the advance of digitalization after the outbreak of the Corona pandemic. Recent analyses confirm this trend. Various forecasts predict that the market for VPNs can easily reach a value of $70 billion by 2027. By comparison, calculated from 2020, this corresponds to an annual growth of over 14 percent!

VPN Works: Global Players in all Industries Trust the Networks

Such interest in VPNs is quickly explained by the increasing awareness of the matter. For some time now, a large part of everyday life has been conducted over the Internet. Leisure activities from live streaming your latest favorite show to video chatting with friends, checking personal data on the bank account or sharing important documents at work – directly from Microsoft Office to the cloud. None of it should be accessible to unauthorized people just like that.

Whether Windows 10 PC or MacBook Air - always on the safe side!
Source: Arthur Bowers on Pixabay

Therein lies the task of a VPN. That’s why, below, we’ll address the most important questions surrounding how VPN servers work and explain how almost everyone can benefit from a VPN.

What is a VPN?

  1. What is a VPN in a Nutshell!
  2. What is a VPN Connection – Internet Access as a Prerequisite
  3. How does a VPN Work in Detail? Your Personal VPN Server
  4. Your Advantages by VPN: For More Freedom in the Net!

Let’s start with some basics that will give you enough know-how so you can make an informed decision when choosing your VPN. Alternatively, you can also just trust the opinion of leading experts and try out NordVPN. Protection is just a few clicks away.

What is a VPN in a Nutshell!

A VPN connects between your own computer and the servers of the internet. Hereby the security of the user is in the main goal: A connection is only possible via a virtual tunnel, which encrypts the entire data traffic (including IP address and location). This process runs automatically in the background.

What does VPN mean? The Abbreviation stands for Virtual Private Network.

Studies show that almost a third of people who regularly surf the web now use a VPN connection. The current Global Usage Report testifies to a global phenomenon whose spread continues. While many Asian nations as well as the Middle East seem like trendsetters at first glance, the popularity of VPNs often goes back to government restrictions. No one goes without certain content without a valid reason, whether it’s their favorite YouTube channel or their local independent news portal.

But concerns about data retention and external intrusion are also growing in Europe. “What is a VPN?” is piling up as a search term and the features of VPN clients are increasing. So even though Germany, Austria and Switzerland still have some catching up to do, acceptance has grown by almost 50 percent in some cases in recent years. More and more people are surfing the web anonymously again, encrypting their messages and protecting themselves against cyberattacks that exploit the vulnerabilities of public networks.

What does VPN mean for different cultures
Source: Global VPN Usage Report 2020

Already convinced and want to get started right away? In our store you’ll find an expert-reviewed selection of the best VPN providers. You’ll learn everything else in this article.

What is a VPN Connection – Internet Access as a Prerequisite

Nowadays, there is a wide range of devices that have an interface to the World Wide Web via cable or WiFi. Whether PC or Mac, tablet or smartphone, the process is always the same. For example, when you call up a website, you establish a connection to the host’s server. You are talking to an external computer, from which your machine receives the data needed to execute the service. The requested home page appears on your screen. All this happens in a matter of seconds if you have sufficient access to the Internet.

Activate your NordVPN Account today!

This is the service that internet providers offer to their customers. However, the correct information will only reach you if the program knows your IP address. Think of this uniquely identifiable sequence of numbers as your address on the net. Whoever knows your IP address can (within the scope of legal regulations) assign your online behavior to your person or at least to your household. When did you call up what with which browser and at what moment did you click on the next page? Surely you have already accepted such or similar “essential” cookies more often.

What is a VPN and why the protection of your data is a priority
Source: Homepage of Telekom

Anonymous Surfing thanks to VPN Protection

This is exactly the kind of tracking that a VPN seeks to prevent. Unfortunately, huge collections of data still end up in the wrong hands every day. In the best case, you only catch advertisers who have bought dubious rights. Or you suddenly have to protect yourself with an extensive virus protection against dangerous cybercrime. So how sure can you be that a free service won’t store your data even if you don’t have the necessary permissions? That’s why it’s better to trust an independently verified software designed for this purpose. VPN makes any spying on the Internet impossible.

How does a VPN Work in Detail? Your Personal VPN Server

What is a VPN, how is a connection established? Quite simple. A VPN works as follows:

  • Instead of directly contacting your provider’s point of contact, the VPN client automatically routes all requests through a separate VPN server after one-time activation.
  • Only from there is a signal sent to the open website or the requested online service.
  • As a substitute for your IP address, the VPN generates a random sequence of numbers that is different each time, but looks deceptively real.
  • Only you and the provider of your VPN know what is really behind it: a tunnel protected by state-of-the-art encryption.
  • Even a security gap at your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is no longer a danger, since only modified data arrives here.
What is a VPN connection?
Source: Stefan Coders from Pixabay

Think of your VPN as a filter for your Internet access. Before anything leaves the VPN server, all means of identification have already been removed. If you gain access to data without permission or even by illegal means, you’re no further along. Facebook wants to store personal information even though you deleted your account long ago? Forget it. With a VPN connection, dozens of devices access the same IP address at the same time, making collected data worthless. What’s more, unlike your Internet service provider most VPN providers will give their customers the benefit of the doubt. Your privacy is maintained and your browsing history does not suddenly end up with the authorities.

An Example of how VPNs Work

You ask yourself: But what is a VPN really and how does the protection work in practice? This can be explained quite clearly with the help of an example. Forget the technical jargon and just imagine that you are sending an ordinary letter – written by hand in the classic way, without using the help from Word. For delivery, the letter carrier would only need to know the address of the recipient. However, your own address must also be clearly written on the envelope, otherwise problems may arise during delivery. Even without malicious intent, it is easy for parties involved to recognize certain patterns or behaviors and assign them to the sender.

Trust the encryption of NordVPN, ExpressVPN or Surfshark instead
Source: Daniel Nettesheim from Pexels

All that’s missing is that someone really wants to harm you and reads the contents of your letters. If the Post Office were your Internet service provider, your home address would be the same as your IP address. You don’t want to see your sensitive data in someone else’s hands, neither when sending a letter nor when making an inquiry on the Internet. In the first step, a VPN ensures that all content is encrypted. You write in a secret code that is known only to the recipient. In addition, you entrust the shipment to a discreet courier, who puts an arbitrary address on the envelope, which has no relation to your place of residence. This way you can feel completely safe.

Questions? Our Guide to Setting Up your VPN!

VPN software has evolved tremendously in the recent past. Gone are the days of complicated setups, now a self-explanatory wizard guides through the installation. The setup takes hardly any longer than with other apps. PureVPN, for example, is ready to use within a few minutes.

Your Advantages by VPN: For More Freedom in the Net!

In concrete terms, the most important advantages of a VPN can be summarized as follows:

(1) Going Underground Made Easy

A short check of an unprotected IP address is enough and third parties already know about the location of the sender. Any private person can use a search engine to find out, free of charge, where the server of the internet provider that establishes the connection is located. If you turn on your VPN, such efforts come to nothing. The new IP address that the VPN server generates for you can come from anywhere in the world. Nothing leads back to your person. Moreover, providers like ExpressVPN guarantee that (unlike your ISP) they don’t keep logs of your online life. Your location remains a secret.

How VPN works when you change your location
Source: Kevin Paster from Pexels

(2) A Plus in Security

The more everyday tasks you perform via online services, the more vulnerable your data is. But you don’t have to lose an important password before the damage is done. Neither your shopping habits nor your current account balance should be transmitted over a standard line. Every VPN client encrypts all of your Internet traffic before forwarding it. Only those who have the appropriate encryption key can do anything with this code. Surfshark VPN and other providers therefore attach great importance to the reliability of the encryption methods. With AES-256, the recommendation of the NSA, you are on the safe side.

(3) Switch Nationalities with the Click of a Mouse

“This video is not available in your country.” Especially in the entertainment sector, some regions are denied access to certain publications. Only Brits can watch the latest UK series via BBC iPlayer, and the popular Pandora Radio only works in the US. Fortunately, the services check the location of their users via the stored IP address. A VPN now allows you to specifically adapt this to a country and unlock the desired content – so-called geo-spoofing. This means you can stream German-language channels while on vacation in New Zealand or access Netflix via VPN and enjoy international premieres.

What is VPN protection - on vacation or at home a global network
Source: Stefan Coders from Pixabay

So now you know what is a VPN and what tasks the software does for you. This is true for both private and professional use. For a large company, the cost of a VPN system is vanishingly small given the security and control that comes from using it. If you frequently log on to the Internet via public networks, a VPN is almost mandatory. Otherwise, it’s hard to keep track of the risks.

Experts Advise: Unprotected WiFi never without VPN

Whether you are looking for a full-featured VPN client for your Windows computer – a browser extension is enough or an app should protect you on the go, but the technology in the background is the decisive factor. In our big VPN test we present the top 7 best providers. Already an insider tip, everyone should try HideMyAss VPN, which created the basis for Avast SecureLine VPN and convinces in daily use.